Monbiot’s New Story Uncut and Unrated
I’m going to praise the heck out of yet another terrific book I’ve just read while yet again exclaiming (into a deep empty echoing canyon?) my bewilderment and outrage at the glaring omission it makes — the same one as all the other books.
George Monbiot’s Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis is part familiar; part original, creative, and inspiring; and pretty much all right-on and necessary. Its first chapter should be required reading everywhere — with the hope that whoever needs or wants the details will finish the book.
However, there remains something bizarrely off about any book on politics, and chiefly on U.S. and British politics, with a particular focus on economics and budgets, that avoids any mention of military spending. This is perhaps even odder in a book focused on alienation and togetherness, hostile separation and communal belonging. I don’t want to minimize the bowling-alone forces of societal atomization found in road construction and deunionization, but some might argue that murdering thousands of people from airplanes is also a force opposed to community, belonging, kindness, and altruism. And even those who won’t agree with that must be hard-pressed to give a basic outline of public spending without noticing the existence of war.
Now, one can give Monbiot some slack for being British. Military spending is much bigger by every measure in the United States, and even most Democratic candidates for Congress won’t mention it, even the Bernie Sanders campaign for president that Monbiot points to as a model to emulate wouldn’t touch it. But the commonness of being wrong doesn’t alter the status of being wrong. And this book focuses on U.S. politics, about which virtually all U.S. commentators are usually wrong.
In the United States, 60% or so of the money that Congress decides on each year (because Social Security and healthcare are treated separately) goes to militarism. That’s according to the National Priorities Project, which also says that, considering the whole budget, and not counting debt for past militarism, and not counting care for veterans, militarism is still 16%. Meanwhile, the War Resisters League says that 47% of U.S. income taxes go to militarism, including debt for past militarism, veterans’ care, etc.
UK military spending is less, less per-capita, less per-GDP, etc., but still enormous, still the only place one might find money that is being either wasted or spent destructively in sufficient amounts to do what needs to be done constructively. Monbiot discusses environmental destruction without mentioning militarism as its greatest cause, just as he mentions economic insecurity, the erosion of rights and liberties, the defunding of useful programs, the spread of distrust and bigotry, the growth of terrorism, etc., without mentioning one of the primary causes of all of these. I am not, let me reemphasize, picking on Monbiot. This is true of most books from the U.S., U.K., or anywhere else. I bring it up yet again, in part just to repeat it yet again, and in part because perhaps Monbiot is someone who can provide an explanation for it — one that I would be eager to hear.
What this book gets right is wonderfully summarized in the first chapter, whose list of principles omits peace, but whose outline of a “new story” is critically important, and dovetails with the new stories told by those promoting peace. What distinguishes humanity from other species, Monbiot writes, is altruism and cooperation. Terrorists who disproportionately make the news, he explains, are far outnumbered by those who rally against terrorism. I think this is right, even though those who do so also tend to pay war taxes without protest and avoid noticing how that contributes to generating the lesser but more objectionable terrorist blowback. Later in the book, Monbiot suggests that terrorism is a response to a crisis of modernity, a commercial society, etc., while in fact almost all foreign terrorism and some domestic terrorism is a response to bombing people and occupying their countries.
Because we are altruistic, or can be altruistic, Monbiot goes on, the story we need to undo is the Hobbesian tale of competition and individualism — a belief system that indeed unites those who call themselves conservatives, libertarians, moderates, and many liberals. The rational rightwing economic individual fantasized as taking part in the games of game theories, Monbiot points out, started as a thought experiment by John Stuart Mill, became a modeling tool, became an ideological ideal, and then evolved into a supposed description of how people actually are or even how they must always be. But in fact living humans are not the selfish, isolated units so imagined. And thinking that one must always rely exclusively on oneself for solutions lends itself to the political belief that some other individual, a dictator, a Trump can better arrive at solutions than a democratic process could.
Monbiot wants us to think of ourselves as altruistic, communal creatures who belong to each other. He might agree with those who on U.S. Independence Day announce their support for Interdependence Day instead. He also wants to elevate community above government or workplace as a source for solutions, even while recognizing the need for government on the largest scale. He calls this the “Politics of Belonging.” (Hey, that was ACORN’s idea! It seems to have powerful opponents.)
