Tuesday, September 05, 2000

The End of Politics and the Last Myth..(Excerpt)

Ali -Asghar Kazemi

The End of Politics and the Last Myth

( Critical Order in the Post-Political 21st. Century )

Tehran- Autumn 2000


In exposing our ideas and thoughts, we are usually guided by our ideals and wishes or normative requirements of our life, rather than concrete facts and realities. In other words, we are tempted to see the world and its various phenomenon in the way we like them or we think they ought to be rather than the way they really are. This tendency is even valid when we try to comprehend abstract concepts we are usually faced with in social and human sciences. Concepts such as freedom, justice , human rights, law, and politics are among those which to everyone's mind have special meanings and connotations. This seems more or less natural to open-minded people, but may not be quite obvious to many.

This prologue is written with a dual purposes. Firstly for those readers who might be caught by surprise or perhaps stupefaction in seeing the unusual title: The End of Politics.. . Thus,before they embark to question the logic of such a bold endeavor, I shall be the first to query the matter and try to explain the circumstances which led to the present undertaking. Secondly, to emphasize that this theory ,or rather hypothesis ,should be viewed as an attempt to suggest a new way of looking at the traditional field of political science and international relations with a view to examine their suitability and capacity in explaining the state of affairs at the beginning of the 21st. century. Thus, The End of Politics shall be considered as a "normative theory" like many other old and new ones in the field of social sciences . Normative theories usually do not respond to empirical facts, and are merely the product of critical reflection and epistemological examination of a concept or a field of knowledge, such as history , ideology or , in this case , politics, which can be the preoccupation of thinkers ,scholars and students of social sciences , anywhere and at anytime.

What you will read in this book is the product of a progressive development of the author's conception of politics during a rather long period of time.This began from a mere curiosity and, passing through many years of professional and academic experiences in various fields of social sciences, such as law, politics,culture etc., is now coming to its conclusions and is now presented for evaluation. Those who are familiar with other books and writings of this pen have perhaps realized the critical and ethical approach of the author to various problems of law, politics and international relations. What makes this book and its message different from the others is the explicit language employed in it to challenge the very foundation and substance of politics and political science at the beginning of the 21st. century and the third millennium. Perhaps, nobody has so far dared to question the rationale of politics which to the great philosopher of all times ,Aristotle ,was considered as " The Master Science."

The author is fully conscious of the gravity of the contention and, at this stage , having completed this venture , look forward to receiving views and critiques with the hope to further polish the subject. I sincerely expect that The End of Politics.. will attract academic debates and generate useful theoretical discussions among students of the field.

A. A. K.

Tehran, 26 January 2001


- Preface

- Introduction

Chapter One- The Legacy of Politics

1- Politics as a Myth
2- The Heritage of the 20th. Century
3- 21st. Century, The Beginning of the Ends
4- The End of Politics: A Conceptual Proposition
5- The " Critical Order" Hypothesis

Chapter Two- Explanations of "The End of Politics"Theory

1-Ontological Critique of Politics
2- Epistemological Deconstruction of Objectives and Functions of Politics
3- The Collapse of Political Science and Theory
4- The Demise of Politics: Entering The Post-Political Era
5- The Metaphor of Homo Politicus

Chapter Three- The End Of Politics: Challenges to the Post-Political State

1- Functional Challenges to the Political Sphere
2- Politics and Power
3- Politics and Legitimacy
4- Politics and Ideology
5 -Politics and Culture

Chapter Four- The End of Politics :Epistemological Crises

1- Impact of Changes on Human Knowledge
2- The Crisis of Political Knowledge
3- The Crisis of Political Methodology
4 - The Post- Behavioral Movement in the Post-Political Era

Chapter Five - Critical Order in The Post-Political World

1- Society, Order and the State of Nature
2- Social Order and The World Peace
3- Critical Order: Definition and Theoretical Framework
4- Critical Order: The Functional Approach
5- Critical Order: The Fuzzy Logic Approach

Chapter Six- Dimensions of the Critical Order

1- Linkage Between Various Dimensions of Order
2- The Socio- Political Order
3- The Legal Order
4- The Economic Order
6- Preserving the Balance Between Various Orders

Chapter Seven- The New World System and the Critical Order

1- The New Order in a Chaotic World
2- The New World Order : Roots and Ranges
3- The End of the Cold War and its Impact on the World Order
4- International Relations after the Cold War
5- The New Structure of Power in the Transition Period
6- Challenges Faced by the United Nations

Chapter Eight- Impact of Crises on the Post-Political Conditions

1- The Crisis of Knowledge: New Concepts and Ambiguities
2- The Crisis of Communication and Information
3- The Crisis of the Environment
4- T he Crisis of World Economy and International Debts
5- The Crisis of Security and Identity
6- Critical Order: The Gap Between Theory And Practice

