informe del Foro Económico Mundial 2016

Previsiones para 2030, escenarios probables en el mundo que nos espera


Global risk report 2016 Walled Cities,Strong regions, War & Peace scenarios


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Natural Resources, Climate Change
and International Security
Climate change is expected to amplify
existing security problems and create
new ones. As explored in Part 1, the
world will increasingly feel its effects:
extreme weather events including
prolonged high temperatures and
droughts, freak storms and floods, and
rising sea levels threatening coastal
cities and island countries are expected
to occur more frequently and at greater
scale, touching many countries,
especially those already grappling
with poverty, fragility and ineffective
The likely impact of climate change
on food security, explored in depth in
Part 3, is another channel of impact on
the international security landscape.
As wells dry up, crops and fisheries
fail, and people lose their livelihoods,
simmering tensions between social
groups are more likely to boil over into
community violence. Armed non-state
actors, including insurgencies and
terrorist groups, will be able to leverage
this new source of insecurity as an
additional grievance on which to build
their narratives, finding new recruits
among those made destitute.
Stresses on water and food could
contribute to rising tensions among
states. Trade may be interrupted by
the hoarding of commodities, local
populations can object to foreign
control of arable land, and arguments
may erupt over rights to draw water
from rivers and aquifers that cross
Box 2.5: Scenarios Methodology
What are the most pressing issues leaders should address? What trends are driving transformations? To be as prepared as
possible for the future, leaders need to think broadly and consider the worst that could happen.
Strategic foresight enables assessments of what the future context might look like through carefully researched and validated
scenarios. Scenarios extrapolate existing trends to provide insights that can inform more robust decision-making. The three
scenarios presented here (Figure 2.5.1) describe how the seven driving forces of international security could interact and how
prominent actors might respond. The collaborative process of developing and using scenarios can generate the relationships
necessary to drive change.
During a year-long initiative, launched at the Annual Meeting in 2015,1 over 250 members of the World Economic Forum’s
network participated in consultations to build the scenarios. To ensure a broad perspective, our team conducted 10 workshops
in six regions, with participants from government, the security sector, academia, civil society, youth, and the business sector,
which together comprised 41% of the total number of participants (see Figure in the Acknowledgements section). A full list of
contributors is included in the Acknowledgements.
1 Eide and Kaspersen 2015c.
Figure 2.5.1: Illustrations of the Scenarios
Walled cities Strong regions War and peace
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Interstate tensions are also likely to be
stoked by an increase in migration into
countries less affected by the changing
climate. Environmental stresses will
accelerate migration across borders
and also to cities, putting additional
stress on urban infrastructure in many
countries. Cities will need to find new
tools and policies to manage security
Security Outlook 2030:
Three Alternative
The potential for rapid and radical
change, even though the form it
takes is unknown, raises fundamental
questions about planning and
preparedness. In this section, three
scenarios describe potential evolutions
of the international security landscape
to 2030 (see Box 2.5 for a description
of the methodology used). These are
not intended to be predictions, but
plausible trajectories that can usefully
challenge current thinking and serve as
a call to action for the development of
more adaptable and resilient response
Future 1: Walled Cities
As greater penetration of information
and communications technology
broadens the horizons of citizens in
many countries, raising expectations
in areas such as health, education,
infrastructure and quality of
governance. At the same time, fiscal
challenges are reducing governments’
ability to meet citizens’ expectations
– and citizens become disillusioned
by their exposure to public sector
corruption, poor service delivery and
ineffective institutions.
This scenario foresees widening
inequalities of wealth, income,
health, environment and opportunity
continuing to pull communities apart.
In wealthier nations, the middle classes
are hollowed out by declining wages
and dwindling public goods. Those
who can afford it are increasingly
retreating to gated communities and
turning to the private sector for what
were once public services, divorcing
their interests from the common
good.23 Fertile soil, fresh water and
even clean air become increasingly
commoditized and traded between
those who can afford them. With
economic and political elites feeling
ever more identical and distant from
citizens, states lose their ability to
bring people together around a shared
narrative or identity. Trust is eroded, as
is the social contract between citizens
and government.
The vitality of many states is challenged
by demographic trends. In some
regions, large youth populations come
of age with few opportunities for stable,
well-paid employment. In other regions,
the demographic bulge is of the elderly,
creating ever greater needs for finance
for pensions and healthcare; this puts
pressure on declining working-age
populations and limits the resources
available for states to address security
Social cohesion is further weakened
by mass migration, as youth seek
economic opportunities and
humanitarian or environmental
catastrophes displace people. In the
absence of narratives that foster a
shared identity and common cause,
mismanaged migration flows and poor
integration of migrant communities
create tensions. Anxiety over migration
fuels the rise of extremist, xenophobic
and ethno-nationalist political
parties that advocate for a return of
authoritarian government and national
identities based on culture, ethnicity or
religion, effectively exploiting narratives
of “us” vs. “them”.
