For fifty-four years the world has had a
government, but it has worked badly.
The date was 1945, of the explosion of Hiroshima.
The government was the United States of America.
By a government is meant a congeries of officials who are
able to effectuate their policies upon the people of an area -
here the whole world. If the officials are connected and their
policies are even partially operative, this is still a kind of
government, and if the officials are at odds, in factions, mutually
hostile, unresponsive to one another, even engaged
in "civil war," and if their policies conflict
and affect only some part of the people and their activities,
still a world government exists.
Call it a confederation, or a kind of Holy Roman Empire, or
the Axis or Allies, or the quasi-anarchic state
of the Iroquois Confederation, or the divided
rule of Church and State in the European
Middle Ages, or the United Nations and the many
international organizations and groups in touch with it.
Great Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal gave up
practically all of their imperial pretensions within
a generation of World War II. Since there was
still no world government to pick up their
jurisdictions, the newly independent nations
usually degenerated into economic depression and
Government begins when a will and a force and a purse
combine to bring to a group some minimum of law and order.
World government is the same with regard to all people and the
whole world. Americans have had little awareness of
how much their lives have been affected by the
ramshackle world government.
Under conditions existing at the end of the twentieth century,
world government consisted of a hodge-podge of institutions,
agencies, multilateral treaties composing international law,
international law proper, multi-national corporations,
individual billionaires, and self-designated national
peace-keepers or enforcers such as NATO or the USA alone.
They operated under such names as the United Nations
(U.N.) Charter, the Geneva Agreements on Trade and Tariffs
(GATT), and many another agreement - to observe human rights,
ban nuclear bomb proliferation, restrict whale-hunting, and
govern the Antarctic Continent.
Or the Ford Foundation. Or Amnesty International.
The body of international law was proclaimed and
found with judicial institutions at the Hague, Holland,
a pale but elegant version of domestic juridical
systems of the better nation-state type.
There came into being a World Bank and other financial institutions,
independent of the U.N. system and exercising a limited hegemony
over the financial and economic affairs of many poor countries.
The United Nations Organization was an admission that
solutions of particular international problems had to be universal;
but the ruling formula it offered was a weak confederation,
in which good will and opposition to prostrate Nazism,
Fascism, and Nipponism were to suffice in
arriving at general policies for the world.
Small help was afforded the many new nations,
nor were they controlled for their own or the common good.
The collapse of the Soviet Union between 1989 and
1993 should have caused a quantavolution
in world government as it did in the power structure
of the world, but the world outside mainly watched in amazement.
Once again, as in 1919, and as in 1945, the
United States failed to strike for goal.
In 1945 it had the power, with the Bomb,
to dominate Earth and set the conditions for an operative world
society of peoples. But it slipped into its old ways.
It let its allies keep their empires, insisted
upon national sovereignty, the veto, and let
prospective recalcitrants belong to the Security Council
of the United Nations, also with a veto. It failed
to mobilize the U.N. as its special instrument,
and to give it large tasks to perform;
the Soviet Union stayed in the game only to spoil it.
With the USA and USSR using their veto power
in the small Security Council as a weapon in their Cold War,
and with a weakly empowered General Assembly
rendered more ridiculous by a membership of vastly unequal
size and wealth but given an equal vote,
the U.N. was hobbled and helpless.
The U.S. extended worldwide and to outer space.
It made commitments everywhere, including
at the South Pole, at the bottom of the oceans as well, and
throughout the atmosphere. Its material and human
obligations became such, in recent
years that, beginning in 1942, one may say,
no day passed when the sum of national government activities
beyond its territorial bounds did not approach
the level of its involvements in the U.S. and with the U.S. people.
Sometimes the United States was indeed a weak
world government, less the Soviet Bloc and China.
Had it a one-world policy, backed firmly by the threat
of the Bomb, it could have prevailed. Certainly its governing
influence was stronger and more universal
than that of the U.N. itself.
American troops, planes, ships circled the globe and stood at
hundreds of points of the map, the strongest force
at these places. At the United Nations Assembly and
in the U.N. Security Council, and for a political
generation, the U.S. could swing practically any vote
of the Assembly, the Council, and the various affiliated
organizations such as the World Health Organization,
UNESCO (the arts and culture organization from which
the USA resigned because it perceived threats to the
freedom of the press), and the International Labor
Organization, in its favor. The Communist governments
could on occasion veto, abstain, denounce, or
Unlike many governments of the world, no member
of the U.N., no matter how dissident or weak, was deprived of
free speech and a vote, or of the right to back away from
any imposition upon its "sovereignty,"
even if it was a corrupt and criminal gang,
oppressing an impoverished and miserable people.
