Presentation Notes - World Assembly of Youth
Malucca International Youth Dialogue Meeting June 25th - 27th 2001
Mr. John Bunzl, President of the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation, wishes to express his sincere thanks to Secretary General, Donald Charumbira, for the invitation to deliver a paper today on the Simultaneous Policy. Unfortunately Mr. Bunzl is unable to attend our meeting today so I shall deliver his paper now.
Thank you, first of all, for coming to this talk on the Simultaneous Policy. The Simultaneous Policy is an idea that simply came to me in a split second just over two years ago and which I have since struggled to present in a book of the same title which is due to be published later this year. During that time, the idea has attracted increasing attention from NGOs, economists, journalists, intellectuals and others. It has also become a fledgling global campaign already operating in five continents.
In the brief time we have available, I will try to summarise the idea as best I can but I must point out that such a brief talk cannot do proper justice to it. So I would urge you to visit our website or to contact us after the conference or, better still, to obtain a copy of my forthcoming book, The Simultaneous Policy - An Insider's Guide to Saving Humanity and the Planet.
The Simultaneous Policy (SP for short) is a range of measures to achieve economic justice both between peoples of North and South and between rich and poor within nations; to achieve the conditions for global economic and environmental sustainability, nuclear disarmament and the creation of a cooperative and far more peaceful world. So, as you can see, SP is a very modest programme!
Before telling you more about SP, I'd like to reduce to one word what I believe to represent the core of our world economic, environmental and social problems. That word is COMPETITION.
I will not attempt to justify that statement in any depth, save to say that the reason world problems only seem to worsen is not because we lack the resources, knowledge or will. It is because competition induces fear. Governments fear implementing any policy that might incur the displeasure of internationally mobile capital for fear of devaluation, inflation or capital flight. Even the G-7, the richest nations in the world, are powerless to impose significant controls on global capital flows for fear of the markets, jobs and investment moving to Zurich, Singapore or the Cayman Islands. Governments likewise fear imposing tighter employment regulations on industry for fear of capital and jobs moving to other competing countries. Businesses resist the implementation of environmentally responsible technology not because it cannot be done but because they fear increased costs and reduced competitiveness resulting in lower profits and job losses. Mergers and acquisitions and their attendant job losses occur, not so much out of greed but out of fear for the company to retain competitive advantage and relative safety for fear of itself becoming the target of a takeover. Developing countries too, must compete with one another to attract investment from foreign multinationals by submitting to 'structural adjustment' and allowing their raw materials to be plundered and indigenous peoples displaced for fear of investment going to other competing developing countries. In this atmosphere of fear and competition, the markets now dictate that politicians in all countries have only the narrowest of margins within which to enact policies that protect society and the environment, making voters increasingly aware that democracy is being subverted as globalisation gathers momentum. To sum it up therefore, today, the main barrier to solving world problems is competition.
Furthermore, competition is not just an unacceptable symptom of global free trade. It is also the equally unacceptable feature of protectionism: the competitive vicious circle of tit-for-tat national trade barriers so often cited by free-marketeers as the cause of previous world wars. Indeed, neither free-trade nor protectionism on their own can offer an answer to our problems. Nor can economic justice or environmental and employment security be fostered within a framework of unfettered competition. After all, competition is not about justice or security - it's about winning. With neither of these paradigms offering an answer, it should be of little surprise that, in the aftermath of the so-called 'victory' of Seattle in December 1999, NGOs are all frantically searching for a coherent alternative. Indeed, we can now see that the clash between street demonstrators and police in Seattle was the first major flash-point between the concepts of economically sustainable democratic cooperation, and socially and environmentally destructive globalised competition. Sadly, however, NGOs haven't responded to this significant change of mood by speaking with one voice.
As the inevitable symptom both of free trade and protectionism, however, it shouldn't be too difficult to deduce that destructive competition itself represents the underlying problem. Competition is, however, neither simply international nor industry-specific. In the age of globalisation, it's a truly global problem. And global problems require global - and simultaneous - solutions.
In a globally competitive context, we need to ask: How can we get from international competition to global co-operation? How can we build a genuine and co-operative community of nation states capable both of bringing competition back under control and of implementing measures to narrow the gap between rich and poor and to save the global environment? How can we build global unity and co-operation to tackle world problems whilst at the same time maintaining national diversity?
