Sociólogo - Escritor

"La Casa de la Magdalena" (1977), "Essays of Resistance" (1991), "El destino de Norte América", de José Carlos Mariátegui. En narrativa ha escrito la novela "Secreto de desamor", Rentería Editores, Lima 2007, "Mufida, La angolesa", Altazor Editores, Lima, 2011; "Mujeres malas Mujeres buenas", (2013) vicio perfecto vicio perpetuo, poesía. Algunos ensayos, notas periodísticas y cuentos del autor aparecen en diversos medios virtuales. Jorge Aliaga es peruano-escocés y vive entre el Perú y Escocia.

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25 de octubre de 2011

Globalization, Education and Cultural Diversity

Por José Marín
The Westernization of the world began mainly with the Crusades and it continued through the first « discoveries » of Africa and America, which were carried out by Portuguese, Spanish and other European expeditions during the late XV century. The evangelization of the «pagans »; the civilization of the «savages » and the myth of the development of the "underdeveloped ones" and the present economic and cultural globalization are only periods of the same historical process of economic, political and cultural domination through the imposition of the Western ethnocentrism in the world. The constant redefinitions of the "Western" values are the vision of the world within the context of its system of values as universal in relation to "the others." In very age, cultural domination with its own characteristics in every age has been preceded by political and economic domination.

The contemporary globalization is part of a historical process of economic domination as well as the planetary expansion of capitalism. This epoch consolidates itself after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the disappearnce of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991. These events symbolyze the bipolar world’s demise and the beginning of the imposition of the economic capitalist model on a planetary scale. This process is lead mainly by big multinaional corporations and it implicates the imposition of a cultural standardization, which is also refered by some experts as the "cultural Mcdonalization" (Adda, 1998; Cassen, 2000; Lempen, 1999; Ramonet, 2000; Ramonet, 2001; Schiller, 2000). This last period still has not been fully analyzed in its socio-cultural aspects. It is true that in the economic sphere is found the origin of the great changes and mutations, but the economic explanation is not enough to explain the historical process. It is in the technical evolution resulting from a greater evolution of ideas, which creates the greatest revolution of information and comunication technology in the cultural domain.

We mainly approach the European ethnocentric history from the colonial and post-colonial domination, which imposed the Westernization of the world that preceded the contemporary globalization. We deal equally with the importance of preserving the cultural diversity that is as necessary as the bio-diversity for the patrimony of humanity. This globalization process as it is now developing, tends to uniformize and depredate.

We start with "education" as the base of our reflexion for our intercultural perspective. As education is here approached, it could be an axis to preserve the cultural diversity and could create a democratic space that makes possible the encounter and dialogue among cultures. Actually, this reflexion is fundamental in order to imagine how to live in the multiculturality that characterizes the contemporary societies.

The intercultural perspective as applied to education and other areas of the human sciences refers to the interactionn, reciprocity, interdependence and the exchange that exist in the relations between cultures for understanding of the world. Education from this perspective is the transmiter of fundamental values. It constitutes its essence to imagine the projects of a viable society that guarantee our needed dignity. Our article has an introductory nature and therefore it includes many limitations. We are aware that this conundrum is very big and complex, and for such a reason we limit ourselves to provide more questions than answers.

The Westernization of the World

« It is the West that has invented progress, growth, development and lives in the deep-rooted belief that its project will have an infinite march and that its objective constitutes something possitive in itself, and in contradiction as well, it has also invented its downfall, its decadence and chaos. »

Serge Latouche
L'Occidentalisation du monde,
(1989 : 129).
(Tranduction by the author)

The Westernization of the world began in the XV century with the process of colonization of Africa, America and Asia (Latouche, 1989; Marín, 1994). The historical roots of the contemporary economic and cultural globalization are found in the imposition of Western ethnocentrism. The vision of the world and the prototype of society as a universal model to be imitated are present within the context of the colonial and post-colonial domination.

First of all, the Spanish, Portuguese and European colonialism generally had the necesity of legitimizing the imposition of its systems over the indigenous peoples of America, Asia and Africa. This proces required the ideological construction that would permit the gradual "fabrication" of the inferiority of its victims, an ideological mechanism that served to justify all kinds of unfairness. The alienation of the oppressed ones will be the fundamental rule in the scale of values that belong to the dominant culture. This dominant culture was structured by the imposition of the universality of its civilization; it considered itself as the one and only basis to imagine as well as a unique model of world vision, society, economy, politics, and culture.


