thumbnail of Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #9 (Reel 1)
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
We are I think running well behind our comm. Not only do we not know the answers to some of the most important questions we ought to be facing but often we seem not even to know what the question is. That was Dr urban Whittaker professor of political science at San Francisco State College speaking at the twenty sixth annual Institute on world affairs conducted annually as a special feature of the instructional program at San Diego State College the institute is dedicated to the use of the free academic forum for the presentation and discussion of current and continuing issues of international significance. The main theme of this institute is expressed in one word revolution. Our speaker on this program is considered to be an expert on the United Nations. He is an educator and author and a former United Nations correspondent. And now Dr. Whitaker addresses the Institute with this topic for discussion. World
government started yesterday. Dr. Whitaker. Thanks. Thank you. This is a favorite subject of mine. And I purposely worded it a little bit more startling fashion thing we may often. Find for discussions of this kind. World government started yesterday. I did that not just to be clever but because I think it is true. And not only true but it is much more relevant than most of us realize. We are I think running well behind our times. Not only do we not know the answers to some of the most important questions we ought to be facing but often we see not even to know what the question is. And I think with respect to world government. That is true. We still are too often
asking the question whether world government. And I suggest to you the fact question is and has for some time. Then. Irrelevant. The relevant question is not whether the world government. We have no choice. The relevant questions are. Why and. How. How much and what kind. We are being saved from ourselves. Although running so far behind even asking the right questions not alone finding the right answers only because we continue to do some of the things which need to be done without admitting right out in public that we're doing it. You just heard that among other things I've been an active member of United World Federalists for a long time. I am a dissident in the federalist one of the things I argue with the world better than Federalist leaders about is the name
of that organization. And I tell about there are going to be the leading organization to promote World federalism in the United States. They ought to change their name and somehow get world government into the title but they don't want to because I think they will lose supporters particularly the more conservative ones who have the money that keeps the organization going. And some changes in that organization in the last. Year under new and vigorous leadership which I heartily approve. But in any case I think we ought to face the fact. That world government. Is at least as necessary as any other level of government. And we had better address ourselves to the major problem of developing a viable effective the patient world government to serve our purposes in this world. And in the mean time. We go along developing certain substitutes for world government. But perhaps they ought to be called government too. I think as a matter of definition we
often define world government twice with a small w and a small g defacto world government. A great deal of which we have and without it we would be in really bad circumstances if any circumstances at all and world government with a capital W and the capital G referring to a host of plans far more formal legal mystic structure. While we continue to develop. Small w small g world government. And we continue to argue for the most part that large w a large G world government. Is impossible if not. Downright treason. I want just to say three things to you today. One is a description of the defacto world government which I think exists too is some commentary on the question of why do we not move ahead.
And 3. Some answers to the question What can you and I do about it. First as I've indicated I think we have some world government. In fact it is some something close to total nonsense to argue that we could do without it. I think there is one way we could do without world government. And that is if we repeal all of the technological revolutions in which we are participating so vigorously. But it's nonsense to say that the world is not governed and we shouldn't be waiting for somebody to arrive from outer space or for history to proceed a few more decades so that some of our descendants look back and describe. The way in which we actually governed. This world. I think it's always appropriate to ask and answer the question how is how was the world governed.
We do it for a hundred years ago all we look at the map and we answer the question quickly the world is governed by the British and the French. When I went to school the maps were mostly pink and green the pink for the British and the green for the French and a little purple for the Portuguese and a yellow for the Italians and. A few other common color combinations but it was fairly easy to answer the question how is the world governed. And it was all right to ask the question that was governed by the British and the French and I suppose in a general sense we might ask the question how is it governed today and say well it says it's no longer governed by the British and the French colonialism is dead imperialism is dying but it's governed by the Americans and the Russians. But you can't point to the colors on the map. And answer the questions simply. In fact it's a very complex situation. And in fact the Americans and the Russians don't govern anywhere near so much of the world as they like to think and they don't govern even indirectly to the degree that the French and the British were governing it. 100 years ago today.
