Globalization is Learning by Doing: Global Studies Conferences & Global Reforms

Globalization is Learning by Doing: Global Studies Conferences & Global Reforms
Author: Nederveen Pieterse, Jan
Journal: Journal of Globalization Studies. Volume 4, Number 1 / May 2013

The paper argues that global issues are mixed issues. Globalization involves the simultaneous unfolding of tendencies of integration (such as global value networks); contention and conflict (such as domination and responses to domination, and social units negotiating the terms of cooperation); and mixing (intertwining diverse influences, giving rise to new practices and institutions). The second part discusses organizing annual Global Studies conferences as an instance of learning by doing. The third section is an overview of the state of global governance and global reforms. There has been a gap between the demand for global public goods and their supply. With greater global interconnectedness, the alert systems and awareness of global problems have improved, but institutions of global governance have not kept up with the demand. Global reforms and global public goods are by and large where they stood in the 1990s.

Keywords: methodological globalism, Global Studies conferences, global reforms, global public goods, global governance.

Globalization involves growing economic interconnectedness in terms of trade, investments, technologies, industrial standards and global value networks. Hence it evokes ideas of global integration and is often viewed as a trend towards global convergence. The notion of globalization as global convergence echoes in concepts such as global capitalism, global crisis, global modernity, global culture, and so forth.

In many perspectives globalization unfolds as a global panorama that, implicitly, is viewed from the West. As such it appears like a spatial version of the temporal notion of progress. The developed countries are there already, advanced and globalized, and what remains is integrating the unruly periphery into the stable core. In the imperial view, this is the notion of ‘bringing order’, the white man's burden and the civilizing mission. In world-system theory, it is the idea of the ‘incorporation’ of peripheral areas into the modern world-system. In Fukuyama's ‘end of history’ small wars continue on in the periphery while among the major powers war has become obsolete. In the Pentagon's map it is a matter of integrating the periphery into to the stable core (Barnett 2004). By and large, this is a Walt Disney ‘happy ever after’ view of globalization, with globalization as modernization and as the celebration of progress.

A contrasting representation of globalization is the clash of civilizations, a stark image of divergence, even polarization, as in Jihad vs. McWorld, a view that is almost as familiar as the convergence view. Thus, at one extreme of representations of globalization are hyper globalists such as Kenichi Ohmae and at another extreme are doomsayers such as Samuel Huntington, Robert Kaplan and Amy Chua. One is a liberal Lockean view of globalization, the other – a Hobbesian view. The two views, of course, are related. The view of the unruly periphery rationalizes the status of the stable, advanced countries and by the same token, justifies their intervention as the need arises.

A third perspective is hybridization, mixing and global mélange (Nederveen Pieterse 2009). This perspective does not carry the ideological mortgage of the other views, is more profound and complex than either one, and is also more open-ended and inconclusive. There is no fixed script associated with global mélange. Bricolage by its nature involves improvisation. This mixed character is captured already in Trotsky's phrase ‘combined and uneven development’. Contemporary globalization resumes and reworks combined and uneven dynamics and, as in the past, they cannot be easily pigeonholed under deft or daft generalizing labels.

Global value networks imply that globalization functions across multiple dimensions. While they involve cooperation across networks they are also premised on differentiation across networks for if it were not for differences, in geographic location, prices, governance, labor and tax conditions, there would not be comparative advantage in locating operations in different zones; they involve hierarchy across networks because buyer/seller power and value added are not evenly distributed; and they are dynamic because prices and power relations change with circumstances (technologies, wages, labor organization, regulations, media coverage) over time. Thus, global value networks show that in actual globalization diverse tendencies are unfolding and crisscrossing at the same time. Globalization, then, is not a matter of ‘either-or’ but of ‘and-and’. We have then, schematically, the simultaneous unfolding of tendencies of integration – such as global value networks and migration flows; contention and conflict – such as domination and responses to domination, and social units at various scales negotiating the terms of cooperation; and mixing and fusion – intertwining diverse influences, giving rise to new practices and institutions.

