As the U.S. government prepared to go to war with Iraq, the Bush administration worked simultaneously on two strategies to justify its position. Making its case to the U.N. Security Council, American representatives stressed the need for a multinational front against terrorism and called for a new, more vigorous resolution against Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction.” In addressing the American people, however, administration spokesmen denied that any approval—whether from the United Nations, or from our allies in the European Union, or even from U.S.-controlled NATO—was necessary.
Americans would like to believe that their government is free to decide questions of war and peace, but our membership in the United Nations by itself constitutes a limitation on national sovereignty, and the dozens of treaties, conventions, and agreements signed by our government over the past 50 years represent a de facto world government that sets up environmental standards, imposes moral, social, and educational standards, regulates trade, and punishes U.S. companies and the government itself for noncompliance. The New World Order so feared by Middle American conservatives is not a bogeyman waiting for us around the next bend in the road; it is a current reality.
A world state was the great dream of the 20th century, and since the end of World War I, humanitarian leftists have pursued the soft-and-fuzzy version of glob-al philanthropy, while free-trade capitalists have, in their own minds at least, dissolved national borders and all ethnic and religious distinctions, leaving the sucked-dry husks of nation-states blowing in the trade winds that sweep, unimpeded, across the unfettered earth.
The idea of an international order, which became popular during the Enlightenment and took on a sense of urgency in the 20th century, is usually attributed to a longing for a respite from the destruction and havoc wrought by European wars. Certainly, in the period between the two world wars, a longing for peace made many reasonable men hope for a more potent successor to the futile League of Nations. As World War II was breaking out in Europe, H.G. Wells concluded that the world could be saved only if a “new world order” were established on the basis of “the three ideas of socialism, law, and knowledge,” and Wells’ formula is a reasonably accurate summation of the movement toward an international order: socialist economics; international law enforced by U.N. troops; and a trans-national technocratic class that treats the members of all other classes, religions, and ways of life as so many unpleasant bugs.
The cosmopolitan ideal is not new, but until the modern era, it was an aberration embraced only by eccentric intellectuals and their followers. While most ancient philosophers were as provincial as the city-states that produced them, universalism was introduced by Zeno, the Phoenician merchant who preached a doctrine that “men should not live divided into different states and peoples, each under its own law, but in a world state, of which all men are to be citizens . . . ”
The Stoics developed such novel doctrines as the brotherhood of men, the equality of free men and slaves, and cosmopolitanism—that is, world citizenship. “Never say,” says the ex-slave Epictetus, “when you answer the question what country do you belong to, that you are an Athenian or a Corinthian, but that you are a citizen of the world.”
While globalism is frequently lumped with the Christian notion of human brotherhood, there is little in Christian teaching and less in Christian history to justify such an equation. Christians have always been influenced by the Hebrew Scriptures that not only assigned a special role to one nation but seemed to view the world as divided, by divine decree, into separate peoples. Although the descendants of Adam had spoken one language for many generations, the attempt to build the Tower of Babel had brought divine punishment: “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
Henceforth, any project of constructing a global empire would be seen as a second rebellion against God. Although the punishment for Babel was canceled at Pentecost, when “Jews . . . out of every nation under heaven” heard the Apostles speak in their own languages, this was a spiritual and not a political unity.
A Christian’s love for the universal Church is not inconsistent with his duty of obedience to a secular, even a non-Christian ruler. Saint Paul made that clear in the 13th chapter of Romans, and, over a thousand years later, St. Thomas Aquinas took it for granted that kingdoms were part of the natural order ordained by God.
Protestant churches were, for the most part, national institutions that enjoined obedience and respect for the nation and its rulers. Luther’s strictures against disobedience and rebellion are well known, and the leaders of national churches in England, Scotland, and Sweden were hardly likely to deny the authority or significance of the nation-states to which they ministered and for whose rulers they regularly prayed to “vanquish and overcome all enemies.” Orthodox churches have played an important part in the national liberation struggles of Greeks, Serbs, and Bulgars, and there is nothing in Orthodox social thought that would justify contempt for patriotic loyalty.
Even the Catholic Church, which claimed universal jurisdiction, did not dispute the legitimacy of nations or nation-states. During the difficult years following the Italian kingdom’s conquest of the Catholic Church’s estates, when the Church forbade Catholics to take part in Italian politics, Pope Leo XIII declared that a supernatural love for the Church and a natural affection for your country are “twin affections sprung from the same everlasting principle.”
During the Renaissance, Christian universalism began to be converted by nonbelievers into a secularized theory of human dignity and universal obligation that trivialized more local attachments. One major goal of the Enlightenment was to achieve a Newtonian revolution in morality and politics—that is, to discover the universal laws of morality and society. To enforce such universal, rational, and objective principles, some form of international order would be required. In other words, if all true laws and moral principles are universal, then only a world government could have the power to enforce them.
