SECTION THREE: THE UNIFIED SOCIETY—A PREVIEW
The human world is complex and plagued by many problems. At present, the most serious problems people are aware of are war, environment issues, resource shortages, and poverty. These problems cannot be solved by one country, which is why there has always been a strong demand for global coordination and unification. Many international organizations were born from such desires. The United Nations is most representative of these international organizations. As a universal international organization, it has devoted itself to the coordination of nations as well as the unification of global actions, and it has made many contributions to this end.
At the same time, the global economy is becoming increasingly integrated. Commercial trade has already broken through national barriers, and markets are no longer closed or independent. In order to unify the world market and coordinate world trade, the World Trade Organization has been established, and many regional trade organizations have also emerged. In some respects, the integration of the world is already taking shape.
Both the series of unifying global initiatives undertaken by international organizations and the integration of world trade mark a momentum towards global unity. Though neither is a deliberate pursuit of unification, they are still tentative steps toward a unified society; thus, we may consider these trends to be a preview of the unified society, because they carry certain characteristics of a unified society and may reveal the objective trend of human society development upon deeper study and analysis. This coupled with the influence of existing technical conditions on global governance may provide us with a more objective understanding of the possibility of global unification.
One: International Organizations and the Unified Society
After World War II, international organizations sprang up in abundance. The two most influential regional organizations in the world were the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headed by the United States, and the Warsaw Pact led by the Soviet Union. These were actually two major conflicting military groups. Other influential regional organizations included the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the League of Arab States, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In addition, many other regional professional organizations held considerable influence, such as APEC and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The most influential organization in the world today is obviously the United Nations, as well as the international trade organization known as the Economic United Nations. In addition, other professional world organizations, such as UNESCO, the World Health Organization, and the International Monetary Fund, have great impact as well. At the same time, many non-governmental international organizations try to play their part; examples of these include the International Federation of Students, the World Youth Federation, and Greenpeace.
International organizations are all borne of specific needs and circumstances. Most regional international organizations were established to enhance the collective competitiveness of member countries, be it military, political, economic, or resource competitiveness; therefore, the purpose of regional international organizations is generally not in line with or even contrary to the goal of a unified society.
The purpose of global organizations is just the opposite. These international organizations are generally established in response to the universal demands of all countries in the world and revolve around the common interests of mankind. The United Nations in particular is deeply rooted in the catastrophe and misery caused by World War II. The purpose and objectives of such global international organizations are always in line with human unification. Their work, regardless of effectiveness, will in fact be linked to the future formation of a unified society. Moreover, the technical means employed by international organizations are also highly consistent with the technical means to be adopted by the world power of a future unified society. Therefore, the workings of international organizations today can offer some insight into the unified society of the future.
Take the environment as an example. Environmental protection is an important issue for mankind, as the serious environmental pollution since the industrial revolution has garnered the attention of many people. Even in a unified society, such an issue would be an important task for the world government. The United Nations has been devoted to this cause since the early 1960s, at which time several meetings were held and a series of environmental resolutions and conventions were passed. The series of UN actions has popularized the goal of “Save Our Earth” among the world’s people.
The issue of population is equally important. The development of medical and pharmaceutical technologies as well as the backward approach to birth control in certain regions has led to a sharp increase in the world’s population, and this growth trend is still accelerating. This phenomenon has been coined the “population explosion.” The issue of population will also be an important social issue for the unified society, even more so than it is for national communities today, because the limitation of science and technology development in a unified society may also limit the amount of food and resources generated by such technologies. If population were not strictly controlled, the unified society could face starvation. The United Nations established the Population Commission in 1947, and the issue of population has remained crucial over the years. The UN has also held a number of special sessions to discuss population issues, and it has adopted a series of resolutions and programs as well.
The UN has never ceased its efforts in the fights against poverty and terrorism, or as it has advocated for the protection of human rights and drug prohibition. It has held many global conferences and has tirelessly carried out task after task. Looking to the future, none of these issues can be solved in a short period of time. The unified society must continue to work on these vital issues.
The United Nations is the most extensive international organization in the history of mankind and has been the most capable of representing and safeguarding the interests of humanity. During its sixty-year tenure, the United Nations has contributed greatly to the overall interests of humanity, showing that its formation has been most beneficial to mankind. It has always strived to conduct multilateral coordination and to pass decisions through general voting processes. Such voting procedures have been efficiently facilitated by the technology of today.
