This all demands the question: Why do we hold the conception that we live in separate nation-states? Well, it turns out that this question was actually asked after World War II, and the answer American leaders came up with was … we shouldn’t.
In fact, Western elites in America and Western Europe after World War II made a serious effort to get rid of nations altogether, and combine all “freedom-loving peoples” into one giant “Atlantic Union,” a federal state built on top of the NATO military alliance.
As odd as it sounds, the documentary evidence is clear. This movement did manage to create a “European Union,” which came from the same ideological wellspring as the “Atlantic Union.” Once we recognize that the Cold War saw the construction of a powerful international regime that explicitly sought to get rid of sovereign nations, these broad security architectures revealed by the Syria situation and the NSA spying revelations make a lot more sense.
Indeed, the congressional record is peppered with resolutions and hearings from the late 1940s to the 1970s pushing for Atlantic Union. For example, in 1971, the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives convened a hearing to discuss the prospect of combining the United States of America and Western Europe into one country. This “Atlantic Union” would be a federal union, very similar to the the one described in United States Constitution. Existing countries would become states under a federalist system, with the larger federal system having its own currency, military, interstate commerce regulation and foreign relations apparatus.
That day in 1971, the committee was discussing a specific piece of legislation, a resolution — House Concurrent Resolution 163 — to create an “Atlantic Union Delegation,” a committee of 18 “eminent citizens” to join with other NATO country delegations and negotiate a plan to unite. The subcommittee chairman presiding over the hearing, congressman Donald Fraser of Minnesota, described the specific goal of the legislation as convening an “international convention to explore the possibility of agreement on a declaration to transform the present Atlantic alliance into a federal union, set a timetable for transition to this goal and to prescribe democratic institutions under which the goal would be achieved.” It was to be a Constitutional Convention.
Similar legislation, he noted, “was considered by the full House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1960, 1966, and 1968, with favorable reports in 1960 and 1968.” Congress even passed the resolution in 1960, and spent money to send a delegation to Paris for such a convention (though John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson ignored the delegation’s recommendations).
This proposal had a great deal of elite support. Nearly every presidential candidate from the 1950s to the 1970s supported it, as did hundreds of legislators in the U.S. and Western Europe. The context of first World War II, and then the Cold War, made such a proposal sound reasonable, even inevitable. 1971 was the tail end of the post-World War II era, during which there had been a frenzy of international institutional creation work designed to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression and the two world wars. A large multilateral military force formed of allied governments and millions of soldiers of all nationalities had recently defeated the fascist powers on three continents. Millions had an experience of international comity in the defeat of the Axis Powers — so the concept of political union was not so far-fetched.
Moreover, the specter of the failed diplomatic and monetary initiatives of the 1930s haunted postwar leaders, and caused them to think deeply and act decisively to weave together a system whose core was the economic, military and political interdependence of sovereign allies. The Depression was seen as a phenomenon borne of a failed international system based on short-sited nationalist objectives. Streit, the president of the International Movement for Atlantic Union, breathlessly advocated for a union lest history be repeated. A lack of a union would lead to a monetary crash, and then crushing poverty. As circumstances changed, Streit’s testimonials to Congress changed. Just after World War II, he noted that Hitler’s appeal came from fascists arguing for political totalitarianism under the slogan “you can’t eat freedom.” He argued, consistent with the anti-communism of the time, that such a union was the only way to beat the Soviet threat. Later, he pointed out that union was important because with nuclear weapons at hand, the world could not afford a repeat of pre-World War II foreign policy mistakes. Then, as Bretton Woods began breaking down in the 1960s, he argued that a 1930s-style financial crash was inevitable without union.
