The idea and aspiration of world government has been known since the dawn of history. Bronze Age Egyptian Kings aimed to rule "All That the Sun Encircles", Mesopotamian Kings "All from the Sunrise to the Sunset", and ancient Chinese and Japanese Emperors "All under Heaven". These four civilizations developed impressive cultures of Great Unity, or Da Yitong as the Chinese put it. In 113 BC, the Han dynasty in China erected an Altar of the Great Unity.
Polybius said that the Roman achievement of imposing one government over the Mediterranean world was a "marvelous" achievement, and that the main task of future historians will be to explain how this was done.
The idea of world government outlived the fall of the Pax Romana for a millennium. Dante in the fourteenth century despairingly appealed to the human race: "But what has been the condition of the world since that day the seamless robe [of Pax Romana] first suffered mutilation by the claws of avarice, we can read—would that we could not also see! O human race! what tempests must need toss thee, what treasure be thrown into the sea, what shipwrecks must be endured, so long as thou, like a beast of many heads, strivest after diverse ends! Thou art sick in either intellect, and sick likewise in thy affection. Thou healest not thy high understanding by argument irrefutable, nor thy lower by the countenance of experience. Nor dost thou heal thy affection by the sweetness of divine persuasion, when the voice of the Holy Spirit breathes upon thee, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"" (De Monarchia, 16:1)
De jure belli ac pacis (On the Law of War and Peace) is a 1625 book in Latin, written by Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) and published in Paris, on the legal status of war. It is now regarded as a foundational work in international law. Grotius was a philosopher, theologian, playwright, and poet. He is known for coming up with the idea of having an international law, and is still acknowledged today by the American Society of International Law.
Writing in 1795, Immanuel Kant considered World Citizenship to be a necessary step in establishing world peace
Immanuel Kant wrote the essay "Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch" (1795). In his essay, Kant describes three basic requirements for organizing human affairs to permanently abolish the threat of present and future war, and, thereby, help establish a new era of lasting peace throughout the world. Specifically, Kant described his proposed peace program as containing two steps.
The "Preliminary Articles" described the steps that should be taken immediately, or with all deliberate speed:
"No Secret Treaty of Peace Shall Be Held Valid in Which There Is Tacitly Reserved Matter for a Future War"
"No Independent States, Large or Small, Shall Come under the Dominion of Another State by Inheritance, Exchange, Purchase, or Donation"
"National Debts Shall Not Be Contracted with a View to the External Friction of States"
"No State Shall by Force Interfere with the Constitution or Government of Another State,
"No State Shall, during War, Permit Such Acts of Hostility Which Would Make Mutual Confidence in the Subsequent Peace Impossible: Such Are the Employment of Assassins (percussores), Poisoners (venefici), Breach of Capitulation, and Incitement to Treason (perduellio) in the Opposing State"
Three Definitive Articles would provide not merely a cessation of hostilities, but a foundation on which to build a peace.
"The Civil Constitution of Every State Should Be Republican"
"The Law of Nations Shall be Founded on a Federation of Free States"
"The Law of World Citizenship Shall Be Limited to Conditions of Universal Hospitality"
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
The year of the battle at Jena (1806), when Napoleon overwhelmed Prussia, Fichte in
Characteristics of the Present Age described what he perceived to be a very deep and dominant historical trend:
There is necessary tendency in every cultivated State to extend itself generally... Such is the case in Ancient History ... As the States become stronger in themselves and cast off that [Papal] foreign power, the tendency towards a Universal Monarchy over the whole Christian World necessarily comes to light... This tendency ... has shown itself successively in several States which could make pretensions to such a dominion, and since the fall of the Papacy, it has become the sole animating principle of our History... Whether clearly or not—it may be obscurely—yet has this tendency lain at the root of the undertakings of many States in Modern Times... Although no individual Epoch may have contemplated this purpose, yet is this the spirit which runs through all these individual Epochs, and invisibly urges them onward.
In 1842, the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, published the oft-quoted lines "Locksley Hall": For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see / Saw a Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be /... / Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer / and the battle-flags were furled / In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world. / There the common sense of most shall hold / a fretful realm in awe / And the kindly earth shall slumber / lapt in universal law.
