The Base Case Against Global Government

What if the global government is like that of Zimbabwe? Or of the USSR under Stalin? Or of Nazi Germany? Or of Cambodia under Pol Pot?

What happens then?

The base case against global government – i.e., the worst that could happen if we were to get one – turns out upon reflection to be a base case for a patchwork of quite independent smallish nations each somewhat different from the others; and so, for war.

46 thoughts on “The Base Case Against Global Government

  1. Or, worse, what if a global government is *good* and so people cease to search for higher orders of good?

    At least if a global government were a disaster it would be meeting expectations for government.

    • It would. And its catastrophic failure would lead sooner or later to its destruction and replacement by something else, somewhat different, perhaps better. But millions would die in the process. The good ones would be the first to be killed. It could take several thousand years to recover from such a demographic disaster.

      The Mediterranean littoral has yet to recover even from the Mohammedan conquest.

      On the bright side, I suppose it would be good for the forests and their denizens.

      A global government that was truly good would *not* incline people to leave off the search for the Good. On the contrary. A truly good government would engender a tremendous florescence of high, noble and stern religion of the most demanding sort – and a people eager to wrestle with it.

      But, as you suggest, we are absurdly unlikely to get any such thing. Or, having got it, to keep it. Things fall apart.

      What the nomenklatura want for us right now is a global government that is “good.” They want us fat and sloppy happy, pacific, sated on fake violence and fake sex, on fake horror, fake disgust, fake outrage, fake sanctity, *so that* we stop searching for the real goods of life, and so do not discover their chicanery, do not smash the flimsy scrim of their cheap thrills, do not rise up to crush them – or, just stop paying attention to them.

      • But millions would die in the process. The good ones would be the first to be killed.

        Our own government is at best turning a blind eye towards, or at worst complicit in, the worst mass murder in human history vis a vis abortion, and there is no one more innocent than an infant child. Cynically, I think killing is a feature of government and not a defect. A good government is good at killing the right kinds of people–namely, mortal foes and deserving citizen-criminals. A tyrannical government kills the wrong kinds of people–namely, good and virtuous citizens.

        It could take several thousand years to recover from such a demographic disaster.

        Can you imagine how different America would be if we had 60 million more citizens who hadn’t been aborted in utero? And that’s since the 70’s, so there’s a generational multiple missing from that number.

        A truly good government would engender a tremendous florescence of high, noble and stern religion of the most demanding sort – and a people eager to wrestle with it.

        The perfection of government would engender (or require, maybe the egg comes first) the perfection of its people. I agree with you that a capital-G-Good government would have this result, but I don’t believe such a government is possible on this side of the Eschaton. As such we must settle for the “good” government, which is succeeding at gorging us on material delights such that no one is willing to lift a finger when–again–the biggest mass murder in human history is perpetrated right under their noses.

        A global government is different only in scope, but not in kind. It’s even less stable because ethnic nationalism goes deeper than any conceivable human polity.

      • A good government is good at killing the right kinds of people – namely, mortal foes and deserving citizen-criminals. A tyrannical government kills the wrong kinds of people – namely, good and virtuous citizens.

        That is just brilliant.

  2. I understand what you mean but I don’t understand your comparison of base this and base that. But as for the last bit – war – of course there is going to be war. It’s what we’ve been doing for a zillion years, it’s bred into our DNA, it’s all we really know how to do. All of our great science has been done in service to making better weapons. I’m surprised there is so much peace.

    • Base case – n : in reference to a financial model, or financial projections. The expected case of the model using the assumptions that management deems most likely to occur. The financial results for your base case should be better than those for your conservative case but worse than those for your aggressive, or upside case.

      The spectrum of cases from worst to best in global government runs from truly good and righteous government at one end – the sort that “would engender a tremendous florescence of high, noble and stern religion of the most demanding sort – and a people eager to wrestle with it” – and at the other complete and total chaos: the utter absence of global government. The most likely outcome lies in the middle regions of that range. As Scoot notices, a disaster of the Zimbabwean sort is rather what one expects from governments, at least in the modern era.

