Historical Reflections on the World State

Posted: 4 October 2015

Joseph Preston Baratta, Worcester State University 

​“History is choosing now the Founding Fathers of the World Republic,” said Carl Van Doren in the heyday. “He who could be in that number and does not choose to be, has lost the noblest opportunity of a lifetime.”

Comment on Current Debate

“The mode by which the inevitable comes to pass is through effort,” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. used to say.[1] During the last historical period when there was much public and some official interest in the project of world federal government, many leaders thought that a world state was inevitable. After atomic bombs were first used in anger, Mortimer Adler thought it was five years away.[2] That hope was behind the U.S. plan for the international control of atomic energy (the Baruch plan).[3] But the logic of the growth of political communities, from the family to the clan to the tribe, the city to the empire to the church to the sovereign state and the nation state,[4] made the political unification of all humanity seem, as G.A. Borgese said, possible and necessary.[5] Young Harris Wofford called world federation “man’s greatest revolution — the revolution to establish politically the brotherhood of man.”[6]

Alexander Wendt’s article, “Why a World State Is Inevitable,” has revived serious interest among international relations scholars in remedying the international anarchy by establishing at least a limited world government. The logic is impeccable, though the practical difficulties are still great. It will not be enough to rest with the sense of inevitability. We must summon our powers to guide humanity’s transition to a world state, which I take it, is the focus of the World State Debate. Ordinary people once perceived the logic of the necessity of union — especially in looking over the destruction of Europe and Asia after World War II — but our task is to help suffering humanity find its way after decolonization, the difficulties of many new independent national states to establish good government, the end of the Cold War and brief excess of American unipolarity, the decline of sovereignty, coming economic globalization, lingering traditions of great powers, and now wars of religion in the Middle East. I think Professor Wendt’s greater contribution is in creating the new theory of constructionism, to supplant cynical realism and stand-pat internationalism, as in his book, Social Theory of International Politics. From a historical perspective, this work seems a revival of world federalism.[7]

Global governance is currently the term most acceptable to scholars, public officials, the press, and the articulate public for all forms of voluntary cooperation to solve global problems beyond the capacity of individual sovereign states, but the logic of the modern situation points to a “more perfect union” of a world government, where the rule of law and effective compliance can be brought into play, as Thomas G. Weiss, normally so dismissive, lately acknowledges.[8] In my work, I always use the term, rooted in the historic movement, of a constitutionally limited, democratically representative, world federal government. Scholars in the debate, with the exception of James Yunker, rarely use the term federation, because, I suppose, federations tend toward unitary states. But no historic proposal aimed at a unitary world state, destructive of the nation–states, and a federation would obviate the fears, expressed by Timothy Burns, Martin Shaw, and Steven Slaughter, of world tyranny. A unitary world state is a straw man, neither proposed nor desirable. It is obvious that a federal world polity has never yet been established, and to some extent the thirty historic national federations are insufficient as precedents, for the world is far more diverse than any community yet united under a federal state. We are faced with the project of creating, by reflection and choice, a world state.[9] “The unity slowly being forged out of diversity in the future will probably be as novel in comparison to the historic national federations,” we have often said, “as the federations were to the confederations and monarchies that preceded them.”[10] No world empire, like that attempted by Philip II, Napoleon, or Hitler, will do. A novel, great, creative work of world politics lies before us.

The great problem is the transition to a world state. World constitutions are not ours to draft. It may be useful for us to try our hands at drafting an ideal constitution, like Hutchins and Borgese’s Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution, or Clark and Sohn’s World Peace through World Law, or Spinelli’s Draft Treaty Establishing the European Union, but we should be wary of thinking that another model will be enough to hasten the transition, what Richard Falk calls “ premature specificity.” A world constitution will be the work of practical politicians responding to overwhelming crises, like war or environmental collapse or mass migration; they will make choices from the repertoire of alternatives long in circulation by writers and dreamers. That is where our preparatory work lies, like the French philosophes or Madison studying the history of republics.

