Only unity between humans can create real progress and build a better world, a good one. Our common wealth is our planet.
by Katia Novella Miller
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Around a year ago, I read and article in which a U.S. writer stated that all humans of Planet Earth should vote in the elections of the United States of America as the political decisions made in this country affect the whole world. Who can deny that when much of what we see around the globe has it’s roots in the U.S.? The wars in the Middle East and the mass influx of refugees into Europe and other areas of the world; the global monetary policies under the U.S. dollar standard that influence the cost of raw materials and as a consequence prices in different countries; the role of the U.S. as a consumer of natural resources from around the globe (to feed its diverse industries and its internal market) and the impact it has on far away peoples and territories; the U.S.’s great cultural and political influence in the whole world, due also to the ‘universal’ phenomenon of imitation of the strongest, the richest, the most trendy, etc…; its role as the second biggest contributor to global warming (the first being China). These are only some of the effects the power of the U.S.A. has had in the world in the last decades. Even our candies, chewing gum, for instance, or our love for music, pop, rock and roll and rock have been globally launched by the U.S. Likewise our way of dressing, moving and our gestures have been strongly influenced by the movie culture produced in the U.S., undoubtedly the superpower of our time.
There is absolutely nothing unusual about this. It was the same when other ‘nations’ were ruling the world, England or the Roman Empire for instance. My goal is only to prove how all states are interconnected and follow, through the rules of power, trade and the phenomenon of imitation, the main center of power. Or the main centers of power as shown by the more limited case of Germany, the largest national economy of Europe, which has undoubtedly been already influenced by the U.S.A. Germany has inspired many European nations to adopt its policy models over the last years, like its hyper bureaucracy, some of its practices of social control, imposing – with the consent of national leaders – a system with increasing sanctions, the Jobs Act in Italy, the expansion of employment instability, a fall in wages: all policies introduced in Germany since the Labor Reforms of the first years of the new millennium.
If we don’t know these things, if we don’t catch these connections, it is because people are not informed enough– and can we blame them? When most of their vital energy is spent at work, with the little remaining being spent for their family and private lives? If we don’t know these things it is because there is a lack of transnational information on the various national systems and cultures. But who should make public these facts? Who should make us aware of these associations? The journalists?
Journalists often don’t seem to read enough or do enough research on the subjects they write about or they just aren’t interested in doing good journalism. I will never forget when I heard a well-paid reporter of an international tv channel stating that thousands of Berliners did not go to work to participate in a march against TTIP, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, without reckoning that almost half of Berliners do not work at all and live on public subsidies: very likely most of the protesters. Disinformation is virtually everywhere.
Politics and Economics have been global for many centuries. Although there are those who state that its firsts steps are older, undoubtedly modern globalization started with the discovery and invasion of the American Continent/s.
European wealth and capital began to develop and grow with American precious metals that entered and circulated in the old continent. Trade, which was until that moment based on commercial exchange of goods consumed only by the nobility and by a small elite of European merchants, increased with the products and resources that were taken from the Americas and Native American peoples. To produce goods Native Americans were enslaved or forced to work. Later, they were joined by the African enslaved workforce (forcibly carried to the Western Hemisphere). It is like this that slowly the European trade of textiles, metals, spices, edible plants, medicines, etc, got created. Without those goods and that inexpensive bloody forced work, European and Western wealth and trade could not have developed and grown, nor industries, nor technology, nor eventually the system of wage labor.
