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Thematic Circle A: Politics, Economy and Culture.

Thursday, 3rd September                    Πέμπτη, 3 Σεπτεμβρίου 2015

Thematic Circle A: Politics, Economy and Culture.

09.00 – 11.00

Chairman : Ambassador ad hon. Alexandros Mallias

Theodoros Pangalos, former Vice President and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Government.

Dusan Sidjanski, Professor Emeritus, University of Geneva, Honorary Chairman of the European Cultural Centre, former Special Adviser to the President of the European Commission from 2004-2014, Member of the Board of the Latsis Foundation Switzerland.

Liang Lixin, Head of the Chinese delegation and Vice President of Beijing Federation of Social Science Circles

Baron Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor, Warwick University, Biographer of Keynes


11.00 Coffee Break

11.30 – 13.30

Nikos Mouzelis, Emeritus Professor of sociology, LSE

Thanos Skouras, Professor Emeritus of Economic Theory of the University of Athens

Agne Vlavianou, President and founder of the International Association of Biopolitics.

13.30 – 15.00 Lunch

Chairman : Andreas Zaimis, Former Minister

15.00 – 16.30

Ioannis Seimenis, president of the department of the Mediterranean studies, University of the Aegean

Harry Tzalas, Historian, President of “The Hellenic Institute for the Preservation of Nautical Tradition”.

Junqing Wu, Historian, institute of Historical Research, London, UK, expert on Chinese religion.

16.30 Break

16.45 – 17.30 Discussion

20.00 Dinner


Α Θεματικός Κύκλος «Πολιτική και Οικονομία»

9.00 – 11.00

Πρόεδρος:Αλέξανδρος Μαλλιάς τέως Πρέσβης

Πάγκαλος τέως Αντιπρόεδρος Κυβερνήσεως και τέως Υπουργός Εξωτερικών

DusanSidjanskiΕπίτιμος Καθηγητής του Πανεπιστημίου της Γενεύης , Επίτιμος Πρόεδρος του Ευρωπαικού Πολιτιστικού Κέντρου, τέως Ειδικός Σύμβουλος του Προέδρου της Ευρωπαικής Ένωσης για το διάστημα 2004-2014, Μέλος του Δ.Σ. του Ιδρύματος Λάτση της Ελβετίας.

LiangLixin Επικεφαλής της Κινεζικής Αντιπροσωπείας και Αντιπρόεδρος του Συνδέσμου του Πεκίνου SocialScienceCircles

Βαρώνος Robert SkidelskyΕπίτιμοςΚαθηγητήςτουΠανεπιστημίου Warwick, Βιογράφοςτου John Maynard Keynes.

11.00: Διάλειμμα


Νίκος Μουζέλης, Επίτιμος Καθηγητής Kοινωνιολογίας, LSE

Θάνος Σκούρας, Επίτιμος Καθηγητής Οικονομικής Θεωρίας του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών

Αγνή Βλαβιανού, Πρόεδρος και Ιδρύτρια της «Διεθνής Οργάνωση Βιοπολιτικής»

13.30-15.00: Γεύμα

Πρόεδρος : Ανδρέας Ζαίμης τέως Υπουργός


Ιωάννης Σεϊμένης , Πρόεδρος του Τμήματος Μεσογειακών Σπουδών στο Πανεπιστήμιο Αιγαίου

Χάρης Τζάλας, Iστορικός, Πρόεδρος του «Ελληνικού Ινστιτούτου Προστασίας Ναυτικής Παράδοσης»

JunqingWu, Ιστορικός, Ινστιτούτο Iστορικής Έρευνας, Λονδίνο, UK, Ειδικός στην Κινέζικη Θρησκεία

16.30-17.30-: Διάλογος – Ερωτήσεις

20.00: Δείπνο



Thematic Circle A: Politics, Economy and Culture.


  (From left to right) Liang Lixin, Theodoros Pangalos, Chairman : Ambassador ad hon. Alexandros Mallias, Dusan Sidjanski,Baron Robert Skidelsky                                                               Photo: Pyrrhus Mercouris


09.00 – 11.00

Chairman : Ambassador ad hon. Alexandros Mallias

Alexandros Mallias gives a brief introduction of Theodoros Pangalos who was former Vice President and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Government. He has served for 30 years in parliament, lost his citizenship during the military dictatorship 1967-84, was director in Sorbonne, and returned to Athens in 1975. He has been Minister of Foreign Affairs until he retired over the Ocalan affair. He was as well Minister of Culture during which time the new archaeological museum of Olympia was build.

Theodoros Pangalos

In his short speech, Theodoros Pangalos mentioned an additional truth to what the chairman had described as being his biography. For when he was a student of Alexandros in Geneva, only few students struggled against dictatorship, Here he would like to mention something Alexandros may have not known. They stole passports which allowed them to move about freely.

He went on to say as far he watched the general development of Alexandros Mallias, he has been always a person who worked very diligently and tried hard to enhance abilities. Generally no location supersedes another in terms of diplomactic posts, but since no one else preferred to go there, he spend a lot of his services as diplomat in the Balkans, Skopie etc. all locations which others tried to avoid. He runs now for the Potami Party, but my question would be if this does make his life any easier?

He would like to discuss several issues, but he will touch upon only one.

(there was a short interruption which prompted a remark by Pangelos about some cannot walk properly like himself due to being over weight, while others do not hear like Spyros Mercouris who has reached the remarkable age of 90 years. He supposes that we all have come to feel the impact of old age!)

The issue he wishes to talk about is what he calls distinction or discrimination as to the choice of political representation in the parliament. To be noted, all parties, including the Marxist-Lenists, have signed the Memorandum of Understanding. Even the radical Left with Lafazanis and Golden Dawn cannot draft a party programme independently. Of course, you can talk about how you implement it. For instance, over the past few years, the investment in Halkidi (gold mine) has not been a part of the programme, so you can shut it down. So that is a matter of choice seperate from the Memorandum of Understanding.

Wat he wishes to stress is that a lot of the people in Greece think the parties are unsuited and politicians unable. He can understand that insofar as he was 17 years member in the council and 15 years outside, but he knows at best maybe four to five politicians. There are so many politicians in positions of responsibility, but he does not know them. In short, if we do not know them, then there is a problem at political level. It is more than a simple question of the political approach. We do not know who is governing us.

In Ancient Greece leaders were drawn by lot. By comparison, if you aspire to know the politicians today, then we have a problem. This brings to the forefront something else, namely distinction. For instance, Greece is a very pleasant country, so people who can leave they don't leave. Even pensioners who have their income and could move elsewhere, they stay. Nobody wants to leave because Greece is pleasant and personal relationships are pleasant. There is also a deep rooted tradition of democracy in this country. It is easy to approach anyone. This may be pleasant but also unpleasant and therefore lively. Greece did not go through the Middle Ages with all its crusades and invaders. It should not be forgetten that even the military dictatorships brought into power own relatives. So when PASOK invaded power, there prevailed the myth all those people in power were all right wings and so within Pasok people started to demand that own people are appointed. PASOK ended up with having 70% civil servants being PASOK members.

Syriza did quite effectively the same insofar as they appointed their own people wherever they could. So we ought to analyse this clientism. While Greek people are hard workers, still 1 out of 4 are civil servants and together with all their families and social relationships, it does shape political attitudes. As long as this kind of stateism prevails, it will try to erase any kind of distinction.

