This article was last modified on December 15, 2008.


Interview with Jim Stark

Here are the questions and answers posed to Jim Stark for my January 2009 column on world government.

You argue against omnicide. Why is the human race worth saving?

First, as quoted in Rescue Plan for Planet Earth: Democratic World Government through a Global Referendum, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” (ancient American Aboriginal proverb). In other words, the Earth is not ours, so we have no right to commit or sanction omnicide. Second, unless you are prepared to accept murder (committed by you or with you as the victim, for instance) as morally or otherwise permissible, then the murder of our species is at least equally impermissible. Third, the positive achievements of humankind (such as medicine, art, architecture, literature, music, technology, etc.) are held to be of value by virtually everyone.

If all other species of animals and plants were rational, and aware of the results to date of human dominance, they would not think humanity was worth saving. Indeed, they would almost certainly do to us as we did (through the UN) to the smallpox virus. Fortunately for us, we are the only “rational” species (even though there is incontrovertible evidence that we are also capable of “evil.” We can use our big rational brains to create perpetual peace and enforce human rights and create a sustainable planetary environment, etc. We have that ability, and we have managed to achieve political miracles at the national, state and municipal levels. If we could do the same at the level of the world, we could for the first time imagine what our civilization might be like in a thousand years, in 100 thousand years, or even in millions of years. With survival assured, we could put our energies into becoming ever more worthy of the assessment that the human race was, after all, worth saving way back in the 21st century.

How do we implement a majority-rule world government without infringing on the rights of the minority?

This is not a new problem, and has been faced (and is still being faced) by every level of government. In regard to most pieces of legislation, some element of society (most often a majority) is pleased and another element (most often a minority) is displeased. Like all governments, a DWG will have to financially compensate or otherwise placate minorities who feel hard done by.

The problems of minorities (a “royal” family, class or dictator) oppressing majorities is covered in thousands of history books and political science texts, and the problem of the “tyranny of the majority” is also well known and I think well understood (which is why you should never put minority rights to a referendum, as California recently did, with a predictable result). There are issues that are “supranational,” primarily issues of security (war and peace), issues of justice (inalienable human rights, meaning they are universal, and not subject to restriction by any party, including national governments), and issues of environment (global warming/climate change, among others). These items are the proper concern of a democratic world government, and it means in the final analysis that 1) war must be outlawed and criminalized (as murder is within nations), 2) the Earth’s resources, while they will never be evenly distributed, can’t be so unevenly distributed that millions die every year for want of cheap medicine or food, and 3) no nation has the right to ruin the environment for all people or for all future generations. In these respects (bearing in mind the principle of subsidiarity), the DWG would be “sovereign,” meaning its “will” would trump the will of national governments, state governments, local governments, and even the will of individuals, religions, corporations or any other entity. This does not—I repeat, not—amount to a borderless world or the disappearance of the nation-state or the subjugation of any other governments or of individuals, as many conspiracy theorists say, nor will it mean the blending of all values and traditions into a planetary cultural stew, or one world religion, or any of the other negative implications that may spring to mind. In fact, we are just suggesting that the solution that we have, that works so well (generally) on the national, state and local levels, accountable democratic governance, be applied at the level of the planet, quite a reasonable proposition, most people seem to agree (about 75% in a 2004 18-nation opinion poll supported the creation of a “directly-elected world parliament”).

There will be instances where the rights of majorities or minorities will be infringed, but that is part of the package every time a national, state or local law is enacted. Everyone knows that democracy is a messy business, but everyone also knows that it works, and as Churchill said (paraphrased): “Democracy is the worst form of government except for the alternatives.” If the expected disagreements about how to balance rights were to be held as a reason to disqualify democratic world government, it would also serve to disqualify the idea of creating national, state or local democratic constitutions or charters, which is obviously ridiculous, since we have already done those things. Such a balancing act isn’t harder to do at the global level; it’s mostly just a lot bigger.

How is an Internet vote legally binding… how does one confirm the people who voted only voted once and really do exist?

