photo by Yoshinori Abe

January 19, 2000


We were right. For years, conservatives and some libertarians have been descrying the erosion of American sovereignty and warning about the dangers of global governance. During the sixties, the John Birch Society was roundly ridiculed by liberals for sounding the alarm about the United Nations as a nascent world state: perhaps they went a bit overboard in claiming that, in going door to door on Halloween night "trick-or-treating" for UNICEF, our kids were being seduced into treason. But as Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott boldly declares that the concept of national sovereignty is "obsolescent," and liberal intellectuals openly declare that "world government is coming – deal with it," as Robert Wright does in the current issue of The New Republic [January 17, 2000], it’s time for us right-wing extremists to stand up and take our bows. We saw it coming.


Fifty years ago, Senator John W. Bricker (R-Ohio) introduced a constitutional amendment that would have prevented any treaty from overriding US law and the Constitution. The Bricker Amendment, which came within a hair’s breadth of passing over President Eisenhower’s voluble protests, became a conservative cause celebre, with every major organization of the Right mobilizing its members to lobby for the cause. It was the last gasp of the Old Right in America, the antiwar, anti-imperialist anti-New Deal coalition of conservatives, old-style classical liberals, and Midwestern populists that dominated the American conservative movement before the coming of Bill Buckley – and they put up a heroic fight that almost succeeded. As Garet Garrett put it in The Freeman [May 4, 1954]:

"Now you may see what happens when, after a prodigious rise in the executive authority of government, people put forth their hands to limit it. The State Department echoes with cries of distress; and the reigning bureaucracy, sinking all minor differences, united to throw a fighting defense around it. The people are told they know not what they do. They would weaken American leadership in the world and perhaps destroy mankind’s hope of peace."


At each turn in the road to the emerging world state, its opponents have faced the same remonstrations: that defenders of sovereignty are willful obstructionists blocking the road to peace and progress, reactionary alarmists whose "isolationist" objections are utterly without foundation. If the Bricker Amendment passes, the Establishment pundits and power-brokers declared, the foreign policy of the US would be "crippled": Secretary of State Dean Acheson flatly declared that passage of the Bricker Amendment would be "calamitous upon the international position and prospects of the United States." Eisenhower and Acheson were careful to couch their arguments against Bricker in terms of US national interest and cold war rhetoric – John Foster Dulles averred, in a speech in March 1954, that the NATO treaty overrode the Constitution in transferring the right to declare war from Congress to the President. In the context of the cold war, the ongoing assault on American sovereignty was cleverly presented as the best military strategy against an external enemy. This was the line taken by the Eisenhower wing of the GOP and its allies in the Democratic Party. But other opponents of the Bricker Amendment were not so cautious. . . .


Presaging the pronouncements of Talbott by nearly half a century, Owen J. Roberts, a prominent New York lawyer and a very active member of the New York "Committee to Preserve the Constitution" – organized to defeat Bricker – announced in a speech that "we must decide whether we are to stand on the silly shibboleth of national sovereignty," or yield to some "higher authority – call it what you will."


President George Bush called it the "New World Order," in proclaiming his rationale for the Gulf War, and he was not the first to do so, and the phrase has caught on. But what does it entail? Capitalizing a word or a phrase rarely explains the concept behind it, and this is no exception. What is this "New World Order" that presidential candidate Pat Buchanan vows "will come crashing down" when he takes that oath of office?


The best and certainly the clearest explanation was given by Murray N. Rothbard, in 1994, at the height of the battle over US membership in the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA):

"So what was the frenzy all about, from Clinton and Kissinger down to Beltway thinktanks? It was indeed not about trade, certainly not about ‘free’ trade. As the Clinton administration and their Republican auxiliaries stressed as the vote got down to the wire, the fight was about foreign policy, about the globalist policy that the United States has been pursuing since Woodrow Wilson, and certainly since World War II. It was about the Establishment-Keynesian dream of a New World Order, NAFTA was a vital step down that road.

"Politically, such an order means a United States totally committed to a form of world government, in which the US/UN "police" forces dominate the world, and impose institutions to our liking around the world. Economically, it means a global system devoted not to free trade, but to managed, cartelized trade and production, the economy to be governed by an oligarchic ruling coalition of Big Government, Big Business, and Big Intellectuals/Big Media."


