How to check off "Save the World" on your bucket list?
Welcome to Chapter 22 of the Planet Republyk project!
This is the ninth of 10 chapters in the third and final part of the Planet Republyk project.
The present chapters are the most important in the series.
Chapter 22: A Lighthouse in the fog
The crowd invariably follows the routine. On the contrary, it is the few who lead progress.
I have been interested in international news for a long time. I believe that this interest has contributed to my macrocosmic understanding of the gravity of what is hanging over our heads.
When we look only through the national lens, we could believe that we are the only ones to experience transformations in our climate and living environment; to blame these upheavals on the anomaly.
Yet, when you realize[i] that in 2019, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mexico, Italy, North Korea, the United States, Canada, Argentina, France, Sri Lanka, the Islamic Republic of Iran, East Africa, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Indonesia, Australia, Southern Africa and Central America have all experienced crop failures caused by late springs, droughts, fires and floods; and we add it up; we start to worry ...
If a revolution on an international scale is most probably inevitable, it appears that it is also most unfortunately desirable, even necessary, in order to break the current neoliberal paradigm. However, if a precise, concrete and unifying consensual plan is not established before the beginning of these great social agitations, the period of chaos may be prolonged and extremist groups with communitarian, criminal or religious agendas may impose themselves[ii].
Eventually, for want of anything better, out of weariness, nature abhors a vacuum, we will fall back into the old system, an order that serves the powerful so well, who, by all sorts of means, including propaganda, the return of a form of McCarthyism, corruption, imprisonment and even the assassination of leaders, will try to restore. The disinherited of the planet would then have undergone in vain the violence, torments, miseries and sufferings which will inevitably result from this troubled period.
So far, author and journalist Naomi Klein has gauged the modest gains of the popular opposition movements of the past two decades in Egypt, Chile, Lebanon, Spain, Algeria, France, Iran, Hong Kong, Greece, Spain, the United States and Quebec:
All these demonstrations have also shown that it is not enough to say no. To be anything more than flash in the pan, opposition movements will need to develop a comprehensive and thorough vision of what should emerge to replace this failed system, and develop coherent and effective political strategies to achieve their goals[iii].
Planet Republyk is intended to be just that, a plan for what's next in the world. If some of us agree on what we want to see happen before the situation gets out of hand, it will be easier to influence those who do not have a plan and to channel the forces at work towards the same goal, thereby shortening the chaotic period.
According to Erica Chenoweth, an American scholar of the history of civil movements, it would take as little as 4% of the population[iv] to change the paradigm of a given environment. To initiate a new system of global governance in this case would require 4% of the world's population. That's the population of the United States. 4% is just a few of us.
There are many threats to our generations. They make this a dark time in human history. And lanterns, the darker they are, the brighter they are. They are more necessary than ever.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, discouraged at the end of his life by the lack of progress in the project of global governance, asked himself, "Will we ever achieve democracy and global citizenship?"
That was 400 years ago. Today, we have fabulous tools to achieve this, which the humanists of that time did not have, but also, and perhaps above all, we are experiencing a reduction in cultural differentiation within the great human kingdom such as no other era has seen before.
Humans of different ethnicities, religions, languages and regions of the world consume the same products, dream of the same things. Mass consumption may be shaping us more than we would like to think.
Sociologist Jean Copans sums it up this way: "the contemporary social universe has dissolved to the depths of each of us the identity references that order the major differences of civilization, culture, gender, person[v]."
This perhaps explains why: all over the planet, in Europe, Africa, India, movements similar to Planet Republyk's are emerging. They all have in common that they demand a new governance for the good of all humanity; of the planet. On the scale of history, the movement is powerful.
All of this is based on synchronicity, a theory of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl-Gustav Jung. This theory states that sometimes many events, which are not linked and which seem to be purely random, come together involuntarily in order to achieve the same objective: to help a person, a people or humanity, in this case, evolve at a precise moment in its life, in its history.
We would therefore not be alone in this work which may seem titanic. Spurred on by a sense of urgency, many citizens are pushing in the same direction, trying to communicate the ideas of a unified humanity to those whom Jesus Christ called "humans of good will".
It can't ALWAYS, NOT happen
I told my daughter, in the first days of the period of confinement that the western governments decreed, in 2020, that for the first time in my life at 48 years old, I had the impression, to enter the future. A future that was announced to me, for tomorrow, since the end of the 70s, on the school benches. A future filled with screen phones, flying cars, sleeping in transparent spheres in weightlessness and hoverboards. However, it was rather the future of dystopian novels I had read or their film adaptations that came back to me.
Ebola, AIDS, SARS, Covid-19 or H1N1 were thriving in animals long before they crossed the species barrier. Wildlife trafficking; loss of natural habitat through deforestation, intensive agriculture and factory farming; and pollution that disrupts the food chain, all due to the recklessness of our governments, are now creating a new civilizational paradigm.
