One World Government?

Not long ago Lord Heseltine said this: “Let me tell you this, the nation state is in decline everywhere — superseded by supra-national structures and blocs. We have unleashed forces that nation states simply can not regulate. That is why we need not just political union within Europe — but, yes, ultimately, some kind of global governance. The Chinese know this; I know this. Believe me, it is the future.” Many MPs listening to the former British defense secretary said that Heseltine had lost the plot, gone a bit mad. But there are some who agree with him and, given the present global situation, such an idea is more plausible now than ever before.


In fact there is an increasing impulse among some political groups and academics for a new kind of governance to replace nation states. Nation states have done their time, they argue; they have served well in the post-colonial era, but now it is time for something new. A global government, it is thought, would be able to solve global problems - environmental crisis, economic turmoil, regional and global conflict and state legitimacy debates. And problems are now always global (read here about just how global the financial crisis is).

Alexander Went from Civitatis argues that a world state is inevitable. The world will move from separate sovereign states to a world state through the gradual establishment of a monopoly based on the accumulation of increasing sleek military technology and the struggle of disparate groups to gain recognition.

I have already written about the universal singular subject proposed by French philosopher Alain Badiou. Badiou argues that we should liberate ourselves from differentiation and establish a singular political subject.  I noticed the rhetoric of Barak Obama who cast a vision of a world as one as he stood in front of the former Berlin Wall. More specifically, I wrote about the moves to globally reduce the population for environmental concerns supported by former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, something tantamount to a global management system of birth control.

What vision lies behind such an idea? The vision of Civitatis, an supranational think-tank, is to "protect the sovereignty of the human being..." And there I think is the problem.

I seems to me that the "sovereignty of the human being" is the root of the problem, not the solution. It reminds me of the motto of The World State in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It was: "Community, Identity, Stability." Those words sound strangely comforting when disaster threatens. But, at root, it is the urge of rebellious man who wishes to be god. It is the organizing of raw material, of culture and of particularity into a harmonious whole, a unity of unities.

I am haunted by Bonhoeffer's idea that the human vision of unity is idolatry, rooted in love of self and hatred of God. I wrote about it on  a previous blog (here), but it bears repeating. Writing in 1938, Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned about pursuing a purely human ideal of unity. According to Bonhoeffer, visions of unity which have no reference to God are like “rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream,” and are a “hindrance... and must be banished.”

What we need, what underlies the urge for unity, is love. If only we could all get on the same page, have the same values as each other, get our differences out of the way, we could learn to love one another. But love without God, says Bonhoeffer, is, again, rooted in idolatry:

“Human love makes itself an end in itself. It creates of itself an end, an idol which it worships, to which it must subject everything. It nurses and cultivates an ideal, it loves itself, and nothing else in the world. Spiritual love, however, comes from Jesus Christ, it serves him alone; it knows that it has no immediate access to other persons”


Much of the American idea is wrapped up in its relation with unity and diversity. E Pluribus Unum is Latin for "out of the many, one" and is found in the seal of the United States. I am particularly fond of the part of the part of the Pledge of Allegiance that says "one nation under God." It is as if it is saying that the nation is one, united, because it is under God. It also recognizes that human sovereignty, in the godless sense, is a myth - that, whether we like it or not or can admit it or not, all human beings are all under God. And that is why when someone says "May God bless America" it should not be seen as a statement of arrogance, but a prayer said in humility to the one who "made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place" (Acts 17:26). 

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