Global Government: A Remedy to Collective Action Problems

All the states and all the individuals on the earth share one planet, with one finite pool of resources that everyone depends upon, yet there is no ultimate authority which has the jurisdiction and enforcement power to manage that finite pool of resources. Currently the world is composed of sovereign states that claim to have jurisdiction and enforcement power over their citizens and their territories, and they expect other states to honor the principle of non-intervention, thereby leaving each state to act autonomously in its own interest. However, I believe that each individual on this planet has an obligation to more than just the citizens of the state they happen to be from precisely because we all share a finite pool of resources, so each individual is responsible for how they use those resources because they directly affect everyone’s ability to use those resources. However, as will be shown, if states are allowed to remain autonomous, then there is greater incentive for each state to act in its own interests as oppose to cooperating with the other states to manage our finite pool of resources. For these reasons, I believe that we have a moral obligation to create a governing institution that has jurisdiction and enforcement power for the entire globe because there does not seem to be another way to manage our resources effectively.

The planet and all of its citizens are faced with problems that supersede the jurisdiction and enforcement power of any individual state or group of states, and currently there is no governmental agency or entity with the authority to mitigate these problems. According to David Held, since the signing of the Westphalia treaty in 1648, states have operated on two principles; sovereignty and non-intervention.[1] Held also goes through great effort to establish the point of globalization by showing that as states have expanded, populations have grown, and new technologies have emerged; that the decisions and actions now made and taken have impacts that increasingly cross borders  and affect more than just the citizens of a self-contained, sovereign state and its citizens.[2] The easiest example and perhaps the least refutable example of this phenomenon that can be made, is in the case of pollution, or environmental effects. Peter Singer notes in his chapter One Atmosphere,  “that Britain’s Sellafield nuclear power  plant is emitting radioactive wastes that are reaching the Norwegian coastline,”[3] which although is just one example, should serve to establish that the actions of one state can and often do affect other states. Yet, while Singer uses this example to show that there is an international law which allows suits to be brought against states for affecting other states, there still remains yet to be over-arching jurisdiction and enforcement power to stop such actions from happening in the first place. The current situation between states resembles a Prisoner’s Dilemma, and I think the problem is the structure of the system because when every individual and state is in competition for limited resources (land, fuel, energy, potable water, clean air, food, etc…), even though the best outcome for all is to be found in cooperation, there is no reason to trust that the other agents will not defect and “free-ride” on the efforts of the rest.[4]

The most practical and imaginable form of world government in the current political environment of the 21st Century, is a federation of states, or as Held called it, a “cosmopolitan community,” a democratic community of democratic communities.[5] States should exercise jurisdiction and enforcement power over the territory and the citizens they represent, and the federation should have jurisdiction and enforcement power to regulate the interaction between states and any action that may either, be taken by a state or the citizens of a state, that will have an impact beyond the state’s immediate jurisdiction. The closest contemporary example of what this federation could look like is the European Union, which has an EU council (representing states) and an EU parliament (representing citizens), but the states also retain absolute veto power.[6] At all levels of the federation, the federation would operate by democratic principles, wherein representatives are elected by the group they are directly responsible to.  And policy decisions would made by what Peter Singer called the principle of “subsidiarity,” whereby issues are managed “at the lowest level capable of dealing with the problem.”[7] Such an institution would thus have democratic accountability and the authority to address and mitigate the collective action problems individual sovereign states are now faced with.

