As Digital technologies and digital communications are permeating every aspect of life we seem to be living in both a hopeful but also difficult times.
The instinctive tendency to categorise the world into “us”and “them” is becoming more and more difficult to overcome but traditional power structures are changing.
Current institutions and political systems are out of date.
People are taking matters into their own hands and are taking the initiative to organise public affairs themselves. On the one hand, this is because they are losing confidence in politics; and on the other hand, it is because some issues are simply not being dealt with by governments any more.
Thanks to the internet, artificial intelligence, google, facebook, twitter, globalisation, and or inability to plan for the long term future the relations between culture and power IS BREAKING DOWN world wide.
The new terrain of global governance by artificial intelligence is making up its own rules on the fly or going about its activities without even any regard for rules of procedure.
It is amply clear by now that the so-called digital divide cannot be bridged through technological means alone, as it must be understood within broader systems of entrenched social and economic exclusion.
It is then timely for a broader range of other social groups, particularly those most adversely affected by globalisation, to re-think how they believe global governance should work.
Our present global structure of patriarchy and capitalist greed with all its connectivity is still a long way off establishing a new world with justice and freedom at its core.
The Syrian Civil war precipitated by drought in the region. The Iraq, the Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan
Nuclear power plants require grid-tied electricity, cooling water and people getting paychecks. Without all these, they melt down, thus immersing all life on earth in ionizing radiation.
1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime.
That’s ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS.
We’re driving to extinction at least 150 species each day.
There’s more. Much more. The violence of poverty, racial violence, gender violence, violence caused by corruption, occupation and aggression, violence caused by environmental disasters, climate change and environmental plunder.
We seem to be living as if there is no future but the one we are creating.
There is nothing guaranteed but our willingness to live as pioneers of a new consciousness and way.
The past five or six years have seen an explosion of political initiatives around the globe in which tech-minded actors of various kinds (including geeks, hackers, bloggers, tech journalists, digital rights lawyers, and Pirate politicians) have played leading parts.
(Not forgetting capitalist greed in all its forms.)
There is a terrible irony in the assumption that we can transcend our parochial tendencies with artificial intelligence.
There is growing public awareness of the concentration of economic power in the world. The richest 85 people in the world, who could fit onto a single double-decker bus, have just as much wealth as the poorest half of world.
Absolute universalism, is impossible. Morality cannot be everywhere at once.
So culture and power is breaking down.
Perhaps it is time to have a data-based approach and ranking of universal values.
This will not work.
Because culture is a key arena for struggles and has provided dynamism and force to the most effective social movements; and one could argue is the most important area for work if we are to really embed and sustain transformative practices in our communities and states over the long-term.
We are fast approaching foregoing the unrealistic concern of respecting different cultures with their moral diversity at any cost because of the economic exploitation globally enforced by imperialist and capitalist states that place profit over people.
We must start thinking of what a post-venture capitalism age of socio-technical innovation might look like, and how it could contribute to democratic renewal in different cultural contexts.
Digital rights are not only human rights, as we often hear in net freedom circles: digital rights are social rights.
Politics, or rather political parties, seem to have an inherent tendency to close in on themselves – maybe in search of traditional forms of certainty, and linked to this predictability and with it a controlling, monopolistic conception of agency.
Its back to I am alright Jack.
The Election of Donald Trump, the English referendum on in or out European Union are shining examples.
Both driven by genuine and false concerns. Both altering millions of Europeans to the way Europe is run and to how the USA might be run.
Both models of politics have been based on nation-specific political parties. Both with consensus-centred policies that have reproduced the crisis now faces in 2017 in the United states which will push Europe into a path that will lead to disintegration with each needing to take a new look at the current rules of engagement in international affairs.
Europe can only work if we all work for unity and commonality, and forget the rivalry between competences and institutions. Europeans want common decisions followed by swift and efficient implementation.
At the moment it is viewed as a cartel:
The Eurozone may be supremely powerful as an entity but where no one is in control.
The whole Euro currency project disempower almost every player that has anything to do with democratic legitimacy. It created a monetary union that was designed to fail and which guaranteed untold hardship for the peoples of Europe. ( see previous post)
The nation-state is dead and democracy in the EU has been replaced by a toxic algorithmic depoliticisation that, if it is not confronted, will lead to depression, disintegration and possibly war.