The Simultaneous Policy is a direct answer to those questions. In a globalised world where capital and transnational corporations operate beyond the influence of national governance and where no system of global governance is readily available, the only appropriate basis for international co-operation which avoids the risk of capital flight, job losses and the kind of destructive competition I have described, is for a range of appropriate measures to be implemented by all (or virtually all) countries simultaneously. That is what I have called the Simultaneous Policy: SP.
The measures of SP remain to be democratically defined but they would, amongst other things, tax all major corporations and global currency speculation, cancel Third World debt and abolish weapons of mass destruction. The re-regulation of financial markets and corporations would restore genuine democracy to nation states and the proceeds of the taxation would fund development of the poorest countries on a debt-free basis. Environmental protection measures would also be built-in. SP would thus restore a far greater measure of economic autonomy to nation states whilst binding them within a cooperative framework based on consensus. It would therefore allow industrialised countries to manage the necessary transformation to sustainable economies in a fair and orderly manner. By the same token, Third World and developing countries would be supported debt-free and be free to develop their own economies instead of being tied to dependency through debt and 'structural adjustment'. In short, SP would provide international unity where it is required to eliminate destructive competition whilst also restoring greater national autonomy in all other areas - SP could therefore be said to represent the synthesis of both global unity and national diversity.
But please remember that these measures would be implemented by all countries simultaneously. SP therefore represents a low-risk way forward because it removes the key fear of business, governments and people alike: the possibility that some major corporations or some countries could gain unfair competitive advantage by escaping implementation thus causing a loss of competitiveness, profitability, jobs and votes for all others. In short, by eliminating destructive competition at this level, we also eliminate its adverse consequences. We also eliminate fear and distrust - this is the essence of SP.
If you are still listening carefully by this stage, you are doubtless wondering if I am completely nuts. Nevertheless, I ask you to stick with it and to give the idea a chance. So let us ask: "Ok, so how can we possibly succeed in getting SP adopted by all nations of the world?" The answer is that SP has some rather interesting advantages on its side:
Firstly, since implementation is to be simultaneous amongst
all nations, it can only occur once adoption by all nations has
been achieved. It is therefore clear that a gradual process of
adoption or 'adoption campaign' must take place first: person
by person, party by party and nation by nation. Adoption could
therefore be described as an open 'declaration of intent' to
implement its measures when all other nations do likewise. Who
ever adopts SP risks little or nothing because implementation
can only occur when all nations do likewise.
Secondly, any individual, any business, any NGO, any political
party or any government may adopt SP provided it is adopted in
full. It can also be adopted by a church, school or any other
group or organisation.
Thirdly, since global simultaneous implementation refers to
a point in time in the future at which all nations implement
the same measures, this creates what could be described as a
'future context' of co-operation amongst nations - the new era
of international global community. This 'future context' is clearly
entirely different to the 'current context', as we have it today,
which is one of competition amongst nations. Arising from this,
policies that are unworkable and consequently undesirable in
the current competitive context - like re-regulating capital
markets, for example - can, in a future context in which all
cooperate, become entirely workable and desirable.
Fourthly, nations can still actively compete with one another
whilst, at the same time, advocating cooperation in the form
of their adoption of SP; these two policies can continue in parallel
for as long as is necessary until all nations agree. However,
the open adoption of SP by individuals, organisations, businesses,
political parties and governments also crucially serves as a
challenge to others who have not yet adopted. As the numbers
adopting increase, so will the moral force of the challenge.
And finally, whatever the current politics of a person, organisation
or political party, if they consider the measures of SP as desirable
in a future context in which all cooperate, that is sufficient
for their adoption. Because it relates only to the future context
of cooperation, SP becomes a non-party political issue in the
current context of competition. This allows it to be adopted
by any person, organisation or party of any political leaning.
Instead of dividing people along party-political or other lines,
SP therefore unites them behind a policy for which there is already
widespread support; support which, until the advent of SP, had
no means of effective, political expression.
So many other initiatives, appeals and charters calling for global change such as the Hague Appeal for Peace or Charter 99 represent merely petitions or 'shopping lists' of what they want to achieve - they express the 'what' but ignore the all-important 'how'. That is where SP is different: it also provides the 'how'. This crucially renders it capable of official adoption by political parties and governments.
