Part 2: Chapter 6: The First World Citizens
Updated: Mar 9, 2022
How to check off "Save the World" on your bucket list?
Welcome to Planet Republyk !
The next 8 chapters will deal with the history of the internationalist and planetarist movement.
You have little interest in history or little time to read the chapters?
You are rather interested in the essence of the Planet Republyk project, its modus operandi?
You can skip to chapter 14.
However, you should know that if we devote so many chapters to the history of the movement, it is because, on the one hand, it is a fascinating history of which many events and protagonists are unknown, as you will see, and that, on the other hand, this history helps us to better understand that cosmopolitan or planetarian movements are cyclical and that they flourish at pivotal moments in history.
This history also allows us to better apprehend the idea that we are currently going through this type of pivotal period and that the present time is possibly more favorable to the constitution of a world parliament than any other period before it.
History of the Planetarist Movement (Part 1)
The first world citizens
Because this history is also ours.
Because it is unknown.
Because it should be taught in our schools as well as national history.
Progress is only possible because there are men and women who refuse to accept that what they know is right cannot be done.
The idea of global governance is not new.
Great empires, with a boundless thirst for expansion, have marked the march of humanity, whether it be those of Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Tamerlane, Charlemagne, Charles V, Cyrus the Great or Augustus.
These empires had as their objective the subjugation of conquered peoples and the imposition of their civilization, which they considered to be superior, taking as proof their military superiority. With a few notable exceptions, such as the Russian Bolsheviks, the first caliphates, Alexander the Great, the Ottoman Empire or Napoleon Bonaparte, these empires did not aim at governing humanity according to an ideology, which according to the conquerors, would serve its elevation, but rather the domination of a large part of it in the sole interest of a privileged class of citizens within the empire.
Numerous sketches of global governance will be elaborated over the centuries, mainly by close advisors of monarchs. The aim was to extend and secure the power of the emperors. Already in 1313, the Italian author of the Divine Comedy, Dante, wrote that: "a planetary empire of a civil character, founded on reason, could put an end to war."
I am neither from Athens nor Corinth, I am a citizen of the world.
As for cosmopolitanism, this metempirical ideal transcends the slow human evolution. Only as it is necessary to give it a genesis for the good of the present exercise, it would be, in the
would be, in the West, with Socrates and his Greek heirs, and more particularly with the Cynics, with the fierce Diogenes of Sinope at the head, who, even before considering themselves Greek citizens, would claim to be the first, in the 4th century B.C., citizens of the world. The ascendancy of the first Cynics certainly plays a determining role in the vision that their contemporary Alexander the Great builds of his nascent empire.
A century later, in his Politeia, the founding philosopher of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, believes that we should consider that: "all men belong to the same people and the same city, and that there is only one way of life and one universe as it is the case for a herd that, for its food, shares a common pasture [i].
In 1516, Erasmus of Rotterdam, in his Querela Pacis, stated that "the whole world is the homeland of all of us", and he too claimed international citizenship. A few years later, the Spanish philosopher Francisco de Vitoria elaborates his theory of Res publica totius orbi, that is to say, of a republic for the whole globe.
1598. Europe is emerging from four decades of a deadly religious war. The previous one, not so far away, had lasted more than a hundred years. In his Grand Dessein, Henri IV sketched out a project for an agreement between the European nations in order to get out of the infernal cycle of wars and establish a permanent peace. This was possibly the first outline of a world government after a conflict. These phoenixes would be reborn at the end of each major conflict in the future, designed by humanists wishing to find a way to establish a definitive peace between the nations of Europe and later the world.
Our role is to promote a world organization. World citizenship is the last chance.
Some might argue that the threat of a total war is over at the beginning of the 21st century. The human species is no longer threatened with annihilation by a nuclear war between the East and West blocks.
The main argument justifying the establishment of universal democratic governance now seems obsolete now that relative peace has been achieved.
After all, on a global scale since 1945, there have been few more than occasional regional conflicts.
But that is not what the hands of the doomsday clock indicate; a conceptual clock created during the Cold War by scientists at the University of Chicago.