The civilizing of the Amerindians

in the American context beginsas the first period of the European imposition of its ethnocentrism begins in the XV century and continues until the end of the end of the XVIII century, the period of the great Amerindian rebellions in the Americas. The ritual of evangelization is the baptism and the intermediary institution is the Church. The baptism permits the convertion of the so-called pagan Amerindian into an evangelized Indian.constitutes the second period of the Westernization process started by the end of the XVIII century, after the Amerindian revolts, which were mostly lead by literate Amerindians. The Amerindians considered as « pagans » during the evangelization process were converted into "savages" who must be civilized by the terminology of Western domination. The baptism ritual will be replaced by the alfabetization in Spanish or Portuguese, which are the dominant languages. The schools were converted in the instrument par excellence of colonial domination because such institutions permit the imposition of the cultures and oficial languages.
Schools play a fundamental role in the negation of cultural identities. The only possible "integration" offered to the Amerindian cultures through the schools was the acceptance of the dominant official language and culture to the detriment of their real cultural and linguistic diversity. It is in these facts where are found the historical roots of the divorce between the real society and the official State. This missencounter between the real society and the official society prevails until today.

The third period of Westernization established through the imposition of the European ethnocentrism is the Development of the "underdeveloped ones" which is the period linked to the myth of Modernity (freedom, justice and the secular vision of the world). As Alain Touraine asserts: "The West during a long time has believed that modernity meant the triumph of reason, the destruction of traditions, identities, creeds, and the colonization of what existed for calculation." (Touraine, 1993).

Modernity impregnated the European history of the industrial revolution during the XX century with the creation of the National State as the political model of State inspired by the creation of the National State in Spain and above all in France. This conception of the State imposes the defence of a mythical Nation, which supposes a people with a history, a language and a homogeneous culture. In reality, the National State as a political model in reality denies the cultural and linguistic diversity that characterises the different peoples that inhabit the territories proclaimed by the new States. In this State model is found the origin of many conflicts among contemporary nations. It is the pretension of the National State as political model that tries to homogenize different peoples in an authoritarian way where are found the roots of contemporary problems and unresolved ethnic and religious conflicts, which bleed Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe of today.

The European view of modernity has been regarded as the Way to obtain liberty, justice and the right to a more democratic society. Within the context of Latin America, and above all, the African and Asian nations, which emerged from colonial domination, modernity becomes an unfulfilled utopia. By the close of the XIX century and unlike Europe, modernity in those regions is limited to an ideological proposal. Modernization is nothing more than an empty political declaration without a historical meaning, only to legitimize the expansion of dependent capitalism as the realization of the myth of progress (Marín, 1994). This myth is going to create the false opposition between what is modern and the acquired learnings from the traditional cultures; the opposition between the written and culture, which results in the destruction of an important collective heritage. The consequences provoked by the myth of progress have not even protected the industrial countries, which ironically gave origin to such a myth. (Houtart, 2000; Lempen, 1999; Marin, 1995; Montoya, 1992; Quijano, 1988; Touraine, 1993).

Today, articulated as the myth of progress, development, infinite economic growth, Globalization of the New Economy, are confronted with the challenges proposed by ethics, human dignity and the conundrum of ecology. In the Western conception, the ecological dimension was absent, which explain the vacuum that we confront today. The Western conception emerges from the divorce between economics and nature. Now, we are obligated to take into consideration the ecological aspect in all the areas of human thought and activity. (Costa, 2000; Ki-Zerbo, 1994; Marín, 2000; Narby, 1995).

The Western perception of the world is mainly based on the rational dimension of time, which determines the importance of productivity and profitability without taking into consideration nature and space that are so fundamental in the traditional cultures. In these cultures, "Nature" has a very essential place in their perception of the world and their way of living.

The official school, as it exists in our countries, has made possible the imposition of all this Western conception, which praises the written culture to the disadvantage of the oral culture and traditional knowledge. The world’s Westernization process has also imposed false contradictions between modernity and tradition within the written and oral cultures, and preferred a type of intelligence and a preconceived manner of constructing knowledge. This is an excluding process that has resulted in the victimization of a huge collective cultural legacy. The knowledge of the officially institutionalized wisdom by the dominant culture includes only a small space of real knowledge. All the wealth of knowledge from daily life that are part of traditional education, for example, has been excluded by the institutions of the culture imposed by the West. Ethnocentrism’s history belongs to the history of all the peoples of humanity. Every people centers itself on its own culture in order to reconfirm itself over other peoples. (Camilleri, 1993). The problem starts when a culture imposes itself over another culture, as it is the case with which we are dealing. The history of the European ethnocentrism, which began with the conquest of America and Africa created cultural implicits to legitimize the colonial and post-colonial project. One of those implicits, which still is present today and continues to exercise influence, is that of the universality of Western culture.

