Global Domestic Policy – GDP

EDITORIAL, 10 Aug 2009

#74 | Johan Galtung - TRANSCEND Media Service

The slogan was coined by the famous German nuclear physicist, philosopher and peace researcher, Carl Friedrich von Weizscäcker, who passed on in 2007 at the age of 94. The term Weltinnenpolitik caught on, with GDP as translation into English; in search of one appealing word.  But that is but a word.  What does it stand for?  What are the implications?

Historically the answer is simple.  World domestic policy is to the world what state-building was to the feudal system of principalities, duchies, count-ies etc.  There was even a state system, now fading, in Europe from 24 October 1648, the “peace” of Westphalia after the 30 years war.  Examples: Garibaldi was the unifier of Italy 1861, the Meiji restoration in 1868 was the unifying event of Japan, and Bismarck was the 1870-71 unifier of 44 of 45 German-speaking principalities (no. 45 was Liechtenstein and related to Switzerland it did not suffer world wars).  In all three cases state domestic policies were initiated.

And all three of them were then (unsuccessfully) fighting for positions at the top of the state system (World War II), but did not unseat Anglo-America.  All three were mono-national.  Most states are not.  The world is not.  As the examples show, the experiences are mixed.

Like for state-building, world-building will see the world from above. Thus, a helicopter sweep, over time, off the Somali coast, reveals not only piracy of EU ships, but also theft by Denmark and Spain fishing.  From a GDP point of view this is normal: the world, like a state, is a holon, something holistic.  And, like any holon cut through by fault-lines, by forces and counterforces.  That all parties pursue something, that their goals and means are incompatible, is nothing new.

But Weltinnenpolitik enters with a rule: some governing body has to listen to all parties, evaluate the legitimacy of their goals and means, grievances and policies, giving green light for the legitimate, and red for the illegitimate.  But:

That one party is illegitimate does not make the opposed party legitimate; they could be carriers of other crimes.  That one pursues freedom from piracy does not deny pirates a right to pursue protection of their source of income and nutrition.

That one party pursues freedom from censorship does not mean that another party cannot pursue freedom from verbal hurt, like in the Danish government refusal to have a dialogue over the famous Mohammed cartoons (launched by a journalist who once worked in Moscow, struck by unacceptable levels of self-censorship and wanted to liberate Danish press from that by not pre-censoring hurtful cartoons).

That one party lists terrorists and fights non-state groups without uniforms who use violence–IEDs from below, and suicide bombs–against women and children, does not exempt state actors in uniform using violence against women and children–by bombing from above, or by drones–from being listed as state terrorists.

The dominant powers in today’s state-system and emerging region-system stand up against piracy, censorship and terrorism.  But this stand is parti-san.  A principled GDP stand would also be against theft, humiliation and state terrorism.  Even the EU, more enlightened than the USA, falls short of bridging this gap.

 Audiatur et altera pars, listen to the other side, would be the GDP rule for world holon faultlines: humans-nature, gender, generation, race, class–economic, military, political, cultural–excluded vs. included, nation-culture-civilization, state-region.

So, here they come, from a global domestic policies angle:

    Global warming:  Bad.  But Greenland wants more; Northwest passages open up; Siberia; many interests, like nuclear lobbies wanting an end to carbon fuels.  What is the world interest?

    Gender: how will a global domestic polity reflect the world female majority?  More focus on healthy reproduction?

   Generation: older people are excluded, retired, refused costly operations, their deaths are assisted–will they one day unite and globally become a force as important as feminism?

    Race: maybe a quarter is white, three quarters non-white; a one-person-one-vote world can no longer be ruled mainly by whites.

 Class, economic: MDG goals can be met, and a welfare world with subsidized food, housing, free health, schooling and energy, financed by global commons is possible. As is South-South trade;

   Class, military: outlawing foreign deployment and targeting, and massive global conciliation, mediation and peacebuilding;

   Class, political: democracy, by debate-voting-majority rule, or by dialogue-consensus, according to culture; a UN People’s Assembly with one directly elected representative for each million or part thereof; abolition of the undemocratic UN veto; possibly regional assemblies and an interregional organization replacing a veto-ridden UN abused to legitimize Anglo-US-Israeli policies;

    Class, cultural: neither intolerance nor tolerance, nor even dialogue when based on respect and curiosity: mutuality, You have a truth missing in my culture, maybe I have one you are missing?

Included, excluded
: there are no chosen peoples, we are all chosen; there are no excluded humans, we are all human in ubuntu;

 Nation-Culture-Civilization: search for the positive contribution of all of them, each one carries gifts to humanity;

 Community-State-Region-World: the principle of subsidiarity: decide and enact at the lowest level possible.

In short: the GDP implications are potentially highly transforming of a sick world where 125,000 die every day from hunger and preventable-curable diseases.  But, Welitinnenpolitik would be on the side of all humans, not only those suffering today. KTO-KOMY Russians say, for whom, against whom.  Yes, reduce carbon emissions to zero, but much global warming is beyond global even cosmic so also reap benefits.

Yes, meet the Millennium Development Goals with students alphabetizing whole peoples, with polyclinics and generic medicines, expropriating pharmaceutical patents in the name of public interest (like land for an airport or a dam, only more important), by new ways of growing food (3-dimensional, multi-cropping).  But be aware that some people high up are deeply scared that when people low down come up they will take revenge.  Yes, meet human rights, but be aware that the gains for some may be losses for others.  And they may have much power.

In short, the unit of good politics–local, national, global–is not a value, a goal, an interest, a right.  The unit is a conflict formation.  The policy is not only to meet legitimate values, but to transform, creatively, the conflict formation.

GDP can be a potential nightmare when in the hands of those who see politics as status quo, stability, in their interest, and want to freeze it in a pyramid with immense force and laws binding on those lower down more than on themselves. From pax romana, britannica, americana, sovietica, islamica to a pax democratica of certified democracies–by themselves–rivers, oceans of blood have been flowing.  What we need is not one more power pyramid, or two or three, but a world state for one nation, humanity, with all relations as equitable, for mutual and equal benefit, as possible.

World-builders, like state-builders: watch out. These are difficult waters to navigate.  But there is no other choice.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 10 Aug 2009.

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