On the Philosophy of the Contemporary Globalization

On the Philosophy of the Contemporary Globalization
Author: Kiss, Endre
Almanac: Globalistics and Globalization StudiesAspects & Dimensions of Global Views

In this global reality the key to a constructive solution of political and social problems is not in the hands of politicians; whereas the crisis creates an impression (‘an illusion’) that new social and political problems could be solved in the framework of the old, pre-global structures. Therefore, at the societies' meso-level the global crisis also becomes a political one. At the national-etatic meso-level of globalization this phenomenon is also outdated and supports the action of yesterday concepts, even more, that also the political plausibility can come up, that such outdated and yesterday concepts of the national-etatic level could be successfully put forward now against the negative effects of globalization. The negative development is thus also doubled.

Keywords: globalization, history of globalization, periodization of globalization.

Globalization is defined as an unprecedented new world state, a special phase of the world history that is already perceptible but that started ultimately in its mature form in 1989 with the retreat of communism. Since then, some attempts have also been made to divide the history of globalization into some periods (Kiss 2012).

What is the Philosophical Question in the Periodization of Globalization?

The periodization, which is actually the history, of globalization, at the first glance, seems to be only a trivial but also an empty question. If we understand globalization as a world or a world system, it is obvious that this world will pass through diverse periods and thus will also have a history. If we, however, define globalization primarily as a world state, which is crucially related to the model of functional systems, then the question of historical phases is theoretically put quite attractively, for the functionalism exists separately from the society and its actors (Kiss 2010). Here, we think generally of the differently procured temporality of functional systems that are distinguished through the fact that their ‘inner’ temporality should work independently from the ‘external, historical’ temporality. Niklas Luhmann (1973) thematizes somewhat this problem through the fact that it has to be distinguished with regard to the system-environment relationship, and that time with regard to the self-relationship of systems. The specific and qualifying basis of globalization is in its functional character. The functional character of existence is indeed also historical, however, this historicity differs much from the historical way of existence of the non-functional dimension. Only the understanding that globalization is in its entirety a further not defined complex of functional and non-functional dimensions, helps us cope with this dilemma. So it is likely that this interpenetrated coexistence of functional and non-functional dimension as a whole, nevertheless, can have a history in a methodologically proper sense.

The emergence of globalization also brought an end to the division of an imperial world in two parts. Therefore, it is quite clear that the exact explanation of the imperial problematic seems to be absolutely sinking in the millennial harmony of new universal freedoms and global self-regulation. The independent factor of a relative devaluation of the political subsystem in the dynamic flow of the unfolding globalization (on these issues see also Kiss 2012) also contributes to this general state that one can characterize as spontaneous. The first far-reaching articulation of the imperial issues after 1989 belongs to Samuel S. Huntington (1996) who formulated the imperial issues also only within the new framework of ‘civilizations’; however, it is quite difficult to follow him in the identification of the new aspect of civilization and the traditional one of politics. Taking this into account, we can conclude on the strength and vitality of the prevailing of both anti- and also post-imperial spirits at that time. Even the ‘imperial’ issues could be accentuated within civilizational framework of thinking. Huntington most clearly reformulated the imperial realities under the semi-political mask of new civilizational relations (Kiss 1997: 117–125).

The international politics has also continued, apparently unchanged, with its traditional imperial way to put questions in the era of globalization. It means that in a widely recognized era of globalization, the interpretation of the political system is not subjected to any fundamentally new approaches. The peculiar difference between the experiences of a new global world and an objective insight revealing that the political system is not globalizing on the basis of a quite abstract insight, might constitute a difficulty, certainly not easy to dispel in this learning process. It means that politics, as a system and as a subsystem, is persisting without any changes in the functional world of globalization. Politics just as a subsystem has not been globalizing for the simple reason that it is not and also could not be determined and governed functionally.

