H(eter)omogenization?

HeteromogenizationDoes nationality or race or religion matter in a globalized world? Or are we headed to the so-called a global community where no traditional attribute is attached? Objectively speaking, one might have different point of view with another as, for example, some Japanese might perceive themselves not a global citizen meanwhile few Indonesian identify their identity as a global community. These debates have since been enriching in the realm of discourse yet somehow misleading because of the logic of identity deconstruction. Both Fukuyama and Huntington have come up with their own stances in responding to globalization whether the world nowadays is more into a homogenous or heterogeneous society. Or might be heteromogenous society?

The End of History? by Francis Fukuyama seemed to highlight two major arguments. Firstly, he believed that Western liberal democracy is a legitimate world system of government that may constitute the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution. The collapse of communism in the late of 1980s has evidently marked the triumph of Western liberalism as this major ideological transformation has partially changed the world. Partial in a sense that for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the material world. It means that Western liberal democracy does not necessarily bring contradictions to an end while conflicts and humanitarian issues in most developing countries are still occurring. This critique is to underline that homogenization can be conflicting. However, what Fukuyama tried to emphasize is that liberal democracy is basically the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run. Secondly, the evolution of human societies would end when mankind has achieved a form of society that satisfied its deepest and most fundamental longings. This basic notion is in line with what Hegel believed that history culminated in an absolute moment – a moment in which a final, rational form of society and state become victorious. Through this point of view, the author sees that liberal democracy does not necessarily fit all as not every countries benefit from the practice of Western liberal democracy. Therefore, is it not leading to the end of history?

Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations is quite striking as his prediction was that future military confrontation will take place between clashing civilizations rather than between nations. It shows that civilizations have become primary variable at the level of case analysis. Huntington’s thesis is saying that the international system is in transition to a new system composed of eight major civilizations (Western, Japanese, Confucian, Hindu, Islamic, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and African). Though he assumed that differences do not necessarily mean conflict, there will always be possibility that civilizations will clash someday because they embody incompatible political and moral values. At this point, the globalization has contributed to shape identity while identity itself shapes preferences, attitude and most importantly action and legitimacy of action. Dieter Senghaas, on his book The Clash within Civilizations, brings critiques upon Huntington’s work. He argues that Huntington does not give thorough interpretations of those civilizations thus very little can be learned about them. A major weakness of Huntington’s argument is that he regards civilizations as not adoptable and changeable over centuries.

As previously explained, it is not that whether Fukuyama is right or Huntington is wrong, those two points of views contribute to explain the phenomenon of globalization at the macro- as well as at the micro-level. To understand these two paradigms, the author argues that first of all we need to differentiate identity as a perceived one and assigned one. A perceived identity is basically how people address and internalize values to ourselves while an assigned identity is inherently the way we see ourselves. Identity is very much influenced by the globalization as the world now is shrinking to become a flattened world. The main question is that does identity matter? The author views that identity matters in a sense that people with no identity will not be classified as “being”. Speaking of globalization and society, are we headed to a homogenous or heterogeneous society? The author prefers to not merely choose one point of view and rather mix those into a new point of view called “heteromogenization”. As Fukuyama stated that we sort of having global identity which refers to Western liberal democracy, not to mention the US culture, as a modern form of identity. The author agrees upon the premise above as the nature of man seeks for basic needs, and the basic needs are provided by the globalization. One of good example is that going to Mc Donald or Starbucks has become a part of way of life. The way of life as a product of consciousness and also being influenced by other values is evidence that we are heading toward one global identity. Information technology also contributes to create one integrated global society as information can be shared easily everywhere. On the other hand, Huntington reveals his analysis of the traditional form of identity. The author emphasizes the importance of nationality, religion, ethnicity, blood as inherent factor which characterizes national identity. Daniel Patrick Moynihan explains that the central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of society. To some extent, globalization has affected people’s resistance over their root of culture so that people still hold the principle of life as their identities. At this point, globalization is not the one which erodes the traditional value, rather the one which enhances traditional value.

In summation, the author emphasizes that globalization is to some extent able to strengthen and weaken the identity, and it is inevitable that heteromogenization do exist at one time. At one point, we cannot avoid the universalization of US culture through globalization, but we are not also able to leave our traditional culture as our very fundamental identity. Making a case for Indonesia’s experience in recent years, many argue that national identity has eroded to a lower level due to Western influence over modern culture. Many say otherwise, that globalization will keep them updated with the latest information of global news and innovation. Therefore, it ultimately shapes their perspectives to catch up and be able to compete in the globalized world without leaving their identities behind. Being a global community with a stronger national identity is best to define what heteromogenization is.

References

  • Francis Fukuyama, The End of History? (Chicago: University of Chicago’s John M. Olin Center, 1989), p. 1
  • Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and The Last Man (New York: Macmillan, 1992)
  • Francis Fukuyama (1989), Op.cit
  • Richard E. Rubenstein and Jarle Crocker, Challenging Huntington (Samuel Huntington’s theory of competing civilizations) (Foreign Policy, 1994), p. 23
  • Dieter Senghaas, The Clash within Civilizations: Coming to terms with cultural conflicts (New York: Routledge, 2002), p. 73
  • Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington, Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress (New York: Basic Books, 2000), p. xiv

Agung Pamungkas

Agung PamungkasAgung holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Indonesia (UI), graduating in 2012. His prior leadership experience was President of International Relations Student Association (2011) and Indonesian youth representative for G20 Youth Summit in Toronto (2010). Agung is currently working in a global PR firm in Jakarta.

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