Libmonster ID: EE-607
Author(s) of the publication: R. McC. ADAMS

От редакции. Публикуемое ниже на английском языке выступление одного из крупнейших американских историков, профессора университета Сан-Диего в Калифорнии Роберта Адамса, в течение многих лет возглавлявшего авторитетный научный центр США - Смитсоновский институт, было сделано в ходе проходившей в Вашингтоне 5-7 декабря 2001 г. встречи ученых, участвующих в совместном проекте Российской академии наук и Национальной академии США по сравнительному изучению этнических проблем и конфликтов в многоэтничных государствах.

На заседаниях трех рабочих групп, образованных в рамках проекта: "Систематические сравнительные исследования конфликтов" (рук. Пол Стерн и В.В. Наумкин); "Культура, идентичность и конфликт" (рук. A.M. Хазанов иЛ. М. Дробижева); "Коллективное насилие" (рук. Чарлз Тилли и В.А. Тишков), было подготовлено три доклада, характеризующих современное состояние исследований конфликтов идентичности (identity conflicts), ведущихся в мире, и определяющих перспективные направления будущего российско-американского сотрудничества в этой области.

In his short paper on "Defining Violence", Valery Tishkov offers a basic insight that is an important contribution to our discussions: "...the key to understanding violence and conflict is the concept of a context, which results from the recognitiion of the primary role of the specific social situation in the interpretation of the human behavior and institutions." But while I rarely find myself in disagreement with him, I am somewhat troubled by the word "specific" in that observation. It leads him to the further proposition that "violence can be better understood if viewed as a function of values and norms existing in the given society".

While there is obviously much validity in this statement, and while it constitutes a virtually unanimous working assumption in our proceedings thus far, I want to remind you that it is also our responsibility as social scientists not to lose sight of still wider horizons that are a part of the idea of context. Distant though they were from the fields of action in Russia and the former Soviet Union that have been the focus of our discussions, the events in New York and Washington on September 11 of this year also are a part of our context.

I want to avoid bringing to this meeting an apocalyptic vision of those acts of terrorism, as if they had marked a truly significant, unprecedented turning-point in world history. For the American people, to be sure, it was the first brutal introduction to large-scale terrorism within our borders. But the shock of deliberate, unpredictable violence, involving different ethnic and religious rivalries, was not new elsewhere in the world. Certainly not new in Russia, nor in today's Sri Lanka, Spain, or Northern Ireland. It was small in scale in comparison with the recent savagery in Rwanda- Burundi, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Leaving aside ethnic massacres, there

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have been 500 assorted aircraft hijackings since the late 1960s, and more than 2,100 international terrorist attacks in the last half of the 1990s alone.

We live in a time of major and rising ethnic violence, in other words. Much but not all or it is carried on with widely varied religious overtones, and Muslims are roughly as often the victims as the perpetrators of violence when it does occur. Much of it is also carried on with shocking cruelty. But still, what we are now confronting, Russia and America together, is in some key respects new in the world. What is new, first, is the international scale of organization and resources of this Wahabist "Qaeda" terrorist movement. A horrifying surprise also are the utterly uncompromising doctrines of total destruction of the "infidel" world it proclaims openly, a complete departure from the central message of the Koran.

Islam lacks, in fact, any central, unifying doctrine or hierarchical structure. Given its vast heterogeneity and geographic diversity, its deep internal schisms and rivalries, it is also new and shocking to see the rapid geographic spread of this doctrine of hate. Quite apart from the Islamic world, in fact, a prevailing tendency of our times is for political units to fragment, not unify - e.g., of course, the USSR and Yugoslavia. Clashes occur today not on conventional battlefields so much as in fractured cities in multi- cultural states - e.g., England and Germany. So how do we account for the destructively rising, trans-national dynamism of this extremist offshoot of Islam? How can we hope to bring it under control? These are surely major responsibilities for the social sciences of our own era.

