Is World Government Inevitable?

Several sources lately incline me to think of world (or solar) government as very likely in the long run. First, I read Betrand Russell, in a 1950 essay The Future of Mankind, advocating violence to make a world government:

Before the end of the present century, unless something quite unforeseeable occurs, one of three possibilities will have been realized. These three are:

I. The end of human life, perhaps of all life on our planet.
II. A reversion to barbarism after a catastrophic diminution of the population of the globe.
III. A unification of the world under a single government, possessing a monopoly of all the major weapons of war. …

A world government is desirable. More than half of the Amerian nation, according to a Gallup poll, hold this opinion. But most of its advocates think of it as something to be established by friendly negotiation, and shrink from any suggestion of the use of force. In this I think they are mistaken. I am sure that force, or the threat of force, will be necessary. …

The governments of the English-speaking nations should then offer to all other nations the option of entering into a firm alliance, involving a pooling of military resources and mutual defense against aggression. In the case of hesitant nations, … great inducements, economic and military, should be held out to produce their cooperation. … When the Alliance had acquired sufficient strength, any Great Power still refusing to join should be threatened with outlawry, and, if recalcitrant, should be regarded as a public enemy. The resulting war … (more)

Russell was right that Americans then favored a world government:

In March 1951, nearly half (49%) of Americans thought the United Nations should be strengthened to make it a world government with power to control the armed forces of all nations, including the United States, while 36% thought it should not. (more)

Seems they still favored it in 1993:

In a [1993] telephonic survey financed by the WFA, 58% of 1200 adult American citizens polled thought that to have practical law enforcement at home and abroad, a limited, democratic world government would be essential or helpful (with 35%) disagreeing). For effective enforcement of laws, 66% of those questioned felt there should be a world constitution, more than double the number who disagreed. … 82% of respondents felt the UN Charter should be amended to allow the UN to arrest individuals who commit serious international crimes, and 83% felt that leaders making war on groups within their country should be tried by an International Criminal Court. (more)

In 2007, much of the world also agreed:

A total of 21,890 people were interviewed between July 2006 and March 2007 [in 19 nations: US, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, France, Pales. Terr., Israel, Australia, S. Korea, Thailand, China, Indonesia, India, Philippines, Iran.] …

■ Large majorities approve of strengthening the United Nations by giving it the power to have its own standing peacekeeping force, regulate the international arms trade and investigate human rights abuses.
■ Most publics believe the UN Security Council should have the right to authorize military force to address a range of problems, including aggression, terrorism, and genocide. (more)

Finally, the history of China suggests that, once started, “world” government becomes hard to stop:

This study explores the ways in which the Chinese imperial system attained its unparalleled endurance. … I do not pretend to provide a comprehensive answer. … Rather, I shall focus on a single variable, which distinguishes Chinese imperial experience from that of other comparable polities elsewhere, namely, the empire’s exceptional ideological prowess. As I hope to demonstrate, the Chinese empire was an extraordinarily powerful ideological construct, the appeal of which to a variety of political actors enabled its survival even during periods of severe military, economic, and administrative malfunctioning. …

Centuries of internal turmoil that preceded the imperial unification of 221 BCE … were also the most vibrant period in China’s intellectual history. Bewildered by the exacerbating crisis, thinkers of that age sought ways to restore peace and stability. Their practical recommendations varied tremendously; but amid this immense variety there were some points of consensus. Most importantly, thinkers of distinct ideological inclinations unanimously accepted political unification of the entire known civilized world—“All-under-Heaven”—as the only feasible means to put an end to perennial war; and they also agreed that the entire subcelestial realm should be governed by a single omnipotent monarch. These premises of unity and monarchism became the ideological foundation of the future empire, and they were not questioned for millennia. (more)

Even if a world (or solar) government is inevitable, it is still probably best to not start it too early, before we are able to coordinate sufficiently well.

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  • Quickpost

    There are two factors against world government.

