Civilization or Barbarism?

24 – 29 April 2017   print this page

Course directors:

Mislav Kukoč, University of Split, Croatia
Rudolf J. Siebert, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, United States
Francis Brassard, Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Denis R.Janz, Loyola University, New Orleans, United States
Gottfried Küenzlen, University of Bundeswehr München, Germany
Michael R.Ott, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, United States

Course description:

41th international course on the Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism? will take place in the Inter-University Center for Post-Graduate Studies (IUC) in Dubrovnik, Croatia, from April 24 - 29, 2017. We invite you to our discourse, because we are convinced, that you as a scholar are most competent to contribute to the clarification, understanding, explanation, and comprehension, and praxis of our rather difficult new topic: The Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism?


Last year, in 2016, we celebrated with great enthusiasm the 40th Anniversary of our international course on the Future of Religion in the Inter-University Centre, Dubrovnik, Croatia . Throughout the past 4 decades we had explored every year in many most productive papers and heated discussions the evolution and revolutions, or pro-volutions, of the world religions, or pro-ligions, and their paradigm changes: from the original traditional, relative union of the sacred and the profane, through their modern disunion and all its many culture wars, toward their possible future reunion. We had observed again and again, that the modern antagonism between the religious and the secular had produced splits also inside the religious communities, between those believers, who insisted on revelation and tradition in their pure form, on one side, and other believers, who were willing and able to open themselves up to secular modernity and its enlightenment movements and consequent revolutions, or pro-volutions, on the other. We also had observed again and again, that the modern antagonism between the sacred and the profane caused likewise contradictions in the secular civil society and constitutional state between enlightened people, who considered religion to be a childhood affair of the human species, which was to be cancelled as fast as possible, so that men could grow up, and thus aimed at a totally secularized society, on one hand, and others, who were still open for the old world positive religions and their ethical values, and ready to supersede them not abstractly, but concretely, i. e, to critizice, rationalize, de-mythologize, de-demonize, and symbolize them, but in this process also to preserve, whatever was good and humanistic in them, and thus to elevate and fulfill them in the form of a secular humanism, understood as religion in inheritance, on the other, and thus to tolerate the non-contemporaneous in the midst of the contemporaneous. In our Dubrovnik discourses of the past 40 years, believers open for the modern enlightenment movements had met with enlighteners still open for religious faith in discourse, not closed up fundamentalistically, or positivistically and naturalistically, in order to discuss alternative futures of religion, and finally had decided, to speak about not only the future of religion, but also about a possible religion of the future: a truly catholic, i.e. universal, natural, negative religion of reason and freedom, on which believers and enlighteners, not being any longer members of any positive religion, could nevertheless possibly agree, so that the present often bloody culture wars and the consequent mutual terrorism in the Near East, and Africa, and really all over the globe, could come to a peaceful end, and the great world religions would no longer have to defend themselves against secular Modernity and Post-Modernity, and modern, enlightened people would no longer have to defend themselves against the onslaught of religion. At stake was, of course, not only the future of religion and the religion of the future, but also the future of the enlightenment and the enlightenment of the future, and the prevention of utter barbarism: both need to be rescued through reconstruction, before they can be truely reconciled. The enlightener Karl Marx had predicted: it will either be socialism or barbarism! We had defined religion as the longing for the utterly Other than the horror and terror of nature and history; as the longing for perfect justice and unconditional love; as the longing, that the murderer shall not triumph over his innocent victim, at least not ultimately. We had defined enlightenment as the exit of man from his own being underage, for which condition he himself was guilty and responsible; as the attempt to free people from their fears, and to make them into masters of their fate; as positing Ego, where Id was; and as making conscious, what was un-and sub-conscious.

The Sared and the Profane

Thus, also our new discourse of 2017 embraces both sides of the modern antagonism between the sacred and the profane, the religious and the secular, faith and autonomous reason, revelation and enlightenment. Religious as well as secular people have an ethics, which may motivate them in discourse: a communicative or discourse ethics. All religious people share the Golden Rule. Many enlightened people share the translation and rationalization of the Golden Rule, i.e. the categorical imperative, or the communicative ethics, or the principle of the apriori of the unlimited communication community, and strive for personal autonomy and universal, i.e. anamnestic, present, and proleptic solidarity, in the on-going crisis-loaded transition situation between Modernity on one hand, and Post-Modernity, on the other. Our new discourse wants once more to bring together religious and secular people, who are interested in the question, what the religion and the enlightenment of the future, and their new interrelationship, may possibly and probably look like, on the basis of 40years of research into the future of religion in the IUC, with the practical intent of cooperation concerning the solution of the present often bloody and in any case most painful national and international culture wars, and to create a civilization of life, or of love, or mercy, as suggested by Pope Francis I in remembrance of Saint Francis of Assissi, the greatest saint of the West, recognized by believers and non-believers. alike We want to explore, what a new religion and a new enlightenment may contribute to the moral improvement of individuals and nations: to a spiritual, as well as political, and economic revolution, or pro-volution, toward a truly humane civilization instead of an inhuman barbarism. We share with the humanistic theologian Hans Küng the conviction, that there can be no peace among nations without peace between the religions and the modern enlightenment movements. There can be no peace between religion and secular enlightenment without discourse between them. There can be no discourse between the religions and the enlightenment movements without foundational research in them concerning their mutual interpretation of reality, and their mutual orientation of action. What may a future new religion and a future new enlightenment, and their global ethos, committed to build and maintain a sustainable, peaceful world civilization, possibly and probably look like? Please, see our website : http: //www.rudolfjsiebert. org/.