I agreed with this when I spoke recently of the underestimation of both altruism and sadism. What is overestimated — I would agree with Monbiot — is selfishness, independence, individualism, greed.
I did not disagree with this the many, many times I’ve proposed abandoning entirely the concept of “human nature.” Monbiot, later in the book, speaks of altering human nature. Once you’re speaking of something that can be changed, you’re not trapping yourself in the philosophical and nonsensical concept of an immutable human nature that must be somehow followed even though not following it would supposedly be impossible.
What I would do is amend Monbiot’s evolutionarily accurate and politically beneficial portrait of humanity to include a sense of global, not just local and national, community — in fact prioritizing the local and regional and global over the now-exaggerated national — and to include a shift to nonviolent resolution of conflict rather than institutionalized mass murder. I’m confident this would be taken as a friendly amendment.
But how do we get people to think of themselves, of ourselves, differently? Monbiot suggests that a neoliberal Hobbesian view of humanity has outlasted all sorts of real world failures because people have so internalized it as to not even be aware of it, and because an alternative story has not been presented to them. So, we need a sort of societal therapy that makes people aware of how they have been thinking, and provides a preferable way of thinking as an alternative.
Monbiot, as I read him, suggests a sort of think-globally and act-locally form of therapy through action. By forming communal structures and behaviors locally, we can develop habits and modes of thought that facilitate a change in worldview. But this means inverting, or making a cycle, of the concept “think globally, act locally.” We must act locally and then work on improving our thinking about a larger scale.
I say “larger scale” because Monbiot mostly writes about nationalist thinking, not globalist. He does, however point to models to follow from various parts of the globe. Monbiot’s proposals, well explained in his book, include Scandinavian cooperatives, taxing land rather than houses, developing commonwealth trusts including a trust protecting the atmosphere for future generations (I would note that the U.S. military claims to own that, as well as outerspace beyond), a universal basic income, participatory budgeting, electoral reform, and the rejection of insane fantasies like moving the Mars when the Earth is fully trashed.
On page 160 of 186, “war” gets a one-word mention in a list as a problem to be handled globally. Monbiot wants, as I want, to move some power down and some up. He wants to move some from global institutions to nations, while I’d like to move a lot from nations to localities. Yet he also wants to rework global institutions to democratize them, on which subject I recommend checking out the winning entries in the recent Global Challenges competition, as well as my losing entry which I’ve not previously published but which I’ll post below. Monbiot proposes a Global Parliament. Good idea!
To give us hope, Monbiot points to the Bernie Sanders campaign. I think U.S. readers would benefit more from a review of Jeremy Corbyn’s political efforts. And there is a U.S. improvement on Bernie Sanders, in the form of the campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — an improvement also in having actually succeeded.
Global Challenge Entry Documents for World BEYOND War
Title: Global Emergency Assembly
ABSTRACT: GLOBAL EMERGENCY ASSEMBLY
Global Emergency Assembly (GEA) balances equitable representation of individuals with representation of national governments; and utilizes the collective knowledge and wisdom of the world to act strategically and ethically on urgent critical needs.
GEA will replace the United Nations and related institutions. While the UN could be democratized, it is deeply flawed as an assembly only of national governments, radically unequal in population size of constituencies, and in wealth and influence. Were five of the world’s leading arms dealers, war makers, environment destroyers, population expanders, and global extractors of wealth stripped of veto power in the UN Security Council, the problem of some nations’ powerful influence over other nations — influence exercised outside the UN structure –would remain. So would the problem that national governments have bureaucratic and ideological interests in militarism and competition.
The design of GEA balances representation of nations with representation of people, also engaging with local and provincial governments that tend to be more representative than national ones. Even without full world participation, GEA can create policy for much of the globe. Momentum can carry it forward to full world participation.
GEA consists of two representative bodies, an educational-scientific-cultural organization, and several smaller committees. The People’s Assembly (PA) consists of 5,000 members each of whom represents the population of a coherent geographic area with a near-equivalent population of voters. Members serve two-year terms with elections in odd-numbered years. The Nations’ Assembly (NA) consists of approximately 200 members each of whom represents a national government. Members serve two-year terms with elections or appointments in even-numbered years.