    1- Nationalism. Although not insurmountable (see the E.U), the leaders of nation-states don’t like ceding power. They would also have to be idiots to implement a federal world structure given the centralisation such structures have had throughout history.
    2- Islamism. Radical Muslim movements do not have the strength for world conquest or a Caliphate, but will not let a secular world government emerge for obvious reasons.

    The power of ordinary people should also not be over-estimated, and the possibility that the polls were rigged for political reasons should be at least checked. 

    Overall, there isn’t much impetus FOR world government in the first place- popular opinion has not translated into political pressure. The E.U was created, effectively, to compete with the rest of the world making world-scale versions unlikely.

    • V V

       Radical Muslim movements are typically minoritarian even in their home countries.

      I think the Arabs would prefer forming a pan-Arab country and then eventually join a world government from a position of relative strength, rather than joining as weak, divided ex-colonies.

      • QuickPost

        Yes they are, but they will fight tooth and nail against any attempt at world government. They have already proven willing to commit terrorist attacks and could easily cause enough disruption to be a major headache to a secular pan-Arab reigme, let alone a world government.

      • Burnell Andrews

        I’d like to add another factor, global cultural homogenetity and destruction of unique cultural traits such as languages seem to show that the argument oh we are to different for a world government, will not be so for much longer.

      • zimriel

        History has shown that Arabs cannot form a pan-Arab country independently of Islam, whatever they say they prefer.

      • V V

        Yeah, those inferior genes…, that would be like a black man becoming President of the US…

  • Ansis Malins

    Who will a world government compete against? Where are refugees to escape to should it become corrupt and oppressive?

    • AC

      That is a feature, not a bug.

  • jhertzli

    This is one of the best arguments for interstellar colonization I’ve seen.

    • Richardsilliker

       that is funny.  thank you

  • mjgeddes

    i believe a world govt with myself as president could be the answer for a smooth transition to posthumanity        

    • http://realfilling.com/ the99th

      Geddesocracy

    • PDA (MOI)

      Partito Dotcomunista d’Antarctica (maoista-objectivista-islamista) è la vostra unica speranza

  • V V

    Even if a world (or solar) government is inevitable, it is still
    probably best to not start it too early, before we are able to
    coordinate sufficiently well.

    Can you motivate that claim?

    It seems to me that world government is already overdue:
    Most important issues that humanity needs to address are already global.

    Natural resources exploitation, pollution, trade (with associated workers rights and competition issues), are all areas where regulation at world level is needed. The UN has no power on most of these issues, and multi-lateral agreement between national governments have been largely unsuccessful so far.

    Add the fact that WMDs are becoming more widespread, and growing population with dwindling resources make war more likely.

    • http://profiles.google.com/khallow Karl Hallowell

       “Natural resources exploitation, pollution, trade (with associated
      workers rights and competition issues), are all areas where regulation
      at world level is needed. The UN has no power on most of these issues,
      and multi-lateral agreement between national governments have been
      largely unsuccessful so far.”

      What you see as a problem, I see as a feature. It’s good to have competition and variation in regulation. And frankly, I hope the trade and wage pressure from competing with countries with looser regulations on labor and environment cleans up my country’s attempts at such.

      • V V

         Unchecked competition in the face of limited natural resources can lead to “tragedy of the commons” scenarios.
        The current lack of efforts to reduce CO2 emissions is perhaps the most obvious example, and there are others.

        Competition in wages, workers rights and environmental regulation benefits subjects that can easily relocate their operations and trade international, that is, large corporations. Common people, who can’t easily migrate, are exploited by such mechanisms.

        And frankly, I hope the trade and wage pressure from competing with
        countries with looser regulations on labor and environment cleans up my
        country’s attempts at such.

        Ever heard of the Bhopal disaster?

  • David

    I think it makes sense, but not quite in the way we understand government today. Barring disruptive Black Swans, what we can expect is a continued globalization of culture, trade and communication. The internet is a clear precursor of this trend. This will be followed by a reduction in the inter-cultural perception differences of norms, mores and political philosophies. There will still be pluralism – but it will be increasingly globalized pluralism, with lines of affiliation unbound by geographic location.