It is from this "cultural implicit" that we frequently find the tendency to declare inferior the knowledge, the world vision, conception way of living of the other cultures. The pretended universality of Western culture equally makes possible some "truths" conceived on the basis of the one and only society model; thus, inducing that it is up to the other cultures to recuperate "its backwardness" in relation to the Western society. This conception belongs to the cultural determinism that makes out of culture, an entity resistant to change and autonomous in its determinations, and therefore, irreducible in itself. This proposition is illustrated by the political scientist Samuel Huntington, who attributes to the "Christian culture dispositions for democracy, making it greatly incompatible with other civilizations (Confucionists, Muslims)." This thesis, which is not new, takes special importance because it opposes the predictions about the modernization of the world. (Jounet, 2000: 24-25).

The world’s great complexity is impregnated of an ecological and cultural diversity that largely surpasses any reduccionist theory, which tries to impose universal truths. We have to imagine a plural and multicultural society that is able to administer equality and justice within cultural diversity; an open and a tolerant society to the pluralities found in multicultural societies, which goes beyond the "cultural boundaries" and the ancient social limits. We must become aware of the migrations as a central part of human history, from the beginning of our existence to our days.

One of the greatest contemporary challenges is how to live together within the framework of respect among "us" and the "other," within the framework of the multicultural society? This is the question that must be solved by education. We must learn to find in the intercultural exchange and dialogue the answers to the question that will lead us to an eternal learning about living with modesty and dignity and away from reductionist propositions and simplest solutions in which we have had to live.

The imposition of the "implicits" associated with Western civilization’s "universality" and culture articulated by some churches, schools, mass media are characteristic of the logic of excluding cultural diversity. This exclusion is conceived as an instrument of the homogenization and cultural standardization, thus attempting to impose a unique model of society, which is portrayed in the different economic and cultural faces of capitalist globalization. These are the features that characterise the contemporary planetary situation. Nowadays, this process of economic expansion is stagnant and it is unable to answer the ethical and ecological challenges, and the demands for a real human dignity. Those are challenges that the capitalist globalization, which is orphan of a project for a sustainable society, can not solve.


( 1492 – 2001 )


Doubtful biological origin



NATIONAL ESTATE (Post Colonial Republics)


(biologically and culturally inferior)

In dominant language and culture






School and communication means
(Radio, Tv, Press)
(Science and Technology)




1986 – 2001

END Of THE COLD WAR and The Bipolar World

Chernobyl 1986

Disappearance of the USSR
Geopolitics of
"North, South and East"



(Television, Information, Internet


ECONOMIC RECESSION –Intolerance and Racism
Which model of society?



2 Globalization and cultural diversity.
Industrialization of culture and the limits of
the planetary uniformization

Neoliberalism and Globalization

"There was an epoch in which the economic decisions corresponded to the needs of the implicated social groups. This happened when solidarity communities were the rule instead of the exception. This decision process, founded on the imperative of social needs, has been progressively replaced by the cold and blind efficiency guided by an economic system in which the essential value is the financial benefit."

Introductiontol " l'Autre Davos"
F. Houtart et F. Polet (1999 : 5).
(Translation by the author)
Neoliberalism as ideological fundament of Globalization was born after World War II in Western Europe and the United States. This ideology sanctions a theoretical and political reaction against state interventionism and the social state. Inn 1944, Friedrich August von Hayek published The Road to Serfdom. To some extent, this work constitutes the founding charter of neoliberalism. It is a passionate attack against the state limitations on the functioning of the free market. These obstacles are denounced because they constitute, in his opinion, a mortal threat against economic and political freedom. This book emerged in the British historical and political context and the immediate target was the Labor Party during the elections of 1945. (Houtart et Poulet, 1999).

In 1947, at the moment when the basis for the Social State of the post World War II Europe were being realized, Hayek invited those who shared his ideological orientation in Mont Pèlerin, near Vevey (Switzerland). Among the famous participants of the encounter are found not only the determined adversaries of the Social State in Europe, but also the delared enemies of the American New Deal. At the conclusion of this meeting is founded the Mont Pèlerin Society, a sort of neo-liberal Fraternity, well organized and consecrated to the propagation of its theories through periodic international meetings. The objective is double: Firstly, to combat the social solidarity policies that prevailed after the Second World War, and secondly to prepare for the future with the theoretical grounds for another type of capitalism, strong and free from regulations.

In 1974, the industrial capitalist countries entered into a deep recession process. Due to this reality, the neo-liberal ideas begin to gain terrain. F. A. von Hayek and his disciples asserted that the root of the crisis is found in the excessive power of labor unions and generally in the labor movement. According to them, the labor unions have sabotaged the basis for accumulation and investment because of salary increases and pressure on the State to increase constantly its parasitic social expenses. Monetary stability must constitute the supreme objective of all the governments. For such a reason it was necessary budget discipline alongside the restrictions for social expenses and the restoration of the so-called « natural » percentage of unemployment, assertion that is interpreted as rational creation of a «labor  reserve » which would weaken the labor unions. Among other policies, they recommend tax reductions on their profits, especially the highest profits as well as the benefits for their enterprises (Houtart et Polet, 1999).

