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That leads me to another reason why some people don't want world government. Is because their selfish selfishness may be a problem of ignorance. I'm not sure that being selfish is necessarily back. And I would feel that we had improved the situation a good bit if everyone who is selfish were also intelligent and informed. And able to go about the achievement of his selfish goals in an effective way. Because I'm pretty much convinced that the greatest good of the greatest number and the greatest good of individuals are not inseparable and contradictory but in any case there are people. And certainly there are in the United States people who refuse to discuss or think about world government because they really don't want to devote themselves to achieving the greatest good of the greatest number of human beings. Instead they
want to devote themselves to in achieving the greatest good of the greatest number of Americans or the greatest good of a particular group of Americans or the greatest good of their own small group. I think the attempt to achieve the greatest good of the greatest number is basic to the development of world government. And it's with that general goal in mind achieving the greatest good of the greatest number of human beings without regard to nationality race creed color sex etc. with that goal in mind that I think we need to develop consciously develop a good bit more world government. Finally I want to say a little bit about what should be done about the problem which is that we have some but not enough world government and we have some opposition to developing as much as we need.
I recently ran into a Russian plan Russian scholars written a plan for developing world government. He says there are three prerequisites. First the Soviet Union has to get more democratic to develop a multi-party system and have free expression. Second the United States has to give real freedom to the black people and the poor people white or black or brown in this country. And third each of the two giants having made these basic improvements together they have to use their technology and other resources to improve the situation economic and social situations for the southern half of the world. The developing half of the world and then. With those three prerequisites accomplished we the peoples of the world will be able to move into an efficient.
Sensible world government. By about the year 2000. I've seen many other plans and I'm sure all of you have Clark and so on go Clark and Stone professor of law at Harvard University. I've developed a plan which is again world wide right now for converting the United Nations into enough of a world government so that we can have world peace through World law. There are many other formal plans are meeting this month. In Switzerland of the world. Constitutional Convention or peoples Constitutional Convention which is a number of Americans have gone as delegates not of the government but private individuals. With all these petitions going around I was I saw on the other day for which the qualification is that you must not live someplace else on the planet Earth. There is no age qualification. You didn't have to be a registered voter. You just had to be a member of the
human race living on the planet Earth. This was to get people to the world constitutional convention which is being held this month. And there are some who believe that's the way to go about it would go there and write a constitution declare now we govern the world. It's not likely to work immediately by the beginning of September we're not going to forswear our national sovereignty and join what they're developing over there in Switzerland. But it may have some educational advantage and in the long range it may give us some assistance in moving from where we are to where we ought to be. I think the Basically the job is an educational job I think we need more discussion of world government and I think it needs to be open in a bob or frank direct discussion about the development of the governmental institutions we need on the world level we need to encourage more speakers to discuss this subject we need to develop discussion groups on it we need to put it on the agenda of the organizations which right now are developing their case their
next year's agenda speakers and discussions we need to have classes in world government. I just last week finished teaching an experimental class in world government which is now going to be added to the correct in an exam or Cisco State College. And we have a class in world government. And I think there ought to be more of them. We need political action at every level. Because politics has really kind of gotten out of the hands of the people in this country. And what I'm talking about is serving the needs of the people. In this country and elsewhere not just a little thin veneer of the privileged few who are the so-called leaders in this or any other society but of the people. I had an experience yesterday appearing before the Board of Supervisors of San Mateo County. On the question whether the Viet Nam war should be put on the ballot in November. I've. Known long time opponent of the Vietnam War are oppose
it because it is illegal because it is immoral. And. I think maybe above all because it's impractical. The day the first bomb was dropped I started the posing the bombing on the grounds that it would not achieve the goal we set out to achieve. Reducing casualties and reducing infiltration both of which have gone sky high since. But I didn't go to the supervisors to talk about piece fact I went there to say to them we are not talking about peace we're talking about the political process we're talking about giving people an opportunity to vote for or against a particular proposition on the Viet Nam war and they have no other opportunity to do so. There's no other place you can go to cast your vote. And the supervisor's reaction was whoa you peacenik people coming here we've got important things to do like deciding where the deer should be allowed to go across skyline. And some other kind of regulation they were working on. So they had it all prearranged as soon as the subject came up it was limited to
15 minutes it took him only five. They didn't hear any of the people who came there to be heard. One member of the board of the prearranged signal said maybe we should ask the district attorney if this would be legal. The district attorney said well I just happen to. Be coming by and I just happen to have thought about this because I knew it was going to happen and it would be an illegal and improper expenditure of the taxpayers money to put this issue on the ballot. One member then moved to drop the discussion. It was seconded by all the other members and they voted unanimously to do so and do it without having been heard. The people who came to be heard. Left. When I bring this up in a discussion of what to do about world government because I think it's a very good in my own case a recent experience a very good example. Of how the people and the government of the people have gotten out of touch with each other. What concerns me most about that meeting yesterday was the arrogance.
