EARTH FEDERATION NEWS                                    








When will we finally have a world government?
 by George Dvorsky (first published at on 12-19-12)

Political scientists and science fiction writers alike have long been
taken with the idea that humans would one day form a global
government. Yet few of us take this prospect very seriously, often
dismissing it as an outright impossibility or very far off in the
future. Given the rapid pace of globalization, however, it would seem
that humanity is inexorably headed in this direction. So how long will
it take us to build a world government? We talked to an expert to find

To help us better understand this issue, we contacted sociologist
James Hughes from Trinity College in Connecticut. Hughes, an ardent
supporter of global government, feels that it's an idea whose time has

"We need world government for the same reason that we need government
in general," he told us. "There are a number of things — what we can
agree are collective goods — that individuals, markets, voluntary
organizations, and local governments aren't able to produce — and
which can only be provided through the collective action of states."

Hughes, whose thinking was significantly influenced by the Star
Trekian vision of a global-scale liberal democracy, argues that there
a number of things that only a world government is capable of doing —
like ending nuclear proliferation, ensuring global security,
intervening to end genocide, and defending human rights. He also
believes that it will take a global regime to finally deal with
climate change, and that it's the best chance we have to launch
civilization-scale projects, including the peaceful and controlled
colonization of the solar system.

The trick, he says, is to get there. But by all accounts, it appears
that we're on our way.

The thrust of history
Indeed, it certainly looks as if humanity is naturally headed in this
direction; the prospect of a global government has been on the
political radar for centuries.

The ancient Greeks and Romans prophesied of a single common political
authority for all of humanity, as did many philosophers of the
European Enlightenment, especially Immanuel Kant.

More recently, the urge has manifest in the form of international
organizations like the League of Nations, which later re-emerged as
the United Nations — efforts that were seen as a way to bind the
international community together and prevent wars from occurring.
But today, cynicism rules. The great powers, countries like the United
States, Russia, and China, feel they have the most to lose by
deferring to a higher, more global-scale authority. It's for this and
other reasons that the UN has been completely undermined.

But as Hughes points out, opposition or not, the thrust of history
certainly points to the achievement of a world government. Citing the
work of Robert Wright and Steven Pinker, Hughes argues that our units
of government are increasingly expanding to cover larger numbers of
people and larger territories — a trend that has encouraged the
flourishing of commerce and the suppression of violence.

A quick survey shows that the world is undergoing a kind of political
consolidation. In addition to cultural and economic globalization,
human societies are also bringing their political entities together.
Various regions of the world have already undergone successful unions,
the most prominent being China. The United States has already done it,
but it took a hundred years and a civil war that killed 2% of its

And of course, there's Europe. It's currently undergoing a well-earned
and peaceful political unification process. But like Americans,
Europeans didn't take the easy path. The two World Wars of the
twentieth century are often seen as a part of the same overarching
conflict — a European civil war in which various colonial, political,
and ideological interests fought to force the direction of the
consolidation process.

"The process is messy and fitful, but inexorable," says Hughes. "Every
time Europe seems ready to unravel, the logic of a tighter union
pushes them forward — as it did just last week into the new European
banking union agreements."

But as Hughes notes, the problems Europe faces in convincing states to
give up sovereignty to transnational authorities are precisely the
same problems that are faced at the global level — but with a hundred
times the difficulty.

"That is if this century doesn't create new economic, cultural and
communication forces for political globalization, and then new
catastrophic threats to make the need for global governance
inescapable, which it is very likely to do," says Hughes. And by
"catastrophic threats," he's referring to the ongoing perils of
climate change, terrorism, and emerging technologies.

And indeed, there are other examples of political consolidation
outside of Europe. Africa is slowly but surely moving towards an
African Union, as is South America. North America is currently bound
bound by NAFTA, and Canada has even considered forging an agreement
with the EU.

The end of isolationism
As Hughes is quick to point out, the threat of being shunned and
outcast by the larger international community is a powerful motivator
for a country to adopt more beneficent policies.

"This has provided an ecological advantage to larger governments and
federal structures so that holdouts like Burma eventually give up
their isolation," he says. "The irony of the process is that the
creation of federal transnational structures supports the political
independence of local groups."

Without the political pressure and direct military intervention of
NATO, the European Union, and the United Nations, says Hughes, we
would have never realized an independent Kosovo, South Sudan, or East
Timor. Moreover, he argues, if Turks weren't anxious to remain on good
terms with Europe and other international actors, they would likely be
far more repressive to the Kurds — and the same is probably true
vis-à-vis Israelis and Palestinians, and other conflicts.

