Ranking Global Issues

Results of the Brainstorming Session of the World Federalist Movement Canada, Toronto Branch, the Science for Peace Working Group on Global Governance 17-07-30, and some Internet Discussions. Compiled by Helmut Burkhardt

Global dangers   –   Root causes  –   Solutions  – By Who and How
Ranked by number
of responses),

Issues, Root Causes and Solutions
most frequent responses at the top

Results of the Brainstorming Session 2017-07-30 of the World Federalist Movement Canada, Toronto Branch, the Science for Peace Working Group on Global Governance, and some Internet Discussions. Compiled by Helmut Burkhardt





Nobel Laureates’ Ranking Global Issues:
“among the biggest global threats include population, nuclear war, climate change, infectious diseases and bad leaders like Donald Trump”. http://www.iflscience.com/environment/nuclear-war-climate-change-and-trump-named-as-worlds-biggest-threats-by-nobel-laureates/ . This survey was conducted by Time Higher Education, the body that puts together the world university rankings, ahead of its World Academic Summit held in London this week. They surveyed 50 of the world’s Nobel prize winners for science, medicine, and economics – that’s one in five of the living laureates – on their views on a range of topics, from university funding to the biggest threats facing mankind today.

Other Comments Submitted:
“Our purpose in life is to be a bridge from one generation to the next.  It is programmed into most of us biologically to want to be that bridge. We have more tools than ever before that can be used for this purpose. And so far, they only require time to use them. Perhaps the most effective use of my time was encouraging Walter Dorn when he was a young man.  Eric Fawcett lived to see the end of the “Cold War”. He never stopped reminding others of its dangers”. Tony Arrott

“The most pressing global issue in my mind is the hijacking of democracy by the global casino capitalists represented by Robert Mercer. John McMurtry’s article hints at it, but Carole Cadwalladr, in this very well researched article in the Guardian, nailed it. There seems to be a movement amongst the ultra rich to prove that the human is not a viable species. Perhaps there is the vain hope that they alone will survive the collapse in their mountain hideaways. Who knows what fantasies they breed in their inclusive gated communities and private clubs?  What can we do? I think exposure to start, and not being distracted by idiotic tweets from the liar in chief to the south of us. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy “. David Burman

“The world is changing. Automation and robotics make it more difficult for people to “earn a living” while the increase in world population adds to the number of people competing for diminishing jobs. Some are for global guarantee basic income and the means to sustain this system should be a subject of thought and research”. Author?

“There surely is a “people’s globalism” movement, and it appears to be not only very active, but gathering momentum: https://www.globalcitizen.org. As someone who knows some of the ultra rich personally, I can tell you with confidence there is no coordinated plan to plunder anybody or anything. Quite the opposite. Many of them are keenly interested in helping humanity, especially the less fortunate, become better in various ways, both direct (massive philanthropy) or indirect (promoting and supporting humanistic values in their business or social activities). Politically, they are all over the spectrum, just like less wealthy people. Also, many, perhaps most, of these “ultra rich” people became so by creating real value to many millions of people and being rewarded financially for it, which is fair. This includes for example, Zuckerberg, Gates, Jobs, Brin and Page, Musk, Bezos, Branson, and many others”. Doron Dekel

“Making sense of our crumbling democratic institutions is not easy. I agree with John McMurtry that we probably are in the cancer stage of capitalism. (Remember his book by that title). I also agree that some billionaires are more altruistic than others. Not all of them are unhinged, narcissistic egomaniacs like Trump. On the issue of climate change, it has often been pointed out that ” they have grand children too”. For a better understanding of where we are at this point in human history it might be useful to read the article in today’s Globe an Mail by Mark Medley titled THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MARSHALL McLUHAN. I agree with his premise that McLuhan’s theories continue to resonate in 2017. Also, that it might be helpful to folks unfamiliar with his theories to read “Understanding Media” written in 1964. More relevant than ever. On the whole more attn has to be paid to digital technologies and their impact on Democracy. Robert McChesney has written several books on the subject”. Rose Dyson

