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Beyond Monologue: For a Comparative Political Theory

Author(s): Fred Dallmayr


Source: Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 249-257
Published by: American Political Science Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3688438
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Fora Comparative
Articles I BeyondMonologue:
Political
Theory

BeyondMonologue:Fora Comparative
PoliticalTheory
By FredDallmayr
fortheentire
a proposal
totheorists,
butwith
theproposal
Theessay
advances
thatisaddressed
primarily
implications
profession:
ofroutinized
canons
witha turn
toglobal,
cross-cultural
theoorsupplement
therehearsal
toreplace
(or"comparative")
political
I offer
seems
andI discuss
a variety
oftheoretical
intellectual
reasons
theturn
andgeneral
today,
why
appropriate
rizing.
geopolitical
ofcomparative
orphilosophical
theturn.
After
somerecent
I
examples
political
inspirations
theorizing,
undergirding
highlighting
tocritical
aswellasindicating
conclude
broader
ofthemove"beyond
byresponding
queries
implications
monologue."

orethanfourdecadesago,Leo Straussconcludedone
of his essayswiththefamousstatement
thatpolitical
science"fiddleswhileRome burns."'The phrasewas
intendedto stirtheprofession
fromtheprevailing
slumberof
from
the
and
mindlessness
induced
positivism behavioralism,
random
data
At
the
same
and
time, perhapsmore
by
gathering.
the
Straussmeant phraseto be a clarioncallforfelspecifically,
lowpolitical
theorists
torecapture
theSocratic
dlanoftheirenterthemeaningandmoraldirection
of
prise:thetaskofunraveling
politicallife.ManythingshavehappenedsinceStrausspenned
In thewakeoftheevents
hisessay,buthiswordsarestilltimely.
ofSeptember11 and theirglobalrepercussions,
hisphrasehas
even
to
ask
whether
us
acquired greater
urgency,
prompting
political science-particularly
attenpoliticaltheory-isproperly
tivetothe"burning"
issuesofourtime.Is itproperly
responsive
totheSocraticchallenge
ofcritical
In an effort
politicalinquiry?
to fostersuch responsiveness,
thisessayadvancesa proposal
addressed
to
butonethatcarries
chiefly politicaltheorists,
implicationsfortheentireprofession
ofpoliticalscience:to replace
orsupplement
therehearsal
ofroutinized
canonswitha turnto
or"comparative"
I first
global,cross-cultural
political
theorizing.
offer
somereasons
andmotivations
whysucha turnseemsapprooftheoretical
and philopriatetoday.Next,I discussa variety
thatbuttress
I exploreits
theturn.Finally,
sophicalinspirations
broaderpoliticalimplications.
BeforeI proceed,letme briefly
sketchmyunderstanding
of
cross-cultural
or comparative
the
contours
of
politicaltheory,
whichwill emergemorefullyin subsequentdiscussions.By
thisterm,I meana modeoftheorizing
thattakesseriously
the
of
a
mode
which
entails,
process
ongoing
globalization,
among
FredDallmayris thePackeyJ.
Dee Professor
in theDepartmentsofPoliticalScienceand Philosophy
at theUniversity
of
NotreDame (dallmayr.
1@nd.edu).His mostrecentpublication
is
Some Exemplary
Voices.
DialogueamongCivilizations:

otherthings,
thegrowing
and interpretation
ofculproximity
turesandtheemergence
ofwhatMarshallMcLuhancalledthe
tohegemonic
andimperialist
modes
"globalvillage."In contrast
oftheorizing,
thetermimpliesthatone segment
oftheworld's
populationcannotmonopolizethelanguageor idiomof the
emerging"village,"or global civilsociety.Sharedmeanings
and practices-totheextentthattheyarepossible-can only
arisefromlateralinteraction,
and contestation
negotiation,
frameworks.
This,
historically
amongdifferent,
growncultural
in turn,meansthatthebasicapproachfavored
bycomparative
is, it
politicaltheoryis dialogical,or "hermeneutical"-that
relieson mutualinterpretation.2
Giventhisorientation,
commustnecessarily
be multilingual
and wellparativetheorists
trainedin translation,
the
vast
terrain
covered
although
by
cross-cultural
limitstherangeof lincomparisonnecessarily
ofanyoneperson.3
Theoristsneedtosteer
guisticcompetence
a middlecoursebetweennarrowareaspecialists
and abstract
while
the
former
the
thelatter
generalists:
slight "theoretical,"
miss the "comparative"
componentof comparative
political
theory.
Amongprominent
contemporary
approaches,
comparativetheory
called"forclearly
departsfromwhatis commonly
mal theory,"
whichimposesa general,universal"form"on
diversephenomena,thereby
itsdebtto the univerrevealing
salistclaimsoftheEuropeanEnlightenment.

