On 07 February, 18:30 to 20:00, LSE IDEAS will hold a panel discussion on the concept of ‘civilisation-states’ and what this means for the future of the world order. Professor Richard Higgott of the Institute of European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, will present the findings of the 2019 DOC Rhodes Report ‘Civilisations, states, and world order: Where are we? Where are we heading?’ before the panel discussion. The other panelists include Professor Adrian Pabst, Professor of Politics at the University of Kent; Dr. Aaron McKeil, Course Tutor in the MSc International Strategy and Diplomacy programme at LSE IDEAS; and Julius Sen, Associate and Senior Programme Adviser at LSE IDEAS. The panel will be chaired by Professor Christopher Coker, Director of LSE IDEAS,
The Rhodes Report provides a ‘state of play’ of the problems and prospects in the current world order, assesses the key obstacles inhibiting reform of that order, and identifies the role that ‘civilisational dialogue’ could and should play. In the report, Professor Higgott sets out to address these issues based on sound scholarship, but in a way that’s accessible to the public.
In the current state of play, the liberal order is being challenged by a rising populist-nationalist zeitgeist and is under greater strain than at any time since the end of World War II. The strains and challenges are now also culturally infused and exacerbated by an emergent debate pitting traditional understandings of globalisation and the US-led global order against an understanding of the role of rising powers. These powers have come to be known as ‘civilisation states’ or ‘state-civilisations’ – most notably China, Russia, and India — which seek to reshape the contemporary international order in both ideational and material terms. In the report, these issues are examined through three lenses: geopolitical and geo-strategic, geo-economic, and the emerging geo-cultural and civilisational lenses.
During his presentation at the LSE IDEAS panel, Professor Higgott will also provide his recommendations for moving forward. These include, among others:
- Linking world order to concrete interactions between people – not civilisations; it is people who talk not civilisations
- Mapping the different storylines used in ‘civilisation-speak’ while also integrating ecological and developmental questions into the storylines;
- Analysing the root of competing moral positions and acknowledging that dialogue encompasses different moral orders;
- Understanding the concept of civilisation as a social and cultural representation; and
- Questioning who allocates the rights and duties to speak about civilisations and who has the power to start, take part in, and conclude a dialogue?
The objective of the DOC report and Higgott’s work on the topic is to be both descriptive and analytical and to inform and provoke debate on the current state of the international order – this most crucial of contemporary global policy issues. The report speaks to a wide range of interests across the scholarly community, the world’s public and private decision-makers, the media, the educated lay public, and civil society actors interested in the rise of civilisational politics and its possible consequences for world affairs.
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