“There are two main streams here – the physical and the political.  Science can provide for most of the physical needs (preferably not colonizing other planets, in view of the mess we’ve made of this one). The political is more difficult.  I don’t know the answer. Would a World Government be more effective than the UN? Would the (e.g.,) USA agree to an overarching power? I doubt it – they won’t let Americans come under any command but theirs and no govt is worthwhile unless it has ’teeth” to enforce its law. It sounds a bit Big Brotherish. How would it be formed? How would it be paid for? How would it enforce its resolutions? We already have several levels of government each with its own sprawling bureaucracy.  Do we need another one? Would Trinidad and Tobago have as much representation as Russia or the USA? Would there be Global Ministers of the Environment, Transport, etcetera”? Patricia Appleton

“The elephant in the room, among the root causes: – glorification and normalization of male violence/domination (global suppression of women for centuries have relegated their peacekeeping abilities to the private sphere, leaving the public sphere to men who typically have much less experience in/need for peacekeeping roles, and are moreover socialized -by tradition, the media, military service, etc.- into dominance/violence values and roles, while women are socialized into submission to this “normal” status quo, so pervasive that it is rarely even identified or brought up)
Among the solutions to this root cause, proportional gender representation in the public sphere is paramount, in particular in the judicial and legislative powers.
The “how” should include a specific, wide ranging, government-led campaign to educate for peace, cooperation, representative democracy, coupled with legal reform to protect women from violence and discrimination, to protect men from the influences that socialize them into violent and supremacist stances, and protect brains from both sexes from bombardment with gender hate expressions, to which we are generously exposed to daily at present and which form the basis of our anti-women, violence-accepting collective unconscious.
The “by whom” I believe should be, as said, with heavy government involvement (to be really effective), and with also heavy involvement from key institutions and from ordinary citizens, in particular men. As the de-facto privileged subset of our male supremacist culture, men are in a privileged position to change things: as advocators, as role models, as initiators of measures that enable more peaceful and equitable models of power distribution, etc.
One more comment, this one on the idea of a world federation that would enable- if good- change for the good. The “if good” is paramount. Without healing all the root causes of injustice, any new institutional framework will replicate the old injustices, thus preserving an all-alpha-male-dominated, if not Rambo-like, world predicament. Or be seized in time by the old status quo, even if its starts at first as revolutionary. Changing the root causes, on the other hand, will on its own converge on some system or institutional change that will reflect those changes, if truly adopted by society at large.

Also missing from the list of most important global problems is the largely unidentified but sure victory of neoliberal economic policies throughout the globe, such as the pillage of public assets and economic sovereignty through privatizations, corporate power, the so-called free trade (which in reality is less than free, and more than trade) and the international banking system. Most notably at home, the 1974 unconstitutional transfer of economic sovereignty from our public bank to the Bank of International Settlements- ie, to private foreign banks. Indebted democracy resulted, which is not democracy- it’s slavery. I think this is a real root cause of world problems, since it affects human rights, the environment, militarization, and many other of the crucial problems of our century.

Adding “terrorism” to the list, as someone suggested, would call for term clarification, since there is no legal, accepted definition. Its forms include for instance state terrorism (as in Operacion Condor, which imposed governmental violence against civilians in six countries as the only way known at the time to impose neoliberal economic politics) and intimate terrorism (coercive violence in intimate relationships– this one kills more people yearly than “ordinary” terrorism as understood by the press).

By the way, I share below my planned response to a call to proposals “to address complex, fundamental questions of importance to the world”, and my own first idea for one such proposal, sent to Academic Women at SFU- where there is interest from the sociological viewpoint. Venilla, would you be interested in participating from the legal viewpoint? Anyone else, from any other point of view?

If my skills, described below, would serve to address any other challenge in any other proposal addressing a global problem, I’d be interested in hearing about it”. Best wishes- Veronica Dahl

(sent to Academic Women:)
Who would like to put together an interdisciplinary proposal to the call below, for developing a model of violence prevention that is aimed at the perpetrators, rather than as usual, leaving it all to the victims?

The first task would be to collect info- e.g we do not know for sure how many rapes occur in Canada, since no one is counting. Then we could develop AI knowledge bases to enter that info and consult it in view of societal objectives of violence diminution, we could evaluate the results periodically also automatically, advise the government (which would have been enlisted as a main actor in the campaign) etc.

