On Sunday, May 13th, I spoke with John Bunzl on “A New Global Activism.” We extended Beyond Awakening’s focus to deal with the outer work of political activism—specifically how citizens and voters can address global problems like global warming, financial market regulation, environmental destruction, war, and social injustice.
John is the founder of Simpol, (for simultaneous policy implementation) which offers a way to address today’s global problems—problems individual national governments cannot resolve by acting alone.
That’s because competition between governments to attract investment and jobs means that any government acting alone to solve them could effectively make its country economically uncompetitive, leading to inflation, unemployment, or even economic collapse.
Simpol aims to break the “vicious circle” governments find themselves in by encouraging people around the world to oblige their politicians and governments to cooperate globally in implementing appropriate policies simultaneously for the good of all.
Simpol’s method is to persuade legislators in individual nations to pass laws that commit it to enact policy changes to address global problems, but for those changes to be implemented only when similar laws are enacted by a predominant critical mass of other nations, so the implementation takes place simultaneously. This makes it politically possible and safe for visionary solutions to be enshrined in binding law without delay.
Only by implementing policies simultaneously can global problems be resolved in a way that no nation, corporation, or citizen loses out. This ensures that no country becomes uncompetitive as a result of pursuing policies that are right for the planet and that embody people’s higher aspirations.
Obviously, this requires activism—politicians will not act together globally unless we make them! Simpol allows citizens in democratic countries to use their votes to drive politicians to cooperate globally to solve problems that transcend nation-state boundaries. Simpol entails both process (alerting politicians that you’ll be voting in future national elections for any candidate, within reason, who has signed a pledge to implement Simpol’s range of policies alongside other governments) and policy (defining solutions to pressing issues of global concern—such as taxes on carbon emissions, financial transactions or corporate profits—that nations typically cannot implement without putting their economies at a competitive disadvantage.)
I am inspired by the higher “vision-logic” Simpol expresses, and I’m certainly committed to political activism with a global view. Nevertheless, as I often do, I explored the possibilities by playing “devil’s advocate.”
For example, in my first “kick to the tires,” I noted that because Simpol delays implementation of a policy by one country until all or a sufficient number of other countries sign on, this could hypothetically relieve pressure on national policy-makers to enact more environmentally responsible legislation that might have passed in the absence of the Simpol pledge (for example, a the carbon tax, which is now supported in the USA by Exxon, although still resisted by conservative U.S. lawmakers.)
Of course John’s response was intelligent, and the conversation ranged far and wide. You’ll have to hear it to understand it fully. I invite you to download and listen (it’s here) if you want to understand this provocative idea.
John believes that as global problems worsen, people will demand Simpol’s approach as they see that all local and national problems are all linked to global imbalances that simply can’t be effectively addressed by national politics.
Simpol is already active in the UK and is launching next month in Germany. It’s new, but it’s a credible mechanism for crossing a gap that has otherwise seemed insurmountable. John used a metaphor, saying it isn’t a beautiful ocean liner; it’s just a simple raft, something for us to jump onto to take us to the next level. “We can only put the life raft there, but it’s the rising global challenges that will make that raft appealing.”
What do you think?