How many times do we criticise politicians as egoistical clowns, gallivanting on the international stage, inept, inefficient, conflicted, corrupt and so forth? Whether or not those characterisations are fair or true (it is probably much harder when you are in the seat of power than anyone who is not in that seat imagines), the great news is that politicians and politics don’t matter anymore!
Within a few days of Donald Trump pulling the USA out of the Paris Agreement, a group of US states, cities, counties, academic establishments, businesses and investors – over 1,200 organisations in total – launched “We Are Still In” a movement which will pursue ambitious climate goals independently of the US government’s decision not to. Check out: www.wearestillin.com
Their goal is for the US to comply with its commitments under Paris without the government – through the efforts of individual members of the society – institutional, corporate and private.
For Libertarians and those that believe in small government, this is a very exciting development – it shows how you can get big stuff done without government. Smart, energetic, influential, visionary and rich organisations get together and simply side-step clumsy bureaucracy.
For true democrats, however, the initiative might be scary, or at least a chewy compromise. The group includes 900 businesses with sales of over 1.4 trillion dollars. The initiative is led by a billionaire, Mr Bloomberg. Yes, plutocracy in action: a kind of benevolent plutocracy. Big business getting what it wants, something that a majority of Americans voting for Trump perhaps didn’t really want. Which takes you awkwardly close to the dilemma-strewn position of “Us lot are highly educated and you lot aren’t, so we are doing what we think is best for you”.
But should we object to the rich getting their way if they are doing good, and insist on democracy even when it takes us into the dark ages? Good is so rare a commodity that we should not be too precious about how it comes about.
There is great potential here. When the approach is well understood as a system, there is a tremendous opportunity to roll out the “ignoring government” model across the world and just get things done despite government. It can be adopted in other fields such as education, healthcare and other areas of environmental protection – such as the restoration of insects, the elimination of factory farming, rebuilding soil and so forth.
Then we will have a world of two forms of government: Benevolent plutocracies where government is a superfluous circus; and dark authoritarian kleptocracies where it is all government and clientelism and the people scurry in the shadows, afraid, hungry and illiterate yet full of national pride. Go Pluto!