      If we got a truly good global government, why that would be utopia, no? But man is Fallen, so we’ll get something less. And anything less is going to be worse for man than the total absence of global government, punctuated now and then, here and there by small border wars between small nations.

  3. I have never met an advocate of world government who was not sure that people just like themselves would run that government. In some cases they were psychopaths, so they were right. I do wonder how much an official world government would differ from the unofficial world government we have today. There is no qualitative difference between a semi-sovereign nation and a semi-autonomous region. Most of todays “nations” are only semi-sovereign, so, apart from injury to their vanity, they would hardly notice absorption into a world state as a semi-autonomous region. We could call them “tribal territories.”

    The map of today is a patchwork of sham nations that are really satrapies. The map of tomorrow will likely be a pavement of uniform satrapies, some of which are really nations. The ones that will be satrapies in fact are already satrapies in effect, since they have a purely synthetic nationalism–let’s call it World Cup nationalism. This is why organic nationalism has been redefined as “domestic terrorism.” A semi-autonomous region can still sent teams to the World Cup.

    Empires always boast that they ensure a pax Romana, but the wars they prevent would have been little wars. Meanwhile the empire proceeds with horrific imperial wars using the nearly bottomless resources of the empire. It will be said that a world state would have no one to fight, but there will always be “internal enemies” and “insurrections,” actual and invented. The future world government will look a lot like the present world government, with drone strikes on recalcitrant satraps a regular occurrence.

    • I suspect that, like momentum, charge, and poverty (Matthew 26:11), war is one of those values that is conserved. Suppress it here in one way and it pops out elsewhere in another.

      Thus if empires are to hang together, they must engage in a constant struggle with petty regional conflicts, whether internal or external. Empires would rather deal with internal conflicts – with “domestic terrorism” – because in such cases the state is farming tax revenues from all parties. So empires always want to expand, so as to expand the tax base that funds their internal policing.

  4. The base case against global government is that it is apparently impossible.

    There have been several examples that have appeared to be such, to those subject to those governments. But that appearance has always been a sham. Today’s pantomime-globe is no different.

    • Cosmopolitan rule over diverse national cults does seem impossible to sustain for long without lots of bloodshed. This is why the globalist project wants to gut religion and eliminate local customs in favor of a universally homogeneous culture shaped by global brands (including media brands). It will damp down the intramural spats if all the world is eating Kentucky Fried Chicken and watching Star Wars, and no one is religious enough to refuse to burn a pinch of incense on the altar of the PC Narrative. The ultimate goal is a single global lingua franca, then a Tower reaching to Heaven.

      • Cosmopolitan rule over diverse national cults does seem impossible to sustain for long without lots of bloodshed. This is why the globalist project wants to gut religion and eliminate local customs in favor of a universally homogeneous culture shaped by global brands (including media brands).

        This was certainly the strategy of European colonialism. The Catholic Church was the first global brand, and it (and its associated armies and economic exploiters) made ample use of both suppressing local customs and astonishing levels of bloodshed.

      • Bloodshed has always been the strategy of all empires. Christendom is special among them in that it alone began to think there might be something wrong with it. Communism is special among them in that it has shed more blood than all the other empires put together.

      • It’s worth pointing out Catholicism is the only religion, in this colonial context, which treated the native residents of conquered lands as human beings. Look at South America, Central America, and North America. Whose residents today bear the most resemblance to their original inhabitants? Why do you think that is?

        Protestant England sought to exterminate American natives, while the Jesuits sought to convert them: considerable intermarriage happened as a consequence. Colonial efforts by Catholics (and guided by the Jesuits as the Churches formal representatives) were the most humane ever conceived.

      • Genocide has always been the normal policy of conquerors – at least of the top class of males, but sometimes right down to the livestock and the fields. Christian civilization is unique in its stress upon the crucial importance of charity. Not all Christians forebore to practice genocide, of course – and sometimes, as in colonial New England, it came down to kill or be killed – but Christians are the first sort of men whose priests preach that oppression of the weak is sinful, and mercy virtuous.

