SECTION FOUR: THE FUNDAMENTAL CHOICE—BUILDING A UNIFIED SOCIETY
The two greatest efforts to unite mankind—the League of Nations and the United Nations— have both failed in practice. What led to this failure? What measures can be taken to truly achieve the goal of uniting humanity and thus ultimately realize the restriction of scientific and technological development?
One: The Root Cause that Limits the Effect of International Organizations
1. Conflict between the Interests of Nations and the Interests of International Organizations
The League of Nations and the United Nations were both born out of World Wars. They were the results of deep reflection in the aftermath of bloody casualties. Such international organizations were established based on the goals of ending war, reducing armaments, safeguarding peace, eradicating poverty, and benefiting the world by coordinating and unifying human actions. In practice, however, the League of Nations did not stop the outbreak of World War II, and the United Nations did not stop the hundreds of major local wars that took place after World War II. Neither organization managed to decrease the large reserve of nuclear warheads or the constant destruction of the environment. The problem of poverty also remains severe.
It should be said that international organizations are neither blind nor careless to all these issues. On the contrary, international organizations are dedicated to the preservation of overall human interests in all matters that seriously concern humanity. International organizations have made much effort and done all they can; unfortunately, they do not have much to show for it.
The first obstacle that stands in the way of international organizations’ efforts to unite humanity is the conflict between the interests of countries and the interests of international organizations. At the root, international organizations are comprised of countries, and they are established and promoted through the efforts of national leaders. The sponsors of international organizations are usually the most influential and authoritative country leaders; therefore, there should be no major conflicts of interest between countries and international organizations. However, that is not the case. The interests of countries and the interests of international organizations collide frequently, which usually makes it difficult for international organizations to achieve their intended goals.
At the root, it is the human inclination for visible interests that causes the contradiction between the interests of countries and the interests of international organizations. The weakness of human nature determines that local interests often prevail when they conflict with global interests. When immediate interests conflict with long-term interests, immediate benefits tend to win out. When surface interests conflict with fundamental interests, it is often surface interests that are chosen. This is the essence of human nature.
In general, international organizations represent the overall, long-term, and fundamental interests of mankind, since they are established to preserve the future of all humans. Both the League of Nations and the United Nations were established in view of the enormous casualties caused by the World Wars. They were meant to protect humanity from any further suffering. These international organizations were not formed to represent local interests, but rather the overall, long-term, and fundamental interests of all mankind.
The League of Nation’s main purpose and responsibility at that time was to stop war and reduce armaments. Its focus was undoubtedly on the overall interests of mankind rather than the local interests—the long-term and the fundamental interest rather than the immediate and surface benefits. In terms of commitment and scope of responsibilities, the United Nations has a broader purpose than the League of Nations. In addition to safeguarding world peace and reducing global armaments, the United Nations has social, economic, and cultural responsibilities as well. To this end, the United Nations is committed to poverty eradication, environmental protection, and the crackdown on drugs and international crime, all of which are issues of overall, long-term, and fundamental importance.
Not all actions of international organizations benefit the overall, long-term, and fundamental interests of mankind. For example, the United Nations does not advocate the restriction of scientific and technological development, but rather encourages it. This only means that the UN has not yet realized the enormous threat science and technology poses to humanity as a whole, not that they do not care about human survival. In another example, there have been some incidents in the history of the United Nations where major powers have been allowed to pervert social morality; however, this was because the United Nations was powerless to stop such aggression.
On the contrary, countries are usually only concerned with their own interests, the interests of the present generation, and the happiness and survival of their own people. The interests they represent are localized, immediate, and surface-level, because the country itself is a localized and regional concept. Countries must first consider the governance of their own regions and the interests of their state before the interests of the world.
We know that eternal competitiveness is an inherent weakness of humanity. Such competitiveness will also manifest between coexisting countries. Countries will compete with each other in terms of overall strength, citizen living standards, strength of national leaders, and other qualities. There will always be countries that put their own interests ahead of the overall interests of mankind. These actions will not only disrupt the hard work of other countries, but they will also bring them corresponding individualized interests, propelling them forward in terms of national strength. When their strength reaches a certain level, they will be able to oppress weaker countries, putting those countries that have prioritized the overall interests of mankind at a disadvantage. This disadvantage is not a disadvantage in the general sense. The oppression of a weaker country often comes at the expense of total demise or millions of casualties.
Similarly, there will always be some countries that blindly guarantee the interests of the present generation over the interests of future generations so as to enhance contemporary standards of living. The happiness of the current generation is closely tied to the rule of existing governments; thus, rulers will usually choose to satisfy the generation at hand.
When it comes to matters of fundamental interests, we know that the issue of overall human survival is often not an urgent issue. Contrarily, it usually takes some reflection and intelligent thought, and it is mostly focused on the future. Countries will always be pressured to develop faster for competitive advantage and to ensure the immediate demands of their people. In light of this, the fundamental overall situation of mankind is difficult to account for. After all, the survival of mankind is a future matter for everyone, while the interests of countries are much more personal and immediate.
