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Современные тексты - Томов - Alexander Tomov. The Fourth Civilisation

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Alexander Tomov. The Fourth Civilisation


© Alexander Tomov, Sofia, 1996

© David Mossop (English Translation), Sofia, 1996


     Sofia 1996

     Dedicated to the memory of my dear mother, Radka Tomova,

     whose dream was to be able to read this book.


     Foreword 7

     Section One The Crisis

     Chapter One

     The Birth Of The Global World And The Crisis Of Modernity

     1. Integration And The Transition Of Civilisation 11

     2. The Birth Of The Global World 20

     3. The 20[th] Century - The Search Of A Model For The Global World 24

     4. The Common Crisis And The Collapse Of The Third Civilisation 28

     Chapter Two

     Collapse No.I: The Explosion in Eastern Europe

     1. Decline And Death Throes 33

     2. Reform And Illusions 39

     3. Two Options And The "Mistake" Of Gorbachev 43

     4. The Collapse Of Perestroika 46

     5. The Explosion In Eastern Europe 51

     6. Return To A Difficult Future 54

     Chapter Three

     Collapse No.II: Global Disorder

     1. The Danger Of Chaos 56

     2. Geopolitical Collapse 61

     3. Economic Turbulence 63

     4. The New Masters Of The World 65

     5. The March Of The Poor 67

     6. A Number Of Pessimistic Scenarios 71

     Section Two The Fourth Civilisation

     Chapter Four

     Theory In The Time Of Crisis

     1. Forewarning Of The End Of The Two Theoretical Concepts 74

     2. A Return To The Roots Or The Main Thesis 82

     3. Main Conclusions And A Message To Alvin Toffler 85

     4. A Similar Message To S.Huntington 89

     5. The Need For A New Theoretical Synthesis 92

     Chapter Five

     The Fourth Civilisation

     1. Why A New Civilisation? 96

     2. Some Thoughts On The Transitions Of Civilisations 99

     3. The Distinguishing Features Of The Fourth Civilisation 103

     4. Inevitability And When It Will Happen 106

     Chapter Six

     The Dimensions of a New Synthesis

     1. Socialisation And The Deregulation Of Ownership 108

     2. Post-Capitalism 116

     3. Post-Communism 120

     4. The Approach And The End Of The "Third World" 126

     5. Balanced Development 129

     Chapter Seven


     1. The Defenders Of The Third Civilisation 134

     2. The Great Threat - Media Imperialism 136

     3. Post-Modern Nationalism 139

     4. The Egoism Of Politicians 141

     5. Militant Religions 143

     6. A Cup Of Coffee In Apenzel 144

     Section Three Alternatives To The Fourth Civilisation

     Chapter Eight

     The New Economic Order

     1. The Economic Heart Of The Global World 146

     2. New Growth And New Structures 150

     3. Who Shall Dominate The World Economy? 154

     4. Is There A Need For Global Economic Regulation? 159

     5. Vivat Europa And The Death Of The Introverts 163

     6. The Levelling Out Of Economies 166

     Chapter Nine

     The Culture Of The Fourth Civilisation

     1. The Beatles, Michael Jackson And The Bulgarian Caval. 170

     2. The Travelling Peoples 174

     3. Man Without Ethnic Origin Or The Rebellion Of Ethnicity 179

     4. Global Awareness 183

     5. Multiculture And The Global Culture 186

     Chapter Ten

     The New Political Order

     1. The Twilight Of The Superpowers 190

     2. From Imperialism To Polycentralism 193

     3, The Fate Of The Nation State 195

     4. After The Crisis Of Political Identity 198

     5. The Global Coordinators 200






     At the end of 1989 over a period of just a few months one of the two world systems collapsed. Together with the two world wars this was clearly the third turning point in the history of the twentieth century. For quite some time now researchers and politicians in a number of countries have been attempting to find an explanation for the collapse of the Eastern European totalitarian regimes and the consequences for the world. Thousands of publications and political statements have come to the concluded that "capitalism swallowed up communism" and that "liberalism has conquered the world". Fukoyama even went as far as to declare the end of history and the establishment of a liberal world model. Others see it only as the end of the Bolshevik experiment and the social engineering of a series of political philosophers from Rousseau to Marx. After the victories of the former communist parties in Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria in parliamentary elections in 1993 and 1994, liberal passions grew cold and talk of the new ascension of left wing thought has appeared on the political agenda.

