Martin LeFevre: The Next Step Is a Great Leap
The Next Step Is a Great Leap
You don’t have to be a prophet to know a global train wreck is imminent. You just have to put an ear to the rail to hear the train is coming, and look down the tracks and see that the line has run out. Is there no other choice but to stand here and wait until the derailment and calamity occur?
There is still enough time, though barely, to seize this opportunity and prepare a new link in the inchoate line of human civilization. It won’t be a smooth transition, but some people must begin to lay down track on a new line, or this opportunity will be lost, and it could be our last chance to change course as a species.
Catastrophe cannot be averted, but the worst can be avoided. A new course can be taken, if it’s taken before the collapse of the old order occurs Otherwise, the global society will be faced with the unavoidability of having to rebuild from the rubble. That is, if it will be possible to rebuild at all.
The next major hit to the international/multilateral order on the scale of 9.11 is going to bring it down. It will come either shortly before or sometime after the US election, depending on what global citizens do or don’t do now.
International institutions, beginning with the United Nations, don’t have to fail if the rudiments of true world order are in place when the old order completely crumbles.
Most people agree that the UN must attain true autonomy and authority. But that presents many questions for smaller, less powerful countries. Since the Security Council is controlled by the ‘great powers,’ how is greater power and authority for the UN not to translate into even more ability of the most powerful states to intervene in the affairs of the weaker ones?
The realities of power mean that the UN Security Council cannot even condemn the violations of human rights atGuantánamo, and the heinous practice of “extraordinary rendition.” Despite, or because of that fact, there is an urgent need for a new body, outside the UN framework, to articulate and advocate universal standards and practices, with priority given to the less powerful and less wealthy peoples.
A new, non-power-holding body in East Africa is both urgently necessary and increasingly possible. The paradox is that without a new body of world citizens outside the UN framework, the UN, as an international political organization, much less an effective institution of global governance, will continue to deteriorate, and become as irrelevant as Bush and Cheney want it to be.
Why? Because the UN framework, as it stands, is based on a defunct premise: the 17th century concept of national sovereignty. For the UN to be revitalized and radically reformed, the old philosophical foundation has to be replaced before the old order completely collapses, taking the UN superstructure, and any possibility of genuine world order with it.
The first and most important thing that a Global Council of world citizens will do is to declare and uphold the sovereignty of humanity. That can and must be done without tearing down the UN, literally or metaphorically.
There is another paradox. An effective voice for the sovereignty of humanity will strengthen, not weaken (as the international system is doing), the rightful authority of national governments.
Global citizens can acknowledge the tremendous achievements and importance of the UN in human political and social organization, and still see its deficiencies and limitations.
To radically reform the UN, it needs a new philosophical foundation. That means building an authentically global, non-power-holding component. The moral imperative has become just that in human political organization.
A Global Council in East Africa, the evolutionary birthplace of humankind, must steer clear of political power, but at the same time it cannot be removed and separate from it. A GC has to enlist world citizens, engage national governments and international institutions, and continually promote thinking together, without favor or bias.
The first problem isn’t organized religion or political institutions, or the mixing of the two, as inimical to human freedom as that is. It is the increasing scarcity of insight and imagination.
As humankind nears bottom, the question is, is a creative explosion as possible as the collapse of the old order is inevitable?
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.