The U.S. government found this situation acceptable:
it could run the world rather much as it wished
by the use of military force, worldwide
intelligence and foreign services, prowling business
corporations given free license, bankers
in charge of the "Almighty Dollar" with vast lending
powers, the Christian Churches generally, and
the lion's share of worldwide media: movies,
news services, radio, and television, both as to
distribution systems and to production of content.
Until the early 1970's, every government in
the world might covet and employ its sovereignty on the streets of
its country, but the USA could intrude deviously and
did patrol its boundaries.
The world rulers included multi-national corporations,
a hundred of which earned altogether more revenue
than the total receipts of Third World countries
(the Tiers Monde is a French coinage for poor countries).
These multinationals constituted, by themselves and
with their associations, pressure groups,
operating at the global level and at the seats of
individual governments, in New York,
Washington, London, etc.
They could operate more effectively than their own
governments abroad -- speaking of companies such as
Dutch Shell, headquartered in London, that controlled
40% of Nigeria's huge oil production, and
stood by while the civil liberties of the people
there were trashed by military rulers.
The Southern Peru Copper Corporation, owned by
U.S. companies, enveloped the city of Ilo, Peru, with a
permanent sick-making cloud of acrid smoke
from its smelter.
Union Carbide's Indian subsidiary accidentally
released toxic pesticides that killed
over three thousand people of Bhopal, India,
disabling over months, years, decades, scores of
thousands. What would have ruined the largest company
in America cost Union Carbide less than
a billion dollars. Individual penalties were insignificant.
United Technologies eliminated 33,000 jobs in the U.S.
between 1990 and 1995 while adding 15,000 jobs abroad.
Making its famous jeans could profit the Levi-Straus
company only if moved abroad. The flexibility of the
"corporate branch of world government" tended
ever more strongly to disemploy the
First World in favor of the Third World.
The anarchistic corporate oligarchy of the world
was blessed by new lightning communications.
Like the internet, the world economy connected
everybody, but nobody was in charge.
Brazil's pyramid of wealth and poverty was steeper
than America's or Britain's, but the difference was not one that
could avoid reshapement forever. Brazil's
government, always prone to foreign influence,
despite its huge democratic electorate, natural
wealth and industries, was a victim, hardly a force,
in world affairs. Its economy, as events near the end of the
twentieth century disclosed, could be and was
prey to the savaging of speculators far from its shores,
sometimes conniving with Brazilian officials.
For instance, in 1999, globalist
George Soros was erroneously accused
on the internet and in the press of arranging with a
Brazilian executive of his firm to take appointment as
Economics Minister of Brazil, after having purchased
great sums of the Brazilian currency at panic prices, and
promptly upon appointment of having taken
steps to demonstrate that the government would
not default on its obligations,
thus sending the Real soaring.
The critical point is not whether Soros did so act,
but that he could have so acted: as the Italian saying went,
"Se non é vero, é ben trovato.",
"If it's not true, it could just as well be."
Ungovernable elements were let to assume control over
world markets. In the absence of laws to the contrary -
national or international - bankers and brokers
situated on Wall Street and its equivalents in most nations -
or sheltered in little financial bordellos,
spit-in-the-ocean nation-states - hurtled trillions of
dollars around the world at not quite the speed of light,
over $2.5 trillions per day in currency dealing,
and billions more among stock and bond markets
For blatantly selfish purposes, they could and did
bring down governments, trash national currencies, and
damage millions of investors.
The governments, showing their corrupt side,
facilitated the speculators.
In 1996, research uncovered such facts as this:
the 358 largest personal fortunes in the world
exceeded the total assets of the
2,500,000,000 poorest persons on Earth,
45% of all humanity.
And in 1998 ~7% of the world's
money movements came from capital flight,
illegal avoidance of taxes, and illegal drugs.
Russia was exporting hugely and its people suffering much,
but half of its income stayed abroad in
private and government accounts.
Corruption, like much else of the new world order,
For a long political generation, U.S. policies,
arms, money, and ideas ruled or determined
some of the behavior of the peoples of the world,
including America's foes, the Soviet Union and the People's
Republic of China. The U.S., with NATO, ultimately brought the
USSR down in economic and political disorder and failure,
forty-five years after the end of World War II.
China, with over a billion people, one quarter
of humanity, after forty years of erratic communism,
saw a new light and began to privatize, capitalize and
produce at prodigious rates. Echoing the credo of
seventeenth century Quakers, Prime Minister Zhu Rongji
had a prescription for China's recession in 1999:
"We should advocate hard work and plain living and
building our country through thrift."
The new situation did not change the role of the U.S. much.
Other nations pushed themselves into the worldwide
battles, so that the USA lost control
of the world's forces, assemblies, finances, production, and
"hearts and minds." At the same time, in the mid-nineties,
the USA was spending on military programs
$260 billions yearly, while all other NATO
members together spent $150 billions and Russia
$80 billions. The USA had its chance, and,
although it did not flunk, came out of class with a
Much would have been different were there a second party -
a counter-party to the sovereignty-party in the world.
