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Moral Authority
February 5, 2003 3:58 PM   Subscribe

In his 1947 letter to the General Assembly of the United Nations Albert Einstein wrote of 'enhancing the moral authority of the UN' and portrayed the United Nations as a "transitional system toward the final goal, which is the establishment of a supranational authority". Is the United Nations the depository of the moral authority of the international community? Some say no. Is there really such a thing as moral authority or is it one of those intangibles that, as a Supreme Court justice once said about obscenity, we cannot define, but we know it when we see it? Could a "one world government" work and would it really produce "moral authority" ? (More Inside)
posted by Mack Twain (42 comments total)

 
This post isn't about Iraq. It's about whether there is such a thing as moral authority, and what it's sources might possibly be. The references to moral authority I see lately almost always use it in a negative sense: "US has no moral authority to..." "UN must act before it loses it's moral authority" etc. If it's based on defining "good and evil" it's going to take a while.
posted by Mack Twain at 4:00 PM on February 5, 2003


In my opinion, if you believe in intelligent life on other planets, you have to believe in a world government. If the aliens get here first, we will need to be united and have a chamber that can figure out how to deal with them. If we discover life on other planets, the best chance of doing so peacefully will be under a united world banner.

I realize this is crackpot stuff but I think it's true anyway.
posted by cell divide at 4:07 PM on February 5, 2003


You can argue that some people (e.g. Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela) have a degree of power (ability to get things done... or at least, get things moving, get people talking) that emanates from the breadth and depth of the sense that they are competent, ethically motivated people.

As for the U.N., I think the most we can say is that its founding principles represent widely held aspirations which, while frequently trod upon, need to have an institutional manifestation if we are to have any hope of moving out of the primordial political goo in which we find ourselves.

One world government might work in some ways, but not in a lot of others. What would it look like? There could be an almost infinite number of forms. Certainly, it wouldn't eliminate armed conflict: if we had one global country, we would just replace interstate war with civil war.
posted by stonerose at 4:12 PM on February 5, 2003


One could also argue that there is no such thing as moral authority in a real sense, and those who are perceived to have it merely have convinced some others that they are consistently justified in their actions.

Personally, I am against a single world government. I see little reason that everyone ought to live in the same way under the same sets of laws. Especially since, if we have proportional representation, the Chinese and Indian populations, who believe in different values than I do, will dominate the assembly and pass laws forcing me to obey those values.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 4:33 PM on February 5, 2003


But, Pseudo, to some degree or another, we all do live under the same laws: e.g., nobody, anywhere, is allowed to commit genocide. But even locally, we have laws that differ: e.g. drinking age varies by state and province; whether you can smoke in a bar, etc. So the question is, to what extent can we agree, at a global level, on common laws? How far can we integrate ourselves? How much agreement can we reach not just on rules, but on the substantive meaning of those rules?
posted by stonerose at 4:50 PM on February 5, 2003


Hooo, boy, we'd need to be a lot more homogenous for a one world government to work. I don't see that happening any time soon. Homogeneity implies socialism.

cell divide, your extraterrestrial thoughts intrigue me (and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter), but do you presuppose that any visiting aliens would be under a one-world banner? And if we were to be paid a visit, why wouldn't the UN suffice as the 'chamber' to which you refer?
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:24 PM on February 5, 2003


The United Nations does some things well, and some things poorly. It does a good job of forming a world opinion on things (an opinion we may not agree with). It does a bad job of forcing/coercing behavior out of nations. This is because any nation of any size has equal and complete sovereignty under international law. Even when a nation submits itself to the restrictions of a treaty, the only thing really causing compliance is a nation's desire to be a member of the world system. Countries can back out of treaties with no real consequences (e.g. the US and the ABM treaty, numerous countries and the NPT treaty).

If you want to call the consensus opinions generated by the UN a sort of "moral authority", that might be accurate, but of limited use. Global disapproval ( "mobilizing shame" ) can cause change (e.g. South Africa), but not often. I think the UN is useful for what it does, but is nowhere near the foundation for a global federal government.
posted by Locke at 5:57 PM on February 5, 2003


Pseudoephedrine, whenever I think about a "World Government" I don't really see what it will do that's not being done right now. I realize it will make some laws in some places that don't have those kind of laws, but what will it really do? Like WolfDaddy said, sounds more like socialism to me.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 6:10 PM on February 5, 2003


Stonerose said : "e.g., nobody, anywhere, is allowed to commit genocide".
huh? Who are you kidding?

