David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy and Social Criticism 36 (8):903-916 (2010)
This article argues the main following points. (1) Communism was fatefully dependent upon the action or inaction of its top leaders because of the vulnerability of the hyper-centralized power and hyper-centralized defense of the ruling class and the ruling party. No one was really able to seriously predict the historical contingencies such as Gorbachev and Yeltsin that played a decisive role. The most that social scientists and analysts could safely claim was that communism had become unsuccessful and problematical to such an extent that force alone could maintain it. However, given the overall history of communism, who could have anticipated that such force would not be used. (2) The United States is toiling now in an overwhelmingly difficult and dangerous transition, not only from a ‘superpower’ to ‘merely’ a big power, but from a totalistic and laissez-faire capitalism to a limited and state-regulated capitalism. It is the most efficacious way of production and primary distribution. However, unless capitalism, national and global, becomes regulated and combined with some kind of socialism (solidarism) that is yet to be established, global crises will keep recurring. The best chance for enlightened socialist (solidaristic) humanism lies in secondary distribution based on equality and justice as its fundamental principles. (3) The very term ‘superpower’ suggests a kind of superhuman, almost divine power. The United States does not have such power because (among other things) apocalyptic weapons are at the disposal of some considerably weaker states (in every other respect). (4) The possibility of the self-destruction of humankind has become the over-determination of all other over-determinations in history. It follows that auto-apocalypse must be separated from the categorical and epochal dichotomy between modernity/ modernism and postmodernity/postmodernism and given an absolute priority, both theoretical and practical. This break should be characterized as post-postmodernity and reflection upon it as post-postmodernism. We are in vital need of a total anti-apocalyptic turnaround in overall thought, sensitivity, activity and organization. Unfortunately, it can now safely be predicted that more and more states and societies, even those founded on (internal) freedoms and desirous to maintain them, will become transformed into states and societies focused on the struggle for survival in the face of auto-apocalyptic threats. I believe that confronted more and more with such threats liberalism will actually, and later probably also explicitly, yield the place of the fundamental operative (unlike declarative) view of the world, ideology, imagology, and principle of social organization — to humankind existentialism. We have entered an existentialist ‘end of history’ instead of the proclaimed liberalistic ‘end of history’
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