Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. März 2006

6.2. Die Entdeckung der Welt in Literatur und Wirklichkeit / The Discovery of the World: Fiction and Reality
Herausgeber | Editor | Éditeur: Helmut F. Pfanner (Nashville, Lochau)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

The Global Sovereignty and Civil Society of Imperium

Ekaterina Belotsvetova (Russian Academy of Sience, Moscow)


We recently became witnesses of global havoc rather than of order; of throwing, rather than of gathering stones. There is no empire-wise structural quest on a widely acceptable global historic demand. A diminishing trust in the U.N., the decay of the past-war military system of world relationships (a downslide into "jungles of world society"), an increasing gap between rich and poor countries in the world, the unstable situation (just in form - local and regional) in world financial markets, aggravating global problems, as well as the given inclination toward terrorism and provocative actions of terrorists - his is our grave and at pressing reality.

The overlapped stratification of our contemporary world engenders some heterogeneous forms of subjectivity in the form of the Imperium. The word Imperium has a well-known word stem imper originating from the Latin word "empire." According to a recent study of imperial structures by popular authors of the bestseller book "The Empire", Michel Hardt and Ontonio Negri, the word Imperium has an almost forgotten semantic stem of modernity.(1)

Accumulated by the world and its diversity of legal systems, Imperium represents a radically pluralistic society, whereas diversity composes its profound and rewarding structure. Based on J. Deleuse’s philosophical thinking, the similar shall hover around variety, but it is primarily "in-depth variety" that matters.(2) Therefore, the civility of Imperium best of all answers the demands of subjectivity known as the Other (Others). The Others are individuals who have their rights "to vary, consider themselves as varying and are respected accordingly."

Is it not that the Other is just any individual? In fact it is not. It is far from every man being the Other. Other individuals in the foremost degree are not the same as the Others. Subjectively speaking, the Enemies and Strangers have the same form as the Others, but they all are different. The Stranger and especially the Enemy haul history towards the past. In order to reach a fuller understanding we’ll try to look at them from the historical point of view. We have to do this because they both occur in the past, and modern times reveal their retro identity even deeper.

First of all, "the Enemy" has the meaning of "outsider", i.e. aggressor, foeman, and adversary. However the "enemy" may also have the meaning of "insider" - the one who is filled with a spirit of animosity, and he prostrates it onto others or onto anything else. For example, in the Middle Ages in Europe the enemies were considered impious. They were divided into outside enemies - the heretics, against whom one waged crusades - and inside enemies - the recusants, who were destined to be tortured with fire. In Russia in the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century such social groups of people as students called "Sicilians" and Hebrews were considered to be the inside enemies. The XX. century overflowed with a spirit of animosity. At that period of history humankind faced the totalitarian doctrines of fascism and the social-Stalinist regime.

Racial and national-socialistic ideology divided the world into genuine Aryans, or Krautheads, and "others", meaning the undeveloped human races. The latter were feebly different from those who subscribed to that idea and those who tried to contend it. Curiously enough they often found themselves seized together in one prison cage. However, the outward resistance is finally destined to brake up internally and vice versa.

Two counterfeiting ideologies are eager to settle and share their sites of dominion, but as a result they irrevocably break out into war. Such are the actions of the enemies; their intentions are not always clear except when there is a military and very argumentative principle: "Should the enemy resist, destroy him." Most likely, it is the only way to fetch the enemy.

Unfortunately, it is hard to avoid enemies even now. We are exposed to a surely enlightened, economically and politically strong world that undergoes, though in different forms, tough historical timings. The tragedy of Bislan in the far south of Russia, of September 11 th in the USA, of the Madrid train bomb explosion and other world crimes have completely destroyed any mythology - the enemies are the terrorists, as well as other sorts of "left" or "right" extremists. Destruction is their eminent goal, e.g.: blockading, destroying, and exploding, instead of reforming, securing, and excelling existing social structures and the already established peace-order.