The Pearl of Civilization

We hope very much, that you can follow our invitation, and that you can come to the IUC in beautiful Dubrovnik, a pearl of civilization, which for centuries was able to keep all barbarism outside of its walls, in the last week of April 2017, and that you can join us in our 41th international course on the Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism ?, and that you can present a paper to us out of the center of your own presently on-going research-activities, interests, competence, and teaching, be it concerning religion, or civilization, or barbarism, and in the framework of our general thematic of 2017. Of course, you are also very welcome, if you do not want to be a resource person and to read a paper, but rather prefer to appear as a participant, and thus contribute as such to our, to be sure, very lively discourse. Our course will be part of a very rich IUC Program of courses and conferences in the Academic Year of 2016/ 2017, with some of which we may inter-act. Dubrovnik and the IUC are, indeed, alive and well, and have been rising again like the mythical Phoenix Bird out of the ashes, and have been growing again, in spite of all the tragic events of the past decades, and have been able heroically to resist and to survive a terrible wave of barbarism, which cost the lives of 200 000 people. We shall read our papers and discuss in the hope, that in all parts of the world the Jus or Lex Talionis will be replaced by the Golden Rule, superseding the barbarous motive of retaliation and revenge - eye for eye, tooth for tooth, foot for foot, leg for leg, hand for hand, . etc. - which makes the whole world lame and blind, and by the categorical imperative, and by the principle of the apriori of the universal communication community of the discourse ethics, and by a global ethos, built on these religious and secular principles, and by an international law, which is rooted in them and will, therefore, never be without mercy and the power of at-one - ment, and of reconciliation, without which a true civilization can not exist, and barbarism will prevail. All ethics and legality must, - in order to have real motivating power - , ultimately be rooted in the insatiable longing of people for the utterly Other than what is the case in nature and history, for the X-experience, and for the ultimate Reality. With such longing civilization begins, and it ends, and barbarism breaks through and prevails, when such longing disappears.

Toward a More Civilized World

In this year's discourse, we shall once more remember the men and women, who in the present conflicts in the Near East, and in Africa, and in Europe, and elsewhere, stood up and were brave in the many, recent culture wars between religion and modern, secular enlightenment, and have confessed and witnessed, and became martyrs of freedom for a more civilized and reconciled world. We think, e.g., of the young Jordanian pilot, who was shot down by ISIS over Syria during a bombing run, and was then, on January 6, 2015, burned alive in a cage, while bravely standing up and praying, as once Jordano Bruno and Vanini, and many so called witches, and heretics, and atheists had done. We remember the young American woman Kelly Mueller, who had spent her life in caring for the poor, the sick, and the wounded people in all parts of the world, and who was then kidnapped by ISIS in Aleppo, and was then killed on February 5, 2015, as so called collateral damage, by a Jordanian F 16 bomber, who in retaliation and revenche for the burned Jordanian pilote, bombed Raqqa, the capital of the new Islamic State, or Caliphate, where she had been held captive for months. If ISIS wants really to revive the Arabic Empire Paradigm, including the Umaijadic Caliphat of Damaskus from 661 to 750, and the Classical-Islamic World Religion Paradigm, including the Abbasidic Caliphate of Bagdad from 750-1258, they must conquer both: Syria and Iraq, Damaskus and Baghdad.They are presently held up in Mosul. But the barbarous war may, nevertheless, take a long time, depending on the resistance. We also think of the Charlie - journalists, and the Jewish people in the cosher store in Paris, who all were murdered by ISIS people in revench for Mohammed in January 2015, and then again many others in December 2015: either because they practiced the freedom of speech, or simply because they were modern Europeans, or Jews. The ISIS attacks happened, symbolically enough, in Paris: the city of the great secular bourgeois, and then socialist enlightenment movements and revolutions. We remember the pious Shiite Sheik Nimr al- Nimre, who was brutally executed by the Sunni-lead Saudi - Arabian Government on January 5, 2016, together with over 40 other martyrs, and whose violent death rocked the whole Mideast. All that happens, while in the enlightened secular world of the West sometimes global stock plunges in the midst of fears of a new financial catastrophe like that in 2008. Democracy changes into plutocracy. Fascism, or corporatism, including nationalism and racism, rises once more its ugly head in Europe and America. Social advancement slows down. A vicious cycle of wealth and power threatens capitalism. Barbarism threatens the Western civilization. In January 2016, in the nearby Flint, Michigan, the portray of an American city, residents died as a result of an outbreak of Legionaires desease, linked to the city's lead - contaminated drinking water: in addition to the 9000 children who have been put at risk for lead poisoning. The city's spiraling public health disaster is the result of its move in April 2014, to draw the drinking water from the polluted Flint River, in order to save money, after the Detroit Water Department demanded higher rates in the aftermath of the Detroit bancruptcy. In America by-weekly mass shootings make Wallstreet see gold in gun companies, and in gun production, and in massive gun sales. The theodicy, the defense of the highest Wisdom of the Creator against the accusation, which reason makes against it on the basis of the counter-purpose and counter-teleology in the world, this apology of the cause of God, which neither religious people, nor enlighteners can perform adequately any longer, at least not theoretically, becomes more and more unbearable in all these events and cases, and in many others. The Trump Administration differentiates between three forms of capitalism:

1. Ayn Rand libertarian capitalism - greed and selfishness are good;

2.State capitalism, which does not allow for personal autonomy; and

3. Judeo-Christian capitalism, which is supposed to guarantee civilization and protect us against barbarism.

Is such Judeo-Christian capitalism really possible, or is it not rather a contradictio in adjecto. Please see John 2: 13-25; Rudolf J. Siebert, Moral Polemics and Revolution in Christianity and other World Religions. New Delhi: Sanbun Publishers 2017; Rudolf J. Siebert and Michael Ott. Future of Religion: Creation, Exodus, Son of Man and Kingdom. New Delhi: Sanbun Publishers 2016.

Executive Order 13685

In 2016, we hoped very much, that our friends from our sister course on Religion in Civil Society in Yalta, Republic of Crimea, particularly Tatiana and Alexandra, would be able to be with us again. Unfortunately, our Yalta friends could not get a visa, and thus were not allowed to come. In 2016, we also hoped to be able again to participate in our sister course on Religion in Civil Society in Yalta, in November 2016. In the past decade, Tatiana had edited one book each year, which contained all the research work of the Yalta course resource persons. Unfortunately, the Executive Order 13685 by the Obama Administration forbid us to participate in our Yalta course, because the Crimeans had supposedly not had a Referendum to separate from the Ukraine, but the Russians had supposedly occupied and annexed the Crimea, and had to be punished by sanctions. .In the process we were punished as well, and our freedom of speech and our academic freedom were repressed internationally. We hope very much, that the Trump Administration will cancel the respective Executive Order 13685 of the Obama Administration, and we shall be allowed again freely to particiate in our Yalta Course on Religion in Civil Society, in November 2017. There must not be any Second Cold War. Its ending would probably be more tragic, than that of the first one, in the face of the availability of 77 000 nuclear weapons in the East and in the West. It would lead our civilization back into the stone age, and possibly even further. It would end in absolute barbarism. At present, not Europe as such, but one which would act as proxi of the American World, is a danger for the Slavic World, after the Crusaders marched to Novgorod, and Napoleon to Moscow, and Adolf Hitler to Leningrade, Moscow, Stalingrade, and Kursk, where he and fascism found their catastrophic end: his whole dark dream of Mein Kampf, which is now a bestseller again in Germany, and in Europe. A Second Cold War would contradict any global ethos, religious or secular! It would be the opposite of all the peace work we have done for decades in Dubrovnik, and in Yalta, and elsewhere, in theory and in praxis, and which we would like to continue into the future. In any case, at the end of Modernity, there is no way back into the Middle Ages, not to speak of Antiquity, for anybody anywhere, but only foreward into Post-Modernity. Antiquity, Middle Ages, and Modernity are concretely to be superseded into Post-Modernity: either toward Post-Modern alternative Future I - the totally computerized, robotized, technocratic signal society; or toward Post-Modern alternative Future II- the entirely militarized drone society; or to Post-Modern alternative Future III - a society, characterized by the reconciliation of the religious and the secular, faith and reason, revelation and enlightenment, as well as of personal autonomy and universal, i.e. anamnestic, present, and proleptic solidarity; and conseqently characterized by the priority of the democratic constitutional state to the market; by the primacy of social solidarity over merit; by the rejection of the law of the stronger; and by the commitment to peace as a result of the historical experience of loss. In contrast to the barbarism of Future I and II, only Future III would deserve the name of civilization. Our new discourse on religion and enlightenment, and on civilization instead of barbarism, aims ultimately at Post-Modern alternative Future III, which can not come about without such kind of practical discourse, and the connected praxis. We have expressed our pain concerning Executive Order 13685 in an Open Letter to President Trump and President Putin, asking them to become agents of peace rather than war, of civilization rather than barbarism, in the spirit of our international discourses in Dubrovnik and Yalta: discourse understood as future-oriented remembrance of human suffering with the practical intend, to diminish it.