He is saying that this lack of leadership, this feeling to be on an equal level with the other, leads to the impression that the world is flat. Perhaps this strengthens the feeling because large companies prevail and how they function, no one has interest in excellence. All wish merely to level out the playing field. It leads to the replacement of knowledge in exchange for information which is quite another matter. For knowledge is search for truth. If you replace this, then your economy suffers and affects the political choice.

So how to influence politics? The question relates to how modern Europe has been created but also nowadays to the fact that politics has no longer any autonomy and therefore has no control. It means everyone succumbs to the influence of the multinationals.

He did make a proposal to his PASOK party to alter the election law in Greece so that of the 300 seats 100 are indirectly elected while 200 are depending on direct vote and if necessary to go as is the case in France into a second round. Unfortunately his proposal was not accepted, and that may be the reason why PASOK has gone below double digit votes.

Chairman Alexandro Mallias: The chairman picks up the key terms of the presentation by Pangolos as being "bad governance" linked to "political clientelism" along with the difference between the concept of discrimination and of distinguishment. It should also be known that Pangelos has excellent relations to China. When he accompanied Papandreou to a meeting in Shanghai, he recalls that Pangolos linked then modernisation in Greece  with the changes happening in China at that same time since both had to deal with partisans becoming responsible politicians. He then introduces

Dusan Sidjanski Professor Emeritus, University of Geneva, Honorary Chairman of the European Cultural Centre, former Special Adviser to the President of the European Commission from 2004-2014, Member of the Board of the Latsis Foundation Switzerland.

Dusan was his professor while studying in Geneva. He is a top expert in his field of Europe. In 1970 he wrote a book that has made history: lobbies and pressure groups in Europe. He made an analysis of their influence. Then one day he came to him to announce some surprising news: he had become a Greek citizen. He is engaged in effors for the return of the Parthenon marbles, and links Swiss and Greek organizations. He is always a welcomed advisor on EU affairs in Greece

Dusan Sidjanski

He states at the outset that he will not express not so much ideas about economics but about culture and cultural dialogue. He points out as many may know that the cultural activities are, for instance, in France almost equal to the production of cars, and so a very important economic activity.

The first point is a convergence with his friend Spyros Mercouris – they met 1956 – then they lost each other until he discovered that Spyros is active with many things, including Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth!

Two things need to be pointed out:

  1. European Cultural Centre was established by a resolution in 1948 and located in Geneva as an international network. Why Geneva? First of all, you have a lot of NGOs there. On the other hand, especially in the fifties Europe was in a great crisis and the only stable state was Switzerland. The centre is connected with research about nuclear power while the other two ideas were the promotion of Federalism (Switzerland as a model) and dialogue of cultures. It rests on the belief that culture is the basis for building Europe

  2. organized in 1961 the first dialogue of cultures

Dialogue of cultures has to have a framework. Therefore who are we? In order to have a dialogue, Europe must have an identity.

This is linked to heritage – cultural heritage – as a main point. Thus it rests on the belief that culture is global and not limited to art, sculpture, theatre etc. No! On the contrary, culture is philosophy, religion, but also science and technology etc. In other words, all that what gives shape to the political community.

About historical heritage, the more he studies Ancient Greek back then in Athens, and the experiences made by these people back then, the more he is convinced Europe's debt to Athens is immens. Fundamental was already in the age of Pericles a culture in the global sense. It was there to be experienced. They had science, philosophy, lively speeches but as well structured thoughts: While Socrates and Plato taught, you had at the same time music. 

When Pericles proposed to build the Acropolis, the people said we are threatened and therefore we need armies, not a temple. However, Pericles said we can house the gold in the temple and if needed, we can create an army. (Note by editor: in his famous Funeral speech Pericles said that Athens does not need armies, but active citizenship.)

Dusan Sidjanski believes in bringing back the Parthenon marbles. If Europe is about bringing together people, then this should be done on the basis of the philosophy of Pericles. Also Athens is now easily accessible with many citizens coming to the city, and therefore can and do visit the Acropolis museum (so that the British Museum is no longer unique in giving access to world heritage by visitors to London going as well into the British museum).

How to strengthen the European integration? Stoicism – the first philosophy which proposed human dignity and quality of life as basic principle – was being expressed while Athens had then still non citizens, that is slaves and the Barbarians. Of course, we find elements in Socrates who posed questions to a slave and on hand of his answers, it can be seen that there was a structure, a logic which he followed when answering the questions.

Today Europe is without frontier and should be based on a declaration of love.

Another important element is the Roman civilization for it helped to create administration, law, special armies, empire. This too is a contribution to European identity.

The third element contributing was Christianity. It spread from Jerusalem for the sake of human dignity.

At the same time, developments of the arts – theater – also the Roman theater – contributed to te European civilization. It was Moliere who took later examples from and developed further Roman theater, and in so doing made it into something modern. It is this expression of the creative spirit which marks Europe

Europe started to work on the basis of curiosity as expressed by science. It means not only saying something, but wanting to have the proof and to experience the capacity to produce proofs. Such a dialogue begins in science and prevails less in religion.

Another important contribution was also the discovery of the world, the discovery of what exists on the other side of the world.  Still, without proofs you have no truths and yet everything rests on the belief in objective knowledge.

During the Middle Ages, there traveled many intellectuals to France, in order to teach at the Sorbonne. There was a time when no one was a French person and this gave an incredible importance to Paris giving space to the most competent minds of these times. This giving space is an important aspect of the development towards the Enlightenment. One should not forget that slavery existed until 19th century. In short, it is a long evolution to become free and to bring about democracy.

We have a fundamental change in terms of governance in Europe. It is no longer reflective of a balance of power, for the marked change is not to rely on balance. Instead the European Union added participation. It is a method which was proposed by Jean Monnet, and is relected in the triangle with Parliament, Commission and Council. Yet we have a paradoxical situation: Europe is governed by the most traditional method, namely intergovernmental governance e.g. Finance ministers etc. deciding within their Council at intergovernmental level.

He has a proposal for the reform of the Eurozone since it has no political power. It was established solely on money and therefore meant a difficult decision of providing first money and then searching for political power to implement it. This is a main point: take into account this new political culture.

Quests for Federalism: why? If you look at our cultures, we have a big diversity, but at the same time common values and, therefore, we have this tension between diversity and common values. Example: free association – no coercion to become a member of the Eurozone. Yet more important for the small and the medium countries, and which is a Eurozone problem, namely that the big members dominate and that is bad for Europe.

We need to have a continuous dialogue – not one day with one country and the next day with another – no we need with all people of Europe. We have to do it within a regional framework supported by little institutions. We need also dialogue not only inside, but outside of Europe. We face the migrants and we do not know much about them.

We are forgetting education and the youth. He considers it to be a scandal when Euros are spend on many different things and only 8 Billion for the youth, and this for four years. He proposes the creation of a sort of ERASMUS as well abroad.

We need to think about the national presentation of European history but also what is our common history. European history should not be left to the German, Greek or French versions, but we have to build our common history and install within our schools a revision of history. It should not be imposed but suggested. We have the example in research in which Europe is very much engaged. He would like to introduce dialogue with other cultures e.g. with China, Russia, Latin America...what does it mean? To open their views and explain.