The Abbé de St.-Pierre, author of Projet de Paix Perpetuelle, was a typical Enlightenment intellectual with an unbound-ed faith in the goodness of human nature and the blessings of progress. His concern for bien-faisance led him to propose graduated taxation to benefit the French lower classes and, ultimately, to outline a plan for a world confederation that would eliminate war. Rousseau, who popularized St.-Pierre’s essay, concluded that it might take a revolution to bring about a European federation to end war.
The revolution, when it came to France shortly after Rousseau’s death, initiated one of the bloodiest periods of European history, when Enlightenment theories of liberty and equality, natural rights and the social contract, assumed a concrete form. All subsequent history in the West has been a series of attempts to extend (or resist) the principles of the Revolution. Since World War II, there has been no serious opposition to the ideology of 1789.
The leaders of revolutionary France simultaneously proclaimed their devotion to the nation and declared their support for other revolutionary movements that would rise up to throw off the chains of monarchy, feudalism, and Christianity. In the 19th century, however, the revolutionary ideal would separate, temporarily, into nationalist and internationalist channels—the one leading to the formation of centralized nation-states in France, Germany, Italy, and the United States; the other inspiring Marxists with their project of establishing economic justice in an international order.
Marx and Engels went furthest, in view-ing the nation-state (along with the family and private property) as an institution that had been created by patriarchal men solely for the purpose of oppressing women and the poor. “The workers have no country,” they proclaimed in the Communist Manifesto, explaining that bourgeois nationalism was a phase during which
national differences and antagonisms between peoples are daily more and more vanishing, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world market . . . The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster. United action of the leading civilized countries at least is one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat.
Here, in a nutshell, is the entire doctrine of internationalism: an end to the exploitation of poor nations by rich nations and, ultimately, an end to the system of nation-states. Marxists and other leftists frequently accuse their opponents on the right of being racists, especially with regard to immigration from Islamic countries of the Third World or any attempt to prevent the rise of triumphalist Islam in Europe. Only a bigot would suggest (as Cardinal Biffi has done) that Italy should give preference to Christian immigrants who share Italy’s traditional religion or that Serbs have a legitimate desire to retain control over any part of Kosovo-Metohija. And yet Marxist theory has done little to alleviate ethnic and national hostilities. Marx and Engels were both antisemitic racists who frequently used the English word “nigger” in their correspondence, and their racism and calls for genocide, rather than their theoretical globalism, have been the hallmark of all Marxist states.
Despite the record of bigotry, mass murder, genocide, and ethnic repression that is the history of Marxist states, internationalist Marxists (that is, all leftists) have the effrontery to claim the moral high ground. They are adamantly opposed to any expression of ethnic, religious, or patriotic loyalty on the grounds that such old-fashioned attachments are the source of hatred and oppression. Some leftists, such as Martha Nussbaum (“the model philosopher” according to the Chicago Tribune, referring to her dress and morals rather than to her “scholarship”), are so eager to promote a “cosmopolitan” point of view that they are incapable of making even the crudest distinction between nationalism and the more primitive forms of loyalty that are found in all periods of history. For them, the Stoic ideal of “world citizenship,” superior to all lesser attachments, requires us to “give our first allegiance to no mere form of government, no temporal power, but to the moral community made up by the humanity of all human beings.” Model-philosophers get academic chairs for writ-ing this sort of thing.
On this understanding, every patriotism is inferior to the “allegiance” we owe to a nonexistent “community” of people who do not know us and who, if they did, would probably hate us. Sentimental attachments (such as patriotism and mother-love) are not within the moral sphere, and liberal philosophers have declared that the only proper moral perspective is that of a disinterested third party (cf. Adam Smith’s theory of the “impartial spectator”).
The superior virtues of the cosmopolitan perspective belong to the class of self-evident truths that do not need to be defended. To real men and women, however, it is not at all self-evident that (in Herder’s words) “the savage who loves himself, his wife, and his child with quiet joy and glows with limited activity for his tribe as for his own life” is not, in fact, “a more genuine being than that cultured ghost who is enchanted by the shadow of his whole species.” “Ghost” is an apt metaphor for the deracinated internationalist who can see no virtues in the real people of his nation but falls in love either with “all mankind” or with an imaginary nation that has never existed and never will.
The campaign to eliminate ethnic identity is not an imperial conspiracy run by NATO powers or the heads of multinational corporations. There is, among most intellectuals and politicians, a general (though usually unspoken) consensus that the only legitimate point of view is universalist, inclusive, internationalist, tolerant, and multiethnic. Marx’s bigotry and the tens of millions of people murdered by Marxist governments—often on purely ethnic grounds—are only proof of how far the human race has to go in shedding the Old Adam of family and nation.
Until conservatives in Europe and the United States purge their minds and speech of these perverse moral abstractions, they will continue to serve as unwitting conscripts in the crusade to establish a global state.