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Arnold Toynbee Rapprochement of Cultures.

Arnold Toynbee: A World Citizens view of challenge and…

Featured Image: Arnold Toynbee. By Atyyahesir, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975)  was a historian, a philosopher of history, and an advisor on the wider Middle East to the British Government.  Already a specialist in Greece and the Middle East from his university studies; and in the intelligence services during the First World War; he was an expert delegate on the English delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.

Our modern Western nationalism has an ecclesiastical tinge, for, while in one aspect it is a reversion to the idolatrous self-worship of the tribe which was the only religion known to Man before the first of the ‘higher religions’ were discovered by an oppressed internal proletariat…it is a tribalism with a difference.  The primitive religion has been deformed into an enormity through being power-driven with a misapplied Christian driving force. 

Arnold Toynbee A Study of History.

Classical Greece and Decadence of a Civilization.

The breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of new states in the Middle East followed.  Also there was the start of Zionist activities in Palestine and frontier and population transfers between Greece and Turkey – all issues on which Arnold Toynbee gave advice.  He became director of studies of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) an early “think tank” created to advise the British Government (1).

At the same time that he was an advisor on the Middle East (Chatham House producing a respected Yearbook on world affairs); Toynbee continued writing on the classical antiquity of Greece and Rome; much influenced by the spirit of Thucydides.  Toynbee was struck by the alternative between union and division as the defining characteristic of classical Greece.  These were the centuries of the flowering and then final decadence of a civilization; which bears remarkable parallels with the history and perspectives of modern Europe.

 

Thucydides. This is the plaster cast bust currently in exposition of Zurab Tsereteli’s gallery in Moscow (part of Russian Academy of Arts), formerly from the collection of castings of Pushkin museum made in early 1900-1910s.
Original bust is a Roman copy (c. 100 CE) of an early 4th Century BCE Greek original, and is located in Holkham Hall in Norfolk, UK. By user:shakko, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Vision of World Citizens.

Toynbee argued that Greece’s economic development; based on colonization and commerce; together with the maintenance of the political sovereignty of the very small territorial units of the city-state; created an imbalance that could not last.  The city-states; if they did not want to return to autocracy and economic backwardness; should have created a pan-Hellenic political organization to manage problems.  In the same way that Greece failed to mitigate the anarchic character of relations between city-states; Western civilization may flounder and fail.

As Toynbee wrote in Mankind and Mother Earth:

“Evidently few people are ready to recognize that the institution of local sovereign states has failed repeatedly, during the last 5,000 years, to meet mankind’s political needs, and that, in a global society, this institution is bound to prove to be transitory once again and this time more surely than ever before.”

Toynbee placed his hope in creative leaders; those with the vision of world citizens; who, seeing the challenges of the times; would respond with the creation of new more just and peaceful institutions. He placed high hopes in those working for a united Europe which would put an end to the Germany-France-England tensions which had led to two World Wars (2). Toynbee believed that civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively.

However, unlike Oswald Spengler in his Decline of the West (1918), Toynbee believed that decline was not inevitable, but that there could be regenerative forces in response to challenges. Those with a world vision and strong energy must come to the fore. Toynbee’s call to enlightened leadership remains a call to us for action.

Oswald Spengler. By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R06610 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Climate Change Apelaciones

Enfoque de la ONU sobre las consecuencias del Cambio…

Imagen destacada: Foto por  William Bossen, Unsplash

El 20 de marzo de 2023, el Panel Intergubernamental sobre el Cambio Climático (IPCC) publicó un Informe de síntesis basado en sus tres informes anteriores que cubren ocho años de trabajo. El IPCC es un panel de 93 científicos copresidido por Hoesung Lee de Corea del Sur y Valerie Masson-Delmotte de Francia. El Informe de Síntesis destacó que:

“Es necesario priorizar la equidad, la justicia climática, la justicia social y las acciones de transición justa para lograr un desarrollo resiliente al clima.”

Cambio Climático.

Hay tres mil millones de personas que viven en áreas que son altamente vulnerables al cambio climático. Una de las consecuencias del cambio climático es el aumento de la migración desde estas áreas vulnerables. El concepto de migración segura y ordenada aún no se ha puesto en práctica. El cambio climático también tiene un impacto negativo en la producción de alimentos.

El IPCC, creado en 1988, hace recomendaciones para la acción, las políticas que los gobiernos deben establecer y llevar a cabo. Por lo tanto, una conferencia de la ONU se llevará a cabo en Nueva York este septiembre. Las recomendaciones del IPCC también influyen en las propuestas de políticas de las organizaciones no gubernamentales cuya influencia en los temas climáticos es cada vez mayor.

Conferencia del Agua de la ONU.

Al mismo tiempo que la presentación del informe del IPCC, se llevó a cabo en Nueva York una Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Agua relacionada, del 22 al 24 de marzo. La conferencia enfatizó que el agua dulce es un recurso crucial y que el bienestar futuro de la sociedad mundial dependerá de qué tan bien gestionemos este suministro global de agua dulce.

Hoy en día, alrededor del 26 por ciento de la población mundial carece de acceso a agua potable segura. Los niveles freáticos están cayendo en muchos países. Gran parte del agua dulce está contaminada por aguas residuales no tratadas, nitratos de la agricultura y la liberación de sustancias químicas peligrosas. El cambio climático parece haber creado una mayor variabilidad de las precipitaciones.

