Breaking down the barriers to solving world problems

The Simultaneous Policy

– An Insider’s Guide to Saving Humanity and the Planet
by John Bunzl. Published by New European Publications, 2001.

The principal barrier to implementation of any significant measure to improve today's environmental, economic or social problems, be they in advanced, developing or non-industrialised countries, is destructive competition. Global de-regulated capital flows and corporations know no national boundaries and by their ability or threat to move elsewhere, force nations to compete with one another for capital, jobs (and therefore votes) and ever scarcer natural resources.

With increased government reliance on capital markets to finance public deficits and on corporations to maintain employment, internationally mobile capital effectively precludes the implementation of any national policy that might incur market or corporate displeasure. The markets have consequently engineered strong leverage over the economic, social and environmental policies adopted by any country ensuring that only market-friendly, neo-liberal policies are pursued — regardless of the party in power . The result is the strangle-hold of pseudo-democracy in which, whatever party we elect, the policies delivered remain substantially the same. Since virtually all nations are part of an increasingly integrated global economy, they are all subject to the same strangle-hold. In advanced countries, it is exerted directly by the market itself, ably assisted by the WTO; in developing countries, by the market and through "structural adjustment" imposed by the IMF or the World Bank; in non-industrialised countries by the virtual absence of any foreign direct investment leaving them to the consequences of warfare, poverty, disease, increasing numbers of refugees and so on.

No nation can exit from this predicament by seeking to re-regulate financial markets because such action would cause capital flight, devaluation and inflation if not outright economic collapse. Similarly, policies that seek to address environmental or social problems requiring higher public spending or higher costs for industry are precluded on the grounds of uncompetitiveness, adverse market reaction and the threat of job losses. In de-regulating capital markets, nations have therefore unleashed a force they can no longer unilaterally control – a global competitive merry-go-round now spinning so fast that no nation can get off (unless it is forcibly ejected by the market itself).

This paper therefore argues, firstly, that politics – regardless of the party in power – has effectively been paralysed into a market-friendly position from which it cannot escape. Secondly it argues that fundamental changes to the capitalist system are essential before there can be any hope of closing the 'sustainability gap' or of expecting any tangible results from international agreements on reduced emissions. Thirdly, since capitalism can only be changed and controlled by politics — which has itself already been paralysed — we are heading for environmental, economic or social collapse without the means to alter that course. Solutions that fail to address the central barrier to reform that global free markets and international competition represent are therefore effectively dead in the water.

In spite of this state of affairs, this book sets out a feasible means not only of regaining control of global financial markets and corporations, but of going much further towards creating the conditions for a global society and economy more compatible with Nature and the needs of human nature. The disturbing growth of far-right political parties is a sure sign that failure to do so could well prove catastrophic. This book therefore argues that a fundamental transformation from international competition to global cooperation is required, for only through global co-operation between nation states can destructive competition be eliminated and meaningful changes implemented. Crucially, it also sets out a practical method of achieving this. It therefore represents something of a "missing link" without which the many solutions now being proposed by leading economists and ecologists are likely to remain confined largely to theory.

To break the vicious circle of global competition, both between nations and between corporations, all nations need to act simultaneously by implementing the Simultaneous Policy (Simpol); a range of measures to re-regulate global markets and corporations in order to restore genuine democracy, environmental protection and peace around the world. Simpol thus calls upon peoples all over the world to recognise the futility of conventional party politics and to unite both by taking policy out of the hands of politicians and, by force of their numbers and their votes, by bringing political parties into competition with one another to adopt Simpol. By separating the adoption of Simpol from its implementation, Simpol transcends party-political differences and allows voters, NGOs, politicians and governments to adopt it without risking their respective personal or national interests. It therefore represents political action of a kind not yet seen: a New Politics of cooperation and community which transcends both the divisions of conventional party politics and the dilemmas of maintaining international competitiveness. Simpol thus offers a real prospect – perhaps the only prospect – of beneficial change and survival.

This New Politics has profound implications for North-South relations, the global environment, world economics, global governance, Green parties, non-governmental organisations, international relations, national domestic politics and, not least, for the triumph of the human spirit.


It's ambitious and provocative. Can it work? Certainly worth a serious try. 
Noam Chomsky

It is a good idea. What we need is politicians who will give this issue a high priority. 
Polly Toynbee 
The Guardian

I thought your proposal was an elegant idea of how change could occur. It reflects the core ideas of how to create consensus around change. This is the biggest challenge that we have. 
Ed Mayo 
Chief Executive, National Consumer Council, UK

Your idea for a simultaneous policy is excellent.... Lets hope that people start to listen to this important message. 
Helena Norberg-Hodge 
Director of the International Society for Ecology & Culture

...the basic concept is excellent.... Let me know what develops! 
Jakob von Uexkull 
Founder and Chairman, Right Livelihood Award Foundation

The Simultaneous Policy is a creative proposal to accelerate progress toward a sustainable global economy. Many movements and grassroots globalists working for these goals can coalesce around such innovative initiatives. 
Hazel Henderson 
Author, Beyond Globalization: Shaping a Sustainable Global Economy

…provocative and potentially transformative. There are ideas here that could change the world. 
Prof. Charles Derber 
Dept. of Sociology, Boston College, MA, USA

A wonderful book — one which I agree with whole-heartedly and regard as the most important book I have read to date. 
Anne Spilling 
Jounalist, Berkshire, UK

Simultaneous Policy is a very stimulating book and by substituting internationalism for globalization, co-operation for competition, humanity for markets and wisdom for materialism you have unlocked a powerhouse for good.
Tony Benn 
Former Labour Member of Parliament, UK

The really big issues today now cross national frontiers and individual governments cannot cope with them in isolation. This is where Simultaneous Policy comes in. … [It] is the only way a host of problems can now be solved. Simultaneous Policy is the alternative. 
Sir Richard Body 
Former Conservative Member of Parliament, UK

Download additional preface by John Bunzl (written 2004)