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Global governance and the creation of one people

Nation-states are entities that were created in an attempt to manage civil conflict. They attempt to combine the emotional attachment to a nation (people) with a state apparatus that attempts to monopolize power so it can resolve potential conflicts issuing from ethnic, regional, religious, and political groups. However, nation-states have two fundamental problems that contribute to difficulties in governance:

First, they are fragile affairs that are prone to identity conflicts among different internal groups with their own emotional attachments. Nation-states attempt to weld the natural attachments of nationality to the bureaucratic apparatus of the state, but very few “pure” nation-states exist. In many, the largest national group has less than half the population and the competition for power leads to identity conflicts that are often extremely destructive. v  In order to unify (and in times of stress) nation-states rely on patriotism, and Bar-Tal (1997) has described how even caring patriotism is prone to becoming monopolized by political leaders who exclude segments of the population. Hence, it is difficult to maintain for a number of current nation states to really use a power-to model. Second, nation-states, like all groups, favor their own and the current system of nation-states lacks a system of global governance that can ensure the adjudication of fair economic arrangements among nations. The hierarchies of power and privilege that exist within each society are connected to those in other societies and many domestic problems are exacerbated by the policies of exploitation of the elites in powerful countries with contacts with the rich living in guarded enclaves in poorer countries. The competition between nation states involves the struggles for dominance that characterize the power-over model. Hence, there is the constant threat of war and the struggle among those with veto power within the United Nations Security Council is preventing the development of the sort of governance needed to build a culture of peace and effectively tackle problems such as global warming and the threat of nuclear

Both these problem tend to lead to the use of the power-over rather than power-to. We need a global social system that would rest on the identification with both communities smaller than nation-states and a larger global unity that could use power for the benefit of humankind. A changing world, along with rational analysis and concerted campaigns may encourage political scientists and actors to abandon Realpolitik in favour of the power-to and power within models needed for a democratic world government. Such a government could abolish the small-arms trade needs, close the tax loopholes enjoyed by multinational corporations, and establish an international tax on currency exchanges that would use resources to establish the bases for a culture of peace. Nations have been able to unite in confederations such as the British Commonwealth, federations such as the EU, and the cooperative associations furthered by the UN. Indeed, many of the world’s economic, humanitarian, political and social problems are addressed by the specialized agencies attached to the UN. These involve agriculture, atomic energy, banking, civil aviation, culture, education, health, internationals labor, mail, money, and telecommunications, and resolve many common international problems.

To some extent we already have the rudiments of a democratic world police force. The United Nations forces have been engaged in over 50 missions. These have included the monitoring of elections, the provision of the international police presence needed after civil turmoil, the maintenance of buffer zones between former combatants, and armed interventions needed to prevent extensive civilian casualties. Armed interventions is the most problematic form of intervention and have led to studies that have attempted to assess the degree of the civilian costs incurred before intervention, the cost of military intervention, and the civilian benefits of the intervention. These suggest the necessity of carefully conducting a conflict impact assessment before attempting to use military force in situations where a presence is not desired by both sides to the conflict. vii However, in the early stages of a conflict that threatens to degenerate into military struggle the possibility of military intervention may be helpful in encouraging a diplomatic solution. viii Unfortunately, fast action is currently limited by the fact that there is no permanent UN military force so that each UN action requires the new recruitment of troops, equipment, and money from whatever nations are willing to donate ix It would be easy to create a small standing force but the major powers are reluctant to set a precedent and begin an international force that could conceivably challenge their military preeminence. The global government that is needed can be fostered by using a number of tools:

1. The UN can be strengthened. Although the UN lacks the authoritative power to resolve a number of international conflicts it functions as a forum for dialogue, negotiation, and the formation of international norms and opinion. A number of NGOs work to give the UN more power. For example the World Federalist movement (see for example has succeeded in creating an International Criminal Court to address crimes against humanity and has attempted to amend the UN charter to achieve a more representative security council, a democratically elected General assembly, and a permanent peacekeeping corps. And the Science for Peace Working Group on Good Global Governance ( works to raise public awareness of global governance issues.