Historically it has generally been the most civilized and hence ethically self-assured countries like the US, UK, Various Europeans, Japan, Australia etc.... who have had the most success with genocide.

but of course if you win the war you can't be accused of being a war criminal can you.

There is no a priori morality, so unless you can homogenise cultural influence worldwide I don't see how there will be unified moral conduct.

....For the Taste of It, Just Do It and Choose Pepsi
posted by mary8nne at 6:10 PM on February 5, 2003


Two Als in one day? Wow! And this one's just as big an idea - can "good" and "evil" come out of the mind of man in such a way that we have no way to lose them?

I'm not sure; I can only say how I feel... Can we all ally with one idea of who is to rule? It may seem far away and not easy to come by, but if we find that we must all band as one, you can bet we will. But, as Wolf said, to band with one name can mean we lose any idea of what our own mean!
posted by wanderingmind at 6:12 PM on February 5, 2003


So the question is, to what extent can we agree, at a global level, on common laws? How far can we integrate ourselves? How much agreement can we reach not just on rules, but on the substantive meaning of those rules?

A more fundamental question is why do we want to do any of that? What is to be gained by trying to shoehorn as many people as possible under a single set of laws except to stifle dissent and encourage the growth of this world government? The vast majority of people on earth do not share either your or my views - therefore, when debating the character of a world government, we should not assume that a world government will in any way embody the values that you or I hold dear, whether on civil rights, socio-economic system of choice or anything else. In fact, we should assume that the most likely candidates to control it are India, China and the African nations, as they have the greatest populations. Lacking any desire to be a Hindu nationalist socialist, a CommuConfucianist or Afro-marxist tribalist, I fail to see what benefits will be gained by allowing them to dictate the ways in which I should live.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:16 PM on February 5, 2003


If you believe history, moral authority is whoever has the biggest guns and wins the war. The UN has no such powers and as such is nothing but a global non-profit organization.
posted by stbalbach at 6:16 PM on February 5, 2003


How's this for a thought, homogeneity implies genocide.
posted by wobh at 6:23 PM on February 5, 2003


this single issue/thought, if you had to pick just one, is probably the primary appeal of star trek. it's about a universe/world where this has already happened. and people want it. don't they?

*sigh* ahhh star trek...
posted by folktrash at 6:31 PM on February 5, 2003


good questions. i really enjoyed that "is it possible to know what is good and what is evil?" article.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 6:35 PM on February 5, 2003


How many countries represented in the UN are democracies or close to being democracies? There might be something akin to a moral force if only democracies were represented in a world body.
posted by Postroad at 6:40 PM on February 5, 2003


Interesting topic and interesting comments.

It was mentioned by somebody above that many countries that are big enough to have states or provinces already have different laws in different parts of the land. What I think the UN would be like as a governing world body would be something along the lines of what it is currently doing, with much more authority: the ability to go to those parts of the world that are having "troubles", as in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc. The definition of those "troubles" may need to be more exact, however. As an example, I would expect the UN to have a strong say in what is happening in Ireland, or how various countries (including the U.S. and Canada) relate to their indigenous populations.

homogeneity implies genocide

Probably, but not necessarily. I think it's important to notice that the first word in "U.N." is "United". Unity does not imply "sameness", it implies a cohesion of intent, a common adherence to common ideals and values. I think that foremost of those ideals is tolerance of otherness. Hopefully a world government would allow for the differences between peoples while at the same time providing a proper sense of justice and peace amongst them.

I truly believe that tolerance and acceptance is the key.

(Like WolfDaddy said, sounds more like socialism to me.

Just to stir the pot a bit, but is socialism really that bad? Just as in communism, the idea is beautiful. In practice, communism has been found to be difficult, if not impossible to achieve, but socialism takes idealogy from here and idealogy from there to make something a lot more workable. Any thoughts?
)
posted by ashbury at 6:44 PM on February 5, 2003


What are the real benefits of a global government?

Not enough to warrant the efforts required to make one.

A common state mechanism is much more likely to occur. I could see how over time organizing state functions such as taxes, utilities, monies, infrastructure, etc., into supranational organizations (picture something like the EU or what NAFTA could end up being in response to it) could have a liberating effect on populations. If you don't like your neighbor, then why bother legislating compromises with him? You can both agree on paying taxes and getting roads and the like, but since you don't have to have a unified legal system you can put up a wall and have Tom Waits sing your national anthem to your heart's content. No one will stop you as long as you pay your taxes. (...and the world falls into a lull)

That sort of system would come about slowly. Today's economic advantages could end up being tomorrow's supranational organization--before anyone realizes it.

