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Results of the XX century: ambivalent legacy and sociology's problems

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1. Results of the XX century: ambivalent legacy and sociology's tasks

As every century, the XXth century has two sides - negative and positive. o­n the o­ne hand, this is the bloodiest century, o­n the other - the most progressive o­ne. As the bloodiest century in history, it demonstrated an inherent connection between totalitarism, racism, monism, and social destruction; and as the most progressive and dynamic century, it showed a connection, just as strong as the afore-mentioned o­ne, between democracy, pluralism and prosperity.

The domination of four specific historical types of world empires represents a negative side of the XXth century:

  • Aristocratic autocratic monarchies (Russian, German, etc.) as the dictatorship of an estate - up to 1920;
  • Colonial empires (British, French, etc.) as dictatorship of o­ne state over another - up to 1960;
  • Nazi "Third Reich" and fascist regimes as the dictatorship of a nation: 1933 - 1945;
  • Communist system as the dictatorship of a class: 1917 - 1991.

All these regimes were totalitarian to a degree. The dictatorial states' uncurbed desire to rule over the world led to a multitude of wars (world-scale, civil, local) and mass repression, which took away the lives and health of billions of people. This made the XXth century unprecedentedly cruel and bloody. Such is the century's most deplorable result. No other century in history witnessed destruction and maiming of so many people. Because of this, philosophers talk about the "death of man" in the XXth century. There is a grain of bitter truth in this, but o­nly a grain.

The dictatorships were established and justified by the relevant monistic ideologies and hybrids thereof, all of them being racist and affirmative of inequality and supremacy of o­ne kind of people over another. The first kind of dictatorship was boosted by certain forms of idealistic sociology and ideology; the second kind was boosted by a racist variety of organicism and idealism. Nazi dictatorship and fascism were fostered, o­n the o­ne hand, by openly racist theories of organicism (J.GНАХМН, D.Chamberlain, L.Gumplowicz, G.V. de Lapouge and others), and o­n the other hand, by certain existentialist ideas asserting supremacy of the German people as the Aryan race. The communist dictatorship was fostered by Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist ideology and sociology of "historical materialism," which asserted a "class racism". Each of the ideologies represented an apology for a relevant kind of supremacy and coercion, centered around an estate, colonies, nation, class.

Here is the positive side of the XXth century.

First, a subsequent collapse of the empires - first, autocratic empires, then fascist empires, then colonialist empires, then communist empires. True, the collapse has not been complete: remnants of the empires, especially of the communist o­ne, still hold, but their days are numbered.

The second positive feature is an irreparable collapse, in the wake of the empires' collapse, of the kindred racist ideologies and monistic sociologies, o­n the tombstone for which history wrote "Monism and racism are dead," although its remnants persist in modified forms. The tree of monism withered but has not disappeared from culture - this tree is not without its merits. Each of its branches has a "rational grain," "a modicum of truth." The branches are being preserved as a construction material for synthesizing new pluralistic paradigms of the XXI century. Different sociologists, from P.Sorokin to J.Alexander, I.Wallerstein, P. Sztompka and many other modern social thinkers have used them for constructing new pluralistic, integrative, synthetic, emergent models.

Third, the accomplishments of scientific-technological revolution, such as radio, TV, atomic energy, space exploration, computers, informational, genetic, and biological technologies, Internet, and many others. It is the totality of these accomplishments that represent a main cause of the collapse of the XXth century empires, monism and racism, and of the rise of pluralism.

Fourth, a global-scale, with several exceptions, establishment, by the end of the century, of real pluralism in all the spheres of social life: pluralism of equal nations and classes in the social sphere; pluralism of different cultures and religions the spiritual sphere; pluralism of parties and branches of power in the political sphere; pluralism of the forms of ownership and markets in the economic sphere. The accelerating process of globalization, as a modern form of the humankind's unification, has pluralism as its basis. Globalization runs along the lines not of a clash of monisms leading to destruction, but of supplementarity and mutual support, characteristic of pluralism.

Fifth, blazing the trail for ideas and social conditions necessary for the qualitative renovation of pluralistic social sciences (philosophy, sociology, political science, economics, culturology, anthropology, etc.) and for pluralistic social thinking, the renovation, consisting in the transition from the erstwhile extensive and "dimensionless", and therefore lacking in efficiency, pluralistic rationalism, to a new, definite-dimensional, intensive and much more constructive rationalism that can be defined as "postpluralism." The ground for the pluralistic revolution in sociology was broken by Montesquieu; it was begun in the XXth century by Sorokin and continued by Parsons, Braudel, Toffler, Habermas, Bourdieu, Giddens, Castells and many others, and this revolution is logically consummated in postpluralism at the beginning of the XXI century. There are sufficient grounds for the following hypothesis: it is only with postpluralism that sociology as a science adequate to the new century and its subject begins. Prior to that, sociology was a non-science, pre-science, and it is o­nly now that it is becoming a science, rising to the level of a qualitatively new rationality of multi-dimensional social thinking, which can embrace its subject – the social world - as a whole, rather than in a fragmented way; a thinking which overcomes the parochialism of theory and gets realized, like any true science, in information and sociocultural technologies.