As younger populations spend more
of their lives online, they fill the need
for shared narratives and a sense of
community with like-minded people,
sometimes in faraway geographies.
Meanwhile, millions of children are
coming of age in refugee camps,
often under duress, and with no
natural sense of belonging. Rootless
and disillusioned, often traumatized
by growing up amid civil wars or
community violence, more young
people become anti-system and
vulnerable to recruitment by violent
groups or gangs.
Insurgencies, terrorist groups, and
criminal organizations all exploit
the security deficit, leveraging new
technologies to strengthen their hands
against strained security forces.
Overwhelmed by internal threats,
states double down on internal
security issues and disengage from
multilateral collaboration, reducing the
effectiveness of global institutions and
In some areas, lines between states
and violent non-state actors blur.
Terrorist or criminal groups, often in
opaque alliances, seize control of more
territories and run them like states,
threatening nations and even regions
with collapse. The corridor between
South America and Mexico, Iraq and
the Levant, and swathes of West and
Central Africa are among the areas now
under pressure from combinations of
civil wars, humanitarian crises, violent
extremist activity, crime and gangs.
More and more frequently, legitimate
non-state actors and organizations fill
some of the spaces left by weakened
national governments, often with
social support. Companies and private
charities fill the void and manage what
were once public services. With their
operations located near desperate
communities, many companies are
drawn into addressing the social
consequences of insecurity and
violence. Eroding state power also
increases city power, with cities coming
to be regarded as the most practical,
functional unit of governance.24
The world divides into islands of
order in a sea of disorder. As large
numbers of people are displaced
by environmental change and
social violence, still-functioning
states seek to protect themselves,
often deploying private military and
intelligence apparatus to minimize risks
of involvement in protracted conflict.
In this scenario, by 2030 the world
resembles medieval times, when the
citizens of thriving cities built walls
around them to protect themselves
from the lawless chaos outside.
Future 2: Strong Regions
An alternative scenario envisages the
volatile and competitive interregnum
paving the way for the emergence of a
stable world by 2030 with several seats
of power.
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In this future, as wealth accumulates
in the South and East, more players
are able to make strategic economic
investments in diplomacy, critical
technologies and infrastructures. The
balance of power adjusts, creating a
new order of mostly regionally based
spheres of influence and interests
that are generally accepted, as are
newly evolved norms of engagement
over political disputes and shared
Far from their power being eroded,
states in this world are strong – at
times authoritarian. Strong leaders rise
to power on promises to refocus on
narrowly defined national interests, with
minimum diversity and high solidarity
for citizens. Narratives recalling
(imagined) past glories and comforting
homogeneity of ethnicity and creed
become a strategy to compensate
for the uncertainty of the future. As
in the 1930s, leaders persuade their
citizens to “escape from freedom”:
these leaders strictly control borders,
forcefully curb migration, invest more
in military and police, and persuade
people to accept mass surveillance
as the only way to be protected from
deadly threats.
Overwhelmed by mistrust among
states, governments invest their
political, financial and diplomatic capital
in bilateral and regional processes.
Effective regional powers emerge,
as do new alliances of convenience
where shared interests transcend
the regional perimeter. Global
governance mechanisms continue
to lose credibility. New forms of
cooperation initially run in parallel with
the established global architecture,
gradually taking over roles including
development, trade, finance, security
and the internet. Counterintuitively, this
proves to reduce competition between
states: with contentious issues taken
off the global table, states are able
to rebuild enough trust to maintain
stability at the international level.
For example, in this world cyberspace
is neither open nor global. States
establish further controls over the
internet, sometimes in collaboration
with allies, building their own
capabilities in data storage, search,
and infrastructure – and using security
threats and the promise of better
public services through big data to
win popular support.25 Climate change
is another example: as its effects
become clearer, states increasingly
shift attention from cumbersome global
efforts to more functional regional
ones. The goal of saving all humanity
from catastrophic climate change gives
way to states and regions working
together to adapt and protect “their
own” citizens.
With bad memories of recent foreign
interventions and increasing domestic
polarization over foreign affairs, the
United States refocuses its priorities
and abandons its ambition to be the
centre of the global stage, allowing
others to fill the void on major political
issues. China’s “peaceful rising” no
longer raises apprehensions among
other powers; its prominence in East
Asia becomes an accepted fact.
