World Government....When is a Better Time Than Now?
Updated: Oct 29
This article was originally published in The Caravel on October 11th, 2020. The content and opinions of this article may not reflect the views of the Young World Federalists.
World government is a topic typically reserved for science fiction.
We have the United Federation of Planets in Star Trek and the United Earth Government in Halo, but few consider the idea to be practical today. There are many reasons why people doubt the formation of a world government. English, one of the most commonly spoken languages, is currently only spoken by around one billion people out of Earth’s total population of 7.7 billion people. Nationalistic governments are on the rise throughout the world, including in the United States and the United Kingdom. Democracy seems to be retreating even in the traditional Western world. In a world where presidents refuse to concede after losing an election, how can we believe that a diverse global community could have the discipline to operate under a democratic federal government?
The world that confronts us today seems more isolationist than ever before, but such an ideology is not helpful in dealing with the crises that confront the twenty-first century. Our world today struggles to deal with climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic primarily because of conflict between sovereign states. If we are to save lives and save our democracy, it is essential that we adopt a world federation. I propose putting to rest the Westphalian era in exchange for a Global Commonwealth.
First, I will outline the desirability of a global union. We live in a time of great crisis, battling a virus that has spread from China to Europe to the U.S.—which has the world’s highest number of confirmed deaths at more than 200,000. Through this time of global crisis, rather than unity and compassion, we have seen an age of hate crimes, international tension, and disinformation from sovereign heads of state. Some countries refused coronavirus tests from other countries due to a nationalistic desire for control. Logically, a singular global government could manage a crisis of this nature far more efficiently than roughly 200 separate national governments. In other words, if we had one force working towards a solution, we could achieve far more than 200 forces all competing for supremacy over one another.
Concurrent with the COVID-19 pandemic, our planet also faces its greatest threat from climate change. The planet will warm by a possibly apocalyptic 5 degrees celsius if carbon emissions are not reduced. The global community confronts the possibility of entire nations facing extinction, hundreds of millions of people being displaced, and natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes growing more dangerous. International agreements such as the Paris Agreement are subject to the whims of individual leaders. In the United States, this has left the sustainability of our planet up to a president who could not even win the popular vote of his own country. It is time to have a world government that can make decisions which benefit the entire world, rather than a small constituency within a single state.
Another benefit of a world federation is that it would be much less prone to authoritarianism than national governments are. National governments are far more interested in the vestiges of the faction or factions in power at the present moment. This means that national governments operate largely between a government faction and an opposition faction. The world federation government would circumvent this situation as the diversity of the global community would require it to have many factions. This same principle is outlined in Federalist 10, which is the document that serves as the inspiration for much of the U.S. Constitution. A world federation operating as a proportional system with nation-based constituencies would have a tremendous diversity of viewpoints. Proportional elections within nation-based constituencies tend to produce a multitude of political factions as evidenced by European Parliament elections, where seven overall parliamentary groups represent a multitude of European parties and an even greater number of national parties.
Though the government of a global federation is unavoidably divided, the power of such a union would by definition, be vast. Even a 1 percent tax rate from a global union could raise 800 billion dollars per year. Additionally, the world government would have a great deal of power over trade, thereby preventing nations from opposing it. In the EU alone, companies will often self-regulate beyond their home country’s regulations in order to tap into the greater European market. A global democratic union would not even need membership from every single nation of the world in order to have and exercise its global control. The power of such a large purse would serve as a stern threat to any despot to keep their nation in line with the international community.
As I have only briefly outlined in this article, a world federation would undeniably serve our interests as a planet. A federation is not only desirable as a theoretical approach; it also provides a practical way to strengthen democratic institutions and tackle global issues. It is time to extend from “We the People” to “We the Peoples.” Global governance is the best option that we have today, and the U.S. should be its first supporter among the P5 powers. Though our country has recently hit road bumps, our national history serves as a blueprint for how a federation can unite to become a global superpower. If the U.S. would back such a proposal, it would encourage other powers to do so as well. The United States should bring our founding principles to the next step by supporting a proposal for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly.