Saturday, May 05, 2007


Bertrand Russell, in the book In Praise of Idleness, advocates the creation of a Federal World Government contrasted with the “irrational cult of the nation”*. Such a view is obviously utopian, yet holds some validity.

If one adopts a humanitarian perspective, supports universal human rights, then one must accept the necessity of international institutions. Karl Popper, in The Open Society, posits a view more moderate than Russell’s. It’s practicable, according to Popper, to create international institutions whose purpose is thwarting crime on a world scale.

Such practices are already in the making. The UN, imperfect as it may be, has undoubtedly prevented many disasters via its role as a mediator.

It’s desirable, in terms of stability, to give the UN more authority. Many wars are caused by bad negotiations, which would be inhibited by a neutral mediator like the UN.

Assuming the UN is structured adeptly for protecting human rights, granting it more authority in rights related matters is wise. The UN could embargo violators of human rights, or, if the nation becomes too aggressive, even form multilateral forces to take it out.

It is well known pollution, child labour, or social injustice results from unregulated free trade. Protectionism, denying full foreign market benefits to third world producers, is equally bad. The only compromise seems to have international trade regulated by an international institution, one whose authority extends beyond national boundaries. This would ensure fair trade.

Lastly, I don’t support giving international institutions absolute power. The day-to-day running and non-rights related issues of a nation should be left to the national government. I’d also like to see more democracy in international institutions, perhaps even the election of ambassadors to the UN.

Internationalism, in the modest (multilateralist) form I advocate, doesn’t oppose patriotism (admiration of one’s nation). It accepts that specific people may find the ideals or customs of their nation admirable and is compatible with liberal nationalism.

But, all nations, under the internationalism I advocate, mustn’t violate human rights or engage in acts of aggression.

*The quote is an approximation.

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