Ulysses S. Grant
US president Ulysses S. Grant was convinced in 1873: "Transport, education and rapid development of both spiritual and material relationships by means of steam power and the telegraph, all this will make great changes. I am convinced that the Great Framer of the World will so develop it that it becomes one nation, so that armies and navies are no longer necessary."
He also commented, "I believe at some future day, the nations of the earth will agree on some sort of congress which will take cognizance of international questions of difficulty and whose decisions will be as binding as the decisions of the Supreme Court are upon us".
The first thinker to anticipate a kind of world unity ("great household of the world") under the American primacy seems to be British politician William Gladstone. In 1878, he wrote:
While we have been advancing with portentous rapidity, America is passing us by as if a canter. There can hardly be a doubt, as between America and England, of the belief that the daughter at no very distant time will ... be unquestionably yet stronger than the mother ... She [America] will probably become what we are now—head servant in the great household of the world...
In 1885, Kang Youwei published his One World Philosophy, where he based his vision on the evidence of political expansion which began in the immemorial past and went in his days on. He concludes:
Finally, the present Powers of the world were formed. This process [of coalescing and forming fewer, larger units] has all taken place among the 10,000 countries over several thousand years. The progression from dispersion to union among men, and the principle [whereby] the world is [gradually] proceeding from being partitioned off to being opened up, is a spontaneous [working] of the Way of Heaven (or Nature) and human affairs.
No factor, he believed, in the long run could resist the "laws of empires". Kang Youwei projects the culmination of the ongoing world unification with the final confrontation between the United States and Germany: "Some day America will take in [all the states of] the American continent and Germany will take in all the [states of] Europe. This will hasten the world along the road to One World."
I should rather prefer such an increase in the threatening attitude of Russia, that Europe would have to make up its mind to become equally threatening—namely to acquire one will, by means of a new caste to rule over the Continent, a persistent, dreadful will of its own, that can set its aims thousands of years ahead. The time for petty politics is past; the next century will bring the struggle for the domination of the world.
Vacher de Lapouge
The French demographer, George Vacher de Lapouge, followed K'ang Yu-wei in 1899 with his L'Aryen: Son Role Social. Similarly, he outlined the logistic growth of empires from the Bronze Age till his days, when "six states govern... three quarters of the globe", and concluded: "The moment is close when the struggle for the domination of the world is going to take place."
Vacher de Lapouge did not bet on Washington and Berlin in the final contest for world domination contrary to K'ang Yu-wei. Like his earlier compatriot, Alexis de Tocqueville, he guessed the Cold War contenders correctly but he went one step further. He estimated the chances of the United States as favorite in the final confrontation:
The reign of Europe is over, well over... The future of France seems less certain but it is unnecessary to become illusioned... I do not believe by the way that Germany might count for a much longer future... We could... envisage... the possibility that England and her immense Empire comes to surrender to the United States. The latter... is the true adversary of Russia in the great struggle to come... I also believe that the United States is appealed to triumph. Otherwise, the universe would be Russian.
In the second half of the 19th century, Bahá'u'lláh founded the Bahá'í Faith, a religion which identified the establishment of world unity and a global federation of nations as a key principle. He envisioned a set of new social structures based on participation and consultation among the world's peoples, including a world legislature, an international court, and an international executive empowered to carry out the decisions of these legislative and judicial bodies. Connected principles of the Bahá'í religion include universal systems of weights and measures, currency unification, and the adoption of a global auxiliary language.
In World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, first published in 1938, Shoghi Effendi, great-grandson of Bahá'u'lláh and the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith from 1921 until his death in 1957, described the anticipated world government of that religion as the "world's future super-state" with the Bahá'í Faith as the "State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power".
According to Shoghi Effendi, "The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system."
In his many scriptures and messages addressed to the most prominent state leaders of his time, Bahá'u'lláh called for world reconciliation, reunification, collective security and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Many of the most fundamental Bahá'í writings address the central issue of world unity, such as the following: "The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens". The World Christian Encyclopedia estimated 7.1 million Bahá'ís in the world in 2000, representing 218 countries.