Good? Bad? Who knows. Governments are what people do and people need to be held responsible for them.
posted by Tystnaden at 6:55 PM on February 5, 2003


Stonerose said : "e.g., nobody, anywhere, is allowed to commit genocide".
huh? Who are you kidding?

As you're no doubt aware, genocide is not allowed under international law. Does it occur? Yes, because the law is not reliably enforced.

Pseudo, are you trolling? In the first place, you may already have noticed that the countries with the largest populations aren't the ones who make the law. Secondly, who said anything about 'shoehorning' us into an artificially homogenized system of laws? I asked what we could agree on. What is to be gained? Well, ideally, we agree on a baseline set of standards... we teach them to our children... gradually, they become embedded in societies around the world... and gradually, we become more peaceable. Is it sure to work? No. But it seems a fuck of a lot better than a complete lapse into moral relativism.
posted by stonerose at 7:07 PM on February 5, 2003


I'm not trolling, I simply don't agree with your position at all.

In the first place, you may already have noticed that the countries with the largest populations aren't the ones who make the law

This implies then that a world government would not be democratic, in that individual citizens of countries would not vote to either pass laws or to elect representatives to pass laws in an assembly. An undemocratic world government is not something I see any reason to be in favour of. If it is merely "countries" voting, as with the current UN, then there are more countries that disagree with my view than that do, and I cannot see any reason to allow them to enforce their whims on me.

Secondly, who said anything about 'shoehorning' us into an artificially homogenized system of laws?

What is the point of world government if not to have a universal system of law? The UNHCR contains many rights I do not agree with, but that it is powerless to enforce. The UN consistently attempts to expand its power over national sovereignty in important matters such as internal taxation. A world government would have to have the power to enforce its laws in order to be called a "government". I can see no reason that I should give people the tools to make me do things which I do not agree with.

Well, ideally, we agree on a baseline set of standards...

This contradicts what you just said above. Either this government will encourage homogeneity, or it will have no power. If it encourages homogeneity, then there is little chance that it will be a homogeneity that your or I, as free citizens of Western democracies, will want.

But it seems a fuck of a lot better than a complete lapse into moral relativism.

I'm not a moral relativist. I simply lack the desire to render some particular set of ethics (certainly not mine) universal through a supra-state organisation.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 7:24 PM on February 5, 2003


From what I have read, all the replies to this post have ignored the 'elephant in the living room' (see third paragraph).

In my opinion, Stbalbach nails one crucial point: The UN has no credible military force. And further, it is a bit too dependant on the US - for funds, and even to host it's 'capital'. To be truly usefull, the UN needs to move beyond reliance on the US, and it needs to agressively update post WW2 security arrangements such as the UN Security Council...

But a supranational authority will arrive, sooner rather than later. Under George W. Bush , the US is making a bid to be that authority.

Leaving worldwide regulation, norms, and standards of behavior aside, just consider the spread of WMD's: chemical, biological, nuclear, other massively destructive developing technologies...who has them now? Who is seeking to acquire them? Who will have them in two or three decades?

As Bill Joy noted in WIRED 8.04, in "Why the future doesn't need us", "Our most powerful 21st-century technologies - robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech - are threatening to make humans an endangered species." Joy warns of the spread of these future technologies which contain vast power - for good, or for for almost unlimited destruction.

The current obsession of the Bush administration with Iraq and nations (other than the US, it's allies, and already established nuclear powers, that is) seeking to develop "weapons of mass destruction" forebodes a new trend; the spread, worldwide, of scientific culture and the accelerating curve of scientific research and development which means that an ever wider number of agents -- government and 'NGO' (terrorists, that is) -- will be able to acquire WMD's.

My point is not really that complex. Think of it in microcosm: what would happen if every person on your block, or in your neighborhood, come to posess weapons which could obliterate all life within, say, a 1 mile radius. Would you feel safer? If you could not personally check the proliferation of such weapons, what would you do?

This is not at all different from asking the question "why shouldn't all American citizens be legally allowed to purchase surface to air missiles, tanks and heavy machine guns, or even ballistic missiles on the open market? " Well...individuals go completely insane, temporarily or permanently, fairly often. Individual humans are unreliable. Governments are less inclined to spontaneous acts of passion, or insanity: they are about protocol, and policy. Their behavior is a bit more predictable, and predictable is all to the good when there are WMD's on the block.