World government could limit repression against minorities
"Transnational governance already puts pressure on the nation-states
that limit how much repression they can enact against minorities, but
it is obviously inadequate when we are still powerless to help Tutsis,
Tibetans, Chinese Muslims, or Chechens," says Hughes. "The stronger
our transnational judiciaries, legislatures, and military and economic
enforcement of world law gets, the more effectively we can protect
minority rights."

Moreover, the withering away of the sovereign nation-state could be
seen as a good thing. As Kenneth Waltz noted in his seminal 1959 book,
Man, the State, and War, the ongoing presence of the traditional
nation-state will only continue to heighten the possibility of armed

Hughes agrees. He sees political globalization as a developmental path
that will eventually limit government powers.

"As George Orwell graphically depicted in 1984, the endless pitting of
nation-states against one another is the most powerful rationale for
the power of oppressive government," he told us.

A danger of global repression?
There is, of course, a dark side to having a global government.
There's the potential, for example, for a singular and all-powerful
regime to take hold, one that could be brutally oppressive — and with
no other nation states to counter its actions.

It's well known, for example, that the Nazis envisioned a global
government, what the democracies correctly assessed as a threat to
liberal values, democracy, freedom of thought — and the lives of
millions (if not billions) of innocent people. As a result of the
ensuing tragedy, some critics of global government warn that we
shouldn't put all our eggs in one political basket. Having sovereign
and politically disparate nation-states is a safeguard against the
rise of a monolithic and all-encompassing regime.

But Hughes contends that political expansion has helped to suppress
despotism and the defense of individual and minority rights — from the
establishing of voting rights for black Americans to the European
Court of Justice's decisions on reproductive and sexual minority

"That was not, of course, the case with the Soviet Union, so the
anxiety that a powerful United Nations full of undemocratic states
would be an anti-democratic force in the world was entirely justified
during the Cold War," he told io9. "While the spread of democracy has
made a liberal democratic global federalism increasingly likely,
progressives will nonetheless sometimes face issues where global
policy would be reactionary, and local autonomy needs to be defended
until the balance of forces change."

Indeed, should a global governance arise, it would be prudent to
enshrine fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms to prevent an
authoritarian or totalitarian catastrophe. And at the same time,
charters should be implemented to guarantee the rights of minority

Global government when?
It's obviously difficult to predict when a global government can be
achieved given that there's no guarantee that it will ever happen. As
noted, the great powers will be very reluctant to give up what they
consider to be sovereignty rights. And in the case of China and other
countries, there are other potential deal-breakers, such as the
ongoing isolationist urge, xenophobia, and incompatible
political/ideological beliefs.

But given the pace of accelerating change across virtually all human
domains, it may happen sooner than we think. It's not unreasonable to
predict some manner of global governance taking shape in the latter
half of the 20th century.

At the same time, however, a global government won't happen merely
because it's deemed desirable.

"Without a vision the people perish," says Hughes. "If we want to see
democratic globalization we have to openly point towards it as the

He recommends that supporters join world federalist organizations like
the Citizens for Global Solutions, the Union of European Federalists,
or the World Federalist Movement.

"Advocates should put global federalist solutions forward as the most
obvious way to address global problems — even if such solutions appear
currently chimerical. The world is changing quickly and what appears
utopian today may appear obvious tomorrow," he says.

We asked Hughes if he thinks that global governance can actually be achieved.

"I do believe it is possible to eventually achieve a global
directly-elected legislature, complemented by global referenda and a
global judiciary, controlling a global law enforcement military, and
supported by global taxes like the Tobin Tax," he responded.

But there are a lot of other ways that political globalization can
provide peace and prosperity short of that.

For example, progress could be measured by the incremental
strengthening of all the agencies of transnational governance, from
regional bodies like the EU and African Union, to treaty enforcement
mechanisms like the WTO, IAEA and ITU, to the United Nations.

"I believe all those bodies will grow in importance and clout over the
coming century," he told us, "propelled by the growth of transnational
political movements, such as the world federalist movement, NGOs, the
Socialist International, and other social movements."

STOP (Our thanks to Mr. Dvorsky for permission to publish this article.)

[Editor's note:  The Earth Federation Movement has proposed an actual world government political structure.  The Earth Constitution, drafted by the World Constitution & Parliament Association, is designed for that very purpose. The public sometimes mistakenly believes that the United Nations is a world government.  It is not.  The UN Charter lacks almost everything a real world government requires:  A democratically elected world parliament, a world judiciary system with enforceable laws, and guaranteed basic human rights. The UN Charter would be retired and replaced by the Earth Constitution.]