A Conversation between Jagdish Kapur (1920–2010), Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of the WPF "Dialogue of Civilizations", and Tu Weiming, Director of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University. July 11, 2010
Dialogue of Civilizations
An Address by Jagdish Kapur (1920-2010), Co-Chairman of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”, presented at the 5th Rhodes Forum, October, 2007
From the point of entry into the twenty-first century, there has been a rising crescendo of economic discontinuities and shifting balances of power, increasing cultural and religious confrontations and terrorism. We are engulfed in a state of chronic insecurity and deepening gloom. Old techniques of force and domination are being employed to resolve problem which belong to another age. The beneficiaries in a system of globalised deprivation and selective aggregations of wealth do not realise the chaos which is being created by the simultaneous fragmentation, of cultural, religious and political entities and globalisation of economies. This has become a major contradiction of the twenty-first century.
All its consequences are visible. Therefore one of the most important contribution by persons dedicated to civilizational issues through a dialogue is to help remove (or set aside) the physical and metaphysical roadblocks, which are frustrating all efforts towards a humane future.
A Paper by Fabio Petito, Director, Sussex Centre for International Security, University of Sussex, delivered at the 10th Rhodes Forum
There is no blueprint for the construction of a multicultural and peaceful world order in contemporary international relations. It is my contention, however, that for such a global structure to emerge, we need a theory inspired by the idea of dialogue of civilizations. In this presentation, I want to offer some thoughts on how the link between the growing multipolar configuration of the international system and regionalism as political process could represent a critical issue for the future of global peace. My aim here is to oppose - not Huntington’s thesis of the Clash of civilizations as analytical framework - but the Huntingtonian construction of a multicivilizational and multipolar system as the normative solution that he proposed to the danger of the Clash. My concern is that a multicivilizational and multipolar world order – that is an unproblematic emphasis (or even an enthusiasm) on multipolarity - leaves us with a worrying system of forces, of civilisational macro-regional great powers, ready for collision – the clash of civilisations. To counter these risks under conditions of multipolarity I shall put forward an argument for multiculturally and dialogically constituted processes of regional integration and for a comprehensive idea(l) of peace as antidotes to the possible negative politicisation of cultural differences on a global scale: these steps are in my view critical to construct a realistic dialogue of civilizations in international relations for the decades to come while preventing the risk inherent in its multipolar configuration. In developing this argument, I will draw on a few examples from the nowadays not-very-popular case of the European integration project which in my view has delivered a realistic peace and constructed a unique regional order of ‘unity in diversity’ since WWII.
A Paper by Peimin Ni, Professor, Grand Valley State University, Former President, Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, delivered at the 10th Rhodes Forum
Those of us who attended the Rhodes Forum last year here should still remember Professor Fred Dallmayr’s speech, in which he articulated what World Public Forum is and what it is not. What I was most impressed was his remark that, “in short, WPF is what its name indicates – it is a World Public Forum that does Dialogue of Civilizations.” The remark is so simple and obvious as if it does not tell us anything new; and yet at the same time, so true and profound. It says a lot!
Here I would like to share with you some of my further reflections about the remark. If we say what one is is defined largely by what one does, then we must ask: what are we doing here at the Forum? Yes, dialogue of civilizations, of course. But dialogue of civilization may be done differently, sometimes wrongly, depending on how you conceive it. Let me first sketch a few models of dialogue of civilizations when the term “dialogue” is conceived broadly, and then in contrast to these models, I will suggest a healthcare model, which I think to be capturing the spirit of what we are doing more accurately.
Lecture of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” Founding President Vladimir Yakunin drafted for the interactive thematic debate on Fostering Cross-Cultural Understanding for Building Peaceful and Inclusive Societies at the United Nations Headquarters held on March 22, 2012
The lecture touches on the basic principles upon which the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” relies in its work toward achieving consistent and peaceful intercultural interaction among different nation-states and societies.
Today’s multipolar world has largely been shaped in the context of two basic theories: the clash of civilizations and the dialogue of civilizations. Moreover we can see that the financial and economic crisis was caused primarily by a crisis of a certain social type of organization and of the liberal model of economic growth; this crisis, in turn, has triggered global transformations in all areas of civilization, society, and mankind. In our view, it is the optics and tool chest of the dialogue of civilizations, as they have been created and developed over the past ten years, that make it possible to diagnose inclusive societies correctly together, and to chart pathways in possible scenarios for their development.
