Related or contrasting ideas may be found in the following sections: Nuclear Weapons, Peace, Rights, Rule of Law, and the Social Contract




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World government is highly unlikely


NOT FEASIBLE

Security is a zero-sum game

Carl Coon (vice president of the American Humanist Association; former ambassador to Nepal), “Toward a humanist foreign policy,” The Humanist, March-April 2008, p. 21

“I think it was Henry Kissinger who once observed that absolute security for any one country meant absolute insecurity for its neighbors.”


The Cold War proved that world government can’t happen when ideologies clash

James A. Yunker (Professor of Economics at Western Illinois University), “Rethinking World Government: A New Approach, “ International Journal on World Peace, March 2000, p. 7

“By the time of the Korean War, all but the most enthusiastic advocates of world government realized that the window of opportunity created by the newly emergent nuclear threat was rapidly closing. The establishment of a world government presupposes at least a modicum of mutual respect, toleration and trust among the nations who would compose it. The raging ideological conflict between communism and noncommunism precluded the achievement of even this modicum. Communist ideologues denigrated the market capitalist economic system as immoral, inequitable, inefficient, anarchic and unstable, and further denounced Western democratic institutions and procedures as a hollow sham intended to conceal from the people their actual political subjugation to the plutocratic capitalist class. Defenders of market capitalism and Western democracy replied with equal vigor and vitriol to the effect that the proposed socialist cure was far worse than the capitalist disease, judging from such evidence as chronic economic hardship in the communist nations, as well as various revolutionary excesses under such communist dictators as Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung, who were in no way less objectionable than the fascist dictators brought down by World War II, most notably Adolf Hitler. Both sides rejected the concept of world government on the grounds that such a government would quite likely enforce upon them the hateful socioeconomic and political preferences of the other side.”


North-South economic disparities now militate against a world government

James A. Yunker (Professor of Economics at Western Illinois University), “Rethinking World Government: A New Approach, “ International Journal on World Peace, March 2000, p. 10-11

“Now that ideology has become a secondary factor, the global economic gap has taken over as the primary perceived impediment to world government. Whereas previously it was the East-West problem, now it is the North-South problem. Specifically, the populations of the rich nations, such as the United States, are fearful that a world government might inaugurate a program of drastic global income redistribution from the relative handful of rich nations to the numerous and populous poor nations. A relatively generous worldwide minimum income standard might be specified, to be financed by a progressive income tax system that would fail heavily upon the rich nations. A democratically responsible world government is no safeguard against this possibility, in view of the fact that relatively rich people constitute a small minority of the total world population. Nor is this minority of relatively rich people liable to find successful refuge in the principle of natural rights. It would be difficult to convince a disinterested third party or any given individual among the masses of impoverished people living in the world today that a typical family in a First World nation has a natural right to a standard of life the support of which requires ten to twenty times the income of a typical family in a Third World nation.”


No stable balance of security interests is possible now

Philip G. Cerny (prof. of global political economy, Rutgers Univ.), “Terrorism and the new security dilemma,” Naval War College Review, Winter 2005, p. 16

“The lack of utility not only of nuclear weapons, increasingly seen as unthinkable and unusable, but also of limited, low-intensity (guerrilla) warfare — more and more costly and counterproductive for the big powers, as demonstrated in Vietnam and Afghanistan — means now that neither national nor collective security can any longer be reliably based on balances of power among nation-states, and great powers in particular, per se. A new sense of generalized insecurity has emerged, represented not only ‘from above,’ by the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction but also ‘from below,’ by the rise of civil wars, tribal and religious conflicts, terrorism, civil violence in developed countries, the

international drugs trade, etc. This sense of insecurity reflects the fact that the provision of security itself as a public good — the very raison d’être of the states system — can no longer be guaranteed by that system.”