However, there are obvious moral problems with forcing states and the citizens of those states to become a democratic society because it supersedes their right to plan their own future; their right to self-determination.  And as John Rawls, in The Law of Peoples (1993) identifies, there is the capacity for states to develop as “a well-ordered hierarchical society,” or in other words, not as a liberal society wherein all people are free and equal, but are not expansionists and the government derives its legitimacy from its citizenry.[8] The point Rawls made with the discussion of “well-ordered hierarchical societies” is that there are forms of government and society that do not fit the democratic model, but no less deserve to have their rights to self-determination respected. After the end of World War One, the British and French Mandate systems established at the Sam Remo Conference of 1920 were imposed on the Middle Eastern countries of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. Under the guise of Wilsonian “Self-Determination” and a civilizing mission, Britain and France claimed to be assisting these Middle Eastern countries to become self-sufficient democratic societies, but did not anticipate the severity of opposition from the people in these diverse countries. The mandate system drew arbitrary borders and set up unequal systems of representation that did not represent the population, so, not only were people forced into political debate with others they had previously not debated with, but they also felt the pains of an unequal distribution of power that was primarily located in the hands of a minority population. Essentially, the problem was that the mandate system created a series of governments that had not achieved legitimacy because the people themselves neither selected the systems of government, nor the representatives. The imposition of Western forms democratic government upon hierarchical societies, was a recipe for disaster and led to a series of revolutions and counter revolutions in many of the countries that left thousands dead and futures uncertain.[9] Yet, my concern here is not how to influence or encourage non-democratic governments and societies to become democratic societies, it is to derive whether we have a moral obligation to form a global government. So, for the sake of argument, I will assume that societies and governments have not been coercively forced to become democratic, but have rather chosen of their own free-will as agents who have exercised their right to plan their own futures to become democratic societies.

Most proponents who believe that human rights and justice are important also believe that a democratic form of government is necessary to achieve those ends however they may differ in opinion in regard to the structure that government should assume. Some like, Will Kymlicka, while acknowledging that globalization is occurring, challenges the conception of a cosmopolitan citizenship by suggesting that although, “a new civil society” is emerging,” it has not yet produced anything that we can recognize as transnational citizenship.”[10]  The hinge-point of Kymlicka’s argument rest on his assertion that “democracy is not just a formula for aggregating votes, but is also a system of collective deliberation and legitimation,”[11] and since he believes that people decide to deliberate and share the “blessings and burdens”[12] of those political deliberations with people who share similar histories and circumstances, a cosmopolitan citizenship is not practical at this time because people will either choose not to participate or will be incapable of deliberating  on that broad of a scale. If this is true, then the system will fail to meet the necessary conditions of a democratic society of free and equal persons contributing to deliberations because only those who could communicate in a broad range of languages and felt comfortable enough to debate political issues would be party to the decisions made, and as such would not be just Kymlicka believes that making individuals citizens of a world government before they are ready to form one would undermine and potentially ruin the democratic process, which would entail not achieving the objectives of human rights and justice. Kymlicka does however assert that we should, as a civilization, be progressing toward a more cosmopolitan citizenship, especially in terms of the “principles of human rights, democracy, and environmental protection,” but does not believe it is achievable in our life –time.[13] He argues that although a greater territorial range of voters may influence a global government in some way, that the government “would cease to be accountable to citizens through their national legislatures,”[14] where democracy is “more genuinely participatory,”[15] it would essentially, form a tyranny of the majority over the minority. Kymlicka argues that the citizens who cannot take part in the cosmopolitan debate only have their local governments to appeal to, but if that local government’s authority is undermined and superseded by a transnational vote, then they lose the only agent capable of representing their interests internationally. Thus, unlike Held who argues in favor of a “cosmopolitan citizenship,” Kymlicka believes in a parochial democratic institution of government because states are not only responsible for, but are also accountable to and are thus responsive to their citizens’ needs. Whereas, a global government cannot be because the system has the inherent flaw of denying minority populations a voice in the decision making process, which would have the unintended effect of making the system unjust.