As our elites declare their bloody and vicious "victory" in Kosovo, a war explicitly justified as a fight against rampant "ultra-nationalism," and Time-Warner-AOL is poised to become the monopoly Media Trust filtering our perception of the world, Rothbard’s prescience seems almost eerie. Even eerier is the speed with which the Big Intellectuals, in league with Big Media and Big Government, are now openly proclaiming the virtues of their global dystopia. The aforementioned Richard Wright, in the New Republic – that semiofficial organ of the Big Intellectuals – gaily proclaims the death of the nation-state, while deriding its opponents as "widely considered fringe characters – flaky if not loony."


This is the favorite conceit of our Big Intellectuals. Upholding the intellectual equivalent of the Time-Warner-AOL mega-merger, they believe they have a monopoly on all serious ideas. By these lights, outsiders such as "fringe" characters Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan, who warn against "an alarming concentration of planetary power in one or more acronyms," don’t have to be refuted – only smeared and ridiculed. In the case of the latter, The New Republic can naturally be counted on to lead the charge.


Ah, but even "fringe" characters can be right, it seems, because "this may be one of those cases when the flaky are closer to the truth than the sober." It turns out that a world state is emerging after all: but don’t worry, he avers, because it’s too late to heed the warnings of the "alarmists" – there isn’t anything you can do about it anyway, Yes, it’s true, that power is "starting to migrate to international institutions, and that one of them is the WTO," and that Buchanan was right when he described the WTO treaty as "a sell-out of American sovereignty" – but so what? According to Wright "world government of a meaningful if . . . diffuse sort is probably in the cards. It follows from basic technological trends and stubborn economic and political logic. And, what’s more, it’s a good idea. Among other virtues, it could keep a sizeable chunk of the liberal coalition from veering off toward Buchananism."


How thrilling that the liberals live in fear of Buchanan as they never would of Bush. They tremble as he thunders against their wars, their arrogance, and their idolatry of power, and quake as he threatens to tear their fragile internationalist consensus asunder. Yet, in spite of Buchananite storm clouds on the horizon, today’s intellectual advocates of the new internationalism are perky at their prospects: they view the dissolution of America as inevitable. Of course, an overwhelming sense of inevitability comes with the onset of middle age, and perhaps this explains the sudden rage for Hegelian "endism" among baby boomer intellectuals: the "end of history," the "end of racism," the "end" of practically everything has been proclaimed. This moment, this generation, this vision of human destiny is the apex and endpoint of human development, the inevitable result of the unfolding dialectic of history – this is a familiar conceit. Intellectuals of the statist persuasion love this idea, in any case, because its predictive pretensions allow for central planning: decode the hidden plan of History, and you have unlocked the secret of the dialectic – and of absolute power.


But why? Why is the evolution of a world state practically inevitable? Our globalists are vague on this vital point: according to Wright, "it follows from basic technological trends and stubborn economic and political logic." Confusing the natural laws that govern the market with man-made laws, Wright argues that nations will band together out of economic self-interest to "avoid lose-lose outcomes" and that the process leading to a world state begins with "that elementary human non-zero sum game, mutually profitable exchange." The existence of the market, we are told, leads inevitably to a world system to govern, or "adjudicate" it, as Wright puts it. But the market does not need to be "adjudicated": it is a perfect mechanism that works all by itself, without having to be wound up on a daily basis by the bureaucrats of the WTO.


Free trade can only be enforced by some international organization that has the power to violate sovereignty, avers Wright, but this is wrong on two counts. First, as Rothbard pointed out above, what is wanted by Wright and his fellow globalists is not free trade but a system of international cartels, an "oligarchic" system run by a state-privileged corporate elite that transcends national boundaries. Within the framework of "liberalized" trade offered up by Wright, with the prospect of international labor standards and global governing authorities to enforce them, each interest group will be given its share of the plunder. The unions are first in line, with the environmentalists second, as the WTO brings in all the wacky little pressure groups fixated on the extinction of a particular species of fish from a certain river, as well as the Sea Turtle brigade that made such a showy debut during the Battle of Seattle.


In this scenario, what we have to look forward to is the international extension of Clintonism, in which all the national variants of the Third Way meet and merge into one worldwide system of social democracy, or democratic socialism. The history of the past fifty years, from this point of view, can be summed up as follows: "Bolshevism is dead, long live Menshevism!" And, of course, it’s all "inevitable," the magical unfolding of the political and economic "logic" of history – except, it isn’t. . . .