The increasing importance of the imperial discourse becomes an integral part of the history of globalization. Can this question, however, also be redirected? Can we reinterpret the former history of globalization through the imperial discourse? In our opinion, the history of globalization can be positively shaped by the imperial discourse.

The imperial issues hardly appear explicitly in the first period of globalization. Before this period the world was divided in two parts and this has drastically contributed to the validity of imperial reflections. Thus, it is not surprising that Francis Fukuyama in his theory of the end of the history (Fukuyama 1992) forecasts the coming of a universal post-imperial democracy. Exclusively in this context the basic approach of Samuel S. Huntington wanted to cool down the optimistic expectations towards a post-imperial new world order. Even Huntington himself does not want to call this new imperial start by its proper name. He formulates this new message not explicitly in terms of the subsystem of the politics, but in the half-political terms of the medium of ‘civilization’. In terms of civilization, the international politics will then recall the realism of Kissinger rehabilitating Metternich. The fundamentalism is considered the only adequate enemy in this era of confidence.

The second phase of globalization, reproduced in terms of the imperial discourse, has again shaped the international politics. In this period of the post-communist democracy and of the neo-liberal politics, a possible international conflict can be legitimized only from moral viewpoint. The practice of imperial motives and causes was legitimate only if the society considers it as an answer to a qualified violation of human rights (Kiss 2000). The typical event of this second period was the Kuwait war against Sadam Hussein. This prude discourse guided wars and also made serious international conflicts again possible.

The third period of history of globalization, articulated in the context of imperial discourse, started on September 11, 2001. From that time, the contours of a new bipolarity become visible. In then still a unipolar global world, the so concrete and so vague phenomenon of terrorism took the position of a structural enemy violating the human rights. The Irak war of 2004 took place right in this new period. In 2011, Osama bin Laden's death brought a natural end of this period of globalization manifested in the imperial discourse. Osama's death manifests the threshold between two great historical periods of the new globalization. Here a combination of a new virtual and of a real bipolar world occurred.

The Huge Distance between the Big and the Small

The monetarism of the real global economy is an actual manifestation of a completely theoretical model. Here a perceptible proximity emerges between model and reality. This proximity raises a lot of new problems, in particular, those of an increasing smoothing of the effective difference between model and reality. In the case of a crisis, it will be more difficult to define whether this crisis is a more or less authentic realization of the model or it is a traditional cyclic destabilization of real economy.

The most determinant quality of the global economy is, however, only indirectly related to economics! It is the indebtedness of the state, by which globalization had relatively (or also absolutely?) devalued the need for states. However, an indebted state also has its own logic of functioning and this logic determines the economic life and social existence in general; while these two sides of a coin define the global economy also retroactively and reflexively.

The immediate past of the self-destructive society was determined by a generally good intention and by a confidence in the future, farther also from elements of a consensus in an optimistic humanism, which was partly composed of the communicative essence derived from the welfare society, and partly of common optimism towards the overall solutions of the human rights-oriented neoliberalism.

It becomes a very difficult interpretational task to separate the dynamic-structural moments of globalization from the cyclic and conjunctural changes in the explanations of a crisis.

The true definition of a modern or post-modern self-destructive society consists of a critical measure of the state debt. This measure does not allow the economy to pay the state debts even in the most optimal ‘normal’ conjunctural situation. Achill does not catch up the turtle. This basic criterion constitutes the self-destructive society taken in the proper meaning of the term.[1]

An economic crisis, which breaks out at the world level, aggravates the global problem of the state, that is the permanent reproduction of national indebtedness. So, we can say that the worldwide economic crisis of 2007–2008 has only increased the internal tension of the global world with indebted states. As it often happens in real processes, the crisis originates from the same economic and financial processes, which shaped the global world in real history. The crisis is, therefore, not an independent phenomenon; it is rather a temporal end of a relatively unambiguous and linear development. The current economic crisis shows, how the economy, after a long galactical trip in the virtual existence, returned again on the earth.