The Global Emergency Assembly does not, in its structure, favor any existing government over any other, or create laws that impact other governments, businesses, or individuals beyond what is necessary to prevent global catastrophe.
The GEA Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (GEAESCO) is overseen by a five-member board serving staggered 10-year terms and elected by the two assemblies — which also retain the power to remove and replace GEAESCO board members.
Committees of 45, including 30 PA members and 15 NA members, pursue GEA’s work on particular projects. Assembly members are given the option to join each committee in the order in which their part of the world is ranked by GEAESCO as already successfully addressing, and not exacerbating, the relevant problem. No more than 3 PA members from the same nation can join the same committee.
Actions that meet the informed recommendations of GEAESCO require simple majorities in both assemblies to pass. Those that violate the informed recommendations of GEAESCO require three-quarter majorities. Amendments to the GEA Constitution require three-quarter majorities in both assemblies to pass. Actions passed by one assembly must be voted on within 45 days in the other assembly.
PA members are elected with maximum participation, fairness, transparency, choice, and verifiability.
NA members are elected or appointed by national publics, government bodies, or rulers as each nation determines.
GEA maintains five meeting locations around the world, rotating assembly meetings among them, and allowing committees to meet in multiple locations connected by video and audio. Both assemblies make decisions by public, recorded, majority vote, and together they have the power to create (or dissolve) committees and to delegate work to those committees.
GEA’s resources come from payments made by local and regional, but not national, governments. These payments are required in order for the residents of any jurisdiction to participate, and are determined on the basis of ability to pay.
GEA seeks compliance with global laws and participation in global projects on the part of governments at every level, as well as businesses, and individuals. In doing so, it is bound by its constitution to forego the use of violence, the threat of violence, the sanctioning of violence, or any complicity in preparations for the use of violence. The same constitution requires respecting the rights of future generations, of children, and of the natural environment.
Tools for creating compliance include moral pressure, praise, and condemnation; positions on committees for those areas of the world performing the best on the relevant work; rewards in the form of investments; punishment in the form of leading and organizing divestments and boycotts; the practice of restorative justice in arbitration hearings and prosecutions; the creation of truth-and-reconciliation commissions; and the ultimate sanction of banishment from representation in GEA. Many of these tools are implemented by a GEA Court whose panels of judges are elected by the GEA assemblies.
Members of both assemblies and of GEAESCO are required to obtain training in nonviolent communication, conflict resolution, and dialogue/deliberation methods for the common good.
The assemblies identify problems to be addressed. Examples might be war, environmental destruction, starvation, disease, population growth, mass homelessness, etc.
GEAESCO makes recommendations for each project, and also identifies areas of the world that are having the most success in working on each project. Assembly members from those areas of the world will have the first option of joining the relevant committees.
GEAESCO is also tasked with organizing an annual competition for development of the best educational, scientific, or cultural creations in the area of each project. Permitted to enter the competitions will be individuals, organizations, businesses, and governments at every level, or any team of any number of such entities working together. The competitions will be public, the choosing of first, second, and third place winners transparent, and no outside sponsorship or advertising permitted any connection to the competitions, which will be held in a different part of the world each year.
A democratic global institution without a military or the power to mobilize militaries should not threaten national interests but rather allow nations the means to circumvent their own weaknesses. Governments that choose not to join will be left out of global decision making. National governments will not be permitted to join the NA unless their people and regional and local governments have complete freedom to participate in and fund the PA.
DESCRIPTION OF THE GLOBAL EMERGENCY ASSEMBLY
TRANSITION TO GEA
The creation of GEA could come about in a variety of ways. It could be started by individuals or organizations. It could be developed by a small but growing group of local and regional governments. It could be organized by national governments. Replacing the United Nations could even be begun through the United Nations, as it now exists or possibly even more easily following various reforms.
