First South Caucasus Forum

THE WORLD LIKE AN ORCHESTRA - THE HOPE OF A SYMPHONIC SOCIETY*

 

 Emil Constantinescu

 

I wonder if the exciting and generous topic of a shared society, proposed for discussion by the Club of Madrid, is a challenge, a hope or a dream. If we seek an answer in the full of conflicts history of mankind, in which solidarity was achieved more often against something, rather than for a common goal, the answer will not be too hopeful. If we ask the science, it will tell us that we live in a world of uncertainties which, except from politics, we have found ways to manage. If we ask the music, we will learn that there is hope for a dream to become reality. Basically, a shared society resembles an orchestra where different instruments, playing different chords, can result in harmony.

 

In the Antiquity and the Middle Ages, philosophers and scientists have seen the movement of planets like the music of the spheres. Neither to music was not easy to achieve harmony. First, there was the choice between symphony, sound together, and diaphony. The first showing consonance, while dissonance corresponds to the second. And then, a long way from the song consisting of successive sounds to the harmony between sounds perceived simultaneously.

 

In two days Europe Day will be celebrated. On this occasion, in many places in the world will be heard the Anthem of Europe, the end of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, when the human voices: soloists and choir, are joining the orchestra's instruments. When this hymn was chosen for Europe, maybe it was considered only the Hymn to Joy; but I dare to believe that the symbol was deeper and was taken into account the possibility that the 27 present member states, and those to come, will work in harmony and will preserve their identity.

                                                           

Freedom is the biggest gain of the second half of the twentieth century, but freedom, too brought a risen inequality, which now threatens the stability and security of the social matter.

 

 

Is there a remedy for all these consequences which would not threaten the so hard won freedom? Yes: integration. Integration is the concept more frequently used than understood. We can understand it easier if we refer to the human body, which is so fully integrated that each cell, organ and system has the capacity to respond to local stimuli, to compensate for changes in the functioning of other parts of the body, and to also accept instructions from the central nervous system. Integration converts a mechanical organization into a living organism.

                                                                    

Modern societies are trying to develop concepts that allow them to protect their citizens and at the same time stay competitive in the globalized markets. The approach of a new welfare state is no longer to arrange for full coverage of (ideally) all risks but to replace the existing extraordinarily expensive systems with more targeted and efficient approaches. This is achieved through requiring people to assume more risks individually and to organize their adequate protection themselves.

 

Unfortunately, this so-called “risk shift from public to private” had as consequence many half-hearted or partial reforms, leading to ineffective working structures, inadequate employment arrangements, and ultimately an erosion of the protective systems, rather than their real modernization.

 

The whole world passes in fact through a transition. The shifts of this ending millennium do not exclude any area of life: the forms and the substance of knowledge are rapidly evolving, the technological revolution effects become more and more tangible, and the sphere of telecommunications practically spans the entire planet. Economic practices and financial instruments evolve under the impulse of a fast dynamic and the fluctuations on the capital markets are triggered by an almost unpredictable logic. At the same time, traditional models are overshadowed by unusual behaviour and more and more often we have to respond to bioethical dilemmas inconceivable a few decades ago.

 

Our present world faces a series of paradoxes: underdevelopment does not exclude arming, democracy does not eradicate corruption, and market economy fails to prevent ecological disasters and unemployment. 50 years after it was adopted, the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights is systematically defied, either on ideological pretexts, or under the endemic burden of poverty. 

 

It would be inappropriate to leave out of this short analysis what might be called the globalization of vices. Organized crime, traffic of drugs, weapons, radioactive substances or human organs, child prostitution, paedophilia, underground economy, tax dodging and forced emigration are the most striking, but not the only aspects of  world-wide  ills  that  governments, law forces or humanitarian organisations have to do battle against, often admitting their inefficiency.

 

 

The past teaches us that no civilization or social structure in the history has just vanished, like the mythical Atlantis. The source of the above mentioned disorders belongs more to time rather than to space. On a smaller and smaller planet, deeply heterogeneous collective periods confront each other. The West has stepped into the so-called post-modern and post-industrial age. The Eastern Europe countries cross post-communist times, meant to provide their full evolution into modernity. On the other hand, many societies of our contemporary world rely upon a pre-modern mentality.

 

Politics and economy have succeeded in organizing the planet space, but not also its time. Through agreements, governments can bring together geographically far distant countries. In their turn, the world economy players can build the infrastructure necessary to ensure any type of connection between human communities. Physical distances thus become very relative; however, this is not the case when talking about the time perception gaps. These gaps generate contradictory horizons of expectations. Western man wants a 'green' vacation, while the Indian in the Amazon forest, living in an unpolluted environment, dreams about a motorboat. One individual wants to return to nature and another tries to enter technological modernity. No one would object if diversity of time perceptions would lead only to different personal ideals. Unfortunately, from this point on not only our personal desires split, but also community attitudes, expressed through political offensive options. All kinds of misunderstandings occur today mainly because the different branches of the world live inside parallel histories. The big challenge of the next millennium seems to be related to the question: what can we do for all the planet's inhabitants to become truly contemporary? 

 

How can we explain to those outside the democratic Western world the fact that it seeks to progressively free itself from the fascination of modernity and that it is looking for a spiritual alternative that does not exclude a dialogue with the traditional values? How could we persuade the West that the pre-modern or the post-totalitarian societies can pass directly to post-modernity, without being confronted with the excesses of the industrial age? We are facing a communication problem. We live in a more or less the same 21st century world, thanks to international law and by virtue of technological progress. We will not really have a dialogue until we live in a same type of time. But, in order to stand before one another with our particular affinities and needs, it is necessary to establish a universal consensus referring to those moral values that protects not only each community, but also each person. How could we initiate a real dialogue to discover it?