Sistemas Fluviales Transfronterizos.

La Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Agua destacó un tema que ha sido el foco de atención de la Asociación de Ciudadanos del Mundo: la gestión y la cooperación necesaria de los sistemas fluviales transfronterizos. La gestión de los sistemas fluviales transfronterizos tiene un fuerte matiz político y un potencial de conflicto, como vemos con el río Jordán, el Nilo, el Tigris y el Éufrates y el Ganges.

El IPCC y la Conferencia del Agua de la ONU han establecido los desafíos que enfrentan tanto los gobiernos como las organizaciones no gubernamentales. Se necesita cooperación para la acción conjunta. Construir sobre esta conciencia de la necesidad de cooperación es vital. Debemos trabajar activamente en los próximos pasos.

Rene Wadlow, Presidente, Asociación de Ciudadanos del Mundo.

 

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The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Climate Change Appeals

U.N. Focus on Consequences of Climate Change.

Featured Image: Photo by William Bossen, Unsplash

On 20 March 2023, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a Synthesis Report based on its three previous reports covering eight years of work. The IPCC is a panel of 93 scientists co-chaired by Hoesung Lee of South Korea and Valerie Masson-Delmotte of France. The Synthesis Report stressed that:

“Prioritizing equity, climate justice, social justice, and just transition actions are needed for climate resilient development.”

Climate Change.

There are three billion people who live in areas that are highly vulnerable to climate change. One of the consequences of climate change is to increase migration from these vulnerable areas. The concept of safe and orderly migration has not yet been put into practice. Climate change also has a negative impact on food production.

The IPCC, created in 1988, makes recommendations for action, put policies have to be established and carried out by governments. Thus, a UN conference will be held in New York this September. The recommendations of the IPCC also influence the policy proposals of non-governmental organizations whose influence on climate issues is growing.

U.N. Water Conference.

At the same period as the presentation of the IPCC report a related U.N. Water Conference, 22-24 March, was held in New York. The conference stressed that fresh water is a crucial resource and that the future well-being of the world society will depend on how well we manage this global supply of fresh water.

Today, some 26 percent of the world’s population lack access to safe drinking water. There are falling water tables in many countries. Much fresh water is polluted by untreated wastewater, nitrates from agriculture, and the release of hazardous chemicals. Climate change seems to have created increased rainfall variability.

Trans-Frontier River Systems.

The U.N. Water Conference highlighted an issue which has been a focus of the Association of World Citizens: the management and necessary cooperation of trans-frontier river systems. The management of trans-frontier river systems has a strong political colouring and a potential for conflict as we see with the Jordan River, the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates and the Ganga.

The IPCC and the U.N. Water Conference have set out the challenges facing both governments and non-governmental organizations. Cooperation for joint action is needed. Building on this awareness of the need for cooperation is vital. We must work actively on the next steps.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

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The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Russia-Ukraine Negotiations Appeals

Preliminaries to Russia-Ukraine Negotiations: The Key Role of China.

Featured Image: Foto de Matti Karstedt: https://www.pexels.com/es-es/foto/una-nina-protestando-contra-la-guerra-en-ucrania-11284549/.

President of France Emmanuel Macron was in China from 5-7 April 2023 and urged that China could play a major role in bringing peace to the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict. China’s 12 point plan to resolve the Ukraine conflict has indicated President Xi Jinping‘s willingness to be active in peace efforts. While the 12 point peace plan is incomplete, it does propose general principles which can serve as a useful framework. President Macron is accompanied by Ms Von der Leyen of the European Commission, a sign of the wide European concern with the positive role that the Chinese government can play.

After the positive role that Chinese mediators played in the restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, there is increasing a world-wide recognition of the talents of Chinese mediators. China is probably the only country with an ability to influence Russian policy-makers in a peaceful direction.

Emmanuel Macron

Presidents of France Emmanuel Macron in 2022. By President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Overview of the Normandy Proposal and its Potential Role in Future Agreements for Ukraine.

President Macron was the prime mover for action on what was called the Normany Proposal involving negotiation among Russia and Ukraine, France and Germany. The proposal was to build on the Minsk agreement concerning the two pro-Russian People’s Republics of Ukraine which would remain in Ukraine with a modified Ukrainian constitution recognizing a good deal of autonomy to the People’s Republics. The Minsk Agreement was never acted upon with no action to modify the Ukrainian constitution. Since the 2022 Russian invasion, the situation has grown more complex and difficult. However, the Normandy ideas are probably the basis of any future agreement after a first cease-fire.

Ms Ursula von der Leyen

The President of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen and The President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Nicos Anastasiades make statements to the Press. University of Cyprus campus, Lefkosia, Cyprus, 8. July 2021. By Stavros Ioannides, P.I.O. Photo Department., CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Anticipated Increase in Fighting in Ukraine and the Importance of Alternative Solutions.

Military observers predict an increase in fighting in Ukraine now that the winter is over and troops can move more easily. Thus the immediate need to present alternatives to more fighting and the start of serious negotiations. The Macron-Xi talks may have set the stage for at least the preliminaries.