Global issues, then, are, by definition, mixed issues. They mix cooperation and contention as well as undercurrents that transcend either of these. Trade and investment across different zones presents conflict points such as labor rights and conditions – as in the case of labor strife at the Foxconn factories in China where Apple products are manufactured, and malpractices at the garment factories in Dhaka where clothes for Wal-Mart and JC Penny are produced. Cross-border migration is a bone of contention for diverse stakeholders – employers with an interest in cheap labor, migrants seeking to improve their life chances, states seeking to control borders and social order; international development cooperation seeking to mitigate global inequality. Across the world, migration has become a flashpoint of regional and global inequality.

Ultra-low interest rates and Quantitative Easing adopted by the US Federal Reserve as part of post-crisis recovery enable hedge funds and speculators to borrow US dollars to invest in high-yield emerging markets, where the influx of funds generates inflation and squeezes domestic investment, a situation that Brazil's finance minister has termed a ‘currency war’. These capital flows have prompted inflation in food prices in 2009; rising wheat and bread prices were a contributing factor in the circumstances that triggered the Arab spring.

We could term these kinds of issues global nodal points, pressure points of globalization. They belie the notion of globalization as integration, as in Thomas Friedman's ‘flat world’, and also belie the notion of a clash of civilizations because they involve processes of integration and interweaving. It is just that integration is not a smooth and even field, as is, of course, only to be expected. Thus, the gritty specifics of actual globalization processes upset and transcend cliché images and facile theories of globalization.

Many perspectives on globalization are too general, too abstract; they assume or posit rather than observe the global. While leapfrogging methodological nationalism they display methodological globalism and often leap to the global – as in notions of global capitalism, global crisis, global culture, global modernity. Thus the 2008 crisis is often cast as a global crisis although it originated in the United States and spread to Europe, so it is a regional crisis, with global spillover, like the Asian crisis of 1997–1998. Another example is the Kondratieff wave which is usually presented as pertaining to the world economy and therefore as global in character. Yet technological innovations and entrepreneurs, the main drivers of K-waves, are unevenly distributed. The economies of some regions may be countercyclical and for different regions different cycles may overlap. Thus, whether and to what extent the economic geography of K-waves is in fact global is not a given. According to Oscar Niemeyer, the architect of Brazil's tropical modernism, describing curves as part of his aesthetic approach, ‘The whole universe is made of the curve’ (Rattray 2012). Globalization, too, is curved and spirals in several directions.

The first part of this paper is a brief discussion of organizing annual Global Studies conferences as an instance of learning by doing. The second part is an overview discussion of the state of global governance and global reforms, also as an accompaniment to Alexander Chumakov's views (in this issue).

Global Studies Conferences

The Global Studies conferences are an instance and, in a manner of speaking, a test of this depiction. Of course, not a ‘pure’ test; the conferences are screened; the plenary sessions are stage managed. The organizational bias is towards sociology, development studies and cultural studies. Were the inclination towards international relations, economics or political science, the outcomes would of course be radically different, with regional twists along those lines. Even so, in each case there is considerable local and regional input and framing. Even as speakers are selected (on the basis of networks or name recognition) their topics and papers are not. So the conferences function as empirical probes: in different settings, which perspectives on globalization predominate, which tendencies lead, which dimensions of globalization occupy the foreground? How does the actual organization of the conferences shed light on globalization? How do local styles and sensibilities shape cooperation?

One is reminded of Johan Galtung's article (1981) on the experience of giving seminars in different countries. In Japan, the key question is who is your teacher, that is to what school or lineage does your work belong? In Germany and France, the key question is what is your paradigm, your theoretical framework? In England and the USA the lead question is whether your data are valid and sufficient to make your case. Also the atmospherics are markedly different in each case. The same goes for the Global Studies conferences.

I have been co-organizing annual Global Studies conferences since 2008. The director of Common Ground, Bill Cope, a friend and research professor in education policy studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign asked me to organize annual Global Studies conferences, as one of many international conferences that Common Ground organizes each year. In this brief reflection I discuss the organizing premises, some ins and outs of each conference, and outcomes. Heading towards the sixth and seventh Global Studies conferences it makes sense to reflect on the series as a kind of globalization laboratory and learning process. This brief account is more a chronicle and overview than an analysis.