The Stranger - who is he and where does he come from? He can come from the "outside" - i.e. an outlander, but more often - from the "inside"; he is simply not one of us, not of our "gents". The transition from the image of Enemy to the image of Stranger implies some softening of the morale of an intact social relationship. Moreover, the Stranger is now seen as a man. Though he is visible, he is not yet incarnated into our habitual way of living. The distance between the "far" Stranger and the "close" Stranger is not defined by his human existence, as in the case of the Enemy, but he rather he is inscribed with the spirit of his life-forming principles, views, and beliefs. The Stranger exists in unfamiliar surroundings allowing existing rights to be sometimes abused, e.g. the Strangers or metics (aliens) of Ancient Greece had no rights and were compelled to forfeit their debts. The Strangers, or aliens of the Old Roman Empire, had no right to participate in elections or to serve in the army.

Characteristics of racial, ethnical, and religiously confessional aspects emphasize the role of the Stranger, particularly the Stranger-foreigner, whose image is projected into the future. However the Stranger differs even among his compatriots, i.e. among those who belong to the same country by his genus or citizenship. The "inside" delineation, which now follows, seems to fit here better.

The inside Stranger has many arguments but the community that surrounds him is the most convincing argument. We will speak of two different subjects: about community and the society, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (that as in the spirit of Tönnis)(3). Community is the unity of people united under dominating generic traditions, neighborhoods, close and emotional communication, socialized duties and responsibilities, as well as solidarity in personal devotion and trust. The primeval community is not always a type of social structure. Community is multi-facial, e.g.: it can be a family type, generic and caste, territorial, and corporative, etc. Community or unity is any sort of institution formally arranged by a well-structured particularism. Society against community is characterized as "more cold," functional, aimed, and universal, but not particularly as personal interrelations of people.

Transition from community to society is an overall historical process. The process is lasting and tangling. It is more complicated than changes of governments, social systems, and growing civilizations. However it is also true that community has stopped its existence as social structure, but it still endures in the lives of people, in their mentalities, in their minds, and in their behaviors. Even now some people still live in community. In typified language, the ones like us are bound together as a community of individuals; the Stranger is the one who is apart from this unity. Here we have a dual moraliity, or a moral of double standards: one rule and measure for all who are among us, and the other rule and measure for strangers who are none of us. This moral is good also for macro societies - singular states or coalitions of states. However, the territory sizes are not so important here. Most important is the spirit of unity that equally amalgamates masses and elites, common people and leaders.

Strangers find a fruitful atmosphere for their historical existence also in premature ethnical and religiously confessional groupings. They are "premature" - since they can face confrontation at any critical point of time; since they are reversed towards the past (most reasonably - by theoreticians or politicians), rather than aimed towards the future; since they are full of assurance that, as they believe, will bring them to any solution. Here let us view them as developed or mature ethno-national and religious-confessional relations that are free, personal choice relations formed in the context of all human individuals and pertaining to the whole race of Homo. Hopefully, a real module of existence of such relationships is optional, rather than officially adjured by government. Otherwise, ethno- and theocratic tendencies are invincible.

The Stranger is not an Enemy. Whereas the Stranger is tolerated, abided, or accepted, i.e. on the basis of a symbiosis or common interests - the Other is abominated, close to be almost demolished, relinquished, or even eradicated.

Strangers are those who compactly abide together and form an identical group of immigrants. They often are not willing to learn the language of the country they come to and refuse to integrate into the new culture. They come with the intention of gaining and taking all privileges - adjusted only to their way of life - with tellurian morals, habits, and values. In the "geometrical" range of demography, they come to be expanding within a territory. For example, Turkish immigrants in their third generation have tremendous difficulties in adapting to the German culture. They even "began to create a new Germany - free of Germans". In Russia, people coming from the southern and eastern territories, which surround the Russian Federation, retain their own cultural traditions, curiously distinct and often not fit for common recognition. Therefore, Strangers can also be all sorts of radicals, non-constructive oppositions, and most likely even the stark marginality.