President of China Xi Jinping

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping addresses Chinese and foreign journalists at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct 23, 2022. By China News Service, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) UN: Growth of World Law.

Non-governmental Organizations in the United Nation: The Voices of…

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) written just after the end of the destructive Second World War states that:

“since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” 

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the United Nations, such as the Association of World Citizens, have played an important role in changing attitudes both among the representatives of governments and among the wider public.  NGOs have stressed the need for real cooperation in meeting the many challenges facing humanity, challenges which require new and innovative strategies.

         It is abundantly clear that many challenges facing humanity require new and innovative strategies.  The United Nations has a unique role to play in responding to these challenges. The United Nations is the only truly universal organizations with a mandate that covers virtually all areas of human endeavour.  In an interdependent world, problems cannot be solved without a sense of commitment to the good of the whole.

The UN System

         There is a need for further empowerment of the UN system for
conflict prevention as well as promoting the values of a culture of peace.  Yet it is also clear that the UN cannot
fulfil alone its weighty responsibility set out in the Charter.  The United Nations needs to reach out to a
wider circle of talents for 
insights,  and compassion to make
this world a place of dignity and joy.

         Thus, increasingly the energy and talent of members of non-governmental organizations are linked directly to UN efforts both as a source of ideas and as a powerful multiplier of actions to develop policies and structures of peace and non-violence.

Image Photo by Shinobu in Pexels.

The United Nations: The Reflection of the World Society.

The Association of World Citizens

         The representatives of the Association of World Citizens are turned toward the future.  As Frederico Mayor, former Director General of UNESCO has said:

One great task is to be the look-outs for the future, since in this way we shall be able to anticipate and prevent.  Prevention is the greatest victory since it is what avoids suffering and avoids confrontation.

         The future belongs to those who give the next generation reasons to hope.  A vision of the future precedes the creation of a new reality.  If we cannot envision the world we would like to live in, we cannot work towards its creation.  We need a vision of the future as a time of great healing and social transformation.  With a vision of the future, we can see better how each of us can contribute to this wider transformation. The real future is the future which is built by the inspiration of a vision.  A vision creates hope, enthusiasm and conscious actions to actualize the vision.  Thus we need to keep an open mind, to seek truth and to inform ourselves of the points of view of others.

         The actions of the Association of World Citizens are directed toward a future of freedom, dignity, and world unity. Your cooperation in these great challenges are most welcome.

Federico Mayor Zaragoza as speaker in the summer course of the International University of Andalusia 2007 “Interculturality, interreligious dialogue and communication”. By Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Alexandre Marc Rapprochement of Cultures.

Alexandre Marc: Con-federalism, Cultural Renewal and Trans-frontier Cooperation

Featured Image: Through the Russian Revolution. By Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons.

Alexandre Marc ; (19 January 1904 – 22 February 2000) was born as Alexandre Markovitch Lipiansky in Odessa, Russia in 1904.  He later simplified his name by dropping Lipiansky; (which his sons have reclaimed) and modifying his father’s first name to Marc; which he used as a family name.  His father was a Jewish banker and a non-communist socialist. 

Alexandre was a precocious activist. He was influenced by his early reading of F. Nietzsche; especially Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  He started a non-conformist student journal; while still in secondary school during the Russian Revolution; asking for greater democracy and opposed to Marxist thought.  This led to death threats made against him by the Communist authorities.

Also sprach Zarathustra. Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen. In drei Theilen. By Unknown authorUnknown author, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Forerunners of the Nazi Movement

The family left Russia in 1919 for France; but not before Alexandre had seen some of the fighting and disorder of the Russian civil war.  These impressions left a deep mark; and he was never tempted by the Russian communist effort as were other intellectuals in France; who had not seen events close up. 

During part of the 1920s; Marc was in Germany studying philosophy; where intellectual and philosophical debates were intense after the German defeat in the First World War; and the great difficulties of the Weimar Republic.  He saw the forerunners of the Nazi movement. 

Anti-Nazi German Youth

Marc was always one to try to join thought and action; and he had gone back to Germany in 1932 to try to organize anti-Nazi German youth; but ideological divisions in Germany were strong.  The Nazi were already too well organized and came to power the next year. Marc; having seen the destructive power of Nazi thought; was also never tempted by Right Wing or Fascist thought.

Seeing the destructive potential of both Communist and Fascist thought and sensing the deep crisis of Western civilization; Marc was looking for new values that would include order, revolution, and the dignity of the person.

Friedrich Nietzsche, circa 1875. By Friedrich Hartmann, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

L’Ordre Nouveau

  There was no ready-made ideology; which included all these elements; though two French thinkers — difficult to classify — did serve as models to Marc and to Denis de Rougemont and some of the other editors of L’Ordre Nouveau: Charles Péguy and  J Proudhon . Marc wrote a book on the importance of Péguy at the start of the Second World War. 

Marc was living in Aix-en-Provence at the time; and the book was published in still unoccupied Marseilles in 1941. He also met in Paris Nicolas Berdiaeff, Jacques Maritain and Gabriel Marcel.  It was from these meetings that the personalist doctrine of L’Ordre Nouveau was born. The rallying cry of personalism was “We are neither collectivists nor individualists but personalists …the spiritual first and foremost, then the economic, with politics at the service of both of them”.