    It is hard to see how this could not lead to a convergence of political processes that ultimately take the form of a global federation with at least limited legislative and enforcement functions. However, it is hard to see much acceptance for taking this principle to a totalitarian level. People are quite aware that, given the technological ability of complete surveillance, if this game is lost once, it may be lost forever.

  • http://www.postlinearity.com gregorylent

    certainly could use some whole-systems thinking, some global cooperation,  a human identity beyond race/nation/religion …

    we could call it world coherence, if not world government

    as consciousness evolves, wholeness is the natural result. it’s coming.

    • Martin-2

       I’m skeptical that a global human identity could emerge on a large scale. Out-groups seem to be as significant as in-groups in the way people identify themselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/franklinparkram Sriram Ramanathan

    I think this is a very naive and academic worldview. In reality, families with common interests form the community and this expands to cities and states, until we eventually get  to a country. The cord that binds is self-interest – witness the unraveling of the European fiscal union or the  collapse of Yugoslavia, Soviet Union or Czechoslovakia. Even a small country of 4 million like Norway does not want to join the EU since they see that they will give up more in freedom than what they will gain in opportunity.

  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    I found it especially ironic to see the famous pacifist/anti-nuclear weapon activist (he created the “peace” symbol) advocate a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

    I’m surprised how high those poll numbers are.

  • rapscallion

    Not putting much faith is seasteading I guess.

  • Cambias

    Russell poses a false, uh, trichotomy. WHY are the only alternatives world government, barbarism, or extinction? Because Russell wanted world government, so he carefully ignored the possibility of peaceful coexistence among rational nation-states. Given that he was a logician, he must have been aware that he was making a dishonest argument, but chose to do it anyway.

    World government would be a catastrophe. I can see it leading to apocalypse or barbarism much more inevitably than any multistate system — because in a global civil war there is no neutral territory.

    • Stephen Diamond

       Give Russell a break. His alternatives weren’t intended to be logically exhaustive (which would be to say, trivial). His priors were based on two (seemingly irrational) world wars in 50 years. What he didn’t anticipate is that mutually assured nuclear destruction would make nations “rational.” It’s different with weapons that would likely cost members of the ruling class their lives.

      Russell did have a problem. In 1950 he was consumed by anticommunism, and he feared Russia’s getting the bomb.

    • V V

       

      he carefully ignored the possibility of peaceful coexistence among rational nation-states.

      I don’t think he ignored it, probably he just thought that this possibility was unlikely.

      World government would be a catastrophe. I can see it leading to
      apocalypse or barbarism much more inevitably than any multistate system
      – because in a global civil war there is no neutral territory.

      I suppose that civil wars are less likely than wars between national states.
      Moreover, civil wars are usually fomented, enabled or at least supported by external parties taking sides. Barring space aliens, in a world government this is clearly impossible.

  • gwern0

    One thing I wonder about the poll numbers is that I suspect a lot of people are reading them as ‘a World US government’, if you follow. Certainly, many Americans seem to complain a great deal about the existing UN.

    Perhaps one could look at poll numbers in a country with no reason to expect any major influence on a world government, but also which has never directly suffered at the UN’s hands – maybe small South American countries or something.

    • lightreadingguide

      ” Certainly many Americans seem to complain a great deal about the existing UN”
       Americans are perhaps no more aware than others of the level of tyranny in goverments around the world, but they are more free to complain about it than many, if not most. 
      Keeping in mind that very few people in the USA or elsewhere would say that the UN does no good at all, how do you think decent people from 200 years ago or 200 years from now would evaluate the UN of, say, 1962 to 2012?  
      Personally, I like any attempt to make peace where there is a chance to do so, and the UN has done that a few times. But it could have been done better without the participation of the dozens of local tyrants who run small and large unfortunate countries that are recognized by all but the natives as ridiculous tyrranies.  In short, the UN is filled with people who rejoice in the thought of inflicting insults and  suffering on the millions of members of the outgroups, which are easily listed by anyone unfortunate enough  to have carefully followed the main trends of UN rhetoric over the last 50 years.  All decent people care about those outgroups. The majority of the UN members do not. Thus, assuming every country has decent citizens, there is no country that has not directy suffered from the UN. At least in this non-Wodehousian real world.