Kymlicka’s argument has merit and it is founded on a keen observation of human behavior and the desire to invoke the right to freedom of association. Perhaps the most pressing moral justification for individual states retaining autonomy, as opposed to a world government, is the concept of “Communities of Fate,” first presented by Held and furthered by Kymlicka. According to Kymlicka, “[p]eople belong to the same community of fate if they feel some sense of responsibility for one another’s fate, and so want to deliberate together about how to respond collectively to the challenges facing the community.”[16] Kymlicka draws the conclusion that it is impractical, and potentially impossible to expect individuals to be citizens of a global democracy because of the factors which constitute a “community of fate,” and because of the requirements for full democratic participation. The most compelling argument that he makes concerning the factors of a “community of fate” is about the language that people share, of which he argues that average people prefer to deliberate democratically in their native tongue and will opt out of multilingual transnational democratic deliberation.[17] This being the case, then the state, or as Kymlicka puts it, the “nation,” would feel the obligation of a special social contract with its citizens that it does not with the citizens of other states and as such, would be the most appropriate authority to have immediate jurisdiction and enforcement power.

Kymlicka concludes his argument by stating; “our democratic citizenship is, and will remain for the foreseeable future, national in scope,”[18] suggesting that a global government is unjustifiable because it is impractical at this time. However, even Peter Singer, who is a huge proponent of a global government with jurisdiction and enforcement power, agrees that we should not rush into federalism and instead suggests “a pragmatic, step-by-step approach to greater global governance.”[19] So, while Kymlicka successfully argues the point that “democratic politics is the politics in the vernacular,”[20] wherein citizens debate in the self-interest of their own nations and states, with those who speak their language, and without undermining the state’s accountability to its citizens; by drawing from his redefinition of “community of fate,” it can be shown that people within one state are more likely to feel a sense of obligation to citizens of their own state as oppose to another because they share a common identity, and I also think it serves to bolster Held’s concept of “multiple citizenship” within a “cosmopolitan model of democracy.”[21] Because if the global government was structured to operate on the principle of subsidiarity that Singer promotes, then citizens would still debate in the vernacular in parochial democratic bodies, and  function as democratic members of the cosmopolitan community managing issues greater than the states’ jurisdiction. Thus, it does appear that a practical and responsive global government can be conceived, and to potentially be structured to function in a way that responds to Kymlicka’s very serious and relevant concerns. What remains is to establish what obligation we as citizens of this planet have in terms of a global government.

Kymlicka astutely asserts that people in a community of fate feel a unique obligation to one another that they do not share with people of other communities of fate. However, entailed within that assertion is the implicit claim that there is not currently a global community of fate, and I disagree with that assumption because I believe it can be shown that we do. It would nonetheless be foolish to assume that we feel the same obligation to people that we have never met as we do with residents of our neighborhood. Yet, although a person living in Tripoli would not be obligated to prevent or promote the construction of a road in Denver, or vice-versa, because the construction of a single road is of little consequence to the other party, promoting or preventing total world annihilation, say from nuclear war, is quite a different story because the consequence of such an event is of great consequence to both parties. This makes intuitive sense because people tend to acknowledge that we as citizens of the planet have an obligation not to unjustly deprive people of their right to life. So, while Kymlicka is correct in asserting that parochial communities of fate share certain obligations, it is also the case that there are varying degrees of obligation depending on the circumstance in question. Thus, when issues have global ramifications and something can be done to prevent that which we share obligations to prevent; those who have a choice in the prevention of it also have the responsibility to prevent it.

If my argument has thus far been sound, then it follows that we as citizens of the planet have a responsibility to prevent the types of collective action problems that pose a threat to the entire globe. If that is the case, then we are responsible for the creation and implementation of some type of institution that can adequately prevent those collective action problems. While it is the case that states as sovereign entities do have the capacity to adequately address certain types of collective action problems, as has been shown, states also fall victim to the prisoner’s dilemma and have more incentive to defect than to cooperate and as such, are inadequate for addressing problems that pose a threat to the entire globe. That being the case, then the most practical alternative is to create a world government that has jurisdiction and enforcement power over states to address the types of collective action problems that pose a threat to the entire globe. An objection may be made here, one which appeals to transnational institutions, but transnational institutions have historically lacked the jurisdiction and enforcement power necessary to address these threats because states have been reluctant to relinquish their autonomy. Thus, unless we as a global community of fate decide to enhance the jurisdiction and enforcement power of “neutral third-party” transnational institutions, the only other viable option at this time to meet with our obligation is the creation of a world government composed of a federation of states, or as Held called it, a “cosmopolitan democracy.”

