A Terrible Blogger is Born!

January 24, 2009

Brave New World Order

London Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman says that a world government is coming. It’s only a question of when. But, he assures us,

I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the US. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana.

empireWhew, that’s a relief. For a moment there, I thought he was one of those conspiracy theorists. You, know, some racist redneck yokel who believes in bigfoot, UFO’s, and that Elvis is still alive. Which would make it weird that he managed to get a job at the Financial Times. But, wait a minute, if Rachman is right, that means all those paranoids from Montana were right, too, and years before he was! Well, I certainly can’t grant that point and maintain a smug disdain for America’s heartland lumpenproletariat, can I?

Ah, but there is a crucial difference. Rachman, you see, assures us in his best Martha Stewart dulcet intonation that, “It’s a good thing.”

First, it is increasingly clear that the most difficult issues facing national governments are international in nature: there is global warming, a global financial crisis and a “global war on terror”.

This may be an odd time to paraphrase Marx here, but does not Rachman accept as a given what he should be explaining?  Namely, that a State should cover as much physical territory as contains the problems it seeks to address. Why should this be so, even assuming (and this is a big assumption) that a state is necessary to address every problem. By defining a problem as “global”, we thereby justify global governance. But weren’t slavery and polio once problems as “global” as terrorism and climate change? And yet those were somehow solved without a World State.

What a poverty of logic this is. National governments have indeed always faced problems that were “international in nature”. Sort of like how I, as a limited being with a body containing physical boundaries, have to deal with other such beings and therefore face “interpersonal” problems. Were I to expand like The Blob and absorb all of my enemies, I would surely cease to have such problems. I might have some kind of internal indigestion, though. And of course, these problems might just originate in the fact that I’m an asshole.

Never does the thought occur to Rachman that we could solve worldwide terrorism by the West ceasing to meddle in the affairs in the Muslim world, or financial and environmental problems by scaling back the state and completely decentralizing the economy.

Rachman also writes about the feasibility of global government:

The transport and communications revolutions have shrunk the world so that, as Geoffrey Blainey, an eminent Australian historian, has written: “For the first time in human history, world government of some sort is now possible.”

In other words, “World domination: we now have the technology.” But wait a minute, isn’t government expansion usually justified by the lack of such infrastructure, in the name of bringing rural electrification to the hicks and Christianizing the heathen? Don’t the transport and communications revolutions actually make government unnecessary?

If I were to write the things Rachman writes (with a negative view of course), I would surely be branded as the kind of Montana Black Helecopter-spotter he scorns. For instance, that the New World Order may begin with the Obama administration.

Barack Obama, America’s president-in-waiting, does not share the Bush administration’s disdain for international agreements and treaties.

Actually, I don’t make too much of this. There are two political factions in this country who want a global hegemon: the one that would like it to be run through a multi-national U.N.-type body, and the one that would rather it simply be the U.S. and its ally Israel. It simply does not do to mistake George II for a member of the John Birch society. The factions replace each other in positions of power and opposition like Tweedledee and Tweedledum when they agreed to have a battle, but the center between them can not hold.

And then there’s something called the “Managing Global Insecurity project”, headed by Obama’s transition leader and former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, and Brookings Institution Prez Strobe Talbott.

The MGI report argues for the creation of a UN high commissioner for counter-terrorist activity, a legally binding climate-change agreement negotiated under the auspices of the UN and the creation of a 50,000-strong UN peacekeeping force. Once countries had pledged troops to this reserve army, the UN would have first call upon them.

Because there just aren’t enough armies- excuse me, “peacekeeping forces”- in the world.

It takes no conspiracy to make a world government. It is implied in the logic of statism, as Hans Hoppe reminds us in Democracy: The God that Failed. (See also his article “Marxist and Austrian Class Analysis”) But there might be a tiny problem with justifying it to the sheeple.

These are the kind of ideas that get people reaching for their rifles in America’s talk-radio heartland. Aware of the political sensitivity of its ideas, the MGI report opts for soothing language. It emphasises the need for American leadership and uses the term, “responsible sovereignty” – when calling for international co-operation – rather than the more radical-sounding phrase favoured in Europe, “shared sovereignty”. It also talks about “global governance” rather than world government.

