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Denmark has appointed an ambassador to Silicon Valley [a call for GOOD]

3 Sep

Silicon Valley, of course, is not a sovereign country. It is a loose collection of powerful tech companies in Northern California.

Adam Satariano, The World’s First Ambassador to the Tech Industry, NYTimes, September 3, 2019:

Casper Klynge, a career diplomat from Denmark, has worked in some of the world’s most turbulent places. He once spent 18 months embroiled in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. For two years, he led a crisis management mission in Kosovo.

Yet Mr. Klynge, 46, says his toughest foreign posting may be the one he has now: as the world’s first foreign ambassador to the technology industry.

In 2017, Denmark became the first nation to formally create a diplomatic post to represent its interests before companies such as Facebook and Google. After Denmark determined that tech behemoths now have as much power as many governments — if not more — Mr. Klynge was sent to Silicon Valley.

“What has the biggest impact on daily society? A country in southern Europe, or in Southeast Asia, or Latin America, or would it be the big technology platforms?” Mr. Klynge said in an interview last month at a cafe in central Copenhagen during an annual meeting of Denmark’s diplomatic corps. “Our values, our institutions, democracy, human rights, in my view, are being challenged right now because of the emergence of new technologies.”

He added, “These companies have moved from being companies with commercial interests to actually becoming de facto foreign policy actors.”

Note that after two years on the job he has”never met with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Sundar Pichai of Google or Timothy D. Cook of Apple.” A bit further on: “Denmark is emblematic of the many small countries that are grappling with technology’s effects on their societies and are frustrated by an inability to meet with, let alone influence, the companies causing that disruption.”

This sounds like a job for Charlie Keil’s GOOD (Global Organization of Democracies), which is tilted toward the world’s smaller democracies.

See also, this post,  Tech Firms Are Not Sovereigns, Sept. 27, 2018. See as well this passage from The New World Order of Virtual Feudalism (scan down the page a bit), an article which I had originally ghosted for Abbe Mowshowitz:

A major consequence of multinational organization is that corporate interests no-longer coincide with the interests of a particular nation-state. The alignment invoked in the infamous assertion from the 1950s that “what’s good for General Motors is good for the nation” no longer obtains. General Motors’ good needs to be counted up in many nations and, for example, what’s good for a General Motors plant in Mexico may not be good for a General Motors workers living in the United States, who may in fact lose their jobs to that Mexican plant.

In the world of virtual feudalism more and more economic activity falls outside the jurisdiction of nation states.  […] The boundary between public and private organizations and institutions is dissolving. We are moving into a world of institutions of various sizes having overlapping and even conflicting jurisdictions and mandates, a world reminiscent of the feudal world where individuals negotiated their way through duties and powers emanating from a diffuse network of duchies, kingdoms, churches, guilds, towns, manors, and empires.

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Is America too large? (Heck Yeah!)

13 Aug
Eli Dourado Wonders: Maybe America is Simply too Big (2016):

But I want to focus on something else. I can’t shake the idea that we’re way out of equilibrium in terms of optimal country size. If this idea is correct, then at least some of our problems could be the result of a mismatch between reality and the unexamined assumption that we all have to be in this together.

He goes on to summarize a classic paper on optimal country size, concluding:

…if economic integration prevails regardless of political integration—say, tariffs are low and shipping is cheap—then political integration doesn’t buy you much. Many of the other public goods that governments provide—law and order, social insurance, etc.—don’t really benefit from large populations beyond a certain point. If you scale from a million people to 100 million people, you aren’t really better off.

As a result, if economic integration prevails, the optimal country size is small, maybe even a city-state.

The number of independent nations in the world has been roughly tripled over the last century. As for the United States:

In his book American Nations, Colin Woodard argues that North America is actually composed of 11 distinct cultures, each dominant in different parts of the continent. Many of our internal political divisions—over gun control, the death penalty, abortion, the welfare state, immigration, and more—may actually reflect these cultural differences.

Therefore:

Given what we know about optimal country size, a monolithic America makes less sense today than it did a century ago. What made America into the superpower that it is today is its massive internal free trade area. Now that trade barriers have declined worldwide, this is less of an advantage than ever before. It’s not at all clear that this diminishing advantage outweighs the cost of our divisive politics based on unshared cultural assumptions.

All of which argues for a look at a pamphlet I edited, with some help from Charlie Keil, Thomas Naylor’s Paths to Peace: Small Is Necessary (Local Paths to Peace Today))

The city-state redux

16 Sep

Jamie Bartlett, in Aeon:

Until the mid-19th century, most of the world was a sprawl of empires, unclaimed land, city-states and principalities, which travellers crossed without checks or passports. As industrialisation made societies more complex, large centralised bureaucracies grew up to manage them. Those governments best able to unify their regions, store records, and coordinate action (especially war) grew more powerful vis-à-vis their neighbours. Revolutions – especially in the United States (1776) and France (1789) – helped to create the idea of a commonly defined ‘national interest’, while improved communications unified language, culture and identity. Imperialistic expansion spread the nation-state model worldwide, and by the middle of the 20th century it was the only game in town. There are now 193 nation-states ruling the world.

