Beyond the immediate and short-term flux and instability which we are witnessing in many governing systems around the world, the question is whether government and politics can ever become more ethical and moralistic over the course of time. As one of the two major idealists of the modern age, Kant became famous for suggesting in an essay titled “To Eternal Peace” that government and politics would indeed become more ethical and moralistic over the course of time. Hegel, who was the other major idealist of the ‘Enlightenment’ or ‘Renaissance’ age, also suggested that issues such as war and inequality which were handicapping a more ethical and moralistic government and politics would eventually be overcome and that government and politics would indeed become more ethical and moralistic over the course of time.
Hegel argued that there is a direct relationship between morality and nature, and that duty and being itself are essentially the bridge between that relationship. Happiness is essentially the result of that bridge having been solidified by virtue of fostering a better existence through the bridging of morality and nature as a result of a fulfillment of duty. As Hegel wrote in his “Phenomenology of Spirit”:
“The being that is demanded, then, is not the imagined being of a contingent consciousness, but is implied in the Notion of morality itself, whose true content is the unity of the pure and the individual consciousness; it is for the latter to see that this unity be, for it, an actuality: in the content of the purpose this is happiness, but in its form, is existence in general. The existence thus demanded, i.e. the unity of both, is therefore not a wish nor, regarded as purpose, one whose attainment were still uncertain; it is rather a demand of Reason, or an immediate certainty and presupposition of reason.”
Moreover, the idea of duty as a bridge between potentiality and actuality and a bridge between a state of chaos and flux and a state of happiness and peace can be found in traditional cultures, such as in Hindu culture by virtue of the idea of ‘Dharma’ and in Islam by virtue of the concept of “Khilafat” and so forth.
As the late Zbigniew Brzezinski argued, much of the flux and instability in our global social order which precedes the potential emergence of a truly “global community” is the result of our ongoing transition from a modern age to a “technetronic” age which has been set off by technological changes and evolutions and in turn this current state of flux and instability is full of contradictions and paradoxes. As Brzezinski argued:
“The cumulative effect of the technetronic revolution is contradictory. On the one hand, this revolution marks the beginnings of a global community; on the other hand, it fragments humanity and detaches it from its traditional moorings. The technetronic revolution is widening the spectrum of the human condition. It intensifies the gulf in the material condition of mankind even as it contradicts mankind’s subjective tolerance of that disparity.”
And as Henry Kissinger argued, any kind of global order which is socially constructed amidst the current flux and instability will be overarched by a paradox of cultural and regional differences on one hand and the universality of aspirations and values on the other hand. As Kissinger argued: “The contemporary quest for world order will require a coherent strategy to establish a concept of order within the various regions, and to relate these regional orders to one another.” And as far as America’s role is in the fostering of a socially constructed global order amidst the current flux and instability, Kissinger wrote: “For the United States, the quest for world order functions on two levels: the celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with a recognition of the reality of other regions’ histories and cultures.”
Hence, the need for a revival of a traditional form of American ‘pragmatism’ and so forth is deeply intertwined with the urgent need for the creation and development of a social order on a global scale amidst the prevailing flux and instability, even though the outcome of taking the risk of embarking on such an endeavor is unclear at this very moment.