WT22 – The wealth and poverty: the search for a social model
City : BE - Anvers
In partnership with :
While the new scientific and technical developments and then the globalisation of exchanges and the rapid growth of international trade have been very distinctive these last 50 years and have, at the global scale, produced a rapid increase in the average income per inhabitant, this growth has not equally benefited all peoples and all social classes.
Some have long defended that, at the nation level, these evolutions made the richest richer and made the poorest poorer. In reality, as the rapid development of China and India after that of other Asian countries moreover shows the « dematerialisation » of the economy, in which knowledge and know-how represent an increasingly important factor of production, and the globalisation of exchanges, with what this involves in the massive transfer of technologies, seems rather to be leading to a gradual reconciliation – whether it’s judged as too fast or too slow is another story – of the technological and economic levels of most of the great regional groups, Africa excluded. On the other hand, this movement of levelling out is generally accompanied in each society by an increasingly greater differentiation between rich and poor, especially, as is the historic rule, in the initial stages of economic development.
In Europe, especially after the Second World War, powerful redistribution mechanisms had been set up within the framework of what is commonly called « welfare states » in the context which was that of the second industrial revolution: mass production mobilising labour and machines, an economy for which national borders still had a reality.
The political history of China has been appreciably different. From 1949 to 1978, the State had a hold on all of society and especially on the economy in levelling out the levels of lifestyles, with scarcity of consumer goods and central role of the State in redistribution. However, the transformation since 1978 has been drastic. A new class of very rich developed rapidly. Although statistics indicate that this development has been accompanied by a general reduction of poverty and the emergence of a middle class of several hundreds of millions of people, the new social disparities are all the more sharply felt since the State has withdrawn from many sectors of economic and social life and no longer provides the widespread redistribution and the general taking in hand that characterised the previous stage. In the new technical systems that have massive recourse to scientific and technical knowledge and to computers, many unskilled activities are losing their need for being, and, to state it bluntly, the rich need the poor less and less.
The national economies are gradually losing their autonomy. The economic and socio-national systems are clashing in immense international competition. In this game, the systems of redistribution set up by the welfare states find themselves put into question. Despite a generally growing hold of the public sector on the whole of economic and social life, the States are perceived as less protecting than in the past. This is the context in which new models of harmonious societies must be invented. The objective of the workshop is to take advantage of the reflections of various people, as much through the comparison of various European models as by the even broader comparison between Europe and China.
FU Jing (付敬)
LUO Guoxiang (罗国祥)
LU Quan (鲁全)
VAN BOVEN Marc
YU Chunye (于春业)
Prime movers : HOREMANS Ludo (鲁多•贺尔曼斯), KLUK Neville, VERBIST Tim, ZHENG Gongcheng (郑功成)
Organisers : HOREMANS Ludo (鲁多•贺尔曼斯), VERBIST Tim
Interpreters : VAN GASTEL Marc, ZHANG Shuangquan
Logistical support : VERBIST Tim
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