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Plenary III - M. Castillo


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Plenary III - M. Castillo

  1. 1. Higher education and globalization : an indissolubly technical and ethical association, between competition and partnership. First vision of globalization: multipolarity as division of the world Difference, synonymous with inequality of development, feeding competition between the nations and the continents Consequences for the universities: - No world public culture - Manipulative elites - performance against ethics ** Second vision of globalization: an irreversible technological homogenization The race for diplomas and patents anticipates and precipitates the advent of a managerialized world Consequences for the universities: - A world public culture based on a general deculturation - Cosmopolitans fearing neither God nor man (without faith and law) - Knowledge as cognitive technology (capital) ** Third vision of globalization: the need for a cultural commun good The promotion of a pluralist public culture becomes an universal purpose, with the reciprocity as driving force Consequences for the universities: - A public culture as an answer to the challenges of globalization - Treating the aptitudes (abilities) like vocations: the choice of creativity - plurality as symbolic (linguistic) requirement for entrance into the world 1
  2. 2. This table is a sketch, intended to bring out the principal mental representations which can beused as background for the questions and the discussions. First vision of globalization: multipolarity as division of the world Difference, synonymous with inequality of development, feeding competition between the nations and the continentsGlobalization is seen as a multipolar reality, marked by the emergence of new powers:globalization is a reality without unity, in which State and each great area claims the right toassert its identity and to choose the path of its prosperity; there is no common master, but onlyactors everyone acting for himself.As we enter a culture of knowledge, in the sense that we need to know to transformknowledge into wealth, concurrence is for students and researchers the way for seeking totake a leading position among the new elites of globalization, which are, in the words of theeconomist Robert Reich, “manipulators of symbols", those who impose codes and modes,being always ahead in innovations and inventions.Globalization is for them a sum of opportunities to saiz and exploit: thus, the extraordinaryexpansion of the power conquered by the symbolic innovation in the field of information,finance, technology and spectacle gives rise to an invisible power, a soft power, not acting byviolence but only by suggestion and influence, creating accepted conditionings. This supranational power is in the hands of those who are sufficiently cultured to become"symbolic manipulators" whose inventions are immaterial (concepts in the field of art oradvertising methods, calculation methods, software ...) and they are lawyers, journalists,managers, stars etc.This new power of the knowledge economy, known for the pharaonical remunerations of themost prominent VIP (very important persons) is actively promoted by individuals subjectedto global “concurrence”, post-national citizens unattached who devote all their energy tocontribute to the new performances of the "information age."Consequences for the universities: - No world public culture - Manipulative elites - performance against ethics When the process of creation of wealth and well-being (welfare) is no longer national butglobal, the scale becomes qualitative and does not only modify the activities, it alsotransforms space, time and men. With the revolution which one says "post-industrial",economic transformations lead in fact to the change in social relations. 2
  3. 3. A mental revolution is necessary to understand that the assets, property, wealth are so muchdematerialized that the become in a way simple movement, that is mobility as well mental asfinancial. Isnt the high technology anything else than permanent innovation, continuoustransformation of products, services and human relations?The power of mobilization of the resources concentrates then on the most mobile of them,which is knowledge. Knowledge becomes the main resource of power in the sense (that)where cerebral energy becomes the rare element, the most required one, the most creative andversatile immatarial matter.Science consists in joining, modifying, transfering or recreating (acquired) knowledges -which includes scientific and technical abilities as well as the representations (ethical andesthetic) and the ideological stakes of a culture. They are attitudes, behaviors andexpectations.In an international context dominated by uncertainty, it is necessary to change with the changein order to convert the change into opportunities; the supreme duty, which imposes its finalityon all the others, is to assume what is unique in the human resources: the permanentmobilization of oneself by oneself.To know to be provisional, to make the transition between two novelties, to learn all alone, tofind in oneself the motives of engagements and creative resourcings, to face theunpredictability with unforeseeable answers, here what means being “rare” resource as anautotransformable resource, able to regenerate and recycle its own energy by makingprofessional life a permanent apprenticeship, a lifelong learning.On this assumption, universities can conform with the cult (religion) of performance byentering themselves a general concurrence at worldwide level: they are judged, evaluated,classified and downgraded. It is necessary to be realistic: the need for elites exists and itwould be aberrant that universities do not aim at excellence. But is performance excellence?One can make a