CDWG NEWS & VIEWS
One of the arguments frequently used against the establishment of a democratic world republic is that it cannot be created until there is a community to support it; until there is a body of world citizens who regard themselves as citizens of such a republic. Of course, this sets up a "chicken or the egg" type of vicious cycle. Without a world state, what would the world citizens feel loyalty towards, and without world citizens, what would the world state consist of?
Part of the efficacy of this argument is the assumption that people would have to be carefully prepared for their role as world citizens. They would have to be trained, re-educated if you will, to think of themselves less as national citizens, and more as world citizens. This would be a long and arduous process, the theory goes, because people's national identity is such a powerful part of their nature.
Baloney. Nation-states are artificial constructs, and nationality is not a natural part of the human psyche. If this were not true, why would nations and their governments spend so much time indoctrinating people, particularly children, into being good citizens of the nation-state? And why would the nationalists worry so much about it, throwing terms like treason and disloyalty about with such wild abandon? The nationalist elites are not stupid. They know very well how little hold ideas of patriotism and national citizenship have over the average human being, and so they work to constantly reinforce those ties.
Consider the nomadic tribes of central Asia. Many of them wander across national boundaries at will, and their national identity means far less to them that their membership in a particular tribe or clan. In some countries, like Iraq or Nigeria, people's ethnic or sectarian identity can be of far greater concern than the claims of a distant and sometimes alien national government.
To some extent, this resulted from the creation of nation-states by absentee landlords – imperial powers, like those who carved up Africa into colonies (which later became nation-states) without consulting or even considering the opinions of the people who lived there. But it is true in other cases as well. Rip Van Winkle went to sleep as a loyal subject of King George; he woke up twenty years later to find himself surrounded by Americans. Or consider the Confederate lady who wrote in her diary that she used to love the "stars and stripes" but now (after the Civil War started) she despised it.
An immigrant whose ancestors lived in Japan for thousands of years will stand and swear allegiance to the United States. A Kibbutzim born and raised in Russia will fight to the death to defend Israel. Nor does this phenomenon occur only in cases of voluntary changes of nationality. It can also happen when one country conquers another. Scotland may have been forced into the United Kingdom, but generations of Scots have sung, "God Save the Queen" anyway.
The fact that people are willing to change their nationality with the ease of a professional athlete changing teams indicates how shallow the bond of national identity truly runs. Without a constant barrage of symbols, songs, celebrations, and other rituals, the ties of national identity begin to fade, so the national elites are careful to keep the flow coming. And that is a good thing to know. Because the movement to unify humanity has much more powerful counter images to provide. Any individual can stop being a citizen of a particular nation-state at any time for a variety of reasons. They can migrate to a different country voluntarily; they can be exiled, deported or stripped of their citizenship; their homeland can be conquered and absorbed by a different nation, or their nation-state can simply cease to exist, as the Soviet Union did. Since national citizenship is artificial, it can be changed like a suit of clothes.
But world citizenship is different. We can't leave the world, we can't lose it, we cannot be exiled from it and it cannot cease to exist. As long as we are human beings who reside upon the planet Earth, then we are world citizens. No one can take that away from us, and we cannot deny it, no matter how much we try. If national citizenship is like a suit of clothes, then world citizenship is like our skin. We carry it with us wherever we go.
A wise man once said, "When you look down on the face of newborn child, you cannot tell what its nationality is." Nationality, like national boundaries, exists only in our imagination. It is not real. And that is something which the nationalist elites, despite all their vast propaganda apparatus, cannot alter.
Excellent essay on Newt Gingrich calling the concept of global citizenship "stunningly dangerous." I agree with you both that he idea is a profound threat to the status quo. I agree with you that changing people's cultural stories tends to be frightening and most people fear change.
That said, I don't agree that appealing to people's courage is the answer. Soldiers can be courageous about charging enemy lines, but to do that they don't have to give up their patriotic stories.
What makes the concept of global citizenship so "stunningly dangerous" is that it is OBVIOUS. If someone believes in the Golden Rule, and also believes that the Earth is one planet, isolated in space, and populated by 6.7 billion human beings facing climate change, fresh water shortages, and oil shortages, it's obvious. Worldwide communications through telephone and Internet means that people have to be kept distracted by wars and fearful rhetoric to keep them from recognizing their global citizenship.
It's not courage people need, but a vacation from the endlessly chattering politicians and corporate apologists for business as usual. Global citizenship is simple enough for a child to understand. To catch up with the children, we adults need to slow down, relax, and consider what a successful human future will require.
