at the beginning of the riots in Tunisia, few people predicted that it would trigger a chain reaction in the surrounding areas.

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at the beginning of the riots in Tunisia, almost no one predicted that it would trigger a chain reaction in the surrounding areas.

if the Arab spring, the autumn of New York and the protest movements of European countries are integrated into an overall picture, 2011 may present an important historical moment: Time magazine takes “protesters” as its person of the year, and the financial times sees the signs of “global anger”, Hobbsbaum compared 2011 to the European Revolution of 1848… Perhaps this is a moment of political awakening.

Arab Spring:

the fourth wave of democratization?

at the beginning of the riots in Tunisia, few people predicted that it would trigger a chain reaction in the surrounding areas. After all, Tunisian society is too “Westernized” and lacks the typical characteristics of Arab countries. European and American Middle East experts caution that “Egypt is not Tunisia”, and then “Libya is not Egypt”. All this is familiar. In 1989, when discussing the changing situation in Eastern Europe, some experts timely reminded that “x is not y”. By 1990, the view that “the Soviet Union is definitely not Eastern Europe” was still quite popular. There are no two identical leaves in the forest, but all the leaves are still leaves. The more difficult judgment is: which leaves can be classified as the same kind under what conditions. The disintegration of each old system has its own historical and social reasons, which affect the process of political transformation and may lead to quite different outcomes. But Universalists may grasp the other half of the truth: sooner or later, any autocratic regime will face the pressure of democratization and the crisis of disintegration and collapse.

Huntington once described a 20-year-old wave of worldwide democratization – the drastic changes in the Soviet Union and East Europe from southern Europe in the 1970s to 1989-1991. During this period, the number of “democracies” increased from more than 40 to more than 100, which he called the “third wave” of democratization. With the spread and escalation of public protests in North Africa and the Middle East, the “Arab Spring” began to be discussed as a general trend, and the imagination of the “fourth wave” is no longer unimaginable.

Francis Fukuyama has once again become an eye-catching commentator. As early as the administration of Clinton and George W. Bush, he warned the authorities that the wave of democratization would spread to the Middle East. At that time, his prediction seemed to be nonsense until 2011. In many articles and interviews, Fukuyama criticized the theory of grasping political change only from the cultural particularity or development level, and stressed the importance of people’s “political consciousness”. He pointed out that many people believe in the “theory of cultural particularity” and believe that some characteristics of Arab culture conflict with democracy. But the current situation shows that “the fundamental impulse to live in a country that respects you and gives you basic political rights is actually universal”. Similarly, social and economic development can not completely resolve the pressure of democratic demands. In terms of development level, Tunisia and Egypt have performed quite well (their “human development index” has increased by about 30% in the past two decades), but public protests still broke out. The main force of the protest movement is not from the poorest class, but from the educated middle class. Their awakened political consciousness makes them unable to continue to endure “the frustration caused by the lack of political and economic opportunities”. Fukuyama believes that the trends in Tunisia and Egypt have once again fulfilled Huntington’s “logic of modernization”. But at the same time, his judgment on the prospect of the Arab spring is more cautious than the media who enthusiastically advocate the “fourth wave”. “Institution building will not be completed overnight,” he said in an interview In some countries, the collapse of the old system may lead to tribal wars. “I don’t think it will lead to a stable democracy in the short term.” Professor Larry diamond, an authoritative scholar of the Democratization Theory of




, has a similar view. He published an article entitled “democracy after the Arab Spring”, the subtitle of which was interrogative: “the fourth wave or a false beginning?” This paper focuses on the various possible relationships between the protest movement and democratic transformation, and points out that the Arab spring may alternate between “freezing” and “melting”, so “this turbulent period will not be short, nor will it delimit its scope and boundary cleanly and concisely”. There will be a tortuous and protracted struggle in the coming years to determine the future political picture of the Arab world.

many Western left-wing scholars (including Chomsky, Zizek, Samir Amin and Perry Anderson) attach great importance to the volatile situation in North Africa and the Middle East. But different from conservative or liberal scholars, they pay more attention to the role of democratization in resisting Western imperialism. The political goals of the left are twofold: anti dictatorship and anti colonialism. Only when the cause of democracy is closely combined with national independence can the Arab world have a real political prospect of independence and freedom. Dictatorship in the Arab region is fostered, supported or acquiesced by western hegemony. Chomsky said that the principle of his allies is that “democracy is acceptable only when it complies with its strategic and economic objectives: it’s good to do it in enemy territory, but please don’t do it in our backyard unless it can be properly tamed”.

