A manifesto for multilateralism, one-worldism, social justice and all the other things that haunt tea party nightmares.
The nation-state, writes Singaporean scholar/diplomat Mahbubani (Beyond the Age of Innocence, 2005), is an artifact of the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648. Most of us may think of it as the natural order, but he argues, “it is hard to believe that a human construct invented more than three hundred fifty years ago can serve humanity when everything has changed so totally.” Indeed: Think of what has changed in just the last couple of decades, with China poised to become the world’s largest economy within this decade and the United States turned from the world’s sole superpower to a declining polity crumbling from economic weakness and imperial overreach. For all the “clash of civilizations” that defines the modern era, Mahbubani urges, things aren’t necessarily all that bad out there; Saudi Arabia may repress women, but it’s also built “the world’s newest and largest scientific university.” China has risen as a power in part because of American generosity but also because America “was so supremely self-confident that it would always remain number one.” The trick now, writes the author, is to shed ideas of supremacy. There are some obvious platitudes attendant in such a rosy view, among them this: “The whole world would be better off if the 7 billion citizens of planet earth became more and more aware of the global impact of their activities.” Well, yes, but for all the fuzziness, Mahbubani offers practical steps, including a recomposition of the U.N. Security Council to encourage one-worldism.
Just the thing to give your black helicopter–fearing uncle—or maybe not. An interesting exercise in geopolitical wonkiness.