Real free trade is never going to be achieved by any international governing body or by some pact between governments, either globally or bilaterally. This awaits the globalization of economic knowledge, and a massive worldwide awakening to the benefits of free trade. All tariffs are a tax, levied by governments that profit from their continuation and extension: it seems somehow naïve to expect that these same governments will voluntarily give up these revenues. Only a worldwide realization that tariffs are an especially onerous tax on the poor and middle classes (i.e. the majority), who must pay more for basic items like food, clothing, and basic services, can succeed in overthrowing the special interests and ushering in a new millennium of truly free trade. And this will be done, if it is done, in each individual nation – indeed, that is the only way it can be done – without surrendering "the shibboleth of sovereignty."


So much for the "economic logic" of the new globalist triumphalism; now, what about the technology angle, that links globalism to modernity and the onset of the computer era? Wright is here indulging in mumbo-jumbo, a technique mainly utilized by writers of fiction, usually authors of third and fourth-rate fantasy and science fiction. When pressed to explicate the "scientific" kernel at the core of the story, the explanation for time travel or interstellar flight or Monsters from the Id or whatever, practitioners of the art of mumbo jumbo invariably resort to arcane formulations, such as "a flux in the Space-Time Continuum," or else appeal to pure fantasy and invoke the power of the Elder Gods. Combining these methods, Wright mystifies technology and especially the Internet with such phrases as "the shrinkage of economic distance." We must inevitably surrender our sovereignty, which will wither in the shade of the coming world colossus, because the Internet has opened up a perilous possibility. Due to "the shrinkage of economic distance . . . economic downturns can be contagious."


But don’t worry about all those inherently insolvent financial institutions, like banks, that couldn’t begin to cover their debts in a crisis – the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is going to be the guarantor of last resort, a world central bank in embryo. Sure, the IMF has its critics, we are told, "but almost no one is saying the IMF should quit lending altogether." Free-market economists and conservative opponents of globalism and foreign aid apparently don’t count: in Wright’s elite circles, "the mainstream argument isn’t about whether to have a form of world government but about what form to have."


In Wright’s view, the creation of the Internet is seen, not as a globalizing cultural influence, but as an uncontrolled phenomenon that cries out for regulation, and even a threat akin to a plague:

"A decade from now, global laws regulating the prescription of antibiotics could make sense, if the too-casual use of these drugs creates strains of super-bacteria that can cross oceans on airplanes. And then there is cyberspace, that notorious distance-shrinker and sovereignty-sapper. It empowers offshore tax-evaders, offshore libelers, offshore copyright-violators. Nations will find it harder and harder to enforce more and more laws unless they coordinate law enforcement and, in some cases, the laws themselves."


The twin specters of a global epidemic of raging bacteria let loose and an Internet that empowers such Satanic figures as "offshore libelers" (who be they?) – this is the kind of stuff that gives science fiction a bad name. Naturally, the globalists don’t like the Internet – to them, it is a danger, a genie that must be put back in its bottle. This is the agenda behind Janet Reno’s recent announcement of a crackdown on "crime in cyberspace." The reasoning goes that international crimes require international law so we can prosecute hackers in, say, Latvia. But why is this so, more so than in any other category of crime? There are laws against murder, theft, etc. in most of the world, although most governments exempt their own agents and employees from this legislation – especially in time of war. Aside from that, however, freelance murderers and thieves are extradited and tried all the time, and the same process could easily be replicated in the case of "cyber-criminals." Why is it impossible for each country to separately enact legislation covering "cybercrime," and punish it when it occurs within its own territory? Law enforcement agencies of different countries often cooperate in catching the bay guys, but that is hardly an argument for surrendering our sovereignty to some acronymic world entity, the United States of the World.


Of the groups that will rule the coming New World Order, Rothbard (above) mentioned one, the Big Intellectuals, who play a key role in its construction. Wright’s piece is the perfect expression of their credo, which completely adjures all notions of patriotism as little more than superstitious (and potentially dangerous) sentimentality. After all, we are reminded, look at the economic dislocations that led to Hitler: if we had had a world central bank around to bail out Germany during the 30s, we might not have winded up with Hitler. The globalists regret that the German hyperinflation was not extended to the rest of the world. This is really the heart of the globalist enterprise – the creation of a world central bank to "insure" the banking industry against an economic downturn –and, having eliminated such inconveniences of the marketplace as exchange rates, give it the power to inflate without limit or restraint. A fiat paper money currency on a world scale, and the complete elimination of gold – this is the old Keynesian dream, by which means they sought to foist their socialist vision on the world.


