To Sear the
The Big Vision and Why We Should Talk About It
By Tad Daley
I've been actively involved with the
World Federalist Association since 1990, when Wendell Harter, Ted Leutzinger
and Tom Camarella recruited me as a student here in Southern California. I went
on to receive my Ph.D. in International Policy Analysis, and consider myself
an international affairs professional, scholar, and activist. Consequently,
I've done a great deal of writing and speaking in the past decade directed at
people NOT members of WFA or any related organizations, NOT in the world federalist
orbit, NOT in many cases aware of our existence at all. What follows is my assessment
of the issues and ideas that resonate with such people - issues and ideas that
in my view have the potential to capture the imagination of many thousands of
I believe that any political and social movement that aspires to really make the big time must center on some Big Ideas, simple and straightforward and easily understandable and inspiring propositions that can grab people's hearts and sear the collective soul. The examples of such successful movements are numerous. No war in Iraq. Get out of Vietnam. No child labor. Save the rainforest. Health and safety and rights and protections for workers. Equal women's rights. Equal gay rights. Abolish slavery. Ban the bomb. A black man is a man.
And it seems to me that global government advocates are the unique torchbearers of three Big Ideas, which together have the potential to be no less than the Great Story of the century ahead.
The idea that war itself does not have to be a permanent part of the human condition, that 200 separate sovereignties with their own armies and navies and air forces is not the end of history, that war can become as impossible between nations as it is now between California and Nevada, that we can create enduring world peace through enforceable world law, that someday, truly, all of us will "hear the war drum throb no longer, (and) see the battle flags all furled." An essential part of this idea is the liberation of human potential that would result. "A federation of all humanity," said our predecessor H.G. Wells, "... would mean such a release and increase of human energy as to open a new phase in human history." "My short-term vision is the abolition of nuclear weapons," said 1995 Nobel Peace Laureate Joseph Rotblat at a public forum a few years ago. "My long-term vision is the abolition of war." So must be our long-term vision as well.
The idea that something like a United World or a Federal Republic of Earth -- that so many are familiar with through science fiction -- is in fact our genuine real world aspiration. Before the galactic federation in Star Trek, there was a world federation. About ten years ago Steven Spielberg had a cool TV show set about 2050 about a submarine called Seaquest DSV. The crewmembers all wore patches that said UEO - United Earth Organization. In the classic Martin Sheen Outer Limits episode "Nightmare," the astronauts all wore patches that said UE - United Earth. Countless science fiction novels take something like a United World or a Federal Republic of Earth simply as part of the background of a work of literature set a century or so in the future. One of the great paradoxes of our movement is that while it's difficult for any of us to discern how we're going to get from here to there, when we peer many decades into the future it's difficult to imagine that we'll end up anywhere else. A United Earth is an idea that is simple, elegant, and intuitively appealing to many. We need to say that such a United Earth is not just science fiction, but the actual destiny of humankind.
The idea that for us -- as individual citizens of the world - OUR allegiance to our country is less important than our allegiance to humanity. OUR highest loyalty is not our national loyalty, but our universal loyalty. OUR national patriotism is transcended by our planetary patriotism. In some ways I think that these intangible ideals hold the greatest potential of all. People need to be convinced of the desirability of a Federal Republic of Earth. But I have found over and over again that they embrace these propositions immediately, enthusiastically, and unreservedly. When I speak I tell the story of the crew of the Apollo 8 spacecraft, floating over the mountains of the far side of the moon, and then seeing - for the first time with human eyes - our single, borderless, breathtaking planet, suspended among the blazing stars. Our singular and paramount loyalty, to our single and lonely planet, can be the single greatest engine taking our movement from what we now are, to what we can become.
The realization of these three Big Ideas may well be quite distant. So I think we also must advocate a number of nearer-term policy prescriptions as well. These include:
New structures of global governance, the comprehensive UN restructuring agenda that was expressed in reports like that of the 1995 Commission on Global Governance, redesigning the United Nations and rewriting the UN Charter, the proposition that a United Nations designed for the world of the 1930s is far from optimal for the challenges of the 21st Century.
Universal human rights enforcement. The idea that we want to live in a world where rape camps and machete massacres and torched villages are against the law of the human community - and the human community possesses mechanisms of law enforcement to stop the crimes and to bring the criminals to justice. Such mechanisms include preventive diplomacy and peace building, the International Criminal Court Treaty whose existence owes so much to our efforts, and a UN Rapid Deployment Force. Such a force would have a different raison d'etre from every national military force in the world. Its purpose would be not to protect the national interests of any individual state, but the common human interest we all share in preventing crimes against humanity and promoting the world rule of law. And the citizens serving in such a force would not just be volunteering to "serve their country." They would be volunteering to serve humanity.
The idea that if democracy is the optimal form of human governance, then we ought to aspire to it at every level of human governance - including the global level. This means restructuring the UN Security Council, modifying and eventually abolishing the profoundly undemocratic great power veto, talking about alternative kinds of weighted voting systems. It means that just as we elect individuals to represent us at the local level, state level, and national level, so too ought we be able to do so at the global level. It means that just as the democratic countries take for granted that they ought to be governed by a parliament or legislature, so too ought we aspire to eventually create something like a Parliament of Humankind.
The idea that we must outlaw and abolish all weapons of mass destruction through universal, verifiable, and enforceable conventions. Such abolition is inconceivable without the empowered international institutions that we envision, without mechanisms of world law enforcement. The danger of extinction after the invention of the atomic bomb, of course, is THE issue that drove the early years of our organization and our movement. And now that the WMD danger has become again so immediate in the post-911 world, we can make great intellectual and activist contributions by offering our own unique long-term solutions to ending the WMD danger forever.
Finally, I think it is vital that we emphasize that none of these - especially my three Big Ideas - are our ideas. We can recruit many new converts, I am certain, simply by educating people about the fact - almost wholly unknown today - that the abolition of war through a single unified human community is one of the Great Ideas in the heritage of humankind, that in previous eras it was championed by Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, William O. Douglas, Henry Fonda, Alan Cranston, Arnold Toynbee, Golda Meir, H.G. Wells, Victor Hugo, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Immanuel Kant, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Dante Alleghieri, St. Augustine, and countless others. We must tell people that we are the torchbearers of this Great Idea. We must argue that it is perhaps the single most important idea in all of human history. And we should not be embarrassed to admit that our long-term mission is to take it from idea to reality.
Tad Daley, the National Issues Director for the Kucinich campaign and a past Congressional candidate, has published articles in many newspapers and magazines, including USA Today, the Humanist and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. His website is www.daleyplanet.org.
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