The majority of the world’s nations recently worked through the UN to create a treaty to ban the possession of nuclear weapons. A similar treaty process could establish GEA. In both cases, momentum will have to be developed that increases pressure on hold-outs to join the new agreement. But in the case of GEA it will also be possible, in some cases, for localities and states/regions/provinces to substantively support the new institution despite the recalcitrance of the nations they are situated within. And in the case of the transition from the UN to GEA, momentum will be built not only by the growth of GEA but also by the diminishing size and utility of the UN and of its affiliated institutions, such as what has informally come to be called the International Criminal Court for Africans. Popular annual competitions open only to GEA members will create momentum as well. (GEAESCO is tasked with organizing an annual competition for development of the best educational, scientific, or cultural creations in the area of each project.)
PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
The process of shaping districts and electing members of the People’s Assembly is absolutely critical to the success of the institution. This determines the identity of constituencies, individuals’ access to participation, the fairness of the representation, the credibility and respect awarded Assembly members, and the ability of voters to unelect those who do not satisfactorily represent them (to vote them out and someone else in).
An Assembly of 5,000 members is determined by the need to balance the ability to represent a constituency with the ability to conduct a fair, inclusive, and efficient meeting. At the current world population size, each Assembly member represents 1.5 million people and rising.
While a transitional agency will oversee the first mapping of districts and holding of elections, subsequently these tasks will be handled by a committee established by GEA (that is to say, by the two assemblies).
Districts will be required by the GEA Constitution to be 5,000 in number, as near to equal as possible in population size, and to be drawn so as to minimize the division of nations, provinces, and municipalities (in that order). Districts will be redrawn every 5 years.
With roughly 1.5 million people in each district (and growing) there might, at this time, be 867 districts in India, 217 in the United States, and 4 in Norway, to take a few examples. This contrasts sharply with the representation in the Nations’ Assembly, where India, the United States, and Norway each have 1 member.
GEA-approved elections will set up no financial barriers to candidates or voters. GEA will recommend that election day be treated as a holiday, and that a holiday be held one week prior for the purpose of attending public meetings to learn about the election. The GEA election committee will work with local volunteers. Elections will be held every odd-numbered year, primarily online, with polling stations provided for those lacking access to the internet.
To the extent possible, everyone aged 15 and older, including those in prisons and hospitals, must be given the right to vote. Candidates who receive 1,000 endorsements from within their districts are given equal space to campaign by text, audio, or video on the Global Emergency Assembly website. No candidate can simultaneously hold an office in another government. Candidates must be 25 or older.
No campaign can accept any money from any source or expend any money in any way. But public forums can be held in which candidates are all offered equal time. Voting will include ranked choices. The highest priority will be given to keeping individuals’ votes secret but the accuracy of the tally transparent and verifiable by all interested.
The GEA Constitution forbids any formal role for any political parties in GEA elections or governance. Each candidate, and each elected member, is an independent.
All GEA elected officials and fulltime staff are paid the same living wage. Their finances are made public. All spending by GEA is made public. There are no secret documents, closed-door meetings, secret agencies, or secret budgets at GEA.
As important as electing PA members is unelecting them (voting them out in favor of challengers). In societies where it is difficult to unelect incumbents, other means of accountability are sought, ranging from term limits to recalls to impeachment trials, to overthrows. But term limits have proven ineffective in altering public policy, as opposed to altering merely the faces of public officials. The power of voters to recall or of fellow Assembly members to impeach and remove will exist in the constitution of GEA, but these are emergency measures, not useful replacements for the fundamental ability to unelect. The ability to unelect is created by the separation of elections from financial interests, and by the maintenance of fair ballot access, fair access to communications systems, verifiable vote counting, and transparent operations.
RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER GOVERNMENTS
The Global Emergency Assembly has a number of different relationships with both national and local/provincial governments.
National governments are directly represented in the Nations’ Assembly (and in some cases on various GEA committees). Nations’ people are represented in the People’s Assembly. Individuals from nations may be elected by the two assemblies to GEAESCO. Nations can, on their own or as part of teams, enter annual competitions. And, of course, membership on committees is largely dependent on an ongoing competition in actual performance, since those nations doing the best to address and not to worsen climate change or population growth or some other problem will have the first option to join the relevant committee. PA members may also be given the chance to join committees in part because of the performance of their nations. In the course of their work, committees will interact with national governments.
