Author’s Note: As readers may have surmised, the overarching point of this series is to sort out whether Nationalism or a One World Government is the better approach to governance. My plan for this morning was to finish this post. To my surprise this morning, a link to THIS SERENDIPITOUS VIDEO (which bears directly on that subject) appeared in my inbox. I encourage you to watch it after you have read this post. It provides a very optimistic spin on how the ideas of this series are gaining currency.
As discussed previously, nationalistic, capitalistic, democratic republics have produced more successful and moral results for a higher percentage of their populations than any other forms of governance (and their research and inventions have been spread widely across the Earth). Sadly, however, they also create many problems, e.g., high levels of income inequality and other unequal outcomes, and imperialistic nationalistic nations have a history of starting wars.[i] With the advent of weapons of mass destruction, humans now have the capacity to render huge swaths of the world uninhabitable, and conceivably do great damage globally. What is humanity to do?
An oft-touted alternative to nationalism that has not been fully tried is a “One World Government.”[ii] Some intellectuals claim that a One World Government is the only way to avoid a nuclear holocaust.[iii] If a One World Government could, (1) eliminate the possibility of a nuclear holocaust,[iv] (2) not stifle human flourishing, and (3) be sustainable, the case for a One World Government would be compelling. Sadly, a One World Government could not achieve any of those objectives. Not only would a One World Government fail to achieve objectives that might justify it, but it would also make matters worse. Let’s sort out why that is true.
The primary purpose of a government is to establish and enforce rules that enable humans to fare better than if they were to live in chaos. The fundamental problem with governments, however, is that they are run by humans, i.e., a government allows some humans to set the rules under which all humans within the government’s jurisdiction to live. Granting people some power to rule over others enables them to obtain even more power than was granted. A ruler can simply use the power granted to withhold favors or inflict harm on those who are subject to their rules unless the ruled cede more power to a ruler. When it comes to expanding one’s power, the primary difference between a protection racket[v] (e.g., The Mafia or Mexican cartels) and government action is that the government officials need not worry about an external law enforcement agency bringing the hammer down on their racket.
Consequently, because they are not angles,[vi] unless rulers are restrained, they will eventually (and often quickly) amass enough power to do as they please. The more power they garner the less power “the people” have to stop them. One might suppose that rulers would be fearful of becoming so tyrannical that the people will find a way to forcibly dethrone the ruler. However, that so many rulers have been beheaded or dethroned throughout history reveals how much risk of going too far rulers will take to satisfy their lust for power. Gaining ever more power is in the best interest of the powerful and is, most definitely, not in the best interest of the vast majority of people living under the rule of the powerful. Rulers having too much power results in tyranny and misery for all but the most powerful. Yet, unless some power is not granted to rulers, there is chaos. What is humanity to do?
The most ingenious approach to addressing the problem of both granting power to rulers and restraining them from abusing it was devised by the American founders. The key was to set up the system so that rulers could not get anything done unless many antithetical interests, a.k.a, “factions”[vii] agreed that a problem was sufficiently pressing and a proposed solution would be sufficiently effective that the proposed solution should be implemented. To further prevent unnecessary government action, they also added a Bill of Rights that, hopefully, would prevent the adoption of laws that infringed on certain inalienable rights. In this system, “the people” had the ultimate authority to “throw the bastards out” if government officials amassed too much power.
The founders, however, knew that the system was not foolproof. By responding to a lady who asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the Constitutional Convention would propose, he expressed his doubts about the sustainability of the proposed government when he responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”[viii] As ingenious as it was, the idea that factions could be kept at bay came into doubt immediately after the founding. In his “Farewell Address,”[ix] Washington signaled out factions as a primary threat to the republic. Interestingly, Washington urged nationalism as the solution:
“…you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”
As if the original constitutional structure was not weak enough in its defenses against tyranny, from the beginning, progressives have both whittled away at its protections and diminished the citizens’ fealty to the constitutional system. Consequently, we have only been able to keep some shreds of the checks and balances envisioned by the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin, in addition to his many other fine qualities, was prescient.
Today it is hard, if not impossible, to get American’s to rally around America’s relatively good set of principles. This is despite the country being mostly populated by people who, for the most part, embrace Judeo-Christian values and have a shared faith in the ideas of The Enlightenment[x] (whether or not they acknowledge that source of their values and ideas). Although America is a relatively diverse country, its diverse citizenry is fairly homogeneous concerning values, ideas, and mores. The idea that all people of the world with profoundly different histories, values, and ideas could be motivated to adhere to principles, values, and mores dictated by a One World Government is preposterous. There is simply no way tribalistic humans can tribalize around one set of ideas, much less ideas dictated by faraway people with whom they have essentially nothing in common. In the 20th Century not even three variations (U.S.S.R, Nazi Germany, and Maoist China) of one set of values and ideas, socialism, could co-exist with each other. None of them could even co-exist with their own citizens, collectively killing more than 100 million of their citizens who wouldn’t or couldn’t get in line with the state’s programs.
