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Introduction

The current trend of modern geopolitics is the invocation of a cosmopolitan global society. The traditional international landscape of a world of various nation states, all possessing a unique culture and society, is now not only considered obsolete, but seen as detrimental to world peace. I contend that this globalising worldview is fundamentally flawed as it carries the underpinnings absolutism and thus erodes democratic principles implicit in sovereignty.

There have been many historical attempts that sought to question and diminish national borders and replace that existing geopolitical structure with a cosmopolitan world society. Examples, usually inspired by universalist aspirations, can be found from the days of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire, France’s Brotherhood of Man along with Soviet World Communism and the present liberal international economic order. However regardless of the idealism that colours these worldviews, all previous attempts to project universalist ideologies of the ‘greater good’ mitigate democratic governance as the traditional particularities are overwhelmed by the implementation of these visions of global order.

The Philosopher King and the World State

The idea of society being governed by an enlightened elite can be found within the classical world, most notably in Plato’s Republic. It was within his philosophical outlook that the demos could not realize ‘the good life’ and therefore a philosopher king would be required to govern the profane. Plato stated that by being ‘wisdom lovers’, as opposed to the lower classes who know only experience and education, these philosopher-kings can afford to live a leisured-life and thus can contemplate what is good and just for a people, regardless if the concepts were agreed upon by the masses.[1] This Platonic mindset is extremely important to understand as it provides the ideological if not political foundations that later explain how the quest for world peace can be misconstrued into authoritarianism.

Immanuel Kant set a way forward for the idea of a world state to occur. In Perpetual Peace, he called for the end of nation states and the creation of an interconnected world.[2] He envisioned each state possessing the same governmental system that would make it easier to standardize the world. He argued for the abolishment of national debt and standing armies of the various countries to be dissolved[3] as the peace would render intervention and war obsolete.

The Attack on Patriotic-Nationalism

Although universalist worldviews may carry humanitarian goals, I disagree with the feasibility of enacting such an ideology due to the fact that its fundamental premise is wrong: that states prohibit societies from understanding each other and thus transnational philosopher kings must rule, regardless of the democratic will of the people. Furthermore, it also makes the mistake to view that those who advocate nationalism implicitly support the type of superiority represented by the archetypes of Hitler or Mussolini who in fact held universal or messianic ambitions. Another misjudgement towards the nation state is that its true nature is pure realism, meaning the possession of an isolationist policies and the exclusive use of power politics. In order to understand those who support the existence of nation states is to make the distinction between nationalism and patriotism. It was George Orwell who best explained nuance between the two concepts. It is nationalism that carries the vile principals of twentieth century dictators, is due to being a pursuit of power and makes the individual assimilate their very identity into the state. Contrastingly, it is patriotism that possesses a devotion to a particular place and way of life and is naturally military and culturally defensive.[4] The elements of devotion to a way of life and cultural defensive is extremely important as it not only transforms a random group on people inhabiting a geographical territory into a people who experience a shared national identity. This entails commonalities such as history, language, cuisine, traditions, religion, laws, and national symbols. It is due to viewing national culture and societies in exclusively negative terms that the conclusion is reached that the best course of action is to prevent war and prejudice is to march under the banner of ‘the greater good’ and transcend the framework of nation state by the standardization of diverse cultures, laws and government, even if it means ignoring the democratic will of those inhabitants.

Although the world particulars were championed during the twentieth century against the monolithic forces that aggressively challenged it in the form of fascism and communism, ironically the very concept of nationalism and all it entails has been threatened by another form totalitarianism: Kantian-inspired globalism that propels the dynamic of globalisation today.

The Power of Universal Ideas

It was not until the end of the Cold War where the US-led West finally won the battle of ideology over their collectivist arch enemy: the Soviet Union. However, instead of experiencing a world of national sovereignty, liberal democracy and capitalism, the West perplexedly adopted their own brand of World Revolution in the form of ‘democratic liberal-capitalism’ through the use of globalization. However, it is a common mistake to equate globalism with Americanism. Americanism I argue is not synonymous with globalisation but is a major strands of the force of globalisation.