Chapter Nine- Globalization and "The End of Politics " Theory

1- Globalization versus Localization
2- A World of Unity, Plurality or Differentiation
3- The Explanatory Power of International Relations Theory
4- International Relations and Critical Theory
5- The Grounds for Crises
6- The Conspiracy Theory
7- Threats to Civilizations from Inside
8- The Civilization Gaps and the Critical Order

Chapter Ten- The Prospects of the Post-Political Era: Alternative Paradigm

1- The Cultural Theory Paradigm
2- Politics Viewed from the Cultural Theory Approach
3- Culture, Management and the Containment of the Critical Order
4- Cultural Theory and the Mass Media Revolution
5-Cultural Theory and Post-Materialism
6-Cultural Theory and the Global Integration
7- Appraisal of the New Paradigm
8- Epilogue

- Bibliography

- Index


At the beginning of the 21st century and the so-called post-modern era an important question trickles the mind. That is :" what happens to politics and political science in the coming age of cybernetics and information revolution"? Thinkers , social scientists and philosophers in the west have been more or less marginally addressing to the question , but nobody has so far argued anything much substantial and controversial about the logic and rationale of its very existence. Depending on whether we consider the post-modern as a special historical period with its various forces , patterns of actions and relations or we look at it as a certain discourse, the answer to the query might be different. In fact, on the one hand we are dealing with our worldview and research techniques and on the other hand we ponder upon relations between knowledge , thoughts , language and ordinary discourse for expressing them.

Politics, as an unavoidable necessity of social life , has passed through centuries of vicissitudes and challenges from the classical times to the revolutionary modern and now post-modern stages. Politics means differently to different peoples and societies, depending on their perceptions, attitudes , social structures, economic status and level of development. For some people there can be no collective life and civil society without politics. Others think that politics is merely an instrument of power in the hands of rulers to manipulate public opinion , covert actions, tricheries , unethical and dirty plays for the purpose of staying in power and benefiting from its privileges and prestige.
Among books , articles and academic arguments, nobody has so far spoken about " the end of politics." The reason is more or less clear. As one can expect, speaking about the end of many concepts , subjects and phenomena , such as history, science, ideology, the earth,the world and so on, though not quite facile , but is possible , provided one follows a proper methodological and conceptual research design. But, when we advance such bizarre argument in the field of " politics " things become rather hazy and confused. Because , for such an undertaking we encounter a number of ontological, epistemological, axiological as well as methodological barriers for which there are no ready and clear-cut answers . In fact, we want to demolish a huge construction which during many centuries its foundation has solidified like a mountain . Indeed , deconstruction of such a monumental phenomenon requires special tools and techniques which are not readily available and demands courage and boldness.

As I have stated in the preface of this volume, The End of Politics argument shall not be viewed from the standpoint of conventional empirical theories , but rather as an intuitive hunch which is more in tune with the field of social science. To put it in another way, this theory is, before anything else , the off-shoot of an idea suddenly sparkled in the mind , which then led the author to examine its validity or its tenability against opposing or competing paradigms. Thus, the present discussion shall be considered from this perspective.

The subject of " Critical Order ," which appears in the subtitle of this book, is also suggested as a complementary hypothesis that represent the post-political condition. It is borrowed from the " critical mass" theorem in physics. By analogy, the "critical order" is that level of order in a system( national or international) that can sustain chaotic situations without leading to violence, armed conflicts and total wars. By definition, this situation represents the present state of world order which is suspended between two extremes i.e. the " state of nature " and " the state of civility."

The present book consists of ten chapters. The first chapter deals essentially with the general concepts and the main arguments and hypotheses which shall be developed later.
After alluding to the mythical aspects of politics and its historical function,and the legacy of the 20th. century in mankind experience, we shall see how in the final years of that century a sudden proliferation of critical and ontological reflections on many aspects of social life and ideas such as : the end of history, the end of science, the end of ideology and so on has emerged in academic milieus especially in the west. The idea of The End of Politics and the Critical Order hypothesis in the post-political 21st century are thus exposed in this first chapter against this background.

Chapter two embarks to explain more thoroughly "the end of politics " as a theory.To that aim, an ontological , epistemological and methodological examination of politics and political science is followed in this chapter. Why political theories are no longer responsive to the requirement of our time?, what happens to the "political man" of Aristotle? why societies are thorn with conflicts and crises? Are we in fact entering the post-political era?.. These are the emerging questions which humanity is facing helplessly with at the threshold of the 21st century.

In chapter three ,functional challenges to the political sphere in the post-political period , with emphasis on principal concepts of this field such as: power, legitimacy, ideology, culture, etc. are examined. In this same chapter we shall see that the "end of politics" does not necessarily mean the end of controversies, conflicts and competitions over power and values within and between states. Rather, it signifies that mankind has reached to a stage that conventional wisdom and long-cherished social and political theories, instruments and mechanisms have lost their effectiveness and efficiency in managing human affaires in the emerging post-political societies.

