Chapter Nine: Language And Other Cultural Markers

IX. Politics

'Politics' was defined in Chapter Five for the purposes of this book as the 'governance' of a country (or a region or indeed the whole world): the tasks which are subject to the political process include the making and upholding of laws, including the legislature and the judiciary; the raising of taxes and debt; the formation and carrying out of spending programmes; issuance and maintenance of a currency; defence; the conduct of an administration; the provision of services including education, health, welfare and pensions.

Judged against these criteria, global political activity is at an early stage of development, and among formal global organizations it looks more like nation state competition than the expression of global political ideas. Most international organizations are oligarchic rather than democratic, thus not needing – and they don't display – political behaviour. The IOC is a good example.

Organisations such as the WTO, the UN, the WHO, the IMF, and the World Bank attract political activity on the part of their member states, or sometimes (a bit more global) on the part of regional groupings of states. Thus, organisations grouping the 'non-developed' or the 'non-aligned' or the 'Caribbean' states have political roles in the formation of policy at a multilateral level.

However, politics addressed to electors hardly exists at a global level except perhaps in the EU where it is just beginning. For true global political activity one has to look to the emergence of popular global movements.

'Popular' organizations such as Greenpeace, greens in general, and environmentalists in general have global messages to deliver, and global support. Anti-globalizers are probably a popular global movement, although their ideas are so muddled that it is hard to put a meaningful label on them.

'Popular' doesn't have to mean soft left. It is to be expected that global organizations will develop to work on behalf of shareholders, consumers, students, and other groups. There is every reason to think that such organizations will come to have rule-making and even judicial powers in the same way as producer groups, although as in so many other sectors, it will take the demolition of language barriers before truly popular, global, political organizations emerge.