New Perspectives on

Creating World "Government"

Global Aid and Information Agency (GAIA)

Justifications:

Walt Whitman's poem "Song of Myself" suggests he saw himself as not just an individual. "I am large. I contain multitudes". But, for instance, "We are the world" seems a bit arrogant. "The world" is just one possible meaning of "we". My mouth and fingers (on a keyboard) speak for me, but "I" (the whole entity) am more than those.

I'd say instead, I try to represent and take responsibility for, suffer and celebrate with, each community or culture of which I'm a part - my family, my friends, my city, my country, my world. "Whatsoever ye do unto these, the least of my brethren, ye do also unto me". To the degree that we, as information processing entities, exchange information, we are the brain cells of Gaia (Mythical Earth goddess, more recently, Earth as an organism), interpreting and transmitting information between the "nature", the larger body of Gaia, and the higher brain.

I don't see a lot of value in trying to tell people about their responsibilities to the world. Those who will listen have already listened to this for quite a while; those who haven't, won't. I don't expect to see world government, or world peace, in my lifetime, no matter what the method. A solution that I/we can't make happen is no solution. We can't "eliminate" war, crime of any sort, hunger, disease etc., only discourage the causes and means for them.

"Wars and rumors of wars" are caused by greed, including the promise of profits, not to mention jobs, in "defense" industries. Our economic system is based largely on inefficiency and waste, and "defense" is the greatest inefficiency around. Also, selling weapons to all cultures who are potential competitors helps "us" stay ahead by helping them to decimate each other. We won't put an end to greed, but we can discourage some kinds of expressions of it.

If you think of governments only as legislators of commandments and prohibitions, forget that approach. "World Peace through World Law" will be a long time in coming, and it's not what this proposal for "government" is about. I think we can do better. and faster, through a system of financial pressures. I'm told the European Union isn't a "government" because it doesn't have laws it enforces. Instead it "influences" nations by an international version of peer pressure, rather than by "controlling". (Of course if one's intentional "influence" ends up affecting another's behavior, then it certainly seems to me like "controlling". But no government is in absolute control.) The system I propose would go a bit further than this. The WTO is based somewhat on this model, but I don't want to take that direction.

My goal is to find ways to make compassionate global action more profitable for all, and destructive action less profitable, to find a workable, win-win compromise between pure free-enterprise and socialism, to counteract the basic instinct of greed for money/power. Socialists get confused about the problems of the U.S. because it's a combination of Capitalism and free-enterprise. Capitalism is the part where "the rich get richer", far out of proportion to their contributions to society, and it's at the heart of many social problems. Free-enterprise is the potentially self-regulating part. The Russians made the mistake of trying to control every detail of every industry from the central government (Now the WTO wants to do the same!), eliminating all profit motive and depending partly on altruism, the individual's goal of the common good, to make it work. It's nice to have altruism, but not good to depend on it.

GAIA wouldn't try to create a perfect world all at once. Nor would it force changes on any country, local government, culture or individual. Rather it would encourage beneficial changes. A large majority of opposition isn't an insurmountable barrier. GAIA would start as a private service to countries who choose to join. Others would then begin to see the value in it.

It seems there's a power vacuum at the global level of the government ladder which needs to be filled, and might be relatively easy to fill, as opposed to trying to change existing governments. The UN is a "volunteer government", only a little more effective than the treaty-based volunteer system before it. It's sort of a wholistic treaty system that listens to many voices, a little better than having many small separate treaties. Its ineffectiveness is demonstrated by the fact that the U.S. has the most power by far, though it is $1.5 billion in arrears. GAIA won't inherently conflict with the UN, but will eventually make it obsolete.

Many nations of the world have signed several treaties saying they will no longer use war as a means to settle disputes. These are useless because they say nothing about the consequences if the treaty is not followed. This kind of "legislation" is often used to tranquilize the public, and it's always meaningless.

Many people fear strong government. But any association, organization, community, etc., in which we take part reduces our individual control over our lives in some ways. Still we continue to create and join them, because we feel we gain something in return. I think they help us gain efficiency and meaning in our lives ("efficiency" defined as getting more of what you want, without so much of what you don't want). Without a means to agree upon and work toward joint goals, we play the competitive and very inefficient "zero-sum game", basically going almost nowhere, or perhaps backwards.

The problem is not with the principle of government. The problem is that most governments, like most multi-celled organisms, get old and corrupt. Unlike organisms, the bad "mutations" are slow to die. We need to find ways to keep them viable, or declare them dead and replace them. (Perhaps an advantage of some dictatorships is that they are based on one person and don't live beyond his political lifetime. The disadvantage is that they are often replaced by another.)