When he was advising Barrosso, then the President of the European Commission, he was completely against excluding Russia, and even more so the sanctions imposed on Russia. Russia is a part of Europe. There should have been intergrated together with the six former Eastern European countries Russia as well and taken on the form of a special unit.

He ended his speech by referring to 'hands on': it is an experimental approach to knowledge. The result of suc a method is that children learn to observe and to have the obligation to present their research results. It means less violence in schools and altogether this is the best learning process for democracy.

Liang Lixin, Head of the Chinese delegation and Vice President of Beijing Federation of Social Science Circles

It is a pleasure for him to speak at this Symposium. He wishes to begin with a statement that politics is a most complicated of all human affairs but it is human activity at the highest level. As such politics is an abstract concept to which thinkers have contributed. For example, different views exist about the nation, and to these different views various scholars have contributed. In short, there is no absolute answer. What we are discussing here is, therefore, what tremendous influence politics has upon daily life and the economy. Admittedly, politics has caused also wars, and that since antiquity. However, it can feed as well into development and in the light of world history contribute as much to the creation of a stable environment. The latter is very important for development.

What particular political direction any development takes, that is of utmost importance for culture and economics. As a matter of fact, they are dialectically connected. Economic interests and political systems determine altogether social relationships.

Modern China is taking a socialist tack to provide sound governance. This means any sort of changes are in line with what the economy and society require. In wishing to strengthen economic relationships, the Chinese government has founded the Asian Investment Bank to reinforce economic and social relations in the Asian region and with other regions. It is to the benefits of the Chinese people and of the world. Political stability is essential and, therefore, Beijing follows a national strategy. We understand our strategy as a wish to protect the environment and to improve in all sectors living and working conditions. There is a need for a stable and healthy political environment.

We have been studying these issues over many years. We have countless higher educational institutions with many able professors and able research centres to study the interplay between politics and economy. Most of the research is centred mainly around the issue of state governance . Thus we look at basic concepts such as state governance in order to find out how we can stabilize the system. In that function the role of the party is very important. We have proceeded to redesign the entire structure, in order to know how to link to the lower levels and how to integrate different powers. This entails training of professional politicians, civil servants, etc. as this is important on how we combat corruption and accelerate legislation, so as to know how we can open up state governance to the public.

After many years of economic growth, we are experiencing right now a slump. So we need to look at the high tech-sector and what consumption level of society can be sustained over time. We look at the agricultural sector.

China has to find new areas of development, to open doors and to look outwards. We need to know how to take advantage of the full potential of our capabilities, and to know if the direction of development we take, that it is the only suitable route!

Now in my field, social sciences, our NGO was established in 1983 and entails history, linguistics, philosophy etc. It is a network of many research centres and individual members who undertake every year several hundred research projects. All of them deal with Beijing as nodal point of commerce. Lately we try to find out how this is linked to the suburbs and local levels on the periphery.

I should stress the fact that culture plays an important role as third pillar

We can respond to the cultural requirements of our people.

Greece has a wonderful culture. In Beijing, we have undertaken many cultural events, in order to explain political and economic development.

It is important to provide answers to questions posed by the Social Science.

In Beijing, society is stable. Significant is that we just won the bid for the Winter Olympic Games. Here, at this symposium, we find ourselves at the birthplace of the Olympics. So on behalf of our Association, we like to invite all participants to visit us.

Chairman: We have a quest for political analysis, so he has the question as to what would be Robert Skidelsky's interpretation of Keynes, and this in knowing he has written a widely discussed book about Keynes.

Baron Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor, Warwick University, Biographer of Keynes

'China and the West': Summary of Presentation on Politics and Economics for Olympia 3 September 2015 China and the West - two versions: oral presentation and written paper

Oral presentation

I am not going to talk about Keynes but what is connected with this meeting: East-West politics and how it is connected with the economy. Lately China has replaced Greece as the main business news: stock market slump, etc. Newspapers discuss the economic crisis without reference to the background. In the Cold War rhetoric everything squeezed into a binary: communism – capitalism. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, everything is being approached with a single logic. That raises an interesting question, as to what might have happened, if China had not existed on the basis of Communism?

China has become a pole of attraction especially for those who did not like the American dominance and the Western style based on markets as the only way. China follows a business model and has a political system which is not compatible with the Western system. We have the Chinese growth model which is export orientated on the basis of a low exchange value, but that model has reached its limit. Something else has to happen.

The new Silk road project offers a possibility to re-balance the Chinese system suffering from too much growth and consumption. If not counter balanced by something else, it will lead to a fall in investments and to this rebalancing the Silk Road project will help by keeping up investments during the next phase of political reforms.

At the same time, USA focuses on its Asian coordinates. Now it is the aim of the Silk road project to substantiate a new economic empire, in order for China not to feel excluded.

Now Russia wants to develop Euroasia. Russia has failed to modernize its economy and depends on exports of raw materials. Therefore, Russia needs Chinese investments for its construction and transportation projects. So some synergies are possible and which can create a Euroasia unity with some defence component. This will create new frontiers.

As for Europe and the West, Russia needs a project to take the sting out of the collapse of the Soviet Union and to counter the rise of Western Capitalism. Hence Russia envisions a counter force to reduce its vulnerability to USA / European Union influences. In that sense the Silk Road project is a step towards global economy and at the same time an alternative to the present order. The main question remains but what is the main intention: is it to increase the leverage of these powers to achieve reform of the world system or will they succumb to more narrowly defined interests?

The Chinese political model depends upon the quality of political leadership. It is a topic which preoccupied already Plato but which has been neglected in current research. This is because elections, so the assumption, guarantees good leadership. China has raised the question whether there is a viable alternative. Thus if China is to evolve to some recognizable form of democracy, the Communist dictatorship will have be allowed to whither away. That is possible if it is recognized that it is only a transitional solution. In this regard, China is twenty years behind Japan,. South Korea, Taiwan, that is in terms of growth of democratic values.

Daniel Bell offers a defence of meritocracy for Chinese leaders come from all walks of life and are selected through a rigorous evaluation system at each stage. People do need the best leaders but these do not necessarily emerge through democracy. A democracy only demands to select the leaders, but it is left up to the people to evaluate the candidates. Daniel Bell touches upon the crisis of democracy in the West, and by the same token addresses the lack of democracy in many other countries. For example, the rise of democracy in China is not self understood as there political leaders and civil servants are not distinguishable and are not accountable. Similar elements exist in the UK e.g. House of Lords and civil servants. It is still a matter of how to install a meritocratic system or how to assert a meritocracy? Can it be done by doing everything to ensure leaders have in mind national interests and who understand the issues? For example, did Tsipras really understand the economic issues when he entered negotiations with the European partners? I do not know.

There is conflict and dialogue! If the West believes its values are supreme, then it must make sure they are universal. However, dialogue begins with recognizing other values exist and many different channels exist to further inter-cultural dialogue and co-existence.

(recorded by the editor HF)


Written presentation

  1. Introduction

In the last few weeks, China has replaced Greece as the main business news story of the day: stock market crash, devaluation of the yuan, knock on effects on the world economy, future of global interest rates, and so on. Just as the newspapers discussed the Greek crisis without any reference to Greek history and politics, so now they discuss the so-called Chinese crisis without any knowledge of its background. I will try to provide some of this background, although very briefly.