Denis de Rougemont. By Erling Mandelmann / photo©ErlingMandelmann.ch.

once a Jew, always a Jew

In 1943 when all of France was occupied, he was in danger of arrest both for his views and his Jewish origins. Although in 1933; Marc had become a Roman Catholic in part under the influence of intellectual Dominicans; for the Nazi occupiers — as well as for some of the French Vichy government — “once a Jew, always a Jew”. Therefore he left for Switzerland where he was able to study the working of Swiss federalism with its emphasis on democracy at the village and city level.  He was also able to meet other exiles from all over Europe who had managed to get to Switzerland.

Alexandre Marc seemed destined to use words which took on other meanings when used by more popular writers.  The name of the journal L’Ordre Nouveau was taken over after the Second World War by a French far-right nationalist movement influenced by a sort of neo-Celtic ideology and was widely known for painting Celtic cross graffiti on walls in the days before graffiti art filled up all the space. 

French writer Charles Péguy (1873 – 1914) Painted by Jean-Pierre Laurens (1875-1932).

The Jewish philosophers

Revolution, especially after the Nazi-Fascist defeat, could only be considered in the broader society in its Marxist version.  Person, which as a term had been developed by the Roman stoic philosophers could never carry the complexity of meanings which Marc, de Rougemont, and E. Mounier wanted to give it. 

Personalism.

The Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas also used the term “personalism” in the same sense as Marc; but their influence was limited to small circles.  In fact, “individualism” either seen positively or negatively; has returned as the most widely used term.  In some ways; this difficulty with the popular perception of words exists with the way Marc uses “federalism” by which he really means “con-federalism”.

Martin Buber in Palestine/Israel (1940 – 1950). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Foundations of the European Movement and the European Federalists

Alexandre Marc and Denis de Rougemont met again in Switzerland at the end of the Second World War; when de Rougemont returned from spending the war years in the USA.  They started reconnecting people whom they knew in the pre-war years; who also saw the need for a total reformation of European society. 

Both de Rougemont and Marc were good organizers of meetings and committees; and they played an important role in 1947 and 1948; setting up the first meetings for the foundations of the European movement and the European federalists; especially the August 1947 meeting at Montreux, Switzerland; in which world citizens  and world federalists were also present.

Emmanuel Levinas. By Bracha L. Ettinger, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Cold War.

Both men stressed the need for education and highlighted the role of youth to move European unity; beyond the debates of the 1930s and the start of the Cold War; though both continued to stress the importance of the themes; which brought them together in the 1930s.

Centers for the Study of European Federalism

They were both founders of centers for the study of European federalism and an exploration of European values. It was in the context of seminars and publications of the two centers; that I worked with both in the 1970s.   Culture in the philosophical sense was crucial for both; and their efforts in Geneva and Nice were rather similar.

Marc and de Rougemont had a personal falling out that lasted nearly a decade; due, it seems, to the tensions surrounding the break up of de Rougemont’s first marriage.  But even during this break; de Rougemont always spoke to me highly of Marc and his ideas.

Distrust of European Integration

De Rougemont knew that I was seeing Marc and had an interest in the intellectual; currents of France in the 1930s.  The two men came together again later; especially after de Rougemont’s happy second marriage.  From his death be; de Rougemont spoke to Marc on the telephone concerning the need to reprint the issues of L’Order Nouveau; since the articles were still important. The reprinting has been done since.

Both de Rougemont and Marc shared a distrust of European integration; as it was being carried out within the European Community and later the European Union; Both men stressed the need for local democracy; and shared a strong distrust of the politicians prominent in the nation-state system. 

The Lobbying of Governments on Federalist Issues.

De Rougemont went on to give most of his attention to the role of regions; especially the trans-frontier Geneva area; which combines part of Switzerland and France and is an economic pole of attraction for the Italian Val d’Aoste.

Marc continued to stress what he called “global” or “integral” federalism; a federalism with great autonomy and initiative at every level as over against “Hamiltonian”; federalism which he saw as the creation of ever larger entities such as the United States; whose culture and form of government Marc distrusted.

Hamiltonian Federalism

Marc remarked that  ‘Hamiltonian federalism’; as a whole was turning its back on spiritual; cultural and social questions and devoting itself to a form of action that can be defined; as ‘political’ and underlined the contradiction that is inherent in the lobbying of governments on federalist issues.

The Future is within Us

De Rougemont was the better writer.  His last book The Future is within Us; though pessimistic; especially of political efforts, remains a useful summing up of his ideas. (2) Although Alexandre Marc wrote a good deal; his forms of expression; were too complex, too paradoxical, too filled with references to ideas; which are not fully explained to be popular. 

Marc’s influence was primarily verbal as stimulant to his students.  Having seen early in his life the dangers of totalitarian thought; he always stressed the need for dialogue and listening; for popular participation at all levels of decision-making. As with ‘order’ ‘revolution’ ‘the person’, ‘federalism’ was probably not the term he should have chosen to carry the weight  of his ideas.