The Other is actually neither the Enemy nor the Stranger. He intends to demonstrate the high stage of cultural, social, and human development. The Enemy and the Stranger, in sight of the Other, reduce, veil, diminish, make no support or exhortation of his (the Other’s) individuality, incomparability, and otherness. The Other in this context is an object - a means, rather than the goal.

The Other is set apart because of his self-standing existence, i.e. his impartial personality in its generic aspect. He is kin to look at the near- standing Other and the generic characteristics of man, which provides a good explanation for the term the "Other", i.e.: some, somebody else. Actually anyone - no matter what his/her ethno-national, socially classified or culturally civic aspect is - can be the Other, for he is, first of all, a human being - a person in his own self. In other words, the Other is always another person. This kind of overall human perspective is prized for its good merit, for he believes in reason and the freedom of the will.

The Other needs no federal patronage, no social support, nor any tightening of his free-will assistances. He is self-reliable, knowing exactly what to do and how to live. Therewith, it is expedient that he is determined to make only serious decisions, the decisions that qualify him to be accepted for his social values and norms; therewith, he is able to foresee genuine concerns of all interactive members as his own - as Others. We have all justification to speak of the inward freedom of the Other, of his racial freedom, his sexual and ethnical, etc. precautions, of his ability to examine man as a real human being, and we are able to set apart such a man’s quality from the rest that surround him all his life. The Other (someone) can someday become a friend (somebody)(4).

The Other is reckoned for his "pretensions of being significant", which implies his right to self-respect or dignity. At the same time he treasures critics. Criticism is a distinctive characteristic of reasoning. Only by questioning him-self ("criticizing himself") the Other can fully reveal his self and encourage others to follow his example.

The Others today - are individuals of civil society who fulfill their obligations to differ, according to, and as a result of, the fundamental rights of man and his freedoms.

Enemies, Strangers, and Others chiefly support different values and hold on to different goals. Some of them can correspond; however, their original statuses do not match significantly.

The culture of the Enemy is mainly characterized by the absolute values that sustain the spirit of morality. The moral spirit is not just a fanatically inspired idea, secretly or openly defending another (any imaginable) idea. The culture of the Stranger is also absolute, yet it has something uncertain, arising from the very fact of existence (of abiding in strange but safe enough environments). If convictions are argumentatively strong, they are strong enough to perceive any shade of dogmatic conviction, characterized by the famous Russian historian Lev Gumilev in his book "Looking for Imagined Realm" as passionarity(5). Thus, we refer to logic of tolerated co-existence, known as modus vivendi. In respect to the culture of the Other, it is full of relative thinking. This culture represents the open values, but not fully elaborated in the life goals of man. Its idea is less "hardened" because of its constant co-presence in hesitation (constant concern about appropriate relation to objective matters of life) and their counterbalance (with other ideas and values). In contrast to the first two cultures, the Enemy and Stranger are inseparable or hardly separable from the spirit of confrontation; the culture of the Other, herein, is fulfilled with synergy and harmony, accumulated and not dissimilated in the goals, thoughts, and actions of man.

Having started to move away from Enemy towards the Stranger and then towards the Other - we now start to move away from the very Absolute. The culture of the Other undermines our trust in Absolute(s) and recognizes human potentiality in communication. The best and the worst fruits of our life become ripe only in human communication. The Absolutes do not interact; they attain only to prove their extreme dissimilarity.

Here is one relevant (self-) observation. In the English language the word absolute (supreme, perfect) is closely assimilated with the word obsolete (old, outdated, and unused). However, I think, this kind of phonetic similarity is not accidental. For global sovereignty and civil society, the absolute nature, or the Absolute, is something like an old or outdated past. Accordingly, the necessities of commonly shared(6) and thus absolute values of our life are certain, for the global civil society will not function without them. However, the issue here is that their absolute purpose is not in the transcendent (set apart from society, i.e. divine) but in the human and immanent character. Moreover, it is also a historical purpose that modulates within epochal time lines. In other words the changes happen between one epoch and the other, but not within the epoch. Common appreciation (absoluteness) of such values is determined and sustained by their epochal stability.

