Managing Intolerance to Prevent the Balkanization of Euro-Atlantic Superdiverse Societies.

In Toleranz als ein Weg zum Frieden. Bonn: pp. 65-76 (2020)
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The main thesis of this article is that Western societies risk becoming Balkanized if they confront the superdiversity issue without sound management of intolerance. The Balkanization process has some essential features that allow the use of this term outside the area of origin (namely the Balkan Peninsula). Thus: It always affects a diverse political unit that comprises an inextricable medley of racial, ethnocultural, religious, ideological, or gender identities. It emerges only where neither the hegemony principle nor the confederacy principle can sustain a divided population’s peaceful coexistence. It entails “antagonistic and conflict-oriented relationships resistant to resolution” between the groups or classes dissociated from a diverse political unit. It increases the density of physical and psychological boundaries between the formerly associated parts. It is perpetuated by the great sponsors of the dissociated parts. Any diverse political unit can enter a process of Balkanization, regardless of its degree of culture and civilization. Balkanization does not have a fatal course. Just as there is no society immune to Balkanization, there is no diverse society doomed to Balkanization. Balkanization can be prevented, checked, stopped, or reversed, depending on society members’ individual and collective actions. To survive, the superdiverse liberal democracies from the Euro-Atlantic area need an agonistic public sphere, where actionable truths emerge from a genuine clash of educated opinions. If intolerance management is the first step in preventing the Balkanization of a superdiverse political unit, promoting social and political tolerance towards all people who express educated opinions is the best starting point to genuine tolerance. The return to Enlightenment rationalism values that underpinned our freedom of thought and expression will help us meet the challenges inherent in current and future superdiversity. By feeding enlightened conversations and debates with genuine, educated opinions, people learn to have tolerance for “unpleasant” pieces of knowledge. Then, they spread general tolerance – as a by-product – across the entire society.



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Gheorghe-Ilie Farte
Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi

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