Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Agenda for World Governance

There come to mind immediately the following premises when thinking about outstanding issues in need to be put on the agenda of world governance:


A key idea has been expressed by Jürgen Habermas in 'Ach Europa', namely that a new world governance is needed. It means the search for similar idea which founded the United Nations in 1945, that is in the aftermath of Second World War. Since then the United Nations and its numerous agencies have come under criticism as being not merely inefficient, but far worse unable to stop war e.g. invasion of Iraq in 2003 even though based on a public lie.

There are other highly questionable developments. While the United Nations have been unable to prevent genocide e.g. Rwanda, the 'oil for food' exchange program to alleviate the plight of the poor in Iraq when sanctions were levelled against Saddam Hussein turned out to be a classical financial scam and in reality a world wide corruption scheme.

The lack of morality at top level leaves the trust in these international institutions at a very low level. The failure can also be perceived out of another perspective. For at the beginning of the twenty-first century many nations ressort to a kind of assertiveness which fuels directly right wing populism and Fundamentalism of all kinds e.g. in Tunisia after the revolution in 2011 the country is beset by extreme Salafists who demand the introduction of Sharia law. It seems that the dialectic of securalization has not been convincing enough to ensure people and political groups respect the need for such an institutional set-up that guarantees every individual decides freely according to his or her own free conscience.

All these contradictions are augmented by the need for business to develop a global model. That means ever more economic priorities shift towards technology and media driven cultural activities. The latter are no longer substantial cultural ones, but rather forms of entertainment easily transformed into use of the arts for propaganda purposes.

All that does not entail as of yet to such international linkages as encompassed by aviation and the transport sector, including shipping. It leads to a focus on ports and on maritime aspects.

Given global warming and climate change, there is a need to monitor the artic ice as well as control the race by various nations to stake claim in the Artic.

Above all the banking system and the international movement of capital has altered the quest for viable investments to the point that sustainable development is being referred to as desired aim, but in reality it amounts to a preference for unchecked development possibilities.

More often there is to be experienced the break-down of systems. That is very often caused by unexpected events e.g. not only wars but natural disasters like the volcano ashes stopping all flights or huge floods hitting parts of Pakistan.

This has shifted from 2010 onwards priorities from rapid intervention forces to stop conflicts from getting out as quickly as possible relief aid as was the case when Haiti was hit by a powerful earthquake. The desaster in Japan after 11th of March 2011 entails still another dimension as it was a combination of earthquake, Tsunami wave and near nuclear desaster e.g. Fukushima.

When scanning these and other developments, it is always a crucial question but in which direction to give 'moral impulses'. Poets might want to focus on hot spots in the world where war is still raging like a forest fire out of control e.g. Colombia or Mexico where a lot of killing of innocent lives shows how entire societies can become embroiled and engulfed by uncontrollable conflicts around drugs but also crucial issues e.g. rain forest in Brazilien.

World governance depends according to Jürgen Habermas on the strength of world wide movements in which NGOs of civil society play a certain role. However, organisations like 'doctors without frontiers' have become spring boards for political careers for its leader seeking jobs within the established power system e.g Buchner joining the Sarkozy government. By acting in a straight forward, equally egoistic way, the moral position of NGOs of Civil Society have been weakened.

Right now one key element may be to seek a consensus around 'cultural 21' by linking the arts to questions of ecology and therefore to social-environmental concerns. This effort can be understood as an attempt to create a 'culture of sustainability'.

As always a counter move come. When the EU 2020 vision speaks about a desirable 'economy of nature', it shows that the 'poverty of experience' is not seen as hindrance for further going efforts to link man to nature and society. The ratio natural/man made world needs to be more than a mere paradigma. Here the cognitive skill of man counts when it comes to recognizing the world he or she lives in (Levy Strauss). It depends upon experiencing the difference between tamed areas and wild nature or 'untouched land' (Paula Meehan in 'Myth of the City' called it already in 1995 the ecological niches in cities). Without such a ration, perception would be reduced to the constructed world in which experiences made by man are usually artificially induced and differ from those to be made in the wild, equally untouched nature (see Parmenidis).

World wide agenda on sustainable development - since Rio

After Copenhagen, in anticipation of Cancun, Mexico, a new debate is starting within Cultura 21 as to what measures artists and scientists can propose to bring about an international agreement with regards to climate change. At the same time, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the drug war in Mexico and the floundering global market alter political dispositions to reach a world wide agreement on climate change.

