Conference Report
Rhodes ‘Dialogue of Civilizations’ Hears LaRouche Spokesmen
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Conference Report

Rhodes ‘Dialogue of Civilizations’
Hears LaRouche Spokesmen
(scroll down or click for summary of Jonathan Tennenbaum speech)

From Executive Intelligence Review, Volume 33, Number 41, October 13, 2006
The Fourth Annual Conference of the “World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations” in Rhodes, Greece, brought some 600 religious leaders, former high-level government officials, heads of civil organizations, and academic figures together from around the world, in the effort to prevent a “new dark age” of religious and ethnic conflicts from engulfing our planet. The three-day event, on Sept. 27-Oct. 1, was chaired by the Forum’s two initiators, Russian Minister of Railways Vladimir Yakunin, much discussed as possible successor to Putin as President of Russia, together with the famous Indian thinker Jagdish C. Kapur.

The World Public Forum was founded in Rhodes in 2003 as an explicit counterpole to Samuel Huntington’s notorious thesis about the “Clash of Civilizations.” The Forum has since then grown rapidly in size and influence, in reaction to the insane push by the Bush Administration and its backers to bring about exactly such a clash. With a very large and high-level Russian delegation and major Russian sponsorship, the event reflected, albeit unofficially, a foreign policy orientation of Russia’s government, as well as the thinking in India and a number of other views. The conception of the Forum was approved by President Putin and officially supported by the heads of state of India, Iran, Uzbekistan, Greece, and other nations.

Already at the 2003 annual conference of the Forum, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and president of the Schiller Institute, and head of Germany’s Civil Rights Movement Solidarity party (BüSo), was a featured invited guest. This year’s conference had an even larger attendance, and included for the first time a working group devoted to debating different approaches to global economic policy. LaRouche advisor and EIR representative Jonathan Tennenbaum was specifically invited to address that working group. (The advance summary that Tennenbaum submitted to the conference organizers accompanies this article, below.) The very fact that this session was held marked an important change relative to previous years, which had nearly exclusive emphasis on religion and culture in the context of the Dialogue.

Among the high points at the opening plenary session were the remarks by J.C. Kapur and by Berl Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia. Clearly aiming at shaking up the audience, Kapur declared that “time is running out!” World civilization is headed for a collapse “of unimaginable proportions” unless the present course of history is changed. Chief among the causes is an economic system which keeps the majority of the world’s population poor and aims at preventing people from developing a sense of their own minds. Berl Lazar, in a mixture of endearing Jewish humor and earnestness, focussed on the utter absurdity of religious conflicts. “We are all God’s children” he said. “How can you claim to love God, and at the same time hate His children?”

The Economy of Development

Jonathan Tennenbaum opened the working session on “Problems and Perspectives of the Global Economy” with a 35-minute speech on “Dynamics and the Dialogue of Civilizations—The Principles of Physical Economy.” His presentation, attended by a selected audience which included some of Russia’s leading experts on strategic planning, as well as representatives from Poland, Egypt, Brazil, Mexico, and Germany, focussed on the present world crisis, the perspectives of Lyndon LaRouche’s concept for a Eurasian Land-Bridge, and LaRouche’s original discoveries in physical economy.

Tennenbaum stressed that the present system of financial and economic relations between nations, based on the axioms of “free trade globalization,” is incompatible with the survival of civilization. He challenged the audience to look at economics from the standpoint of no less than the next 50 years. When you do that, you see that economic reality is determined, first of all, by the gigantic scale of physical investments that must be made, starting now, to secure the infrastructural basis upon which the existence of the world population depends. You see how ridiculous it is to try to measure economic value by money. To measure economic value, you must understand that human economies depend upon the discovery and communication of ideas. Tennenbaum went on to present key points of LaRouche’s orginal discoveries in physical economy, discoveries which made it possible for the first time to define a truly rigorous measure of economic value. It is on this that LaRouche’s proposals for a New Bretton Woods reorganization of the world monetary-financial system are based.

Tennenbaum’s presentation became de facto the keynote for the whole session, and was then referenced by practically all the following speakers. It was followed by a lively and controversial discussion.

The same session heard strong presentations by persons familiar with LaRouche’s ideas, including Yuri Krupnov, the enthusiastic initiator of the soon-to-be-founded “Development Party” of Russia, and by the influential strategic thinker Yuri Gromyko. Krupnov presented a concept of “development economy,” setting forth strategic projects for Russia, including massive new housing construction, infrastructure development of the remote regions, and the creation of a great new city, on a scale comparable to Moscow, in the eastern part of the country. This “Moscow of the East” would serve as a locomotive and coordinating center for developing the whole of Siberia and the Far East of Russia.

Yuri Gromyko provoked the audience by proposing that Russia adopt the national mission of demonstrating to the whole world, a new conception of development based on scientific revolutions. This will require an entirely different approach to the organization and spirit of society, and the creation of new types of institutions. He also emphasized the crucial role of nuclear energy worldwide in the coming period.

