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Carpe Diem George My Friend, Carpe Diem

Discussion in 'Seasoned Tokers' started by Sureshot, Jun 17, 2003.

  1. We can seize the day

    The task is not to overthrow globalisation but to use it for a democratic revolution

    Tuesday June 17, 2003
    The Guardian

    Last week Jack Straw illuminated the depths of his political cowardice by shining upon them the full and feeble beam of his political courage. He proposed to alter the constitution of the UN security council. He would like to double its permanent membership, though without granting the new members the privileges accorded to the five existing ones. He must know that this scheme will be rejected by the proposed new entrants, yet he fears to tread more firmly upon the toes of the incumbents.

    But Straw is desperate to save this undemocratic instrument of global governance. He wants to save it because it provides a semblance of legitimacy for a global system otherwise crudely governed by Britain's principal ally. By tearing down the security council to go to war with Iraq, George Bush has ripped the veil off his own intentions. The ambitions of his project now stand before us, naked and undeniable. Straw, like a frantic tailor, is seeking to restore his client's modesty. He knows that a naked emperor cannot govern unopposed for long.

    Straw's scheme is a response to two colliding realities. The first is that the principal instruments of political globalisation are in trouble. The security council, the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, having already lost the support of the world's people, are now losing the support of their principal sponsor. Other nations are beginning to face a stark choice: they must either accept direct global rule from Washington, or bypass the superpower and design a new, multilateral system of global governance.

    The second is that economic globalisation, driven by corporate and financial integration, sweeps all before it. It destroys, but it also creates. It is extending to the world's people unprecedented opportunities for mobilisation. It is establishing a single, planetary class interest, as the same forces and the same institutions threaten the welfare of the people of all nations. It is ripping down the cultural and linguistic barriers that divide us. By breaking the social bonds which sustained local communities, it destroys our geographical loyalties. It forces us to become a global political community, whether we like it or not.

    Simultaneously, it has placed within our hands the weapons we need to attack the existing means of global governance. By forcing governments to operate in the interests of business, it has manufactured the disenchantment upon which all new politics must feed. By expanding its own empire through new communication and transport networks, it has granted the world's people the means by which they can gather and coordinate their challenge.

    We may, in other words, be approaching a revolutionary moment. Economic globalisation has made us stronger than ever before, just as the existing instruments of global control have become weaker than ever before. But the global justice movement, vast and determined as it is, is in no position to seize it. The reason is simple: we do not possess a political programme. Without a programme, we can only oppose. Without a programme, we permit our opponents to select the field of battle.

    We hesitate to develop one for two reasons. The first is that hundreds of disparate factions have buried their differences within this movement to fight their common enemies. Those differences will re-emerge as we seek to coalesce around a common set of solutions.

    The second is that many of us have mistaken the context for the problem. We have tended to reject not only the undemocratic global governance which prevails today, but also global governance itself. As a result, we remove ourselves from the determination of precisely those issues - such as war, climate change, international debt and trade between nations - which most concern us, for these issues can be addressed only at the global level. Global governance will take place whether we participate in it or not. Indeed, it must take place if these issues are not to be resolved by the brute force of the powerful. Our task is not to overthrow globalisation, but to capture it, and to use it as a vehicle for humanity's first global democratic revolution.

    But, despite the fact that many people understand these issues, we still hang back. We leave the rest of the world with a question, repeatedly asked but seldom answered: we know what they don't want, but what do they want?

    I have sought to provide an answer, with a series of proposals for a system of global governance run by, and for, the world's people. I don't regard them as final or definitive: on the contrary, I hope that other people will refine, transform and, if necessary, overthrow them in favour of better ones. But until we have a programme to reject, we will never develop a programme we can accept.

    I have suggested the scrapping of the World Bank and the IMF, and their replacement with a body rather like the one designed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1940s, whose purpose was to prevent excessive trade surpluses and deficits from forming, and therefore international debt from accumulating. I have proposed a transformation of the global trade rules. Poor nations should be permitted, if they wish, to follow the route to development taken by the rich nations: protecting their infant industries from foreign competition until they are strong enough to fend for themselves, and seizing other countries' intellectual property rights. Companies operating between nations should be subject to mandatory fair trade rules, losing their licence to trade if they break them.

