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Remarkably Hopeful

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, March 1st, 2022 - 18 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, Donald Trump, International, Russia, United Nations, us politics - Tags:

We will probably never get over the feeling that somehow, if enough people just banded together, it would all get better again, like we did when the United Nations charter was struck.

According to some, the United States just needs to rededicate itself to leading the liberal order it helped found with the United Nations some 75 years ago.

Others argue that the world’s great powers should sit back once the dust has cleared and meet occasionally like a really strong G20 to guide the international community into a new age of multipolar cooperation. To settle things for multiple decades like the Antarctica Treaty, Kyoto and so on.

There will be a fair few who call for a grand bargain that divides the globe into stable spheres of influence, particularly now that the Russian invasion of Ukraine seems to be realigning how China operates proxy force. A new Yalta, or something.

What these and other visions of international order have in common is an assumption that global governance can be designed and imposed from above. We can let that idea go for a bit.

The Trump presidency showed so many assumptions of international cohesion were brittle and needed work to sustain, and when you stop work on them are easily broken. But they are also unlikely to return. Trump et al chose to lose for all of us the positive elements of globalisation.

That does not mean that international cooperation is impossible, because new major agreements continue to be forged. Nor does it signal some massive breakdown in international law, because around the world that largely continues. Nor does it mean that activism on a daring international scale doesn’t work. Nor that international trade law and trade agreements are getting weaker because international trade is still booming.

They might all get harder for a time, then easier, then  a lot harder – but they continue.

We are not in a perpetual entropic doom-loop.

We might find however that it is unlikely that a new version of the European Union is formed elsewhere. The world has gone through its high water mark of high order cohesion.

Maybe I’m in a minority but I view this moment with remarkable hope.

I strongly suspect, once the Ukraine War is stabilised into the Usual Mess, many will start to express just what it is about us we like, what we know we’ve done well, what we want to defend, what we want to rebuild, what we want more of.

We will have shorter patience with billionaires and tyrants.

We will all have favourite modes and systems and public goods to bring together like minds and like activisms to put up brick by structural brick.

We will renew.

We will dare once more to use the collective noun “we”.

We will likely never get over the feeling that it will all get better again if we can just unify like we used to. That is a profound impulse that humanity hasn’t had before. We should use it. Whatever has died, we will observe the grave of its absence and project good utopian impulse into that absence-of-light. It’s what humans do.

The moment emerging is the time for old people to speak loudest into the media and to the young, because it is old people who carry the historical memory of banding together to stop horrors repeating, remind of the deprivations of crisis, honour the dead, and re-align the living.

There is pent-up need to re-connect beyond the virtual, and across the world that pent-up energy is already being released.

The tone at ANZAC Day will shift, as it will Queen’s Birthday, as it will Matariki, as it will the end of COVID:

We will remember them, we will honour our good, we will re-align again, we will do better.

18 comments on “Remarkably Hopeful ”

  1. There will be a fair few who call for a grand bargain that divides the globe into stable spheres of influence . . .

    And the UK could be renamed 'Airstrip One.'

  2. roy cartland 2

    Is the HATE symbol supposed to be Hitler's hairdo or a frowning eye…? It didn't look that hateful until I started trying to read into it.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    Inasmuch as hope seems a fundamental part of human psychology, you're right.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope_Springs_Eternal

    It became a proverb due to causing influential resonance amongst 18th century philosophers:

    An Essay on Man is a poem published by Alexander Pope in 1733–1734. … It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God's purposes, he cannot complain about his position in the Great Chain of Being (ll.33-34) and must accept that "Whatever IS, is RIGHT" (l.292), a theme that was satirized by Voltaire in Candide (1759). More than any other work, it popularized optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe.

    On its publication, An Essay on Man received great admiration throughout Europe. Voltaire called it "the most beautiful, the most useful, the most sublime didactic poem ever written in any language". In 1756 Rousseau wrote to Voltaire admiring the poem and saying that it "softens my ills and brings me patience". Kant was fond of the poem and would recite long passages from it to his students.

    However as a psychological drive it will always run up against current sociopolitical context. Here's a sample of that:

    https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/content-series/atlantic-council-strategy-paper-series/the-top-twelve-risks-and-opportunities-for-2022/

    This think-tank view frames up 12 geopolitical risks for 2022 and rates them each with a likelihood grade of 1-5, then does the same appraisal for 12 opportunities.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    Shot of something in the breakfast smoothie Advantage? Surely there has to be some prompt for such an outbreak of subjective optimism in March 2022.

    Possible nuclear deployment in Ukraine, Myanmar generals grinding away at their own citizens, Israeli Defence Force still shooting children and teens, USA teetering on the brink of authoritarianism with voter suppression and Handmaids Tale attitude to women’s rights, West Papua terror tactics from Indonesia, Poland and Hungary and other Euro states pushing the neo fascist line, and the small matter of Climate Disaster…

    • Ad 4.1

      You can already imagine a world where the developed world basically said to Russia, "yeah you're right this is basically another Kazakhstan."

      The world is unifying against Russia already.

      • SPC 4.1.1

        There was the BRIC's response to unilateral western NATO regime change in Iraq and Libya (where they exceeded their no fly zone mandate by attacking Libyan government ground forces).

        Something for Beijing to ponder.

  5. Byd0nz 5

    Hope is a World united in keeping the planet habital for us all by ditching the Money Systems and all people giving whatever skills they have to caring for our collective environs. The needs of all the Worlds citizens can be met without the corruption of money if a collective World will built on common sense could be achieved. Some hope eh?, no!, so we are doomed to failure.

  6. SPC 6

    The UN did its job back in 2002/3 in denying the US a mandate to regime change in Iraq – they did it anyway and NATO supported them.

    Now it's team not NATO Russia doing the unilateral.

  7. Andrew Miller 7

    Whilst it’s easy to overstate things from the safety of a keyboard, I do think given the implications for the Ukrainian people being there for the world to see, it’s going to be much harder for those in the West to argue that we just need to treat tyrants as rational actors with ‘interests’ that we need to accomodate, so long as we can do business with them.

    It won’t stop people trying and there’s bound to be a lot of hypocrisy on the way, but even small positive are positives.

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    It says much about the wholesale abandonment of principle at the political level, since the imposition of neoliberalism, that a return of 70-year old norms represents a momentary occasion for hope. It is perhaps an echo of the similar hope with which kiwis greeted an interventionist (and of course effective) state model of Covid management.

    Yes, hope will return, as inevitably as moral and intellectual vacuums like post modern values must be displaced by something more substantial. But far from being predictive or prescient, the norms derived from the crude economic generalizations that have caused so much damage to the fabric of our society will stagger on like a splatter movie extra, until they are firmly and coherently put down. It will likely take decades, and there is no prospect of compensation for those impoverished by the interminable decades of corrupt and ineffectual self-serving economic nonsense.

    Hope? Only from the garden – our politics offer none.

  9. SPC 9

    Ukraine as not as well prepared as it could have been.

  10. SPC 10

    From 2014 to 2021 Germany spent 1% GDP on defence despite the commitment in 2014 to increase it to 2% by 2024.

    This will now change.

    Germany will also establish a gas reserve.

    • Blazer 10.1

      And the shareholders in Western armaments companies all…..cheered.

      Profits have been down since the Afghanistan debacle.

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