“Of course, some day, there will be arnworld government.”rn”That would be a catastrophe,” I sputtered.rn”Well, when we have evolved enoughrnsocially,” he said.rnIn other words, never? I wanted to say.rnInstead, I bit my tongue. I was sure I wasrnright, but I couldn’t articulate the reasons.rn”A catastrophe,” was all I couldrnchoke out. “An absolute catastrophe.”rnI’ve learned not to talk politics withrnhim —he has a decent scientific mind,rnbut when it comes to polifics, he doesn’trnlike to examine his beliefs —so I let therntopic go. My inability to gather my witsrnenough to say why I was so sure was duernin part to his timing: A few days beforernour conversation, Undersecretary of StaternStrobe Talbott had made much the samerndeclaration, predicting the arrival ofrnworld government in the 21st century.rnTalbott and his ilk are good at portrayingrnthemselves as a valiant vanguard, heroicallyrnoverturning the stupidity of thernpast, so the idea is hkely to continue to irritaternus, like ants we can’t quite clear outrnof the kitchen. But why, exactiy, is worldrngovernment such a catastrophic idea?rnWhat should I have been able to say tornmy friend?rnWe could laugh and dismiss the idearnas impractical. A power that pushes forrnworld unity would-have to-result to forcernto reach that goal. It’s absurd to think thatrnsuch countries as China, Iran, India, orrnRussia would accept world governmentrnin my lifetime or that of my young friend,rnand should those powers be unduly pressured,rnthey are likely to respond in waysrnmuch less pleasant than laughter. Thernhigh-minded adventures we have seen inrnKosovo, Bosnia, and Somalia would neverrncease, because human nature will notrnbe overturned by an edict, even if it issuesrnfrom Brussels. The advocates of worldrngovernment have already shown littlerncompunction about killing Iraqi childrenrnor Serbian civilians.rnShould a power manage to achievernhegemony, the ends to which its forcernwould be directed are predictable. Therernwould be proscribed ideas, some of themrnevil, but many not. As every governmentrnhas its pets and enemies, there would bernfavored groups—ethnic, religious, or ideological.rnAnd what government rewardsrnits pets and punishes its enemies in waysrnthat the angels could approve?rnThe dream of world government isrnbased on false assumptions. Talbott describedrnnational governments as “artificial.”rnThis is a hugely, perhaps willfullyrnignorant stance, since Burke’s examinationrnof the organic growth and change ofrngovernment has been available for 200rnyears. Many national governments representrnthe outcome of centuries of development,rnarrangements arrived at with greatrnpain. What history do we share with thernChinese, the Afghans, or even the Mexicans?rnIgnorance of the fact that a willingnessrnto be governed grows over time,rnand only with considerable difficulty, appearsrnto be no disqualification for a highrndiplomatic position in our country.rnAnother problem is that, in human affairs,rnbig is invariably stupid. When decisionmakersrnare distant from the informationrnon which their decisions should bernbased and shielded from the costs of theirrnmistakes, the quality of their decisions inevitablyrndeclines. As our federal governmentrnhas proved over the last fewrndecades, bureaucracy becomes rigid andrnmore concerned with the political fashionrnof the day than with the well-being ofrnsociety. Imagine a structure ruling tenrnbillion people that was based in Brusselsrnand made decisions on speed limits inrnSwaziland.rnSince I work at a large university, I amrnpainfully familiar with the stupidity of intelligentrnand even creative people whenrnthey are gathered into large groups. Duringrnone intensely boring and fecklessrncommittee meeting, I took to passingrnnotes to another scientist. In one, I drewrnthe curve I thought described the torturernbeing inflicted on us. With stupidity asrnthe dependent variable, and the x axis thernnumber of people involved in the decision,rnmy curve dipped (stupidity diminishing)rnas the number moved from one torntwo, then rose again exponentially: Threernpeople may be as intelligent as one, butrnit’s galloping dementia from that pointrnon. In the note she passed back to me,rnmy friend responded that the dependentrnvariable in her own work was quality ofrnthe conversation: Her graph was a steeplyrndeclining curve from two, the highestrnpoint. If we rude mechanicals can seernthis, why can’t our betters?rnWith world government, we wouldrnhave one of the disadvantages of arnmonopoly: the complacency that comesrnfrom a lack of competition. Even withinrngovernment, people sometimes learn fromrnthe example of their superiors, and theyrnmay raise the level of their performancernwhen the competition pulls ahead. Onernreason the Soviet Union collapsed is thatrnits rulers could see that their system was inferiorrnto that just across their borders.rnPerhaps the worst disadvantage ofrnworld government is that, should therncentral authority turn to evil, there wouldrnbe no escape: no England riding out thernreign of Napoleon; no Switzerland torntake in refugees. If we consider the historyrnof national governments, we cannot bernconfident that a world governmentrnwould not finally fall into the hands ofrnevil leaders. Quite the contrary: A descentrninto tyranny would be inevitable.rnAnother argument against world governmentrnseems to me both utterly persuasivernand a little disreputable, based asrnit is on guilt by association and adrnhominem attacks. The people who leadrnthe charge toward world government discreditrnit by their very support. If the TalboH:rns, Clintons, Blairs, and Albrights ofrnthe world all want something, then surelyrnit’s a bad idea. They disdain historyrnand are confident that the appearance ofrnbeings as glorious as themselves signalsrnthe dropping of that dead weight. This isrnwhat makes them so dangerous, for theyrnare deaf to the statesman’s greatest teacher.rnThey have outbid the legendary Americanrnmilitary officer who said, during our warrnin Vietnam, that we had to destroy the villagernin order to save it. Our leaders haverndestroyed entire provinces and nations inrnthe name of the greater good.rnMillennial visions are all too frequentlyrnaccompanied by a willingness to sacrificernthose who get in the way. Mao,rnHitler, Pol Pot, Lenin, Stalin: Those whorndemand we enter their wonderful newrnworld and redeem all of history are thernchampion murderers of the human race.rnWe common folk should beware thosernwho claim ownership of a map to Utopia;rnthe cobblestones paving the road to theirrndestination are the skulls of those who gotrnin their way.rnBrian Kirkpatrick is a physician who Uvesrnin Baltimore, Maryland.rnEDUCATIONrnSchool Daysrnhy B.K. EakmanrnNo one could see where the floor beganrnand the rubbish ended.rnA window down the hall shattered.rnJANUARY 2001/47rnrnrn