Planetary Project: Identifying Funding Sources for Global Causes
Planetary Project: From Sustainable Development to Managed Harmony discussed basic principles of a new human civilization and a new economic system. Since its publication the world has seen the emergence of new challenges, risks and threats. All of them are expected effects of globalization. They reflect the weaknesses of the Western globalist scenario and, paradoxically, embody a historical inevitability.
Social practice shows that even the need for economic cooperation and joint efforts to resolve global issues has not brought about the kind of international integration that could eradicate ideological, philosophical and moral contractions. On the contrary, these contradictions are aggravated by the asymmetry of wealth distribution between countries with different economic, political, technological or social needs and capacities. Some nations have managed to retain superpower status; others have strengthened their position as satellite nations; while others have increased their international influence based on their ‘economic miracles’.
Yet, most countries are lagging behind in their development and have to help themselves to what is left on the dinner table. This stimulates aggressive behavior in some of these countries’ elites. It can take different but equally destructive forms: from revanchism to ‘restoring historical justice’ to a priori adventurist projects of building quasi- and pseudo-nationhood. These extremely dangerous projects are in essence scenarios of alternative globalization. They often take place in countries living through a period of internal instability or even humanitarian disaster.
Today, tension, conflicts, and latent and local wars tend to mark the borderline between different cultures, belief systems, lifestyles and spiritual principles. It is increasingly hard to see an economic agenda behind the ideological antagonisms of different political systems, ethnic groups, and nations. It is much easier to detect the ideological positions of followers of various national, socio-legal and religious doctrines that serve as a trigger for certain economic and political activity. It seems that the 19th and 20th century historians, philosophers and sociologists such as Nikolay Danilevsky, Oswald Spengler, Arnord Toynbee, Thorsten Sellin and Samuel Huntington were right in warning us that this could happen. Besides, a post-modernist paradigm of interpreting history is now more justified. It implies that the Weberian rather than Marxist model is more suitable for understanding the social and political realities of everyday life. In any case, we must conclude that the classical Marxist concept of historical objectivity has been diluted or even seriously deformed in recent years. It requires considerable academic review or even total revision.
Since 2014, the world has gone back to the state of Cold War. From the macroeconomic point of view, it is characterized by recession. The next wave of financial-economic crisis will be more destructive, and is expected to take place in 2017–18. A drop in oil prices and the development of alternative energy promise new, unpredictable surprises. It is also evident that while some global industries meet the requirements of the Sixth Techno-economic Paradigm the general energy and transportation infrastructure as well primary industries remain underdeveloped. They cause damage to the environment and lead to the depletion of natural resources. These and other events, trends and processes manifest the deepening of the global systemic crisis affecting our entire civilization. It pursues the strategy of galloping economic growth and professes a linear understanding of scientific and technological progress totally controlled by capitalist interests. This crisis will inevitably lead to a global catastrophe that is capable of putting an end to life on Earth.
Social issues are gaining extra importance in this global context including: hunger, poverty, unemployment, global epidemics, high child mortality levels, low life expectancy, violation of human rights, exploitation, terrorism and organized crime.
The Planetary Project looks at this situation from two angles. On the one hand, we must recognize that today, more than ever before, humanity recognizes the need to unite to tackle common challenges of hitherto unseen levels. This is because these challenges can only be tackled through the joint efforts of everyone on this planet. On the other hand, our optimistic ancestors had envisaged the early 21st century to be an era of enlightened reason. The reality was a return of obscurantism, bigotry, and barbarism akin to the Middle Ages. Many international political, business, and cultural alliances and projects have not survived the test of time. Currently, mankind seems to be farther from the stage where it could grow out of a quantitative concept to a qualitative one than it was 20 or even 10 years ago.
There is an urgent need to transform the Earth’s population into humanity as a single entity of world history with a higher level of self-organization. It implies a new phase of planetary evolution at the centre of which must be the integral person. Using the synergy of collective reason, the integral person would be able to become the force of co-creation in union with the creative forces of nature. These forces would be aimed at restoring the environment and expanding organic life into outer space. However, the first test of humanity will be to implement a program of planetary anti-crisis management aimed at resolving global issues.
Currently, the global community has made little progress in this important task. This is despite the continued work of global institutions and the adoption in the 1990s of the doctrine of sustainable development and the signing of the Kyoto Protocol.