GAIA may help us move from cultural adolescence to cultural maturity. Individuals and most political systems grow old and die; cultures and species don't have to. Human civilizations seem to progress in the fashion of the "Phoenix", periodically destroying what they have recently gained, and growing back again. GAIA might help us move to a more steady progression mode.

A Possible Path to GAIA:

(This corporate-path part is a bit out of date, considering the rebellion against WTO, but still has possibilites. Now my preferred path to get there emphasizes "Electronic Consensus")

Conservatives talk of private corporations taking over the functions of government. Liberals might be thinking, "If they're for it, I'm against it". Further thinking might suggest this is a "bad attitude". It says if someone with a differing point of view takes a stand, we need to take an opposite stand (preferably extreme opposite, so we can appear to "compromise" to a more moderate stand) and winner take all, perhaps, eventually. But what if nobody wins, or "eventually" is a very long time? We need to look instead for win-win, "non-zero-sum", compromises. Whatever our individual persuasion, we can always find goals in common. What's the big difference between a private corporation and a democratic government? Representation. Let's consider the possibilities.

Today, the autonomy of transnational corporations is seen as a problem. Why not take advantage of that feature? Many of these corporations might like to see a a world government, because they (those not involved in arms dealing) could do business better in a peaceful world.

Suppose we create a coalition of peace-oriented transnational corporations, and from there create another one called Global Aid and Information Agency (GAIA). It would collect "premiums" from nations who choose to join. (Or "dues" or "taxes". Which word do you like? I'll mainly use "dues" henceforth, because it will change from corporation to "voluntary government".)

Revenues would be used first to establish a multinational police force to help protect member nations (and other social entities) from foreign military attack and "make the world safe for" conscious beings. At least as GAIA is universally accepted, the force would be called "police", not "army", because (so I'm told) armies, by definition, fight "foreigners". There would be only members and potential members, therefore no army, at least until we're attacked by earth aliens, or create independent colonies on other planets.

After a formative phase, as it gained the confidence of the world, it would evolve from a corporation to a government with representatives from each member nation, culture, profession, etc. The original GAIA administrators and shareholders would be phased out and replaced by multinational representatives. It would only deal directly with individuals, corporations and governments below the national level when they get involved in independent interactions outside their own country.

It should be recognized that each social entity ultimately looks out first for its own welfare. "I" look out first for "myself", here and now, then to how cooperation, compassion, social diversity etc. will serve "me", and more important, serve my dreams for my descendants and the general future of various communities of which I'm a part. Global government must similarly look to what will create a reasonable ongoing compromise between global stability and advancement in global consciousness. For instance, one person murdering another should not be considered a significant global threat, and therefore it's not a significant concern of global government. If a dictator orders the murder of thousands, his "followers" must admit to some of the responsibility, and maybe ask for help in getting rid of him.

GAIA could be the new model of democratic government for more local governments to emulate, and such should be encouraged. Consider if this couldn't end up being the essence of what we want in all governments. What desired principles couldn't be included under such a format? What undesired factors couldn't be avoided?

A Specific Format for GAIA:

This would hopefully be a model for lesser governments to follow. In the interest of setting priorities for GAIA, recognizing that virtually every goal, or "end", is also a means to some higher goal, I looked for goals that best serve still higher goals.

1. Work (first, but not only) to reduce risk of impending global catastrophe - nuclear, environmental, economic, social or otherwise.

2. Create a multinational council, using principles of Proportional Representation (and now, especially "Electronic Consensus"). Any nation (and eventually, other social entities) could have the benefits of membership, as long as they pay the agreed-upon dues.

Voting power, at least in the beginning in the main council, might be in the form of one vote per "nation" (if that concept remains definable), plus two times the square root of the percent of world population represented. Is there any reason to divide this into two bodies, as in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives? Other systems are possible, but that's another article (E.C.).

The main purpose of said council would be to create a financial pressure system of dues, "government by taxation". Such dues would be a win-win compromise between forces of strong government and provincial, corporation, or individual rights. They could replace many prohibitions and commandments, leaving many final decisions up to lower government, while controlling statistical numbers and economic factors, and allowing room for incremental adjustments. Changes, as well as beginnings, would generally be phased in, aiming for slow long-term change, rather than immediate demands dealing with each acute crisis, jumping from one crisis to the next. Changes in dues rates and formulas would be voted on yearly.