[hstone at rochester dot rr dot com]
(Editor's Note: The children are, or course, the key. As the old song goes, "They've got to be carefully taught to hate." If we fail to teach them that, they will change everything.)
Dear Gary Shepherd,
I read the United World cover to cover, each issue when it arrives at the Democratic World Federalists. I would like to subscribe and am enclosing $12. Please send the issues to:
5 Shelter Cove
Pacifica, CA 94044
(Editor's Note: Thank you for the subscription, and even more for the wonderful feedback!)
I felt that John Ewbank was not being careful in his use of terms in your recent issue. I am convinced that failure to make progress in political discussions is closely linked to failure to use terms with accuracy. I am attaching two of my ruminations on states and pseudo-states which you might find worth digging into on the subject, rather than trying to invent the wheel again.
[jrmundialist at btinternet dot com]
P.S. I can honor John Ewbank for his long and distinguished efforts without having to agree with him.
(Editor's Notes: We will be happy to print your attached articles as space permits. Of course, you realize some of our readers will no doubt take the opportunity to honor you for you efforts, without necessarily agreeing with you.)
Since about 1984, when Bob Gaunt reintroduced me to democratic world federalism, I have been advocating a federation of democracies. First this was under the heading of FEDEM, then the NGO Coalition for a Community of Democracies, and most recently the League of Democracies as Chairperson of the budding think tank, Ashburn Institute (for Global Studies in Federalism and Democracy).
But recently I have been wondering if in fact, at this stage of global social and political evolution, a full-fledged federation is the best path to peace. As have many other world federalists, I have assumed we need a single unified world government to enact, implement and enforce a just and comprehensive body of world law assuming a substantial portion of sovereignty from all nations. Its structure would be modeled on that of the advanced democratic nations. This would come about either by reforming the United Nations or by replacing it with a new institution fulfilling all the blanks in pertinent law.
However, I begin to wonder seriously whether global governance needs the same structure as nation-states. So I hypothesize here that global governance does not need the same structure as nation-states, but in fact is better off with a different, looser structure. And I raise the question here hoping to stimulate a brain storming of ideas for other possible approaches to a world with freedom and justice and without war.
The long and sustained impotence of the United Nations in coping with such challenges as the Darfur tragedy, North Korea and Iran's nuclear weapons progress, as well as the Pakistan/India and the Israel/Palestine conflict, has taught us that if we really wish to abolish war and genocide, we need another source of global law enforcement. Some would label it "perseveration" to continue for over 60 years to struggle for what so obviously doesn't and can't fulfill this one critical global need. Let's find a way to get around this block.
I believe it is not a replacement of the United Nations, but rather a supplementation that we may need. We have an International Criminal Court and a World Court. We have a Security Council and a General Assembly and a number of UN agencies that perform many important global purposes. What we do not have, and do very much need, is an institution authorized and empowered to prevent war and genocide.
My own thought is a new independent global institution, perhaps modeled on a combination of the International Criminal Court and NATO, both of which support rather than supplant UN purposes. It would be empowered and authorized solely to prevent war and genocide with leaders directly elected by the citizens of democracies (as defined by a rating of "free" by Freedom House) and a three-fifths majority required to initiate and armed action and possibly a court of highly regarded judges from the democracies with veto power.
Empowerment would include both a rapid reaction force integral to the new institution, and specified forces committed to this purpose always available for call up by the institution from member countries.
Two thoughts in regard to submissions: 1.) It seems critical to me to acknowledge that there is very high probability, close to a fact, that weapons of mass destruction will not and can not be abolished until war is first securely abolished. I suggest, therefore, that this be assumed in subsequent submissions answering the above posed question and that focus be on abolishing war. 2.) I also suggest that submissions be primarily positive, suggesting new solutions, not solely critical of others.
A likely major objection to the above idea is that autocratic states, being excluded, will feel offended and become more dangerous. However, the opposite generally happened with the institution of NATO in Europe. Indeed, autocrats become more careful; the worst of them, the Soviet Union, crumbled, and democratization accelerated. I believe we may well expect similar long-term consequences to the implementation of a suggestion of this nature.