This group of policies has deformed in a disastrous way the normal trajectory for capital accumulation and the free operation of the market. According to neoliberal theory, growth will return naturally when the monetary stability is accomplished and when the main policies have been re-activated (de-fiscalization, limits social costs, de-regulation etc.).

This program was not made from one day to the other; it was necessary a decade to impose it. In 1979, emerged a new political situation. In that year, the government of Margaret Thatcher began in England. This is the first government in an industrial capitalist country that openly promised to put in practice the neo-liberal program with all the disastrous consequences for social welfare, health and public education, which we now know. Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States in 1980; thus neolberalism was converted in the political ideology of power, with the planetary consequences that we know. In 1982, it was the turn for Germany, and from 1982 to 1984 for Denmark, a symbol of the Scandinavian Welfare State.

Thus, the hegemony of the New Conservatives in Europe and North America are consolidated. It is in the decade of the 1980s, when we have witnessed the undisputed victory of the neo-liberal ideology in the industrial nations. The social consequences have resulted in high unemployment rates, repression of strikes, the start of anti-labor legislation and the drastic reduction or elimination of important social expenditures. Another important characteristic has been the privatization of numerous economic sectors, which previously belonged to the state. In the United States where there is not a comparable Social State to the European one, the government gives preference to the military expenditures and reduces the taxes to the rich. The public health services, social welfare and education are the least favored sectors. The Social Democratic governments have also applied the neo-liberal principles that are contrary to their own original political theories.

In the other side of the world, like Australia and New Zealand, the neo-liberal model is being implanted with brutality. For sure, New Zealand represents the most extreme case; the Social State was disarticulated in a more radical manner than in the British case.

The Chilean neoliberal experience is linked to the American influence and had as its mentor Milton Friedman, Professor in the University of Chicago. The Chilean experience required the abolition of democracy and the establishment of one of the cruellest dictatorships after the Second World War. If Chile represents the spearhead experience for neoliberalism in the region, Latin America has also served as the terrain for experimentation of the programs as was the Bolivian case after 1985. These programs were later applied in Poland, Russia and Eastern Europe. Poland and Russia knew and suffered the imposition of structural re-adjustment. The road change towards a neoliberalism appeared throughout Latin America, in Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela in 1988. And finally in 1990 with the election of Alberto Fujimori in Peru. None of these governments informed the voters about the content of the economic policies that they intended to enforce. Carlos Menen in Argentina, Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela and Fujimori in Peru, promised exactly the opposite of the anti-popular measures that they enforced in the succeeding years. The authoritarian tradition of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is well known.

Of the four Latin American neoliberal experiences, three experienced an immediate success against the big inflation as in Mexico, Argentina and Peru, but failure in Venezuela. The enforcement of economic measures such as the brutal de-regulation, and privatization have promoted unemployment and social inequality and injustice within the context of authoritarian and corrupt politics. The Peruvian case is a nephast example of this period. Such an authoritarian model could not be enforced in Venezuela.

It would be a mistake to conclude that in Latin America only the authoritarian regimes can impose neo-liberal policies. The Bolivian, Brazilian and Ecuadorian cases show us such evidence: the huge inflation with the perverse pauperization effect grows daily over large part of the population, which accepts or resigns itself. The brutal measures of neo-liberal policies even when they preserve incipient « democratic » forms provoke catastrophic social results as is the case with many Asian, African and Latin American nations.

Education and Neoliberal Ideology

" A thought does not have any value,
If we review the different philosophical conceptions of Liberalism and Neo-liberlism in relation to education we could make a brief re-capitulation as the one made by Teresa Longo (2001). According to Condorcet, Liberalism’s representant in the French Constitutional project (1793), proclaims the right of citizens to instruction. Equality would become a formal declaration as it relates to the subsistence of access to unequal learning. Public education becomes the basis for the construction of a democracy. Condorcet wrote: "Education is a way to exercise rights and establish a real equality among citizens and to grant them true political equality. On a secular basis the objective of instruction is not just for admiring the created legislation, but to enable evaluation and correction." (Longo, 2001, p. 25).

The acquisition of knowledge and values in Condorcet’s interest is as Badinter asserts: "if Cóndorcet proposes the basis for social democracy, his project is not therefore socialist. His conception of society remains fundamentally individualist and liberal (Badinter, 1988). For Jules Ferry, knowledge is always subordinated to morality. Education consists in acquiring a set of disciplines that the State has considered as priorities and that have, above all, an educational value for the support of all the Republic’s values. What interests Ferry, is the development of the National State, and public instruction is the designed means for its construction. (Longo, 2001).

