Part 3: Chapter 17: The irresistible rise of cosmopolitanism
How to check "Save the World" off your bucket list?
Welcome to Chapter 17 of Planet Republyk!
This is the fourth of 10 chapters of the third and final part of the Planet Republyk project.
If you were to read only one part, it would be this one.
Chapter 17: The irresistible rise of cosmopolitanism
Make sure that the idea of humanity exceeds in you that of any other community: make yourself a citizen of the world as much as it is possible.
Seeing the growing discouragement and dejection of tireless optimists of activism such as Stephen Hawking[i], David Suzuki[ii], Hubert Reeves[iii], Pierre Rabhi[iv], Albert Jacquard[v], Noam Chomsky[vi] or Edgar Morin[vii] since the beginning of the present century, through different texts and interventions, has deeply marked me.
If I understand their words well, at the end of lives devoted to the awakening of their fellow human beings, they seem to me to be afflicted by the following observation: the gains obtained over the decades are infinitesimal compared to the needs.
Faced with the urgency, I humbly began to devote my free time to thinking about the elaboration of a proposal.
I needed to propose something. Something meaningful. I said to myself that I had to stop waiting for an awakening of individualities, exacerbated by the post-modern consumer society, and instead try to reenchant the collective feeling.
To do this, we needed something unifying. Something concrete. A cause, a fight to believe in. I would even say something that touches the spiritual. Spiritual in the sense of what unites us to the great whole. Which would aim to give a sense to citizen activism by looking, for once, far ahead; to participate in a constructive momentum that honors us and could make us proud collectively; finally, again.
Isn't it time to be proud of something? And when I say proud, I mean of the whole of humanity, or at least a good part of it.
And in this long and painstaking process of research and reflection, I ended up getting lucky. I gave birth to an idea. A project.
What seemed too utopian in the 17th, 19th, and even 20th centuries may be ripe fruit in the 21st. The development and democratization of transportation, including international tourism, as well as telecommunications, primarily the Internet, now accessible to the masses, accelerate the awareness of a cosmopolitan belonging, the emergence of a global citizenship.
I was able to take note of this when I was working in communications for the office of the leader of the Parti Québécois in Quebec. During this short period of my life, I noticed a growing disaffection of a majority of young people for nationalism.
These young people had, from a very young age, read, seen, tasted the world on their phone, tablet, TV. This had given them the taste to travel, to live it. It had never been foreign to them. Having grown up at a time when it takes no more time to cover the distance from New York to Shanghai than it took Napoleon Bonaparte, a little over two centuries ago, to cover the distance from Paris to Lyon[viii], they feel at home everywhere.
Their planet has literally become very small. They now consider themselves as much citizens of the world as Canadians or Quebecers. This is the very definition of cosmopolitanism, as we have seen.
This generational disengagement from nationalist movements is not exclusive to young Quebecers. In the Brexit referendum, the youngest segment of the electorate voted 75% against the proposal to leave the European Union, compared to only 44% of those aged 50-64 and 39% of those aged 65 and over[ix].
Gérard Bouchard, Canada Research Chair in Collective Imaginations, has examined this important trend in his latest book[x]: Les nations savent-elles encore rêver? This essay exposes the transformation of the founding myths of nations around the world since the beginning of the millennium.
Recently, back on the university benches, I was able to notice among the young and educated, the absolute priority that many of them give, in their budget, to travel, to discover the world. This prioritization of travel is much more generalized than it was within my own generation, among this same segment of educated youth, at the time of my first university studies.
Deloitte, one of the world's largest auditing firms, which has surveyed more than 16,000 young millennials and Z generations in nearly 120 countries each year since 2003, revealed in its 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey that the priorities[xi] of millennials in their 20s differ from those of the generations that preceded them when they were the same age. They now prioritize travel (57%) over buying a home (49%) or parenthood (39%). Even more revealing of this generational distinction, the priority given to travel is higher among women (62%) than among men (51%).
Without necessarily being aware of it, they irrigate their cosmopolitanism. Their globality. And this type of youth has always been, in all eras, both the lantern and the locomotive of social evolution.
It is at desperate moments that the human conscience, ready to capsize, becomes aware of itself.
Let's not kid ourselves. The advent of a world government IS inevitable. The question is when and how.
In Datongshu, a philosophical, sociological and historical study, the Chinese philosopher and political theorist Kang Youwei notes the relentless march of humanity towards unification over the millennia.
Western sociology[xii], since Herbert Spencer[xiii], also confirms a historical dynamic of complexification of our societies aiming at order and unity. A world government is the coherent outcome of this inclination. It is also the inevitable culmination of dialectical materialism, the scientific theory of history of Marx and Engels.
The most enlightened portion of humanity has aspired to it in every era, and as Saint-Simon rightly wrote in 1814: "Men may long ignore what is useful to them, but the time always comes when they enlighten themselves and make use of it.
The Cold War had broken the momentum of the post-war globalists. The end of the Cold War, coupled with the crumbling influence of the United States, precipitated by the simultaneous crises (health, economic, political, social) of 2020, is creating a conjuncture in the world at the moment; a vacuum, which nature abhors.
It is on one of these rare pivotal moments in history, a macro-geopolitical transition from one hegemony to another[xv], that is, from the United States to China, that the planetarist movement must rely in order to advance the idea of world governance.
It is in fact for fear of being caught in a vice between China and the United States that some sixty countries, including many G20 countries, launched the Alliance for Multilateralism in New York in April 2019. These states wish to defend the idea "that a multilateral order based on respect for international law is the only reliable guarantee for international stability and peace and that the challenges they face can only be solved through cooperation[xvi]."