Timothy Burns is not mistaken in warning of the dangers of degeneration of the world republic into tyranny worse than Nazism and Communism. We must find ways to obviate the danger of another world political faith. This danger has already been encountered in the historic world federalist movement. When some people deeply internalized the understanding that the state is based on nothing more substantial than the consent of the governed, that the people in democratic theory are the sovereigns, and that they retain the right of revolution to alter or abolish any state destructive of their rights and to institute new government to effect their safety and happiness, they can become indifferent to the achievements of national life and roundly abuse the established laws in the struggle for world government. Historic figures like Garry Davis and Cord Meyer Jr. became so unsettled; Davis styled himself the “world government,” and Meyer became CIA director of operations where he openly supported the breaking of other countries’ national laws in pursuit of U.S. interests.[11] (There have been others not quite so bad.)

The late Isaiah Berlin has left us a warning: “[The crimes of totalitarianism of the 20th century] have been caused, in our time, by ideas; or rather, by one particular idea.… In a debased form, the Nazi ideology did have roots in German anti-Enlightenment thought.

If you are truly convinced that there is some solution to all human problems, that one can conceive an ideal society which men can reach if only they do what is necessary to attain it, then you and your followers must believe that no price can be too high to pay in order to open the gates of such a paradise. Only the stupid and malevolent will resist once certain simple truths are put to them. Those who resist must be persuaded; if they cannot be persuaded, laws must be passed to restrain them; if that does not work, then coercion, if need be violence, will inevitably have to be used—if necessary, terror, slaughter. Lenin believed this after reading Das Kapital, and consistently taught that if a just, peaceful, happy, free, virtuous society could be created by the means he advocated, then the end justified any methods that needed to be used, literally any.

So what is to be done to restrain the champions, sometimes very fanatical, of one or other of these values, each of whom tends to trample upon the rest, as the great tyrants of the twentieth century have trampled on the life, liberty, and human rights of millions because their eyes were fixed upon some ultimate golden future?

I am afraid I have no dramatic answer to offer: only that if these ultimate human values by which we live are to be pursued, then compromises, trade-offs, arrangements have to be made if the worst is not to happen. So much liberty for so much equality, so much individual self-expression for so much security, so much justice for so much compassion. One cannot have everything one wants—not only in practice, but even in theory. The denial of this, the search for a single, overarching ideal because it is the one and only true one for humanity, invariably leads to coercion. And then to destruction, blood.…

Liberal democracy, despite everything, despite the greatest modern scourge of fanatical, fundamentalist nationalism, is spreading.”[12]


When Professor Burns warns of a world state even more remote than the Eurocrats in Brussels or of laws that would “correct” racism and intolerance, he is voicing a real concern. One solution is regionalism, as Richard Falk and Martin Shaw say. Also are federation, devolution, and subsidiarity. But somewhere, there must be a common institution strong enough to prevent nuclear war and constrain disputants to make use of pacific means of settlement. If global institutions could so reduce the threat of war that general disarmament becomes possible, and the need for highly centralized security systems falls away, the “world government” probably would be even more remote than national governments are today. It is said, “The state is too small for global problems, too large for its citizens.” The world state would be large enough for its problems, but how can it be made safe and incorruptible? The representatives of the people would have to be empowered to make decisions that would often disappoint their constituents, and the citizens would have to be mature enough to accept those decisions in a spirit of compromise as the nearest approach to justice. Until they are ready to accept the will of the majority, the project of a world state should wait. As used to be said, World federation must wait for world community. As Professor Falk says, “The preconditions for democratic world government do not exist.” I think economic globalization, made more equable, is forming that community. Moreover, a limited world state will help to form that community, just as the U.S. government slowly built a sense of American nationality, passing through the supreme test of a civil war for the Union.