 

[1] Held, David. The Transformation of Political Community: Rethinking Democracy in the Context of Globalization, 87.

[2] Held, 92.

[3] Singer, Peter. One World: The Ethics of Globalization (One Atmosphere), 20.

[4] Gardiner, Steven M. A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics and the Problem of Moral Corruption, 399.

[5] Held, 106

[6] European Union. (http://europa.eu/eu-law/decision-making/procedures/index_en.htm)

[7] Singer, Peter. One World: The Ethics of Globalization, (A Better World), 200.

[8] Rawls, John. The Law of Peoples (1993), 530.

[9] Cleveland, William L. and Martin Bunton. A History of the Modern Middle East. (Westview Press, 2013), chapters 9-13.

[10] Kymlicka, Will, 125.

[11] Kymlicka, Will, 119.

[12] Kymlicka, Will, 115.

[13] Kymlicka, Will, 125.

[14] Kymlicka, Will, 124.

[15] Kymlicka, 120.

[16] Kymlicka, Will, 115.

[17] Kymlick, 121

[18] Kymlicka, 125.

[19] Singer, Peter. One World: The Ethics of Globalization, (A Better World), 200.

[20] Kymlicka, 121.

[21] Held, 107

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Global Government: A Remedy to Collective Action Problems

  1. To start with, I think the very category of “resources” is the problem, not their mismanagement. i.e. the idea that there is something called a “resource” that only exists to be exploited, is the problem. Creating a world government to manage that exploitation would not solve anything if it were still to employ the category of “resource”.

    “Currently the world is composed of sovereign states that claim to have jurisdiction and enforcement power over their citizens and their territories…”

    It is also composed of much more plurality than that, but a plurality that said sovereign states do a good job of eliminated in the process of fulfilling their plans (see James C Scott Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed)

    “For these reasons, I believe that we have a moral obligation to create a governing institution that has jurisdiction and enforcement power for the entire globe because there does not seem to be another way to manage our resources effectively.”
    –There are certainly other ways, they just involve a little more creativity and imagination.

    “The planet and all of its citizens are faced with problems that supersede the jurisdiction and enforcement power of any individual state or group of states, and currently there is no governmental agency or entity with the authority to mitigate these problems.”

    But the problem is not individuals using too much resources, it is the very existence of states and large, planetary scale organizations in the first place. Creating a “Global Government” would only increase the capacity for use/exploitation of “resources.” Better to just abolish corporations and the state. See Peter Gelderloos An Anarchist Solution to Global Warming

    “Yet, while Singer uses this example to show that there is an international law which allows suits to be brought against states for affecting other states, there still remains yet to be over-arching jurisdiction and enforcement power to stop such actions from happening in the first place.”

    There may lack formal jurisdiction of some governmental body, but I doubt that could sufficiently solve problems of climate change and pollution anyways, for reasons stated above (i.e. bigger governmental organization that supposedly has the mandate to save the planet, is going to suck up a lot of ‘resources’). Why not just recognize the illegitimacy of existing governmental bodies and respect the autonomy of individuals, collectives and cultures to sabotage the machinery that is currently destroying the planet? In other words, instead of created another level of government to try and keep existing states and corporations under control, all of which have existed as pillagers since their birth, why not just call them out for what they are and respect the autonomy and legitimacy of those who are doing the work to destroy them?

    “The most practical and imaginable form of world government in the current political environment of the 21st Century, is a federation of states, or as Held called it, a “cosmopolitan community,” a democratic community of democratic communities.”

    What about the form of government, on a global scale, laid out by James Herod in Getting Free: Creating an Association of Democratic Autonomous Neighborhoods? Or what about forms of global government, or lackthereof, that existed sustainably for thousands of years prior to the birth of the nation state amongst myriad indigenous communities? Why is it necessary to come up with some formal representative body of humans that claim to have the authority to govern the planet?