My role as a co-organizer is to select the country and city, to find a partner institution to co-host, and to co-organize the plenary sessions. The umbrella organization Common Ground – which organizes many international conferences on different subjects each year – handles the conference production, promotion, registration of participants, logistics, and so forth. The conferences are paid for by the registration fees of the participants, mostly international. Usually some 200 international participants register to give papers in parallel sessions; the number varies depending on the appeal or accessibility of the location. Several are returnees. The co-organizing institution shares in framing the conference theme and selecting plenary speakers and themes and often organizes featured panels on special subjects, besides the plenary sessions. Usually the terms of cooperation are that the co-host provides university meeting rooms for free or at a discount rate and its faculty and students participate in the conference for free.

My premises in organizing the conferences are, first, my preference to organize the conferences in the global South, rather than in the West, where most conferences take place, professional and otherwise. Most Common Ground conferences, too, are held in Europe and the United States. Second is the importance of local reflexivities and debates on how the global is framed and enters into the local picture, or whether it does at all. Given the principle of different gateways into globalization, featuring mostly local or regional speakers makes sense. Listening to and learning from local reflexivities is the point. Third, the interest is in emerging societies as a major frontier and dynamic driver of twenty-first century globalization. The 2011–2014 conferences, if everything works out, will add to up the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). The idea is also not to linger on saying goodbyes to waning hegemons or spending time on criticizing neoliberal globalization and its vagaries and variants, but rather to turn the page and look at ‘new’ and rising forces – not so new indeed if we adopt a historical horizon. Criticizing hegemonic practices is already done over and over and presents problems of repetitiousness, diminishing returns, and preaching to the converted. It is more interesting and meaningful to turn to new fields and agendas, not in the illusion that they are rose gardens, as in some strands of the 1960s Third Worldism, but with serious engagement with different and wider problems. Fourth, this approach involves placing development concerns high on the agenda of globalization thinking and contributes to a developmental perspective on globalization; social and economic inequality is a recurrent theme in each conference. Fifth, from the multicentric approach in Global Studies it follows that each region's concerns and agenda in relation to globalization matters. Each region and country is not merely on the receiving end of globalization but is also an active globalizing force. Sixth, a keynote of the conferences is new trends and patterns that are emerging in twenty-first century globalization. For me this agenda represents wider interests. I edit book series on Emerging Societies (Routledge) and on Frontiers of Globalization (Palgrave Macmillan). I have done a co-edited volume on emerging societies (Nederveen Pieterse and Rehbein 2009), have done work on twenty-first century globalization and am preparing a book on this theme.

Below I chronicle the series of conferences (summed up in Table 1) with notes on the themes of each conference. The list of plenary speakers of each conference and their themes best tells the story of the conference.

Table 1

Annual Global Studies conferences

1. Globalization and the United States. University of Illinois, Chicago, May, 2008.

2. The Middle East and 21st century globalization. Zayed University, Dubai, May, 2009.

3. East Asia and Globalization, Pusan National University. Busan, South Korea, June 21–23, 2010.

4. Emerging societies and Emancipation. Rio de Janeiro, July 18 – July 20, 2011.

5. Eurasia and Globalization: Complexity and Global studies, Moscow University, June 20–22, 2012.

6. India's Globalization, Ambedkar University. New Delhi, September 5–7, 2013.

7. China's Globalization, Renmin University. Beijing, June, 2014 (TBC).

The first conference was held in 2008 in the United States, in an election year and a major one at that. The conference took place at the University of Illinois, Chicago, under the heading Globalization and the United States. Plenary speakers at the inaugural conference included Bill Cope, introducing the format of the conference; University of Illinois Chicago educationalist William Ayers (who was in the news because of his past association with Barack Obama) on ‘Going Global: Building a Popular Movement for Peace and Justice’; Mary Kalantzis, dean of education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, on globalization; Manfred Steger of RMIT, Melbourne, on ‘Political Ideologies and Global Imaginaries in the Global Age’; and myself.

The 2009 conference took place at Zayed University in Dubai, initially under the heading Views from Dubai: The Gulf and Globalization, with Habib Khondker, professor of sociology at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, as co-organizer. The heading was reframed as The Middle East and Globalization. Some papers (by Roger Ballard and myself) argued that the Persian Gulf was central to primary globalization from 800 CE and its trade links with Asia were the core of oriental globalization. Thus, the gradual comeback of ‘Chime’ (China, India, and Middle East) may be part of a comeback of oriental globalization. These themes were picked up on the East Asian side in the next conference held in Busan. Lead themes in Dubai were globalization history, conflict in the Middle East, migration, consumption and the role of Islam (Table 2). Featured panels dealt with women's rights and nation building, and higher education in the Gulf.