The United Nations Millennium Summit held at the UN headquarters in New York in September 2000 is a typical example of this. The leaders of more than 150 countries attended the Summit, and over eight thousand policemen were dispatched by the NYPD. From September 14 to September 16, 2005, the leaders of over 160 countries gathered at the UN headquarters again to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of its founding. This was the largest summit to be held since the founding of the United Nations, and more than three thousand journalists attended. Meetings of such massive size have considerable global significance.
The 2005 meeting completed its intended agenda smoothly, and security was extremely efficient as well. However, it was extremely difficult to pass the relevant documents prepared for the meeting. The most important document of the meeting was the Draft Outcome Document. To complete this document, the United Nations had set up a special core group of thirty-two countries, including the United States, China, and Russia. Unfortunately, it was difficult for the core group to reach an agreement; after months of hard work, the document was barely adopted the day before the General Assembly. The final document had been reduced from its original one hundred pages to thirty-five pages; elements like disarmament, development, the definition of terrorism, and denuclearization were all excluded due to conflicts of interest.
The success of the above global summits was largely dependent upon the very accessible transport and communication conditions of the time. Such meetings would have been impossible under the technical conditions of one hundred years ago. Of course, the great deal of coordination and liaison done by the United Nations in advance was also crucial.
The convenience of transport and communications has also aided the United Nations in effectively implementing many decisions concerning global operations. Whether it be peacekeeping operations or disaster relief, as soon as all countries reach a consensus, forces can be quickly mobilized to the target destination. In most cases, time is usually wasted debating and bargaining over the decisions.
Analysis of a global organization like the UN in comparison with a unified society reveals the following differences and similarities:
1. Prior to decision-making, the United Nations must devote great efforts to coordinating the positions of all countries. Such a coordination process tends to be very long and greatly complicates the reaching of decisions. In particular, when one or two key players disagree on any major issue, decisions will not be made or will be impossible to implement.
The world power of a large unified society would also need to coordinate the positions of all regions due to their varying features and partial interests; however, as a global regime with centralized executive power granted by law, the world power would be able to make final decisions when necessary. Such decision-making would not be overly prolonged, and the compilation of all regional opinions would happen relatively quickly.
The voting process of the United Nations shares one commonality with that of the unified society: once consensus is reached, convenient transportation and communication conditions, as well as other technical conditions, allow for quick, decisive action.
2. The UN’s decision-making process is permeated by power plays; some issues cannot be resolved due to the attitude of one country. At present, there are 193 member nations in the United Nations, but many major issues are influenced by the one vote from the United States. In other words, the United States alone is enough to veto certain UN decisions.
In a unified society, all the regions of the world would be on much more equal footing. Though regional voting rights may differ due to population, economic, or cultural factors, the differences would not be overly large. No one region would be able to affect the decisions of the world power.
3. The weight of each country in the United Nations depends largely on the strength of its military. A strong military power can often influence the decisions of the United Nations; this is actually a manifestation of power politics. A unified society, however, would not allow regions to possess their own independent militaries. The armed forces of the unified society would be directly in the hands of the world political power; therefore, it would not be possible for any region to influence the decision of the world power through military might.
4. In all the work of the United Nations, issues concerning war and armament reduction have always been the most difficult, the most important, and the most contradicted. The UN must jump through many hoops to formulated even the smallest decision in these regards. Contrarily, a unified society would not have regional war and armament issues. The small number of troops under the unified society would follow the regulations and laws of the world power to target a small number of small-scale wars, crimes, and separatist actions.
5. The United Nations’ decisions often take the form of declarations, conventions, treaties, or agreements. This shows that as an international organization, the decisions of the UN are made on the basis of voluntary implementation by all nations; however, the decisions of the world power in a unified society will undoubtedly appear in the form of orders, decisions, demands, and instructions. The decisions of the world power will inevitably be implemented with much greater force.
6. Due to the sovereignty of countries, the United Nations cannot enforce its decisions and principles on independent countries. Generally, the United Nations has no means to impose any restraint on countries without the support of major powers. Many acts that violate the UN’s decisions are in fact perpetuated by major powers—open opposition of such actions would only result in world war. A world power, however, will be backed by absolute centralized power and will be able to restrain and impose actions upon any region that violates world principles and laws. It will hold regional leaders responsible, replace them if necessary, and even bring legal charges against them. Most regional leaders will not take such risks; thus, isolated incidents will be easy to deal with and will not result in major consequences.