A Complex Man

The other Alexander — Hamilton — has infused the word ‘federalism’ with the idea of unification of many smaller units.  ‘Popular participation’ is probably a better term for Marc’s ideas; if the word ‘popular’ could carry the complex structure; which Marc tried to give to the word ‘person’. Con-federation is probably the better term for the de-centralized administrative structures that Marc proposed.

Marc was a complex man; one of the bridges; who helped younger persons to understand the debates; which surrounded the Russian Revolution; the rise and decline of Fascism and Nazism; and the post-Second World War hopes for a United Europe.  As de Rougemont on his death bed said to Marc:

“We have been able to do nothing, start again, talk to the young and we must carry on.”

 Notes

  • For the 1930s period see: Christian Roy. Alexandre Marc et la Jeune Europe: L’Ordre nouveau aux origins du personnalisme (Presses d’Europe, 1998) J. Laubet del Bayle. Les non-conformistes des années 30 : Une Tentative de renouvellement de la pensée politique francaise (Seuil, 1969) Michel Winock. Esprit : Des intellectuels dans la cité 1930-1950 (Seuil, 1996)
  • Denis de Rougemont The Future is within US  (Pergamon Press, 1983).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Edmond Privat Rapprochement of Cultures.

Edmond Privat: The Inner Light.

Featured Image: Esperanto World Congress, Vienna 1924. Prominent group of participants, from left to right: Lidia Zamenhof, Edmond Privat, Klara Zamenhof (1924). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

17 August is the birth anniversary of Edmond Privat in 1889 − a leading world citizen of the first wave of world citizen action closely associated with the League of Nations.  It was natural for Privat, a citizen of Geneva, to be drawn to the efforts of the League of Nations.  He served from 1923 to 1927 as the vice-delegate for Iran.  In the early League days, many States did not have a permanent representative to the League and so named an “intellectual personality” to represent the country. 

The Interpreter and Orator.

Privat also worked at different times at the League as an interpreter from English to French.  In those days, there was no simultanious interpretation but only consequtive interpretation. The interpreter, standing near the speaker had to convey some of the same drama in his voice. Privat was an experienced orator, one of the first to make regular radio broadcasts and so was much appreciated as an interpreter. At the time, the League Secretariat staff was small, and there was a good deal of interaction among the staff and the government delegates.  Thus Privat, already a political journalist, could follow closely world events and the League efforts.

Privat served as an interpreter for Fridtjof Nansen, whose work for World War I refugees and relief to Russia after the Revolution, marked Privat who developed a life-long concern for refugees and relief from hunger.

Fridtjof Nansen is a model for Erik Werenskiold’s bust of him in the artist’s studio. Half figure. By National Library of Norway, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Romain Rolland and Gandhi.

Privat was a close friend of Romain Rolland who lived during the 1920s and 1930s at Villeneuve near Geneva.  Romain Rolland was one of the first in Europe to write about the philosophy-in-acts of Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi had gone to London in 1931 for a government roundtable on the future of India.  Romain Rolland invited Gandhi to Villeneuve and asked Privat to translate for him and to organize two public talks for Gandhi. Privat was much impressed with Gandhi, and Privat and his wife left shortly afterwards for India to report on Gandhi’s efforts, resulting in a book Aux Indes Avec Gandhi.

Romain Rolland, Nobel laureate in Literature 1915. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Through Rolland and Gandhi, Privat became interested in Indian philosophy and shared Gandhi’s views that there was an inner light that was  a common core of all the world’s religions.  

As Privat wrote :

The Inner Light opens us to the sense of the universal and the eternal. The Inner Light can recognize no frontier and can exclude no one. The Inner Light can make no distinctions of race, color or social condition. Love can not be bound by passports or visas. The Inner Light is seen not in words but in attitudes and acts.”

Mahatma Gandhi. By Elliott & Fry (see [1]), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Esperanto Congress.

Privat had a life-long passion to promote the universal.  He looked for ways to build bridges among peoples and had learned Esperanto from childhood. As a secondary school student, he attended the first universal Esperanto congress in France in 1905. He then took on the task to organize the next Esperanto congress in Geneva in 1906.  Privat had a talent as an organizer and virtually to the end of his life in 1962, he was organizing conferences, creating committees as well as writing articles.

During the First World War, he was sent as a war correspondent to Poland where he met Ludoviko Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto.  Later Privat wrote a biography in Esperanto Vivo de Zamenhof, translated into many languages.  From his observations in Poland, he became a champion for the liberation of Poland from Russian influence.   In 1918, Privat published L’Europe et l’Odyssée de la Pologne aux XIX siecle.

L. L. Zamenhof  (1859–1917). Universala Esperanto-Asocio. By L. L. Zamenhof, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

World Wars.

Privat’s observations of the First World War and its consequences confirmed his earlier conviction that war was evil and the result of narrow nationalism.  To overcome war, there was a need for a cosmopolitan – world spirit.  People needed to think of themselves as citizens of the world.  He saw the League of Nations as a first step toward a federation of the world.  After the Second World War, he worked actively for a stronger United Nations and the creation of a “Second Chamber” to which people would be elected rather than being appointed by governments as is the case for the UN General Assembly. He published Trois experiences federalistes (USA, Suisse, S.D.N.) on federalism as an approach to a stronger world structure.

Privat’s vision of the unity of the world included a strong emphasis on the equality between women in men − this in a country where, at the time, women could not vote or hold public office.

