PREFACE. Clash or dialog?
S.Huntington, at the end of the 20th century, offered a hypothesis about the inevitability of a clash of civilizations and the certainty of civilizational conflicts in the 21st century. He regarded it as the highest point, a consummation of global conflicts. The clash of civilizations is a conflict between cultures, religions, languages, and the communities that carry them.
Tetrasociological theory is presented as an alternative to Huntington's thesis. It argues that civilizations can and should make efforts to achieve social harmony through a permanent dialog among themselves. Huntington's narrowly focussed, conflict-centered approach goes no further than to accept the status quo of the traditional confrontation of civilizations, and to extrapolate certainty of their anticipated clash. In contrast, the multi-dimensional, tetrasociological approach discovers, in different civilizations, common foundations and structures aspiring for social harmony, and precluding confrontations. A mechanism of self-consciousness insight, dialog is championed by tetrasociology as an instrument for discovering these commonalties and structures, and thereby preventing clashes between civilizations. However, this is a special kind of dialog. It proceeds along multiple lines, between different civilizations, cultures, religions, languages, ideologies, and theories, and therefore it is multicultural. From a tetrasociological viewpoint, any confrontation, global or local, is a sign of the absence or deficit of multicultural dialog. Tetrasociology is a proponent of multicultural dialog, and of societal foundations and forces of civilizations that aspire to ensure social harmony and peace. Thus, our book of dialogs takes issue with S.Huntington's theory, and offers for discussion alternative indicators of civilizational classes, whose orientation is to guarantee social harmony and lasting peace.
Confrontations and clashes of cultures lead to wars and mutual destruction of humankind. Inter-cultural dialog appears as the alternative, and a road to humankind's survival. However, this road is much more difficult than its opposite. Killing and making war is easier than preserving peace and creating harmony. In conflicts, the scales are still usually tipped in favor of military solutions rather than peaceful dialog. Hawks vanquish doves. For "doves of dialog" to win over "war hawks," dialog needs new, powerful social actions, and projects with practical relevance. one of these - the International Publishing Project - is described in our prolog. Our book begins to carry out the conception of this project.
Inter-civilizational dialog is becoming a powerful presence in international affairs. The United Nations announced 2003 the "Year for Dialog among Civilizations," and UNESCO, a UN branch, held an international conference: "Dialogue Between Civilizations - Key to a Safe Future" in Warsaw, April 23 - 26. An international "Academy of Dialog" was initiated at this conference. Earlier, the UN founded the International Center for Dialog between Civilizations in Tehran, Iran, and also instituted a UN prize "Ambassador of Dialog."
Multicultural dialog is polyfunctional. Psychologically, it encourages a more thoughtful attitude toward other cultures and a more sensitive appreciation of them. Intellectually, it promotes mutual understanding, awareness of general and specific problems of nations, and comparison of different cultures' strengths. Politically, it encourages equal rights. Morally, it re-affirms the highest moral values of peace, non-violence, justice, humanism, fellowship, harmony, and freedom. Socially, it promotes racial and national equality, and mutual enrichment and development. With regard to the humanities, it is interdisciplinary and builds bridges between the disciplines. These functions, which counteract tendencies toward conflict, are explored further in our book.
You are holding a book of dialogs, unusual in content and form, written by 15 authors from four continents, and focused on tetrasociology as a theoretical platform for potential dialogs among civilizations. The book is special in form because three translations of the text - Russian, English, and Esperanto - are combined in one volume. It is special in content because it includes ten commentary-dialogs with tetrasociology from the positions of different social theories. Both features serve one goal - to provide a dialog that taps into the spiritual foundations of civilizations. Our book-dialog is a small-scale model of the spiritual dialog of civilizations, including such aspects as linguistic, humanistic, ideological, value-centred, sociophilosophical, communicative, academic, and interdisciplinary.