Sixth, and this is the most important point, a proof of the inextricable link between democracy and pluralism o­n o­ne side and prosperity o­n the other. Those countries that had been long developing along the lines of democracy and pluralism were the first to achieve prosperity. For those countries that adopted this track after a collapse of totalitarian regimes, such as Germany, Japan and Spain, it took 2 - 3 decades to achieve prosperity. The countries that firmly rejected totalitarism and all kinds of its monistic ideologies and have been developing along the lines of pluralism - they survived, gained strength and achieved prosperity in the harsh XXth century. D.Bell summed up the key achievement of pluralistic societies that achieved prosperity: they "managed to figure out a secret which had escaped all the preceding social systems - how to peacefully ensure a stable growth of wealth and increase in living standard. Nearly all preceding societies were seeking to enrich themselves through wars, plunder, expropriation, farming of revenues and other forms of extortion"[1]. It is o­nly with pluralism and its development that social harmony and prosperity are possible. The victory of pluralism over monism is the principal spiritual achievement of the XXth century. The war against pluralism resulted in the death of monism.

Ambivalence of the century's results is predicated o­n its legacy's ambivalence. o­n the o­ne hand, the century witnessed indisputable achievements in technology, communications, informatization, globalization, democratization, culture, and economy. o­n the other hand, challenges stemming from both the negative and the positive consequences are rising. The first kind of challenges includes the increasing danger of global ecological catastrophe; international terrorism; fundamentalism; new forms of racism; economic, religious and linguistic inequality; discrimination against women and the young; elitism and other shortcomings of democracy. (Agreeing with I.Wallerstein[2], we will define the new racism, as different from the traditional o­ne, as ideology and symbols of supremacy based not o­nly o­n race, but also o­n nation, state, culture, religion, language, politics, economics, as well as the double standards stemming from it.)

The second kind of challenges includes the increasing danger of globalization-engendered unfairness, information and psychological overloads caused by computerization, disharmonious development of an individual, crisis of the traditional (monistic, authoritarian, unequal in rights, disharmonious) forms of family, religion, healthcare, education, sports, leisure.

Such is the global sociological fact of the last century - the fact of ambivalence of its legacy and challenges stemming from it. In the light of this, what is sociology's task?

The main task of sociology is following the line of pluralism, the latter's effectiveness for social world and sociological rationalism being unsurpassable, which was proved by the experience of the XXth century. However, there are different ways to guide this development. o­ne way is to adopt the track of the extensive multiplication of particular models, "deconstructionism" and the radical rejection of the "tyranny of the whole" and of global sociological paradigms as "Babel towers" (J.Derrida); another way consists in intensive the development of both particular and global models, in their synthesis, not confrontation. The latter way can be called "postpluralism." This second way is a more adequate o­ne not o­nly because postmodernism proved to be akin to Marxism, a kind of pathological and irrelevant "coupling" of the Marxist revolutionary idea and the Freud's libidinous idea[3], but first of all because the social world is becoming more global, its parts increasingly interconnected.

The transition from a fragmented world to global society requires a new social thinking, new global social philosophy and sociological pluralistic models identically global in scope. There have been already examples of creating various models of "global sociology"[4]. It is o­nly monistic, not pluralistic, models that prove today destined to extinction, and therefore inept and useless "Babylon towers." Monistic models do not meet the modern needs of democratization, equality, informatization, technologization, globalization, while pluralistic models do. Postmodernism rejected any global models at all, showing its impotence, which demonstrated its pathologic character and lead to its collapse.

However, postmodernism is o­nly o­ne of the branches of sociology, and a withered o­ne at that, which is being replaced by postpluralism. Thus, the contemporary sociology's most urgent task is a multi-dimensional transition from a fragmented sociology to a global o­ne, from traditional to the new social philosophy, from pure theory to technologies, from the outdated to new empiricism, from racism to resistance, etc. This problem of multi-dimensional transition can be formulated as a problem of transition from monism and postmodernism to postpluralism, TetraSociology being a form of it. So now we're going over to a brief outline of TetraSociology as a natural consequence of the last century and a necessity of the new century. If the social world and world order are in a state of transition, sociology, in order to keep pace with them, has to adopt the track of a similar multi-dimensional transition, which it has in fact already begun to adopt.

[1] Bell D. Future Postindustrial Society. Moscow, 1999, p. 372

[2] Wallerstein I. Albatross of the Racism: Social Science, Iorg Haider and Resistance // Sociological Studies, Moscow, 2001, № 10, p.36-46.

[3] Davidoff Y.N. Patologyness of "Condition of the Postmodernism" // Sociological Studies, 2001, № 11, p.3-12. The brilliant analysis of the Postmodernism in specified article completely perceived by us, exempts us from necessity of its consideration for our transition from postmodernism to postpluralism.

[4] Cohen, Robin and Kennedy, Paul. Global Sociology. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000; Therborn G. Globalizations are Plural. Introduction. From the Universal to the Global // International Sociology, 2000, 15(2)); Wallerstein I. The Modern World System. N.Y.: Academic Press, 1976; Castells M. Materials for an exploratory theory of network society. - The British Journal Нf Sociology, 2000, N 51,1; Moore W. Global Sociology: The World as a Singular System // American Journal of Sociology, 1966, 71, 5.

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