If ultimate control of all nuclear weapons were placed in the hands of a small group of people, those people would have as close to ultimate power as has ever existed on Earth. Absolute power will produce absolute tyranny. The notion that humans would thrive in such a world is untenable.
Consider the problems confronting the European Union which is a conglomeration of comparatively homogeneous fellow Europeans. The Brexit vote and the discontent in Germany of Greece holding Germans hostage are just the most visible of the EU’s problems.[xi] In addition to being financially dysfunctional, the relatively globalist ideas that have taken root in Europe create other insolvable problems. Among them are too much welfare, low birthrates, and a necessity to take in more immigrants than can reasonably be assimilated. The confluence of these problems and ideas has created stagnation.
“The EU’s biggest problem is that its economic model has aged alongside its population. Europe has plenty of world-class companies but, unlike the US, none of them were set up in the past 25 years. In Europe’s golden age, Volkswagen was a rival to Ford, and Siemens could go toe to toe with General Electric. But there is no European Google, Facebook or Amazon and in the emerging technologies of the fourth Industrial Revolution, such as artificial intelligence, Europe is nowhere.”[xii]
With a one-world tyranny, there would be no way out and no reason for the tyrants to ease their tyranny. Contrast that to a world in which nations with relative freedom exist. In such a world, tyrants are exposed to the possibility and reality that humans will flee to relative freedom. Non-enterprising, non-productive, and cowardly people will remain in the already dysfunctional society. (A common saying in the U.S.S.R. was, “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”[xiii]) As we saw in Berlin before the wall fell, enterprising, productive and courageous people who prefer to actually work and actually get paid will risk their lives to get out. As a result, the tyrannical country becomes poorer whether the person escapes or gets killed. Conversely, if the escapees make it out alive, the freer, receiving country is benefits.
By this process, the freer a country is, the more sustainable and prosperous it will be. The more prosperous a country is, the greater a magnet it is to those who are yearning to be free and to have opportunities to become productive and prosperous. Historically, people who have little initiative or courage tend to stay put and hope that the government will take care of them. (Today there are countervailing forces.[xiv]) This reality is a motivation for countries to be freer.
The motivations described above (punishment of tyranny and rewarding freedom) are not merely theoretical. Demonstrations of the effectiveness of those motivations are played out daily in America today. When a U.S. state becomes too tyrannical (e.g., the state considers the wealth of its citizens to be communal, and, therefore, extract exceptionally high taxes on their wealthy citizens and subsidize those who do not work whether or not they are capable of working) migration happens. Wealthy people tend to leave[xv] (with the occasional exception of people who are so wealthy that they need not sweat the loss of extra hundreds of millions in taxes—although even they often move their company’s operations to lower tax states) and less or non-productive people who are spared the high taxes tend to stay and non-productive people from elsewhere move to the state. The next thing you know, they have massive homeless problems.[xvi]
Please remember to watch THIS SERENDIPITOUS VIDEO.
[vii] See “ Originally the structural factions were “the people” (House of Representatives), states (Senate and the Electoral College), and the Courts. There were sub-factions within the House, Senate, and the Courts. To become and remain a law required surviving quite a gauntlet. It was institutional gridlock for all but the most compelling measures that did not violate citizens’ inalienable rights.
“The Age of Enlightenment refers to a period in which reason was advocated as the primary basis of thought and authority. Logic and rationality were used to explain the ways in which the world worked as opposed to old traditions and superstitions. Free speech, individualism, and tolerance for other ways of life also became important ideas during this time. This period also coincided with the rise of nationalism and introduced great thinkers who later influenced developing democratic governments including the government of the United States.”
[xiv] See “ See “The weaponization of Milton Friedman.” This article rightly points out how Friedman’s quote was misused. The article does not, however, prove that Milton Friedman’s statement (below) about immigrants coming illegally to America to have Americans provide for them was incorrect. The most they could say was, “not necessarily.” But the article simply describes some possible offsets to the costs of providing welfare to “illegal immigrants.” The article does not even attempt to put any numbers to determine the net flow of values. Here is what Friedman said:
“It is one thing to have free immigration to jobs, it is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. … [I]f you come under circumstances where each person is entitled to a prorated share of a pot … then the effect of that situation is that free immigration would mean a reduction for everybody.”