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September 8, 2008

Thinking Beyond the Nation-State

Youth summit in Brussels will explore global interdependence.

An international group of citizen activists has decided that one of the best ways to commemorate the events of September 11, 2001, is to honor “Global Interdependence Day” on September 12. This year, the fourth Global Interdependence Youth Summit will be held in Brussels, Belgium, on September 9-13. The event aims at fostering new kinds of trans-national civic cooperation and global awareness. Young people from dozens of countries will participate in workshops, artistic performances and other events to try to foster a greater sense of international unity and cooperation.

The vision of a new kind of global interdependence is being developed by CivWorld, a project started by Dr. Benjamin R. Barber, author of Strong Democracy and Jihad vs. McWorld, and hosted at Demos, a New York City think tank. CivWorld explains its mission this way:

The idea behind CivWorld begins with the premise that people – citizens of their own communities, their nations and the world – can and must be the driving force and the principal agents of change for a more democratic world. CivWorld’s vision is a world of democratic nations and a world of nations whose relations are democratically governed.

Our mission is to increase the awareness of our interdependence and create a new vision of what it means to be a global citizen in this interdependent world. We hope to lay the foundations of global civic cooperation and to do so we need not only civic leaders and dignitaries, but also parents, students, and children.

Democratic transnationalism, constructive interdependence, and global justice in a world of interdependence represent not old ideals but the only realistic path to national security. Democratizing globalization provides a viable and compelling alternative to passivity and spectatorship in building a world that is pluralistic and just. We believe there is no stronger defense against terrorism, no clearer expression of humanity’s common promise, no better path to a democratized globalization.

Besides Interdependence Day, CivWorld has developed an international research program focused on an “affirmative globalization paradigm,” as well as a Civic Interdependence Curriculum that aims at “cultivating the arts of liberty, within rather than among, national societies.” The project has also published a reader, The Interdependence Handbook, edited by Benjamin R. Barber and Sondra Myers.