ASEAN goes into a comfortable orbit
around its giant neighbour, while
Japan focuses on maintaining good
trade relations. The United States and
China mutually accept their economic
relevance and shared roles and
responsibilities in a new world order.
Sweeping aside any last resistance,
Russia consolidates its sphere of
influence in Central Europe and
Eurasia. Europe – having rebuilt its
economic partnership with Russia
and consolidated links with the United
States – develops several levels of
integration and remains functional as
a coherent regional trade bloc. Latin
America and the Caribbean leverage
their abundant resources and strategic
location to consolidate into a regional
bloc. The push for African integration
continues apace, with two subregional
integration blocs emerging
as twin poles of influence. Following
years of fruitless proxy conflicts in the
Middle East and North Africa, two
carefully balanced security alliances of
functioning states restore some degree
of order to the region.
Fifteen years into the future, this
balance of regions and alliances is
only beginning to consolidate as a new
global order. Former rivals and enemies
are tempted to test the boundaries,
leading to strong pushbacks and
reconfirmations from regional powers
that the new order is here to stay.
Security issues are handled by regional
allies or relevant players, rather than at
the global level.
Inevitably, there are losses for the
global economy: geopolitical interests
take predominance over economic
ones, with corresponding inefficiencies
as globalization goes into reverse.
However, with the revolution in
manufacturing and automation making
it possible to produce goods closer to
the consumer, there is less need for
global trade in goods and less need
to outsource production to low-wage
countries. Companies must make
costly and complex arrangements to
be able to operate across regions; in
many cases, abandoning international
strategies, localizing or breaking up into
smaller regional entities, prove to be
more effective strategies.
Future 3: War and Peace
The final scenario envisages the world
drifting into a major conflict during the
next 15 years, which ultimately leads to
a reworking of the global system.
In this future, established powers
remain in denial about the major
shifts of economic, demographic and
political power that have taken place.
Growing strategic competition between
states erodes their trust in each
other, and therefore their capacity to
collaboratively resolve disagreements
about the role of certain countries in
certain regions: for example, the United
States in the Asia-Pacific; Russia in
Central Asia; and China in South-East
Meaningful progress slows on issues
such as climate change, with global
solutions blocked by states that
calculate that taking action would
be too problematic domestically, or
that they could gain from new lands
becoming suitable for crop production
or resource exploitation. There is no
longer consensus over the normative
foundations or rules of the international
system, which is not able to manage
the rising tensions.
With stagnant growth and the rise of
isolationist movements in established
powers, space opens up for emerging
powers to test the status quo.
Meanwhile, internal pressures grow
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in many countries: to varying extents,
social turmoil erupts as emerging
technologies put many people out
of work and extreme weather events
overwhelm the responsive capacity
of governments. In some countries,
upheavals feed into virulent nationalism,
drawing on historical grievances
against powerful neighbours.
Eventually, in this scenario, a major
conflict erupts between two leading
powers. One state experiences
a massive cyberattack on critical
infrastructure, causing loss of life. It
accuses another state of complicity,
and launches a conventional attack in
retaliation. Denying any involvement,
the second state considers it has been
attacked without cause. Outraged
populations on both sides demand
further action; nervous leaders
seek to shore up their positions
and miscalculate the gravity of the
Other states are dragged into the
escalating conflict and forced to
choose sides. Armed non-state actors
on both sides seek to leverage the
conflict for their own ends, forcing the
parties to the war not only to fight each
other, but also to engage in hybrid
conflicts against third parties.
Ultimately, the conflict stops short
of all-out mutual destruction, but
not before imposing high costs on
both sides – human, economic, and
infrastructure. The “nuclear taboo”
– that states abstain from using the
ultimate weapons, even if they possess
them, still proves to hold true – but
belligerents did begin to prepare for
their application. There is no clear
victor. In this scenario, the aftermath
of the conflict leads to a sense of
determination to prevent a repeat
interruption to business as usual. The
commonly accepted argument is
that the lesson to be learned from the
failure of previous global mechanisms
to mediate conflicts is that those
mechanisms were not only excessively
ambitious but also largely ineffective.
States set about identifying the
few basic practicalities that truly
demand global cooperation: norms,
for example, relating to the seas,
air corridors, and finance. Because
of their economic relevance, many
of these norms are looked after by
multistakeholder organizations, rather
than intergovernmental organizations.
Civil society and business leaders
take on management roles in global
arrangements. Other areas previously
of interest to global governance
institutions, from human rights and free
trade to international development and
control of the internet, are set aside
as non-essential to the basic aim of
preventing conflicts. The UN nominally
retains a peacekeeping function in
protracted conflicts, but is not able
to regulate relations between leading
The result is a stripped-down global
system in which the liberal ideals of
freedom, democracy, justice and
equality are no longer put forward as
a paradigm to which all should aspire.