Some Contemporary
Motivations

Thereare manyreasonssupporting
the turnto comparative
one of themis September11. At
politicaltheory.
Ineluctably,
its annual meetingin the late summerof 2001, a leading
featureda panel whose topic was
professional
organization
"What Is PoliticalTheory?"The panel attracteda large
audience-and appropriately
so. Amongthe panelistswere
who offered
leadingAmericanpoliticaltheorists
thoughtful
and well-informed
reflections
on manytopicsin the long
the panelistsalso
historyof politicalthought.Nevertheless,
revealeda deep-seated
bias,whatone maycall an
professional
June2004 1Vol.2/No.2 249

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Fora Comparative
Articles I BeyondMonologue:
Political
Theory
to familintellectual
bylimitingthemselves
inhospitableness:
iar theoriesof the Western"canon"(fromPlato to Rawls),
whatSamuelHuntington
termed
illustrated
theyinadvertently
theWest'sexclusionof,or predominance
over,therest.4Barely
tendaysafterthemeeting,theterrorist
attacksof September
11 tookplace,theconsequencesof whichwe are stilltrying
was one of
to unraveltoday.Surely,America'svulnerability
ofthatday.The factthatthecountry
thedramaticrevelations
has
is inexorablypart of the globalizingworld necessarily
as well as political,conand theoretical,
seriousprofessional
ofa Western-focused
thejuxtaposition
sequences.Witnessing
a
and
attack,a seniorpolitpanel
globally-induced
professional
words
likeme was bound to recallLeo Strauss's
ical theorist
of
a
othercertain
of severaldecadesago regarding
"fiddling"
wisewell-intentioned
professionals.
To besure,September
11wasonlya particularly
striking
sympLikea bolt
tomwithina hostofcomplexglobaldevelopments.
thecontoursofa rapidlychanging
itilluminated
oflightning,
international
anddisturbing
landscape.Atthesametimeas the
UnitedStateswasbeingattacked
manypartsofthe
byterrorists,
ethnic
and
worldweresuffering
cleansingon a scale
genocide
The combiofsharedstandards.
thatbeliesfacileassumptions
fabricof
nationofepisodesofthiskindchallengedthefragile
sinceWorldWarII. At
"order"thathadprevailed
international
iseroding
thesametime,therapidexpansionofglobalmarkets
the
world
and
around
of
nation-states
structure
thetraditional
and
newformsofglobaleconomichierarchy inequalcreating
nationalindeofthesechangedconditions,
asa result
ity.5Partly
haveoftenbeenforced
movements
pendence,or "liberation,"
intoretreat,
eclipsedbytheupsurgeofmultiplepost-and neoandsubservience.
colonialmodesoftutelage
observThoughtful
awareoftheneedtoimagine
ersofthesechangesareincreasingly
or even inter-civilizational
and cultivatenew cross-cultural
intheactiveengagethistimegrounded
bondsandarrangements,
andpeople"ontheground,"
ofcultures
mentandparticipation
at thejunctureoflocaland globalconcerns.6
The dramasoftheagewereboundto intrudeintoacademia
convenin due course.Althoughoftenshieldedbyivory-tower
the
with
to
tions,manyacademicdisciplines
began keeppace
and globalizingscenario.Anthropolcross-cultural
unfolding
ogywas theleadingdisciplinein thisrespect;sinceitsfoundethnological
ing,the fieldhas been committedto far-flung
studies.EversinceEdwardTylor'sworkon
and ethnographic
and Malinoski'sjourneyto theTrobriand
cultures"
"primitive
havebeen eagerto
Islands,hostsof culturalanthropologists
ofculturalidiomsand
in therichtapestry
themselves
immerse
aroundtheglobe.Leadingscholars,includingCliftraditions
methfordGeertzandMarshallSahlins,articulated
exemplary
interviews
field
for
these
studies,
especially
odologicalguideposts
and "hermeneutical"
understanding.'
Buildingon theseprecfollowedsuit,sometimes
edents,othersocialscientists
adding
and
a more politicaledge. Influencedby post-colonialism
suchscholarslaunchednew
increased
globalcommunications,
fieldsofacademicinquiry,
includingculturestudiesand postcolonialstudies,dedicatedto examiningtheinterconnection
societies
betweenWesternand non-Western
and contestation
250

inourtime.8Religiousstudieshasforsometimefostered
broad
cross-cultural
rich
harwhichsometimes
yielda
perspectives,
vestofinter-religious
comparisons.9
The combination
oftheseacademicandnon-academic
developmentswas bound to put pressureon politicalscience,an
launchedas a strictly
Western
(orevenAmerenterprise
initially
The first
of
such
wascomparican)discipline.
upshot
pressure
ativepolitics,a subfield
basedon empirical
analysisandlargely
weddedto Westernconceptualmodels.Eventually,
however,
theorists
felt
the
comsame
and
were
hence
political
pressure
to
reconsider
canonical
attachments.
pelled

