[WSMDiscuss] UN Chief Says There's a Bigger Threat than Coronavirus

Fayyaz Baqir fbaqir at uottawa.ca
Thu Apr 23 16:45:34 CEST 2020

I have great respect for UN Chief's bold step and very inspiring and enlightening comments by the various participants on these lists. But I am still not sure who can bell the Cat of Capitalism. UN Chief and many other discussants and participants on the WSM list and TNI webinars have one thing in common in commenting on different dimensions of the crisis of globalization- Anti-Capitalism. But this does not take us too far. There is nothing said on what to change in Capitalism. Perhaps not to disturb ‘Consensus’ among fellow travelers. It does not matter how fiery and philosophical the expression of grievances against the unjust Capitalist order is. In effect, it means staying within the boundaries drawn by the Capitalist system and accepting Capitalism as the best system humans have created so far. Perhaps this kind of resistance suits the system very much and legitimizes it as well. Different identity groups might have different conflicts with the Capitalist system, but we need to find out how Capitalism effectively discriminates against different identity groups. We know that ending discrimination provides a common ground to all the resistance groups. So, we need to ask what impulses and mechanisms serve the task of perpetuating discrimination. Capitalism has popular appeal due to faith in the dream of personal freedom, and the existence of two mechanisms that promise freedom, fairness, equity, and an end to discrimination. These mechanisms are ‘Free Market’ and ‘Freedom of Expression”- Free Media and Elected Government being the main vehicle for the realization of this freedom. They are supposed to provide equity, justice, and rational decision making because they offer decisions based on one person one vote in politics and one dollar one vote in the economy. If the market and democracy go wrong, the ideologues claim, then the system has an inbuilt mechanism for self-correction, and humanity has nothing better to offer to replace the system as yet.

Socialist experiment in the Soviet Block, China, and other socialist countries tried to bring an end to the forms of exploitation and discrimination created by the Capitalist system with the power of ‘Proletarian State’ but failed in finding a solution that could reconcile the conflict between the social, group and individual interests. Socialist thought in the guise of Marxism shared three fundamental flaws of Capitalist thought, the reductionist concept of science, materialist view of progress, and linear historical view of different stages of human progress. It is therefore understandable that the participants in these discussions borrow from the Marxist critique of Capitalism but shy away from proposing a search for the solution based on Marxist vision. So, the question arises about what our options in search of a solution are. Because if we complain against Capitalism and ask for nothing more than tinkering with the system in view of specific demands then we are asking for reforms in the system. Global solidarity can only make sense in this case if there is an agreement on the reforms needed in the Capitalist system to end discrimination and embrace inclusion. Endlessly criticizing Capitalism does not seem to serve any purpose other than upholding anti-capitalist rhetoric while at the same time perpetuating capitalist order.

One option to move forward is to speak of a pluralist social discourse that accepts the room for the State, the Market, and the Commons in economic and social sphere. This pluralist view may provide the option for balancing individual, community, and system’s interests. Accepting this option would mean proposing ways for drawing boundaries between the community, market and state economies, defining the rules for each of these economies; re-appropriation of Commons, reducing arms production, re-establishing our organic relationship with nature, revisiting the concept of human development; and personal profit and consumption motives as the guiding principles for decision making; shorter workweek, shared work, universal basic income and healthcare, and decolonizing and demilitarizing the world economy. Consensus based discourse cannot foster such a dialogue, and it is a recipe for halting at the thought boundaries of Capitalism. Consensus has been used for the limited purpose of conflict resolution in tribal societies. It has limited value in dealing with other societal challenges. Engagement, disagreements, and negotiations can provide the way forward. Perhaps we need to move away from the unilateral legacies of Capitalist and Marxist discourses to a pluralist social discourse, but that would imply taking the position away from political correctness in hindsight to sharing the dreams of the unknown. We might need to move away from the lexicon of freedom, development, and profit to personal fulfillment, nurturing the commons and pluralist forms of democracy. It means taking the risk, becoming controversial, and defining the boundaries of the?discourse of consensus.

Do we need to move away from a world of singularities; singularity of truth in science, singularity of equilibrium in the market, and to singularity of representation in democracy to a pluralist discourse; signifying a pluralist world based on cosmopolitan ethics, diversified market, and a pluralist Commons.

