21 January 2004

Global federation

In principle, I have no real objection to the establishment of another layer of federal government encompassing the entire globe, as proposed by H. Henry Meeter. However, I can see some potential problems with the idea:

(1) A mere nation-state is limited by the existence of neighbouring nation-states. One of the genuine deterrents to a state committing injustice in the international realm is the threat of other states intervening. A global federation would have no comparable external limitations. This might increase the chances of a global tyranny, the ultimate nightmare scenario.

(2) Would such a federal government have the power to tax? And if so, would there be a sufficiently representative parliamentary body on such a massive scale to supervise this power? Related to this is the question whether such a government would be directly elected or whether it would represent merely the constituent states, i.e., the current United Nations model.

(3) Existing federations tend to encompass an area marked by either a single culture or similar cultures. A global federation would find it difficult to function in cohesive fashion given the sheer diversity of cultures spanning the earth's surface. Even the European Union is finding it difficult to integrate so many different languages and peoples into a federal unity. Imagine trying to integrate a world characterized by Huntington's clash of civilizations.

(4) The mere existence of a global political unit might tempt some people to assume that it, and not God's law, is the ultimate source of all right and law, since there is nothing obviously higher than it on earth.

(5) Working towards a supranational global federation, however laudable, may tempt reformers to bypass the more immediate goods connected with facilitating better international relations. In short, they may be reaching for too lofty a goal when proximate goals are more easily realized.

What we need are solid reformational scholars to work out a principled theory of doing justice in the international arena, something which has thus far not been a strength of particularly the Kuyperian/Dooyeweerdian approach.

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