Wars - including Afghanistan, Iraq

The war in Afghanistan continues without either side knowing how to stop the killing of innocent civilians while an election cast in doubt failed to bring about a legitimacy of the government. The new report by the five peace research institutes in Germany come to the conclusion that not much progress has been attained over the past eight years, and in fact gains made are lost due to new insurgencies creating even greater insecurity.

(see http://www.friedensgutachten.de/index.php/friedensgutachten-2010.html)


Culture and the Security Agenda

Can culture affect the security agenda in such a situation as Afghanistan? That is being discussed by a group of students under the guidance of Prof. Stephan Clarkson and Prof. Pia Kleber at Toronto University. During their May visit in Berlin they presented first their papers at Humboldt University and then visited the institute for Cultural Diplomacy.


There is a need to overcome the 'schizoprhenia of peace', a term coined by Imre Nouri Iman in Lebanon. It means young people can return from surfing to take a drink in a music bar while across the street a bomb goes off.

Certainly Afghanistan can also be understood by perceiving the wish of children in Kabul to get out of a schizophrenic state of mind: there the bombs and here a landscape which looks at first sight peaceful. Fatema Nawaz with her photography counters that illusion. For that landscape has in the meantime many bullet wounds. They remind of the houses in Berlin West and East all riddled with bullet holes at the end of Second World War and which could be seen especially in East Berlin until the fall of the wall in November 1989. Twenty years later these bullet holes have all but vanished due to restoration efforts but German troops are heavily engaged in Afghanistan.

That makes the motivation of Kids' Guernica all the more relevant, namely how to end war and bring about a process towards peace? It seems that the key prerequisite for that is to dispute anyone the Right to kill. Only once guns are silent, then can people begin to speak with each other. As the peace mural of Kabul, Afghanistan depicts all weapons of war should be put into such a meat grinder out of which come at the other end tools for education: pencil, books, etc.

Child Abuse - Children Rights

The child abuse scandal affects primarily the Roman Catholic Church, but the act itself has deeper and wider implications than what is being discussed and admitted for the moment. A child once abused becomes a wordless victim. Rarely do such children find even in adult life a way out of this prison of silence. Repeatedly those who abuse are not strangers but rather ones so close to the family that they enjoy like the priests unconditional trust. A child wishing to articulate the fact of abuse faces huge obstacles for who would dare to question the integrity of such a widely respected religious and family authority.


In terms of the cultural question, how best to educate children and youth for the future, Freud provides a key insight as to what happens when reality and pleasure principles are separated and uncontrollable mechanisms overpower children and youth. Indeed they are at high risk to be abused as indicated already by 'the child sex tourism' report put forth to the European Parliament in 1999. To this can be added the potential impact of Internet, video games, mobile phones etc. all of which can lure children and youth into a virtual world without realising till too late that they have become completely isolated. Without having anyone really to speak to, empathy for others on the basis of a maturing self-understanding is practically ruled out. Violent and self inflicting painful acts are the consequences. It is, therefore, crucial to retain the age of 18 only after which a youth can be considered to be an adult and, therefore, capable of deciding him- or herself as to what constitutes 'consensual sex'. At all times children and youth have to find ways to avoid being abused and not to let it happen that their chances of experiencing normal human relationships be destroyed for life.

Water and waste management

India is facing increasing problems with waste. As predicted by Yannis Phyllis, the more things are consumed, the more waste is being produced. Indian cities are not well prepared to deal with this issue. Municipalities have not started to run extensive and comprehensive programs like recycling. At the same time, the odd contradiction is while everyone keeps their homes clean, they discard of their waste whereever conceivable. (see an excellent description in International Herald Tribune of 23.4.2010)

World Finances and State Budgets

As to Europe and the crisis of the Euro linked to the Greek deficit, but not only the problems ahead for the next ten years are huge. It is a matter of how to retain confidence in a currency so that the purchasing power of that curreny is upheld by everyone. In order for that to function there is not required merely a monetary instrument like the European Central Bank, but more so economic governance at European level and throughout Europe, but also the world the kind of 'morality of payment' which ensures debts incurred are going to be paid back. It is a matter of human solidarity that the one in debt is given a fair chance to repay but in agreement with the one who lends the money. Such a basic norm should be realized together with social justice and political responsibility. Clearly crude measures will not do for otherwise people will risk working under impossible conditions while others do not invest but just make money out of money. The problem of the latter is well known. There is Rodeo Drive where money is consumed. As to what Louis Baeck says about the Mediterranean tradition which integrates the economy into culture, that premise needs to be heeded when looking for practical solutions on the long way to recovery which lies ahead.

HF 23.10.2010

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