1 Forge overseas alliances
If you’re a member of a trade union, social movement, campaigning group or religious congregation, you can link up with overseas equivalents. Your feminist direct-action group can send messages of solidarity to those struggling against the odds in a country with worse conditions for women. Or your local parish could organize a solidarity trip to meet congregants at churches in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
2 Think of supply chains
An internationalism that delights in lifestyle cosmopolitanism – travelling to far-flung places or buying ‘exotic’ commodities – means little unless it reckons with the underlying systems that sustain it. When you click ‘buy’ on an Amazon product, you might be setting in motion a process that starts in a sweatshop in Bangladesh, wields a huge carbon footprint and comes to you via a zero-hours contract delivery driver. There’s no way to consume 100-per-cent ethically, but you can be sensitive to the trade-offs and impacts of your purchases. Buy Fair Trade if funds allow. And leave those palm-oil products on the shelf.
3 Welcome refugees and migrants
Across the industrialized world, people who cross borders are routinely denied rights, especially when they’re not well-off. In the UK you could fight back against government policy that leaves refused asylum-seekers destitute by lending out a spare room. Charities such as Housing Justice and the Boaz Trust facilitate hosting arrangements. In Australia you can host a Welcome Dinner, through a network that connects the newly arrived with the more established.
4 Decolonize your institutions
In the Global North, many cultural institutions, like museums and galleries, are overflowing with loot that was stolen during the heyday of European colonialism. If you’re a patron of a museum, ask them to consider repatriation (objects can be digitized or made into holograms in the colonial museums) or at least pay the travel costs of so-called ‘source communities’ so they can visit. If you have a child at school and feel like they’re not learning enough about the history of colonialism, see if you can organize speakers to visit to expand their horizons.
5 Prioritize foreign policy
When it comes to debating, door-knocking or voting for political candidates in electoral contests, keep the important issue of foreign policy in the frame. Very often it links to ‘domestic’ issues anyway. The arms industry, which provides jobs and tax revenue in the rich world while exporting violence to the poor world, is one such example. Ask your local candidates for their stance on international questions.
6 Learn another language
It’s a simple – and difficult! – way to break out of the parochialism we all tend towards, especially if your first language is English. Learning another language will be a gateway to other cultures, societies and histories and will allow you to have a more immediate connection with people you meet abroad. There are apps, like Duolingo, which put the process at your fingertips.
7 Act like there’s a climate emergency
Carbon emissions do not stop at borders, which means any effective response to climate change is necessarily internationalist. A warmed world is already affecting the least equipped, and least responsible, populations in the South. As an individual, you can start a campaign to get a local institution to divest from fossil fuels or find out how to build a community-owned solar farm (or at least put a panel on your roof!).
8 Diversify your newsfeed
One of the best ways to find out about your own country can be to read about it in foreign newspapers, whose reporters don’t have the same assumptions and prejudices as home-grown journalists. So read what The Japan Times or Mexico’s La Jornada (many web browsers now have built-in translation services) have to say about your own society. Likewise, if you use social media, curate your newsfeed with publications that are based in or write well about the Global South. Africa is a Country, Telesur, Democracy Now! and Popula are good examples.