A new entente emerges on respect for
differences of political and economic
approach, though this means
accepting a degree of entrenched
global inequality and disintegration,
and a parcelling up of the global
commons. Where they can, people and
companies move to places that suit
their objectives best.
Implications and
Though none of the three scenarios
presented here will occur exactly as
described, the security landscape
of the future may manifest multiple
elements from one or more of the
scenarios, probably simultaneously.
Indeed, it can be argued that we have
already entered the period of “walled
cities”, as the refugee crisis seems to
lead some nations to the reflex reaction
of closing borders – both physical and
political – as described in Part 1.
The three scenarios may come across
as somewhat dystopian, because they
are extrapolations of existing, negative
trends. The world does not need to
arrive at these dystopias, however. Our
collective knowledge, connectedness,
technological advances and
social innovations present endless
opportunities to change the outcome
and shape a more secure world,
given strong leadership and the
right decisions being taken at the
international level. This last point brings
us back to the purpose of this Report:
to cast new light on decisions that need
to be taken today. The following set of
recommendations is intended to aid in
envisaging possible futures and to help
change control the trajectory we are on
and improve the outcome.
Overhauling the Social Contract
Above all, these three scenarios point
to the need to overhaul the social
contract between citizen and state.
Re-establishing trust in governance,
improving the accountability of
institutions and leaders, reducing
social and economic divergences and
delivering better services should be
top objectives for policy-makers. In
these areas,26 technology is not only
a potential disruptor but also a key
More effective governance alone may
not suffice, however, without also
building greater social cohesion. The
fabric that binds citizens to the state
and to each other is fraying. A critical
task for the state is to reinforce notions
of citizenship and narratives of inclusion
within national discourse, which can
pave the way for reconciling political
and theological differences both
domestically and internationally.
Rewiring Global Governance
All three scenarios reflect uncertainty
around the future role and ability of
global governance institutions to
deliver on security. In an ideal world,
a strong global body would have the
tools and standing to mitigate conflicts
involving either terrorism or competition
between great powers, and to contain
and resolve peripheral conflicts. At
present, however, the multilateral
system appears overwhelmed by the
number and complexity of issues, and
international mechanisms are often
fragmented, co-opted or undermined
by the special interests of chosen
member states.
If states want to strengthen their ability
to take collective decisions on key
international security matters, they
need to improve the efficiency of the
multilateral apparatus. Progress on
meaningful reform of the United Nations
and the Bretton Woods Institutions to
reflect current political and economic
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realities has been slow and unfocused.
Piecemeal reform of the system itself
will not suffice: the choice is between
implementing comprehensive reform
to create the right mechanisms and
responses for future global cooperation
on security, and allowing the “death
by a thousand cuts” of the global
governance system – an outcome that
would not favour international security.
Fostering Global Leadership
Today’s world is in clear need of
strong leadership, new compromises,
innovative ideas and a capacity for
long-term thinking. This is not limited
to government and international
organizations but also applies to
civil society and the business sector.
Because power is distributed among
many sectors, multistakeholder
cooperation is more important for
tomorrow’s security than ever before.
The digital revolution, at times a
source of disruption, can also be a
tool for enhanced transparency – and
transparency, if genuine, offers the
potential to rebuild trust.
As suggested by the “strong regions”
scenario, beginning that process at a
regional level, with new architectures
that are parallel to the existing
international system, could ultimately
strengthen rather than undermine
global stability.
Enhancing the Role of Cities
Refocusing some security efforts at
the level of the city could be another
contribution. As urbanization gathers
pace, cities will increasingly rival states
as the most natural level of government
for harnessing technology to deliver
public services and security. Cities
have also proven their advantages
as sites of innovation, employment
creation and higher productivity,
because they, at times, prove to be
more focused on practical problem
solving than on the “status and
prestige” issues that tend to obscure
interstate relations. Devolving resources
from national to municipal levels and
creating new ways for city leaders
to collaborate on security matters
may also be faster than reforming
established mechanisms for multilateral
collaboration among states.
Promoting Private Sector
A strong argument could be made
for increasing the participation of the
private sector as a stakeholder in
international security.27 The implications
of security risks affect companies
assessing where to invest and do
business as much as they affect
governments engaged in trade,
diplomacy and maintaining the security
of their citizens. Yet the potential of
the private sector to contribute to
peace and security is not reflected in
global security mechanisms or at the
multilateral level.
