In last week’s instalment of “Let’s Talk!” entitled “Nationalism: Have We Outgrown It?”, I explored the concept of national pride and briefly pointed out some of the positive and adverse effects of nationalism. In my view, nationalism has been a disservice to the world in that it has thrown up roadblocks that have prevented substantive steps being taken that can halt the process of global warming and the catastrophic results of unchecked environmental damage. As well, human suffering in many parts of the world caused by wars of aggression, civil wars and other forms of human conflict needs to be addressed and alleviated. Unfortunately, political agendas at the UN and within national governments have militated against effective solutions. I also promised to put forward some suggestions for a course of action we might work toward. As I write these words, I realise that time is of the essence.
Canadian-born author Marshall McLuhan put forward the concept of the “Global Village” in his books The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962) and Understanding Media (1964). The shrinking of the world by electronic technology and the instantaneous movement of information has revolutionised human communication. It is time for us to take this concept of Global Village to the next logical level – a world government.
The great lesson to take from the United Nations experiment is that its very essence doomed it to fail. The UN did not stop World War III from happening, but the fear of nuclear holocaust proved to be the ultimate deterrent. The UN might have been able to address global warming and the suffering of human dislocations if it had not been hampered by the political agendas of national governments which make up its membership. The UN has no real authority over national governments, so it was doomed from the beginning. Not unlike the very first federal government, the US put in place after their successful war of independence. They failed to create a chief executive to run the machinery of government, and it was soon replaced with the present structure.
We have several blueprints for a World government in place and working well in different parts of the world. Considering that nationalism is not going to disappear overnight and it does have some benefits, I believe that a confederation will work well on the global stage. This would not necessitate the removal of national governments as they exist today but would eliminate the United Nations and replace it with a World Government.
The current national administrations and legislatures would remain in control of their own local affairs: law and order, education, domestic economy, social agencies, etc. The world level would control environmental policies, global security, space exploration, a world judicial branch, and the military power to enforce its laws.
I see the world government as a democratic organisation whose elected officials represent every nation on Earth. I think an effective system of checks and balances between executive, legislative and judicial branches would serve everyone well. A lot of people today are expressing disillusionment with elected officials and democracy in general. I get that and feel the frustration too. What’s the alternative? Dictatorship, absolute monarchy, religious oligarchy… we’ve tried them all down through history. None of them was free of corruption, and none served the common good. The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, despised democracy and in The Republic, he wrote about the ideal state governed by a philosopher king. This person would rule with wisdom and compassion. Certainly, government by a single ruler is efficient, but to my knowledge, humanity hasn’t been blessed with many of these. Democracy will always be flawed because people are flawed. Yet the voters can retain control if they take their citizenship responsibilities seriously.
The title question is the problem at hand. Is a world government feasible? My answer is a “yes” and a “no”. If we could put a world governing body in place, it would have the best chance of dealing effectively with our environmental, economic, humanitarian, and security problems threatening to destroy us all. On the other hand, I don’t envision many (if any) national governments lining up to give up their sovereignty to a global body. What would it take to make this happen? The lessons of history provide us with the most likely scenario: fear of a common enemy – most likely, from another world. It is absurd to think that we are the only intelligent life in the universe, and it’s only a matter of time before we are visited.
Judging by the political decisions made by electorates last year in the United Kingdom and the United States, the shady side of nationalism is alive and well. Many are turning to economic protectionism and stricter immigration policies to build walls that separate people. All of it is fueled by fear, and a lot of that is manufactured by political leaders to further their own agendas. In my view, the planet’s environment doesn’t have time for this nonsense, nor do we have the luxury of unlimited time to wait for an alien invasion to unite us. We are better educated and more aware of events worldwide today than at any other time in history. I don’t presume to have all the answers, but we need to work toward making humanity better!