International organizations started forming in the late 19th century – the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863, the Telegraphic Union in 1865 and the Universal Postal Union in 1874. The increase in international trade at the turn of the 20th century accelerated the formation of international organizations, and, by the start of World War I in 1914, there were approximately 450 of them. Support for the idea of establishing international law grew during that period as well. The Institute of International Law was formed in 1873 by the Belgian Jurist Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, leading to the creation of concrete legal drafts, for example by the Swiss
Johaan Bluntschli in 1866. In 1883, James Lorimer published "The Institutes of the Law of Nations" in which he explored the idea of a world government establishing the global rule of law. The first embryonic world parliament, called the Inter-Parliamentary Union, was organized in 1886 by Cremer and Passy, composed of legislators from many countries. In 1904 the Union formally proposed "an international congress which should meet periodically to discuss international questions".
H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells was a strong proponent of the creation of a world state, arguing that such a state would ensure world peace and justice. In Anticipations (1900), H. G. Wells envisaged that "the great urban region between Chicago and the Atlantic" will unify the English-speaking states, and this larger English-speaking unit, "a New Republic dominating the world", will by the year 2000 become the means "by which the final peace of the world may be assured forever". It will be "a new social Hercules that will strangle the serpents of war and national animosity in his cradle". Such a synthesis "of the peoples now using the English tongue, I regard not only as possible, but as a probable, thing". The New Republic "will already be consciously and pretty freely controlling the general affairs of humanity before this century closes..." Its principles and opinions "must necessarily shape and determine that still ampler future of which the coming hundred years is but the opening phase". The New Republic must ultimately become a "World-State".
The League of Nations (LoN) was an inter-governmental organization founded as a result of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919–1920. At its largest size from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members. The League's goals included upholding the Rights of Man, such as the rights of non-whites, women, and soldiers; disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries through negotiation, diplomacy, and improving global quality of life. The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift in thought from the preceding hundred years. The League lacked its own armed force and so depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions and economic sanctions and provide an army, when needed. However, these powers proved reluctant to do so. Lacking many of the key elements necessary to maintain world peace, the League failed to prevent World War II. Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations once he planned to take over Europe. The rest of the Axis powers soon followed him. Having failed its primary goal, the League of Nations fell apart. The League of Nations consisted of the Assembly, the Council, and the Permanent Secretariat. Below these were many agencies. The Assembly was where delegates from all member states conferred. Each country was allowed three representatives and one vote.
According to Karl Marx's theory of historical materialism, the capitalist epoch depends on the expansion of competing geopolitical markets across the planet, atomizing the global proletariat and thus sustaining economic disparity and rivalry between markets. Eventually, this will be succeeded by a Socialist epoch in which the working class throughout the world will unite to render national distinctiveness meaningless.
Gradually as the arts of life improved, the forests were cleared and the marshes were drained, and the lesser natural regions were fused into greater. It may perhaps be thought that with the continuance of this process all mankind will be in the end unified … Unless I mistake, it is the message of geography that international cooperation in any future that we need consider must be based on the federal idea. If our civilization is not to go down in blind internecine conflict, there must be a development of world planning out of regional planning, just as regional planning has come from town planning.
The Nazi Party of Germany envisaged the establishment of a world government under the complete hegemony of the Third Reich. In its move to overthrow the post-World War ITreaty of Versailles, Germany had already withdrawn itself from the League of Nations, and it did not intend to join a similar internationalist organization ever again. In his stated political aim of expanding the living space (Lebensraum) of the German people by destroying or driving out "lesser-deserving races" in and from other territories, dictator Adolf Hitler devised an ideological system of self-perpetuating expansionism, in which the growth of a state's population would require the conquest of more territory which would, in turn, lead to a further growth in population which would then require even more conquests. In 1927, Rudolf Hess relayed to Walter Hewel Hitler's belief that world peace could only be acquired "when one power, the racially best one, has attained uncontested supremacy". When this control would be achieved, this power could then set up for itself a world police and assure itself "the necessary living space.... The lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly".