After its worldwide victory of historical importance, the neoliberalism became a regulator and a driving force of the global development only at the ideological-political level. As a form of hegemony, it embodies the dialectical mutation of the earlier liberalism and earlier modernity. Obviously, as a hegemony, it cannot, however, also ignore the necessity and responsibility of emphasizing the new forms of emancipation.

In the age of globalization, the border between ‘normality’ and ‘crisis’ is much more transparent than in any earlier period. In pure theoretical terms, the global and worldwide interrelated economy is never in a state of crisis: what manifests here as a crisis actually appears a normal redistribution of resources. Of course, we should make a distinction between the theoretical model and social reality. We should, however, bear in mind that even the language of the crisis became different within globalization. For the world-political and world-economic reality, it is certainly of some interest that today the US banks are still aided by the government. However, one can also consider this as a theoretical criterion of the worldwide economic crisis, since in this context ‘crisis’ and ‘normality’ also stand in a different relation than it was in the pre-global world.

Certainly, we could still reverse this logic of crisis. Instead of a ‘crisis’, we could designate the current situation just as a ‘normality’, while we emphasize that it is probably the ‘normality of peculiar global relations’ and that the self-regulating power of markets can no longer suffice.

Hollywood and Greek Myths

The present-day common thinking may have the feeling that a global Hollywood production is running around it, when one wants to drag ‘interactively’. On the one hand, this current global everyday consciousness observes the dynamics, the tremendous success stories of globalization, what this conscience experiences also in its daily life. On the other hand, the same global everyday consciousness finds itself confronting a disintegrating, fragmenting political and social reality, which it can finally fail to escape. Thus, it can also be easy to experience this new reality as a new condition of life. The more substantial efforts the everyday consciousness makes to survive, the more it comes to realize that such efforts for the sake of simple survival no longer constitute only the others' worries, but also its own ones.

The Homo globalicus feels himself one day as a Superman of the civilization and a target group of numerous networks which compete with each other and which are all in dread for grace and recognition. Another day, the same Homo globalicus turns to be as a Pariah, whose numerous formal and individual liberties cannot change a single iota in his social downfall, if not social death. Between both these oscillates a society that confronts the problems of perception and possible interpretation of globalization.

Globalization in Mind

The phenomena of globalization can be investigated within several referential systems. How exactly we define them is of utmost importance because the exceptional exuberance of phenomena, as well as the exceptional complexity of global relations could easily make even the most thorough investigation arbitrary.

The everyday consciousness and the mentality show an astonishing continuity of characteristics within globalization. We argue that these strict attitudes of the everyday consciousness have hardly been modified during the two decades of globalization.

As far as the fundamental principles of the modern everyday consciousness are concerned with respect to understanding of reality, the basic orientations of the individualism, anti-totalitarianism, consumerism and post-modernism have hardly changed. It is all the more striking, because the unquestionable hegemony of consumerism can no longer be confirmed and legitimized by the reality in the period when neither the magnitude nor the qualitative differentiation, as well as the social dissemination of the consumption can hardly approach the real consumption society.

It is then no ironic gesture, if we describe the everyday consciousness operating within globalization as a consciousness representing a consumer's consciousness without real consuming. This is by no way a solitary example that the consciousness does not refer to the basic being, in particular, the consciousness of an object does not correspond to this real object. Similarly, the same non-correspondent relation can be also marked in the ‘post-material’ world of values applying to the reality. These post-material values kept on living also unchanged in the first two decades of globalization.

The same refers to the post-modern thinking.

Besides the phenomena of value relativism and virtual reality, the post-modern difference thinking dominates also over the present globalization, as well as the post-modern vision of the other and the otherness. The present system of post-modern values in the global everyday consciousness is of a comprehensive importance both from methodological and substantive point of view. With respect to methodological reasons it is important because the post-modern thinking is applied in quite new structures of thinking (difference-logic, deconstructivism), in structures, where already every single fact requires further fundamental explanations why these structures could gain a foot-hold in the domains of control of the everyday consciousness with their new logic and new reality processing. The everyday thinking must enable a man to eliminate the everyday problems. It is clear, that the essence of the new post-modern thinking and the necessity to enable the everyday consciousness to eliminate daily problems are not precisely related to each other.