Local and state/provincial governments can often be more representative of public views than are national governments. It is important for them, therefore, to be a part of the GEA. Smaller-than-national governments will not be directly represented in the two assemblies, but in many cases a small number of PA members will represent the same constituency as a local government. The nine PA members from Tokyo will have a relationship with the government of Tokyo, and similarly for the one PA member from Kobe, the one from Quito, the one from Algiers, the two from Addis Ababa, the three from Kolkata, the four from Zunyi, and the five from Hong Kong. The four PA members from the Italian region of Veneto (one of whom also represents people from a neighboring region) or the five from the U.S. state of Virginia will have a relationship with that region’s or state’s government.
Local and provincial governments will be able to enter annual GEA competitions. They will see their residents on committees as a result of their own performance. They will work directly with GEA committees. In addition, local and provincial governments will fund the entire Global Emergency Assembly.
Funding sources for the Global Emergency Assembly must avoid entities with the greatest conflicts of interest, including those profiting from the problems that GEA is created to solve. This will best be accomplished by banning any individual or corporate or organizations’ donations.
An exception could be made for a start-up fund that would accept grants from carefully selected non-profit organizations, allowing GEA to begin working prior to receiving payments from local governments.
GEA would, however, ban from the start any payments from national governments. National governments are too few, meaning that any one of them or a small group of them gains too much power over the others if it is able to threaten to deny a significant portion of GEA funding. National governments are also heavily invested in militarism, resource extraction, and other problems that GEA will address. An institution set up to end war should not depend for its existence on the pleasure of war-making governments.
GEA assemblies will create a committee to oversee the collection of funding from local and provincial governments. GEAESCO will determine the ability of each government to pay. The two assemblies will determine the annual GEA budget. The Collection or Finance Committee will collect payments from local/provincial governments. Local/provincial governments that are able and willing to pay despite opposition from their national governments will be welcomed to do so, and their national governments suspended from the Nations’ Assembly. Local/provincial governments that do not pay by the third year in which their residents are represented in the People’s Assembly will see their residents lose that representation and themselves suspended from entering GEA competitions, working with GEA committees, or seeing any GEA investments made within their borders.
GEA may choose to create a global tax on financial transactions as an additional source of funding.
THE PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY
The People’s Assembly will be the largest institution within GEA. Its 5000 members will represent humanity and local ecosystems to GEA. They will also represent GEA to humanity. They will be trained in nonviolent communication, conflict resolution, and dialogue/deliberation methods for the common good — both for the purpose of facilitating fair and efficient meetings of GEA, and for the purpose of facilitating public meetings in their districts — meetings at which they seek to learn the public’s will and seek to communicate GEA’s work, including the work of GEAESCO.
The People’s Assembly will assemble monthly. It will vote on top priorities to be assigned to GEAESCO for research. GEAESCO will update its research monthly. The PA will vote, within 45 days of GEAESCO producing its recommendations, on actions to be taken. The NA will vote on any measures passed by the PA within 45 days of their passage, and vice versa. Both assemblies have the power to create committees to reconcile differences between the two assemblies. Meetings of the PA and the NA and Committees, including such reconciliation meetings, will be public and available live and recorded via video and audio.
The two assemblies can pass laws that violate the recommendations of GEAESCO only with a three-quarters majority vote in both assemblies.
The roles of meeting facilitators will rotate among all the members.
THE NATIONS’ ASSEMBLY
The Nations’ Assembly will be a forum in which national governments relate to each other. It will be the smaller of the two assemblies making up the Global Emergency Assembly. The NA will assemble monthly.
NA members will serve two-year terms with elections or appointments in even-numbered years. Each nation will be free to choose its NA member by whatever process it sees fit, including appointment, election by legislature, election by public, etc.
The roles of meeting facilitators will rotate among all the members.
GLOBAL EMERGENCY ASSEMBLY EDUCATION SCIENCE AND CULTURE ORGANIZATION
GEAESCO is GEA’s source of informed wisdom.
