Vision of a peaceful future – KyivPost

It is not utopian to think that a federation of free states can encourage and nurture a world healed from war.

Conflicts and wars are an inescapable part of human existence. But as technology has advanced, so have the means and scale of destruction. The threats of nuclear war and the fear of nuclear power plants in Ukraine being caught in battle remind us that we must redouble our efforts to build international systems of mutual regulation that banish war.

It’s easy to be unrealistic and dream up ideas of paradise when writing articles calling for an end to all war. From Francis Bacon’s “New Atlantis” to James Harrington’s “The Commonwealth of Oceana”, world literature is awash with visions of societies that offer Elysian hopes but are largely unrealizable when applied to the frailties of mind and spirit. human action.

Yet we don’t have to suggest a utopia to make significant advances in the state of humanity to overcome many burdens. And in such a realistic framework, I include the eradication of war. I don’t think it’s impossible to suggest that the conflict can be significantly ameliorated to achieve this; I mean the end of the major war, among all the human race.

After all, democracies across Europe have renounced violent war since the middle of the last century and I think we have every reason to believe that this successful experiment is not some strange and exceptional product of the European. The same reasoning could be applied to North America.

A new vision for Europe?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently suggested a new alliance and an alternative to the European Union (EU). But building a new order in the world should not be based on building antagonisms to existing coalitions. The EU is the most successful alliance ever built without coercion between culturally and historically diverse and previously warring nations. It is a magnificent triumph of rational thought over human tension.

This European vision is a powerful antidote to conflict. Winston Churchill remarked on September 19, 1946 at the University of Zurich, surrounded by the rubble of war: “There is a remedy [to tyranny and war]…It is to recreate the European family…with a structure in which it can live in peace, security and freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe.

Churchill was not the first to suggest this, but the context in which he said it is reinforced and relevant by the current situation.

If we are to design a new type of alliance, it must be “for” something. It must represent a complementary and additional vision. Perhaps we should form a new alliance whose main goal is to work for a world policy without war.

To achieve this, he could focus his attention on helping nations avoid despotism. Autocracy is not necessarily the cause of war, but it is often the mechanism by which it is brought into action.

Although despotism may be the consequence of deeper social evils than bad government, if we were to concentrate our efforts in helping nations achieve responsible and successful administration, we could realize a beneficial effect on human order and appease one of the main causes of human disorder.

This concern for dictators and war arises because war can cause annihilation on terrible scales, as we are witnessing in Ukraine, even with the use of conventional weapons. If we can prevent it, our future will be more assured, even with the other depredations suffered by our civilization. Indeed, if we can overcome the war, then the other challenges can be solved more easily.

Such a new federated alliance could set its main objective as the prevention of war by political and economic means – to build good government by developing the art of human organization. You might say, surely this is a description of the United Nations (UN) or the EU? But these bodies do not fully reflect what this entity might do.

The United Nations was founded to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and promote social progress, higher standards of living and human rights, but not to actively thwart dictatorship as such.

Although EU member states did not go to war, the EU does not see its goal of preventing the conflagration as a declared end, but rather advancing political and economic goals, the happy outcome of which was the absence of war.

A new federation would not seek to impose political or economic unity on its members, although it may enter into treaties and collaborations where its members see merit in them. It is not a vision of a superstate.

How would a new federation work?

Specifically, how would this new federation help countries achieve responsible government and prevent the evils of dictatorship?

Federation would encourage systems of government in all nations in which executive powers are firmly anchored in electoral systems that make heads of state beholden to the popular vote, solidly limited in tenure, in the face of credible political opposition and checks. and checks and balances of government are constantly changing. Its goal, therefore, is not simply to advance democracy, but to develop the complex mechanisms of mutual correction of responsible government.

Such a federation could accommodate many types of government, but in general it should work to advance republican governance in societies seeking new institutions. I consider this to be the best way to cure the dictatorship. By this I mean a system of government in which the state serves its citizens, not the other way around.

I mean a form of government where people, their lives, their property and their freedom to speak and think are respected. In this type of society, institutions, from government branches to scientific and cultural institutions, down to the smallest local voluntary groups, observe the virtues of transparency in their operations, accountability to the general public, and a commitment to advancing a generally free spirit. in the citizen.

But above all, in the context in which I write here, I mean a form of government committed to minimizing the risks of war by encouraging the emergence of peacefully cooperating business corporations. This federation would work worldwide, but it could also seek to prevent conflict in space, recognizing the potential for disagreement in this new and vast field.

What about its military capacity? In this matter, he would deviate from the UN. One could imagine that such a federation would have the military capacity to act, a palpable weakness of the UN model in the current crisis. The members of the federation must pledge never to attack one of their own and to come to the aid of others. If they engage in illegal military activity against a sovereign nation, their vote in the federation assembly is automatically revoked. Although this federation was not primarily military, it would have the necessary teeth to deter its members from war.

The federation would be, in essence, a support group for the art of good governance, but with the means of military action; it would be a federation of free states with military power.

Of course, the practical reader will say that many nations will not join the federation and so how do we get better? But is it a stretch to think that at a time when war is a palpable existential threat to humanity, we cannot build such alliances?

Can we not agree to end despotism once and for all through active efforts to build good government, to help each other build responsible states using more than ten thousand years of experience in human organization that our civilization has accumulated?

Can we not put an end, finally, to the whim of the tyrant and, in doing so, rid our civilization of, or at least extinguish, one of the major sources of war? Can’t we build an alliance that everything the nations would eventually join together; yes, all of us. Surely every free-thinking human being seeks to end the boredom of tyranny?

Can we not use Ukraine as the inflection point, the pivot around which such a future could revolve? If our civilization is to survive for long in this nuclear age, then the answer to these questions must surely be yes, and I see no reason why there is anything utopian in such a proposal.

Charles Cockell is Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh.

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