      • Cambias

        The other trouble with the UN as a peacemaker is that it doesn’t resolve conflicts, it perpetuates them. If Cyprus, say, had suffered a bloody civil war in the 1950s, it would be run by a Greek (or Turkish) regime nowadays, and it would be one country gradually resolving its internal problems. But the UN-brokered peace means the island remains partitioned and the dispute never goes away. There are other examples.

        This is partly because a peace-keeping organization loses resources when there is no conflict.

      • http://bur.sk/ Viliam Búr

        I think that the part about losing resources is not necessary. Mere incompetence would explain the same facts. UN is simply very incompetent at keeping peace, because… well, because a random organization would most probably be incompetent at keeping peace, and there is no significant pressure to replace this random organization with something better.

  • Matthew

    I fully expect a collapse to smaller governments in the near future.  It’s clear that governments the size of the United States and EU spend far beyond their means and go bankrupt. 
     

    • Alaric

       The Chinese government is considerably larger than the US government and is not a huge net borrower. Iceland and Ireland are very small governments and ended up with huge amounts of debt. Size is an important characteristic of a government but size alone tells you little. Beware of tendencies to infer patterns or rules from particular events e.g. The US’s current fiscal situation.

  • Richardsilliker

    “Is World Government Inevitable?”

    No. 
     

  • NickW

    World government is bad for evolution. Politically, the good thing about having multiple American states and several foreign nations is you can try different things with less risk. If it works there, it might work here.

    Also, you can better preserve and insulate a culture that’s not supported by popular culture such as matrimony and simple living. World government would force, directly and indirectly, everyone to the same behavioral ideal, which is the most appropriate behavior for today’s planet, but maybe not for tomorrows.

    Preserved within individual states and communities are traits and skills that might come in handy at a later date. The Amish function just fine in a power outage.

    • Cyan

      “World government is bad for evolution.”

      Why should one care about that?

      “World government would force, directly and indirectly, everyone to the same behavioral ideal”

      Many governments currently permit a great deal of behavioral variation by design. Is it reasonable or unreasonable to expect the same from a world government?

    • V V

       The Amish don’t have an independent sovereign government, so this kinda refutes your point.

      • ItalianStallion

        They don’t need one.

  • http://facelessbureaucrat.blogspot.com/ Bill Harshaw

    I’d say it’s already here, has been here since the early protocols on international mail and agreements on the law of the seas.  If you answer that “government” must mean something more than such technical stuff, I’d respond by asking how we distinguish between “technical issues” and political ones?  Certainly American cotton growers and taxpayers  have discovered that the WTO has teeth. 

    Granted that world government will never cover some issues, but it will keep growing.

    • V V

       Government is typically defined as an organization that has substantial monopoly on the use of coercion within a given territory.

      There is currently no organization that has such power over the entire world.

      • http://facelessbureaucrat.blogspot.com/ Bill Harshaw

         True, if your focus is on old-fashioned political history, built on European prototypes of kings and emperors.  But “government” also provides services, public goods, like communications frameworks, transportation facilities, public health, education, as well as public security and justice. Remember Ben Franklin was a deputy postmaster general for the colonies before he was a Founding Father.  It’s my contention world government will evolve as international organizations provide those public goods on a worldwide basis.

      • V V

         Governments do provide services, just like private for-profit and no-profit organization do, with widely varying levels of efficiency.

        The key difference is a government uses coercion to collect taxes from its citizens to pay for its expenses, while a private organization can’t do that.

        (Criminal organizations that consistently practice extortion under the threat of violence are, in many aspects, de facto governments that operate in territories or within minorities which are largely outside the reach of the official government)

      • http://profiles.google.com/khallow Karl Hallowell

        “It’s my contention world government will evolve as international organizations provide those public goods on a worldwide basis.”

        Well, what public goods do we need a world government for? The stuff you list can be and are provided by local or region governments.