PhilosophicalSources of Inspiration

When turningto politicaltheory,


we shouldnote a certain
to
peculiarity.
Althoughattentive some of the motivations
are ultimately
discussedso far,politicaltheorists
persuaded
chieflythoseproonly by properlytheoretical
arguments,
As it happens,twentieth
videdby contemporary
philosophy.
is replete
and
century
philosophy
European
Anglo-American
withguideposts
to
a
more
cross-cultural
orientation,
pointing
an openingof theWesttowardthe rest.This philosophical
sea-changeincluded:the so-calledlinguisticturn(the turn
to language)associatedwithLudwig
fromego consciousness
a
host
of
and
subsequent
philosophers;
phenomWittgenstein
enology(thestudyof themeaningof phenomena)launched
theory);
(interpretation
by Edmund Husserl;hermeneutics
deconstruction
ofpragmatism
andpostmodern
andfacets
(both
premises).
metaphysical
aimingat the critiqueof traditional
withmodThese different
orientations
sharea dissatisfaction
ern Westernegocentrism
(stylizedin Descartes'sego cogito)
Sometimesall these seaand its corollary,Eurocentrism.
in
a
work,particularly
philosophical
changesconverge single
in the case of MartinHeidegger.The verystarting
pointof
existence
of
human
formulation
philosophy-his
Heidegger's
him at odds with Cartesian
as being-in-the-world-places
into
the
byinserting "thinking
ego"immediately
metaphysics
a world contextcomposedof societies,fellowbeings,and
describedthe methodhe adopted in
nature.He explicitly
thatis,
a
"hermeneutical
Time
as
and
phenomenology,"
Being
Over
human
of
as an interpretive
study
world-experience. the
hisgrowingconof
his
years,thetrajectory
thoughtreflected
of
the
cernwith the widercontext
globalizingworld,and
with the role of languagein cross-cultural
understanding.
witha Chinese
AftertheSecondWorldWar,he collaborated
of the Tao Te Ching.
translation
scholarin the(uncompleted)
withprogresIn subsequentdecades,he becamepreoccupied
under
that is, global standardization
sive Europeanization,
he urgeda new
In response,
theaegisofWesterntechnology.
which,thoughnurturedby local culthinking,"
"planetary
hostileparochialisms
turalidioms,would transcend
through
dialogicalengagement.10
Heidegger'sstudentand associateHans-GeorgGadamer,
ofdialoguein recenttimes,
probablytheleadingphilosopher
Fromthe
pursuedand fleshedout his teacher'sphilosophy.
thatis, the
beginning,Gadamerhas stressedhermeneutics:
an intensive
endeavorto gainunderstanding
dialogue,
through

Perspectiveson Politics
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of thismovestillmoreresolutely;
or encounter,
betweenreaderand text,betweenselfand other, oped the implications
his
idea of "heteroglossia"
Truthand
underscored
theneedformulti-lingual
and alienlife-forms.
betweenindigenoustraditions
idiomsand culfromthisvantagepoint,cannotbe garnered
translatable)
bya retreat dialoguesbetween(onlypartially
insight,
turalframeworks.14
butonly
In the Frenchcontext,JacquesDerrida's
ora "viewfromnowhere,"
intoneutralspectatorship,
In suchan engage- workpointedin a similardirection;his keynotionof difengagement.
throughconcreteexistential
are broughtto
or "prejudices,"
in particular,
meantto unsettle
ment,familiarassumptions,
(radicalself-difference),
fdrance
self-contained
identities
or
invariant
bearand allowedto be testedagainstunfamiliar
meaningstrucperspectives rigidly
ina sharedsearchformeaning.
andpractices
Gadamerfamously tures.Drawingout thepoliticalimplications
of thisnotion,
outlinedthisapproachin Truth
and Method,whichpresented Derrida'sThe OtherHeadingurgeda basic repositioning
of
no
as
an
academic
or
the
in
the
world.
Such
a
would
West,
interpretation longer
optional
methodology Europe,
repositioning
butas a constitutive
ofhumanexistence
andhuman
witha different
replaceitsroleas "capstone,"or headmaster,
ingredient
He
the
more
concrete
crossmore
to
In reccross-cultural
inquiry. subsequently
developed
hospitable
"heading"
learning.15
in
culturaland multicultural
of
this
view
a
numthis
the
book
sustained
the
of
implications
ommending change,
legacy Derber of writings,
rida's older compatriot,Maurice Merleau-Ponty,whose
especiallyin a volumetitledThe Legacyof
on languageandculture
we urgently
needtorememEurope(or theWest)from reflections
Europe,whichsoughtto extricate
it insteadas the