    The UN security council should be scrapped, and its powers vested in a reformulated UN general assembly. This would be democratised by means of weighted voting: nations' votes would increase according to both the size of their populations and their positions on a global democracy index. Perhaps most importantly, the people of the world would elect representatives to a global parliament, whose purpose would be to hold the other international bodies to account.

    I have also suggested some cruel and unusual means by which these proposals might be implemented. Poor nations, for example, now owe so much that they own, in effect, the world's financial systems. The threat of a sudden collective default on their debts unless they get what they want would concentrate the minds of even the most obdurate global powers.

    You might regard this agenda as either excessive or insufficient, wildly optimistic or boringly unambitious. But it is not enough simply to reject it. Do so by all means, but only once you have first proposed a better one of your own. For until we have a programme behind which we can unite, we will neither present a viable threat to the current rulers of the world, nor seize the revolutionary moment which their miscalculation affords us. We cannot destroy the existing world order until we have a better one with which to replace it.

    · George Monbiot will be launching his book The Age of Consent: a Manifesto for a New World Order at 7pm on Wednesday at the Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1. Tickets from Blackwell's, on 020-7292 5100 or events.london@blackwell.co.uk.

    Something to ponder.

  2. "But, despite the fact that many people understand these issues, we still hang back. We leave the rest of the world with a question, repeatedly asked but seldom answered: we know what they don't want, but what do they want?"

    "many"? i'd guestimate that less than 2% of the worlds population has any real grasp of whats going on.

    some oppose the idea of globalisation outright.

    i dont see it as an idea that needs to be pushed. but i understand that by not proposing an alternative we may all have to endure the process of globalisation through the PNAC!! :eek:

    I'll be damned if i'm going to sit by and watch Neo-Conservatives take over the globe.

    the proposal laid forth there does seem to me a tad "boringly unambitious", but it is a far far better thing than the Plan for a New American Century. It does actually address the global issues that cut to the very heart of inequality and also why many people are opposed to globalisation.

    questions that sit before me are;

    can we wait until we get that cataclysmic uniting event from outer space? or do we actually need to really start searching for that global solution? The environmental/political clock is ticking, but is there enough time on it left? Could we cheat the clock and avoid our destruction without globalisation?
    Is globalisation worth going for at all? if so, is it necessary to have, regardless of whatever form it may take? and if thats the case then wouldnt it have been better just to sit back and let Hitler have his vision? or the PNAC to have theirs now? Whatever form it takes when/if it comes, will we be able to iron out the creases and bumps later? or do we need to smooth things out before we attempt to have globalisation?

    more food for thought.

  3. Yeah, I'd completely agree on that. It kind of makes me a little sad.

    I console myself hoping that maybe it's relative, it might only be 2% but it's a 2% that are oft in positions to at least stimulate change if not directly cause it.

    And are perfectly right to do so.

    What is undeniable though is that the World is shrinking. Whether thsi automatically triggers this beast we call globalisation (i think i prefer internationalisation - globalisation I feel implies a degree of over riding control or direction on a pan nation basis, like an overarching ideal if you like) is another matter.

    And it is articles like this that may stimulate that debate :)

    I'm with you brother. Who's going to be first against the wall when the revolution comes? :)

    Here here.

    I think some idea/perspective on what truly are the "global issues" needs to be gained by the current Western governance systems.

    We cannot begin to solve the issues before we identify them.

    Simple. No. Yes.

    Although there must be a stimulae. What that will be I can only guess.

    Current favourite is disease, a more extreme SARs type event. Anything where "the shrinking planet" can be blamed. High speed travel, urban sprawl, blah de blah, yakety smackety.

    This depends on how you define globalisation. I would say the environment is one of the global core issues, not only for it's obvious importance but also on purely logistical basis legislating environmental issues locally with no global "plan" is a little pointless.