2. Transnational organizations can be fostered. There is a basis for a common government in many transnational organizations with common values and a common language.x The specialized agencies attached to the UN involve agriculture, atomic energy, banking, civil aviation, culture, education, health, internationals labor, mail, money, and telecommunications; over four thousand NGOs have consultative status with the UN’s economic and Social Council; and university symposiums and consortium bring together international academics, industry practitioners, and policy makers to discuss international governance and security concerns around issues such as climate, and the management of supplies of rare earths and water. Slaughter (1997) suggests that the functions of the state are being disaggregated and bureaucrats are networking across national boundaries to form a trans-governmental community.

3. Human rights conventions can be promoted. Conventions against the use of child soldiers, landmines, and cluster bombs have popular support and pressure national governments to surrender a degree of sovereignty to achieve global norms. Although many people want their nation to be strong, most believe in human rights and are opposed to military policies that kill innocent civilians. Hence, they want their government to support international agreements that promote human rights and this exerts pressure that helps establish global governance.

4. Humane budgets can be publicized. The establishment of a budget is an important tool for the setting of priorities. One such budget, estimating expenditures for demining, the demobilization of troops, the reparation of refugees, disarmament expenses, base closures, and the conversion of military industry to peacekeeping operations, as well as international court, has suggested a minimal cost of $16 billion. At the time this was about 2% of what nations were spending on their own militaries xi. A more ambitious positive peace “budget” was estimated by the World Games Institute. xii Basing figures on the fact that it required about a third of a billion dollars to eradicate smallpox from the world, they estimated that over a ten year period, it would require about $2 billion to remove land mines, about $5 billion to eliminate illiteracy, $10 billion to provide safe drinking water, about $19 billion to eliminate starvation and malnutrition, and $21 billion to provide health care and control AIDS. When all such desirable projects were considered it was estimated that an enormous sum of about $234 billion a year for ten years would be required–about 30% of what the world’s governments spent on military forces that year.

5. Interfaith dialogues can be encouraged. The readiness to care and encouragement to overcome fear and hate cannot be forced and, like mutuality or friendship, cannot be organized by state power. It can, however, be cultivated. To some extent it can be cultivated by the rituals of most traditional religious communities which foster socio-emotional relations such as generosity, acceptance, understanding, and compassion that create mutual fellowship. However, each of these traditional communities involves boundaries that are barriers for those with different beliefs. There is no need to obliterate these boundaries. The need is to transcend them and ask how these communities can be more ecumenical and caring for those who are outside the particular community. It is possible to encourage interfaith leaders in local communities to work together to create new rituals that engender a sense of global personal identity and the virtues needed for such fellowship, virtues such as forgiveness, love, and the courage involved in risking the self to care for others. Perhaps all can agree on a common faith in the sense of relying on the openness of love and trust rather than on differences and the security demanded by fear.

6. Celebrations of common humanity can be promoted and participation in them can be encouraged. Any world government will require more human unity than currently. Most people currently identify with an ethnic group, nation, or religion, rather than recognizing their common humanity. exists An historical review suggests that such unity will require strong collective emotional celebrations similar to those that were needed to create tribes and nation-states, ceremonies, but designed to help people sense their membership in a human global community in which caring dominates fear. xiii Along these lines websites are being developed where people may be inspired by seeing others who are committed to solving global problems. For example, allows people to develop and circulate petitions and view thousands of people who are participating in movements committed to sustainability, justice, and reimagining the world. And organizations are developing global events such as Earth Hour (, where millions turn off lights for an hour on March 23rd at 8:30 to remind people of the global challenge of sustainability, the International Day of Peace on September 21, featuring “global” musical performances, dances, soccer games, etc.(, and peace through dance (

7. Higher educational programs can address the challenges of establishing a global authority. Political authority rests on some sense of common belonging and ideological attachment to the regime and this is reinforced by what is taught in schools and religious bodies. In fact, successful government requires an educational system that teaches the responsibilities of citizens, and ways of thinking that build societal cohesion and the fundamental kinds of consensus that support governmental authority. xiv However, it is unclear how to integrate an individualistic capitalist economy with communal concerns, how to relate competitive political systems to single party rules, or how to combine horizontal and vertical systems of authority.

