From: "John Bunzl" JBUNZL@SIMPOL.ORG
Subject: World Federalsim and the Simultaneous Policy
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 21:35:02 -0000
World Federalism and the Simultaneous Policy (SP) Presentation given to the Executive Council of the Association of World Federalists by John Bunzl, founder, International Simultaneous Policy Organisation. London, 12th December 2002
Can I first of all thank John Roberts for his kind invitation and for giving me this opportunity to explain how Simultaneous Policy might be relevant and supportive of the aims of the World Federalist movement.
As I understand it, World Federalism calls for a world federation of nations by which some issues would be decided centrally and others by each member nation individually, the overall aim being a world governed on the basis of law rather than, as now, on power politics.
On first impressions, that sounds like one large step. But if we think about it more carefully, one can identify not one, but TWO very large steps. The relatively easy second step is the development of a world federalist institution to which all nations would belong and which develops the laws by which all will abide. The much more difficult first step, however, is how do we persuade a world of presently competing nations to give up competition and instead start cooperating with one another? For unless they learn to do so – indeed, unless they and their peoples see it as in their interests to do so – we have no basis upon which world federalism, nor any other form of world governance or government, could peacefully emerge.
So if I may be so bold as to suggest it, what World Federalists and others fighting for similar objectives must first explain is: how do we take this first large step? How do we get from competing nations to cooperating nations? How, practically, do we get from one state - destructive competition - to its opposite state: fruitful cooperation? And furthermore, how do we do it in a way that takes the structure of existing power relations and national democratic systems into account? Well, the Simultaneous Policy concept – "SP" for short – is a direct answer to that question. As such I hope you will see SP, not as an alternative to World Federalism but, rather, as the necessary first step towards achieving it!
So what is the principal cause of this destructive competition between nation states?
Global de-regulated capital flows and corporations today know no national boundaries and by their ability or threat to move elsewhere, force nations to compete with one another for capital, jobs and ever scarcer natural resources. With increased government reliance on capital markets to finance public deficits and on corporations to maintain employment, internationally mobile capital effectively precludes the unilateral implementation of any policy that might incur market or corporate displeasure. The markets have consequently engineered strong leverage over the economic, social and environmental policies adopted by any country ensuring that only market-friendly policies are pursued - regardless of the party in power. The result is the strangle-hold of pseudo-democracy in which, whatever party we elect, the policies delivered remain substantially the same. Since virtually all nations are part of an increasingly integrated global economy, they are all subject to the same strangle-hold. So what we are dealing with here is a ‘dictatorship of destructive competition’; a vicious circle from which no nation can unilaterally escape.
It is a dictatorship because no nation can unilaterally re-regulate financial markets since such action would cause capital flight, devaluation and inflation, if not outright economic collapse. Similarly, policies seeking to address environmental or social problems requiring higher public spending or higher costs for industry are precluded on the grounds of uncompetitiveness, adverse market reaction and the threat of job losses. In de-regulating capital markets, nations have therefore unleashed a force they can no longer unilaterally control – a global competitive merry-go-round now spinning so fast that no nation can get off (unless, like Argentina, it is forcibly ejected by the market itself). But it should not be thought that this situation is the fault of transnational corporations or of financial market traders. For they cannot afford to take social or environmental considerations into account when they cannot be sure that their competitors will do likewise. In this environment, therefore, corporations who increase their costs as a result of good social and environmental performance are effectively punished by lower profits, uncompetitiveness, and by the prospect of a hostile takeover.
Against this backdrop of increasingly intense economic competition and scarcer natural resources – in particular oil - national rivalries and power politics remain the order of the day with their attendant build-up of military hardware. The United States, as the most powerful player in the global economy, increasingly acts unilaterally to preserve its freedom of action and economic dominance, which is more and more being expressed by means of force. So militarism can, in many respects, be seen as merely a symptom of the vicious circle of economic competition which favours the survival only of the fittest and most powerful.
So these, very briefly, are the interlocking vicious circles of destructive competition which must be broken and clearly that will take widespread international co-operation. However, since governments are now effectively the pawns of global market forces and must bow at the altar of maintaining their international competitiveness, we would be foolish to look to politicians to take action. Indeed, the fact that ALL political parties once in government must maintain international competitiveness has consequently rendered political parties substantially obsolete as a means for seeking change. That is what I have referred to as "pseudo-democracy": a political monoculture in which whatever party we vote for, the policies stay substantially the same.
But equally, to look to the UN as a means for solving the problem would also be futile. For the UN, having no authority over its competing member nations, can only remain merely a higher reflection of their destructively competitive behaviour. So with both the UN and national governments being largely impotent, it can, I suggest, only be to individual people around the world to whom we can look if meaningful change is to occur. People around the world themselves will have to bring global democracy to the UN – for it won’t – indeed it can’t - happen the other way round.