Earth's communist parties became progressively more nationalist,
instead of going the Marxist way of
"Workers of the World Unite!"
They acted as mutually unfriendly totalitarian states,
China against the Soviet Union,
Albania against Yugoslavia against the Soviet Union,
Vietnam versus China.
As World War II ended, world federalist parties
were attempted, but withered in blasts of the Cold War. In the
Soviet Union, world federalists were considered traitors, and in the
United States they were usually lampooned, and in some
quarters, such as the Chicago Tribune newspaper, and
in the Joe McCarthy fragment of Congress, harassed.
Some fifty organizations produced world constitutions
after World War II, the best of these being perhaps product of the
Committee to Frame a World Constitution of the
University of Chicago under the leadership of Robert Maynard Hutchins and
Giuseppe Borgese. Attempts to translate the Constitution into a
world assembly, intended to "enact" it "virtually," failed.
The international bureaucrats (nearly 100,000 in number), were
tamed by political vetting of their home regimes, and by fat life
styles. No opposition party in a true sense could be regarded as
other then "treasonable" on the world stage and
many nations would not permit world unionists civil rights.
(Iran imprisoned and killed many of the country's Bahai's,
The U.S. was far from "all bad." The constitutions and rights that it
afforded its defeated enemies were exemplary. It supplied
impetus and resources to the world movement on behalf of
human rights. On occasion, acting against its own
short-term material interests, it embargoed exports and imports,
raised or lowered tariffs, and withheld loans, to
protect democratic movements and their leaders from
their oppressive governments.
Usually these operations did not succeed - in Cuba, Timor
(Indonesia), Iran, China, North Korea, the Soviet Union, apartheid
South Africa, for instance - whether because of the intense
nationalism of the dominant groups and elite, or because of a
failure of other nations to collaborate.
Moreover, so selective were these cases (yes in Kuwait-Iraq, no in
Argentina, etc.) and so obvious were the prejudices and selfishness
of the American government's decisions, that the cry of
"interference with our sovereignty" could still be counted upon to
protect every indecency.
Americans followed a morally speckled course of action;
generally they would stand off, as exploitation and
abuses proliferated, but intervene by diplomacy,
economics, propaganda, and force when
"American interests" were threatened.
It is a wonder, given this history, that
scholars and diplomats, like Hans Morgenthau and
Henry Kissinger, both Jewish refugees,
can have acquired high intellectual standing for
essentially reinventing the Machiavellian wheel of the
"national interest" for a nation that now was supplied
with wings for flying the whole world around
bringing peace and plenty.
Too, in accord with the oldest American tradition, American
foreign policy leaders assumed that international cooperation - as
with the League of Nations and United Nations - was basically
contradictory to the national interest. This was one side of
isolationism, the other side being nonintervention. The two sides
reduced the capacity of the government to act and
respond to foreign events.
Understandably, after U.S. non-intervention in the 1930's
against Italian aggression in Ethiopia,
the Japanese in China, and
German and Italian aid to the Franco forces in Spain,
the militarist powers believed that the USA
could not pull itself together on the international scene.
Both the North Korean (1950) and the
Iraqi (1990) governments were led to believe that
American policy was not to interfere in the matters of
South Korea and Kuwait. The Serbian and
Bosnian Serb leaders thought the same as they began
to destroy the Bosnian Croats and Muslim in 1992-5,
only to have the United States lead
an overpowering NATO aggregation against
them. The U.S. still gave ample indication that it was
adamantly opposed to aggression of the People's Republic
of China against the Republic of Taiwan.
President Bill Clinton, the most modern in culture and outlook
of Twentieth Century Presidents, understood
"the inexorable logic of globalization,"
as he put it in a San Francisco speech of February 26, 1999.
Globalization, he pointed out, could not in itself
bring freedom and prosperity to ordinary people of the world.
Nor automatically avoid environmental and public health disasters.
He cautioned against isolationism and named
as challenges of the Twenty-first century: building a
peaceful world, bringing Russia and China into the
international system as open, prosperous, stable nations,
warding off terrorism, drugs and climate change,
creating a world financial system to benefit
ordinary people, and extending freedom.
We could see a trend of thought here that could
logically go beyond globalization into
world government. For, globalization
might well destroy the world faster than any number of
ethnic disorders, unless it were harnessed by a preponderance of
world political power and driven toward a set of
goals promising a universal sharing of well-being,
culture, and governance.
Still, regularly the USA acted
too weakly or too late when strong intervention was
needed and suffered heavy costs to little avail.
The NATO drive to break the Serbian grip
on Albanian-peopled Kosovo was exemplary:
the relentless air attack of 1999
was foretold in the reluctant exercise of international
controls in the region for a full decade.
Although the dominant power, the U.S. seemed to be
awaiting some Supreme Power to act first.