Historically speaking, societal unification that can integrate different people and classes has been accomplished in either vertical or horizontal ways. xv A central authority can use a vertical organization to integrate different peoples, with little in common when people are ruled by a central authority with whom they identify. This was particularly true in the past, as in the development of Egyptian civilization .xvi Although this often involved a patriarchal power-over arrangement, there were often power-to alliances, Asoka’s nonviolent empire used a power-to model, and it appears that the earliest Indian empire may have been matriarchal. Such arrangements entail less individual freedom, but allow more group diversity. However, they require the cultivation of an emotional character structure that minimizes egoism and encourages emotions such as reverence, devotion, awe, and fear that can be used to maintain identification with an authority.

By contrast, horizontal or fratriarchal arrangements unify a group by the development of a common will or purpose. Rather than identifying with a sacred authority, the members of a group may be fused by patriotic assemblies. Rather than minimizing the ego, by encouraging obedience and leading persons to identify the self with a God-like authority, the ego may be maximized by encouraging competition and the identification of mate, home, or leader as part of the self. By being involved in the choosing of a leader, people are helped to identify the country with the self and to feel they are acting through their country. When common plundering expeditions or enemies are involved it is easy to maintain the group unity. To the extent that common agreement is established, a common will unites the group. For a society to have a horizontal unity, a different set of emotions must be cultivated. These involve egoism such as pride, enthusiasm, and anger, but also require a sense of responsibility, a respect for others as equals, and a sense of honor that binds persons to common agreements even when agreements cannot be enforced by the fear of authority. Individual freedom is maximized, but it is difficult to have more than one basic cultural group and language. In vertical integrations it is easy for a central authority to send a representative to reflect that authority to a local group. People can identify with the authority through his representative. However, early horizontal arrangements found it difficult to unify groups. The representatives elected by the early Greek states were able to achieve some common decisions. However, when these representatives returned to their own groups they were often unable to persuade their constituents to abide by the decisions reached by the common assembly. Their constituents were unable to feel identified with the central assembly and it was not until the American Federalists used a constitution as the central authority that a largely fraternal system became the basis for national unity.

It is important to realize that different types of governance depend on cultural characteristics and require different sorts of emotional character. When personal relations are dominated by fear, the fear may be managed in different ways. Individualistic cultures tend to manage fear by encouraging persons to look out for themselves while collectivistic societies manage fear by encouraging conformity to a common good. Capitalism, socialism and distributism require people to have different socio-emotional relations.

It is unclear if nation states are the best units for a world government, or if horizontal arrangements are superior. It may be better to have representatives from smaller regions with similar cultural backgrounds operating under a vertical global arrangement. It is unclear if capitalism is the best economic system. What is clear is that economic forces now require some form of power-to cooperation so that humankind can avoid famine, disease, civil war, and the destruction of the ecosystem. We need to understand that, in spite of many important cultural and character differences, we are now a single people.

Historical investigation suggests that any global society that aspires to a culture of peace will have to address three questions:

(1) To what extent is it possible for persons to satisfy homonomous needs by feeling a part of a greater whole? Is it possible for persons to identify with their own ethnic or religious groups or is such an identification seen as a betrayal of the state?

(2) To what extent is it possible for persons to satisfy autonomous needs by having the freedom to make independent contracts that are adequately regulated by the state so that power is dispersed and justice is ensured? Is the society designed so that persons gain power and prestige by benefitting others, or by harming them?

(3) To what extent does the society enable persons to care for others and what is other than the self? Is there enough personal space and time to permit friendship and creativity, or does the state intrude into the personal, or economic forces preclude the time required for friendship or force moves that break up friendships?

Maximizing the answers to these questions will require us to use the power from within model to create an organization that can use the power-to model to further a global community wherein love and care are stronger than fear and aggression.

v In 1971, only 12 of the 132 nation-states that existed at the time were really ethnically homogeneous and in 39 the largest national group within the state had less than half of the population (Connor, 1974/1994).

vi See de Rivera, J. (2014) Emotion and the formation of social identities. In (Eds.) Collective Emotions Oxford University Press.

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