Successively, over the centuries, other territories have been colonized (also under the name of Imperialism): Africa, Asia, Australia… Since then there have been geopolitical, hegemonic, ideological and social changes. But, undoubtedly, the most relevant improvement has been technological. Technology has allowed faster transportation of people and commodities, greater control over nature, the production of extremely destructive lethal weapons, the indoctrination and control over people through the media, (television, radio, film, press); an always more invasive bureaucracy; the creation of a financial global world… But things have not changed much regarding the sources of raw materials – indispensable for industrialized countries – which generally continue to be collected in the same territories once colonized, very often the poorest areas of the planet where the people are easily exploited and the destruction of the environment poses a greater threat to the global whole. Because of this it’s only a good habit to question where our products come from and who or what is being exploited to produce them. Where does the gold bought by Switzerland come from? (Peru?), where do the metals, stones and minerals needed to manufacture our modern smartphones, tablets etc… come from? (Congo?), where does the cotton used to make the clothes we buy in the shops come from? (Bangladesh?), is it genetically modified?; where do the avocados we buy in the supermakets or the maize used to produce green petrol come from? (Mexico?), where does Germany get the raw materials it needs for its industries or to produce biomass? (Africa, Asia?). The answers to these questions will not only make us understand the connection between one country and another part of the world, between the economy of one nation and the economy of another one, between the poverty of the Mexican miners and the booming economy of Canada (that controls a good portion of Mexican mines), between the destruction of the Amazon jungle and our wood furniture and so on. The answers will help us make more aware and ethical choices. If what we want is a fairer world with less violence, this is the path to follow.
Why it is important to overcome nationalisms. First of all it is fundamental to understand that nationalisms are political and historical creations that became powerful through generational forgetfulness, through institutional cultural indoctrination and through the repetition of learned notions by a community. Their power lies on the need of identification, an irrational need that seems a common human characteristic.
‘Violence, whether spiritual or physical, is a quest for identity and the meaningful.’, Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), Canadian philosopher.
Almost all contemporary nationalisms, in Europe, Africa, the Americas, Australia or Asia, do not correspond to the national identifications of the past, instead they are quite recent ideas that haven’t been around for more than 200 years (1).
Nations are the result of wars, of international agreements between the elites in power in a specific historical period. Elites that often, in order to create a deep feeling of belonging among the population, have imposed one official language, like in the case of the Italian language, that was imposed 150 years ago, of English in the United States, or of the Parisian Langue d’Oil in France which was enforced in the territory which currently we identify as Southern France many centuries ago. It is crucial that we know we are talking of very old policies and strategies as this can help us to open our eyes and break out from these vicious circles.
Shirley Campbell Bar, a poet and anthropologist from Costa Rica said ”we were not black until we came in contact with Europeans, we were only persons,” and certainly we can say the same about national identities. First of all we are persons, we are human beings.
It is also important to understand that beyond its genesis and evolutions, contemporary nationalisms (on a planetary scale) are exclusive, imply values of differentiaton between humans, create a ‘we’ and a ‘they’ and – like the good children of European mercantilism that we are – emphasize on national interest (example: the U.S. president Donald Trump loves to state: America first!), in opposition to the interest of other nations and in opposition to the idea of international or common interest. An antagonism between an extremely selfish value and an empathetic value that looks forward to the well-being of all humans. Furthermore it is evident, if one knows some history, that the national interests are almost always the interest of a nations elite and not the interest of the national community as a whole.
On this point, in Western Europe and in countries like the United States or Canada, people probably think that this statement is not true seeing the economic evolution of these societies since WW2. But I think that those who share this vision should ask themselves if the economic wellness created since WW2 wasn’t the result of the policies implemented by the elite during the Cold War as a propagandist western strategy against the Soviet Union: part of the capitalist war against communism. A strategy that had one goal: convincing people they were living in the best system. In fact now that a strong adversary to capitalism, the former communist Soviet Union, does not exist anymore, that economic wellness is vanishing along with many social rights.
How to avoid being manipulated: the danger of speaking only one language or a language spoken only by a few. In the global village (Internet) we live in, we can finally understand things. Undoubtedly information is fundamental to understanding how the world we live in works, how it is globally organized, what is going on in each country and the relation between events, national policies and what is happening in other states.
Currently the most important western ‘lingua franca’ are, in order of importance, English, Spanish (Castilian) and in lesser extent, French. These are the languages most widely used by international media and in which many countries produce information offering a vast spectrum of points of view which are so important to open our minds and develop our critical thinking. Staying locked in a mother tongue shared only by the people of one nation means being at risk of severe miscalculation and of being manipulated. In other words, if you are Italian, Finnish, Ethiopian and you speak only one language very likely you will know only what officialdom wants you to know. Probably there is something unfair about being forced to learn a new language, especially when one does not like it, but undoubtedly it is terribly useful.
