To get out of this crisis, we need a new form of globalism
On the last day of the recent European Green Party Council, Secretary General of the European Greens Mar Garcia Sanz made the call for the green movement to create a new kind of globalism that actually works for people. This powerful call has posed a direct challenge to our movement to prove that globalism and in turn internationalist approaches can work for all and leave no one behind. Mar Garcia Sanz’s words, set to the backdrop of a variety of disjointed COVID-19 responses from different nations, call for a recovery to be led by common good and empathy so that we can not only rebuild but also rethink systems of government.
What has become increasingly clear from the COVID-19 crisis is that authoritarian introspective protectionist leaders have not been able to cope with a crisis of care and responsibility. Such leaders thrive on the international stage through conflict and aggression, but pandemics require thoughtful caring responses that place health and safety of citizens as a priority. Whilst Johnson, Bosonaro and Trump have been trying to treat the response to the virus as another war to wage or battle to fight compassionate leaders such as Jacinda Ardern and Silveria Jacobs have acted swiftly to prioritise public health, promoting shared empathy and strength of community as a means to ensure successful lockdown. It is clear that a new globalism must be built on a compassion and empathy which provides the structure and support for our emergence from this crisis. Efforts to find a vaccine need to be a demonstration of this removing competition and reinforcing shared expertise for the good of humanity.
There have been many opportunities for the major global economic powers to work together in solving the great crises of our time. Many of us will remember in 2005 the white wristbands and rhetoric of the Make Poverty History campaign which attempted to seize a moment in history and call for leaders to do a remarkable act of compassion and eradicate poverty. But they didn’t – instead opting to gloss over the issue with commissions, reports and unambitious targets. The Paris agreement in 2015 was supposed to lay down finally global action on climate change but with the USA withdrawing from it and other countries half-heartedly ratifying it, a crisis looms on.
A problem with current forms of globalism is that most seek to create a conflict with more localised responses to challenges in our society. This has been typified through the dominance of multinational corporations within the global economy which have created a homogeneity of market responses to seemingly edge out more local and personal approaches to economics from the marketplace.
As Greens, we have acknowledged for many years a tricky balance between community led approaches and global action. But most importantly we have developed our thinking as to how the two can be complementary approaches. Our fight against climate change has made a necessity of accelerating such an approach as we simultaneously call for global commitments to reducing carbon emissions whilst empowering communities to ensure their own renewable energy futures. We as a movement are proving it can be done but this is only one step in the right direction of a new globalism.
The Green Party of England and Wales needs to respond to this call from Mar Garcia Sanz and help shape a vision for what new globalism means in practice. Starting within our own Green family, we must stand in solidarity with Green Parties around the world helping boost capacity when needed, and be supportive of the Green voices often unheard through our existing structures. To do this we can build supportive networks and further develop projects with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. But we must also not be afraid to speak out constructively when Green Parties get it wrong and challenge them to support a shared new vision for the world we seek to build.
We need to develop a vision for foreign policy that is built on a move towards compassionate globalism. We must seek to strengthen cooperative bodies that work for the betterment of humanity and shift from the authoritarian focus on global military issues to reinforcing peaceful resolution, instead focusing on the most prominent pressing security issues of our time: climate change and poverty. Part of this can be achieved by creating resolutions in cooperation with other Green Parties on the European and global level.
Finally we need to broaden our connections with international campaigns and be vocal in ensuring that we not only offer solidarity as a party but we pressure our government to intervene where necessary. We must hold our government to account for their role in arming conflicts and facilitating crackdowns on civil liberties, such as the selling of tear gars and rubber bullets to the US used by police on Black Lives Matter protesters.
We also need to be supportive of those throughout the world oppressed for being themselves. We must offer solidarity to LGBTIQA+ people living in fear of death for being themselves, to women facing unspeakable violence and death, to people with disabilities suffering violence and discrimination along with all others subject to immense mental and physical oppression. We can ensure their voices are heard and call on the global community to take action.
We as a party should be ready to join Mar Garcia Sanz and the global Green movement to form a new kind of globalism out of this crisis. With a commitment to internationalism in our approaches we can ensure that our work as a party can be meaningful across borders and send a clear message that we care about our planet and want to change it for the better.
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Image credit: Joan Carles Claveria – Creative Commons
It will be a long time before the dust settles on this coronavirus settles, and full analysis can be made.
We have a government of people who got to power on the back of a wave of whipped-up nationalism, so their first instinct when it started was to try to blame other countries, and then to claim that “WE”, meaning Britain I suppose. would come up with the best solutions, the cleverest gismos, the best organisation, thousands of hospital beds conjured out of nothing, better than China. Better not ask them now how they would have staffed and operated these beds if they had been filled. Perhaps they could have been filled with those sent from hospitals to care homes to die.
It is difficult to believe, but this lot are an extreme example of the species homo politicus, and their main preoccupation is not the solution of problems, but the appearance of things, and they are not very good at that in a tight corner. Even more difficult to believe is that this tub-thumping grinning clown of a leader and his fellows maintain healthy leads in the polls, although the crisis has only just begun and is out of their control.
Bear with me, I have got that off my chest, we were talking about levels of government!
Europe: I would like to see further development and strengthening of European institutions, common currency, common diplomatic corps and so on. Concurrently, I would like to see devolution and the breakup of the large national states. Germany and Italy would easily do so, having only recently unified, and devolved provinces, as would Spain, already having one province wanting to devolve, and it is happening before our eyes in GB. The British monarchy…?
Which powers are appropriate for which level?
Just some food for thought…we need flexible and active minds, because we are on the brink of massive change.
I agree with Finn. Globalism is not the right word for the context that you mean. Google the word ” Globalism.”
I agree with Fin above. Globalism is not the right word.
I value compassion and empathy with the best of them, but I would add a twist to this very good article, and emphasise that it is in everyone’s self-interest to cooperate, enlightened self-interest as it is known.
There is a modern history to this, and a myriad of international organisations now. I hope the World Health Organisation emerges from the coronavirus with an enhanced reputation.
There is no contradiction between local and centralised government, the debate should only be about at what level of government which decisions are appropriate.
The principle is clear, the implementation frought with difficulty.
Time is short.
Thanks for your comments Bernard some really useful ideas. I’ve been disappointed at the self-interest being promoted during this crisis and self-responsibilities being pushed by governments completely ignoring a need for community support.
I completely agree there are no contradictions between local and centralised government, I think devolution has really show an interesting response to this crisis and wonder if ultimately it can provide a flexibility in more localised responses although its clear Westminster is trying to create friction with this rather than work with it. What are your thoughts on devolution in such responses?
What do you think we as a party can do to discuss such approaches?
Call it internationalism or international solidarity instead of globalism as the word globalism already has associations with big corporations, exploitation and capitalism.
I really like these terms you’ve come up with that are perhaps better suited