WHAT IS THE REASON people fear a united world in which solidarity, rather than greed, is the driving force? In such a world the Covid-19 Pandemic would have been handled collectively, without regard to either the narrow interests of nation states, or the hunger for corporate profit. In such a world the response to global warming would have been instantaneous, decisive, successful, and set in motion 50 years ago. In such a world no one would be permitted to remain in need, and obscene wealth would be unthinkable. That such a world would be the preference of just about every human-being seems indisputable – and yet it exists only in the imagination of utopian dreamers.
Why is that?
My question is prompted by some of the placards I saw being carried by participants in the recent anti-vaccination protests. Some of these referenced Agenda 21, others Agenda 30. According to Wikipedia, Agenda 21 is “a non-binding action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It is a product of the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.” Agenda 30 is another UN initiative which, similarly, offers a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all people and the world by 2030.” What could possibly prompt people to object to these self-evidently beneficial goals?
The answer, of course, is Fear. Fear of in some way being made subordinate to foreigners. No, let’s be honest here. Fear of people with dark skins requiring people with white skins to share the world’s resources more equitably. Fear of losing the last remaining privilege still available to the poorest and most despised of white people: their supposed racial superiority. Fear of no longer belonging to the collectivity of masters. Fear of joining the collectivity of servants and slaves.
How else to explain the extraordinary reaction of the White World to the identification of the Omicron Variant of Covid-19 by South African scientists? Rather than thank the South Africans for alerting the world to this new potential threat to global health, the nations of Europe, North America and Australasia immediately banned all flights from the southern third of the African continent. Never mind that the Omicron Variant had already arrived in locations all over the planet, including Europe, the nations of the West reflexively, almost casually, delivered yet another devastating blow to the fragile economies of South Africa and her neighbours.
Not fair! Cry the governments of the West. We are only doing what is necessary to protect our people from this new Covid threat. Which is true, but which also brings us back to where we began.
In a solidaristic world: one without borders and self-protective nation states; the extraordinary, publicly resourced, scientific effort that created a plethora of Covid-19 vaccines in record time, could not have been privatised by vast pharmaceutical corporations and transformed into super-profits. On the contrary, the resources of the entire planet would have been mobilised to produce sufficient vaccine to inoculate the entire human population in the shortest possible time. The idea of leaving hundreds-of-millions of people unvaccinated – and, by doing so, allowing the virus to mutate at will – would have been dismissed as not only scientifically imbecilic, but also morally indefensible.
A similar regard for global well-being and justice, backed up by a global police force recruited from ethnic and linguistic communities from across the planet, would have brought a swift halt to the indefensible destruction of the Amazonian rain forest by Brazilian farming and mining interests.
That same international police force would long ago have indicted the major oil corporations for conspiring to keep hidden from the global public the deadly threat posed to the planet by rising fossil-fuel pollution. (Always assuming that such dangerous concentrations of private power would even be allowed to exist in a world committed to and driven by the obligations of global solidarity.)
It is here, of course, that we run headlong into the other reason why the self-evident benefits of a “one world government” arouse such visceral opposition from those with a vested interest in both the local and the global status quo. A world run for the benefit of all human-beings strikes at the very heart of the idea that there is something both admirable and efficient about an economic and social system which allows individuals and their families to accumulate and pass on great wealth – at the expense of others.
The very thought that this system might be superseded terrifies even those who do not possess great wealth. For these benighted souls, an indestructible aspiration to somehow join the ranks of the rich and powerful has lighted their way through all the dark vicissitudes of life. Selfish dreamers, their stunted existence at the bottom is made bearable by the (mistaken) assumption that there is always room at the top. Threaten this, their most precious dream, and their reaction will be as vigorous as it is vicious.
Paradoxically, the only effective evolutionary responses to a global pandemic – collectivism and solidarity – are also the most effective means of inspiring ferocious resistance to all the measures required to give them practical effect. The same is true of the economic, social and political policies required to eliminate poverty, racism and sexism. Indeed, all the evils which beset human societies may ultimately be traced to a common hatred of anything and everything that draws people together in freely-given love and trust.
Nowhere is the natural inclination of human-beings to come together in friendship and confidence illustrated more vividly than in the story about the first Christmas of World War I. How the German and English soldiers, hearing the carol-singing of their enemies drifting across no-man’s land, climbed cautiously out of their trenches and met them halfway. Alcohol, cigarettes and Christmas rations were exchanged, along with the soldiers’ low opinion of the war. Shocked and alarmed, their officers soon put an end to this unauthorised fraternisation. Within hours, these ordinary Germans and Englishmen were back in their trenches and doing their best to kill one another. It was the one and only “Christmas Truce” of the war.
How close those soldiers came to the essential truth of the tragedy in which they were all submerged: that it simply didn’t have to be that way. Abandon the mythologies of race and nationality, and embrace the reality of our common humanity, and war is only one of the evils that will disappear.
As the German poet, playwright, and communist, Bertolt Brecht, put it:
It is reasonable. You can grasp it. It’s simple.
You’re no exploiter, so you’ll understand.
It is good for you. Look into it.
Stupid men call it stupid, and the dirty call it dirty.
It is against dirt and against stupidity.
The exploiters call it a crime.
But we know:
It is the end of all crime.
It is not madness but
The end of madness.
It is not chaos,
It is the simple thing
That’s hard to do.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 30 November 2021.