#ELLEVoices: Divya Dwivedi On How She Is #ImaginingTheWorldToBe
To mark its 75th year, ELLE International joined hands with UNESCO for a special content partnership. Together they called on women’s voices from across the globe to take part in a series of discussions and the above interview is a part of the same.
Philosopher, Professor and Editor of Philosophy World Democracy, a new multi-lingual online journal that is truly international, forming an institution of intellectuals. It was founded by Divya Dwivedi, together with Jean-Luc Nancy (Strasbourg), Achille Mbembe (Johannesburg), Zeynep Direk (Istanbul), Shaj Mohan (Delhi) and Mireille Delmas-Marty (Paris)
ELLE: What has the crisis shown us?
Divya Dwivedi: The pandemic has affected the whole world with such speed that it shows how much the world is one system. It has affected all economies, because they are interconnected by trade, transport and migration. But it has unequally afflicted the demos, the people themselves, their chances of survival, their livelihoods. The people are suffering the pandemic according to pre-existing unequal arrangements in all parts of the world. For instance, the inegalitarian health systems in each country, and the unequal health expenditures across the countries. So this reveals that epidemics and health flow through channels that already exist.
ELLE: What should the world look like after COVID-19?
DD: First, we should start by looking at the world as it is presenting itself in its failures and also in its new possibilities, and not confine ourselves to the daydreams of local self-sufficiency and local assertions. That would be worse than the confinement which circumstances have already imposed on us, and which have been so poorly executed across the world. We have suffered the persistent tendencies of competitive regionalisms, ethnocentrism and nationalisms, even before the pandemic, and these tendencies have been only augmented in many countries today. We must recognise these diverse racisms as systemic and institutional practices that are making people suffer unequally. They are endangering the doctors and medical staff, journalists, refugees, minorities, and also the majority populations who are subjugated and exploited and are excluded from political participation and from knowledge creation. These are the most significant reasons for the neglect of public health and of non-commercial scientific research. Here’s looking at the world. Today, it connects everyone and everything in unprecedented and reciprocal ways. Then we must recognise ourselves as the world, and we must call and answer to the world as the world. This is the meaning of democracy today in which we must all participate equally, and democracy can now be secured only through the assertion that the world belongs to all.
ELLE: How can we anticipate and prepare for future crises?
DD: We have passively witnessed a global agreement on most economic processes and on technological protocols and standards, and there are global institutions dictating terms to national governments. The people are not consulted in these decisions, and they are encouraged to preoccupy themselves in regional, cultural issues which sustain populisms. We must change this. We will have to invent and practice new forms of deceleration and acceleration in our lives, but the only ethical and practical way of doing this is by imagining these modifications collectively. I must unambiguously say this; unlike those on the left and the right who are calling for the burning down of the modern bridges of transport, communication systems, economic cooperation and technologies, we must insist on the democratic future of this one world system. But as we prepare for the future, there’s something that philosophy cautions us; the world is not an infinitely malleable matter that we can freely mould according to our world picture, whether through technological exuberance or hypophysical discipline. The truth is that everything finds its limits or its override through new components and new arrangements. We will be surprised by the futures of our own inventions. Future ruins will demand new constructions from us. And that is why our flights are in-destinate.
For ELLE India’s 24th Anniversary Issue, we decided to feature select women (and some men) who have stood out as strong role models in their fields. We were keen on knowing their thoughts on how they perceive the future to be, how they see their individual industries evolving, how they intend to meet the challenges and what their hope for the world is. Read more in ELLE’s Anniversary Issue.