distinction between the competition, in a sporting sense (which means thatone improves oneself in the rivalry with the other) and the “concurrence” in an economicalsense (which means that one gains by the destruction of the rival); it is the distinction whichopposes a self-critical liberalism to a wild liberalism.The performance at all costs can be conter-productive: the kind of man who sets himself up aselite inspires neither desire nor faith when he is a « hustler» ready to accept allcompromisings, a technician of the ability, a cynical man who expects from university thetraining of a “mercenary” of knowledge.Thus a new inequality of classes at planetary level becomes apparent: the sociologist ZygmuntBauman names “tourists” o n one side, those who travel to obtain success, fortune and therecognition and “vagrants” of the other side, those who move only because they are forced(unemployed, refugees, migrants): losers of globalization. 3
  4. 4. Second vision of globalization: an irreversible technological homogenization The race for diplomas and patents anticipates and precipitates the advent of a managerialized worldThere is a second vision of globalization, whose the requisites are quite different: that whichconsiders globalization as a cultural homogenization which unavoidable and irreversible. Thedecline of States and the elimination of bounders means the decline of languages and culturesin favour of a single universal language of communication, itself denatured, Englishmodulated in various accents and reduced to the lowest "common" translator of all languages.Homogenization also prevails thanks possession of know-how which are now indispensable:the powerpoint, download, SMS etc. Technical knowledges which need neither soul norspirituality nor ethics: the basic knowledge that bring the students in globalization is aknowledge that does not need culture. It is not necessary to share the values of the civilizationof Enlightenment, it is not even necessary to be modern to learn to master the power of allpowers: the technological efficiency. The languages of information, management, credit etc..are knowledges that do not need culture: they are easy transmitted and imitated throughout theworld thanks their cultural anonymity. They are carried without the users having to share thevalues that gave rise to the rationality the product of which they are: one can be in computerswithout sharing the ideals of human rights.A new universal democratic competence tends to prevail: the science of management as atechnique for managing all social reality. There is a management of artworks as there is amanagement of non-profit-making associations, as there is a management of business and ofuniversities. Management would like be the art of discovering and revealing the talents tomake them creative forces, but globalization reduces it to a marketing communication.One can not avoid thinking of the formula Thomas Stearns Eliot:“Where is the life We have lost in living?Where is the wisdom we lost in knowledge?Where is the knowledge we lost in information?1”A cultural globalization reduced to a utilitarian conception of knowledge leads to a generaldeculturation (cultural desintegration) of elites, which is both the condition and the effect ofthe taking-part of young people in a race for diplomas from which they expect an internationalrecognition: must the label "Erasmus Mundus" be synonymous of a possession of a "cognitive1 Thomas Stearns Eliot, The Rock, 1934. 4
  5. 5. capital", which means the total involvement of knowledge in the productive dynamic:“Knowledge is no longer a phenomon which is external to the economy. It becomesendogenous.2”Consequences for the universities: - A world public culture based on a general deculturation - Cosmopolitans fearing neither God nor man (without faith and law) - Knowledge as cognitive technology (capital)When globalization is identified with the emergence of a vast world civil society populatedwith mobile people, without borders and included in a same generalized productivism, wehave the feeling of being definiftively entered a postmodern age of the culture, wheregenerally coincide cultural cosmopolitanism and economic globalization. Through theglobalized elites are organized exchanges, information and knowledge that broadcast the sameways of thinking and deciding. Interest for economic development not only becomes essentialas a transnational factor of increased exchanges and communications, but it involves also thenecessity to internationalize, because of the need for commun regulations, a certain number ofsocial, legal and cultural adaptations.The formation of an international public space creates an "abstract (and formal) solidarity"between foreigners (in the words of the philosopher Habermas). Media, intellectuals, lawyers,journalists, writers, academics become global players in search of common legal rules, butwhich are general and outside the concrete life of the people. Each one can consider himselfas a "world citizen" provided he adopts a denationalized mind that no longer refers to acommunity of language and destiny. The information transmitted by the mass media haveboth deculturalising and acculturalising effects. In both cases, it is the question of informingthe public opinion in order to use (make) it as a caution for public decisions. But if the publicdebates of experts do nothing but to rally individuals equally deculturated, globalization is acultural universal expropriating: it is on the condition of being without country and withoutculture that world citizens should be recognized as abstract post-national people. Couldcultural globalization thus prevail on the consensual basis of a collectively accepteddeculturation?One aspect of the deculturation concerns universities particularly: the gap betweenprofessional success and culture is obviously favorable to the temptation of ignorance(inculture). A word is used to designate the winners of this successful deculturation: they arethe " indifferent cosmopolitans" (elitist indifference), indifferent to the fate of each individualcountry, including their own. Thus two extremes attitudes enter in concurrence at global level,the "short-sighted nationalism", on one side, and the "indifferent cosmopolitan" on the other.But an indifferent cosmopolitanism is not necessarily the best economic adviser, and on thehuman plain, it destroys any solidarity.2 Bernard Paulré, Vers un capitalisme cognitif. Entre mutations du travail et territoires,2001. 5