How is the world governed what is our defacto world government. Looking at the family of United Nations agencies we can find a whole lot of answers to the question. And I commend to you any opportunity you ever have to study the specialized agencies and associated organs of the United Nations either singly or in a group. We have time only for a few examples here today and I want to take some of the. More prominent ones. Air travel. It would be abstainer. For. Any nation on the face of the globe to decide that air travel could be or should be determined and governed entirely within a nation state. As long as you and I are going to get on airplanes in one country and land in another country we need some agreed international
procedures and we have. There's an International Civil Aviation Organization in an eight storey building up in montréal. It's been in existence since 1944 and it had some predecessors and at one time it could have been described as a series of loose treaties and now it is better described as an international organisation. And as a supra national authority it is voluntary. But that doesn't make it any the less. Government in my opinion when ever a pilot and any nation's plane with any nation's training lands an airplane and any nation's airport. He knows and the people on the ground in advance what the signals are what channels to use what procedures to use in making a safe landing. We've agreed to those and anybody coming from a far and glancing around this planet would say that we have developed some means of governing international air travel.
Beyond that when you land someplace in a foreign country. You don't have to go through quite as much a problem as occurs when you come in on the France or the United States to New York. Customs has been really simplified a great deal for air travelers which suggest it could be and ought to be for surface travelers too. In fact it would have made a great deal of progress in spotted areas around the world improving customs situations. If you get into the Scandinavian countries one way or another after you're in you can go from one to the other without showing your passport. The Norwegians the Swedes and the Danes have agreed. And once you get into any of my years are given to run around in all of them and it's fairly easy as some of you may know from first hand experience to get back and forth between the United States of Mexico or the United States and Canada.
The airlines I think put on a lot of pressure on the nation states to develop simpler methods of getting in and out of countries customs clearance. Etc. something close to that. Would shift to another topic the World Health Organization has developed a little yellow booklet which many of you have traveled very far internationally have. Had access to and which gives in the relevant languages all the relevant information about your medical background. The nations founded AB serves to undertake exchange of individuals without having some sort of protection to help prevent the spread of disease. So we developed this measure of international government. Again not something really imposed on people the World Health Organization doesn't have the power to say you in the United States get your little yellow book before you go to visit Spain. But by agreement we have. Come to these conclusions because it's the only sensible way to do things.
Perhaps the best and certainly one of the longest lived examples of international cooperation which I'm suggesting is part of defacto world government limited as it is is in the postal area. Again it would be the height of absurdity. And again let me pick on big business men who are supposed to be. The most conservative and by some standards are expected to be the least enlightened. I think big business men would be the first to complain and the most bitter complainers if we eliminated that measure of world government which we have developed in postal area. It's. Just nonsense to think of undertaking very much of a business venture nowadays without being assured. That when you send a letter to a supplier or a customer across international lines you know it's going to get delivered. If the guy's not there any longer you know it's going to get returned you know what the rates are going to be. You know what the world postal service is like. Without it
we wouldn't have been able to survive. Certainly in business probably in national government and a great many individual associations would be much more difficult. Well there's there are many other organizations and examples of the defacto world government which now exists. The world is being governed a very complex way on many subjects. So my friends say you shouldn't use that term government with respect to this kind of thing. Because there is no monopoly of force and you don't have to pay taxes. They don't say you don't have to die for them if they say you are now drafted go fight here. I think that's nonsense because we use the term government and the term governor loosely sometimes quite loosely. Somebody asked me where I got this hole in my head. I ran into a hard headed governor on the way to a United Nations Day
celebration trying to get something done in the state of California. The term governor we use very loosely is for example when I was. Younger we used it with respect to something you put in an automobile engine so I wouldn't go. The car wouldnt go so fast. You have a governor on the car but it didn't have a monopoly of force and it wasn't taxing anybody or sending you out to die. And we use the term government with respect to the city and county of San Diego has government and indeed does have taxing powers but doesn't have the power to draft you and send you out to die. And doesn't have a monopoly of force. Even San Diego has to pay attention to Sacramento and even Sacramento has to pay attention to Washington D.C.. There is more for us above. Where the term government I think is appropriately applied to the kind of thing we've been discussing. Now outside this sort of service an administrative area. Health and postal matters and research on agriculture and educational cooperation etc.. There is another area
of the political area the security area where the problem of monopoly of force becomes more severe. I could continue to argue we have defacto world government because there is a nuclear stalemate there for the United States will not get involved in a major war with the Soviet Union and vice versa. And neither of us will get involved in a major war with some small friend however small of the other. Provided there is enough association that we know we are going to defeat North Korea. The Soviet Union and the United States are going to fight. Or if we are going to intervene in Hungary the Soviet Union in the United States will fight. Or if they are going to intervene in the Congo or the Soviet Union and the United States will fight or if they're going to insist in Cuba. The United States the Soviet Union will fight. There is a governor. On international warfare. There is a major defacto world government which may have prevented
