Rein Müllerson: Towards a multipolar and diverse world?

"Triumphant historical unidirectionality is not only simplistic, it may also be extremely dangerous." Rein Müllerson critiques both classical Marxism and free-market capitalism, with their faith in ineluctable progress, at the same time asking how far universal claims for social justice are reconcilable with the multipolar global system.

...Globalization, and migration as one of its manifestations, also leads to the heterogenization of individual societies. In most societies the world over there are more and more material factors, ideas, practices and people of foreign origin. Some big cities, especially in the West, are microcosms of the world as a whole. If foreign material goods are, as a rule, accepted benevolently (though even here there are exceptions), foreign ideas, practices and especially carriers of those ideas and practices tend to produce resistance on the part of indigenous populations. 

These controversial parallel processes of homogenization and heterogenization have already created serious problems. The world has become interconnected but also unmanageable. Everything is related to everything else and, more often than not, deliberate and planned actions have unforeseen and unintended consequences. Negative events in one part of the world have an immediate impact in other parts. Economic and financial crises, terrorist attacks, environmental pollution and uncontrollable immigration waves are major negative consequences of globalization.

Universal history and historical determinism

Besides the spontaneous homogenization of the world there have also been conscious attempts to make it thus. Monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Islam have both tried to make the world the same in terms of faith, either through conquest or missionary activities. The ideas of the Enlightenment, based on the belief in the universality of reason and its eventual triumph over emotions, spontaneity and irrationality, have been a powerful source of attempts to remake the world in accordance with elaborate blueprints. Marxism was the most prominent emanation of the Enlightenment, an ideology that planned to redesign the world according to societal laws "scientifically discovered" by Karl Marx and the Marxists. Here, historical determinism and voluntarism joined forces. 

Having discovered iron laws that would inevitably lead all societies towards the full emancipation of humankind, the Marxists saw their task as being to facilitate the birth pangs of the new world – to play the role of its midwife. Erik Olin Wright is right claiming that "Marx proposed a highly deterministic theory of the demise of capitalism."[5] However, as he adds, Marx also offered "a relatively voluntaristic theory of the construction of [capitalism's] alternative."[6] It is important to note that it is not only Marxism that is guilty of a confusion of phenomena that, at first glance, seem to offer irreconcilable explanations of social processes. Both these "irreconcilable reconcilables" have their roots in the Judeo-Christian worldview, and especially the legacy of the Enlightenment...
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