      • Also the first sort of men to glory in tyranny by the “meek.” We can reject Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity while accepting his critique of decadent Christianity. The path of decadence is clear: tyranny of the strong>mercy>equality>tyranny of the “meek.” Nietzsche said we have to move the dial back to tyranny of the strong. I think we should be saying that we have to move the dial back to mercy. Then we need to figure out how to rip off the dial.

      • “Catholicism is the only religion, in this colonial context, which treated the native residents of conquered lands as human beings.”

        Not accurate. North of the Rio Grande, Protestants sought to convert the natives, and sometimes to kill them. South of the Rio Grande, Catholics sought to convert the natives, and sometimes to kill them.

        And the ratio of settlers to natives was much higher in what would become the United States than in Latin America, reflecting the pre-Columbian population density. Protestant settlers usually drove the natives away, while that was frequently not an option south of the Rio Grande, or in New France.

      • Cosmopolitan rule over diverse national cults is impossible to sustain for long without lots of bloodshed.

        Very definitely so, and as Scoot points out upthread, our current attempt is in fact the bloodiest in history, managing only to consider itself as relatively clean by the moral lobotomy of redefining undesirable people as nonexistent even before the spike and vacuum cleaner are applied.

        But, too, no truly global attempt has ever succeeded, nor will ever succeed.

        Being willing to perpetuate truly staggering effusions of innocent blood has propelled our current example beyond the frankly provincial scope of most other attempts, like Imperial Rome or T’ang China or AztIncan Mesoamerica. But despite this (and despite pretensions to the contrary, as usual with Imperial attempts) it is not nor will it ever be complete. Our current governance system has not successfully asserted its suzerainty over all peoples, and it never will. In fact it’s in the rapid contraction stage even as we speak, with both its cultural and geographic influence waning faster than ever before.

        Of course I distinguish between the actual sovereign and its philosophy of governance; the latter has attained supremacy so complete that even its dissidents are, in the fullest sense, reactionary. We are all Hobbesians now.

      • If this is the measure by which we evaluate the goodness or badness of organizations and belief systems then you’d be Catholic. Atheists death count starts at 60 Million dead infants in the united states alone. Atheistic governments account for hundreds of millions dead of their own people. If we’re going to play tu quoque at least play a version of it you can win.

      • And, of course, it would not even occur to a.morphous that genocide by conquerors is the least bit problematic if he had not been raised in what is still a fundamentally Christian civilization, and imbibed its values.

      • But Scoot, that’s hardly fair. Untermenschen liquidated as part of the process of immanentizing the eschaton don’t count. No True Atheist has ever intentionally caused the death of another human either because of his personal predilections nor his policy prescriptions.

        I think I’ve heard this tune somewhere before.

      • I personally am opposed to mass murder, torture, genocide, and slavery no matter who it is practiced by or what ideology they use to justify it.

        Your position seems to be, Christians do all that stuff, but at least they are civilized enough to feel bad about it.

        And, of course, it would not even occur to a.morphous that genocide by conquerors is the least bit problematic if he had not been raised in what is still a fundamentally Christian civilization, and imbibed its values.

        What a strange idea. I can assure you, anybody who has been on the receiving end of genocide, or lesser abuses of power, has probably managed to figure out that it was “problematic” without the help of Christianity.

      • I take Kristor’s point to be more that if it weren’t for Christianity far more people would know that genocide is wrong by experience than they would by intellect. Violence is common, i would even go so far as to say violence is human. Peace is divine. That’s why we men crucified Christ, that’s why Christ remained on the Cross.

      • What Scoot said.

        Victims of genocide do of course naturally object to it. But their murderers do not.

        Christians do commit genocide, for sure; and all sorts of other crimes. But Christian societies were the first to understand genocide as a crime. Same with slavery, torture, gladiatorial combat, abortion, infanticide, ostracism of the sick, and so forth. All those things were routine in all societies before Christianity came along. It’s been a long slow painful process, but in Christian societies those evils are mostly gone. They never totally disappeared in Muslim and pagan lands. Now that our society is apostatic, they are returning.

      • The idea that Christianity is somehow uniquely more moral than other cultures is too absurd to argue with. They’ve done more than their share of violence, both to others and to themselves (eg The Thirty Years War). I can’t imagine a productive debate on this, so let it go.

