International: Thinking to the rescue of the UN to save the world


In a context of extreme climatic urgency, neither States nor companies are able to respond to the challenges of the anthropocene. The Internation collective, formed on the initiative of the critic and art historian Hans Ulrich Obrist and the philosopher Bernard Stiegler, and joined by numerous personalities from all over the world, proposed on 10 January, during a press conference at the UN in Geneva, avenues and methods to overcome this state of affairs. The journalist Bernard Umbrecht followed the work of this collective and gives us his analysis.

Greta Thunberg : " We cannot solve a crisis if we do not treat it as a crisis. "

Antonio Guterres : " If I had to choose a phrase to describe the state of the world, I would say that we find ourselves in a world where global challenges are increasingly integrated and responses are increasingly fragmented, and if this is not reversed, it is a recipe for disaster. Now, if we look at global politics and geopolitical tensions, with the global economy and mega-trends - climate change, movement of people, digitization - the truth is that they are increasingly linked, interfering more and more with each other. And indeed the problems are global but the responses are fragmented. ». (Davos speech, 24 January 2019).

On 10 January 2020, the 100th anniversary of the League of Nations founded in Geneva was commemorated. It became, in 1945, the United Nations. Both organizations were created in the aftermath of the First and Second World Wars. The centenary is taking place against a backdrop of extreme climate emergency, with many States led by reactionary and denying politicians while others inspire little confidence. Not to mention those who, while pretending to know that "the house is burning", continue to look the other way or fail to respond to the issues at stake. At the same time, global inequalities are increasing and regional crises and tensions are dangerously close to developing. They are fuelled by economic wars and the dramatic consequences of global warming, which is already affecting all the human rights to life, health, housing and water.

In this context and on this occasion, on 10 January 2020, the International Group proposed to the UN the main lines of the work undertaken since September 2018, a global approach to face the necessary transition, and ways to respond positively to the speeches that António Guterres made on 10 September 2018 and 24 January 2019, as well as those of Greta Thunberg before the National Assembly in France on 23 July last, and then before the United Nations in New York on 23 September last.

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Internation is a transdisciplinary collective that was formed at the Serpentine Gallery in London on September 22, 2018, on the initiative of Hans Ulrich Obrist and Bernard Stiegler, and joined by numerous personalities from around the world (scientists, mathematicians, lawyers, economists, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists, doctors, artists, engineers, business leaders, activists, designers).
The collective is based at the Centre Pompidou's Institute for Research and Innovation.

As explained below, in the Thinkerview Bernard Stiegler video excerpt, the economic war we are in, which was triggered by the conservative revolution and reinforced by digital disruptions, is destroying the world through the acceleration of entropy production. He emphasizes how epistemological the issue is, because we are no longer in Newtonian physics and we need to rethink the scientific bases of economics. The "Newtonian" economy of the old world ignores the laws of thermodynamics. We live in the anthropocene that the philosopher defines in its three entropic dimensions:

" The anthropocene is [...] what should be characterized as a liquidation of localities and a general and global increase in thermodynamic entropy as an increase in energy dissipation, biological entropy as destruction of biodiversity, and informational entropy as destruction of noodiversity...."
(Bernard Stiegler : What's a Band-Aid? Editions les Liens qui libèrent(see page 77).

The toxicity of the anthropocene results in an irrational economic organization incapable of taking care of the biosphere, biodiversity and human populations. It is therefore necessary to introduce the question of the anthropocene into that of rationalism in order to work towards the transformation of the bases of the economy by placing them under the sign of the fight against entropy. And to do this, a new global accounting system must be devised to take account of it. With industrial capitalism, knowledge has been subjected to the production of profits, research subjected to speculation, calculability and proletarianization.

The characteristic of the human species is its exosomatization. In order to live and develop, it creates instruments for itself that it does not have at birth. They are "outside the body". Man produces exorganisms, artificial organs which themselves range from the simplest to the most complex, pools to swim like a fish, airplanes to fly like a bird. This is the result of a long evolution during which he first learned to carve flint. The human environment is technical. These exorganisms are entropic and therefore anthropogenic. But they are also pharmaka, poisons like remedies. And require prescriptions to become negentropic.

Territories laboratories

Such a care policy can only be local. Only the locality allows a process of differing from entropy to take place. On the basis of these considerations, which analyse the reasons why neither states nor companies are able to respond to the challenges of the anthropocene era, the Internation collective proposed on 10 January at a press conference in Geneva, tracks and methods to overcome this state of affairs.

" The work of the Internation collective is based on a proposal to experiment in networked laboratory territories with new research methods known as contributory research methods, associating researchers from different disciplines and actors from the territory (associations, companies, public actors, inhabitants), in order to create solvent economic activities fighting against entropy. The hypothesis is that this proposal could become operational through the publication by the UN of a call for tenders inviting actors from candidate territories to collectively engage in such contributory research approaches. "summarizes the news release of the group that advocates the formation and networking of laboratory territories.

The concept of internation was borrowed from the anthropologist Marcel Mauss, who developed it around the 1920s. In his reflection on the nation, when he himself was a member of the Socialist International, he warned that the nation as a locality was not obsolete and could not dissolve into the global. He proposed the international as opposed to internationalism as much as to the absence of a nation, the a-nation. If he said this in the face of internationalism, which was qualified as proletarian, we are today faced with another form of internationalism, a globalism that destroys the singularity of localities and is based on the dogma of the pseudo-self-regulation of markets.