Businesses often see global security
as a risk management and compliance
issue. Limited understanding of
one’s own global, regional and local
impact might sometimes even lead to
inadvertently reproducing or confirming
negative patterns in society and
governance. The traditional business
response to geopolitical skirmishes
has been to view them essentially as
intractable externalities: companies
seek to minimize downside risks
while waiting for a crisis to blow
over. However, in a hyperconnected
world, volatility in one place can have
immediate repercussions on the other
side of the globe. Avoiding investment
in known or potentially volatile places
does not insulate companies from the
impacts of volatility. In today’s world,
companies might be well advised
to understand their own potential to
influence international developments.
Many companies are already
dealing with the root causes of
insecurity, directly or indirectly. From
inefficient governance to corruption,
environmental degradation, social
disparity and unrest in surrounding
communities, many companies
have policies in place to protect their
interests while also addressing these
drivers of insecurity within their core
areas of operations. For example, a
mining company seeking to minimize
environmental impacts on local
communities, a telecommunications
company training local workers in
the skills they require and thereby
also empowering those workers, and
an infrastructure company working
with local government to improve
quality and transparency around
public tenders may all be contributing
towards addressing the drivers of
geopolitical instability. Another way
the private sector can contribute is
through company norms that forbid
involvement with corrupt practices; this
may, over time, spur better governance
and reduce social resentment.
Encouraging New Behaviour
Multistakeholder cooperation might
also be conducive to mitigating the
security implications of technological
innovation. Ethical frameworks and
norms guiding technological innovation
could be elaborated between those
actually involved rather than relying only
on regulators, which will struggle to
keep up with the pace of change in the
Fourth Industrial Revolution. Likewise,
common understandings about the
security dimension of an increasingly
connected world could involve key
private and public stakeholders from
both the emerging technology and
international security spheres.
Viewing climate change through
an international security lens also
suggests several policy options
where multistakeholder action is
critical. These include the search
for new mechanisms to reflect
externalities related to resource
scarcity or environmental effects, while
simultaneously safeguarding social
stability by guaranteeing affordable
access to the necessities for survival.
Public-private partnerships established
to identify technological solutions to
improve the efficiency and resilience
of food production and water use is
another example.
Conclusion: A Call for a
Resilience Imperative
If the “new status quo” implies such
a high presence of global geopolitical
risks and realignment around interests
rather than values, then a wider range
of stakeholders needs to be involved in
setting the direction of the new global
security paradigm and implementing
A first step is for private sector leaders
to place international security firmly on
their radar screen. International security
and geopolitical trends are likely to have
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more influence on the global economy
in the future, thus demanding greater
strategic attention from business
leaders. With a stronger understanding
of the issues and their own evolving role
in the geopolitical and global security
landscape, the private sector can be
a constructive partner in addressing
many global security challenges and
mitigating their driving forces.
A second step is to have the traditional
security actors – including international
organizations and governments –
adjust their own frameworks and
processes to build in more publicprivate
participation at the most
appropriate levels. The Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative, action
taken by technological and social
media companies to block terrorist
and violent extremist activity, and
business alliances for action on climate
change are promising examples of
public-private arrangements that can
strengthen security.
Third, a renewed focus on prevention,
preparedness and resilience, rather
than reaction and compliance, would
likely improve security actors’ ability to
manage known and unknown security
risks. There exists important know-how
and resources in the private sector
that can improve preparedness and
mission-critical planning processes in
a global security context – using data
to track the progress of risk factors,
sharing information on where and
when crimes occur, and establishing
mechanisms for harnessing industry
supply chains during complex
emergencies – are a few examples of
how security arrangements could be
Rather than wait for crises to happen,
or sleepwalk into the dystopian
scenarios described above, it is
critical to identify potential inflection
points and focus on finding solutions
rather than just containing problems,
and adapt relevant structures
accordingly. Prompting greater pliability
through a genuine, forward-looking
multistakeholder process in order
to ensure against complacency and
improve the outcomes in a fast-paced
and interconnected world may be the
best way to prevent the described
dystopian futures from materializing.
1 “Non-state actors” is a term widely used to describe everything from non-for-profit
or commercial providers, non-governmental organizations across all thematics,
community-based organizations and faith-based organizations. Their characteristics
include sufficient power to shape and cause change, although they are not part
of the established institutions of a state and are thus not accountable to the same
standards as a state. In the global security context, however, the term is often used
to refer to violent, criminal, terrorist and militarized groups or individuals with no ties
to a state or state-like structures but who, through the use of asymmetric strategies
of warfare, declare war on states and state actors. Non-state actors can also be
a force of good in terms of their significant role and emphasis on a specific area of
focus, usually on common goods, for the advancement and promotion of issues.
