The Trouble With World Government

The Trouble With World Government
The World Health Organization logo is seen at the entrance of its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 9, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeffrey A. Tucker
5/14/2024
Updated:
5/15/2024
0:00
Commentary

Well, at least that’s one setback for world government.

A court in Australia has told the government’s own eSafety Commission that Elon Musk is correct: One country cannot impose censorship on the world. The company X, formerly known as Twitter, must obey national law but not global law.

Mr. Musk seems to have won a very similar fight in Brazil, where a judge demanded not just a national but global takedown. X refused and won. For now.

This really does raise a serious issue: How big of a threat are these global government institutions?

Dreamy, dopey, and often scary intellectuals have dreamed of global government for centuries. If you are rich enough and smart enough, the idea seems to be the perennial temptation. The list of advocates includes people who otherwise have made notable contributions: Albert Einstein, Isaac Asimov, Walter Cronkite, Buckminster Fuller, and many others.

Often the dream comes alive following huge upheavals such as war and depression. Or a pandemic period such as the one we’ve just gone through. The use of “disinformation” as a cross-border test case of global government power is designed to deploy a new strategy of governance in general, one that disregards national control in favor of global control.

That has always been the dream. In history, for example, following the Great War, we saw the creation of the League of Nations, which was a forerunner to the United Nations, at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson. Both were seen by the intellectual class as necessary building blocks for what they really wanted, which was a binding world state.

This is not a conspiracy theory. It’s what they said and what they wanted.

In 1919, H.G. Wells, inspired by the League, became so excited about the idea that he wrote a sweeping reinterpretation of world history that extended from the ninth century B.C. until that present moment. It was called “The Outline of History.”

The goal of the book was to turn on its head the popular Whig theory from the previous century, which saw history as the story of ever more freedom for individuals and away from powerful states. Wells told a story of tribes turning to nations and then to regions, with ever less power to the people and ever more to dictators and planners. His purpose was to chronicle and defend exactly this.

It was a huge bestseller at a time when the appetite for books was voracious because they were becoming affordable and there was a burning passion in the population for universal education. The thesis of his book, however valuable in some historical respects, was genuinely bizarre. He imagined a future world state ruled by a tiny elite of the smartest people who would plan all economies, information flows, migration patterns, and governance systems while crushing national ambitions, free enterprise, traditions, and constitutions.

It was crazy stuff and didn’t really happen. But the efforts never stopped among a certain class of intellectuals. Following World War II, we saw similar efforts, the U.N. being only one. In the agreement hammered out at Bretton Woods in 1944, we had forged the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which were seen as the basis of a global planning apparatus, together with a new world monetary system.

None of this worked out either. The IMF and World Bank ended up being well-funded sinecures for elite academics but not really the financial basis of a world state. The U.N. turned into a disappointment for many. The efforts at global management of trade finally came to fruition with the World Trade Organization, but that machinery has proven mostly toothless and unable to stop the sweeping turning back on free trade that has taken place over the past five years. Today, no nation really fears that entity.

The drive to unite Europe was advertised as a liberal move to inspire cooperation on trade and travel and to make economic cooperation possible. But that was just the pitch. The reality of the European Union was the creation of a mean bureaucracy in Brussels that would override the sovereignty of nations and force deference to a new central state in Europe that actually had no historical precedent. It was an experiment in region-wide government planning.

Britain was always a reluctant member, but when its worst fears were realized, the people voted to leave the whole thing. The result was Brexit, a political movement that panicked elites all over the world. They saw the plans of decades going up in smoke. Boris Johnson became prime minister with the task of making Brexit happen, but his rule was confounded at every step. Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic came along to upend his entire tenure.

One way to understand the COVID-19 pandemic response is as a further experiment in world government, a way for the elites to broadcast to the entire planet that they can achieve global cooperation when they want to.

In most every nation, the response was the same in terms of timing and protocol. Social distancing was everywhere, and masks, too. The breakup of gatherings including worship, along with idiotic schemes such as one-way grocery aisles, were imposed everywhere. The slogans (“We are all in this together”) and signage (wash hands, keep distance, mask up) were also the same.

It was creepy in the extreme, especially when you consider the way it all happened at once, even though we knew for sure that there are huge hemispheric differences in the way respiratory pathogens spread. Something can be a problem in New York but not in Sydney. Why did this happen all at once? The message seemed to be: This is just what we do in a global pandemic.

What they did not tell anyone is that none of this constituted “common sense public health measures” but rather amounted to an experiment without any precedent in the history of humanity. Nowhere had all this cockamamie stuff ever been implemented. Only crazy people had recommended them in the past, but the crazies somehow carried the day. There was a message behind the entire effort: We are the government, and we rule the world, populists’ resentment be damned.

In the aftermath, the World Health Organization (WHO) has picked up the mantle to goad the nations of the world to give up their sovereignty and agree to implement the same protocols anytime that the WHO demands it. They have this treaty or agreement that they have been shopping around the planet for signers. At first, it seemed to be in the bag. But with the calamity of the COVID-19 pandemic response in the rearview mirror, it turned out to not be so easy.

The group REPPARE started looking carefully at this agreement and the amendments and saw that the entire thing rested on faulty premises, twisted thinking, and fiscal profligacy. Governments around the world are now flat-out rejecting the offer to give up their control over nations. It appears now that the World Health Organization’s agreement is in trouble. We are even starting to see movements in the direction of leaving the WHO completely, just as President Donald Trump attempted to do back in 2017.

No question that a nascent world government is in operation today. It is hugely influential over media, technology, and the operation of the internet. It is managing global money flows and asset prices. It aims to reduce national sovereignty to mere brand names of the same thing and make it impossible for the will of the voters to prevail in any policy outcomes. It consists of large and well-funded elites that swim between the public and private sectors and operate through foundations and nongovernmental organizations. It is utterly detached from democratic processes.

“Nothing more disastrous could happen in the field of international economic relations than the realization of such plans,” Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1944. “It would divide the nations into two groups—the exploiting and the exploited; those restricting output and charging monopoly prices, and those forced to pay monopoly prices. It would engender insoluble conflicts of interests and inevitably result in new wars.”

In other words, like all government actions, the results of a world government would end in the opposite of the promise: not peace but war, not prosperity but poverty, not health but sickness, not a better environment but a worse one. It would be a prison for the world and utterly unworkable. People of the world need to be on the lookout for what is happening and reject it whenever the opportunity presents itself to do so.

For this reason, we should cheer anytime global government impositions such as censorship experience a setback. Government in one country causes enough trouble. A unitary government ruling all countries would doom what’s left of civilization.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of "The Best of Ludwig von Mises." He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.