This essay by David Held gives an interesting perspective on how global politics has been damaged since 9/11 and on a more uplifting note he also suggests how it can be mended. It made me think about how we, through our activities in Compass, can contribute to the process of fixing the broken politics alluded to in the article.
Initially, he discusses how the attack on 9/11 punctured the US sense of invulnerability, and unleashed ill-thought-out violence across many parts of the world. It led to several failed wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria enflaming an already disorganised Middle East and North Africa and intensified huge global problems such as the spread of terrorism and forced migration. War did not work as a means of transformation and, he argues, it rarely does. Attempts by the US and allies to impose democracy in these states have failed because they ignored the social and cultural norms that exist in those countries. The process of democratisation requires a shift in people’s identities and is a slow and arduous process. The attempts by western democracies to short circuit these processes has led to democracy being severely damaged.
He identifies the global challenges that we face today as three core types of problems – those concerned with sharing our planet (climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem losses, water deficits), sustaining our life chances (poverty, conflict prevention, global infectious diseases) and managing our rulebooks (nuclear proliferation, toxic waste disposal, intellectual property rights, genetic research rules, trade rules, finance and tax rules). He argues that in an increasingly interconnected world, these global problems cannot be solved by any one nation-state acting alone. They call for collective and collaborative action and we need to get better at that. With the shifting of global economic power to the east comes a requirement to reform our global institutions, such as the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation.We have now reached gridlock, a situation where there is a clear need for increased global cooperation but we lack the institutions of governance to create the cooperation. The consequences of this gridlock (broken politics) include the continued threat from climate change, wars such as Syria getting out of control and the destabilising effects of migration and inequality.
So this leaves us at a crossroads, either we choose authoritarianism with a retreat into nationalism, as evidenced by the BREXIT vote and Trumps election (“America First”), or we choose a more hopeful cosmopolitan future where citizenship is seen as being based on a set of principles and legal arrangements which link people together in the different communities which affect them. In a cosmopolitan future the EU focuses on positive ideals and commitments to social justice, sustainability and well-being. The cosmopolitan approach shows commitment to the equal moral worth of every human being, and to the equal freedom of each and all, with an acceptance of the plurality of ways of living and a tolerance of this diversity in all its richness.
The strategy document published by Compass which outlines the principles that Compass are following to initiate political change highlights the importance of commitment to the values of curiosity, courage, collaboration, generosity, openness, hope, love and inspiration. I think that it is in our commitment to these values and the way we live out these values in our lives that we can influence others to commit to a more hopeful future for humanity.