so how to explain Libya? Gaddafi was once the enemy of the west, but he has bowed to the West in recent years. Why should Europe and the United States use substantive military intervention to support the opposition with uncertain future? Isn’t it better for the economic and strategic interests of the west to retain Gaddafi, an authoritarian ally? It is conceivable that if Western countries support Gaddafi in the unrest in Libya, the western left will also give a strong (perhaps more powerful) explanation. Perhaps it is precisely because of this paradoxical problem that two famous left-wing theorists in France appearDifferences. When the Liberation newspaper published an article on Jean Luc Nancy’s support for Western intervention in Libya, Alain Badio publicly expressed “shock and regret”: “we must reveal that the real target of Western bombers and soldiers is definitely not the despicable Gaddafi. He was originally the agent of those people, who now want to get rid of him because he hinders their higher interests.”

Anderson’s article shows a more refined view. He analyzed and pointed out that on the one hand, the Middle East and North Africa were under the long-term control of Western imperialism, on the other hand, they failed to develop democratic politics in the process of decolonization, but formed a tyranny of strong man dictatorship. These two features are related, but they are not simply derived from each other. The United States and its allies have important interests in the region (oil resources and the protection of Israel) and need to form effective control. They are more willing to deal with Western dictators than with other democracies in terms of their hegemonic status. But this will not work in the Middle East and North Africa, because the region has been bullied by imperialism and Israel for a long time, and the victory of democracy will eventually generate strong anti imperialist forces. At present, the main appeal of anti-government demonstrations and protests is to eradicate tyranny politically. “The motive force of the uprising is clear, and their goal is purely political in the most classic sense: freedom.” However, the demand for social equality is not clear enough, and the demand for national independence is still silent. Anderson believes that this is the result of “ideological degeneration” caused by autocracy. But political freedom should be combined with social equality. He also did not believe that the anti imperialist voice would remain silent in this most obvious area of imperialism. This reflects Anderson’s expectation that socialism and anti imperialist nationalism should eventually be revived in the Arab world.

occupation movement:

another wave of democratization

the goal of democratic struggle is not limited to dictatorship and autocratic regime, but against all social and political mechanisms of repression and exclusion. The Arab spring storm spread to New York in the fall. Since September 2011, the protest movement of “occupy Wall Street” has swept the world with a prairie fire. Earlier, France and Spain had begun similar occupation protests, and there were street riots in London in Britain. In developed capitalist countries, the economic crisis and the aggravation of the rich and the poor have made a large number of young people feel bleak, frustrated and dissatisfied. The common anger finally found an opportunity to gather through new means of communication, and gathered into a torrent of protest. The spearhead was first directed at the greedy financial oligarchs.

many famous scholars and intellectuals have come to the scene of the protest to give speeches or write articles in the public media. They shared a common view that financial corruption is not only related to economic policies, but also a political issue, marking the plight and even crisis of Western democratic systems. Professor Cornel West of Princeton University called in his speech: “it is impossible to turn solving the greed problem of Wall Street into making one or two specific requirements. What we are talking about now is a democratic awakening.”




, two award-winning economists, were quite active in the occupation movement. Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz said, “in our democracy, 1% takes away a quarter of national income – an inequality that even the rich will eventually regret.” He changed the famous sentence “owned by the people, governed by the people and enjoyed by the people” into “1% owned, 1% governed and 1% enjoyed” as the title of the article, which sharply reveals how the current reality deviates from the American democratic ideal. In his live speech, he pointed out that in the current financial system, “losses are socialized, while gains are privatized. This is not capitalism, this is not a market economy, this is a distorted economy. If we continue to do so, we will not achieve economic growth and create a just society”. Paul Krugman published two articles in a row in a column of the New York Times to refute the attack of extreme conservative forces on the occupation movement. He cited economic data as evidence that the protesters’ anger was justified and targeted the right target. Financial oligarchs are not responsible for the consequences of their greed and fraud, but use their privileges to pass on the cost of the financial crisis to ordinary taxpayers. The regulatory plan introduced by Obama has been too mild, but it is still complained by Wall Street giants. Now the Democrats have a second chance to start over. Many people criticized the protesters for their lack of specific policy objectives. He agreed that this aspect needs to be improved, but believed that the basic demands of the protesters are clear, and the work of filling in details should be undertaken by politicians and policy experts.

left-wing scholars saw the possibility of more radical changes in the occupation movement. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri published articles pointing out that “the anger against corporate greed and economic inequality is real and profound. But equally important, this protest is against the lack or failure of political representation”. “If democracy (the kind of democracy we have been given) falters under the impact of the economic crisis and is unable to claim the will and interests of the public, then it may be the time to determine that this form of democracy is old-fashioned?” They saw a novel possibility of democratic struggle in the protest movement.