Of the highest elected officials of our county and they'll get away with it. That that bothered me even more because hardly anybody go to a supervisor's meeting I bet you couldn't find one person in ten who could name more than one supervisory. And yet that's the basic unit of government for all of us in that county. Well ask yourself whether you can name all the members of your Board of Supervisors or any of them. Ask yourself whether you can name all the members of your city council if you have one. Ask yourself if you know your state legislators who are your representatives in the Congress. And if you don't. Then you are not discharging all of the responsibilities of citizenship. Because they can and they will and they are this very minute getting away with things that are in response to the requests and the pressures of small groups who want to be and succeed in becoming. Privilege. On the money paid in by all the
taxpayers. The only way to get good government. The only way to get government at any level responsive to the needs of the people. The only way to ensure that politics will serve all of the people is for all of the people to become active in politics and that means you. So that gives some sort of answer to the question what to do about it. I could give an answer a high flown answer to reform the UN. And I have some specific proposals about changing the voting procedure the whole decision making process at the U.N. and I could give an answer about what to do about U.S. policy. I have some ideas about that. But I think it all comes back in the end to individual citizens. Of course this is the wrong group to talk to because this group knows more about its supervisors and its councils and its legislators than the average man so far. But it does come down to us. And for this group it is the right group to speak to.
If what we need is leadership because the kind of people who participate in this excellent Institute which has had a. Long life a productive life and I'm happy to have been associated with it now and I think the third or fourth occasion that people who participate in this kind of thing have special responsibilities. They should not only know the names of all these people they should know some of the policies which are being formulated are not being formulated at every level. And they should have some plan for participating in getting something done about it and they should be encouraging others to do something about it. So the answer to the question why don't we have as much World Government. Or as good government on any level as we need. Is you. And it takes a lot of hard work to know what the issues are. And then it often takes a lot of courage to speak out frankly and forthrightly
about those issues and to say what you think has to be said. But we do not have and we never will have enough government at any level. Unless every person in this room is willing to devote himself to a course of hard work. As a citizen find out what his convictions are and then to have the courage to speak them openly and to fight. Thank you. Following the presentation by Dr urban Whittaker Professor minestrone Ramos open the Institute on world affairs to questions from the floor. What is local and what is international. The constituencies at those levels decide Unfortunately for every individual in the United States you are a member of each of the constituencies in your city your precinct even smaller than that in some cases a township. You're a
member you're a voting or responsible member of the county and. Maybe some county associations and of a state and the federal government and you have representatives you could be a representative yourself at any of those levels. So we decide. And if we have a problem for example if there is an air pollution problem in San Diego you decide whether you want to take that problem to the supervisors or to a city council or to your state legislators. And it may be you go to one level and they say they can't do anything about it because the source of the pollution is from outside their jurisdiction. And that answers the question. At what level do you need to resolve this problem. Or you could just start right at the top and go to your congressman and say we need national legislation to prevent Los Angeles from sending small does and a. It depends on the nature of the problem and what the individual decides he wants to do about
the question. Really speaking in general in government and ask for specific comments regarding current religion and such reference to national government. As I understand the question its these things called religion and nationalistic feelings as barriers to the development of world government. I think the there should not be I don't see the need now and I don't foresee the need ever for any regulation on the world level. Of religion except those which make possible the free exercise of any religious belief provided it isn't dangerous to other people or restrictive of their freedom. I think religious freedom is something which ought to be guaranteed on a world level as it is guaranteed. In our national level. A religion as a barrier to progress. Sometimes religious beliefs
may seem to be a barrier to progress. Still doesn't mean people shouldn't be free to hold whatever relief they will believe they will. There are some for example who believe that world population is a major problem and that the Catholic church doctrine on population keeps this problem alive and developing rather than making it possible to eliminate it. I don't think that prevents us from creating a world government. But I don't think we should create a world government which says. Religion ought to be restricted in such and such a way. There are at the international level certain attempts now to. Make education about birth control more available around the world and that's being done I don't think it requires I think religion stands in the way of that except as it causes people to. Have whatever feelings they have. And I don't think government should regulate religion.