Table 2

Dubai Global Studies conference, plenary speakers

· Roger Ballard (Manchester University): The Significance of Dubai as Trading Hub.

· Jan Nederveen Pieterse: Views from Dubai: Oriental Globalization.

· Lena Jayyusi (Zayed University): The Arab World, the Global Moment and the Struggle over Representation.

· Khaldoun Al-Naqeeb (Sociology, Kuwait University): Cyclical Trends of Globalization.

· Muhammad Ayish (University of Sharjah, UAE): The Globalized Arab Public Sphere.

· George Ritzer (University of Maryland, USA): Are Today's Globalized Temples of Consumption Tomorrow's Global Dinosaurs?

· Georges Corm (Saint Joseph University, Beirut, former finance minister of Lebanon): Economic and Financial Trends in Middle East.

· Habibul Haque Khondker (Zayed University): Social Aspects of Labor Migration in the UAE.

· Peter Moore (Case Western Reserve University / Zayed University): The War Economy of Iraq.

· Oliver Schwedes (Technical University Berlin, Berlin): Mobile Cities: Reinventing Urban Mobility.

The third conference took place in Busan, South Korea's second major city, in cooperation with Pusan National University and with Seung Kuk Kim, professor of sociology and one of South Korea's eminent sociologists, as co-host. The theme was Global Rebalancing: East Asia and Globalization.

For several decades East Asia has been a growing force as in the Asian Tigers, the ‘East Asian miracle’ and the East Asian development model that has been a lodestar for developing countries and has influenced the human development approach. The factory economies of East Asia rank among the world's major surplus societies in terms of trade balance and current account. Rapid recovery and resumption of high growth in East Asia in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis confirms this. The theme of Global Rebalancing refers to policy discussions of the 2008 crisis: if global imbalances have caused the crisis there is a need for global rebalancing to redress the causes of crisis. How are East Asian societies balancing the relationship between regional and national identity and economic development and increasingly globalized societies? Themes were East Asian history (linking East Asian development to the Persian Gulf, Hobson), regional cooperation, democracy and capitalism in South Korea, developments in China, Japan and India. The keynote speakers at the conference are listed below (Table 3). One of the featured panels was organized by Jongtae Kim focusing on different paths of East Asian modernities. Rather than adopting a direct take on globalization most speakers emphasized regional cooperation as a major agenda.

Table 3

Busan, South Korea Global Studies conference, plenary speakers

· John Hobson (Sociology, Sheffield University): Back to the Future of Oriental Globalization?

· Seung Kuk Kim (Pusan National University): A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy for the East Asian Community.

· Jan Nederveen Pieterse: Global Rebalancing.

· Li Peilin (President of Chinese Sociological Association, Director of Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing): The New Development Stage of Chinese Society.

· Min Gong (Deputy Director, Center for Macroeconomic Research, Xiamen University): Globalization and China – U.S. Economic Relations.

· Shantong Li (Economist, Development Research Center of the State Council, Beijing): The Long-Term Development of the Chinese Economy, 2010–2030 (canceled).

· Hyun-Chin Lim (Sociology, Seoul National University): Redesigning Capitalism: South Korea's Development Experience.

· Shuziro Yazawa (President of Japanese Sociological Society, Seijo University): An Emerging New Organizing Principle of Japanese Society: A Response to Globalization.

· Arun Kumar (Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi): India in the 21st Century: Prospects and Problems.

The next conference was held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2011 under the heading Emerging Societies and Emancipation. The titles of the presentations of keynote speakers tell much of the conference story (Table 4). The original intent to feature emerging societies and Latin America, rather than just Brazil, did not materialize due to practical circumstances. Themes were inequality, social movements, notably MST, social policies, cultural and identity politics, and Brazilian perspectives on cosmopolitanism.

Table 4

Rio de Janeiro Global Studies conference, plenary speakers

· Jan Nederveen Pieterse: Introduction.

· Elisa Reis (Political sociology, UF Rio de Janeiro): Inequality and Development in Brazil.

· Marcelo Córtes Neri (Economist, Director of the Center for Social Policies, Fundacion Getulio Vargas, Rio): Declining Income Inequality in Brazil.

· Ilse Scherer-Warren (Sociology, UF Santa Catharina, Florianopolis): Social Movements and Emancipation in Brazil.

· João Paulo Rodrigues Chaves (MST National Coordination, Sao Paulo): Brazil's Futures according to MST.

· Sonia Fleury (Fundacion Getulio Vargas, Rio): Challenges of building a Brazilian Welfare State.

· Myrian Santos (Sociology, UERJ): Cultural Politics in Brazil.

· Gustavo Lins Ribeiro (Anthropology, University of Brasilia): The Limits of (Post)colonialism and (De)coloniality. A Postimperialist and Brazilian Debate.

· Livio Sansone (Sociology, Director of International Affairs, UF da Bahia): A Bahian Counterpoint of Sugar and Oil: Global Commodities, Global Identities?

The fifth Global Studies conference was held in Moscow in cooperation with the Faculty of Global Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University, in June 2012 on Eurasia and Globalization: Complexity and Global Studies. The lead theme Eurasia and Globalization refers, first, to the central role of Eurasia in the historical depth of globalization, going back to the Bronze Age, as discussed in Jack Goody's The Eurasian Miracle (2010). Second, it refers to Eurasia as a region that combines rising Asia and Europe, with Russia as an intermediary zone (as in literature on the ‘new Silk Roads’). Third, what is the agenda of globalization on the part of Russia and other social forces in Eurasia? This refers to geo-economics, geopolitics and Eurasian projects on the part of Russia and other societies and social forces and invites self-reflexivity on regional global agendas. Regional geopolitics and geo-economics and Eurasian projects on the part of Russia and other social forces turned to be a dominant motif in the conference discussions.

The subtheme Complexity and Global Studies refers, first, to the engagement of Global Studies with the complexity turn and merging analytics such as chaos theory and non-linearity with Global Studies (Urry 2003). This involves questions of global risk (Beck 1999) and complexity in global affairs such as global finance (efforts at regulation have been termed ‘complexity cubed’), new complex relations between emerging markets and advanced countries (such as the possible role of the G20 and China in relation to Eurozone debt) and global rebalancing (Nederveen Pieterse 2011). Global Studies as the study of the intersectionality of class, cultural difference and sustainability (or redistribution, recognition, and ecology; cf. Pansters 2008; Ciochetto 2012) is another dimension of complexity. A further theme that runs through all Global Studies conferences is social inequality and economic policy. Russia's Gini coefficient is 42.2 (2009), ranking 82nd in inequality among countries, well below China (the figure for the United States is 45, ranking 93rd). Several featured panels discussed themes such as Eurasia and Russian and regional economies.

Table 5

Moscow University Global Studies conference, plenary speakers

· Leonid E. Grinin (Volgograd Center for Social Research): Can China Become the Global Leader?

· Markus Kaiser (University of Trier and OSCE Academy, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan): Eurasia in the Making: Social and Economic Networks Shaping a Multipolar World Order.

· Askar Akaev (former president of Kyrgyzstan, Russian Academy of Sciences): The Creation of a Eurasian Union and Management of Income Inequality as a Key Factor for Economic Growth Post-Crisis (Russian, with translation).

· Ulrich Beck (University of Munich): World at Risk: a Cosmopolitan Perspective.

· Alexander Chumakov (Philosophy, Finance University, Russian Federation Government, Moscow): Global World: Perspectives and Realities of Global Development.

· Veronica Davidov (Anthropology, Leiden University, Netherlands): Social Inequality in Contemporary Russia: A Perspective from Environmental Anthropology.

· Andrey Korotayev (Moscow University and Russian Academy of Sciences): Advances in Development Reverse Trends in Global Inequality.

· John Urry (Lancaster University): Complex Systems and Global Crises.

· Willi Semmler (Chair, Economics, The New School, New York): Economics of crisis.

