As the great spiritual master Adi
Da Samraj has emphasized ,
tolerance are the necessary foundation
stones for a new world order. To fully understand their
importance to a new world order, let us first examine
the old world order and the current world order, and
track the consequences of the absence of one
or both of these foundation stones.
In the Cold War era, the world was split in two: the
"West", or capitalist sphere of influence,
and the "East" or communist sphere of influence.
Cooperation without Tolerance: The Limits of Communism
is an ideal that emphasizes cooperation through classless,
communal living based on shared, materialistic ideals.
It presumes that all fundamental human problems can
be solved by the elimination of classes and the re-distribution
of wealth and other resources. Communism, in any of
its actually implemented forms, however, also tolerated
no independence. It cultivated not only community but
uniformity. It castigated all non-conformists. The State
dictated what to think and how to act. As a result,
all implementations of communism became "lumbering
beasts", unable to adapt to the ever-changing world
circumstances and pressures. The need to adapt rapidly
has only increased with the onset of globalization .
As a result, severely lumbering beasts like the Soviet
Union collapsed completely. Less lumbering beasts like
communist China have been forced (reluctantly) to introduce
forms of capitalism. Holdouts like North Korea are literally
starving to death. And indeed, not only all communist
states, but all authoritarian regimes of any kind, have
been impacted similarly, for similar reasons: a purely
top-down, or monolithic structure of control does not
respond quickly enough to change.
Tolerance without Cooperation: The Limits of Capitalism
In contrast, the West — and the United
States in particular — has been the land of the "free"
("free" to choose, not necessarily "free
at heart"), where an individual's right to pursue
whatever path and lifestyle he or she likes is not only
tolerated, but even glorified (so long as he or she
does not directly infringe on the rights of others).
In some sense, the byline of the West is:
"May the best ego — individual
or corporate — win!
Let the marketplace judge!"
And so in this new era of globalization,
it is the marketplace that sets the bottom line values
on what will succeed. It is no accident that the idealism
of the West is named capitalism: "capital"
— money — is king (as well as judge and executioner
for the less fortunate). If one cares about something
other than money these days — say, the environment —
one must find a way to make one's environment-saving
proposal square with "good economics". If
you want to save a rain forest, you had better create
"eco-tourist guide" jobs in the rain forest
with comparable pay to the "clearcutter" jobs,
if you want the natives, however much they love their
land, to side with you rather than the lumber industries.
The natives have to feed their families, and that will
be their bottom line, even more so than their love of
their land. Who can blame them? And don't expect much
political assistance for your causes from higher levels.
Capitalism, in its valuation of money above all, has
scuttled the Kyoto Accord (insofar as the United States,
the biggest environmental offender, has withdrawn from
it) and similar attempts to establish, on a global scale,
values other than (and higher than) the merely capitalistic.
And so the first major failure of capitalism
is that, while it supports the right of any individual
to believe whatever he or she wants to believe, in practice,
it makes it very difficult for any value system other
than the materialistic and egoic "me for myself"
to gain ascendancy, in terms of real numbers, real organization,
and real power. In effect, capitalism works to ensure
that no alternative value system could get big enough
and powerful enough to threaten its ascendency,
even as it argues the right of individuals and relatively
small, powerless groups to hold whatever views they
For the same reason, capitalism also tends
to severely limit the size of genuine "communal
units" that hold alternative values. In fact, generally
the largest true communal unit in the West these days
is the "family unit". Politicians often portray
themselves as champions of "family values";
but the deeper, unspoken implication is that no higher
cultural cooperatives will be supported (unless you
consider "big business" and "transnational
corporations" as cultural cooperatives — I do not!).
There are very few examples of larger communities, actually
living and working together communally under a shared
system that is significantly different from the materialistic/egoistic
status quo of capitalism.
The Post-Cold War Era of Globalization
Capitalism won the Cold War.
The bipolar world collapsed into the unipolar
world of capitalism, which is now (in effect, if not
by intention) conducting a "mop-up" operation
that will eventually subsume all remaining cultures.