GEAESCO is overseen by a five-member board serving staggered 10-year terms, so that one member is up for re-election or replacement every two years.
GEAESCO board members are elected by the two assemblies, report to the two assemblies, and are subject to removal at will by the two assemblies.
The two assemblies create the GEAESCO budget, while the GEAESCO board hires staff.
GEAESCO’s chief function is to produce educated recommendations, updated monthly, on each project undertaken by GEA.
GEAESCO also produces a public ranking of nations’ and provinces’ performance in the area of each GEA project.
GEAESCO’s secondary functions include educational and cultural work, including organizing the annual competitions.
GEA committees will include, among others, an elections committee, a finance committee, and a committee for each project, such as (to take one possible example) a climate change committee.
With two-thirds of each committee’s 45 members drawn from the People’s Assembly, and with members able to join based on the relative success of their districts or nations in addressing the relevant problem, committees should lean toward popular and informed viewpoints. Their work will be public and always subject to the approval or rejection of the two assemblies, including the Nations’ Assembly. And the decisions of the two assemblies will be subject to the recommendations of GEAESCO unless those recommendations are overridden by three-quarters majorities.
The roles of meeting facilitators will rotate among all the members.
Both assemblies together or either one alone can begin a possible GEA project by referring a topic to GEAESCO.
GEAESCO must then make a determination as to whether the project is necessary to prevent global catastrophe. And it must produce informed recommendations within a month, and update them monthly.
Before any action whatsoever is taken on those recommendations, including the creation of programs to facilitate the recommendations, including educational work, including the creation of a competition, the two assemblies must pass a new law/ treaty/ agreement.
Such a law must include any requirements and/or prohibitions for other parties (nations, provinces, municipalities, businesses, organizations, individuals), as well as any projects to be undertaken by a GEA committee or by GEAESCO. The law must be agreed to by a majority of both assemblies, or by three-quarters of each assembly if it in any way violates the GEAESCO recommendations.
The five board members of GEAESCO must present their recommendations to each of the two assemblies, in writing, and in-person with all five board members present. Board members may dissent from non-unanimous recommendations, but such dissent does not alter the power of the recommendations.
The assemblies’ meetings must be public and available in live and recorded video/audio.
The GEA will begin with a written constitution that can be amended by three-quarter majorities of both assemblies. The GEA Constitution will include all of the requirements described in these documents.
IMPLEMENTATION OF DECISIONS
The Global Emergency Assembly will not “enforce” its laws through the use of force or the threat of force.
GEA will reward good behavior by numerous means: representation in the assemblies, representation on committees, praise and promotion of good work as models for others, and investment in related work.
GEA will discourage bad behavior through moral condemnation and denial of positions on committees and — in extreme cases — denial of membership in assemblies, as well as divestments and boycotts.
GLOBAL EMERGENCY ASSEMBLY COURT
The two assemblies will establish a court. The court will be overseen by judges elected to 10-year terms by both assemblies and subject to removal by a majority of both assemblies. Any individual, group, or entity will have standing to submit a complaint. Those complaints taken up by the court will be addressed first through arbitration guided by the principles of restorative justice. Aggreements but not proceedings will be public.
The court will have the power to create truth and reconciliation commissions, which will be public.
The court will also have the power to impose penalties. Prior to the imposition of any penalties, the case must be presented in a public forum before a panel of three judges, and the accused party must have the right to be present and to present a defense.
Penalties that may be imposed on governments include moral condemnation, denial of positions on committees, denial of membership in assemblies, divestments, and boycotts.
Penalties that may be imposed on businesses or organizations include moral condemnation, divestments, and boycotts.
Penalties that may be imposed on individuals include moral condemnation, denial of GEA positions, denial of access to GEA facilities or projects, the organizing of the denial of the right to travel, and the organizing of economic bans and penalties.
ABOLISHING WAR USING NON-WAR TOOLS
The movement that created the Kellogg-Briand Pact ban on war in 1928 warned that creating loopholes for defensive or authorized wars would result in the exceptions overwhelming the rule, as war after war would be labeled defensive or authorized. Yet that was what was done in 1945.