But I cannot follow Professor Burns when he reads Immanuel Kant as fearing a world state as a “despotism.” Kant was not opposed. In Perpetual Peace, he distinguished ius cosmopoliticum after ius gentium. His notion of federation was what we would call a confederation of free and independent republics. After the Second Definitive Article, he envisioned a “continuously growing state [based on the rule of law] that will ultimately include all the nations of the world.” At a conference a decade ago in Turin, Lucio Levi and Roberto Castaldi particularly searched in all Kant’s writings for his views going beyond a confederation of states to a world state and found the implications plain.[13]

By the way, Nietzsche did not celebrate the “last man.” That’s us. He upheld the higher man. “Man yet will launch the arrow of his longing beyond man!”[14]

Could democracy characterize the remote world state? That would be a check on abuse of power at the center. The U.N. General Assembly is not a world legislature, yet democracy is already creeping into our international institutions. The most impressive fact is the accelerating growth in the number of international parliamentary institutions (IPIs), like the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Parliamentarians for Global Action. Claudia Kissling finds that “before 1990, 41 IPIs existed, between 1990 and 1999, 51 new ones were founded, and since 1999, 71 newly established IPIs can be counted.” They have not yet revolutionized the system, as a parliamentary second chamber of the U.N. General Assembly might do, but they indirectly represent the citizens of the world, who are already participating in decision making and control above the level of the sovereign state.[15] Moreover, the number of electoral state democracies, according to Freedom House, has to date increased to 117, over half of the 193 state members of the United Nations, which implies progress toward Kant’s vision of a world of representative republics.[16] A similar positive sign is the apparent shift of opinion of the World Social Forum since 2002 from a negative attitude toward a global parliament (Peter Wall: “world government is a negative utopia that requires a high level of undesirable uniformity all around the world”) to a positive one at Mumbai in 2004 (George Monbiot: “without global democracy there cannot be national democracy”), as reported by Nicola Vallinoto.[17]

I find myself most in sympathy with James Yunker’s language of federations because it is rooted in the historic movement, but I rather doubt that limited world government could mean freedom of national secession and independent national military forces. To Clark and Sohn, limited world government referred to the powers necessary to be delegated to the world state. They were limited to those necessary to achieve peace and security (as in the U.N.). Such powers were opposed to maximal ones needed to achieve both peace and justice, as in the Hutchins and Borgese draft world constitution. Clark and Sohn put off more maximal powers to future amendment of the Charter, as the minimal powers proved safe and effective.

I am struck that the right of secession and independent military forces are principles already in the North Atlantic Treaty (Arts. 11 and 13). It is possible that NATO could evolve in the direction of a regional government (Art. 2 provides for “strengthening their free institutions”), for it is a working collective security organization. That is the reason why it endures even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Most constitutions do not provide for secession. The Soviet one did, and eventually the secession clauses were exercised, causing the breakup of the U.S.S.R. Lincoln held that the American Union is perpetual. As a Greek said during the recent E.U. crisis over the euro, “A union is forever. One cannot maintain a flock if the sheep are allowed to wander.” A right of secession would be like those clauses in treaties providing for termination, as if real laws may be abrogated when they become inconvenient. And states with independent military forces would challenge the central government at the first dissension, as Campbell Craig and others argue. This is not the way to organize power to abolish war.

Nevertheless, I think Professor Yunker is reminding us that the forms of a world state may come from existing institutions, novelly developed. Luis Cabrera, too, does not think that the highest level governing bodies must have a monopoly of force (Weber’s definition of a government), but that is because Cabrera leaves regional governments with full military power. Such regionalism has already been tried. When the American South set up its rival armed forces in 1861, the North could have avoided war by accepting disunion and leaving slavery undisturbed. Perhaps time would have mended relations. But war came lest government by the people be proved an illusion in the eyes of monarchical Europe. The Soviet Union avoided a war to preserve the Union when Lithuania seceded in 1990, but the result was a loss of all its achievements of domestic internationalism.

What Can History Offer to the World State Debate?

