The global form of government is anarchic and hectic by its very nature. Procedure and rules have been applied by arbitrary forces. The views of the strongest nations have impacted foreign policies, and remain the largest factor in determining the shaping of global order. Since, “the United Nations is primarily an institutional framework through which member states may pursue or channel their foreign policies” (Weiss 15), it is important to realize that no body controls the international community as a whole. Convention as well as loosely held boundaries hold together the structure of a world that has become increasingly globalized. Whether or not this is a problem is widely speculative. On the one hand, smaller nations may become fearful that they will be ‘annexed’ not from warfare, but from an inability to keep up with the demands of capitalization. On the other hand, since the nations that hold the most power hold “all the cards” it is unlikely that they would do anything to hurt their economies or ways of life, so these conventions are often upheld.
The Case For
Current discussions on international law, and its actors, usually involve a conversation about the UN and their role in political decisions. Whether or not the UN is a political actor, or merely an institutional framework has been subject to much debate. In The United Nations and Changing World Politics, the authors discuss the notion of legitimacy. As such, “the question of legitimacy in world politics is a complicated matter” (Weiss 15). What these complications are is not the point here, the point is, that the UN despite its workings for the past decades, has not been established as the be all and end all. This is an important distinction to make because in order to advocate for an international form of government we must first acknowledge that one does not currently exist.
Whether or not there should be a global form of government rests heavily upon the ethics that are involved in the sovereignty of nations. If there is to be an international form of government it will be a strange and rough road in deciding its customs, practices, and of course, rule of law. While some things are a generic starting point, such as the right to life, or the right to not be detained arbitrarily, many nations have differing opinions on fundamental laws.
A communitarian, with the view that “states have rights and duties un global society” (Amstutz 11), may assert that we are already doing as best they can. These viewers believe that yes, we are a community, but it is important that we should continue with the foundations of sovereignty. If we take this position, it is simply good enough to allow cultures and nations to develop their own ways of protecting and defending the world. Of course, this leads into moral accountability: who has the ability to wage war, and when? Can a nation protect itself? And, if they can, from what? Cosmopolitans however, are our best case in the view of why there is a need for a greater global society. The Cosmopolitan, “develops a global morality based on the rights and well-being of persons, challenging the morality of the existing Westphalian political order of sovereign states” (Amstutz 11).
A Cosmopolitan will argue that the greatest importance is the rights of the individual. In this case, it is important that a globalized form of government may help aid human rights. If an international body has the right to quickly and justly handle cases of rights violations, there may be a greater chance of alleviated suffering. As well, if there were a body that could solve conflicts without the sovereign right to war, there may be a greater chance of peace. Whether or not this is obtainable, is hard to determine, since it has never come into action.
The Case Against
It is no mistake that most dystopian tales in the warning genre include a great lack of cultural diversity or cultural plurality. These “super-nations” usually include a story that has an over-all government, one with great control over its subjects.
“How well we come through the era of globalization (perhaps whether we come through it at all) will depend on how we respond ethically to the idea that we live in one world. For the rich nations not to take a ethical viewpoint has long been seriously morally wrong. Now it is also, in the long term, a danger to their security” ( Singer 13)
Cultural Plurality, which has been both accepted and discredited depending on the source, is an important question that must be raised when we consider a greater global reach over the affairs of individuals. States that have rich ethnocentric values may lose out when a greater presence has control over what matters most in the world. If an internationally based form of rule were able to bypass the views of smaller countries for the “greater good”, these people would be forced to conform to a way of life that may not best suit their interests. From an anthropological perspective, “power is exercised in society through social relations, institutions, and bodies that do not automatically fit under the rubric of ‘the state’” (Erickson 337). It is hard to truly dispute that countries have collective values and have grown based on their interests as a whole, democratic nations especially have emphasized this view of “people first”.
Great fundamental differences between large countries and smaller countries may not be the largest problem against a more globalized form of government. For example, the United States, despite, “thousands of murders and rapes [that] are committed annually in States where death is an authorized punishment for those crimes” only use their death penalty law, in a fashion that is, “‘freakishly’ or ‘spectacularly’ rare, or simply as rare—” (Bedau 192) .
Currently, there are 31 states where the death penalty is still legal, leaving only 19 that have abolished capital punishment. With this information in mind, it is clear to see why there would be a conflict with Canada, in a global world order.
Canada, in their right to life and lack of Capital Punishment has taken a strict stance, even refusing to extradite criminals that would be put to death(Death Penalty Information Center, photo attribute as well). Since Canada and America are both reasonably advanced countries, with a global order, would there be discussion as to the legality of capital punishment? If so, which country, each having established long-standing histories of their practices, is right? Assuming that this will “not come up” is blind to fact. In modern life there are instances where Canada and the US have come head to head on the issue of Capital Punishment. Currently, “Canada may refuse to extradite unless competent authorities in the United States give assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed, or if imposed, will not be carried out” (Williams 806).
A global government would be nearly impossible to bring forward. Despite increased globalization, we still must consider the cultural views and ethical problems that come with taking over countries, even if for the ‘greater good’. In order for there to be a form of government that has weight in all or most countries, it is probable that many would need to be annexed in order to bring forth compliance.
While cosmopolitans in their idealistic view have thought up some utopian paradise, it is unlikely that this would ever come to be. Since there is no evidence that the entire world would even want to become a nation-state, there is little to no proof that ignoring the existing sovereignty of nations would actually lead to a better, or a more just, world order.
In the Art of War it is stated that, “A ruler must understand the priorities of local nobles before he can make profitable alliances” (Tzu 43). With this in mind, we must realize that a global order would have a hard time maintaining itself because its eyes cannot, will not, be on each and every part of the globe. Even Orwell’s “Big Brother” would be unable to maintain this length of oversight. The lack of accomplishment of the UN to seize greater power is a clear sign that sovereignty will be, at least for now, maintained in nation-states.
Amstutz, Mark R. International Politics: Concepts, Theories, and Cases in Global Politics. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2008, Print.
Bedau, Hugo A. The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Internet resource.
Erickson, Paul. A and Liam Murphy. A History of Anthropological Theory. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013. Print.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Toronto: Random House, 1932. Print. Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Mineola: Dover Publications, 2002. Print. Orwell, George. 1984. London: Dutton Signet, 1961. Print.
“States With and Without the Death Penalty”. Death Penalty Information Center. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/states-and-without-death-penalty. Web. Retrieved on March 30th, 2016
Tzu, Sun. The Art of War. London: Amber Books Ltd, 2011. Print.
Weiss, Thomas G, et al. The United Nations and Changing World Politics. Boulder: Westview
Press, 2014. Print.
Williams, Sharon A. “Extradition and the Death Penalty Exception in Canada:
Resolving the Ng and Kindler Cases.” Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Journal 13.4 (1991): 799-840
Image: Cosmopolitan – https://hayleyanne93.wordpress.com/tag/globalisation/
Image: Globe – http://guarantysolar.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Globe.png Image: States With and Without Death Penalty – http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/