Immanuel Wallerstein (28 September 1930 – 31 August 2019), the political sociologist best known for his writings on the “world system” and I were friends in the mid 1950s. Perhaps not close friends but at least both student activists in the world federalist/world citizen movement, especially in their international dimension. We shared a common analysis of situations and were largely in agreement as to the short-term steps to be taken. I would not say we influenced each other, but rather that we shared a common approach coming from different directions. Our shared interest in Africa as the early 1960s brought independence and later there was a focus on what Manny (as he was known by his friends) called the “world system” and I “the world society.” After the late 1950s, we rarely saw each other, but we continued to exchange offprints of our articles instead of Christmas cards at the start of the year.
Today, we have strong tensions on both land and sea between Russia and Ukraine. With a certain amount of good will, the tensions could be reduced. The times call for creative proposals and open discussions.
A somewhat similar situation to the Rohingya repression is developing in neighboring Assam, in northeast India. The Assam situation has not received the international attention that Myanmar has as wide-scale violence and refugee flows have not taken place, thus the need for preventive diplomacy now. The people of Assam in northeast India are potentially sitting on top of a smoldering volcano that threatens to erupt into catastrophic suffering. The violence would target ethnic and religious minorities, most particularly Bengali-speaking Muslims, somewhat on the pattern of the fate of the Rohingya of Myanmar.
Cyprus has been divided between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since 1974, with Turkish Cypriots in the north and Greek Cypriots in the south with a U.N. monitored buffer zone separating the two. There is general agreement that Cyprus should be one state and not two, that this one state would be federal in nature, and would be part of the European Union. But the devil is in the details.
After the far-right government of Italy refused to allow some 629 refugees and migrants mostly from sub-Saharan Africa to land in Italy last week, Spain finally accepted the boat. The crisis dramatically highlighted how the flow of migration from Africa has produced confused responses from the European Union.
Steve Bannon is currently in Europe to advise far-right movements. He first went to Italy, where xenophobes recently won the parliamentary elections, and then visited the National Front in France. In fact, the European far-right does not need Bannon's advice. They are able to push racist and xenophobic slogans all by themselves, as was evident in the recent elections for Parliament in Italy.