In the Cold War era historical diversity was squeezed into the binary division between capitalism and communism. There were just two systems. But once the Cold War ended, older patterns re-emerged. At first it seemed as if the binary divide would be succeeded by a 'single world' civilization. Globalization in economics, democracy in domestic politics, westernisation in culture, 'unipolarity' in power. And this might have happened had it not been for the unexpected survival of communist rule in China, and China's 'peaceful rise', through the machinery of globalization, to economic superpower status. China has become a 'pole of attraction' for all those who resent some or other aspect of western, especially American, domination. The global economic collapse of 2008-9 has weakened the claim of western-style capitalism, based on markets and democracy, to be the only way forward.

I will look here at two aspects of China's system, its 'business model' and its 'political model' and consider how far these are compatible with membership of the western-led system of economics and politics.

II. China's Business Model

In an important book, the HK based economist Chi Lo, argues that China's growth model based on export-led growth through an undervalued exchange rate and investment in loss-making state-owned enterprises has reached the end of the road.

The Chinese economy needs to be rebalanced towards serving domestic consumer needs. But the deep structural reforms needed to achieve this threaten standards of living based on the previous model, and thus the legitimacy of Communist rule.

Madame Lang Lixin has referred to One Belt,One Road dream. The project of the New Silk Road (heareafter OBOR)) offers a possible route to rebalancing. Switching money from investment to consumption is likely to cause economic contraction. So investment can't be allowed to fall too quickly. OBOR can help rebalancing by preventing investment falling during the period of structural reform.

Internationally, OBOR, supported by potential financial resources of US $ 200bn. allocated to a variety of international banks and funds,, will unleash a regional infrastructure boom by connecting China with Asia, Europe and Africa by land and sea. Domestically it will help export China's excess capacity.

Politically it will secure foreign trade relationships in response to major US-led foreign trade pacts which have excluded China, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Since 2010 the US has been working on its 'pivot' to Asia policy with South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Australia and India. This is widely viewed in China as 'encirclement'.

Chi Lo writes: 'By building closer economic ties with the regional economies along the 'New Silk Road' Beijing is aiming to tie these regions' prosperity to their relationship with China, hence laying the foundations of an economic empire centred on China'.

Map of New Silk Road (Map 1)

Map 2 (China's regions)

Russia, too, has an economic motive for developing Eurasia. It has failed to modernize and diversify its economy. As a result, it remains predominantly an exporter of petroleum products and an importer of manufactured goods. China offers a secure and expanding market for its energy exports. And Russia needs Chinese investment in the big transport and construction projects needed to realize Eurasias economic potential.

This year Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan have joined together in a Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), a customs union with a defence component. The EEU is seen by its advocates as a step toward re-establishing the old Soviet frontiers in the form of a voluntary economic and political union, modeled on the EU a project to take the sting out of the Wests victoryin the Cold War.

Official Russian opinion looks forward to the interpenetration and integration of the EEU and the Silk Road Economic Beltinto a Greater Eurasia,which will afford a steady developing safe common neighborhood of Russia and China.On May 8, Putin and Xi signed an agreement in Moscow that envisages the establishment of coordinating political institutions, investment funds, development banks, currency regimes, and financial systems all to serve a vast free-trade area linking China with Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Putin, meanwhile, has ratcheted up his much more explicit anti-American rhetoric since the Ukraine crisis, which he sees as a prime example of Western interference in Russias domestic affairs. Boosting trade flows between Russia and China, and strengthening political and security coordination, will reduce their joint vulnerability to outside interference and signal the emergence of a new centre of world power.

So the question is: are ideas such as OBOR and Eurasia steps towards global integration or an alternative to it - a stage in its breakdown? They are clearly responses to exclusion, actual, or potential, from world markets and power structures. So one can see OBOR-Eurasia either as a bargaining lever to break into western-controlled structures, or as an 'outward looking regionalism' like the EU, or as an alternative to globalization. One must not overlook the difficulties inherent in building an alternative to globalization. Potential members of a 'Eurasian bloc' not only have conflicts of interest among themselves, but also multiple ties to other regions. So in economic terms, it is probably best seen as a way of bring leverage for reform of the global economy.

But we must now add the political dimension.

III. China's Political Model.

Mr. Pangalos in his talk raised the important question of the quality of political leadership and the best way of choosing leaders, a topic, of course, which preoccupied Plato. This question is entirely neglected by theories of contemporary democracy. It's assumed that electoral choice will somehow produce adequate leadership. But this is far from clear.

The survival of Communist Party rule in China (as well as the defeat of democratic forces in Russia) has challenged Fukuyama-type optimism about the inevitable spread of democracy. The expectation still is that China will evolve towards some recognisable form of democracy; that the Communist dictatorship was a solution to particular problems of Chinese history, destined to wither away.

This is indeed the official Chinese thesis. Party dictatorship is regarded as a transitional form Surveys show that the growth of democratic values in China is only a generation behind their growth in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. This suggests that China will follow in their path and develop an East Asian version of liberal democracy.

A major thesis in political science is that economic growth leads to democracy via the expansion of the middle class; to put it another way, greater freedom of economic choice leads to the demand for greater freedom of political choice.

The more general view is that once accountability of rulers to God or Marx is rejected, there is no alternative to holding them accountable to the people. In practice this has always been so: democracy is simply a method of organising this accountability in a peaceful and orderly way. To that extent the evolutionary model must be right.

We may thus talk of a growing contradiction between China's capitalist development and its authoritarian political system.

This evolutionary perspective has recently been challenged by a principled defence of the Chinese system of rule, which derives from Confucianism. Known as 'political meritocracy', a leading exponent is the American sinologist Daniel A Bell.

Daniel Bell distinguishes meritocracy and democracy as a way of selecting leaders. He asks: what should be standards of progress and regress in politics? Is it possible to reconcile the best of meritocratic and democratic values? Can political meritocracy be made legitimate?

He contrasts the meteoric rise of President Obama from almost nowhere with President Xi Jinping's decades' long ascent to the pinnacle, through successive layers of bureaucracy and administration. Chinese leaders in all walks of life are selected, in theory at least, through rigorous and ultra-competitive evaluations at each stage of their rise.

Societies need to be governed by their best people. Hence political theorists from Confucius, Plato, and Zhu Xi to JS Mill, Sun Yat-sen, and Walter Lippmann have tried to find ways of selecting the best possible leaders.

In China, according to Bell, this discussion stopped with Maoism; in the west it stopped short with the triumph of electoral democracy. As Bell says, 'A democracy demands only that the people select their leaders; it is up to the voters to judge the merits of the candidates'.

The debate over meritocracy was revived in Singapore; Its current reevival is due to (a) the crisis of democracy in the west, (b) the failure of democracy to take root in many non-western countries, and (c)the rise of China under meritocratic government.

In the West the meritocratic principle is subordinate to democracy: experts are accountable to voters. In China, meritocratically selected leaders exercise power, with no clear system of accountability and no clear distinction between civil servants and political leaders.

