The confluence of xenophobic nationalists and climate change deniers threatens the existence of modern civilization, either through continuing the age-old pattern of fruitless wars with ever-more-powerful weaponry or the degradation of the environment past maintaining a decent quality of life.
Destroying each other or Earth is not long-term survival tactics. But, those in power embrace them as a means of maintaining control.
In a recent conversation with Huffington Post, Naomi Klein, “the intellectual godmother of the Green New Deal,” observed:
“I want to be clear: I don’t think there are any shortcuts where we don’t actually have to battle supremacist logics. And it’s different in different parts of the world. In the United States, it’s white supremacy, it’s Christian supremacy, it’s male supremacy. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India right now, it’s Hindu supremacy; under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s Jewish supremacy. It’s all very, very similar.”
Cooperation, not confrontation, is the answer. “We’re all in this together.” (Everybody sing.) Facing the future as the cousins that we are requires a new paradigm. Such a paradigm exists.
But, when the Elder Bush spoke of “A New World Order” in 1990, the specter of authoritarian, totalitarian oppression scared the left and the threat of losing local dominance angered the right.
Yet, the idea of worldwide cooperation preceded him, through the League of Nations and then the United Nations. These were/are political efforts (failed/failing as members brought/bring their old paradigms to the table).
In 1929, after finishing his massive history of western civilization, Will Durant discussed “The Pleasures of Philosophy.” Under a section titled “The Larger Morality,” he surveyed the growing economic interdependence of countries:
“Now this was just what the world waited for, that the great web of commercial exchange and interdependence, which had made states into a Union, and nations into empires, should at last build an international economic order. For precisely as ideal emotions in the individual are unsound and precarious if they have no natural physiological basis, so moral and political ideas can stand securely only on economic realities. When we have an economic world-order we shall begin to have a political world-order; when we have a political world-order we shall begin to have an international morality. Conscience follows the policeman; it arises in submission to order, and grows with habituation. Visibly today an international order is being born; and now, whenever national interest seems to us contrary to the interests of mankind, nothing should prevent us from being loyal to humanity, and rising in morals and diplomacy to that sense of the whole which is the secret of the good life, as it is the guide to wisdom and the test of truth.
“Therefore let every experiment and tentative towards the new world-order be applauded and encouraged. Let science continue to organize itself upon a basis that ignores frontiers; and let labor renew its broken pledges against war.”
Durant called for the U.S. to abandon its xenophobic isolationism and join the League of Nations to help “put an end to our provincialism, our chauvinism, our armament competition, and the secret dream of a few scoundrels to dominate the world.”
He even addressed the paraphrased criticism by Clarence Darrow that “a super-national political order would be another despotism.”
This “is an honest and reasonable doubt;” Durant said, “but if it was well to run these risks in uniting the Colonies, it is well to run the same risks in uniting nations today, when one touch of science in one day of war can kill entire armies, destroy whole cities, and reduce all life, all order, all freedom and all thought to the level of savagery again.”
And, note, it is our American republicanism that has inspired the world away from kings and tyrants toward elected representatives. Worldwide cooperation is but an extension of the American experiment.
To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr.: We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools.