Dialogue of Civilizations: Imagining a world beyond global disorder
brings together scholars in an effort to promote dialogue and peace instead of clashes and war. The approach is multidisciplinary and promotes evidence-based discussions. I feel empowered and greatly enhanced by the learning and cross-fertilization of ideas that takes place in venues such as the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations.
This was my first opportunity to participate in the Forum, held on the Greek island of Rhodes. Sharing novel ideas and experiences from around the world, it becomes clear that the world’s current chaos is neither normal nor necessary. Therefore, in support of pluralism, the Forum seeks to introduce to the academic community rigorous knowledge that opposes war.
On Day One of the Dialogue, I addressed the audience about the need inside of the United States for international support for our local peace leadership. I mentioned that the US is full of authentic peace leaders, but going against the call for war means personal risk, personal insecurity and oftentimes personal penury.
One particularly interesting presentation was made by Professor Anatoli Antonov, from Russia, who made a comparison between the Soviet Union and today’s economy, showing how the capitalist system opposes the family unit. He pointed out that salaries paid today are only to sustain individuals and that families cannot be sustained on the wages paid. He suggested that corporate profits should be cut by two-thirds, providing the opportunity to pay a family wage, protect the environment, and then with the final one-third going to profit. Antonov suggested that capitalism provides the wrong incentives, concluding that this is so because “family doesn’t produce profit.”
Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics from India, deviated from her pre-assigned topic of international development economics and spoke passionately about Europe’s immigration crisis. Her poignant words rang throughout the hall, “The migrants are here because you are there.”
Karl-Theodore von zu Guttenberg, the former German defense minister, warned of the problem policymakers face in a situation from government to “google-ment” having to make decisions in the context of the influence of Google. Richard Werner, Professor at the University of Southampton Business School, maintained that international borrowing for smaller countries is not even necessary and advocates instead public banking and cooperatives for real growth and development.
Beatriz Bissio, professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said that the former colonized world really doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel: The 10 principles of the Bandung Conference, according to her, are quite sufficient for taking the countries of the Global South where they need to be. She began her remarks talking about her own vivid memories of the cost of war and how the Bandung Conference was a turning point for the world whose principles for peace, against racism, colonialism and imperialism are still needed today.
This, briefly, is a recap of Day One of the Rhodes Forum. I hope you agree with me that it sounds exciting. It was a great experience for me to be present and I hope to continue this relationship with like minds and like souls. Next week, I’d like to continue my discussion of the research and opinions put forward at the Forum.
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