Divlenic theory of illiberalism

The divlenic theory of illiberalism, also the Orientalism theory or simply the divlenic theory, is a theory in political science and history of Esquarium, which proposes that illiberal governments in Esquarium flourish in spite of an expansive embrace of liberalism across the world due to the influence of an established and prosperous autocratic political tradition based in East Borea, but whose limited reach especially in face of events of modern history caused and allowed for the interpretation of oriental rulership into deviating forms, which nonetheless managed to persist basing themselves on the continued existence of the East Borean world's effective paradigmatic independence. The name of the theory is a reference to divleny, a movement in West Borea that exoticized Monic civilization which among other things pushed for the adoption of Monic political ideas in its heyday.

The theory was proposed in the 1980s to answer a puzzling question to political science in Conitia and Nordania, that of the persistence of authoritarian governments despite a worldwide co-option of liberal worldviews and theories. Luziycan academic David Flyorov, Ambrosian historian Cynebald Perry, and Tuthinan scholar Kupanë Aki were the main early formulators and proponents of the idea.


Alternative modernity in East Borea

The pillar of the divlenic theory lies on the conception of the political and social systems in East Borea as having developed enough to constitute an 'alternative modernity' (here modernity defined as a culturally and politically 'developed world' serving as substantial influence), with its sophisticated formations becoming parallel and even opposing to the institutions of liberal, republican modernity represented in Conitia and Nordania. Flyorov analyzed the East and the West's politics as differing in the former being the 'rule of the king' and the latter being the 'rule of the priests' (some influences from Nenad Vestiborev is shown here), where the East tends towards singularity while the West towards plurality, rendering them as completely opposing forces. The clearly autocratic model of Eastern governance turns it into a legitimate and credible reference for authoritarian states, especially considering the richness of its cultural sphere.

According to Perry, the great maritime influence of Tuthina was instrumental in the ability for the East to survive into today as a second modernity, and indeed this alternative modernity is generally considered best preserved in Tuthina. However, Flyorov considers the Sepcans also very important in the ability for the East's ideas to persist, despite their relative distance from the East's core and general irrelevance in the East's history, as their mythologization in West Borea combined with (correct) association with Monic cultures further east rendered the East's life in the Sepcanic sphere just as enduring and was arguably more important in shaping 'political divleny'.

Many early proponents of the theory, including Flyorov, believed that should the East not be able to constitute an alternative modernity, the extensive influence of the West would have led to liberal democracy becoming the end of history. Alternatively, the world would be broadly tending towards autocracy and other Eastern norms should the West have been unable to succeed. However, with its co-option by scholars opposed to the idea, this attitude has lessened in circles that embrace the theory.

Asymmetry of modernities and the role of orientalism

However, the East is clearly in a rather disadvantageous position compared to the West in terms of global influence. Conitian liberal ideas have spread worldwide with frequent emergence of republics and particularly liberal democracy which has turned into a 'standard' for politics in many regions. On the other hand, traditional East Borean concepts do not wield a similar level of clout. Indeed, liberal republicanism had penetrated Borea itself, with the formal transformation of many nations there into republics or Western-style regulated monarchies - including Eastern centers such as Namor (with the Double Fourth Revolution). Regardless of the actual consistency of these transformed states with Western ideas (continued illiberality in a Xiaodong with western-style institutions being one example), Conitian-origin political paradigms are near-triumphant, and the positioning of civilizations is asymmetrical.

In this context, a renewed orientalism in political fields, or in Flyorov's terms 'political divleny', was shaped in authoritarian movements to 'fill the gaps' left by a 'distant yet enticing' alternative modernity. This involved the general exoticization of the East to justify and support any form of illiberalism. Depending on region, such orientalist currents functioned differently, resulting in vastly different products of such divleny and therefore different illiberal movements. Thus the illiberal movements took strength from the existence of an alternative modernity without actually being anywhere close to proposing forward the proper Eastern ideas of rulership, which in many cases are philosophically opposed to such movements' platforms. Such divlenic practices are rarely open glorifications of the East, but more commonly the incorporation of the East into rhetoric.

Residue of Eastern influence

Flyorov argues that in West Borea, a vague memory of the Sepcans, distorted massively through 'ideal rulership' mythology and later contest for the imperial title after the Neo-Sepcan Empire, was important in forming affinities for the formation of many strands of illiberalism. He also introduced the concept known as the 'Kozra complex', named for the legend of Sepcan hero Kozra, where the memory of Eastern institutions and their efficiency drive a tendency towards acts of suspending authority of pluralistic bodies (mainly legislatures) at critical situations, explaining the hybrid democracy present in not only West but also East Borea. Flyorov further posits the core of West Borean political philosophy still being Eastern (a heritage of the Neo-Sepcan state) as a driver of many of its sphere's members' occasional (or frequent) disregard for liberal frameworks. Within East Borea, Kupanë argued similarly, that the core of local political philosophy being unchanged by western encroachment shaping tendencies towards authoritarianism. Kupanë also theorized an 'orientalism by orientals' among East Borean republics and reformed states, whose westernization drove an even more distortive political orientalism in an attempt to 'reconstruct the past' that resulted in further extremist politics.

However, it was generally acknowledged among the theory's proponents that this did not explain comprehensively all occurrences of illiberalism, many of which (in more modern times) are shaped by far more immediate circumstances, and only take some degree of subtle support from the East's existence. For example, Perry linked Tuthinan influence with the emergence of similar forces in Nordania and Conitia, although this was minor and relatively irrelevant to discussions of present authoritarian movements in the West, which were more recent in origin and based on political divleny rather than any real enduring Tuthinan influence.