The structure of this book-dialog has two relatively autonomous aspects: linguistic and substantive. Linguistically, the book is presented in three languages: Russian (the primary author's mother tongue), English, and Esperanto, to include two different languages of international communication. Because the problem of a single international language is far from being solved, and the English language's spontaneous worldwide sprawl causes a lot of social, cultural, political and economic problems, the comparison and dialog of international languages is of paramount importance. There is no instant solution to the problem of an international language. It will take decades and possibly centuries to solve it. one effective way to handle this problem is continuous comparison of languages, which is possible in multi-language editions, and should habituate readers to comparing the strengths and weaknesses of different languages, to be able to make an enlightened choice between them. Imposing one language on international interlocutors, abolishing linguistic choice in international communication, is undemocratic, unjust and inhumane.
Publication of various series of multi-language book-dialogs, which, like ours, contain, along with a national language, translations into two international languages, will be tantamount to pursuing a democratic linguistic policy worldwide. The foremost objective of this policy is to affirm international bilinguism, and to recognize Esperanto as an international language. Certainly, this goal can be achieved under the aegis of the most influential among international organizations, the United Nations and UNESCO. For two international languages to compete, they must be placed in an equal position in at least one aspect. Publication of multi-language book-dialogs creates such an equality, albeit in an as yet limited, but very important domain of cultural dialog. And the linguistic structure of our book-dialog helps to accomplish this mission.
Another goal of the book is to persuasively demonstrate to every reader that Esperanto has capacities that are comparable to those of other languages, and in no way inferior to them. Esperanto has long been accused of having failed to become a language of science, lacking the ability to render complex scientific ideas. Our book-dialog, composed of the most complex humanitarian texts in psychology, philosophy, sociology, socionics, sociocybernetics, and axiology, translated into Esperanto, demonstrates that Esperanto is in no way inferior to the Russian or English languages, and is fairly superior to them in grammatical simplicity and accessibility. Faced with new academic trends, with new terminology, especially in tetrasociology, Esperanto successfully assimilates it, and this enriches Esperanto and expands its range of applicability. The unity of novel academic (tetrasociology), religious (Bahai), linguistic (Esperanto) and other trends not only enriches and promotes the advancement of each, but also brings us nearer to social harmony.
Content wise, the book consists of three parts: 1. Summary of the subject - tetrasociology as a postpluralist theory and platform for dialog; 2. Dialogs with tetrasociology; 3. Potential dialogs.
In the first part, the primary author recaps the basics of tetrasociology as a postpluralist trend, i.e. as a social ideology that is broad and multi-dimensional, although having a definite number of foundations, that is, four. Tetrasociology is discussed as a theoretical and values-centred platform for multicultural dialog. To provide an illustration, and to show tetrasociology's new facets, part one also contains 14 abstracts written for different panels of the 36th World Congress of the International Institution of Sociology, to be held July 7 - 11, 2004, in Bejing, China. (The Congress was scheduled for July, 2003, but has been postponed for a year because of the SARS epidemic.)
In the second, central, part of the book, the following social theories join the dialog with tetrasociology: interactive (web) approach (B.Phillips), universal values (R.Bachika), political psychology (A.I.Yuriev), social action and transformation (M.R.DeWitt), communications (H.Roseman), socionics (V.Isaev), sociocybernetics (B.Hornung, B.Scott), general academic approach (V.V.Kavtorin), social philosophy (M.Yu.Lebedinsky), and Esperantology and interlinguistics (A.P.Butkevich, B.V.Kondratiev, V.P.Tsvetkova). These theories are represented in respective commentary-dialogs. So, readers of the book, too, join the multi-dimensional, sophisticated dialog, and get a knowledge of not only tetrasociology, but also of nine other theories, with constructive critiques of tetrasociology from each of these varied perspectives.
It was initially planned that every commentary-dialog would contain four sections: an account of the reviewer's own theoretical stance, an analysis of tetrasociology's merits, a criticism of its weaknesses, and possibilities of a synthesis with the reviewer's theory. However, not every dialog conforms to this pattern. All differ in content, complexity, emphasis, and the author's individual style. This makes the book quite varied, and interesting for a wide range of not only social scientists, but non-specialist readers, and especially students.