But the proliferation of WMD's has, if anything, increased during the "War on Terror" and soon there will be a pressing need for either a UN with real teeth - a heavily armed, but democratically controlled, supranational authority -- or for a US fully committed to it's role as the head of an unprecedented global empire.
posted by troutfishing at 7:29 PM on February 5, 2003


It's possible for a 1 world government to have moral authority, but the UN isn't that government. Why? Not because it doesn't have an army. Armies won't give you moral authority, they'll just give you plain authority! So why does the UN have no moral authority? Because its "citizens" have no say in its workings. The only representation countries have is through their UN representatives, who are not elected by their people, but chosen by the various governments. Nor is the president of the UN chosen fairly; the segment of the world he must be from is rotated so everyone gets their turn. Rotation is also used on many of the various committees. While it's nice that no one feels left out, it means that the will of the people is irrelevant to the UN, as it is to most of its non-democratic member states. No connection with the peoples' will=no moral authority.
posted by unreason at 7:37 PM on February 5, 2003


A one-world government is neither tenable nor desirable. History makes it fairly clear that larger geopolitical units have a fairly finite shelf-life: witness the Roman empire, the Ottoman empire, the Byzantine empire, the Holy Roman Empire, etc. These entities, after a short period of explosive growth, over-extend themselves to the point where the bureaucracy makes it impossible for the center to maintain any control.

The standard rebuttal to this, of course, is that modern ubiquitous communication and the 'global village' has resulted in a paradigm shift making it much more practical for large administrative units to function smoothly, but, again, I think history shows otherwise: witness the British Empire, which reached its height in the late 19th century and then slowly dwindled as communications and transportation technology advanced.

This may be my techno-libertarianism speaking, but I think distributed, decentralized systems tend to be more robust than highly controlled monolithic ones. I would like to see a world of several thousand tiny independent states with the ability to share armies/currency as necessary; I would be very surprised to see either the US or the EU existing in recognizable form for more than another century or so, and I think the current trend towards greater centralization (i.e., US states becoming more subordinate to federal law and EU member nations giving up autonomy) is just the last gasp of an obsolete system trying to consolidate whatever power it has left.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:56 PM on February 5, 2003


[long]

Like any group of humans, both individual member states and the UN organization as a whole aren't always going to live up to the high purposes of the United Nations. However, I don't believe this prevents the UN from acting with moral authority!
Why? Well, my fundamentalist upbringing just won't let me overlook "the loss of truth already inherent in modernist relativizing and in the rejection of authoritative structures or persons with moral authority. Consequently, the major characteristic of the postmodern condition is the repudiation of any truth that claims to be absolute or truly true."
In Western Civilization, it's been trendy "to liberate the modern individual from
external social and religious norms by supplanting them with
the rational self as its own moral authority." Because moral authority is an institutional and societal attribute assigned to persons or groups, it is not simply a question of whether your individual rational postmodernist self reached correct conclusions while coming to terms with its conscience. To give an example on a less abstract level, the medical profession struggles collectively with the question of moral authority on a daily basis.

So, turning to today's question, does the US have the moral authority to lead the world? Or to attack Iraq? Some say no way, your moral authority has been compromised too many times. Mandela, "a figure of international moral authority who has devoted his life to fighting racism," says an attack would be a disaster. In contrast Vaclav Havel, "a moral authority hated by a large part of the political class but admired by a large part of the population," feels preemptive action may be warranted.

One proponent of St. Augustine's "just war" concept says "the United States should not acknowledge the United Nations as a moral authority on Iraq, period. But the Washington Times admits that with all its failings, people still support the moral authority of the UN because they think the organization is a good idea.

My experience is that moral authority is what you invoke when you take action based on your beliefs, principles, or values. If most of the people around you agree that you have done the right thing, you will be congratulated or thanked. However, if the people around you disagree with what you've done, they may be very upset! And they are unlikely to appreciate being told that you come from "a more moral and decent culture." If you manage to get your critics to calm down enough to talk, you will generally discover that moral clarity isn't simplistic. Your critics often have beliefs, principles, and values which are very different from yours.
posted by sheauga at 8:05 PM on February 5, 2003


sheauga-- props for best use of links.
posted by stbalbach at 8:43 PM on February 5, 2003


How's this for a thought, homogeneity implies genocide.