the straitjacket
of Eurocentrism,
bertoday.Merleau-Ponty's
taskhad beento resistthelureofa
presenting
or hegemonicspectatorship
and to engageinstead
readyfornewlearning
symbolofmulticultural
diversity,
expeprivileged
riencesin an age ofglobalization.1
in thelaborofconcrete"lateral"interactions.
As he wrotein a
well
and
Gadamer's
have
been
received
text
on
modern
social
"How
we
can
someunderstand
science,
Heidegger
teachings
andcreatively
in
numerous
thinkers
East
one
else
him
without
to
our
or
it
to
Asia,
him?"'16
by
re-interpreted
sacrificing
logic
to assimilaterealityquicklyto our ideas,Western
India,and theMuslimworld.Indianphilosopher
J.L. Mehta
Preferring
is a good exampleof thiscreativereception.Raisedin India
socialsciencehas tendedto proceed"as ifit could roamover
and initially
trainedat BanarasHindu University,
Mehtalater the object of its investigations
at will ... [as] an absolute
in
considerable
time
and
where
he
observer."
As
an
antidote
to
this
America,
spent
Europe
gained
approach,Merleau-Ponty
proa thorough
ofWestern
of
and especially
"nolongertheoverknowledge
philosophy
posedan alternative
pathto theuniversal:
thesigof a strictly
Heideggerand Gadamer.He repeatedly
acknowledged
archinguniversal
objectivemethod,buta sortof
nificanceof theirthoughtnot forpassiveimitation,
but for lateraluniversal
whichwe acquirethrough
ethnological
expecreativerenewal.As he oncewrote:"Forall non-Western
civrienceand its incessanttestingof theselfthroughtheother
howeverdecrepit
orwounded,Heidegger's
ilizations,
thinking personand theotherpersonthroughtheself.""
described
abovepavedthewayfor
Combined,theinitiatives
bymakingthem
bringshope,at thismomentofworldhistory,
see that. .. theyarenowfreeto thinkforthemselves,
in their properly
cross-cultural
orinter-civilizational
comparative,
phiown fashion."12
For Mehta,as forhis Westernmentors,
the
and confronted
thechallenge
losophy.J.L. Mehtaunderstood
taskof contemporary
whenhe triedto compare
philosophy,
especially
planetary
philos- of sucha mode ofphilosophizing
in favor Heidegger'sthoughtwiththe complextraditionof Indian
ophy,was neitherto discardall indigenoustraditions
of the supremacyof Westernmodernity,
nor to become
Vedanta.In suchan attempt,
herealized,
abstract
metaphysical
in traditional
entrenched
and
worldand
need
to
be
or at least"subaside,
parochialisms sequestered
concepts categories
put
views. Nor was it a matterof forginga hastyfusion-or
intoview
lated,"to achievethegoal of "setting
free,bringing
is
What
and
in
of
...
confusion-shortchanging
reciprocalquestioning.
ways speaking thematarticulating contemporary
in
his
is
"no
facile
or
recter
of
in
what
has
words,
which,
required,
again
compromise
thinking
actuallybeen realizedin
miscalled
but
rather
"a
relentless
still
remains
unsaidandso unthought
in thetradition
onciliation,
'synthesis',"
expothought,
sureto thetensionbetweenthescientific
consciousness
of the East."18 Spanish-IndianscholarRaimundoPanikkar
[ofthe
usedparallel
Panikkar's
instructive
and religious]
West]and thelegacyofthe[cultural
past."Only
arguments.
essaytitled"What
is ComparativePhilosophyComparing?"attackedthewidein thiswaycan we "learnto addresstherightquestionsto our
and be rewarded
religioustradition
byanswerstrulyadequate
spreadtendencyto includecomparisonin a hegemonicand
to ourpresentsituation."
13
universal
supposedly
metaphysics. Comparativestudies,he
Heideggerian
impulseshave
not fostereda philosophical
cannot
noted,are therebyintegrated
"Comparative
accepta
philosophy
into "thethrusttowardunibythemselves;
sea-change
they
were fruitfullyassisted by
versalization
characteristic
of
that
method
reduces
allvisions
totheviewofone
inlanguagephiWesternculture,"
itsdesireto
developments
exert control "by striving
losophyand Frenchphenomsinglephilosophy."
anddeconstruction.
In
towarda globalpictureof the
enology
theformer
domain,Wittgenworld."A basic endeavorof
contextualized
humanreasonand thesubhis essaywas to debunkthispretense:
stein'slaterwritings
"Comparative
philosoofgrammar
andmultiple phycannotaccepta methodthatreducesall visionsto the
jectofcognition(cogito)as functions
As an
"languagegames."RussianlinguistMikhail Bakhtindevel- view of one singlephilosophy,"or meta-philosophy.
June2004 1Vol.2/No.2 251

