This article will discuss the concrete and practical issues regarding identities. In the last article, as you may remember, we searched for a definition of identities, and how we can define identities as institutional projects which people keep alive by active and passive participation. In this article, we will delve into a controversial subject, namely nationalism and separatism, and how such sentiments can be addressed in a Type-1 society.
Confederalism & the Technate
EOS envisions a world where the economy is integrated, within the form of something which we call a technate. A technate is a technical administrative area, and we are envisioning it as a confederate structure in itself, which is a transparent network of information nodes about the status of the planet. The technate would not handle democratic or political issues.
Parallel to the technate, we imagine a confederate system consisting of a world confederation of voluntarily accessed democratic municipalities. These municipalities would form subject confederations which would handle their own issues but cooperate on issues they have in common. These confederacies are responsible for legislation, but a founding principle of such a system is subsidiarity (which at least formally is an ideal of the European Union).
Here is an old article which I wrote several years ago on the subject. It might contain spelling errors, so bear with it. It delves deeper into the subject.
Nation States and Ethnicities
Usually, ethnicities are defined by linguistics (though there are exceptions, like former Yugoslavia where several ethnicities share languages so similar they can be considered dialects of the same language, Italy where the Italian ethnicity is semi-divided in a north and south, and languages in the north are varying even between villages close to one another, and lastly Switzerland, where four languages are spoken but co-existing with a strong Swiss sense of common identity). Linguistics are not the only thing which defines an ethnicity. An ethnicity can be defined by common origin, religion, historical experiences and/or cultural traditions.
The shortest definition of an ethnicity is that it is an identity connected to a particular cosmology, which creates itself because people belonging to that particular ethnicity are believing that it exists and are feeling that they have a shared cultural space. To a certain extent, that is true, since ethnicities are the kind of meta-identities that can survive through generations and which often share particular cultures and habits.
I would focus on European Nation-states, since they are generally seen as the strongest and oldest nation-states on the planet, where the dominant ethnicities are often directly identifying with the state itself and some states even can be defined as largely mono-cultural (the inversion of Europe would be Africa, where the nation-states are new and weak and consisting of several ethnicities which often share nothing but a second language like English and French, and possibly a religion which a plurality of the population is embracing).
It should be noted that the nation-states preceded modern nationalism in Europe with 100-200 years, and that most European nationalisms have been formed either by partial design from nation state governments, or through opposition against said nation-state due to the oppression of national minorities.
The nation-state is ultimately working as most other states have historically done, no matter whether we talk about a democratic context, or an authoritarian. The state is a hierarchical structure administered by a management, which usually exists under the conditions of wealth and power disparity between centre and regions, and between the upper percentiles and the lower percentiles of the socio-economic distribution.
Even in democratic states, such as Sweden, there is an inherent conflict of interests between the capitol and the provinces, and even during the 20th century, northern Sweden has been treated in an almost colonial manner by Stockholm. It has not been seen as a region with unique cultures (apart from the Sámi minority) and unique conditions, but as a natural resource extraction zone which gives state-owned companies revenues which are invested mostly in the south. Since only 10% of the population of Sweden lives in the north, this can be approved by southern voters while the north slowly is depopulating due to the lack of employment opportunities and the increasing difficulty to make a living in this remote region.
In the worst cases of nation-state formation, nation states have been expanding the territory of one particular ethnicity by the forced expulsion and forced assimilation of other ethnic groups, and have even engaged in systematic murders and massacres to acquire the land and property of minorities (for example, the father of the Swedish state, Gustav I, massacred the people of Smaland for their insistence on trading directly with Europe). In at least one particular occasion, two nascent nation-states (Greece and Turkey) agreed to exchange tens of thousands of Greeks and Turks between one another, to create more ethnic homogenity.
Due to colonialism and the 1960’s de-colonisation, the European model for nation-states have become universal, and been applied to regions with different circumstances. This has created volatile, partially or wholly artificial states which the population often do no identify with. This has most recently caused the partial implosion of Syria and Iraq, which were created as League of Nations Mandates following WW1 and which do not correspond to any historical nation-states.
The rise and fall of globalization
As globalization is turning the planet into a linear resource extraction system, the economic need for nation-states have vanished since there is a growing trans-national elite that stands above and partially beside the nation-state system. Treaties such as TTIP, MAI and ACTA is removing economic sovereignty from the nation-states and placing it in the hands of supranational actors or even megacorporations.
Thus, the nation-state in the early 21st century, as the elite sees it, is increasingly working as a tool to further the aims of economic globalization. The state should make laws that protects the rights of trans-national corporations, prevent theft of intellectual copyrights and patents, and should also provide police forces and protection of the property of trans-national corporations. Economic democracy, in the form of welfare states, should be transformed in a direction which brings more responsibility and control to the trans-nationals and to the international financial system.
This process is partially aided by technological and economic progress, which strives to maximise outcomes and streamline and effectivise production factors. However, it is also a conscious process driven by actors who envision that this kind of system will bring about world peace and possibly end in a world government. It is a general belief that since exponential growth took speed in the 19th century, that it will continue indefinetly, making us all more prosperous and enlightened and bring about a bright future for humanity.
This conscious globalization project is decaying now, with the Euro-zone being ripped apart with southern Europe in a state of depression, and with a China that is slowing down. The financial crisis of 2008 was solved by stimulus, that has failed to yield the expected growth forecasts and have merely slowed down the decaying of a system which cannot sustain its growth.
If a relatively minor failure in the system (the collapse of an American bank due to subprime mortgages) produces the partial collapse of a currency union and several years of financial chaos, then imagine what effects the inevitable and worsening ecological collapse will cause?