Definitely English speaking people are luckier as most information circulates in this language, a fact that underlines the great power of the Anglo-Saxon world in the last generations. But also an English speaking person should know another language, better if it is an international one, so as to be able to understand different versions of reality and history around the world, and the problems of other peoples, territories and cultural areas. Certainly it is very useful to overcome preconceptions.
As it is already well-known, most of the information offered by mainstream media is frequently built on the interests of the status quo, corporations and on the interests of the elites (many journalists are not aware of this ‘identification’: very likely identification produces intellectual blindness). On the other hand, the information offered by alternative media, mostly founded by good will, is in many cases limited due to lack of economical resources and also a lack of knowledge of other countries and languages. For all these reasons, it is fundamental to learn at least one international bridge language, to be able to understand what is happening in our own country as well as other nations and being able to relate the facts.
Today as never before, internet offers us the chance of knowing and understanding what is really going: let’s use it! All facts are interconnected.
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How to identify empty and dangerous populist and nationalist propaganda: the excessive use of ‘we’ and ‘our.’ Increasing and inflating individual ego and the identification with a nation are common nationalist and populist strategies (proclaiming, not rarely, falsehoods). To reach these goals these jingoistic groups have always presented themselves with an excessive use of the pronouns ‘we’ and ‘our.’ This is why we should be alerted when what we read or listen to is an excessive amount of these two pronouns. It is a separatists strategy used to build a false sense of superiority against our ‘neighbors’ that may be different. It’s divisive and used to separate groups into us and them. This is why we should be alerted.
There are always going to be differences between peoples, depending on their cultural matrices and backgrounds and these differences should be embraced instead of feared. Our food, all our immaterial (philosophy, mathematics, science, medicine…) and material (agriculture, architecture…) culture are the result of miscegenation built up step by step over the centuries by all civilizations, by all cultures. The mixture and variety of peoples and ideas is what makes our world progressive.
This is why showing the commonalities that exists between cultures, countries, national economies, or the connection between the items sold in the shops, in the supermarkets and the places where they are produced, is what a global world must demand from it’s leaders and journalists.
The foreigner is not bad. Declaring the opposite is irrational. A foreigner can also be a beloved national leader, as was proven in Sweden in 1810 when they gave the crown to the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who – anecdote – never learned Swedish!
Surpassing unreasonable nationalist ideals of birth is another great challenge humans must overcome in order to create societies and a world with less violence. Does being born in a certain geographic location, a national territory, make a better person,?- more honest, less greedy, less selfish, with better intentions, more intelligent, responsible, tolerant towards diversity, more capable, more empathic? No it does not. These values occur in people from all over the world and are what we and our political leaders should strive to emulate instead of admiring people who hoard money, are violent, exploitative, megalomaniacal, selfish and greedy.
It’s extremely important to avoid placing people in isolated, separated categories (stereotyping) depending on their nationality because the variety in the human species is endless. Everywhere on this planet we will find religious and non-religious people, countryside and city people, people who adopt children, have children and people who will never do that, people who believe in life after death, in aliens and others who don’t, people who love dancing, people who have suffered harassment, others who bully, people with broken hearts, others that are in love, individuals that feel lonely, people who save lives, aggressive people, peaceful people, bisexuals, heterosexuals, homosexuals, old people, young people, those who admire courage and those who are cowards, good people, bad people, …. The one unifying aspect of all these groups is that first and foremost we are all HUMAN!
Undoubtedly the culture promoted on a national scale influences human conduct and peoples’ perception of reality. It is not illogical to think that human beings are, largely, the outcome of the education and ideas they have received in the environment in which they have grown up in. But as we learn, we can also unlearn and then learn new things; it comes with changing our attitude and opening our minds.
It is also likely that an Indu middle class worker and a working class English person have more in common with each other than with their respective dominant classes. They both probably suffer the same mediocre work and job insecurity, lack of time for self and family, bad salaries, inequality, higher taxes, bureaucracy, etc.
Likewise the elites from different parts of the world also share commonalities with people like themselves, due to the kind of life they have and the ‘dominant class’ values they share. Elites identify with elites. Grasping this is fundamental to understanding the psycho-social dynamics that rule societies and to avoid being naive.
