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30 / 07 / 2004
The dialogue “Globalization, identity, diversity” closes with a lively and thoughtful debate with Pujol, Clos, Cardoso and Castells

The former president of the Catalan Autonomous Government, Jordi Pujol; the mayor of Barcelona and Forum president, Joan Clos; the former president of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and sociology professor and researcher of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Manuel Castells, along with journalist Manuel Campo Vidal acting as moderator, closed the dialogue “Globalization, Identity, Diversity” with their inputs on the themes of globalization and its relation with national identities and the European process of integration.

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Pujol, Clos, Cardoso and Castells showed agreement in some of the issues concerning globalization and European integration while they expressed different views in others. Amidst a discussion of high intellectual level, complex ideas were debated, with participants showing agreement and divergence during the closing session of the dialogue “Globalization, Identity, Diversity” held during the Forum Barcelona 2004.

Pujol spoke in favor of globalization because, “Despite the risks it entails, and excepting Africa, it has more positive than negative aspects.” According to the former president, of the Catalan Autonomous Government, “Globalization does not increase poverty in the world but it does widen the gap between the rich and the poor.” Cardoso refuted the theses of Pujol by stating that globalization is responsible for the increase in inequality as the interests of great corporations prevail. “When you talk about Africa, I assume you are talking in a metaphorical sense, since globalization also implies exploitation in other parts of the world and this generates protests,” pointed Cardoso.

In this respect, Castells pointed out that the anti-globalization movement are not opposed to globalization itself but rather defend “a fairer and alternative globalization.” Pujol had previously referred to these movements as “protests without an answer,” while addressing to Clos when stating, “At least 80% of people mobilized in campaigns with the motto ‘another world is possible’ also share the idea that another Europe is possible.

He referred to the Barcelona mayor’s speech in firm defense of the recent process of European political integration. According to Clos, it is “a very relevant” political exercise, which aims at ensuring peace on the European continent. “This new European political union is possible as long as we defend all cultural identities within Europe,” emphasized Clos. Pujol for his part clearly drew a line to highlight the differences and to denounce “Europe’s lack of receptiveness for the Catalan linguistic reality,” which in his opinion has led to the current perplexity of Catalans with regard to the process of European integration.” Castells showed his agreement with Clos’s views and called the European initiative “a great historic project that sees the light after centuries of killing each other. The fact that we are all agreed on the importance of building a European Union is what gives us hopes,” he added.

In the same context, Clos specified that the political unity of the old continent, based on the European social model, the backbone of the welfare state with unemployment guaranteed, pensions, or income tax among other measures, will be "this world government that we are demanding." Cardoso pointed out that the new European Union is the reflection of new types of sociability "when basing oneself on emotional and rational adhesion, and not on the imposition of cohesion." Either we are going to war to defend what is ours or we are going to end up destroyed. We have to look for formulas of coexistence," the former Brazilian president who agreed with Clos when he pointed out that "the challenge is to build institutions that serve the purpose of unity but respect the different identities."

At this point, Cardoso stated that the world organizations are not democratic, as is also the case within the Security Council of the United Nations, which is exposed to "the will of just a few". Cardoso openly proclaimed to be in favor of utopia "although it seems aberrant that the former president of a Republic would say so. Without a utopia, there is no movement and everything gets worse because people are unhappy," Cardoso declared. There is a generalized concern, mainly due to the "obstacles posed by the US geopolitical unilateralism to the building of an international order," Castells stressed in his synthesis of the contributions made during the Dialogue "Globalization, Identity, Diversity." The university professor and sociologist also stressed that globalization does not bring about a process of cultural homogenization and that identities "are anchors for being able to navigate in the ocean of globalization." "The lack of communication between identities is a source of violence," he warned, to end his exposition, exclaiming, "Democracy is in crisis, long live Democracy."