2 Introduction

This inquiry relies upon several criteria to classify this probable form of geogovernance as one of inhumane governance. "Inhumane governance" is assessed in relation to the following five dimensions of international political life:

  • the most disadvantaged 20 percent of the world's population are not 'provided with adequate food, shelter, health care, clothing, edu­ cation, housing;
  • the most socially and culturally vulnerable identities (for instance,
  • indigenous peoples, gays and lesbians, women and children) are denied full protection of human rights;

  • there is no tangible, cumulative progress toward the abolition of war as a social institution;
  • there is insufficient effort in relation to the protection and restoration of the environment in its various aspects, resulting in the deterioration of the health of those alive and an impairment of the life prospects of unborn generations;
  • there is a failure to achieve a dramatic growth of transnational democracy for the years ahead, and little progress with respect to the extension of the primary democratic practices of respect for others, of accountability by political leaders as well as by market executives, managers, and traders, and of participation by the peoples or their freely elected representatives in critical arenas of decision.

The project to supersede inhumane governance is identified here as a commitment to establish geogovernance in the form of "humane governance," that is, a set of social, political, economic, and cultural arrangements that is committed to rapid progress along these five dimensions of assessment. The emergence of humane governance will depend on the dramatic growth of transnational democracy, and on the extension of the primary democratic practices. It will also depend on an evolving sense of allegiance to global civil society and on the plausibility of humane governance as a political priority commitment for women and men from all parts of the world. It is doubtful whether such a commitment to the establishment of humane governance will be wide and deep enough unless it engages both the political imagination of many persons of diverse cultural, ethnic, class, and gender identities, and is reinforced by supportive religious and ethical interpretations of the meaning of life.

Western Triumphalism and Human Suffering

The mood of exhilaration that accompanied the end of the Cold War and Soviet collapse now seems a dim and distant memory. It requires an effort of will to acknowledge the brief, yet vivid, glow of political expectation it created. There has been an abrupt awakening to the realities of the new era, including the harsh human costs associated with speeding the transition from state socialism to market constitutionalism and the realization that many acute causes of human distress in the world had virtually nothing to do with the East/West axis of struggle or

Introduction 3

with the sterile choice between Marxism-Leninism and globalizing capitalism.

Our point of departure must be this current historical setting, a period of transition, turmoil, acute humanitarian crises, and disillusion. As Samir Amin writes, "the historical drama of our epoch is situated precisely here, and has its roots in the failure of social consciousness to imagine positive and progressive alternatives."1 Rajni Kothari, another leading thinker and committed activist, expresses the same dominant concern in even stronger language when he identifies the underlying torment of the moment as "a basic crisis of vision, a decline of engagement with utopias - in a sense, an end of 'alternatives' in the real and comprehensive sense of the term."2

This widespread sense of disillusion, some of the explanations for which will provide the themes of the first two chapters, provides the background for our struggle to fashion an alternative orientation and vision. An alternative to what? First of all, to disillusionment itself, and most substantively, to the prospect of and enthusiasm for a commercial globalism that is capital-driven, market-validated and media disseminated.

While alert to the failures of the past, this reaffirmation of a visionary politics builds on the best hopes of socialism, on various strands of green and feminist perspectives, on the great humanist premises of solidarity and decency, on the practices and discoveries of nonviolence in many distinct cultural settings, and on the more idealistic impulses associated with international law and the operation of international in titutions. More specifically, it grows out of several decades of world order theorizing associated with the World Order Models Project and it belief that visions of an attainable preferred world are a necessary and practical part of a realistic politics.3 As an expression of this rich h ritage of visionary commitments, this report focuses on a quest for humane governance.

Chapters 3-7 depict the outlines of this quest in some detail. They associate hope with the empowering potentialities of transnational 1 m cratic tendencies, and their cumulative prospect of creating a " bat civil society capable of realizing human rights for all the peoples 011 the earth. This global civil society must be both respectful of and '·1 .bratory toward cultural diversity, and mindful of human solidarity uid planetary unity in the struggles against cruelty, violence, exploitation, and environmental decay.

A commitment to humane governance places special emphasis on global constitutional challenges, especially to the state and the United N Nations. These challenges will be shaped by political struggles between