Here a new fundamental question arises derived from the basic problematics, namely, how it was possible that these post-modern structures of thinking could endure in their difference logic and in their inability to admit and articulate the common issues of social reproduction, precisely at the time of globalization, since the post-modern value orientation can definitely disorient the everyday consciousness in recognizing the global world of life in its abstractions and deep fragmentation.

In addition to the long-term hegemony and validity of basic applications of the everyday consciousness, of the post-material values and/or of the new post-modern structures of thinking, the comprehensive ‘soft’ interpretation of the most important relations, the enthusiasm of happiness, the leisure propaganda or the new ‘californism’ with its eternal sunshine, sex and body-building are considered as surprisingly strong and uninterrupted.

The ‘soft’ – ‘hard’ relation applies now as already the fourth dimension of the current global everyday consciousness (in addition to the principles of the everyday consciousness, of the post-material values and the specifically post-modern structures of thinking of different logic).

The predominance of the ‘soft’ or ‘tender’ interpretations of reality constitutes the reality and it is a constitution of the world of relative independence.[2]

If we try now to understand these orientations and types of thinking from a sociological point with respect to their own temporal circumstances (not within the circumstances of globalization), it seems clear that they can be interpreted, primarily, if not exclusively, as products of a slow and constantly repressed dismantling of the industrial society. Within this context, it is noticeable that the concerned soft modes of thinking only rarely thematize explicitly the real processes of this withdrawal. Anyway, it is clear in this respect why the fundamentally ‘soft’, that is ‘tender’ characteristics, dominate in them. The advent of the ‘soft’ trains of character as sociological genesis corresponds to the context that has just been marked as a real event by the withdrawal of the ‘hard’ social relations.

This basic, although not decisive, explanation is, however, essentially modified by the problem circle of the neo-Marxism. The neo-Marxism keeps the conviction of the relevance and survival of the industrial society (it means, that this thinking represented the unchanged ‘hard’ elements of the former industrial society). On the other hand, the neo-Marxism manifests itself, in comparison to the former Marxisms (mainly, of course, to the Stalinist and post-Stalinist Marxism), almost in every respect as definitely ‘soft’ approach.

Amongst the actual relationships within globalization, there are numerous representations of both hard and soft components. The almost exclusive dominance of the ‘soft’ dimension in the range of the new forms of thinking applies, therefore, as a disproportion.

The gathering of the soft varieties of interpretation and understanding of reality appeared only after the comprehensive hard processes of the year 1945, the Reconstruction (Wiederaufbau) and of the Cold War. This corresponded also to the necessity to legitimize both the political consolidation and the economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder), as well as that of the consumption society and democratic system. All these elements of the new world order were effectively ‘softer’ than their predecessors.

Yet, accompanied with crises and conflicts, this trend was followed by a whole range of new phenomena and attitudes, such as the ever wider and deeper level of consumption, the design defining the external image of the society, the new subculture of the fashion, the always softer and more intimate (and more naked) world of social communication, the growing recognition of individuals and personal happiness, the modified relation towards the minorities of any kind, the democratic and consensually accentuated treatment of social conflicts, the conscious struggle of social mechanisms of exclusion, the growing recognition of women and the increasing number of social opportunities, and also the increasing superficiality of interpersonal relations in schools, the democratization of military forces and generally the comprehensive wave against authorities and authoritarianism.

The softness and the growing ‘soft’ interpretation of the events gradually formed a composite field, a new medium of historical and social existence that slowly radiated from the sixties as a determining trend and also as a normative force. In this respect, the US war in Vietnam in the sixties and seventies is also a significant example that such a ‘hard’ reality might no longer be admitted and could not be treated in such a ‘tender’ social and political universe.