The root of globalism can be traced back to the fall of communism and the declaration that Western idealism achieved ‘the end of history’. This was accompanied with President George Bush Snr envisioning the ‘Big Idea’ of a globalized world. It was bigger than any small country, it was a world where diverse nations were drawn together in common cause: peace, security, freedom and the rule of law.[5] However this was not to be achieved by the inspiration of a ‘shining city on a hill’, but by the Kantian method of forcing international oneness where nations are obliged to uptake the challenge of recreating their economic, political and cultural principles based on the liberal international economic order.

Globalisation or the movement towards universalism initially started by the way of neoliberal economics. This consisted of laissez faire capitalism that saw the elimination of protectionism, deregulation, liberalize finance, open labour markets, cut welfare and lower taxation.[6] With this brand of economics being in place at the time of the ‘end of history’, it was believed to be the ultimate economic model to bring about the good life. This was echoed with Britain’s Margret Thatcher proclaiming of the TINA principle, which brought these ideas onto the world stage.[7] According to Thomas Freedman, the fall of the Soviet Union represented the fall of ideology and the spread of free-market capitalism through globalization.[8] It was Thomas Freedman who further exposed the hubris of ‘American Platonism’ when he expanded upon the TINA principle. Accordingly, world societies may be at different stages of development, but will all ultimately adopt Western capitalism, as there is only one ideological alternative left in the post-Cold War world. Or in Freedman’s words: One road. Different speeds. But one road.[9]

This absolutism not only shows contempt for other schools of economic thought, but also reveals a revolutionary agenda. I would argue that Adam’s Smith invisible hand of capitalism had turned into an invisible fist of collectivism. This revolution however is not do be accomplished by the means of hard power, but the soft power of economic progress and cultural and political homogeneity. As described by Martin Wight, this agenda of ‘Western Kantianism’ is the merger of domestic politics with the international arena.[10] Much like the communist attempt, this was achieved by demanding world homogeneity by assimilating nations into a monolith.[11] This is usually done by a championing superpower that spreads a certain creed.[12] The last stage of globalism is to insert the cosmopolitan factor, which rejects a world of nation states for a world of oneness.[13] This is exemplified by the existence of the European Union (EU), as it was through the use of neoliberal economics that member states have experienced the stripping of their democracy.

We Are All Europeans Now

It was during the aftermath of the Second World War that the decision was made to unify under the liberal-capitalist model of the West. This process was started by the way of economics with the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC). This aimed to establish a Common Market and to slowly usurp the economic policies of member states in order to have harmonious liberal economic activities, balanced expansion, economic-social stability, and an increased standard of living.[14] This was later followed by the Maastricht Treaty, which sought to create a ‘United States of Europe’.[15] By claiming to uphold democracy, this idea sought a democratic mandate by the way of referendums and annual national elections for member states.

Although this ‘New Europe’ may appear to be a progressive champion of the Euro-Western idealism, this is not the case. In reality it carries revolutionary authoritarianism as it seeks to force diverse cultures together for an artificial sense of continental peace. This is due to possessing contempt for democracy and the very existence of nation states by making the abovementioned mistake of equating those who wish for autonomy as being disruptive to continental peace. In doing so the various cultures and nationalities was stripped away and replaced with a ‘new man;’ the cosmopolitan or perhaps socially constructed ‘European’. By applying a monocultural identity, the idea of a nation deciding to leave the Eurozone was unthinkable. The use of unrestricted neoliberalism has terminated the economic-political sovereignty of member states.[16] As we are all witnessing in Greece intimidation, discipline and punishment has been adopted in order to correct Greece’s irresponsibility towards union.   So when Greece rebelled against the dictates of the EU and enacted their democratic right with a proposed referendum, the European elite responded by removing PM Papandreou removed from power.[17] According to the leader of European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet, this removal of Greek sovereignty was to bring Europe beyond a ‘strict concept of nationhood’.[18] This explanation echoed what the former European Council President Herman von Rompuy had previously stated that the idea of a country surviving within a globalized world is an illusion and a lie.[19]

