Why A World State is Inevitable
By John Taylor; 2007 Nov 30, 2007, 08 Qawl, 164 BE
In the academic world the most extraordinarily trivial debates are commonplace. Experts take sides over just about any obscure distinction, real or imagined, cogent or moot, that you can name. No matter how abstruse or obscure, inevitably they find a way to take sides over it. But in one specialty -- and it is by far the most vital in the world -- there has been pretty much universal agreement. I am speaking of the liberal consensus in international relations that the idea of a world government is unworthy of consideration for any of three reasons; one, it is impracticable, two, it is undesirable or three, unnecessary. Crushed by these three horsemen, the idea that world government is a natural and inevitable stage of human development does not get a chance to raise its head.
Then in 2003 the social constructivist theorist, Alexander Wendt, wrote a paper called, "Why a World State is Inevitable; Teleology and the Logic of Anarchy." (European Journal of International Relations 9, 4, 491-542) Here he holds that a planet-wide state holding a global monopoly on the legitimate use of force will within a century prove to be unavoidable. As soon as I heard of this document this week I chased it down on the Web and waded into it, in spite of utter lack of qualifications or even nodding familiarity with the discipline of international relations. It is so rare to come across anything like this line of argument -- it is of course woven into the very fabric of Baha'u'llah's world view -- that I was moved by an impulse I could not resist to look into it.
Wendt starts off by saying that even if you push what is about to happen a century into the future, the fact that it must come to pass still has relevance to decision makers today.
"My guess is that a world state will emerge within 100 years, which makes the process potentially relevant to policymakers and scholars today."
Wendt is convinced that the reason a world state must come about is that it is predicted by self-organization theory, a combination of micro-level dynamics with macro-level boundary conditions; this hybrid science (presumably it uses mathematical or computer simulation), he says, demonstrates how systems tend to develop towards stable end-states. Whatever the contributions of individuals, system theory predicts on a broader level human organization is a staircase with steps that cannot be avoided. In the words of the paper's précis,
"At the micro-level world state formation is driven by the struggle of individuals and groups for recognition of their subjectivity. At the macro-level this struggle is channeled toward a world state by the logic of anarchy, which generates a tendency for military technology and war to become increasingly destructive."
The behavior of states, then, is like a giant rugby pileup. If you jump on, do not expect to stay on top for long. Everybody below will want to fight his way up top too. The guys on the bottom sooner or later will dump you off and a new top guy will take your place. In a similar way, leading superpowers will always be challenged by smaller ones who want their worthiness to be recognized by the world. As soon as one state or group of states gains hegemony, the others who are shut out will struggle for the best place in the sun.
Wendt traces five stages of overturn in international relations, starting with a "system of states," that proves unstable; this collapse leads to stage two, a "society of states," then a "world society" stage, then a "collective security" stage, and finally a "world state." Each failure leads to the next, and there is nothing that anybody can do to change it, any more than a baby can fight the process of growing into an adult. The stages are built into the structure of organisms in the same way that the atoms of a table determine what it is made of.
The question is, why has this glaringly obvious observation been shut out for so long? Wendt's explanation is that the very DNA of evolutionary science has intentionally blocked it out.
He takes the reader all the way back to Aristotle's four causes, saying that the fourth or final cause (teleology) of Aristotle was unnecessarily rejected by science, and especially by evolutionary theory. Thus, while it seems ridiculous to say that the stage of adolescence "causes" a baby or child to become an adult, nonetheless that is how complex systems do tend to organize themselves. Wendt points out that,
"... self-organization theory ... is emerging as an important challenge to the orthodox neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. Self-organization theory hypothesizes that order in nature emerges not only through the mechanism of mutation-selection-retention, but spontaneously from the channeling of system dynamics by structural boundary conditions toward particular end-states."
There is a kind of purpose in nature, and to deny it is to miss out on most of what biological organisms are about, and to deny the collective political evolution of the human race is to misapprehend what Aristotle's "political animal" is all about.
Put it another way, Darwinian theory with its rejection of teleology without realizing it all but excluded consideration of Baha'u'llah's central teaching of Progressive Revelation (itself an alternative, God-centered theory of religious relativity and evolution), which holds that humankind is coming of age and that sooner or later a world federation must result from that.