Certainly, in a stricter sense the circumstances and relations have not been ‘hard’ or ‘soft’, but this is a functional convention through which we perceive social relations and phenomena as ‘hard’ or ‘soft’.

Through the lens of sociology of knowledge (Wissenssoziologie), the decisive aspects of social perception appear in a clear light. This shows that the type of perception is also the one of evaluation, and as such also the one of categorization and qualification. This means, that a society estimated in terms of ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ is not necessarily utilizing its sociological perspective, but is also disposing of previous preferences, in any case, however, of previous value estimations. Then it is also equivalent with a new form of sociology of knowledge, if, as it seems, the actual existential fixation (Seinsgebundenheit) remains still determining in some generality in the prevailing constitution of thinking. This however means also, that the previously analyzed ways of thinking (principles of everyday consciousness, post-material values, post-modern structures, and the ‘soft’ dimension) on their part are also disposing of new, partly untouched ideological potentials.

The Peculiar Approach of the Post-Modern Way of Thinking

Until the present, the forms of consciousness prevailing within globalization are not yet developed ideological forms. In their ‘new’ form they are, however, already dissociating from the classical definition of the ‘existential fixation’ (Seinsgebundenheit) of thinking. As structures of thinking, they do not correspond to ‘reality’ and so they shape a logical relation of a new difference. The terms (notions) do not refer to reality. In the logic the identity relation is ideology. This generally new approach, with necessary simplifications, can be also formulated within the dual dichotomy of the ‘hard’ and the ‘soft’.

While the philosophical post-modern thinking in difference (by Foucault: the logic of identity is a form of the discourse of the ‘Institution’ [Foucault 1999]) dissociated the thinking from the reality (from the reference to a provable objectivity), the post-modern everyday thinking is not following exactly the same path. While the philosophical post-modern thinking in the new order of difference logic is also able to exercise the ‘hard’ mode of intellectual processing, the post-modern everyday thinking defends itself through its ‘soft’ character at least against the absurd consequences of the philosophical post-modern thinking. ‘Soft’ difference thinking can never become so absurd as a ‘hard’ one.

In terms of philosophical difference thinking, the soft processing of the current (global) reality leads to the manipulation (‘hard’ relations are ‘softly’ treated). The outlines of the symmetrical opposite worlds take shape and sometimes they also design the reverse contours of each other.[3]

The new type of the hard version of the difference logic in post-modernism presents the reality through its own way of perception, radically ‘more evil’ than it is, while the ‘soft’ difference thinking of the everyday consciousness allows showing the same reality much ‘more harmonious’ and ‘more balanced’.

Crisis within Globalization

As demonstrated above, globalization has its (inner) history, with all the methodological problems derived from this fact. The inner variations within different periods of globalization have not changed anyhow the fact that globalization exemplifies the rule of huge functional systems expanding onto the whole earth, that the value of individual freedom, or, in other words, of the agency element, has become decisively larger; that a constant struggle is led for the sources at the meso-level of globalization by different actors organizing the state and the society. That attempt has also hardly changed the situation when the international right is extended for the purpose of interventions of the neoliberal-human rights, as well as also that the philosophical distance between the abstract order of globalization and the elimination of concrete tasks of the social being is not diminished. Half a century ago, the critics of real socialism claimed that the real socialism was the world of ‘the collective irresponsibility’ and argued over who may have been responsible if the huge apparatus of collective decisions is no longer accountable. Numerous new variants of the same collective irresponsibility are, however, also reproduced in the distribution of responsibilities and competences among global institutions of different levels.

In the basic definitions of globalization the range of phenomena, which we commonly call a crisis in the ordinary languages, is also developed organically. We have often pointed out that it is one of the most striking and most unprecedented characteristics of globalization that ‘crisis and normality coexist in a new way.