During its imperial period (1868–1947), the Japanese elaborated a worldview, "Hakkō ichiu", translated as "eight corners of the world under one roof". This was the idea behind the attempt to establish a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and behind the struggle for world domination.
The Atlantic Charter was a published statement agreed between the United Kingdom and the United States. It was intended as the blueprint for the postwar world after World War II, and turned out to be the foundation for many of the international agreements that currently shape the world. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the post-war independence of British and French possessions, and much more are derived from the Atlantic Charter. The Atlantic charter was made to show the goals of the allied powers during World War II. It first started with the United States and Great Britain, and later all the allies would follow the charter. Some goals include access to raw materials, reduction of trade restrictions, and freedom from fear and wants. The name, The Atlantic Charter, came from a newspaper that coined the title. However, Winston Churchill would use it, and from then on the Atlantic Charter was the official name. In retaliation, the Axis powers would raise their morale and try to work their way into Great Britain. The Atlantic Charter was a stepping stone into the creation of the United Nations.
U.S. President Harry S. Truman commented: "We must make the United Nations continue to work, and to be a going concern, to see that difficulties between nations may be settled just as we settle difficulties between States here in the United States. When Kansas and Colorado fall out over the waters in the Arkansas River, they don't go to war over it; they go to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the matter is settled in a just and honorable way. There is not a difficulty in the whole world that cannot be settled in exactly the same way in a world court". -- President Truman's remarks in Omaha, Nebraska on June 5, 1948, at the dedication of the War Memorial. The cultural moment of the late 1940s was the peak of World Federalism among Americans.
Similar movements concurrently formed in many other countries, leading to the formation, at a 1947 meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, of a global coalition, now called World Federalist Movement. By 1950, the movement claimed 56 member groups in 22 countries, with some 156,000 members.
World War II (1939–1945) resulted in an unprecedented scale of destruction of lives (over 60 million dead, most of them civilians), and the use of weapons of mass destruction. Some of the acts committed against civilians during the war were on such a massive scale of savagery, they came to be widely considered as crimes against humanity itself. As the war's conclusion drew near, many shocked voices called for the establishment of institutions able to permanently prevent deadly international conflicts. This led to the founding of the United Nations in 1945, which adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Many, however, felt that the UN, essentially a forum for discussion and coordination between sovereign governments, was insufficiently empowered for the task. A number of prominent persons, such as Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Bertrand Russell and Mohandas K. Gandhi, called on governments to proceed further by taking gradual steps towards forming an effectual federal world government. The United Nations main goal is to work on international law, international security, economic development, human rights, social progress, and eventually world peace. The United Nations replaced the League of Nations in 1945, after World War II. Almost every internationally recognized country is in the U.N.; as it contains 193 member states out of the 196 total nations of the world. The United Nations gather regularly in order to solve big problems throughout the world. There are six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The United Nations is also financed by some of the wealthiest nations. The flag shows the Earth from a map that shows all of the populated continents.
In France, 1948, Garry Davis began an unauthorized speech calling for a world government from the balcony of the UN General Assembly, until he was dragged away by the guards. Davis renounced his American citizenship and started a Registry of World Citizens. On September 4, 1953, Davis announced from the city hall of Ellsworth, Maine the formation of the "World Government of World Citizens" based on 3 "World Laws"—One God (or Absolute Value), One World, and One Humanity. Following this declaration, mandated, he claimed, by Article twenty one, Section three of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he formed the United World Service Authority in New York City as the administrative agency of the new government. Its first task was to design and begin selling "World Passports", which the organisation argues is legitimatised by on Article 13, Section 2 of the UDHR.
