Editorial

 

Dag Herbjørnsrud has constantly argued for a global history of ideas, which he illustrates here by rediscovering the original Nahua and Maya philosophies of Mexico and Guatemala, revealed here as a mirror for our era. Thanks to the comparative method, he explores the complexity of their thinking by highlighting their affinities with the discourse of European and other thinkers from different traditions.

Christian Tremblay shows that, contrary to the myth of Babel and its extension into the dominant trend towards monolingualism, developments of science and thought over the last few centuries illustrates the diversity of human worlds. The idea of a homogeneous representation of the world through a standardized language is contradicted by the multiplicity of interpretations linked to the creativity of the actors, which is nurtured by linguistic and cultural diversity and the democracy that guarantees it.

Ted Nordhaus discusses the thesis of the planet’s carrying capacity, in so far as it is assumed to be static. This assessment is ahistorical, he says, and is contradicted by the fact that economic growth in developed economies has brought lower resource and energy use, which in turn are limited by saturating demand for material goods and services. His « optimistic » view is that humans have remade the planet again and again to serve their needs and can avoid societal collapse.

Yves Beigbeder recalls the creation of IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), a semi-autonomous body of WHO (World Health Organization), which has recently come in the news in Europe after it classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. He then recalls some of the attacks against IARC and a few of its defenders, underligning that some judgments of U.S courts have confirmed IARC’s findings.

Nicole Morgan goes through some of the episodes marked by the obssessional traits of the US presidency, revealing its ideological underpinnings inspired by Ayn Rand’s radical philosophy, which denies the responsibility of the state in the management of society and turns its ills onto that of the individual, according to a deviant interpretation of the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes.

Following the World Social Forum (WSF), Thomas Ponniah goes back to his research to remind us that all participants made calls for a participatory, radical democracy, arguing that  these are the initial steps for building a new global civilization. Beyond resistance to globalization, the struggle against imperialism and all forms of hierarchical discrimination, the “movement of the multitude,” should encompasses them within an alternative move that extends over all major fields – economic, political, cultural, or ecological.

Haider A. Khan offers twor papers. In the first, he introduces to a new translation of Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, into two languages, justified by the need to carry a special message for those who live in the postcolonial world. The first translation is into English (to appear in the next issue of Cosmopolis, 2020), but as this is “the language of the colonizer” it is fraught with a certain ambiguity for a South Asian, he says, for which reason it is complemented with a second translation into Bengali, a language spoken by more than 200 million people in Bangladesh and India.

In the second paper, Haider A. Khan reviews two books on the global crisis in the cyber age, with its multiple consequences from global warming to militarization, including autonomous weapons systems. He discusses the many socio-economic and political contradictions reflected in the many global and local crises involved, which lead towards a semi-permanent malaise in all our societies but call for new paths towards global peace.

 

Also in this issue:

Pierre Calame identifies the contradictions that are present in the discourse on global governance and energy transition, while the links between economic growth and fossil fuels have not been loosened in the last 30 years, from the Earth Summit to the Paris agreement.

Betty Rojtman‘s latest essay, La faim d’abîme (« An Abyssal Hunger »), is a literary figure in contemporary tragedy, while referring to the genocide of the Jews in the 20th century. The perspective of death, however, brings together in a vision of hope conceptions from the biblical tradition as well as from Western philosophies, to glimpse a future open to a mobile, ever-changing world that is moving away from frozen images towards an uncertain destiny.

We then publish the letter from the Club of Rome to the President of the Commission of the European Union Ursula von der Leyen, which commends her great foresight by proposing a European Green Pact (EGP) anchored in the climate neutrality and social objectives of the EU.

Yves Beigbeder gives his memories of assisting the French judge at the Nuremberg war crimes trial, Henri Donnedieu de Vabres in 1946, when he was 22 years old. His task was summarising the daily statements of offense in four languages, relating to seven defendants, including Hans Frank, Governor General of Poland, the “Butcher of Poland”, and Baet ldur von Schirach, the leader of the Nazi youth.

In his second article, Thomas Ponniah offers some reflections on the writings of Samuel Huntington and his challenge to the idea of an “end of history”, to which he preferred the thesis of Social Darwinism, which saw history as the struggle between seven different civilizations, and on the thesis of the historian Yuval Noah Harari, who believes, on the contrary, that a world civilization is emerging, where disagreements bend to convergences, supported by the scientific method.

P.G.