Part 3: Chapter 18: The Proposal(1) An Autonomous and Inspiring Democracy
Updated: Mar 24, 2022
How to check "Save the World" off your bucket list?
Welcome to Chapter 18 of Planet Republyk!
This is the fifth of 10 chapters of the third and final part of the Planet Republyk project.
If you were to read only one part, this would be it.
With the "Why" portion of Part 3 completed, we begin the "How" and the method itself of the Planet Republyk project.
The next chapters are the most important in the series.
Episode 18: An Inspiring and Autonomous Democracy
He who plants trees knowing that he will not be able to enjoy their shadows begins to understand the meaning of life.
Rabindranath Thakur said Tagore
For ethical reasons, but also for stability, the moral foundations of the world republic to be built should be unassailable. An ideal democracy must be as close as possible to the goal: one human/one vote.
The world parliament, when established, should also be as perfect as possible for another essential reason that we discussed earlier: human institutions tend by nature to become sclerotic in their initial form. One could also hope, from the excellence of this model, for a trickle-down effect on the governance of nations, democratic or not.
Also, in light of our democratic experiences, lessons should be learned. Candidates should receive public funding, sober and equal, during fixed-date election campaigns. Any idea of a senate or upper house as a remnant; a way for the aristocracy of the past and the economic elites of today to secure a veto over the wishes of the people, should be outlawed.
Furthermore, political parties, having demonstrated their inanity all over the world in the last decades, should be banned from the future planetary parliament. The representatives of each zone, sitting as independents, would thus be free to forge ad hoc alliances with other deputies in order to defend certain common issues. Elected representatives could also sponsor legislative projects emanating from civil society.
In De Monarchia, Dante, at the beginning of the 14th century, already expressed this idea in the context of his time: "the formula according to which mankind can be governed by a single supreme sovereign must not be understood as if the smallest provisions of the smallest locality were to emanate directly from him."[i]
The jurisdiction of this world parliament would cover all issues of planetary dimension and only these. A universal government would not have to interfere with local fire departments, for example. This is called the principle of subsidiarity. A fundamental principle of any good democracy. It is always the smallest level of government: municipal, regional or national that should deal with a problem when it can.
The global level would therefore not manage local services such as fire. However, it would be very appropriate for it to create and govern an international response squad for major fire disasters. It would be deployed during mega-fires, which will occur more and more frequently around the world, as we have seen in Australia and California in recent years.
The issues over which the universal republic would be sovereign should be constitutionally limited to international or global issues. (We have outlined some of these possible issues here in Chapter 5.) In other words, sovereignty would remain divided among several levels of government: global, national, regional and municipal, each of which would be sovereign in its own sphere of jurisdiction.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but this new level of government could, in the long run, lead to a better distribution of power on a global scale by increasing the exclusive areas of competence of local and regional levels. Decentralization is desirable on many issues.
The universal republic could even contribute to re-establishing a balance of power between regions or peoples claiming autonomy and the states to which they belong. As an example, no political entity dared to interfere when Madrid decided, with great blows of Jarnac, to hinder and later invalidate the Catalan referendum[ii]. A world parliament could ensure, everywhere on the planet, that the rule of law is respected, including the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination.
In order to tackle these global issues, the world parliament must have the capacity to act. It is therefore necessary to constitute an autonomous world cosmocracy, legitimate and holding the power to compel nations to respect the necessary legislation that it will vote for the sustainability of the planet and the human species.
The cosmocracy, to be autonomous, will have to be able to collect taxes from the citizens of the planet. It should also have the capacity to seize the trillions of dollars hidden in tax havens, which no country on the planet has the legitimacy to do on another territory than its own.
In this regard, internationally renowned economists, including Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, in their Report on Global Inequality 2022[iii], note the worsening of inequalities in terms of income, wealth and ecological footprint, and propose various measures to remedy this.
They believe that a progressive taxation of wealth on a global scale, a tax on the wealth of expatriates, an "exit tax" of several years for taxpayers who decide to move for tax reasons, as well as an international financial register under the aegis of the OECD or the UN (or even better, a world parliament accountable to the whole of humanity) in order to act against tax evasion, could contribute to reducing these different types of inequalities.
According to the authors of the report, all forms of assets should be concerned, especially financial assets which represent today, much more than land, the bulk of modern fortunes.
In the least ambitious of the three proposed scenarios for global taxation of the most affluent among us, the authors of the report suggest the possibility of recovering 2% of the world's GDP annually[iv] (approximately US$100,000 billion in 2022[v]). (See graph opposite)
It is therefore a minimum of 2000 billion US$ that would be available annually to a world parliament in order to ensure the global improvement of the living conditions of the world's less fortunate. This is already ten times all the combined sums of state aid in the world devoted annually to international aid[vi].
