In the last few years we have witnessed a new surge in the investment in nuclear energy on the global level (IEA). Ever since the foundation of the initiative “International physicians for the prevention of nuclear war” in the 1980s, there have been relentless reminders of the devastating effects of such a war. In 2023 we are all aware of the real risk of attacks on the biggest nuclear power plant located in Ukraine. Nevertheless we continue to invest heavily in power plants that constitute a massive risk at times of war between irresponsible nations. Besides the publication of many high quality papers in The Lancet there is regularly space to keep the awareness of the dangers of nuclear war at a high level. Too many politicians shield themselves from dealing with such realistic dangers in the interest of supposed cheap and save energy for all. Both is no longer the case. Nuclear energy is expensive and unsafe in peace and horrible in war times. We cannot afford to abstract from these rising risks. The hype about anything nuclear like in the 1980s is grossly displaced (image of book below).
Chris Brown (2004, pp. 289) comments on the tension between the notions of political theory and international relations in the Handbook of political theory. Whereas the former notion has a foundation in the “cause and effect” rationale, the latter notion has predominantly developed into an approach of “Realpolitik”. Realpolitik that starts from observed facts, normative or historical approaches rather than scientific methodologies applied in “natural” sciences. The link of this approach to the theory of democracy is obvious, but it is also under a lot of discussion within the disciplines concerned.
One of the corner stones of political theory in international relations is the concept of the “balance of power”. Derived from a rational choice perspective this approach holds that states can only be controlled by other states and, taking this for granted, international relations are built on power relations. Therefore, moving away from a bi-polar balance of power to a multi-polar balance of power will entail some frictions. These frictions might be wars of independence where states attempt to relocate themselves within the new multi-polar world and space. Even “Brexit” becomes a strategic move to remain an independent power in the upcoming new multipolar world. Russia is testing this multi-polar world order right now. The big countries like Brazil, Russia, India, Nigeria and China, (which I abbreviate BRINC) have huge populations, country size and economic potential. From the Arab States certainly Saudi Arabia has the potential and is eagerly beginning to play a more important role in the world arena. Beyond capability it is a question of willingness to get involved in costly matters of world affairs.
In the 1940s, post-World War 2, the entry ticket into the Security Council of the UN required the possession of a nuclear weapon of mass destruction. As this technology and the ban of these weapons is no longer really working internationally, we shall have to rethink the requirement of an entry ticket. A radical solution would be to ban all countries who own nuclear weapons from the international assembly of the people of a peaceful world. In theory this sets an incentive to dismantle the deadly threats of nuclear weapons. As a side-effect, nuclear power plants used to enrich uranium for use in weapons would no longer be necessary as well.
Political theory allows us to rethink the bi-polar world, which is no longer bi-polar for some time now (perhaps only in the psychiatric sense of the word). The multi-polar world has to be prepared. It is a question of political design. The toughest issue is not only the design, but the implementation of the transition to distributed power systems with multiple rising and failing states or actors. It might get ugly before peace will reign.
Seit der brutalen Tötung einer Frau im Iran gehen viele Iranerinnen und Iraner auf die Straße. Als Zeichen ihres Protests rufen sie: Frau, Leben, Freiheit! Das ist und bleibt eine kurze Zusammenfassung für die Forderungen der Frauen, die trotz massiver Unterdrückung unablässig demonstrieren. Viele Hinrichtungen und Misshandlungen von Frauen werden wir weiter anprangern und fordern den internationalen Druck auf das Regime im Iran zu erhöhen. Wir dürfen nicht wegschauen, sondern werden weiterhin die Öffentlichkeit wachhalten. Diese aktiv für Menschenrechte eintretende Stellungnahme wurde von Yasmin Fahimi (DGB-Vorsitzende) eindrücklich auf dem EGB-Kongress vorgetragen. Mit überwältigender Mehrheit wurde diese Resolution vom Kongress befürwortet. Die italienischen Gewerkschaften stimmten gleich ein in den Ruf: Donna, Vita, Liberta!