Zizek’s speech was sharp and eloquent, and it was very appropriate: he did not claim to be a Marxist, but a real Democrat. But the democracy he appealed to was not capitalist democracy. He declared that the strongest capitalism in the world took place in a country without democracy. “This means that when you criticize capitalism, don’t let yourself be blackmailed that you oppose democracy. The marriage between democracy and capitalism is over. Change is possible.” Democracy against capitalism is an attractive principle, but Zizek admits that the real difficulty is that “we know what we don’t want”, but we don’t know “what we want” and “what kind of”Social organizations can replace capitalism “. It is impossible for him to fully answer these questions. But he warned protesters not only to focus on corruption itself, but also to criticize the system that causes corruption; It calls on people not to indulge in the carnival like resistance ceremony, but to seriously think about another different way of life and strive to realize their desired ideals.

2011: “the awakening moment of

and the open future

if the Arab spring, the autumn of New York and the protest movements of European countries are integrated into an overall picture, 2011 may present an important historical moment: Time magazine takes “protesters” as its person of the year, The financial times saw signs of “global anger”, and historian hobsbaum compared 2011 to the European Revolution of 1848… Perhaps this is a moment of political awakening. Public discontent has never been so quickly and powerfully translated into political expression and action. It is clear that the people are increasingly demanding proper rule and effective governance, which is bad news for any regime that sticks to stereotypes, whether it is an autocratic government or a developed liberal democracy.

but the new awakening is also accompanied by new confusion. In 1968, the western left projected the hope of democracy onto the imagined Soviet socialism. In 1989, the opposition movements in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union sought hope for the future in the liberal democracies of the West. By 2011, the ideal side of the Arab Spring and the autumn of New York had been blurred. The awakened people no longer accept any dictatorship, but at the same time, there is no existing political model to fully place hope. If hobsbaum’s so-called “short 20th century” ended in 1991, today, 20 years later, we may be witnessing the end of Giovanni Arrighi’s so-called “long 20th century”. This may be a far more profound and distant historical turning point than people currently expect. Tocqueville wrote in 1848: “society is changing, mankind is changing its situation, and new opportunities are coming.” And new opportunities are the time to rethink the future.

Lawrence Lessig published his new book “the lost Republic” in 2011, with the subtitle “How Money Corrupted Congress and a plan to stop it”. Lesinger, 50, is no ordinary person. He completed four degrees in famous European and American schools before the age of 28. For the next two years, he served as assistant justice of the Supreme Court, and then as a chair professor at law schools in Chicago, Stanford and Harvard. He is also the director of the ethics center of the safra foundation at Harvard University. He is also an active political activist. Lesinger believes that the problem of financial power politics in the United States is becoming more and more serious, which can not be solved by policy level reform, and substantive constitutional reform must be launched. In recent years, he and a group of scholars and activists put forward the proposal of “the second constitution of the United States”, calling for “reopening the national constituent assembly” to amend the constitution. Due to the severe restrictions of Article 5 of the US Constitution, it is very difficult to implement the constitutional amendment motion. On September 24, lesinger hosted a symposium on the “Constitutional Convention” at Harvard University. Scholars and activists from various political factions discussed the necessity and possibility of this motion. People’s dissatisfaction with Lessing’s constitutional reform may have spread to the scope of the United States.

Fukuyama is a political scientist with the consciousness of historical philosophy. He has always paid attention to the detection and correction of theory by empirical facts. His article “the future of history” published in the latest issue of foreign affairs once again shows his ideological ambition. This is not only a reflection on the “theory of the end of history” 20 years ago, but also a new conception of the outline of “future ideology”. Indeed, Fukuyama has never (as some rumors say) completely abandoned the theoretical concept of “the end of history”. He still insists that the “logic of modernization” is powerful, and any specific cultural tradition will be inevitable sooner or later. But he now stressed that the demand for democratization can not directly generate a healthy and stable free democracy, which must rely on some conditions with historical contingency. Fukuyama’s analysis of




points out that after 1848, the leadership of the democratic movement in industrialized countries began in the competition between two ideological trends: one is communism committed to substantive democracy, and the other is liberalism that believes in expanding political participation on the premise of ensuring individual rights under the rule of law. Early Marxists believed they could win the competition, because the emerging working class would dominate the number of social population, which would eventually endanger conservatives and traditional liberals. However, there has been a dramatic reversal in the competition between the two ideologies. The key change is that in the so-called “post industrial economy” in which the service industry overwhelms the manufacturing industry, the working class not only stops growing in population size, but also has a rising standard of living. They have entered the ranks of the “middle class” and become another kind of domestic interest group, which can use trade unions to protect their hard-earned income in their early years.