     What really did happen after 1989? Where is the world heading? To the left or to the right? Towards unified action or to division into new blocs? Towards long-lasting peace or newrisks?

     Almost everyone - theoreticians, researchers and politicians in both the East and the West were caught unprepared by circumstances. The map of Eastern Europe has changed tragically beyond all recognition. Dozens of bloody conflicts have erupted. Europe is being thwarted at every moment in its attempt to unite peacefully. The United States now without an enemy in the world has felt an increasing need to change its global policies. Germany and Japan have also increased their economic power and their political confidence.

     In short, the collapse of the Eastern European communist regimes has profoundly affected the present and the future of all nations and has changed the entire world, not just small elements of it. These profound changes have touched contemporary human history in so far as they were a consequence of inexorable global trends. For this reason we have to go back in history to look for more general processes in order to reinterpret the dynamics of modern life. It is time to look beyond than the ideological euphoria of the changes caused and to attempt to define exactly what happened and what we can expect in the future.

     This is not my first book, but it is the first which I have written in complete freedom, without censorship or self-censorship, without the patronage and supervision of academic councils and "political friends". In this book I have searched for the truth from the point of view not only of the cultural environment which surrounds me but also of the world which revealed itself to me in its inimitable diversity after 1989. The changes which have taken place in Bulgaria can not be seen purely in terms of black and white. We attempted hastily to overcome the absurdities and limitations of our past and now, five years on we are still at the very beginning. The task has proven much more difficult than anyone could have imagined. At the same time much of the dignity which the Bulgarian people managed to preserve until 1989 has been sadly lost.

     Today in Bulgaria and the other countries of Eastern Europe not only is the value system in a state of chaos but there is also chaos surrounding the interpretations of what has happened and what must happen in the future. Many people are disappointed by the changes and they have rejected by looking back to the system of social guarantees, voting for the past. I can not say that all the votes cast for the former Eastern European communist parties are votes for the past, but most of them are. Hundreds of thousands of people in Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary have said to themselves "Under the former regime, I managed to build a house and bought a car (albeit poor quality). Now, I haven't the slightest chance of doing so." The comparison of the benefits to the majority of the population in the 1970's and 1980's and those of the first five years of emergent democracy, does not favour modern times. In terms of concrete facts and figures, this is indeed the case. However, this is far from the truth if one looks at the situation in the future and tomorrow in terms of the potential possibilities which freedom offers.

     I remember life in 1989 well, because up until then I had lived for 35 years in a totalitarian society. At first glance everything seemed all right. There was full social security during childhood and guaranteed education. Everyone had a job and a salary. The population was able to live in a society without crime. However despite this, in that world called socialism, we still asked ourselves many questions: Why do we produce less and poorer quality goods than the West? Why are our shops empty more often than not? Why are there chronic shortages of goods? Why do we have money and nothing to buy for it? Why are we forbidden to do things which seemed so natural?

     I have often observed my daughters' parrots at home. Just as in a totalitarian society, they have everything they could ask for: guaranteed food, security and hygiene. They are "happy", because they have everything which they could ever imagine. But they do not have freedom and for this reason when they are let out of their cage they cannot fly. Without freedom progress is impossible. In his cage, man cannot reveal his enormous creative potential to take the best from the past generations and to give the best of himself to the future. In the old totalitarian system we achieved much, but we lost much more. Sooner or later that world had to change, not only because it was suffering from crisis of its own identity but because the world itself had changed...

     My first encounter with politics was at the age of 11. I was on holiday with my father in the Rila mountains. In a remote mountain lodge, 2000 metres above sea level, a portrait of Khrushchev was being taken down. They were a few months late doing this and were obviously in a hurry to get rid of it. I asked my father who that man was and why until yesterday his portrait had hung proudly in that spot and today - it was gone. I later learnt that he had been a "revisionist". For a long time this was how I learnt all truths - ready-made and without any commentary. I was taught to believe that I was living in a perfect society and, what was more important was that any problems existing today would certainly be rectified for the future. The formula, "any imperfections are due to the fact that we are as yet in the first stages of communism" must be the most exquisite piece of demagogy and propaganda which I have ever encountered. We believed in the glorious future of communism, just like others believed in life after death. We were unable to compare our daily lives with anyone and with anything because we all watched the same television, listened to the same radio and read the same newspapers in which the truth was written by other people.

