Get ready for the greatest political transformation in history: humanity’s long, purposeful evolution toward the abolition of war—that is, radical wisdom in action on the global stage. Let’s honor those who died in foreign wars by seeking for saner and wiser ways to settle international disputes, through the mechanism of global institutions of law and justice.
This epochal change in human affairs will take decades; but it will one day put an end to the war system that is the greatest scourge facing humankind. We can abolish war, entirely—just as the nations of the world ended legalized slavery in the nineteenth century.
This will be a movement of optimists and visionaries, those who are ready to seize the opportunity to reinvent our world, ready to leave behind the cynics whose only contribution is to maintain the status quo.
In this movement, world peace is not a vague and utopian goal—but a practical, enduring peace that is achieved through world laws that are—one day—to be passed by a world legislature, interpreted by world courts, and enforced by a global government that represents all of humanity, high and low, north and south, black and white. Nothing short of that can do the job.
A very important interim step would be to support the creation of a people’s assembly (a parliamentary chamber directly representing the world’s people) at the United Nations, alongside the General Assembly, which is appointed by nations. [See http://en.unpacampaign.org]
Yes, we truly can create “the parliament of the world, the government of mankind” as the English poet Tennyson prophetically envisioned in the nineteenth century. The time for this historic task is upon us, now, in the twenty-first century. Even if it takes the entire century, the time to begin is now.
At the grassroots level, this global peace and justice movement is already well under way. One example among many were the worldwide demonstrations on the historic “global day of protest” on February 15, 2003 against the brazenly illegal US invasion of Iraq. Another was the flotilla that attempted this weekend to bring supplies to the residents of Gaza, which ended in tragedy.
But something more than mere rejectionism is needed from our progressive leaders. These times require a positive and practical vision for how to solve international conflicts; how to relieve global poverty; and how to end the physical destruction of our precious planet.
That why I say, on this Memorial Day, 2010, let us imagine a global legislature or world parliament whose first order of business is the abolition of war, in accord with a global constitution.
Let us envision a world court whose routine work is to apply global law to individuals, rather than punishing entire nations for the crimes of their leaders. (Such a court could peacefully adjudicate the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and rule according to the evidence and in accord with established law, after listening to the arguments of attorneys representing each side.)
Visualize a planetary bill of rights that is zealously guarded by a vigilant world media, and a constitutional balance of power that prevents excesses by any branch of the world government. (Such checks and balances would be essential to prevent vicious minorities from co-opting the government of the world’s peoples.)
Reflect on the satisfaction of living peacefully under the just rule of global law where there is less government, lower taxes, better distribution of resources, no nuclear weapons, less environmental destruction, no imperial domination, no “New World Order,” no military-industrial complex, more security, more justice for labor and minorities–and a global renaissance in the arts, science, religion, and culture.
And imagine yourself a part of this, the greatest political movement ever to occur.
[This essay adapted from the preface to One World Democracy, by Jerry Tetalman and Byron Belitsos (Origin Press, 2005)]