ABSTRACT

This book presents an analysis of recent global trends in international relations, with special emphasis on the connections between cultural pluralism; political regionalism and interregionalism. New actors and varieties of cultural politics have challenged not only the Western model of modernization (along with its philosophical justifications) but also Western-derived forms of democracy. Among the emergent actors that have offered wide-ranging alternatives to the culture of modernity as represented by the West, three deserve special attention. First, there are various forms of political authoritarianism (seen, for example, in Russia, Turkey, and China) that claim to defend national or regional traditions against the logic of homogenization. Next, there are several variants of religious and political fundamentalism that pursue the politics of identity (e.g., in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and India) and advocate some sort of theocracy. Third, and most recently, neo-populist movements have gained ground even in electoral democracies like the United States, United Kingdom, Hungary, Poland, and Italy. By appealing to nationalist, ethnic, or religious identities as a way to mobilize support at the polls, those movements implicitly have attacked the model of Western modernity as such. All three of these tendencies affect the functioning and development of regional cooperation as well, since each invokes a strongly nationalistic and protectionist anti-multilateralism. During the ongoing upheaval in the global system of international relations, the cultural factor—that is, different worldviews and identities, and the use that political actors make of them—plays a crucial yet highly ambivalent or even contradictory role in politics, ideological debate, and intellectual discourse.