     In the 1960's and 1970's there were many people who did not believe and who heretically opposed the aggression of the regime. However, the majority of the population knew nothing of this. In Bulgaria there had been none of the civil unrest of the Polish workers, the Hungarian uprising and the Prague spring. It was only late in the 1970's that we began to realise that perhaps things were not as they should be and it was possible to live in a different way, that Eastern Europe was not the proponent of supreme human progress. One reason for this was the opening up of Bulgaria to the Western World, the appearance of new audio-visual media and the expansion of scientific and technological exchanges. We were then able to see another model and were able to make comparisons. Another reason was the admission by the existing regime of the need to improve economic mechanisms and their recognition of the importance of primary stimuli.

     However, even then in the 1970's and 1980's, even during the years of perestroika under Gorbachev, when the entire truth about Stalin became public knowledge, our notions of the future were limited to the idea of convergence. What happened in 1989 and especially what happened subsequently was totally unexpected by everyone, both in the East and the West. I am not afraid to admit this because I know very well that even the best political scientists in the world and the academic centres specialising in Eastern European studies had no idea of the impact and the diversity of the changes which were taking place at the end of the 1980's. Even Gorbachev himself did not expect it. The chain reactions of turbulent demonstrations which took place in the whole of Eastern Europe after perestroika and the mass dellusions that everythong would be just like Switzerland, as well as the obvious geo-political changes - these are all factors which lead me to write this book.

     The basic question, which I have endeavoured to answer is this: What did really happen at the end of the 1980's and why did the changes which took place in Eastern Europe have global ramifications? Some of my conclusions I date back to as early as 1982. In particular this is my view of the relationship between communalisation (socialisation) and autonomy and of the insubstantiality of statism at the end of the 20[th] century. Other conclusions were formed in the late 1980's after participating in a series of discussions at the congresses of the World Federation for Future Studies which helped me to understand the situations in other countries and to make comparisons with the situation in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world. The third group of conclusions are based on my own political experience as Deputy Prime Minister in the most decisive period of reform processin Bulgaria and as a member of the Bulgarian parliament from 1990-1994. My meetings with dozens of the world's leading politicians during this period were of enormous influence in the formation of the conclusions in this book. I cannot express adequate gratitude to my colleagues from the World Organisation for Future Studies and to my colleagues from the 21[st] Century Foundation in Sofia - a young and promising group of people who helped me greatly with ideas and critical commentary as well as the practical work in preparing the book for publication.

     At the risk of being paradoxical, there is little in this book which relates directly to Bulgaria, despite the fact that my main motivation in writing it were the problems facing my own country. While working on the book I realised that it is impossible to understand what is going on in Bulgaria if we do not make an attempt to understand what is happening in the world, and what we want to do, to a great extent depends on global processes. Today, no-one can develop in isolation. Such a future would be absurd, if we do not want to go back into our cage. The entire world is bound with common cords which no-one who want to move with progress can ignore. For this reasonI have left my analysis of Bulgaria to a separate book which will be published later.

     The fourth civilisation is a book about the global transition which is taking place in the world, its basis in history, the consequences of the collapse of the regimes in Eastern Europe, the danger of global disorder and chaos in which we are living today and the future and ways in which we might overcome them There are three possible directions for the world to develop. For the greatest part of the twentieth century the world has followed the path of division on the basis of culture, religion and political blocs, aggression and dramatic conflict. This was the world of the cold war, of confrontations between socialism and capitalism. This was the path of social Utopia, imaginary models and politicalf ormulae. The second path is the path of liberal development, victorious capitalism and the vested interests of the richest social strata. This is the path of domination of people by other people, of countries over other countries and nations over nations. I would call this path, the "path of the jungle", where the strong eat the weak. What these two models of development have in common is that they both belong to the past, they both complement each other and cannot exist without the other.

