Is there a future for world government?
While humanity has been intrigued from time immemorial by the idea of a universal political order encompassing the entire world, the possibility has been consistently dismissed, throughout the centuries, as a mere utopian fantasy. The fear has always been-and continues to be-that a universal political order could only be achieved through universal tyranny. Thus far the steadily increasing costs of warfare have not dislodged this consensus. In the ﬁrst half of the twentieth century, two world wars of unprecedented destructiveness took place without dislodging the consensus that authoritative world government was impractical and undesirable. During most of the second half of the twentieth century, humanity was haunted by the nightmare of a possible third world war, this time fought with nuclear weapons. Still the consensus remained. Now that the Cold War is moribund, if not yet completely extinct, and the ideological impediment to world government is much diminished, the world government possibility is still rejected by the large majority on grounds that the remaining heterogeneities among the nations (economic, political, cultural, and so on) still preclude them from organizing a stable and benign global government. The decline of the Cold War since the early 1990s has created what
is commonly termed the “new world order.” While much progress is being made under the new world order, there remain some ominous aspects of the current situation. The economic gap between the richest and poorest nations continues to widen. The human population of the world continues to increase at a rate that cannot be sustained indeﬁnitely. The natural environment is being increasingly stressed, while
stocks of nonrenewable natural resources continue to be depleted. Meanwhile, large stockpiles of nuclear weapons, while greatly reduced from their Cold War peaks, continue to exist, ready and waiting for the day when their use may become “unavoidable.” In some quarters, there is concern that the dissolution of the Soviet Union has left the United States with too much economic and military power, power that may not be utilized prudently. The question remains: Is the current strong consensus against world
government still valid as of the twenty-ﬁrst century? Or, on the other hand, might a properly designed federal world government signiﬁcantly improve the processes of global governance and thereby enhance the prospects of global human civilization as we proceed into an unknown and hazardous future? The answer to this question may lie in the issue of “proper design.” In this chapter we will examine the contemporary state of the world in light of an innovative approach to world government. Instead of the conventional world federalist ideal of the omnipotent world state, this innovative approach envisions a limited federal world government that would go well beyond the United Nations of today, but not so far as to constitute a serious threat to the legitimate national interests of its member nations.