Please, prepare your paper out of the material of your present research, in the horizon of our specific theme of this year, and in the context of the present economic, political, historical, and religious situation, and in direction of our common goal - alternative Future III: Shalom, Salaam, Peace, Friede between the Abrahamic and all other living world-religions, on one hand, and the modern secular enlightenment movements, on the other, as well as among the nations, in which they are situated. Civilization instead of barbarism! Our texts must not be perfect. Nobody is perfect! You can still complete your paper to the level of publication-maturation after you have presented it, and after we have discussed it together. Our new discourse may help you, to complete your paper, and to make it ready for publication after you return home. It may then be included into our new Dubrovnik Book, which shall be edited by Professor Dustin Byrd


Professor Michael Ott has completed the collection of our research papers once more for a third volume, following the late Professor Reimer’s excellent first volume - The Influence of the Frankfurt School on Contemporary Theology. Critical Theory and the Future of Religion. Dubrovnik Papers in Honor of Rudolf J. Siebert. Lewiston, New York, Queenston, Ontario, Canada, Lampeter, Dyfed, Wales, United Kingdom, and his own most outstanding second volume The Future of Religion: Toward a Reconciled Society, which has appeared with the publisher Brill in Holland, and with the publisher Haymarket in 2007/2009 in England. Michael has worked once more very hard for the new third volume, entitled The Dialectic of the Religious and the Secular. We are most grateful to him, and all contributors. We thank Professor Dustin Byrd for having volunteered with his great publishing talent and experience, to bring out our third volume. In the future my own three volume Manifesto of the Critical Theory of Society and Religion: The Wholly Other, Liberation, Happiness and the Rescue of the Hopeless, which is very much based in our discourses and experiences in Dubrovnik through the past 40 years, and reflects very much our common interests and efforts, and has come out with the publisher Brill in Leiden, Holland, in 2010, can also be of help to us in our present and future discourses. We celebrated the arrival of the Manifesto during our discourse in April 2012 with an excellent presentation by Professor Dennis Janz, in the framework of our work done in the past 4 decades, which it reflects. Our gratitude goes to Professor Dennis Janz for his excellent review of the Manifesto in Mike's third volume. Also Professor Reimon Bachika from the University of Kyoto, Japan, has produced an excellent review of the Manifesto,. Professor Michael Ott and I have authored a 40 Anniversary book, entitled The Future of Religion: Creator, Exodus, Son of Man and Kingdom. It sums up the history of our course, and all the work we have done in the past 40 years. The book has been published by Sanbun Publishers in New Delhi, India. It is available: see E-mail : sanbunpublishers@hotmail.com. Copies were available and distributed in Dubrovnik, at the occasion of our anniversary celebration in April 2016. My new book Moral Polemics and Revolution in Christianity and other World Religions, which deals with the enlightenment religion and Christology from Kant to Hegel, is right now in the process of being published by Sanbun Publishers in New Delhi, India, and will be available in several weeks. We hope very much, that we can also publish the papers of our 39th and 40th, and further discourses in a later publication. Professor Dustin Byrd, Olivet College, Michigan, has generously volunteered to produce a fifth volume of our more recent papers. You may send your paper to him after you have presented it to us in Dubrovnik.We always wanted to share our findings about the possible futures of religion, and the religion of the future, not only with each other, but also with a broader, even global audience of interested scholars. Please, see our website http: //www.rudolfjsiebert, org/.

Democratic Procedure

Thus, we - the Directors Professor Rudolf J. Siebert, Western Michigan University, Professor Mislav Kukoc, University of Zagreb, Professor Gottfried Künzelen, Emeritus, from the University of the Federal German Army, Munich, Professor Denis Janz, Loyola University, New Orleans, Professor Michael Ott, Emeritus, from Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan, Dr. Dinka Marinovic-Jerolimov, Institute for Social Research Zagreb, and the Coordinators Professor Tatiana Senyushkina, Taurida National University, Simferopol, Ukraine, Dr. Goran Goldberger, Institute for Social Research, Zagreb, and Professor Dustin Byrd, Olivet College, Olivet, Michigan 49076,USA, - invite you very personally and heartely in the name of the IUC, to join us as resource persons, or participants, in our 41th international course on The Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism ? in the IUC Building, from April 24-29, 2017. We chose this year's course title once more in a democratic procedure. It grew logically out of the texts, and the contexts, and motivations of our previous discourses on the Future of Religion. This year’s theme is certainly once more of highest actuality considering the present world situation, in which our civilization is continually threatened by utter barbarism: a situation characterized by the so-called war against terror, which unfortunately has also continued under the Obama Administration in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Africa, and elsewhere, and by the Ukrainian civil war, which are continually fought on both sides according to the cruel Jus or Lex Talionis, without any real peace, or liberation, or redemption in sight, as the possible result of the praxis of the Golden Rule, in personal, national, and international affairs: a praxis, driven by the yearning for the totally Other, for perfect justice, for unconditional love, and by the longing, that the murderer shall not triumph over the innocent victim, and by the hope for redemption, liberation and happiness, and the rescue of all the hopeless victims of society and history, who have never had their day in court. The present dissonance and antagonism between the religious and the secular, and the consequent ongoing culture wars, threaten the religious expectation of Exodus and Kingdom, as well as the secular hope for alternative Future III - a more reconciled society, based on a global ethos, and our civilization with barbarism.