it can be seen that the alliance between economic development and liberal democracy requires an intermediary link: a relatively equal middle class becomes the leading force of social members. Fukuyama’s new insight is that the generation of this intermediary link is accidental and is the historical product of capitalism in the era of industrialization. In the era of knowledge economy, the benefits of technological innovation tend to be disproportionately inclined to talented and well-educated social members. In the 19th century, it was difficult for a master of mathematics to convert his talents into capital. But today, they may become financial operators or software engineers to obtain a higher proportion of national wealth. At the same time, in the era of globalization, the work previously done by the middle class in developed countries can now be done in a cheaper way elsewhere. Both trends have led to the decline of the middle class. If technology and the process of globalization make most members of developed society unable toA moral climate is forming in this country. ” For prime minister rezhkov, the most terrible social feature of 1985 was his “moral state”: “bribery and bribery, lying in reports, in the news, on a high podium, falling into their own lies and awarding medals to each other. From top to bottom, from bottom to top.” Gorbachev later recalled in an interview: “the failure of the Soviet model was not only at the economic and social levels, but also at the cultural level. Our society, our people, the most educated and thoughtful people, rejected this model at the cultural level because it did not respect people and oppressed people spiritually and politically.”

Aron believes that the protests in Moscow today also have profound moral implications. Although the economic recovery has made considerable progress, “the corruption of the ruling elite, new public opinion censorship, and blatant contempt for public opinion have bred alienation and cynicism and are beginning to approach, if not exceed, the levels of the early 1980s”. Therefore, the slogan “we can’t live like this” more than 20 years ago has once again become people’s belief and appeal. He linked the political changes in Tunisia and Egypt to Russia and warned that “in the modern world, economic progress cannot replace citizens’ pride and self-respect. Unless we keep this in mind, we will continue to be surprised by the ‘Color Revolution’ in the post Soviet era, the Arab Spring and the inevitable democratic changes in other countries, Just like the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Javier’s legacy

former Czech President Javier died on December 18, 2011 at the age of 75. The major newspapers and periodicals of Western intellectual circles successively published obituaries and eulogy in memory of this experienced playwright, dissident and politician. Known as the “symbol of the Velvet Revolution”, his contribution to the upheaval in Eastern Europe and his efforts to promote the return of the Czech Republic to Europe will go down in history. However, if Javier is evaluated only from the transformation of the power structure of the cold war, he may miss his most important spiritual heritage.

Javier pointed out in the power of the powerless that the “Prague Spring” is generally regarded as a conflict between the power to maintain the existing system and the power to reform the system. But people often forget that this conflict is only the last act and inevitable ending of a long drama, which originated from “the theater of social spirit and conscience”. At the beginning of this drama, “there are individuals who want to live in the truth”, “these people have no access to real power, and they don’t want power”.

in February 1990, Javier, who had just become president, gave a speech in the US Congress. He warned Americans eager to defeat the Soviet Union to “look further”. “If there is no global revolution in the field of human consciousness, nothing will become better in the field of our existence as human beings, and the world will inevitably go to disaster.” In “summer meditation”, published in 1991, he wrote, “it is my responsibility to repeatedly emphasize the moral roots of all true politics, no matter how ridiculous or vain It sounds at present.”

in his view, “living in the truth” is the condition of human freedom and dignity, which is fundamentally a spiritual and moral appeal and the basis of democratic politics. The democracy he understood is “based on a complete human responsibility – making a personal answer to the fate of the community”. He wrote down his personal answer with the extraordinary experience of his life. He will be remembered as a great citizen of contemporary Europe.

