Law professor and attorney Jordan Bankhead is promoting the cause of world federalism through a unique method: fiction.
Bankhead’s novel Chaos Magic, published in May 2021, tells the story of an idealistic congressman who takes office in a near future when climate change and economic polarization have become imminent existential crises. As resources dwindle, resentments swell, and nations move toward war, protagonist James Branson guides leaders toward a declaration of a world federation under the auspices of the United Nations.
“Fiction is the medium I chose in order to describe a series of events that could lead to world peace,” Bankhead said. “Of course, this has never happened before, so out of necessity the book had to be fiction.”
In one of the book’s many surprises, Branson is not a left-wing academic or a veteran peace activist, but a young Republican who has ties to the Tea Party.
“Grassroots movements like the Occupy and Tea Party movements are important reactions against the excesses of uncontrolled and unregulated globalism,” said Bankhead. “To the extent they represent the interests of groups left behind or adversely affected by globalization, their views and interests must be taken into account if any international collaboration is to lead to global political or economic unity.”
Bankhead is realistic about the challenges an American politician would face in promoting world federalism. Branson’s belief that world federation would benefit his conservative constituents and the nation as a whole puts him at odds with powers inside both major parties, and leads to his defeat for reelection.
“World federalism is a loaded concept that is difficult for most domestic voters to stomach,” Bankhead said. “I think it would be difficult for an openly world federalist candidate to get elected to Congress today. Not impossible, but very difficult.”
Ultimately, it takes global cataclysm for Branson to achieve his vision. Appointed as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by a desperate president, Branson overcomes the resistance of both major powers and small nations as nuclear war looms.
“In the current environment it would be very difficult to achieve global political unity without a cataclysm,” said Bankhead. “Just as World War II led to the UN, it would probably take something as world-shaking to lead to world government. As long as great powers and a small number of rich countries control things, it is unlikely they would voluntarily give up their power without a great global crisis that leaves them little other choice, as described in the book.”
Chaos Magic is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle ebook formats.