At this meeting we have concentrated mainly on the particularities of tension and conflict. By looking at a wide range of them within Russia and the former USSR in a comparative perspective, we are hoping to derive some important, general lessons. The newer, worldwide threat of Wahabist violence may still, from this localized perspective, seem too remote to be taken very seriously. But I do want to suggest that there are general, long term contributory factors in ethnic/religious tension and violence as well as the immediate and particular ones you have been concentrating on, and that they also demand a share of our attention. Let me cite just a few more of them.

We should be mindful of the likelihood that the spread of the new militancy feeds upon that other world trend toward globalization, about whose wider effects we ourselves are too complacent. We would like to think of as a sources of global economic integration and development. This, indeed, it truly has been - in the industrially developed world, including both Russia and the U.S. But this aspect of positive globalizatiion is not truly global. The overwhelming bulk of North American trade takes place within NAFTA, of European trade within Europe. In the 1960s the richest fifth of the world's population had a total income 30 times as great as the poorest fifth. By 1998 the ratio was 74 to 1. Making this trend even more dangerous is the imbalance between the location of the bulk of the world's petroleum energy resources in the Middle East, and the primary locations of energy consumption. The Middle East accounts for just 6 percent of oil consumption but 65 percent of total known petroleum reserves, the U.S. alone for 30 percent of consumption but just 6 percent of reserves. How completely can we afford to ignore the impression that an irreplaceable resource is being wastefully consumed without regard to the wider interests of the global commons?

Still another aspect of globalization is that market forces can increase regional inequalities within nation-states, not erase them. Within sovereign states, what assurance is there of justice and equity in the relations between Centers and Peripheries? May not the homogenization of commercial popular culture, in the hands of media giants, provoke a natural reaction in the direction of intensified ethnic identities?

An especially dangerous quality of the new fanaticism is that it succeds so readily in igniting the forces of the "Street" and therefore in sparking levels of lawless violence that seemingly cannot be suppressed by aurocratic, anti-democratic Middle Eastern governments without jeopardizing their own weak claims to politico-religious legitimacy. This is source of de-

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stabilization and violence that is wholly external to the regions we have been considering here. But our distant regions cannot escape its influence.

Then, finally, we must all recognize that there will always be terrible and ultimately irreconcilable differences of choice and perception: where, and how, and with what loyalties and how much consistency does an individual or group draw the boundary between legitimate struggles for national liberation and engagement in plain terrorism directed against innocent victims? Let none of us be so partisan or naive as to believe that these choices are easy, unambiguous, and one-sidedly moral. The ongoing violence between Israelis and Palestinians is for this reason inescapably a part of the context of the local problems we seek to solve. But in that case as in all others, I hope and believe we must still come together in agreement on two elementary propositions: (1) That deliberate attacks on civilian populations should be excluded and condemned in all cases; and (2) that in the end there is never a military solution to any ethno-national conflict.

I concede that there may be no realistic hope of ever completely extinguishing this new fanaticism. But it is genuinely in the interest of the whole civilized world to deprive it of its present potential for dynamic, uncontrolled growth - to reduce it to manageable size. That will require some military struggles, like the one underway in Afghanistan, and it is vital that in those struggles we achieve the greatest degree possible of global alliance in resistance to terrorism. But it also requires that we as Russian and American scholars recognize our deep, common interests in all this. We need to identify and prioritize questions and problems that are not only researchable but important to answer in terms of the wider interests and strategies of our two countries. To that end, we need to share knowledge of mistakes that must be avoided, and of approaches to compromise and accommodation that may be applicable in new settings. We must simultaneously advance the knowledge-base of the social sciences and put our knowledge to use for the common good.

I hope sight of this objective will be not lost in the discussions that are now going on.


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R. McC. ADAMS, An Introduction to the 12/7/01 Session of NAS-RAS Meeting on "Conflicts in Multiethnic Societies" // Tallinn: Library of Estonia (LIBRARY.EE). Updated: 26.06.2024. URL: (date of access: 15.07.2024).

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