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December 10, 2008

Beware the New Globalism


All hail the coming regionalist revolt

by Justin Raimondo

Gigantism is the handmaiden of modernity, or so we have been led to believe. In literature, future utopias are almost always characterized by a world government, on the grounds that presumably the people of earth have evolved beyond the narrow confines of nationalism and ethno-cultural particularities. Everybody wears a white tunic or body-stocking and flies around on jet-packs. Conversely, literary dystopias habitually depict a world riven by savagery and decentralized politico-economic units, e.g., The Shape of Things to Come, by H.G. Wells, in which an aspiring world government of technocrats battles the medieval remnants of local warlords. "We are the world"-ism is rife in liberal circles, and World Federalism has long been a cult, albeit a very small and uninfluential one, on the Left.

However, the world government idea is – I predict – going to gain new traction in the coming years, and this is especially on account of the economic crisis currently roiling world markets. The problem, they'll tell us, is global: world markets need to be regulated (for our own good, of course), and therefore what we need is "global governance," the catch phrase that has been coined by the policy wonks pushing this project. Indeed, we are already hearing calls for One World from such august publications as the Financial Times, whose foreign affairs columnist, Gideon Rachman, starts out his piece thusly:

"I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the U.S. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana. But, for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible."

Disarmed in advance – skeptics of globalism are, after all, lunatics who see "black helicopters" in the sky (over Montana, no less!) – we are invited to entertain the idea of a world government that "would involve much more than cooperation between nations. It would be," exults Rachman,

"An entity with state-like characteristics, backed by a body of laws. The European Union has already set up a continental government for 27 countries, which could be a model. The EU has a supreme court, a currency, thousands of pages of law, a large civil service and the ability to deploy military force.

"So could the European model go global? There are three reasons for thinking that it might."

Number one is the globalization of the "crisis" mentality that our international elites have seized on as a rationale for extending their power, and not just over the economic meltdown, but also over global warming and "a global war on terror." The quote marks are Rachman's, but I doubt he intends any irony here: it's clear that, at first, the strategy is to emphasize non-military "soft" issues, like the global warming craze, to mask the real issue, which is that all states claim a monopoly of force over a given geographical area. What's different about this "global governance" business, however, is that the new state aborning would claim jurisdiction over the whole earth. There would be no place to hide, either for criminals or dissidents; no Coventry where the long hand of the state could not reach to grasp you by the collar. At first, such a world state would have to tolerate a fair degree of autonomy, but in the end, there's no competition allowed in the business of state-construction: either you have a monopoly over the use of force, or you don't.

The military component would start out small. A report issued by something calling itself the "Managing Global Insecurity project," whose membership includes such Obama administration insiders as John Podesta and Brookings Institution head honcho Strobe Talbott, has some definite ideas. As Rachman approvingly reports:

"The MGI report argues for the creation of a UN high commissioner for counter-terrorist activity, a legally binding climate-change agreement negotiated under the auspices of the UN and the creation of a 50,000-strong UN peacekeeping force. Once countries had pledged troops to this reserve army, the UN would have first call upon them."

Fortunately, avers Rachman, the only real opponents of such advanced thinking are those poor ignorant slobs over in "America's talk-radio heartland" – the sort who, upon hearing the euphemism "global government," grit what's left of their teeth and go "reaching for their guns." Unfortunately, these hicks have to be appeased, and "aware of the political sensitivity of its ideas, the MGI report opts for soothing language."

The common folk just don't understand, but our smug elites, who have brought us to the brink of economic and cultural ruination, know what's best. The untutored masses still cling to their national mythologies, "stubbornly," as Rachman puts it. So the MGI report makes certain concessions to "American leadership" and "uses the term 'responsible sovereignty' … rather than the more radical-sounding phrase favored in Europe, 'shared sovereignty.' It also talks about 'global governance' rather than world government."

Ah, but the European component of this team of would-be world-managers is – naturally – far more sophisticated than that. Rachman cites an aide to French president Nicolas Sarkozy: "'Global governance is just a euphemism for global government.' As far as he is concerned, some form of global government cannot come too soon. Mr. [Jacques] Attali believes that the 'core of the international financial crisis is that we have global financial markets and no global rule of law.'"