The session also heard presentations by strategic planning experts from the school of the late Pobisk Kuznetsov, a leading scientist in the former Soviet scientific-military complex who had developed his own approach to physical economy, and, who, in his later years, became an admirer and personal friend of Lyndon LaRouche.

Much-Needed Interventions

Unfortunately, many of the presentations, in the sessions on culture and education in particular, reflected more the problems than the solutions. Especially problematic was the great emphasis given, in the discussion of education, to the role of the internet. In an intervention that generated much attention, LaRouche presentative Rosa Tennenbaum demolished Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s so-called “education expert” Seymour Papert, who claimed that computers and the internet were bringing about an “educational revolution” around the world. On the contrary, she said, the internet is intrinsically incapable of imparting real knowledge. Learning occurs only by a child replicating an original process of discovery in his or her own mind. So it is about time people forget about formalities and start to discuss the real content of education, she said.

In two other important interventions, Jonathan Tennenbaum sounded sharp warnings about the world financial collapse and the danger that “the clinically insane President Bush” might order an attack on Iran, including use of nuclear weapons. This was especially important, because among the speakers at the plenary sessions, only J.C. Kapur, at the very beginning of the conference, had spoken with any adequate sense of the magnitude and urgency of the crisis facing mankind right now.

A high point of the closing plenary session was an eloquent praise of the principle of human reason, from an Islamic standpoint, sent in by Mahmud Iraki, head of the “Center of the Dialogue of Civilizations” of the Iranian President; Iraki’s contribution was read aloud on his behalf.

Low points included babbling speeches by the Germany “greenie” Prof. Hans-Peter Duerr, by oligarch Prince von Esterhazy, and by Olivier Giscard d’Estaing, brother of the former French President. Indicative of the pathological state of mind of Europe’s aristocracy these days, Esterhazy presented a panorama of world history from the 15th century until today, without mentioning a single word about the American Revolution or the United States! Olivier Giscard d’Estaing, on the other hand, stated straightforwardly that the world is basically run by 400 private companies, that are more powerful than the governments—and that people had better learn to live with it! Duerr could not stop talking, and nearly had to be physically removed from the podium.

At the end of the closing plenary session, a final resolution was read aloud, which clearly identified the threat of manipulated religious conflicts, but failed to mention the danger to civilization from a collapsing monetary-financial system. Tennenbaum intervened, in nearly the last word of the conference, insisting that the reorganization of the now-collapsing world financial system is a matter of life or death for civilization, and must be included in the Forum’s future deliberations. His statement was greeted by applause from the audience.

All in all, the conference demonstrated the central point Lyndon LaRouche developed in his latest book on Earth’s Next Fifty Years: In order to succeed, good intentions are not sufficient; a Dialogue of Cultures cannot be satisfied with a pot-pourri of different opinions, but must proceed from a rigorous scientific notion of truth-seeking. This year’s conference had some encouraging and laudable moments, but the next one—if civilization survives that long—will have to be much better.

Jonathan Tennenbaum

‘Principles of Physical
Economy’ Raised at Rhodes

Jonathan Tennenbaum submitted an advance summary of his presentation to the 2006 annual World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations conference in Rhodes, under the title “Dynamics and the Dialogue of Civilizations—The Principles of Physical Economy.” His presentation opened the workshop on “Problems and Perspectives of the Global Economy.”
1. The global economic and financial system in its present form, is fundamentally incapable of supporting civilized existence on this planet. It must therefore be reorganized according to different principles. The present system of radical-liberal “globalization” has led to unsustainable imbalances and intolerable injustices in the structure of the world economy, including exploitation of “cheap labor” without compensation for long-term social costs, deindustrialization and permanent mass unemployment, destruction of social systems, looting of raw materials and other national wealth, undermining of national sovereignty, hypercorruption, and concentration of dominant financial power in the hands of a tiny supranational oligarchy. Even more serious, however, is the danger, that an uncontrolled disintegration of the system, due to the collapse of the real estate bubble in the U.S. and elsewhere, a dollar crisis, or by other events, could plunge the world into a long period of chaos and asymmetric warfare. The world urgently needs a scientifically based alternative for how to organize economic relations between and within nations. The core of that alternative is provided by the science of Physical Economy, as the well-known American economist Lyndon LaRouche has defined and developed it.

