The Politics of World Federation

Vol. I:  The United Nations, U.N. Reform, Atomic Control


One World was the title of a book by Wendell Willkie in the midst of World War II that expressed the goal of the war for many people and gave a name to the aspirations of a generation of internationalists.  The most radical of them were advocates of not restoring the League of Nations, but of creating a world federal government of states and peoples to establish the rule of world law reaching to individuals at least for the preservation of the peace.  Clarence Streit, Grenville Clark, Arnold Toynbee, Henry Usborne, Albert Einstein, Robert M. Hutchins, and Justice Owen Roberts were typical figures.  This volume traces the influence on policy of their thinking, particularly on Winston Churchill’s proposal of Anglo-French union of 16 June 1940, deliberations in the U.S. State Department on the shape of a postwar international security organization until October 1943, the Baruch plan for the international control of atomic energy in 1946, and early efforts at U.N. reform.


The Politics of World Federation

Vol. II:  From World Federalism to Global Governance


The coming of the Cold War by 1947 is the principal explanation for the immediate failure of the world federalists.  The historic opportunity for so fundamental an innovation in international relations as the establishment of even a limited world federation had passed, but for the next few years there was vigorous and deep political thinking about the problem of the continuing prospect of war.  The Committee to Frame a World Constitution under Robert M. Hutchins and G.A. Borgese at the University of Chicago completed their Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution, and Grenville Clark and Louis B. Sohn began their deliberations that resulted in World Peace through World Law.  United World Federalists, under Cord Meyer, Jr., and Alan Cranston, built up enough of a popular movement to pass resolutions favoring U.S. participation in a world federation in twenty-two states.  Their articulation of the issues and political pressure produced hearings on world federation in the House of Representatives in 1948 and 1949 and in the Senate in 1950.  At the time, there was also a sizable world movement in twenty two nations.  But the millions of potential world citizens never appeared, and national leaders, though they often admitted the logic of world federalists, would not get so far out in front of their peoples.  The Korean War put the final touches on the deterioration of international relations, and it ended prospects for systemic U.N. reform at least until the end of the Cold War.