It all means that there is a clear understanding of the nature and scope of global problems and the urgency of resolving them. There is a whole range of internationally legitimate instruments designed to do that. Why then are the problems only getting worse? What is the real reason for human inactivity, procrastination, and low efficiency in saving its own species and habitat? Is it just a lack of financial resources? It is clear that poorer countries just do not have the money to clean the environment and resolve social problems. Most of them are plagued with epidemics and have a huge national debt. They experience marked dependence on superpowers, transnational corporations, their former colonial powers, or stronger neighbors in terms of resources, technology or political leverage. Nevertheless, we must recognize that even well-established international organizations are experiencing funding shortages. This includes the United Nations whose mandate is to save the world from war, nature from destruction, and human rights from violation.
We do not agree that the modern world cannot provide enough funding for planetary needs. A source of this funding simply must exist since: industrial production continues; mineral resources are exploited; and the efforts of billions of people supply surplus value and encourage the growth of capital. Obviously, many nations are behaving selfishly. They are ready to pick up the tab to fund global anti-crisis measures only if these projects address issues that concern them directly. The same is true of ratification of international agreements that limit intervention into ecosystems, mineral resource extraction, manufacturing, agriculture and the defense industry. Most countries are not in a hurry to limit their expenditure - they donate to resolve global problems following the principle of not burdening themselves too much. Any risk of surpassing these comfortable payment levels is considered a violation of national interests or national sovereignty.
Is it possible that the main problem is how to define a funding source and develop funding mechanisms?
The purpose of the new Planetary Project book we are introducing in this paper is to find answers to these questions. We believe that to resolve global issues and become a united planetary civilization the first task we as humanity must fulfill is to ensure a financial basis of global, anti-crisis, reforming and modernizing activity without doing damage to the existing economic systems. We are confident this possibility exists in the area of global economic phenomena, and it has the effects that were pointed out in the previous Planetary Project book1. These phenomena include rational planetary resource management, planetary property and planetary rent.
Characterizing planet Earth as a habitat of organic life, the famous Russian natural scientist and philosopher, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences V.I. Vernadsky said, “In the geological history of the biosphere, man has a great future if he understands it, and does not use his mind and his labor to destroy himself”2.
To follow the great cosmist’s advice to use people’s reason and labor for the purposes of salvation and creation, we need to make sure that we have: the right ownership conditions for planetary resources; legitimate procedures for calculating and appropriating planetary rent; and appropriate institutions for implementation. We must be able to include planetary rent into the economic cycle and distribute the rent revenues fairly as special income belonging to the entire humanity. We are confident that by investing all possible financial sources into new economic activity areas across the world, environmental protection and humanitarian aid could alleviate major global problems. The authority of international institutions would increase including the United Nations with its special agencies and programs.
In this connection, the academic community has a major task to fulfill, which is to overcome economocentrism, defined as viewing economic factors as primary vis-?-vis any other social spheres3. These considerations highlight the importance of analyzing economic models and processes. More importantly, they emphasize the urgency of comprehensive political, social, culturological, historical and economics research that goes beyond mere economic factors of social life. A progressive route of development implies that all the subsystems of our civilization (economic, political, social and cultural) should work in harmony with each other and with the natural environment and the planetary ecosystem. From the Planetary Project perspective, this harmony cannot be an ad hoc achievement, but rather a product of purposeful activity. It can be reproduced as a managed system.
How can we, in a just and effective way, distribute income (e.g., the world GDP) and use the investment potential of all types of capital including: social, intellectual, entrepreneurial and natural? What role can we and must we attribute to the planetary ownership of all nations of the global resources that contribute to creating and appropriating planetary rent? It is extremely important to address these and other similar issues if we are to implement the concept of managed harmony in the development of our civilization. We hope that this book will start a wide and open discussion of these issues.
1. Bezgodov A.V. Planetary Project: From Sustainable Development to Managed Harmony. Xlibris, 2015.
2. Vernadsky V.I. Biosfera (The Biosphere). Moscow: Nauka, 1967. p. 355.
3. Matiukhin A. Economikotsentrizm v rossiiskom liberalnom myshlenii (Economocentrism in Russian Liberal Thinking. Obozrevatel (Observer), 2011. No. 11. p. 22.