I am an expert in deductive knowledge bases, we’d also need experts to develop the questionnaires to be sent to social workers etc (whomever HAS access to individual or partial data, so as to put it together nationally), lawyers to liaise with government, psychologists to explore which preventive methods would work, sociologists to examine the societal myths that glorify/normalize violence and give it a gender, etc). Many ramifications are possible, e.g. natural language processing systems (another of my specialties) that can detect hate literature, child and women exploitation baits in the internet, etc. could come in handy too. Anyone interested? Thanks, best- Veronica Dahl

“Present laws are not respected, both nationally and internationally yet they are the only hope for a movement in the right direction Finally calling environmental disasters and land grabs crimes against humanity, was a very important move on the part of the ICC, now it takes the work of scholars legal and otherwise, to flesh out   what makes the activities that produce those results crimes”. Laura Westra.

“Regime change from without is unacceptable and that should be a strong principle of Science for Peace”. Ed Daniel



Global Appeal for Political Change

The traditional political system is one of global anarchy. Self centered sovereign nations and even corporations, vying for supremacy, are carelessly ruining our environment creating climate change. It is an incomprehensibly violent and destructive system as can be seen in Dresden, Hiroshima and Aleppo.

It creates deadly danger for all by threatening the use of nuclear weapons. It is expensive due to the costly arms race. It is a nightmare that needs our attention. How can we tolerate and even hang on to such bad global politics? We appeal to political leaders and to all people in the World to change to a better political system before it is too late!

A World Federation with legislative, judicial, and executive powers is a better alternative. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just expand the experience with national federations to the global level. A Bicameral World Legislature creates world laws. World Courts determine what actions of nations are legal. The World Executive Authority puts pressure on nations that break World Law. Just as well governed federated nations have internal peace; a well governed world will have world peace and protect the Global Commons. The peace dividend will support social and ecological security around the globe.

Toronto 2017-04-18:

World Federalist Movement Canada, Toronto Branch
Science for Peace Working Group on Good Global Governance, Toronto

Notes and Comments on Gar Alperovitz` address to the “No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism” Conference

Conference at the American University, Washington DC, September 23 to 26 2016

Notes by Peter Venton

The following are my notes on the video of Gar Alperovitz` address to the conference. My comments are presented in square parentheses. The video is on the conference link, http://worldbehondwar.org/NoWar2016

Alperovitz argues that, since WWII, the US government has used the UN as a place to bounce propaganda off in order to convince the American public that war was necessary to prevent the spread of communism. The three major wars in Korea, the Gulf of Tonkin and Iraq were unconstitutional and/or dishonest.  He notes that the national US press simply does not cover this issue because it does not cover matters about the left. The local or regional press does not have the capability.

[My view is that the capitalist American economy almost failed in the 1970s owing to the re-emergence of globalization that featured commercial competition from Japan and Europe after those countries rebuilt their economies that had been substantially destroyed in World War II.  Note that the US produced a staggering 50% of the entire world’s manufacturing in the 1950s. Free trade was very much in the interest of America since it had little competition and could dominate world trade. With the re emergence of globalization since the 1970, and particularly after the 1980s, there has been a substantial reduction in the US share of world manufacturing.  On top of that the enormous increase in labor productivity in manufacturing has resulted in less employment and stagnant growth in labor income for many working class Americans over the last three decades but particularly since the financial crisis in 2008.]

Alperovitz does mention the re emergence of Japan and Europe economies after World  War. He noted that the military budget for the Vietnam war gobbled up 14% of US GDP.  The central point in his argument is that “capitalism inherently must expand to succeed”; If it does not it goes into “financial crisis and economic depression” .  [This of course happened in America with the crash of 1929 which was followed by the Great Depression. It is the analysis of Karl Marx (1850), John Maynard Keynes( in the 1930s) and more recently French economist Thomas Piketty in his 2014  book Capital in the Twenty-first Century.]