Coinage I think is more a matter of convenience and it is. A barrier to development. The British are changing their system now getting rid of the. Pounds and guineas in their pants and so on and that'll make it a little easier. But I don't think we need. I wouldn't push for a world governmental regulations saying everybody will call their coins by the same name. The economist might convince me differently. We might need a single world currency and when we do and when it's necessary then I'd be in favor of it. Weights and Measures and all sorts of other items maybe ought to be standardized for safety but I doubt that they are barriers to world government study of and regulation of debris and space between the Soviet Union and the United States has been very helpful. But we still need more because the Soviet Union and the United States are not now very active in nuclear explosions in space.
The Chinese and the French are becoming active in moving in that direction and I think it's obvious that we need some sort of formal association involving all of those who are able to contribute to a garbage problem space. So that we can regulate all of us. Dr. Whitaker was asked who decides how much government regulation is necessary. I think the last part of the question is the answer to the question. I think a majority of the people in any constituency ought to decide how much government is necessary. Sometimes the majority can be wrong but that's the chance you take by being a member of a society I can't think of a better way to organize a society than on the democratic principle that the majority will make the decisions. I could. I'd be happy if we had philosopher kings but I'm not impressed with any of the attempts to resolve that philosopher king problem so far so all I would say the
majority of the people in any particular constituency decides how much government to have that constituency the questioning was continued as he was asked how is it possible to initiate government by individuals if society and governments won't respond to requests by these individuals. Some of the people who have been arguing for some while that it is not possible to make progress within the present system therefore it must be destroyed. And overthrow of the government the government must come down as the only way to begin progress. Some people have been arguing in that vein and I think I'll find it more difficult to answer them because of this particular experience. For myself I'm not ready to start even picketing the board of supervisors let alone blowing up the. Supervisors chambers. But I do think I'm going to give it a try to three or four years trying to encourage every kind of
citizen organization in our county to send a representative to every meeting of the Board of Supervisors and I have the conviction. I'm still a real guy small d democrat. And a sort of. Vigorous large D Democrat. I am convinced that we can and through the democratic process is open to us bringing that board of supervisors and a good many other governmental bodies into the 20th century. We ought to reduce the age not by law but by our own political efforts of boards of supervisors. Your suggestion that you think you can be an afflicted body in. The UN cannot as presently constituted be an effective body in ending the Viet Nam war if what we mean is sending troops to do something to supervise something to guarantee certain kinds of. Peace in
certain areas. But we don't know how effective the UN is already being toward ending the Viet Nam war we do know that for some reason the president of this country decided that he had to take some dramatic steps which had been urged on him for a long time toward ending the Viet Nam war and we do know that he has been under pressure not only from Groups in this country but internationally we know that the United Nations has been a reflector of adverse opinion about US involvement in Viet Nam for all these years. And even though it The UN has never even voted us get out of Viet Nam or be more vigorous in pursuing peace talks perhaps the UN has been an influence. And one of the problems with evaluating the UN is it's a lot easier to specify things it has not done than it is to trace and underline things that it has succeeded in doing. Question is what do you consider illegal both of you. Since I am an international lawyer I think it would be difficult for me to answer the
question in any brief space of time. I've written a book that I think has something like 700 pages in it which I'd like to re cite in its basic tenets as background to the question what is international law but just generally let me say that it's possible for anybody to say that anything is legal or illegal in international law. It is sort of slippery. So I am more first that you can make a case in any direction so I acknowledge that any case I can make that the Vietnam war is illegal. Another lawyer can make a case that it is quite legal. My own feeling is that the Vietnam War or the US participation in Vietnam is illegal for two reasons one that the United Nations charter which is a treaty and to which we are a major signatory requires that we exhaust all other avenues for resolving problems before military force is used.