But the nation-state with its borders, centralised governments, common people and sovereign authority is increasingly out of step with the world.

Maybe Trump was right”

On 17 September 2016, the then presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted: ‘A nation without borders is not a nation at all. We WILL Make America Safe Again!’ The outcry obscured the fact that Trump was right (in the first half, anyway). Borders determine who’s in and who’s out, who’s a citizen and who’s not, who puts in and who takes from the common pot. If a nation cannot defend its border, it ceases to exist in any meaningful way, both as a going concern and as the agreed-upon myth that it is.

Trump’s tweet was set against the German chancellor Angela Merkel’s offer, one year earlier, of asylum for Syrians. The subsequent movement of people across Europe – EU member states received 1.2 million first-time asylum applications in 2015 – sparked a political and humanitarian crisis, the ramifications of which are still unfolding. It certainly contributed to the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU. But 1.2 million people is a trickle compared to what’s coming. Exact numbers are hard to come by, and notoriously broad, but according to some estimates as many as 200 million people could be climate-change refugees by the middle of the century.

Tough, of course, The Donald doesn’t believe in climate change. Continue reading

GOOD: Global Organization of Democracies

5 Apr

Here’s a triple, a trifecta, a trinity, from Charlie Keil. It’s about a Global Organization of Democracies (GOOD). Let him explain it.

An Open Letter to Citizens of the World

Dear Citizen:

I think we need a common GOOD, a Global Organization Of Democracies, one nation one vote, (so that a confederation of indigenous peoples up the Amazon can have the same voting power as the USA, Okinawa the same vote power as Japan, etc.) [big so-called democracies may not want to be members at first], to be meeting year round to suggest ways of: stopping “ethnic cleansing” and “administrative massacres,” terrorism, and wars; sharing air, water and resources fairly; raising global carbon taxes for local carbon sequestration (planting trees, fostering permacultures) going strong everywhere; planning and fostering a global literacy campaign focused on young women, etc., etc.

For every real problem you can think of, the world needs to hear these discussions, suggestions, planning sessions year round so that hopes can realistically be raised about stopping climate destruction, reducing global storming, etc. Can you give these “self-determination of peoples” and “conserving the speciation” ideas 8 minutes a day? 12 minutes a day on Saturday and Sunday?

Peace is the Way! (to ecological balance)

Charlie Keil

For the common GOOD

To stop the ecocatastrophe and build world peace processes a Global Organization of Democracies (GOOD) supporting the International Criminal Court (ICC) could coordinate efficient regional police forces to help prevent “administrative massacres” and terrorism, thereby enhancing the security of all peoples and encouraging states to redirect a growing portion of their military budgets to economically sustainable problem-solving over time. Continue reading

Has the nation-state become obsolete?

29 Sep
Nation states cause some of our biggest problems, from civil war to climate inaction. Science suggests there are better ways to run a planet
Try, for a moment, to envisage a world without countries. Imagine a map not divided into neat, coloured patches, each with clear borders, governments, laws. Try to describe anything our society does – trade, travel, science, sport, maintaining peace and security – without mentioning countries. Try to describe yourself: you have a right to at least one nationality, and the right to change it, but not the right to have none.
Those coloured patches on the map may be democracies, dictatorships or too chaotic to be either, but virtually all claim to be one thing: a nation state, the sovereign territory of a “people” or nation who are entitled to self-determination within a self-governing state. So says the United Nations, which now numbers 193 of them.
And more and more peoples want their own state, from Scots voting for independence to jihadis declaring a new state in the Middle East. Many of the big news stories of the day, from conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine to rows over immigration and membership of the European Union, are linked to nation states in some way.
Even as our economies globalise, nation states remain the planet’s premier political institution. Large votes for nationalist parties in this year’s EU elections prove nationalism remains alive – even as the EU tries to transcend it.
Yet there is a growing feeling among economists, political scientists and even national governments that the nation state is not necessarily the best scale on which to run our affairs. We must manage vital matters like food supply and climate on a global scale, yet national agendas repeatedly trump the global good. At a smaller scale, city and regional administrations often seem to serve people better than national governments.
How, then, should we organise ourselves? Is the nation state a natural, inevitable institution? Or is it a dangerous anachronism in a globalised world?
These are not normally scientific questions – but that is changing. Complexity theorists, social scientists and historians are addressing them using new techniques, and the answers are not always what you might expect. Far from timeless, the nation state is a recent phenomenon. And as complexity keeps rising, it is already mutating into novel political structures. Get set for neo-medievalism.

