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Some Fundamental Questions of Modernity A Comparative Glance at Finland, Japan, and Russia

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  1. Some Fundamental Questions of ModernityA ComparativeGlance at Finland, Japan, and Russia Göran Therborn University of Cambridge ”ScrutinizingModernities”, Alexander Institute, Helsinki 12.9.2013

  2. Modernity: MakingUse of a Concept • Avoiding redundant labelling • Avoidingidiosyncracy: etymologicalrespect • Openinginvestigations A time culture, focusing on the present & orientedtowards a new thisworldlyfuture, questioning/rejecting the authority of the past

  3. Breakthroughs of Modernity • Conception of History • Linear , Evolutionary: 18th c. Enlightenment • Cognition • Ancientauthorityrejected: Vesalius, Bacon, Descartes et al : late 16th-early 17th c. • Aesthetics • Partial breaks: Renaissance; Quérelle des anciens et des modernes • Full break, late 19th c.: Baudelaire, Impressionism, Art Nouveau • Economics • Radicalagriculturalimprovement; industrialization • Politics • Re-form & re-volutionturned to the future • Politics of nations, nation-states

  4. 4 Major Pathways to CurrentModernity & 2 Major Hybridsby Pattern of Conflict • The European • Internal: the nation/people vs. the prince & (mainstream) aristocracy • The Settler ”New World” • The settler nation vs the motherlandprince & the natives • The Ex-Colonial • The colonizedpeople turning the modern politics of the colonizersagainstthem • ReactiveModernization:Japan, Siam, Abbyssinia • Section of existingeliteimporting national politics to defendtraditionalrealm Hybrids: Russia : European internalism & ReactiveModernization China: Failed RM, part anti-Colonial, part European-typeclasswar

  5. EnduringConsequences of the Roads to Modernity I European Internalism ReactiveModernization Conception of the nation Given, Ex-subjects of the realm Leading force of the nation The government & associated (economic) elites Notion of representative government Instrumental: Ensuring social cohesion & state force • Conception of the nation • Constructed, as historicallyrooted in language, culture, experience • Leading force of the nation • The (stratified) people • Notion of representative government • Rights of the people

  6. EnduringConsequences of the Roads to Modernity II European Internalism ReactiveModernization Role of religion & the supernatural Re-vitalization of state religion, Reproduction of folk religion & of magicalbeliefs Social relations, (in)equality Marginalization of class Reproduction of existentialinequality (status hierarchy, deference, misogyny) Delimitation of economicinequality for cohesion • Role of religion & the supernatural • Pathtowardsthoroughsecularization & disenchantment • Social relations, (in)equality • Salience of class & classorganization • Pathtowards general equalization

  7. Finland on the European Road • F belongs to the Nordic cluster of gradualist, negotiatedpoliticalmodernity(l917-18 civil war an aberration, due to then part of Russian empire in revolution) • Also to the Nordic cluster of class, with strong farmers & limiteddistance popular classes-bourgeoisie • WithinRussia F was a vanguard of modern development, in Nordic region a latecomer to prosperity • Part of the East-Central European variant of national languagedevelopment & change • F wasculturallywellconnected & a Nordic centre of aesthetic modernism: architecture, poetry, design

  8. Japan: The Paradigmatic Case of ReactiveModernization The Charter Oath of l868: • “Evil customs of the past shall be abandoned and everything shall be based upon the just laws of Nature. • Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world …” The universalist modern program is then cut down into characteristic Japanese particularism, continuing : • “…so as to strengthen the foundations of Imperial rule.”

  9. JapaneseSpecifics of the RM Road • Imperial ambition & capacity • Continuist ”embrace of defeat” • Preocupation with location & identity • Out of Asia, or Leading Asia? • Japanese ”overcoming of modernity”, Nihonjin ron and studies of Japaneseness

  10. The Russian Hybrid I. Set-Up • The European Mould • ”The ThirdRome”, late 15th c. Italianarchitects in the Kremlin, 18th-19th c- dynasticintermarriages, upperclassFrancophony • 1st half of l9th c.: the gendarme of Europe • European workingclassmovement • A centre of early 20th c. European art modernism • The Experience of Backwardness • Outside medieval & Renaissance Europe • Overwhelmingrurality • Serfdom & itspull-downsocio-culturaleffects • Bases of European Distanciation • Cultural: Slavicism & OrthodoxChristianity • Spatial: Eurasian bridge

  11. The Russian Hybrid II. Consequences • Stalinist, statist RM overtaking the workingclassOctober Revolution • Revolutionaryviolenceadding to violentdynamics of RM • The Khrushcheviteprojectcontinuingcatching up with & overtaking the West - & itsimplodingfailure under Gorbachev • Social meaning of Communismunderdeveloped • Post-Communistamalgamations of pre-revolutionary religion & deference and Sovietbig power institutions & practices • Social reform perspectivelost

  12. Prospects: After ModernismI. Current State • Finland • Goalsachieved: Nordic prosperity, independence of Russia, standing in Europe • Lost: frontier of electronics & design • Japan • Achieved: economic world power • Lost: Chance of becoming No. 1 • Russia • Achieved: Return to big power status • Lost: parity with US, & chance of overtaking it

  13. Prospects: After ModernismII. Futures • Finland • Possibility of peacefulprosperousperipherywithoutmuchneed of modernism, thoughclouded by the fall/sale of Nokia and the comingstructuraldecline of the pulp & paperindustry • Japan • Difficulties to adapt to old age serenity, blocage of immigration, currentattempt at nationalist growthunlikelysustainability • Improbablebut still conceivableprospect of ”overcomingmodernity”, as a secure, serene, aestheticstationarystate • Russia • Fragile economy, brittlepolitical institutions, clearly in need of somefuturistic modernist social project