Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

15. Globalization

Human Matrix

Mapping of Cultural resources

Cultural planning



15. Globalization

15.1 Networks

15.2 Creating cultural initiatives and networks

15.3 Mobility and know how transfer or everyone speaking the same jargon

15.4 Promotion of qualitative networks based on values of Civil Society


Louis Baeck argues that the term ‘globalization’ has brought with it not only misunderstanding but a failure to realize that, for instance, the Islamic world has an entirely different viewpoint on how it sees globalization affecting not only its own societies but transforming as well the Western World. In his article on the saga of development he points out:

“In the 1990s globalization became the vogue-word. The inherent logic of globalization is the compressing of historical time and the homogenization of geographical and cultural space. Its drive towards homogenization and standardization maximizes profit accumulation in the centre of the system; but it also disturbs local initiatives and hurts indigenous cultures. Cultural leaders in other parts of the world perceive globalization as the flagship of Westernization. Furthermore, its neo-liberal inspiration with emphasis on marketization, produces besides positive effects, asymmetric results: between the countries of the centre and the periphery, between national and trans-national agents and agencies, between powerful winners and marginalized losers who remain without voice or entitlements. Up to now, the extant institutions of global governance are unable to deliver economic and financial stability and still less social justice. Reform of their organization and functioning is needed and urgent.” [1]

In the absence of world governance – there is no regulation of globalization possible through the United Nations, never mind the World Bank or any other such institution – homogenization has not only hurt indigenous populations and destroyed their knowledge, but also the predicament of culture has become a general dilemma. [2] With Coca Cola everywhere, in the absence of ‘otherness’, culture becomes the same throughout the world even though futile assertions are made to differ e.g. Islamic cultures with their special laws and courts to rule out any further such Westernization.

Again Louis Baeck would describe the Islamic viewpoint on globalisation as follows:

“A great number of Muslims see globalization (Al aulama) as an elegant neologism which hides reality; they see globalisation as a powerful lever for westernization (Al taghrib) whereas pro-Westerners favour it and see as a highway to modernity. Fundamentalists demonize globalization as an invasion and even as cultural rape. They argue that Western mass-industry (pop art, cinema, television and other media, consumerism, Mc World, etc) brings perversion through seduction. Secularization presented by Westerners as liberating in fact destroys the canonical hierarchy of values where religious morals control the social, economic and political processes. Secularization is perceived as a lever to push religion out of the public sphere. Its purely instrumental rationality deprives life of its fundamental dimension. In the Western world, demystification or desacrilization led to dechristianization. Churches are empty. Structuring principles no longer guide fundamental values. Culture becomes merchandise and values (including economic morals) dissolve. While reading fundamentalist texts, the learned reader has sometimes the impression they are hearing the great master of Western rationalization, Max Weber, discussing the other side of modernity: disenchantment of the world, loss of direction as a result of secularization.” [3]

All this has deep implications not only as to what is happening to culture, but whether or not any culture is still capable of supporting dialogues with other cultures. In absence of such an optimistic view that it is still possible, people fear that out of Huntington’s thesis about ‘clash of civilizations’ there will evolve not only conflict and war, but the various cultural rivers meant to be tributes to the stream of humanity will never come together but dry out. In the absence of any real dialogue even at local level it would mean perspectives within which man can perceive a constructive role will vanish and be replaced more and more by people in despair. The readiness of many young people to become either suicide bombers or to commit collective suicide after having met over the Internet foretells something worse is to come if the predominantly negative attitude towards the world is reinforced by meaningless and cynicism on a broad basis. It cannot be that mere consumption saves the world as made belief in the United States since that is what the economy strives on and this while at war in Afghanistan and Iraq with many more regions either at war or ready to go up in flames due to un-reconcilable differences not only about use of such resources as oil, but due to an extreme fundamentalism wishing to assert only its value system regardless of the consequences. In such a context it is apt to remind what Michel Foucault said already a long time ago: ‘people will speak only then to others if they have no victory necessary’.

15.1 Networks

The usual understanding of networks is that they are horizontal coalitions of different partners all wishing to work towards a common goal e.g. promotion of mobility of actors for the theatre, saving the turtle, promoting child literacy, etc. All these networks entail a high investment in communication practices taking the individual above the local and personal level and involving him or her in an international discourse that requires not only communication skills, but also foresight and patience for the process of understanding working through so that all can participate.