Today, much of the cosmopolitan-world citizen emphasis is on understanding the forces leading to world integration. Not all “globalization” works for the benefit of all people.  Nevertheless, trends are to ever grater interaction among the representatives of governments, transnational corporations, and non-governmental organizations – social movements. There is less emphasis on a common language of communication such as Esperanto.  It is likely that English plays the role that some hoped that Esperanto would become, although Esperanto still has its chanpions.  Privat is an important symbol of those who worked between the two World Wars for new positive attitudes and strong inter-governmental structures that would create a climate of peace.  The tasks still  face us today.

o: Edmond Privat, drawing, 1925 (made during the UK in Geneva), photo archive of AdUEA, BHH of eo: UEA. By Oszkár Lázár (1890–), Geneva, Rue Lévrier 3, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizen.

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Denis de Rougemon Rapprochement of Cultures.

Denis de Rougemont (1906-1985), The Future is within us.

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

Self-government will be; first of all; the art of getting people to meddle in things which concern them.  It will soon call for the skill of challenging once again; decisions which concern them; and which have been taken without them…Self-government specifically consists in finding one’s own way along uncharted paths.       


Denis de Rougemont.

         Denis de Rougemont; was an intellectual leader among world citizens often walking on uncharted paths.  A French-speaking Swiss; after his studies of literature at the University of Geneva; at 25, he moved to Paris where he quickly became part of a group of young; unorthodox thinkers who were developing a “Personalist” philosophy. 

The Personalists around Emmanuel Mounier, Alexandre Marc, Robert Aron and Arnaud Dandieu were trying to develop an approach based on the ‘Person’ to counter the strong intellectual currents of communism and fascism; then at their height in European society. (1)  De Rougemont was one of the writers of the 1931; Manifesto of the New Order; with its emphasis on developing a new cultural base for society.

Robert Aron. By Norabrune, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Powers of the State.

         For de Rougemont; revolutionaries attempting to seize power; even from the most repressive regimes; invariably fall into the power structures; they hoped to eliminate.  Only the power we have over ourselves is synonymous with freedom.  For the first time; the person has not only the need; but also the power and ability to choose his future.

He wrote; “The powers of the State are in direct proportion to the inertia of the citizens.  The State will be tempted to abuse them; as soon as it thinks there are signs that the citizens are secretly tempted; to let themselves slide back into the conditions of subjects…Dictatorship requires no imagination: all we have to do is to allow ourselves to slide.  But the survival of mankind in an atmosphere; we can breath presupposes the glimpsed vision of happiness to be achieved; a ridge to be crossed; a horizon.

         “ The model of society; which Napoleon established by a stroke of genius with a view to war and nothing else; is the permanent state of emergency; which was to be the formula of the totalitarian states from 1930 onward. Everything is militarized; that is, capable of being mobilized at any time, spirit, body and goods.”

The Nazi movement.

         In 1935; De Rougemont lived in Germany as a university lecturer in Frankfurt.  There he was able to see the Nazi movement; at first hand and had seen Hitler speaking to crowds. He later wrote of this experience. “The greatest theologian of our time, Karl Barth wrote:

A prophet has no biography; he rises and falls with his mission.”

This may be said of Hitler; the anti-prophet of our time, the prophet of an empty power, of a dead past, of a total catastrophe; whose agent he was to become.  Hitler; better than orthodox  Communists, Fascists, Falangists and Maoists; answered the basic question of the century; (which is religious in the primary sociological sense of rebinding) by offering a comradeship, a togetherness, rituals, from the beat of drums by night, and by day to the sacred ceremonies of Nuremberg.”

         One of de Rougemont’s early essays was “Principes d’une politique de pessimisme active”. He and those around him saw the dangers and the opportunities; but were unable to draw together a large enough group of people to change the course of events.  As he wrote “From the early thirties of this century; young people who were awakened; but without ‘resources’ were laying the foundations of the personalist movement.  They knew that the totalitarians were going to win — at least for a tragic season — and tried to put into words the reasons for their refusal; in the face of this short-lived triumph.”

covershot. By CHRIS DRUMM, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Love in the Western World (L’Amour et l’Occident).

         In 1939, he published his most widely read book Love in
the Western World (L’Amour et l’Occident)
where he traced the idea of
romantic love from the Manichaeins, through theBogomiles, to the
Cathari to the poetry of the troubadours.

         During the war years, he lived in the USA writing and broadcasting on the French section of the Voice of America. In 1946 he returned to Europe, living most of the rest of his life near Geneva.

There he became highly active in the movement for European federalism, but he was critical of the concepts of a European Union as integration of existing States; He remained loyal to the position he set out in the mid-1930s. “Man is not made on the scale of the huge conglomerates which one tries to foist on him as ‘his fatherland’; they are far too large or too little for him.  Too little, if one seeks to confine his spiritual horizons to the frontiers of the Nation-State; too large if one tries to make them the locus of this direct contact with the flesh and with the earth which is necessary to Man”.

The Federalism.

         He put an emphasis on culture stressing a common European civilization but with great respect for the contributions of different European regions.  His idea of federalism was to build on existing regions, especially trans-frontier regions.  He was an active defender of ecological causes, seeing in the destruction of nature one of the marks of the over-centralization of State power. 

