Global Citizenship

Imagine All the People: Advancing a Global Citizens Movement

Time for a Global Citizens Movement

The popular movements that forged nation-states over the last few centuries developed overarching national identities that encompassed preexisting communities. In the Planetary Phase, we need a still more inclusive form of consciousness and association: a worldwide cultural and political awakening united under the banner Earth. We can observe a foreshadowing of such a movement in the growing chorus of associated citizens calling for a fundamental change of course. Organizations and individuals have worked assiduously across the panoply of environmental and social problems the world faces. The large annual gatherings of the World Social Forum, the worldwide protests against the Iraq War, global movements for social justice and the environment, and coordinated campaigns to influence international policy are the tangible expressions of rising public concern. The world could well be in an even more degraded state without such perseverance.

[quote]The historic underpinning of potential unity lies in the entanglement of people, nature, and generations by long webs of economic, cultural, and environmental connectivity.[/quote]

Still, cause-driven agendas limit the capacity of civil society to address underlying structural drivers of our world-in-crisis, while organizational division undermines its collective influence on the direction of development. Partial and dispersed actions, while laudatory, are insufficient in aggregate to open a new pathway for the global future. In the absence of an overarching vision and strategy, systemic deterioration on a larger scale overwhelms painstaking gains in specific locales and on particular issues. The civil society upsurge of recent decades both has paved the way for a more coherent global movement—and highlighted its necessity. The global transformation will require the awakening of a new social actor: a vast movement of global citizens expressing a supranational identity and building new institutions for a planetary age. Such a global citizens movement (GCM) would work on all fronts, comprehending the various struggles for the environment and justice as different expressions of a common project. The idea and practice of global citizenship is spreading, but a coherent GCM that engages masses of people remains latent, ready to be born. Giving life to this critical actor, now missing from the world stage, stands as the next phase in the evolution of civil society activism.

Rooted in principles elaborated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Agenda 21, the Earth Charter, the Great Transition, and scores of other documents, a vital GCM would promote a culture of peace and non-violence, nurturing ascendant values of human solidarity, ecological resilience, and quality of life. With adherents united by a shared identity as citizens of a nascent global culture and polity, a GCM would embrace diverse perspectives and movements as separate expressions of a common project.

[quote]The global transformation requires the awakening of a vast movement of global citizens expressing a supranational identity and building new institutions for a planetary age.[/quote]

The GCM is best envisioned as a polycentric political and cultural rising, rather than as a single organized entity. Here we can learn from past movements, such as the civil-rights and labor movements in the USA, which contained multiple organizational forms and diffuse centers of influence, all working toward broadly shared goals. Likewise, the GCM will likely evolve as a complex social ecology of formal and informal associations under an umbrella of shared identity and purpose. The GCM would provide a crucible for creating the vision, trust, and democratic processes underpinning the kind of global society it seeks, an ongoing experiment, exploring ways of acting together on the path toward planetary civilization.