A correspondent laments the failure to define terms in political discussions, and I agree; but then he queries my suggestion of "3000 nations" and quotes Webster's Collegiate giving nation as a community of people possessing a territory and a government, usually characterized by large size and independent status. Now that, to my mind, is bunkum. It ignores the Kurds, the Catalans, the Iroquois, the Bretons and innumerable other groups of people who claim (and are generally recognized) to be nations. It is very plain that a great number of peoples lacking (their own) governments believe that they are nations and in many cases are prepared to fight to vindicate that claim.
One of the most interesting cases is, of course, the Jews. From the time of the destruction of the Temple, until the founding of the state of Israel 1900 years later, they were without a government and without even a territory. They were often not even considered a nation, but merely a religious group. Yet now they have a state renowned for its power and influence, created by a veritable nation, indeed. And definition that can overlook so important a historical fact cannot be taken too seriously.
But the correspondent continues, "Internationally, as state is used to refer to nations." Yes, indeed, and that is precisely the sort of sloppy lack of clear definition that makes political discussion so often fruitless. The way in which newspapers, politicians, and the general public switch in talking about international affairs from "state" to "nation" and back again makes reasoned thought and argument often quite impossible. So we need to start with better definitions. And that is quite possible, for in international law, the term "state" is used with some precision, to describe a sovereign government that has the rights and duties associated with its legal position. Other terms, like "nation" and "country" are less precise and can be used in various ways. But at least we can keep to the one term that does have a clear meaning.
Various definitions of "nation" are to be found, including the more cynical ones, which enshrine some bitter truths: "A nation is a group of people united by a common delusion as to their origins and a common hatred of their neighbors." But my broad definition, which I have used to my own satisfaction for many decades is that, "a nation is a group of people who believe themselves to be a nation." It sums up the self-contained nature of nationalism together with its strengths and weaknesses.
The Europeans, who developed nationalism through their long history of warfare, exported the idea across the world and, having done so, when they came to create a world organization, put the straight-jacket of a "League of Nations" around it. And the former colonial powers, as they withdrew from their overseas possessions, spawned a new brood of "nations" with most of the vices and few of the virtues that the home countries could boast. As a result, modern Africa is awash with arms as every young nation-state attempts to imitate its former masters and use the state coercive power to unify what is probably a non-nation into a replica of the European nation-state. As a result, not only have we given the conquered people hell for centuries, we have now corrupted their minds to the point where they choose to tread the same sorry and bloody path that the nation-states have already mapped out for them.
The crowning irony is that the greatest nation-state of all, the United States, was conceived and created in order to break away from the European pattern that led to interminable warfare. Instead, it became the leader in perpetuating the same system and its politicians have so far forgotten their proud history that they can think that nation and state are synonymous. Where it should be leading the world to a federation that would abolish war and usher in a new era of freedom, it is fighting to retain its privileges and power as the most dominant nation ever.
We members of the Provisional World Parliament declare that every effort must be made to hold a founding convention for ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth in the near future. The vital work of this Provisional World Parliament, in building the body of world law, indeed establishes a model for the world as to how human problems can and must be addressed. However, this is not enough.
Global climate-change continues to create disaster for peoples everywhere and is getting much worse each day. Global weapons of mass destruction continue to threaten the existence of life on Earth. The big nuclear powers (USA, the United Kingdom, China and Russia) continue to mouth their hypocritical criticisms of North Korea's nuclear program, while each of them prepares ever-more devastating weapons of mass destruction and ever-more horrendous ways of destroying people and property. Depleted uranium weapons used massively in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to poison our planetary environment virtually forever. The resources of the Earth (land, forests, fisheries, clean water, etc.) disappear at an astonishing rate. Pollution and toxic waste contaminate larger portions of the Earth. We must act now!
The change of the global political atmosphere with the ascension of Barack Obama to power in the United States should not mislead the peoples of Earth. The Obama administration continues the imperial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and continues the imperialism of the United States through the staffing and maintenance of more than 700 U.S. military bases worldwide. Replacing the grim face of the Bush administration with the friendly face of Obama has not changed the U.S.–led project of global economic and military domination.
Evidence of this increases each day of the Obama administration. While the style is different the imperial project remains the same. A U.S. military offensive is initiated in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Horrendous, inhuman, remotely operated attack drones continue to kill hundreds of civilians in these countries. The same economic powers who created our global financial depression are being resurrected by the Obama administration – given billions of dollars in gratuitous aid money – to re-establish the same planetary system of economic exploitation and domination known as global capitalism. The U.S. procures a new military base in Columbia with the obvious intent of being able to attack the leftist regimes that have come to power in most Latin American states.
