May, 1997

New Thinking as a global cultural system.

New political thinking stands for a process in which we ought to recognize each other's humanity as we move to solve today's complex problems dealing with social and political life, economies and global relations. We all live on the same planet - the Earth and, as all of us know, people differ in understanding what is good and what is wrong, which path leads to freedom, equality and happiness.

Modern technology, especially in the field of tele- and audio-communications, created an extraordinary situation when humanity is to find solutions that transcend our usual points of view. In this process, and this is, perhaps, the most important feature of the new thinking, we must learn to express our opinions without exciting in ourselves and others fear and hatred for those who think differently. At the same time new thinking rejects any action, especially on the state level, which undermines regional and global stability, destroys the climate of security and confidence.

The effects of globalization and the power of modern technology on international relations are enormous. There is no doubt, at least in my mind, that this power, even in the near future, will increase very fast, in a way that is difficult to imagine. The question arises: "Will this globalization process affect the identity, especially cultural identities, of states and their people?" If the answer is "yes, it will", than the scientific community is responsible to explain the essence of this process, new opportunities that globalization and modern technology open for states, people and individuals and, unfortunately, new dangers that they bring.

Science, as well as religion, is a mighty tool based on the capacity of humans to discover new possibilities for their development and spiritual existence. The effects of such discoveries flow from prominent scientists like ripples from the drop of water which falls into a pond. Together they form a powerful public opinion current that carries humanity forward and is a part of a mighty modern civilisation river. My impression is that little by little globalization, if to mention its positive results, leads to the formation of a cultural system with values that are yet not well defined but already formed to a point when they become universal values.

It is important to remember that the word "culture" has many different interpretations and definitions, often influenced by different ideologies and religions.

Human national cultures have its own social dynamics. National culture consists of the language, religion, science, art and ethics. The latter includes morality and legal system (the law). To this I would add political culture that to a large extent, together with other factors, influences the foreign policy of states. 

Every ethnic type human being has his own mental behaviour. A nation's cultural identity system produces original philosophy, politics, economics and technology. A firm construction of national culture, though it may have defects, constitutes the main pillar of stability and happiness of the people. Fanatic zeal, especially on the part of foreigners, to change other people is wrong and counterproductive.

The emerging new thinking and global identity system are adjustable. The latter is mainly based on modern technology and dissemination of information by the forces which control this system. In my opinion, modern mass-media institutions instead of demanding absolute freedom for themselves should be guided by political constraints in order to serve different ethnic human needs. First of all, they should not destroy basic institutions in local communities. Such mass-media produced cultural shock-revolutions are not substitute to healthy evolutionary practices that help to solve sensitive social problems. 

Chauvinistic internal and foreign policy, especially if based on racism and dishonest messianic desire to change alien lands in accordance with one dominant culture, can be described by three simple words - "they are dangerous". Such policies are to a large extent responsible for the culture shock experienced nowadays by many local societies. Being in the past a messianic country itself, Russia today goes through a severe cultural shock. Once a mighty society, though with many flaws, Russia is on the verge of disintegration. It absorbed the western culture too quickly and indiscriminately, mostly its distorted version - crime and negative features of market economy.

Emerging global culture in many ways differs and contradicts national cultures. Such contradictions arise from human behaviour top to the bottom of a social and political ladder. It reflects the responsibility we feel to those nearest to us, to our family, community, country and only finally to humanity. This is a common public culture as the world approaches the 3-rd millennium. 

Mutual planetary dependence is still to be organized into planetary culture system. The United Nations and important regional organizations may do this job. Or in the decades to come we are to witness an appearance of a rudimentary world government. We are just at the beginning of the road to a global system.

The proper arena to formulate cultural values is always the church, the state, enlightened individuals. Their vision of the good and evil was and to a large extent is still different. At the same time the range of options for some autonomous global choices is not large. Sometimes, as in the case of environment, it is limited to the extreme. Humans must preserve their nature and biological environment or it will degrade to the extent when polluted beyond recognition would do away with them. Humanity has the power to destroy its habitat - the Earth. There is no choice in human cultures but to follow this global culture value and stop wiping out the thin layer of life support system - soil, water and air.

A fundamental global cultural value is recognizing that we live in the interdependent world that requires greater levels of trust and cooperation. Humanity must act on this knowledge that is a part of the emerging cultural system. There are already values that, in my opinion, are a part of emerging global new thinking which reflects globalization of international relations. Some of them were already formulated during the second world war, at the time when humanity waged a fierce battle against fascism. They were incorporated into the United Nations Charter.

