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Meditations

Can the UN Be Saved?
By Martin LeFevre
Jan 25, 2018, 5:47pm

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Witness the spectacle of Donald Trump, an egregious excuse for the leader of a supposedly great nation (much less "leader of the free world') crossing the event horizon of the black hole of false globalization at Davos.

"America First" is an absurd, regressive and profoundly ignorant idea for America to be ruled by, much less the world. But Trump keeps selling it to his base, which represents America's baser self.

At some point national interest is irreconcilable with the human prospect. That historical turning point has come. Only nationalists stuck in the past stubbornly speak of how "challenges to American interests are best confronted through coherent strategy backed by a credible threat of force and a clear set of values."

The idea that the "great powers" could unite the nations of the world while each country retained its separate sovereignty is finished. That fantasy and fig leaf has become philosophically, logically and practically unworkable in our de facto global society.

During the bubble of "the sole remaining superpower" after communism collapsed and the Cold War ostensibly ended in the early 1990's, a leading African philosopher and I agreed that the United Nations could not survive without a genuinely global, non-power-holding body that superseded it.

At that time, as now, most academics and pundits clung to their illusions of America and dreams of a revitalized United Nations in America's image. The wasted Clinton years gave way to the nightmare of Bush-Cheney, using 9.11 as pretext for the imbecilic invasion of Iraq and the creation of a massive counterterrorism infrastructure, justified by a perpetual "global war on terror."

This is the world we're living in, a world of failing superpower states run by the birds of a feather Putin, Trump and Xi.

The post-World War II international order is history. Yet mediocre voices of the status quo ante offer no global insight, and still mulishly speak of "America as the underwriter of the post-1945 global order." That contributes to the darkness that has enveloped the world since America's irrefutable internal collapse, for which Donald Trump is merely the manifestation.

The American commentariat refuse to make the distinction between the dying international order, and the yet to born global order. As I quoted Gramsci before the holidays: "The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear."

The late Odera Oruka of Kenya was the most eminent philosopher on the African continent until, his friends believe, Daniel arap Moi's thugs ran him down like a dog in the street for speaking out against the regime.

Like other prominent Africans, Odera referred to the "US/UN" when talking about the world's only international governing institution. Since then it has become much more clear that effective global governance is not an option but an increasingly urgent necessity.

Therefore, before the inevitable catastrophe kicks the last strut out from under the international order, world citizens need to pour the foundation for a genuinely global body that philosophically supersedes a politically complements the UN.

Such a Global Consultum would be an independent, non-power-holding body of great moral suasion and practical political utility, formally proposing workable policy recommendations to national governments and international institutions for humanity as a whole, and then holding them responsible for their actions and inactions.

There are obviously many questions that need to be resolved, beginning with: Is domination a given in relationship? Is power a given in human affairs? Can human beings begin to move beyond power and domination, and create a true world order after the present international order completely collapses?

Clearly, the United Nations can only remain relevant if it acquires greater lawmaking and law-enforcing international capability. But can the UN be reformed, much less have the kind of authority over 'sovereign states' that would be necessary to bring about a workable world order?

As the United States is fond of reminding the world, the founding of the United Nations (which actually occurred in Muir Woods among the splendor of the Coastal Redwoods, not in New York), and the funding for the UN came from the untouched and unmatched superpower that emerged after World War II. Now that Pax Americana has become Pox Americana, can the UN survive and thrive?

The United States has made itself irrelevant, but it is not too late for the UN, though it has to be philosophically superseded and politically augmented by a genuinely global consultative body of great moral suasion.

The first thing is to redefine sovereignty, which means supreme principle, as the sovereignty of humanity.

As an increasingly ineffective union of nation-states, the UN, nor any parliament within the UN framework, cannot do so. Only a non-power-holding body comprised of ordinary global citizens can.

******

Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. lefevremartin77@gmail.com


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