Two: Globalization and the Unified Society
Today, globalization is one of the important issues of our time. Convenient transportation, cheap and timely communication, as well as rich and intuitive media have all shortened the distance between people and created a “global village.” A broad understanding of globalization should include all aspects of politics, economics, military affairs, culture, science and technology, as well as society. Regardless of whether you know the term “globalization” or feel the impact of it, globalization is everywhere around us.
Beijing serves as an example of globalization. This five-thousand-year-old ancient capital has long shed the shadow of history and emerged into the modern world. Of course, the Forbidden City still stands, and the Temple of Heaven, the North Sea, and the Summer Palace still retain their Ming and Qing dynasty facades, but only as deliberate monuments to China’s rich history. Beijing teems with Western signs like McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut. German Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs, Japanese Toyotas and Hondas, American Lincolns and Buicks, and South Korean Hyundais all run on the streets. People can be seen drinking Coca-Colas and Starbucks; wearing French and Italian clothing; holding Nokia, Huawei, or Samsung mobile phones; and watching Hollywood films and South Korean idol dramas on all types of TVs. We can clearly see that various lifestyles and cultures permeate and integrate with each other. This globalization of culture and lifestyle is by no means limited to cities like Beijing. It has infiltrated small and medium-sized cities as well as remote rural and pastoral areas.
The popularization of smartphones, radios, and televisions, as well as the convenient means of transportation and communication, has enabled the general population to feel the integration of the world. All people are being unconsciously swept along in this globalization process, and this trend is especially obvious in developed countries.
We can start with an analysis of military globalization. The Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were two of the largest worldwide military alliances, and they can also be described as a form of military globalization; however, they were confined to regions and were contradictory in nature. It is more accurate to call them contradicting international military groups. Similarly, political international organizations like the European Union, the Arab League, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are all limited to regions or groups. These organizations unite for competitive strength and are more about international confrontation and divide than globalization.
People are more aware of economic and technological globalization. These are narrow definitions of globalization, but they are veritable forms of globalization. Economic globalization first manifested in the integration of the world market. When we walk into a mall these days, we can easily find all sorts of products from all over the world. Items from all over the world have been brought together in one counter or aisle.
When the first round of negotiations surrounding the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was held in Geneva in 1947, there were only twenty-three members. Membership increased substantially as time went on. This provisional body was finally reorganized into the permanent World Trade Organization in 1995. The birth of such an organization is a true reflection of the irresistible trend of economic globalization. To date, the World Trade Organization has 164 members and its total members trade has reached 98 percent of the world’s total trade.
Economic globalization is also reflected in the globalization of product production. The United States’ Apple brand commissions most of its production from Shenzhen, China; many of Lenovo’s components are manufactured in Taiwan; Airbus and Boeing aircrafts source components from all over the world—China’s aviation manufacturers occupy 5 percent of the Airbus A350’s production, and the Boeing aircraft is coproduced by 340 companies in twenty-three countries, including the United States.
Another manifestation of economic globalization is the globalization of corporate investment sources. Today, companies like Airbus, BMW, General Motors, Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu are all owned by more than one country. They are invested in internationally and their shareholders are distributed around the world. Such multinational corporations can no longer be simply defined by the concept of countries.
Economic globalization is also reflected in the globalization of investment objectives. Any multinational company will set the world as its investment target. It will place its manufacturing plants in areas close to markets with low production costs and beneficial investment environments.
Globalization of technology accompanies the globalization of economy. New technologies spread around the world just as quickly as new products. From the perspective of globalized technology trade alone, the global trade in technology reached an average of 2.5 billion US dollars in the mid-1960s, 50 billion US dollars in the mid-1980s, and more than 200 billion US dollars in the mid-1990s. In the meantime, the import of information and communications technology reached nearly two trillion US dollars—the growth of the technology trade has far exceeded the growth of global economy.
