This book aims to be a wake-up call both to world federalists and non-world federalists. To world federalists the message is: adjust the details of your objective so that you can overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving your goal. To the non-world federalists the message is: the world community needs a world government just as local and national communities do, and global problems such as ever-more-destructive wars, the spread of nuclear weapons, the deterioration of the environment, and the growing gap between rich and poor need to be addressed by a real government with a legislature, police forces, and the power to tax rather than the governance system which now exists.
Professor Yunker’s proposed solutions are the same as he put forth in his earlier book, RETHINKING WORLD GOVERNMENT, namely, that the world community very much needs (1) a limited but real world federation, a Federal Union of Democratic Nations [FUDN] to resolve conflicts non-violently and without military threats as well as to deal with other community problems just as is routinely done within most nations and (2) a systematic plan (a World Economic Equalization Program [WEEP] or global Marshall Plan) to gradually equalize the economic status of people in all countries. He also repeats the view that proponents of world government must consider why their view is so readily dismissed by most people and modify their proposal in order to overcome these objections.
The main two reasons for opposition to the creation of a world government are: (1) the fear that such an all-powerful global government could become a worldwide tyranny from which there is no escape and (2) the fear that a democratic world government controlled by the majority poor of the world would use its power to require what Yunker calls “Crude Redistribution” of the world’s wealth in order to get more equality. To nullify these fears, Yunker proposes that the world federation to be created (a) would allow participating nations to maintain whatever kind of military force they wish (including having nuclear weapons) and (b) would allow nations to leave the federation at any time without penalty. Additionally, in the world legislature there would be (c) a dual voting system. Separate votes would be taken on a material basis (where the number of votes a country has depends on its wealth) and on a population basis (where the number of votes a country has depends on its population. This system means that no measure could be adopted that doesn’t have the support of the rich countries, but also that no measure could be adopted that doesn’t have the support of the poor countries. Yunker believes that such a limited world government would dispel the fears which now cause opposition to a world government in the rich countries. It would also address the fears in poor countries that a world government would be a way for the rich countries to maintain and even solidify their control over the poorer, weaker countries.
The other part of his proposal is the program–described and persuasively argued for in chapters 4, 5, and 6–to gradually decrease the gap between the rich and the poor. Yunker, an economics professor at Western Illinois University, uses computer simulations to show that there is good reason to believe that over several decades the economic situation in poor countries could be substantially improved while economic growth would be slowed only slightly in rich countries. He emphasizes that both the establishment of a world government and WEEP should be viewed as experimental efforts which would be ended if it became apparent that they were not achieving their goals.
Yunker’s argumentation for his WEEP is much more persuasive than his argumentation for world government, although he is eager to show that both are needed and that they are somewhat dependent on one another. His basic argument for world federation is that the world community has been gradually moving toward more cooperation for a long time (pp. 297-301 and 307-325) and concern about national sovereignty has been declining (p. 287). The fact that the transformative move to world government has not yet been made does not show that it can’t or shouldn’t be made. Yunker displays a readiness to discuss the weaknesses in his argument for world federation, admitting that the world has not had many successful experiences of creating federations out of previously existing nation-states and that in a fair number of cases federations have disintegrated (pp. 289-296). But, he argues, if government is a good thing at the local level, the national level, and the regional level, why would it not be a good thing at the global level? (p. 335)
Yunker’s book is full of repetitions. He admits this (p. 337), but says that it is necessary to “break through the encrusted prejudice against world government” (p. 337) which has come about because of the unlimited character of the world government put forth by its previous proponents. What is needed to counter this prejudice is the recognition that the more limited kind of world government being proposed by Yunker will not arouse the fears fed by the traditional views of what a world government would be. People will see that it is possible to have the benefits of world government without arousing such fears.
But there are questions that need to be addressed. Probably the most obvious one is how the Federal Union of Democratic Nations (FUDN) is any more of a government than the League of Nations or the existing United Nations. Yunker criticizes these confederal organizations for their ineffectiveness, which he blames on their not having their own military forces, their not being able to levy taxes, and their officials being appointed by the national governments rather than being elected. (p. 309) But in his proposed FUDN the national governments will be allowed to maintain their own military forces, even with nuclear weapons, and would be free to leave the union whenever they wanted, which they would be likely to do if the FUDN ever decided to use military force. Consequently, the military forces of the FUDN are likely to be virtually powerless against the more powerful nations. How would the FUDN be any less helpless than the League of Nations was. The FUDN might be able to levy taxes, but its financial resources would probably be very limited compared to those of larger, richer national governments. With regard to the election of FUDN officials, Yunker does not seem to appreciate how difficult that would be to carry out. Could laws about exactly who could vote, how much money could be spent on campaigning, and so on be enforced throughout the whole world?
The United Nations has coercive power when the Security Council approves a given course of action. Military force can be used against nations that attack other nations or that refuse to abide by Security Council resolutions. It is true that the permanent five have a veto, so no action can be taken against them or other nations which they support. But would the situation be any different with the FUDN as long as the individual powerful national governments are allowed to keep their military forces and nuclear weapons?
Yunker, as is so often the case with proposers of world government, fails to deal with the question of how we proceed from where we are now to the desired goal. How might the move toward the FUDN get started? Might the UN General Assembly call a conference to address the issue? Might NATO members or the European Union or some particular national governments (e.g. Australia, Brazil, Canada) take the lead in calling a conference to consider the proposal? Could anything be done if the government of the United States of America were opposed? Maybe Yunker thinks that his proposal is the kind that the U.S. government could support, but unfortunately it is not easy to find a way to persuade those with great power to share their power (or their wealth) with others.