Re: "Lord of the Flies" analogy

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Posted by Brett Zamir ( on August 23, 2002 at 04:40:36:

In Reply to: "Lord of the Flies" analogy posted by Vincent on May 04, 2002 at 00:54:21:

First of all, to Baha'is, God is here. And He is the most effective at running things, when we submit to Him (and even to a measured degree when we do not). We believe God is most evidently here through His Manifestation and His divinely appointed institutions. His power is evident both within the Baha'i community as well as in its impact forcing the reshaping of global occurrences.

But given that as Baha'u'llah stated, the world has rejected for the most part the "Most Great Peace" (i.e., us submitting to Baha'u'llah's laws and institutions), we are left with dealing with human institutions, such as the United Nations--which, though imperfect, are nevertheless influenced by His Spirit.

And your point about national governments operating in their self-interest is quite valid. But actually, I would say, the primary reason we DON'T have a world government is because powerful national governments tend to be bullies and don't want to lose their grip on things. I would even say that in order for the masses of peoples and governments to cede their authority to a world government, the system would need to be adequately balanced so as to prevent the bullying nature from running its course--so it is hard to imagine a STRONG world government functioning with certain segments being bullies--although it is possible to imagine--as we can see today--individual powers taking a cavalier attitude and selfishly imposing their will on the rest of the world without a world government.

However, this talk about self-interest is not to say that with public support, these same governments are incapable of realizing that their own self-interest lies in considering the welfare of all and developing a just international system, in order that the win-win-loss situation of peace building can occur. I say win-win because obviously the peace dividend benefits everyone, as resources are used for productive purposes instead of on weapons which are useless at best, and absolutely terrifying and destructive at worst. Of course, there is some "loss" also, as vested interests, such as weapons manufacturers must either willingly take the effort of converting their swords into ploughshares, or opinion must be sufficiently mobilized--not just in one country, but out of a global security Pact with national disarmament provisions--to force them to do so.

I believe what we are talking about in the current world situation is like the Articles of Confederation in the U.S. It gave so much respect to state autonomy that its power was demonstrably deficient. When the stronger federation ala the Iroquois Confederacy was adopted (through Benjamin Franklin's contact with the Native American system), the country became sufficiently strong. It didn't mean that all local control was taken away on all issues. Neither does a world government imply this.

But when several states have the blanket power to veto on a number of issues ANYTHING that the majority even near unanimity of nations wish for, there is something clearly wrong (despite the admitted need for SOME check on the masses power as represented in the General Assembly). When the World Court can only take cases which are submitted to it by both parties consenting, there is something wrong--how can the power of a court to administer justice work in this way? When the General Assembly makes decisions which have no binding authority whatsoever, something is definitely missing. Yes, a balance of power is called for. That is why we have a Security Council, Secretariat, General Assembly, and World Court, just as it is the reason the U.S. has its own legislative, executive, and judicial branches--but this doesn't mean that the current system shows such a fine-tuned balance of powers as has evolved so well in the United States in its federalized and internally balanced yet sufficiently strong system.

Is it unrealistic to say that it is necessary for a legislative power representing all the world's people (particularly if the U.N., with the support of its member states, reforms itself to become more representative of the world's population and also excludes dictatorships from its membership), that it needs to have some authority--just as the legislative branch in the U.S. has a good deal of authority (with its admitted checks in the executive and judicial branches)? Isn't the present focus on state sovereignty--excerised largely by dominant powers in the Security Council, more of an example of bullying than would be allowing the mass of the world's countries whose leaders are elected democratically to have their voices manifest into binding laws?

By a world government, we are not talking about an all-powerful institution. The Baha'i Writings also warn against the evils of overcentralization and talk about how peace will come through greater involvement at the local level. 'Abdu'l-Baha was attributed to have condemned even overcentralized NATIONAL governments, and Shoghi Effendi warned against overcentralized international ones as well. But if you can accept that national governments can and must centralize power--in some domains--away from local governments (without necessarily becoming "all-powerful" in the process, except to a degree in certain domains), then there is no reason to believe a world government need evolve into some ridiculous scenario of black helicopters, etc. taking over the world. Given the great suspicion of world government--throughout the whole world--and given the lack of a fully formed concept of world citizenship among the planet's inhabitants, we are much more in danger of perpetuating our ridiculous system of state sovereignty, than we are of becoming an Orwellian nightmare--infinitely so, I would say.

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