Further Questions

In case you have any further questions, please address them to the IUC, to me, or to the other directors at the following addresses and through the following media: Prof. R. J. Siebert - RSieb3@aol.com -http://www.rudolfjsiebert.org/, 630 Piccadilly Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49006, USA. Tel.: 269-381-0864 / Fax: 269-381-1935. Secretariat of the Inter-University Center, Don Frana Bulica 4, HR 20000 Dubrovnik, Croatia, Tel.+385 20 413626/7 /Fax +385 20 413628. Please, also contact either Hotel Argentina (Tel + 385 20 440 555 / Fax + 385 20 432 524), Hotel Lero (Tel. + 385 20 411 455 / Fax + 385 20 432 501), or any other hotel or private pension of your choice in Dubrovnik for room and board. Hotel Lero is the less expensive one. Hotel Argentina is the most expensive one. Most of us will probably stay at Hotel Lero. You can get a lower hotel price, if you make your reservation through the IUC Secretariat as early as possible. You may also get inexpensive rooms in the IUC.

Frankfurt School

The Loyola University in Chicago is once more organizing a Meeting on its Campus in Rome, Italy, on the critical theory of society of the Frankfurt School, shortly after our Dubrovnik event. You are aware, that we have developed out of the critical theory of society of the Frankfurt School our own Critical Theory of Religion or Comparative, Dialectical Religiology.We have invited the members of the Rome event to join us in Dubrovnik. Some of us will participate in next year’s Rome event again, as we have done in recent years, in order there to present our critical theory of religion, or dialectical religiology. You are very much invited, to participate in the Rome event.


As far as OSI support is concerned, unfortunately, the IUC has not yet managed to replace it with a similar foundation. At the moment the IUC has only the modest IUC support, with which they can fund one participant per course according to the criteria that are listed at: http://www.iuc.hr/iuc-support.php. The IUC would be happy to help resource persons and participants in finding more convenient accommodations. Lately many of the resource persons and participants stay in the nearby monastery, which offers the most convenient prices that could be found in Dubrovnik. Since the nuns do not speak English, nor do they have an e-mail address, all the reservations must be done through the IUC.

Form and Content

Please, allow me to make a few more concrete suggestions concerning the form and content of our discourse on The Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism in April 2017. One reason for such suggestions is to constitute further continuity among our discrete past 40 courses, on one hand, and the coming 41th discourse this year, on the other. In fulfilling this task of continuity, we are greatly supported by Professor Reimer's book The Influence of the Frankfurt School on Contemporary Theology. Critical Theory and the Future of Religion. Dubrovnik Papers in Honor of Rudolf J. Siebert; and by Professor Ott’s new books The Future of Religion: Toward a Reconciled Society and The Dialectic of the Religious and the Secular; and by Professor Siebert’s Manifesto of the Critical Theory of Society and Religion: The Totally Other, Liberation, Happiness, and the Rescue of the Hopeless; as well as by his more recent publications The Evolution of the Religious Consciousness toward alternative Futures, New Delhi: Sanbun 2013; and by his The Development of Moral Consciousness toward Global Ethos, New Delhi: Sanbun 2013; and by his Toward a Radical Interpretation of the Abrahamic Religions: In Search for the Wholly Other. New Delhi, Sanbun 2013; and by his The Realization of Harmony in Religion, Philosophy and Science, in St. Peterburg: GWA (Global Harmony Association) 2014; and by his The World Religions in the Global Public Sphere:Towards Concrete Freedom and Material Democracy, New Delhi: Sanbun 2014; and by his Early Critical Theory of Religion: The Island of Happiness. New Delhi: Sanbun, 2014; and by the cooperative work of Rudolf J. Siebert/ Michael Ott/ Dustin J. Byrd. The Critical Theory of Religion:From Having to Being, in Critical Research on Religion. 2013. April. Vol. 1; Issue 1; and by the book of Rudolf.J.Siebert and Michael Ott, The Future of Religion: Creator, Exodus, Son of Man and Kingdom, and by the most recent book Rudolf J. Siebert, Moral Polemics and Revolution in Christianity and other World Religions. New Delhi: Sanbun Publishers 2017. The other reason for the following suggestions is to indicate the possible direction, which our new international discourse on the Future of Religion: Civilization or Barbarism? may, or could, or should take, when we meet in Dubrovnik from April 24 - 29, 2017. The few suggestions may indicate the possible theoretical framework, methodology, level, and goal for the texts, that we shall produce in writing or orally in, about, and for the present, turbulent, more barbarous than civilized world-situation, and toward the goal of further human emancipation, as reconciliation, on the long road of humankind from animality and barbarism to civilization, to Post-Modern, global alternative Future III: the reconciled, free, just, and, therefore, peaceful society, instead of Post-Modern alternative Future I - the totally administered society, as predicted by Huxley, Orwell, Kafka, Flechtheim, Horkheimer, Adorno, Fromm, Marcuse, etc., or Post-Modern, alternative global Future II - the entirely militarized society continually engaged in conventional wars and civil wars, and in drone strikes, with their terrible collateral damages, and in the preparation of ABC wars, and their consequent environmental disasters, maybe in the framework of a collission of religion-based and -guided civilizations, as predicted by the late Samuel Huntington - a disciple of Carl Schmitt, Adolf Hitler’s main jurist and general council, and political theologian - and a former Pentagon advisor during the Vietnam war, and the more recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The following suggestions are, of course, only that - suggestions - and you may feel entirely free, to follow your own dialectical imagination and creativity, and to move in other directions as well, inside, of course, of the wider framework of the general thematic of 2017.