The Great Powers will not allow world government to emerge

Gerard Elfstrom (prof. of philosophy, Auburn Univ.), “Cosmopolis: Prospects for World Government,” American Political Science Review, March 1999, p. 245

“He [Danilo Zolo, Professor of Politics at the University of Florence, Italy] then asserts that the most recent version of the cosmopolitan vision repeats the failings of the earlier efforts and will share the fate of its ancestors. He believes that the Gulf War set the seal on George Bush’s New World Order by demonstrating that actions taken under that order will be controlled by the dominant military powers and exploited to serve their purposes, that the forms and structures of world government will be swept aside if they fail to serve these purposes, and that the dominant powers will continue to seek peace oxymoronically through war. In sum, he believes that nation-states act only from self-interest, that the predominant military and political nations will exploit their powers to suit their own ends, and that international governing structures, such as the United Nations, will continue to remain hollow shells with no powers or purposes beyond those the dominant powers choose to allot them.”


Implementing world government requires solving a combination of intractable problems

James A. Yunker (Professor of Economics at Western Illinois University), “Rethinking World Government: A New Approach, “ International Journal on World Peace, March 2000, p. 12

“This is a central problem, and the question of whether a world government is feasible and desirable depends to a large extent on whether it would be possible to design a world government which would be sufficiently powerful and influential to make a useful contribution to world governance, sufficiently democratic and responsive to maintain a high level of legitimacy and yet sufficiently limited and constrained to safeguard adequately against the possibility that it would engage in policies and programs (as a prime example, drastic global income redistribution) that would be unacceptable and intolerable to a substantial minority of the world’s population, to whom the imposition of these policies and programs would be regarded as tyranny. I will argue that the best-known proposals for world government, which have determined the prevailing concept of world government in both the popular and professional mind, do not incorporate adequate safeguards against tyranny.”


Universal nuclear disarmament is a prerequisite for world government

Gregory S. Kavka (prof. of philosophy, Univ. of California at Irvine), “Nuclear Weapons and World Government,” The Monist, July 1987, p, 312-313

“Nuclear disarmament is possible without world government, but not vice versa. The rationale for nuclear disarmament — mutual protection from the threat of nuclear war — exists independently of the possibility of world government, and there are alternative means of obtaining that objective.”


The consensus has been that mankind is too varied to have a single global government

James A. Yunker (Professor of Economics at Western Illinois University), “Rethinking World Government: A New Approach, “ International Journal on World Peace, March 2000, p. 9-10

“During the entire Cold War period from the early 1950s through the latter 1980s, the standard critique of world government held that there was too much social and attitudinal heterogeneity within the human race to permit the peaceful inauguration of a world government. Contributing factors to this heterogeneity included (and still include): racial differences, linguistic differences, religious differences, ideological disagreements, disparities in economic welfare, and nationalistic distinctions. Of all these contributing factors, ideological disagreements clearly held center stage.”


It is unrealistic to plan for a strong, centralized, universal world government

James A. Yunker (Professor of Economics at Western Illinois University), “Rethinking World Government: A New Approach, “ International Journal on World Peace, March 2000, p. 27

“Regrettably, it seems that the majority of proponents of world government in the past have been inadequately concerned with the very serious problems confronting world government, and inadequately assiduous in trying to find specific institutional proposals which would respond adequately to these problems. Many of these proponents seem to imagine a government with strong central powers, along the lines of the contemporary United States of America, immediately established, with all the nations of the world, without exception, voluntarily subjecting themselves to this government. In the judgment of this author, there is simply no feasible way of getting from here to there, at least in the absence of some horrific global catastrophe such as a nuclear World War III."


WORLD GOVERNMENT BAD

A world government would have enormous organizational costs

Peter T. Leeson (Assistant Professor of Economics, West Virginia University), “Does globalization require global government?” Indian Journal of Economics and Business, September 2007, p. 9

“Because we are dealing with nearly 6.5 billion people, the expected decision-making costs of one world government are enormous. At the voter level, consider the massive amount of resources that would be necessary to organize a majority coalition for the purpose of electing representatives (assuming we are dealing with a representative democracy). The same could be said of the amount of resources required for decision-making processes at the representative level. The considerable increase in legislators needed to represent each of the relevant political districts in the world (from national downward) would mean a substantial increase in the costs of securing agreement among representatives. Furthermore, by making government world encompassing, a more ethnically, religiously, socially, and economically diverse group of individuals on both the voter and representative levels are necessarily included in the political decision-making process. In many cases, this diversity would be dramatic. Such increased social distance between political decision makers would further contribute to extremely high decision-making costs, as the cost of coming to agreement when individuals have very different beliefs, values, and backgrounds is very large.”