This new leading characteristic can resemble certain historical antecedents because the setting of a local crisis at a higher, global level can be exactly comprehended at this new, global level as a part of a normal process. Such a local crisis expanded to the global level can also be interpreted as an expansion, if not an advantage of globalization, because precisely due to its crisis nature it can implicitly favor the regrouping of resources in a more optimal way. The phenomenon of ‘globalization’ could succeed not only as a new but also as a new and ‘positive’ phenomenon, because it represents a field, where even serious ‘crises’ can lead to positive and universal consequences.

The new relations between ‘normality’ and ‘crisis’ were in fact already noticed before 2007–2008 in the basic relations of globalization. However, within such a constitutive context, the crisis of 2007–2008 starts a new era.

This crisis also produced new and decisive changes in the global actors' behavior. Before 2007–2008, the rules of interpretation and action proceeded from the fact that globalization as a ‘system’ works perfectly. To criticize this system and to act against its spirit might only appear an exceptional phenomenon.[4]

After the crisis, this attitude has fundamentally changed.

However, the crisis is by no means the only determinant that can play a crucial role in the configuration of the global future. The other phenomenon of equal importance in its global dimensions, is a transformation of the imperial structure of globalization. At the end of the first decade of globalization, a great transformation becomes quite evident. The first half of this decade was the period of the so-called ‘unipolar’ world followed by the formation of a new structure that embodies then several simultaneous structural formations with already several poles perceived in the global architecture.

The contemporary phase of globalization serves a starting point of any forecast.[5]

This phase is currently determined by three comprehensive elements: 1) the crisis of 2007–2008; 2) new definitions of a new ‘multipolar’ world; and finally, 3) changes and new interactions of the aforementioned two aspects (crisis and new multipolarity).

The system of the basic features of globalization is always based on an everyday struggle within the mesosphere of globalization. This struggle is disputed between the basic functional-monetarist attributes of globalization and of the global meso-level, that is of the political sphere.[6] This struggle of the relative and structural indebtedness of the state (every state!) occurs in the form of a peculiar negative spiral, in the etatic, political, social and every other representative sphere of life in the society and thus perfectly reverses the social existence!

The society's fears and hopes are also articulated and realized in the meso-dimension. The specific basic attributes of the meso-level considered previously as relevant are also very clearly manifested in current globalization. We mention the functional change of politics, the one-person group, the natural residuals, the element of the self-destruction in the tissue of society, the paradoxical phenomenon of the revolt of the rich people, the present-future continuity and the (already mentioned new) provisions of the alternation between ‘crisis’ and ‘normality’.

The crisis has fundamentally changed the direction of actions and motivations. Before this crisis, the leading orientations of action were arranged to interpret the processes of globalization as an organic development, as a free game of free forces, when the individuals' diverse concrete objectives could be realized. After the crisis, the doubt, criticism, often even suspicion towards the foundations and legitimation of the same processes already appear as the leading orientation of action. While before the crisis these processes were considered ‘natural’, now as quite the reverse, almost nothing is considered as ‘natural’ or ‘obvious’. Whilst yesterday the ‘action’ was predominant, today it is the ‘reaction’ that prevails.

Within this new approach, the original paradoxes and ambivalences of globalization are obviously much more manifested. A sociological dimension is thus manifested. How was it possible that the prevailing tendencies and methods of thinking of the seventies and eighties remained, practically unchanged, prevalent also in two decades of globalization?

The present situation could also be exacerbated by the fact that now all those paradoxes and contradictions of globalization penetrate the everyday consciousness, which have not yet been understood by this everyday consciousness in these characteristics. While up to the beginning of the first decade we have precisely exaggerated the vision of ‘global’ relations as ‘normal’, actually the same everyday consciousness considers globalization, with the same element of exaggeration, as arbitrary, not measured, and sometimes even as hostile.

In this framework, it soon becomes clear that the greatest extremes of the phenomenology of globalization consist in that distance and in that contradiction that exist between the richness and the universality of globalization and the increasing social problems of many individuals, groups and societies. Before the crisis of 2007–2008, a part of the opinion-forming industry did almost everything to prevent the interpretation of the real processes as organic and spontaneous events. This intention and its successful admission are now shaken. The emergence of the decisive and reactive thinking has become a fait accompli.