We are now caught in a structure in which the dominant members of the leading institution established to end war are among the leading makers of war and are very much the leading dealers of war weaponry to other nations. The effort to end war through war has been given a very long run and failed.
The Global Emergency Assembly is designed with the intention that it take up a number of urgent projects, but it is bound to take up the elimination of war, because the replacement of war with peaceful tools is built into GEA’s own functioning. GEA is itself conceived as part of the project of replacing war systems with peace systems.
The institution of war currently consumes some $2 trillion a year in spending, plus trillions more in lost economic opportunities, in addition to trillions of dollars of property destroyed by war each year. War and preparations for war are a leading direct cause of injury and death, but war kills primarily through the diversion of resources from where they could be put to better use in supplying food, water, medicine, clean energy, sustainable practices, education, etc. War is a leading destroyer of the natural environment, a leading creator of refugees, a leading cause of political instability and human insecurity, and the leading diverter of resources away from positive projects to address those ills. Taking on any number of other potentially worthy projects would be difficult for GEA to do effectively without identifying a better approach to undoing the institution of war.
War preparations are supported by the idea that a theoretical just war someday could outweigh all the unjust wars being created, and outweigh the risk of nuclear apocalypse being maintained, and outweigh the disastrous diversion into war preparations of resources desperately needed for human and environmental needs. GEA will not make preparations for such a theoretical impossibility. It will, on the contrary, implement its own policies without violence, and create a Committee on the Creation and Maintenance of Peace (CCMP). This committee will respond to wars and urgent threats of wars, as well as working long-term on the project of replacing war systems with peaceful structures.
A central project of the CCMP will be disarmament. As instructed by the assemblies, the CCMP will work to effect disarmament, referring violations as needed to the GEA Court. The CCMP will develop the use of unarmed peace keepers, as well as trainers in unarmed civilian resistance to military invasion. The CCMP will encourage, engage in, and facilitate diplomatic discussions. Following the guidance of the assemblies as informed by GEAESCO’s recommendations, the CCMP will work through aid, education, communications, and the tools of the GEA Court to avert, reduce, or end conflict without escalation.
The Global Emergency Assembly is designed to rapidly and effectively address not just war (and the smaller-scale war making known as terrorism) but also such projects as it might take up, including possibly: protecting the natural environment, ending starvation, eradicating diseases, controlling population growth, handling the needs of refugees, eliminating nuclear technologies, etc.
People’s Assembly Members are charged with representing people and ecosystems. The GEA Constitution requires that policies protect the environment and future generations. GEA can be expected to establish one or more committees to work on environmental protection. The structure of GEA should allow this to be done fairly, intelligently, and efficiently. Corrupting influences have been removed. Popular representation has been maximized. Policy has been tied to informed wisdom. And swift action has been mandated. On this, as on other projects, GEA should allow the creation of widespread momentum that overcomes nations’ reluctance to step beyond what other nations are doing. Even without full world participation, GEA can create policy for much of the globe and expand from there.
Projects like ending starvation or ending the lack of clean drinking water or eradicating some diseases have long been on international to-do lists and understood to be doable for a small fraction of what is spent on preparing for more wars. This is where the GEA fundraising model becomes critical. Collecting funding in small amounts from many and more-representative sources (local and state governments) rather than large amounts from a much smaller number of sources puts the funding aid projects beyond the reach of those who have opposing agendas or priorities or who resent a global institution that deploys the use of force.
GEA will be ideally situated to address the needs of refugees as a fairly and equitably constructed government that is not complicit in any way in the wars that have made many people into refugees. Restoring the habitability of refugees’ original homes, where possible, will be an option completely available for consideration, and not displaced by interests in ongoing wars. Resettling refugees elsewhere will be facilitated by GEA’s connections to local and state governments. Five thousand People’s Assembly members can each be asked to find sources of aid and sanctuary.
Having arisen out of a global competition, GEA will continue to benefit from competitions by organizing them every year. The competitions will be nonviolent and non-hostile. They will allow national contestants but also non-national ones. They will allow teams of contestants, and even permit the combining of entries into collaborations mid-competition. The competitions will be designed with the goal of building global community, educating the public, engaging the world in the urgent projects focused on, and of course developing the best possible approaches to solving our most pressing needs.
