Verbloggt: "Many Globalizations"
Moscow in January, around the Russian New Year
Thursday, deep-frozen but at least with heated handrails in the transfer bus at Sheremetyevo International Airport. The following days are frosty with partially heavy snowdrift. In these conditions, it then becomes a very specific observation criterion at an international highly ranking conference who makes it to the podium with brightly polished Italian leather shoes and spotless pant legs with a dark suit. Or, alternatively, who knows how to use high heels skilfully like spikes? Once a year, over the course of three days at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in Moscow, the Gaidar Forum takes place, commemorating the economist, reformer, and acting Russian prime minister in 1992, Yegor Gaidar.
In 2016 more than 7,500 attendees took part, listening to scientific experts and practitioners debate the big questions of Russia’s economic and social development. This year the forum is titled “Russia and the World”. The president salutes the audience via video and Medvedev takes part in the opening panel, presenting and discussing. Together with him on the podium the first deputy manager of the International Monetary Fund, former prime ministers from Poland and Australia, the chief economic commentator of the Financial Times, and the CEO of the Unilever Group. An impressively large number of influential persons share the stage.
Many enterprises seem to have competed to become sponsors of the forum. A non-representative poll (n=2) during the chatting in the corridor reveals: The CEO of Unilever had used this opportune moment best, delivering a convincing grand narrative on the actual state of the world.
“Russia and the World” – with the subtitle “Setting Priorities” – now that sounds like really thinking big! Where, if not here – where economists, politicians, sociologists, and historians exchange their findings and interpretations – should we discover old and new spatial formats? And shouldn’t the one or the other spatialized world order shine through?
A greatly condensed conclusion of the ideas of some panels to explain actual processes in the world order is that China is the only remaining big player who has a strong interest in a new world order. This is because China is the net creditor of the world economy. This position connects China to countries like Germany with an export-oriented economy and similar motivations in policy-making. In contrast, many other nations – the US, Russia, Great Britain, and so on – are absorbed by signalling to their population that they still have, or have regained, their national sovereignty. Moreover, is China’s OBOR initiative (One Belt, One Road – the New Silk Road) aiming at installing a new spatial format? If so, will this constitute a new composition of territories and places, exemptions from territorial regimes, foreign-financed infrastructures, and new regimes for flows of goods and people?
The Gaidar Forum is unquestionably a very inspiring event! Urgent tasks for next time are arranging interviews with CEOs regarding their (spatialized) strategic visions and taking photos of high heels on snow and ice!
Image source: Personal (12 January 2017)