Thus he was stringing against the nuclear power industry which he saw as leading to State centralism.  As he wrote:

Starting afresh means building a new parallel society, a society whose formulae will not be imposed on us from above, will not come down to us from a capital city, but will on the contrary be improvised and invented on the plane of everyday decision-making and will be ordered in accordance with the desire for liberty which alone unites us when it is the objective of each and all.”

  • See
    Jean-Louis Loubet Del Bayle Les Non-Conformistes des années 30 (Paris :
    Seuil, 1969)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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Rex Tugwell Portraits of World Citizens.

Rex Tugwell: Planning and Action for Rural Reconstruction.

Featured Image:  Rexford G. Tugwell, administrator, Resettlement Administration.

Rex Tugwell (1891 – 1979 )  active in the world citizenship movement, was an economist and an advocate of government planning.

Back to Nature

As world-wide climate change has made the issues of land use, water, desertification, and land reform vital issues; it is useful to recall the contributions of Rexford Tugwell; whose birth anniversary we mark on 10 July .

He did his PhD studies at Columbia University in New York City.  He was influenced by Scott Nearing in the Economics Department and John Dewey in Philosophy. 

Scott Nearing was a socialist very interested by the efforts of planning in the USSR.  Nearing was also a follower of Leo Tolstoy.  He gave up university teaching; bought a farm in New England and became an advocate of “Back to Nature” and simple living.

Scott Nearing, 1883- Abstract/medium: 1 photographic print. By Miscellaneous Items in High Demand, PPOC, Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John Dewey, bust portrait. By Underwood & Underwood, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Leo Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana, 1908, the first color photo portrait in Russia. By Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The “Brain Trust”

Rex Tugwell started teaching at Columbia; and his writings on the need for economic planning was quickly noted after the 1929 Wall Street “crash” and the start of the Great Depression. He was asked to be a member of the early circle around Franklin D. Roosevelt; then Governor of New York. 

The circle of economists became known as the “Brain Trust“; and they prepared proposals and drafted speeches for Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign for President in 1932.  Once elected; Roosevelt named Tugwell as Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture to work closely with the Secretary of Agriculture; Henry A. Wallace.

Franklin D. Roosevelt. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Cropped photograph of Henry Agard Wallace, 1888–1965, bust portrait, facing left (1940).D.N. Townsend, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dust Bowls

The agriculture sector was one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy by the 1929 – 1939 Great Depression.  To meet the war needs of the First World War; US agriculture had been stimulated.  Land which  had never been plowed was opened to grow wheat and other grains. 

There was an increase in the production of animals for meat.  Much of the land opened for grain was not really appropriate; having been used in the past for pasture.  With several years of drought; the soil eroded and turned to dust; swept away by winds.  Thus the term “Dust Bowls” which covered much of the Middle West and Western states such as Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico.

An Agriculture Scientist

Tugwell and Henry Wallace who had been the editor of a leading farm journal and an agriculture scientist concerned with seeds; saw things in very much the same way; as reflected in a book each wrote the same year. (1)  Tugwell as Undersecretary; helped in the creation of the Soil Conservation Service in 1933 to restore poor quality land; and to promote better agricultural methods. 

Greenbelt Towns

He also helped to create the Resettlement Administration; whose aim was to create new healthy communities for the rural unemployed relatively close to urban centers; where they would have access to services – what came to be called “Greenbelt towns.”

As Henry Wallace; testifying before Congress in 1938 concerning a program of loans to farm tenants  said :

” Our homestead and reclamation movements were aimed primarily at putting agricultural land of the Nation into the hands of owner-operators.  But we failed to such an extent that a large proportion of our best farm land fell into the hands of speculators and absentee landlords.  Today, we are faced with the problem of stemming the tide of tenancy and reconstructing our agriculture in a fundamental manner by promoting farm ownership among tillers of the soil.”

Rex the Red

Tugwell pushed for government planning for food production by being able to control production, prices and costs.  He was influenced by the economic thinking of John Maynard Keynes on the role that government could play through intervention in the economy.  However to political opponents, Tugwell’s views seemed closer to the planning of Joseph Stalin than Maynard Keynes, and  he started being called in the press “Rex the Red”. Tugwell was pushed out of the Department of Agriculture.

Joseph Stalin in uniform at the Tehran conference (1943). By U.S. Signal Corps photo., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John Maynard Keynes (1933). By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Planning Commission.

He returned to New York City which had just elected a progressive mayor with hopes to transform the city, Fiorello La Guardia.  La Guardia selected Tugwell to become the first director of the newly formed New York City Planning Commission.  The Planning Commission developed proposals for public housing, new bridges and public parks.  It was one of the first efforts at over-all planning by a city government.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Roosevelt named Tugwell as Governor of Puerto Rico.  At the time the Governor was appointed and not elected.  Tugwell was Governor from 1941 to 1946.  He created the Puerto Rico Planning, Urbanization and Zoning Board in 1942.  He worked to overcome years of neglect by Washington of the island.  He improved the University of Puerto Rico so that more Puerto Ricans would be prepared to deal adequately with the economy and government service. (2)

Mayor LaGuardia. By I.am.a.qwerty, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Committee to Frame a World Constitution

At the end of the Second World War, Tugwell left government service to return to academic life.  He joined the economic faculty of the University of Chicago to teach economic planning.  At the University of Chicago at the time, there had been created an interdisciplinary Committee to Frame a World Constitution to make proposals for world institutions adequate to meet the post-war challenges.  Tugwell saw the need for global planning at a world level and became an active member of the Committee. (3)

The new Progressive Party. 