    Kyoto and the US is my favourite example of this.

    Hmm, now these are the 64k questions.

    Again I think it depends largely on your def of globlalisation. Particularly the slightly cynical Hitler part. The Project for the New American Century on the other hand.... *breathes between teeth* ....I love there website, the very first paragraph offends with it's brutal our way or no way ethos.

    In the fateful words of Kurt Cobain:

    "Hmm, it's pretty scary."

  4. i'll second that.
    it is articles like this that may stimulate that debate ;)

    i've said a similar thing several times. well... its basically the same thing, just that i say it in a rather more pompus manner: To solve a problem we must first identify it.

    yeah. totally.

    "yakety smackety" lol.

    technology can provide many solutions, cures, preventions to many of these problems. but technology alone can never be the whole package to a solution to any of these potential "stimulae" issues. there must be the political will and manueverability to back it up as well as education & freedom of knowledge to the people.

    in exact agreement there.

    if pressed (which i suppose i am since you asked twice) i'd say that when i speak of globalisation here i usually mean enforced or actively set-up globalisation with some inevitable semi-enforced blending/merger of cultures, currency, laws etc. as opposed to a more natural step by step progression through ever streangthening relations and alliances. like the current direction of europe for example (asuming the most recent proposal doesnt go entirely as planned- sheesh:rolleyes:).

    to quote the late great bill hicks:
    Its a strange world, but i'm proud to be part of it.

    it took me a while to understand and appreciate what exactly he meant by that, i didnt think it fit with his demeanor towards the world.... but it does.

  5. The second of which I call Internationalisation. With the added impetus of a shrinking world. What I mean is that as little as 30 or 40 years ago we were national citizens by default. Now much of the West is an international citizen by default. TV, web, films, fashion, food, sport.... we are imbibing internationalism all the time without realising it.

    The question perhaps is whose internationalism?

    The answer is clear.

    The US.

    "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
  6. ah, yes. it is internationalism that is occurring naturally. there's nothing to fear from it. nothing instantaniously radical that will leave us yearning for teh past, nothing that will damage or tear society appart... quite the opposite is true.

    but of course, its not the idealistic dream of a idealistic futurist craving a better world. we still need the starting block. and that starting block has unbalanced shares of influence. so of course, as you say... US.

    at the fear of turning this into a purely capitalism based discussion i bring it up... after all, it is the worlds primary system of getting things done.

    as long as capitalism prevails as it does, it makes any inteligent progressive globalisation (or rather, internationalisation) for the good of the planet and all its inhabitants a complete no-brainer.

    market forces and greed cannot be allowed to shape the (for lack of a better term) "new world order" just the same as it would be completely irresponsable to allow any religion complete carte blanche on the way of things.

    oh dear... i can feel myself "going of on one" here....

    another question has sprung to mind.
    is democracy even the best tool for the job?
    we often asume that this would be the method of government for the world, but what if we were to create an entirely different system. a system where everyone is given fair political influence, influece that could change dynamically taking into consideration a massive number of factors.
    or how about this... instead of nations, the world is split into ideologies. every individual, regardless of where they are get to choose by which system they are governed by. you could have marxists, capitalists, liberal democrats, orthodox religious types, neo-socialists (lol), etc. all living on the same street.

    or is that just too much of a pipe dream? to idealistic? dangerous even?

    but anyway, the question still persists, is democracy even the best tool for the job?

  7. I think that just about summarises the entire problem.

    Here here.

    As we stand market forces are our religion. The Dollar is God, the World Bank and IMF it's disciples.

    I often wonder the same thing. I take a different route of reasoning as to why though. I find democracy a little short sighted, half of the time the latest policy is a vote winner not a sensibly thought out way forward.

    I would love to hear your (anyones) views on what you feel these factors are and what kind of system would mange to to give everyone fair and relative power.

    I occasionally try to imagine what the “new way” will be. But I always hit the same stumbling blocks of human greed, distrust and logistics.
  8. On a further note, I'm surprised more people don't have views on this.

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