    “So, for the sake of argument, I will assume that societies and governments have not been coercively forced to become democratic, but have rather chosen of their own free-will as agents who have exercised their right to plan their own futures to become democratic societies.”

    I am curious what definition of Democratic Society you use here. I recommend checking out Gustavo Esteva’s discussion of the Democracy, constrasting radical democracy to formal democracy in his piece “The Meaning and Scope of the Current Struggle for Autonomy

    “only those who could communicate in a broad range of languages and felt comfortable enough to debate political issues would be party to the decisions made, and as such would not be just Kymlicka believes that making individuals citizens of a world government before they are ready to form one would undermine and potentially ruin the democratic process, which would entail not achieving the objectives of human rights and justice.”

    I don’t believe that “decision making” in the formal “decision making” processes of most or all governmental bodies actually constitute decisions. I don’t think decisions can be made in the abstract. For example, if I decide I am going to get out of bed in the morning, I haven’t actually made that decision until I execute the action of getting out of bed. In this way governments consistently make “decisions” that never manifest, because all the people participating in the “decision-making” only see the world from their governmental bodies and the grand majority of their “decisions” don’t go so well, and usually have to be executed with extreme violence when they don’t mesh with the realities and desires of everyday people and the environment. I recommend looking at different ways of formulating/understanding collective action that are not based in formal, written or spoken decisions, but that nonetheless happen and are, I believe, more concrete decisions.

    I highly recommend investigating the relationship between “human rights” and colonization, especially RE: Education as a human right. See the section of Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash’s Escaping Education titled “Education as a Human Right: The Trojan Horse of Recolonization.”

    “If my argument has thus far been sound, then it follows that we as citizens of the planet have a responsibility to prevent the types of collective action problems that pose a threat to the entire globe. If that is the case, then we are responsible for the creation and implementation of some type of institution that can adequately prevent those collective action problems.”

    Unless the creation of such an institution would necessitate the creation of similar collective action problems.

    “That being the case, then the most practical alternative is to create a world government that has jurisdiction and enforcement power over states to address the types of collective action problems that pose a threat to the entire globe.”

    Or, as already stated, a simpler solution would be to simply abolish the states and corporations that are currently creating collective action problems and respect the autonomy of individuals and communities to protect themselves from those de-legitimized bodies and to continue to exist as they self-determine.

    1. Cody,

      First, thank you for taking the time to read and to analyse my essay. I am humbled that you have found me worthy to pay me such an amazing compliment. I truly appreciate the critiques. Second, I am sorry that it has taken me so long to reply to you. The quarter at the University of Washington got underway very quickly so, I had to direct my energy at that. I have also started to raise money for a research project focused on Diaspora and Apartheid linked with the tourist industry and immigration in Athens this summer:

      Project;
      https://renaissancethepoet.wordpress.com/education-is-key/study-abroad-in-athens-2014/

      Fundraiser;
      http://www.gofundme.com/diaspora-and-apartheid .

      Just a little back ground on the essay that I have posted. This essay was for my Global Justice course at the UW last quarter and the prompt was to either support or refute a world government. I and my teacher felt as though I did a good job ethically supporting my claim for a global governing institution. I post all of my academic essays on here so that one, they can be read by others and two, so that I can foster discussion. So, that is why I am so happy that you have responded and responded in the manner that you have.

      Now I will do the best that I can to respond to you with as much kindness, dignity and clarity as you have shown to me, which is quite a lot.

      “To start with, I think the very category of ‘resources’ is the problem, not their mismanagement. i.e. the idea that there is something called a ‘resource’ that only exists to be exploited, is the problem. Creating a world government to manage that exploitation would not solve anything if it were still to employ the category of ‘resource’.”