It should be emphasized that editing and publishing the book involved a complex dialog between the primary author and contributing authors, a dialog of different theories, cultures and ideologies, stimulating for the development of each. The range of participants in this book-dialog is quite broad: from Marxists to proponents of the newest, postpluralistic theories. The range of sociohumanitarian disciplines presented in the book is likewise inclusive: philosophy, sociology, psychology, socionics, sociocybernetics, axiology, Esperantology. Our book, rather than complete, merely starts the dialog, so it does not contain replies of the primary author to contributors, or a discussion among the proponents of other theories. However, the problems have been formulated to challenge discourse in future book-dialogs. Every social scientist, or so inclined individual with original theories and ideas, can assemble a group of 4-10 co-authors and edit a similar book of dialogs. Publishing such books of dialog can be a new and timely innovation in the academic literature of socio-humanitarian fields, and participants can enjoy the challenge of sharing interdisciplinarity ideas.
The third part of the book includes materials expanding the scope of dialog and formulating new goals for it, such as a practical application of culture in the politics of peace (the example of Brazil); the expansion of an understanding of dialog by introducting the notion of "scholarly-and-public polylog," or simply "polylog" (N.S.Govorov); problems of a new trend in psychology -- tetrapsychology; a project for creating social harmony departments in humanitarian universities, for training specialists in the field of dialog and peace; and comparing different social philosophies' potential for dialog (L.M.Semashko); material about Esperanto as the language of cultural dialog (M.S.Abolskaya); a final statement of theInternational conference "Dialog among Civilizations - Key to a Safe Future" (Warsaw, April 23 – 26, 2003), the conference that opened up new prospects for the development of this dialog. Prospective topics for future dialogs, drawn from the third part of this book, may result in a number of multicultural projects with practical relevance: publication of similar book-dialogs in Brazil, establishment of dialog and social harmony departments in humanitarian universities, an international conference, in Warsaw under the UNESCO's aegis, the theme "Dialog among Civilizations through Multicultural Publishing Project," etc.
The book's diverse content is intended for a mosaic, fragmentary and “net” reading rather than a continuous one. Every humanities scholar - sociologist, philosopher, psychologist, politologist, culturologist, sociolinguist, economist, historian, etc. - can choose those net/web fragments corresponding to her or his professional interests. This is the why main ideas are reiterated in various contexts throughout the book.
The compilation of this book-dialog required enormous effort on the part of its numerous participants, a full listing of whom is on the backcover. The author expresses profound gratitude to all of them, but first of all to the contributing authors, a long and difficult dialog with whom culminated in the reviews which constitute the book's central part. My most profound thanks are to professor Bernard Phillips, whose "Web (of sociological concepts) Approach" inspired this writer to publish this book, and to professor Reimon Bachika, who lent the author his moral support, demonstrating a keen sense of humor all along the way. My acknowledgements go to the translators, especially M.V.Solovieva (English) and M.S.Abolskaya (Esperanto). Special thanks to the editors of this book: V.V.Kavtorin (Russian), M.R.DeWitt (English), I.S.Plotnikov (Esperanto), and to the book graphic artist, G.N.Sosin, who put into drawing the author's ideas.
This book-dialog is the first, modest, and far from perfect attempt to start a systemic and long-term multicultural dialog of different social theories, languages, religions, and ideologies, buttressing the ideological bridges and efforts of cooperation between civilizations. To become truly international and comprehensive, this dialog should expand through the publication of different theme series (Culture, Religion, Language, Philosophy, Social theories, Axiology, etc.), in internet forums, and in television talk-shows across the globe. Authors hope that the publication of similar book-dialogs will result in the International Publishing Project, a blueprint conception presented in the Prolog, which explains the general idea of the series.
Leo Semashko, St. Petersburg, RUSSIA