Yet this supreme power would have to be divine,
because consistently the US government
rejected strong-hearted efforts at establishing an
effective, even limited and partial world government.
The world, with all of its small and great devils of
global inferno, seemed somehow to prosper
during this half century of American predominance.
Everywhere the "victory of capitalism" was followed
up the gangplanks by crowds of greedy speculators
whose prime virtue was that, like the multinational
corporate managers, they were ready to sell out
their own country, but whose prime sin was the junk that
they sold it for. They were, furthermore, blind
to the leaks of the world ship whose decks they recklessly
tramped, whose steering wheel was sporadically manned
by the genus of Marx Brothers.
Moreover, so incompetent was this post-War world that,
whenever the USA was squeezed and forced out of a place,
something worse came in - socialist, fundamentalist, or fascist -
while these countries suffered internally and in world affairs -
Eastern Europe, China, India, Iran, Cuba, Vietnam,
Central America, Peru, Chile, Lebanon, Somalia.
Nor could the U.N. replace the US
and bring about strong positive effects.
Every couple of years the U.N. introduced
some urgent topic in a special congress - women's rights,
population pressures, global warming, urban
crowding - attended by delegates from all governments and -
allowed to convene, but segregated from the official
delegates, so as not to contaminate them -
representatives and experts of non-governmental
organizations. Half a century of such conferences
piled up pre-conference materials, conference proceedings, and
reports thereof that, although they could not compete in
volume with the Federal Register of the United States,
did crowd bookshelves around the world.
In retrospect, the underlying and semi-conscious
motive appears to have been to allow people to pursue
delusions and let off steam. The leaders of all
of these groups let themselves be invited and consulted
and, when they engaged in political battles, fought them
as roving bands concerned with a single cause "X".
They went a-hunting but each would stalk only
his special prey. All the world's elites
pretended to recognize the interdependence of states and
peoples, and to be appalled at regression and disorder in all spheres of
value, yet they appeared one and
all selfish and parochial.
The idea of sovereignty gripped the political mind
everywhere, as suicidal as the idea of sovereignty was
proving itself to be. How else can one explain
the terrible weakness of the many petty movements
of world union or federalism, in the face of the immense and
widespread activity on behalf of special good causes?
If all of these special movements were to bend their ideologies and
lend a fraction of their leadership and resources to a universal
world federation party (recognizing simultaneously
universal local cultural autonomy),
they could surmount the deadly opposition of the
national political elites.
Many foreign governments looked to the USA for leadership, but
this, when forthcoming, was as short-sighted and non-committal as
the leadership of America internally on such problems. The
diplomats were of the same stodgy circle, the CIA unchanging, the
politicians in charge of foreign relations reacting to events in local
terms. "All politics are local," was the credo of American
politicians, with rare exceptions, meaning that survival in politics
depended upon kowtowing to hard constituency interests.
The facts, as "the American century" drew to a close, were
The population of the world, already miserable except in
cosmopolitan and local enclaves, was at five billions and would be
doubled to ten billions in the life span of a girl and boy of the day -
if they would live so long. No adequate policy or means of
enforcing policy existed. Zero population growth now characterized
Italy, Germany, and advanced middle-class enclaves elsewhere.
Everywhere, breeding was fastest within that element of the
population whose personal responsibility was unhappily
least reliable and where the social costs
of raising children to equal opportunity levels
were highest. Negative exponential levitation costs
afflicted the most deprived sections of the population, and
hampered the whole range of aspirations of all societies,
whether first or third world.
"Zero world population growth!"
was the world's desperate need.
Population pressures were at the bottom of the most
severe world crises: migrants, immigrants, and
refugees (1 in 40 people of the world),
homeless refugees (23 millions); wars,
massacres, even genocides; spreading famine; dwindling
water supplies; low national income, hence little funding
for public utilities; unpayable levels of national and personal
indebtedness; deep unemployment (25% of the world labor supply);
swelling crowds in cities and villages; rising crime rates; child
labor; prostitution and slavery of children; 300 million people
homeless and on the streets in 1996; 1.2 billion people existing in
makeshift shacks or ruins; rampant diseases and plagues; illiteracy;
the immense and ever-growing drug traffic; repressive governments;
atmospheric and ground pollution; soil depletion and desertification;
etc. AIDS alone, identified as late as the 1980's, killed off a million
people in 1996 and infected 20 millions, who could not but die
within a few years. Hiroshi Nakajima, of the World Health
Organization named over 30 new diseases that emerged in the last
two decades, and for which there was in most cases no vaccine,
treatment or cure by the end of the twentieth century.