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Articles I BeyondMonologue:
Fora Comparative
Political
Theory
Panikkar
delineated
whathe termeda "dialogical,"
alternative,
or "imparative,"
modeofphilosophizing
fromthe
(imparative
Latinimparare,
"to
Such
a
he
mode, observed,
meaning learn").
reflects
theconviction"thatwe cannotescapetakinga stand
somewhere
whenwe philosophize"
and thatsucha limitation
makesour theorizing
"relativeto similarenterprises
undertakenfromdifferent
thusdoes
angles."Dialogicalcomparison
notpretendto possess"a fulcrum
outsidetimeand spaceand
aboveanyotherphilosophy,"
but ratherinvolvescontinuous
bordercrossingand negotiationof boundaries.The proper
in Panikkar's
methodto be pursuedin thesebordercrossings,
thatis, a mode of interview,is a "diatopicalhermeneutics":
whenthedifference
to be negotiated
is "the
pretation
required
whichhaveindependistancebetweentwo(or more)cultures
dentlydevelopedin different
spaces(topoi)theirownformsof
of
and
philosophizing ways reachingintelligibility."19

also possibleoverlapsor similarities-what,


followingEric
he
termed
it
was
Thus,
Voegelin,
"equivalences."
possibleto
discover
fruitful
resemblances
for
"the
bycomparing, instance,
Aristotelian
and
the
Confucian
politikos
junzi,Indiandharma
and the pre-modern
Westernnotionof 'naturaljustice,'the
Islamic prophet-legislator
and the Platonic philosopherand differences
was
king."22Payingheedbothto equivalences
boundto enrichscholarship,
byenablingone to both"deepen
ofone'sowntradition
andengender
underone'sunderstanding
ofothers."23
standingand respectforthetraditions
Korean-American
HwaYolJungundertook
politicaltheorist
a parallelforay
mainstream
atroughly
canons
thesame
beyond
time.Relyingon Continental
on
and
the
workof
philosophy
historian
the
notion
of
introduced
a "difWhite,
Hayden
Jung
or
of
mode
diatactics
"diatactical,"
ferential,"
(where
theorizing
meansa concrete-experiential
formofencounter).
As he wrote
in 1989,modernWestern
has
tended
to
be
thinking
monological and "logocentric"
on thecogito),
allow(centered
ComparativePoliticalTheory
thereby
their
and
reason"
to
thedanger
philosophical
politicalimplications,
guideposts ingdetached "disembodied
Despite
generate
ofthiskindhavereachedpoliticalscientists
and theorists
ofethnocentrism
andEurocentrism.
To counteract
thesespecters,
only
todo withthe
somedelay.Thisdelaymayhavesomething
diatacticschampionsa "new,lateralway of interpreting
after
natureofacademicpoliticalscience,or at leastwithitsmainculture,especiallyan alienculture,basedon theprincipleof
In theviewof manyscholars,politicalsciin theHeideggerian
sense(i.e., heterology)."
More
streamself-image.
difference
in a collective
arena-and
enceis aboutpowerand itsexercise
has
out
of
this
the
recently,
Jung spelled
implications
approach
in a volumetitledComparative
PoliticalCulturein theAgeof
nothingelse.Giventhisnarrowfocus,thesescholarstendto be
ofpower, Globalization.
The basicaimofthevolumeis againto "decenattracted
andattachedtowhatarecalledthecorridors
locatednowadaysin theWest.Evenstudents ter,"or call into question,the canonizationof the modern
whicharechiefly
forthe
or hegemonic"
thatprivileges
ofinternational
West,its"narcissistic
globaldevelopment,
politics,including
self-image
orien- Europeor theWestas the "cultural,
mostpartsharethisoutlook.In lightofthisdisciplinary
scientific,
religiousand
net
of
efforts
moral
mecca
and
of
the
world."
his
that
the
is
it
not
tation,
capital
pioneering
Casting cultural
surprising many
Dussel
launched
wide-from
the
Latin
American
thinker
have
been
towardcomparative
by
very
Enrique
politicaltheory
to theVietnamese
Thich Nhat Hanh-Jung now linkscomofthecorridors
ofpower.
scholarson orfromtheperiphery
or a conceptionof
Canadian-Indianpoliticaltheorist
AnthonyParelis a good
parativestudywith"relational
ontology,"
himself
in a
must"inter-be,"
casein point.Havingin hisearlier
yearsimmersed
accordingto whicheverything
"interbeing,"
to everything
else"in theworld.
thatis, be "inter-connected
thoroughstudyofWesternpoliticalthought(witha focuson
he
Parelsubsequently
shifted Employing
suchtermsas "transtopia"
and "transversality,"
Aristotle,
Aquinas,andMachiavelli),
the
twin
with
orcross-cultural
credits
hisresearch
towardcomparative
theory
paydangers
inquiries,
comparative
overcoming
as
of "ethnocentric
chauvinism"
and "facelessuniversalism,"
He soon valiing specialattentionto East Indiantraditions.
and Occidentalism.24
wellas thedead-endsofOrientalism
the
datedthisshiftand cleareda pathforothersbyco-editing
comes
"transversal"
studies
Studies
Another
first
bookin thisfield,Comparative
majorimpulsepromoting
PoliticalPhilosophy:
UndertheUpasTree(1992). As he notedin thebook'sintro- fromthe Canadian politicaltheoristCharlesTaylor.Deeply
as
hascomealmostexclu- rootedin the Hegeliantradition,
in politicaltheory
duction,scholarship
creatively
reinterpreted,
work
has
well
as
in
recent
Western
of
modern
the
to
mean
hermeneutics,
Taylor's
philosophical
politicalthought;
study
sively
or "multicultural,"
ofuniver- givena powerfulboostto cross-cultural,
it assumesthatmodernWesterntextsare"products
As
and recognition.
studieshighlighting
hasbecomedubisal reasonitself."
However,thisassumption
dialogicalencounter
of
he wrotein a famousstudyon thattopic:a crucialfeature
evidence"to suggestthat
ous. In fact,Parelfound"mounting
manihumanlifeis "itsfundamentally
are "questionedby otherculWesternclaimsof universality
dialogicalcharacter,"
inthefactthat"wedefineouridentity
fested
of thesecultures,or at leastby significant
alwaysindialogue
representatives
in struggle
tures,"all of whichrenderscomparative
against,thethingsoursignificant
politicaltheorizing with,sometimes
themodern
ForParel, otherswantto see in us."Withoutshortchanging
andintellectually
satisfying."20
today"bothopportune
to supfreedom
andequality,
meantan approachthattakes ideasofindividual
Taylorprefers
politicalphilosophy
comparative
and philosophical plementthe liberal"politicsof equal dignity"witha sturdy
"thevalidityof culturalpluralism
seriously
of rela- "politicsof difference"
but does not amountto an endorsement
that,in lieu of an abstract"difference
pluralism,"
thatis,
andcherish
seeksto "maintain
distinctness";
tivismorradicalincommensurability.21
Although
acknowledg- blindness,"
for
one's
own
the
and
Parelbelieved
identity,
"potential forming defining
ingthedistancesbetweenculturalframeworks,
fromhis
as an individualand as a culture."Multiculturalism
but
comparisonhad to explorenot onlyexistingdifferences
252