The Establishment is living in mortal dread, and is fearful that it will blow its big chance to seize power on a global scale. On the economic front, the increasingly shaky foundations of the world economic system, and especially the inherently unstable banking sector, give them ample cause for worry. The "contagion" they fear is growing lack of confidence in the monetary policies of governments worldwide, and especially in the solvency of the heavily-subsidized and propped-up banking system. On the political front, the specter of Buchananism haunts both the left and the "respectable" right: his powerful challenge to their hegemony frightens them half to death. The New Republic has been one of the major centers of this morbid fear, and of anti-Buchananism, generating since 1991 a body of material that could easily fill two or three good-sized volumes, comprising a veritable Encyclopedia of Anti-Buchananism.


As the premier magazine of American internationalism, founded by financier Willard Straight, a Morgan partner, in 1912, The New Republic symbolized "the growing alliance for war and statism between the Morgans and various of the more moderate (i.e. non-Marxist) progressive and socialist intellectuals," as Murray Rothbard put it in his trenchant study, Wall Streets, Banks, and American Foreign Policy. Agitating and cheerleading for every military intervention of the bloody 20th century, from World War I to Vietnam, the left-internationalists of The New Republic still serve the same cause, and the same masters. Wright’s manifesto of the globalist dream of socialism on a world scale is an old song re-dubbed for modern consumption. Whereas the intellectuals’ anthem in the 20th century was all about the inevitability of the proletarian revolution, and the implacable coming of the worldwide dictatorship of the Communist vanguard, today our Big Intellectuals are singing the same tune, but with different lyrics. Now we hear all about the inevitability of free trade, democracy, and even free markets. Yet, strangely, the result is the same: a government-privileged elite gets to lord it over us all, regulating commerce from Texas to Timbuktu, and trolling the Internet for evidence of "hate speech" and other "cybercrimes." The same coalition of Big Government, Big Business, Big Media, and Big Intellectuals seems perpetually in the saddle, no matter what they call the ruling ideology – and isn’t it funny how things always seem to work out that way?


Oh well, that’s another column altogether. Suffice to say here that we are less than reassured by Wright’s contention that world government is going to be loose and diffuse, when compared to the rule of nation-states. He writes:

"Why won't world government ever be as taut as old-fashioned national government? For one thing, governments have traditionally drawn internal strength from external opposition. If you scan the historical and prehistoric record for distant parallels to the current moment, the nearest approximations you'll find are when agrarian villages have united to form "chiefdoms" or when chiefdoms evolved into ancient states."


Without external opposition, short of an invasion of aliens from outer space, Wright reasons that the emerging world state will not have the political strength to impose a "taut" (i.e. unduly oppressive) regime. But this overlooks the strength it can draw from mobilizing state resources against its internal enemies, including anyone who resists or opposes its legitimacy. A worldwide crusade against "renegade" nationalists of all persuasions, from the Balkans to the American Midwest, would serve the interests of the global centralizers to a tee. As the last holdouts against militant universalism, reactionary opponents of the cultural and political homogeneity that is the globalist ideal, dissident could be caricatured as dangerous manifestations of national and ethnic particularism – or "racism," in the lingo of political correctness – and dealt with accordingly. For the "crime" of not wanting to join the global "human family," the penalty could be high.


Scanning the historical record for some parallels to the current moment, what comes to mind is not the prehistorical formation of "chiefdoms" but the consolidation and hubris of the Roman Empire. A vast territory encompassing most of the civilized world, ruled over by a decadent elite and half-mad Emperors who could wage war at will; choking on its own corruption, seething with internal conflict and religious and political rivalries constantly threatening to break out in open civil war – is this the future our globalists dream of, a rerun of the late Roman Empire?


What is striking about Wright’s essay is that there is not the slightest regret at the passing of the old American republic. There is no mention of the Constitution, nor how it will fare in the new millennium of "global governance." Such anachronisms as the Founders, who warned against "entangling alliances" and sternly lectured posterity on the need to jealously guard our independence, are nowhere mourned, or even mentioned. To the elites, to Wright, to the readers of The New Republic, it is as if George Washington had never existed and the American Revolution had never taken place. This is the true meaning of treason – the intellectual treason of our transnational elites, who owe loyalty to nothing but power, money, and their own positions as gatekeepers of the conventional wisdom – and I say: to hell with them.

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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