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Sufferin’ Sovereign

| Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Renowned economist Stuart Chase once remarked, “True nationalism cannot survive the fissioning of the atom. One world or none.” Although the nuclear age may have dealt a mortal blow to the concept of state sovereignty, the coup de grâce was the creation of the Internet. In the modern world, information zips across national borders and over oceans at the speed of light. Events a continent away now affect our lives in real time. We are increasingly close to what Marshall McLuhan called the “global village,” in which the various cultures of the world amalgamate into a single worldwide community.

Unfortunately, the world at large has failed to recognize this cultural shift. As a result, we’re still attempting nationalistic solutions to international problems. Consider, for instance, the threat of terrorism. In the past, the enemies of America grouped within well-defined borders, allowing us to besiege or bombard them into defeat. Now, terrorists move freely across national lines, where our soldiers dare not pursue for fear of international outrage. Likewise, dictators are permitted to freely kill and oppress their citizens, hiding behind sovereignty when challenged.

We need an organization that can swiftly and effectively respond to these threats, without being hindered by the traditional limitations of national borders. In short, we need world government. And I’m not talking about the United Nations, which kowtows so completely to sovereignty that it’s practically useless. I mean a legislative body with supremacy power over the laws of every nation on this planet and the executive authority to enforce its laws.

The concept of global government brings horror to many people, who quake in fear at the thought of a 1984-style, all-encompassing dictatorship under the heel of Big Brother (a term I have always despised, being myself an older sibling). But history suggests that we have rather the opposite problem. Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations lacked the muscle to back up its resolutions and so utterly failed to prevent World War II. Our current United Nations is almost purpose-built for inaction, as the five permanent members of the Security Council rarely agree on anything, and a single veto spells death for a resolution.

Even the founding of America illustrates the benefits of centralization. The earliest attempt at uniting the colonies — the Articles of Confederation — was hampered by a laughably weak central government that attempted to give the states a degree of sovereignty. In 1787, Shays’ Rebellion demonstrated just how flawed the system was, as the nation’s leaders couldn’t compel the states to raise money for an army. These limitations were fixed with the Constitution, which provided for a much stronger federal government.

The example of the Constitution also provides an answer to the oft-parroted claim that world government would weaken American power. Four of the first five presidents of the United States were from Virginia — the economic powerhouse of the colonies. It’s safe to assume that the interests of America, which is to Earth as Virginia was to the colonies, will be well-represented in any international government. (A world government might bring a case against us for human rights violations of the Gitmo or Ghraib variety, but I’d almost applaud that).

Meanwhile, the benefits to the United States of a world government would be enormous. There would be no hiding place for the agents of evil. International anti-terror task forces could sweep across the globe, locating and eradicating extremist networks regardless of their nation of origin. Dictators would either obey international law or be subject to the scrutiny of the court system, saving us the trouble of intervention. We might even get an international peacekeeping force with teeth, putting an end to sectarian conflict and eventually war itself. Someday, the prospect of Israel and Palestine blasting away at each other will seem as absurd as a war between Indiana and Illinois.

New York City is, of course, the most logical location for the capital of the world government; the United Nations is already headquartered there. That being said, it may be a little too Americentric a location for some nations to agree to. Perhaps a suitable city in famously neutral Switzerland could be pressed into service.

Sadly, there will be many who will not be on board with the next bold step in world history. Some will be too narrow-minded to believe in anything but the status quo. Those who benefit from sovereignty at the expense of their fellow man will likewise oppose the world government. This must not daunt us. A strong world government is our only chance of eradicating the ills that beset our world. Whatever it takes, we must unite — it is our destiny.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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