[The failure of American capitalists – as predicted by Indian-American economist Ravi Batra for 1990 was deferred to 2008. The government tax reductions on corporate income and high personal incomes which have greatly increased the inequality of wealth and income were offset by massive increases in household debt of Americans and by the maintenance of a war economy that has generated aggregate demand.

[The tax and fiscal policies of the US governments ran contrary to Keynes’ argument for progressive taxation and spending on public infrastructure for a balanced economy that would ensure full employment. Instead. as John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out in the mid 1970s, the US embarked on a regime of military expenditure and disproportionate tax reductions for the wealthy. Government austerity required by the tax reductions was mostly concentrated mostly on the poor and the lower middle class. Thus military spending substituted to a significant degree for Keynes’ prescriptions for expenditure on public infrastructure that were necessary for a balanced economy that would sustain full employment. In short economic growth is imperative for the interests of the capitalists and wars (or planning for war) are instrumental for creating economic growth.]

In any event Alperovitz says the US military expenditures as a percent of GDP is now down to 3.5%; furthermore Americans have little appetite for more war.  This means that the military can no longer be a major factor supporting economic growth and the capitalist system – except of course for the recent US government plan to spend a trillion dollars to upgrade its nuclear capability.

[In this light I would suggest that the projected “peace dividend” of one trillion dollars from not upgrading the nuclear arsenal could be a huge boost to the American economy in terms of government expenditure to reduces its estimated 3.5 trillion dollar public infrastructure deficit. Furthermore the investment needed to provide sufficient renewable energy to replace fossil fuels to meet climate change objectives is  equally as huge according to some estimates by British economists. ]

[America could take the lead towards proposing that Russia and China collaborate with it (and NATO) to reduce military expenditures under UN auspices in a setting of world federalism for both military security and for protecting the world’s environmental commons against further degradation. Both Russia and China have the same problem as the US in the sense that they are operating capitalist systems that are not sustainable without further imperialism either in trade or in planning for war and waging war. The only difference is that China and Russia are engaged in “state capitalism” as opposed to the US private sector capitalism in a nominally- democratic (as opposed to an oligarchic) polity.  So China has light taxes on capitalists and major subsidies and procurement to support them.  Meanwhile the US has higher taxes but also greater indirect subsidies in terms of (a) infrastructure support to corporate operations, (b) public education of skilled labour force for corporations (c) massive technological innovation (e.g. the internet) that is made free to corporations to exploit commercially and (d) massive assumption of the costs of corporate externalities of pollution which now represent a third of corporate profits.  On top of that the US government provides a whole host of patents and copyrights and procurement policies that generate easy excessive profits for large monopolistic corporations.  Last but not least the US government provides free insurance for big corporations (e.g. automobile manufacturers) and banks that are judged “too big to fail”. ]

The next time the banks fail Alperovitz suggests the government could take them over and run them as public utilities.  [Actually this is not a new idea; in the 1970s;  John Kenneth Galbraith suggested government own shares in the 200 largest corporations which were highly monopolistic (as opposed to the vast majority of corporations that are largely competitive) and that were in the business of creating new products and services rather than the provision of basic public goods and services that the electorate needed.)

[The prospects for imperialism to expand growth are now very limited for the US, for China and for Russia because of the limits on the world’s environmental resources and because of the weakening economies around the globe that cannot afford to import American goods and services to the extent that they once did.  That is one of the reasons why the prospects of third world wars are now greater than they have been for a long time.  The prospects for further acquisition of natural resources through trade are limited so the only other alternative is acquisition of resources through waging war or introducing other forms of aggression through trade and investment initiatives to obtain access to natural resources.]

[By contrast a democratic capitalism system (aka democratic socialism) in the US would require very little economic growth. More importantly it would not require the extent of imperialism that now prevails The US, Russia and China are also major imperial powers.  In the foregoing circumstances all stand to gain from a new economic order and from world federalism that would provide them with a massive peace dividend to restructure their economies so as to avoid further destruction of their natural resources and reduce civic unrest. Civic unrest is now very obvious in the US and heavily squelched in China. I don’t know about Russia.]

