Book Quotes

Quotes by Nayef Al-Rodhan


The Role of the Arab-Islamic World in the Rise of the West:
Implications for Contemporary Trans-Cultural Relations

“Civilizational triumph is therefore not a zero-sum enterprise that favours one geo-cultural domain over another. Justice is paramount to civilizational triumph because of its centrality to the need for human dignity, to the success of individual geo-cultural domains and to the well-being of human civilization. “ (p.230)

“There is an element of the East in the West. This not only problematizes the construction of European identity, but also the European or Western Self in relation to the oriental Other.“ (p.224)

"It is useful to recall that the triumph of the Arab-Islamic world was in no small way due to openness and tolerance that characterized its golden age, when advances in knowledge were embraced regardless of the race, religion or ethnicity of the scholar. We have much to learn from this in today’s world."  (p.225)

"Rather than assuming the end of history in Fukuyama’s terms (the triumph of Western liberal democracy), which itself can be counterproductive to harmonious relations between peoples of different cultures, we should aim for a sustainable history." (p.227)

Meta-Geopolitics of Outer Space: An Analysis of Space Power, Security and Governance

Just as terrestrial prerequisites have consequences for a country’s space programme, space power has, in turn, a significant impact on international politics on Earth." (p.39)

"I would argue that a definition of a state’s space power needs to comply with three core criteria. First, it has to consider the unique nature of space rather than recycling notions used for air, land or sea power. Second, it has to be broad enough to encompass dimensions that go beyond military and other traditional uses of space. Third, it needs to address the effects that space power may have on power relations on Earth." (p.40)

"National prestige is an important part of a successful space programme. The desire to increase status in the international arena has led to an expansion of national space capabilities in many countries." (p.47)

"Space has unique and remarkable characteristics, it is perceived as a common sphere going beyond national and cultural jurisdictions and a truly global common that must be used for the benefits of all of mankind." (p.63)


"EMOTIONAL AMORAL EGOISM": A Neurophilosophical Theory of Human Nature and its Universal Security Implications

“Increasing interdependence between states also means that absolute gains are possible, thereby reducing the likelihood that competition and greed will lead to conflict. Indeed, as I have argued in the Theory of Symbiotic Realism, symbiotic state-to-state relations may result from cooperation, interaction and mutual dependence.” (p. 185)

“Promote representative, effective and accountable systems of governance in keeping with local cultures and histories.” (p. 203)

“Policies that assume that human nature is a tabula rasa (clean slate) should be reviewed and revised to reflect that man has an in-built genetic code for survival with no evidence for innate morality.” (p.203) 

“Establish early warning mechanisms to detect and prevent violence and brutality in situations of near-anarchy (e.g., natural disasters) and within failing or failed states.” (p. 204)

“All policies should be packaged with full awareness of the limitation of human nature (amorality, emotionality and egoism) in both the short- and the long-term.” (p. 204)

NEO-STATECRAFT AND META-GEOPOLITICS: Reconciliation of Power, Interests and Justice in the 21st Century

“statecraft in the 21st century should be more about promoting global justice as a national interest of each state than national interests narrowly defined; it should be more about long-term sustainability than short-term gain; and it should focus less on conflicts of interest than on their reconciliation.” p. 14)

“Meta-geopolitics differs from traditional concepts of geopolitics, as it proposes a multidimensional view of power.” (p. 51)

“Statecraft in the 21st century requires extraordinary abilities to reconcile a series of crucial interests that are relevant in the realm of international politics. Justice as a guiding principle prompts statesmen to strive towards harmony and the reconciliation of different interests as opposed to pursuing a state’s national interest at the expense of other states and entities.” (p. 173)


Sustainable History and the Dignity of Man: A Philosophy of History and Civilisational Triumph

"I define sustainable history as a durable progressive trajectory in which the quality of life on this planet or other planets is premised on the guarantee of human dignity for all at all times and under all  circumstances." (p.13)

"In my opinion, a life governed by reason is likely to be more dignified than one shaped by dogma and unbridled emotions." (p.437)

“A good governance paradigm that limits excesses of human nature and ensures an atmosphere of happiness and productivity by promoting reason and dignity is required.”  (p.27)

A sustainable progressive trajectory also depends on our collective triumph. For this to occur, transcultural synergy is essential. This is because the success of any one geo-cultural domain is likely to be dependent on that of another: a geo-cultural domain cannot excel in isolation from others.”  (p.14)

"The sustainable history approach set out in this study views history as propelled by good governance paradigms that balance the tension between human nature attributes (emotionality, amorality and egoisms), on the one hand, and human dignity needs (reason, security, human rights, accountability, transparency, justice, opportunity, innovation and inclusiveness), on the other." (p.14)