In a globally competitive world where unilateral national action cannot be contemplated for fear of adverse market reaction or job losses, global simultaneous implementation – all or virtually all nations acting simultaneously, as the Simultaneous Policy, ‘SP’, advocates - therefore provides the only secure basis upon which restorative policies can now be safely contemplated and implemented. But SP’s stipulation of ‘all or virtually all nations simultaneously’ should not be taken as a rigid condition ‘cast in stone’. Because it is just this basis which allows governments and people to say ‘Yes’ to Tobin, ‘Yes’ to a Kyoto with teeth, and ‘Yes’ to signifiant restrictions and taxes on TNCs, etc instead of saying ‘No’. By removing the key objection to being the first to ‘go it alone’ - by removing the risk and fear of uncompetitiveness - SP actually represents a vital and new consensus-building strategy without which the vicious circle of destructive global competition can only continue. In short, simultaneous implementation provides the all-important basis for co-operation we are looking for. It provides the basis upon which we can move from competing nations to cooperating nations without any nation losing out.
Since we have concluded that only citizens themselves can bring about change, the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation (ISPO) invites citizens from around the world to "adopt" SP. SP consists of a range of citizen-designed measures to re-regulate global markets and corporations, abandon weapons of mass destruction and enforce globally higher standards in order to restore genuine democracy, environmental protection, peace and co-operation around the world. Indeed, SP will consist of just the kind of measures a democratic world federal government would want to implement but SP achieves the same effect using existing national democratic structures and systems – simultaneously. And if it were felt that more permanent institutions of global governance were required, or even a world federal government, the measures needed to establish them could equally be part of the SP policy package.
This may all be very well, I hear you say. But how does SP actually make this happen?
Well, just now you will have heard me refer to citizens around the world "adopting" SP. So what does adoption actually mean? Essentially it means individual citizens pledge to vote in future elections for ANY politician or party – within reason - who also adopts SP. Increasing voter apathy around the world indicates that people recognise that party politics has become substantially obsolete as a means for solving global problems as I have outlined. Citizens will therefore be increasingly prepared to vote for ANY party that adopts SP. Indeed as one recent UK adopter of SP wrote to me:
"In the twenty years that I have been afforded a vote, I am unashamed to say I have never used it. My theory was that not to vote was the best way of securing my protest to all or any political parties and as the years have gone on my decision at 18 to adopt this tactic has been fuelled by what is happening in the world. As soon as I had digested your information I signed up [to Simultaneous Policy] without hesitation and now feel almost compelled to get involved...congratulations!"
So I hope you can see how SP will appeal to voters and apathetic non-voters alike. And more importantly, we should remember that in many countries and in many constituencies it takes only a relatively small number of people to influence the ‘swing’ or ‘floating vote’. The target, therefore, is to get that ‘critical number’ of people in each electoral constituency in each country to adopt SP. Because SP is to be implemented only when all, or virtually all, nations do likewise, no one – including politicians - has anything to lose by adopting it. And if enough of us do, politicians will be powerless to ignore us. Because when political parties and prospective Members of Parliament around the world realise that a critical proportion of the electorate is prepared to vote for any party or candidate, within reason, that adopts SP, they are going to find adoption rather difficult to resist. They, too, will have no option but to succumb by adopting SP themselves for fear of what might happen if they don’t. And as Ralph Nader is once reported to have said, "nothing concentrates a politician’s mind like a citizen’s threat to vote for another candidate". All this of course makes it not unlikely that more than one party, or even all mainstream parties, might adopt it because if they fail to do so, they consign themselves to almost certain electoral defeat.
SP could, if you like, be described as a "new political technology"; a powerful means by which citizens the world over can bring existing political parties into competition with one another to achieve the kind of global cooperation the world now so desperately needs. It’s the means by which we can, together, bring our respective nations to take the necessary first step towards the achievement of World Federalism or whatever form of global governance one might prefer. And what’s more, we don’t need to wait for the UN or for politicians or for global catastrophe to strike; we can get on with taking that step right now! With every new citizen who adopts SP, we are a step closer to reaching our common objective of a just, peaceful, democratic and co-operative world order. After all, we should remember that without co-operation, there can be no democracy; democracy is co-operation!
So I hope SP is something World Federalists will see as worthy of support, secure in the knowledge that it is a necessary first step to achieving your aims.
Adopting SP costs nothing and can be done on-line in the "How to Adopt SP" section of the SP website http://www.simpol.org
SP: Using your vote to bring win-win solutions to global problems
International Simultaneous Policy Organisation (ISPO)