A. An immediate start can be made. Blog No. 102. offers a list of changes that need to be made to the way humanity conducts its affairs if it is to retain a future. Individuals, by their own actions and life-style decisions (given a sufficiency of others doing the same) can start to make a favourable impact on the first two problems listed: environmental degradation and climate destabilisation.
It will not be until later, once such a grass-roots movement has grown in significance, that governments will actively express support for the sea-change movement in both word and in deed, the shibboleths of neo-liberalism will gradually be abandoned, and increasingly, budgetary and legislative space will be made for the new frugalism and its associated communal solidarity. In the meantime, the individual citizen can make a practical start on the resolution of these two problems without any active government involvement.
B. To take more time. That is not the case with the other problems on the list. The problems of war, disease, state failures, trade, migration and constitutional dysfunctions in western democracies, all call for action at governmental level. To bring about the required changes in governmental policy, will require greater levels of the sea-change movement’s planning, cohesion and its ability to forcefully exert democratic influence over both government and media.
C. War. Of the above problems, it is the propensity for nation states to indulge in war with each other, which is the most pressing factor to be addressed.
Nuclear weaponry already exists in the hands of war-inclined nations, sufficient to destroy the planet several times over. Short of anything as drastic as a full nuclear exchange, the waging of any war, in its current and plentiful modes, conventional, proxy, irregular, economic, cyber, etc., aggravates all the other problems facing human survival: environmental destruction; disproportionate expenditure of fossil fuels; the likelihood of the spread of disease; state failures; trade disruption, mass migrations and extra- constitutional behaviour by political leaders.
The wars driven by climate destabilisation and continued environmental degradation will, in turn, decrease humanity’s ability to effectively address those urgent problems. There is no escaping from the fact that humanity has now entered a vicious spiral of increasingly calamitous feed-back loops.
E. Only feasible solution. What is it that a mass movement should be pressing its leaders for, if war is to be eliminated from the list of possible causes of, or significant contributors to human extinction? The only feasible answer to this question is some form of overarching system of global governance to exert a restraining influence over the leaders of multiple sovereign states and a globalised economy which, in the absence of any controlling, globalised polity, is running amok and seducing national political leaders away from the nurturing of the best interests of their nations’ citizens.
The Wiki site contains only an abbreviated list of the organisations active in this field. The most obvious fulcrum for such change would be the United Nations Organisation, but the UN is hog-bound by its constitution and the severe restrictions imposed on it by its founder nations – all determined not to let it significantly impact on their national sovereignty.
G. Global governance NGOs – a sea-change needed. Of the many private citizen initiatives in this field the most obvious leader is the World Federalist Movement (WFM) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Federalist_Movement Ostensibly, in the vanguard of the movement for global governance, the WFM is now a US-based bureaucracy, which has effectively been captured by paymasters such as the Ford Foundation and sundry national governments. https://www.wfm-igp.org/content/our-funders Once funded, the salaried bureaucrats of the WFM, work from behind their desks. While performing many admirable tasks, they take care never to threaten their paymasters with any significant restraint on their sovereign freedoms, or meaningful modifications to the status quo. Only a sea-change in public attitudes will cause this boat to rock.
Though the Wikipedia site also offers a non-exhaustive list of other private initiative movements advocating global governance, there are many more that go unmentioned. What is significant is that there are so many. There is no united vision of what a world governance system should look like – let alone how it should be attained!
H. Discussing the problem. I have discussed this subject in previous blogs – in general terms in the final third of this blog on the Syrian civil war, Blog No. 78. https://khakispecs.com/?p=1759 “Syria and global governance” and, in much more specific terms, in this Blog No. 83. https://khakispecs.com/?p=1930 “Climate change and global governance.”
It would be way beyond my capacity to set about any detailed constitutional proposals for a global governance structure. When sufficient opinion has accepted the need for such a structure and is exerting pressure for its realisation, then those academically qualified can be chosen and invited to perform this task. Here I can do no more than attempt to set out some basic signposts towards the required destination.
I. Essential attributes of a global governance structure. What are the essential attributes of an entity capable of addressing global problems?
Legitimacy in the eyes of a global population confident in its competence and its proof against subversion.
Its own capacity and entitlement to raise revenue.
Its freedom from veto by interested parties.
A constitution and legislative power to write and enact internationally applicable laws.
An independent judiciary.
An ability to adopt a last resort of military means to enforce the rule of international law.
J. National resistance to the solution. To get to the point at which the formation of a global governance structure becomes feasible, the main obstacle to be removed will be the spoiling tactics of national leaders. Currently, these enjoy relative freedom to exercise sovereign independence in their external dealings with the world. All power is addictive and national leadership elites will be more than reluctant to surrender any significant portion of it. Historically, there are precedents for the acceptance by political leaderships of the need to surrender aspects of their sovereignty (the EU, the USA etc.) However, in this instance, the amount of sovereign power being relinquished by sovereign states will be far greater than anything that has gone before.
K. The crux of the matter. On the assumption that the leaders of nation states will only surrender their sovereignty if they face irresistible pressure from the grass-roots of their society, the key question becomes, how is such a sufficiency of grass-roots pressure to be developed?
L. Tyrant and bureaucrat proofing. The next requirement is that the peoples of the world are persuaded firstly, that the global governance structure is proof against unconstitutional take over and descent into tyranny and secondly, that it is capable of fulfilling its functions effectively without imposing an expensive, inefficient and frustrating additional layer of bureaucracy (the European Union being an example to avoid in this regard.)
