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A New Medievalism?

Among many Kantians, an argument is supported which suggests the post-Cold War global landscape presents an historical juncture that predisposes a profound challenge to conventional wisdom of how to approach the global political economy. The modern geopolitical landscape is evident of a high degree of transnationalism and fragmentation; there is an empirical trend towards sophisticated cultural integration. Hence, it is suggested that in order to apprehend the current nature of the social world, it is wise to conceive the international landscape as form of a 'new medievalism' (cf. Bull, 1977), representing a network of overlapping authority and multiple loyalties held together by various universalised claims. Transnationalism signifies a dynamic multi-layer system in which national state autonomy is elusive and authority is more-or-less an embodiment of superstructural entities, e.g the EU. Nation-states as organizational units of social closure that represent socially determined 'legitimate' use of political action in the international realm are, it is purported, dwindling.

One is left with some questions: what exactly is driving the perceived cultural integration ensuing the proliferation of supranational cleavages? does it have to do with identity politics? if so, why are identity politics suddenly now pertinent?  Could it be that the overarching neoliberal perspective, which essentially governs the current functioning of the capitalist world-system, is intricately altering the political domain in a dialectical sense of motion and contradiction?  Substantive explanatory answers to such questions will only develop if one is aware of the need to “exercise aggressive [...] critique not only against the conscious defenders of the status quo but also against [those that embrace, and practice,] distracting, conformist [...] tendencies (Horkheimer [1937] 2007, p. 355).  Social thought and enquiry are, after all, meant to untangle social consciousness “in waking from its dream about itself, in explaining to it the [actual] meaning of its [prescribed social] actions” (Marx 1978, p. 13).


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