HOW THE GLOBAL EMERGENCY ASSEMBLY MEETS THE ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
“Decisions within the governance model must be guided by the good of all humankind and by respect for the equal value of all human beings.”
The GEA People’s Assembly creates equal representation for people in a manner the world now lacks and, in fact, comes no where at all close to approximating. At the same time, the Nations’ Assembly respects people’s organization into existing nations, and GEA’s dependence on smaller governments for funding compels it to respect people’s local organization.
“Decision-making within the governance model must generally be possible without crippling delays that prevent the challenges from being adequately addressed (e.g. due to parties exercising powers of veto).”
Speed is mandated in GEA, although not at the expense of well-informed wisdom, nor at the expense of global consensus. GEAESCO and the assemblies have different missions and interests, but GEAESCO members serve at the pleasure of the assemblies, and the assemblies must meet the recommendations of GEAESCO. Those recommendations are updated every month. The PA must update its legislation within 45 days of new recommendations, and the NA vote within 45 days of the PA on anything the PA passes. The PA must also vote within 45 days of the NA on anything the NA passes. Debates and votes, and even meetings to reconcile differing drafts between the two assemblies, are public. There are no holds, no blocks, no filibusters, no vetoes. If differences between the two assemblies should ever prove irreconcilable so that no legislation on a project has been passed by them together for 90 days from the date of new recommendations from GEAESCO on a project already identified by both assemblies as needing attention, the matter will be referred to the GEA Court for mediation and, if necessary, a ruling imposed by the court.
“The governance model must be capable of handling the global challenges and risks and include means to ensure implementation of decisions.”
A Committee will be created and funded, and overseen by the assemblies, to work on each challenge. The committees will have the power to reward good behavior, and through the GEA Court to discourage bad.
“The governance model must have sufficient human and material resources at its disposal, and these resources must be financed in an equitable manner.”
The financing of the Global Emergency Assembly will come from many thousands of state/regional/provincial and city/town/county governments, in small amounts from each — and possibly from a tax on financial transactions. Collecting these funds will be a major task, but will more than pay for itself in the funding collected and in the benefits of the relationships built and those not built with undesirable sources of funding. The most important step will be starting the GEA with independent funding and making its benefits widely known, so that paying your dues becomes an honor for local governments rather than a point of contention.
“The trust enjoyed by a successful governance model and its institutions relies on transparency and considerable insight into power structures and decision-making.”
GEA is not simply advertised as “transparent.” Its assembly meetings and other key meetings are available as video and audio live and recorded, as well as transcribed and published as text. Its votes are all recorded votes that register the vote of each member. Its constitution, structure, finances, members, officials, staff, and schedules are all public. The GEA assemblies are constitutionally forbidden to operate in secrecy.
“In order to be able to fulfill its objectives effectively, a successful governance model must contain mechanisms that allow for revisions and improvements to be made to its structure and components.”
The two assemblies together by votes of three-fourths can amend the constitution, and by simple majority votes can undo any policy or appointment. More importantly, members of the People’s Assembly are clearly subject to being unelected (voted out).
“A control system must be in place to take action if the organization should overstep its mandate, e.g. by unduly interfering with the internal affairs of nation-states or favouring the special interests of individuals, groups, organizations, states or groups of states.”
All such complaints can be taken up with the GEA Court, where systems will be in place to address them. The two assemblies can also vote entire areas of work out of the proper realm for GEA endeavors on the grounds that they are not necessary to prevent global catastrophe.
“It is a fundamental requirement of a successful governance model that it performs the tasks it has been charged with, and the governance model must include the power to hold the decision-makers accountable for their actions.”
PA members can be voted out, recalled, impeached and removed, or denied committee memberships. NA members can be voted out or otherwise replaced by their national governments, impeached and removed, or denied committee memberships. Impeachment and trial in GEA is a two-part process confined to a single assembly. Neither assembly may impeach or try members of the other. PA and NA members can also be held accountable through the GEA Court. Because all other officials in GEA work for the two assemblies, they too can be held accountable.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
Published On: July 5, 2018