With each venue and conference offering widely diverse perspectives on globalization, the conference series serves as an onsite learning process. Diversity as it comes across in the conferences – historical, geographical, cultural – is not a marginal issue but is a keynote and highlights the kaleidoscopic character of real-time globalization. Economics continues to play a dominant role in contemporary policy-making and also in perspectives on globalization, despite its glaring failures and disciplinary bias. Real-time globalization shows the shallowness of ‘GDP economics’ and of statistical measures, quantitative criteria and aggregate data to assess global trends. Organizing the conferences in the BRICS shows the profound disparity among the BRICS countries and their dramatically diverse outlooks on globalization. The BRICS as an investment portfolio category (Goldman Sachs; O'Neill 2012) and the real-time BRICS are wide apart.

As the conferences evolved and reflections became gradually more organized, Global Studies itself has become a theme, clearly so in the 2012 conference in Moscow. In each case the conferences build on local work on globalization, which in Russia has a considerable depth. At Moscow University's Faculty of Global Studies, besides sociology and geopolitics, philosophy, environmental studies and sciences combine under the heading of Globalistics. The Faculty publishes its Journal of Globalization Studies.

A lead question I came to the conference series with – what is your globalization agenda, what kind of globalization do you seek? – has gradually faded into the background. In many cases the perspectives do not concern globalization directly but indirectly, via local, national and regional preoccupations. Posed directly, the question resembles that of the anthropologist querying his native informant, sitting under the shade of a tree: Are you patrilinear? The conferences confirm that in many cases the social reality of globalization is regionalization, in combination with national development problems.

The conferences are a meeting place of diverse stakeholders. Common Ground has an interest in the smooth organization and financial viability of their conference series. The co-organizing institution has an interest in presenting a good face while carrying off an international conference. Local university hospitality has often been impressive, hosting receptions or banquets. Participants have an interest in presenting their papers, joining the plenary sessions, following a conference stream, and often, exploring the area.

Participants have requested a social action component in the conferences. I share this interest but delivering on it is mostly a practical matter; the preparation time is too short, the social networks are too shallow, the conference is not a Social Forum. Whenever possible, social movements figure in the plenary sessions (such as MST in Rio and the National Alliance of People's Movements in New Delhi). Whether they figure in the parallel sessions is up to the (local) participants.

The added value of this series of conferences by comparison to international professional conferences which also increasingly organize meetings in emerging societies (such as the International Sociological Association Forum in Buenos Aires, 2012) is unclear. The Global Studies agenda is gradually taking shape. The conferences are often more a regional intellectual rendezvous than an international one, which is a good contrast to the professional conferences. Some adjustments in format have been implemented such as discount registration fees for participants from the global South.

The Global Studies conferences leave a public record and have generated several publications. The Dubai conference has generated a special issue of a journal published by Zayed University (Nederveen Pieterse and Khondker 2010). The Busan conference has led to a co-edited volume (Nederveen Pieterse and Kim 2012). The Rio conference has also generated a co-edited volume (Nederveen Pieterse and Cardoso 2013). The Moscow conference is the basis for a co-edited special issue of the Journal of Globalization Studies published by Moscow University (this issue). The publications usually combine plenary papers and a selection of papers presented in parallel sessions.

Global Reforms

In the context of accelerated globalization in the 20th and 21st centuries, risks and problems have been increasingly of a global scope as in global inequality, financial and economic crises, climate change, political instability, epidemics such as SARS, and international crime. While these require global problem solving, there has been a gap between the demand for global public goods (GPG) and their supply. With greater global interconnectedness and communication, awareness of global problems and alert systems in relation to questions such as global inequality, poverty, climate change, arms trafficking, human trafficking have improved, but institutions and reforms of global governance have not kept up with the demand.

There has been progress in technical and relatively noncontroversial spheres such as industrial standard setting (ISO), but otherwise not much has changed since the nineties. The Millennium Development Goals have fallen far short; the Doha round of the WTO remains at impasse; restrictions on international finance, multinational corporations and tax havens remain limited; and there has been zero progress on the Israel-Palestine question. The IMF and World Bank have undergone changes in response to external crises and developments (mismanagement of the Asian crisis, the commodities boom of the 2000s going) but have not fundamentally changed their course or their governance structure. The United States Congress has not ratified the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, the Convention against the discrimination of women, and the USA has withdrawn from the International Criminal Court. Thus, global reforms and GPG are, by and large, where they stood in the 1990s. Against this backdrop it is not surprising that the publication of the Governance Report 2013 (Hertie School 2013) is, frankly, a non-event. Its main contribution is to ask for the establishment of the UN high commission to study the question of ‘responsible sovereignty’ (Kaul in Hertie School 2013), a notion that was introduced by Francis Deng in the 1990s.