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Perspectives

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or a
does not implyan "anything
goes"relativism
perspective
an
rather
but
learning
open-minded
pot"confusion,
"melting
thatweareveryfar
Itis"anadmission
processacrossboundaries.
worth
horizonfromwhichtherelative
awayfromthatultimate
on
these
be
ofdifferent
cultures
25Relying
premmight evident."
ises,Taylorhasengagedin comparative
inquirieson manylevand
betweenAnglophone
els.He focusesnotonlyon relations
Francophone
politicalculturesin his nativeCanada, but also
useof
suchas,thedifferent
on broaderEast-West
comparisons
the "languageof rights"betweenWesternliberalsand Asian
As he wrotein thelattercase,propercross-cultural
Buddhists.
comparisonarisesnotfroman exodusfromthepastbutfrom
to what
a willingness
to engagein mutuallearning."Contrary
will
not
come
world
think,
through
manypeople
convergence
all around,butratherbycreative
a lossor denialoftraditions
of different
reimmersions
groups,each in theirown spiritual
routesto thisgoal.""26
different
heritage,
traveling
theorist
BhikhuParekhhas made
British-Indian
political
to thefieldofmultione ofthemostsignificant
contributions
LikeAnthony
culturalism.
Parel,Parekhdevotedhisearlycareer
to a sustainedimmersion
in Westernpoliticalthought,
giving
to theworksofJeremy
attention
Bentham,Michael
particular
AlsolikeParel,he thenbroadandHannahArendt.
Oakeshott,
his focusto thelegacyof Gandhi
ened his horizons,shifting
His
and to issuesof post-colonialism
and multiculturalism.
Cultural
and
Political
Multiculturalism:
Rethinking
Diversity
textin thisfield.In additionto
Theoryis a path-breaking
discussions
of suchtopicsas themeaningofculture,therelabetween
and theapprotionship
pluralismand universalism,
a
structure
of
multicultural
the
priate
society, book offers
valuableobservations
on comparative
politicaltheorizing
along
lines.Such theorizing,
he states,
dialogicaland hermeneutical
mustrecognizethe interplay
of threefactors:"thecultural
embeddedness
ofhumanbeings,theinescapability
and desirand intercultural
abilityofculturaldiversity
dialogue,and the
internal
ofeachculture."
withPanikkar
and
plurality
Together
Gadamer,Parekhremonstrates
againstadoptinga privileged
"viewfromnowhere"
thatdistancesandneutralizes
all cultural
differences:
"The commongood and thecollectivewill that
arevitalto anypoliticalsocietyaregenerated
notbytranscendcultural
and
other
but
particularities, throughtheirintering
in
the
cut
and
thrust
ofa dialogue."27
play
The preceding
cannotand does
surveyofpoliticaltheorists
not claim to be exhaustive;giventhe vast scope of crossculturalanalysis,
selective.
Yetmy
everyaccountis bynecessity
wouldbe seriously
remissifI did notrefer
atleast
presentation
tosomeothersignificant
contributions.
briefly
Amongan older
oftheorists,
twoprominent
thinkers
mustsurely
be
generation
Leo Straussand EricVoegelin.I notetheformer
mentioned,
becauseof his attentiveness
to thegreatMuslimphilosopher
and thelatterbecauseofhisnotionof"equivalences"
al-Farabi,
andhisstudyofthe"ecumenic
Strauss's
age."28Partly
following
has focusedprimarily
on Islamic
lead, CharlesButterworth
oftheclassicalage;hiswritings
on al-Farabi
politicalphilosophy
and Ibn Rushdhaveestablished
standards
of scholarly
excellencein thisfield.Butterworth's
a
examplehasin turninspired

thecondedicatedto exploring
numberofyoungertheorists
Islamand Westnectionbetweenmodernand contemporary
As with academicphilosophyin
ern democratictheory.29
Western
politicaltheorycan findresonance
general,today's
invirtually
allnon-Western
contexts.
andresponsiveness
Thus,
to takethe exampleof Islam again,MoroccanMohammad
IranianAbdolkarim
Soroush,and manyothershave
al-Jabri,
tocomparative
contributions
madeimportant
theory.30
political
theorists
havevaluablediaIn thecase of India,comparative
AshisNandy,
in suchthinkers
as RajniKothari,
loguepartners
In
East
Pantham.31
and
Thomas
Asia,a lively
RajeevBhargava,
as Daniel Bell,
discussionis underwayamongsuchtheorists
Hahm Chaibong,and numerousothers.I couldmakesimilar
commentsaboutAfricaand LatinAmericaas well.32

CriticalQueriesand BroaderImplications

sketched
so far,comparative
As a resultoftheinitiatives
political theoryhas steadilygainedmomentum,emergingas a
viablefieldin thedisciplineof politicalscience.Severaloutletsforpublicationare now available,makingthe enterprise
Beforeturning
to youngerscholarsin particular.33
attractive
of thesedevelopments,
to thebroaderimplications
however,
we shouldfirstconsidercriticalqueries.One raisesthevexed
Critto whichI havealludedrepeatedly.
issueofuniversalism,
it of
or cross-cultural
often
accuse
ics of comparative
study
thus
the
politics,"
parochial"identity
betraying idea
favoring
in
to universality
and theaspirations
inherent
of universalism
at
The
is
or
least
misdirected.
unfounded,
modernity. charge
To be sure,comparative
to diversetradistudyis attentive
tions or life-forms,
and so valorizesdifference
and "otherwhat
Charles
calls
a
ness," including
Taylor
"politicsof
In fact,
difference."
But thisis a farcryfromparochialism.
one could arguethatcross-cultural
theorists
are
comparative
based on a simplequesgenuine,even better,universalists,
tion: Whois universal,
or whoseconceptionofuniversalism
is
Those who claimto be universal
reallyuniversal?
monopolize
excludeall
universalism;
by thisveryclaim,theynecessarily
othersfromtheirmonopoly,
and thereby
undermine
thevery
idea of universalism.
or
Shunningmonopolistic monological
all we can plausiblyand honestly
do is seekunivergestures,
in
our
different
To
do
we surely
this,
however,
ways.
sality
need to take othersand theiraspirationsseriously,
which
attentiveness.
requiresdialogueand empathetic
The pointof comparative
in myview,is
politicaltheory,
to movetowarda moregenuineuniversalism,
and
precisely
claimedbythe
beyondthespurious"universality"
traditionally
Westerncanon and by some recentintellectual
movements.
Universalfeminism
is a casein point.Clearly,theidea makes
no senseunlesswe believethatwomenmakea difference
and
thatwe needto listento womenin orderto aspireproperly
to
indifferent
Butwomenmakea difference
universality.
ways.As
in Beijingdemonstrated,
thegreatfeminist
universal
congress
feminism
cannotbe monopolized
AmerbyWestern
(especially
ican) women.Westernwomen,it becameclear,needto listen
to Asianwomen,Africanwomen,Muslimwomen,et cetera;
thatis,theyhaveto takeotherness
and hencecannot
seriously
June2004 Vol.2/No.2 253