2. Over the coming several decades, starting now, gigantic physical investments will have to be made into rebuilding, modernizing, and expanding the basic physical infrastructure of the world economy—“the life support system of Mankind” (Pobisk Kuznetsov). This includes above all land, sea, and air transport; generation and distribution of energy in all forms—with emphasis on nuclear power; communications and water systems, as well as health and education. Fundamentally new technologies and approaches will be required, to insure the long-term supply and access of nations to raw materials (including fresh water supplies), in face of rapidly increasing requirements. For obvious reasons, Eurasia will be the “center of gravity” of this coming period of large-scale infrastructure development, involving many great projects. Of particular priority is to create a highly efficient network of transcontinental infrastructure corridors, connecting the main concentrations of population and production across the Euro-Asia supercontinent, and opening up large undeveloped areas for investment and the construction of new cities. The demand for high-quality capital goods, arising in connection with the modernization and expansion of basic infrastructure, will largely determine the main directions for industrial investment in the coming period.

3. At the same time, the demand for new technologies, and the need to rely increasingly on large-scale application of nuclear power in various forms, requires a much greater emphasis on scientific revolutions as the “driver” of economy. With transition toward a fission-fusion-based “isotope economy,” including the large-scale transmutation of matter, economic life takes on an increasingly “astrophysical” character. The need to maintain sufficient rates of scientific-technological progress will require the expansion of human activity beyond the Earth and near-Earth space into the entire inner region of the Solar System. At the same time, the original discoveries of Vladimir Vernadsky concerning the principles of the Biosphere must be taken into account, in working out long-term policies for managing and developing the Earth’s biosphere and its resources in a systematic fashion. (cf. LaRouche’s books: The Physical Economy of the Noösphere and The Earth’s Next Fifty Years).

4. Clearly, “market mechanisms” alone could never provide an adequate basis for long-term infrastructure and science investments on such a gigantic scale. Governments will have to assume the chief responsibility, in partnership with the private sector, and in the context of long-term cooperative agreements between nations. Purely financial and monetary considerations cannot be permitted to dictate policy for decisions that will affect the future of entire nations for 50 years or more to come. A well-organized and regulated monetary and credit system, is an indispensable instrument for modern economy, but money cannot define or measure real economic value.

5. The principal criteria, that must be considered in designing economic policy and judging the merits and performance of projects in this period, will necessarily be physical in character: they will involve ratios and rates of increase of energy, power, power density, ton-kilometers and passenger-kilometers of transport, cubic meters of water, supply of basic market-baskets of consumer and industrial goods, and so forth, measured per capita of the population and per square kilometer of inhabited area, as well as measurements of changes in the demographic characteristics of populations, in the structure and quality of the labor force, etc.

6. However, even these kinds of physical parameters, while much closer to reality than monetary prices and profit ratios, cannot by themselves measure true economic value! The problem of measurement of real economic value, which is the crucial problem in economics as well as practical policy-making, cannot be solved without taking into account the spiritual-creative nature of human beings, recognized by all great religions. Here physical economy touches directly upon the heart of the Dialogue of Civilizations.

7. Lyndon LaRouche’s most essential contribution, is that his discoveries provide the means for understanding and measuring the relationship between human creative mental activity, on the one side, and the physical effects of that activity, as they are expressed in the growth of the productive powers of labor, with respect to the ability of society to sustain an increasing potential population-density of human individuals per square kilometer of inhabited area, on the other. The crucial points are, first, that growth of physical productivity of society depends upon the discovery and transmission of ideas among human beings—ideas in the form of newly discovered physical principles of the Universe, as well as new principles bearing on the organization of social activity, and the elaboration of those discoveries into new families of technologies and other improved forms of human practice. Secondly, that new scientific discoveries of principles take the form of true Platonic ideas: By their very nature, they cannot be adequately represented or communicated by mathematical formulas or other formal modes of communication. Such ideas can only be discovered and grasped within the sovereign mental processes of individual human minds, and can only be communicated through the ironical and metaphoric uses of languages, typified by the greatest works of classical poetry and art. The reason is this: to discover and to communicate a fundamental new physical principle, requires conceptualizing a true “thought object”—something that is not a material object, but has real effects in the Universe; something that exists, but at the same time lies entirely outside the framework of existing conceptions and “axioms” of thinking, and has no linear relationship to them.

8. This characteristic of true scientific ideas was clearly identified by Nicholas of Cusa and other Platonic thinkers, and was already expressed, in the early astronomical beginnings of science, in the Pythagorean conception of “dynamis.” But Lyndon LaRouche was the first to grasp its fundamental implications for the practical measurement of economic value, and to elaborate an entire science of Physical Economy on that basis. One of the most important results of his work, is a new understanding of the role of material production in the social communication of ideas, and of the interconnection between improvements in the material conditions of life, and development of the creative, cognitive powers of the human population.

9. These discoveries lie at the basis of LaRouche’s proposals for reorganization of the world monetary and financial system—the so-called “New Bretton Woods”—and for the creation of a new structure of long-term trade agreements between nations, which could provide the foundation for a prosperous and happy Dialogue of Civilizations in the coming 50 years.

10. To put it very simply: It is not money, nor physical production per se, that must be placed in the center of economics, but rather the image of Man as a creative being, in the image of the Creator, and in relation to the Universe as a whole.

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