Saving Globalization from its Cheerleaders

Source: Scientific Council for Government Policy. The Hague, 2008
Introduction by Wim van de Donk

“It is an honour for me to be able to welcome you to this seventh edition of our annual lecture. As you have seen, the theme we have chosen for this year’s lecture is : ‘Saving globalization from its cheer- leaders’. Those of you who were able to attend last year’s lecture will know that the Council is rather fond of the metaphor of dancing. You may remember the impressive performance that was given here on this stage by two of the most talented ballet-dancers we have here in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, I have bad news for those of you who were expect- ing to see dancing again this year; we are not about to see some real cheerleaders. I am really sorry to disappoint you. However, there is some good news. We may not have managed to get any cheerleaders, but we have succeeded in securing a number of excellent and distin- guished experts and speakers, who will be enlightening us about that topic, as important as it is complex, which we call globalization. We have moreover chosen to focus on the significance of globalization (both as a context and as a process) for the future of development aid.

Of course, I wouldn’t want to disappoint you too much. So I have chosen a few pictures that show the difficult human constructions that cheerleaders are able to build. They look as fragile as the new world order that is emerging as a consequence of the economic, tech- nological, political, legal and technological drivers of globalization. At a time when we are witnessing a major crisis in the world’s finan- cial and economic systems, I imagine that there is no one who still has to be convinced of the importance of the development of a new world order. Just like the constructions that those cheerleaders are able to build, globalisation is still a very fragile structure. To a large extent, therefore, it is still uncertain whether the global institutions that we are preparing really will prove able to address adequately the kind of endeavours that are emerging in and from the multi-layered, complex and highly interdependent kind of world in which we find ourselves today.

You are warmly welcomed to this lecture. We as a Council, I believe, have a duty to help prepare future government policy and strategy for and within that new world order. Of course, we as a nation are fully aware that globalization is by no means a new phenomenon. It is, however, accelerating at a very rapid pace. It may be that none of us could have imagined this ten years ago. Globalization is the new setting in which all kinds of ‘national’ questions for future policy- making are being posed and, perhaps, answered. I say ‘perhaps’, because it might be too early for answers yet; in fact, we may even be forced to admit that we still need to find the right questions to ask about the phenomenon. Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain: for both intelligent questions and answers about globaliza- tion, we need experts.”

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