Moscow has emigrated to Wall-street. Marcel Mauss's statement can be broken down as follows. If the nation is a scale of locality, it must neither dissolve the infra-national itself, a strong tendency in France, nor be absorbed by the supra-national while thinking about heteronomies, the starting point of Mr. Mauss' thinking, and by healing the multiple scales of localities, cities and regions, but also by taking care of biological, social, informational localities. By cultivating their singularities in their diversity, we avoid the babelisation of the world, i.e. the standardization and uniformity of local languages, cultures, know-how, living and thinking. I mentioned these issues of locality. here and there. The definition of the international can include the dimension of a community of effort, as specified below, as well as the sharing of local knowledge.

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If I have summarized the general principles that guide the International group, I will not go into all the richness of 16 months of collective work which can be broken down into nine approaches: 1. epistemology, 2. territorial dynamics, 3. Contributory economics, 4. Contributory research, 5. Internation as an institution, 6. Contributory design, 7. Ethics in the Anthropocene era, 8. Addiction and the dopaminergic system, 9.

This was presented in Geneva on 10 January and is expected to appear in book form at the end of January. The recent Entretiens du nouveau monde industriel (New Industrial World Talks) were an important milestone in the development of the group's theses. (Those interested can follow these contributions here.)

Towards a global system of accountability

However, I would like to mention one of them, that of the lawyer, a specialist in labour law, Alain Supiot, a professor at the Collège de France. Below is an excerpt from his speech. In the wake of the Treaty of Versailles, which founded the League of Nations, the International Labour Organization was also created, which affirmed that there could be no peace without social justice. Its constitution, the fruit of the most deadly experiences, was and still is based on the following expectations:
"Whereas a universal and lasting peace can only be founded on the basis of social justice;
Whereas there are working conditions which for many people involve injustice, misery and deprivation, which generate such discontent that universal peace and harmony are endangered, and whereas there is an urgent need to improve these conditions : for example, with regard to the regulation of working hours, the establishment of a maximum length of the working day and week, the recruitment of labour, the fight against unemployment, the guarantee of a wage that ensures decent living conditions, the protection of workers against general or occupational diseases and accidents resulting from work, the protection of children, young people and women, old-age and invalidity pensions, the defence of the interests of workers employed abroad, the affirmation of the principle of equal pay for equal work, the affirmation of the principle of freedom of association, the organization of vocational and technical education and other similar measures;
Whereas the non-adoption by any nation of a truly humane labour regime impedes the efforts of other nations wishing to improve the lot of workers in their own countries" ...

The ILO moved to Geneva in the summer of 1920.

In his talk at the Entretiens du nouveau monde industriel held at the Centre Pompidou on 17 and 18 December, after examining the question of law as a technique, which brings him to the questions of the cybernetic age, which claims that we could do without rights and norms today, Alain Supiot comes to those of the territorial inscription of laws and the "de-anchoring" of the legal order in its relationship to the locality. He recalls that Montesquieu pleaded for the relativity of human laws. This was to include them in the diversity of the characteristics of the localities to which they applied, whereas international law is today generally supported by the vision of a world made uniform by an equal reduction to human rights and the spontaneous order of the market, a world reduced to the state of contracting particles subjecting the general interest to the rules of private law. The very notion of limits seems taboo today. He notes that the weakness of current international texts is that they reason in terms of rights and not obligations.

In the above excerpt, the jurist proposes to use a peculiarity of the French language to distinguish globalization from globalization :

" ...the problem of our time is...not to have to choose between globalization and national retrenchment, but to build a world legal order based on solidarity and respect for the diversity of peoples and cultures. The French language offers us a word to name this third perspective, with the distinction it allows between globalization and globalization. Globalization, in the primary meaning of this word (where "world" is opposed to "filth", just as "cosmos" is opposed to "chaos"), consists in making a physical universe humanly livable: in making our planet a habitable place.

In other words, to globalize is to master the different ecological, social and cultural dimensions of the globalization process. And this control requires, in any case, solidarity mechanisms that link national solidarity to local or international solidarity. ".

Alain Supiot proposes to think of the world, in the tradition of Montesquieu, as a mosaic of cultures, history and traditions, to stop the race to the lowest social and ecological bidder, and denounces the schizophrenia of a world order in which health and food recommendations, such as those of the WHO and the FAO, as well as educational ones, are contradicted by those of the IMF or the WTO.

In conclusion, it proposes three principles of global governmentality:

  • Solidarity as a response to interdependence with the idea of a community of effort that does not require everyone to do the same thing but in the same neglectful sense. It is a way of responding to A. Guterrez's concern for fragmentation.
  • In the field of economic democracy, there is a need to give employees the power to question why and how one works. He insists on the potentialities of one of the dimensions contained in the Declaration of Philadelphia Employment: the employment of workers in occupations in which they have the satisfaction of giving the fullest measure of their skill and knowledge and making the best possible contribution to the common welfare. This would provide a way out of a situation in which, in the name of job preservation, anything can be produced regardless of the toxicity of the process and product of work.
  • It is also necessary to affirm the primacy of ecological and social standards over economic and financial standards and to include companies in an international law of responsibility. The principle of ecological and social responsibility is essential because the current "world order" is a mess of widespread irresponsibility, particularly on the part of large corporations. Clients have as much responsibility as subcontractors.

Bernard Umbrecht (The Rhine Jump)

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