| français (original) | Español |

www.alliance21.org > What is the Alliance? > History of the Alliance > Platform for a Responsible and United World

Elements of Diagnosis

Our world today is a paradox of basic needs unsatisfied, resources squandered and destroyed, and an untapped potential for work and creativity. This is unacceptable.

We are suffering from three major disparities: planetwide, between the North and the South; within each society between the rich and the poor; and globally between human beings and nature. These three disparities are the reflection of a threefold crisis in relations and in interaction: among societies, among people, and between people and their environment. These crises are inextricably interrelated: Disregard for the environment, for instance, is often accompanied by disregard for men and women.

The three crises cannot be dealt with separately. We could not strive for harmony between human beings and their environment -at any level- if we did not simultaneously strive for harmony among people and among societies.

The fact is that these crises are rooted in the same grounds. The world has undergone a very quick evolution over the past two centuries. " Modern Western civilization " has spread to the four corners of the globe. Most countries are experiencing a spiritual and ethical crisis. We have not been able to channel our formidable capacities for understanding, enterprise and creation to the benefit of all people. The source of all three crises undeniably lies in the effects of the current forms of scientific and technological development, of the greater divisions of labor, the expanding markets, and the endless, growing flow of goods and money in short, of the factors that constitute modern Western civilization or " modernity " as some call it. In the minds of those who promote " modernity " these factors were purported to spur human progress and ensure prosperity, peace, security, happiness, and freedom for all people. While they have in a way contributed to all of these for part of humankind, they have simultaneously generated poverty, wars, insecurity, collapse, oppression, and lastly, our three above mentioned crises.

In a few short centuries, modern Western civilization has taken hold of all the countries of the world through a mixture of attraction and imposition. Colonization and later decolonization have helped to disseminate the Western model of development and society throughout the world. Through the fascination it exerts and the efficiency it affords, " modernity " in its various political forms, has become the main reference for the elite in every continent. Relations based on power, combined with market forces, have been a large factor in the dissolution of non-market values and relationships and the destruction of traditional societies.

The two pillars of modernity -free trade and science- were meant to serve human progress. Today, they are most often considered as an end in themselves. In fact, according to the economic mythology in vogue, the liberalization of all forms of exchange, whether of goods or of money, is supposed to automatically strike an optimal balance in the exchanges among human beings in every area. Moreover, according to scientistic mythology, whatever the problems or damages, the alliance of science, technology and industry will ultimately provide solutions and move humankind forward. All we need to do is rely on the market and on science so the argument goes.

There is no doubt that science is a source of understanding, potential action, and exceptional creativity. Yet science can be mobilized for the best as well as the worst motives. The market is also an irreplaceable instrument through which a multitude of players, each with their specific needs and wishes, can forge flexible contacts and exchange know-how. Deprived populations, however, as well as unfulfilled basic needs, environmental risks, and the interests of future generations fall outside of the field of action, so to speak, of the market. Ultimately, science and the market are only valuable in terms of the choices and objectives of the societies in which they develop. They must find their proper place as tools, which, however essential, are tools for the pursuit of goals, not goals in themselves.

Clearly, the dissemination of science and market values has both carried and fueled a serious ethical crisis. By emphasizing the control and manipulation of people and objects, science and technology have fostered predatory attitudes, reducing the environment and the living world to mere instruments, and neglecting the more global, modest and worthy aspirations of creating greater harmony and solidarity among people, and between people and their environment.

The excitement of power prevails over the search for wisdom. The market tends to consider people and things purely in terms of their monetary value, propagating the idea that getting rich is the ultimate measure of human and social success; it imposes the domination of the material world over the spiritual world; and in order to operate it must constantly create new needs to be fulfilled, thus diverting energies and insights away from the more basic needs. As a result, the short term is given priority to the detriment of the long term. The consequences of all of this are obvious: the moral disintegration of many societies, the spread of corruption, escapism through the use of drugs, indifference to others and to the environment, and a feeling of helplessness among young people.

Today’s threefold crisis is essentially due to the growing domination of our societies by the science and market factors, not only because of the inherent limitations of the latter, but also because of their extreme efficiency in serving the interests of deeply unequal, greedy and short-sighted societies. Furthermore, the world has changed so quickly, the impact of humans on their environment has increased at such speed, international trade has expanded so suddenly that humankind has lost control of its own momentum. The forms that previously regulated human activity, which were built over thousands of years, have become obsolete without new forms’ having had time to emerge. In many fields, issues have taken on a planetary dimension, thus escaping traditional political institutions and out lying of reach of democratic control. Responsibilities must now be assumed and choices made on a planetary level, but there are neither places nor institutions to do this. Humankind is facing the need to take its destiny in its hands but does not know how to go about it.

Our world is caught up in an unprecedented acceleration process: the domination of merchandise is expanding; production, population and demand are growing; information, products and capital are flowing; the technical systems in use are increasingly powerful; there is an ever larger use of resources, and waste is being dumped on an ever greater scale. Inequalities between people and societies are widening. All of this threatens the fundamental balances of our planet and the living world, as well as the interests of future generations.

At the same time, individual societies are withdrawing and dealing exclusively with their own emergencies and objectives. The richest societies are seeking to protect or improve their own well-being and at the same time do away with unemployment and poverty, this means they have to produce more goods. Other societies are industrializing and modernizing on a forced march to catch up with the richest countries, at the cost of serious environmental and human damage; others are having to grapple with the extreme deprivation of large sections of their populations, while others yet are seeking to survive at all costs, often through conflicts and confrontations.

These parallel, non-converging goals will inevitably lead to further inequalities, to the generation within societies and among societies of new forms of apartheid between the rich and the poor, and to deep ecological, local, regional and global imbalances, the first victims of which will be the neediest. All studies agree on one point: The extent, gravity and degree of irreversibility in the disparities that humankind will face in the first half of the next century will very largely depend on the decisions which will or will not be made and the adjustments which will or will not be obtained in a few major domains in the 1990’s. We believe that in the coming years, humankind will have to undertake a spiritual, moral, intellectual and institutional revolution on a major scale. We further believe that this will not be possible unless we seek our guidelines for action in the best of our traditions and civilizations, and in the most generous of our spirits.


Go !Common Principles for a Responsible and United World
Go !Strategy Guidelines


1999-2009 Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World Legal Notices RSS Keeping in touch with the Web site