We are not exploring this ideal for the first time. There is a history of efforts to unite peoples politically and thus inaugurate the rule of law to secure justice and peace. Some go back to Immanuel Kant, William Penn, St. Pierre, Henry IV, and Dante. As those of you familiar with the expression, the “World State Heyday,” understand, during and after World War II, many people (some high in national governments) concluded that, to preserve the peace, more than a revival of a league of sovereign states was needed: the historical moment had arrived to attempt to create at least a limited union of peoples, or a constitutionally limited, democratically representative, world federal government. A large literature was written — some very critical of the transition in the absence of world community to sustain representative institutions and majority rule — which is, we take it, our concern for the practical politics of global integration. Works by Quincy Wright (1932, 1948), Reinhold Niebuhr (1944), Lewis Mumford (1944), Arnold Toynbee (1934-1961), F.S.C. Northrop (1947, 1953), Philip Jessup (1948), Pitirim Sorokin (1948), George Orwell (1949), and Richard Falk and Saul Mendlovitz (1966) should still repay examination for light on preparing the conditions for world union.[18]

When I first began to study practical efforts to abolish the international anarchy and establish world government, I was struck that by the 1970s there was no controversy on the subject like that over traditional accounts of the origins of the Cold War vs. revisionism, or Communism vs. capitalism. There was a little surviving world federalist movement, but the saving remnant were confused about even their own role in world politics. Historians and the foreign policy elite treated the idea of world government with contempt. So to establish the field, I focused on writing annotated bibliographies of a surprisingly wide literature: Strengthening the United Nations in 1987, The United Nations System: Meeting the World Constitutional Crisis in 1995, and the bibliography in The Politics of World Federation in 2004. Most of the works on world government therein were written from the start of World War II to the Korean War, which wonderfully concentrated the minds of the authors. They came from all over the globe (I combed the Dag Hammarskjöld Library for them). The Atlantic community produced most, but next came works from Mexico, Japan, and India, down to Zaire (72 nations). It has not been an “American” movement.

Although the world federalists remained a principled dissenting group during the Cold War, the principal lesson I learned was that they were organized too late to have an influence on policy. United World Federalists did not form until February 1947; in March 1947, President Truman announced the containment policy. Very rapidly Truman and Stalin returned to great power diplomacy. To be effective, the federalists would have had to organize, say, by 1942, before the State Department abandoned the federal alternative as ahead of public opinion and before the wartime alliance broke down. Nevertheless, in 1947 UWF aimed at 50,000,000 adherents. If such numbers had materialized, the movement today would not be regarded as utopian. World federalists continued to say that they, who wished to extend the rule of law, were the realists, while those who put their faith in a league of sovereign states or, worse, who supposed that peace could long be maintained by deterrence or competition in arms were the utopians.[19]

The coming of the Cold War is the principal explanation for the demise of the world federalist movement. With the end of the Cold War, an historic opportunity opened up to establish a new world order, as President Bush pere, said. Federalists thought it was to “begin the world over again” (Paine), like that at the end of World War II, the Great War, or the Napoleonic wars. To all appearances, the opportunity was squandered for a unipolar moment, but still the end of the Cold War has led to globalization.

“History,” said Bolingbroke, “is philosophy teaching by examples.” What history offers to political scientists, in our view, is more contact with real people and events, bringing abstract theory down to earth. History shows how governments have actually been formed. It is a link to foreign policy. It aims to find out what really happened. For instance, some thirty national federations have been formed since 1787.[20] Is it not likely that world federation will draw on their experience?

Our argument is that peace under law cannot be established without some delegation of sovereign powers from the states and their peoples in order to inaugurate the rule of world law reaching to individuals, as expressed so eloquently in The Federalist, No. 15: “The great and radical vice in the construction of the existing Confederation is in the principle of legislation for states or governments, in their corporate or collective capacities, and as contradistinguished from the individuals of which they consist.… Government implies the power of making laws.… There was a time when we were told that breaches, by the States, of the regulations of the federal authority were not to be expected; that a sense of common interest would preside over the conduct of the respective members, and would beget a full compliance with all the constitutional requisitions of the Union.… Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint.… If, therefore, the measures of the Confederacy cannot be executed without the intervention of the particular administrations, there will be little prospect of their being executed at all.… The measures of the Union have not been executed; the delinquencies of the States have, step by step, matured themselves to an extreme, which has, at length, arrested all the wheels of the national government, and brought them to an awful stand.”