        What makes me dubious about the proposal is two things. First, the amorality of politics between nations. A number of nations have governments that I find abhorrent. I don’t want those becoming the template for a world government.

        Second, you can only buy in once. Once that world government is in place, it will probably take centuries or longer to remove it. With the current system, you can move to another country, if the current one fails.

      • john

        Is it possible, under that definition, for a government to delegate and subdivide that monopoly on coercion across different issues for which coercion might be necessary, and different territories within it’s domain? If someone commits a crime in Illinois and flees to Ohio, police in Ohio can capture  and extradite. If someone commits a crime in China and flees to the United States, extradition treaties mean that something very similar happens. China and the United States both have their own militaries, both agree which territory is whose, and they are economically interdependent. If you modeled them as two branches of the same government, regardless of their status on paper, would the model produce useful predictions?

      • V V

         International extradition is possible, but its generally much more difficult than capture within national borders. In practice many people manage to avoid prosecution by fleeing abroad.

        More generally, international relations are like a big game of iterated prisoner dilemma, with many players and asymmetric, time-varying payoffs.
        You have your reputation, you can sign treaties, offer bribes, make more or less credible threats, but coordinating with other governments to obtain a Pareto-efficient result may be impossible in the general case.

        In practice we observe that national governments fail to coordinate on important issues even when they generally recognize that coordination would be desirable.

        Consider the current Eurozone sovereign debt crisis: these are governments that have even already surrendered part of their sovereignty by joining a monetary union and loose federation with weak governmental powers. But they don’t have a shared economic policy, so the governments of the PIIGS countries overspent (and, in the case of Greece, even forged their balance sheets). Healthier countires (Germany and France, mostly) recognize that it in their own interest to save the PIIGS from default, but they fear that providing subsides (in the form of funds transfers, debt redistribution or currency inflation) will create incentive for more bad economic policy, and the PIIGS can’t show credible commitment to good policies, therefore everybody plays “defect” and the crisis is perpetuated.

  • Donald Pretari

    I think it would be wise to begin now while I’m still around to give advice.

  • Tim Tyler

    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin foresaw a future large-scale union.

  • http://www.facebook.com/namacdonald Nicholas MacDonald

    It seems that we got Russell’s world government right on time, just not in the form that he would have recognized or preferred. Rather than the limited, benevolent, UN/”world federation”-type entity that that people imagine, we have something more resembling 1930s China under Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang on a global scale. In China at the time, the Kuomintang, aside from having nominal authority over banking and the economy, and the largest army in China, largely called the shots by dominating other warlords and keeping them in line, while the ruling classes pillaged the country, and insurgencies against the system grew in the shadows. Today’s US-dominated order, with the EU and other powers playing the warlords to our Kuomintang, lorded over by the WTO and the global banking system, seems to provide something in the way of world government- unfortunately, it’s a weak, illegitimate, highly corrupt, and authoritarian world government that looks set to implode on it’s self at some point. Who the CCP to our KMT will be, though, has yet to be decided (and I wouldn’t place my bets on the CCP). And the idea of global totalitarianism with 21st century technology is a little too horrible to conceive.

  • Stevermasteller

    The number of countries in the world has been increasing not decreasing. This has been true since the end of imperialism, the last succesfull attempt to concur large swathes of the globe.

  • Pierre A. Rosset

    If one accepts the premise that Russell himself is a huge paradox, should accept that China is working on a new concept of society between the communist illusion and the utopia of democracy.

  • http://underwatercolor.livejournal.com/ underwatercolor

    I do think it would make sense to look more closely at the biases of the data supporting your argument.  Having just discovered a powerful new weapon and used it to win the second world war: a small to almost majority of the winners favored a world government.

    There are… some problems.

  • TruePath

    There is a serious problem here with multiple definitions of the word government.

    Russell seems to merely be arguing for some global entity with a monopoly on WMDs (and massive industrial bombing/warfare) with the power to back up it’s prohibition on unlawful warfare.  This isn’t much different than a reformed UN with a monopoly on nukes and WMDs. 

    However, Most people understand government to be the dictator of laws regarding what individuals can and can’t do (gay marriage, drug laws, public indecency etc..), the collector of (significant) taxes and provider of public services.  This is a very different beast.