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Fora Comparative
Articles I BeyondMonologue:
Political
Theory
a
This is ultimately
pretendto speakforall othersuniversally.
no one can
ofglobaldemocracy:
deepdefenseandjustification
It is also a defenseofdeliberforeverybody.
speakuniversally
ofwhatIrisMarionYounghas
and especially
ativedemocracy,
makes
wherecommunication
calledcommunicative
democracy,
of idioms.34
roomfortherichdiversity
comThis leadsto anothercriticalquery:is cross-cultural
limits
not
Are
there
municationentirely
appropriate
benign?
to
to understanding,
especiallyto thedesireand willingness
at
effort
The answertothelatterissurely
understand?
yes.Every
difference
of
limits
or
dimensions
encounters
understanding
thereareculturaldifferthatneedto be respected.
Moreover,
encesthat,thoughunderstandable,
maystillbe unacceptable.
to a critical
repugnant
Nearlyeveryculturecontainsfeatures
socione.In non-Western
evena sympathetic
outsideobserver,
and
femaleinfanticide,
suchas untouchability,
eties,traditions
as parviewedbyWesterners
aretypically
femalecircumcision
Anditseemstomethatpracobnoxiousandhorrifying.
ticularly
Here,
ticesof thiskindareindeedhorribleand unacceptable.
isnot
weshouldnoteseveralpoints.Firstofall,horror
however,
so-called
inWestern,
oftheEast,butisalsoabundant
a monopoly
civilization-for
example,theCrusades,the
Judaeo-Christian,
and Hiroshimathe
world
two
Holocaust,
wars,
Inquisition,
ofany
a
wholesale
to
lead
fact
should
that
but
rejection
hardly
is
not
above
as
described
civilization.
Next,dialogue
necessarily
harmoniousor consensualbut includeschallengeand critical
of a culture,
contestation.
Thus,facedwithappallingfeatures
mere
underare not condemnedto silenceor
comparativists
from
Thecentral
issuehereiswhether
proceeds
critique
standing.
or else
orhegemonicarrogance,
a presumedself-righteousness
toengageina mutuanda willingness
froma sharedengagement
I agreeon thispoint
Basically,
process.
learning
allytransforming
havea presumpcultures
thatdifferent
withTaylor'sargument
whichcan be outweighed
tiveworthin theirfavor,
by inhubetween
distinction
andwithAmyGutmann's
manepractices,
and genuinerespect.35
meretolerance
One
and benefits.
Let us turnnow to broaderimplications
for
of
of themainbenefits comparative
study politicaltheory
is theabilityto rekindlethecriticaldlanendemicto political
sincethetimeofSocratesand Platobutlikelyto be
philosophy
by canonization.Movingfromthe habitually
extinguished
thesenseof
willhelpto restore
towardtheunfamiliar
familiar
thattheancientsextolledas pivotal
(thaumazein)
"wondering"
to philosophizing.
To theextentthatWesternmodernity
todayis thedomiin manywaysre-opens
nantstandard,
theorizing
comparative
theold battlebetweentheancientsand themoderns,a battle
betweenEast
withthe difference
whichcuriouslyintersects
and West.At issuehereis not a nostalgicreturnto a pristine
and crossto engagein cross-temporal
past,but a willingness
As Parelremarks,
culturalinterrogation.
beingfocusedon the
theclassical
has "subverted
modernity
presenceofthepresent,
to "subintheWest,whileattempting
andmedievaltraditions"
aswell."Merleauofothercultures
vertthepolitical
philosophies
Pontyseconded this observation,writingin referenceto
Western
modelsthatcelebrated
fashionable
supeevolutionary
254