In the global aspect of heterogeneous subjectivity we find such forms of interaction as antagonism, forbearance, and tolerance. They are therewith tied in with the cultures of the Enemy, the Stranger, and the Other. Their connection is weak and fragile, for no human (civilized) communication is protected against antagonistic aggravation. On the other hand, the antagonisms are sometimes eradicated when set against the rank of forbearance. Antagonism is an open social wound that is to be cured. But how can it be cured?

In the focus of communicative form of action, defined as forbearance, we refer to the culture of the Stranger. By relying on potentiality of non-restrained principle, or forbearance, people search for (and find) the ways and means of peaceful co-existence. Forbearance is an ability of coexistence of unequal identities by quitting, limiting, and neutralizing conflicts and antagonisms. This qualified instrument has many forms and techniques that are specified, such as compromise, arbitrary prosecutions, manifold acquiescing procedures, treaties of peace, etc.

A. U. Soloviev has specified the problematic aspect of this phenomenon as: "The forbearance is specific virtue of belligerent individuals."(7) Therewith follows the statement: "Sometimes not ready to give up or compromise their way of thinking."(8) The forbearance is called to bring people onto the way of peace. Of course, the counterbalances are "mutual". Forbearance is not there where people are not willing to hear and understand the problems and concerns of others. The forbearance of calming down the contradictory values reveals itself in the form of a value. It is designed to search for sources most suitable for a practical (and pragmatic) solution rather than the precise question of how such diverse personalities can abide together.

The foremost character of tolerance, as of a communicative form, is its essentially explicit character in the Other. Considering the interactive character of such thinking, we can affirm that tolerant existence (co-existence) represents a conventional - i.e. created by common efforts - existence of at least two subjects, where each one is the Other. Such feeling that the Other stands next to you makes you feel safe and active, i.e. it takes you away from that existential loneliness.

The Others, as subjects of tolerant co-existence, are of equal value and therefore symmetric towards one another. There are no advantages or privileges, no specified and out-measured positions, nor any predominance or subordination. The traditional counterbalance of the "IOther" is minified here to a simple differentiation, and it is easily converted into: I am for the Other the same as He is for Himself. The Others, as members of tolerant interaction, appear to be "doubled selves" (Heidegger) or the alter ego of each other.

Differences and acceptances, their mutual understanding constitutes tolerance and can be defined as interaction between two unique subjects, as "one-another" relationship, as in-human otherness. Tolerance reaffirms not only the right to exist in otherness of the Other, but also the positive social value, without which there can be no global sovereignty nor other civility.

Tolerance requires a highly developed individuality or personality as its bearer. Only the tolerant personality can be lenient towards others and be able to evaluate the tolerant attitude of others. The undeveloped personality or individual is easily broken under powers of traditions, customs, or habits, i.e. under the power of the multitude, which has never proved to be tolerant.

The tolerant personality is the integrative part of freedom as its reason and consequence. Tolerance obtains its nutrition from freedom and the lucid choice of man. It is real and vital only in a condition of freedom. Where there is no freedom, people and society are satisfied with contrived tolerance - with intact human fate, ethnic coherency, national idea, "multicultural nations", "scientific ideologies", etc. The dependence of tolerance on freedom is commonly shared in modern society. The tolerance is an offspring of freedom, which faithfully serves freedom, continuously expanding the circle of people attracted to it.

Tolerance, as everything in this world, has its own margins that can often be misused. Not every and not each reasoning, evaluation, and action have to be given a free way by tolerance. Some of them are likely to follow. It is important and most sure has certain limitations of reason and actions that inflame the racial, religious, or national-ethnical hatred, arouse violence, and evoke riots, ineligible persecutions and so on. The modern society should be ignoble and inimical to all such deviations.

