Someone just interrupted me so there's not much here yet.

Many people express desperation about the status quo in the world. They sometimes use this desperation to suggest desperate measures. However, the present situation is not so bad. A proposal for change that takes into account only a few facts is likely to make things worse rather than better. The world situation is improving, but a lot more could be done.

Here are some aspects of the status quo.

  1. The world is divided into more than 150 countries. Some want a world government. The World Federalists, more numerous and vociferous in the 1950s than they are today, used to threaten humanity with death by nuclear war unless there was a world government.

    In my opinion, world government is a recipe for world stagnation. For the long term future of humanity it might be worse than nuclear war.

    The world is given to panics about innovations. Present examples include panics on genetically modified organisms and nuclear energy. Past panics concerned unpopular religions. The effect of these panics is mitigated by the existence of many countries. The U.S. is not going along with the panic about genetically modified organisms (I hope), and the Japanese are not going along with the panic on nuclear energy. The U.S. provided, as did Great Britain, a haven for variant religions. If there were a world government, a panic could become permanently fossilized in law. The effects of breaking it could be thought to be terrible. Ancient Egypt and ancient China created fossilized societies that were only broken from the outside. With a world government, there would be no outside.

  2. Here's a nice quote from Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire about the Byzantine Empire, which perhaps considered itself a world government.

    In the revolution of ten centuries, not a single discovery was made to exalt the dignity or promote the happiness of mankind. Not a single idea had been added to the speculative systems of antiquity, and a succession of patient disciples became in their turn the dogmatic teachers of the next servile generation.

  3. Because there are many countries, the world tolerates many innovations of all kinds. If one works out well in the hands of its enthusiasts, it has a chance to spread. In fact the states of the US serve this function on a smaller scale.

    Example: In the 1920s or 1930s, California made it legal to make a right turn on a red light after stopping. This worked out well enough so that a few more states adopted it. In the 1960s or 1970s, the Feds made it a rule for the whole country. In my view this was killing the goose that laid the golden egg. California could experiment with allowing a right turn on red precisely because the Feds did not control the matter. Now no state can experiment in this area.

    Here's another example: A city in Illinois got great publicity by forbidding handguns, even in the home. Annoyed by this, a city somewhere in the South passed a law requiring every home to have a handgun. It's a great experiment, but there turned out to be no great difference in public safety either way.

    The division of the world into many countries and the US into many states with some sovereignty has worked out well. Don't mess with it.

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