MOVE – Shuffling Humanity

It is just possible to read Parag Khanna’s latest work and take comfort in our prospects here in Europe’s troubled offshore island – but that optimism (as learned when coding in the late 60’s) – is a Multiple IF statement.  The likelihood of a positive outcome is dependent on passing a series of successively dependent tests, each with its own probability of success.  IF this, IF that, and IF something else, THEN this may be.  Optimists may rejoice that the ELSE, and the timeframe, remains unstated.  Even the far-seeing Parag Khanna can only divine a favourable outcome for Britain ‘despite itself’.

As we all edge ever closer to COP26 in Glasgow, and media outlets and governments turn their talents towards analysing climatic challenges, Parag’s focus is humanity – how mass migration will reshape the entire world.  Those of us who were captivated by Bronowski’s ‘Ascent of Man’ back in 1973 may still vividly recall the migrating Lapps and their reindeer herds.  Their nomadic wanderings across the arctic in search of grazing and shelter may have only recently faded but will be as nothing to the emergent mass migrations in search of climatic sufficiency, sustainability, and survival.

For a nation blessed with a relatively benign climate, the current command seems hell bent on making bad choices.  Readers need not absorb all Parag’s work to agree with the conclusion that freedom of movement (AKA mobility) ‘ought to be one of the paramount human rights of the 21st century’.

With direct experience of over 150 countries, Parag’s own wanderings may have provided fuel refined to high octane levels, a questionable reverence for the bell-weather signals of the global super-rich, and a fascination with the marketable value of passports and citizenship, but, despite these elite distractions, his work captures the essence of humanity and the inevitable climatic pressures for mass migrations and wholesale redefinition of nation states and identities.

In the end he agrees with philosopher Peter Singer’s logical conclusion that ‘the fortunate [should] give as much as possible to those less fortunate irrespective of geography or nationality.’ Parag adds, ‘The maximalist version of this thesis is open borders and mass wealth redistribution while the minimalist case is far greater aid to poor countries.’  But then he adds, ‘We have ample evidence, however, that aid barely keeps people alive, while moving people gives them a chance to live.’

The timing of this publication could hardly have been better. Delegates planning to attend COP26 in Glasgow should take this work as required reading. They may be dazzled by hopeful technological presentations from climate clever-clogs or fail to hear the off-stage radical economists but may know this ‘The surest path to improving the human condition is migration’.

MOVE by Parag Khanna, published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 334 pages, ISBN 978-1-4746-2083-3

* David Brunnen is media liaison officer for Fareham Liberal Democrats. He writes on Municipal Autonomy, Intelligent Communities, Sustainability & Digital Challenges.

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One Comment

  • Peter Hirst 10th Oct '21 - 4:19pm

    We need a global approach to migration where all countries share the privelidge of accepting those who are fleeing persecution and searching for a better life while accepting there are limits to what movement can be accomodated.

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