The edible fruits of tolerance and its intercultural dialogue will be gathered only when certain conditions and necessities are attuned. In the religious aspect it has been lengthily demonstrated by Habermas: "Religious mind must, first of all, work out the relations of cognitive dissonance mating with other religions or confessions. Secondly, the religious mind must take a certain stance against the manifold scientific eminence, enfolding the social monopoly of world knowledge. Finally, the religious mind must build into means of existence of constitutional government based on profane morality."(9) For if religion constitutes the deepest reason of any even slightly developed culture, based on the above listed requirements, it may be considered as a paradigmatic "mind set" philosophy.

It is important to pay closer attention to the so-called imperative demand of reflection, or reflexivity, as the most urgent aspect of Imperium, which avails much from science, its impact and eminence. Science does not impose its monopoly on truth. Therefore, we can justly rely on it as on the most impartial arbitration of our profane doings in the world. Science is rationality (instrumental, as well as communicative), which insures stable navigation in a globalizing world.

Morality - as profane and civil - is highly important for tolerance. We can understand those authors who think that tolerance is a reversed "golden rule" for morality, as it is written in Immanuel Kant’s absolute imperative: "Do unto others as you expect them to do unto you". Most likely, tolerance exists somewhere in no-one’s land - somewhere in between law and morality, between fiction and reality. However, the most important is that morality, as profane, i.e. of the human race, rather than of religious divinity, creates an atmosphere of ethical relativity, which helps diverse factors of global sovereignty to co-exist and to be fruitful.

The factual subjectivity of heterogenic civility of Imperium does not eradicate the historical necessity and social-cultural relevancy of the Other as its inhabitant. On the side of the Other, presumably, will evolve the culture of the Stranger and somewhat the culture of the Enemy (animosity). The focus of the Imperium is to make everyone as that of the Other, make active the society of the Others.

Imperium as an historical demand comes from the future. Yet it is only a potentiality related to actual potentiality that is ontologically constituted.(10) Imperium as a demand for peace and order is an approaching reality that starts in nowadays and moves steadfast from the present towards the future.

© Ekaterina Belotsvetova (Russian Academy of Sience, Moscow)


(1) M. Hardt and A. Negri, Empire, Harvard Press, 2000, p.1, xi.

(2) J. Deluese, The Difference and Repetition, Cpb., 1998, pp. 60 and 72.

(3) Walter de Gruyter. Tönnis im Gespräch. Verlag zur Gesamtausgabe. Socio site. Famous Sociologist. 1996-2002.

(4) In the Russian language word other has the same word stem as in friend.

(5) L. N. Gumilev. Passionarity (lat. Passio) is an effect of energetic burst in nature and life, intended to excite the action. Looking for Imagined Realm. Moscow: Di-Dik, 1994, p. 67.

(6) Taking into consideration the mass-statistic character of social reality behind the historical common is always the stand of the multitudes. In reality it is not possible that everyone should march on the same way.

(7) A. U. Soloviev. Genesis of the rights of man. The historical routs of tolerance. Tolerance: Resources of the Summer Scientific Youth School. Pt. 2. Yekaterinburg, 2001 p. 67.

(8) Op. cit.

(9) U. Habermas, The future of human nature. Moscow, 2002, p. 120.

(10) As M. N. Epstein rightly noticed, potentiality is not yet actual (actuality) but active (M. N. Epstein, Philosophy of Potentiality, Cpb., 2001, p.37).


6.2. Die Entdeckung der Welt in Literatur und Wirklichkeit / The Discovery of the World: Fiction and Reality

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For quotation purposes:
Ekaterina Belotsvetova (Russian Academy of Sience, Moscow): The Global Sovereignty and Civil Society of Imperium. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW:

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