I was at a discussion today on the prospects for world government and world peace. It’s an interesting topic, and I intend to tell you all what I think about it, without making that much of an effort to justify it.
So first off, what does world government mean? Is there a sense we can extract from it while dispensing with the ‘government’ bit? Taking a relatively weak interpretation, it would mean standing and established procedures for making decisions and resolving disputes, all the way from the individual level to the world level. At the moment we have established procedures for making decisions up to the national level in many cases, but above that level chance, power, and the looming threat of megaviolence start to take over.
That doesn’t specify what those procedures are, except that they are such as can be part of a well-designed system, not orgies of senseless violence. It is consistent both with world government, extending the coercive and elite nature of current national procedures, and with an ‘anarchic’ world-wide federation. We might lump both together as ‘world order’.
Now in the abstract, I think there’s quite a compelling case that world order is a desirable thing. It’s main difference from the status qup would be to remove the possibility and threat of war international war, and to enable easier global economic planning, which is a necessity for environmental reasons if nothing else.
Now it might be thought that in practice, world government is more likely than world anarchy. But I think actually it’s the other way around. World government is extremely unlikely, because of how states work.