Dues would be in two forms: dues related to international sales of globally harmful products between members, or members and non-members; and membership dues, composed of sanctions/rewards relative to each member's record for harm or enhancement to world society, for instance as follows:

A. Dues related to ways in which "the rich get richer". We'll approach our goal as each person's wealth approaches being reasonably proportionate to his real, and potential, net contributions to society. We're presently far enough from that goal that we don't have to define it too precisely just yet. Uncontrolled free enterprise makes it impossible, for now.

B. Dues biases against the manufacture and international inter-jurisdictional sale of weapons, ammunition, and explosives (and tools specifically for making same), proportionate to their likely use in war, or otherwise against multiple anonymous humans. Bombs and land mines would be high on the list. Many weapons (and support industries), such as especially nuclear and biological, could become prohibitively expensive.

C. Similar dues on socially harmful drugs and all other harmful products and services (relative to their level of real harm, as determined by a world panel).

D. Dues according to each country's record on abuse or enhancement of: agreed-upon human rights, democratic government structure, environmental commons (air, water, etc.), population control, non-renewable natural resources, truth in advertising, openness to inspection, etc.

E. Variable "boycott" dues on all trade with non-member countries.

If an offending member fails to pay the appropriate dues immediately, the interest on their debt will quickly increase. Nations significantly in arrears will be dropped from GAIA membership, but can re-apply later.

I'm asked how small, poor countries like Bangladesh, Somalia, etc., can afford to join. First, it's not critical to GAIA, or them, that they do join. They'll still have the same safeguards they have today, but will see decreasing military threats as GAIA member countries reduce their military inventory. Second, if they do join, as long as they don't traffic in, or manufacture, guns, harmful drugs, etc., or otherwise harm the world environment, their dues would be minimal. I would even consider "negative dues" if they put less load per person on the environment than most countries. Actually, GAIA might start mainly among those countries.

As GAIA approaches its goals, it would automatically collect less dues and its functions would tend to be cut back, except as new goals and new dues policies are voted in. All GAIA administrators would be temporary and the pay would be kept low, so cutbacks would be welcome.

Use dues revenues to:

3. Fund administration.

4. Offer global security: Create a GAIA police force for detecting military dangers, discouraging international attacks, and dealing with them when they occur. Perhaps go on the offensive if necessary, to reduce critical military threats. (We need to recognise that all behavior formation and change results from some form of force or threat of force.)

5. Offer information and education services (choice of many forms, appropriate to each culture) to all people. Create an alternative to the Internet, with free net access and e-mail addresses for all world citizens (and support many other improvements in electronic communications). Review private advertising for "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth". Support "intelligence" agencies only to the extent they make public all information gathered by them, including who they choose to investigate. Take responsibility for creating standards, consumer reports, indexes, and schedules for the supermarket, Internet, TV, radio, glorified "phone books".

(I see the poor state of such databases as a main cause of the low quality of all kinds of mass media. If we know clearly what's available to buy, watch, read or listen to, we'll make better choices. Our choices will influence the market. Information distribution and organization, rather than concealment, should be a major function of all governments. Values of sovereignty and privacy, at all levels, are created by cultures based on secrets, and are major barriers to the larger community.)

6. Offer birth control aid to all people.

(And charge higher dues to governments who deny #5 and #6 to people who want them.)

7. Support and subsidize social diversity, in the form of progressive new local industries, and minority or alternative views and communities. This compensates for the need to discourage some industries, views and communities which would reduce net diversity.

8. Support space colonization, to avoid nationalism in space, and to avoid keeping all our (species) eggs in one basket, as we merge our many national "baskets" into one.

9. Create a workable global welfare system to avoid using the many unneeded, and even socially harmful, industries to create "make-work welfare" jobs and profits. I have a plan available for such a system, which could be adapted to global use, but that's another story. See my index of Economics and Politics articles.

10. Evolve toward recognizing cultural "homelands" (nuclei) rather than national borders (an idea still under development). GAIA representation of a culture would be according to how many profess their first loyalty to it, wherever they may live. (Many world problems have been created by "outsiders" enforcing national borders where they didn't belong, instead of recognizing cultural homelands.) Subdivisions of government under GAIA might evolve toward cultural region, bio-region, city, neighborhood, household, individual. Possibly any of these units could join GAIA, and have voting power according to formulas similar to the above.


Send me your thoughts.
Dan Robinson, danrob@efn.org, Eugene, Oregon
My home page: http://www.efn.org/~danrob/