Parfit’s philosophical masterpiece came out

in February 2011, Oxford University Press launched Derek Parfit’s “on what matters”. This is a 1140 page two volume philosophical masterpiece. Peter Singer, a famous ethicist, called this “an important philosophical event”; Brad hooker, a professor of philosophy at Reading University, believes that this book “may be the most important work of moral philosophy since the publication of sidivik’s ethical method in 1874”.

the British philosopher pafett was born in Chengdu, China in 1942. He is currently an emeritus senior fellow at all souls college, Oxford University. Previously, he published only one book “reasons and persons” in 1984, which was praised as “almost genius” by Alan Ryan, thus laying an important position in the field of British and American philosophy. On urgent matters has long been a manuscript and has been widely circulated and discussed in the field of philosophy for more than ten years. Pafett collected various responses to criticism and repeated revisions until the long-awaited book came out.

deals with a core problem in moral philosophy: is there objective truth or falsehood in moral judgment? Pater defends the trend of objectivism and nihilism. He examined three main philosophical traditions (Kant, contract theory and benefit theory) and demonstrated that generally acceptable moral rules are ultimately the rules that can achieve the best results. Therefore, the “rule consequence doctrine” he expounded can better integrate the three traditions. The work also incorporates the critical comments of four other contemporary philosophers and the response of pafett. This book may inspire a new round of lasting and in-depth exploration of moral philosophy.

star scholar Ferguson sparked controversy

Neal Ferguson’s new book Civilization: the West and the rest of the world is as controversial as many of his previous works. In November 2011, Pankaj Mishra, an Indian born British left-wing writer, published a long book review “Beware of this man” on the London Book Review, sharply criticizing Ferguson’s “white civilization superiority theory”. Ferguson immediately wrote a protest, saying that Mishra distorted his views andInsinuating that he was a “racist”, he demanded an apology for the slander. The London Book review published two confrontations between the two sides on the communication page, but they are still inseparable. Finally, Ferguson claimed to resort to law.

Ferguson was born in England in 1964 and graduated from Oxford University. He taught at Cambridge and Oxford. He moved to the United States in 2002 and is currently a chair professor in the history department and Business School of Harvard University. In the past 15 years, he has published 14 works, five of which have been produced as a series of documentaries and broadcast on BBC channel 4 and other media. In 2004, he was selected by time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In addition, Ferguson predicted a serious financial crisis in the United States many years ago and invented the widely circulated new term “Chimerica”. Ferguson is a high-profile and eloquent Neo conservative historian. His exposition of imperial history is often regarded by left-wing critics as “Reviving colonialism” and “advocating the superiority of Western civilization”.

winners and deceased in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2011

the 2011 holburg international Memorial Award was won by the German historian J ü rgen Kocka (about 7085000 US dollars). The award speech praised Koka as “one of the most important historians today”, and his research “promoted an enlightened and democratic system and made him fight against exclusion, privilege and inequality”. The 2011 Templeton prize (with a prize of £ 1 million) was awarded to British theoretical astrophysicist Martin J. Rees. His insight into the universe has led to major issues surrounding mankind’s highest hope and deepest fear. The spiritual development inspired by this is the long-term goal of the Templeton award.

on January 25, 2011, the famous sociologist Daniel Bell died at the age of 91. His works the end of ideology, the advent of post industrial society and the contradiction of capitalist culture have become academic classics in the 20th century and are considered to have the significance of “Revelation”. No matter how many specious labels people attach to him, bell clearly defines himself as “an economic socialist, a political liberal and a cultural conservative”.

on March 9, David Broder, a senior White House reporter and columnist of the Washington Post, died of illness at the age of 81. He has written for the newspaper for more than 40 years and has reported on every US presidential election since 1956. In 1973, he won the Pulitzer news time award for reporting and commenting on the “Watergate incident”.

on June 10, the 96 year old British writer and scholar Patrick Leigh farmer died. He is recognized as “Britain’s greatest living travel writer”. His representative works include “season of gifts” and “between forest and lake”. Famel’s works integrate the rich connotation of history, geography, linguistics and anthropology.

on December 15, Christopher Hitchens, a famous public intellectual and British American writer, died of illness at the age of 62. As early as the 1970s, Hitchens was already a star reporter in London. Later, he became a columnist of many important newspapers in the American intellectual community. His writing is first-class, but his positions and views are often controversial. Hitchens has long been regarded as a radical leftist, but after the September 11 incident, he declared a break with the leftist position. After his death, European and American newspapers published a large number of mourning articles. ■

(author’s note: This article is one of the series of annual reports on the same topic made by the author since 2003. The selection and review of topics are limited by the author’s reading and knowledge, and are only used as information for readers’ reference. The full version including notes will be published in the first issue of Xuehai in 2012.)