It does not make sense to discuss global reforms without discussing global power. For decades the United States has been a bottleneck for global reforms; the U.S. Congress will not pass significant reforms. International institutions, regulations and treaties tend to be viewed as rivals to or constraints on American power. Oceans separate the USA from other continents and many ‘middle’ Americans are less ‘worldly’, less connected to other zones than other peoples, which is reflected in the parochial nature of American public opinion. Corporate media colonize the public sphere and sustain the American bubble. Atlanticism in Europe and pro-American attitudes in Japan often combine to sustain sufficient support for hegemonic compromises. Major reforms happen if and only if they are in sync with hegemonic interests. This diagnosis is familiar (e.g., Nederveen Pieterse 2000, 2008). What changes does the 21st century bring?

Whether it is true that the advanced countries are on a low-growth technological plateau (Cowen 2011) is debatable. The larger question is whether it matters. Arguably, innovations that have been part of the 20th century accelerated globalization have contributed to the crises and stalemates of the 21st century, in particular financialization and ongoing neoliberalization. Financialization has led to major crises and the USA and Europe are in post-crisis management mode. In the USA this involves political impasse on major issues (such as the federal budget, fiscal policies and the government debt ceiling) and in Europe it brings the design problems of the EU and uneven development between north and south Europe to the fore. Hegemonic overreach – the United States' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and policies such as drone strikes – adds to the situation. The ‘Asia pivot’ of US foreign policy may widen rather than reduce the zone of political instability.

With the advanced countries in an impasse when it comes to addressing their national or regional problems, to expect them to take the lead in addressing global problems has become more unrealistic than ever. The international institutions, dominated by the advanced countries, largely share the overall stalemate. They generate documents, reports and alerts that do not get follow up. They produce talk, not walk.

In 2013, the EU is beginning to take measures that significantly curb the financial sector, such as a ‘Tobin tax’ on international financial transactions, caps on the bonus culture in the financial sector and on CEO pay. Also Switzerland has begun to adopt such measures. In relation to bank crisis in the Cyprus tax haven, the EU adopts the principle that the risk takers, the banks and its investors, carry the risk in case of failure (‘bail-in’ rather than bail out). These measures are being adopted under vehement protest of the UK, the Tory government and London City. In relation to climate change the EU is also taking positions that are more progressive than those of the USA. Yet, the EU's continuing endorsement of austerity policies hampers European development.

The 21st century drivers of world economic growth are emerging societies, including the BRICS. While their share of world GDP has been rising and the G20 appeals to their financial and political contributions to global recovery, they remain underrepresented in international institutions. In 2010 developing countries increased their IMF contribution by $100 billion to contribute to global recovery, which would increase their vote quota by 6 per cent. Three years later, however, the U.S. Congress has not ratified the changes to the IMF voting structure, even though the U.S. government agreed to them in 2010. Thus even meager reforms that fall far short of what would be required cannot pass.

What has been unfolding is a process of global rebalancing with major ramifications that may be termed an East-South turn (Nederveen Pieterse 2011). From the point of view of global reforms and global governance, the situation may be summed up as follows. The global North has been in the lead for two hundred years and has brought major technological and economic developments, along with colonialism, imperialism, world wars, the cold war, American hegemony, and so forth. It has taken the lead in establishing the United Nations and the universal declaration of human rights, but its support for these institutions has been inconsistent and selective. The United States has supported the creation of international organizations which it has later abandoned or opposed. On major issues such as Middle East peace and climate change, the stalemate lingers or even deepens.

The global picture now is mixed. The new forces change the global equations but their contributions involve problems of their own. It is not even clear how to characterize them, as emerging markets, emerging powers, emerging societies, or just emerging forces, and, of course, they are all of those. The fifth BRICS summit in Durban, March 2013, indicates a rising level of cooperation. The BRICS starting a financial buffer fund, a development bank, trade via currency swaps, signals that new trends are taking shape.