Most of the world's 170 nations suffered regional, ethnic, or
religious cleavages, often all three together. Two-score United
Nations Peacekeeping Operations were on-going in 1994, involving
one-fifth of the world's five billion people. Ted Gurr in the 1980's
identified 174 sub-nations struggling for autonomy or independence
and beset by invidious and often ruthless discrimination along the
spectrum of values. Nations that seemed to be economically
progressive, such as Venezuela, entered, like the U.S., into a period
of enlarging disparities between rich and poor, accompanied by a
loss of middle class population.
The cost of addressing and treating any one of these problems,
isolated from population control, showed itself to be not only high
but ineffective at any price. The population problem itself would be
easy to handle within two generations, if the will were present and
proper means of enforcement, such as economic incentives, small
personal compensatory grants, and limitations on
birthing, were employed.
The Roman Catholic Church, centralized at the Vatican, and yet
active world-wide and abetted by conservative ideological parties,
was the primary obstacle to the world movement
to bring world crowding under control. Ironically, the
Church had been for its first thousand years largely indifferent to
birth control, but its obsession on the subject was born and
enlarged when non-Catholic bellwethers of elite thought,
Thomas Malthus warned of overpopulation, and
Herbert Spencer espoused the survival of the fittest.
A strange phenomenon could be observed in the latter part of the
century: as if to confirm in the most subtle way the population
principle enunciated by Malthus a century and a half
earlier, that famine, disease and war would bring
the population problem under terrible natural
(dys)controls. The fertility of the world's males steeply
declined. In both East and West Hemispheres, and in North
and South, among rich and poor alike, the semen and sperm
production of the average individual male diminished,
the organs of reproduction were frequently disabled, and
the invisible sperms were observed under microscopy to be
increasingly crippled and fragmented.
The causes were mysterious, but probably artificial,
whether having to do with low-level radioactivity,
electromagnetism, or one or more of the thousands of
chemical compounds that might be sneaking into
the food and drink of mankind everywhere or absorbed
by the skin. Since all of these possible causes were artificial, and
many of them created in response to population pressures
on the food and water supply or the diseases brought on
by other chemicals, they could be regarded as confirmation
the Malthus law in the form of "artificial disease controls."
But this development was a trivial irony.
Direct Action, even a year without births, was the way.
Every public speaker should have ended his speech,
no matter what the subject, catonically, with
"Zero world population growth!"
As matters stood, China in the 1990's was changing from a grain
exporter to an importer and would within one political generation
require more grain imports than all the world exported in 1995. If
China's industrial pace continued, the atmosphere would be even
more rapidly polluted so that the ice caps might melt more rapidly,
climates would change, and some of the most populous,
richest and beautiful shores of the world would
forever be sunk beneath the sea.
Too, with the industrialization of China and India and
Mexico andBrazil, the timber, mineral and metal
resources of the world would disappear promptly.
Yet nowhere in heaven is it written that the ordinary Chinese
citizen, or African or Hindu or Indonesian or
Mexican citizen was inferior to or deserved less chances
to fulfill a decent life than an American or any
class of the well-sheltered and well-to-do people
of the world. Just as America's problems were the world's problems,
the world's problems were American problems.
World government seemed to be the one decent way out: with
powers to establish and enforce population reductions and
limits everywhere, to denominate and evaluate some kind
of dollar as the world's currency, to enforce the dismantling of
nuclear arsenals, to prevent and halt ethnic wars,
to levy and collect charges upon every government, and
to raise an integrated world army capable of
a number of prompt and simultaneous operations.
Whether the government should be called the United Nations, the
World Union, or by another name was immaterial;
its central location should be in a new poor place
in the world, not a tourist trap: Cuba or Malta
would do quite well. Its structure should recognize
the dominant powers of the global government of today and
tame them for the universal good.
There was no reason, to begin with, why the U.S. Constitution could
not be extended judicially to bar American
multi-national corporations and other American groups from
treating foreigners abroad in ways that would be forbidden
by the courts in the USA itself.
This would affect the "bottom line" profit fetish
in the short run, but it would be the only way to go for the
future, and a new world government would have to adopt
this rule generally, first by universalizing
the U.S. practice, and thereafter by means of an adjunct to the
world legislature, a legislative body
to be composed of representatives of the functional (corporate)
groups of the world.
To assure the success of world changes, the United States,
all nations, would require radical internal changes.
The costs would not only be for preventive measures, but
also for remedial steps and distributive reforms.
The U.S. and other richer nations, and therefore
global union, would work toward a world where every
person everywhere had equal chances to make something
of personal life, including the necessity to volunteer energy
on behalf of the general good. If reasonable progress
were not made toward this end, the troubles of the world, and
of the USA, would continue indefinitely and worsen.
We speak of a large dedication to the future - akin to the
mobilization of the American people during World War II.
This could not happen without heavy levies upon
the power-holding wealthier classes of most societies.
Swiss and other banks would need to transfer to the world
all corruptly originated deposits, with interest.