In the perspective of this year’s discourse, which is devoted to the project of Future of Religion: Civilization of Barbarism ?, there will be no survival of a civilized human species without the reconciliation of a new religion and a new enlightenment. That is our presupposition! Our main question is, how such a new religion and enlightenment can possibly come about in the face of a large plurality of diverse, positive, historical religions and secular enlightenment movements, and their different moral codes? How can specific good reasons be given for the transformation of the traditional religions and enlightenment movements? Can it be founded on empirical fact, and data, and experience alone, or does it also need judgement and insight as well? We must ask, if religion and enlightenment, and their interpretation of reality and moral orientation of action, are at all needed for a humane, non-barbarous, civilized future? Is autonomous human reason sufficient for such transformation of religion and enlightenment, and its legitimation without any religious revelation? That, precisely, has been the general content of all our discourses on the future of religion in Dubrovnik since 1975. If religion and enlightenment are needed, what should be their specific contribution to the moral improvement of individuals and nations moving toward a higher civilization rather than a lower barbarism ? Whatever the contribution, it will presuppose a coalition of believers and enlighteners, who are able to connect revelation and autonomus reason: Moses and Kant, Jesus and Marx, Mohammed and Freud. In recent decades, it has become always clearer, that the one world, ( Wendel Wilkie ), in which we all live, has only then a chance of civilized survival, if in it no longer exist spaces of different, contradictory, antangonistic and mutually exclusive, and struggling, and terrorizing against each other forms of religion and secular enlightenment movements and their forms of ethics and social ethics. This one world needs, in order to be civilized, the reconciliation of a new religion, and a new enlightenment, and a new ethos, rooted in both. This one world does not need a unity religion, or a unity enlightenment, not to speak of a religious or secular ideology, the word understood in the critical sense of false consciousness, masking of racial, national, or class interests, necessary appearance, or simply untruth. But, in order to be truely civilized, it may very well need a few binding and connecting religious and enlightenment norms, values, ideals, and goals: as e.g. the Golden Rule, the categorical imperative, or the discourse theory’s principle of the apriori of the unlimited communication community.


As in the history of civilizations the reflection produced the universals of genius, talent, art, religion, philosophy and science, the formal education not only could, but also had not only to thrive and prosper on each stage of the intellectual and spiritual formations, but it also could and even had to blossom to a high degree. This happened, as such stages formed themselves into a state, and progressed on this foundation of civilization to the reflection of analytical understanding, and, as to laws, so for everything to forms of universality. In the life of the state as such lay the necessity of formal education, and thereby of the genesis of a developed art, religion, and philosophy, and science. The under the name of the liberal arts conceived arts demanded in any case already from the technical side the civilized living together of human beings. The poetry, which was less in need of the external needs and means, and which had for its material the element of an existence, which was immediately produced by the human spirit, the voice, stepped forth in extreme boldness and with educated expression already under conditions of a nation, which had not yet been united into a legal and moral life, into a state, since the language reached a high level of education of analytical understanding beyond the civilization. We define the condition of civilization as consisting of a mass of people, which was not only a nation, but which had also become a state. We define the condition of barbarism as consisting of a mass of people, which was a nation, but without being at the same time a state. Failed states lead to barbarism.


Also the philosophy must be able to appear in the life of the state, as the foundation of civilization, insofar as that through which a content became the matter of education, which was the form, which belonged to thinking, and insofar the philosophy, which was only the consciousness of this form itself, the thinking of thinking, had already prepared the peculiar material for its structure in the general education process.When in the development of the state, and its civilization, itself periods must occur, through which the spirit of more noble people was driven into flight out of the present state and civilzation, as it happened in the late Greek and Roman state and civilization, and again in late Europe and the modern Western civilization, into the higher ideal regions, in order to find in them the reconciliation with itself, which it could no longer enjoy in the dis-united reality of the surrounding actual state and civilization, since the reflecting understanding of the enlightenment had attacked everything holy and deep, which in an impartial way had been laid into the religion, the laws, and customs of the nations, and had flattened out, and had made superficial, and had evaporated and made fade into abstract, godless generalities, then thinking will be compelled and forced beyond analytical understanding to thinking dialectical reason, in order to try in its own element the restoration out of the ruin of the civilization, out of the barbarism, to which it had been brought.