When WolfDaddyCo publishes its Sobering-Thought-a-Day calendar, you'll find this filed under Feburary 5.

sheauga, thanks for the homework assignment. This is why I don't watch TV anymore. :-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:47 PM on February 5, 2003


Just to bust up the conceptual logjam - how about the proposed UN Security Insurance Agency? There may be nonviolent, public/private sector partnerships which offer a way out of this current mess.

Sheauga - You got my attention.
posted by troutfishing at 9:02 PM on February 5, 2003


While we're on the topic of moral authority!

Think it's still OK to preach Christianity in the National Catherdral? Would it get anybody's attention?

The head of the Episcopal Church stood up in the National Cathedral recently with a few choice words about the moral authority of the United States.

"Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells."
posted by sheauga at 9:14 PM on February 5, 2003


How many countries represented in the UN are democracies or close to being democracies? There might be something akin to a moral force if only democracies were represented in a world body.

&

In my opinion, Stbalbach nails one crucial point: The UN has no credible military force. And further, it is a bit too dependant on the US - for funds, and even to host it's 'capital'. To be truly usefull, the UN needs to move beyond reliance on the US, and it needs to agressively update post WW2 security arrangements such as the UN Security Council...

Both hit the nail on the head. The UN needs to be 'shook-up' for it to be of any use. For example, why does a country like France, with no major military or political influence, have a permeant council seat and veto when the world's largest democracy, India, doesn't. Or why is Libya allowed to chair the commission on Human rights, or Iraq to chair the commission on Disarmament? The current UN has out lived it's Cold War use...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:44 PM on February 5, 2003


The first few chapters of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis cover morality and moral authority quite well.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:09 PM on February 5, 2003


Trying to break the homogeneity, I recycle my previous post. With a little bit of imagination, the argument can be extended to the planet Earth and, why not, the whole Alpha Quadrant!

From a game theory point of view, moral authority is just a belief used to construct one's actions and strategies. The beliefs do not need to be true, as people recognize failure and change their assumptions (even if it takes generations).
posted by MzB at 10:24 PM on February 5, 2003


this single issue/thought, if you had to pick just one, is probably the primary appeal of star trek. it's about a universe/world where this has already happened. and people want it. don't they?

*sigh* ahhh star trek...

The primary appeal for me is that it is possible to get off the planet as see stuff. I prefered the politics of Firefly to those of the any of the Trek shows.
posted by thirteen at 10:46 PM on February 5, 2003


/joins Maquis
posted by thirteen at 10:50 PM on February 5, 2003


Easy to be a saint in paradise, eh thirteen?
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:51 PM on February 5, 2003


It's easy to attack the UN for being weak and useless, and it's easy to shrug off the idea of "one world government" as an exercise in homogeneity (or totalitarianism, or whatever the speaker is afraid of most), and it's easy to bandy about terms like "moral authority" which don't have much meaning in the real world, but to deny the benefits of an overarching authority between nations, you'd have to deny the benefits of, say, a federal government in the US vs. a loose collections of colonies. The federal government doesn't regulate each and every state the same way, states have their own laws about drinking age, etc., but federal government programs are what make us a nation. Where would we be without interstate highways, a standing army, consumer protection laws, and the like, that only came about as a result of federal authority? It seems to me that the analogy can be expanded to cover an international body that regulates and enforces international issues the same way our federal government regulates and enforces interstate issues. I think that there are some goals, worthy and necessary goals, that can only be accomplished with some kind of international governmental body, whether it's the UN or some post-UN entity.

Oh wait, I forgot - the UN wants to take our guns away and make us all communists. Never mind, don't listen to me.
posted by RylandDotNet at 11:15 PM on February 5, 2003


My problem with world government is that it is inherently far removed from the individual peoples it governs. I've been living in Hungary for a year, which has been a democracy for about twelve years now. What struck me living there was the direct control people had over the government; there are three major parties, one of which went from being a very significant force in congress to being non-existant in the space of a single election. Their democracy is much more direct than the American one, I think, because of Hungary's smaller size. There are 5 million people to convince instead of 350 million, and, since they are situated in a much smaller area, reaching the voters uses a great deal less in the way of money. I think that many of the problems America faces stem from the very size of the nation. It is very easy for small geographic areas to be screwed over by the national government (such as California with the recent medical marijuana law), and that portion of the constituency to be screwed over with it.