Less than a decade ago, it was assumed that there would be eternal growth and that globalization would continue unabated, and that we would see a vibrant world dominated by mega-cities. That image of the future is turning less and less obvious for every passing year.
It can be said that the risk of collapse is ever-existing within any form of advanced social system. Vandalism, violence, crime, corruption and inequality are all serving to reduce faith in society and to make its cogs work less effectively. That is why most societies are trying to reduce these aspects of human existence in order to make life predictable so we can plan our lives for both medium- and long-term periods.
Ecological crises, induced by changing climate or over-exploitation, leads to a subsequent series of losses of complexity, meaning that advanced societies generate less resources to keep the population compliant and thus need to devote a larger share of the output to security (which means raising the taxes to increase the weight of the defensive capabilities of the elite).
What we can expect if our ecological system starts to deteriorate is an increase in support and activity amongst extremist groups, who could then rally mass support for revolution. These groups will be formed around religious, ethnic and social groups, and be fuelled both by a desire for basic human safety, as well as a chain of real and imagined injustices endured from other groups. There will also be a risk of refugee crises which would make the current displacement crises appear as mere drips. For example, one of the most sensitive countries to climate change – Bangladesh – hosts above 150 million people.
There is thus a profound risk that the primary challenge of the system will not be the ecological collapse itself, but the reaction of billions of disinherited, who – striving to survive – will threaten to overwhelm the system. This will cause a fragmentisation of humanity into smaller and smaller units which will be in a struggle for the remaining resources.
The globalized system envisioned by the elite clubs is not sustainable, and some of them know it. Yet they are so trapped within their own system that they cannot imagine an alternative.
Towards a Type-1
If we want to move forward, we must dare to imagine a unified Earth, but not the kind of “new world order” envisioned by George H.W Bush. Instead, we must think of our species as an organism which has a profound impact on the biosphere. We must co-exist with the biosphere globally, and we can only do that through a form of global governance.
However, no kind of centralised or authoritarian system can unify the Earth, and neither can a system that accumulates all the wealth and productive forces in the hands of a super-oligarchy.
The future constitutional framework of a Terra United must be confederalistic and allow for regional variations. There should be no colonies, mandates or occupied territories.
The basis for confederalism – Voluntaryism
I – Constitutionalism. The constitution is not established to regulate forms, but to tell what basic human rights and duties there are within the Confederation. Municipalities who want to join the Confederation must follow the tenets of the Constitution. As EOS envisions such a constitution, it would consist of individual human rights (values) and the general broad aims of society (to support and strengthen the conditions for life to flourish on Earth). One of these conditions can not be used to legally motivate the violation of the other.
II – Subsidiarity. The Confederation would only be responsible for the Constitution, as well for social issues that require global coordination, in cooperation with the Technate. Issues which are regional or local will be handled on their respective levels, which the goal being that decisions should be made as close to those affected by them as possible.
III – Voluntaryism. Municipalities must voluntarily accede to the Confederation for the association to be legitime. Those who do not want to be a part of the Confederation would not be forced to partake, and are free to form relationships with confederate municipalities. The only exception to that are entities which are violating the Constitution. If a municipality inside the Confederation is violating the Constitution, and is not heeding calls to stop with it, its status as a part of the Confederation will become null and it will be excluded.
IV – Sub-confederacies formed on voluntary basis. Instead of forming sub-confederacies primarily on an ethnic, geographic or historical basis, they will be formed and dissolved on a continuous voluntary basis. The current nation-state system is based around the Westphalian idea that borders should not be changed. As we have seen numerous examples of groups not being happy with their political units (for example Catalonia, Flanders or parts of northern Italy) and wanting to join other political units or form new ones, we have seen that this often leads to conflicts with the central government – which for the most part is concerned with self-preservation.
Our proposal means a liquid form of political border delineation, where borders are changed peacefully when the people of a region sees it that they want change. This would mean that if parts of Northern Sweden wants to change affiliation to Finland, it should be able to be arranged relatively quickly. The same for infected border issues such as Crimea, but also of nations like Chechnya and Tatarstan.
It also means that groups that strictly speaking are not ethnicities, like for example retirees, students, members of subcultures or supporters of ideologies can have their own municipalities and even break free and form their own confederations. Ethnicity is just one of the meta-identities that people generally adhere to, and we must allow for new cultures to emerge peacefully and strive for their own fulfillment.
V – Non-geographical political entities. Not all entities within the Confederation would have territory. Some of them would simply be associations of people who make political decisions for themselves while they physically are living in a geographic entity to which they do not belong politically. This would allow fourth world peoples, and small minorities to have representation and be heard.
One thing that can be interpreted as a downside of this change in how political entities are structured is that people would likely opt more often for border changes and forming confederations, which can be confederations that stand on a loose ground institutionally and have a low sense of legitimacy, especially since we have several generations of disconnected, rootless humans that might form confederations dedicated to beverages, comic book figures or funny hats.
Another potential problem is that this can actually increase conflicts, especially in border territories or in multi-cultural entities where the people have been used to live under states with a low sense of legitimacy but with enough firepower to keep emotions sober. This would especially be a risk if the system utilised is direct or participatory democracy.
Therefore, it is advisable that a change towards such a confederate system envisioned in this article is gradual and happens during a long time. Human civilization wouldn’t collapse if this proposed system – or something akin to it – is not introduced immediately. Unluckily, the same cannot be said of the ecological situation.
Enrique Lescure, Sequence Director of Relations, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability