Jean-Christophe NothiasIf the idea of world governance is disturbing, the idea of an actual world government, the stage for the final dispossession of national sovereignty, is alarming. Should we regret the time when the master of the house imposed his will on his household, where the lord of the castle ruled over his domain and serfs, where the king reigned over his people? History tells us the contrary. As power expands to occupy ever bigger spheres it is accompanied, sooner or later, by a growth in the spheres of individual liberty. But on the way, societies experience change, often violent change. Should we fear global governance? No. At this time of challenges on a planetary scale, it is in the absence of global governance, that danger lies; in the illusion that governance exists, or, inversely, in our refusal to recognize what passes for governance.

On the other hand, loss of identity is an even worse risk. Uniqueness, according to some company directors who enjoy remarkable success on a global scale, is the key to survival. Photographer and filmmaker Wim Wenders intuitively acknowledges the same truth, even if he sees the dissolution of identity as one of the primary effects of globalization. For Marc A. Hayek, globalization creates both the opportunity and the need to strengthen identity; loss of identity is a harbinger of death. In fact, the two men agree on the importance of being distinctive –and are highly likely to meet on the far side of the world, as they both enjoy traveling so much. Let’s spare them a visit to Guantanamo, a territorial black hole, swallower of identity, and a void from which it is difficult to return to the real world. Over there on the island of Cuba, 172 prisoners are living side by side with released detainees and their guards, or –for the released– their ‘roommates’. In this issue, Edmund Clark and Michael Strauss give two particularly powerful points of view of Guantanamo, one through images and the other through its ‘extraordinary’ laws.

As he has done before, when challenging the detractors who criticize the WTO for failing to conclude the Doha Development Round, Pascal Lamy, director general of the WTO, is speaking out again; this time about the use of GDPs and import/export balances as yardsticks to measure the world. He wants to apply another benchmark, that of added value, and he is right. In this view, he is joined by Armatya Sen whose comparison between India and China denounces mere economic growth for its own sake. According to the Nobel Prize winner, India has grown financially –but without ensuring that the distribution of wealth improves life for all Indians. Professor Sen dares to suggest that China comes out better than his native country on several counts. It’s a pity that India is so keen to charm (recently, a Swiss daily produced a panegyric on India’s financial weight gain on nearly every page), without regard for the added value in favor of each Indian citizen. India may be more democratic than China but it still has work to do, is the basic message from the Harvard Professor of Economy.

The photographs from journeys in China by Marrigje de Maar, who spent five years visiting Chinese homes, tell us a lot. Not just about the modesty of the Middle Kingdom inhabitants, but also their capacity to look towards the future. Coincidentally, Marrigje, like Wim Wenders, has refused to put people into her images, they, like us, are on the other side of the lens. A choice not made by Harold Thibault and Tim Franco, who, on behalf of The Global Journal set off for Laos, a new “suburb” of China, where Mandarin is increasingly heard and taught.

Another form of loss of identity is experienced by women trafficked by men. Kathryn Bolkovac, a former American policewoman, who spent time working for Dyncorp (a private military company), now living in the Netherlands, has become the symbol of resistance in the face of silence and the neglect of obliterated feminine identities consigned to prostitution. Her narrative book, and the film inspired by her experiences, are two ways of getting closer to the drama involving both her employer DynCorp and its commissioning agent, the United Nations. She speaks freely to The Global Journal. Something Plantu, concerned about freedom of speech, would appreciate.

June 2011,
Jean-Christophe Nothias
Editor in Chief