The mandatory challenge: changing values. Comprehension of the economical and social/human connection between societies is fundamental if we want or dream of living in good communities and to avoid where the world seems to be heading. Contamination and destruction of nature, climate change, the excessive enrichment of a few at the expense and impoverishment of the many, the worsening of working conditions globally, shameless wars for dominance and control of natural resources fought with highly lethal and destructive weapons; the control and conditioning of people through the media, internet, IT, addiction to junk entertainment and drugs, the dangers of cloning and of genetically modified and chemically processed food and agriculture, mandatory poisons administered through fluoridated water, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, geo-engineering, the threat posed by robots that have and will continue to make many jobs obsolete thus stealing the livelihoods of many: in a planet ruled by selfishness, materialism, ruthless competition, ego and personal economic interests above all else, …everything seems to suggest we are entering the world described by the English writer George Orwell in his book ‘1984’ or by the German cinema director Fritz Lang in the movie ‘Metropolis.’ A world in which most humans don’t even have the right to their own humanity! When instead, the same technological and scientific advances that are being used to destroy could be used to uplift humanity as never before if we could change our values to a more compassionate, empathetic and honest global populace. Undoubtedly this is today’s battle.
Currently many intellectuals wonder if evil and violence have always been part of our humanity and usually the answer is ‘no, not at current levels’ and ‘not in all cultures.’ Surely in terms of violence, European cultures (western cultures) have reached the highest destructive peaks and have been the most globally hegemonical. Probably not a single historian would deny this assertion on the bases of their territorial dominance or of the weapons western cultures have invented and developed- creating a global trend of war and destruction.
Today the whole planet has been colonized or influenced by western culture, even China. But it’s time for a drastic change of values, of organization, of systems and a new vision of reality. Today we have the instruments to really improve the quality of our lives, to increase our knowledge and wisdom. It’s time to take a new path not only with the aim of creating a better world for all, but also for saving all species that we share this planet with and cannot survive without.
“It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere,” Voltaire. It’s not an easy task to fight against the lack of empathy, intolerance of diversity, psychopathy, unsustainable-illogical decision making and the incapacity of seeing and relating with truth and reality, evils and weaknesses that are common within us all, but we must. The problem seems to be that no one wants to accept or take responsibility for their own irrational, uncompassionate, selfish and insecure behavior. Many need to identify with the status quo in order to feel safe, like they are someone important and in order to feel worthy. (If we feel like we are superior to others and entitled to more rights and a larger piece of the pie- very likely we are suffering from these ‘problems’. Accepting that we do not know, that we have preconceived ideas, that we have insecurities and complexes, and admitting we have defects and shortcomings (evils), is not a sign of inferiority or weakness: it is a sign of growing as a human being.)
It’s not easy to battle against the widespread lack of stimulus to be ethical, generous, eager to help, eager to understand and know and to be a good person. It’s not easy to go counter current. We live in a system that fights goodness, individuality and non-institutionalized knowledge. Even so, this is a battle that is going to be fought with culture, knowledge, cultural restructuring, decolonization of the minds and with the stimulation of consciousness and awareness.
For the Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo, the problem is patriarchy. ”Our civilization is the answer to a traumatic situation. An answer to a time in which there was a great shortage. By then, male leaders had to become predators, to become conquerors. Now our world has been conquered ten times. There is nothing more to conquer but we keep that attitude. A bandit attitude, a despicable attitude. The world we call civilized is an immoral world, an extremely wicked world. It does not love others. It has no sense of the common good. It is as if humans were still suffering in their imagination that food is going to run out, that the territory is about to end, that it is necessary to defend ourselves, taking everything we can.” Hoarding, taking away from others, robbing everything that is possible, lands, resources, lives, chances…
It’s time to open our eyes and accept that violence creates pain and trauma and produces more violence. It’s time to say ‘enough is enough’ and change our path. It’s time to say in a different way, with other values, with a different social organization, it’s possible.
”Solidarity and fraternity is something natural, that we can observe in other animal species. War, fratricide, creating – even indirectly, through our support – human misery, is cannibal.” (Javier Lajo, philosopher, economist, activist, from the Puquina South American Native People).
Now it depends on each of us.
(1) On this point it”s very instructive reading KBNBWorldNews report ‘Nice, France? Nationalisms, a XIX Century Creation.
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