The issue is whether such a meritocratic model of leadership can be made legitimate in the long run. Of course there are meritocratic elements in western societies: for example, it could be argued that in Britain, the House of Lords, the House of which I am a member, represents one meritocratic element in the democratic system: the administrative class of the civil service, the judiciary, central banks, other elements.

So have an interesting dilemma: democratically accountable rule may suffer from a deficit in the capacity of rulers; non-democratic systems are certainly subject to corruption and abuse of power.

So it may be that what we should be talking about are biases of values and systems rather than absolute opposites. For example 'Harmony' seems to be more highly valued, and individualism less, in Chinese than in Western countries.

Current Chinese political development has been guided by the concept of 'democracy at the bottom, experimentation in the middle, and meritocracy at the top'. Can the model be exported?

IV. Reconciliation

If we set China's dream of Eurasia and meritocratic rule against the Western dream of globalization and democracy we can see that there is large scope for conflict but also for dialogue and synthesis. One impediment to the latter is the western belief that western values are superior to all others, and that the west will not be secure unless its values are universalised. The dialogue must start from the recognition that there is no single way, in either economics or politics, and that history is not a linear progress towards universal truth but flows through many different channels to an unknown future. It reveals plentiful opportunities for cross-cultural learning and peaceful coexistence. The challenge is to seize them. (1721)



Question from audience: To Pangelos: I agree but expected to hear something about education and the general level of education in Greece.

Pangelos: he did not want to feed everything into one issue. Education is a national issue. He thinks that in Greece former Communists have taken over the education and are responsible for the worst instincts. He cites their record of protest against reforms e.g. against increasing hours of teachers and methods to cover up the loss of teaching hours. This explains the predominance of violence so that universities are no longer places of tolerance for other views. There exists in Greece the lost generations. We do not have any future for this minority of individuals has dissolved any effort for educational reform.

In a country such as Greece, one should give a wider scope to judge people who are elected. He proposed within his own PASOK party a change in the electoral law: for the 300 seats in Parliament have 100 indirectly and 200 directly elected, and if needed like in France to do so in two votes.


China has a problem between what politicians think they can do and the way the market wishes to move forward.

Europe made a big geopolitical mistake by excluding Russia as decided in 2008. It is madness when Juncker proposes strengthening defence as if Russia is a threat. We imposed sanctions and therefore damage our own people while pushing Russia into the hands of Asia. Also it has to be said that the Internet is changing the political behaviour. Political parties are losing .

Question from the audience: What about the problem of the media, how to obtain a proper choice when the media tends to perpetuate models of the past?

Skidelsky: Media abuses its power. You need new press laws in defence of privacy but also a statement as to what is in public interest. We have no regulation about content on the internet. Also the universities are another problem since pushed in a certain direction on how they are funded.


11.00 Coffee Break

11.30 – 13.30


Chairman: A question emerges out of the previous presentations and discussion: how the market imposes policy today? Political decisions these days are basically determining the role and financial capacity of companies? I think it is not merely a matter of defeatism. We should create in Europe ways to bring back a balance and to establish a balance between economy and politics. So it is appropriate that our next speaker shall be Nikos Mouzelis. He has published recently an article in Vima this past Sunday, and does make contributions on a regular basis. He did his studies of Social Sciences in Geneva and is President of Citizens for Intervention. He is a political pioneer. A few years back, he took the initiative for political reform. So my question to him would be what policies we ought to pursue in a period of recession?

Nikos Mouzelis, Emeritus Professor of sociology, LSE

My theme will be the crisis of Social Democracy, its causes and what future prospects exist for this political orientation. As I am going to refer to the Golden Age of Social Democracy, a politics which dominated from 1945 until 1975, it can be said that once Thatcher came and the forces of market took over, that period was over.

Social democracy started in 19th century. It was a combination of Marxist revolutionaries and reformist best exemplified by the clash between Bernstein and Lenin in how to approach Capitalism. Lenin believed a gradual approach would transform the workers into a semi bourgeoisie class and revive the capitalist model; on the other hand, Bernstein argued gradual reform such as giving the Right to vote to workers was a prerequisite for achieving a shift away from the dominance of Capitalism towards a Socialist model when it comes to determining decisions.

Social democrats opt in general for the welfare state with the aim to improve the living conditions of workers. In looking back, it has been an amazing performance in modernity, mainly the spreading of rights for the first time and this downwards so that many more people were lifted out of absolute poverty. This is being forgotten today. For the Left Social Democrat is a dirty word.

As to the crisis, there are two reasons for this: one, the new technology of the Fordist working order means that the working class shrunk and second, the rise of the neo-liberal policy idea at global level meant the relationship between Capital and workers changed. It means a marked imbalance between capital and workers. Corporations can easily move to other countries where labour law is weak and thus political parties have lost their pro labour character. In doing so, they have come to accept to some degree the neo-liberal ideas best expressed by the Washington consensus. It entails anti inflation, anti trade union, etc. policy measures and this is what Germany imposes upon the Eurozone today. As a result, the crisis has manifested itself as this policy orientation creates unemployment, unequal distribution of resources, etc.

On the Left who identify Social Democrats in this way, argue that it is dead as political orientation and that its present decline is irreversible. Now Social Democracy is called either Social Liberalism or Blairism.

On the other hand, there are those who define Social Democracy in a broader sense as a reform movement which can overcome the crisis by trying a second humanization of the Capitalist structures. Unfortunately political condition render them to the periphery.

At European level, it is obvious that Social Democracy is no longer possible and especially not in a small country. However, it can be realized at transnational level. This presupposes that the Eurozone changes its present architecture. And it can be realized if the social democratic community will survive with greater solidarity, in order to overcome huge inequalities and the imbalances between North and South. Also it will have to resolve the massive unemployment, and the rise of extreme anti Europe Right wing parties.

The Eurozone has the more competitive Northern economy and the less competitive in the South, and all operating on the basis of the common Euro. That leads to a transfer of resources. Such an unequal distribution of resources cannot be offset by the EU supporting the South, and not only Greece through the Structural Fund.

Germany is now a mountain of surplus thanks to interest rates and as a result thereof due to a process of unequal distribution. There must be introduced new institutions in order to shift from a neo-liberal to a socio democratic economic order. To realize this, admittedly it is very difficult, but not impossible.

Germany is the dominant power: not the voter, but the German elite. The latter must realize In the long run that it is in their interest to maintain the union. Merkel wants something impossible: keep the austerity measures despite of the inequality and maintain international power even though Germany can become in future a third country when compared to the emerging new economic powers such as China.

The Left believes Capitalism will collapse. They revived their old theories due to the recent crisis. e.g. Thomas Piketty – debate about inequality. There Is a growing financialization of the global economy and this increases the problems of reproduction of Capitalism. This is more or less correct, but the prediction about the immanent collapse is wrong.

Neo Liberalism may have peaked as indicated by Obama's Keynesian model to overcome the crisis.

Three types of Capitalism exist:

  1. neo liberal type e.g. USA;

  2. authoritarian Capitalism e.g. China

  3. popular social reform – the Eurozone / European Union: a serious force for social democratic reforms

Unfortunately only two players dominate the global economy: USA and China.

USA is still the leading economic power due to its technology and because of the productivity of its work force, while China, despite its problems, has a huge economy and impressive economic growth. This has created a Middle Class and may lead to an opening up the political system. China despite huge inequalities in its urban centres, China managed to reduce poverty from 40 to 20% and managed to get out of absolute deprivation. This has never been done before at such a scale. Hence peasants will not starve during bad harvests and thus they will survive.

