Global Integration--Pipedream or Only Solution?

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[World Federalism]
PeaceVoice\Peter Orvetti: "It is true that world federation is probably at least a century away, and that it may take a cataclysm to spur the world’s leaders to sign on to it. But world federation is inevitable."
Photo: UN

Seventy-five years ago next month, nations came together to take the great leap of creating the United Nations. Stronger than its predecessor the League of Nations, the UN was still doomed to relative impotence due to the massive imbalance of power given in its structure to the victors of World War II, and to the onset of the Cold War, which made the consensus needed for action all but impossible to achieve.

Still, it was a giant step in the direction of a world community.

Twenty years ago, at the beginning of the third millennium C.E., there seemed to be hope for the unification of humanity. The great ideological conflict between market capitalism and communism was over, and once-oppressive nations were turning to liberal democracy. Trade agreements lessened the significance of international borders, and the rise and rapid expansion of the European Union offered a roadmap to a single democratic world. Global media and the emergence of the Internet connected people across borders; it became possible to travel in a day distances that once took months. The world was getting smaller, and getting closer.

Unfortunately, the first two decades of the current century have been discouraging, to say the least.

The events of September 11, 2001 proved that the liberal “End of History” predicted by Francis Fukuyama faced more than just a few dead-enders. The U.S. invasion of Iraq, in direct defiance of the UN, indicated that a new global hegemon was less interested in cooperation than in subjugation. The Arab Spring blazed quickly then burned out. A backlash against the center-left policies of the EU (and later, of the U.S. under President Barack Obama) led to the first secession from the European Union — of one of its founding states, no less — as right populism emerged as a force not just in Europe and North America but in India, the Philippines, Turkey, and elsewhere.

At this moment in time, the notion of the world’s 195 sovereign states coming together in a planetwide version of the EU seems fantastical — the further dissolution of the EU, and even a break-up of the United States, seem more likely. It is true that world federation is probably at least a century away, and that it may take a cataclysm to spur the world’s leaders to sign on to it (as it took the 85,000,000 deaths of World War II to make way for the UN). But world federation is inevitable.

We cross borders each day in our media consumption, our communications, our business practices, and our purchases. Regional security arrangements complement and even supersede those of individual countries. In time, all of humanity will exist under one democratic government, and for Iran and Saudi Arabia to go to war over control of oil will seem as nonsensical as for Arizona and California to go to war over water access.

It simply is not logical for people on one side of a line drawn by colonizers half the world away, and a century ago, to have, say, the right to protest their government or to vote in free elections, while those on the other side of the line do not. It makes no sense for people on one side of a river or a mountain range to have guaranteed access to healthcare or quality public education, while those on the other side do not. There have never been political borders on the surface of the planet, and in the Internet and free-commerce age, they are fading from our minds as well.

Peter Orvetti is a former journalist, world federalism activist, and editor and publisher of OneWorldDigest.com.

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