political revue


Year XXVI, 1984, Number 1 - Page 3



Towards a World Government
Our review, which has been published over the past twenty-five years, is now coming out in English too, with the aim of not remaining confined to the narrow Italian framework (nor in the French one, as it was in French that it was published from 1962 to 1974). In the nuclear age – that in which mankind has acquired the power to annihilate itself – it no longer makes sense to limit political research and discussion to a specific national context. And it is utterly impossible to do away with this obstacle by translations from every language into all the others. The number of national languages is by now so high as to make such an endeavour altogether inconceivable. But there is a further, and even more serious, consideration. Translations cannot in any way guarantee the verbal precision needed for unified theoretical research in political, historical and social fields, nor the universal diffusion of the ensuing results, without which it is impossible to ground political decisions on an increasingly objective basis.
It is because of this inherent limit of translations that the most advanced sciences, namely the sciences of nature, from physics to biology, have almost universally adopted not only a minimum common vocabulary, but also a common language, that is English. And it is obvious (but this consideration must be underlined to stress the link between a common language and the optimum yield of mental work) that without the common use of English those sciences would not have obtained the results they have in fact achieved either from a theoretical or from a practical point of view (namely wide and rapid diffusion of new theories and new technologies).
In spite of this, even in Europe, where culture has among its foundations Latin as a common tongue (and as an international horizon of the formation of the national languages themselves), the need for a world language has not yet manifested itself effectively in the sphere of political knowledge in a broad sense, including history and the social sciences, above all as they relate to the problems of action. In this sphere, which is also that of common feeling, the nationalistic prejudice which rejects a universal language – one for mankind in general – still persists, as if everybody’s partaking in world thought through a world language were a loss rather than an advantage, even for the national communities themselves and their tongues) which could not thrive in the partitioned world of linguistic nationalism. And it must be observed that a universal language is even more necessary in the sphere of political action than in that of the sciences of nature.
Now more than ever in the past men need mutual understanding. The human species is now a community sharing a common destiny and can save itself only through a political change (a revolution) equal to the change that occurred in the basic conditions of its survival. The crux of the matter, which everybody knows, is the following: nuclear and/or ecological catastrophe is possible, and will certainly become inevitable, if an effective political world control is not established. Only thus will science be used exclusively as a tool for furthering life, freedom and equality and not as an instrument of death. But if this is the crux, and this is the answer, then we must come to terms with the fact, that this goal – effective political world control – will not be achieved except through common actions, decided in common on the basis of common information. This is impossible without a common language. In this respect it maybe useful to recall an analogy with the past. Just as the extension of the national languages to the whole of society created the linguistic prerequisite for the first democratic forms of government (unity of information and communication at the national level), so the gradual extension of the use of English to a greater and greater number of people (within a generalized bilinguism, also taken to mean a difference between English as a common language and English as spoken in the UK, in the USA, etc.) will create the linguistic prerequisite for world control (world unity of information and communication).
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This goal is far in the future, but we think it reasonable to contend that the direction to take can be determined, and the course set, now. In our opinion – which coincides with the opinion of all those who have really occupied themselves with peace, and not only, under the cover of peace, with the success of their own faction – the final goal is world government. We must make it clear, however, that a world government cannot be obtained without rejecting the concept of nation as an exclusive entity and without adopting the principles of federalism. The exclusive nation (fusion of nation and state. the very idea of humanity emptied of its content) leads inevitably to the nation state as the supreme level of political control (monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force), and hence to the use of force in the relations among the nations, to international anarchy and to the world as a world of war (world of armed nations). On the other hand, it is only through federalism as a new instrument for government, i.e. through the enlargement of the sphere of action of democratic government from the territory of a state to that of a plurality of independent and coordinated states, that we can command the institutional tool required to (i) transfer the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force to the world level, (ii) establish a political world control, (iii) disarm states and prohibit war in the framework of an effective political and legal – and, in prospect, economic and social – equality of all nations, be they large or small (world of peace, i.e. of disarmed nations).
Once the nature of the final goal is clear, let us see whether intermediate goals are conceivable, and what they may be. In our opinion, the point of departure for this inquiry is the following fact: the exclusive· national states have long since been in the process of being overtaken by history. This manifests itself both at a regional and at a world level. At a regional level, the process has already reached a very advanced stage in Western Europe, where the right of voting has already been extended beyond the national borders (European Community). The same regional process has already spread to the other regions of the world that are fragmented into many states, as is shown by the initiatives and organizations for unity in Africa, Latin America, Near East, etc. On the contrary, at the world level, the tendency is less pronounced, partly because the great powers – the United States and Soviet Union – as well as China and India, already exhibit, albeit imperfectly, the character of multi-state and/or multinational formations. We must bear in mind, however, that, in spite of the conspicuous failure of the League of Nations, the world, with the UN, has once again taken the path of unity. This shows that the process is active at the world level too, where it can assume its final shape as a unity of the great world regions, on the basis of the ever-growing unity of the world market and interdependence of all men and of all countries.