Seeking Identity, ‘Hong Kong People’ Look to City, Not State – NYTimes.com

8 Oct

HONG KONG — If there is one phrase that has come to define the protests that have swept across Hong Kong in the last week and a half, appearing on handwritten billboards and T-shirts, and heard in rally speeches and on radio shows, it is this: “Hong Kong People.”

“I wouldn’t say I reject my identity as Chinese, because I’ve never felt Chinese in the first place,” said Yeung Hoi-kiu, 20, who sat in the protest zone at the government offices on Monday night. “The younger generations don’t think they’re Chinese.”

More than 90 percent of Hong Kong residents are ethnically Chinese. However, ask residents here how they see themselves in a national sense, and many will say Hong Konger first — or even Asian or world citizen — before mentioning China. The issue of identity is one that the Chinese Communist Party has grappled with since Britain turned over control of this global financial capital to China 17 years ago.

via Seeking Identity, ‘Hong Kong People’ Look to City, Not State – NYTimes.com.

From Tibet to Taiwan, China’s Outer Regions Watch Hong Kong Protests Intently – NYTimes.com

6 Oct

BEIJING — As hundreds of protesters continue to occupy the streets of Hong Kong, challenging China’s Communist Party leaders with calls for greater democracy, much of the world anxiously awaits signs of how Beijing will react to their demands.

But the anticipation is perhaps most keenly felt along the periphery of China’s far-flung territory, both inside the country and beyond, where the Chinese government’s authoritarian ways have been most apparent.

Among Tibetans and Uighurs, beleaguered ethnic minorities in China’s far west, there is hope that the protests will draw international scrutiny to what they say are Beijing’s broken promises for greater autonomy.

The central government’s refusal to even talk with pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, exiled activists add, also highlights a longstanding complaint among many ethnic minority groups in China: the party’s reliance on force over dialogue when dealing with politically delicate matters.

via From Tibet to Taiwan, China’s Outer Regions Watch Hong Kong Protests Intently – NYTimes.com.

Bottom-Up Climate Fix – NYTimes.com

22 Sep

YES! A thousand times YES! The top is busted, we must start from the bottom. Change starts in the community.

As one of those who, as an official at the Environmental Protection Agency, negotiated that first United Nations treaty in 1992, I believe we need to shift gears and try something new. Relying on national governments alone to deliver results is not enough, as the last two decades have shown. The real action on climate change around the world is coming from governors, mayors, corporate chief executives and community leaders. They are the ones best positioned to make change happen on the ground. Accordingly, we need to move from a top-down strategy to a bottom-up approach.

Mayors in Barcelona, Melbourne and the Brazilian city of Curitiba, for instance, are trying to expand public transportation. New York City’s former mayor Michael R. Bloomberg worked with pipeline companies to increase natural gas access so residents could shift from dirty fuel oil furnaces to cheaper and cleaner natural gas ones.

via Bottom-Up Climate Fix – NYTimes.com.

The World Is Squared: Episode 1 – “Switzerland, Country of Joyce” — Crooked Timber

27 Aug

The independence of this little country is assured by the fact that it has long been understood by all the great powers bordering on the Alps that it’s probably in everyone’s best interests in the long term to have the key trade routes owned by a gang of ornery peasants who don’t want to be bothered by outsiders rather than having to fight over them all the time.

via The World Is Squared: Episode 1 – “Switzerland, Country of Joyce” — Crooked Timber.

Dear Ron and Dennis: For the sake of the planet and your great-grandkids, kiss and make up! Please!

14 Sep

Charlie first wrote this in the Spring of 2012. A year plus later it makes even more sense for liberals and libertarians to make common cause in stopping wars, celebrating self-determination of peoples, and saving the speciation from ongoing destruction and our own.

Dear Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich,

I urge you to put your respective strengths together on a firm foundation built by back-to-basics Austrian and Buddhist economics. A casual reading of G. Bateson, E. F. Schumacher, John Ruskin, anyone who has thought long and hard about the profound evil embodied in “central banking,” war preparations and “Fed manipulations” everywhere, will give you the tools and bricks you need to build a Reform Party and/or an Americans Elect TEAM based on emergent truths and the oldest traditions.

At the Truth & Traditions website you will find arguments, positions, reports, a Declaration of Interdependence, some of what you will need to create a balanced platform and a beyond-bi-partisan Sunshine Cabinet whose members and many surrogates can campaign with you this summer and fall.

The key to this Sunshine Cabinet is the creation of a Peace Department (Kucinich in charge?) and an Ecology Department (Bill McKibben or Andrew Kimbrell in charge?), each department NEVER to exceed a size sustainable by a quarter of one percent of the current Defense Department budget. In truth, each department needs only a few dozen people to gather up the long-term thinking and best practices of diverse Great Transition communities, colleges, universities, institutes, limited and democratic governments around the world that work for the best interests of their peoples. These two very small and extremely cost-effective departments can shape and pass on as many proposals to Congress, Executive and Judicial branches as are needed. Continue reading