For one of neoliberalism’s mentors like Karl Popper, the State must not intervene in public education because it imposes its truth, stopping critique and reflection. At the center of Popper’s interest is the development of a critical spirit in the private sector. For Popper, the state not only must not educate citizens, but also must not concern itself with the formation of the ruling class.

Auguste Von Hayek, was the founder of the Mont Pelerin Society (Switzerland) in 1947. He gathered a group of European and American liberal intellectuals, from which are part Popper and Milton Friedman, the economics professor of the Chicago School, who with his team were the ideologists of Neoliberalism’s application in government policies during the Pinochet dictatorship.

For Von Hayek, The State must be in charge of guarding the public order. He conceives a Guardian State that has as function to guarantee the power system without possessing political, social and cultural purposes. The State must not intervene in education, but otherwise help poor families so that all have access to a basic education. The State must only guarantee the financing of basic education through a system of bonds. In this manner, parents are free to register their children in the private schools of their choice. In his conception, secondary and college education must be paid, but could be obtained through credit or as an investment. (Longo, 2001: p. 41-65).

The Neoliberal ideology reduces education to one more merchandise in the super market of Globalization. It becomes a system of competitive values, pragmatism and utilitarian profitability, which are the basis individualist paradigm.

In the Latin American case, the application of Neo-liberalism as educational philosophy has an excellent illustration in the Chilean case. Teresa Longo (2001), who makes some precise observations, has carefully researched this case. The political projects follow the philosophical ideas in their application of educational programs. The Chilean project since the imposition by the Pinochet dictatorship is a good example, in a historical context and in the framework of some political alliances that made possible its application.

° Neoliberalism rejects the possibility of attributing to culture a Role in the social construction.
° Knowledge and know-how, in this conception become goods that are bought and sold.
° Rejection of the idea for a society where knowledge is shared, instead knowledge is made by political decisions.

° Education in the full extent and instruction as one of its forms does not constitute citizen rights. It belongs, above all, to the families and natural institutions to separate basic education which gives a "minimal education" for inter-relations among individuals guaranteed by the States, and secondary and college education as a family investment. The privatization of these educational levels form part of this ideology’s convictions.

° Neoliberalism is a modern ideological political, which conceives a society where all reasons for dialogue, agreements and conventions among citizens are suppressed. In the Chilean case and other Latin American and European countries where this ideology has been applied, we can assert that public education is not longer a means for social emancipation in the social life and in work.

° Inequality and the difficulty to acquire knowledge in development create great social differences and mutations as the result of the growing exclusion that provokes the application of these policies.

° The degradation of public education and the impoverishment of underpaid teachers has consequences in the academic quality of public education.

° This impoverishment provokes a strong erosion of social identity and it is the reason why teachers are underestimated in their social function as agents of cultural transmission.

° Likewise, we are witnessing a de-politization that eliminates the political dimension from education as well as the loss of a historical conscience.

There is a perverse transformation in a school that pretended equality over a Mercantilized School, which is managed by the blindness of the market with all the historical weight of social exclusion and fragmentation that this means.

We are left with some key questions from this brief introduction:

What are the results of the Neo-liberal policies and how they have affected the educational system?

Which are the new value-systems transmitted by the schools under the influence of Neo-liberalism in the historical context of Globalization?

Which are the consequences of the educational privatization and the weakening of public schools?

4 Globalization and Cultural Diversity
The Industrialization of Culture
The industrialization of culture is associated with economic development and market growth. This process has its origins in the 1950s. (Warnier, 1999).
All the definitions agree in considering that all the sectors conjugate the creation, production and commercialization of goods and services. It has the particularity of residing in the intangibility of its contents with a cultural character generally protected by copyrights. The cultural industries include printed press and multimedia, cinematographic production, audio-visual and phonographic. In this item are also included artesanal objects and graphics. Some countries extend this concept to architecture, acting and plastic arts, technological means, sport industries, construction of musical instruments, publicity and cultural tourism. Reference is made, above all, about the creative industries. In economic circles they are described as Sunrise industries and in technological circles content industries. (UNESCO, 2000).

The cultural industries relate to the artistic works, on the one hand about the economic value, which generates likewise new types of value for individuals and for society. The cultural and economic duality of these industries constitutes their main characteristic. Which is the main role of industrialization; which is the role of the contemporary cultural industrialization in the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity as well as in the democratization and the access to culture? This is the first question. The second question is: Who controls the economic development and expansion of this industry within the context of the economic and cultural Globalization?

In the trajectory of the last two decades, the trade in cultural goods has quadrupled. Moreover, most of this trade has taken place among a small number of nations. For example, in 1990, Japan, the United States, Germany and Great Britain accounted for 55.4% of all cultural goods in the world and 47% of the imports were made by the United States, Germany and France. In 1998, China became the third biggest exporter of the world. Through the decade of the 1990s, the growth in cultural industries has multiplied in economic terms as well as in production and distribution. (UNESCO, 2000). The Walt Disney case is a very good illustration of who controls such an expansion.