The most important point is that the newcomers to the global head table are major developing countries, countries with poor majorities. Government legitimacy requires that they deliver not simply on economic growth but on development. The new forces represent the demands and expectations of the world majority in an unprecedented manner, thus it is reasonable to expect a new development consciousness to take hold. A second consideration is that the new leading forces are coordinated or state-led market economies, not liberal market economies, so they may provide some counterweight to the ongoing sway of neoliberalization – although that is not certain because many ‘states of exception’ apply such as special economic zones and free trade zones.

There are also major constraints to the role of the new forces. First, the low quality of growth in emerging markets is a growing problem. It would not be reasonable to expect that the record of emerging societies in their external relations and negotiations would be better than their internal record. Second, with the growing role of states come the problems of these states – coercive and authoritarian in the case of Russia and China, inefficient in the case of India and South Africa. Third are the problems of sustainable development. Since the emerging societies are in the process of industrialization their position in relation to climate change. Developing countries and advanced countries alike share the sustainability turn – the general need for greater efficiency in resource and energy use in view of the greater cost of resources, if only on purely economic grounds. This will generate room for innovation and negotiation on various fronts. Fourth are problems of South-South cooperation. In some respects the emerging markets may be as exploitative in mining, extraction, labor practices and land lease arrangements as previous hegemonic forces.

On balance this may add up to, at best, the provision of regional or cross-regional public goods, rather than the provision of global public goods, that is, if the East-South turn does yield greater South-South cooperation, rather than a new round of hegemony and frontier capitalism. The global North has on balance provided more public goods for the North than for the world; now that the baton is changing hands to new forces, if these would provide more public goods for the global South than for the world, it would, in fact, be the continuation of a pattern. In both cases, then, there is a shortfall of global public goods; however, the center of gravity of the public goods that are provided will likely be more of a developmental nature, but with significant constraints.


Barnett, Th. P. M.

2004. The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Putnam's.

Beck, U.

1999. World Risk Society. Oxford: Blackwell.

Ciochetto, L.

2012. Profit, People, Planet and Global Rebalancing: The Environmental Implications of Development in Japan, South Korea, China and India. In Nederveen Pieterse and Kim 2012: ch. 3.

Cowen, T.

2011. The Great Stagnation. New York: Dutton.

Galtung, J.

1981. Structure, Culture and Intellectual Style. Social Science Information 206(6): 816–856.

Goody, J.

2010. The Eurasian Miracle. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Hertie School of Governance

2013. The Governance Report 2013. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kaul, I.

2013. Meeting Global Challenges: Assessing Governance Readiness. In Hertie School 2013: 33–58.

Nederveen Pieterse, J.

2000 (ed.). Global Futures: Shaping Globalization. London: Zed.

2008. Is There Hope for Uncle Sam? Beyond the American Bubble. London: Zed.

2009. Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

2011. Global Rebalancing: Crisis and the East-South Turn. Development and Change 42(1): 22–48.

Nederveen Pieterse, J., and Cardoso, A. (eds.)

2013. Brazil Emerging: Inequality and Emancipation. New York: Routledge.

Nederveen Pieterse, J., and Khondker, H. H. (eds.)

2010. 21st Century Globalization: Perspectives from the Gulf (Encounters). Dubai: Zayed University Press.

Nederveen Pieterse, J., and Kim, J. (eds.)

2012. Globalization and Development in East Asia. New York: Routledge.

Nederveen Pieterse, J., and Rehbein, B. (eds.)

2009. Globalization and Emerging Societies: Development and Inequality. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

O'Neill, J.

2012. The Growth Map: Economic Opportunity in the BRICs and Beyond. New York: Penguin.

Pansters, W. G.

2008. Inequality, Pluralism and Environment: Global Context and Conceptual Debates. In Pansters, W. G. (ed.), The Troubled Triangle: Unraveling the Linkages between Inequality, Pluralism and Environment (pp. 13–26). Amsterdam: Rozenberg.

Rattray, M.

2012. Architect Known for Brazilian Aesthetic. Financial Times, December 7: 6.

Urry, J.

2003. Global Complexity. Cambridge: Polity.