From: WSM-Discuss <wsm-discuss-bounces at lists.openspaceforum.net> on behalf of Jai Sen <jai.sen at cacim.net>
Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2020 9:15 AM
To: Post WSMDiscuss <wsm-discuss at lists.openspaceforum.net>; Post Crisis of Civilisation and Alternative Paradigms <crisis-de-civilizacion-y-paradigmas-alternativos at googlegroups.com>; Post Social Movements Riseup <social-movements at lists.riseup.net>; Post CJN! <cjn at lists.riseup.net>; Post India Climate Justice <indiaclimatejustice at googlegroups.com>; Post RED <radical_ecological_democracy at googlegroups.com>; Post Debate <Debate-list at fahamu.org>
Subject: [WSMDiscuss] UN Chief Says There's a Bigger Threat than Coronavirus

Attention : courriel externe | external email

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Climate in movement…, Viruses in movement…, The world in movement…

With many health systems and medical supply chains at breaking point, Guterres will say that while “the impact of the coronavirus is both immediate and dreadful,” there’s an “even deeper emergency — the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis.”

Guterres will argue that "climate disruption is approaching a point of no return,” adding that “greenhouse gases, just like viruses, do not respect national boundaries.”

UN Chief Says There's a Bigger Threat than Coronavirus

In Earth Day speech, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres challenges President Donald Trump on fossil fuel subsidies and climate change

Ryan Heath, Portside


NEW YORK — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will use a video speech<http://webtv.un.org/watch/ant%C3%B3nio-guterres-un-secretary-general-on-international-mother-earth-day-22-april-2020/6150881059001/> marking the 50th Earth Day on Wednesday to confront President Donald Trump and directly link coronavirus with climate change.

The stark language of Guterres’ prepared remarks, obtained by POLITICO, marks a new willingness by the U.N. chief to challenge the Trump administration, which recently halted funding to the World Health Organization<https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/14/trump-world-health-organization-funding-186786>, the U.N. health agency, and formally withdrew from the U.N.'s landmark 2015 Paris climate change agreement last year.

Guterres will push for an end to fossil fuel subsidies at a time when both oil companies and households are struggling to pay their bills. Trump committed Tuesday to bailing out the U.S. oil industry<https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/21/trump-pledges-financial-aid-to-oil-industry-198112> after crude oil futures prices dipped into negative territory for the first time in history.

The U.S. is the world’s second-biggest fossil fuel subsidizer<https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2019/05/02/Global-Fossil-Fuel-Subsidies-Remain-Large-An-Update-Based-on-Country-Level-Estimates-46509>, according to a 2019 International Monetary Fund report. Guterres is expected to say: “Fossil fuel subsidies must end, and polluters must start paying for their pollution.”

With many health systems and medical supply chains at breaking point, Guterres will say that while “the impact of the coronavirus is both immediate and dreadful,” there’s an “even deeper emergency — the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis.”

Guterres will argue that "climate disruption is approaching a point of no return,” adding that “greenhouse gases, just like viruses, do not respect national boundaries.”

Guterres will also propose that “where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it needs to be tied to achieving green jobs and sustainable growth,” mirroring the demands of many Democratic lawmakers. "Public funds should be used to invest in the future, not the past, and flow to sustainable sectors and projects," Guterres is expected to say.

For much of his tenure, Guterres has tended to tiptoe around the Trump administration, in an effort to protect U.S. funding that the U.N. desperately needs to maintain its field operations, and because he fears the world splitting in two, around Chinese and American poles.

In 2019 Guterres stepped up his rhetoric on the threats to the climate, directly calling for an end to new coal projects and for a global carbon pricing system<https://www.e3g.org/library/overcoming-inertia-guterres-has-kickstarted-great-global-coal-transition>.

Ryan Heath is a Politico senior editor and the author of Global Translations, POLITICO’s global newsletter and podcast, and previously authored POLITICO’s U.N. Playbook, Brussels Playbook, and Davos Playbook.


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net<mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>

Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900)

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press<http://www.pmpress.org/>

Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN<https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart<https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront<http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>

Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press<http://www.pmpress.org/>

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