 

It's risky to establish such a consensus around the idea of good. We can surmise that, for centuries from now on, every society will have its own views about its spiritual or earthly welfare. Trying to standardize these concepts means to advocate the establishment of a single type of thinking and to ineffectively multiply the outbreaks of tensions. Political doctrines, symbolic contexts, local traditions and belief systems are irreducible. There are therefore legitimate suspicions of any syncretistic project able to relativize the uniqueness of these discourses and representations. No one – a politician, thinker, religious leader or ordinary man - is willing to sacrifice his identity. We cannot talk effectively if the interlocutor feels the danger of having his identity maimed. Nothing allows us to pretend that our offer is superior, in absolute terms, compared to one made by others. On the other hand, nobody can claim today to reduce the whole human family to the denominator of his own political, economic, cultural or religious options. Therefore, if we cannot always perceive the common good, it seems to me more reasonable to begin with identifying the common harm. It is in the interest of all nations to meet on the same ground in order to reject what they all reckon to be intolerable. 

 

I am confident that everyone here refuses from the very beginning the idea of war, terrorism, torture, pollution, crime of opinion, xenophobia, racism, and genetic manipulation, exploitation of children, social exclusion, hunger, professional discrimination on sex, religion or ethnic affiliation. We have the duty to diagnose together these diseases, so that we can heal together the wounds that they continue to make.

 

On the future, the European and world security, as well as each state security should adapt to the post-modern society. The states will probably remain for a long time from now on not only the security subjects, but also its guarantees. Meanwhile we are also forced to take into account the fact that the post-modern world created solidarities of racial, ethical, sexual groups that transcend the states. Thus, we should not see the state security only as a goal, but also as a way to assure the security for different groups and for citizens seen as persons with own interests and options.

 

The world economic crisis led to a positive reassessment of the state role as protector of the citizens against abuses coming from those who assured the 20th century states progress and prosperity: trans-national economic and financial companies. A partnership between the private sector and the civil society promoting the corporate social responsibility may create the trust necessary to overcome present and future crises.

 

In order to achieve all these things we need a better understanding of the globalized world. It can be characterized as a risk society to which a great number of citizens have already adapted. These global citizens, especially young people under 40 years, do not assume long term identities and loyalties, but only pragmatic and present ones. They are very active and mobile and settle according to each person’s character in areas offering them a minimum of risk or, on the contrary, a maximum of opportunity. This kind of population is expected to raise its number during the next years. This trend is accompanied by another one where groups or persons lead their life according to the former bipolar world, in black and white, even though the religious or ethnical intolerances have replaced the ideological ones. They represent a potential anarchy group. Even if these trends display in a flat world, there are also relicts of old societies separated through deep fissures from the post-modern or modern world. We find them in some regions of contemporary world. This is why the international community approach on every topic should take into account the perceptions of each actor involved.

 

Can we face such diverse challenges? With what kind of arguments? With what means?

 

Conflict prevention and post-conflict situations management require a more comprehensive perspective that will allow the development of the global or regional institutions complementarily. A balanced vision should take into account the interests of different ethnical and religious communities, the states obligations and their citizens’ natural rights, the conjunctural and long-term interests of the regional actors. It cannot be elaborated without involving representatives competent to express the voices plurality, questions and aspirations from billions of people. Political structures should be supplemented by civil society structures dedicated to world security issues. Only such a process to consolidate the respect for human, democracy and common security may reach the depth that only peoples’ real will can guarantee.

 

The preventive vocation will constitute the keystone of its short term activities. This fact involves a raising complexity of the analyses and action ways. The repetitive crises have shown that unfortunately punctual preventive interventions are not enough and should be inserted in a complex of long term actions which needs to take into account the overall aspects of some regions and the overall aspects of the problems that might create destabilize, starting with economic difficulties and going to the stereotypes anchored in conflictual mentalities, from the communication ways precariousness to the security unconventional risks.

 

An intense effort for citizenship education is needed in order to convince people that principles and process of development are the same for the individual, family, organization, nation-state and for the whole world. At each level peace and stability are indispensably required for development. Today it is not just nations that have an opportunity to advance rapidly. Humanity as a whole is poised for a quantum leap forward if in a global social view, the opportunities for everyone are exponentially greater.

 

Such a principle of global economic development is not anymore based on money accrual and on the blind race for enrichment, or on survival, but on human dignity and cooperation between free responsible individuals.

 

Socially, the post-modern condition brings in Gustav Le Bon’s opinion the dissolution of the nation state, which is replaced by "psychological crowds" focused on a single issue. The post-modern condition in the 21st century is characterized by the lack of unity, by identifying differences and proclaiming them through autonomy and by the independence which have exacerbated the desire for power. In order to find our place in the modern world, it is necessary to find new sustainable social connections. They can be found by searching for bridges between different beings that make up a community. Post-modernism has led to undeniable progress in promoting the rights of racial, national, ethnic, sexual minorities. We have learned to respect difference. Identity crisis requires the need for unity of the being and the world. To build a strategy of hope, before asking what is the world we want to live in, let’s ask ourselves who WE are. The more we are those who share common values ​​and who will accept reasonable disagreements, the higher are the chances of peace and progress.

 

We can thus say: the 21st Century will be a century of synthesis and solidarity, or it will not be at all!

 


 

* Speech of Dr. Emil Constantinescu, President of Romania (1996-2000) at the Plenary Session ”The Challenge of Shared Societies”, Baku, May 7th, 2013