Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cosmopolis Earth

Here is the latest outline of what has grown into a three volume work called Cosmopolis Earth:

Cosmopolis Earth; A World Without Borders


Volume One:

Citizens Beyond Borders; Comenius and the Cosmopolitan Condition


Volume Two:

Buildings Beyond Borders; The Infrastructure of the Cosmopolis


Volume Three:

Elections Beyond Borders; Democracy Unbound



The good news is that I am almost finished the first volume; it should be ready for submission or self publishing (I am leaning towards the latter) in around a month's time.

Here is the latest draft of the first chapter.


The Will of the Majority

Our survival is threatened by a long list of disasters, including war, poverty, air pollution, global warming, environmental degradation, loss of species diversity and ocean acidification; oceanographers are telling us that the latter may be the most dire threat of all. Life on earth depends largely upon oxygen generated by plankton, whose shells are being dissolved; most of the world's biomass is now known to consist of viruses and bacteria in the ocean, whose nature and interactions are unknown.

As I write, climate talks are all but stalled. Decades of negotiations among almost two hundred sovereign states resulted in international treaties, but nothing decisive enough to reverse climate degradation. Even when declarations and resolutions are honoured, which they tend not to be, they are watered down and all but meaningless. And none of this would avert acidification, which has sneaked up on us unawares.

One reason that we freeze in the face of environmental Armageddon is that the entire structure of world institutions was designed from the start to block international resolution. The United Nations is highly problematic, as even its founders recognized. The General Assembly is little more than a sounding board for diplomatic representatives of national governments. It is no parliament. The Security Council was designed to accommodate the demand of Stalin for a veto; as a result, it has executive functions, but no mandate to act independently as a real government. Strong nations dominate weak ones, while the will of the majority, the people of the world, is ignored. In his history of the events surrounding the foundation of the UN, Winston Churchill wrote that he would have had an intermediate, regional institution to thresh out area disputes before they enter the world forum.

"What we have now is not effective for that outstanding purpose. The summoning of all nations, great and small, powerful or powerless, on even terms to the central body may be compared with the organization of an army without any division between the High Command and the divisional and brigade commanders. All are invited to the headquarters. Babel, tempered by skilful lobbying, is all that has resulted up to the present. But we must persevere." (Winston Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy, Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1953, p. 610)

Fifty years after Churchill wrote this criticism, the number of member states had increased to almost two hundred, but still the will to reform the U.N. could still not be summoned up. Great powers routinely bypass what Churchill called the "Babel" of the United Nations, and arrive at decisions in secret, behind fences and brigades of security personnel, in select groups like NATO, the G8 and the G20.

Without a single, coherent, just and open authority at the center, all we can only look forward to is more dithering and despair. We can either sit back and wait to see which threat gets us first, or we can work together to erase the artificial lines drawn all over the globe that are the ultimate cause of the threats looming in the environment. To form a strong, just government for all of humanity would be one thing that we all can do to ensure that we have a fighting chance of survival. Only a global government founded upon democratic principles, especially that of representation by population, would have a strong enough mandate to permit it to address all of the many threats to our survival at once.

The simplest way to do that would be to give citizens of the world a vote in the membership of the U.N. Unfortunately, the wealthy few are vehemently opposed. The mass media which they own and control see to it that as little attention as possible is paid to the United Nations and other global institutions. The need to reform it into a world government is rarely discussed. But the question is unavoidable. The tragic irony is that most of the world agrees with this idea. International opinion polls indicate that the majority of the world's population would welcome a democratic United Nations. One global polling institution reports that,

"There is strong international support for various approaches for making the UN more democratically representative. Large majorities around the world favor direct elections of their country's UN representative to the General Assembly, a new UN parliament with directly elected representatives, and giving non-governmental actors a formal role in the United Nations."

The people of the world have sound reasoning on their side. The pollsters point out that their choice "appears to be derived from a perceived need for collective action to deal with global problems and from a belief in the efficiencies of collective action."

News of this opinion poll should have been given banner headlines around the world. Its implications could not be more far-reaching. Now anyone who believes in democracy must by that very fact be a world federalist. World government is what most of the human race wants and democracy demands that we go beyond borders, that we expunge the artificial barriers that divide and conquer us all. Nationality is imaginary; the nation state is obsolete on a planet where life is connected by global natural systems.

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