*Sure to be lampooned
(While inspired by others, these are my thoughts. This is not some institutional stance, so don’t hold my idiocy against anyone else.)
1. It’s inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be finessed wisely. We should absolutely strive for equity and freedom, and we should be driven by universal ethics.
2. For this to work, do we need to revisit selflessness on the macro scale? Most Western powers have a history of manipulation for political and economic gain. How has that turned out? Pie-in-the-sky? Certainly. But colossal endeavors require all options on the table
3. It will bring wholesale changes to industry and ways of life. To quote the Borg, “Resistance is futile.” Isolationism is no longer a viable option. Isolation guarantees a people will be left behind, in any geopolitical circumstance. I don’t think it’s a “We are the Borg. You will be assimilated” situation. The process is organic, de-centralized, and conceived of and negotiated by people who are forever bound by successes and failures. And most will vigilantly defend their values. Does globalization require conceding those values? Sure, to a small degree. In any social dynamic, we compromise; I don’t think this will stretch us beyond our comforts. And to be sure, many values are not static. They are an intricate, dynamic complex, affected as much by experience as by the weather! But it does mean we need to acclimate. To carve out our own niches from which we can project who we are as individuals and how we fit in the collective (Ghasp! Isn’t that word communist?!).
4. Transparency must be vigorously pursued. I’m not naïve. We live in a world of secrets; from a purely pragmatic standpoint, they are necessary when nations and institutions look for leverage and advantages. They’re useful when we try to hedge our bets. But we also live in age that has grown weary and less accepting of them. And many young people stridently oppose them. To many, Wikileaks is a grand, noble endeavor. It’s a much needed antiseptic. Institutions devoid of trust engender their own cycles of failure. We’ve tried secrets and misdirection. How have they worked out? What would those who’ve been victimized say? Overtly, we in the U.S. preach the gospel of freedom. But do we really believe that, or are we toting a line while our freedoms are significantly limited, placated by the comforts so many secrets have secured for us in the dark? Don’t we have the capacity to (nearly) eliminate collateral damage? We see small NGO’s and other groups trying, and succeeding with a different approach. Perhaps, on a larger scale, it’s worth a shot.
5. For many reasons, globalization is a source of tremendous anxiety. It’s personally and internationally destabilizing. Some old paradigms must fall. What happens to culture? What happens to my personal agency and economic security? How will I need to change to keep up? What if I don’t want to change? Is there a place for me in this new reality? Are we sacrificing our autonomy to some international cabal, driven to accumulate global power and influence? Who’s in charge and was that power invested?
6. Out of principle, we must learn to embrace change. It’s one of the few certainties of the universe.
7. We must rethink the trappings of old nationalism. True greatness is distributed for the common good. We teach that to our children and our students. Chest beating and ego are both off-putting and obscure the reality that other nations are doing amazing things, that many nations cold lay claim to the greatest on earth.
8. We should think of this as the Wild West-Revisited, fraught with terrifying uncertainty and blinding promise. This is still relatively uncharted territory. Through innovation, creativity, political pressure, and optimism, we can develop the landscape.
9. We must acknowledge life’s vastness and complexities. I know--myopia is our friend! Like blinkers on a racehorse, it helps us focus and render experiences more manageable, but it also negates realities outside our view. Because of restricted exposure, we despise and denigrate as much as we love and celebrate. But we often forget that a blemish isn’t indicative of the quality of the whole. We usually don't see the whole.
10. Finally, we asked for this. And, even if we hadn’t, advances in technologies and the compulsion towards community, for which we are predisposed, make this trend an inevitability. Resisting this isn’t akin to stopping a runaway train; it’s akin to stopping the rotation of the earth. Fortunately for us, great minds have imagined what this future might look like. The conceptions range from profound to profoundly bizarre. At least we’re not forging ahead blindly.
A Post Script:
I think Gene Rodenberry was onto something. I don’t know if his vision was of a “great society” or a “great empire.” Parsing the differences may just be sophistry. I think The Federation’s Prime Directive is reasonable, but not steel. The “trolly problem” isn’t as easy as it may seem. But at least the Federation faces these and other issues head-on. His isn’t a world of factions retreating behind borders. Cosmopolitanism is messy; however, in true dialectical fashion, it brings the very real prospect of progress.
Check these out:
The West Wing: Season 5, Episode 19, “Talking Points”
“Creative Destruction,” Joseph Schumpeter (1942)
Would You Kill the Fat Man, David Edmonds
“The Philosophy of Star Trek”
Niko Tsivourakis, Global Initiatives Director.
This blog is the collective voice of every person involved in the Global Initiative. Just as the globe hosts billions of disparate voices, we hope this space will embody and embrace the same diversity.