A verifiable global mandate of a certain order (50%+ of all adults vote and 67%+ vote yes) is what is legally binding. Internet voting is fraught with problems, as your question suggests, but it’s a doable way of kick-starting the process and eventually getting to a UN resolution calling for national referendums piggybacked onto national elections, all using official voters’ lists as well as UN monitoring, as component segments of the global vote. The mayor of my home town has already written to our prime minister asking for such a UN resolution, and he has written to Ban Ki-moon, asking him to seek support among the UN Member States, and we hope to get thousands of mayors doing likewise. However, if a certain nation bans participation in the global referendum, Internet voting remains (as well as opinion polling) to get a fairly clear notion of what that national population thinks of the DWG proposition. We are well aware of the deficiencies of Internet voting, but we are also aware that great oaks from little acorns grow, and if our Internet ballot goes viral, for instance, we will find more than one nation willing to put forward our UN resolution (to see it go to www.voteworldgovernment.org/draftUNresolution.pdf), and it will pass in the General Assembly, and some nations will do it, and on that momentum, we can build a “verifiable global mandate.” In the meantime, we individually authorize all incoming votes, and we can usually (not always) spot bogus ones. Internet voting is absolutely not how we’ll be finishing the global referendum, but it is absolutely how we’ll start it.

The UN has little power to punish some nations that break international law. What would the DWG do that the UN can’t?

A DWG can apply “world law” to individuals, and not resort to the collective punishment techniques used by the UN. Sanctions often hurt ordinary people and don’t bother the top officials who are responsible for the wrong that is supposed to be addressed. War itself is a collective punishment, and therefore unjust for individuals who are victimized. World law applies to individuals, and international law amounts to treaties between and among nation-states (this is gradually changing already—witness the war crimes trials in regard to the former Yugoslavia). If war is criminalized and outlawed, it would be a very serious offence to threaten war, declare war or even to manufacture or possess arms that are only appropriate for indiscriminate killing in a war. Already there is a clear global consensus on the use of land mines and cluster bombs, and without the USA and Russia as signers of these treaties, Americans or Russians who make, order the use of, or use these devices have no fear of being arrested or tried or convicted of any crime. International law cannot be expected to cope with these situations, where world law can at least identify criminals and issue arrest warrants … and eventually, hopefully, arrest, try and convict the guilty.

What would be in place to stop a DWG representative from discussing politics off the record, and where do you find someone who will transcribe hours worth of tapes accurately, every day?

DWG representatives caught lying or saying one thing on the record and another off the record would lose their jobs, their pensions and their good reputations. There are surely a lot of people who can live comfortably within a zero tolerance policy for lying (and other wrongs or crimes that require lying), but leading a double life would be extremely hard to do, given the invasiveness of the transparency regime that voters would rely on to keep it clean at the DWG. Also, a DWG representative sworn to honesty can expect to have his honesty tested, and if he chooses to discuss politics off the record, he hands to the other party adequate grounds for his own ruination. It is really not that difficult to be faithful to a commitment to complete honesty once you get used to it. (I have written a 1,100-page, two-book novel about the impact of an infallible voice-analyzing lie detector, and it took me five years to do that, so I have put a lot of thought into this aspect of the situation and know whereof I speak on a very personal level.)

What we are proposing by way of assuring integrity and prohibiting all corruption in the workings of the DWG is Orwellian, but it will be 1984 turned on its head (the real-world equivalent is ECHELON), with DWG representatives choosing to sacrifice their privacy for the greater good, instead of seeing these tools and techniques turned on a population in general, for the most part without our consent or knowledge.

DWG representatives and senior civil servants can certainly talk at times when they are not being monitored by recording devices, but when it comes to actual actions (transfer of funds, movements of troops), all these can be run through systems that log such activities, with a clear chain of causality from preceding discussions and debates. It can be made functionally impossible to make governing decisions in secret, or to conceal the decision-making process, even if not every infraction is caught.
 
As for the capability of transcribing tapes, this is not a problem. We estimate the budget of the DWG at $112 billion, and while the transcription of thousands of hours of tape per day will be costly, it will not be so costly that it can’t be afforded, and if that is the price of a DWG that is in effect a completely transparent “digital fishbowl,” such as would be required to preclude all corruption now and forever, then it is a price that has to be paid. Additionally, new technologies show great promise for doing such work automatically, and machine translating can handle text with increasing accuracy, so the cost of applying total transparency in 2018 will be a fraction of what it would be today. (For the figure of $112 billion, refer to the Chapter 7, Taxes, which I sent you by email attachment.)

If a country (or its citizens) overwhelmingly voted against the DWG, what obligation do they have to be a part of it or pay its taxes? Does supranational majority outweigh national sovereignty or personal freedom?