  6. 6. Third vision of globalization: the need for a cultural commun good The promotion of a pluralist public culture becomes a universal purpose, with the reciprocity as driving forceIn the first and the second case, the universities do nothing but follow and accompany amovement caused by economic globalization: they obey external constraints and adapt theformation to the market needs. But another vision of the role of the university vis-à-vis theglobalization is possible and necessary: because globalization requires a specific and newdesign of culture, a conception of culture as common good across the world. For the momentwhen a fierce “concurrence” divides peoples and minds, we need a public culture able ofpromoting the creativity of everyone in a climate of peace for all. It is the reason why we haveto recognize pluralism as a common good, as an universal good, as the motive of a culturaltogether-living. Universities can then work for promoting such a public culture.Pluralism is a common good so long as it is reciprocal: we must fight at once against thecultural homogenization (a world of mass culture) and against the cultural tribalization (self-culture in contempt or hatred of the other). There cannot be any intercultural dialogue only ifwe recognize that, as beings of language, we do not exist just one beside the other, but one bythe other.Consequences for universities:- A public culture, as an answer to the challenges of globalization- Treating the skills (abilities) like vocations: the choice of creativity- Plurality as symbolic (linguistic) requirement for entrance into the worldTo succeed in making pluralism a consensual and universal value, we must go beyond thetechnical and utilitarian design of knowledge through (thanks) an ethical and communicationdesign. A culture is not an impervious reality, closed in itself, a closed and completedlanguage similar to a dead language and which would reproduce indefinitely its own past, itcan, on the contrary, enrich itself by that it let the others understand and interprete of itself(by the understanding and interpretations of itself by others.) Whereas in a technical sense,knowledge prevails as a of power of conditionning and dominating, in an ethical sense, it isrecognized as a power of inspiring. In a globalized world, a cultural value will be less a self-assertion than the ability to create relationships and interactions with the others.There is a specific academic responsibility in a globalized world: the responsibility for theaccess of all to the symbolic power. The symbolic power is not simply the force to dominatethrough the scientific, literary and artistic knowledge: it is a symbolic construction of reality,it introduces individuals and peoples into the symbolic reality of the world. So an intercultural 6
  7. 7. dialogue considers itself as something else than a power area : as an intention to producemeaning, to create reasons for action, to legitimate collective decisions.An ethical and communication design of the high education has important consequences onthe formation and on the application of knowledge.-On formation : faith in formation is a resource as important as the technical content of theformation ; we must treate talents as vocations and not as instruments; to treat a talent, a giftor an aptitude (ability) as a vocation is to treat the student as a developing finality. To formhim is not to formate an aptitude, it is to give him on the contrary his full indeterminacy : thecapacity to choice for himself various goals and various possible achievements possible.There is no creativity if talent is not the creative ability of new possibilities.-On the application: knowledge can not be considered as a simple particular heritage, as theownership of intellectuals and as the pure mastery of abstract languages. It is not as a set ofspecialized knowledges, but as a reserve of projects of sense whose validity can be recognizedand adopted because of their social value, because it is creative of a shared interest, becauseculture is not no longer the property of a group, a class or a generation, but it can betransmitted and mobilized by interaction and not by domination. To transform specializedknowledges into public goods, worthy to belong to a public culture, it is to make the mutualunderstanding of the actors the condition for a possible cultural solidarity and for theircommon access to the same reality: the reality which is made with all the dangers we have toknow in order to face them. This is the very challenge of globalization, which must beresolved as a common problem. The task of universities is to make this problem publiclyunderstandable.Conclusion: The unequal access to symbolic power creates cultural fractures which increasethe divisions and the dangerosity of the world. In order to enter a universe which could beintellectually habitable by all, it is important to remember that the communicability ofcultures begins with the translation: translation of the letter of the texts, and translation oftheir spirit and symbolic resources. Access to culture is then less to withdraw to a particularheritage than to make it a public property, to make it a source of inspiration, creation andsharing. 7