To sum up, it can be clearly seen that localized, immediate, and surface interests often conflict with overall, long-term, and fundamental interests. In a society where countries represent the former and international organizations represent the latter, conflicts between the two cannot be avoided. As long as countries and international organizations coexist, conflicts between the two will not cease.
2. International Organizations Are Powerless to Restrain the Behavior of Countries
International organizations are established by and comprised of countries. Their power is given by countries; however, international organizations rarely receive state support when they exercise their powers. In fact, countries are usually the biggest obstacles to the efforts of international organizations.
In July 2004, China Central Television interviewed former UN Secretary-General Ghali. When talking about the massacre in Rwanda, Ghali said that he had asked more than forty countries to send troops after realizing the seriousness of the situation. Sadly, no country agreed to dispatch troops. As a result, nearly one million people died in less than one hundred days. No country wants to lose their own troops to peacekeeping efforts, nor do they want to pay for such operations. The United Nations does not have an army of its own. Secretary-Generals like Ghali can only ask other countries for troops, weapons, and money. Ghali commented that UN Secretary-Generals act as secretaries for the world’s major powers but are also expected to behave like generals during times of crisis. Countries generally only like the secretary—not the general.
In October 2004, when interviewed by China Central Television, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan—who was still in office at that time—said almost exactly the same thing. The words of both Ghali and Annan fully illustrate the awkward position of the United Nations.
The idea of people’s sovereignty is a commonly accepted political idea in contemporary democracies. According to this theory, state power is granted by the people, and the relationship between nations and their citizens is similar to the relationship between international organizations and nations. However, countries can restrain the behavior of their citizens through laws. Citizens must live, study, and work within the permitted scope of the country. In sharp contrast, the powers of international organizations are also given by countries; the constitutions of international organizations are signed by and legally bind all member states.
Countries often violate the rules and regulations of international law, yet they rarely receive any substantive penalty because they possess means like military, police, and courts to safeguard their regime, exercise their sovereignty, and mobilize their economic and social resources. International organizations do not have such means or capabilities; they are only able to exercise their functions through the power of the states. If countries are willing, they will lend their power. If countries are unwilling, and especially if they are strong enough, they can function free of restraint from international organizations.
It is the supreme authority of countries that allows them to hinder the decisions of international organizations; as such, international organizations are often unable to control the actions of countries. At the same time, countries all have their own varied interests. Conflicts will occur when each country is taking care of their individual interests independent of one another. As a lesser form of power, international organizations cannot unite the interests of all countries—at best, they can only try to coordinate. These coordination efforts depend entirely on the attitude of countries. When the interests of major powers converge, better results will be achieved; when interests contradict, the outcome is much worse.
We know that the restriction of scientific and technological development will inevitably touch on the interests of countries. National strength, the efficiency of enterprises, and the standard of living are all linked to science and technology, making any restriction a serious challenge to national interests. Only an extremely powerful global unification body could achieve successful scientific and technological restriction and preserve the overall, long-term, and fundamental interests of humanity. International organizations cannot fill this role, as they will always be overridden by the power of sovereign states.
Two: Only a World Power Could Unite Mankind
1. A World Power and a Unified Society
International organizations cannot be depended on to lead the unprecedented initiative of restricting scientific and technological development—neither can states. There are about two hundred countries in the world today, and it is precisely their vicious competition that has led to the rapid development of science and technology. The three increases pattern is an inevitable result of our country-based society. In fact, only by eliminating the fragmented actions of countries and unifying all humanity can we avoid disorderly competition and limit the development of science and technology.
What kind of organization, or what form of organization, can accomplish such an arduous and sacred mission? In the ten thousand years since mankind entered the civilized age, various forms of organizations have existed. The most systematic and effective organization has been the country. In theory, state power belongs to the people in modern democracies; however, states rule the people through various political institutions, like the military, the police, and the judiciary system. Under state governance, all persons must act according to law and will receive corresponding punishment otherwise.
Countries possess numerous ways to cement their rule, such as economic means, administrative means, military means, propaganda and public opinion means, and legal means. Countries have remained enduring and vital social forms due to these effective social management methods; however, countries only enjoy powerful governance and effective management within the scope of their own rule. Once they leave this scope, they will have to abide by the rules and management of other countries.
We can see that all countries have formed their own highly independent regions. These regions form the boundaries of all countries. Within the boundaries of each country exist independent governments and interests. Countries have absolute control within their own regimes, and no other forces can disrupt this control.
In order to control the world and unify the actions of all mankind, it is necessary to establish an institution as effective as countries in terms of rule and management, but this institution’s rule would not be merely regional—it would extend to the entire world. We can call this institution a world power.