The global condition is one of heightened vulnerability. National boundaries are increasingly porous. States are finding it harder and harder to run their economies and defend their borders. As the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Bali, Madrid and London have demonstrated, wealth, power and nuclear arsenals offer little guarantee of protection.
The word global is now a cliché. So are such terms as global village, global economy and global culture. We are often told that we live in an era of globalisation. In the words of Roland Robertson, the world is fast becoming a single place (1992). Others speak of an emerging global consciousness. Globalisation has become a subject of discussion among corporate managers, scholars, policy-makers and citizens alike. Yet, there is no consensus on its meaning, its origins, or even its long-term implications.
Globalisation is in some ways as old as capitalism itself, yet it points to a new historical phase (Higgott and Payne, 2000). The contemporary world is one in which a number of seemingly distinct processes are occurring more or less simultaneously, and acquiring a global reach, often in highly interconnected fashion.
In a rapidly globalising world high consequence risks (Beck, 1992) have become integral to the functioning of society. The global condition is one of heightened vulnerability as much for states as for groups and individuals. One need only think of the effects of financial crises, nuclear accidents, oil spills, ozone depletion, global warming, or terrorist attacks. If there is one characteristic that distinguishes contemporary life it is the globalisation of insecurity.
If this reading of events is at all accurate, then a number of difficult questions suggest themselves: What challenges does the globalisation of insecurity pose for political theory and practice, for the way societies organize themselves, for the way people participate in society and in the decisions that vitally affect their future. What are appropriate ethical and institutional responses? And what of the role of the world’s great civilisations? Before turning to these questions, it may be useful to probe a little more deeply into the dynamic of globalisation.
We know that Civilizations do not dialogue between them. There are people who enter in conversations. Conversations of people belonging to different civilizations (and therefore, having been brought up speaking a given language, nurtured in certain religious beliefs, belonging to certain ethical formations in the family and in the school) are not too difficult. The Rhodes World Public Forum is one example. Academic life all over the world is another good example of dialogue of people belonging to different civilizations. There are constant exchanges and dialogues in workshops and conferences, in public lectures and symposia of scholars, men and women, living in different countries, speaking regularly different languages, of different religious persuasions, etc. etc. So where is the problem addressed when a Public Forum focuses on dialogue of civilizations.” We all know that it is a way of countering Harvard political theorist Samuel Huntington. It is well known today that his article and then book on The Clash of Civilizations (1995) either a forecast or a global design, has to be countered. The “dialogue of Civilizations” that counts is at the level of international relations, that is to say, at the level of the States and the Corporations.
Article by the Founding President of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” Vladimir Yakunin
The events that have evolved over the past 25-30 years have yet to be thoroughly analyzed but even today it seems quite apparent that the world, on the whole, has entered another large-scale, social-political and economic transformation. Such a conclusion was tabled at the last few conferences of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations.” It was precisely at such a Forum that is held annually on the Greek Island of Rhodes that we came to such a conclusion back in 2005 about mounting tensions and the inevitability of an economic crisis. However, about the same time, just before the onset of the global financial-economic crisis, the Davos Forum boastfully announced coming remarkable economic prospects.
As I view it, lying at the basis of the events taking place in Russia – events of which we are both witnesses and participants – there is a maturing feeling of all-embracing injustice. This injustice or unfairness concerns the life we are leading; this injustice pertains to the arbitrariness of official functionaries; this also holds true of the unfairness concerning the blatant disregard on the part of the oligarchic elite of business circles for their country and their people; and, of course, this concerns the impermissible property inequality that we are witnessing.
Yet we are but a part of the deep-running worldwide social-economic transformation that is picking up steam. And the political catastrophe following the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the whole socialist camp acted as the trigger that launched this process. The visible signs of this process are seen in the violent destruction of Yugoslavia and in the supposedly “peaceful” collapse of several other European countries, as well as in the systemic crisis of the Western world – something which today is conceded by all experts and political scientists; a systemic crisis that was brought about by the last global financial-economic crisis.
In his works, the eminent Indian futurologist and one of the founders of the WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations,” Jagdish Kapur, pointed out that the world of consumption, created on the basis of neo-liberal theory technologies has led to the degradation of western society and to snowballing extreme social-economic inequality. All this may inevitably lead to a catastrophic “clash of civilizations.”
Judge for yourself. Beginning with 2008 the leaders of the most advanced countries, including Russia, repeatedly met at G7, G8 and G20 format conferences in an effort to elaborate systemic measures for overcoming the crisis. However, as a result of all this, the second wave of the crisis which we had predicted back in 2008, swept over the world evermore powerfully. There is good reason here to ask: why?