Globalization is basically just another name for capitalism
on a worldwide scale. The remaining countries in the
process of being "mopped up" include the Islamic
countries; the holdouts from the Cold War (e.g., North
Korea); the various indigenous peoples (Australian aborigines,
New Zealand Maoris, etc.); older cultures (India, China,
etc.); and newly self-reflective cultures (the countries
of Europe and Japan, which gained wisdom firsthand through
the still remembered suffering of devastation wrought
by the World Wars on their own homelands). All look
on the American Empire with both envy and dismay: envy,
because all egos desire materialistic self-fulfillment;
but also dismay, in that they see a soulless, adolescent
culture (with nothing better or greater to do with their
leisure time than watch "reality TV" and eat
hamburgers) taking over the world. This culture is appropriately
called "adolescent" insofar as . . . it is
mostly only aware of itself; it acts like it will live
forever; it thinks it can drive at any speed and not
get into an accident; and it hasn't had any significant
war on its own land that would gain it some wisdom based
on first-hand experience of the horrors of war (its
current generation mainly knows and "fights"
war at a distance and on TV); etc. This adolescent culture
is creating a soulless world that is increasingly pleasurized
in body and stimulated in mind, but also increasingly
empty and desperate at heart.
The "smash" of civilizations
and the resistance. It is no longer a "clash
of civilizations" ,
as some have called it, as though there were a parity
of power (as during the Cold War). Rather, this mop-up
operation is a "smash" of civilizations. But
not every other culture is going down without a fight,
as the Islamic jihadists (among others) demonstrate.
And the aborigines, the Maoris, the native Americans,
and other indigenous peoples are resisting in their
own way, even as are the European Union, Japan, and
other first world countries, similar though they already
are to the subsuming American culture.
Naturally, many Western analysts (steeped
in the culture and viewpoint of capitalism) presume
that the root of these conflicts is poverty (alone),
and eradicating poverty (through MacDonaldization) will
eradicate the resistance as well. But poverty has always
been only one part of the problem. The other very significant
part has been the preservation of one's own culture.
There is a fear among many such cultures that if they
"make a deal with the devil" to address their
poverty and backwardness, they will also lose their
culture, and hence their very heart and soul. History
has not exactly proven them wrong.
Resistance from within the MacDonaldized world.
But even should this soulless culture take
over the entire world, these forms of resistance will
live on. They simply will have shifted from the geographical
"outside" to the geographical "inside"
of the dominant world culture. (The details of 9/11,
for example, were primarily worked out in Hamburg, Germany,
not Afghanistan.) And they will function in the manner
of networks rather than countries, using the advances
in technology to communicate with each other (even as
hackers, the mafia, and drug rings are already doing
to further their own interests) and to work against
the super-culture (the Internet, suitcase-sized radiological
or nuclear weapons, and more are coming into play).
The "war on terrorism" will start to look
a lot like the "war on crime" and the "war
And this resistance will take religious and spiritual
forms as well, aimed at addressing the soullessness
of the super-state. For instance, Stephen Carter 
has suggested that the Bill of Rights had in mind not
merely the separation of Church and State, but the enabling
of churches to function as independent cultures, independent
pockets of power, with their own shared values, and
their own lifestyles, which can differ from that of
the surrounding (and now soulless) culture. In a better-organized
world, such independent cultures could thrive as "two-story
buildings", or "body and soul". Yes,
the "basement", or "body", that
ensures material well-being is provided by the democratized,
capitalistic state. But the "above-ground story
", or "soul", or "heart", is
provided by the independent culture. The liability we
are currently suffering is that the "basement"
is taking over everything, to the point where there
is no "above-ground story" worth telling.
