THE PACIFIC ASIA AND THE WORLD SYSTEM: REMARKS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW CENTURY
Five years after the end of the Cold War, a great debate erupted about the prospects of liberal democracy, and about the universal applicability of the Western patterns of the organisation of state and society. “Asia” and “the West” were widely perceived as antagonist entities in this debate. Sweeping generalisations abounded. “Western” individualism was pitted against “Asian” statism, corporatism, networks, “web societies”, Confucianism, collectivism and author itarianism.
With this discussion somewhere in the background, essentially three points of view emerged on the bilateral Asian-Western relations, and on the real location of the “East” in the international system:
- In 1992, Francis Fukuyama announced “the end of history” presuming that we face the defi nite double victory of liberal democracy and of free market economy.
- In 1993, on the contrary, Jean-Marie Guéhenno declared “the end of democracy”. He pointed out global spread of “network” relations in the world economy and considered them “Asian” by their very nature.
- In 1993 as well, Samuel Huntington launched his concept of the “clashes of civilisations”, and in particular the confl ict between Confucian and Islamic civilisations and the West.
All these concepts are deeply rooted in the belief that the culture and politics are interdependent, and constitute the basic factors that determine the world system. Such theories put an emphasis on the principal differences between “civilisations”, ignoring points of similarity between the situation of the West and of the East. This paper aims at broadening this perspective and indicates another approach essentially based on Wallerstein’s world system theory.