World Federation as Path to World Peace
Worcester (State College) Statement, Spring 2003
Joseph P. Baratta, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History and Political Science, accepts that the notion of a federal world government makes many people uncomfortable. But in his book The Politics of World Federation, to be published by Praeger Press later this year, he offers a vision of how a constitutionally limited, democratically representative world government could lead to the abolishment of war.
The meticulously researched book, consisting of two volumes, is a work of history, says Baratta. It deals with real people and events, including the World Federalist movement following World War II and the formation of the European Union. It is also a work of hope, presenting a vision of how world peace could be established if all nations were united under the rule of law.
“My goal in writing the book was to present a historical perspective on the practical politics of establishing a working world federation,” Baratta says. “It is easy to dismiss the concept as an impossibly idealistic Utopian idea, but it has in fact already been attempted and the Europeans are, to some extent, moving methodically towards a union of European states.”
The genesis of the book can be traced to Baratta’s service in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Viet Nam era. “I was horrified by what we were trained to do,” he remembers. “I am still troubled by the simple statement of a gunnery sergeant, who told us recruits: ‘The purpose of a battle is to reach a decision.’ I thought then, as I do now, that there must be a more rational way to reach a decision.” Later, as a graduate student at Boston University, his doctoral dissertation explored the history of “what has actually been attempted to politically unite the human race in order to establish the rule of world law and thus to abolish war.”
His research revealed that there had been considerable international support for some form of world union following World War II as nations confronted the nuclear age. “There was a lot of talk about creating one international body to control nuclear weapons,” he says. “Seventy one member organizations in twenty-two nations were in favor of creating a world union. But the impetus for such a union faded as the Cold War took hold. Today, the United Nations stands as the closest model for world unity, but it is a confederation, not a federation, in that member states retain sovereign powers.”
Baratta says that while his book is not intended to advocate for world unity, he is hopeful that it will provide a conceptual alternative to traditional thinking about international affairs. “The examples of the world federalists could be instructive,” he says. “They wanted us to be citizens of the world, as well as citizens of a particular state and nation. They envisioned a time when all peoples would be united under the rule of law, when lasting peace would be established.”
He adds, “My ambition is to restore the ideal of world federal government to respectability. I’d like the book to generate serious thought about alternative choices to the present course of foreign policy. I’d like it to be a reminder of what has been done, and to offer some guidance into the future.”
Baratta’s previous books include The United Nations System: Meeting the World Constitutional Crisis, published by ABC-Clio, Oxford, England, in 1995.