Who controls these ideological messages and which are the economic and political interests of this Globalization or "Disneylization" of culture? Which are the are the copyrights of traditional knowledge within the context of industrialization and the planetary expansion of markets? It is a question that needs answer from the multi-national corporations. In the pharmacological industry it is well known the plagiarism of indigenous knowledge about medicinal plants by some companies, which have secured patents. This case concerns traditional medicine as well as Western medicine, and the World Health Organization has organized several conferences about this problem. (OMS/WHO, 2001).

Traditional knowledge is part of innovations and creativity based on tradition, including folklore. It occupies everyday-life, more and more the attention of directors who decide on diverse sectors such as food and agriculture, trade and economic development, the environment, health human rights and political culture. The role of indigenous intellectual property in relation to the protection for traditional knowledge has been the theme of a conference by the Organization for Intellectual Property (OMP) in Geneva in 1999 (WIPO/OMPI, 2001).

5. The Cultural Diversity

The planet where we live is charaterized for its bio-diversity that constitutes an immense variety of life forms developed by millions of years. The defence of this bio-diversity seems unavoidable for the survival of the natural ecological systems that make the basis of the "cultural ecological systems," composed by a complex variety of cultures that also need diversity to preserve the cultural plethora that also need diversity to preserve the biological and cultural heritage for future generations. This axis between nature and culture as well as its preservation is fundamental for our survival. It is in this diversity where the richness of our humanity is found. Bio-genetically "races" do not exist; we belong to the same species. We are all relatives and likewise we are all different. (Langaney, Van Blijemburgh et Sánchez-Mazas, 1992)

In 1992, UNESCO insisted on the need to make efforts to assume the challenges of development and to promote diversity in cultures. This proposal was re-taken by the Inter-Government Conference on Cultural Policies for Development in Stockholm (1992).

In preparation for the meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle, the notion of Cultural Diversity was again proclaimed in relation to the goods and cultural services. In this meeting it has been maintained that only appropriate cultural policies can guarantee the preservation of creative diversity against the danger of a Sole Culture. Only preservation policies for bio-diversity can guarantee the protection of natural ecological systems, and thus guarantee the diversity of species. thus emerges as a positive expression of a general objective that seeks to: place value and protection of world cultures against the danger of uniformatization. In this perspective, the Cultural Exception represents therefore one of the means that may lead to the protection and recognition of the value for Cultural Diversity. A key element of this reasoning is in the affirmation that cultural goods and services (books, records, games, multimedia, films and audio-visual) are not comparable to other merchandise and services. It is for this reason that they deserve a different treatment or exemption in order to protect them from Commercial Standardization, which goes alongside with mass consumption and scale economics linked to the cultural industry. (Adorno and Horkheimer, 1998).

Cultural Diversity

Today, mass culture triumphs especially the one imposed by the huge means of communication like television and publicity. This reinforces the planet’s homogenization, but it destroys the national uniqueness in benefit of the American model (Ramonet, 1997; Schiller, 2000).

The Cultural Standardization is articulated in the Americanization of customs that characterize a way of life, production, consumption, dressing, eating and wasting. Today, we are living one more chapter in the historical process of Westernization began by Europe in the XV century. Nowadays, the americanization is the most grotesque aspect and it is caricatured by the capitalist system’s expansion, which transforms everything that touches into merchandise. It is the transition from industrial development to Cultural Industrialization. Such a process started in the 1950s with the cultural industralization, which " standardizes" everything that assimilates. It is very similar to the mega urbanization that disintegrated the ancient communities and atomizes people, depersonalizes their existence in the midst of the " muddy solitude" as Edgar Morin asserts in his book, Terre Patrie. (Morin, 1992; Ramonet, 1997).

The world’s Westernization results in the cultural destruction of big geographical spaces as the consequence of cultural domination, colonialism, post colonialism, which affects the contemporary European borders and plazas. It is a symbolic return to the roots of the historical imposition on other territories and in other epochs, by the supposed universal values originating in Europe itself. This imposition process of European ethnocentrism that corrupted and ruined so many cultures in the world is actually attacked by the Americanization that « invades » its territory.
Contemporary Europe is confronted by an identity crisis and its citizens are deprived from their indispensable traditional cultural references (" de-identified"). They confront the present crisis within the context of the mutations and technological innovations to which they must adapt. The economic and cultural Globalization de-stabilizes all the economic and cultural activities with the development of new technologies such as digital television, video games and Internet. The cultural blocks that provoke these mutations weaken and question the references of the traditional societies. (Ramonet, 1997).