A world government would have enormous enforcement costs

Peter T. Leeson (Assistant Professor of Economics, West Virginia University), “Does globalization require global government?” Indian Journal of Economics and Business, September 2007, p. 9-10

“For the same considerations of population size, the enforcement costs of world government are likely to be exorbitantly expensive. Consider, for instance, the costs of a world police strong enough to effectively police the globe. At the size necessary to effectively govern the entire world, any economies of scale in having centralized police and courts that normally exist on the national level are overwhelmed by the diseconomies of an encompassing world state.”


Diseconomies of scale increase the expense of running a global government

Peter T. Leeson (Assistant Professor of Economics, West Virginia University), “Does globalization require global government?” Indian Journal of Economics and Business, September 2007, p. 10

“Like all non-market entities, government also lacks a profit and loss mechanism to govern the allocation of resources internally. The resulting inefficiencies are tolerable when governments operate at the national level. Overall it may be cheaper to organize activities internally than to use the market for this purpose. As government grows beyond its optimal size, however, the weight of increasing inefficiencies that stem from organizing activities this way overcome its benefits. In other words, just as such diseconomies limit the optimal size of firms, so too do they limit the optimal size of governments.”


Fear of world government is weakening support for international institutions

Maurice Strong (chairman and chief executive officer of the Earth Council, United Nations; Council President, the University for Peace, San Juan, Costa Rica.), “Reforming the United Nations,” The Futurist, September 2001, p. 19+

“A parallel push is for reduced support for international organizations, also nourished by strongly voiced fears that they’re likely to subvert national sovereignty and, indeed, represent a movement toward world government. This fear — not to say paranoia — has been greatly exaggerated by extreme right-wing elements in the United States, which in turn have had a disproportionate influence on the U.S. Congress. Such fear has undoubtedly contributed to the American retreat from financial commitments to the United Nations, as well as from support of other international organizations. The fear that international organizations represent a creeping movement toward world government may be understandable, but it is simply not valid. Indeed, the idea is both dangerous and counterproductive, to the extent that it undermines the principal instruments that governments must use to cooperate for the protection and benefit of their own citizens.”


A world government would worsen the problems of national governance

Maurice Strong (chairman and chief executive officer of the Earth Council, United Nations; Council President, the University for Peace, San Juan, Costa Rica.), “Reforming the United Nations,” The Futurist, September 2001, p. 19+

“At a time when even the strongest national governments are experiencing difficulties and constraints on their capacity to perform the duties already entrusted to them, establishing a central world government would compound the problem, not solve it. What is needed instead is an improved system of international agreements and international law and more streamlined international organizations to service and support the cooperation among governments and other key actors that will be required.”


There would be enormous public-choice costs from a world government

Peter T. Leeson (Assistant Professor of Economics, West Virginia University), “Does globalization require global government?” Indian Journal of Economics and Business, September 2007, p. 10-11

“The public choice costs of a government large enough to effectively govern the globe are also likely to be tremendous. When the size and scope of government grows, as would be necessary to oversee the world, so too do the benefits from rent-seeking and the opportunities for self-serving behavior by political agents at the public’s expense. Consider for a moment the size of the bureaucracy and the tremendous source of public choice problems this would present for a global state. Or imagine the amount of resources the members of an industry would expend to obtain global monopoly privilege for the production of their product — resources that from society’s perspective represent sheer waste. Similarly, the size of such a world encompassing state would leave most voters so far removed from their public representatives (at least at the highest level) that voters would be unable to effectively monitor the behavior of these representatives. This would (a) decrease voters’ ability to hold unscrupulous politicians unaccountable, and (b) encourage political agents who are aware of this to engage in additional unscrupulous behavior. In this way, the public choice costs of government would increase even further.”


There is no assurance world government would bring peace

John P. Humphrey (1905-1995 Canadian legal scholar, jurist, and human rights advocate; prof. of law, McGill Univ., Montreal), “Peace on Earth and goodwill to men,” Human Rights Quarterly, August 1992, p. 429+

“Nor is it by any means certain that world government would bring with it peace on this planet. For there can be conflict even within a sovereign state. There would also be the danger of excessive centralization and bureaucratic rule.”