2 Williams 2008.
3 IISS 2015.
4 UNHCR 2015.
5 Institute for Economics and Peace 2015.
6 Kaspersen and Shetler Jones 2015.
7 See UN Security Council Report S/2015/358, at
docs/2015/N1508457_EN.pdf. Letter dated 19 May 2015 from the Chair of the
Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011)
concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities addressed to the
President of the Security Council dated 19th May 2015.
8 Kaspersen 2015a.
9 See Davis, Dusek, and Kaspersen 2015.
10 Argueta de Barillas and Cassar 2015.
11 Vision of Humanity 2015.
12 Stoltenberg 2015.
13 Schwab 2015.
14 Blanke and Kaspersen 2015.
15 George 2013.
16 Kaspersen and Hagan 2015.
17 Kaspersen 2015c.
18 Eide and Kaspersen 2015b.
19 Eide and Kaspersen 2015a.
20 Hybrid threats and warfare refers to the blend of conventional, irregular means
of combat and asymmetric tools, often with a strong cyber element, in military
strategies facing indistinct adversaries and aggressors in a complex battle domain,
complicating matters such as attribution and retribution.
21 The term “cy-ops” refers to militarized cyber operations; “psy-ops” refers to
military operations usually aimed at influencing the adversary mindset through
noncombative means.
22 Kaspersen 2015b.
23 Nye 2014.
24 Sally 2014.
25 Beckstrom 2014.
26 See also the World Economic Forum 2015b.
27 De Sola and Kaspersen 2015.

Against American gigantism: on Peter Trawny’s Heidegger & the myth of a Jewish World Conspiracy. (Gerardo Muñoz)

Origen: Against American gigantism: on Peter Trawny’s Heidegger & the myth of a Jewish World Conspiracy. (Gerardo Muñoz)

fin del socialismo real (soviético)y capitalismo

Confusionismo sembrado desde el capitalismo y su marejada de ideoólogos sobre lo que significa socialismo y lo que es realmente el que fue llamado socialismo real ( soviético ) .

En esta conferencia , las aclaraciones sagaces, aceradas  y llenas de “Ilustración, o Esclarecimiento”, del Dr. Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez, son, a mi juicio,de un enorme valor crítico materialista en el momento actual , que implica el avance soberbio , implacable,del neocapitalismo, en el seno d euna globalización despótica y rampante

acerca de Husserl y su crítica de Fichte


Nicolas de Warren: I’d like to welcome you to the second lecture
of Module Two, ‘A Clash of Civilizations.’
I’m standing here in this quite elegant ceremonial lecture hall
in what used to be the University Library
which was destroyed in August of 1914.
In 1914, with the destruction of the University of Leuven library,
German intellectuals mobilized in defense of the German cause.
And although Husserl was not a signatory to the notorious “Manifesto of the Ninety-Three,”
indirectly, of course, his support of the war implicated him in the support of German
actions during the war,
including the destruction of the University Library.
It is perhaps one of the supreme ironies of the First World War that
Husserl’s own manuscripts were saved on the eve of the Second World War from destruction
and are now housed here at the University of Leuven at the Husserl Archives at the Institute of Philosophy.
One hundred years after the war to end all wars,
we can look back with a kind of dumbfounded amazement at how an entire generation of sophisticated
intellectuals, like Husserl,
seemingly lost all sense of reason and philosophical orientation in supporting the war.
In this regard, the judgment of the German anarchist Gustav Landauer that
‘nothing failed so much in the war as the intellectuals’
has a kind of bitter truth to it.
But, as we will try to explore in this lecture,
this bitter truth belies a certain complexity,
and that complexity is paradigmatically expressed
in the ambiguous attitude of Husserl to the war,
what I would like to call the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ relationship that he has to the war.
For, on the one hand Husserl is a university professor, is a public intellectual,
but on the other hand, Husserl is also a father whose two sons fought in the war
As we’ll explored by both looking at Husserl’s lectures on the idea of humanity in Fichte,
as well as private letters that he writes during the war,
that conflict can be summed up as a confrontation between Husserl as the father of phenomenology
and Husserl as the father of two sons, one of whom was killed at the Battle of Verdun in 1916.
[Introduction music]
In 1917, with the war having taken its grim toll
on students and academics who had been sent to the front,
in the aftermath of the failed offensive in 1916 at Verdun,
and with an increasingly deteriorating home front due to economic sanctions,
Husserl gave three lectures on Fichte’s ideal of humanity at the University of Freiburg.
These lectures were organized at the behest of the Ministry of War
in so-called ‘Kriegsnot” seminars
– so, ‘seminars in the emergency time of war’, or ’emergency war-time seminars’ –
and these seminars were largely meant for soldiers,
mostly soldiers who were wounded, who had seen service,
who were now returning to the university.