        Instead, two comments on this:

        But Christian societies were the first to understand genocide as a crime.

        One: The idea of genocide as a crime came out of Western societies which did indeed have a Christian heritage, although it was not primarily driven by Christians (the word was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew). But you could say exactly the same thing about communism. Why does Christianity get credit for one but not blame for the other?

        Two: you seem to have switched sides from your original post, in that the idea of genocide as a crime only makes sense in a context in which there is some kind of global government to enforce it. Without the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, weak though they are, genocide would be a crime only in rhetoric.

      • I can imagine a productive debate on whether Christian societies have different notions about violence than other cultures (however badly Christians have manifested them in their own lives). It is the first religion that taught its adherents they should love their enemies. To its pagan audience of the first few centuries, when no culture was yet Christian, that idea seemed *absolutely nuts.* It still does, to lots of people … who are not Christians.

        Communism and liberalism are indeed debased offspring of Christian culture; they are manifestations of deviations from Christian doctrine; of heresy. They sprang from Christian culture – like the Albigensians and the Unitarians – but, like the Albigensians and Unitarians, they are not Christian. Indeed, they are anti-Christian. You can’t blame Christianity for movements founded by heretics or apostates.

        It is nonsense to think that a crime is criminal only in the event that there is an administration of justice that can enforce ukases against it. Likewise it is absurd to think that a crime is criminal only if some sovereign authority has declared it so. Murder is a crime under all circumstances. That’s why you think it would be wrong to murder me even if there were no government around at all.

        You do think that, right?

      • It is the first religion that taught its adherents they should love their enemies.

        I think Buddhism could claim prior art on that.

        You can’t blame Christianity for movements founded by heretics or apostates.

        Why not?

        Imagine if a socialist said to you, well, you know, the USSR was a debased version of real socialism, which is warm and fuzzy and humanistic. You would scoff at them and insist that their ideas be judged by what they actually lead to. Why can’t we do the same for Christianity?

        It is nonsense to think that a crime is criminal only in the event that there is an administration of justice that can enforce ukases against it.

        I think you understand perfectly well what I mean. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m distinguishing between a crime, which is something defined by law and enforced by a legal authority, and a moral wrong. Regardless of your position on the nature of morality, these are different things.

        It does not take a world government to declare that genocide is wrong, but it does require one to make it a crime – that is, to enforce sanctions against it, since it is typically a crime undertaken by states. And to declare it wrong but be opposed to the institutions that could make it a crime is just hand-wringing hypocrisy.

      • With total respect for Buddhism, is it a religion? Depends upon the definition of religion, I suppose. But, since Buddhism insists upon the irreality of gods (and all other entities), it doesn’t quite seem to fit the category. The Buddhist emphasis on compassion then looks like an unprincipled exception, metaphysically obtuse and so unwarranted (albeit eminently practical and praiseworthy); whereas charity is a central pillar of Christian doctrine both social and worldly, on the one hand, and on the other both metaphysically and otherworldly.

        Imagine if a socialist said to you, well, you know, the USSR was a debased version of real socialism, which is warm and fuzzy and humanistic. You would scoff at them and insist that their ideas be judged by what they actually lead to. Why can’t we do the same for Christianity?

        Because Communism – like Socialism – is not a debased version of Christianity, but its dire enemy, founded upon a metaphysics antithetical to Christianity: atheism. Sure, it sprang out of Christian culture in its latest iteration, but so have lots of evils. That an evil sprang out of Christian culture does not render it a Christian evil. That 100 million Christians become atheists and Communists does not make Christianity a sort of atheism or Communism, nor does it make atheism or Communism sorts of Christianity.

        There has never been a global government. Yet, there have been war crimes, and the criminals who committed them have been tried, convicted, and executed. Evidently, there can be crimes in the absence of a global monopoly on the use of violence. A posse of nations can get together on an ad hoc basis and punish a nation for its crimes. It is a sort of vigilante justice.

      • Of course Buddhism is a religion, and what difference would it make to my point if it wasn’t?

