Ladies and Gentlemen,
taking the word "school" literally for a moment, we
find the summer school timetable occupied by the issue "Who
or what will govern us in the 21st century?"
A question of daily and recurrent concern to the mayor of a city state- particularly in view of the global competition for the business between various locations and cities. To give an example: when groups of companies merge and transfer headquarters to a different town or different country, the local mayor- regrettably, in my view- has no influence on the decision. It is not a pleasant feeling to realize that you have practically no power over corporate decisions. Globalization affects not only the economic structures that have grown and developed in the city- it touches all aspects of personal and private life too.
It affects issues such as the future of health care and old-age pensions, where we plainly see a trend, moreover one that is undesirable, towards the privatization of risks. Basically, it affects everything that we- at least in the industrial nations of the West- have come to understand by social balance and stability.
Richard Senett has pointed out that the process of globalization calls for a flexible type of person, able to keep on adjusting to changing market demands. And clearly, the world is indeed developing in this way. The traditional employer-employee relationship with clearly defined careers used to be the standard, but in future more and more people will be working "as their own boss".
The shape of enterprise is continually changing, with hostile or friendly
take-overs the order of the day. We observe how the integrated, omnipresent economy exposes more end more people to the fluctuations of the market.
By the way, I agree with Richard Senett that human beings are simply not built for these continual ups and downs. The human mind and spirit are not really suited to reacting like robots to the dictates of the market. Some things will survive in the 21st century- such as man´s yearning for stability, solidarity, fair and reliable conditions- and for a place to call "home". This reminds me of a news item that I read recently: researches believe they have discovered a new vacation trend: the return of traditional summer break, the holiday in the local familiar setting. The leisure experts conclude that this reveals peoples fresh yearning for a sense of home, for smaller proportions and regions they can relate to. That sounds plausible. If someone is required to be 100% mobile and flexible in his job, it seems logical if he seeks a familiar spot for his holiday, where he can put down some kind of roots.
I believe that globalization offers many opportunities. But I also wonder- as indeed many people do – whether the process is developing in the right way.
I do not think that we have found the right form yet, one with a human face. Nor do we have rules and regulations in place to steer the process of globalization.
Which leads us straight to the question before the summer school- who will govern the world in the 21st century.
Perhaps the economy? Perhaps the anonymous business conglomerates? It can come as no surprise that global politics is growing more commercialized, in view of the way economics influences all other spheres of life. One needs only to look at the activities of the media or the influence exerted by corporations with effective PR departments. In 1997 Ted Turner donated one billion dollars to the United Nations. It is legitimate to wonder if individual companies now wield more power than entire states.
Global politics is not only being commercialized, it is also being privatized.
In this respect 1992 was an important milestone, since it was the year when, for the very first time, private bodies were openly included in the political process- it happened at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED). Non-governmental organizations, the NGOs, have since played an increasingly prominent role. And that is to be welcomed, for I believe that United Nations urgently need support from private sources. Without such assistance many projects on sustainable development would not be possible.
A few weeks ago Jeremy Rifkin gave a most interesting lecture in Hamburg. He said that in future, state and private bodies would work side by side. And he even went as far as to say that work for the so-called third sector, in other words for non-profit organizations, would be the basis for a new, albeit as yet Utopian, social contract.
However, the period of side by side must lead to one ofco-operation. But
co-operation needs to be organized. And this is where I see the state playing the mayor role. Because only the state can provide the framework to ensure obligations have the force of law. States and politics will be no means become irrelevant in the 21st century – on the contrary, politics must return to playing a larger role.
What form will that take in global terms? –I have no answer to that at present. And I doubt if the answer exists yet. But perhaps the concentration of knowledge that is gathered together for this summer school will be able to produce some ideas and new approaches. The tasks ahead of you, the young men and woman attending the Bucerius Summer School, are huge. Our hopes rest with you, we have great expectations of you – especially with regard to how you will shape the future.
Wherever your work may take you later – please always remember that those who shape the future must keep the weaker members of society in mind. Those who cannot keep pace. And they must keep our basic life-support system in mind: air, water, earth and living creatures. I believe that it is possible to combine sustainable development and fair market economics. But that requires solid political support and broad international co-operation.
Perhaps you have noticed from these remarks about the purpose of the summer school that the subject, your subject, is one in which I am keenly interested.
I envy you all for the opportunity you have in the coming days to immerse yourselves in intense discussion of the highly fascinating issue of the future of world politics and government in the 21st century ( while I shall be spending my time attending to the daily grind of political routine).
I congratulate you on this chance to engage in the free, inspiring exchange of thoughts. And I am sure that you will making the most of it.
And on that note, I should like again to welcome you to Hamburg and wish you a stimulating stay here.