A New Beginning

6. New Points of Reference and Meanings

  • Employment and jobs. In the digital era work should be the protagonist, along with personal dedication and productive activities, vs. the immense possibilities afforded by automation and robotics. This alters present concepts of working hours and traditional employment, making working schedules, forms and activities more flexible, which will also allow full incorporation of women into the workforce without the barriers that still exist in that regard.
  • Distinction between information and knowledge. Between knowledge and wisdom. We are inundated with information, but it is essential to allot time for reflection, to absorb the knowledge that will result in innovation, in inventions. “Research,” said Professor Hans Krebs,§ “is observing what others observe and to think what nobody has thought”. The distinctive capacity of each human being, that creative power, must from now on be used progressively to draw a new world design. One that distinguishes between knowledge and wisdom, one that distinguishes the who from the how…
  • Longevity, one of the pillars of the future that has yet to be written, is a fundamental aspect of this new design. As mentioned previously, today we have the immense benefit of experience that was often lost too soon before. In the words of an African proverb, “when an old man dies, a library is burned.”
  • The educated, those who are “free and responsible”. We must take into account this view of the educational process, a process that lasts a lifetime, when designing the future that, at the dawning of this new century and millennium, is now finally within the scope of citizen action.
  • Learningthelessons of the “emerging nations”. In 1997 I wrote, “Sap rises from the South”. For centuries Latin America and Africa have first depended on and later looked permanently toward Europe, toward the West. We should all now learn from the lessons, initiatives and ways of countries that have rebelled against the exclusively mercantile models imposed on them and from which they are now progressively being freed.
  • It is still today. It is essential to take action to avoid reaching what in many cases may become an irreversible situation, or at least to lessen their effects with the appropriate measures. Tomorrow is Always Late was the title I chose for one of my books in 1988. I must insist that now is the time for action because the majority of the diagnoses have already been made and it is presently urgent to apply the appropriate treatments. And to do so in time.
  • The feasible and the admissible. Knowledge is always positive but how it is applied may not be. It may even be perverse. Thus it is necessary to know how to distinguish knowledge, which is always liberating, from erroneous ways in which it is applied.

Our greatest hope is the distinctive capacity of the human race that enables us to devise, invent and to think outside the box, in unexpected ways. The unexpected is our hope.

7. Urgent Radical Changes

“I’m writing from a shipwreck… / for what we have destroyed / especially in ourselves… / … but I’m also writing from life, / I’m writing of a world to come”.

– José Ángel Valente

In 2000 in my book Un mundo nuevo I published four great contracts that, in my opinion, are capable of putting us back on course at the dawning of this new century and millennium. They include: a new social contract, a new environmental contract, a new cultural contract and a new ethical contract. Only by making fundamental values, democratic principles and essential ethical values the focus of our daily behavior will we be able to bring together the infinite diversity — to achieve the uniqueness — that characterizes all human beings. For that reason they are considered “universal values”. This is the only way for achieving the beginning of a new era and peaceful and prosperous coexistence.

Based on experience, on decades-long reflections during my lifetime, and based on the problems that the present situation poses, I am proposing remedies that must be applied urgently at the international, regional, national and local levels.

8. At the Global Level

  • Dissolution of plutocratic groups and reestablishment (establishment) of an effective multilateral system.
  • Reform of the United Nations, with the participation and representation set forth above, to provide it with the moral and functional authority that is so essential today.
  • Putting an end to systemic crisis prompted by the Republicans in the United States who replaced democratic principles (justice, equality, freedom, solidarity) with the laws of the marketplace and multilateralism with groups of plutocrats, and whose resounding failure in their attempt to likewise replace the United Nations is there for all to see.
  • Rapidly reduce the risk of reaching points of no return in environmental degradation resulting from human activity(Anthropocene), by adopting throughout the world and without exception or delay the measures that our responsibility toward future generations demands.
  • Nuclear disarmament: This is extremely urgent and a great popular mobilization in cyberspace should foster the end of this terrible “Sword of Damocles”.
  • An end to the supranational trafficking by mafias: trafficking in arms, drugs, people… Regulation of the sale and consumption of drugs whose extremely high price nevertheless is never a deterrent to use and, as is the case with alcohol and tobacco, in the future considering drug use which is essentially a health and not only a security problem.
  • Restructuring of economic systems, establishing global regulating mechanisms, elimination of tax havens without exception, and the transition from an economy of speculation, delocalization of production and war to an economy of global sustainable development that would put an end to the exploitation, social inequalities, extreme poverty, death from starvation that cast a shadow over the dignity of the human species as a whole.
  • Promote the effective and efficient functioning of “regional associations” such as the European Union, CELAC, OUA to thus facilitate world governance.