Ongoing conflicts. Even
though the entire world may be MacDonaldized, that does
not mean it will turn into a single superstate, or that
wars will disappear (even though some idealists — see,
e.g.,  — tend to believe
in a "Pax Americana" wherein no two countries
that contain a MacDonald's will ever go to war with
each other). Even now there are "intractable"
conflicts within "MacDonald world", like the
one in Northern Ireland. A lot of these intractable
conflicts have to do with the fact that two different
spheres of influence are competing for the same geographical
territory (Northern Ireland, Kashmir, Taiwan, Israel/Palestine,
etc.). Other ongoing conflicts are due to the related
fact that geographical divisions and ethnic or religious
divisions do not coincide. This is particularly true
in some of the African states ,
where the geographical divisions are the residue of
the British and other colonial empires of the nineteenth
century, and have little to do with the way the native
peoples align themselves (then or now). This lack of
coincidence between geographical divisions and ethnic
or religious divisions has also been at the root of
the centuries-old conflict in the Balkan states .
Both cooperation and tolerance are required to resolve
these situations, in either of the two possible ways:
agreeing upon a different, geo-political boundary; or
forging a more workable, peaceful arrangement and co-existence
within the existing geo-political boundaries. (Or some
combination of both.)
The United Nations will never become a world government.
No nation-state is willing to cede its sovereignty to
that degree. Quite the contrary! Every "piece"
of the shattered Soviet Union demanded sovereignty,
and now "pieces" of the "pieces"
(e.g., the Chechnya region of Russia, the South Ossetia
region of Georgia, etc.) are seeking to splinter off
in the same manner. So is Kashmir (claimed by both India
and Pakistan). Even the "European Union" found
it difficult to converge on a common Constitution, now
that its members are being required to not only share
the benefits, but also to share the power. (The problem?
The ones with more power currently — France and Germany
— didn't want to give up any of that power; and the
countries with less power wanted more.) Indeed, if human
egos could easily be completely self-sufficient and
self-protected, they might not even agree to be a member
of a larger state and strike the bargain that creates
"civilization and its discontents" ;
each one of us would declare himself or herself a sovereign
nation-state! Whether writ large (in the actions of
a nation) or writ small (in the actions of an individual),
such is the nature of human egoity (in the absence of
spiritual realization). For the foreseeable future,
then, the best the world can be is a fellowship of sovereign
nations. And so there will always be a need for both
cooperation on shared values and shared priorities,
along with tolerance of differences.
The need for larger global values and accord.
Purely capitalistic globalization always is shortsighted.
It works on the "free market" principle which
is always a reaction to the current moment. It
can't anticipate in any but a corporate-centric
sense. It won't respond to the longterm effects of what
we are doing (and it is
doing) — say, to the environment — unless or until those
effects are in its face: we begin to run out of potable
water or clean air; the effects of global warming start
to effect the global economy; we over-fish our oceans
beyond the point of sustainability; the ever-increasing
demand of the market for oil finally empties our last
oil reserves; etc. Clearly, preventive measures
are required to address such issues; merely reactive
mechanisms like the global markets will always be
too slow and too late. The damage will have been done
and much of it may be permanent and irreparable.
One noteworthy exception to this picture: the carbon
market (currently most widely implemented by The European
Union Emission Trading Scheme ,
which requires the participation of all European Union
member states). While still very much a work in progress,
the carbon market is an instance where those concerned
about the longterm impact of greenhouse gases on global
warming created an entirely new market wholecloth,
whose present-time, profit-oriented activities are designed
to simultaneously benefit the cause of reducing global
warming. We need to engage in much more of this kind
of creativity (the "eco-tourism" I mentioned
earlier is another example), which creates or re-fashions
economic markets for the sake of particular non-economic
values (social, environmental, etc.). In the case of
greenhouse gas reduction, market creation had, as its
necessary companion, new governmental regulation, in
the form of the overall "cap and trade" approach,
with mandatory "caps" on greenhouse emissions
pushing companies into either cleaning up their act
or trading on the carbon market.
But even this example continues to demonstrate the
bigger point that globalization and capitalism alone
are not sufficient for running the world in a
way that fosters non-economic values. People and nations
with greater wisdom and foresight than the marketplace
alone must come together and forge global accords, regardless
of whether it is immediately (or even ever) profitable.
Cooperation and tolerance are essential to this process.
