The Common Good in a Divided World

'It is time to say goodbye to this 'one size fits all approach' for developing countries - whether it is the post-war planning model of the social democracy, the Anglo-Saxon model of the free market, the social market thinking in the Christian tradition or the Washington Consensus it is important that developing countries themselves share and provide their view and make their own decisions, now more than ever'.

by Jos van Gennip

This article is a transcript of the speech delivered by Jos van Gennip on the occasion of his farewell address as President of the SID Netherlands Chapter during the SID Senate conference held in The Hague on September 30, 2010.

How can the common good be secured in a divided world?

Jos van Gennip, former member of the Upper House of the Netherlands' Parliament and former President of SID Netherlands Chapter - addresses this question and points out the challenge of finding a common and feasible response for all in today's changing global context. In his view, on one hand the world is facing the end of unipolarism whilst a scenario of growing fragmentation is shaping on the other hand. Although the pathway towards multilateralism seems to run across a terra incognita, a common destination can be found in the construction of a new 'problem-related patchwork approach'.

The achievement of the common good in a divided world needs a different approach. Goods are 'public' to the extent to which people have access to them. Goods are 'common' to the extent to which peoples contribution is required for their attainment (values, earnings, achievements). What we need to do then - Mr. van Gennip points out - is to connect the public good (ex. the access to health) to the common good, that is to say the circle - be it the family, the village or the city - wherein this is experienced.

Accepting a new multilateral order does not mean simply replacing the previous (local, national regional systems) with a new broader world government. Rather, a new multilateral order implies to address questions of responsibility, involvement, trust and eventually values! It also implies the need to question the very concept of development: development of whom (individuals, communities, nations) and development for what (prosperity, economic independence, participation, self-organization). 'The concept of development must be maintained, I choose, as many of you know, for integral authentic development, with a personal, social and cultural dimension'.

At this point in time - when a broader debate about modernisation and change is taking place in the Netherlands and in other countries, a discussion about new and old paradigms of development needs to be stimulated. It is important to revive the debate on human development and raise attention to the socio-cultural dimension of development.

It istime to say goodbye to this 'one size fits all approach' for developing countries - whether it is the post-war planning model of the social democracy, the Anglo-Saxon model of the free market, the social market thinking in the Christian tradition or the Washington Consensus it is important that developing countries themselves share and provide their view and make their own decisions, now more than ever. On the other hand, we ourselves will have to test whether our 19th century ideologies are still useful in the 21st century and in our societies with its current radical changes. Together we have to ask ourselves what the basic values, ideals and interests on which we want to build a global community are all about.

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Video summary of the conference

SID Netherlands Chapter Lecture Series

 

Jos van Gennip is former member of the Upper House of the Netherlands' Parliament and Chairman of the Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Senate. He was director of the Scientific Bureau of the Netherlands Christian Democratic Party and has had a long political career within this party. He has held leading positions at various Dutch development NGOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Development Cooperation. He is President of the SOCIRES Foundation, Centre for Society and Responsibility.

 

 

Photo: ishmael orendain/flickr