        Compassion is a central pillar of Buddhism; certainly as important to it as charity is to Christianity. If that seems inconsistent with other points of Buddhist doctrine, well, I have news for you, religions tend to have a lot of internal contradictions and paradoxes built into them, Buddhism is hardly unique in that regard.

        The particular contradiction you note is addressed directly in Buddhist scripture; in one of my favorite passages in fact, from the Vimalakirti Sutra:

        Thereupon, Manjusri, the crown prince, addressed the Licchavi Vimalakirti:

        “Good sir, how should a bodhisattva regard all living beings?”

        Vimalakirti replied, “Manjusri, a bodhisattva should regard all living beings as a wise man regards the reflection of the moon in water or as magicians regard men created by magic. He should regard them as being like a face in a mirror; like the water of a mirage; like the sound of an echo; like a mass of clouds in the sky; like the previous moment of a ball of foam; like the appearance and disappearance of a bubble of water; like the core of a plantain tree; like a flash of lightning; like the fifth great element; like the seventh sense-medium; like the appearance of matter in an immaterial realm; like a sprout from a rotten seed; like a tortoise-hair coat; …

        “Precisely thus, Manjusri, does a bodhisattva who realizes ultimate selflessness consider all beings.”

        Manjusri then asked further, “Noble sir, if a bodhisattva considers all living beings in such a way, how does he generate the great love toward them?

        Vimalakirti replied, “Manjusri, when a bodhisattva considers all living beings in this way, he thinks: ‘Just as I have realized the Dharma, so should I teach it to living beings.’ Thereby, he generates the love that is truly a refuge for all living beings; the love that is peaceful because free of grasping; the love that is not feverish, because free of passions; the love that accords with reality because it is equanimous in all three times; the love that is without conflict because free of the violence of the passions; the love that is nondual because it is involved neither with the external.nor with the internal; the love that is imperturbable because totally ultimate.

        “Thereby he generates the love that is firm, its high resolve unbreakable, like a diamond; the love that is pure, purified in its intrinsic nature; the love that is even, its aspirations being equal; the saint’s love that has eliminated its enemy; the bodhisattva’s love that continuously develops living beings; the Tathágata’s love that understands reality; the Buddha’s love that causes living beings to awaken from their sleep; the love that is spontaneous because it is fully enlightened spontaneously; the love that is enlightenment because it is unity of experience; the love that has no presumption because it has eliminated attachment and aversion; the love that is great compassion because it infuses the Mahayana with radiance; the love that is never exhausted because it acknowledges voidness and selflessness; the love that is giving because it bestows the gift of Dharma free of the tight fist of a bad teacher; the love that is morality because it improves immoral living beings; the love that is tolerance because it protects both self and others; the love that is effort because it takes responsibility for all living beings…

      • Good stuff, a.morphous, thanks. That is indeed a beautiful passage.

        The difference it would make whether Buddhism is a religion or not is simply that what I wrote was that Christianity was the first *religion* that praught love of the enemy. Platonism and Stoicism, e.g., both urge a definite and righteous way of living, arguing from First Principles and a sophisticated metaphysic, but neither is a religion. The question then is whether Buddhism is more like Platonism than it is like Christianity. I suppose that depends upon the Buddhist.

        Anyway, we are in danger of falling into a rabbit’s hole of confusion here, because the definition of religion is such a vexed topic. On some definitions, Buddhism is certainly a religion; on others, not.

        Either way, that passage you sent is terrific.

        But my larger point stands: Christian civilization is the first to think that genocide is evil, *and* to try to stop it (however fitfully or inconsistently). Christian civilization is the only sort that has even tried.

        Globalists assume that the global government would be run along the lines of governments in quondam Christian lands such as those that nurtured them, but given their antipathy for Christianity – and, for that matter, their hatred of their entire patrimony, including the Western ethics of fair play, of justice, and of good government – that’s a foolish pipe dream. Culture is downstream of cult. A defect of religion then is manifest as (among other things) a defect of society.

