The Current Crisis Draws the Line Under the Basic Results of “Globalization”

The Current Crisis Draws the Line Under the Basic Results of “Globalization”

Opening address by Founding President of the World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations" Vladimir Yakunin at the opening of the Plenary Meeting of the 9th Annual Session of the Rhodes Forum, October 7, 2011

Only real involvement in the life processes of the whole world allows us to ensure appropriate perception and response to the challenges of the modern age, to conscientiously create scenarios and prerequisites for the future beyond the boundaries of one’s own identity, and, most importantly, to sustain the diversity of humankind.

Over the 10 years of the “Dialogue of Civilizations” program and the 9 years of the Forum’s activity, we have always focused on the growing fragmentation within various parts of the world. Allow me to quote the late founder of our Forum J. C. Kapur:

“The unipolar power system as a result of the misdirection of its boundless physical vitality outside the corrective ethical and moral constraints is rapidly coming to the end of the road… Many countries are being drawn into this dangerous diversion of vitality towards developmental paths unrelated to their needs resources and cultural constraints. This is creating vast differentials between different strata and diverse ethnic, religious and cultural groups within a society and the world system”[1].

And then he continues, “We must recognize that the world is not just a globalized loot-haven, but a family of nations in a true sense, where all members of the family have a right to pray, work, and establish life styles of their choice. A state or a group of states in the name of freedom, democracy, and human right or any other contrived or media projections have no right to impose their neo-imperial designs, will, and shattered moral and ethical consumerist frame over others. They have already done enough damage to the human system. It is time to stop”.

Actually, these words define the main issue of inter-civilizational relationships: How did the world come to the present-day situation and what was the main mover and the cause of many events in the past and the present?

Historically, the biggest impact on the global inter-civilizational processes came from the Christian Europe, starting from the age of Renaissance. Russia, being the Eastern branch of Christianity, most actively participated in these processes. That Russia is an integral part of the European Renaissance, has always been an established fact, proviso we abandon some deliberately false interpretations of its history.

Has the world ever heard of a Chinese, Indian or any other “Mondialism”? If only of the “Arab (Islamic) Khalifate”?

A profound influence of Europe and Russia on the world community has been perceived universally since long ago. Russia and Europe have expanded in the world in the form of Russian paternalism and European colonialism. The latter proved to be the cause for turmoil and tragic events in the ХIХ and ХХ centuries,   the consequences of which are still manifested today, for instance, in the so-called failure of multi-culturalism that was supposedly planned to be built on the colonial principle of migrants’ assimilation.

The “Mondialism” of the European version as a global project of creating a commonwealth of nations, collapsed after the World War II alongside with the disintegration of the colonial system. This project was replaced by “Globalization”, which brought about such instruments as “democracy”, “human rights”, and “finance and market economy”. Meanwhile, the globalization project, that advanced on the basis of the Euro-Atlantic consensus, creation of transnational finance and market institutions and the “efficient” consumerist economy, constituted the third stage of colonization. It was preceded by the second stage, marked by the transfer of a substantial share of industry to the third countries in pursuit of cheap labor and access to natural resources.

The current crisis draws the line under the basic results of “globalization”. It became obvious that the unrestrained neo-liberal economy resulted in an absolutely free virtual financial economy (the casino capitalism), totally detached from the real economy.

However, such a form of freedom, looking more like arbitrariness, not only became a deadlock for real social production and society (see Saskia Sassen’s article in the “Possible Futures” book series), but also turned into an unprecedented debt trap for the financial economy itself (the boomerang effect).

Thus, the economic crisis can be seen as the civilizational crisis of all global europeistic projects: Mondialism, Euro-Atlantic consensus and globalization.

Political elites of many countries have long since put up with the fact that international politics has de facto become some internal affair, or even a private matter, for the USA. The States, now as before, are trying to adjust the regional structure of the world to their benchmark. But, the more the US gets involved in various attempts to rebuild subjects and structures of influence in the world, the less their policy is definite and compatible with reality. The so-called “Arab spring” and the events in Libya show that the regional forces skillfully take advantage of the influence and assistance from the US and the EU in their own interests, which are sometimes very different from the interests of their sponsors.

Combination of politics and economy, especially nowadays and especially in the countries of the West, is shaping an isolationist public ideology aimed at domination in the surrounding world. Which is indirectly confirmed by the attempts to depict China as the future dominating power and a new threat to the western world.