Even if we leave aside global concerns for the moment,
and focus solely on the material prosperity of individual
nation-states, differences in prosperity among those
nation-states already integrated (to one degree or another)
into the globalized world are worth explaining. It appears
that those societies which instill trust and cooperation
because of shared norms and cultural values are more
capable of creating (at lower cost and with less overhead)
the innovative business structures that lead to prosperity,
than "low trust" societies .
For this reason alone, cultural values like trust
and cooperation should be strongly encouraged.
It is simply too easily forgotten that when it
comes to economic activities, one of the greatest
virtues a country or community can have is a culture
of tolerance. When tolerance is the norm, everyone
flourishes — because tolerance breeds trust, and
trust is the foundation of innovation and entrepeneurship.
Increase the level of trust in any group, company,
or society, and only good things happen. "China
began its astounding commercial and industrial
takeoff only when Mao Zedong's odiously intolerant
form of communism was scrapped in favor of what
might be called totalitarian laissez-faire,"
wrote British historian Paul Johnson in a June
21, 2004, essay in Forbes. "India
is another example. It is the nature of the Hindu
religion to be tolerant and, in its own curious
way, permissive . . .When left to themselves,
Indians (like the Chinese) always prosper as a
Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat
A Cultural Renaissance for the Post-Globalization World
In a real sense, we have reached the end of the line,
both here in the West and on a global scale. Let us
not mistake decadence for culture .
We have burnt our cultural house to the ground. We have
killed God, we have overthrown all authorities, we have
isolated ourselves from any communities larger than
the family unit (and even there the divorce rate is
high), and we have replaced any genuine culture — in
which a greater purpose is the basis for all cultural
activity — with the sole value of materialistic self-fulfillment.
All we are doing is "killing" time. All we
are doing is making a pseudo-culture out of each individual
ego, as though it were a nation unto itself.
Materialistic self-fulfillment as our sole cultural
impulse is nothing more than horse manure to the human
heart. But there is a right and valuable use for horse
manure, as every farmer knows! Good things don't grow
in barren soil. As Abraham Maslow pointed out ,
lower needs must be handled before we even are in a
position to be aware of our higher and deeper needs.
Horse manure obviously should not be valued in itself;
by itself, it stinks! The right use of horse manure
is for fertilization. The best use of the MacDonaldized
world — which has the potential to provide at least
basic material well-being for all — is that it serve
as the soil in which real cultures, based on
higher values, are grown.
The right use of the cultural razing of the twentieth
century is to grow a new crop of cultures in the twenty-first,
and enable a new kind of evolutionary process to begin,
based not on the "survival of the fittest",
but rather, on the "flourishing of the happiest".
Out of the ashes of our former houses can emerge a cultural
phoenix — or several.
Earlier on, we characterized capitalism in its current
form of globalization by the byline, "Let the best
ego — individual or corporate — win! Let the marketplace
judge!" The right evolutionary process for the
post-globalization world will be one in which the fundamental
principle is instead,
"May the best culture win!
Let the human heart judge!"
And the fundamental values of a "cultural ground"
that accommodates such a culture-evolving process are
tolerance of such new cultures, and cooperation
within such cultures .
of The COTEDA Institute
by Chris Tong, Ph.D.
Director of The
COTEDA Institute for Global Accord
The COTEDA Institute for Global Accord is dedicated
to bringing about global accord
through cultivation of cooperation and
tolerance in the world, primarily by creating a truly
spiritual culture capable of undermining human egoity
and its disastrous consequences. For more on The COTEDA
here. For more on Adi Da Samraj, the great spiritual
master who has championed these principles, click
Thomas L. Friedman, The
Lexus and The Olive Tree.
Samuel P. Huntington, The
Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World
Stephen Carter, The
Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics
Trivialize Religious Devotion.
Robert D. Kaplan, The
Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post
Sigmund Freud, Civilization
and Its Discontents
Francis Fukuyama, Trust:
The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity
Jacques Barzun, From
Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years
of Western Cultural Life
Abraham H. Maslow, Toward
a Psychology of Being.
Adi Da Samraj, Eleutherios:
The Only Truth That Sets The Heart Free.
Thomas L. Friedman, The
World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First
The European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission
Trading Scheme (EU ETS) — http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/emission.htm