As dozens of renowned thinkers have pointed out, the system of so-called sovereign nation-states itself is inherently a war system, breeding perpetual arms races, endless wars and increasing terrorist responses to massive injustices among nations and peoples. As they have also pointed out, the globalized capitalist system creates an ever-increasing disparity between poor and rich worldwide and hastens the collapse of our planetary environment through pollution, global warming, and profit-driven destruction of the biosphere.
We delegates assembled at Nainital, carrying the torch of a peaceful and prosperous world order through genuinely democratic world government, stand aghast and in horror at these continued atrocities against nature and the poor majority of the Earth's citizens. We resolve to commit ourselves ever-more fervently to the project of establishing a founding convention for ratification of the Earth Constitution, and beginning a truly new era of peace, prosperity, justice and dignity for all humankind.
Together, we adopt this resolution unanimously. Today, through these sessions of the Provisional World Parliament, we are building the Earth Federation within the shell of the rotten old world order. Tomorrow, we will participate in the founding of a truly new planetary order of peace and justice for all the citizens of our Earth.
Former CBS news anchorman, media icon, and prominent world federalist Walter Cronkite died of cerebral vascular disease on Friday, July 17. 2009 in New York City at the age of 92. Cronkite, who was named in a 1972 poll as the "most trusted man in America," was the face of CBS evening news for two decades, from 1962 to 1981. His efforts in support of the World Federalist Association after his retirement earned him that group's Norman Cousin award in 1999.
Cronkite was born Nov. 4, 1916. The only child of a dentist, he early on caught the reporting bug. He went to college, but left to take a job at the Houston Post before he graduated. In 1939 he was hired by the United Press syndicate and covered many of the events of World War II, including the Normandy invasion and the Nuremberg war crime trials.
In 1940 he was married and he and his wife Betsy had three children. In 1950, he turned down an offer by Norman Cousins to work as a lobbyist for the United World Federalist (predecessor to the WFA, now the Citizens for Global Solutions), before accepting an offer from Edward R. Murrow to join CBS.
Cronkite performed on the program "You are There" interviewing recreations of historical figures, and also hosted the "Twentieth Century." Then in 1961 he was offered the job as anchorman on the CBS Evening News, then only 15 minutes and second place in the ratings to the popular Huntley-Brinkley report. In 1963 the program was expanded to 30 minutes and Cronkite star began to rise. After visiting Vietnam in 1968, his statement that the war was unwinnable is sometimes credited with turning the tide of public opinion against the war.
He retired from his anchor position in 1981 at the age of 65, but continued to host documentaries, write his autobiography, sail his boat, and work tirelessly for causes that he felt he could not promote while he was an active journalist, like world federalism. His wife died in 2005 of cancer, after 65 years of marriage. In his acceptance speech for the 1999 Norman Cousins award, he said: "Those advocates who work for world peace by urging a system of world government are called impractical dreamers. Those 'impractical dreamers' are entitled to ask their critics, 'What is practical about war?'"
The 10th Annual International Conference of Chief Justices of the World, "Awakening Planetary Consciousness," will be held Dec. 11-14, 2009 at Lucknow, India. The Global Symposium is an annual event that has developed a world wide movement through a global partnership with civil society and educational organizations to establish sustainable development, world unity and world peace. There is no registration or participation fee. All delegates will be provided with complementary board and lodging. Registration should be completed by Sept. 30, 2009. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0091 522 2637219. or visit the website at www.wmgd.net/symposium.
Vote for World Government has
commissioned a public opinion poll to find out whether the people of
Canada support their initiative. The poll consists of two questions:
1) A directly elected and democratic world parliament would have to govern the world on global issues while respecting the legitimate rights and powers of national governments. Should the United Nations pass a resolution asking all its member states to conduct national referendums to see if there is mandate from the whole human race for the creation of such a world parliament?
2) If a global referendum were held today on the possible establishment of a directly elected and democratic world parliament, how would you vote?
The poll is being conducted by the Harris/Decima firm, and was to be completed by Aug. 19.
Long time World Federalist supporter Ruth Allan Miner has died, at the age of 91. She was born on Oct. 18, 1918, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1940 with a degree in English Literature. She and her husband Richard Miner, whom she met during World War II, had three children. She worked as editor for Ladies Home Journal and at the Macrea Smith publishing firm and wrote a children's book titled, Days to Celebrate. Memorial donations may be made to the United States fund for UNICEF.