Hey, didn’t George Orwell write something about this? Anyway, don’t forget Mystery, Miracle, and Authority. That usually helps keep those “stubbornly local” types in thrall. Hey, maybe we could make some more “global” crises- then they’d practically have no choice, would they?

But anyway, once the Brave New World Order is here, don’t go thinking that it you’ll have much of a say in it, even if it bears the name “democracy”.

In general, the [European] Union has progressed fastest when far-reaching deals have been agreed by technocrats and politicians – and then pushed through without direct reference to the voters. International governance tends to be effective, only when it is anti-democratic.

Large political bodies, even “democratic” ones, are alienating. Huxley writes in Brave New World Revisited:

Self-government is in inverse ratio to numbers. The larger the constituency, the less the value of any par­ticular vote. When he is merely one of millions, the individual elector feels himself to be impotent, a neg­ligible quantity.

How negligible would you be in a 6 billion-plus body politic? And then there is the old problem of who watches the global watchers. I’ll leave off with this question and another relevant quote from the same Huxley essay.

In the more efficient dictatorships of tomorrow there will probably be much less violence than under Hitler and Stalin. The future dictator’s subjects will be painlessly regimented by a corps of highly trained social engineers. “The challenge of social engineering in our time,” writes an enthusiastic advocate of this new science, “is like the challenge of technical engi­neering fifty years ago. If the first half of the twen­tieth century was the era of the technical engineers, the second half may well be the era of the social engi­neers” — and the twenty-first century, I suppose, will be the era of World Controllers, the scientific caste system and Brave New World. To the question quis custodiet custodes — Who will mount guard over our guardians, who will engineer the engineers? — the an­swer is a bland denial that they need any supervision. There seems to be a touching belief among certain Ph.D.’s in sociology that Ph.D.’s in sociology will never be corrupted by power. Like Sir Galahad’s, their strength is as the strength of ten because their heart is pure — and their heart is pure because they are scien­tists and have taken six thousand hours of social studies.

P.S.- For an interesting contrast of the Brave New World Order that has been a long time coming with the old world that has been a long time gone, I suggest reading Bill Kauffman’s essay, Think Locally, Act Locally, Live Locally. A rootless, restless spirit by nature (not nurture) myself, who moved from his rural upbringing to city life without much regret, I cannot quite assent to Kauffman’s romanticization of all things small and local (he surely ignores the extent to which small towns can be as stultifyingly conformist as the big-city school/factories), but I find his vision of giant schools run by heartless technocrats (entirely in accord with the history of education in America) frighteningly resonant with Huxley’s dystopian description of behaviorist engineering of children en masse (“We condition the masses to hate the country”, says the director of Central London Hatchery and Conditioning), the transmutation of all references to family as smutty and anachronistic talk (“The world was full of fathers,- was therefore full of misery; full of mothers- therefore of every kind of perversion from sadism to chastity; full of brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts- full of madness and suicide”) an abolition of historical knowledge (“History is bunk,” goes a saying of World Controller Mustapha Mond)- as well as Pink Floyd’s great song “Another Brick in the Wall”.

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3 Comments »

  1. Barack Obama has everything to gain by international treaties rallying around the global insecurity project. Here, we can scale back troop commitments while commandeering the fighting men and women from other countries whose states agree that there is a “global insecurity project,” which is a war with no clear parameters or readily identifiable enemies. Who better to fight our wars than other people?

    Comment by Michael — January 24, 2009 @ 3:18 am | Reply

  2. Couldn’t agree more…don’t forget 1984 and Animal Farm!

    Comment by 2gois2return — January 24, 2009 @ 3:19 am | Reply

  3. Well, Brave New World would likely be the intention, and 1984 or Animal Farm the achieved effect, because a World State (along with a central world bank, which is no myth but indeed is now being recommended by some economists- central banks being the sine qua non of an totalitarian state) simply could not have a prosperous enough economy to achieve the standard of living in BNW.

    Comment by rmangum2001 — January 24, 2009 @ 5:49 pm | Reply


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