For its own sake and for world welfare, the USA
would have to cut back heavily and selectively
on its GNP, and invest as much as a quarter of it
in worldwide improvement programs: to limit world
population, to give everyone born into the world
a minimal decent standard stipend of the several
great values of welfare, respect and autonomy, and
to engage in world improvement projects such as the
restocking of ocean life, and the conversion of world
armies into disarmed service corps.
Monetary terms are misleading, but the transformations in world
welfare to be expected from a cluster of measures would suffice if
applied over several years of time:
What would the world's people require to live on
after the year 2000? They would need, at one room apiece,
500 million more rooms, with light, heat,
toilet and kitchen facilities. They would need,
in anno 2005 $300 apiece
to keep the room furnished and clean per year.
They would need 2,500 calories of food
per person per day. They would need $300
worth of clothing and shoes per year, each.
They would need 1/300 of a medical doctor and
1/300 of a dentist. Also 1/10 of an
automobile apiece, 10 train and bus tickets
for 100-mile trips or more, and 400
short rides. They would need the cost of two weeks of vacation,
1/5 the cost of keeping a person in school,
1/5 to keep another at home, and 1/10
of the cost of keeping someone in bed or at hospital.
They would need sundries - cosmetics, soap, razors, etc.
They would need reading and writing materials at about $100 a year.
They would need 1/5 of a telephone,
1/6 of a television set and 1/5 of a computer system.
They would need large consumer projects such as
cinemas, libraries, and sports arenas.
Strangely, if you were to add this all up, it comes to
the budget of an American at the officially certified 1995
poverty level per man, woman, and child.
If that were, say, $4,000, then the whole
well-organized world population could exist decently and
carefully on ten trillion dollars with all
the micro-property it needs, embracing also
its other micro-assets, such as small land-holdings,
workshops, machines, leftover material and goods, and cash.
Included, too, were the large-scale production and
The sum of $4,000 happens to be about
$3,000 or so less than the American
national per capita personal income. It is
ten times the Thailand and five times the Philippine average, and
forty times the Albanian mean, but these dollar
statistics mean little as they stand.
Americans would not suffer with four-sevenths their
actual average per capita income, if the income were properly
distributed and the consumption-production mix changed. With
alterations in taste achieved, people could be better off.
Paleo-poverty would disappear.
Neo-poverty (the anxieties, harassments, fast living)
would diminish sharply. Physical health would
improve. So would average intelligence.
Perhaps one may propose, then, without offending everybody, a
heavy cut in the apparent average American income. Too, in the
German, Japanese, British, Italian, Dutch,
Austrian, Swedish, Czech, Korean, and other
apparent incomes. The cut-back would not be unmanageable or
distressing. It all depends on what is cut out of production and
what production substitutions are made. It also
requires lowering the birthrate among the
most prolific and least able.
Compared with the problems of transferring Americans
to a full war footing in eighteen months,
as happened in 1941 and 1942,
the transformation to a world-saving economy
here and now would be less difficult.
To reach back into American history for another comparison,
the actual situation of the American people
in the years 1934 to 1941 of the Great Depression
would be comparable to the proposed world-saving operation,
which would, moreover, take care of the least fortunate Americans,
and bring about the release among the educable
elements among all classes of a cultural achievement and
personal fulfillment that would not only be comparable,
but indubitably superior to any renaissance in world history.
To give an idea of ways to go, the following suggestions have
been offered, with regard to the United States.
Similar changes would be required of all nations.
World collaboration would be imperative,
but this may be presumed to occur in proportion
as the sincerity, integrity, and self-sacrifice of the
Americans became indisputable.
Establish a universal network of food and cloth depots
from which would be distributed to every inhabitant who stopped by,
a decent minimum ration at public expense.
Cut back universally the individual-serving part of the
automobile industry and all that is affected by the industry.
Expand rental systems to eliminate two-thirds of the personally
owned autos, boats, airplanes, machines, larger tools, and other
reusable movable property.
Treble mass transit capacity, and supply all productive settlements
with public transportation.
Cut back all packaging, fashion changes, and advertising
by three quarters.
Extend recycling and reuse of all materials by one-fourth,
especially in the construction industry.
Build two hundred new cities to supplement the old ones or even
to replace parts of them wherever the
costs justify the change-over.
Cut back military expenditures by two-thirds again,
from 1996-7 levels.
Cut back all consumer energy consumption by one-fifth, in
addition to whatever is saved above.
Encourage multiple-unit dwellings under condominium plans and
discourage scattered houses and large tenements.
Block the expansion of all cities except along mass transit lines
connecting cities. (Suburban social costs are grossly excessive, and
individually their satisfactions are illusory.)
Set energy and materials limits upon all new industrial design in
housing, furnishings, factories, and offices.
Introduce education without walls (correspondence schools
using electronic multi-media, project teams, and free schools
supported by personal vouchers given by the state),
to cover over one-half the total educational system,
and convert many recovered facilities and
grossly large suburban houses into recreational centers,
hospitals and clinics, and neighborhood informal law courts.
