Dialogues: #2, #7 & #22
John is a political activist and businessman. In 2000, he founded the Simultaneous Policy (SIMPOL) Campaign, a way for citizens to use their votes to drive politicians towards global cooperation. It has supporters in over 100 countries and enjoys the backing of a growing number of parliamentarians around the world. He has authored or co-authored a number of books including The Simpol Solution (with Nick Duffell), Monetary Reform – Making it Happen!, People-centred Global Governance – Making it Happen! and Global Domestic Politics and published numerous articles on global governance. John joins us from the UK, where he is based.
John believes that solving global problems requires solutions to be implemented simultaneously by nations so that no nation loses out. He argues that solutions need to cover multiple issues, so what a nation loses on one issue it can gain on another, and that citizens need to use their vote to incentivise politicians to cooperate globally.
Before globalization, national economies were less interconnected and governments were relatively free to determine national economic policy. Under globalization, by contrast, this is no longer the case. Today, governments regardless of the political party in office have no choice but to enact policies that keep their country „internationally competitive“; that is to say, relatively attractive to global markets, inward investors and multinational corporations and the jobs they bring. In practice, this means that the policy options open to governments are highly restricted to a very narrow range that necessarily favours the rich, global investors and corporations and, by the same token, disfavours the poor, the middle-classes and the environment. As a result, it no longer matters much which party citizens elect since whoever's party is elected has to implement much the same policies. This could be called ‘pseudo-democracy’: elections remain free and fair, but irrespective of who gets elected, the policies implemented stay much the same.
It is this phenomenon which explains why governments are failing to act adequately on climate and many other urgent global problems. It also explains why people have become so disillusioned with politics and why we are witnessing the rise of populist/nationalist parties across the Western world. Unable to implement policies to protect the poor and the environment because of the need to stay internationally competitive, parties on the Left can no longer support the poor or the environment. Meanwhile, although parties on the Right have a more nationalist orientation which attracts the poor, their economic policies remain oriented firmly towards competitiveness at the expense of the poor and the environment. Thus, neither the Right nor the Left have any solution.
Since capital and corporations today move globally across national borders and since all governments, regardless of party, are competing to attract them and the jobs they bring, it is clear that this is a global vicious circle that governments cannot escape. We call this vicious cycle „Destructive Global Competition“ (DGC) - the key enemy of both democracy and global sustainability.
Breaking that cycle requires a shift to a new (global) politics, based on international cooperation, capable of overcoming DGC in a way that allows governments to cooperatively deal with those issues where unilateral action by any nation would risk it suffering a first-mover competitive disadvantage. Such issues would include climate change, fair corporate taxation, re-regulation of financial markets, combating pandemics, wealth inequality and many more.
To overcome DGC globally we have created SIMPOL, an international citizens movement which addresses this dynamic by campaigning for a new global politics that includes the following key features.