While politics (the ability to decide which things ought to be done) is confined to the level of the nation-state, power (the ability to get things done) has shifted to a supra-national level.
The concept of sovereignty doesn’t change, but the ways it is applied to multi-ethnic and multi-jurisdictional areas like Europe has to be rethought.
There is no point in a slew of treaties, organisations and agencies that form the scaffolding of the emerging global governance structure regulating and superintending everything from nuclear weapons to the fishing of halibut, and all of them embody election less intergovernmentalism.
What European citizens need much more is that someone governs. That someone responds to the challenges of our time.
The Council is the heart of the problem.
The Council operates as a senate-like legislative chamber, yet there are no elections to this body. It is as if you were permitted to vote for your local MP, but there were never any general elections.
Unless institutional bodies can be censured or dismissed as a body by one common parliament, you don’t have sovereign democracy. So that should be the objective in Europe.
The sovereignty of parliaments has been dissolved by the Eurozone and the Eurogroup; the capacity to fulfil one’s mandate at the level of the nation-state has been eradicated and therefore any manifestos addressed to citizens of a particular member state become theoretical exercises.
If we want a Commission that responds to the needs of the real world, we should encourage Commissioners to seek the necessary rendez-vous with democracy.
But a vision alone will not suffice.
(Each is a famous European then whose reach extended much further than their time or their geography, and helped to shape the world we live in today.)
The European Union was never meant to be the beginning of a republic or a democracy where ‘we, the people of Europe’ rule the roost.
When democracy produces what the establishment likes to hear then democracy is not a threat, but when it produces anti-establishment forces and demands, that’s when democracy becomes a threat.
The left has for decades, perhaps hundreds of years, argued that one day, global democracy would be achieved, but until now this has always been something for the far-off future, an abstract dream.
In the era of globalisation, the steady removal of decision-making from democratic chambers by EU elites is serving as a blueprint for post-democratic governance around the world.
The question is how can we harness the discontent it is creating?
Gone is the elites view that elections cannot be allowed to change established economic policy. In other words, that democracy is fine as long as it does not threaten to change anything!
The network of post-democratic intergovernmental structures must be replaced with true global democracy.
If not achieved we will have disintegration and a bleak future.
The central question of the debate will be how to share power, build alliances and establish not only a genuine dialogue, but an equitable distribution of responsibilities between the State, market and ‘community’ at the local, national and European level.
Most of all, at a time when the world seem beset by multiple crises and the disturbing rise of reactionary forces, it seems apt to remember what Antonio Gramsci once wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new is yet to be born. And in the interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”
How ultimately can social movements assert their own power through cultural forms to reject the dangerous symptoms of morbidity and bring the new into being?
What role has the technology industry played in reinforcing power or confronting power?
How has the concentrated power in the ‘Silicon Valleys’ of the world used cultural exchange and shaped culture to further increase their power – and the power of other elites?
How can we build a culture that reinforces values of the commons, solidarity, and harmony with nature?
With what can we replace the legal, political and international processes that have facilitated this power grab. Rather than an ideology that has been designed to benefit certain interests.
Cultural hegemony has also sustained powerful structures from the military through to the banking sector. However, power only becomes hegemonic when it is reinforced continuously through cultural processes that make the exercise of power seem ‘natural’ and irreversible.
The idea you can have the Single Market without political union clashes with the political reality that the only way to have free trade these days is by having common legislation on patents, industry standards, competition rules etc.
Now is the time to begin discussing what global democracy would look like concretely and to start to build it. The network of post-democratic intergovernmental structures must be replaced with true global democracy.
We could start with the United Nations. It has more than 30 affiliated organizations — known as programs, funds, and specialized agencies — with their own membership, leadership, and budget processes. (see previous posts)
After World War II, the most powerful governments created the UN Security Council with special seats for themselves.
The option is to rebuild the UN system, giving economic, environmental, and social decision-making the same legal mandatory status as decision-making in the Security Council, so that multilateralism could govern globalisation;
The innovations, enhanced by the new information and communication technologies, of the new movements (culturally rooted in the 1960s’ break of the historic bond between knowledge and authority), has been an ability, creatively to deal with uncertainty, to let go of control without losing the possibility of collaborative agency on the basis of shared principles and a broadly agreed purpose.
It does not matter how wealthy, successful, or famous one has been on earth. All the money and prestige in the world will be useless on your departure.