hassomething
"The Orient's'childishness'
or maturity:
riority
narrowness
ofour
more
than
the
if
were
to teachus, it
nothing
adultideas."36
acahasramifications
beyondnarrowly
theory
Comparative
demic confinesbecause it sustainsa discerningpolitical
criticalperspective"
outlook-what Parekhcalls a "radically
has achievedviron society.In our time,politicalliberalism
of
the
out
canonical
status,
waynearlyall comtually
edging
undertheauspices
or
moreover,
petingideologies perspectives;
has becomeglobalitscanonization
ofmarketneo-liberalism,
ized. My pointhereis not to disparageliberalism's
original
thrust,"in Parekh's
intent,or its "criticaland emancipatory
words,as a liberating
agentthatfreespeople fromunquesHowtioneddogmas and oppressivepoliticalstructures.37
initial
when
an
ever, somethinghappens
inspirationis
At this
or
doctrine.
creed
into an established
transformed
itselan, liberalism's
originalcripoint,insteadof preserving
tiqueor mode of criticalquestioningis in dangerof turning
into a fixedansweror unquestioneddogmaitself.To put it
anotherway,libertyis changingfroma liberating
promise
the
rekinintoa vestedstatusor privileged
Only
possession.
linescross-cultural
and
of
temporal
dling questioning-along
can providean antidoteto thisdangerof congealment.38
In termsoflong-range
political
politicalvision,comparative
theorizingsupportsglobal democraticcooperation over
over
oligarchicor imperialcontroland dialogicalinteraction
of
The
and
unilateralism
dangers the
monologue.
hegemonic
latterareevidentbothin academicstudiesand in globalpolitics.In theacademicdomain,CharlesTaylorlongago exposed
to
thetendency
ethnocentrism:
ofunilateral
theconsequences
own"
and
of
our
"allothersocietiesin thecategories
interpret
to erectthe "Atlantic-type
polity"at thezenithof
ultimately
Albert
In thepoliticalarena,weshouldstillremember
politics.39
Camus'swarningthat"dialogueon thelevelofmankindis less
[andotherhegcostlythanthegospelpreachedbytotalitarian
in theformofa monologuedictatedfromthe
emonic]regimes
monotop of a lonelymountain.On thestageas in reality,
Gadamer
his
For
death."40
part,Hans-Georg
logueprecedes
has pleadedin favorof a "politicsof dialogueand phronesis
(practicalwisdom)"to createa "newworldorderof human
Such politics,it seemsto me, mightyetsalvage
solidarity.""4
ofgenocidalmayhemand thethreat
ourearthfromtheravages
of nucleardisaster.In supportingsuch a visionof politics,
politicalscienceas a disciplinemightescapethe lureof fiddlingwhileRome burnsand becomeinsteada valuableparto builda justglobalpeace.
ticipantin theeffort

Notes

1 Strauss1962, 327.
2 Dallmayr2002a and Dallmayr2002b.
shouldbe veryfamiliar
theorists
3 In myview,comparative
withatleastonemajornon-European
language.Suchfamiloflanto
the
their
will
increase
sensitivity intricacies
iarity
translation
of
to
the
and
(without
problems
guage
oftransofcourse,theneedforand thebenefits
obviating,
lationitself).

Perspectiveson Politics
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4 Huntington1993, especially
at 39-41.
5 Dallmayr2002c; Falk 1999.
6 See, forexample,Galtung1980; Boulding1988; Dallmayr1998.
and Marcus1986.
7 Geertz1973; Sahlins1978; Clifford
8 See, forexample,Schiller1989; Benjaminet al. 2002;
et al. 1998; Spivak1990.
L6pez 2001; Ashcroft
9 Smith1991; Coward1989; Dumoulin 1974; Smart
1993; Bakarand Nai 1997.
10 Heidegger1996, 30-4; Heidegger1958, 106-7; Heidegger1971; Hsiao 1987.
11 Gadamer1989a and Gadamer1989b.
12 Mehta 1990, 31.
13 Mehta 1985, 124.
14 Bakhtin1981.
15 Derrida1982 and Derrida1992.
16 Merleau-Ponty
1964a, 115.
17 Ibid., 120.
18 Mehta 1987, 28-9.
19 Panikkar1988, 116-8, 125-30, 132-4.
20 Parel1992, 11.
21 Ibid., 14.
22 Ibid., 12.
23 Ibid.
24 Jung1989, 14, 48-9; Jung2002, 2, 8, 13-4.
25 Taylor1992, 32-3, 40-2, 73. See alsoTaylor1985.
26 Taylor1999, 143-4.
27 Parekh2000, 338-40.
28 See especially
Mahdi 1963;Voegelin1974;Voegelin
1981.
29 Butterworth
1986. Amongyounger
2001; Butterworth
scholarsin thisfieldsee especially
Euben 1999.
30 See especially
Soroush
1999;
2000; Sachedina
al-Jabri
2001. On Soroushsee also Dallmayr2002d.
31 See, forexample,Kothari1988; Kothari1989; Nandy
1983; Nandy1987; Bhargava1998; and Pantham1995.
32 See,forexample,BellandHahm2003. ComparealsoDussel 1995; Hountondji2002; Eze 1997.
theseriesofbooksentitledGlobalEncoun33 See especially
ters:Studiesin Comparative
PoliticalTheory,
whichI edit
forLexingtonBooks.Starting
withDallmayr1999,
theseriesbringstogether
scholarsand intellectuals
from
aroundtheglobein a kindofglobalpublicdiscourse.
34 Young2000. Comparealso SeylaBenhabib'splea for
"thecreationand expansionofdeliberative
discursive
multicultural
in
liberal
democracies"
(Benhabib
spaces
2002, 101).
35 Gutmann1992; Taylor1992.
36 Parel1992, 13-4; Merleau-Ponty
1964b, 139.
37 Parekh2000, 339-40.
38 In thiscontext,
one can also notforget
thefrequent
complicityof "liberal"regimesin illiberaloppression:
chiefly,
in colonialand imperialist
ventures
complicity
predicatedon "thewhiteman'sburden"and "la mission
civilisatrice."
39 Taylor1971, 34.

40 Camus 1956,284.
41 Pantham1992, 133.

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