Midnight represents the end of the world and the number of minutes before midnight is updated periodically; according to the threats that weigh on humanity. The clock uses the analogy of counting down to midnight to denounce the dangers of nuclear, geopolitical, ecological (disruptions due to climate change) and technological (life sciences, nanotechnology, biotechnology, etc.) threats.
Since January 25, 2018, it has been showing two minutes to midnight due to the growth of these threats. The verbal escalation, since the fall of 2017, between leaders of member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the one hand; and China, Russia, North Korea or Iran, on the other, has certainly contributed to this recent alarmism. The resurgence of tensions between two other nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, is also cause for concern.
In 2015, the hands had already been moved forward from 23:55 to 23:57. The dial has been at its closest to midnight since its creation in 1947. The only time humanity has been so close to the end, according to these scientists, among whom there are 19 Nobel Prize winners in different disciplines, was in 1953, when the United States and the USSR were engaged in nuclear testing[iii].
In 2018, 15 nations still harbored a total of nearly 20,000 nuclear warheads. Michel Fortmann paints a disturbing picture[iv] of the situation in Le retour du nucléaire, published in 2020. He notes with dismay that over the last decade the great powers have tended to withdraw from non-proliferation treaties. He wonders whether humanity will have to go through a crisis like the 1962 Cuban missile crisis to bring the great powers to their senses.
But let us return to the 16th and 17th centuries, if you will. The works of Guillaume Postel, De orbis terrae concordia, in 1544; of Grotius, Le droit de la guerre et de la paix, in 1625; of the Duke of Sully, who brings to light Le Grand Dessein d'Henry IV in 1638; of Comenius, Angelus pacis (The Angel of Peace), in 1667, as well as of William Penn, Essay on the present and future peace of Europe, in 1693, will contribute, at that time, to the diffusion of the idea of a pacified and unified humanity.
In 1623, the French monk Émeric Crucé even made a particularly avant-garde proposal in Le nouveau Cynée. He proposed the constitution of a permanent assembly of representatives of the princes of the nations of the world in Venice, and, "oh scandal!" EVEN if they were not Christians.
This assembly with representatives of the monarchs of Europe, Turkey, Persia, India, Russia, China, Africa and Russia would be dedicated to the preservation of peace. His project was secular, he proposed a common currency and a common system of calculation. All this, nearly 300 years before the League of Nations! Nostradamus, who had died fifty years earlier, could well be jealous today.
Cyrano de Bergerac (Savinien de), the original, the one from whom Rostand drew inspiration to write his famous play, said in 1651: "An honest man is neither French, nor German, nor Spanish; he is a citizen of the world and his homeland is everywhere."
At the end of a century of conflict opposing France to the Holy Roman Empire of Germany, the Abbé de Saint-Pierre will also attempt, in 1708, a draft of universal governance. The original version of his project, which was also far ahead of its time, even included all the states of the earth.
His friends convinced him that this version was far too utopian to be credible. He therefore resigned himself to limiting his proposal to Europe only, and laid down the basic rules in his Dream of a Good Man. Most of these rules were adopted by the thinkers of the "unique republic of mankind" in the following centuries, including Rousseau, Montesquieu, Proudhon, Comte, Thomas Paine, Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant, who published Towards Perpetual Peace in 1793.
In this major cosmopolitan work, Immanuel Kant defends a number of original proposals, including the idea of an international peace between peoples rather than between sovereigns. He denounced wars of conquest, secret diplomacy and standing armies. He defines a cosmopolitical right of the citizens of the world inherent to their common possession of the whole surface of the Earth. He believes that the citizens of the world, trapped within the paradigm of sovereign nations that perpetuates wars, have a moral obligation to force their way out of this state of affairs in order to establish as quickly as possible a universal and supra-national republic of the human race.
A contemporary of Kant, Claude Henri de Saint-Simon devoted a good part of his work, his reflection and even his life to thinking about the "unification of peoples". He wrote in 1814 in De la réorganisation de la société européenne that: "there will undoubtedly come a time when all the peoples (of Europe) will feel that it is necessary to regulate the points of general interest, before descending to national interests. Then the evils will begin to become less, the troubles to subside, the wars to die out."
