Part 1: In which era are we living?

The formation of a global society

Globe and hand.
PHOTO: Pixabay.
Written by Editors

All human organisations that have existed so far – whether herds, tribes, or states – have been hostile to other respective organisations. The same is true even today – countries regard each other as potential enemies; that is why they have armies.

Global society does not have any external enemies, and it is not directed against any other human society or state. That is why global society is not a state at all in the traditional sense of the word. This is the most important vision to remember when discussing the future global society.

It will take many generations to form a global society. However, it is already possible to sketch its general features, even though it is impossible to say anything definitive about the details yet.

The following short presentation on the basic elements of global society is based, on the one hand, on a philosophical summary of the experiences of history and, on the other hand, on those future-related features that are already visible today.

 

Global society does not have any external enemies, and it is not directed against any other human society or state. That is why global society is not a state at all in the traditional sense of the word.

Recommended Quotes

A human being is and will always be a political animal. The human being will never become as good as to create a society without money, laws, law enforcement, etc. It was a communist utopia that has proven to be flawed.

The basics elements of global society

Global society has its roots deep in the democratic rule of law and in the development of international law.

The basic elements of global society are:

(1) Central authority is made up of international institutions, such as the United Nations with its sub-organisations, international criminal courts, and economic organisations. Eventually, these institutions will become democratic. The process is slow and complicated but inevitable.

(2) Econopolitical interest groups consist of independent nation-states within which political parties and other interest groups struggle over the distribution of income and power. In a constitutional state, this fight is regulated by laws.

(3) At the civic level, the most important new feature is the emergence of an ethical civil society. Networks of ethical citizens are the key element in the global society, the driving force of its development.

Central authority

The central authority is not a political body. It functions as an impartial public servant and mediates conflicts between states and international econopolitical interest groups.

States

Essence of state

All types of states in history, regardless of their social system, have the following three characteristics:

(1) States pursue their interests (as their leaders see them), against other state, if necessary. That is their raison d’être, the justification and reason for their existence. They do not seek and cannot seek to defend the overall interests of humanity. If they do, they do it only sporadically, at best.

Ultimately, states exist to wage war, either a war of conquest or a (just) defensive war.

United Nations Headquarters.
Flags of member nations flying at United Nations Headquarters. UN Photo/Joao Araujo Pinto. Flickr

(2) Political parties within states promote the goals of their interest groups. That is their raison d’être. From the perspective of humankind’s overall interest, disputes between political parties are generally irrational, even when they pursue their own interests rationally.

Political authorities, however, have a tendency, characteristic of human nature, to obtain special rights and form elite groups which, given the occasion, turn against the rest of society and also against their own interest groups. Hiding facts and evading, even breaking, the law is part of the state leadership’s nature, even in democratic states governed by the rule of law.

(3) The state mediates conflicts between interest groups. With the help of its institutions, especially its monopoly on violence, a state can dominate oppressed groups but also maintain peace and harmony in society.

A change is taking place in the nature of states

The fate of humankind is in the hands of governments and the political parties that lead them This is a fact, despite the emergence of a global society. On the other hand, globalisation is changing the nature of states.

(1) In the era of the IT revolution, traditional imperialism has changed into financial imperialism. The age of conquest wars launched by the great powers in violation of international law is coming to an end or has already ended. This is a historic step forward.

Financial imperialism means, first of all, politics with which great powers promote the interests of the speculative financial capital of their own country.  However, a new phenomenon is that speculative financial capital has become a global operator, independent of all states, exploiting national property and tax revenues in all states, even in traditional imperialistic countries.

Although financial imperialism often operates above the law or against it, it does need legal protection to function and realise its profits.

(2) Economic globalisation coerces nations to respect the international agreements they have made, and restrains them from military attacks.

States pursue their interests – as their leaders see those interests – if necessary, against other states. That is their raison d’être, the justification and reason for their existence.

(3) Stronger international law forces nations to abide by it and limit their cooperation with countries that go against it. An important example of this is that violations of human rights are no longer considered solely internal affairs of states.

(4) International law can only be based on the sovereignty of states. As international law grows stronger, the sovereignty of states also becomes more secure.

(5) The threat of humanity’s self-destruction forces states to think more globally in their decision-making.

(6) Thanks to the Internet and social media, citizens have more influence, both nationally and internationally. An enlightened public opinion can push states into making decisions that are necessary for the survival of humankind.

The history of the last hundred years shows that democratic countries are capable of renewing themselves. The specific features of this era, as described above, also imply that democratic states governed by the rule of law are losing their imperialistic nature. This is the most profound political change taking place in today’s world.

However, it does not mean that there will be no more wars. It does, however, mean that future wars will be more local, and the long-reaching vision of a world without wars has become a realistic possibility.

Ethical civil society

The most important new feature in world history is the birth of ethical civil society. 

In the development of humankind, the past becomes the present. This is why humans have history. It is also the most essential feature in human history. As we move on from one phase, one mode of action, and from one form of social organisation to another, the old mode of action does not disappear but manifests itself in some way in the new one.

Based on this assumption, we believe that the mission of ethical civic society – while defending and developing the rule of law – is to build, inside the existing society, new kind of ideological, political and economic foundations which can serve as building blocks for a new kind of societal system.

Ethical civil society can emerge only in the present time, in an era of human unification.

Global problems are common to all. The debate must be open to all legal currents of opinions.

One of the most important social impacts of the IT revolution is that people are given new ways to have a global influence on both personal issues and issues that concern “the whole world”. In addition to governments and parties, networks of communication created by ethical citizens are operating at global, national, and local levels.

With the term “ethical” we mean a sense of justice that is an end in itself. At the societal level, it means defending the human rights of all the citizens in the world and placing the interests of humankind as a whole before the interests of any interest group.

Different networks of ethical citizens form a counterbalance to traditional political activity. They create a sophisticated public opinion that forces political parties to change their views and will, little by little, change the nature of the state.

World Social Forum in Tunisia, 2015. PHOTO: Montserrat Boix, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Traditional civic organisations are usually created around a specific cause, even if they have several goals. In this respect, also, civic organisations are interest groups. They do not represent ethical civil society in the sense we define the term.

At the beginning of the 21st century, as the internet grew, many groups advocating change tried to create a “network of networks” or a “forum of forums”. These attempts have inspired millions of people worldwide, but none of them has really succeeded in the original goal.

Here is a summary of our critique of these attempts:

(1) History does not begin with us. The starting point for the discussion must not only be the experiences of the past era, but also the whole human path and our common knowledge of the differences between humans and animals.

(2) Global problems are common to all. The debate must be open to all legal currents of opinions.

(3) Global ethical civil society can be built on debate only. Actions with no ethical or intellectual foundation will lead us astray and, at worst, create new grievances.

In Part II: What is to be done? we present practical suggestions on how an ethical civil society could be organised.

OUR VIEW: Humanity first! Towards an ethical civilization.

PART 1. IN WHICH ERA ARE WE LIVING?

Facebook Comments

A comment posted as a Facebook comment will be published both on this page and – if you so wish –  on your Facebook page. The ”Leave a Comment” option will publish it only on this page. Your email address will not be visible.

A comment posted as a Facebook comment will be published both on this page and – if you so wish –  on your Facebook page. The ”Leave a Comment” option will publish it only on this page. Your email address will not be visible.

Leave a Comment