Today I dare to forecast that the 21st
century will see the creation of a "United States of the World" - a global
order headed by a world authority.
The last century - like the one that
preceded it - was dominated by the national state. This idea won in Europe
and expanded from there to all the other continents. Israel, as a
"democratic Jewish state" (as well as the coming State of Palestine) are
late-born children of that era.
We, who were born into this reality,
can hardly realize that the national state is a recent human creation. Even
at the beginning of last century, the Russian czar, the Austrian emperor and
the Ottoman sultan still were potent rulers, each of whom reigned over many
peoples speaking many languages.
The national state (as distinguished,
for example, from the city-state or the dynastic state) did not come into
being by accident. New technologies created a reality that required a
(comparatively) big economic, cultural and military unit. The local market
had to be big enough to sustain an economy, population and territory had to
sustain a modern army big enough to defend the fatherland. The national idea
satisfied these requirements and gave the masses, together with the new
democracy, the motivation and the cohesion that held the new state together.
However, since then the objective
requirements changed with the new technologies. Today's market is global,
multinational corporations span the world. Communications, including the
internet, are global. The 21st
century was ushered in by a celebration that was truly world-wide. English has
become the wold-wide lingua franca. Tens of million have left their
homelands to look for greener pastures in the developed countries. Nuclear
weapons have made old-style wars inconceivable. Man has walked on the moon,
his devices have reached Mars. Not only little states like Denmark and
Israel, but even Germany and France, great powers at the beginning of the 20th
century, cannot stand alone anymore.
While we Israelis were busy building
our national state, the world was already moving from a national agenda to a
regional one. Europe was unified, and other parts of the world tried to
emulate it. (54 years ago, I tried to apply the same principle to ourselves
by creating the idea of a "Semitic union".) But even the idea of regional
unions has already become obsolescent.
Human consciousness always stumbles
behind objective reality. It does so at the beginning of the 21st
century: While reality does cry out for a world order, consciousness is
still nationalistic. Some manifestations are downright ridiculous. For
example, France won the international soccer championship and was floating
on a wave of nationalist hysteria. But the stars of the French team were
foreigners, headed by an Algerian, the likes of whom are considered by many
Frenchmen as sub-human. That did not dampen the spirits of the masses.
Neither were they troubled by the fact that French soldiers took part in an
action in Kosovo that destroyed one of the pillars of the national state:
the principle of "non-intervention in its domestic affairs". (Witness the
It is impossible to know how the aim of
a new world order will be achieved. Perhaps the United Nation will assume
the role of a supra-national authority. If so, it will have to change
completely. In the Security Council, the world government, the veto-power of
the "permanent members" must be abolished, so that Russia, for example, will
not be able to block a Kosovo-like intervention. In the General Assembly,
the world parliament, the representation of each member must correspond to
the size of its population, so the Fiji Islands will not have the same
voting power as the United States. The UN must have at its disposal a
standing army, which owes allegiance to the UN only, and that will be ready
for immediate intervention in a Ruanda-like genocide. A world court must be
competent to adjudicate all conflicts between states, as our national courts
adjudicate conflicts between individuals. A world police must be ready to
enforce the world law.
In the European Union, the national
states were not dismantled; each kept its flag, language and traditions. The
same will be true In the coming world order. But the national states will we
subject to a compulsory world order, much as citizens are subject to the
laws of their state.
An unrealistic vision? Not at all. I am
quite certain that this will be reality by the year 2100. What a pity that I
shall not be around to see it.
[Rabbiner E. van Voolen] [M'ariw]
the Settlement Special]