This passage could be read as an analysis of the current world situation under the United Nations. Numbers of The Federalist that seem to us most relevant to the project of guiding humanity to a world state are Nos. 1, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 21, 23, 39, 46, 51, and 64. Our sense is that an American audience will be more receptive to arguments for a world state drawn from The Federalist than from Hegel’s Philosophy of History. Perhaps Hegel is more relevant to a European audience. However, The Federalist can be misleading since the papers do assume that the “people” (in IR terms, the demos) are sufficiently united in their values and habits as to make possible the establishment of a world republic. Preparing the latter cultural, social, and economic preconditions seems to us, from a historical perspective, to be the main task ahead. Humanity is faced with a novel work of world statecraft far beyond in complexity and difficulty any of the thirty, historic national federations. An empire might be extended quickly around the globe, but, judging by the failures of the last three attempts to unite the world by force — Philip II, Napoleon, Hitler — a fourth attempt would soon end in anarchy like the present.

New leadership, particularly of diverse humanity, will surely be needed, especially for a good world state. The project before us is of unexampled world statesmanship. Never has a community as large as all humanity been united by federation. Pope Francis on his recent visit exhibits the personal magnetism that probably will be needed. Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan briefly possessed it as they ended the Cold War.[21] Some authors, like Michael Mandelbaum, argue with some reason that the United States will be that leader.[22] So did Lincoln (“the last best hope”), Madeleine Albright (“the indispensible nation”), and George W. Bush (“exceptionalism”). The late William Pfaff left behind a warning of American interventionism to spread democracy: “[Wilson] became convinced that the American nation, and he personally, were bearers of a divine commission to reform civilization by abolishing war and extending to the globe the benevolent principles of American democracy and religion.” He traced this “tragedy” through the national security strategies to promote democracy of the last Bush administration.[23] We have to be on guard against misdirection of our aspirations for a better ordered world.

A crisis, by past precedents, may well be necessary for a new step forward. As Jean Monnet used to say, for the hard work of uniting sovereignties, people will act only when faced by a crisis.[24] Thomas Jefferson said much the same when he wrote, “All experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than they are to right themselves by changing the forms to which they are accustomed.”[25] The world now is faced by a massive crisis, symbolized by the threat of nuclear war, economic depression, ecological collapse, new pandemics, terrorism from the global South, and all the problems of the global problématique. At the moment it is only a crisis of the mind. Until there is another disaster on the scale of World War II, demonstrating the failure of the old ways of internationalism, we probably cannot expect revolutionary action. Small changes must continue to suffice.

Are we settled in our purpose to uphold the ultimate goal of a world state? As Aristotle says at the beginning of the Ethics, in practical affairs the purpose is the first principle.[26] If our goal is the abolition of war, it might be possible to achieve that objective by a combination of halfway measures, as in the abolition of slavery. Nevertheless, even a regime of peace under law would be an accomplishment of historic proportions. The way we have put it, “World federation will provide the minimal political, economic, and social order for the full realization of the potentialities of every human being, that is, for the perfection of religion, which Bahí’ís call the Most Great Peace.…[27] We are seeking the Lesser Peace. When the oneness of humanity is established on a working basis, then the great work of education, science, democratic politics, industry, business enterprise, sport, art, and religion will begin to succeed.”[28]

Research Program

At the risk of treading on the toes of scholars of international relations, I would like to lay out theses for future research rather like Martin Luther’s ninety-five.

1. We need to focus on building the world community as the foundation for any form of world government. As Professor Falk says, we should seek “transnational collaboration to construct a series of political scenarios that envision benevolent forms of global transformation, including tentative ideas about institutional design.” We must expect, as he also says, the “struggle of the oppressed” as the engine of world transformation.