And I do not believe that the United States tried to resolve whatever the problem was in the Tonkin Gulf by any other method but instead And I think it was in a premeditated way decided to escalate our military involvement the other way in which I think our involvement in Vietnam is illegal is the. Geneva agreements of 1954 are limited the number of people we might have in Vietnam. And required free elections and the United States gave full and open support to the refusal of South Viet Nam to have free elections as required by the Geneva Accords and the United States did escalate the number of people we had there. Beyond the number we had agreed to restrict with respect to Article 51 of the charter its articles fifty two three and four which refer to the regional organizations and encourage them. There's some question whether NATO and SEATO are regional organizations or just military alliances. Article 51 of the charter however is the one to which you have reference because it
permits the use of individual or collective self-defense when everything else fails. And that's one of those places where the answer to the legal question is is kind of. Morpheus because the United States can argue that if we tried everything else and it all failed and we can argue that to protect the security of the United States. We had to start bombing North Vietnam. My own feeling is that that is not a realistic argument is not. Justified argument. But it is true that that's the way the UN Charter stands today. You have the right to individual self-defense and the charter does not because the nations would not define what is self-defense and what is aggression. So any nation is free to say I Am bombing. Right now anybody else and say that's necessary for my self defense because I know they were planning to do something that was going to injure my security.
The question is whether the reforms I proposed to you and would include getting rid of the veto and giving. More authority to the General Assembly. I've been doing a lot of work on that in the last two years and it seems to me that the United Nations ought to be organized in such a way that it realistically reflects the distribution of power in the world. I mean you abandon in 1945 it was a realistic reflection of reality to say if the Americans Russians British French and Chinese do not all agree then it would not be appropriate to have any U.N. action be binding. And we're stuck with that rule still today even if it might have been accurate in reflecting political reality then I don't think it is any longer. Similarly I would say I wouldn't get rid of the veto just across the board all together. I don't think it was. It's wise to give to the United Nations General Assembly or any other organ. The power to do something which you couldn't back up. That's a
misuse and it's almost as bad as disuse. I believe that the veto for membership ought to be abolished. I think that the veto on what questions should be discussed. Has been pretty well abolished but ought to be legally as well as in practice. We got rid of I think it is possible to increase the power of the General Assembly and is desirable to do so but it cannot be done until we have a decision making process in the assembly which accurately reflects the real distribution of power. That means we're going to have to do more things through select committees and fewer things through committees of the whole where Iceland and Guinea and Zambia have legally equal to the United States and Soviet Union and India. To conclude the question and answer session Dr. Whitaker was asked can we hope for a peaceful adjustment in the near future in the world. We can look forward to this but not we can't complete it in the very near
future. We can see some of the major steps which have to be taken if we are going to move toward this kind of world security arrangement. And one of them is we have to have universal membership in the United Nations and a harder one to achieve is that we have to get in the in each of the leading nations of the U.N. and increased willingness to actually negotiate the issues which divide us on questions of world security force majeure of world law. I think we can see what some of the steps are. And I think we do have hopes of making some of those steps in the near future. But we're not going to complete the job and I don't think in the next four or five years we're going to suddenly blossom forth with a world security organization which will enable us all to say and be realistic about it. We no longer have a need for our national defense forces. I think one of the most encouraging signs of change in a way which is basically necessary that is toward the universal
membership of the United Nations is in this presidential election where all but one of the major candidates. Has made major statements and assessed a far closer United States communications with China. And this is a marked difference over. Like four years ago or eight years ago. Most of them were afraid to approach the subject at all. Thank you sir. As we've been discussing this subject of the United Nations it occurs to me more and more. That this is an area where we have too little of the revolutionary character. Much more of the evolutionary one I think the. Main problem in connection with the term World Government is that the average individual who's thinking of the world government thinks of a great deal more than what would be practically possible. At the international level today. For example one might think of such things as a power to tax. Alone. Which
is endemic in all governments which are worthy of that name and other types of action which involve the two here. A number of years ago when the United Nations was a lake success who many many people had still some starry eyed notions as to what its role would be in international affairs the same used to go around that the United Nations made up of five countries of which there were three. The United knighted States and Russia. So essentially what we're doing here it seems to mean the furring too close to you know and such adjunct organizations specialized agency etc.. There's a world government which is coming upon us by osmosis. But on the other hand one can say that this osmosis is absolutely necessary in that without world government we would find ourselves in a state of international anarchy a condition which in the light of the technological and other revolutions is not only impossible today. We want to thank you Dr. Whitaker for coming sharing your views on this subject with us today.
Dr. Irvin Whitaker speaking at the twenty sixth annual Institute on world affairs. His topic in keeping with this institute central theme out revolution was World Government started yesterday. This is James H Mason inviting you to join us next week on a series for another presentation from the Institute on world affairs. This program was produced by the Department of Telecommunications and film at San Diego State College in California. This is the national educational radio network.
Revolution: 20th century phenomenon
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#9 (Reel 2)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #9 (Reel 2),” 1969-03-05, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #9 (Reel 2).” 1969-03-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #9 (Reel 2). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from