Address by the President Ivanov at the Global Leadership Forum in Istanbul
Saturday, 12 May 2018 10:31   

PRM_Istanbul_5Distinguished Participants,
Esteemed Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As President of the Republic of Macedonia, but also as a university professor, I am honored to address this Global Leadership Forum at the prestigious University of Bahçeshehir.

The topics discussed are very important: the crossroads of international alliances, the sustainable peace in the Middle East, the future of the European Union. Here, I shall add one more.

During the brief 20th century, national states and international organizations dominated. But, with the end of the Cold War, the Bloc snow melted, and all the complexity of the world and the civilizations that made it up appeared. This contributed to restoring consciousness and interest in the study of civilizations.

The first to do so was Samuel Huntington, who, a quarter of a century ago, claimed that the 21st century global politics would be dominated by the clash of civilizations.

But, instead of a clash of civilizations, Niall Ferguson predicted clashes within the civilizations. When there are two civilizations one of which is getting weaker and the other becomes stronger, the question is not whether they will collide, but whether the weaker one will collapse. Hence, the dilemma is whether instead of a clash of civilizations we can speak of a crash of civilizations.

The crash of civilizations is associated with a group of authors that has long been forgotten. In his book "Civilization: The West and Rest", Ferguson concludes that today it is hard to read Spengler, Toynbee and Sorokin.

This conclusion in a way gives an answer to a question that, at the beginning of the millennium, was put up by the Canadian Professor Thomas Hueglin. Namely, he asked if, misled by the Enlightenment in the past period, we have read wrong books and quoted wrong authors?

To this I will add yet another question: Have we been guided by wrong maps? Looking at the maps at our desks and walls, it seems we have forgotten that the world is not flat, but round; that it is not a two-dimensional map, but a three-dimensional globe. Perhaps this is why we see the world linearly rather than circularly. And, the deformed Mercator projection used for about 400 years was euro-centric and presented Europe larger than it really is. But, when I talk about maps, I do not think only of cartographic, but also of theoretical, mental maps that help us orient outselves in the world of ideas. Such a wrong perception of geography and theory has contributed to the wrong perception of history.

Ferguson and Hueglin, alas, are right. If authors such as Spengler, Toynbee and Sorokin were read more, we would not be captives of a static image of a dynamic world and a linear understanding of cyclical history. Decision makers would not have been surprised of the end of the Cold War, of the return of civilizations and the de-secularization of the world.
Oswald Spengler in his book "The Decline of the West" is trying to explain what is happening to the Western civilization. He does this by using the concept of pseudomorphosis, which he borrows from mineralogy. It is a phenomenon in which a given mineral gets its own form, but it also loses its internal structure. This empty form is filled by a new mineral. In other words, the outer form is different from the internal substance. According to him, something similar happens with the Western civilization.

Arnold Toynbee, however, claims that every civilization faces challenges. The more difficult the challenge, the more creative the solution should be. And the solutions are given by creative minorities that change the paradigm of the majority and create conditions for a new lifestyle. The end of a civilization begins when it fails to meet key challenges. Studying the life cycles of 26 world civilizations, Toynbee will conclude that civilizations are not killed, but that they commit suicide.

Unlike Spengler and Toynbee, Sorokin claims that none of the great cultures and civilizations has completely disappeared, but that it lives through all the material and immaterial values it has transferred to other civilizations.

PRM_Istanbul_3Sorokin is trying to overcome the two basic concepts of socio-cultural dynamics. Instead of linear and cyclic conception, he advocates the concept of oscillation. This oscillation implies that every big culture or civilization goes through three phases: the first is ideational or spiritual. The second is sensate or material. The third is idealistic and represents a dialectical synthesis of the two previous.

Like the previous authors, Sorokin deems that the West is in a crisis. In that crisis of contemporary western sensate culture, the boundary line between truth and lie, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, between the positive and negative values disappears. Many of Sorokin's predictions of 1957 have already come true.

He says that by atomizing the values, man will be stripped of his inherent dignity. Today, about 60 years later, the ideology of post-humanism has coined a symbiosis between biology and technology, which redefined what it means to be a human. At the same time, the family as a union of a man and a woman, of parents and their children, is disintegrated.

Sorokin predicted the relativization of truth and manipulation of public opinion by fake news. You surely remember that just two years ago, "post-truth" was the word of the year.

He predicted that social contracts would be devalued. Without respect for the given word, the trust in the system would disappear. It is enough to look at the situation with international law. The Republic of Macedonia has been waiting for seven years for the 2011 ruling of the International Court of Justice in The Hague regarding the Greek blockade of our NATO membership be respected. One of the rare members of NATO that literally respects the verdict is the Republic of Turkey, which is always and principally using our constitutional name. Therefore, we are very grateful for that.