Now, unless the world government is extraordinarily weak, then nearly any use of its power is likely to oppress some class of people. We see this already with the EU, whose food regulations essentially outlawed half of French cuisine (and was subsequently overturned, but you get the point). Even if the world government does something fairly common sense to us, like enforcing democratic rule of the member states, we'll run into problems: Hungary in the late 19th century democratically decided to be a monarchy.

I'm of the opinion that any government larger in geographic area or population than an average-sized American state is going to be too far removed from its people to really be doing any good. So world government is right out.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:01 AM on February 6, 2003


I'm of the opinion that any government larger in geographic area or population than an average-sized American state is going to be too far removed from its people to really be doing any good. So world government is right out.

No, what we need for such government to work is the equivalent of the roads in the Roman Empire, better communication devices, which implies better accountability, larger "small worlds", etc. It might seem that what we have already in place is very fast, but I doubt that is fast enough for the actual structure - remember, when it comes to decision making, the nodes of the network are the people, not the routers.
posted by MzB at 4:31 AM on February 6, 2003


The future I see has lots of countries getting nukes and other nasties. I see the security council members getting a lot less sleep while lots of little cold wars break out with their own bay of pigs and standowns. I see the UN being forced to acknowledge that many colonial and post colonial borders were not drawn around economically and politically viable regions and in order to prevent a greater war, a lesser war must sometimes be permitted.

Okay so this may have come from reading too much Ken Macleod. Although this is probably a side effect of Vernor Vinge's short story Conquest By Default which has haunted my imagination ever since I read it (There are a lot of imagination haunting things in the collected stories but that one bothers me more than the others).
posted by wobh at 5:56 AM on February 6, 2003


wobh - ("The future I see has lots of countries getting nukes and other nasties. I see the security council members getting a lot less sleep while lots of little cold wars break out with their own bay of pigs and standowns") - a safe bet.

Steve_at_Linnwood (re:"The UN needs to be 'shook-up' for it to be of any use. For example, why does a country like France, with no major military or political influence, have a permeant council seat and veto when the world's largest democracy, India, doesn't. Or why is Libya allowed to chair the commission on Human rights, or Iraq to chair the commission on Disarmament?") - sounds like those rules -on who gets to chair UN commissions- need a wee bit of modification...not to mention the archaic security council arrangements (my CheeseEatingMonkey sympathies aside)

...Uh oh...partial agreement? From, you?
*chews fingernails, shuffles feet nervously*

RylandDotNet - Well put.

Kaibutsu - Agreed, but I argued (previously on this thread) that some form of supra-national authority, i.e. World Government, will come about whether we like it or not - whether through an hegemonic enlightened (or despotic, as many suspect) US empire which seeks no colonial posessions but merely territory for military bases from which to control key economic and strategic assets (such as Mideast oil) or whether through the codification of International Law and the evolution of Democratic institutions supported by a world government with the military strength to enforce the World Peace...

The inclusiveness of this authority, it's responsiveness to local, human concerns is up for negotiation. Individuals and groups need to exert even more pressure on the process to counterbalance the weight of multinational corporation self-interest.

But if it's to be an American Empire, the "Pax Americana" of Paul Wolfowitz and Don Rumsfeld, the desires and interests of the other, nun American peoples of the World are inconsequential.
posted by troutfishing at 6:34 AM on February 6, 2003


The biggest problem I have with the idea of world government is that, by definition, there's only one of them. (Of course, unless celldivide's aliens arrive.)

It seems analogous to the way I feel about the Microsoft issue: although I use MS products and I generally like them, I also like the idea of having something else I can go to if I want. I like the thought that if the government gets bad enough where I live, I can at least theoretically go somewhere else. I live in the US, I like it here, but there are a lot of other places I could probably like as well, and if the US government follows up its war on terrorism and Middle-eastern immigrants with one on slightly overweight white guys, I could move to Vancouver.
posted by deadcowdan at 9:06 AM on February 6, 2003


Perhaps a "world standards organization," which

1. Seeks to develop governmental and NGO consensus on the standards and specifications for human activities,
2. and simultaneously struggles with the implementation and enforcement of the UN Declaration of Human Rights

would be a more accurate metaphor for the UN than a "world government."
posted by sheauga at 1:55 PM on February 6, 2003


sheauga - that sounds good to me, as long as this "WSO" has some military clout too...
posted by troutfishing at 7:28 PM on February 6, 2003


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