Expand the medical force by 500 per cent and place it upon the
competitive market for medical services; encourage three-fifths of
all medical personnel to engage at the front lines of need,
at home and abroad. Encourage the prescription of
generic and non-patented drugs.
Abolish useless jobs - in government and non-governmental
sectors alike - saving all the costs connected with them; support "do
it yourself" production, and promote forms of recreation that use
only human energy, and are performed locally.
Guide population size to an ultimate maximum of 200 million
people for the country, instead of the 350 millions of people
predicted for the next century, and work the world's population
back from 5 to 4 billions. Begin with a "World Birth-free Year."
Bring new types of windmills and solar-energy devices into full
production for use throughout the world.
In sum and substance, enforce zero world population growth
and create a minimum decent standard of living for all.
Stress decentralized and efficient energy sources. Most
measures relate most recognizably to the richer countries,
but can readily be translated into poor nation policies.
Proportional sacrifice is an evident policy.
The full political, intellectual, moral, economic and police power
of a new American elite should be brought to bear upon
the United States and the rest of the world.
One condition should be absolutely clear from the beginning:
the elite of world union must act with spontaneous initiative
to crush any selfish sovereign, ethnic, and totalitarian activity
that stands to block the preservation of the human species
on a level of material decency and dignity.
Only a ready and just worldwide force
can bring world peace and union.
In America, and even throughout the world, a basic
minimum standard income and consumption mix,
such as just described, could be guaranteed by
setting up the Life Account system, mentioned in
the preceding chapter, under which every person in the world,
every year, might draw, on demand, part or
all of the cash needed to obtain the goods and
services included in the minimum decent standard.
The Account would operate from womb to tomb.
The Single Equal Tax and the Free Inheritance System,
as described, would also be adopted worldwide.
Americans might draw upon their Life Account for
several periods of their life - infancy, schooling
at any time of life from thousands of courses, and
self-employment in non-profit occupations of
thousands of types, tinkering, politicking, civic
activity, farming - watching TV or horse-racing,
for that matter, would not be prohibited on occasion.
Congress would set the limit of the drawing account
each year, and adjust the total sum a person was entitled to
draw over a lifetime.
"Flea markets," once practically unknown, spread over America in
the latter twentieth century; they proved to be a marvelous
voluntary activity, earning little money, but useful, and -
what was important - bringing into regular communications
on many topics many millions of people -
they were the agoras of ancient Greece in some ways -
and their number would multiply.
Small farming, a way of life that this author,
despite his diatribes against bucolism,
endorses and recommends,
instead of disappearing, would flourish by
guaranteeing continuity naturally over years of time.
Farming is a hard way to make a living,
but farming is a good way of life.
Millions would bring their home products for sale.
America would be much the better for
ten thousand public marketplaces.
The GNP and GDP, those injurious incentives
to distort world production and consumption would be
replaced by the BDP (Beneficial National Product), and
the BWP (Beneficial World Product) as measures,
where a World Benefits Court composed of
philosophers, cultural anthropologists, political
scientists, jurists and economists would assign
positive and negative values to the thousands of items
of goods and services to be taken into account.
Legislators, executives, and judges everywhere
would have these guidelines at hand. Money would become a
translator and indicator, rather than a guide and mentor of
human conduct and public policies.
In 1990 Mahbub ul Haq, Pakistani economist,
UN world citizen, began to publish a
Human Development Report that took into consideration
the criteria for welfare to displace the GNP
with an index that added to the accounts of goods and services,
life expectancy, education and welfare in
144 countries. Even so modest a proposal
(when compared with my radical proposals
of 1968 et seq for a
Beneficial World Product -BWP)
made him a heretic among economists.
With systems such as I have outlined, the whole Earth and
humanity could be cared for decently. Arts,
education, leisure activities and affection would generate
profusely. This would be utopian.
It would also be, if its goals were affirmed, the
beginnings of a regal applied science of sciences.
An American who accepted the proper definition and method of
solving the problems of the USA could be sure that doing
the same for the whole world was not more difficult.
People were more or less the same everywhere; or,
to put it another way, every type of person
in the world was to be found walking the streets of America.
One needed to turn up one's sights, and this not far,
because practically all problems that the USA had to handle on its
own account were simultaneously world problems,
the solution for which had to be worldwide:
pollution of land, sea and air; food shortages;
destruction of species; heavy armaments; mineral
shortages; global warming; disappearance of primeval
forests; ethnic strife; energy shortages;
crowding; and income and learning inequities.
However, the dynamo of rational and humane revolution
has been totally lacking. It is practically inconceivable that
we can discover and elicit the energies of the hundred thousand
Americans earlier described, and enough like them,
around the rest of the world to compose a million
activists, one person in every 5,000 of the world's people.
