What if the world could vote?
NOT THAT KIND OF WORLD-STATE
World states have always been a fascist dream. That is not our interest here; rather we are searching for a direct-democratic world state. Nor are we too interested in “really-existing socialism” (not that it any longer exists). Stalinism’s “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” merely took the Russian satellites who liberated themselves during the Russian Revolution and resubmitted them to incursions by Russian tanks, this time for “Communism” instead of the Tsar.
As in many things, liberalism has always aspired to universal ideals, and failed to carry them out in practice. The ultimate incarnation of this in global politics is the United Nations. The UN’s military interventions, military measures being the true measure of a state’s reality, have been either completely defanged by restraint, or are little more than imperialism by the world’s great powers in the costume of blue UN helmets and blue UN berets.
The character of multi-national coalitions is largely determined by the character of their member states. In a world of extreme power inequalities, they are furthermore largely determined by the character of their most powerful member states. This is, however, not to say that things like the UN cannot serve as a powerful forum where the grievances of less powerful nations can come to light. They will remain grievances though, and not be acted upon.
THE ONLY TRUE DEMOCRACY IS GLOBAL DEMOCRACY (anti-imperialism)
During the 2008 and 2012 elections it was remarked that the world outside the US would probably support Obama in the US election — and some people joked that, because of the power and influence the USA has over the rest of the world, maybe they should actually be part of the vote! Well, what if we weren’t joking?
By necessity, we often discuss anarcho-statist structures like direct democracy in a vacuum. The biggest elephant in the room is economics; most anarcho-statists believe that democracy cannot really be genuine unless their preferred economic system is in place, whether that’s capitalism, socialism, or something else.
However there is an even bigger unacknowledged context looming behind direct democracy. The fact is, all forms of government don’t exist in a vacuum, but their character is largely determined by neighboring countries and the world situation.
If a country is the puppet state of another, it can often have many various forms of state, say representative democracy or dictatorship, while still serving effectively as a puppet government. Sometimes the bonds which make this happen are not political at all, but economic – the richest people in that country do business with the patron state, and they in turn prop up whatever kind of government which will make continuing those business dealings possible. The patron state, of course, gives plenty of help toward installing whatever type of state will keep the cash flowing.
It is possible that direct democracy may actually be more immune to this manipulation than imperialist state-building than other forms. However, the rich may use their power over the media to corrupt the vote, or the citizenry may simply decide there is more to gain from being a satellite than otherwise, problematic though it may be. When Puerto Rico was given a referendum on whether to become a state or become independent, the answer most voters gave was “none of the above.” It’s often economically necessary to remain a satellite, given that the alternative is facing economic isolation. But all the options on the table are ultimately undesirable.
But what if the world as whole could vote on policy? This would finally give the developing world the power to demand reparations for colonialism. This would finally provide a framework where, instead of immediate emergency humanitarian aid (a band-aid on the wound), or imperialist military state-building (a knife in the wound), we could actually have humanitarian, developmental state-building.
IMAGINING A GLOBAL ANARCHO-STATE
If multi-national coalitions are determined by the character of their member states, the same would apply in the context of a global wave of direct democracy. What if we could vote on what we wanted our delegate to the UN to say? What if we could vote on how we wanted our delegate to the UN to vote? What if every, or at least most countries were arranged this way?
The above model would basically preserve the UN’s representative structures intact, while its representatives would be representatives from anarcho-states. But what if the UN its entirety became more similar to an anarcho-state? What if UN regulations were agreed not by representative diplomats, but came directly from global petitions, global citizen initiatives, and global votes, by all of the world’s 7 billion people?
The above-mentioned reparations-for-imperialism-by-development is not the only use for a world state. For one thing, we need global environmental laws. Fuck mere environmental restrictions – we need a globally-coordinated environmental cleanup, not just to stop any further damage, but to reverse the damage pollution has already done. We need to scoop up those fricking trash islands. We need a collective agreement to reach 100% true pure green renewable energy, pronto.
More in the vein of economics, what if we “nationalized” the WTO, the World Bank, and the IMF the same way we turned the UN into an anarcho-state? What if these core economic institutions became global property? This would allow the sort of post-colonial infrastructural reparations mentioned earlier. This would rewire policies to help, not hurt, developing nations.
Maybe we could also figure a way to get a handle on the global population situation, too, in a more humanitarian than the typical “ban people from having babies” or Malthusian nightmare scenarios of mass die-off. A global anarcho-state could also oversee measures to reduce national divisions like being a global counterweight to individual nations’ immigration controls, pursuing global military and nuclear dearmament (of the states, not the peoples), and continuing the great work WikiLeaks started by operating transparently and requiring transparent government from member states. Finally, it could facilitate greater cooperation for civilian space exploration instead of this militarized, secretive competition, where we fill the Earth’s orbit with dangerous floating trash particles preventing us from future liftoff. Might also be nice if someone was actually watching to make sure asteroids didn’t hit us.
It’s obvious that most of this stuff remains in the realm of imagination until drastic politico-economic revolutions overtake a great deal of the planet. I don’t believe the great power nations would tolerate being part of any global scheme until they had dramatic changes within their own countries. But it’s important to dream – not just for reasons of having hope. It’s important to imagine because, as we progressively draw people toward radical alternatives, they will demand of us: “how will this stuff actually work?” Usually our answer is, “well that has to be up to the people who create the change.” But that’s not a good-enough answer, because we are the people creating the change, and people are not going to throw out their old structure of stability in favor of a new one unless there is an actual plan. This is not to say “my plan is best and it’s the only plan.” Instead it’s simply to say, utopian imagining is not speculation – it’s a necessary step in actually giving people confidence that, after the dust settles, society will still be standing, because there will be an actual plan, an actual structure, an actual framework, an actual blueprint. Start drawing the blueprints.
Finally, if the aliens visited us right now it would be a disgrace. If they said “take me to your leader,” we’d be like, “Uh, which one? The American president? The richest man in the world? The UN General Secretary?” Some charitable human would need to explain to the hypothetical alien that’s not actually our real leader, the UN doesn’t actually have any power. We at least need to, like, elect someone to be alien relations spokesperson or something.