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If in the future there were the existence of a strong global culture supporting reason, individual rights and constitutionally limited government, would a one-world government modeled on the US system be possible and or desirable?

asked May 02 '15 at 21:00

Carl's gravatar image

Carl
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edited May 05 '15 at 14:03

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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If there were a single world government, does that mean it'd be properly limited to only two functions, as there would be no such thing as foreign invaders?

I'm not sure what the point would be of forming a single world government, barring some sort of attack from outer space. A key reason for which the US government was formed was to provide for a common defense against foreign governments. Otherwise, we probably should have just stayed as wholly sovereign states.

(May 04 '15 at 15:19) anthony anthony's gravatar image

A government can also address internal threats--that's the whole reason behind having a police force. A global government would have broader authority to address concerns, because they would all (barring space travel) be internal, so they wouldn't need to be permission from, say, tyranical nations in the Middle East, to, say, punish folks in the Middle East who wish to slaughter innocent people.

(May 05 '15 at 17:10) James James's gravatar image

so they wouldn't need to be permission from, say, tyranical nations in the Middle East

I thought the whole premise of the question was that we don't have any tyrannical nations any more, though. If we still had one tyrannical nation in the Middle East, and the rest of the world was unified against it, and for some reason that tyrannical nation was particularly difficult to defeat, I could see more of a point in having all the other nations join together to form a single US-style government.

(May 06 '15 at 07:54) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Even then it's hard to imagine there being a good reason to do so. Why not just form a coalition of separate governments to join together to overthrow that tyrannical nation's government and then reconstruct a free government in its place?

(And all of this assumes that it's in our self-interest to invade that tyrannical nation in the first place. The desire to "punish folks in the Middle East who wish to slaughter innocent people" isn't really enough, though presumably any nation which allows that is also a threat to those in other nations.)

(May 06 '15 at 08:07) anthony anthony's gravatar image
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There are two parts to this question:

  • Hypothetical "existence of a strong global culture supporting reason, individual rights and constitutionally limited government...."; and

  • "... modeled on the US system...."

Certainly any system that supports reason and protects individual rights, including the freedom of production and trade in free markets around the world, would be desirable and practical. But it wouldn't necessarily be modeled on the current US system, unless "modeled" simply means a government that is "constitutionally limited" to its three proper functions as identified in Objectivism.

But how would such a government arise? What causal mechanism could bring it into existence? The most natural scenario that I can see (so far) would be a gradual evolution from having just one such government in the world (perhaps a greatly reformed version of the US system), followed by other nations similarly instituting such principles in their own countries, followed by treaties between those nations as or if needed to protect the principles of individual rights and freedom of trade on a world scale. It's not clear that eventual evolution to a single world government, such as by individual free nations merging together, would add anything to the protection of the basic principles, compared to a system of multiple free nations in the world with cooperative treaties between them. Indeed, having multiple free nations to choose from could greatly help to assure that any one of the nations that starts to stray from its proper principles would suffer the consequences in the form of a "brain drain" of their citizens to other free countries that have more to offer.

Unfortunately, the antecedent rise of "a strong global culture supporting reason, individual rights and constitutionally limited government" seems extremely unlikely under today's conditions. As Leonard Peikoff explains in The DIM Hypothesis, we may very well have only about two generations remaining (i.e., grandchildren of today's young adults) before the US collapses into totalitarian dictatorship (probably of a religiously mystical variety), although that outcome is not yet a certainty. (The timeline may be even shorter if the next few presidents follow the policies and methods of our current president, or if, in opposition, they turn even more resolutely than their predecessors to a religious outlook for "inspiration" and guidance on governmental policies.) Dr. Peikoff argues that the highest priority today is to do everything possible to spread the right ideas before the imposition of outright censorship in the US makes it finally too late for further exercise of any freedom of speech. Abstract discussions about hypothetical world cultures and a one-world government are utterly irrelevant and distracting in that context. What matters most is the principles and corresponding form of government, not whether or not the governance resides in multiple free nations or in a single world government.

answered May 03 '15 at 18:19

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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Objectivism does not have an answer for this question. With regard to politics, Objectivism teaches various high-level principles about the nature of a proper government (e.g., its purpose, its proper functions, what is forbidden to it, etc.) and the nature of rights. Some writings of Ayn Rand delve into more detailed applications of the general principles, such as Rands writings about voluntary taxation, but these forays into detailed application are fairly rare, and to my knowledge none touched on one-world government.

Based on my understanding of the general political principles of Objectivism, I would say that Objectivism would have no principled reason to oppose a one-world government, assuming that government satisfied all of the aforementioned political principles (e.g., protected rights, did not violate rights, etc.).

However, that is not to say that a one-world government is necessarily desirable. Just because a form of government is philosophically proper, does not mean that there is no better form of government that could be used. There may be multiple different forms of government that all qualify as proper, but ideally we would select the one that is the most desirable out of this group. Various things may make a proper government of one form better than an equally proper government of another form, such as, for example: efficiencies in revenue collection/spending, systematic protections against drifting away from proper principles (e.g., "checks-and-balances"), flexibility to address unforeseen situations, etc. However, these issues are too detailed and fact specific for a general philosophy to address, and instead need to be studied by people specialized in the fields of political theory and law.

As an example of how one proper form of government may be more desirable than an equally proper form of government, consider a "monarchy" in which the monarch's power is limited to only proper government functions (e.g., protecting rights) in comparison to a similarly limited republic in which the head-of-state is elected. There is nothing wrong in principle with a monarchy of the type described, since it it constitutionally limited to only proper functions (and hence cannot violate rights). The only real difference between the monarchy and the republic, then, is that the head of state is chosen by heredity in one and by vote in the other. While both forms are proper because they are limited to only proper government functions, the monarchy appears to be less desirable in at least a few senses. For example, because competence plays no role in whether you are selected as the head of state (its all heredity), at some point it is likely that the head of state will not be competent to perform the functions he/she is supposed to. In contrast, in the republic there seems to be a better chance of getting a competent person into the job. As another example, the "monarchy" may be more susceptible to drifting away from proper principles and into tyranny, since if the head of state starts to accrete power sufficient to overstep their constitutional bounds there is no real way short of revolution to remove them from power. On the other hand, any elected official who attempted to do this could (in theory) be voted out. Similarly, it will be easier to acrete such power if you stay in office for a long time, and the monarch will be more likely to stay in office for a long time than the elected head-of-state. Other examples may be thought up, but this should be sufficient to indicate how two equally proper governments might not necessarily be equally desirable.

With regard to one-world government, I think it might suffer from certain inefficiencies stemming from requiring a large bureaucracy, might possibly be more susceptible to drifting away from constitutional bounds since there is no "check" in the form of any equally powerful entity that could give the government pause if it decided to go nuts and start violating rights, and may be more inflexible to addressing unforeseen issues due to its size. These are just a few reasons why a one-world government that respects rights might be less desirable than multiple independent nations that each respects rights. However, since I am not a political theorists who has not studied this in depth, these are just my preliminary thoughts on the issue. More facts will be required before anyone could really say which would be more desirable or less desirable.

answered May 08 '15 at 11:23

ericmaughan43's gravatar image

ericmaughan43 ♦
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edited May 08 '15 at 11:24

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Asked: May 02 '15 at 21:00

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Last updated: May 08 '15 at 11:24