A world pushing for changes or pushed by changes?

Seung-taek_LeeChanges are an essential and unavoidable part of our system and particularly of our present reality. The real challenge is the way that we face those changes when they come in the form of interconnected crises. The adoption of an active or a passive political attitude determines whether the world is submerged or not into the inertia of crisis after crisis, haunted by the threat of more, diverse and new patterns of emergencies.

There is a common feeling that the world needs urgent structural reforms mainly because of the overwhelming reality that the financial and migration crises have brought to the political stage. However, the general response has been a strong defence of national interests without addressing the real weakness: the fall of the global institutional structure. Indeed, in times of crisis, the exaltation of national values and sovereignty becomes the axis around current political values. In fact, this is a logical reaction when global institutions are not able to take critical decisions to tackle unfolding crises and assure a framework for prevention. It is in this context that the gaps of international system are filled by defensive national expressions that tend to protect themselves without seeing the global origin, impact and growth of those instabilities.

 Politics is a powerful tool that must be at the service of a community and an engine of development during periods of crisis in a truly global institutional framework. Such integrated framework should be endorsed in nature and dimension by the will of committed citizens and their engagement on full aspects of their performance. Is it here that relies the power of politics.

The more distance a government takes from the citizenship the more authoritarian becomes their political system. An equation that even in the context of left or right wing it is definitely less democratic.

 Let me put it in cynical terms: it doesn´t really matters if politics are run by an elite -as it´s a common tradition in the political system- what is really a challenge is to achieve the successful compatibility of elite and citizenship interests. All this analysis is just on political management but this misbalance is extended to the whole “political apparatus”. It is in this sense that lack of ethics is worse than the own existence of powerful elites.

It is also true that discussing ethics in politics provokes the ironic smile of skeptics who see moral high attitude as utopias that do not fit in current political structures. However, it is just a matter of being smart enough to embrace all interests and reduce loses to a minimum. We have seeing in climate change policies that, although they require strong investments, they also bring more profits through by the optimization of resources. The same could be applied to politics: the reshaping of  traditional forms of “doing politics”, which try to avoid the vicious circle of this “monster of bureaucracy”, is what could bring the necessary changes that current global standards demands.

This is a good approach to follow not just from national political systems but also the pressure from global institutions and leaders. That´s the road, external pressure from international institutions, marked by what could be identified as “universal trends”, can accelerate in-depth national reforms of political behaviours driven from inside. Creating a balanced, ethical and accountable global political system will help bring the necessary “remedies” to address national political imbalances.

Crises are an opportunity for transformation and the world has to be institutionally resilient to face those crises embracing a political ethical approach and not be “drifted” each time of a new instability. Uncertainty is the connecting thread that is driving the world, which means that is crucial not only to build resilience but also to create versatile systems with enough flexibility to adapt to new realities.

 It reminds me of Marcel Proust: “If only for the sake of elegance, I try to remain morally pure”. Let´s strive to be morally pure in politics… just to be elegant.



Sculpture: Seung-taek Lee, Earth Play, 1979-89. Balloon painted with oil, 500cm diameter. Frieze Sculpture Park. Regent´s Park, London. U.K http://friezelondon.com/sculpture-park/



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