The short answer is yes, just as when there is a serious difference of opinion, national governments trump provincial (or state) governments, and both national and provincial governments trump county or municipal governments. However, there are few issues of contention because governments learn (some of them the hard way) to stay within their jurisdictions. In the USA, your states refer to themselves as sovereign, not because they are trying to pick a fight with or usurp power from Washington, but because essentially they are sovereign, within their jurisdiction. Even below the level of a municipal council, individuals in a democracy do have certain “inalienable” rights, so we are all, within our proper jurisdiction, sovereign. (Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made this point well when he said, “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation,” by which he meant governments should not legislate for or against any sexual orientation per se.) And please remember that a national, state or even municipal majority outweighs personal freedom too. While this is little understood, sovereignty is initially a property of the individual, and we delegate aspects of our personal sovereignty to collective bodies so that we can achieve objectives that we can’t achieve alone. The trick is to assign what we must to appropriate representative bodies that we can change or replace as we wish, and retain as much sovereignty as possible at the lowest level, including and especially at the level of the individual. (Example: We give up our right, though not our ability, to murder those who annoy us, but we retain the right to tell annoying people to get lost, and we do that by declaring that words cannot constitute an assault … although they can constitute a reason to fear an assault, in which case the right to self-defense … etc., etc. I didn’t say it was easy, just that it can be done and it works.)

The universally-accepted principle of “subsidiarity” applies to levels of government in a democratic country. That principle amounts to this: “Every political issue should be dealt with and resolved by the lowest or smallest appropriate level of government.” So, while there will always be a few arguments, in general, national governments do not meddle in the affairs of states (provinces) or municipalities, and states (provinces) do not meddle in the affairs of municipalities, and ideally, none of these governments would meddle in the legitimately private affairs of the individual citizen or family.

However, we are dealing here with the possible launch of a new order of law, world law, to put a name to it (which is not the same as “international law,” as the former applies to individuals and the latter to treaties or relations between and among nation-states). There is a famous line from George Monbiot (author of The Age of Consent) to the effect that if national governments don’t want to participate in a word parliament, the people will just have to “start without them.” Also, a world parliament is not based on members who are nation-states, so what national governments say may not compute with the ongoing effort to establish a DWG. No one ever challenged our right to delegate and assign aspects of our individual sovereignty to any municipal, state/provincial or national government, and there is no legitimate basis upon which to dismiss our right to create a DWG if we want to, and decide to. If the human race decides to do this and the citizens of one country are not allowed to participate in the decision or in the resultant institution, there is no right on the part of that country to stop the rest of us from doing as we choose in this respect.

The UN is a gathering place of nation-states, and we can assume it will continue to play a role (usually constructive) in world affairs. The DWG (democratic world government) would be based in a parliament of directly-elected representatives whose role it will be to represent not the nation-state that they hail from, but their own “constituents,” on the one hand, and the interests of the human race at large on the other. (Most writers who address the problem expect a typical global constituency to include about 10 million people, thus there would be about 650 constituencies or representatives today, and likely 700 by 2018, our approximate target date for the inaugural session of the world parliament.)

The American military is gigantic, probably larger than a DWG military would be (even if it included part of the American military). If America decided to act unilaterally, could they actually be stopped?

No, if the U.S. acted unilaterally, they couldn’t be stopped, nor should they be. In this instance the cure would be much worse than the disease, and could well kill the patient. The same can be said for many major global military establishments. The strength of a DWG will be its unprecedented legitimacy. Going against the clearly expressed wishes of a body elected by billions must necessarily carry political, economic and personal (for those primarily responsible) costs far beyond anything a similar affront to the UN can deliver.
 
Despite the lack of a coherent voice, global civil society (a term meaning the community of NGOs generally) is at least partially responsible for the election of Obama due to the unprecedented levels of interaction, discussion and activism through MySpace, YouTube and similar tools. Consider that none of these existed (at least not with tens of millions of members) four years ago. This trend will increase; new tools with even greater capacity for virtual mass collaboration will emerge, and a DWG will serve to focus and direct the rising voice of global civil society which overwhelmingly rejects war as a solution.

Terrorism would be reduced by addressing the problems that lead to terrorism. What are those problems and how would they be addressed?