Chapter four continues the theoretical examination of the previous chapter and explains the underlying reasons leading to methodological and epistemological crises in the field of politics in the past two or three decades ,which ended up to the rise of post-behavioral and post-structural movements. These movements, as we shall see, led to an undesired relativism which paved the way for interpretative methods and brought culture , norms and value to the study of

power, states and social forces in general and harshly challenged the whole body of knowledge related to political science.

Chapter five analyses the "critical order" hypothesis in the the post-political period. In this chapter, after a review of principle concepts and criteria of social order , the conceptual framework and functional aspects of critical order is discussed. Then, using the "fuzzy logic" approach, the notion of critical order in a dynamic system applied to political environment, is examined. The argument here is that low level tensions and chaos is inherent in every social system and shall not surprise or panic policy makers, provided that they are contained below the threshold which a society can tolerate without threatening its very existence ( i.e. leading to violence and war).

By definition, keeping the delicate balance in the critical order condition, requires that various dimensions of order in socio-political, legal, economic and moral spheres be properly maintained. Further more, this equilibrium shall be preserved in such a manner that no single actor or a coalition of them would be able to destroy it. Chapter six shall elaborate on these dimensions.

Chapters seven and eight, which are mainly taken from my International Relations in Theory and Practice, deals with the impacts of the end of cold war on the so-called new world order , new patterns of international relations and the related power structure in global system. Challenges faced by the United Nations in the coming years to maintain world peace and order are dealt with in chapter seven. Chapter eight examines more specifically the nature of crises in the realms of communications, environment, international debts etc. with a critical analysis of conditions which cause the ever widening gap between theory and practice.

Chapter nine presents a critical examination of the globalization trend from the perspective of the post-political conditions. Theoretical as well as practical controversies between two opposing views i.e. "globalization" versus "localization" have made various cultures and civilizations conscious of their being and identity , thus rising the chances of their confrontation. misunderstandings and prejudices on the one side and overestimation of the dimensions and depth
of the globalization phenomenon on the other. It is further argued that existing political and international theories and paradigms are not potent enough to explain the situation , and less so to properly manage or reconcile the controversies. States which now represent the old civilizations and cultures , though showing some formal enthusiasm to open dialogue between them, with a view to avoid the ominous prediction of Huntington's " clash of civilizations." But in practice, they don't seem to be prepared to subscribe to its requirement by relinquishing their material short run interests in favor of long-lasting peace benefits. Thus, globalization seems to proceed its path through almost every highway in the world with no permission from anybody,while no single actor can change its direction or momentum.

Finally, chapter ten brings this book to an end by attempting to search for an alternative paradigm suitable for the post-political era and capable to fill the gaps and

methodological as well as theoretical deficiencies of past and existing tools and theories. The main argument of this chapter has been originally exposed in my other book titled Globalization of Culture and Politics , which has not yet come out of print at this very moment. In fact,the replacement of political theory by cultural paradigm , which itself is not indeed a new invention, has been explained in that book as an inevitable trend toward cultural pluralism of the 21st century. As mentioned above, the shadow of globalization has forced cultures and civilizations to react against any forces that tend to undermine their existence and identity. Therefore , it appears that cultural theory is in a better position to replace other positivistic and behavioral approaches to manage vast array of problems and controversies in the post-political world.

The road has many turnings beyond which it is difficult to see. The author does not expect much chances that the The End of Politics might generate academic debate . But, it would be quite rewarding to this pen if it could awaken clever minds to give a bit of attention to what has been argued in this book and perhaps to reflect some critical comments which may be used to further polish the theory.

There is no doubt that acceptance or rejection of a theory or hypothesis depend on their resistance to falsification, as Karl Popper argued. But , as we stated before , normative theories, such as "the end of politics" discussed in this book, rarely respond to empirical tests for validity. Therefore , the tenability of such a proposition as well as the suggested alternative paradigm, i.e. the cultural theory, shall be tested in actual situations we encounter during the coming years of the 21st century.

The author humbly submit that what has been written in this book is far from being unique, complete and all-encompassing. This is to mean that other scholars and thinkers shall follow the suit and instead of accepting the existing body of useless knowledge, completely unrelated to our revolutionary age , ponder upon new and unconventional ways for understanding the complexities of our time for the purpose of managing human affairs. Only by so doing ,we may insure a safe transition of mankind to the 21st century.


(1)- John R. Gibbins and Bo Reimer, The Politics of Post-Modernity, London : Sage Publications ( 1999). (2)- John Gibbinns - (ed.), Contemporary Political Culture: Politics in a Post-Modern Age, London:Sage Publications (1989)
(3 ) - C. J. Fox and H. T. Miller, Post-Modern Public Administration: Towards a Discourse, London: Sage (1995). (4) - Honi F. Haber, Beyond Post-Modern Politics: Lyotard, Rorty and Foucault, London: Routledge (1994)