World government would have a minimal positive effect on world trade

Peter T. Leeson (Assistant Professor of Economics, West Virginia University), “Does globalization require global government?” Indian Journal of Economics and Business, September 2007, p. 14

“The evidence just presented strongly suggests that the benefit of introducing world government — at least in terms of enabling large numbers of socially heterogeneous agents to realize the gains from exchange — would be minimal at best. International trade is thriving, and the informal institution of the Law Merchant seems to be doing an excellent job helping it do so. While the future will undoubtedly bring new challenges for agents operating under the auspices of the Law Merchant, we have every reason to believe that the flexible, spontaneous, and evolving organic body of custom and procedure that composes the Law Merchant will adapt to meet these challenges. This is, after all, what the long history of the lex mercatoria has borne witness to thus far.”


World government would stifle human nature with its homogeneity

John P. Humphrey (1905-1995 Canadian legal scholar, jurist, and human rights advocate; prof. of law, McGill Univ., Montreal), “Peace on Earth and goodwill to men,” Human Rights Quarterly, August 1992, p. 429+

“But where authority flows ultimately from a single political source, there is a natural tendency towards standardization. It is far from being established that uniformity is always a good thing. In the world society in particular, conditions vary so greatly from country to country that standards and processes that are appropriate in one part of the world may be inappropriate or even harmful somewhere else. Diversity has its own virtues. The various national cultural characteristics that still exist add color and interest to living. The world is a many-colored planet peopled by men and women of many different traditions and aptitudes. In the march towards the future, who can say where the keys of progress will be found? Even from the point of view of the development of governmental institutions, each nation is, as it were, a laboratory of experimentation. It would be folly to close these laboratories unnecessarily.”


Universal government would be repressive

Eric A. Posner (Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law, Univ. of Chicago Law School), “The Limits of Limits,” The New Republic, May 27, 2010, p. 40

“The problem with this argument is not just its lack of realism. It is the brute fact that if Americans gave Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, and Nigerians political rights, either in American institutions or via global government, the result would not be the expansion of human rights around the world but the contraction of human rights in the West. The world is not a liberal place, and a world run on democratic lines would not be a liberal one.”


A world government risks throttling democracy

John P. Humphrey (1905-1995 Canadian legal scholar, jurist, and human rights advocate; prof. of law, McGill Univ., Montreal), “Peace on Earth and goodwill to men,” Human Rights Quarterly, August 1992, p. 429+

“The greatest risk would be the danger that such a world unitary state would constitute for democratic principles. A world unitary state could be functionally decentralized, but the seat of ultimate power and control would necessarily be far removed from the individual men and women who, in the last analysis, make up the world community. And the more remote the governors are from the governed, the more difficult it is to devise and maintain democratic controls. In a world unitary state, this would be next to impossible. There is a great danger that the world government would become a world dictatorship, of which nothing could be more formidable. This danger could be decreased, if not removed, by the adoption of some other system of government for the world society.”


In general, the risks of world tyranny outweigh the peace benefits of world government

James A. Yunker (Professor of Economics at Western Illinois University), “Rethinking World Government: A New Approach, “ International Journal on World Peace, March 2000, p. 3

“While it is clear that a world government would considerably reduce the threat of nuclear war, only a very tiny minority of world government advocates believes that this advantage outweighs the countervailing disadvantage that such concentration of political and military power might set the stage for global tyranny.”


THE U.N. MUST NOT BE THE NUCLEUS OF WORLD GOVERNMENT

The UN is not — and cannot be — the nucleus of a world government

Marrack Goulding (warden of St. Antony’s College, Oxford; former under-secretary-general at the United Nations), “The UN will work if we let it,” New Statesman, May 8, 1998, p. 20

“Don’t be distracted by talk of global government. The original UN charter provides the basis for a reformed and thriving organisation The United Nations is not, and does not aspire to be, an embryo world government. It is an organisation of governments, each of them conscious of a duty to protect its country’s sovereignty and therefore reluctant to concede supranational powers to a world body.”


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