Another fundamental well-defined value for the human behaviour is to understand the object of economic development not only as an exercise in profit-making but as a quest for freedom from want and poverty. Only through this value a political theory for the world development will bring forward lasting positive results and solve the problems of economic backwardness, demographic explosion, the third world debt crises and many other negative developments relating also to the spread of high technology.

A global value that is, in my opinion, crystal-clear but still unrecognized and put aside by many governments is a simple truth that in the modern world it is impossible to secure a lasting unilateral advantage for oneself to the detriment of the other side without ultimately impairing one's own interests. Genuine security for all always means stable regional and universal international security.

Many politicians and politologists speak today about "the end of the cold war" and of the benefits that "the victory of capitalism over communism" brought to international relations. At the same time there are states that try to insure security for themselves without security for the other side. They consider foreign policy in terms of "a gain to yourself is a loss to another". This is an illusion. The mirage of ostensible stability based on pure military power and superiority in technology is pursued in the Middle East and Europe. In fact we live in a period of "hot peace".In the meantime in both regions accumulative negative effects from unpragmatic actions are gaining strength. International security as a whole is fragile.

A part of human cultural-political identity is total rejection of war and nuclear weapons and renouncing force and coercion in international relations. Old thinking seeks to exploit conventional power politics through the use, or the threat to use, of sophisticated military technology.

The same manipulative approach quite often appears through the use of modern telecommunication systems. They are extensively applied for advancing interests of the major developed countries. Such trends undermine creative interaction of nations and peoples. New thinking works in the opposite direction forming the identity of a modern man in such a way that human life is more than mere survival. In a sense it teaches us that countries should be measured not only by their Gross National Product but by the degree of social well-being, quality of life, in other words happiness of their citizens.

Happiness of humans cannot be achieved in a compartment global society where besides first class nations and citizens second and even third class nations exist. Such an approach to life needs constant effort on the part of militarily and technologically strong states to force diverse human cultures into one global civilization. It seems to me that every effort to create "the only model" of society is doomed to failure. All the empires failed and disintegrated due to the desires of their rulers to get rid of different cultures and impose their believes on others. Such cultural imperialism even with the help of international business is, in my opinion, unviable.

The path to the global identity and the cultural system goes along the road of toleration and cooperation of civilizations, including religions. The latter are the main base to organize human moral duties. New thinking helps us to free ourselves from certain stereotypes that help strong states and large societies to gain an upper hand over small states and weaker societies. In my opinion, global free trade may contradict conventional wisdom which teaches us to understand the consequences of every action. If "free trade" transforms into unregulated trade, smaller societies and ancestral cultures will become endangered and "extinct species".

New thinking tells us that one of the most important ethical imperatives for the global happiness and stability is a strict implementation of an important value - humanity does not need a global unrestricted free trade, which may destroy local communities and foster huge migration into the city slums, but global projects to help indigenous societies to avoid cultural shock and to preserve the best of their way of life and cultural identities.

Another example of political blindness. To the majority of the world population to solve the problem of water supply is more important than the game constantly played around with special interstate relationships and military block politics. Pragmatic approach is still alien to many political leaders, they still live with the 19th century mentality of power politics and old-fashioned ideas. It is precisely the political culture which lags behind any other culture. Military customs and beliefs die hard. Local and regional wars and hostilities flare up more often than agreements on conflict resolutions are concluded.

The emerging global culture first of all must create conditions which help societies to develop positive potential for self-improvement. Liberal capitalism and socialism, which was never a monopoly of the Soviet Union, are two types of societies created by different revolutions. Capitalism and socialism incorporate many universal human principles, goals and ideas upon which the present human societies are founded. But they are not the only ones. Islam is the other way of life, with its own ideas that are penetrating many regions of the world.

Today the entire international community is the world of diversity, balanced by history and traditions. We should be mature enough not to strive for an "ideal global society" but to move with the help of modern global technology towards contemporary society without extremist zest for social cloning. It is impossible to calculate the global identity of humans without certain universal principles. At the same time human goals and ideals do not and never will belong to one country or a group of countries. Humans must learn to cooperate without hatred and prejudice. They should cooperate through dialogue of civilizations. Life itself will have the last word on our future.