Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dependence Day, part 1

This was supposed to be my July 4 post, when I started writing it in May, but I took a few days off from blogging to have a life. Well, a little.

"Nationalism" is a bit of a dirty word, conjuring as it does images of Mussolini, Hirohito, and that other fellow.

But along comes Howard Zinn to decry nationalism on the 4th of July, telling us to put away the flags and love for country, and instead to embrace the whole world with loyalty and good will for all.

There is nothing like competition to keep people honest, and so it goes with governments, too. Without any competition, the United Nations is an appalling quag of incompetence, corruption and waste. With no way to measure its success or failure, failure is assured, and achieved with ease.

But can we point to the United Nations as the model for all future transnational organizations? The mind reels with possibilities for a New United Nations. Perhaps all matters great and small could be decided by direct Internet plebiscite. Or if a region is underserved by Internet providers, because it is underserved by electricity providers, delegates could be selected to vote by proxy for the people.

In a world run by opinion polls, the demagogues would have a tall platform from which to spread their phony message of the day, whether it's to the ruin of the economy as in U.N. economic guru Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, or in Al Gore's equally disastrous policies over global warming as he screeches his demands for reason by fiat.

If one of these fools were to gain power over the economic and political life of the whole world, he would institute controls (for our own good) that would make Josef Stalin green with envy. In such a world, to where does one escape? To climb a mountain and would draw accusation of spoiling the air and melting glaciers; to sail the seas one would be endangering dolphins, causing hurricanes, and otherwise destroying the planet. There would be no hiding from a world government.

All of that could change if the human race figures out a way to spread to more than one planet, or to have a population which could survive without Earth's assistance. In such a far-flung fantasy world, in which escape off-world were equivalent to hopping a bus for Pittsburgh for us today, a world government would not be as scary.

But we are not there, and untill such a time as we are, I'll keep my flag, and the country that goes with it.

Howard Zinn and all.

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