This assault on the Greek democracy continued when the people maintained their rebellion against the EU came in the form of the election of the anti-Eurosceptic party SYRIZA during the 2015 National Election. The new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared: “We should respond to authoritarianism and harsh austerity with democracy, calmly and decisively”, and ” Greece, the birthplace of democracy, should send a resounding democratic message to the European and global community.”[20] He went on to actually enact a referendum to decide weather to accept the EU economic proposals, and was met with over 60% of the people rejecting the European establishment plans. When the SYRIZA government offered the counter proposal of repaying their debts and achieve surplus via a progressive taxation system, they were met with marathon negotiations that not only rejected the offer, but also took the opportunity to browbeat the Greek Government and shame the new Prime Minister.[21] In the end Greece was forced to privatize state-owned assets and be under strict EU monitoring. By the end of 2016, Greece will be required to beg the IMF for a new round of funding.[22]

I therefore agree with Susan Strange when she says that the impersonal force of internationalism has taken away the power of national government and diffused it across the global institutions such as the EU, IMF and Work Bank, and has left a hole of non-authority and ungovernance.[23] The elected Heads-of-State of sovereign states have been demoted to the equivalent of a national manager. Whenever a national leader attempted to spearhead true leadership and apply democracy, as seen with former PM Papandreou, the EU reasserted itself and interfered with domestic politics and have that particular leader replace with a loyal technocrat. It is my contention that a world that transcends nationalism would not be the cosmopolitan utopia that proponents believe it to be.

It has become apparent that the road to world peace by the path of uniformity has proven to be failure. However, it would be wrong to view the world through the prism of realist nationalism or liberal interconnectedness. There is a ‘third way’ that would allow national cultures to be maintained along with the concept of democracy to prosper, without having to turn inwards and constantly battle for survival.

Global Society or International Society?

It is my contention that the way forward can be found in the English School of International Relations. Specifically, I will suggest it is the Martin Wight and Hedley Bull brand of English School that I believe will bring the most harmony.

It has been established that the notion of national transcendence is based upon elitism and eventually leads to totalitarianism. I believe that nations require territorial integrity to allow certain peoples to express themselves through their chosen form of government, laws, culture and the ability to decide of fix any unseen mistakes via the application of democracy, while maintain the innate right to sovereignty. In order to maintain this existence along with adopting the ability to understand and peacefully coexist with other nations an international order must be created[24] on which an international society can flourish. The Bull inspired International Society advocates the existence of dual realist notion of sovereignty: Internal and External. The former argues that every state possesses a unique culture, history, laws and government. The latter upholds that a nation state must be sovereign and interdependent of outside influences and powers.[25] However, there is an element of liberalism present where the world could be brought closer together by common interests, laws and international organizations.[26] Therefore culture, society and democracy need not be sacrificed for the false end of history.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I have argued that the elitist platonic mindset that drives the universalist aspirations of globalising theories and movements are in effect totalitarian. Those who argue for the world state possess a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of mankind and carries an elitist mindset that humanity must be controlled in order to achieve world peace. This ideology may have been brought into the modern world by the US, but it has evolved into a culture of its own that is overwhelmingly powerful. Perhaps it is too powerful for my ideal English School international society not because globalisation is the ideal step towards a global society or that international society is flawed but that the universalising dynamic in globalisation is totalitarian in its very essence.

Bibliography

Bull, H (1977) The Anarchical Society, Macmillan Education Ltd, United Kingdom.

Bull, Hedley. “Martin Wight and the Theory of International Relations: The Second Martin Wight Memorial Lecture.” Journal of International Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2 (1976): 101-116.

Friedman, Thomas. “The Lexus and the Olive Tree.” London: Harper Collins (2000): Ch6, 101-111.

George H. W. Bush, President George H. W. Bush’s Address on the Invasion of Kuwait September 11 1990, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia (Online/YouTube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iUX3yP9M8g

Herman, A (2013) The Cave and the Light, Random House, United Kingdom.

Kant, E (1795) Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, New York Columbia University Press, United States.

Daniel Marans, “German-Led Eurozone Launching Coup Against Greek Government”, The Huffington Post Australia (Online), July 17, 2015.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/thisisacoup_n_7781736.html?section=australia

Daniel Martin, “Nation states are dead: EU Chief says the belief that countries can stand alone is a lie and an illusion”, Daily Mail Australia (Online), November 11, 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1328568/Nation-states-dead-EU-chief-says-belief-countries-stand-lie.html

Orwell, G (2001) Orwell and Politics, Penguin Books, United Kingdom.

Roberts, C, P (2013) The End of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Clarity Press, United States.

Strange, S. (1996) The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World State, Cambridge University Press, United States.

Vataman, D (2010) History of the European Union, Lex Et Scientia, XVII, no. 2 (2010): 117.

Steven Vogel, (2001) The Crisis of German and Japanese Capitalism, Comparative Political Studies, Vol.34, No.10, p.104.

Wight, M (1992) International Theory, Holmes & Meier Publishers Inc., United States.

Jim Yardley, “Greek Referendum Plan by Alexis Tsipras Tests His Power and Conviction”, New York Times (Online), June 29, 2015.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/30/world/europe/greek-premiers-referendum-call-tests-his-power-and-conviction.html?_r=0

[1] Arthur Herman, The Cave and the Light, (Random House, 2013), 66-67.

[2] Martin Wight, International Theory, Holmes & Meier Publishers Inc. (United States, 1992) 42.

[3] Emanuel Kant (1795) Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, New York Columbia University Press, United States p. 1-10.

[4] George Orwell, Orwell and Politics (Penguin Books, 2001), 355-356.

[5] George H. W. Bush, President George H. W. Bush’s Address on the Invasion of Kuwait September 11 1990, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia (Online/YouTube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iUX3yP9M8g

[6] Steven Vogel, (2001) The Crisis of German and Japanese Capitalism, Comparative Political Studies, Vol.34, No.10, p.104.

[7] There is No Other Alternative

[8] Thomas Friedman, “The Lexus and the Olive Tree,” Harper Collins (2000): 103.

[9] Thomas Friedman, “The Lexus and the Olive Tree,” Harper Collins (2000): 104.

[10] Martin Wight, International Theory, Holmes & Meier Publishers Inc. (United States, 1992) 41.

[11] Hedley Bull,Martin Wight and the Theory of International Relations: The Second Martin Wight Memorial Lecture, British Journal of International Studies, (1976): 105.

[12] Hedley Bull, “Martin Wight and the Theory of International Relations: The Second Martin Wight Memorial Lecture, British Journal of International Studies, (1976): 105.

[13] Hedley Bull, “Martin Wight and the Theory of International Relations: The Second Martin Wight Memorial Lecture, British Journal of International Studies, (1976): 106.

[14] Dan Vataman, History of the European Union, Lex Et Scientia XVII, no. 2 (2010): 116.

[15] Dan Vataman, History of the European Union, Lex Et Scientia XVII, no. 2 (2010): 121.

[16] Paul Craig Roberts, The End of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Clarity Press (United State, 2013), 159.

[17] Paul Craig Roberts, The End of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Clarity Press (United State, 2013), 161.

[18] Paul Craig Roberts, The End of Laissez Faire Capitalism, Clarity Press (United State, 2013), 161.

[19] Daniel Martin, “Nation states are dead: EU Chief says the belief that countries can stand alone is a lie and an illusion”, Daily Mail Australia (Online), November 11, 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1328568/Nation-states-dead-EU-chief-says-belief-countries-stand-lie.html

[20] Jim Yardley, “Greek Referendum Plan by Alexis Tsipras Tests His Power and Conviction”, New York Times (Online), June 29, 2015.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/30/world/europe/greek-premiers-referendum-call-tests-his-power-and-conviction.html?_r=0

[21] Daniel Marans, “German-Led Eurozone Launching Coup Against Greek Government”, The Huffington Post Australia (Online), July 17, 2015.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/thisisacoup_n_7781736.html?section=australia

[22] Daniel Marans, “German-Led Eurozone Launching Coup Against Greek Government”, The Huffington Post Australia (Online), July 17, 2015.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/thisisacoup_n_7781736.html?section=australia

[23] Susan Strange, The Retreat of the State: the diffusion of power in the world state, Cambridge University Press (United States, 1996), 45.

[24] Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society, Macmillan (United Kingdom, 1977) 1.

[25] Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society, Macmillan (United Kingdom, 1977) 4.

[26] Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society, Macmillan (United Kingdom, 1977) 65.

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