If not global justice, then what?

Mathias Risse shows in his article ”Do We Owe the Global Poor Assistance or Rectification?” that the global order not only does harm to the poor, but can plausibly be credited with the considerable improvements in human wellbeing that have been achieved over the last 200 years. For developing countries, things have been better recently than they were for countries at the height of their power during any other period in history. Between 1960 and 2000, real per capita income in developing countries grew on average 2.3 percent (doubling living standards within thirty years). That development is also showed by looking at development aid, which has often been given for strategic reasons, has declined since the end of the Cold War, and currently makes up a tiny percentage of donor countries’ GDP. But conclusion based on such statistics depends totally on the time horizon considered (sub-Saharan Africa has made progress over a 200-year horizon, but not for the last 20 years) (2005:10-11).

“Historically almost everybody was poor, but that is no longer true.”(Risse, 2005:9)

Antoher pratical limitation is that even do Wenar explain that that it is possible to aim for a global justice because more and more people know about these problems it is hard to disagree with Joseph Carens description of the fact that the world community is build up around the suverinity principle. This principel must be seen as one of the main practical limits to achieving global justice.

“Citizenship in the modern world is a lot like feudal status in the medieval world. It is assigned at birth; for the most part it is not subject to change by the individual’s will and efforts; and it has a major impact upon a person’s life-chances.”(Carens,1992:26).

Thomas Nagel builds his arguments about the pratical limitations of global justice around Rawls “veil of ignorance” which can be summarized as thinking that countries have only limited humanitarian obligations to less well- off nations; those lucky enough to be born in prosperous national circumstances doesn’t need not share their gains with others (Rawls, 1999). Nagel asks a fundamental question: Why should inequality mandate any redistribution at all, once people have risen above the level of absolute deprivation?                   Even if you do not deserve to benefit from your superior talents, that fact in itself conveys no claim on these talents to others. Nagel continues by describing that members of certain groups can sometimes have stricter obligations to each other than they owe to strangers. In other words, you owe more to your parents than you do to a next-door neighbor to whom you are not related. This argument is directly connected with the fact that citizens belonging to a state. Citizens share the obligation to obey their country’s laws; and, if they live in a democracy, they share responsibility for enacting these laws. If people are bound to each other in the way that Rawls and Nagel suggest, then they might very well have stronger obligations toward their fellow members than to others therefore it will be hard to argue for global justice.

But a glaring gap remains in Nagels argument that might be the hope for global justice from my point of view. Nagel has not shown that people have reason to establish the type of coercive enterprise that he describes. I would say that the people in a sovereign nation, as Nagel suggests, think that too much inequality interferes with the sense of social solidarity they wish to promote. Nagel fails to see this obvious point because he regards the sovereign state as the only way, under modern conditions. It is almost like Nagel argues that unless people cement themselves together as Rawls mandates, disaster threatens. But why believe this? Could not people establish a strictly limited state or—even better—rely on private protection agencies to ensure social peace? Nagel wrongly assumes that unless people establish egalitarian social bonds, they cannot benefit from social cooperation. Nagel offers no grounds at all for people to subject themselves to the difference principle argued for in the cosmopolitan project (Nagel, 2005).

In Simon Caney article International Distributive Justice” a different versions of governance focusing on political institutions is explain trough the cosmopolitan project (Caney, 2001). Political communities are in process of change from nation-state towards regional structures and global governance. The change is especially driven by globalization because the globalization is changing the relationship between state and the market but not only on the expanse on the state part. In the new international collaborations that the globalization creates the state still plays a central role because of the suverinity principle.             One area where the change is notable is the economic, it is a multidimensional phenomena. The economy through globalization is more open, fluid and volatile. Global and regional governance is therefore filling the gap for governance because the nation-state can handle it alone. In the path of the changes that the globalizations is producing more and more people argue for accountability, transparency and openness of decision-making in international, economic and social demands like the “Global justice now” joint campaign in order to create global justice. The cosmopolitan project specifies principles and institutional agreements in order make sites and forms of power that are located beyond the control of democratic power  able to transform to global justice. Citizens can through the new principles and institutional agreements that transform the political fate become active national citizen but also regional and global citizens (Held, 2000).

“The locus of effective political power can no longer be assumed to be national governments – effective power is shared and bartered by diverse forces and agencies at national, regional and international levels.” (Held 2000:399)

Maybe can this transformation of the locus of political power away from the state open up a space were the agenda and need to create global justice will prosper. But the first week of lecture and course reading has made me understand there is strong pratical limitations to overcome in order to create global justice.

Still has I have metioned before I belive that without global justice we might end up with a anarchistic justice situation. That situation from my point of view wont lead to sustainable development and in the end will “harm” everyone in the world. Mayby then will the idea of global justice became a main focus on the worlds agenda.


2 svar to “If not global justice, then what?”

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