The 45th G7 summit was celebrated in Biarritz from the 24th until the 26th of August. A summit in which the most economically advanced countries or ‘the club of rich democracies’ discussed current world issues. Among others, the summit focused on the events in Hong Kong, the situation with Russia following its suspension in 2014, Iran’s nuclear issues and the wildfires in the Amazonas rainforest. Although some media platforms echoed the ideological ‘sharp differences’ among the participants at the summit, others have read beyond ideology and have posited the G7 within ‘civilization logics’.
The ‘civilizational turn’ in IR started with Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations? (1993) after the end of the Cold War. A pioneer in using ‘civilization’ as an analytic category to understand the world to come, a wide array of literature has been produced to understand the re-organization of the world beyond big ideologies. This literature understands civilizations as ‘elite-centered social systems that are integrated into a global context’ (Katzenstein, 2015: 5). It is in this regard that Cox (2000) affirms the existence of modern-day civilization: ‘the business civilization’. This civilization would be tangible at events such as ‘the annual World Economic Forum at Davos’ (2000: 224), or G- summits, ‘cutting across pre-existing historical civilizations in different parts of the world’.
The civilizational frame might be useful despite the ideological differences and the pragmatic disagreements. This group of economically advanced states participate in all liberal institutions and dominate the world’s finance through institutions such as the IMF or the World Bank. They control the global market economy and have mechanisms for the imposition of sanctions and a normative capacity.
Without any formal organization, this business civilization is based on Western-centric –Anglo and Euro— models of political and economic power. Therefore, those elites that want to be part of it have to play into the logics of the organizations and principles of the so-called ‘liberal world order’, by trying to imitate it. Such has been historically the case of Japan.
It is unlikely thus that despite their ideological differences, the club of rich democracies will stop operating; and perhaps by understanding the civilizational logics imbricated in events such as the G7 we can have a better look at the state of affairs of the current world order.