Many of these soldiers would, in fact, be sent back after this brief university experience.
Husserl would repeat these lectures twice in 1918,
the first time a few months before the Ludendorff spring offensive,
which had as its purpose to decide the war once and for all,
and the second time – and this quite amazingly –
one week before the end of the war in November of 1918 –
So, one week before the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918,
Husserl repeats his lectures on Fichte’s ideal of humanity.
Now, in all three of these iterations of Husserl’s lectures,
Husserl is functioning here as a university professor and as an educator,
as an educator in time of war
and as an educator who is delivering not only a philosophical message but,
as importantly, a political message.
In a letter that his daughter writes to a friend in the early part of 1918,
we get a glimpse of this enthusiasm that Husserl still had for the war,
his sense that the war was not lost.
As she writes:
“Daddy is completely beside himself and sees the complete victory as finally in our
hands. We’ll now see what a genius can do”
And the reference here is to Hindenburg and Ludendorff.
“The Western Front, it is said, is always frozen. There’s nothing that can be done and
the enemies also don’t know what to do.
And now Hindenburg goes to work, and look how it’s going:
the breakthrough will be achieved in three days.”
Now, what’s interesting for us in these lectures
is not so much the content of the lectures,
in the sense of how Husserl presents the main outlines of Fichte’s ideal of humanity,
the main outlines of which he draws from Fichte’s so-called ‘popular writings’ – the ‘Popularschriften’ –
as well as the quite famous ‘Addresses to the German Nation.’
What’s important for us is the staging these lectures, of the staging of this content –
so, the way in which Husserl understands the significance of what it is to speak about Fichte
in the context of the war in 1917 and 1918.
And here, what is striking is the direct connection that Husserl makes
between the First World War and the ‘Befreiungskrieg’ of 1813
– so, the war of liberation of 1813 –
as Husserl announces:
“It is [so, the present – so, 1917, 1918] a time of renewal of all the ideal sources
of power that was once spread out
and the deepest depths of the soul that had already proved their saving power.”
And here there are two terms which are quite crucial in Husserl’s statement.
The first is ‘the depths of the soul’, so, in German, he’s thinking of the idea of
‘Innerlichkeit’, or ‘interiority’;
the second is ‘the saving power’,
so the saving power of the war as precisely a redemptive power,
in Germany “erlösen”,
a redemptive power for the Innerlichkeit or spiritual, if you wish, particularity,
the spiritual relationship of Germany to itself.
The third point that’s quite interesting about the staging of these lectures
is the way in which Husserl will now articulate a certain philosophical and political vision
of death. As he declares:
“Need and death are today’s teachers.
For many years now, death is not an exceptional event which permits itself to hide and to
have its majesty debased through splendid congregations
under piles of bouquets and wreaths.
Death has again won back its wholly primal rite. It is again the great reminder of eternity in time.”
Note this quite striking idea that death is an educator.
By implication, the philosopher as educator is the educator of death, who teaches how to know to die.
Two other aspects that are here interesting
is the way in which death is tied to a notion of remembrance,
we might say in a platonic sense, ‘anamnesis’,
so, death is a reminder of eternity
for in the sacrifice that soldiers are called to,
eternal values are re-actualized, recalled, made present once again.
And the second aspect is the sense in which death is a vision:
indeed, it is a vision for the truth of German Idealism,
for the realization of German Idealism,
through Husserl’s own thinking.
As Husserl announces:
“And so there have grown again for us today organs of vision for German Idealism.”
So, the idea here is that the truth of German Idealism,
which had been forged in the context of the Napoleonic Wars,
can be finally realized once again – indeed, finally realized as such –
in the context of the First World War.
So what is at stake in the First World War is German Idealism.
I’d like to end these remarks with an open question,
and that open question is really an expression of a certain sense of amazement.
The amazement is to imagine what it would have been
to have been a soldier, to have been a student,
one week before the end of the war,
and to have heard this rousing declaration,
coming from the voice of Husserl,
that Fichte speaks to us, the Fichte of the war of liberation.
For it’s clear that this rousing declaration is meant to tell us that the war will be victorious,
but one can ask oneself:
“what is one to hear, what is one to make of this declaration, in the full knowledge,
one week before the end of the war,
that the German catastrophe
is something which no amount of philosophical speaking can avoid?”
What I would like to do now is to turn to Husserl’s letters,
and try to understand the development of Husserl’s ambivalent and complex relationship to the war –
not through the lens, as we have seen,
of Husserl as the public philosopher, the professor of philosophy, the public intellectual –
but more intimately, in the private setting of correspondence, of letters that he writes,
and, principally, in reaction to the death of his son in 1916.