      • Yet, there have been war crimes, and the criminals who committed them have been tried, convicted, and executed. Evidently, there can be crimes in the absence of a global monopoly on the use of violence. A posse of nations can get together on an ad hoc basis and punish a nation for its crimes. It is a sort of vigilante justice.

        I’ve sometimes wondered about the morality of this. Certainly, war criminals have often deserved whatever punishment they’ve received and more. But do those who tried and convicted them have appropriate jurisdiction to do so? Can an equal really pass judgement on an equal? I’m reminded of Queen Elizabeth executing Mary, Queen of Scots: it was something of a scandal at the time for the sovereign of one nation to presume to have the authority to execute another sovereign. (Of course, fast forward one century and you’ve sunk to a state in which parliaments are executing sovereigns).

      • It’s a tough question, to be sure. On the one hand, who am I to execute a man for torturing little boys to death? On the other, who am I to abstain from so doing? Here’s the thing: notice that these questions pertain, even if the execution is sanctioned by a higher authority.

        Say you are at total war with Japan and her troops have been doing monstrous things and she must be stopped. Is it more moral to nuke Japan with the sanction of the Holy Terran Emperor who legally rules the planet than it would be if you did it on your own recognizance? It strikes me that the moral difficulty of the decision to nuke is equivalent under both scenarios.

        The argument for a patchwork of small lethal states is analogous to the argument for peopling a territory with lots of dangerous well armed men each defending his homestead. The wide distribution of lethality greatly increases the risk and cost of defection from social norms, so you get lots less defection. In such situations, any defector is likely to meet resistance from one or more equals.

        Nice if you can get a warrant from the Emperor for the arrest of the defector beforehand, but even better to ask forgiveness from him than ask for permission, in some cases of emergency.

    • Is this true? What about the Roman Empire, which lasted 1000 years, and far longer if you include its continuance in the form of the Byzantine Empire?

      Or do we mean literally global? Well, that certainly would be difficult to accomplish, though I don’t know about impossible. Things have seemed to be moving that way for a long time.

      And would a world government necessarily be a bad thing? What if it took the form of the Holy Roman Empire?

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2020/12/what-was-holy-roman-empire.html

      • A world government would not be a bad thing *necessarily.* A truly good global government, such as Scoot and I were discussing upthread, is certainly possible. But it is fantastically unlikely ever to transpire. The likely outcome – the 50th percentile, the base case – is a corrupt global tyranny. And again, at the far opposite end of the spectrum from the truly good world government lies absolute anarchy: social chaos, the zero of human commensality and coordination.

        Come to think of it, “social chaos” is an oxymoron. Chaos is asocial. Indeed, it is antisocial. So it is inhuman; it is antihuman. So much for anarchism.

      • I do mean literally global. And I think the distinction is important for the question of civilizations as such. All civilizations, all governments, have had to deal not just with dissidents, but outsiders.

        A truly global, world-wide government would not count anyone in the second category.

  5. The base case against global government – i.e., the worst that could happen if we were to get one – turns out upon reflection to be a base case for a patchwork of quite independent smallish nations each somewhat different from the others; and so, for war.

    Isn’t this an argument against government as such?

      • Sure. In fact, you can’t really do government at all without some degree of subsidiarity. No executive can do everything that needs to be done; one needs a hierarchy of trusted dependable thoughtful hands, all of them authoritative – speaking in the Name of the King, as we used to say – to manage the coordination.

        The greater the degree of subsidiarity in government, the fewer the hands needed. Back in the 18th Century, Whitehall governed the British Empire with 500 men.

        Tyrannies must employ enormous bureaucracies because they ruin the social trust that subvenes all delegation, and thus all hierarchy and all subsidiarity. Tyrannies need regulators of the regulators of the regulators.

      • Tyrannies need regulators of the regulators of the regulators.

        This brings to mind the whole ‘checks and balances’ feature of our government, the idea being that we can avoid the problems of rule by men by putting in place all these procedural checks and competing powers to limit one another. But it’s all a mirage. We think we’re getting neutral governing practices by relying on abstract, impersonal, mechanistic rules and regulations, but all that really does, as Zippy might say, is hide the real source of authority (which is always men) and therefore makes it sociopathic.

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