any number of world wars since 1945 but I can speak with very much confidence or with very much optimism in this area. Because the major factor about those of us who live in the United States and perhaps it's true everywhere. And it is that we still place national sovereignty above the law and order when we're talking about law and order on the world level. There's a good bit of discussion about law and order on the national level where we think Law and Order. In many cases we think Law and Order comes first. Even before justice. There are some who believe that property rights are more important than human rights. But on the international scale we are not as likely to say there must be in law and order because if there's going to be law and order it guaranteed it means the creation of a world authority
similar to the national authorities which have a monopoly of force and violence. It means that national sovereignty has to yield. So I would say that the most important characteristic of the defacto world government which exists in the area of security. In the political rather than the economic and social and administrative areas. The most important characteristic is. That we have been unwilling. To develop that major world authority which is necessary if there is to be world law and order. Well I've been describing defacto world government. I insist there is such a thing and I argue in conclusion that there is not enough of it. And that defacto government is not always sufficient to do the job for which government is necessary. I think we must move.
From the defacto to the formal legal government in many areas and we must create a good bit of government where it does not now exist. As time goes by the need will grow. Rapidly. So I moved to a second question. Why have we been unwilling to move ahead. Why do we not move ahead in the development of a sufficient amount. Of world government to serve the needs of the people of the world. I think one of the reasons we have not moved ahead is that we are confused about the relationships between the level of government and the efficiency of government. Between the level of government and the type of government between the level of government and the amount of government. We have a lot of prejudices against higher levels of government.
And I want to comment on them for a few minutes. We needn't move even into the world love to see that a good many of these prejudices are total nonsense. For example I have some white friends in Mississippi who argue with me that it is wrong to move to the national level. We should retain state's rights and state sovereignty on questions. Having to do with voting because at the national level there is less freedom. The higher the level of government the more restrictions on freedom and I say that's pure nonsense. Now that is absolutely true they're absolutely right. If. What you're interested in is the freedom of white people to discriminate against black people. Now if that's what you want and you live in Mississippi then you better be for state's rights because you can get more freedom for whites to discriminate against blacks. If the present government
of Mississippi answers the key questions. Then if the present government in Washington DC answers the key questions about who should have the right to vote and how should it be protected. But if what you want is more freedom for black people to vote to own homes to have jobs and have access to schools hospitals drinking fountains public busses cafe's etc. if that's what you want by way of freedom. Then it is as true. That you get more freedom at the national level. Than you would at the state level. I think it's demonstrably true and I get very distressed about people who tell me there is more freedom at the local levels. And there is a loss of freedom at the national level. And all you liberals want higher and higher levels of government. That is absolute nonsense and it's dishonest
or it reflects a very deep ignorance of one or the other because the very same people who tell me we must have states rights. And reduce the authority of the federal government because they want to discriminate against Negroes in Mississippi. Are also saying and with equal vigor that we must increase the federal defense budget and we must extend these time conscription to give freedom to whom. They're not consistent. They're not honest. They're not really asking the key question. The key question about freedom is freedom for home to do what. And it hasn't any necessary connection with levels of government. World government government at that highest now imaginable lef might result in more freedom for some people to do something than city government.
In fact if the government of San Diego is in any way connected with the editorship. Of the paper. I found outside my motel door this morning I would gather that certain types of people in San Diego. I don't get very much freedom because of the existence of the government in this area. Not that I have particularly long hair myself but reading the lead editorial in this morning's paper. I would imagine that anybody with long hair can have trouble in San Diego. Well in any case who gets freedom to do what is a question which cannot be answered by sticking to lower levels of government. There is a confusion between the level of government and the type of government. And there are some who say if you go to world government it will necessarily be a centralized dictatorship. In fact some people are just against world government because it would be communist. Why they jump to that
conclusion. I don't quite know. But some of these same people believe that if you're going to have a federal government instead of state government it will be socialistic. That also is just nonsense. The type of government is not related. Not necessarily related to the level of government we can have and we have had notable instances in this country of real losses a real personal one man dictatorships at the city level. Look at the history of Jersey City or the history of Chicago or if you get far enough away from it you can look at the history of San Diego or San Francisco or some other place get far enough away and time or distance. And you can find that there are and there there have been there even are examples of a real centralized bureaucratic dictatorship on the local level. And there are examples of governments over very large areas which are manned by very nice people.