To be aware of this process, which, seen in this light, is nothing less than the beginning of a new era, is decisive for our analysis, and this for the following reason: the process of transcending the exclusive nation-states means ipso facto overcoming division, i.e. getting closer to a world government. Thus the stages of this process make up the intermediate goals on the road towards a world government; and once such goals are identified, we can ask ourselves how they can be pursued, and with what results. The first thing to observe is that such goals are among those political options which everybody makes and cannot abstain from making. Indeed in all countries an individual is confronted with options for or against the progress of the regional unification in which his country is involved and/or for or against the strengthening of UN; and, if he has the will to do so, he can support not only his own area’s regional unification, where that is on the cards, but also, in terms of foreign policy, the regional unification of other areas and the strengthening of UN. This means that all men can already give their own political choices the character of steps forward along the way that can lead mankind to a world government.
The second thing to observe is that such choices and the national ones do not interfere with each other, but the former orient the latter, so that a country can pursue the best of all possible national policies, namely cooperating with all countries for a balanced development of the world market and a settlement of international problems by negotiation. The third thing to observe is that this common search for political, economic and social progress is conceivable only if the beginning of the progress towards a world government, and the emergence of this new point of reference for public opinion and culture, cause the prospect of a united world in the world balance of expectations, which is a large element in the world balance of power, to out weigh the current prospect of a world which is unable to overcome its divisions and which thereby condemns everybody to national selfishness.
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To date, nobody has taken it upon himself to pursue such a plan of action. Mankind is aware of the nuclear risk, but does not yet know that the possibility of eliminating it exists, and hence cannot turn such a possibility into a guiding principle for action. Man will succeed in this only if he ceases to accept passively the situation created by nuclear weapons (which is not properly understood also because it is mistakenly interpreted in the light of the national principles of the past) and tries to transform it into a situation recognized by thought and which thereby can be met by action. It is will which must initiate the first step. We must act for the world, not only for our country. This means that we must adopt as the first priority of our action the progress of mankind towards world government and not the exclusive welfare of our own country which, in a divided world, could not escape, whatever our intentions, from a destiny of death.
The second step must be taken by reason. Previously political thinking in its strong sense, as a guide for action, has not succeeded in controlling international reality and, thus, of the course of history. After liberalism and democracy, socialism too (in Europe with the breakdown of the 2nd International in the face of World War One, in Russia with the principle of construction of socialism in one country) has remained a prisoner of the exclusive conception of national sovereignty and of raison d’etat. It has thus become a further element in international anarchy as a permanent test of strength among the states and as a situation in which there is no possibility for will guided by reason to determine the course of events.
It is impossible to get to the core of the crisis of ideologies, that is of the capacity to think about the future, without being aware of the limitations of traditional political thought. The great ideologies of the past have developed the capacity to focus men’s attention and action on the problems relating to the improvement of their own state, and have helped to lead the countries most favoured by fortune to the stage of the rule of law and of the first rudimentary forms of liberty and equality. But they have not yet the capacity – and cannot develop it without adding federalism to their principles – to focus men’s attention and action on the problems of transcending the world of war, which relate to the political organization of mankind, and require the extension of democracy at the international level and the transformation of the system of states – now based on relations of strength and on an unequal distribution of power – into a federal system based on law and on the general will of mankind. It is only with federalism, whose first explicit forms are to be found in Kant’s philosophy of history and in Hamilton’s constitutional thinking, that human thought has begun to tackle these problems, on whose solution the destiny of mankind now depends.
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With the theoretical and practical orientation described in these pages, our review has set ·itself the task to work for the world unity of federalists and to constitute, to this end, a point of reference and an instrument for an exchange of information. Many people are aware of the necessity of federalism. With the nuclear risk, and with traditional thinking being unable of conjuring it away, the number of these people is destined to grow. But without unity of organization, i.e. without the opportunity to know that what is being done in one’s own region, country or city is being done in other regions, countries and cities of the world as well, nobody can gain confidence in his own action and thus maintain it, thus contributing towards making federalism into a political force.
The difficulties are many. Federalism as a political priority is a new historical phenomenon. Hence it is not yet, like liberalism, democracy and socialism, an institutionalized body of thought, i.e. an orientation that reproduces itself on its own account. Federalism has the world as a theatre, and not only a particular nation. Federalism has not, as its political goal, the seizing of national power by means of the vote, or of violence, or of the representation of corporate interests. Consequently it can assert itself only if it is possible to make moral strength, supported by reason and knowledge, into a political force. But this weakness of federalism is at the same time its strength. Federalism is within everybody’s reach just because it depends only on morality and science (including common sense, as far as this agrees with science) and can develop its unity on this basis instead of, like the traditional political forces, on the sharing of national power. And there is more to it than this. Just because it has no national government whatsoever as its reference point, federalism makes it possible to enlarge the unity of political action to the whole world and hence to build up – with the highest degree of spontaneity and with the minimum of organization necessary to ensure that each person’s work shall be effectively combined with that of the others – a world political vanguard for the great world task of the construction of peace.
To adopt as one’s political orientation the march of mankind towards world government is feasible; and it is feasible to make an agreement with all those who have chosen the same political course. This means that the conditions for trying exist. So we shall try.
The Editor



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