The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries had attempted a similar experiment during the Cold War era by creating a third way (hence the term Third World) in order to free itself from the pressures of the Eastern or Western bloc. The moribund organization today included 120 countries in 2012.
We can act collectively, right now, to quietly and hopefully peacefully establish a democratic world government or wait for it to be imposed, in a hurry, under the dictatorial rule of another of those narcissistic megalomaniac geniuses whose bloodthirsty actions periodically turn human history upside down.
We believe that charismatic leaders with imperialist totalitarian tendencies such as Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot or Mussolini are avatars of a bygone era; that they could not re-emerge. The neuropsychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik,[xvii] the linguist Naom Chomsky[xviii] and the sociologist Edgar Morin[xix] are not so sure. They even believe that totalitarianism is a pervasive threat to the world, and to see the current emergence of atypical political leaders in our democracies, as in Brazil, Hungary, the Philippines, Belarus or China, where the president, Xi Jinping, has proclaimed himself president for life,[xx] and the way they behaved during the last pandemic, we can only agree with them.
Donald Trump was raving about the emerging Chinese neo-totalitarianism: "He's now president for life! He has managed to do it! I think that's great! In any other era, such a statement by the president of the nation claiming to be the watchdog of democracy in the world would have been considered anathema by the entire political class and a large majority of Americans. Not in 2019, it seems...
It is true that Donald Trump's statement was humorous. Nevertheless, on January 6, 2021, when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., at the urging of an incumbent president who did not recognize the results of the ballot box, these words, pronounced a few months earlier, suddenly took on the appearance of a warning...
During the pandemic, we have seen the temptation of several governments, notably in Hungary, the Philippines, Israel, the United States and Russia, to tighten the grip on democracy[xxii] in a permanent way.
For some of these, we are hardly surprised. However, organizations such as Open Democracy[xxiii] or Human Rights Watch[xxiv] note that, all over the world, at different levels, the plenipotentiary appropriation of power, the undermining of democracy, the restriction of civil liberties, the violation of human rights, the surveillance of citizens and the erosion of the effectiveness of checks and balances by governments have been a temptation that these same checks and balances (where they had some vitality) have tried to circumscribe both in terms of their scope and their duration.
Humanity would have everything to gain if the first version of its world government were not totalitarian.
That's it for Chapter 17!
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[i] Emeline Ferard, "According to Stephen Hawking, humans will have to leave Earth within 100 years to survive," Maxisciences.com, May 10, 2017.
[ii] David Suzuki, "The fundamental failure of environmentalism," HuffPost, May 23, 2012.
[iii] Marie Pâris, "Hubert Reeves: Let's pretend it's not fucked up," Voir, April 11, 2018.
[iv] Yannick Boucher, "Pierre Rahbi: Do your part," La Voix du Nord, October 21, 2016.
[vi] George Eaton, "Noam Chomsky: The world is at the most dangerous moment in human history," Newstatesman, September 17, 2020.
[viii] Académie des sciences, belles lettres et arts de Besançon, Procès Verbaux et mémoires, Imprimerie et lithographie de Paul Jacquin, Besançon, 1898, p. 170.
[ix] Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, "If you're young and angry about the EU referendum, you're right to be," The Guardian, 24 June 2016.
[x] Gérard Bouchard, Les nations savent-elles encore rêver? Les mythes nationaux à l'ère de la mondialisation, Montreal, Les Éditions du Boréal, Montreal 2019, 440 p.
[xi] The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 "Societal discord and technological transformation create a 'disrupted generation'", 2019, pp. 8-10.
[xii] Guy Giroux, L'état, la société civile et l'économie: turbulences et transformations, Québec, Presses Université Laval, 2001, p. 69.
[xiii] Marc Penouil, Gabriel Poulalion, Sociologie pour les sciences sociales, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2008, p.21.
[xiv] Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon, Oeuvres Choisies de C.-H. De Saint-Simon, Tome II, Brussels, Fr. Van Meenen et Cie, 1859, p. 295.
[xv] Michel Duclos, "Is COVID-19 a Geopolitical Game-Changer?", Institut Montaigne, 24 March 2020. https://www.institutmontaigne.org/en/blog/covid-19-geopolitical-game-changer
[xvi] Website of the Alliance for Multilateralism: https://multilateralism.org/the-alliance/ , consulted on May 27, 2020.
[xvii] Boris Cyrulnik's remarks interviewed by Stéphane Bureau on the program Les grands entretiens, on Radio-Canada's Première chaîne radio, Radio-Canada, May 9, 2018. https://ici.radio-canada.ca/premiere/emissions/les-grands-entretiens/segments/entrevue/71368/boris-cyrulnik-langage-totalitaire-craintes-derives-monde-observation-carriere-entrevue?fbclid=IwAR2-RH1Uv-G6PXbFI2rD3BgRJnOiuQbNBCHByyGXNhHjEuJtUCoOuXtu0LE
[xviii] Vincent Cherpillod, "Enfants des années 30, Noam Chomsky et Edgar Morin redoutent un après-Covid totalitaire," Radio Télévision Suisse, 7 May 2020.
[xx] Brice Pedroletti, "Xi Jinping secures unlimited power," Le Monde, February 26, 2018.
[xxi] AFP dispatch, "Xi Jinping, president for life? "Maybe we should give it a shot too," joked Trump," L'Obs, March 4, 2018.
[xxii] François Brousseau, "Coronavirus and authoritarianism," Le Devoir, April 6, 2020.
[xxiii] Open Democracy website, "DemocracyWatch: People are organizing against the assault on democracy across the world," opendemocracy.net, May 28, 2020. Accessed May 29, 2020
[xxiv] Human Rights Watch website, News, https://www.hrw.org/news . Accessed May 29, 2020