While in the 18th and 19th centuries the material existence of modern England was grounded on the trade and the industry, the English considering themselves to the most civilized people, took upon themselves the great determination, to be the missionaries of civilization in the whole world: white man’s burden! This was so, because their spirit of trade drove the English to search through all oceans and all lands, and to make connections with the so called barbaric, or barbarous nations, and to awaken in them needs and industry, and most of all to establish with them the conditions of the traffic, intercourse, and circulation: namely, the giving up of violence, the respect for property, and the hospitality, as the fundamental characteristic of civilization. Unfortunately, the British, as well as French, and German, etc. colonial civilizations have sometimes turned into barbarism again after the so called civilizing colonial masters had left them behind again at least politically, if also not economically, in the 20th and 21st centuries, and massive violence broke out again in the once supposedly pacified and civilized territories, e.g. in Africa and in the Near East.

The Barbarians

The European countries, which in earlier times had constituted parts of the Roman Empire and its civilization, had later on the fate, to be subjugated by the so called Germanic barbarians. Momentarily a great contrast, or antagonism, occurred between the already educated and civilized inhabitants of those countries, and the barbarous victors. Howeve, this contrast ended in the hermaphrodite nature of the now formed new nations. The whole intellectual, spiritual, and cultural existence of such new states and civilizations contained a division in itself: in the most internal at the same time an externality. This difference became visible and noticeable externally right away through the language, which was a working - into - each other of the civilized old-Roman language, which was connected with the barbarous native language, and the barbarous Germanic language. These new nations can be put together as Romance nations, and languages, and literatures: Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.

Need for Protection

A certain need for protection was certainly present in every well organized state and civilization: every citizen knew his rights, and also knew, that for the security of property and possessions the civilized social condition was in general necessary. Barbarians did not know yet this need for having protection through the others.The barbarians considered protection to be a limitation of their freedom : if their rights should be secured for them through others Thus, for the Germanic tribesmen after Karl, the Great, the urge was not present for a firm state organization and civilization. The Germanic barbarians had first of all to be posited into a condition without protection, in order to feel the necessary appearance of the state. After the collapse of the Roman state and civilization, the formation of states had to start again from the very beginning.The universal had no vivacity and firmness at all in itself and in the Germanic people, and its weakness became manifest in that it was not able to give any protection to the individuals. The determination of obligation and duty was not present in the mind and spirit of the barbarous Germanic tribes men. What mattered was to bring about this determination of obligation. This form of barbarism is present still today in masses of people living particulary in the most advanced, most atomistic, and most individualistic, capitalisic societies of America.

The Medieval World

The new Medieval European World, created by Christianity, had to be received by a new species of barbarians, the Germanic tribesmen.This was so , because it was the way of barbarians, to take the intellectual or spiritual in a sensuous mode. They had to be Nordic barbarians, because only the Nordic being-in-oneself, or inwardness, was the immediate principle of this new Medieval World consciousness. On one hand, with this Medieval, Nordic self-consciousness of the intelligible world as an immediately real one, the human spirit was, after that what it had become, higher than what it had been till now in the Roman World. However, on the other hand, in respect to its consciousness the spirit was completely thrown back into the barbarous beginning of culture and civilization, and this consciousness had to start from the beginning again. What the spirit had to overcome, was first of all this sensuous immediacy of its intelligible world, and secondly the opposite sensuous immediacy of the reality, which was for its consciousness valid as mere nothingness. The Medieval consciousness excluded the sun, and replaced it through candles. It was only equipped, fit out, and furnished through images, and was thus opposed to the Mosaic image-prohibition. The human spirit was reconciled only in itself, in its own inwardness, but not for its consciousness. For the Medieval self-consciousness there was only the sinful, evil world out there. This was so, because precisely that the intelligible world of the Medieval philosophy had not yet been completed in itself, namely that it made itself likewise into the real world, and recognized in the real world the intelligible world, and in the intelligible world the real world. It was something else, to have the Idea of the philosophy, like, e.g., Anselm of Canterbury in his ontological proof for the existence of God, and to recognize the absolute Being as absolute Being, and to recognize it as the system of the universe, of the nature, and of man, of his own self-consciousness, as the whole development of its reality. That principle of realization the Neo-Platonic philosophers, particularly Plotin and Proclos, had found, namely that the same real Substance posited itself again completely under opposite determinations, nature and man, which were real in themselves, but from here not the form, the principle of self-consciousness. For the now beginning Medieval formation of civilization stood, therefore, this not completed reality as real world in opposition to its world of thoughts, and thus it could not recognize one in the other. That, precisely, was its barbarism! It had two types of household, two types of measure, and weight, which it could not bring together. One was kept far away from the other. Impatient about the dispensed with reality, and about its own lack of holiness, a Christianity informed by Neo-Platonic Greek and Roman Church Fathers, went to conquer the Holy Grave in Jerusalem, what it represented as real, also through action: the barbarous, unholy crusades. But Christianity found only the empty grave in Jerusalem, which then was taken away from it again by Saladin, by the Muslims. From this experience, Christianity had to turn itself toward, and hold on to the real, authentic reality, for which it had only contempt, and it had to find in it the realization of its intelligible world, and thus to overcome its barbarism: of course, not without the crusaders once more marching barbarously to Novgorod.

The Civilized Arabs

On one hand, the philosophy of the early Middle Ages was a dull, cloudy, and gloomy milling around in the depth of the Idea as its forms, which constituted its moments. On the other hand, this philosophy was a moving around in the pure notions, through which it was constituted in thinking. First, that early kabbalistic thinking was a dull and hard struggle of human reason, which could not come out of phantasy, and imagination, and representation, and picture thinking to the notion. It was not adventurous behavior, which the phantasy was afraid of, because it, driven by reason, could not be satisfied with the beauty of the images, but it must rather drive it beyond it. It was also no adventurous behavior of reason, into which it would not fall, because it could not master the image. It was rather the struggle of reason inside an element, over which it could not become master. On the other hand, the other opposite side of it constituted the opposite, namely the intellectual world, in which the pure notions were dominant: the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages. Philosophy, as well as the sciences, and the arts, as they became silent in the Occident, through the power and rule of the Germanic barbarians, fled to the civilized Arabs, and there came to a beautiful blossoming in a great civilization. The civilized Arabs were the next fountain, out of which flowed civilization into the Occident, and helped it to overcome its barbarism. The great Arab philosopher, Averroes, helped Thomas Aquinas to rescue Christianity from barbarism , through teaching him Aristotle.

Spirit and Nature

The spiritual idea, or spirituality, had been layed into the Germanic tribesmen: they appearing in history as raw barbarians, living in the bluntness, dullness, and obtuseness of their disposition, and nature, and spirit. Into this dullness the spiritual was posited. The heart of the Germanic barbarians was stabbed through by this spirituality. In this way, the raw barbarous nature became immanent in the Idea, as an infinitely opposed one. It was ignited in the Germanic barbarians the infinite pain, agony, and anguish, the terrible, dreadful, appaling suffering, so that they themselves could be presented as a crucified Christ.The Germanic barbarians had to endure this struggle in themselves. One side of this struggle of the Germanic barbarians was their philosophy, scholastizism, which later on appeared among them, and which was first of all transfered as something given. The old Germans were still uneducated, barbarous nations, but they were, nevertheless, also deep in heart and disposition, inspite of all barbarous hollowness, dullness, closeness, and vagueness: Into this barbarous dullness was then put the principle of spirit. Thereby was then necessarily posited this pain and agony, this struggle between the spirit and nature. The formation of civilization began here from this enormous and monstrous contradiction between spirit and nature, and this antagonism, which civilization had to resolve. It was a realm of pain and agony, but of Purgatory. This was so, because it was the spirit, who was in pain and agony, and not an animal. The spirit, however, did not die, but rose again out of its grave. The two sides of this contradiction were essentially such in their relationship to each other, that it was the spiritual, which was to rule and to govern, and which was supposed to be dominant over the barbarians. To be sure, nature was not to be negated abstractly by spirit. Nature was rather to be concretely superseated by spirit: the law of gravity by the law of freedom. Nature was to be concretely sublimated by spirit. Unfortunately, in Eurpean fascism the Germanic barbarism broke through again, and the crucified Christ was forgotten, and nature overwhelmed once more the spirit: Auschwitz and Treblinka, Stalingrade and Kursk,Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The return of the repressed! One may even ask, if barbarism had ever been successfully superseded by civilization in the West, or if the Christians had not been christened rather badly. Today, in 2017, a new wave of rightwing populism, and corporatism, and fascism, is in process in Europe and in America. It is the purpose of our discourse to help to make sure, that not once more barbarism will overwhelm civilization, and that the spirit will not once more be extinguished by nature, and that not once more night will fall on humanity: but that ultimately spirit and nature will be reconciled.

Comments and Objections

We hope very much, that those few concretizing suggestions about the religion and the enlightenment of the future, and a global ethos, and the victory of civilization over barbarism, may give us some general orientation for our own preparatory work for our new international course. You can make your own comments and objections to those suggestions, and to this general orientation, when we come together in Dubrovnik in the last week of April 2017. We hope very much, that you shall be able and willing to come to our discourse, and that you shall, if possible, present a paper, concerning aspects of our general theme, shortly unfolded in the above suggestions and orientation, or not. The general theme is broad and gives you much freedom to adjust your paper to it. If you have a hard time to connect your paper to our general theme this year, we shall do that for and with you in our argumentative discourse. Please, let me or the IUC know as soon as possible, if you shall join us in Dubrovnik, and if you like to give a paper during the last week of April, available to us in the IUC building. Please, tell us also, if you desire to give your paper at a specific day and hour, and how much time you would like to have. I shall do what I can, to give you as much time as possible. We shall meet in the IUC Building on Monday 24, 2017, at 10.00 a.m. See you then!

I am with all my best wishes for you and for your dear family, and for your good work,


Rudolf J. Siebert

Professor of Religion and Society

IUC Course Director and Yalta Course Director,

Director of the WMU Center for Humanistic Future Studies