    —-

    IMO Russel misses the fact that the greatest guarantee of
    peace isn’t political union (consider the US civil war) but cultural
    exchange/understanding.  The federal government had a monopoly on war making in theory at the time of the civil war but nothing can stop a determined group of people with substantial resources from waging war.  In contrast we have no political union with England or Canada but a true war breaking out between the US and England or Canada is crazily unlikely.

    • V V

       How can a “global entity with a monopoly on WMDs (and massive industrial
      bombing/warfare) with the power to back up it’s prohibition on unlawful
      warfare” exist without collecting taxes?

      And anyway, what is lawful warfare?

      • TruePath

         Notice the word significant in that sentence.  The amount of resources that must be expended to make any major war very unlikely is actually quite small relative to world economic production.

        Why did the US and Russia build thousands of nuclear weapons?  Because they faced a foe who was building a comparable arsenal and lacked the persuasive power to stop the foe from building a substantial arsenal.  As a global institution starts to deter wars it becomes less desirable for any country to build a large number of weapons (as the probability of being attacked or successfully using them for advantage decreases).  Thus the stockpile of weapons the global institution must be able to credibly defeat decreases and the institution can stockpile fewer weapons and simply use the threat of force to stop any nation from re-arming itself above a given level.

        Ultimately, the global institution will only need to maintain forces sufficient to defeat the armaments a country (or likely coalition of countries) could produce before detection and response.  That’s a small force of high tech aircraft, a few ground troops with a slightly larger reserve and at most 100 nukes.  Compared to global economic production that kind of expense is trivial.

        I mean this kind of intimidation could be accomplished with less than the defense spending undertaken by the UK but with the cost shared by the entire (wealthier) world.  During the transition the organization could provide deterrence using cooperation from supportive national defense agencies as the UN and NATO do now.

        —-

        Lawful warfare is warfare that is permitted by said global institution.  For a variety of reasons it might choose to deliminate small conflicts (guerilla armies, FARC style insurrections etc..) as not the sort of thing it is involved in detering (perhaps because these low level conflicts create little global risk but are difficult to deter and require manpower but little stockpiling of armaments for the local government to prosecute).  Said conflicts would then be lawful (in the sense I’m using) while conflicts the global body was credibly deterring via the threat of force would be unlawful.  Additionally authorized assistance in use of deterrent force would obviously be ‘legal.’

        In other words lawful warfare is whatever the global institution with the credibility to define it says it is.

      • V V

         It seems that you are thinking about something like the Holy Roman Empire: a loose federation of largely independent states with a supernational authority trying to prevent large scale confilicts (and, in that case, provide some defence from external threats)

        It seems unlikely that something like that could form in modern times, and I don’t think it would provide any benefit: it would largely work to crystalise the status quo, which seems to me quite suboptimal.

      • TruePath

         The benefit would be reduction in the existential threat posed by collapse back to the state that prevailed during the cold war.

        Unlike the holy roman empire no defense against external enemies would be needed so a much smaller (relative) armament directly controlled by the authority would at least ensure that the US and Russia couldn’t nuke the world out of existence.

        Depending on what else you think is an option and the existential threat posed by WMDs the benefit varies from a great deal to not much at all.

      • V V

         Ok, but it seems to be an unstable arrangment. Once such institution is established, what would prevent it from increasing taxation above military expenses and passing and enforcing arbitrary laws?

      • George Parigian Jr.

        It would become every bit as abusive, corrupt, and exploitative as our own Federal government. World government is a terrible idea in concept, and would be even more terrible in practice.

      • TruePath

         The same kind of procedural, institutional and power balancing safeguards that stop US presidents from simply seizing military power.

        In particular, I suggest ensuring that there is no direct citizen election of officers but instead has officers elected by the heads of the member nation states (as the UN Is) and a very narrow charter restricting the activities it can engage in to *only* peacekeeping/deterrence activities.

