Towards the Good Global Society

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Excerpted from:

Essay: The Commons and World Governance. TOWARD A GLOBAL SOCIAL CONTRACT. Arnaud Blin and Gustavo Marín. Forum for a New World Governance. April 2012 (draft version)



Arnaud Blin and Gustavo Marín:

“Today, the essential question of political philosophy is not just concerned with how to create a “good society” but how to create a good global society, one that is not only fair and secure but also sustainable. In philosophical and practical terms, this (giant) leap for mankind is not just a qualitative or quantitative leap. It poses problems of an altogether new order that are compounded by the fact that one cannot erase the old order and rebuild a new one from a tabula rasa.

Thus, there are two issues. The first is philosophical. The second is practical or, in essence, political. The first concerns our vision of what the “good global society” might look like. The second deals with the process through which, with all the constraints of reality, one moves from this vision toward its practical application. In other words, how one transforms political ideas into political action and institutions. Perhaps is it necessary here to point out that we have focused essentially on politics rather than economics. This is because the nature economics—or more precisely, of political economy—are essentially determined by political organization and policies rather than the reverse. In this light, the concept of the commons and commoning offers insights to both issues: first by pointing out a universal “good” important to all of us (the commons), which upholds certain values such as justice and equity and is vital to uphold our collective freedom; second, by providing a tangible element around which new forms of governance can be developed independently of those that already exist.

This brings us to several essential questions: Why is global society failing? What is something “better”? How does one get there and can we identify a path to lead us there?

We have already started to touch upon the first question. In a nutshell though, the main issue is twofold. It concerns justice and it concerns sustainability. Justice, because while one portion of humankind is prospering, another, greater one, is left to the margins. While this is nothing new in history, it has now become increasingly intolerable both because the sheer magnitude of injustices is staggering, and because the liberty and equality that are part of our collective ethos are simply not being upheld, to the contrary, by the very model supposed to do so. Modern means of communication and information only give us an even better grasp of this sense of intolerable injustice. Sustainability, although not a new phenomenon by any measure, has also emerged as a central issue of the age through the magnitude of the problems created in this matter. There is no need here to dwell on a well-known issue that all of us grapple with in more or less detail on a daily basis, only to underline the fact that for the first time in history humankind has come face-to-face with not only its finality as a species but with the horrific prospect of being unable to stop the destruction of the environment and its capacity to sustain future generations. “