The globalization of technology also includes the globalization of higher education. As training centers for scientific and technical personnel, colleges and universities have become the source for promoting the competitive advantage of enterprises and nations. Over the past forty years, the number of students studying abroad has grown at an average rate of nearly 4 percent annually. Additionally, university teachers are becoming more globalized; 20 percent of newly hired professors in the fields of science and engineering in the United States are born abroad, while most of China’s top universities employ teachers from foreign countries. Some of the larger cities in China have hired foreign English teachers in primary and secondary schools and even kindergarten. It is not hard to see that globalization has undergone a qualitative change due to the change in human communication methods. It is precisely the highly developed means of transportation, communications, and media that has made globalization a possibility as well as an overwhelming trend.
In the course of its development, the globalization of the economy needs to be supplemented by new global community. For example, the globalization of the economy is also manifested in the globalization of finances. The dollar has become almost a universal currency in the world, while the euro and yuan are constantly trying to challenge its dominant status. The globalization of banking has made transactions in different currencies between distant banks possible and easy. This has made global economic activity and world trade even more convenient.
Financial globalization is also changing people’s way of life. We can travel anywhere in the world with just a credit card, so travelers not only bring tourism income but also different ideas, lifestyles, and perspectives, making world culture even more globalized.
The trend of cultural globalization is also a result of modern technological globalization, but the extent of cultural globalization cannot be compared with that of economic and technological globalization. This is because cultural heritage is closely guarded by all countries. We would not expect an extreme Islamic nation to allow women to wear bikinis in a pageant contest any more than we would expect Western countries like the United States or France to require women to wear veils in public. Modern technological means can promote a broad, multidimensional and multi-regional globalization effort. In this process, countries are often the obstacle to globalization.
The process of economic globalization is often beneficial to national interests. In particular, developed countries and countries with technological innovation capacities are always the biggest beneficiaries of globalization. While some less-developed countries may be more passive in the process of globalization, they benefit more by accepting globalization rather than resisting it; thus, economic globalization can often be easily achieved without the impediments of nations.
The globalization of culture is a different matter. Governments of open-minded countries will impose fewer restrictions on modern media, and cultural globalization may take place more straightforwardly. Contrarily, censorship and media restriction in other countries may impede the integration of culture. When I traveled to North Korea, I discovered that the TVs in Pyongyang’s hotels were only able to receive two government channels. Under these circumstances, cultural globalization is certainly impossible.
Interregional cross-sectoral political and military globalizations are even more impossible to achieve in a country-based society. Politics and militaries are the essence of state sovereignty as well as their final line of defense. If political and military globalization were to be achieved, it would satisfy the basic characteristics of a unified society. Once that happened, the social form would no longer be nation-based.
Analysis of current globalization trends reveals an exciting fact: globalization is not forcibly promoted by governments through artificial forces; rather, it is a spontaneous action that reflects the strong and unconscious aspirations of people towards global unification. The national government has played a repressive role in such a process of globalization. Without such suppression, the content of globalization would become even richer, and the degree of globalization would become even more in-depth.
We can assert that with a little more promotion, globalization will inevitably become even broader, deeper, and more comprehensive. Once globalization extends to every aspect of politics, military affairs, culture, and society, it will signal the advent of the unified society. At its root, the unified society itself is a type of extensive, in-depth, and comprehensive globalization.
To sum up, whether global operations are promoted by international organizations or emerge spontaneously, a mode of operation similar to that of a unified society is being quietly formed in the world. Objectively, this has formed a preview of the unified society that may come. By analyzing this preview, we can draw the following conclusions:
1. The series of unifying actions taken by international organizations as well as their operation models are all tests of modern communication conditions on a world scale. They demonstrate that the technical conditions for world governance have reached maturity.
2. The action of world unification is a common aspiration of the people. This appeal first manifested itself in the establishment of international organizations that would coordinate world affairs for the common good and prevent war. Though such international organizations were not able to influence countries, they contributed greatly to the unity of society and the overall interest of mankind; thus, these international organizations have provided important lessons for the unification of human society.
3. The trend of globalization is a spontaneous initiative and an irresistible trend. From this trend, we also see that the peoples of the world share a universal desire for unity. This trend is not just a desire of the people, but also a necessity of history.
We can clearly see that a unified human society is a distinct possibility. With the full maturity of technical conditions, the experience gained from a preview, the universal yearning of the people, as well as the just goal of saving humanity, is there a force strong enough to stop our progress?