Pressenza has been promoting widely the new book by the Argentinian author, Guillermo Sullings. Titled “At the Crossroads of Humanity’s Future: 120 steps towards the Universal Human Nation”, the book has just been translated to English in Hungary by Pressenza and will soon be distributed across Europe. We interviewed the author to give an idea about the book to our English speaking readers. The book can be downloaded freely here.
Pressenza: Congratulations on the publication of your new book in English! We think it’s an important contribution in the direction to a world without violence and discrimination. Could you explain a little for our English-language readers from where this book comes? Because really it’s a theory of everything! For you, what is the Universal Human Nation?
Guillermo Sullings: The need to write this book arose within me in the year 2010, but later on, after a long period of intermittent reading and research I started with the first drafts in 2014, and finally I finished the book in 2016. I think that the dream of a better world has always been in the depths of the hearts of human beings, and therefore the roots of that aspiration can be found in history itself. But in my case, beyond sharing that ancient search with a good part of humanity, a lot of it has had to do with my background in Universalist Humanism. Because even though my professional training had to do with subjects related to economics, throughout the years of participating in the Humanist Movement founded by Silo, I became interested in activities and knowledge in very diverse fields connected to social issues, politics, philosophy and different aspects of human organisation. All of this while dedicating an important space to an inner search and spirituality. I think that the combination of all these experiences helped me to observe social phenomena from a more integrated point of view, and so it was the idea of a holistic proposal arose, although this book is no more than a first draft.
The Universal Human Nation is nothing more than the ideal world that the majority aspires to; a world without violence, without wars, without discrimination, with fairness, with justice. It’s not the project of a single person, nor of one organisation; it’s a project of the whole of humanity. It’s just that this humanity, in order to fulfil that aspiration, must hurdle many obstacles, and in this book I try to sketch out the paths and the steps that should be taken in that direction.
PZ: When you wrote this book, did you think that it would be published in a world in which Donald Trump would be presiding over the world’s biggest economy? For the professional analysts, results such as Trump’s election in the USA, Brexit in the UK and the “No” vote to peace in Colombia are inexplicable things. What’s your analysis of this, because democratic participation is a central theme in your book?
GS: We have been seeing the advance of a xenophobic right for a while in several countries. Along with the end of a cycle of a few progressive governments in Latin America, with the consequent advance of the neoliberal right. We’ve written a lot about it. So I wasn’t at all taken by surprise by what happened. In my book I also talk about the failures of some reformist policies, I think that the current rise of the ultra-right is a reaction in the face of a lack of references. But this current cycle will also experience a decline, and therefore it will be necessary to have a project available that really leads us to profound and long-lasting transformations.
In this sense, the project of a Universal Human Nation, even though it will apparently go against the current, could renew the hope in many people who feel failure and it can help many others to orientate themselves who will rapidly become disenchanted by those who hold power. In the face of an overwhelming disorientation, it’s not at all inexplicable to me that there are those who vote for Trump, or who support Brexit, or “No” to peace. What’s missing is to inform well, to clarify, to raise awareness, to create capacity, and to counteract the lies of those who manipulate power. Because of course there will be many anti-humanists among those who vote for the proposals of the xenophobic right, or neoliberal ones. But there are also many confused people who, tired of corruption, unemployment, bureaucracy, and traditional politicians, have searched for alternatives in leaders with a simple and direct discourse. What a mistake they’re making! But these errors have to be corrected with information, with awareness, with simple and direct proposals in order to give a clear reference when it comes to electing between choices. We need much more democratic participation, we need real democracy, but accompanied by a lot of clarification in order to neutralise the power of the media.
PZ: What you’re proposing is a revolutionary change of the most important paradigms on which the world is based. What are these paradigms today, and what should they be in your opinion?
GS: We’ve just talked about real democracy. A paradigm of today’s formal representative democracies is that “the people don’t deliberate or govern apart from through their representatives”; and this means delegating popular sovereignty and establishing a governing power as an absolute master. Those with sovereign power should really be the people and not those in government. The people mustn’t delegate their power, they must retain it and exercise it at all times. One thing is who manages, and something else is who has the power to orientate that management; it must be the people through mechanisms of direct and participatory democracy.
Another paradigm is that of believing that weapons are a necessary evil; weapons are evil full stop. Weapons are for killing people and rarely are they used in defence, they are always used to attack. Weapons should be banned, there can’t be weapons among a civilian population, and nations must quickly reduce their arsenals, starting with the nuclear ones. In most countries drugs are banned because it’s harmful to health, and in fact they can be very harmful, but weapons aren’t banned because they aren’t harmful?! Here’s another paradigm to be reviewed.
And in the field of economics, there are many paradigms that sustain an intrinsically unfair system and that’s leading us to collapse. Company profits shouldn’t be only for the business owner, but also for the staff that work there. The financial sector cannot be managed by speculators. Profits must be reinvested into production, and not end up in financial speculation. And for this the State must intervene through a system of mixed economics. This liberal paradigm that everyone should be able to do what they want with their private property is a fallacious concept because if everyone did what they wanted to do in society it would be a chaos in which there wouldn’t even be private property; so if we take advantage of living in an organised society, it’s because we accept that there must be regulations, and if there are regulations, they must be for the benefit of all, and not only for a minority. Well, these are a few examples and they could be the subject of many, many books.
PZ: You’ve proposed 120 steps to advance towards the Universal Human Nation in the most important fields of international relations, disarmament, immigration, economics, human rights, the environment, the media and cultural values, but you’ve left the doors open for many other contributions in other fields. In other words, it’s not just 120 steps to reach the world you want. If you’d have had time to continue writing the book, what subjects would you have liked to include and why?
GS: Sure, I said before that this book is a start, a sketch that tries to point out a direction, indicating a few steps, 120 of them are what I could synthesise. But there’s a lot to develop, in every subject area you could write several books, and this will be achieved with the contribution of many people who coincide in the project of a Universal Human Nation. In this sense, besides the potential to develop the subjects included, there are areas that I haven’t covered, for example health and education that I don’t think I can cover, but rather it should be specialists who converge with this project. I feel that what I wanted to include in the book is there. I’d have liked to have developed the relationship between a spiritual search and society, but I didn’t think it appropriate to incorporate it here. In any case, if in some moment I can do it, it will be for another book.
PZ: Thanks for your time, Guillermo, both for writing the book and for allowing it to freely circulate through social networks. I know that you’ll be in the USA at the end of March to present the book in New York, do you have a plan to travel to Europe?
GS: In fact, in March I will present the book in Colombia and I will travel from there to New York. Regarding Europe, for the moment I have a plan to go to Spain in June, but surely to the degree that translations to other languages advance, I will travel there again before the end of the year.