It is not necessary. If we have if we develop a formal structure of world government. That that formal structure be dictatorial. It could be democratic. It could be undemocratic it could be a monarchy. We could have a world King. It could be a republic we could have a world president. We could have a world dictator but just because we have world government. Beyond national government does not mean that we will have. Bad government. There is also a confusion between the level of government and the amount of government. I hear many criticisms of proposals for world government on the grounds that people don't want to lose their freedom of religion or they don't want to. Certain areas of their lives are regulated from the world level is not necessary if we have world government. To have a very comprehensive government of everything we can have world government
on one subject I've even heard serious proposals that the only world government we need is world government with respect to the use of force. We need a world government to police the world in the military stance and to prevent wars. But everything else should be left at the national level. That is possible and it might even be desirable. So I happen to think we ought to have. Some sort of world. Regulation of traffic. I almost got killed in Sweden before they wised up and started driving on the right side of the street because I was coming through Norway and there that's all very nice. And then all is on there's a big yellow line a swerve to the other side of the road you're going to Sweden to drive on the wrong side. But I had the misfortune of going in on a day when they were kind of closed up I think in Sweden they're sort of dead on Wednesday afternoon or. Whenever that was. And there weren't any cars on the road I stopped to get some money changed and took off again and it was five or ten minutes before I realised I
was driving merrily down the wrong side of the road at 50 miles an hour. I think we need some world government and a few other areas. But just because we have World Government doesn't mean that everything will be governed. If I could shift a little bit from the question why are we not moving ahead. To some suggestion about the way things maybe ought to be organized. My answer to the question what at what level should we have how much government is in a general sense. We should have as much government as we need. At whatever level we needed. And I don't think for a minute that we need world government even national government even Sacramento shouldn't be telling the people of San Diego on what day of the week they can put their garbage out to be collected and whether the garbage should have the bottles and cans and papers and what garbage mixture they should be in separate containers. I say that the people of San
Diego make that a stage. And if you want to allow people or prohibit people from burning trash in their backyard as a matter of local conditions you may have or may not have temperature inversion. You may have a 50 foot allotment are two hundred fifty foot lot limit. You decide what how you want to do things about local garbage. But I guess to a matter of some other kind of garbage disposal. Under the generic name Smaug then I would say the people of San Diego should not be left alone to make that decision. You probably don't want to be left alone with that decision because there are a lot of automobiles and other places that are causing a problem and I don't know maybe all of your small and have you have it comes from Los Angeles anyway so you need at least a Southern California Regional Government on smog problems. Where I live in San Francisco Bay area it would be absurd to think that transportation ought to be governed at the city level. We need a Bay Area
Regional Government for transportation. We're right now trying to build a tunnel under the bank from Oakland to San Francisco and. If Oakland were building its tunnel and San Francisco were building its tunnel and we didn't get together about what we're doing until we got out to the middle there's might well end over here and I would my well end over there. Well obviously we need a Bay Area approach to this kind of problem. Garbage disposal such a small guy thing gets you into some new kinds of areas that don't exist. Even a state Mon Dieu in New York City for example when there is smog created it's going to bother Jersey and Connecticut. And they better have at least a three state. Job. At hand they're. Not sure that the national government needs to get too involved. Maybe it's time for a national regulation of small devices not only on automobiles but factories. That's a kind of garbage disposal that requires something more than city. Authority. And finally to stick with the garbage
Revolution: 20th century phenomenon
Episode Number
#9 (Reel 1)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-z02z7m6d).
No description available
Social Issues
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-13-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:45
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #9 (Reel 1),” 1969-03-05, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 23, 2021,
MLA: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #9 (Reel 1).” 1969-03-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 23, 2021. <>.
APA: Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #9 (Reel 1). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from