Cultural networks do not differ greatly from other NGOs but they have other ingredients to think and to take care of, namely that ‘culture’ is not reduced to a meaningless concept and thereby the real interest in the arts and culture silenced. As of late NGOs of the cultural sector enter partnership with multi media companies and other high tech enterprises especially when it is a matter of funding such programs as the digitalization of libraries or in promoting the e-content. The framework conditions for cultural networks has, therefore, changed from former days when spontaneous meetings would take place and experiences made over three days carried forward some interesting proposal on which everyone was interested in to work together. But now that experiences with European projects and networking have been made to the point of finding the need of steady reporting not only cumbersome but too complex while not finding the time to do really that creative work which is really interesting, NGOs within these networks are beginning to falter. They start asking themselves but what is still the value of these small projects when diversity at that level is not really valorized. The trend is ever more to make the projects of networks become ever bigger so that an administrative approach linked to managerial practices becomes necessary while the interesting components of the project become less and less sustainable despite them having the potential of answering cultural needs in a very progressive manner. This is because none of these cultural NGOs and their networks have a really broad basis of support within the communities they operate in and thus they exist in a most sporadic manner as it is the nature of culture to be a highlighted event for one year, but exposed to oblivion in the following years. It takes another sort of theoretical thrust to work through an idea over a longer period of time as it relates more to thematic perspectives opening up in future new forms of collaboration and therefore relying not so much on networks but on individuals who keep up the interest and the communication process.

The quality of networks depends on the sharing of information. If reduced to bare necessity of keeping the network afloat, then it is certainly an indication that the real issues are not being discussed and therefore the promotional aspect of the network is overrated as the real differences between the members underestimated. Usually that means the crisis of these networks comes unexpectedly at the wrong moment and therefore some research into the reasons why is needed before comprehending what are the rules of the game in an unruly situation.

Global networks – or the impossibility of going global as example

From: Michele Misiewicz & Andy Griffiths [mailto:utopia@gogetnetted.com.au]

Sent: Wednesday, 9 May 2001 4:36 AM

To: Lvu@worldbank.org

Cc: mail@distanceed.ausaid.gov.au

Subject: RE: query

It is very early in the morning but I'm drawn to clarify your response with you before I run it past my technical advisers.  Is the extension of your network "global" in regard to least developed countries or "global" in regard to the mission of the World Bank (ie the common objective of all four institutions is to reduce poverty and improve living standards by promoting sustainable economic growth and development)?

While I understand the terms of reference for this project where I'm leading with my questions to date is this: if education (both formal and non-formal) is a life long process/experience (which is supported by holistic thinking, UNESCO materials/projects, treaties/conventions, the University for Peace etc.) then the network should be a truly global network - accessible by all Beings/individuals.  Hopefully this is where the G8 plan is going.

However, the problem with developing a global network is that it then creates a huge monopoly for dissemination of information, which is viewed as the ultimate nightmare from the perspective of people who are attempting to deal with the inequities that globalisation has already created.  Ownership of the global footprints by any one group is definitely not going to get support - and in fact will get blocked in every way possible.  But through employing the concept of a global community owned and operated network (ie ethical, inter-active, accessible, equitable, sustainable, educational, needs based, and transparent - which meets treaties and conventions etc) it will get complete support from everyone ie UN, NGO's, govts, the masses. (This is probably more for Christine)

Anyway with the above in mind we developed the attached which supports other IAEWP/UNESCO Initiatives.

While some people believe the concepts of "ethical" and "needs based" are inherent in the concept of "sustainable" we felt they were not generally known as such, and in support of UNESCO's Culture of Peace & Universal Ethic Project's and the World Science meeting (Budapest '99) we specified them. We reflected the concept of equitable in terms of remuneration acknowledging the interconnectedness of all the players thereby educating and reinforcing (via process orientated development methodology) the overarching principles. As stated earlier the project links to other initiatives as is quite involved re the structure which it will operate under etc  However, again this also reflects the overarching principles

Michele Misiewicz, VP South Pacific International Association of Educators for World Peace, Consultant 2020 Global Peace Trust, to research, develop and implement a global web based information/education repository and exchange for the 2020 Global Peace Trust, IAEWP, its Member Countries, NGO's, Nation States, Communities and Individuals

15.2 Creating cultural initiatives and networks

The most promising start for any cultural planning is to scan the city for cultural initiatives with a promising future. This is the case when the core is sound, the idea simple and convincing, the intention honest and not polemic but creative right from the start so as to be able to go a long way, including internationally. By seeking and making efforts to be innovative and truly great art, its inspirational source will not dry up the moment it receives financial support but begin to be taken more serious by others in exactly the way it has to be understood as already the case when the cultural initiative started. The most authentic are the bottom-up grass root initiatives which seek in the end the support of everyone in order to take place. They are inclusive and hopeful as much as they touch upon different levels of competence. As they mature, so they become more responsible in terms of being self reliable and self sufficient especially in financial and organizational terms. The capacity to be able to do a maximum with a minimum of means is a crucial self understanding of successful cultural initiatives worthy of being supported all the way to the top.