This so-called world power would establish a global, unified regime and achieve the unification of all mankind. All human beings would be under the rule of this regime. This world power would have the authority and strength of countries expanded to encompass the whole range of mankind. It would replace countries to become the supreme governing body of human society. This supreme body of power would be totally unique. Not only would it govern all mankind, but it would also consider the overall, long-term, and fundamental interests of all mankind. Only a world power could achieve the successful restriction of scientific and technological development on a global scale.
The establishment of a world power would require the eradication of sovereign states. It would achieve governance on a global scale, and the social form of humanity would be transformed from a national one to a universal one. The world government would be the supreme administrative authority in a world-power based society. It would examine issues from a global perspective and take actions to preserve the long-term and fundamental interests of all mankind. To achieve this, it would coordinate the allocation of global resources and formulate administrative rules and regulations for the world.
In addition to an administrative power like the world government, a unified society would also have a unified legislative body and a unified judicial body. Everyone in the world would study, work, and live under the unified legal framework, and everyone would have corresponding obligations and responsibilities.
The world government, the world legislative branch, and the world judiciary system would constitute the major components of the world power. The world’s regime would be subdivided into many other departments of power, such as military, police, inspectorate, economic management, cultural administration and social administration.
2. A Unified Society Is Not a Deliberate Utopia
Historically, many thinkers have envisioned an ideal society. In The Republic, Plato spoke about public property, the emancipation of women and the emphasis on education. In Utopia, Thomas More also describes the idea of public property and female emancipation; however, while Plato advocated public ownership of property at the elite level, More advocated for public property in the whole of society. More also believed in monogamy and letting everyone work to earn their own living.
Chinese Confucianism also envisioned an ideal commonwealth society practicing public ownership of property. It advocated meritocracy and a harmonious, honest, and trustworthy coexistence of peoples. Many other well-known thinkers described similar visions of ideal societies, including Aristotle, Campanella, and Marx.
In The City of God, Augustine elaborates that the ideal nation should first be a Christian nation. This is a description of the ideal society from another perspective. Many people hold such a view, and most of the medieval scholastics subscribed to it.
Modern thinkers rely more on political theory and hope to achieve a perfect nation by changing a country’s political and state systems. A group of Enlightenment thinkers, like Hobbes and Rousseau, put forward the doctrine of popular sovereignty and believed that the sovereignty of the country belonged among the people. In order to realize people’s democracy in a large country and enable everyone to exercise their full powers, Paine and Mill proposed the idea of a representative government. In order to prevent dictatorship, Locke and Montesquieu and other thinkers put forward the idea to decentralize state power to balance power with power.
The above ideas are all deliberate designs for ideal societies based on ideas of “justice,” “goodness,” “happiness,” and “power.” They are societies meant to achieve the most suitable political circumstances and standards established by various thinkers. Perhaps these societies are simply impossible “utopian” fantasies, but they are theoretically consistent with some political principles.
Similar ideas have been proposed regarding the unification of the world; 2,300 years ago, the founder of the Stoic school, Zeno, proposed the concept of a “world state.” He believed that human rationality was unified and universal; therefore, all people were citizens of the world living by a common nature. He believed that there should be no distinction of race, status, or region. There should be only one kind of citizen in the world—namely, citizens of the world—and only one country should exist in the world: a country of the world.
Marx and Engels also discussed the issue of world unification. In their view, a communist society was the inevitable fate of human social development, but communist countries would gradually die out. The precondition for the demise of communist countries would be the eradication of class. Therefore, it would take a long time to realize country demise and world unification.
Many other historians have put forward the idea of world unification. For example, Kant thought of “world citizens” and Kang YouWei thought of “a world of common people.” Zeno, Marx, Engels, Kant, and Kang YouWei, all envisioned world unification from the perspective of an ideal society.
The unified society we speak of here is completely different. Our intention is not to create an ideal society. The need for world unity is simply because humans will face extinction otherwise. Only the unification of human society and the establishment of a world power can ensure the survival of mankind as a whole. Only a world power can truly unify human actions, limit the development of science and technology, and prevent the extinction of mankind by science and technology. In other words, a unified society is merely the only option we are left with.
Nonetheless, the human pursuit of ideal societies will always exist. Establishing a world power and realizing the unification of society does not rule out such hopes but is instead a step in the right direction. We must continue our efforts in this direction; if we stray from the path of world power, mankind will move towards extinction.
Numerous elements are involved in human society. We propose the concept of a unified society as an overall summary of the social forms of mankind under the future world power. In reality, the unified human society will include political, economic, social, cultural, and ideological aspects. Different designs and combinations of these various elements will have a direct impact on the realization of human values. We not sidestep the pursuit of an ideal society; on the contrary, we should seriously design and implement the overall interests of mankind to achieve the most ideal society possible. Only in this way can we truly adopt a universal standpoint and a responsible attitude towards all mankind.