        Having the officers of the institution elected only indirectly by the heads of governments (and allowing said heads the ability to collectively overrule the officials) ensures that the incentives are to minimize institutional power.  Unlike the problem with US federal growth where the temptation is for the federal government to expand as their is little motivation for the individual citizen to oppose the federal government implementing policies they prefer (indeed they tend to favor it as it increases uniformity, decreases the need to attend to state business and lets them impose the ‘right’ solution on more people) creating a one-way ratchet of increased federalization the heads of nation states have very strong incentives not to let their power be usurped by the worldwide organization (it is important that the organization be directly controlled by heads of government to avoid a repeat of the unfortunate collapse of the electoral college system into direct voting).

        More importantly, by defining such an organizations powers very narrowly and *in particular* specifically denying it any police power, ability to levy direct taxes (only demand dues) or other exercise of power not essential to the deterrence of large scale organized warfare one creates a strong procedural and customary barrier to such expansion.  The organization must not be like the UN and cluster many other important (but more broad based) programs like charity, disease prevention, human rights etc.. into the same organization.

        Such a narrow charter will ensure that people never shift their primary political focus away from their nation state and onto the worldwide enforcement organization.  Thus, the agents of such an organization would continue to view any attempt to seize substantial power by the organization as illegitimate and would not help enforce such a directive because of their continued primary political loyalty to their own nation state.

        While obviously not a guarantee against overreach (you could always have social conditions like those in pre-WWII Germany that cause widespread support for illegitimate concentration of power in a popular figure) I think the greater danger is actually that these conditions are too strong to ensure the deterrent power is maintained.

        Given it’s limited role the visibility, relevance and perceived importance of such an organization will decline over time if it is successful in achieving it’s goal and the threat of warfare ceases to be salient to the world’s population.  In such a case the governments of nation states are likely to try and reduce the dues they pay to maintain a credible deterrence (including R&D to keep up with changing technology).  Additionally, if peace becomes the norm there will be increased pressure to dismantle all nukes.  Thus, the greater risk may well be the failure of the institution to provide continued deterrence and the ability of a rogue state to seize a nuclear monopoly (or even WMD supremacy).

        Moreover, I suggest that there is just as much if not more danger of power creep occurring in current global structures like the UN than in my proposed organization.  As China and Russia grow richer and more culturally integrated with the western world through trade and easy communication the security council will start to share a common set of values and see the utility of pooling effort on a variety of shared concerns (disease, basic science research, IP enforcement, development aid, regulation of air and sea vessel etc..).  One can easily see that in such a situation it might become easier and more desirable to place these various cooperative measures all under the UN umbrella with a unified and consistent judicial outlook rather than deal with a great many separate semi-judicial treaty organizations (free trade/IP enforcement/world bank etc..) whose disparetness presents the danger of conflicting rule making.  Worse, more shared values by the countries comprising the security council will make human rights enforcement, genocide prevention and other ‘just wars’ (like Libya, Rowanda, etc..) more common and more likely to be conducted by UN troops rather than member states.  Moreover, people have always been very very tempted by the idea of establishing a world monopoly on waging war to create peace and that will continue to tempt.

        The natural concentration of general power to promote the public good through health, development, human rights enforcement entangled with the already established (highly value laden) world court and military power (at least for peacekeeping) seems to present a much more likely scenario for role creep into a true world government than the intentional establishment of a narrow organization only able to deter violence and constitutionally required to remain separate from other worldwide collective projects.

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  • anon123

    Before the end of the century, one of these will… oh look they didn’t happen. In hindsight it looks like “far mode” thinking.

    Now insurgents can coordinate anonymously over the internet, and detonate their IEDs from across the world. The future turned out to be much more complex than Russel had imagined.

    • V V

      Now insurgents can coordinate anonymously over the internet, and detonate their IEDs from across the world.

      Do they do that?

  • Realist

    It should be noted that conflict and the killing of large numbers of people will not end with a world government. Indeed, if the recent histories of China, Russia, etc, are any indication it is likely that those who capture control of (part of) the world government will use it to eliminate their real and imagined enemies.