2. We need a proof of the necessity of government that will stand up robustly to realist and internationalist challenge. The argument must be intelligible and winning to the diversity of people in the nations. It must persuade the World Social Forum (Porto Alegre) and then the World Economic Forum (Davos). Only then should we seek a politician convinced enough to campaign for office on a world federation platform.

3. We must explore novel forms of world democracy as the foundation of a secure world state. We should heed the recent Manifesto of Global Democracy (Lucio Levi et al.). How will the people be educated to perform their responsibilities as well as enjoy their rights as world citizens? What would happen if the state collapsed? World civil war?

4. We should prefer a world federal government to any unitary world government, abolishing the historic states. They will be necessary as subordinate administrative units and sources of law for national or regional domestic relations. Constant usage of the term “world government” invites critics to set up the straw man of world tyranny. Subsidiarity is the principle. “Unity and Diversity” should be our motto.

5. We must find ways to guard against world tyranny beyond division of sovereignty, checks and balances, eternal vigilance of the people. Small self-governing towns, factories, and farms, as in Kropotkin’s vision — if only their common needs for protection from corporate manipulation and war could be provided — might work. That government is best that governs least, as Thoreau said.

6. We should re-examine proposals of a unicameral world legislature. Clark and Sohn argued that it would be dangerous for peace to depend on a popular legislature that might be paralyzed by disagreements between its two houses. Party systems (factions to Madison) developed to discipline assemblies. Checks and balances prevented abuse of power. Possible role of a third chamber representative of merchants, as Mark Nerfin once proposed,[29] or a fourth of wisdom, as in the Chicago plan.

7. We must control nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are loose in the world, as are ever more perversions of science (Churchill). If all the 44 actual and potential nuclear weapons states signed and ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban (1996), would humanity be safe? A central authority, as in the Baruch plan, seems inescapable.

8. “General and complete disarmament under effective international control” (NPT) implies some global collective security authority. Without disarmament, as Wilson, Roosevelt and Churchill declared, humanity will not know peace.

9. Study should be made of those American officials who supported the Republika Srpska, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and proposed one for Iraq. The British also had recourse to federations for their dominions in Canada and Australia. The federal form is actually well understood at the national level. Why cannot it be encouraged by U.S. policy?

10. Historians should find the real “wise men,” at the start of the Cold War, who tried to understand the Soviet’s concern for security in eastern Europe and to develop the policy of the wartime United Nations. These, I think, would include Grenville Clark, Bernard Baruch, Henry Wallace, Thomas K. Finletter, Ernest Bevin, Winston Churchill at times, and even the early John Foster Dulles. Such work would be corrective of Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas’s Wise Men: George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Charles Bohlen, Robert Lovett, Averell Harriman, John J. McCloy. The “world they made” restored the international anarchy.

11. We should seek development of major IGOs, NATO, etc., rather than imagining we must reinvent the wheel and start over from scratch. Learn from the European Union. Gradually reform the United Nations. Re-examine John Maynard Keynes’ vision for the Bretton Woods organizations, such as the International Trade Organization, devoted to both free trade and full employment. The bancor as an international reserve currency. The OSCE, which already includes all the former Soviet and Warsaw pact republics, could be made into a working regional collective security organization extending across Russia and Siberia. Re-examine the NGO forum, global parliament, representation of the people. Arguments should be made to influence policy makers — articles in Foreign Affairs. Not so abstract as to lose touch with those who govern.

12. To defend human rights, we should present the arguments for human rights courts. For example, the European Court of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (if the U.S.A.can be induced to join). As Hans Kelsen argued, the first stage in the formation of governments was the establishment of judicial courts reaching the people.

13. We should strengthen participation of national lawmakers in parliamentary unions. In that newly emerging tradition, a Global Parliament as a second chamber of the U.N. General Assembly, as Falk and Strauss propose, would be the leading innovation. Only public will — not P5 initiative — can do it.

14. As the U.S.A. declines, we must press it to join the International Criminal Court, the Law of the Sea, the Comprehensive Test Ban, and return to the work of international organization. That is where American leadership belongs. It should not wait until forced by the necessity faced by medium and small powers to join IOs.