M. Subsidiarity. In its constitution, the extent of the central agency’s powers has to be firmly demarcated making maximum use of the principle of subsidiarity. The only functions given to the central agency should be those that couldn’t be as, or more, effectively performed at national level. This discipline should keep the pressure for centralised bureaucratic growth within acceptable bounds.
N. Getting rid of the humans. Then we come to the major stumbling block. If it is envisaged that the operation of the constitution will be in the hands of human beings, how could any historian be assured that they would never over-reach their constitutional constraints? The fact of a democratic world government being created under a democratic constitution (should one be decided upon) would in itself, offer no safeguard. Hitler was voted into power in a democratic procedure, (and so was George Bush and so will be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton!) In the democratic USA, the CIA has been allowed to cross the Rubicon and can now carry out illegal and criminal actions with impunity.
Various solutions to this very human dilemma have been proposed. These range from councils of wise men (Plato) to an elite corps of international civil servants, taking ‘holy’ vows of selfless service to the global community – a sort of latter day ‘Knights Templar.’ History shows that over the years, such noble human endeavours inevitably succumb to corruption.
O. The Ocalan solution. One of the ways around this problem, on a smaller scale, has been proposed by Abdullah Ocalan, see Blog No 80. https://khakispecs.com/?p=1844 and is actually being put into effect, to be worked out through trial and error by the Kurds and other groups in northern Syria (Rojava.) Ocalan sees communities of mixed ethnicity and beliefs, living together under the control of localised and very democratic councils, with the overarching national level governance being the responsibility not of elected delegates or agents but of contracted civil servants. Such a benign project is hardly likely to be allowed to survive given the conflict between the example it sets and the autocratic ambitions of meddling sovereign states.
Were an Ocalan type system (what he terms ‘Democratic Confederalism’) to be applied to a global system of governance, democracy would remain at national level but the international structure would itself be manned by appointees – not by elected politicians. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Confederalism One only has to look at my previous blog on the sorry state of democracy in the USA to realise that a system, which first emerged in Greek cities of no more than tens of thousands of citizens, has failed to scale up effectively to conglomerations of hundreds of millions of citizens. What hope would there be for a conglomeration of billions?
In effect, the appointees would function outside the control of the people that put them there. They would appear to be answerable to no one. The idea of there being no party political arguments about the ‘fairness’ or otherwise, of the representative formula chosen, is clearly attractive. Free of the entire, complex bureaucratic infrastructure that seems inevitably to accompany democratic systems, the global governance structure would be left free of tiresome constraints to get on with the exceptionally urgent task entrusted to it. Meanwhile, democracy would be reinvigourated by being practised at levels in which individual empowered participants could be fully informed and understand the matters they were dealing with.
P. Avoidance of Tyranny. The immediate question demanding an answer is how could such a system possibly work to the benefit of humanity without becoming its tyrant?
These are possibilities I list in the hope that those far better qualified than I am, could decide on their prompt rejection, their possible feasibility and/or their potential improvement.
Manifesto. The committee of wise academics, whose task is to put together the constitution, (see H above.) should write in clearest terms a manifesto of what should be the intended achievements of the global structure and the benefits it was obliged to deliver to the governed.
Supreme arbiter. With the rapid development in computing power, would it not be possible to devise a programme free of human emotional frailties, which could function as the supreme arbiter of any of the proposals put to it by the human ‘civil servants?’ The computer could then decide as to whether or not they fitted with the goals for which the structure was established? If a policy proposal was rejected by the arbiter, there was no way it could be implemented.
Personnel appointments. The selection and appointment of the civil servants managing the global governance structure. This programme should be arranged in such a manner that all considerations of ethnicity and belief are discounted. Merit and selfless commitment to the welfare of all humanity should be the sole criteria.
None of the above will happen until the grass roots pressure on national governments is fully developed. However, if funding and enthusiasm could be found, an initial start on the academic work suggest above, manifesto, constitution and the software for emotion-free decision-making could be embarked on.
This is the manifesto written more than ten years ago of the subsequently defunct Sapiens Movement: I still would hardly change a word of it.
You and I are kinsfolk, equal members of a single tribe. Accident of birth has placed you with one nation’s passport and me with another. The same accident will put food on my plate when there is none on yours or put me into a uniform and demand that I kill you – or vice versa.
From clan to tribe to citizen to nation state, evolution in the complexity of the means by which humanity makes its living and builds its civilisations has developed to the present circumstance of nation states. In this interim stage, each state is still designed to maximise the advantage of its citizens over their brothers and sisters born to other nationalities.
Our home planet’s natural equilibrium is delicate and vulnerable. The onward march of technology makes ever more apparent the damage that nations can inflict on it, on themselves and on others in their eagerness to extract from it more than their fair share of its resources. Not just the Earth but its people suffer in the ensuing conflicts. The time is fast approaching when it will be clear that no selfish national government will benefit its citizens in the longer term unless its natural enthusiasm for securing advantage at others’ expense is dampened by a higher authority whose role it is to nurture all humanity.
Though nations in their historical turbulence might fragment into smaller or coalesce into larger blocs, the world cannot wait forever for the power elites at the national level to surrender sufficient sovereignty to a global authority to enable it to work in humanity’s best interest. Technological advance is already sufficient to allow the dream of a democratic world authority to become a reality. Only the will of those who don’t want to surrender their power stands against it. Signs are that the sun is setting on the age of fully sovereign nation states. Whether or not it simultaneously sets on the age of Homo sapiens is in your hands.
My next blog, barring some sensational international event, will deal with the tactics for implementation of a proposed sea-change.
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