Asia values

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"Asian Values" and Democracy in Asia

Proceedings of a Conference
Held on 28 March 1997 at Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan,
as Part of the First Shizuoka Asia-Pacific Forum:
The of the Asia-Pacific Region Future
This Forum Was Organized by the
Shizuoka Prefectural Government and
the Organizing Committee of the Asia-Pacific Forum


1. Introduction: "Asian Values" and Democracy in AsiaTakashi Inoguchi and Edward Newman
2. Asian Values: The Debate Revisited
C.O. Khong

3. The United States and East Asia: New Commonalities and Then, All Those Differences
David I. Hitchcock

4. A Clash of Values? Human Rights in the Post-Cold War World
James T.H. Tang

5. Political Culture and Indonesian Democracy
Leo Suryadinata

Conference Participants


Takashi Inoguchi and Edward Newman

Cultural determinism argues that cultural values condition modes of social and economic organization, including patterns of political relationships, political participation, citizenship and government. As a corollary of this, societies or regions which embrace a common cultural heritage can be said to have evolved discrete systems of political and socialarrangements distinct from - and sometimes in opposition to or in conflict with - the rest of the world. On the basis of this, these culturally embedded arrangements have been argued to explain and underpin such important issues as relative economic performance and social cohesion, and to determine crucial issues of international relations between cultural groups.1

Cultural approaches in the socialsciences are not new, especially in comparative research. Max Weber famously drew conclusions regarding the relative strengths of Protestant and Catholic cultures for economic growth. However, in the wake of the Cold War the cultural backdrop has become particularly popular and contentious. There are two broad arguments. With the decline of global ideological conflict, and with it the polarizingeffect this had upon international politics, economic and political regionalism have become more prominent. This has been on the basis of a process of development over a number of decades. In parallel to this, the ideological debate has given way to a cultural one. This has been tied to various political and economic indicators, but it has also been argued to underpin economic and politicalfriction. Famously, Huntington wrote that "the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural... [The] principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations.." The clash of civilizations will dominateglobal politics 2 Such culturally based arguments reject the homogenizing consequences of globalizing forces. In fact, they highlight the adverse affects of this process; people become more aware of their differences as cultures rub against each other.3 This has been heightened by the resurgence of traditional values resulting from the uncertainties of socio-political change in some societies.

Thecontrary, more popular view holds that culture is declining as a determinant of domestic and international politics in the context of globalizing pressures. This process is undermining traditional values and institutions and bringing a convergence of cultures through communication, travel and trade: a fledgling homogenizing "world culture" as a consequence of increasing shared experiences. In thewords of Havel, an "amalgamation of cultures" in a transcendent global ethos.4 The convergence of political and economic practices and the spread of democracy have similarly led to arguments of growing similarities which have implications for cultural differences. Francis Fukuyama argued that the spread of free market economics and democratic politics is a process which "guarantees an increasing...
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