It's time for a new, new world order
The future of humanity cannot be led by self interested nation states, we need a unified global government if we hope to address humanity’s most serious problems.
The future looks pretty bleak to anyone paying attention. Through this pandemic, we have witnessed a revival of nationalism, the continued rise of corporate power, and international conflict that seems to be rearing its ugly head in nearly every corner of the globe. We can get ourselves out of this mess, but it’s going to take us thinking outside our national political paradigms and forging a single government for humanity.
Nation-states are more eager than at any time in recent history to secure their place in the world through weaponry and technology, with countries like Japan, India, and Iran beefing up their military strength to project power on the world stage. Competition between nations is reaching a crescendo, with China, Russia, the US, and Europe battling for who will control the economic and political future of the world with the proxy battle for Ukraine serving as the latest evidence of a shifting landscape.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way. Our economies, our lives, and our aspirations globally are more interconnected than ever before. Globalization has taken the world from impossibly large and complex to connected in a way that was not even viewed as possible just mere decades ago. Through technological advances, we are solving many of the major problems that plagued humanity for centuries. Hunger, access to clean water, logistics, and language barriers are all becoming problems of humanity’s past, not our shared future.
Economist Robin Hanson devised a theory in his 1996 essay, "The Great Filter - Are We Almost Past It?", arguing that civilizations face events he refers to as Great Filters. These events must be overcome for civilizations to move beyond their current level of existence and to propel themselves into the future.
Climate change, overpopulation, energy limitations, and even the colonization of space are the Great Filter events facing us today. These aren’t Canadian challenges, American challenges, Chinese challenges, or even Russian challenges — they are decisive for humanity as a whole. We cannot possibly hope to solve them when nation-states are acting in their own best interest and not framing problems in the context of all of humanity.
In order for us to address the existential challenges we face, and to survive, we must demand a single, unified global government. We have made attempts before to move to a more unified world. The League of Nations following WWI and the United Nations following WWII are examples of our efforts. Unfortunately, both have fallen short of achieving any lasting impact on the way the world is governed.
Why should we expect them to make any real progress to the way we live or deal with global problems when the components of these organizations are or were the very nation-states they mean to unite. We cannot hope to build a new world based on the foundation of what is inherently balkanized.
Hopefully, we are facing the last gasp of nationalism in global politics. One which will be harsh but swift. If we can come to recognize our fellow human beings for their potential and our shared humanity, we can prosper and truly advance. A government based on the principles of humanism, bringing together the world’s best minds to solve our issues has the power to take humanity to a new level of existence, and propel us past this Great Filter.
The transition to a global government will take decades and perhaps even a catastrophe to be realized. Things will most certainly get much worse before they get better. A world congress with representatives that are directly elected by the people and not appointed by presidents, monarchs, and despots would be a good first step towards unifying humanity and unleashing our potential.
A recent McKinsey Global Institute study says that 30% of US jobs will be lost to automation by 2030. In countries like China, those numbers are much higher. In a world without jobs for a third of citizens, and a lack of political solutions to ensure they don’t slip into a permanent lower class, there will certainly be increased global poverty, conflict, and displacement in the near term.
At the same time, the very means of production themselves, for the first time in history will no longer be human. This shift will make us wealthier than ever before and will provide human beings the opportunity to philosophize, learn, and create with our time instead of working traditional jobs.
Instead of leading us down a path where we can truly seize this opportunity, our governments are plunging us into an ever-deeper hole whereby those displaced by automation will have nowhere to turn. We cannot hope to maintain our current societal norms with a permanent 30% unemployment rate. There must be solutions.
We don’t know what a global government might look like, how it will govern, or who would lead it. Given the state of our world today, every one of those decisions is a powder keg ready to ignite. What we can do is look at what already works to bring people of different cultures, languages, religions, and nationalities together globally. We can and look to the models which already exist like that of the European Union, a confederation of nation states united in common cause, to guide us.
We can choose to unite and use technology to advance us into a bold, new unified future or we can choose to ignore the mistakes of our past and slide deeper and deeper into a state of distrust, hatred, and war. Let’s work towards the former. For civilizations that fail to make it through Great Filter events, the only future is extinction.
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