Appeal to Youth

World Citizens Party

Appeal to Youth


“To understand is hard,” wrote Sun Yat–sen, the founder of the Chinese Republic; “once one understands, action is easy.”  Are you bewildered by the course of world events?  Are you awaiting the next war?  You are still the Millennium generation.  You can make a better world, but you have to study first, then act.

Our problems are rooted in the international anarchy — the separation of states, the absence of the rule of world law, the disunion of peoples.  The states are too small to solve global problems, like climate change; too large for individual citizens.  The United Nations is inadequate to such global problems.  Think of bringing all to share in the benefits of economic globalization, protecting human rights of helpless people under the thumb of their governments, even securing international peace and security.  The General Assembly is not a representative world legislature to enact world law reaching to individuals, the International Court of Justice is not a world judicial court to apply the law to cases, the Secretary–General is not a world executive to enforce the laws, nor is the Security Council, though it has the power to make “decisions,” some more practical executive.  It is a consortium of great powers, who protect themselves from the majority by the veto; it is a relic of the World War II grand alliance and is out of date.

Our world is lacking a voice of the people.  Democracy is not voting every two or four years.  Democracy is the rule of the people.  American government was established to protect the liberties of the people; is it impossible that a government of the Earth could do the same?  We — the World Citizens Party — are a group of old fuddy–duddies with a brilliant vision of what to do.  We invite you to think like us and eventually to join us and even take over the leadership.  We think that what would transform world politics would be to do something like what the Founding Fathers (behind whom were the Founding Mothers) did when they established the United States of America.  We call it a world federal government.  Not a world government in the sense of a unitary state that would abolish at a stroke the national governments — though you will hear that said by the defenders of the sovereign states (the source of the problem) — but a federal world government, preserving the states as subordinate legal authorities.  “Unity and diversity,” the old motto of United World Federalists, which was mentioned as recently as Mikhail Gorbachev’s speech to the United Nations in 1988, is still our motto.

Before you act, you should study.  There’s no hurry, but you really should make a little room for some old books that are full of light for the future.  Start with the Federalist Papers by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay.  Numbers 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 21, 23, 39, 46, and 51 are especially relevant today, on analogy with the international situation under the U.N. Charter.  Do read the U.N. Charter and note such principles as Article 2(4) that member states renounce the threat and use of force, and 2 (3) that they pledge to resolve their disputes by peaceful means.  For a plan designed to establish both peace and justice, see Robert M. Hutchins, G.A. Borgese, and others’ A Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution (most recently republished in Falk, Johansen, and Kim, eds. The Constitutional Foundations of World Peace).  For a more minimal plan, leaving justice for future amendment, see Grenville Clark and Louis B. Sohn, World Peace through World Law.  For the European Union, where the most progress toward the federation of modern states has been made, you could not go wrong with the long–range reflections of its founder, Jean Monnet’s Memoirs.  Take a look too at the Spinelli plan, enacted in the European Parliament after it had been made directly elected by the people, the Draft Treaty Establishing the European Union.

What, then, is to be done?  With all due respect for the faithful who have held up the vision since the founding of the U.N., I must warn you not to expect to step into the line of march of the world federalist movement, which hardly exists any more.  We need a new movement, and new leaders.  You don’t need the World Citizens Party—it needs you.  We are living in a time of great transition.  The peaceful new order of the future will probably look as different from the historic national federations (of which there have been 30 to date) as those federations looked from the confederations and monarchies that preceded them.  Harris Wofford, founder of Student Federalists, used to say, “Federalists have stumbled into man’s greatest peaceful revolution, … the revolution to establish politically the brotherhood of man.”

There is lots that you can do, principally to build up a world citizenry, ready to enjoy the liberties as well as to perform the duties of a world federal government.  Whatever you do, strive to build solidarity with other national people as potential world citizens.  The time is too early to draft the world constitution.  But get ready for the crisis that will  create the conditions for such an inaugural act.  Build up the new order in the midst of the collapse of the old.  Sing a song.  Tell a joke not at the expense of some minority.  Teach not the glories of war but good judgment and imagination.  Teach harmony — marry somebody different and keep peace at home.  Raise two responsible, unspoiled children, considerate of others, to add to the stock of those who, like Thoreau, are mature enough not to need government.  Live abroad, learn a foreign language.  Find work that will build linkages across borders, as in business in the age of globalization.  Do business in the Middle East or China.  Practice democracy at home — contribute to affordable housing.  Read histories of our country and especially of others from their point of view, like Russia, Vietnam, Iraq.  Don’t teach “American exceptionalism” and neo-imperialism.  Imitate the Dutch and the Austrians — once great powers that have learned to live modestly with respect for their neighbors, giving generously to the poor, as in the global South.  Study science, make a million dollars, and sign up for a space flight.  Signal the stars by radio.  Warn them that we’re here!

There is still more you can do for world federation.  Prepare for the Revolution.  It will not be televised.  It will be live.  Put away your guns.  We don’t need another nut with a gun.  Take a leaf from the book of ethics by Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 5), Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Daniel Berrigan.  Remember that non–violent resistance brought down not only the British empire in India, but also Jim Crow laws in the U.SA., Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, one–party Communist rule in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself, and even worse repression at Tiananmen Square.  Be ready to die for popular world government, but do not kill.  We cannot escape the truth that there is no greater love than willingness to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

In America, there are many things to do.  Become reacquainted with what it once meant to be an American.  Read Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington.  Stand in the Lincoln Memorial and read Abraham Lincoln’s First and Second Inaugural Addresses.  When tears come to your eyes, you are understanding.  Listen on the Net to FDR’s Fireside Chats.  Read again the Atlantic Charter by Roosevelt and Churchill.  Downscale the armed forces to those still needed for defense but not for the “projection of power.”  Do better than the anti–Vietnam War peace movement.  End not one war but all wars.  Remember that the atomic attack on Hiroshima killed principally civilians.  Don’t give money to the federalists until it is time for decisive action: give an hour of your time.

Watch out for those in the Establishment who will seize the next historic opportunity to go back to the old nationalist ways, like Truman undercutting the new U.N. and giving us the Cold War.  Return to friendship with the French.  Respect the Russians: they have been here for a thousand years.  Rejoice that we never made war on the Red Chinese!  Remind the Jews and the Palestinians that they are kindred.  Remember that Iraq is the cradle of civilization.  Iran is one of Arnold Toynbee’s seven surviving civilizations.  They want nuclear weapons because we and their neighbors have them: hold your fire.  Islam is another great civilization.  Find out the Muslims’ grievances and stop assuming that they “hate freedom.”  Let the Koreans reunite.  Remember that we came out of Africa.  Help Africa federate, as Kwame Nkruma advocated: in union there is strength.  Buy Cuban sugar: fifty years is enough for a blockade.  Labor — no matter what you read in the financial pages — has dignity.  Respect honest toil.  Empty the prisons.  Keep the door open to immigrants.  We are a country of immigrants.  We are an image of One World united.


Joseph Preston Baratta, author of The Politics of World Federation, a history (2004).