Monday, October 30, 2006

World Government

     Back when I was in high school, I was a big fan of the idea of having a world government. I thought of all the money, resources, and energy that was dedicated on people spying on each other, fighting each other, and wasting money on military that they purchase in order to ward off an attack by an enemy's arsenal (bought for the same purpose). I remember being a strong advocate of the European Union and wished that someday the US would lose its strong sense of nationalism and would join the EU, centralize its power, and offer economic packages to induce other countries to join. During the summers I worked at Staples (the self-proclaimed Office Superstore), and I remember stocking shelves trying to convince another student who worked there of the benefits of a world government. He objected, on the grounds that the Bible said that a world government would be the first step towards the end times. So you can imagine how productive that conversation was...

     My outlook on the world has changed drastically since that time. Probably the biggest difference related to this topic is the idea that the governments of the world aren't actually accountable to their people. That democracy, even in places where it enjoys a formal existence, is merely a sham and is actually controlled by some elite, whether they be of political or economic nature. So with this understanding, I now find the notion of a world government absolutely terrifying.

    But that suggests the question, to what extent do we already have a world government? In just about every country in the world the dominant business interests have a huge say in what actions the government takes, and the largest business interests in each country are very often part of large multinationals that exert influence on other governments as well. They are certainly far from being outright dictatorships, but I believe it's certainly arguable that a great deal of the political power in the world is concentrated in the same type of oligarchic structure. Furthermore, that power is becoming more concentrated over time due to natural market forces in addition to other causes such as more effective propaganda tactics and the lack of organized resistance from the people.

    This view of the world is certainly a depressing one, and makes radical change seem nearly impossible to achieve on short time scales. Perhaps a gradual dissolution of the current structures from the inside is the only way to go. War or a quick, isolated revolution is certainly out of the question in an age of nuclear weapons. In addition, this view makes the countries which we are supposed to hate (Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, etc.) acquire a silver lining. Surely all these countries are run by complete bastards †, but at least they aren't the same bastards. During the Spanish Revolution, the western "democratic" countries refused to sell the Republic weapons ‡ In fact, in some cases they directly helped and supported the fascists (to be covered in a later post). The only country (besides Mexico) that would support the legitimately elected government was Stalin's USSR. You never know when history will decide to repeat itself, and sometimes the enemy of an enemy is a friend.

† Yes, good things can be said about Castro and Chavez. Iran's current situation is due to the United States and Great Britain overthrowing Iran's only democratic government under pressure from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now called BP) in 1953. But these are complex topics worthy of a more dedicated conversation.

‡ Imagine, a democratically-elected government being refused weapons to defend itself from an openly fascist insurgency!


Mookie said...

I liked the idea of a world government because I watched Star Trek when I was a kid (am still a huge fan). Also, I would play all those nerdy computer games where you had to build an empire either on a planet or in space. Having the resources of an entire world at your disposal was certainly desireable.

Of course, in these games the player (the overlord) could live for thousands of game years, and have a single vision for millions of virtual people. Not so in real life.

The single greatest threat to the idea of a world government is testosterone. When people hear of a world government, they think of some hotshot dictator telling everyone on the planet what to do. I never had this in mind, even for all the silly games, because I knew it would be inefficient and miserable. A world government should be the people of the world cooperating, and what little competition there is, is not over resources or women (no violence, PLEASE, no violence), but a way to spur on people to become better than they are - not in regards to material possessions. Take out the idiotic male tendency to puff up his chest, claim territory, pee on trees, and otherwise act like a gorilla, and suddenly all this cooperation stuff seems a lot more likely.

Of all the people I have met, the most competitive were always the most conservative. For some reason it made a lot of sense to them to use violence and aggression to get what they wanted. It is these people and their nasty behaviour that makes the idea of a world government scare the shit out of us.

Anonymous said...

"Also, I would play all those nerdy computer games where you had to build an empire either on a planet or in space. Having the resources of an entire world at your disposal was certainly desireable."

I remember playing one game where we would go around seeding uncooperative planets with plague and then nuking them to cinders. No velvet glove for us, no sir.

I don't know if the world is moving more towards world gov't. Since the end of the Cold War nationalism and parochialism have shown a certain resurgence. On the other hand, the ability of power elite to cooperate with each other has never been greater, thanks to globalization.

breakerslion said...

Thankfully, there will always be enough wealth and a sufficient number of simpletons that megalomaniacs will continue to form power bases for the purpose of securing some for themselves. Governments, religions, corporations, banking and insurance is one big circle jerk. When any one requires subsidy, some form of destabilization will take place.

If I apply the economic theories of Upton Sinclair to the present mess, it appears that the Republicans are attempting to bring the US to a point where it will be necessary for the rest of the world to forgive our debt. We might never know why exactly we flushed Hussein and the Iraqui Government, but whether governments implode, explode, or default, large debts are usually swept off the table. I wonder who was holding paper on whom?

"Follow the money" - Deep Throat