According to Alperovitz, the surprising reality in America today is the acceptance of Bernie Sanders’ remarks; Saunders is described as a “socialist”.  Alperovitz argues that 85% of US millenials embrace socialism as an alternative to [the current variation of] capitalism.  Capitalism has clearly failed a substantial proportion of the American public comprised mostly of the poor and the lower middle classes.  Alperovitz notes that many US Mayors are using their political power to develop cooperatives of workers.  By definition these cooperatives do not depend on profits; more precisely they recycle profits back to the workers and hence into the real economy. [By contrast much of the profits of big capitalist firms are not recycled into the real economy but rather into the financial sector where they lead to increasing the prices of existing assets such as real estate,  stocks, collectibles . Large amounts of financial assets are transferred to tax havens where they have no impact on the real US economy. Alperovitz cited a Spanish workers cooperative of 60,000 workers in which the spread between the highest and lowest wage rates is 6:1.  This compares with the 300: 1 ratio in the US.

Meanwhile Alperovitz notes that intellectuals are working on building the theory, the practical experiments, the policies and the politics for a “new economy”. He specifically referred to a conference of 1000 experts who met in Buffalo in 2015. He noted that generally the national press does not report on these proceedings because they are regarded as too left.  And the local press does not report on them largely because they do not have the capability and are struggling financially.

Alperovitz raises three problems with the work of a new economy. First, “How do we open up the understanding that the alternative of democratic socialism works better than the present form of American capitalism?  Secondly “What do we do with the big corporations in the new economy?  Do we break them up as the US government broke up Standard Oil long ago?  Do we make some like the banks into public utilities? Thirdly “How do we build participatory democracy in a country that is 3,000 miles across (diagonally) with a population of 350 million?  With respect to this third problem he suggests that somehow we need to build participatory democracy at the local level from the ground up.

Peter Venton
February 21, 2017

The Two-prong Approach to Effect Desired Change

Helmut Burkhardt, 2917-02-20

Bill Moyer’s grassroots Movement Action Plan (MAP) [1] is necessary, but not sufficient to effect speedy social or political change.
I recommend a two-prong approach as a method to effect desired change. The first prong is spontaneous or planned Grass root action, The second prong is an appeal to power holders at the very top. This may appear to be a vain effort, as the interests of the public and of the elite that puylls the strings of power are quite different in the daily economic struggle. However, when it comes to existential threats like avoiding nuclear war or climate change, the interest of the power holders and of the public ultimately is the same. Therefore, and appeal to the reason at the top and at the grassroots level of every nation may have a chance to effect desired change in the global political system in time to prevent disaster. Using the force of law instead of using the law of force is the desirable change in International relations.

[1] http://historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/moyermap.html

On National Security Systems

There are two ways to achieve national security.

In the war system security is based on the law of force. In this, the traditional security system, might makes right. Justice is not a primary concern. Right or wrong, my country is an accepted position. In the war system disarmament and abolition of nuclear weapons are contradictions as they weaken the military force.

In the peace system security is based on the force of law. Global justice is the primary concern. Conflicts between nations are solved in court. In the peace system disarmament and nuclear weapons abolition are natural.

Today, with the existence and proliferation of nuclear weapons the war system for national security is no longer meaningful. It is expensive and threatens mutually assured destruction. A rapid transition to the peace system of national security is urgent. People centered global governance is needed for the transition to law based security of nations.

.Helmut Burkhardt
Toronto, 16-06-14


Open Letter to 195 Heads of State

Open Letter to 195 Heads of State The undersigned congratulate all heads of state on the Climate Change Agreement of December 12, 2015 in Paris. This is a historic event because you subordinated to some extent national sovereignty to the prevention of climate change for the sake of the common good. The undersigned propose to all heads of state an additional and similar global agreement and agenda for international conflict resolution as a renewed commitment to the Charter of the United Nations. The existence of weapons of mass destruction make the replacement of war by the rule of law necessary for preventing the risk of mutually assured destruction.

On behalf of the Science for Peace Working Group on Good Global Governance for a Just and Sustainable World Professor Helmut Burkhardt, Dipl. Phys., Dr. Rer. Nat., Coordinator helmut.burkhardt@bell.net, www.goodglobalgovernance.org

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