Already before the crisis, that is to say in the previous historical period, it was clear that globalization produces a double effect on society. One of its most important impacts on the world is that globalization differentiates and also divides the individual as an individual person and the individual as a member of a social formation. Like any fundamental opposition of this kind, it is both rather abstract and rather concrete. A person as an individual can perceive globalization positively and at the same time as a member of some social formation can become the victim of globalization. The reverse situation is also possible.

The revolutionary transformation, if not jump of the agency (the agent's freedom) delivers that frame, within which the power of an individual can increase also in a historical proportion. The same frame, however, can also relatively depreciate the individuals affiliated in the social formations (church, trade union, political parties, family, etc.), because the larger formations, as actors, cannot provide the same level of self-realization to the same extent, as an individual as an actor can. Thus, these formations in comparison with the individuals' opportunities can become structural losers of globalization, as it has happened with the state.

According to the script of a Hollywood superproduction, the world society now expanding would be effectively a quite ironical story. While globalization was creating its huge possibilities and freedoms, a great part of the world society would generally perceive it as a restriction when just the pure survival even more clearly becomes the main challenge. The irony of this virtual film script manifests also in the fact that the unique constructive and constitutive side of globalization is profited and enjoyed by individual men or women, well organized in their social networks, while the destructive side of the same globalization process becomes the fate of the individuals organized in diverse social formations, and the destruction can lead to a total elimination of jobs or residential possibilities.

The redoubled anthropological consequence of globalization consists, therefore, in the fact that it favors and supports the individuals capable of competition better than the individuals organized in formations.

The temporal shift between global realities and their delayed notice leads to a new asymmetry. The societal standings or the ranking of a whole society are likely not to consider and treat in a balanced way the constructive and destructive sides of globalization. And it is all the more so, because the representatives of the constructive opinion on globalization are lucky ‘individuals’, while the ‘real masses’, arising from the decay of the previous great social formations, feel themselves marginalized. But they still revisit the world of the former great organizations.

This evolution leads to a development of political and social issues that remind of the problems of the pre-global period. A new simulacrum (Schein), both theoretically and practically determined, occurs. This appearance means that the social and political issues correspond to those of the pre-global period and represent a ‘continuation’ of the old realities. The ‘appearance’ (Schein) updates the phenomena of crisis and reminds of the crises of the former periods. In many people's lives this ‘appearance’ is, in fact, a ‘reality’, however, not convincing in its essence, because the problems seeming identical represent the phenomena not of an international industrial society but already of the post-industrial global world society.

This creates some philosophical problems. The status of reality itself is redoubling. The crisis that occurred at the meso-level reminds of the cyclical economic crises of the pre-global industrial society, while the same crisis is in fact already a consequence of globalization.

System Changes within the Structure of Globalization

To a certain extent it depends also on the actors, on their ability to adapt to the overall situation through their behavior. If populist or extremist concepts appear on the scene as a ‘solution’ of these new political and social problems, it also implies that these new actors do not want to perceive the whole situation as a ‘global’, but as a ‘traditional-national state-centered’ reality. Through a simple categorization of the situation they make politics and through their politics they define the situation. The fact that they revive the language and the concept of populism and extremism of the thirties with an astonishing fidelity only proves the idea stated at the beginning of this article that the currently prevailing flows of thought can become extremely distant from the present real historical situation. This actually arises the question whether the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ could be still legitimately applied to the present global relations.

The political and social issues lead again to the systemic-theoretical dimensions of globalization. The fundamental functional characteristics systematically depreciated the basic dimensions of politics as a non-functional sphere. For historical reasons, the basic social issues have been admitted and articulated within the system of modern society through the politically based problematic. Through the depreciation of the political system, the depreciation of the social system also occurs. If there appear political thoughts that can invoke through their categorization a pre-global political situation, the importance of the political and social systems is again reinforced, which, however, cannot bring to the conclusion that globalization already disappears in this way and the pre-global reality becomes true.