Finally, the Eurozone may become the third major economic player, so hope is that the convergent interests are stronger than the conflictual.

There are some definite challenges at global level:

In future, the crisis would be less dramatic if we regulate the world market in a social democratic manner. It can be done by linking the three mega actors so as to run the economy in a rational manner.

A good example for G3 is the effort by the USA to influence European leaders although unsuccessfully to leave behind the austerity policy.

To conclude: social democracy is not dead, its revival is possible, if following conditions are met:

Such social democratic strategies have a greater chance of success within an united Europe, and be taken as an answer to right wing populism and anti Europe sentiment.

Indeed a Capitalism with a human face is the only possibility.

Given that the adaptability of Capitalism at global level will continue, so that the choice is neo liberalism versus neo social democracy, that is non regulated or progressive regulated markets.

There is enough reason for pessimism that G3 will not come about and that the tendency towards authoritarian states shall increase and history not unfolding according to reason (Hegel). However, he wishes to offer for the moment a more optimistic note.

Chairman: Let me introduce Thanos Skouras, Professor Emeritus of Economic Theory of the University of Athens. He has studied philosophy and economics at LSE and pursues now diverse activities.

Thanos Skouras

We saw Hermes in the archaeological museum of Olympia, and we can ask ourselves why such a statue? 



                                        Hermes with baby Dionysos (1)

At display is an athletic body, and therefore Hermes is shown to be without wings.

However, there is as well the myth of HERMES having become entangled with Apollo. When the latter accuses Hermes of having stolen 50 of his cows, Hermes denies everything. So we need to ask ourselves how can a thief reach such a status?

To mediate between the two, Zeus orders them to compete, and this Hermes wins again by cheating. However, he hands the victory prize to Apollo, and thereby wins him over.

The story of competition with Apollo relates to HERMES as the messenger. He is the one who is most involved with human society and there are no activities which are outside his scope. At the same time he follows the principle “nothing in excess.” In that sense, Hermes may symbolize the transition from Gods to human beings.

The Olympics extend a competition free from violence. To gather in Olympia, it entails communication, travel and commerce. All of this accompanies the Olympic Games. To date Hermes means rejection of war and violence. All what he promotes can flourish best under conditions of peace.

The affinity of the Games and Hermes is important for the spread of human civilization. It is based on travel, commerce and communication for the benefit of material progress. Labour organization can only progress by improving communication and by improving the division of labour. In those days, communication requires physical closeness. The human activities protected by Hermes led to economic growth and is so connected to Adam Smith.

By stealing already from the cradle, Hermes symbolizes human nature. Interestingly enough Adam Smith studies human nature and wrote not only the Wealth of Nations but also about moral centres of humanity. He was aware of human egocentricity and the importance of morality. When he studied the centre of morality, he saw everything is based on egocentricity – self interest - in the same sense of how Hermes got Apollo to like him. Such acts allow us to live in human society. He also understood what brings about fruitful competition and realized by having in place decentralized economic decisions, it would lead to a better allocation of resources. Always it is a market society based on self interest and which does not depend on the prior betterment of humanity.

Thus the interest is how to create conditions for greater social wealth? It involves a more civilized stage of development.

Montesquieu observes that a relationship exists between manners and commerce, for the more gentle and less barbaric the manners, the greater commerce is since then without violence. That leads to observing gentleness as main character.

Yet the development road to the present has been anything but smooth. The problem of self interest is that it leads to a corrosion of moral values and furthers market expansions without a social dimension.

Market mechanism is a success story of sorts, but then, as in all human affairs, it has to be on the same grounds as democracy. It is done by demanding the rule by law and leaning upon each other for support.

Winston Churchill stated no one pretends democracy is perfect, only compared to all others, it is the best. The same applies to the market system.

Both incorporate gentleness rather than violence.

Everything is milder in democracy. Indeed theoretician state democracy is the only system in which decisions are based on counting heads.

Nothing can succeed in one day but only over time. But now travel time has been reduced and therefore commerce has become universal.

Globalization has negated the Malthus prediction. It has led to rising life expectations and improved living conditions.

Resistance of established interests leads to use of populism, and this to the disadvantage of the market society. Most extremists ignore the maxim 'nothing in excess'. Also war and violence continue unabated in many parts of the world. It means that the world of HERMES is still far away.

The obvious defect of the modern Olympic Games is doping and cheating in competition. Likewise democracy's main failings are deception and lying, in particular the unscrupulous deception practised by the media.

Drugs and migration are enabled by the main possibility of communication and travel capacities. There is the interdependence of the world which has transcended Hermes. We may call the new era one of Post Hermes times due to the advance of globalization and interrelationships of nations. The biggest challenge is that humanity needs to maintain the environment, if to survive. Wealth creation needs to respect the resources the earth provides and that sets a limit to the Hermes world.

Humanity needs to come much closer. This symposium may contribute to the creation of institutions which allow discussing and correcting the limits of a Hermes world while taking advantage thereof.

  1. The statue of Hermes referred to was made by Praxiteles. The statue is dated to 343 BC and is made from Parian marble. It is the only original work of Praxiteles. According to Wikipedia, the Greek state signed in 1874 an agreement with Germany for an archaeological exploration of the Olympia site,[1] which was first dug in the French Morea expedition of 1829. The German excavations in 1875 were led by Ernst Curtius. On 8 May 1877, in the temple of Hera, he uncovered the body (head, torso, legs, left arm) of a statue of a young man resting against a tree trunk covered by a mantle. Protected by the thick clay layer above it, it was in an exceptionally good state of preservation. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermes_and_the_Infant_Dionysus The statue is in the Archaeological Museum of Olympia / Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο Ολυμπίας.

  2. The guide of the Archaeological museum explained why Hermes is carrying the baby Dionysos. Zeus was not always faithful to Hera and when Dionysos was born, he asked Hermes to take the baby into hiding. On the way, they stop at a place where Hermes can pick grapes with one hand while holding in the other hand the baby Dionysos. That is being depicted by the statue in the Archaeological Museum in Olympia.


Agne Vlavianou, President and founder of the International Association of Biopolitics.

She wishes to talk about the future of mankind. Our future is based on what we do in education, and that has to include talks about such problems as autism. The causes for autism are linked to our environment.

Thanks to Spyros, we come back to our sources of values as made explicit by Olympia, in order to think about a new era.

A poem about the new era expresses best what she has in mind. Two lines are but a sample of the poem:

                                   feel the breathing of every plant,

                                   can you listen to the beat of your heart?


We should think of the gong which resonates with the future, but we can also listen to the whisper of the leaves when Zeus is still present.

The spirit of being close to nature, this search for peace and therefore the inclusion of the environment in the Olympic Games is important. To that especially China can make a huge enrichment and allow us to see how the cultures of the world participate.

Every second at Ancient Olympia is an inspiration. This is what humanity needs. We talked about technology and creation of wealth. Humanity has become arrogant and blind. There is the problem of bureaucracy, a system which has become blind. All it manages to do is to divide and to rule in every country, so that even slavery may still prevail, while to this has been added the problems of migration and the destruction of diversity. We need to ask ourselves as to where are we going? Is Olympia an opportunity to build something new?

So we started in 1992 an universal university for the environment, so that everyone respects the environment.

We need a core of values, of joy, and all have to be linked to bio: life. We have a unique gift in our hands but often we forget that. We think more about money and go blind.

We have the need for reforms of education and yet we have the Hippocratic oath which has prevailed over the millennium.

We lost these values to the games of power. If they would only comply to these values, but this power is only for destruction. Technology is a powerful tool and contributes to communication, but as we said this morning the media blocks this creativity. Where is the progress?

This meeting has to be used as a powerful tool to bring about changes.

We have started courses about sustainability, about how to reduce unemployment, to improve health, and all by participating and sharing. All our courses are free. We are small, just a piece of dust in which we write our thoughts.

We are in a time of crisis and this is a strong environmental crisis, an ethical crisis, but it is also a crisis of leadership. So we need to educate leaders. Maybe China can contribute. But it is an urgent problem since too much wealth is in the hands of just 1%. Maybe we can involve these people but in this era of meta capitalism we need to ask them to enter an inspirational era. It needs a new commitment of the super rich to climate change mitigation. We need to give to the oceans, and if not, then climate change will create havoc.

Today the change in degree of temperature is no longer one degree, but two perhaps three, and that means 20% of biodiversity is being lost? What is the world stock market compared to the floods in Manhattan? Issues are huge and therefore we need leaders who can tackle them.

Technology is there but how do we use it? Can we use it to clean up the planet before it is too late?

We possess Life and every day we have 23 zeros of activities in our bodies.

We need myth. It can be used to create thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis, so that it can shine throughout the world like the true Olympic spirit. Therefore, we should have experts meet over the year in Olympia to discuss and to elaborate on these and other issues.

The human body demonstrates interdependence; if one part suffers, then the whole body suffers. It is the same with political leaders who have to work within this interdependence.

The Olympic spirit can redefine progress and give humanity hope and a vision. This is especially the case in Greece where elections are being conducted with the parties offering no program but also no hope.

We can create only new conditions by dealing with the big issue, namely climate change.

13.30 – 15.00 Lunch

Chairman : Andreas Zaimis, Former Minister

15.00 – 16.30

Ioannis Seimenis, president of the department of the Mediterranean studies, University of the Aegean, involved with Nato.

I have prepared a very short speech about a constructive agreement made when in 1985 Mediterranean countries signed up to the Barcelona agreement. It state that in future all relationships shall be based on comprehensive cooperation and solidarity. It calls for an overall coordinated response. Those who signed up to the Barcelona agreement were convinced to turn thereby the Mediterranean basin into a forum of dialogue. It would guarantee peace and stability. The agreement includes a commitment to combat poverty and to take other measures.

In retrospective, it was not very successful but it was an opportunity for coming together. The reasons what unites or separates us is a matter of our different desires, desires in brackets. There are issues which bring us together, others which tear us apart. Constantly war is a threat not only to world interdependence but also to the cultures in the Mediterranean region. See, for instance, the actions by IS and its destruction of cultural heritage.

To face up to that no nation can stand alone. In the past, the nation could stand alone but no longer. World issues are too large for one nation to handle everything by itself.

In 1994 the Catalonian discourse addressed the question if we can save the Mediterranean through further exchange. There are solutions needed which are of economic nature but they are not sufficient or certain economic solutions generate even more problems. We do need economic growth but we must revisit this concept.

In a country without any real rural income the only income is from the sale of work done by your working class. By now, tourists coming do not come only to enjoy the beaches but also to see as well how people understand to live. It is a matter of the art of well being, of living out in a public space and of practicing the art of communication. People look for an anti dosis to industrialization. So in our culture we have the means to confront the questions as to the meaning of life. Indeed our monuments are not mere objects but stand for a quality of life. Likewise human rights just as important. Thus defending the quality of life needs a strengthening of the Mediterranean dimension best done by making the agricultural land productive again. We need also to fight against ethnic issues, reconstruct our common identity and learn to live through our differences. We need an ethical change at this front.

There exist views of how to bring about a non aggression pact based on mutual respect, while acting in mutual interests best done by upholding international agreements. Such similar ideas are needed in the Mediterranean. Of course, no one wishes to run the risk of failure. Hence we must include following proposals as advanced by the Union of Mediterranean:

Unfortunately quite of these projects have folded due to financial and other reasons including the conflicts in the region.

Chairman: we are experiencing many difficulties in this region. When visiting this region, I saw things were going to happen. For instance at a meeting which were attending guards were standing behind each minister. I was quite nervous due to their readiness to shoot. When asked why, then they told me that recently someone started shooting. Since then they have taken these precautionary measures. There is a combination between different places and different rules for safety. For instance, in Morocco things were quiet when he visited as Minister of Foreign Affairs these countries. He knows the region. He was as well in Tunisia as an election observer.

Harry Tzalas, Historian, President of “The Hellenic Institute for the Preservation of Nautical Tradition”.

THe introduced his written presentation with following words:

Let me thank the organizer and especially Spyros Mercouris. You may wonder what an individual spending most of his life on ships, in particular ancient ships, what has it to do with war. We have so many wars and I have come to believe people will wonder later why we had so many wars in the 21st century. Compare with slavery. When looking back, emancipation from slavery started and has been abolished, but the tragedy of soldiers and many unknown people being killed, that has to come to an end.

Written presentation:

"Condemning War, praising Peace - Picasso's Guernica and La Joie de Vivre"


April 26, 1937. Spring was in the air in the little Basque town of Guernica. All was peaceful notwithstanding the ongoing Spanish civil war. Suddenly a roar and waves of German airplanes of the Condor division and of the Italian Aviazione Legionaria dropped their deadly cargoes. Guernica was not a military target but it was razed to the ground. German Nazis and Italian Fascists who had sided with Franco Nationalists thought of that tactic meant at demoralizing the civilian population. That act of barbarism was not the first; it had already been done by the German forces during the 1st World War when the French town of Soissons in Picardie was continuously shelled from August 1914 to the end of 1919. Alas, attacks on civilian targets would be repeated by all belligerents in the course of World War II and this appalling practice is still perpetrated in modern conflicts. Going back to Guernica, 1,654 civilians died, and Guernica is remembered as a tragic event as its memory has been kept alive by a famous work of art.

News of this atrocity spread worldwide. Pablo Picasso, the famous avant-garde artist, lived then in Paris and that tragedy became the source of inspiration for his masterwork “Guernica”, a large mural of 7.80 by 3.50 meters. There is only black and shades of black and white in that composition. No sun, just a striking electric bulb shedding indiscrete rays on the macabre death scene. Dismembered human and animal parts scatter the canvas, a screaming head with raised arms curses the sky, an inconsolable mother mourns with her lifeless child in her arms, a frightened black bull bellows, while nearby a horse neighs in breathless anguish.

“Guernica” was exhibited around the world, becoming famous and widely acclaimed; it helped bring worldwide attention to the horrors of war.



   Picasso "La joie de vivre"

Time passed, the evil deeds of the Spanish civil conflict were overshadowed by the horrors of World War II and the incredible death toll of some 60 million souls, the majority civilians; and then humanity in 1951 felt the need to invent a new legal term, genocide, to deal with the unprecedented atrocities of the Holocaust.

