Towards a Global Philosophy
by Iain Kirkaly-Willis
Lets start with the word Global – something planet-wide. Take Life for instance. It has been happening all over the planet for far longer than anything else. It started from simple beginnings and evolution is the story of its progress. During this process nothing superceded any earlier stage. What is actually the case is that each development in the evolutionary train incorporated all that went before. How the human embryo progresses from a single cell, through all the evolutionary stages to another complete human entity, during gestation, is a fine illustration of this. Nothing Life has done is dispensable. Life could not have achieved the human, without having gone through what it has evolutionarily, just as that human embryo could not become a baby without going through every phase of that process. The human could not exist, let alone survive, if anything of this was missing, because the absence of that link in the evolutionary train would be missing within its own make-up. One cannot get more global than this.
Life is a planet-wide net of activity, whose global stability exists because of all those individual forms of life being viable in themselves, there, where they are in their own localities, in companionship with the others there with them. Without those points of reference, the net has no substance. There is nothing to link up, and if any of them is harmed, or disappears, the net is affected. Rents, tears and holes appear, weakening its activity and affecting the viability and performance of other members, and so on. Evolutionarily, such things have happened at the hands of factors and forces that have proved to have husbanded Life, in the longer run. Forms of life have come and gone in the process. What we have been learning about environmental impoverishment and human suffering, more and more in the last few decades, has been drawing our attention to how the damage is becoming irreparable, with regard to the conditions for human existence. Change that has significant ramifications globally is under way, change that is not to our advantage.
Globalisation then refers to something that is becoming, or going, planet-wide. It is simply a term that takes on positive and negative connotations, according to the nature of what it is used to refer to – Life being positive, in all that it has brought about evolutionarily, whilst the predominance of certain aspects of human activity are negative, in that they bring about biological impoverishment of life and human suffering.
On the basis of such terms, lets proceed.
It is now clearly established how the prevailing economic and political order has been responsible for human activity having progressively harmful consequences worldwide, that is to say globally. With the various ideas and practices that pertain when they use the term globalisation, we have the dangerous phenomenon of the established order calling for policies that will extend the scale of their activities, thereby hastening the damaging process. Just as this is a trend at the moment, there are other global trends, both meritorious and inimical.
For instance, increasing resistance to the policies and directives of the prevailing order has become a global trend. It proves to be a buffer against people's being disenfranchised, marginalized, dispossessed, because, as a trend, it has led to their starting to define what they have lost and seeking to reappropriate that, which is another trend that is appearing all over the planet. Beneficial as this resistance is for the enormous numbers of people concerned, trends like these are anathema for the economico-political establishment, in that they spell death for the sort of growth they promote and upon which they depend.
How have we got into this position?
As the ´60´s of the C20th turned into the ´70´s, U. Thant (then Secretary General of the UN), The Club of Rome and other reputable and high-profile individuals and bodies, not only warned of the limits to growth economics for the human and environmental consequences it was having, but pointed at an approaching point of no-return, if fundamental change was not countenanced.
Only change is change. Not only has there been no change, the scale of activity has grown and business has become brisker, with the twisting of friendly terms being utilised to obscure the scene. There is a false premise here. Damaging activities, policies and strategies are damaging, regardless of whether they are more so, or less. They only become non-damaging when they are replaced. It is like a dictator promising he is going to change and be friendly, because he is not going to torture so much, meaning he is going to use another word for it and change his chain of command so that others do it. It is only when such a dictator is replaced that things can really change.
The stress and tension of such trends is not new. Historically, they have brought about change of their own accord, making and breaking civilisations, setting up and pulling down social, ethnic and cultural supremacies, and so on, in one part of the world and another. What is new is the global dimension now evident. In a way one would think that the French, American and Russian revolutions should make the American and European people the first to recognise other's reactions towards their economic intentions and practices.
That this is not so is because the economic and political elite that run the world order is a very small coterie, by comparison with the masses whose affairs the order regulates. It is also small compared with the lesser ranking politicians, financial structures and the scientific community at the beck and call of the money channelled. Here is an order and structure, again on a global scale, whose hierarchy and structures follow the historical trend of monarchies, nobility and the ruling classes, earlier. The 1999 UN report on the State of the World concluded with the statement that it was not too late to bring about change, if the governments of the world's nations would make a 90% change of policy. The reality is that those who run the present world order would not allow such change. Furthermore, we endorse their position because the consumer trend at the heart of society does not make it easy for people to give up the goods and services being provided.
What on Earth is going on then, when yet another trend is that such an elite proposes subjecting the rest of humanity to a set-up they would not dream of being exposed to themselves? That the scale that all such trends have reached is global, with the planet-wide devastation for environments and world-wide suffering for those that inhabit them, would seem to be something about human consciousness knocking even more insistently at the door – the globalisation of the sensitivity and awareness of what it is, not just to be human oneself, nor to just live according to compassion for one's fellow human beings, but out of concern for other manifestations of life and for Life itself, as being the planetary essence that has evolved such a capability in the human species, as part and parcel of everything else that it has brought about.
In essence, Globalisation is nothing to do with who makes the strongest case for their ideas of it. It is not about some outcome at the WTO, as a result of who has what bargaining chips, what major financial institutions, corporate business and politicians swing behind the scenes, etc. It is nothing to do with a hue and cry about morals and ethics. It is the practical matter of the conditions of life for human survival. The World Watch Institute's report on the Global state for the year 2003 points out that the degree of biological impoverishment and human misery humankind is having to put up with, as a result of the failure to have taken remedial measures, for decades now, is becoming so acute as to utterly change the conditions of life as we know within the next 2 generations. It is now too late to stop this.
At the outset I said that Life is a planet-wide net of activity, whose global stability exists because of all those individual forms of life being viable in themselves, there, where they are in their own localities, in companionship with the others there with them. What do we do about being part of such globalisation, so that human activity also reflects this?
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