This is exactly what Planet Republyk is proposing 200 years later.
As I said, a union of the humans of the earth rather than a union of nations or their governments is not an original idea. The advantage we have over those idealists of the past for the advent of the universal republic of mankind is that we have the tools they did not have and I dare to hope, also, a global level of intelligence, education, politicization, but above all, of consciousness, higher than that of a few centuries, even millennia ago.
One day, let us hope, the whole globe will be civilized, all the points of the human dwelling will be enlightened, and then will be accomplished the magnificent dream of intelligence: to have for homeland the World and for nation Humanity.
The first drafts of a concrete project of cosmocracy elected by universal suffrage were sketched out during the Enlightenment. The idea will then be taken up and refined unceasingly, by the intellectual and political circles. The idea was taken up and refined by intellectual and political circles, by thinkers from such diverse backgrounds as Victor Hugo, Giuseppe Mazzini, Marx, Engels, Pierre Kropotkin, Tolstoy, Bertrand Russel, Hegel, Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Trotsky, Kang Youwei, the Abbé Pierre, Martin Luther King Jr, Paul Valery, Klaus Mann, Rabindranath Tagore and Bernard Shaw.
Le Cosmopolite ou le Citoyen du monde published in 1750 by Louis-Charles Fougeret de Monbron will certainly influence the thinkers of the French Revolution which will be a fertile ground for the propagation of the universalist spirit.
The meter, a new standard proposed by a system of weights and measures, equal to the ten millionth part of the quarter of the terrestrial meridian, will be defended by its instigators in front of the National Constituent Assembly, before being adopted in 1791, as a necessity: that of "fixing a natural and invariable unit of measurement; the only way to extend it to foreign nations and to engage them to agree on the same system by choosing a unit which in its determination, would not contain anything, neither arbitrary, nor particular to the situation of any people on the globe [v] ".
To illustrate this concretely: the foot, which is still used as a measure in construction in North America, was originally based on the length of the foot of the king of the Franks, Charlemagne.
One can imagine that this kind of chauvinism could be detrimental to making this particular standard of measurement universal and permanent.
Why would an Iranian, a Congolese or an Argentinean be motivated to adopt such a standard, unless it is imposed by a foreign imperialist power whose power is by nature, on a historical scale, ephemeral?
The establishment of the revolutionary calendar, whose nomenclature was inspired by nature and the seasons instead of the deities of Ancient Rome, was part of the same cosmopolitan spirit. The date of the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose crusades were inspired by these ideals, 11 Frimaire de l'An XIII (i.e. 2 December 1804) seems to us, today, to be a coquetry inherited from the French Revolution, yet this nomenclature was part of a strict will of scientific rationalism.
The work of a universal system of standards, weights and measures is still not complete to this day. In 2018, only 59 States were members in good standing of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (42 others were simply associated). Yet it was this same Bureau, spawned by the International Commission of the Metre of 1870, that gave birth to the International System of Units (SI).
At the same time, in France, in his Assembly of Nations, Volney defended the duty to: "to look upon the universality of the human race as forming but one society whose object is the peace and happiness of each of its members."
In La république universelle, Jean-Baptiste Cloots exhorted, for his part, in this diatribe, the French revolutionaries to continue the struggle as long as humanity was not united under the banner of the republic of the human race: "The human race will live in peace when it forms only one body, the single nation".
That's it for episode 6.
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[i] Zeno of Citium quoted in Marie-Odile Goulet-Cazé, Les Kynica du stoïcisme, Hermes-Einzel- schriften-Band 89- Stuttgart, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2003, p. 32.
[ii] Chronology of the end of the world clock: https://thebulletin.org/timeline
[iv] Michel Fortmann, The Return of Nuclear Risk, Montreal, Presses de l'université de Montréal (PUM), collection Le monde en poche, 2019, 64 p.
[v] Philippe-Antoine Merlin de Douai, Répertoire universel et raisonné de jurisprudence, fifth edition, volume 12, Paris, Garnerie Libraire, 1827, p. 500.