The World Passport is a 45-page document sold by the World Service Authority, a non-profit organization, citing Article 13, Section 2, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. World Passports have allegedly been accepted sporadically by some 174 countries, but no immigration authority has a de facto or de jure policy of acceptance with regards to the document. The latest edition of the World Passport, which has been on sale since January 2007, is an MRD (machine readable document) with an alphanumeric code bar enabling computer input plus an embedded "ghost" photo for security, printing overcovered with a plastic film. The document is in 7 languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Simplified Chinese and Esperanto. Two covers are available: "World Passport", and "World Government Passport" (for registered World Citizens), ("passport" is in 7 languages on both covers). Other documents sold by the WSA include a World Birth Certificate, a World Political Asylum Card, a World Marriage Certificate, and a World Identity Card. Each page within the document is numbered and each page has the World Citizen logo in the background. There are two pages for affiliation with companies, organizations, and firms. There are nineteen visa pages in the document. On the back cover there are spaces for personal information such as a person's home address.
Legal anthropologist E. Adamson Hoebel concluded his treatise on broadening the legal realist tradition to include non-Western nations: "Whatever the idealist may desire, force and the threat of force are the ultimate power in the determination of international behavior, as in the law within the nation or tribe. But until force and the threat of force in international relations are brought under social control by the world community, by and for the world society, they remain the instruments of social anarchy and not the sanctions of world law. The creation in clear-cut terms of the corpus of world law cries for the doing. If world law, however, is to be realized at all, there will have to be minimum of general agreement as to the nature of the physical and ideational world and the relation of men in society to it. An important and valuable next step will be found in deep-cutting analysis of the major law systems of the contemporary world in order to lay bare their basic postulates – postulates that are too generally hidden; postulates felt, perhaps, by those who live by them, but so much taken for granted that they are rarely expressed or exposed for examination. When this is done – and it will take the efforts of many keen intellects steeped in the law of at least a dozen lands and also aware of the social nexus of the law – then mankind will be able to see clearly for the first time and clearly where the common consensus of the great living social and law systems lies. Here will be found the common postulates and values upon which the world community can build. At the same time the truly basic points of conflict that will have to be worked upon for resolution will be revealed. Law is inherently purposive".
End of the Cold War (1992)
While enthusiasm for multinational federalism in Europe incrementally led, over the following decades, to the formation of the European Union, the onset of the Cold War (1945–1992) eliminated the prospects of any progress towards federation with a more global scope. The movement quickly shrank in size to a much smaller core of activists, and the world government idea all but disappeared from wide public discourse.
Following the end of the Cold War in 1992, interest in a federal world government and, more generally, in the global protection of human rights, was renewed. The most visible achievement of the world federalism movement during the 1990s is the Rome Statute of 1998, which led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002. In Europe, progress towards forming a federal union of European states gained much momentum, starting in 1952 as a trade deal between the German and French people led, in 1992, to the Maastricht Treaty that established the name and enlarged the agreement that the European Union (EU) is based upon. The EU expanded (1995, 2004, 2007, 2013) to encompass, in 2013, over half a billion people in 28 member states. Following the EU's example, the African Union was founded in 2002 and the Union of South American Nations in 2008.
Wendt defines a world state as an “organization possessing a monopoly on the legitimate use of organized violence within a society." According to Wendt, a world state would need to fulfill the following requirements:
Monopoly on organized violence - states have exclusive use of legitimate force within their territory.
Legitimacy - perceived as right by their populations, and possibly the global community.
Sovereign - possessing common power and legitimacy.
Corporate action - a collection of individuals who act together in a systematic way.
A world government would not require a centrally controlled army or a central decision-making body. As long as the four conditions are fulfilled. In order to develop a world state, three changes must occur in the world system:
Universal security community - a peaceful system of binding dispute resolution without threat of interstate violence.
Universal collective security - unified response to crimes and threats.
Supranational authority - binding decisions are made that apply to each and every state.
The development of a world state is conceptualized as a process through 5 stages:
Wendt argues that a struggle among sovereign individuals results in the formation of a collective identity and eventually a state. The same forces are present within the international system and could possibly, and potentially inevitably lead to the development of a world state through this 5 stage process. When the world state would emerge, the traditional expression of states would become localized expressions of the world state. This process occurs within the default state of anarchy present in the world system.
Kant conceptualized the state as sovereign individuals formed out of conflict. Part of the traditional philosophical objections to a world state (Kant, Hegel) are overcome by modern technological innovations. Wendt argues that new methods of communication and coordination can overcome these challenges.