How to protect ancestral values of cultural diversity from the compressing clod-crusher of the Cultural Standardization? How to answer this question?

History reminds us that these cultural conflicts are not new. There are documents informing that already in the epoch prior to the history of humanity, during the XV and XVI centuries, the encounter between the Greco-Latin culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition resulted in a big cultural confrontation. Likewise, the Renaissance witnesses the confrontation between faith and reason and logical truth as the deductive consequence that is opposed to the dogmatic truth. The emergence of rational thought influences the distinction between philosophy and religion and between humanism and Christianity. Humanism places man as the central figure in the universe creating the anthropocentric conception, which distinguishes the Western vision of the world thus separating man from nature. Today, the defence of cultural diversity precedes the defence of the biological diversity.

The creation of arbitrary limits between humanity and animality established the historical roots for the divorce between nature and culture, which is the axis of the contemporary ecological challenge.

In the anthropocentric view, man has the vocation to subdue and dominate nature with the catastrophic results that we all know. It is under these premises that science and technology lead humanity to Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Chernobyl. With the modifications made by bio-genetics we are promised the perversion of the weak equilibriums of the ecological systems that are necessary for our species’ survival.

On the other hand, Western rationalism reaches political maturity when it formulates the Declaration of Human Rights, which during the late XVIII century leads to the American and French revolutions. But the tyranny of reason is also able to produce its own monsters. Terror during the French Revolution emerges as an expression of rational intolerance just like all the Holy Inquisition did in the name of faith. (Ramonet, 1997). The triumph of European rationalism is going to mean to the other peoples of the world a cultural catastrophe with the devaluation of their languages and cultures. From the evangelization of the XV century to our days, the pretension of universality by the Western cultural value-system brings the denial and destruction of other cultures.

In the same European continent, the scientific-technical rationality and bizarre political rationalisations have forced the States to perpetrate abominable massacres throughout the last two world wars. The worse regressions in the human spirit can be seen in the apartheid South Africa, Auschwitz, the Jewish Holocaoust, the Russian Gulag or in the ethnic cleansing and massacre of Kurds. These tragedies were silenced in their own time with support of Western Europe and with American complicity. All these historical dramas were produced in the name of reason and to protect geo-political interests and science.

In the last decades, the economic rise of the industrial society has allowed the industrial societies to pass from post-war poverty to the abundance of today. This affluence has pushed these societies into a consumerism that is encouraged by the mass media and above all by television, which imposes and conditions daily living. Between "to be" and "to have and own," the choice is to consume and then exist; it is the dominant mentality. In this context we also witness the erosion and destruction of family links. Likewise, there is a growing individualism that generates a behavior linked to competition, pragmatism, utilitarianism and the calculation of inter-personal relations, thus destroying diverse solidarity types. This whole framework carries alongside the degradation of family links. The family is confronted by the evolution of customs, sexual freedoms and the erosion of value-systems in traditional societies.

In this context, individualism imposes itself as paradigm and degrades collective life, which leads to the rise of other miseries like reinforcing spiritual misery through solitude. We face new types of stress and a weakening of affective links. Devaluations are not just economic devaluations, they can be worse if they are moral and spiritual devaluations.

Progress and glorification of the economy, which Globalization preaches, become some sort of new religiosity. Ignacio Ramonet (1997) asserts that we are confronted by three serious crises: economic crisis, demographic crisis and the cultural crisis.


After World War II, culture has been colonized trade as the consequence of industrialization. (Adorno, Horkhaimer, 1947). Nowadays, we move towards a commercial globalization that disfigures culture just like the financial domination that erodes governments: the "cyberspace" replaces the territory and the market destroys the fundaments of the National State.

When Cultural Contents are transformed into merchandise, thousands of years of cultural diversity disappear in the jungle of the super markets. Multinational corporations sell through cultural parks for "culture" entertainment and recreation centers like those developed by Walt Disney. Likewise, tourism and travel definitely seek to become big "cultural" industries, where they become devoid of their symbolic content. Regardless of all the economic benefits that these activities can produce they are no without negative consequences for the cultural area and the environment.

Today we can not talk seriously about a Globalization of culture. Cultural events preceded the history of humanity, class formations and State building. The Globalization process in which we live today is limited to the planetary area of so-called "cultural" markets (Cinema), audio-visual, records, printed materials and especially newspapers and magazines. As Jean Pierre Warnier (1999) perceptively has asserted: We can not confuse the cultural industry with culture; it would be like confusing some aspects of cultural trade with the total complexity that culture represents. It would be like believing that the technological revolution is a global reality without considering that most humans barely survive in misery and that they are excluded from the technological revolution. Most humans represent cultures in which life, from birth to death, have other references and are not linked to the cathodic screen of television or computers. To believe that Westernization has become a universal historical phenomenon is to confirm the existence of a primitive ethnocentrism.