If war is to be criminalized, there is an undertaking required by all persons and groups, including nation-states, that disagreements must be resolved through negotiation and in keeping with law, as founded on a world constitution, elaborated by a world parliament, interpreted and applied by world courts, and backed up by a world population that has finally understood that physical conflict (except non-lethal competition in sport) has now become technologically insupportable, in that it risks the destruction of everything. It is odd indeed to note that people who understand and support the notion of a nation of laws and a state (province) of laws and a city (town) of laws cannot get their minds around the equally obvious benefits of creating and living a world of laws. Having said this, when a criminal flouts the law and robs your house, you want police to investigate the crime and hopefully arrest the thief and return your property. Most people are not thieves, because the system works. But when it fails, lawless use of force must be met with the lawful use of force. It’s hard to negotiate with terrorists, but they feel tremendously aggrieved, and if we refuse to try to talk it out, we will end up fighting it out. The long-term goal must be to resolve all disputes that could give rise to war, which is not to say we’ll all love each other blissfully, but we’ll all agree that what divides us is not worth killing for.

Similarly, issues of justice, the environment, human rights, food, health services, and all kinds of other problems that beset our local communities, our states and our nations also beset our global civilization, but while we have mechanisms to resolve matters on these lower levels, we have no parallel institutions to depend upon at the world level. Try not eating any regular meals for days, weeks, months or even years, and see if you don’t feel the urge to beat someone senseless. Terrorism has causes. For as long as we don’t build institutions mandated and empowered to define and cope with those causes, we will have only ourselves to blame if terrorism continues and grows.

Some people think less, not more, government is the answer. How can they be persuaded?

Less government may be the answer, or one possibility, for the USA or any other nation. There is no effective or democratic governance at the global level, so it is mathematically impossible to have less than we now have. What global governance there is suffers from an almost complete “democratic deficit,” meaning that those institutions (the IMF, WTO, the World Bank and the UN) are not remotely accountable to the human race. Ideology is an interesting thing, and sometimes useful, but a principle like the one expressed in your question (that as a general rule, less government is far better than more, or better than the status quo) is both mathematically inane in the current discussion and ridiculous from a utilitarian point of view. (Who but a criminal wants no police? Who but a pyromaniac would like to scrap the fire department? Who but rats would like to terminate all garbage collection? Who but blacksmiths would like to terminate all upkeep of paved roads?)

Many famous people (Alexander Wendt, Einstein, Peter Ustinov, etc.) can be quoted as saying that world government is inevitable. We have no more choice about that than we do about the existence of national, state (provincial) or municipal governments. However, as Tim Flannery (author of The Weather Makers) properly points out, the choice we do have and must make is whether that world government will be democratic (accountable to the human race) or a form of “Big Brother,” a military system where the UN General Assembly is actually an assembly of generals who will try to save the planet from human abuse by military means! Where I come from, that’s called a no-brainer.

Also try another article under Political
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

5 Responses to “Interview with Jim Stark”

  1. Raj Chandola Says:

    Excellent questions Gavin, good answers Jim, well worth reading.
    Gavin may i circulate the interview with link to my friends group?
    Raj

  2. Ted Stalets Says:

    There is so much that needs to be done in the collective mind and soul of the world. This project at VoteWorldGovernment.org I wholeheartedly support and call on those who cherish life not just for themselves but for future generations to participate in this great undertaking.

    Regards,
    Ted Stalets

  3. Rick Tufts Says:

    To say I am skeptical of Jim Stark’s support for one world government is an undrestatement. Does Mr. Stark honestly believe that such a government would not lead to a totalitarian state? All you ahve to do is look at the world bankers and other so-called elites who have been pushing this concept for years to understand that they are the only ones who would benefit from such a horror. The middle class, not to mention the poor woulkd be the victims of such a government. Do some research into these people

  4. Rick Tufts Says:

    To continue what I was about to say, all you have to do is look at many of the history’s worst events such as 9/11, financing of both sides of most of the major wars in history, and control of the U.S. and it’s Presidents by the world bankers who own the fraudulent U.S. Federal Reserve, and that’s just a small sampling. These are monsters and I assure you they do not have your best interests at heart.

    I also find Mr. Stark’s motives a bit suspect given his memoir writng which implies a close connection between him and the country’s elite who would stand to benefit the most from one world government

  5. Watch Lie To Me Season Two Online Says:

    Heya this is my 1st time commenting on a blog, I have got to say that I adore your writing style!

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