      I do not know if it is possible to create a valid argument for our civilization without the category of resources because it is a definition of what we use, such as wood for homes, land for the growing of food, water for sustenance and so forth. Included in the pool of resources would also be oil, coal, nuclear energy and so on. Technically speaking, a resource is a supply of something that people use. I think that the crux of your argument here is “a resource that only exists to be exploited,” because therein lies a great collective problem; namely the “Tragedy of the Commons.” I am sure that you know the concept well, when there is no regulation that everyone who has access to the commons has the incentive to act in their own self-interests and will, in theory and has been shown by evidence, over-consume or over-tax a given resource thus, ruining it for everyone else. Thereby, given this tendency is why I believe the problem with resources, and here I agree with you, is the exploitation of them, but I disagree with you in that I believe it to be a problem of management because regardless of whether it is managed or not, it will not change the fact, that regardless of the name, we will be using something as a “resource”. So, it needs to be managed if the objective is to have a fair distribution, not only for this generation but for any other generations to follow.

      In response to my statement about the world being composed of sovereign states, you replied to me by stating; “It is also composed of much more plurality than that, but a plurality that said sovereign states do a good job of eliminated in the process of fulfilling their plans.” First, I agree with you in that there is much more plurality. For example, there are local, or parochial groups of people who currently act and should be included in the discussion of what to do on and with our planet and how we govern ourselves. This is what I was getting at when I wrote; “And policy decisions would made by what Peter Singer called the principle of “subsidiarity,” whereby issues are managed “at the lowest level capable of dealing with the problem,” these could and would potentially be the parochial groups. However, though you begin your rebuttal by making mention of the plurality of the world, the essence of this reply is in the claim that governments eliminate this plurality and I agree. I have suggested that these groups not only be included, but that they are respected and honored. I think that you have associated what I have claimed should be with what is now currently the convention, and that is not what I was arguing for.

      In response to my statement regarding a global government being the only way in the contemporary political environment to effectively manage our resources you wrote; “There are certainly other ways, they just involve a little more creativity and imagination,” but you did not offer any examples of what that government or lack thereof would look like. What it seems like is more of an ad hominem argument against me for my lack of “creativity”. I can definitely envision other methods of governing or organizing our global citizenship but with each is entailed a new set of problems. For example, let us take for starters a world with no government and each person and group interacts with a mutual self-respect and cooperation. The problems I foresee with this example is that logical conclusion of the anarchist argument is complete and utter lawlessness with no recourse for wrongs done that could be considered just. I say this because following the argument out, there could not be a judicial system that sought to be fair because that requires a government to manage and regulate its ethical framework. So, the alternative would be almost a libertarian argument whereby, I do not harm you if you do not harm me, and I owe you no obligations if I do not harm you first, but what entity ensures the prevention of harms when possible, and when not guarantees that reparations are made? And again, this situation would still not overcome the “Tragedy of the Commons” because the incentive for each individual to act in self-interests would not change and thus the management of resources would fail, and the world would be reduced to global war and neighborly conflict over scarce resources. None of which solves the problems that began this debate. To be fair, I would like to see a world wherein a government and in particular a global government was not a necessity, but unfortunately at this time, I do not believe that such a thing is possible and consider it to be more of a Utopian ideal to work toward.

      You wrote: “But the problem is not individuals using too much resources, it is the very existence of states and large, planetary scale organizations in the first place. Creating a “Global Government” would only increase the capacity for use/exploitation of “resources.” Better to just abolish corporations and the state.”

      In response to the last objection, I have shown how the eradication of governmental systems will be more harmful than good. However, I like the idea you have listed in this response, especially that you suggests that a global government would “increase the capacity for the use/exploitation of resources,” because that is the very problem that my argument was seeking to solve. If the system was not drafted in such a way to render these concerns obsolete, then it would have failed in its objective. I understand your concern, if we just grafted the system of government that we have now onto a global government apparatus, then I am sure that the problems we now have would just become more complex and difficult to remedy. However, in the drafting of this government, since one of its primary aims would be to manage resources it would necessarily have to be granted jurisdiction and enforcement power over both corporations and states to limit what is permissible, to strengthen what is obligatory, and to cease the operation of any violators of the two preceding conditions. Granted, I do not think that corporation in the sense that they are now conceived are in any way shape or form a good (normative implication intended) institution. However, I do like the idea of people being able to come together to pool resources to reach an objective. Given that definition, I think that you would agree that collective action is a good thing. However, as has been argued, there has to be an authority to institute obligations and to ensure that those obligations are met.