If Messieurs Sarkozy and Attali have anything to say about it, American taxpayers can look forward to the day when they're called on to bail out French banks and save their sclerotic economy where no one can ever be fired. Rachman forgets to mention, of course, that this emerging world state will have to have some means of income, and will naturally turn to the only possible means – taxation. Ah, but no need to throw fodder to the "black helicopter" crowd: all that will come later…

For now, however, they're going to play it on the down low, as one of us commoners might put it. The Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey says we've reached the point where world government is possible, perhaps within the next two centuries or so. Yet Rachman believes it may come sooner, due to "a change in the political atmosphere," i.e., the election results in the United States and the receptivity to these ideas within the new administration – particularly around Susan Rice, formerly of Brookings and now U.S. representative to the UN-designate.

Unfortunately, there are several obstacles in the way of this Great Leap Forward into "shared sovereignty," and Rachman describes two major ones: first of all, "a lack of will" by our leaders, who know what's best but are more concerned about getting reelected at home than building a world super-state:

"But this 'problem' also hints at a more welcome reason why making progress on global governance will be slow sledding. Even in the EU – the heartland of law-based international government – the idea remains unpopular. The EU has suffered a series of humiliating defeats in referendums, when plans for 'ever closer union' have been referred to the voters. In general, the Union has progressed fastest when far-reaching deals have been agreed by technocrats and politicians – and then pushed through without direct reference to the voters. International governance tends to be effective, only when it is anti-democratic."

A more honest explanation of the meaning of world government has rarely been expressed. The EU has held referenda several times in the same countries, a process that continues until they get the correct result. A more effective means is to go over the heads of voters and add on new commitments to existing international structures, such as the UN and NATO. This is the motivating factor behind the new multilateralism that will energize the foreign policy of the Obama administration, the sort of internationalism that is routinely described by its advocates as "robust."

So what if the majority oppose, say, a war waged by this world state against a rebellious province (say, Montana)? What if the richer countries resist the imposition of a world income tax? It all depends on whether that rather skimpy international "peacekeeping" force of 50,000 is beefed up to proper size. One way to do it would be global military conscription. Think how they'd sell it: Service! Shared sacrifice! Send the kids overseas for a broadening experience of "international peacekeeping," instead of an expensive college, which will soon be unaffordable to all but a very few. For the more adventurous, those Somali pirates need taming – along with anybody else with delusions of "sovereignty" over and above the all-embracing world state.

In such a world – which is, as its advocates say, now for the first time quite possible – the only remaining spaces of human freedom, those outside the state, are local entities that naturally resist the inherently anti-democratic and authoritarian structures of the world state. In the eternal struggle between liberty and power, the former is to be found in local particularities, in the cultural and political structures that come closest to the individual. Nationalism is often mistaken for militarism and utilized in the name of centralizing political authority, but the real nations, as opposed to the territories marked out on official maps, are the ethnic, religious, and geographical allegiances that form natural bonds between people. The emerging world state is naturally hostile to these. It prefers to deal with a homogenized mass culture and does everything to discourage – and, if necessary, suppress – all regionalism.

The frontiers of freedom, in this globalist future, will be pioneered by the new regionalists, the secessionists, the campaigners for Cascadia, the republic of Vermont, and the right of Trans-Dniester to go its own way. Gigantism is a conceit, and a fatal one, as the rulers of the old Soviet empire learned and we are just beginning to fathom.

The Old Right activist and author Rose Wilder Lane told a story about a trip to Russia, in her days as a dedicated Communist, when she confronted a peasant who didn't support the Communist government. Rose was bewildered. How could he not see that the Revolution was his revolution? She argued with him, but he wasn't having any of it:

"He shook his head sadly. 'It is too big,' he said. 'Too big. At the top, it is too small. It will not work. In Moscow, they are only men, and man is not God. A man has only a man's head, and one hundred heads together do not make one great head. No. Only God can know Russia.'"

My answer to the globalists – who are now saying that only world economic planning can save us from the heat death of the financial universe – is that only God can know the world. By the time we learn that lesson, however, who knows how much needless suffering will have been endured by the hapless victims of this "noble" experiment?

Socialist and Keynesian economists have long dreamed of a world central bank that could inflate a global currency at will and effectively regulate the world economy. As the Greenspan Bubble bursts and the effects ripple outward, expect such proposals to take on a more concrete character, especially with many in the incoming Obama administration so amenable to internationalist perspectives. This will form the real solid core of the world state, if such is to emerge, and the rest – a standing army, the "democratic" institutions masking its intrinsic authoritarianism – will naturally follow.

 

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  • Jorge Hirsch is a professor of physics at the University of California San Diego.

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