     There is a third path which will be discussed in this book. It is not on the immediate horizon, it may be a difficult path, even Utopian. However, it is, in my opinion, inevitable. My conviction is based on the fact that the modern technological revolution is leading to the creation of a different world civilisation. It could be said quite confidently that the end of the twentieth century will mark the end of an era in the development of civilisation. The twentieth century was an era of nation states, aggression and conflict between nations for more living space. It was an era in which the historically dominant countries imposed their cultures with force. The apogee of this anti-humanitarian absurdity came in the form of theories about the superiority of one race over another and of the need for the "lower" races to be destroyed.

     Today, this is all over, but we are far from a state of affairs where there is no longer any danger from new aggression. Although we could in fact be moving forwards a new, free civilisation there is still the possibility that may just be reproducing recidivists for the next century. We are living in a dangerous world, requiring absolute coordination, where there is no clear order or established principles. The question is the choice which we shall make. The aim of the "Fourth Civilisation" is to be part of the discussion surrounding this choice.

     We could possibly change the fate of world development in an improbable way. For the first time since man has come into existence, we are able to view our own existence not through the prism of individual tribes, classes or nations, but from the point of view of global perspectives. This is a unique chance, but it is also the responsibility of the era in which we live.

     Section one

     The Crisis

     Chapter One



     During its centuries-old existence, mankind has passed through many stages. The uncivilised period lasted more than 100,000 years. The civilised period has lasted for between 5-7 thousand years. his is a period which has seen the realisation of the essence of humankind and consists of three major stages. They are three epochs which are synonyms for the progressof humanity. Three civilisations with distinct levels of progress. At the end of the 20[th] century we are living through the final days of the Third civilisation.


     rom the first appearance of human society to the present day there has been a constant growth in the mutual dependence of people, nations, their customs and culture. The first manifestations of the human race, of tribes and inter-tribal links, the first city-states show that throughout history, from epoch to epoch mankind has become more and more integrated and the people of the earth have become more and more dependent on each other. I am not in a position to argue with anthropologists about the exact date when human life began and since there are so many different criteria relating to the transition between animals, humanoids and Homo Sapiens I consider this discussion to be of little benefit. Evidently during the palaeolithic period (about 100,000 years ago) man established his domination over the over forms of life and began methodically to conquer nature. At some time between 70 and 40 thousand years B.C. man began to tend animals, to create stone cutting implements and to form social relations which were untypical of other types of animals.

     In the late palaeolithic period human populations began to resettle from Africa through Asia to the northern parts of America. I am not convinced, however, that civilisation began from only one root disseminated by ambulant migrants or primitive forms of transport. I am more inclined to believe that in the earliest societies the spreading of the seeds of civilisation was of secondary significance to the growth of local civilisations in various regions of the world.

     The first manifestations of civilisation or limited social relations are not only to be found in Egypt or in Greece, nor are they the fruit of only one root. Between 3000-2000 B.C. not only did the cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia begin to develop but also the culture of ancient India. During the same period the cultures of the nations of the Andes, South America were also in their ascent. Ancient Greece with its highly developed manufacturing, culture and philosophy also flourished at the same time as India. These phenomena can only be explained with the overall changes in the natural environment and very possibly with the increased radioactivity of the sun. Such a conclusion is very significant since it shows that human civilisation appeared in different parts of the world establishing pluralism and diversity as a natural law. In other words, the human race developed from different natural and cultural roots at the same time and is moving towards integration without destroying its diversity.

     There is something else which has lead to the constant expansion of communities and for people to seek answers to the problems caused by integration. This something is the connection between the processes of domination of man over nature and the process of integration itself. With the expansion and development of transport, culture, manufacturing and trade, our forebears began to realise that the fate of mankind is indivisible from the processes of its expansion and integration. Over the centuries, mankind dominated more and more new territories, populated more and more regions of the world and subsequently linked these expanded territories into unified systems.