The whole scheme, or one like it - both as to items of
program and activist elites - must be considered,
therefore, as improbable as it is imperative.
Verily, no philosopher of history need propose less than
the defiance of history. Partly this is said in order to
prevent the death of history, partly so as to
learn from history better by employing the challenge
of what should have been. Only thus can we stake a
claim upon a proud future history.
The problem of obtaining and organizing
consent for a utopian world program within the USA
is not more difficult than getting consent from the whole world,
if only because the whole world has been Americanized
in many ways, and therefore understands quickly
what we mean when we talk of "American
Problems" and "World Problems" as one.
Americans might as well have viewed their problems in this light
a political generation ago, seen them as a whole and
tackled them as world problems, restructuring completely
their systems for dealing with world problems,
transforming in the process the Department of State,
setting up in its stead a new World Collaboration Department,
admixing political, cultural, economic, and military units.
Besides the normal heavy resistences to change at
home and everywhere, the USA, in search of
world collaboration, faced typical
problems emerging from unique national settings.
It had to overcome the Sino-syndrome: the greatest
nation in history and the world (to its own lights)
wanted all that the Soviet Union received in
the old Superpower days, but it was less eager for
competition in nuclear weapons and less
dogmatic than the old USSR.
Then there was the "Franco-syndrome": a great power
in all regards (and in its own light) expects
every effort to be bent to clear through its offices
(and in French) every proposal and activity of world
consequence, and at the same time to act as it pleases on the world
stage. Try as he might, President Jacques Chirac
had many wearisome miles to go before he could be
pardoned by the international community for his chauvinistic
insistence upon experimenting with nuclear explosions
in the South Pacific in 1995. The British
government, and indeed numerous others, exhibited the
Franco-syndrome, even while ridiculing it.
More frequently, countries have possessed the "Nigerian-syndrome,"
where promises were easy, corruption rampant,
massacres in the offing, and social coordination anarchic.
The overall problem of world governance was not difficult to
handle; consensus and decision, resource commitments,
administrative execution: all were possible because all had occurred
on many specific problems in the past. Experience in world
government has been extensive, a creditable monument to the
Typically, Americans always felt that foreign
nations were a force of evil blocking world progress.
At least until today, what has held back
rapid progress were mostly behaviors and attitudes
commonly found in the USA: its negative
birth control policies; its greedy multinational corporations and
shady financiers, who fought off all regulation
behind the shield of American sovereignty;
its helpless obsession like an alcoholic with deficits and
debts; and its fear of being duped by foreigners, a projection
in part of its own history of duping foreigners.
The paranoia and plain ignorance, yet presumptuousness,
of half of all Americans, and, worse, their leaders,
concerning what the world was like, made up a practically
unsurmountable barrier to venturesome world
collaboration as the twentieth century closed.
Other Americans needed only take in hand
a list of weighty U.S. problems and do a
quick poll of views around the world to see that,
on almost all of them, the liberal pragmatic set of
attitudes characterized most peoples of the world, and
indeed that the world agreed with this type of solution
more than did the people of the USA itself.
That is, opposition to the idea of World Union, and
to a solution of American problems involving
collaboration with the nations of the whole world:
this opposition was harder to appease or put down
inside the USA than in the world as a whole.
Where, finally, could America find one hundred thousand
leading activists for a movement to reconstruct a failing world?
Little said in this history of America would lead one
to believe that such characters could be generated in abundance.
We face a high probability of failure.
Englebert de Admont wrote 700 years ago,
in a work on the downfall of Roman civilization,
"The whole constitution of this World, which is made up
of diverse, unlike, and contrary things,
cannot endure except through the concord
of the diverse, the unlike, and the contrary."
Not since the Roman Empire has a nation composed so powerful
and operational an aggregate of the "diverse, unlike, and contrary"
as America. It was unprecedented, but not impossible
to create a unified world starting with a reconstructed
American model. There seemed to be nothing else worth trying.
There seemed to be nowhere else to go.
If 100,000 Americans could not be found
who would be able to supply the country's quota of
disciplined world leadership, particularly at the beginning,
the nation would go down along with the rest of the world.
And such was probable. My scenario of brisk
world reconstruction was unlikely.
The Roman Empire did disintegrate finally,
after all, and was cannibalized by slackers
from within and barbarians from without. The
Soviet Empire also collapsed, and hundreds of times faster,
but was permitted by a peaceful set of world powers -
its foes of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO -
to resolve its problems of reconstruction unravaged,
and, indeed, the new Russia was greatly helped in the process of
decentralization and democratizing.
In the thrilling events, which closed down the Cold War,
and brought East Europe and parts of Asia
back into a fairly cooperative world community,
fatally omitted was the simultaneous elevation of
the world-governing system to a lofty level of integration,
bound to global program for the new Millennium.