      In response to my discussion about international climate problems and responses when I made the claim that there is currently no institution with jurisdiction and enforcement power, but that it is clear that once a harm is done that another state can be held responsible for the harm, you wrote:

      “There may lack formal jurisdiction of some governmental body, but I doubt that could sufficiently solve problems of climate change and pollution anyways, for reasons stated above (i.e. bigger governmental organization that supposedly has the mandate to save the planet, is going to suck up a lot of ‘resources’). Why not just recognize the illegitimacy of existing governmental bodies and respect the autonomy of individuals, collectives and cultures to sabotage the machinery that is currently destroying the planet? In other words, instead of created another level of government to try and keep existing states and corporations under control, all of which have existed as pillagers since their birth, why not just call them out for what they are and respect the autonomy and legitimacy of those who are doing the work to destroy them?”

      I think that I have both responded earlier in my reply and within the original essay as to why I believe we should institute a global government to address global climate problems, but I could be mistaken, so I will try to make clear my argument here. The issues facing us globally, especially in terms of the causes of climate change are not contained to anyone particular state, or continent for that matter, will not be remedied by a reduction in government. The claims that you have previously put forward, I hope that I have responded to clearly in this regard. already. The removal of government would at this point be equivalent to a complete deregulation of all markets and this would lead to the most atrocious outcomes imaginable in terms of its impact on the environment. I will however concede the fact that the current structure of government is inadequate to address these issues, and has been argued elsewhere in this response, if the new government is not drafted appropriately, then nothing will change, but rather get worse as you have astutely asserted. I will also agree that at least some governmental institutions now in existence came into being illegitimately, but to suggest that no government since before the state emerged after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 has been legitimate, that is has not been approved of and supported by the population, I cannot agree to that. For example, when the Wafd party came into power in Egypt in the 1920s, or the United States government in the 1770s, both of those and many others were supported and approved of by a mass of the population. Now, if you are suggesting that everyone within a given area must approve of a particular government for it to be legitimate, then with that type of constraint, there is nothing that will either be right or wrong with any form of population organization or institution because consensus is nearly impossible to achieve in all matters. I do however, disagree that when a government such as the United States begins to lose the support and approval of its people and by extension its legitimacy, but instead of allowing a transition in the form of government as was guaranteed by the constitution and asserted by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, then there is a serious problem. and when that obtains, then I completely agree with you that a state and its government is not legitimately in power.

      I think the second half of the argument in your last response needs some unpacking before it can be fully addressed. First, you said the autonomy of individuals, collectives and cultures should be respected. This statement I find mostly agreeable, but for the sake of argument, let us suppose that one’s culture has a norm that requires the oppression of others and the exploitation of resources (not unheard of or ahistorical),should that culture be respected? I think that it should be respected, but that its practices should not be tolerated, if those practices cause the harm of innocent others. However, save for something of that nature occurring, I agree with you in that the autonomy of individuals, collectives and groups should be respected. However, I disagree that there should not be an entity which has some authority over those individuals, collectives and cultures if they do or intend to harm others in some way. Next, I believe your assertion is that these individuals, collectives and cultures are sabotaging the machinery that is destroying the planet, and that they should be respected for their actions. If this is correct, I only partly agree with you because I feel that it depends on how and why these individuals, collectives and cultures are acting. As I have just argued, if they are harming innocent others, then I believe that to be wrong. If there is another means that is open to them, but still they choose to harm others, then that is simply using people as a means to an ends and that is wrong. If however, they are not hurting innocent others, and in the case that they are, there is no other option open to them and they are acting in accordance with the Utilitarian principle of achieving the greatest good, then perhaps I may agree. But I am not sure, I would have to know the particulars to calculate the Utilitarian calculus for each and every particular instance (impossible, but agreeable). I am weary of the power vacuum that is created when the power structures that maintain order in society are destroyed whether by a minority or otherwise, without something ready to takes its place. The utter chaos and death that would follow such a shift in the United States power structure after such an incident would be catastrophic. I am not saying that is not what is necessary for such a transition to occur, I am only saying that even if it would make the world a better place that I do not know if such an action could be justified. So, should those who are attempting to destroy the system be respected? My response is that it depends.