The ideology of the European identity domination and the western worldview is backed by the system of human rights supported by legal procedures. But such a system of human rights cannot be considered universal and is incompatible with concepts of human rights in other civilizations.

This incompatibility between the neo-liberal interpretation of the system of human rights and the system of human values was recently pointed out by professor Joseph Camilleri. He spoke of the need for a dialogue to resolve the arising contradictions.

Hence, all the more valuable seems to be the dialogue format of the Rhodes forum, where participants have a real opportunity to promote their own position regarding the global challenges, and, in doing so, get a chance to correlate their position with others.

The contemporary world is witnessing the emergence of a broad social environment, primarily due to the spread of Internet and social networks, international communications and contacts. Meanwhile, we are witnessing rather a strange phenomenon: the very fact of communication is here, but such contacts do not carry any social content, that is, they lack a well-defined social responsibility and allow for any form of abnormal behavior, the attempts to delegitimize authority, cultural values and traditions.

The universal urge to have the “freedom” to say “anything and in any form” has a temporary character and is beginning to fade away. It turns out that the full individual freedom of expression does not provide a better chance to be heard, nor does it guarantee promotion of one’s position in this allegedly free social environment. This explains an obvious loss of interest for self-expression in the Internet. Virtual networks created to satisfy various needs of social interaction, gain and lose points in an extremely fast way.

Therefore, the attempt to create technology-based means of communication in the social environment regardless of traditional social institutions, on the basis of free expression of individual will, passions and aspirations, does not bring about a viable environment of social interaction. Moreover, modern web technologies are often used for deliberate manipulation of the public opinion, all forms of destabilization and instant delivery of certain trigger signals aimed at a social environment, which was made ready to receive them. Such technologies as the so-called “twitter revolutions” are applied to achieve definite political and economic goals. This virtual tool is all the more dangerous, because it is not only capable of producing a selective and arbitrary impact on human behavior and cause large-scale conflicts in society, but, as we can see, can cause casualties in real life.

You are aware of our point of view: it is real participation in the affairs of the world community, which is only possible in the framework of a direct dialogue and does not depend on any trigger signals.

It is my pleasure to inform you that during the current year, four books were published as part of the activities of the “Possible Futures” group that was formed three years ago. You will have a chance to see them on the presentation stand during the breaks in plenary and panel sessions. The first book “Russia: the challenge of transformation” edited by Piotr Dutkiewicz, includes contributions by leading contemporary experts in Russian affairs from Europe and North America. The Forum is to discuss it on October 8 in the round table format. The three books that followed and were edited by Craig Calhoun analyze the causes of the global crisis, prospects of contemporary models of state and inter-civilization governance, as well as the future of economy and the entire world order. We recommend this serious study to all participants of the Rhodes forum.

As a whole, the contemporary period can be characterized as the end of the “economism age” and the time when individualization of human existence has reached its culmination.

It is quite appropriate to cite here yet another quotation from J. Kapur’s works: “The error of the advanced industrial civilization is that of placing every human being in the same mould, as an economic abstraction, as a unit of the herd... they serve the reverse process of the machine, i.e., to consume. This infringes upon nature’s law. In the midst of this grievous economic illusion they are unaware of how close they are to the breakdown of this structure… We are rapidly sinking into an indifference towards everything except monetary gain.” [2] It sounds as if it was said just today, though it was written almost 15 years ago in Kapur’s brilliant book “Our Future: Consumerism or Humanism”.

I hope that this context explains our motivation and grounds for creating a dialogue framework for interaction among members of the world community and for formation of the world order that would meet our aspirations.

Only real involvement in the life processes of the whole world allows us to ensure appropriate perception and response to the challenges of the modern age, to conscientiously create scenarios and prerequisites for the future beyond the boundaries of one’s own identity, and, most importantly, to sustain the diversity of humankind.

Even the countries that are presently developing at a most intensive rate and which possess a considerable potential for economic and civilizational development, are incapable to single-handedly solve the tasks of creating the foundations for the future development of the world and to bear the strain of the search for new prospects, trends and strategies for human existence.



[1] Jagdish Kapur. Dangers of Mono-Culturization: the Time to Reflect // WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” Bulletin, N1(4), 2005. PP.28-29

[2] Kapur J.C. Our Future: Consumerism or Humanism. 2005. P.260