January 15th, 2018

In the 21st century national borders—walled or no—are meaningless when wealth flashes between banks across the globe in less time than it has taken me to write this sentence. We can’t build a wall high enough to stop the poisons of the industrial age from burning our lungs, riddling our bodies with cancers and flooding our shorelines with ever-rising tides. The threat to humanity resides in no single nation or even a single continent. The threat is global and demands a global solution, and that solution can only rise from a global organization not of nations or banks but of people.

That is the message I take away from Senator Bernie Sanders’ opinion piece in The Guardian: Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires. Bernie writes:

Here is where we are as a planet in 2018: after all of the wars, revolutions and international summits of the past 100 years, we live in a world where a tiny handful of incredibly wealthy individuals exercise disproportionate levels of control over the economic and political life of the global community.

Difficult as it is to comprehend, the fact is that the six richest people on Earth now own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population – 3.7 billion people. Further, the top 1% now have more money than the bottom 99%. Meanwhile, as the billionaires flaunt their opulence, nearly one in seven people struggle to survive on less than $1.25 (90p) a day and—horrifyingly—some 29,000 children die daily from entirely preventable causes such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.

At the same time, all over the world corrupt elites, oligarchs and anachronistic monarchies spend billions on the most absurd extravagances.

Standard Socialist Sanders fare.

Bernie, however, goes huge:

In the midst of all of this economic disparity, the world is witnessing an alarming rise in authoritarianism and rightwing extremism—which feeds off, exploits and amplifies the resentments of those left behind, and fans the flames of ethnic and racial hatred.

Now, more than ever, those of us who believe in democracy and progressive government must bring low-income and working people all over the world together behind an agenda that reflects their needs. Instead of hate and divisiveness, we must offer a message of hope and solidarity. We must develop an international movement that takes on the greed and ideology of the billionaire class and leads us to a world of economic, social and environmental justice. Will this be an easy struggle? Certainly not. But it is a fight that we cannot avoid. The stakes are just too high.

This is the 21st century version of Karl Marx’s 19th-century conclusion and call:

The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working Men of All Countries, Unite!

The only effective response to a global threat, Bernie writes, is global action:

A new and international progressive movement must commit itself to tackling structural inequality both between and within nations. Such a movement must overcome “the cult of money” and “survival of the fittest” mentalities that the pope warned against. It must support national and international policies aimed at raising standards of living for poor and working-class people – from full employment and a living wage to universal higher education, healthcare and fair trade agreements. In addition, we must rein in corporate power and prevent the environmental destruction of our planet as a result of climate change.

Bernie echoes another great American socialist, Eugene Victor Debs, who said: I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth; I am a citizen of the world.

Chants of USA! USA! USA! are a distraction.

We are all citizens of the world

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