A 2014 study[vi] by the Chair of Ecology and Biodiversity at University College London, in fact, notes the explosion of animal-based epidemics. 65% of emerging diseases identified between 1980 and 2013 were zoonotic viruses.
In February 2020, when the WHO had just decreed that Covid-19 had reached the stage of a pandemic, another major announcement from the organization found itself in the shadow of the media eclipse of the coronavirus: the return of the H5N1 bird flu virus in China[vii].
We are therefore only in the early days of prevalence of zoonotic viruses which sometimes, as it was the case for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), will be much more lethal (according to the WHO, about 35% of the notified cases of infection ended in the death of the patient[viii]).
The coronavirus behind COVID-19 was still isolated in a bat population somewhere in South China as of October 2019. Nonetheless, a few months later, it found itself spread across the globe. Alanna Shaikh, global health expert and author of What's Killing Us: A Practical Guide to Understanding Our Biggest Global Health Problems believes that:
The Coronavirus is our future. By this, we mean that it is our lifestyles as a whole - overconsumption, urbanization, mobility, speculation, relationship with nature, etc. - that are ultimately responsible for the increase in health crises and climate disasters. The two are in fact inseparable. Only a change of course, which would not only be geopolitical, but civilizational can save humanity[ix].
If not a virus, it will be something else, but Covid-19 was just one of the first of a series of icebergs to come if humanity does not change course. Can we afford to simply hope that, within the current political structures, our leaders will do better next time? Do these structures even allow for this option? These are the questions we posed in the introduction. In light of all the evidence we have presented to you, the answer is no.
Never waste a good crisis," the famous aphorism wrongly attributed to Churchill, is nevertheless quite applicable to the recent global pandemic. An opportunity to jump off the bandwagon. To take a break and collectively question ourselves. To take one of those giant steps we talked about earlier, because humanity, thanks to this pandemic, realizes that it is all one family.
More than at any other time in its history.
Despite the rigor with which organizations such as the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University sought to compile the global statistics[x] of Covid-19, they were still dependent on the way in which states accounted for these data and, above all, on their good faith.
In the absence of real authority from the World Health Organization (WHO), the ways in which Covid-19 cases and associated deaths were counted differed greatly from country to country. It could be years, even decades, before the exact cost of the pandemic is known, as concealment or lack of testing in many less fortunate countries distorts the data[xi].
Moreover, the many mutations of the virus will eventually produce a variant that is resistant to existing vaccines and may not only be more contagious, as was the case with the British variant, but also possibly more deadly. The long process of vaccinating the entire world's population would then have to start all over again and we may not be out of this loop for a very long time[xii].
In any case, the final cost will be millions of lives and millions of billions of dollars. The only way to know the number of deaths will possibly be by comparing global excess mortality rates to the average for the same months in previous years.
At the very least, the sanitary, economic and social consequences of the pandemic will have forced a part of humanity to take the measure of the extent of the foolishness that inhabits us collectively and of the cost of not being prepared; of leaving the destiny of the whole of the living world in the hands of a handful of obscenely rich beings, without any hindrance whatsoever to their unbounded avarice.
If humanity had been able to count on a world governance elected by all and accountable to all, being able to intervene everywhere, because it is at home everywhere, and paying full attention to the issues to which the States give little importance, things could have unfolded very differently.
That's it for Chapter 22!
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[i]"Global food crisis ahead as extreme weather events devastate crops and fields around the world," Strange Sounds, May 20, 2019.
[ii] Cara Anna, Associated press, "Extremists see global chaos from virus as an opportunity" ABC News, 2 April 2020.
[iii] Naomi Klein, op. cit., p. 21.
[iv] Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why civil resistance works: the strategic logic of nonviolent conflict (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), p. 216.
[v] Jean Copans, quoted in Roland Viau, Ibid, p.30.
[vi] Katherine F. Smith, Michael Goldberg, Samantha Rosenthal, Lynn Carlson, Jane Chen, Cici Chen and Sohini Ramachandran, "Global rise in human infectious disease outbreaks," Interface, vol. 11, No. 101, Royal Society publishing, London, December 2014. http://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.0950
[vii] Céline Deluzarche, "China: in addition to the coronavirus, a new epidemic of avian flu," Futura Santé, Futura Sciences, February 4, 2020.
[viii]World Health Organization website, Media Center, Key facts, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), March 11, 2019.
[ix]Alanna Shaikh, "Coronavirus is our future," TEDtalk, video, March 2020, 16m.45s. https://www.ted.com/talks/alanna_shaikh_coronavirus_is_our_future?language=fr
[x] Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE), Department of Civil and Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), "Covid-19 Dashboard," Baltimore, USA, 2020. https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
[xi] Mélanie Meloche-Holubowski, "COVID-19 data: can we really compare ourselves to others?", Radio-Canada, May 30, 2020.
[xii] Pauline Gravel, "Le vaccin pourra-t-il nous débarrasser du coronavirus?",Le Devoir, January 5, 2021.