I recently encountered a bracing essay, “The Commons and World Governance,” by Arnaud Blin and Gustavo Marín. Blin is a French historian and political scientist, and Marín is a Chilean-French economist and sociologist who is Director of the Forum for a new World Governance. Their 33-page piece is a terrific philosophical and historical overview of capitalism and governance, and it makes a strong case for the appeal of the commons in meeting contemporary ecological and economic challenges.
The essay’s opening paragraph states that we are now undergoing “the first global revolution in history” brought on by the declining powers of the nation-state:
Today the state is no longer equipped to ensure the sustainability of humankind, nor is it able to prevent itself, other states, and private actors from plundering our most precious treasure, our planet, irretrievably. The sudden powerlessness of the most powerful actor of the global stage has been caused by the onrush of globalization, which with breathtaking speed has overtaken the traditional actors of international politics and rewritten the rules of the game of economics. By doing so, it has also fostered the need to devise and uphold what can be described as the global interest, one that should inevitably take precedence over the outdated and ineffectual individual “national interests” that have for centuries determined the direction of international affairs.
How can humanity begin to articulate and protect the “global interest” in the face of marauding national and transnational corporate interests, and the decline of state power? That is the problem.