Universalism and One World in Reality

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Written by Tristan Dineen

This article and this column possess necessarily lofty goals. Ever since the collapse of Communism, consumer capitalism has had the run of the house so to speak and as a result we live in a world where markets reign supreme and are considered the beginning and end-point of all human aspirations and dreams. It is now accepted largely without question that free-markets are king, that they cannot be contained, they cannot be controlled, and that they are the only way to a better world for the impoverished. I have heard virtually no one, even the harshest critics of modern society, deny these basic assumptions and those who do deny them have continually proven themselves unable to come up with a viable alternative and thus they criticize and criticize while offering only a bare minimum of constructive new ideas. The supporters of the status quo are currently so smug, even in the face of such setbacks as the Iraq War, because they know that from an ideological point of view they have no legitamate rivals in their eyes.
It seems that increasingly we watch the bad news coming in from across the globe and at home but see no way out. We are trapped in an environment where everything is relative, where there is no higher meaning, and where few aspirations beyond becoming rich and famous exist. I believe we all want something more, but we do not know where to even begin looking and thus run around in circles chasing fads and gimmicks.
Jeremy Rifkin, an economist I have considerable respect for, once described culture as a “story” and said that if we ever were going to transcend the present situation, where economics have virtually taken over all aspects of life, than we need one extremely critical thing: “a better story.” Effectively we need a new ideology, a new way of looking at the world, and we need it now. The purpose of this column is to present and to develop such an ideology.
In a world overrun by economic discourse it is clear that we must focus on something that is much more fundamental to human existence and happiness: the human essence and spirit itself – that which makes us who we are. Ultimately we must embrace the one thing that is universal besides economics: humanity itself. Only then can we live a life of dignity and feel true liberty that can only come through the actualization of the individual and the empowerment of the community. We must embrace the fundamental principle of unity in diversity. This is the essence of Universalism.
The reader is likely to be rather surprised by the conclusions I have drawn and the content of my ideas so I suppose I should say a few things about my background. As a student of Political Science and History with a keen interest in political theory and philosophy I have endeavored to educate myself in the nature of the increasingly complex world in which we live. How it works, why, and on what terms. I do so with a sense of urgency born of an understanding of what is at stake in the struggles that shape the world stage. An understanding that I achieved early in life and that I know will never leave me.
Grade Eight was a turning point in my life, a kind of watershed moment. Not only did it signify the last year of elementary school but also marked the time when my life gained a clear purpose for the first time. From what I have heard it is rare for Grade Eight teachers to teach their students about sweat-shops, globalization, and global poverty, but my teacher did and by doing so set off a spark in me which has never dimmed. It marked the beginning of a quest of sorts, a higher calling in life, seeking a solution to the universal problems and injustices that I had been informed of.
From that time forward I continued to bear witness to the suffering that exists in the world, to see how little has been done and how ineffectual that which has been done has generally been proven in practice. No human being with any sense of empathy for the fellows members of their species could ever look away and ignore what is so strikingly clear.
Thus I have set out to make things right and I will communicate to you as best I can the conclusion that I reached a long time ago. The world as it is now lacks the global framework to do what must be done to defend the human species, and indeed life itself, from the threats that it faces both locally and globally. If we are to see justice done and dignity upheld without exception worldwide than there is no other solution but the following: a world government and an order of men and women who will take a leadership role in seeing to the defense and wellbeing of humanity itself. That is what is required and that is what must happen.
The concept of a world government has taken many guises throughout history. Thomas Hobbes emphasized the disorder of the international system because of the lack of a common power. Jean Jacques Rousseau said that the only way for there to be a future free of war was for there to be present an international federal government capable of imposing overarching controls on state action in the same way national governments impose rules on their citizens. Realist scholars to this day emphasize that without a world government to impose order on the states of the world the international system will continue to be based on anarchy and survival of the fittest. It is very difficult to argue against this logic even in an age of non-governmental organizations and multi-national corporations. Despite the growing integrated nature of the international system we have not left the threat of war behind, nor has liberal-capitalism been the salvation of humankind as its advocates have long stated it would be.
The interconnectedness of international markets do not prevent incidents such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They do not prevent terrorist actions such as September 11, nor do they alleviate the burdens of countless millions of the world’s poor who are unable to draw benefit from them. Trade is trade, it is commerce and nothing else, it is not some magical solution. As students of history will know, increased trade and interconnectedness between the European powers at the beginning of the 20th Century did not prevent World War I. Trade is an important aspect of any international system but it is only one part among many and it is the folly of the world community today that the various aspects of human interconnectedness are not effectively coordinated, nor are they efficiently directed at improving human wellbeing the world over.
The United Nations was a bold experiment and something that I believe to be a crucial step in the right direction but I believe it is both unable and unwilling to take the necessary steps to secure a dignified future for the human species. Dependent upon the charity of individual nations for its funding, its resources, its infrastructure, and its soldiers, the UN is unable to assert itself as an independent world body. It does represent a global federation, albeit a very loose one, but it lacks the overarching authority that Rousseau emphasized that a world government must have over national governments. This greatly limits what it can do and because of this I believe there is little hope for its initiatives to end global poverty in the 21st Century. Without some coercive power this is simply unrealistic, without the ability to dominate and direct resources at global problems forcefully and vigorously all solutions are at best temporary in nature. While governments remain stubbornly self-interested and while humanity is divided into countless nationalisms we live in a world of anarchy. Until a world government imposes order on this system, this situation will continue and the plight of so many millions will not effectively be addressed.
It is therefore in the interest of humanity that world government be seen as the next stage in human political development and that it is a goal that should be rigorously pursued by the enlightened minds of the world. The strength of such a world government will be humanity’s strength and a force for a broader human identity that will supersede all boundaries. Such a government would be capable of directing the full resources of the world at ending such curses upon humanity as poverty, unjust labor practices, international crime, terrorism, war, civil strife, disease, racism and other such universal enemies of human wellbeing. This should and indeed must be our goal for the new century, not vapid promises made by ineffectual world bodies. Their good intentions are admirable, but good intentions mean little or nothing if not backed by real strength and real power.
If the present elites do not act it is the responsibility of individuals such as students, many of us who will ultimately be emerging to replace those currently in power, to form a new elite with a new responsibility - A responsibility to defend humanity and to work relentlessly for the unity of the world under a single authority. Unity in diversity is the only principle that will save us in the 21st Century – we must either stand together or fall divided – ultimately when the universal scope of the human species is taken into account it can only be concluded that all borders are artificial and that the world is one regardless of what walls are erected between us and these walls cannot hold back the force of nature that is the human spirit.
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