Nine years after “Guernica”, Picasso settles in Antibes in the South of France. Once more he is in love and the peaceful atmosphere of that ancient Greek city provides a unique setting for an anti-Guernica, the creation of a new masterpiece dedicated to Peace: “La joie de vivre”. That term was first used by François Fénelon, a protector of civil rights, at the end of the 17th century, by Michelet in the middle of the 19th century, and by Émile Zola in 1883. It refers to a relaxed, peaceful although creative situation, which Picasso wanted to capture in his work.

La “Joie de Vivre”, exhibited in the Musée Picasso in Antibes, reflects the beauty, the serenity of Peace. Inspired by the non-belligerent stories of Greek mythology it is a burst of colors, optimism and joy. In an idyllic landscape blessed with ample light, a “woman-tree” is the leading figure; she swings gracefully, her hair blown by the breeze. Two smiling little goats dance happily to the rhythm of a centaur’s fife and the double flute of a faun. In the background a sailing ship moves on a calm, deep blue sea.


There are certainly other masterpieces of different cultural aspects that induce to meditate over the insanity of war; in art there is no need for lengthy dissertation or hours of eloquence. The essence of a message can be concentrated in a glance, in a word, in a sound. The closing scene of the historical movie based on Erich Maria Remarque’s novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a striking example. Paul, the young German soldier, has been crouching for days and nights in the dreadful mud-filled trenches on the front line. He sees a butterfly just beyond his trench; a happy, carefree butterfly, unconcerned with the evil deeds of men. Paul smiles and reaches out towards the butterfly, but becoming too exposed he is shot and killed by an enemy sniper.

Rovereto, in Northern Italy, is a beautiful little town lying near the shores of Lake Garda at the Brenner Pass that leads to Austria. Rovereto was marked by some of the deadliest battles of the First World War and is today a town dedicated to peace and culture. The vast War Cemetery lies on the slopes of a hill; at its top “Maria Dolens” (The Saddened Virgin) stands. That is the name given to an enormous bell of 22 tons cast with the bronze gathered from melting the weapons of that war. At dusk the one hundred tolls of the saddened bell of peace echo its message high up on the Alps.

When years ago I visited the Università della Pace, the University of Peace, in Rovereto, I asked the Dean what can be taught at a University devoted to Peace. His answer was: “There are so many Academies that teach the art of war, the process of eliminating and killing, that there is a need to counterbalance this evil with a dialogue, a peaceful dialogue between nations”. When you talk you do not fight and I am so pleased that this Symposium aims at starting a dialogue, a constructive dialogue between people and cultures. As Lao Tse, a Chinese wise man in the 6th cent. B.C. said: “the longest journey starts with a first step” and I hope this encounter is the first step that will lead to a long constructive course.

Chairman: when we understand something not in Greek, then we say it is all Chinese to me. This allows me to introduce our next speaker, Junqing Wu. She is a historian and works at the Institute of Historical Research, London, UK. She is an expert on Chinese religion.

Junqing Wu

Title: Mandrine and Heretics: the construction of heresy – to be published as a monograph. Research at University of London.

I am not working on translation / linguistics, but as native Chinese speaker working in England, I became aware of the different contexts of understanding concepts. As this relates to different historical experiences which determine the meaning, the question arises how do we relate to the original meaning when concepts undergo transformations?

Human self understanding is to transmit things in the context of cross cultural contexts.

Chinese has faced a long history of translation e.g. Buddhism . When introduced from India in China, it was just a minor question, it did not affect the life of most ordinary people. But after the introduction of Buddhism, people had to face huge amounts of misunderstandings and mistranslations. Then there was a famous Chinese monk who went to study in India and when he came back with precious Buddhist manuscripts, he started a translation centre. He used a combination of free and literature translation e.g. the challenge being how to select a Chinese character which had a similar expression as to what was said in the Indian language?

All this makes me wonder, do we have a special way of translation? It reminds of the contemporary crisis of understanding. The problem of translation was met only by few people.

The Chinese faced only in the early 20th century these problems. That concern was linked to collapse of the old regime and to the introductions of Western religious thoughts. Although we lacked the language to express these thoughts, it meant that we had to develop a new language. It can be said that the new modern language contains obvious and hidden meanings.

So here I want to use the concept of religion to demonstrate the problem of translation. To start with, what is our common understanding of religion, if not the one derived from the Medieval times when a special relationship between church and state dominated. The Western religion differed when compared to traditional China, where the emperor was the son of heaven and religion and politics ending up being one and the same. People' life is obviously featured by religious rituals while religious life is diffused in China. Therefore it is the case that in the tradition of Chinese language nothing can be distinguished: everything is religious.

China has 3 religions: Stoicism (set of religious practice), Confucius (diverse), Buddhism (more religious in orientation)

Now we have to cover in modern language religion. For the new word is linked to institutional religion and to influence of Japan. Religion relates as well to the five institutions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism etc.

The categorization reflects efforts of modern China but does not correspond to the reality. Hence it points out a danger of translations when a concept has been implanted in the Chinese cultural life. New words are introduced but they have to be based on the Chinese character. Civil society as an example reflects the European orientation of citizens' participation, but in the Chinese context no independent activity from state or from family exists. We have a lot of kinship relationships, so that it would make much more sense by translating it as 'private organizations.' Thus I would want to ask the question if it is alright to create a new school of translation?


Hatto Fischer Several things can be said about translation. Since my great uncle Franz Kuhn was famous for his translation of Chinese novels into German (see, for example, his translation of Old chinese State wisdom) the question of his publisher might remind of certain other prerequisites. For he said to Franz Kuhn, that he presumes that he speaks and knows the Chinese language, but does he know the German language into which he will translate into? It is an art to translate in such a way that the strangeness of that other culture is not lost by transforming everything into mere German words without retaining that 'otherness'. The strangeness of the other world is afterall something not readily understood but can be experienced as something to be known if willing to venture further into this unknown world until then. Also my uncle was involved in a dispute with his professor at Humboldt University on how to translate novels. There was the strict philological school of thought which ignored the need for a translation to be readable. My great uncle preferred the latter, and therefore left the Academic field of translations. Besides they kept the most important novels such as Kin Ping Meh under lock as it was deemed to be to exoctic and erotic at one and the same time.

As for the term religion, it seems important to link this to the concept of dialogue. For instance, Martin Buber understood this as a dialogue between the three great religions, while other thinkers took it to mean an 'I-God' dialogue as if there is no need to speak with the other since the sole relationship to God would suffice when it comes to exist in society. This kind of self integration meant, however, to bow to the power of abstraction with a concept like God or Allah being not only abstract but supreme in terms of abstraction. Behind it stands then a theory with the claim that with this concept everything diverse as a multi cultural society can be unified and be governed as such. So of interest is her mentioning the emperor of China being close to good as it signifies politics and religion would be one and the same thing of understanding what governs society. It is not the rule of law as often proclained by proponents of Democracy. Here a further understanding would be needed as to how modern China evolved out of classical China, and if there exits the notion of a dialectic of securalization. If yes, it would be important to comprehend how nowadays religion is understood in relation to the state being ruled by the Communist Party of China, and vice versa if the unity of religion and politics still holds today as in classical China?

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