Martin LeFevre: A Vacuum Of Leadership
A Vacuum Of Leadership
Driving at high speed, it is too late to make a turn once the crossroads are reached. In the same way, it will be too late for humankind to change course (at this point in history anyway) once the international world order collapses.
As the collapse of the WTO conference in Cancun Mexico attests, the international system is buckling and beginning to crumble. Talks broke down between rich and poor countries mainly over agricultural subsidies to farmers in the rich countries. Along with tariffs and other trade barriers, developed countries effectively close markets to developing countries, for whom agriculture is the most important sector of their economies.
Some people say that the developing countries are starting to gain a voice and power, and that the failure of this WTO conference is the beginning rather than the end of real negotiation between the developed and developing world. But that is overly optimistic.
Other people say fine, let the WTO and the international world order collapse. After all, they aren¹t serving the vast majority of the world¹s people anyway, and so the world would be better off without them. But that ignores the fact that nature abhors a vacuum, and something far worse could well fill the vacuum of governance and leadership in the global society.
The Bush Administration believes that American power can and should fill this vacuum. But that is a prescription for more chaos, injustice, and economic and political inequality. It hardly needs comment, except that no alternative is yet emerging.
The problem, in a world where borders matter less and less, is that human political organization can no longer be a matter of simply changing the form of government, or replacing a party or politician. If coercive power remains the core factor, then those possessing military and economic power will not only continue to rule, but they will consolidate their rule. Human freedom will become merely a propaganda and marketing slogan, as it is in the United States.
The United Nations is necessary, but not sufficient for global governance. The UN is the child of the nation-state, formed essentially by the United States after World War II. Increasingly, the US is trying to make the UN a servant of its unparalleled power. America is destroying its own creation by putting its own interests ahead of the interests of humanity. Would any nation, possessing such power, do otherwise?
Probably not, if history is any guide. But that is beside the point. The nation-state, much less one nation-state, cannot be the building block of any sort of world order in a global society. In a global society nation-states are secondary, and without the creation of an authentically global body, the UN will go the way of the League of Nations. So what is the basic building block? Clearly, world citizenship must take precedence over any particular identification. But that requires a psychological revolution beyond anything that has ever occurred in human history. It requires emotionally seeing that we are human beings first, and members of a nation, religion, or ethnic group second.
Each person who cares about the future of humanity must now ask themselves: am I a citizen of a country first, or a citizen of the world first?
In practical political terms, the collapse of the international world order affords the opportunity to make the transition to a true world order.
A new architecture, arising out of a psychology and paradigm of wholeness, would be composed of nation-states, international institutions, and a non-power-holding Global Polity of world citizens, located in the birthplace of humankind. It can and will happen.
- 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.