I’d like to start first with a letter that Husserl writes to his wife, Malvine,
after Wolfgang had been wounded in 1915.
As he writes, actually in a postcard that he sends from Brussels,
“Wolfgang is extraordinarily beautiful and well accommodated here,
and has a voracious appetite.
Therefore, the exact day is not of great importance: he is very happy.
The doctor says he has to remain a few more days in bed;
we cannot expect to have Wolfgang back for another week.”
Indeed, Wolfgang would then return home to visit his family after he had healed from his wounds,
and would then be sent back to the front in 1916.
It’s in this timeframe that Husserl writes a letter to his friend and colleague,
the German psychologist Hugo Münsterberg,
who was quite an important professor at Harvard University,
and who at the time was trying to drum up support, American support, for the German
war effort.
Husserl writes the following:
“The feelings that every death means is that it is a voluntary sacrifice
and this gives a lofty dignity and raises the individual suffering into a sphere above
all individuality.
We hardly live any longer as private persons.”
This sense of individual sacrifice as raising the individual above their own singularity
and as elevating the German nation to a sense of solidarity,
no longer living as private persons,
is clearly something that Husserl himself felt with regard to his own son.
Wolfgang, as I said, would return to the front in 1916 and fought in the Battle of Verdun.
He was then killed in the battle while trying to storm a trench.
In the report of one of his comrades that was sent to Husserl:
“Wolfgang was killed while leading an assault by a burst of French machine-gun fire.”
And obviously, the traumatic news of Wolfgang’s death affected the Husserl family deeply.
In what is undoubtedly one of the most moving documents that we have here at the Husserl Archives,
we have a note that Husserl writes to himself when he tries to imagine,
where he tries to visualize,
the precise location of his son’s death.
As we can read in this note:
“Regarding Wolfgang’s gravesite, according to the communications of Lieutenant Lehrer.
In the grave of our Wolfgang is also buried Sergeant Feldman;
nearby, about six metres east, is Lieutenant Ladenberg;
directly next to Wolfgang’s grave is the grave of Lieutenant Rothe,
very near a mass grave in which twenty-one Germans and some French are buried.”
In this note that Husserl writes to himself, in which he tries to visualize and imagine,
indeed, to see, the precise location of his son’s burial,
one can see something like an arc that is being traced,
linking the death of an individual, Wolfgang Husserl,
to the anonymity of the deaths of many who no longer have names.
This arc encompasses not only the passage from the individual to the anonymous,
but from German death to French death,
such that death, here, becomes all-encompassing.
This reflects, in part, the reality of being killed in the First World War,
where the majority of casualties did not leave physical remains,
and the majority of casualties were never buried in identifiable graves.
Hence the phenomenon of the ‘nameless missing soldier’, ‘the missing of the Somme.’
In this note, we also see the sense in which there is a profound tension between
the sacrifice of the individual, as an individual – in this case, Wolfgang, the son of Edmund Husserl –
and the meaning of that sacrifice for a community,
for the anonymity of the ‘we’ in which we participate in the war.
And this, if you wish, ambiguity of sacrifice
is eloquently perhaps expressed in the term ‘Opfer’, the German word for sacrifice,
which both means ‘victim’ and ‘sacrifice’ – so, both the individual who is the victim
of a sacrifice,
and that sacrifice as something like an individual who gives up their life for a greater community.
This ambiguity of sacrifice between the personal and the public,
the anonymous and the individual,
is something that would forever haunt Husserl’s thinking,
and indeed left its mark in his own reflections on the nature of patriotism and sacrifice.
I’d now like to sort of bring these reflections to a conclusion
by quoting from another poignant document that we have in the Husserl Archives,
a letter that Husserl writes to his student Arnold Metzger in September of 1919 –
so, just a few months short of the one-year anniversary of the end of the war.
In this letter, we see something like another expression of the ambiguity of Husserl’s
attitude to the war,
the ambiguity of Husserl as both public philosopher, public intellectual,
and private father, private philosopher,
as well as Husserl’s attempt to draw some kind of philosophical solace, some kind of consolation, indeed,
some kind of lesson from his ambiguous engagement in the war.
As he writes to his student,
“I am not called to become the leader of a struggling humanity for blessed life.
In the passionate drive of the war years, I had to recognize this.
My ‘diamanion’ had warned me.”
And the reference here to the diamanion is a reference, of course, to Socrates,
and to that voice of conscience that did not tell Socrates what to do
but cautioned Socrates what not to do.
And in a similar vein, one can understand here Husserl recognizing a kind of Socratic moment,
where he understands not so much what he had to do,
or the meaning of what he did,
but a general caution about his ambivalent attitude in the war.

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