    In addition, with respect to corruption, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

  • Geoff Brown

    So the same group of people who would cause a future of barbarism and/or end of the world scenario are going to get together and sing kumbaya because one group of them has declared themselves a government and decided to kill the rest if they don’t toe the line???? How is that not a recipe for a dystopian future?? I reminds me of the line from Orwell, ‘. . .imagine a boot stomping on the face of humanity forever.”.

    Until we harmonize our definitions of legitimacy, interpretation, representation, risk, causality, identity formation and mental health no world government should exist or imo, can exist. And until that day, it is not possible for me to be more opposed to such an endeavor.

    • V V

       

      So the same group of people who would cause a future of barbarism and/or
      end of the world scenario are going to get together and sing kumbaya
      because one group of them has declared themselves a government and
      decided to kill the rest if they don’t toe the line????

      That’s pretty much how governments have been working for the last ~6000 years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=599840205 Christian Kleineidam

    No member of the US political elite wants to grant a international court with the power to try
    US
    war criminals. 
    Even if the US public wants to give an international court that authority the US isn’t that democratic. As long as powerful US politicians don’t want to lose their immunity from prosecution for the war crimes that they commit, they won’t transfer the power. 

  • Adam R.

    I would like to throw out somewhat more concrete proposal for what I would describe as a world society, rather than a world governemnt. 
    It would look something like this.  The world gets divided up in to 10 or perhaps 11 areas, NAFTA, SAFTA, E.U.,ASEAN, Greater Arabia, and so on.  Each of these areas would be would have one vote at the UN, no vetos.
    But the responsiblilities of the UN would be quite limited.  It would have sovernty over the worlds high seas.  None of the 10 or 11 areas could possess a blue water navy, only a Coast Guard to enforce laws over the within 200 miles, or less from their coasts in areas where the 200 mile limits overlap.  The UN be given the task of managing that part of the plantet whcih lay in international waters for the benefit of all man kind.  Other World problems will have to be handled by treaties bwtween these 10 or 11 confederations.  The enforcment mechanism for these treaties would have to be the confederations themselves.  If one confederation threatens the safety of the others it will probably not be able to get away with it as all the others will threaten military action.  If three confederations wish to persue a policy that 7 others are oppossed to those 7 are just going to have to do a cost risk benifit analyisis.  They will probably come to the conclusion that to take more than symboic action would be to costly to persue.  Just like nation states today. 
    I recognize that getting the UN to work in such a way that in actual practice  it manages the worlds high seas in a maner to benifit the common good of the planer will not be easy.  Special Interest Groups will of course try to subvert the mandate of such a UN it will be up to people of good will to stop them,  Essentially the exact details will have to be worked out in a treaty between the confederations.
    In addition all of the countries with in one of the 10 or 11 confederations are going to have to work out how much power to give to the confederation and how much to give to leave with the countries themselves.  I would expect that this would evolve over time.

  • TerjeP

    We already have a world government. It is called the UN. It is quite unaccountable, mostly noxious, reasonably corrupt. It has all the salient features of a world government. What proponents of world government usually mean is that they want a global centralisation of power beyond what we currently have and that through some unknow mechanism this centralisation of power will be good for us all. It is hard to know whether one should laugh historically or else sob pathetically.

  • Pamellasetera1

    to support a world government, is to support monopelies of greed and facsism/communism .i t will eraticate the free and independant human; leaving behind in a discusting excuse for the human race.

  • CombatVet

    And you sir shall be a valid target! All traitors to the US constitution deserve no less!

  • Burnell Andrews

    Governance also comes down to cultural similarity, the less different a culture is, the easier it is to govern, a very large government can govern quite effectively as long as its citizens are not too different.

  • anchorite

    This is pretty ridiculous. It’s clear that nations are becoming more fragmented as rebels get their hands on more modern weapons. We saw the breakup of the Soviet Union, African secessions including places like Somalia that no longer have ANY government, and now the trend is world government? If everyone had the same laws, labor and environmental and criminal, then how would we get cheap clothing from China, cheap produce from Mexico? And if every country has completely different laws simply to maximize profits, then how is it really one government?