Introduction: Addressing the politics of fear. The challenge posed by pluralism to Europe

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (4):371-382 (2011)
Abstract
The introduction to this issue is meant to address the ways in which turbulent immigration is challenging European democratic countries’ capacity to integrate the pluralism of cultures in light of the current state of economic instability, strong public debt, unemployment and an aging resident population. The Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations Association has organized its annual Istanbul Seminars in order to fill the need for constructive dialogue dedicated to increasing understanding and implementing social and political change. Turkey’s accession to the European Union represents in this light a challenge to our liberal views, which must become more open-minded in order to address adequately cultural and religious differences, Islam included. We must set ourselves the task of finding a new perspective so that we may defuse the populist radicalization, fear-mongering politicians and xenophobia that are emerging in many countries. Yet it is equally essential that we reconfigure and recontextualize the traditional secular battle for freedom from the dominance of the Christian majority away from a binary opposition to a plural dimension that takes into account other religious communities. After introducing the major challenges our seminars were organized to address, the introduction will summarize and explain the articulation of the contents of this issue in the following three parts: (1) realigning liberalism in the context of globalization (with contributions by Nilüfer Göle, Alain Touraine, Albena Azmanova, Stephen Macedo, Zygmunt Bauman); (2) different paths: towards modernity and democracy from within different cultures and religions (Fred Dallmayr, Sadik Al Azm, Irfan Ahmad, Ibrahim Kalin); and (3) philosophical presuppositions of intercultural dialogue and multiculturalism (Maeve Cooke, Sebastiano Maffettone, Volker Kaul)
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