Bravi! So rufen viele sonst eher in den Opernsälen. Hier passt es zu der Stimmung auf dem EGB-Kongress. Mit großer Einigkeit und ausgeprägter Solidarität wurde eindrücklich Stärke bewiesen, die auch über Europa hinweg Strahlkraft besitzt. Bravi! Kurzvideo EGB-Iran-Resolution Yasmin Fahimi und italienischer Support. EGB-Iran-Akklamation-IT.
Put people first is a natural claim of human beings. We tend to abstract from the fact that we implicitly rely on a sufficient biodiversity for our survival. Therefore, the natural claim to put people first has many preconditions itself and severe implications. The most obvious implication is related to our world of production and consumption. We need to build an economy that serves its people rather than one that uses up human resources and discards people to an inferior rank of importance. Externalising health and safety at work to save money in the process of production will only cost society much more later on. This needs to be part of the balance sheet of companies not only “national accounts” or relegated to some health statistics hardly known to the public.
Put people first in consumption, has come to our attention recently. With energy prices rising due to Russia’s war on Ukraine territory we have learned that energy prices may be grossly distorted. Firms’ versus consumers’ energy consumption became a thorny issue. Even legislation, like in Germany, that put people’s energy consumption before companies’ consumption of energy became subject for debate.
Same issue with artificial intelligence. Let’s put people first here as well. Discriminating use of language or biased conclusions due to wrong data input to train AI is not acceptable as excuse. AI may serve humans in their work or leisure, improve production lines through error detection or early onset of disease, but it cannot replace the human verification of a just or otherwise justified human intervention. Humans are not perfect, never will be either. This is a tough rule to teach the algorithms that guide AI. Put people first has a strong interpersonal or solidarity element enshrined in it. This is what matters, now, in the medium term as well as the long run.
The complete monitoring of the SDGs of the UN for global development shows a surprisingly large coverage of topics. The search function is indiscriminate of some contradictions or returns the same entry twice like in sustainable industry. However, the simple check reveals frequent and less frequent entries. Entries 1 = Poverty, 6 = Water and 14 + 15 = Life on Land and in Water received less attention. The agenda for the coming weeks is set.
The years spanning from January 1940 to December 1949 are probably the worst to cramp into one decade. However, there are a few historians that use this approach to throw new light on a distant series of historical events in the 40s. The European perspective is dominated by war years and still has to deal with the unimaginable atrocities committed by Nazi-Germany until the end of the Second World War. From a more global historical perspective the war in the pacific also leaves lasting political changes, which are important to understand international politics and affairs of today. After a disastrous beginning with war for the USA for the decade, on the 10-12-1948 the United Nations (Charter Ratification 24-10-1945) General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the timeline at the end of the 40s we find the founding of NATO (4.4.1949) and (12-8-1949) the Geneva Convention which specifies internationally accepted laws of warfare. The beginning of the Cold War (Yalta and Potsdam Conferences in 1945) with strategies of containment and confrontation (Thomas Tandy Lewis, 2011 p.220), Berlin blockade determined a long-lasting concern for a balance of power across the world. The 40s were a market period of de-colonisation as well. The U.S. enabled struggles for independence to succeed with a sticks and carrots politics towards their wartime allies. The Marshall Plan for European Recovery is the most prominent example of this period. Ronald Goldberg (2012) includes a chapter on the home front in his summary of the forties in the U.S.A. After the 2nd World War all countries had to re-establish their societies and economies that had suffered due to lack of sometimes even caring for the most basic needs. Important lessons have to be learnt from the 1940s (Dave Renton, 2000 p.144) concerning how Fascists could rise and why, for example Britain, could resist the fascist movement. Anti-fascism in Britain during the 1940s and the importance to stop beginnings of an undemocratic political movement early and with the help of the police are 2 elements of the lessons learnt. Goldberg argues that it is less the Fascist ideology that conquered the minds of people, but the organisation as a political and para-military movement that is the more important threat to democracy.