All these are good reasons why SP will succeed. But, perhaps the most compelling reason of all is what I call "pseudo-democracy". Today, as I indicated earlier, all political parties once in power, have no choice but to pursue only those policies that will not displease world markets. So whichever party we elect, and whatever they may say in their manifestos, the policies delivered inevitably substantially conform to those demands thus supplanting democracy with pseudo-democracy: an illusion of democracy in which it no longer really matters for which party we vote. As more and more people realise their votes currently make little or no difference, they will increasingly be prepared to vote for ANY party that adopts SP seeing it as the only way to restore genuine democracy, economic and environmental security and peace around the world.
As each person, organisation or political party adopts SP, they recognise the futility and damage done by continued unfettered competition; they recognise the flaws of our capitalist system and are prepared to be seen to both admit them and stand ready to address them. In adopting SP, they openly demonstrate their non-violent resistance to the current world economic order; a resistance which, as numbers grow, will become a very real and potent force.
Remembering that in most countries it takes only a relatively small number of people to influence the 'swing' or 'floating vote', the target is to get that 'critical mass' of people in each country to adopt SP. (And as we have seen in the recent U.S. Presidential Election, that number can be extremely small indeed!) For if enough of us do, politicians will be powerless to ignore us. Indeed, when political parties realise that a critical proportion of the electorate is prepared to vote for any party that adopts SP, they are going to find adoption rather difficult to resist. They, too, will have no option but to succumb by adopting SP. This makes it not unlikely that more than one party, or even all mainstream parties, might adopt it for fear of what might happen if they don't.
That is all I can say about SP in such a short time. I hope this talk and the positive reaction my book has received might encourage you to read it and to adopt SP. After all, adopting SP in no way replaces or negates the existing and very necessary activities of other NGOs. On the contrary, adopting SP is entirely complementary to them. But what, exactly, does 'adopting SP' actually mean?
When you adopt SP, you are signaling to politicians of all parties your readiness to vote for ANY political party that adopts SP. Nevertheless, if, in spite of pseudo-democracy, you still have a party political preference, you are signaling instead your desire for the party of your choice to adopt it. At the same time, you are also securing your personal right to participate democratically in the formulation of SP's measures. For it is not I, or for the International Simultaneous Policy Organisation to decide what the measures of SP should be. Instead it is for all those who adopt SP to do so in an open, dynamic and democratic fashion. SP is therefore 'world democracy' in the making; a means for all humanity to make the vital transition from competition to cooperation.
With world problems worsening as we speak, and no other evident solutions apparently to hand, I would urge you to adopt SP or, at least, to give it a closer look. Adopting costs nothing and you can do so directly on our website. Pre-publication copies of my forthcoming book on SP can also be ordered on-line at the same time. The world-renowned American intellectual, Noam Chomsky, said of SP: "It's ambitious and provocative. Can it work? - Certainly worth a serious try." So I hope you'll give it a try, and join the SP campaign.
Thank you for your patience and attention. If anyone is interested in the Simultaneous Policy, then please contact me later and I will be happy to give you details.
John Bunzl - June 2001.
John Bunzl - Director
Website: www.simpol.org E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: +44 (0)208 460 2035
"The Simultaneous Policy
Pre-publication copies available now from ISPO at the address
above. Please ask for details.
New European Publications, 14-16 Carroun Road, London SW8
To be distributed by:
ISBN 0-1872410-15-4 Paperback Price: £12.95
"It is a good idea. What we need is politicians who will
give this issue a high priority." Polly Toynbee
"Your idea for a simultaneous policy is excellent.
Lets hope that people start to listen to this important message."
"It's ambitious and provocative. Can it work? Certainly
worth a serious try."
the basic concept is excellent.
know what develops!"
"The Simultaneous Policy is a creative proposal to accelerate
progress toward a sustainable global economy. Many movements
and grassroots globalists working for these goals can coalesce
around such innovative initiatives"
compelling and provocative. The structure and
progression of the [book] fit your argument perfectly."
I believe [the Simultaneous Policy] offers a prophetic
and practical approach to the global politico-economic problems
of our generation.
Certainly it is one which would appeal
You be the Judge!