by Lidmila Němcová (Prague, Czech Republic)
I have read with a great interest the book Rethinking the solidarity published in 2007 (Bandung spirit book series) whose aim is to remember the spirit of the Bandung Asian-African Conference 1955. According to the authors the objective of this book is to look for the alternatives in the present undesirable World Order and globalisation.
At that time – half a century ago – Bandung conference was calling for peaceful co-existence, real independence and for solidarity towards the weak. This spirit represented an alternative to the hegemonic blocs headed by superpowers.
Reading this book I had in mind whether this spirit has been existing until today in some concrete forms and if the message is still able to tell something to recent generations. Since then a new political order has been introduced but the problems have not yet been overcome. The book is an anthology of reflections related to this historical event by a link of solidarity. They are written by intellectuals from different parts of the world.
A great part of this book is dedicated to the recent economic questions in the period of globalisation and to the fact that on the other hand the globalisation process is connected with the solidarity.
My intention is not to describe or to analyse the individual articles. Their content and their challenges should be considered by readers themselves. I have to emphasize that in spite of the number of articles (more than 20) and their variety, they form a compact unit and a serious work. In spite of 50 years distance the situation has not been yet solved. Wars, different systems of domination, exploitations, economic governance of transnational companies and superpowers exist – maybe under different forms, sometimes sophistically hidden, sometimes opened, hard and even brutal and still on hold. In comparison with the previous period new elements are pronounced more. I acknowledge that new aspects have been introduced. Let me present some examples: new tendences in independence of women and equal opportunities, inter-religion dialogue, enviromental crisis, information and communication technologies, educational challenges and the importance of human capital, intercontinental and world network of global solidarity and ethics in the frame of the Bandung spirit. I appreciate especially the sumarisation articles at the end of the book as well as the appendices.
The book proves that the Bandung spirit is still alive and that human solidarity is needed very urgently nowadays. I appreciate this book as a basis for common discussions trying to find new paths in order to reach a new equitable world order.
I cannot omit one critical remark. Unfortunately there are no contributions from the authors of the European Eastern bloc who might be able to bring some specific ideas to the problems treated with regard to their specific experiences from the past. In general there is a lack of experience in this bloc as a result of a long absence of the capitalist system; on the other hand the recent period of transformation from the socialist planned economy to the neoliberal economy has focussed the people in this bloc to pay more attention to their domestic problems (e.g. employment, standard of living, health and social problems, education, culture etc.) than to the visions and challenges in other parts of the world. It seems to them that those problems are very far away and not as urgent as the domestic ones. The special problem of contacts of the Eastern bloc with Asian regions – both under socialist and the new liberal period – merits some research and studies in the future.