Unfortunately, Sorokin's claim that personal security will be increasingly reduced is confirmed. With the frequent terrorist attacks, life in Europe is becoming a Russian roulette, because no one knows where something will happen.

He also said that freedom would be reduced to a myth of the majority. Instead of guaranteeing it, security will replace freedom. And Benjamin Franklin said "he who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." This is the crisis of the last surviving ideal of the French Revolution, and that is the ideal of freedom.

Sorokin claims that people will be alienated from their inalienable human rights and freedoms. Today, the persecution of people of different faith and belief is more pronounced, not only in non-secular, but also in developed and secular societies. Some, like Os Guinness, even raise the question of whether today the United Nations would be able to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at all.

All in all, the period of crisis distinguishes imitation, rather than creativity, summer bestsellers instead of classics, form instead of essence, transient sensations instead of lasting values, information rather than knowledge and wisdom.

But Sorokin is not as gloomy as he may seem at first glance. Unlike Spengler and Toynbee, he does not predict the death of the Western civilization. The crisis of the Western civilization is just a passing phase.

The ignorance for the new emerging world brings fear. Many corporations and states have made business out of fear. We install antivirus programs to protect our cell phones and computers from hackers, embed video cameras to secure our homes from thieves, buy life insurance to secure our lives from accidents, denying freedom in the name of security. Fear became the biggest business.

Probably the fear of the new world of digital transformation is due to the lack of security that our analog generation enjoyed in the old world.

Burdened with the disappearance of the old world, we do not perceive the potential of the new world that is born. And that is a world in which young people already function according to sharing philosophy and practice sharing economy. Instead of individual users and consumers, they share the approach to products and services. They use blockchain so as not to waste time at bank counters. The youth of the millennium and Y-generation are now at universities and feel the power of open cyberspace there. And that open cyberspace consists of a virtual Alexandrian library, that is, Google, but also a virtual market, that is, Amazon, eBay, AliBaba, AliExpress. The digital transformation allows young people to develop a Start up mentality, to be creative and innovative and thus become what Toynbee called a creative minority that will lead the world forward.

Offering optimism, but without utopianism, Sorokin leaves space for catharsis and recovery of the super-system. In this process of catharsis a new world is born in which the sensual super-system gives way to the ideational and idealistic super-system. He predicts that instead of atomized, values will again become universal and absolute.

PRM_Istanbul_4Ladies and gentlemen,

Civilizations have the great cohesive power to connect. Singapore's Professor Kishore Mahbubani notes that there is a major convergence of the world. To improve the world order, he offers three suggestions.

First - open global debate in multilateral institutions. Dialogues should replace monologues in the United Nations and other organizations. Bahcesehir University is also involved in that open debate through this Global Leadership Forum.

Second - abandoning the anachronistic policy towards multilateralism. As the world order needs effective multilateral institutions, the institutions need international law. The old international institutions need to adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the third millennium. For example, the European Community, that is, Europe 1.0 in 1993 grew into the European Union and thus created Europe 2.0. It is now time for the European Union to expand and deepen and become Europe 3.0.

Third - new global ethics is needed. We belong to the same moral community that has awareness of human rights and freedoms. For the first time in history, every person from the Balkans, from Europe, can contest the decision of his own state before the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg.

Dear friends,

In 1957, 61 year ago, Sorokin wrote: "We are living, thinking, and acting at the darkest hour of this transitory night with its nightmares, gigantic destruction, and heartrending horrors. If mankind can avoid the irretrievable catastrophe of greater world wars, the dawn of a new magnificent order in the human universe is waiting to greet the coming generations".

As a cautious optimist with experience, that is, a realist, I think that Sorokin is right. Therefore, when it seems that darkness is overwhelming and the situation seems hopeless, we should remember that the night is darkest before the dawn. The light is most clearly shining in the darkest moments. It gives us hope and strength to continue to walk to its source. To keep on and never give up. Instead of just naming the problems, we should offer creative solutions.

As we speak, the youngest generation is born that is destined to live in the 22nd century. It is our responsibility to prepare those who come after us to be moral and ethical leaders with character, integrity, humility, with focus on people, responsibility and passion. Not to be afraid of the unknown, but bravely and wisely to face the challenges, to finally sail into calmer waters. I believe that we all should invest together in such leaders of the future, for Macedonia and Turkey, for the Balkans and Europe, for the world.

Thank you.