“What is important is that a minimum criteria of governance is met rather than the exact form of governance that a particular political system adopts. Yet, they must be appropriate, acceptable and affordable to each system and cultural domain. These criteria should also meet a certain common global standard to ensure maximum political and moral cooperation.”(p.14)

“Many of the great achievements in history that are commonly attributed to one geo-cultural domain often owe a great debt to those of others. In this sense, some of the greatest achievements of human civilisation have been collective efforts and are part of the same human story.”(p.14)

“Humankind is an insignificant part of existence.” (p.27)

“Human beings are “emotional amoral egoists”, driven above all by emotional self-interest. All of our thoughts, beliefs and motivations are neurochemically mediated, some predetermined for survival, others alterable.” (p.27)

“What makes our existence meaningful is highly subjective and ultimately determined by sustainable neurochemical gratification.” (p.28)

“All knowledge is acquired through the application of reason and has a physical basis.” (p.28)

“Contemporary events can be comprehended through an understanding of human time.” (p.28)

“Harmonious interstate relations will be guided by the paradigm of Symbiotic Realism that stresses the importance of absolute rather than relative gains.” (p.28)

More quotes >>

SYMBIOTIC REALISM: A Theory of International Relations in an Instant and an Interdependent World

 “Symbiotic Realism conceives the dynamics of the global system to be the result of four main interlocking dimensions: the neurobiological substrates of human nature; the global state of nature (global anarchy); interdependence; and instant interconnectivity resulting from globalization.” (p. 98)

 “We should aim for peaceful coexistence at least and transcultural synergy at best.”(p. 124)

 “Symbiotic Realism is also able to conceive of the global system as including other non-state actors, such as large collective identities, transnational corporations, international organizations, the biosphere, and women. This is vital, since these, too, are all important actors that help to (re)produce the global order and, as such, have a bearing on its relations and dynamics.” (p. 139)

“At the interstate level, we propose a symbiosis, which refers to situations in which a relationship of mutual dependence can allow one state to gain more than another without causing insecurity. This implies, first, that absolute gains are possible and that the “game” of international relations is not necessarily a zero-sum game. Second, it suggests that under conditions of interdependence, states are unlikely to engage in balancing behavior. Third, this implies that a responsible hegemon should accommodate the interests of other states and avoid threatening behavior.” (p. 139)


The Three Pillars of Sustainable National Security in a Transnational World

“To make national security policy sustainable, it needs to be based on three pillars. These are multi-sum security, Symbiotic Realism and transcivilizational synergy. This means that sustainable peace and security can only be achieved if states focus on the multidimensionality of today’s security environment, form mutually beneficial security relationships with other states in every security dimension, and enrich their own culture and boost human creativity through fruitful exchanges and interactions with other cultures and civilizations.” (p.160)

The Role of Education in Global Security

“Work should be done by states and their institutions to meet the Millennium Development Goals as a way to fight poverty and exclusion.” (Nayef Al-Rodhan, The Role of Education in Global Security, p. 105)

“Institutions should focus on educating against clashes of culture and the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace.” (p. 105)

“Educational institutions (with government support) should work toward instilling values of tolerance, empathy, respect, and harmony and strengthen universal respect for human rights.” (p. 106)

“State institutions at every level should work to educate citizens on the means of knowledge abuse, such as propaganda, indoctrination, and selective teaching in order to nurture a sense of personal responsibility to avoid such techniques of knowledge abuse.” (p. 106)


Pillars of Globalization

“Globalization is a process that encompasses the causes, course, and consequences of transnational and transcultural integration of human and non-human activities.” (p.13)

Potential Global Strategic Catastrophes

“The fragility and vulnerability of human neuro-psychobiology is such that long after the reconstruction efforts are complete, there might still be a great deal of enduring pain and humiliation that is unseen and that could have long-lasting and negative consequences for our interconnected and interdependent world. It is worth remembering that whenever and wherever possible, prevention is far more effective than the best cures.” (p.30)

“It is also worth remembering that while the economic, political and sometimes environmental consequences of such events may be fixable, there is one consequence that may not be as easily fixed, and that is the human suffering and its profoundly negative impact on human dignity, something that I believe to be the most central, vulnerable, and often forgotten and underestimated aspect of our existence.” (p.27)

“In the event of a catastrophe, human dignity is likely to be particularly fragile, due to the more negative manifestations of emotionally selfish behaviour as well as the vulnerabilities generated by the catastrophe itself and its aftermath. Upholding people’s sense of dignity ought therefore to be a primary consideration in the formulation of responses to catastrophes.” (p.30)