      In response to your query about the type of Democracy that I thought this global government would have, I simply thought it to be understood that it would be one wherein each individual had one vote. However, I must admit that I am not a political theorist yet, and I do not exactly know how that will work. The point was that in terms of fairness, the best form of government to meet that end which has been conceived of yet, seems to be democratic in nature. Now, I am sure that you will assert, as I would, that democratic governments and processes have the potential to be undermined, say for example, by corporation providing so much money to the representatives that they no longer answer to the population, but to the corporations. Or for example, the advertising that is used via the media to both control the agendas of political debate and to shape public opinion about the representatives that we elect. I think that these problems emerged because of the incentive to have them emerge and the incentive not to change them, but that they are not problems without solutions and as such, does not undermine the argument for a democratic form of government.

      “I don’t believe that ‘decision making’ in the formal ‘decision making’ processes of most or all governmental bodies actually constitute decisions. I don’t think decisions can be made in the abstract. For example, if I decide I am going to get out of bed in the morning, I haven’t actually made that decision until I execute the action of getting out of bed. In this way governments consistently make ‘decisions’ that never manifest, because all the people participating in the ‘decision-making’ only see the world from their governmental bodies and the grand majority of their ‘decisions’ don’t go so well, and usually have to be executed with extreme violence when they don’t mesh with the realities and desires of everyday people and the environment. I recommend looking at different ways of formulating/understanding collective action that are not based in formal, written or spoken decisions, but that nonetheless happen and are, I believe, more concrete decisions.”

      I think that your argument here needs a little clarification because it is not the truth that decisions made by governments are not followed by action, that is simply not correct. However, I think that point you are trying to make here is that governments have exhibited the tendency to make decisions that are supposed to be helpful to the population or to the environment that do not materialize into concrete actions. A great example of this is the Keyoto Protocol, which was to limit carbon emission that the United States was first party to and then defected, and also the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which outlawed such things as torture that the also neglected to ratify. In this sense, yes, I completely agree with you that the so-called decision that are being made are not being followed through with actions. But to assert that no actions are following decision is not correct, because just take one example; Obama Care that was a decision that was followed through with action. I do see your point loud and clear though.

      It is an ugly aspect of human organization that the military has become the strong arm of politics, but it has. And you are correct to assert that it is wrong to achieve a government’s ends through this means when diplomacy fails, especially when it is for resources or something of such a trivial nature that is not to save the live of innocent people being harmed by a dictator or a tyrant. It is true, that there are people who just want to be in control and will do what they believe they have to do in order to achieve those ends, even if that means harming the innocent. If there were no military, could those lives be prevented from harm? I am not sure, but I think that is precisely what a military force should be for, the protection of the innocent, not the strong arm of politics.

      Now in response to the last claim in you response, I do not know if a decision could be made without either talking or writing, so if you would clarify this point I would greatly appreciate it.

      I am glad that you have responded to my essay in such a mature and educated fashion. I do not know or think that all of my assertions are correct and that is precisely why I am in school You have given me a lot to think about and as I have the time I will be reading and analyzing the links that you have posted in your response. I just wanted to give you a response because I felt that you deserved the same respect that you have shown to me. i have a good feeling that you and I are both going to be working together for a long time as we all try to figure out how we want our world to work and operate. I am glad that we are friends my man, this has been a very enlightening and informative exercise in philosophic and political exchange.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s