We have certainly come a long way from the times when the majority of people did not have a say in the running of their country – or rather some empire which was not theirs. From the feeling of belonging to an extended family, tribe, or small village, now most people feel they belong to their nation.
All well and good, but we are now facing a problem: a lot of major issues do not belong to any nation in particular. Take for example the environment, our financial systems, immigration, personal data, the use of drones, genetically modified food – all issues which are seriously affecting all of us and yet there are no independent and powerful institutions which can set worldwide regulations and enforce them. A case in point is the saga of Edward Snowden: who should decide his fate? The US whom he has “betrayed”? Countries who are known to be non US sympathisers? The victim countries which have been spied upon? Clearly, none of these parties is impartial. The same can be said for the other issues mentioned above which are currently being handled by ill prepared politicians from the perspectives of the nation they represent.
OK, one might say there is the United Nations; but we all know how helpless it has been in the face of certain issues such as the Syrian uprising. The way I see it, the world urgently needs stronger worldwide mechanisms to handle worldwide issues. Further in the future, I would imagine a single worldwide state, but that is far too much ahead of our times. Fortunately, we already have a foretaste of what it means for nations to join forces with blocs such as the EU, and other continent-based agglomerations (e.g. ASEAN). These movements are not without their challenges and they are still in their infancy. Yet, the underlying principles enabling free movement, sharing of resources, a common court of justice, etc, are slowly bringing a change in mentality, particularly in the upcoming generations.
All these dreams of a united world may sound naive and they may well be. Still, I believe the Internet can help us imagine what a united world could be like. In many ways the world is already united. Who could have dreamed up till a few years ago, when Encyclopedia sellers sold expensive books by knocking doors, of a free encyclopedia maintained by people all over the world? Who could have thought that software maintained by professionals in their free time would be available for everyone at zero cost? Who would have imagined that before travelling to a country you could roam its streets and read what other customers thought about the hotel you are thinking of booking? I wonder whether there was a time with so much collaboration in all of human history!
Yet, with so much borderless activity, our institutions remain largely disconnected with politicians (even locally!) still emphasising the national interest before human rights and international concerns. This surely is a short-sighted way of seeing things! We all know and are already suffering the consequences of egoistic reasoning with so much natural resources lost, flimsy financial structures, etc.
On a number of levels we are already too late! If we want humanity to live on, we have to start thinking wider and longer!