Conclusions of the subjects 2003

Theme 2003: The effects of globalisation

AT THE 23rd International Christian Artists Seminar, Aug. 23-27 at the SBI, Doorn, the Netherlands.

  1. Globalization is a term widely misused to describe an extensive range of issues, ranging from politics to economs & from religions to ecological concerns.
  2. Globalization is a process connecting individuals, people groups and civilizations more and more. This process of connecting is as old as written history. Every succeeding civilization resulted in economic expansion followed by military action. Yet there are examples where an expanding civilization did not resulted in military conquests. But it should be recognised that our era is a new epoch where the connecting of people worldwide has resulted in a growing interdependence. Rules and regulations on one side of the world do have effect on people living on the other side of the globe.
  3. Samuel Huntingdons’ thesis: ‘the Clash of Civilizations’ should be questioned. Of course it is true that religions are deeply ingrained and and are thus rooted in the various cultures of this world. But to say that such religious roots are the cause of world conflicts is a matter for debate. Historically it seems to be more correct to say that economic and military forces have misused religions for their own political purposes.
  4. So, the participants of this seminar, who have been debating and studying globalization, call for great caution when globalization is placed in a negative social and cultural framework. Travel, communication and religion, trade have always connected people and have had positive influences.
  5. Having said this, caution should be exercised with regard to the influence of several multinationals on local and regional economies. Unfortunately some multinationals seem to misuse weak local political and weak local trade-union powers to pay less than what workers truly deserve to secure a living to support their families. This seminar calls for the economic powers to hold to support the decisions of the ILO(the International Labour Organization, Geneva) and the World Confederation of Labour in Brussels.
  6. A particular concern is the issue of cultural destruction of local/tribal/ethnic cultures. This results in the loss of languages, loss of tribes, loss of species and loss of local cultures. This is seen as a very tragic by-product of several (especially American) multi-nationals (factories and media-giants), NOT as the by-product of western-culture. It is sad that those economic expansions are regarded as cultural progress.(Good globalisation can never have such a message). The EU is called upon to take a stand against these evil forms of cultural imperialism, to this end we need balanced policies, that are not based on domination. Another issue that needs more research and debate is the question of whether western culture and democracy are synonymous. If this is not the case then other cultures have the right to shape their society in their own way, as long the charter of the UN and the Human Rights clauses are respected and worked out within the own social and legal frameworks.
  7. Religions are a part of globalization. Religions may have a missionary zeal or believers migrate and take their belief-system with them. This seminar calls any believer to an attitude of respect towards those of other convictions. And makes a special call to those who believe in an ultimate truth. If this is so, based on such a strong conviction this seminar can only conclude that such a strong identity can never be harmed by being friendly, open, hospitable and compassionate towards other believers. There can NEVER be a reason for anything like religious conflicts, holy wars, jihads. Convictions and beliefs have made great contributions to cultures and societies, but should never be misused to misguide frustrations coming from powerlessness, poverty, corruption, etc. The answer to these dilemma’s are to be found in dialogue, good education and work (providing enough income) and in a government based on justice and the fighting of corruption.
  8. Europe is a gigantic experiment, where different cultures want to live together in peace and prosperity. But there is such thing as Europization, that wants to dominate the economic processes outside Europe. As the EU took as a key principle the subsidiarity (decision power to the lowest possible level) the EU has to act carefully so the huge economic power of Europe will not create the destruction and poverty of cultures somewhere else. The EU is called NOT to surrender to the American capitalistic system, but to hold on to their own social economic system. The trade-unions in Europe are called to act in the interest of the workers AND to consider the effects of their collective bargains on the other (poor) parts of the world.
    The European people are called to take responsibility for the ecological effects of their way of life.
  9. The European companies and multi-nationals that are based within the EU are called upon to install and start operating a system of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’. The European citizens and workers want to see that companies take up these type of responsibilities, as a company is much more as just a source of making as much money as possible. A company is more than just the investment of capital. A company is also a place where people spend a large part of their lives, it also involves human capital and creative capital, with effects that asks for good stewardship.
    Good stewardship includes responsibility for the ecological effects of the companies.
  10. As the EU is a cause of Europalization and globalization that brings about an even growing number of economic immigrants and asylseekers, we see a rapid growth of ethnic ghettos. Such areas are bound in poverty and a source for crime and other social evils. This seminar calls for an ongoing study and debate about the problems of multiculturality and integration.
  11. Artists and the Arts contribute to a globalising world. The Arts and travelling Artists create bridges of understanding and hope; and thus bring people together. On the other side the Arts are an effective means to protest against misuses. We, the artists want everybody to live in an inter-dependent world, a social world, a world no longer dominated by corruption, poverty, lack of food, lack of training, lack of shelter, etc.

Speakers about this subject included:

  • Prof. Calvin Seerveld (Canada);
  • Tom Sine (USA);
  • Maria Martens (Nl, member European parliament);
  • Edy Korthals Altes (Nl, former ambassador);
  • Faustina van Aperen (WCL, Belgium);
  • Leen La Rivière (Nl, CNV) and others.

Over 130 cultural workers, professional artists, delegates from cultural institutions participated in the meetings and the social dialogue. All resulting in the conclusions and suggestions mentioned above.