As the 1948 campaign for President was approaching and the Cold War tensions between the USA and the USSR were heating up, there was an effort in the USA to create a new political party more open than the “Truman Doctrine” to negotiations with the USSR as well as stronger measures for poverty reduction within the USA.  Henry Wallace, who had been Franklin Roosevelt’s second Vice President was chosen to lead the new Progressive Party. 

Wallace chose Tugwell to be chairman of the Progressive Party Platform Committee charged with setting out the aims and program proposals for the campaign. Tugwell, reflecting the efforts of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, wrote and had accepted the main foreign policy framework of the party.  “The Progressive Party believes that enduring peace among the peoples of the world community is possible only through world law.

The Atomic Age

Continued anarchy among nations in the atomic age threatens our civilization and humanity itself with annihilation.  The only ultimate alternative to war is the abandonment of the principle of the coercion of sovereignties by sovereignties and the adoption of the principle of the just enforcement upon individuals of world federal law enacted by a world federal legislature with limited but adequate power to safeguard the common defense and general welfare of all mankind.”

Ten years later, when as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I met Tugwell, he had largely left the field of economic planning to write about political leadership, especially the style and experiences of Franklin Roosevelt.

Department of Agriculture

Today, however, the issues that Tugwell raised in the Department of Agriculture have become world issues: adequate food production and distribution at a price that most people can pay, protection of the soil, water and forests, land ownership and land reform, rural housing and non-farm employment in rural areas.  We build on the efforts of those who came before.

Notes:

1) Henry A. Wallace. New Frontiers (New York: Reynal and Hitchock, 1934).

   Rexford G. Tugwell. The Battle for Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1935).

2) On conditions in Puerto Rico see Rexford G. Tugwell. The Stricken Land (New York: Doubleday, 1947).

3) Each year on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, he would write his reflections on the year past including the debates within the Committee to Frame a World Constitution.  These yearly reflections have been brought together in Rexford G. Tugwell. A Chronicle of Jeopardy: 1945-1955(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955).

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace Education of World Citizenships.

International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace.

photo by 995645 in Pixabay.

24 April; International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace was established by the U.N. General Assembly and first observed on 24 April 2019.

The resolution establishing the Day is in part a reaction to the “America First, America First” cry of the U.S. President Donald Trump; but other states are also following narrow nationalistic policies and economic protectionism.

The Day stresses the use of multilateral decision-making in achieving the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Yet as the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said:

“Multilaterism is not only a matter of confronting shared threats, it is about seizing common opportunities.”

António Guterres

The UN General Secretariat António Guterres (2019). By Cancillería Argentina, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

United Nations.

One hour after Trygve Lie arrived in New York as the first Secretary-General of the United Nations in March 1946; the Ambassador of Iran handed him the complaint of his country against the presence of Soviet troops in northern Iran. From that moment on; the U.N. has lived with constant conflict-resolution tasks to be accomplished. The isolated diplomatic conference of the past; like the Congress of Vienna in 1815 after the Napoleonic wars has been replaced by an organization continually at work on all its manifold problems. If the world is to move forward to a true world society; this can be done only through an organization such as the U.N; which is based on universality, continuity and comprehensiveness.

Today’s world society evolved from an earlier international structure based on states and their respective goals; often termed “the national interest”. This older system was based on the idea that there is an inevitable conflict among social groups: the class struggle for the Marxists; the balance of power for the Nationalists. Thus; negotiations among government representatives are a structured way of mitigating conflicts; but not a way of moving beyond conflict.

The U.N. Charter.

However; in the U.N. there is a structural tension between national sovereignty and effective international organization. In the measure that an international organization is effective; it is bound to impair the freedom of action of its members; and in the measure that the member states assert their freedom of action; they impair the effectiveness of the international organization. The U.N. Charter itself testifies to that unresolved tension by stressing on the one hand the “sovereign equality” of all member states and; on the other; assigning to the permanent five members of the Security Council a privileged position.

We the Peoples.

However; what was not foreseen in 1945; when the U.N. Charter was drafted was the increasing international role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). “We the Peoples” in whose name the United Nations Charter is established; are present in the activities of the U.N. through non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. NGOs have played a crucial role in awareness-building and in the creation of new programs in the fields of population, refugees and migrants, women and children, human rights and food. Now; there is a strong emphasis on the consequences of climate change; as the issue has moved beyond the reports of climate experts to broad and strong NGO actions.

This increase in the U.N. related non-governmental action arises out of the work and ideas of many people active in social movements: spiritual, ecological, human potential, feminist, and human rights. Many individuals saw that their activities had a world dimension; and that the United Nations and such Specialized Agencies as UNESCO provided avenues for action. Thus; as we mark the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace; we recognize that there is the growth, world wide, of a new spirit which is inclusive, creative and thus life-transforming.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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