Nowadays, there is an important debate of two kinds: the first argues that are witnessing the cultural erosion of unique cultures and the other asserts that Americanization could characterize a possible cultural homogenization at the end of economic globalization. Now as in other epochs, humanity still remains as a machine that "manufactures" cultural differences, that separates and produce mixtures thanks to the population migrations with cultures. Cultures that are in constant adaptation as they re-invent and re-create themselves. Humanity continues re-structuring societies and it is elaborating the geo-politics of regions and markets. These separations and mixtures maintain the existing cultures that are transmitted by tradition; they are localized, socialized and verbalized thus creating identities. These cultures replace the function of the references with which they identify individuals and collectivities.

Cultures are part of living historical processes that are dynamic and are constantly transforming themselves by the local and the global dimensions. Westernization has always been confronted by a cultural resistance, thus creating new faces and mixtures. The economic Globalization weakens the National State and at the same time provokes the rise and recovery of different cultural identities. Despite its powerful technological machinery, cultural commerce has difficulties in standardizing the other cultures in order to uniformize them. One of the great obstacles that blocks the expansion in cultural commerce is that humanity due to its precarious means can not be integrated into the big super markets imposed by economic globalization in the panetary dimension.

Nowadays, we are witnessing some resistance against Globalization by many sectors among the civil society, but likewise we are witnessing the erosion and destruction of some cultures. In this same process, cultures develop an enormous diversification and re-invention of traditions that seek new references in order to endure and survive the deep mutations and injustice in which they live. The States are ran over by the financial power of multi-national corporations; the governments are unable to assume their old mediatory political role.

The idea of a universal culture based on common references is also blocked by the irrationality of economic benefit that the dominant economic groups seek. They are very distanced from any collective project and social interest. The discourse such as the one about the defence of Human Rights, in a very large extent, is limited to political declarations and away from reality.

The resistance to economic and cultural domination is part of the long history of humanity. The eighteenth century philosophers of the Enlightenment developed a powerful philosophical social vision in order to coincide with the evolution of property and the market. Today, we must develop a reflection that has enough capacity to use this extraordinary technological revolution alongside Globlaization for the service of humanity and not against it. We do not want all our existence to be converted into merchandise sold in all the electronic trade. The way in which television has been used for this purpose is nepharious. The mostly commercial use of television has lead to some bizarre conduct like the one described by the American magazine Businessweek: "A 7 year old child watches an average of 2,000 commercials each year, by the age of 12 his name will be in the huge data banks of the companies that sell by mail." (Schiller, 2001: 31-32). To imagine television as all the new technical information for the service of mass education should be a utopia to promote and support.

The end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century were noted for the emergence of two great movements: the respect for bio-diversity and the defence of cultural diversity, both are opposed to the destruction of nature and the uniformatization of culture. The gene modified organisms (GMO), the central base of transgenic feeding has lately provoked real catastrophes. This commercial aspect of nutrition de-naturalizes food from its cultural references. The application of bio-technology and especially the artificial manipulation of the DNA, the life patent and the cloning of large mammals will cause perversion in the food chain and the ecological systems to the point that could be catastrophic to our own survival.

The capitalist globalization provokes resistance and the emergence of new social movements of protest against this domination, which is also cultural domination. One of the greatest social conflicts of the twenty-first century will be for the preservation of bio-diversity and cultural diversity.

Inter-cultural education has and will have this perspective as a central role and place for the encounter and cultural dialogue. The inter-cultural education will be able to create the conditions that will make possible the meeting of cultures with a complementary perspective that will benefit all instead of the all kinds of hierarchical relations and unilateral valuations.

In the contemporary world conditions and after the imperialist military aggression against the Iraqi people, the inter-cultural perspective faces an enormous challenge: the military imposition of the pre-destined American geo-politics, the ethnocentric and authoritarian world vision, and the monoculture impregnated by religious fundamentalism. (Stemberg, 1970).

In reality, inter-cultural education could create an opening to the respect for cultural diversity in contrast to any mono-cultural, ethnocentric and excluding education. Education in this perspective could promote our dignity and the common values of respect, solidarity, justice and tolerance with which we recognize and identify ourselves. We need to reinforce respect for us and for the others as a source of support for the dignity that we all need, which is the affective basis for our survival.

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If it does not enter in the market."

Milton Friedman
(Cited in T. Longo, 2001, p. 74.)

The neo-liberal ideolgy related education is fundamentally opposed to the Educating State or all the political philosophy that grants the State a primary role for public education. The tendency is to privatize education and to reduce government expenses in the public sector. In this perspective, education becomes one more piece of merchandise and this premise has become real in many countries where the neo-liberal ideology has been imposed.

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