Need for a proclamation on the right to individual identity
In Europe and around the world, human identity is in crisis. On the cusp of a new millennium, the human family is faced with an overwhelming barrage of new forces. The world has entered a new stage of economic globalization, with tighter interconnectedness across all national and regional borders. This tighter interconnectedness affects all areas of production–labor, capital, and natural resources—on both physical and cognitive levels. But perhaps more importantly, it profoundly affects human identity.
Today, we are connected in ways that were absolutely unimaginable just 30 years ago. Vast databases connected by increasingly complex and intelligent machinery with a growing array of sensors, are ubiquitous. If you go to any number of websites, programs on your device or computer are designed to track your movements around the Internet. At the workplace, our movements and conversations are tracked digitally. As a result, our identities hang in the balance.
Power is moving from the developed world to the developing world. Non-democratic China is soon to be the largest economy in the world. The total size of the developing economy has grown larger than that of the industrial world. As a result, human identity stands to win or lose from this.
On another, perhaps more dangerous front, there is an unprecedented revolution taking place in biology, genetics, brain science, and nanotechnology – pushing the frontiers of life and death. The implications for human identity are crying out for clarification in this arena.
Alas, we cannot forget our relation to the environment and its impact on human identity. As more than one person has aptly described, we are using the atmosphere like a sewer.
Finally, and perhaps most ironically, the forces of democracy and capitalism have provided less than satisfactory solutions to modern problem of human identity. In fact, if we use democracy and capitalism as a barometer, one might be tempted to conclude that human identity is synonymous with corruption.
As far back as Plato and Aristotle, and throughout the philosophical traditions of both east and west, the question of how to build just societies on a solid foundation of human identity has been one of the most perplexing and elusive challenges faced by humanity.
In this Human Forum, and at the roundtable of identity in particular, we will approach the topic of identity from a broad, evolutionary perspective. We part from the idea that the current global crisis is first and foremost a crisis that originates with human identity and that not until we confront and respond to the crisis at the level of identity, will we be able to address humanity’s most pressing social, political and ontological problems.
Thus, we must admit from the outset: our objectives are lofty and ambitious. We aim to rise to the highest levels of abstraction, where humans wrestle with angels, and from there descend with fruit, practical fruit, with which to feed the planet’s individual and collective hunger for human identity.
Thank you for your decision to attend this forum. We look forward to learning a lot from you, and from each other, and to move away from this forum armed and rejuvenated with better ideas on how to defend human identity from the manifold threats that it faces in our ever-changing world.