15. We must make economic globalization more equitable. Both the pope and Joseph Stiglitz show the way.

16. We need to demonstrate the value of the rule of law, if extended from the national state to the whole world. “There is no peace without justice, no justice without law, no law without government,” as world federalists used to say. Mark Van Doren added, “Law is merely what allows me to live in peace with my neighbor without having to love him.”

17. The Progressive period in American history (1901-16) offers guidance for the world in its current Gilded Age. The “malefactors of great wealth” (Theodore Roosevelt) were once brought under law by widening democracy. The top bracket of the U.S. progressive income tax was 96% in 1944. Even in the Nixon administration, it was 70%. That produced the most equitable society in American history.

18. The Post-Westphalian moment will come with recognition of the sovereignty of all humanity. When the people have standing in international courts along with states, the step to popular sovereignty will have come. When they have the vote, they will have the power.

19. We should take courage from all the “impossible” things that happen rather frequently on historical time scales: the acceptance of the norm of nonaggression (U.N. Charter, Arts. 2[4] and 2[3]), the acceptance of two-thirds majority rule in the United Nations (where the Big Five veto is the last relic of absolute national sovereignty), the end of the Cold War (thanks to a Communist general secretary), the liberation of eastern Europe (starting in Poland), the reunification of democratic Germany, the civil rights movement for black-white racial equality (thanks to Martin Luther King), the collapse of apartheid in South Africa (led by a black prisoner of conscience), and the election of a black president of the United States. Everybody in the world is a person of "color." We are all various shades of tan.

20. Truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed; then it is violently opposed; finally it is accepted as self-evident (Schopenhauer). Theorists of the world state are approaching stage 2. We must find ways to guide the debate so that humanity does not experience the violence of nationalism.

“History is choosing now the Founding Fathers of the World Republic,” said Carl Van Doren in the heyday. “He who could be in that number and does not choose to be, has lost the noblest opportunity of a lifetime.”[30]


APEC Asian–Pacific Economic Cooperation (1989)

AL Arab League (1945)

ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations (1967)

AU African Union (2002)

CAP Central American Parliament (2004)

CE Council of Europe (1949)—not shown

EU European Union (1951, 1992)

G-20 Group of 20 (1999)

NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement (1994)

NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1949)

OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(1947, 1961)—not shown

OIC Organization of the Islamic Conference, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (1969)

OSCE Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (1975, 1994)

SAARC South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (1985)

SCO Shanghai Cooperation Organization (2001)

USAN Union of South American Nations (2004, 2008)

APEC: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, S. Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, U.S.A., Vietnam

AL: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

ASEAN: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia

AU: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina–Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Cap Vert, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, RD Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

CAP: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic

CE: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, U.K.

EU: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, U.K

G-20: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America

NAFTA: Canada, Mexico, U.S.A.

NATO: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, U.K., U.S.A.

OECD: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, U.K., U.S.A.

OIC: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei–Darussalam, Burkina–Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea–Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen

OSCE: Albania, Andora, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, U.K., U.S.A., Uzbekistan

SAARC: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

SCO: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

USAN: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, Venezuela; Observers: Mexico, Panama



[1] Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Quoted by Grenville Clark, Letter to the Editor, New York Times, 23 June 1946.

[2] Mortimer J. Adler, “Five Hundred Years from Now or Five?” Common Cause, 1 (July 1947), 9-10.

[3] Joseph Preston Baratta, “Was the Baruch Plan a Proposal of World Government?” International History Review, 7 (November 1985): 592-621.

[4] Peter J. Taylor, World Government (New York: Oxford UniversityPress, 1990. Political geographers find 1,300 “nations” currently.

[5] [G. A. Borgese,] “To the Reader,” Common Cause, 1 (March 1948): 326–27.

[6] Harris Wofford, “Dead End: Federalism Limited,” Ibid., 1 (May 1948): 388.

[7] Baratta, “A World State Is Inevitable,” Review of Alexander Wendt, Social Theory of International Politics. The Federalist Review, 26, 1 (March 2013): 55-58.

