General Election 2017: The Global Perspective
If we accept, as I have been arguing, that our goal, the goal of politics, is to meet the needs of everyone whilst living within the means of the planet, what are our main challenges? What are the main barriers to our achievement of this goal?
As Kate Raworth has pointed out (in her Doughnut Economics), when the ancients first started to formalise politics and economics it was at the level of the city state. These cities were largely self-sufficient, and apart from the occasional plague, drought or war with a neighbouring city they did not need to consider events further afield. They no doubt understood their relationship with their immediate environment, but because the impact of a relatively small global human population was so slight they were not affected in any great measure by the actions of other communities. But as the world population has grown exponentially, as local economies have developed into national economies and national corporations evolved into multi-national corporations, and, most significantly, as trade, politics, communication and awareness has become truly global, so too have our problems.
The main issues that threaten the flourishing of human life today are truly global. The most obvious of these is climate change. Our carbon emissions do not respect national boundaries, sea level rise as a result of the melting icecaps can only be global in its effect, and the predicted mean rise in global temperatures will affect everyone. There will be, there can be, no escape. And there are other issues as well. The migration of people fleeing war and persecution not only affects us all, but is the responsibility of us all – many countries, including the UK, have historic political responsibility for creating the conditions of these conflicts, and were not slow to exploit foreign populations and resources to develop their own economies and political status. And this migration will only rise as a result parts of the world become uninhabitable due to rising sea levels and temperatures.
Responding to these and many other global issues requires global co-operation, and, dare I say, global legislation. The EU has many faults, but it is at least capable of legislating on human rights, environmental protection laws, working regulations and animal welfare standards across individual national boundaries. There has to be a system of norms, rights and laws that are agreed at the international level. Despite all the talk of getting our sovereignty back, individual nations cannot be the sole judge of what is right and legal within its boundaries. Because what we do within our boundaries potentially affects everyone in the world our actions need to conform to some degree of international agreement. And migration, from whatever cause, is the responsibility of everyone, and demands an internationally agreed response. Anything less is an abdication of our responsibility as a human being.
But we don’t only need global co-operation and legislation, we need the global enforcement of this agreed legislation. This is not, as far as I am aware, Green Party policy, but I would advocate for the UN to be developed into an international police corps, one capable of intervening in any situation where human rights and regulations designed to ensure that the environment remains capable of supporting human life were being abused. It should not be neither the responsibility nor the right of any nation to intervene in an international ‘situation’ – it should be the responsibility of us all acting co-operatively.