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Shaping Globalization: Civil Society, Cultural Power and Threefolding
by Nicanor Perlas

Message

It is astonishing enough that a leading spokesman of civil society in the Philippines shows interest in threefolding. That he should do so in a book tackling the challenge of globalization increases the anticipation of every reader.

Nicanor Perlas is a well-known man in the Philippines, a sage, almost a movement. He has clearly recognized, that the civil society movement with which he has been connected all his life–including over a decade during the Marcos dictatorship–has become the most important counterbalance to the excesses of capitalism. Perlas knows his Adam Smith, father of modern economics, so often quoted by followers of capitalism. He notes that Adam Smith published The Theory of Moral Sentiments long before the appearance of The Wealth of Nations. Moral values are indispensable if the beneficial aspects of the market system are to be experienced. The market, out of itself, does not create these values.

When the influence of the state and democratically legitimized majorities are essentially working at the national level, but the market operates internationally, then we are faced with the extremely dangerous situation that the market forces oppose and prevail over democracy, the environment and social justice. This is the omnipresent dilemma of globalization. No one wishes to return to the both cozy yet dictator-endangered nation-state. But there is an equal unwillingness to give up the benefits of democratic control over the market.

Nicanor Perlas formulates a principle of threefolding for society: polity, culture, economy. His special area is that of culture. Here he is not talking about concerts and theatre. Following the ideas of social scientist, Paul Ray, he outlines an attitude of the Cultural Creatives who understand, value and defend diversity against economic monotony. Cultural Creatives stand in opposition to the representatives of materialism, modernism, and elite globalization. There is a lot of esoterics involved. But one does not have to agree with that to admire the political power emitted by these post-materialistically and culturally influenced civil society groups who make the transnational corporations tremble.

Nicanor Perlas is a wonderful symbol, showing how we in the North can learn from the wisdom of Southern peoples.

Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker

Member, German Parliament

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