“…a cosmopolitan policy of justice and freedom. A form of politics that is not afraid to tackle big changes, and that unites a global and regional way of thinking and acting…”
The Alps-Adriatic Manifesto: New Politics for a Post COVID World
Put forth in 2018, the centennial of the end of World War I, the Alps-Adriatic Manifesto, a declaration of regional trans-border collaboration and civic intention, anticipated the currently emerging civil society movement for a radical rethinking of economic and political structures, so as to transform the exclusionary and oppressive human relationships and politics they hold in place. We have been referring to this transformation as a “New Normal,” a concept referenced in the Corona Connection series since the posting of the CLAIP Manifesto.
Both manifestos, each drafted by peace researchers and peace educators, express the hopes and goals of a worldwide movement to overturn the systemic injustices that characterize the present interstate system. Emerging from and grounded in the lived realities of local and national communities, interrelating with each other in a shared geopolitical region, Latin America and the Alps-Adriatic in Europe, respectively, the two manifestos offer distinct but complementary perspectives on goals and processes of transcending separations and alienations that corrupt the peace possibilities in present international structures. The Alps-Adriatic is a realm wherein active cooperation toward common goals is both politically possible and geographically practical for the region’s transnational civil society. Its general principles and cumulative goals, however, specific as they are to the Alps-Adriatic region, are also globally relevant, as potential means toward the new normal we might construct in a post-COVID world. Similar endeavors in other world regions could well have world-wide transformative effects. Contributed to Global Campaign for Peace Education by its main author, Austrian Peace Educator, Werner Wintersteiner, the manifesto is an exercise in building peace by learning peace, embodying a peace education assertion that nonviolent democratic social orders will be more effectively pursued when a politics of learning replaces the politics of winning (see also other recent posts by Wintersteiner, “Ten Lessons from the Corona Crisis” and “The virus of “crisis nationalism”).
The six propositions it sets forth comprise a globally relevant agenda of politics as learning for sustainable peace in Europe. Framed in a cosmopolitanism of cultural complementarities, informed by an appreciation of the communal strength and assurance of universal human equality that derive from diversity, it establishes one fundamental principle of a viable and just global community; socio-economic integration and cooperation need not, indeed, must not, be achieved at the cost of the homogenization poured over the world by the global market, nor of domination of colonialism and militarization. Neither can a healthy integration be achieved by denying or glossing over attempts to acculturate and dominate that are a historical reality of most world regions. Historical “truth-telling” has become the sine qua non of social justice movements around the world. The multilingualism the manifesto advocates is an assurance of the sustainability of cultural diversity, as it serves to facilitate knowledge of the complementarity inherent in multiple cultures of the region, even in a review of harms those cultures have inflicted on each other. In multilingualism, there is a potential for more honest and open communication in truth-telling.
Truth is the essential foundation upon which utopias can become practical models for alternative, preferred futures. The practical utopian thinking that infuses the manifesto validates the utility of utopia as a peace education learning device, and a mechanism for freeing political thinking from the trap of political realism, a major obstacle to the politics of peace since the earliest days of the Cold War, into these days of a pandemic that observes none of the divisions it has imposed upon the world. Indeed, transcending the legacy of alienation and destruction resulting from those divisions and those of World War II is a significant purpose of the specific action program that concludes the manifesto.
That program proposes particular, practical steps to overcome contemporary wide-spread xenophobic populism, such as that which now plagues other regions and nations, threatening democratic progress with increasing numbers of authoritarian regimes. Peace educators in most every area of the world will see elements of a similar problematic of violence and injustice that they regularly confront in their own respective learning settings. This program of action might well serve peace educators as an adaptable guide to the concrete strategic planning without which a preferred future cannot be achieved, be it based on even the most practical of utopias.
Using the Alps-Adriatic Manifesto as a Peace Education Model
Request that as students do a careful and reflective reading of the manifesto that they make notes on ideas and facts new to them, and elements that may be familiar in the present and in the history they know of their own regions.
Begin the discussion with identification of aspects of the contemporary peace problematic of the Alps-Adriatic region that may be evident in our own or neighboring countries. It is suggested that each of the topics below, be allotted a full period of discussion and that learners review and reflect on the queries before each learning session.
- Review the past of our region to assess events and instances in which one nation or people may have brought harm to others in the region. What were the circumstances? Could the harm have been avoided? How might the harm be repaired? What can we in this group of learners, as a group and/or as individuals do to repair the harm?
- Transforming difference from a source of fear and separation to one of appreciation and integration. What cultures and languages comprise the human landscape of our own region? How many of those cultures are represented in your learning group? How many of the languages are spoken in the group? Do you feel this group would benefit from the representation and/or more knowledge of all the cultures in our region? How might we gain such knowledge? How would that knowledge benefit your own local community? How might it strengthen your nation?
- Regional contributions to world peace. What human, cultural and other resources and historical experiences might our region contribute to the elaboration of a design for world peace? From what communities in the region do those resources come? Are they fully appreciated and applied to developing peace and justice in the region? Where else in the world might they be useful? How could we make them better known in the world?
- New politics for the region; politics as learning for Europe and the world. How might transnational regional politics help to facilitate change where nation-states have failed? In what ways can civil society be more creative and productive than the governments of states? In what ways have national and international politics been detrimental to sustainable peace and progress toward social justice and environmental vitality? Why do states reserve the legal power to wage war to themselves and sometimes use armed force to control civil society? How might civil society in your region and others address the war problematic so that it might be “over”? How might states be made to “want” it to be over?
- Devise a plan of specific steps for peace and justice in our region. The manifesto suggests some specific steps to some toward a peaceful and just regional community. Review them to consider which might be applicable to our region, and suggest how the relevant steps might be adapted to advance regional integration and cooperation. Some of the steps recall problems and proposals explored in previous Corona Connections. To what degree is militarization and weaponry a problem in our area? (See “The Nail Problem: Patriarchy and Pandemics”.) Can you gain any insights into approaches to disarmament and demilitarization from the recent GCPE series on Women, Peace and Security? Are there NGOs working in the region that are advocating peace actions that would particular problems of peace in our area? What might be proposed for a new and necessary transnational institution to advance the well-being of the people of this region? Are there any relevant ideas in the CLAIP Manifesto that might guide our thinking on this possibility? How might we “work through the delicate points of our history together” with others in our region? Are there any aspects of the Corona Connection on White Privilege that might help in this process?
- Utopia as a tool for envisioning and planning our preferred future as the culmination of our reflections on building a realm of peace in our own region. What might we envision as the best possible future for our part of the world? How would it fit into and contribute to a global community? How would it differ from the present? Would we include our ideas about transnational institutions? How might we build upon the ideas we have been considering in these reflections to bring them together in a general strategy to achieve our practical utopia? What local, regional and national organizations and institutions could we invite to join in refining and implementing the strategy? What steps might we take tomorrow? What steps can you yourself take?
– BAR, July 12, 2020