9. At the European Level

  • Reform of the EU Treaties, strengthening the economic and political unions that were not defined prior to the monetary union.
  • If less than 60% of the electorate in a given country votes in the European Parliamentary elections, those elected should not be allowed to take their seats in the European Parliament.
  • Autonomy in security matters, withdrawing from NATO whose existence is no longer justified after the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact and costs Europe immense amount of money, also ceasing to acquire unnecessary and outdated military equipment.
  • Balanced industrial relocalization.
  • Incentives for R&D and innovation.
  • Reasonable postponement of deadlines for reducing the deficit and regulation of financial flows.
  • Repositioning of democratic principles to guide the EU’s actions, promoting cultural, ethnic, ideological and religious pluralism as the basis for peaceful coexistence, placing social justice at the center of Community policies, and always safeguarding the necessary means for education, knowledge and health. Also through the necessary incentives, jobs for all, being aware of the impact that delocalization of production, automation, robotics and new information and communications technologies have on the labor market.

Particularly urgent: genuine democracy at all levels. See the “Universal Declaration on Democracy” project that has earned the support of many prominent figures.

10. At the National Level (Spain)

  • Urgent reform of the Electoral Law to cease to maintain the present incoherent situation, the sense of representative weakness of the will of all Spaniards.
  • Reform of the Constitution (particularly Chapter 8), establishing a federal system and allowing broad autonomy. The Constitution should not only be calmly updated but it should also be seen as a solution, rather than a problem, as the Magna Carta of a State encompassing all Spaniards and with extensive powers of self-government and well-established and generally-accepted common principles.
  • Independence of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, establishing the necessary corrective mechanisms to safeguard the role of minorities and civil society in the event of an absolute parliamentary majority, and with impeccable respect for democratic processes.
  • Support for education, health and R&D and innovation as matters which should be placed above politics and which are presently being subjected to possibly irreversible budget cuts.
  • Judicious relocalization of foreign production.
  • Implementation of a project to promote tourism and residence in Spain, taking advantage of longevity and the unequaled human, cultural, climatic, natural and gastronomic features that the Peninsula and its two island chains have to offer.
  • Promoting renewable energies.
  • Speedy and severe measures to penalize taxpayers’ lack of solidarity and tax evasion.
  • Initiatives to promote self-employment and SMEs.
  • Given its special past history, mobilization of Spain’s capacity as a bridge with Africa, the Arab countries and certainly, with Latin America.

These are some of the proposals that the majority of the world’s citizens must decidedly support, particularly those that involve personal behavior and world governance. In all cases they should be implemented democratically, listening to the voices of the people who now for the first time in history are able to freely express themselves.

As explained in my book La nueva página (1994), democracy is a culture, a way of conducting oneself. With the ethical and social collapse of the West, it is essential to re-found the United Nations to enable the excellent concepts that Roosevelt designed in 1945 to be put into practice. Only then will it be possible to achieve the global and human development sought in the 1940s. Only then will the world’s priorities become the task and commitment of all. “Who, if not all of us?”

All of the dimensions and aspects of the economy must be subordinated to social justice, as we have firmly proclaimed in Article 11 of our draft Universal Declaration on Democracy.

11. A New Beginning

A new paradigm is needed in line with the proposals offered by Ivo Šlaus** and Garry Jacobs†† of the World Academy of Art & Science. We must be very attentive to the major guidelines that in a very few years should ensure the beginning of a new era, with the possibilities that derive from humanity’s great transition from subjects to citizens.

“Be the change you wish to see.” Following this advice from Mahatma Gandhi, we must realize that all of the many transformations that are now necessary and urgent will not be gleaned from the great powers but rather from seeds sown one by one, day after day, by individual citizens who at last realize that their destiny is actually in their own hands. Each dawning is a personal occasion for a new beginning…

As the Earth Charter’s Preamble reads, “We stand at a critical moment in the Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future…”. That’s how it begins. And it ends, “As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning.” The Earth Charter is based on respect and care for the community of life; on integrity; on social and economic justice; on democracy, non-violence and peace, and in the end it shows us the most important steps to be taken on the road before us.

It may be one of the essential documents to inspire specific actions to enable this new beginning. A new start, in which all human beings are “free and responsible”. The intellectual, scientific, academic and artistic communities, or any community with ideas, decency, heart and courage must join in and, as indicated previously, place themselves at the vanguard of the popular mobilization. For the first time it is possible, among all of us, to invent the future. Together we can illuminate the paths of tomorrow. As the Mayan Popol Vuh urges us, “Let us all rise, let no one be left behind”.

§ German biochemist and winner of the 1953 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
¶ See Proyecto Declaracion Universal de la Democracia
** Nuclear physicist, Honorary President of the World Academy of Art & Science
†† Chief Executive Officer, World Academy of Art & Science

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