For instance, there is something novel about such movements as Kids’ Guernica since as an example of a cultural initiative it prompts some people to get together with children to paint a peace mural the size of Picasso’s original Guernica (7,8 x 3,5 m). These peace murals are imaginative examples of what can be created when children and not only they learn to work together. Collaborative work as part of an informal learning process has become since 1995 the credo world wide and still initiatives begin like everyone else bottom-up within a school or community where initial support is sought in order to do the painting. The amazing success of this movement is the friendship and indeed kids’ guernica family created as these workshops bring people together from all over the world and allow them to be integrated into the local community where these actions take place. As such it is based on a simple understanding with a very clear line of thought about how to promote the imagination of children in need of a world at peace.

15.3 Mobility and know how transfer or everyone speaking the same jargon

The real problem or rather question in a global world is not to be in touch with everyone but how to communicate openly while still retaining cultural differences with diversity being as much an expression of unique vital cultures as the solutions to practical and aesthetical questions of life can be answered in a different way. Instead we have as James Clifford said, the predicament of culture with everything being the same everywhere. Certainly that problem is reflected in the concern and question but how to retain a local identity within such a globalized world? The danger of posing the question in that way is to use culture for a single purpose under the presupposition this would safeguard the one and only identity, when in fact any single cultural stamp of any city would negate the diversity to be found within its own urban structures. Aside from wishing to know how to come to terms with diversity, and that means also wishing to know where to draw limits of cultural understanding for differences (e.g. if a Muslim community within Berlin begins to exist with many of the third generation children growing up with parents who do not speak German so that within such an independent communities there begin to exist own laws leading to shooting a sister who wishes to emancipate herself from the stricter moral rules of her family and the family feeling being dishonored by her), there are other practical matters to take care of.

For example, the mobility of people means no restriction on movement is possible and thus cities have to deal with many different types of migration and immigration waves. To link that to cultural needs which prompt immigration if the people feel their needs are not responded to, then the city will have a definite problem. Studies have been made, for instance, of core centers like the port of Marseilles or the old town in Palermo where immigrants concentrate but stay only three or five months before moving on. This flux of people on the move shows that migration policy is becoming a huge issue within the European Union and even lately all European leaders seem to agree that on this matter consensus is needed since a matter of concern for all member states and especially for the cities having to deal directly with this movement of people.

Aside from mobility, the transfer of goods and services is accompanied by a transfer of know-how with Internet based communication systems allowing companies to follow through web based cameras even the docking of cruise ships in Santorini. When the disaster with the Star Diamond ship was taking place, tourist operators could follow within 2 minutes of getting the news about the pending disaster the movements on the ship. Out of such communication networks spring a certain jargon and form of knowledge which has to do with the rationalization of business under such conditions. It means conditions and terms are imposed much more on local communities than whatever these communities can think of when wishing to retain a sense of sovereignty in the wish to be consulted at the very least as to what decisions shall be made before the full impact of those decisions can be felt. But what arises out of business opportunities can mean the difference between 2 million visitors more a year or not with the pressure on an island like Santorini to allow itself to be transformed into a major tourist destination or not. This then tests the capacity of a local community to the limit with regards to sustainable tourist development and its impact upon the physical, social and cultural make-up of such an island.

What is to be noticed above all onhand of the jargon spoken and used all the time is the enormous rationalization of what decisions are not faced in view of the costs of the business being conducted under certain conditions and what is the cultural impact of such kind of global activities which can very easily go to another location the moment the customers are dissatisfied and more so the firms dealing with these customers may they be tourists, persons seeking second homes, institutions wishing to invest in real estate business etc. If to all this added official policy line, then there is a noticeable shift in the jargon used to that of advertisements wishing to portray as everything being alright and taken care of in order to make sure everyone will have their best times of their lives. That this promise is repeated every year means there is a cultural calculation that the people forget easily what has been said a year before and only their desire to repeat the same good experience makes them want to come again to the same place as in the year before. This kind of jargon works on the basis of subtle and direct enticements. Like a lure into paradise, the real costs and loss of something more natural and culturally authentic are not mentioned in the equations claiming success.

15.4 Promotion of qualitative networks based on values of Civil Society

If environmentalists could join up with those interested in preserving authentic cultures having a strong bottom-up capacity to initiate interesting things, and which do not allow themselves to be marginalized by all pretense that only big business is of interest, then qualitative networks are needed but on a such value premises as known to the Civil Society at its best. Much discussion about the role of NGOs and cultural initiatives have shown even this sector is not free of a set of problems linked with volunteer work but also with work which has to be compensated since real work, but so far this sector aside from WWF or Green PEACE at global level has remained mainly silent or not effective enough to have it be listened to. Yet such cultural guidelines for future developments in response to all kinds of global pressures are needed if realistic attitudes are to be adopted for the future.

[1] Louis Baeck, The saga of development and globalization, Storia del Pensioro Economico 43 / 44, 2002, p. 3 - 4

[2] James Clifford, Predicament of Culture.

[3] Louis Baeck, Islamic view on Globalisation, Discussion on Planet Agora, ed. Jean Tardiff http://www.planetagora.org/english/theme1_suj5_resume.html

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