Growth-at-All-Costs vs. Democracy – What Kind of Globalization?
A few centuries ago, Teilhard de Chardin had spoken about the two sides of all matter: a “within” and a “without”. It has been proven many times that it is vital for the outer world and the inner world to move together at the highest level of harmony in order to achieve balance. One can say that a globalized society reaches to an overdeveloped “without” but, unfortunately, to an underdeveloped “within”. For others who speak about the crisis of meaning, it has become necessary to take into consideration that the world of matter, materiality, science, and technology, even though all of them are good in themselves, do not possess meaning in and of themselves, or none that can satisfy “man’s search for meaning”. They are tools, not ends in themselves. The year 2017 is one in which both scientists and decision makers must understand the difference between challenges and opportunities and to find optimal solutions to the first and the best use of the latter. As was proved during the debates in the framework of the World Economic Forum, the key words for every debate in the landscape of ideas and the actions are: uncertainty, opportunity, resilience, prosperity, democracy, populism.
Being beneficiaries of a „new renaissance”
The gains of globalization must be shared more broadly for it to survive. This means blending free trade and fair trade, creating more purchasing power, changing a unipolar or bipolar world into a multipolar or non-polar one.
Uncertainty grew over the past few years, as the increasing level of globalization reduced the wealth gap between rich and poor areas of the world but fed into a growing crisis of inequality within the majority of countries. In this respect, we need to enter the arena for debate not to silence or obfuscate, but to offer solutions so that the gains of globalization may be shared more broadly between different societal groups. Resilience not only helps to extend the focus beyond resistance to shocks to include responses, but it also supports longer-term thinking about new risks and opportunities. I really do believe that Romanians have the talent and ingenuity to offer solutions to the most pressing challenges the world is confronted with. To do that, we need to be smart and well organized to emerge as “winners” in this “new renaissance”.
Change is emerging or being demanded everywhere in the world, quickly and deeply. I invite you to attend this process of delivering solutions to challenges covering everything from slow growth, inequality and democratic deficit to “afluenza”, unrealistic expectations and the rise of populism. Let us start by reflecting very carefully on the opinion of Alan Rugman, according to whom “globalization was never more than a myth, and the controversies it has spurred are based on the fictions of a homogeneous marketplace”.
Resetting the architecture of globalization
I believe that it is not globalization which is to blame, but the paradigm under which the process was managed. Additionally, it could be asserted through analysis that we are entering a new stage of international global relations where national policies will shape how globalization eventually develops, meaning that the gains of globalization must be shared more broadly for it to survive. This means blending free trade and fair trade, creating more purchasing power, changing a unipolar or bipolar world into a multipolar or non-polar one. We are living in a geopolitical and geoeconomical landscape in which great powers either work together, or there will be increasing frictions and conflicts on trade and currency, on economics and finance. It is time to act on the growing perception that the current economic model is unsustainable.
The question that keeps coming up is what that world will look like. We need to find the most appropriate solutions to a package of issues such as: How can we transform uncertainties in opportunities? What is the true business of business? How can the world strengthen growth and equality at the same time? What is the most effective way to embrace long-term competitiveness while strengthening the contribution of growth to broad-based progress in living standards? How should the organization arrange itself to ensure success and increase the possibility of scale?
Answering this questions we need to remember that Joseph Stiglitz had written “We’ve never had a democratic globalization. The lack of transparency and openness has meant that we’ve wound up with a form of globalization that works for a few, but not for all of us”. We need to focus on reforming the institutional architecture of globalization so that nation-states and their citizens can hope to shape a globalization that benefits all, so that policy-makers recognize that there will always be winners and losers, and begin compensating those losers so that we can shape a sustainable, more equitable form of globalization.