It’s all over the place. Deceptively simple. Conspicuously pragmatic. At once hopeful and realistic. “Think global act local”. It even sounds good.
In the wake of this slogan, we are seeing eco-freaks and left-activist begin to focus on smaller scale actions, which can be easily checked and controlled, so that their results seem more “real”. Instead of a world wide quest for best practices on ecology, fund and maintain an green farm. Instead of demanding country wide policies against poverty, organize an NGO that provides school for one favela [slum].
The underlying assumption is that if everyone thinks about the whole, then the sum total of the efforts will easily be joined to form a better world. Seems plausible.
What i don’t get is: why can’t my idea of “better world” be very very different from the other guy? And, being different, what prevents them all from being literally the undoing of one another?
In fact, my own biased view leads em to wonder if this isn’t based on a naive idea of “goodness”, a notion that “thinking of the whole” unavoidably means “wanting the good for everyone else”, and what’s more, that everyone else has the same idea of what is good.
Particularly, i doubt this very much.
For example, being struck by a ray of lightning was as good as it gets for a classical Greek, for that meant that his existence had been touched by a god — and nothing was better than dying for a god. Now i do not want to be struck by lightning.
That does not mean i do not want to impose my ideas of good on the next. I do. For example, i want to impose my idea of feminine freedom to Burka-abiding cultures. I want to banish circumcision to Judaism. I want to banish Chauvinism from Goiãnia. All of those are completely against the original cultures, they would all be seen as “bad”, but i am pretty much convinced they should be done.
I just do not think it can be done “because it is the right thing to do”. We are discussing morals, so we can not orient ourselves in morals. Does not work.
In the same vein, i think that behind the naive optimism of “Global thinking, Local action” is an underlying and unchecked moralism.
I am sympathetic to the communes and green farms and flash mobs and surrealistic protests and poetic violence, but… Just because i am sympathetic i guess i have to call out their shallowness.