TOWARDS A NEW INTERNATIONALISM:
from globalization to globalism
Inter Pares' motto for almost thirty years has been, working for change - among equals. What does "working for change" mean for us today?
Change is, of course, inevitable. Change is always happening, in ways too complex for anyone to control. Our mission is to affect the quality and character of change, to influence the trajectory of change to the benefit of society, nationally and globally. This includes trying to end the permanent emergency that consumes the lives of the majority on the planet, and the spiral of violence and militarism that dominates global politics today. It also implies finding, promoting and amplifying alternative visions of life, livelihoods and citizenship in the interests of the broad global community. It implies resistance, opposition, and proposition. It implies imagining another future and trying to promote and live that future daily.
Globalism vs. Globalization: the pendulum returns
We are living in a time when citizenship seems in danger of becoming extinct. The state is run as a corporation, with citizens as clients and stakeholders. Public relations and "messaging" have replaced truth and communication in public discourse. Education and research institutions serve commercial interests rather than the broader public interest, and "science" is used to defend policy and profit rather than truth and public well-being. We are seeing the privatization of public goods, such as water, and the commodification of public services, such as health and education. Citizenship is no longer a right, but a privilege of wealth and social status.
Inter Pares' conviction, however, is that this state of affairs is neither inevitable nor permanent. We see it changing far more quickly than we would have anticipated even a few years ago. In our daily work in Africa, Asia and the Americas - including in Canada - we see people taking hold of their rights and responsibilities as citizens to revoke arbitrary authority and demand moral, ethical and political leadership, by demonstrating such leadership in the streets and in the legislatures.
The demographics of this new citizenship is also a profound shift. Global activism, long carried by an aging population, is increasingly led by the young, who now make up the vast majority of citizens in most nations; and by women, who have moved into the theatre of activist public citizenship as never before. At the same time, an inter-generational exchange among progressive citizen activists is passing on a legacy of experience from old to young, and a momentum of change that is as durable as history. As part of this movement we see a convergence of interests, a commitment to democratic diversity, and a vision that "another way is possible". We see people coming together to share experiences, values, dreams and actions within a new internationalist movement - a movement to announce a transcendent globalism as a positive and unifying force on the planet.
The New Citizenship
The members of the Inter Pares team, and our good friends around the world - including the thousands of citizens across Canada who support our work politically and financially - can easily become discouraged at the slow pace of change. We have had to learn to rely on what Eduardo Galeano has called a "patient impatience". This implies a sense of passion and urgency mediated by the wisdom that nothing of permanent historical importance is achieved quickly, and often takes more than a lifetime.
What is happening is not just mobilization but politicization: the engagement of people as citizens, "doing politics" for the long term - engaged citizens with explicit proposals and structures of accountability. What we see emerging is a resurgent citizen activism, locally and globally - movements of people working together in an open conspiracy to re-appropriate their governments, their economies, and their societies. The action is responsible citizenship itself: first, to hold the state responsible for its deeds, and ultimately to make government responsible in its form and substance, and to use government to develop progressive social and economic policy to the benefit of the entire community.
We have also learned that to achieve this shift on a global level requires a change of mind, of consciousness. We need to perceive the healthy in things, and emphasize the healthy, reinforce the healthy, build on the healthy. And tempting as it is to believe otherwise, there is no one grand alternative, just as there is no single grand narrative of the human journey. We know that there can never be one perfect system that applies to all, everywhere, always. Rather, we need to embrace diversity and challenge dichotomies - dichotomies like "us" and "them", for example - that obscure the common destiny of all who share our planet.
Values and Ethics Matter
Inter Pares and our colleagues around the world promote the values of health, creativity, and respect for life, and the ethics of care and community. What we call "development" is not a technical process. It is not technique and tools that will make the difference. What is required is an explicit internationalist movement for global cooperation within an ethos of universal respect, reciprocity and interdependent diversity.
In the final analysis, the future depends on a deep and broad global movement of people prepared to be advocates of hope against the merchants of fear; advocates of life against merchants of death; advocates of the planet against those who would appropriate life and the entire earth to buy it and sell it; advocates of nature against the machine; advocates of one universal humanity against those who define themselves in their assumed superiority and dominance over the other.
The religious, economic, and ideological fundamentalisms - ancient and modern - that blight the planet and repress life and humanity are rooted in the darkness of fear, exclusion and isolation. Their power can be challenged and overcome by the light of hope and consciousness and the strength of cooperative action. History has proved this time and again.
In this context, the new globalism - based in such hope and confidence - is promoting cooperative international action to transform ourselves and with us, the world. Inter Pares' program is based within this emerging movement, and supports it.
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|Reviewed June 1, 2004||Publishing Policies|