     There is a certain logic in the development of human life from its earliest manifestations to the present day - that progress is indivisible from the increase in human communities, from the growth in the compactness of populations and the mutual dependence of people. Every historical epoch confirms this conclusion - from the first signs of early civilisation in modern Africa and the development of tribal communities, to the appearance of cooperative grain farming in Eastern Asia and the appearance of the first developed dynasties in Egypt and the Near East and the expansion of art in the ancient world. The development of human integration has passed through many different forms: tribal/warrior alliances and slave owning states, imperial states combining religions and cultures. The overall trend has been constant, each subsequent form of human civilisation is either greater than the previous or more integrated and dependent on the environment in which it exists.

     There are two phenomena which clearly show this process:

     The first is the population of the world. From its first appearance to the present day mankind has been growing constantly: about 6,000,000 in 8000 B.C.; about 255 million in 1 A.D.; 460 million in 1500; 1.6 billion in 1900; 2.0 billion in 1930; 3.0 billion in 1960; 4.0 billion in 1975; 5.0 billion in 1987 and over 6 billion in 1994.[(]

     The second important phenomenon is communications. With the appearance of human civilisation sounds and gestures then language and fire were the main forms of communication. As society developed man began to develop more intensive forms of communication. All the activities of man are directly or indirectly linked with the development of new communications - roads, sea and airways, all manner of forms of transport, postal links, telephones and telegraphs, computers and optical fibres, satellite television. Communications (transport, information exchange and processing) are the most accurate bench mark for the development and progress of civilisation. There is an obvious logic involved in this. Over the centuries people have been building bridges between each other and have been using them to exchange the fruits of their labour and to influence the world in which they live.

     I consider that from the outset I shall have to draw a very obvious and necessary conclusion: the further human society progresses, the more compact and integrated human society becomes and the more nations and individuals become dependent on each other. This is an incontrovertible law which we can do little to stop. It is also clear that this is an element of the overall development of the Earth and an accompaniment to the entire history of the human race and the overall development of our planet.

     This, perhaps, gives rise to the question whether economic development and the general development of human civilisation has definable limits or whether there are limits to the growth in world population. Will human progress lead to the disappearance of the primary differences between races and nations? Will mutually dependent human existence lead to new phenomena? Will states disappear to be replaced by international communities? These are questions which will have to be answered.

     I believe that notwithstanding the cyclical nature of its development, the human race will irreversibly and logically move towards a mutually dependent and integrated existence and from there to constant structural reformation. The main reason for this is that human progress is becoming more and more profoundly dependent on nature and the unity of nature is in its turn influencing the unity of life on earth. The unity of nature has become transformed into a unity of independent social communities. Producing and consuming, harvesting the oceans, the seas and the care of the earth and space, people are beginning to find themselves living in a more integrated community and are becoming dependent on each other. Individual processes of production lead to general pollution. The exploitation of natural resources has caused overall changes to the environment. The development of communications has created a common environment for the transfer of information.

     It can be stated with confidence that the process of overall world integration is universal. It includes manufacturing, culture and religion and the processes of human thought. This process is directly connected with the universal philosophical problem of the integrity and dialectical nature of nature. There is no doubt that by revealing its diversity nature is becoming more unified. However, any claimsof its absolute unity are as absurd as claims of its extreme fragmentation.

     When historical processes are in their initial stages and civilisations are still poorly developed, they tend to reflect closely the conditions and the specific nature of the local natural conditions with their climatic, geographical and other particular features. People are born different, live different lives and believe in different gods. In Africa people are born black, in Europe - white, in America "red" and in the East "yellow". Today these differences for the most part are disappearing. Races, cultures, religions and values systems are merging. This is not because nature is being outdone, but that its localisation is being outlived.

     The closer people become to nature the more their lives, consciousness and behaviour become dependent on the common essence of nature. Individual and specific elements disappear to become merged in the common elements of life. In my opinion this is the meaning and the dialectic of progress. In order to defeat the lions and the wolves, man had to unite and to join forces and ways of thinking, to build on what he has so far achieved in order to make further progress. In this way, year after year, century after century man conquered increasing areas of nature, reached its profound depths, exploited its common natural resources - the earth, the forests, the air and the water. These resources have been exploited for the same reasons - that in order to make greater use of nature, it is necessary to use the combined efforts of individual human resources. The opposite is also true, the more we use nature, the more we become dependent (or place other people in a position of dependence) on it.


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