[8] Thomas G. Weiss, “What Happened to the Idea of World Government?” Presidential Address, 50th Convention of the International Studies Association, New York, N.Y., 16 February 2009; International Studies Quarterly (2009): 53, 253–271; Weiss, Global Governance: Why? What? Whither? (Cambridge: Polity, 2013), 184.

[9] The Federalist (1787), No. 1.

[10] Baratta, The Politics of World Federation, Vol. 1: United Nations, U.N. Reform, Atomic Control; Vol. 2: From World Federalism to Global Governance (Praeger, 2004), 2, 17, 536.

[11] Cord Meyer Jr., Facing reality: From World Federation to the CIA (Harper, 1980).

[12] Isaiah Berlin, “A Message to the 21st Century,” New York Review of Books, 23 October 2014.

[13] Roberto Castaldi, ed., Immanuel Kant and Alexander Hamilton, the Founders of Federalism: A Political Theory for Our Time (Bruxelles: Peter Lang, 2013): 32-41, 237-49. My own view there was more modest.

[14] Zarathustra, Prologue.

[15] Lucio Levi, Giovanni Finizio, and Nicola Vallinoto, The Democratization of International Institutions: First International Democracy Report (London: Routledge, 2014), 18, 25-53;

[16] Freedom in the World, 2013. https://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FIW%202013%20Booklet.pdf. Accessed 18 June 2015.

[17] Nicola Vallinoto, The Democratization of International Institutions, 472-73.

[18] Quincy Wright, A Study of War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1942. 2 vols.) Wright, A Study of War. Abridgment by Louis L. Wright (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1942, 1964).

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness: A Vindication of Democracy and a Critique of Its Traditional Defense (New York: Scribners, 1944).

Lewis Mumford, The Condition of Man (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1944).

Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1934, 1939, 1954, 1961). Abridgement of vols. 1-10 by D.C. Somervell, 1947, 1957.

F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West: An Inquiry Concerning World Understanding (New York: Macmillan, 1947); Northrop, The Taming of the Nations: A Study of the Cultural Bases of International Policy (New York: Macmillan, 1953).

Philip C. Jessup, The International Problem of Governing Mankind (Claremont, CA: Claremont College, 1947).

Pitirim A. Sorokin, The Reconstruction of Humanity (Boston: Beacon Press, 1948).

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1949).

Richard A. Falk and Saul H. Mendlovitz, eds., The Strategy of World Order (New York: World Law Fund, 1966).

Vol. 1: Toward a Theory of War Prevention;

Vol. 2: International Law;

Vol. 3: Disarmament and Economic Development;

Vol. 4: The United Nations

[19] Erich Kahler, “The Reality of Utopia,” American Scholar, 15 (Spring 1946), 167–79.

[20] Baratta, Politics of World Federation, 253-54.

[21] Jack F. Matlock Jr. Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended (New York: Random House, 2004); Matlock, Superpower Illusions: How Myths and false Ideologies Led America Astray—and How to Return to Reality (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.

[22] Michael Mandelbaum, The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World’s Government in the 21st Century (New York: Public Affairs, 2005.

[23] William Pfaff, The Irony of Manifest Destiny (New York: Walker, 2010), 71, 173.

[24] Jean Monnet, Memoirs, trans. Richard Mayne, intro. George Ball (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978), 13, 421.

[25] Declaration of Independence, 1776.

[26] Aristotle, Nicomachaean Ethics, 1094a-b; Politics, 1252b30; Physics, 198b-199b.

[27] J. Tyson, World Peace and World Government: From Vision to Reality (Oxford: Ronald, 1986).

[28] Baratta, Politics of World Federation, 26.

[29] Marc Nerfin, “The Future of the U.N. System: Some Questions on the Occasion of an Anniversary,” Development Dialogue (Uppsala), 1 (1985): 5-29. Available from the Ford Foundation.

[30] Carl Van Doren, attributed; (not in The Great Rehearsal, 1948).





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