The Answer To All Our Problems: Book Review

04/13/2017 10:50 am ET

THE SIMPOL SOLUTION: Solving Global Problems Could Be Easier Than We Think, by John Bunkl and Nick Duffell, Peter Owen Publishers.

Are you tired of the political blame game, hearing those on the left blaming those on the right, and those on the right blaming those on the left? Of feeling impotent, because money rules the world? Are you fed up with the governmental paralysis that results from staked-out, bought-and-paid-for positions and the inability to hear what others have to say? Sick of partisan rectitude and hot-air rhetoric and sound bites? Scared at the prospect of a planet scarred—or rendered uninhabitable—by global warming? A society rotting from within from the effects of social injustice and wealth inequality? You could do worse than read The Simpol Solution: Solving Global Problems Could Be Easier Than We Think by John Bunkl and Nick Duffell.

The root problem in today’s dysfunctional world, in Bunkl and Duffell’s analysis is what they call “Destructive Global Competition” (DGC) and what we need to address it involves nothing more—nor less!—than a radical change in the way we think. Call it a paradigm shift. In this globalized world, the authors affirm, we are stuck, as individuals, corporations and nations in the grip of a competitive modus operandi that sets person against person, corporation against corporation, nation against nation in a competitive vicious circle that has come to threaten our very survival as a species. In this, the left is as complicit as the right. Even a cursory glance at the political paralysis that plagues our own country and the multiple intractable problems that infect our globe is enough to suggest that they are right. Almost everyone can agree that the “system” is not working. In a globalized world, our human consciousness must evolve—the authors suggest: is already evolving—from individual- and nation-centric thinking to “worldcentric” thinking if we are to survive.

How do we change our collective mind? We have first to examine and step away from the old thought habits, to which we cling tenaciously because of their very familiarity. To help us work through the sense of loss that is involved, Bunkl and Duffell—who sensibly insist on the role of psychology in addressing these global socio-economic issues—walk us through the five steps of grieving described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, grieving, acceptance, taking the time that is necessary to shuck the old in order to embrace the new.

Along the way, the authors examine the blame game that simply makes our current situation worse. Useless to blame corporate greed, as many of us on the left are fond of doing: the corporation is by its very nature required be competitive, even at times ruthlessly so, if it wishes to survive against the ruthlessness of others. Even the well-intentioned, civic-minded corporation is not able to survive at a financial loss. Useless, too, to blame the politicians, who are stuck in the same competitive mode and who need to “win” over others if they are to succeed. Once elected, the policies they enact, in our current system of “sovereign” nation-states, must put the interests of their nation over other nations, “since the global free movement of capital and corporations forces governments to do whatever is necessary to maintain the effectiveness of their respective national economies.”

If global competition is as destructive to our individual and collective well-being as the authors say, what’s the alternative? Here’s where the “Simpol solution” comes in. Simpol, I discovered to my surprise, has been around for more than fifteen years. Founded in 2000 by this book’s co-author and British businessman John Bunkl, it is now a growing international organization that seeks, in short, to save us from ourselves. SIMPOL is shorthand for “the simultanenous policy” campaign, inviting citizens in the U.S., and citizens around the world, to use our votes in a powerful new way to solve global problems like global warming, financial market regulation, environmental destruction, war, and social injustice.” To solve these problems, Simpol insists, “governments must act together. If all governments act together, simultaneously, everyone wins. But while they fail to cooperate, it’s the markets that continue to run politics—not we, the people.”

Global cooperation? Just look at the impotence of the United Nations, you say. To which the authors say: case in point, the United Nations is, precisely, a gaggle of competing “sovereign states,” dominated by a Security Council whose members, in competition with each other and each with veto power, guarantee its failure. But global harmony, you say, is a utopian dream. Impractical. Never happen. Not so, the authors claim. Not only do they argue, persuasively, that global catastrophe is the only eventual alternative to cooperation, they describe, at the end of the book, a series of practical steps that can lead to their goal.

The SIMPOL Solution is an ambitious, persuasively-argued, thorough and, indeed a passionately-written plea for a new world order. If, as I say, you are tired of the old hostilities and the old clichés; if you are tired of feeling exploited and impotent as a voter; if you long for real change in the way the world conducts its business and have despaired of finding a way to make that happen—this book is for you.

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