In this also already structurally reduplicated global reality, the key to the constructive solution of political and social problems is not in the hands of the politicians, although the crisis creates the impression (‘the appearance’) that the new social and political problems could be solved within the framework of the old, pre-global structures. Therefore, the global crisis at the meso-level of societies becomes also political. At the national state-centered meso-level of globalization this phenomenon is also outdated. It contributes to the action of yesterday concepts; moreover, even the political plausibility can successfully put forward those outdated and yesterday concepts of the national state-centered level against the negative effects of globalization.

The search for new responses to the crisis gets out of control in societies and in mass communication. The whole activity of this search is, however, severely limited by two points. First is the intellectual limitation. Here, the comprehensive lack of utopia and utopia's hostility become rapidly visible, furthermore the already analyzed deep fixation of the everyday consciousness on the forms of thinking of the seventies and eighties, the belief in the former truth of the thesis of the ‘end of the history’ (today, we are already mistaken that no new theories are possible), this also includes the consequence of the year 1989, when the neo-liberalism marginalized, if not compromised, all other major structures of thought, while these different great directions could not properly react up actually to this degradation (the so-called ‘Third Way’ exemplifies this point by social democracy, with which we can thoroughly study, how the neo-liberalism moved the social democracy away from its own trend).

This search for new responses is also complicated by the fact that different levels of action are, however, not all in the hands of those who want to react. This also means that a strong intellectual background is already necessary.

At the current phase of globalization, only those economic and social solutions are important that now can be organically qualified in the fundamental system of relations within globalization. This means, above all, that they are not separated in systemic-theoretical terms from the determining structural and functional relations of globalization.

In our days, the structural loser,[7] that is the political subsystem, is again revaluated in a indirect way of social issues. Social and political problems should be solved, but this cannot occur in the directness (Unmittelbarkeit) of a pre-global view of political and social systems. We cannot also exclude that a sudden revaluation of political system leads, in the public consciousness, to the diminution, if not to repression of the importance of globalization. The sudden revaluation of the political system can bring back to life the political ghosts that we believed to be dead.


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Luhmann, N. 1973. Zweckbegriff und Systemrationalität. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

[1] One should remember that there is a state debt without globalization, as well as there might also be globalization without any national debt. However, globalization has led to the fact that the action field of economy (above all, the one of the multinational groups) has hugely increased and put on its feet the specifically monetary concretization of the deep structures of global economy, in which the money itself could also function as the most important wares.

[2] These forms of thinking do not appear directly in the immediate articulation of judgments; they are, however, not direct contents, but principles, methods and procedures, which help an effective elaboration of the reality. A ‘soft’ treatment of reality means then not exclusively ‘soft’ judgments, but the ‘soft’ methods of construction.

[3] Such a reversal is simultaneously real (politically and sociologically) and logical.

[4] This assertion contains obviously an exaggeration, which, however, demonstrates this particularly important trend of the global world of opinions and global everyday life.

[5] It goes without saying that a huge speed of global processes makes it difficult to define exactly the ‘current’ state of globalization, because it often happens that at the moment of its publication an exactly performed analysis of a current situation no longer corresponds fully to the actual environment. Nevertheless, this difficulty cannot prevent us from a thorough investigation of different phases of current globalization.

[6] Ld. Jövőkutatás és globalizáció. Új szempontok a két terület áthatásainak kutatásában. In: Jövő. MTA IX. Osztály Jövőkutatási Bizottságának hivatalos lapja. 2006. 3. szám. www.jovo.jovokutatas, hu/3/kiss-jovokutglob. rtf.glob and Kiss 2007.

[7] It must also be emphasized in this context that the structural and functional relations in globalization should not be confused, under any circumstances, with immediate real relations. A structural loser can, for example, appear in other contexts as a definite winner!