When you realize that in 2020 alone, while the whole of humanity was suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic, the richest among us became richer by
3,600 billion[vii] and that the proposed taxes will not curb even their enrichment, one assumes that even the most ardent defenders of neo-liberalism among us can only applaud the report's conclusions...
Other forms of global taxes[viii] have already been proposed by states or international organizations, namely low-rate taxes on: financial transactions (a 0.1% tax could generate $300 billion annually); international transport (sea and air), international arms sales, transnational corporations, the extraction of non-renewable resources or even on robots[ix]. We are talking about trillions of dollars in annual capital to be invested where it is most needed according to the world parliament.
The creation of a World Central Bank and a universal currency, as proposed by the British economist John Maynard Keynes in 1945 (see chapter 9), could certainly facilitate the implementation of many of these measures.
It's risky, says pride. It is impossible, says experience. It's a dead end, concludes reason.
Let's try it, says the heart.
William Arthur Ward
In 1651, the pacifist Thomas Hobbes stated it clearly in a formula that has become a classic, both lucid and clear: "And conventions, without the sword, are but words."
This is to say, then, that the World Republic will not be capable of restraint until it has its own force of international peace, more powerful than any army on the planet, capable of containing any belligerent nation even among the most powerful.
Once such a force of order is established, many nations may choose to divest themselves of their own unnecessary armies, or to incorporate them into this universal army, which will eventually diminish in size.
All this would free up considerable capital, on a global scale, for other issues. For despite the pandemic and the global economic meltdown it caused, global military spending was still growing[x] by 2.6% in 2020 to US$ 1981 billion.
This global peacekeeping force would eventually eliminate the risk of wars between nations. It would become as absurd to think of a war between Pakistan and India as it is to think of a war between Germany and France today. From now on, conflicts would be settled by the rule of law.
The objective of Planet Republyk is not to detail a universal constitution. Proposals in this direction have already been developed in the past, including the Constitution for the Federation of the Earth[xi] and the Chicago Plan[xii] mentioned earlier.
Many intellectuals and constitutionalists will, in due course, contribute to the drafting of this constitution. Nevertheless, it might be a good idea for it to be valid for only 25 years. This would give each generation a chance to write its own charter and to correct shortcomings of the previous one.
Planet Republyk carries only one dogma, if it can be expressed this way: every adult on the planet must be eligible for a direct vote, free from interference by states, in the future universal republic of humankind.
For the only way to put an end to the nationalistic reflexes that have undermined the UN and other international bodies up to now is for human beings to see themselves as citizens of the globe within this new world structure, even before they see themselves as Ugandans, Russians or Koreans. That they choose their representatives democratically, by direct suffrage, outside the usual reflexes.
That's it for Chapter 18!
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[i] Dante, Monarchy, in Œuvres complètes, traduites, présentées et annotées par A. Pézard, Paris, Gallimard, La Pléiade, 1965, p.85.
[ii] Romain Geoffroy, "Catalonia: understanding the stakes of the independence referendum," Le Monde, September 29, 2017.
[iii] World Inequlity report 2022, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, Creative commons licence World inequality lab, Harvard Univ Press, 2022. https://wir2022.wid.world/introduction/
[iv] Ibid. Chapter 10, Figure B10.1 Global billionaires' wealth growth and healthcare spending
[v] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Long-term real GDP forecasts, chart, accessed 30 December 2021.
[vi] World Inequality report 2022, op. cit.
[vii] Ibid. Chapter 10, Figure B10.1 Global billionaires' wealth growth and healthcare spending
[viii] Plihon, Dominique. "Global taxes: a necessary instrument in the face of globalization," Regards croisés sur l'économie, vol. 1, no. 1, 2007, p. 255. https://doi.org/10.3917/rce.001.0252
[ix] Eduardo Porter, "Don't Fight the Robots. Tax Them.", The New York Times, February 23, 2019.
[x] Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), "World military spending rises to almost $2 trillion in 2020," SIPRI for the media, Stockholm, 26 April 2021. Accessed January 3, 2022. https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2021/world-military-spending-rises-almost-2-trillion-2020
[xi] World Parliament and Earth Federation website: Earth constitution: http://worldparliament-gov.org/constitution/the-earth-constitution/
[xii] Robert Hutchins, Giuseppe Antonio Borgese, Mortimer J. Adler, The Chicago Plan, Preliminary Draft World Constitution, University of Chicago, Chicago, 1948. http://www.worldbeyondborders.org/chicagodraft.html