Streit and his fellow Atlanticists were pragmatic; they sought to build the Atlantic Union on top of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, the Atlantic military alliance. And there was momentum on the side of the Atlanticists; the post-WWII international institution-building was impressive. In 1944, officials from the U.S. and U.K. — primarily John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White — worked at Bretton Woods to create what would become the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These institutions were designed to avert a monetary crisis such as the one that had occurred in the 1930s. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, was created in 1947, similarly, to avert a trade war. The United Nations was constructed to do what the League of Nations had not, to serve as a legitimate forum for nations of the world to continuously deliberate. NATO could apply the united military strength of the West. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or the OECD, served originally as a forum whereby the United States could funnel aid to Europe to create the European Union. And this is to say nothing of the collaborative Cold War spying apparatus.
Did the plan succeed?
The institutional framework of a world government composed of Western European and American states remains far more potent than we like to imagine, even beyond the security apparatus revealed by Snowden’s documents. For example, in every major free trade agreement since NAFTA, U.S. courts have been subordinated to international tribunals, which operate according to rules laid out either by the World Trade Organization, a division of the World Bank, or by a division of the United Nations known as UNCITRAL (the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law). These tribunals rule on consumer, labor, and environmental questions – not just trade. And they are trans-national, much as the supply chains of Apple, Ford, Toyota, or any other multi-national corporation are, or the technology that Google, Microsoft, or IBM promote all over the world.
There are other deep links. The Basil banking accords seek international harmonization of capital standards. Why? It’s not clear what the benefits are of having global standards for what banks should do. But the global elites push onward, regardless, towards a one world solution. And lest one think this is just theoretical, the Federal Reserve supported the European Central Bank with unlimited swap lines during the financial crisis, lending as much as $500B to the ECB in 2008 and 2009. European and other foreign banks drew liberally from the New York Federal Reserve’s discount window. The Fed became the central banker to the world.
Questions of sovereignty still exists – as just one of many examples, the U.S. still refuses to sign the Law of the Sea Treaty, which is a nod to the Liberty League. But the history and reflexive embrace of globalism is far more complicated than we want to admit. And it’s time to begin grappling with the international architecture that we have. This means recognizing that the Cold War involved constructing a “deep state” to partially subordinate national sovereignty, and therefore, voting populations, to transnational elites.
–End Salon Article—
“For the widespread development of the multinational corporation is one of our major accomplishments in the years since the war, though its meaning and importance have not been generally understood. For the first time in history man has at his command an instrument that enables him to employ resource flexibility to meet the needs of peopels all over the world. Today a corporate management in Detroit or New York or London or Dusseldorf may decide that it can best serve the market of country Z by combining the resources of country X with labor and plan facilities in country Y – and it may alter that decision 6 months from now if changes occur in costs or price or transport. It is the abilityt o look out over the world and freely survey all possible sources of production… that is enabling man to employ the world’s finite stock of resources with a new degree of efficiency for the benefit of all mandkind.
But to fulfill its full potential the multinational corporation must be able to operate with little regard for national boundaries – or, in other words, for restrictions imposed by individual national governments.
To achieve such a free trading environment we must do far more than merely reduce or eliminate tariffs. We must move in the direction of common fiscal concepts, a common monetary policy, and common ideas of commercial responsibility. Already the economically advanced nations have made some progress in all of these areas through such agencies as the OECD and the committees it has sponsored, the Group of Ten, and the IMF, but we still have a long way to go. In my view, we could steer a faster and more direct course… by agreeing that what we seek at the end of the voyage is the full realization of the benefits of a world economy.
Implied in this, of course, is a considerable erosion of the rigid concepts of national sovereignty, but that erosion is taking place every day as national economies grow increasingly interdependent, and I think it desirable that this process be consciously continued. What I am recommending is nothing so unreal and idealistic as a world government, since I have spent too many years in the guerrilla warfare of practical diplomacy to be bemused by utopian visions. But it seems beyond question that modern business – sustained and reinforced by modern technology – has outgrown the constrictive limits of the antiquated political structures in which most of the world is organized, and that itself is a political fact which cannot be ignored. For the explosion of business beyond national borders will tend to create needs and pressures that can help alter political structures to fit the requirements of modern man far more adequately than the present crazy quilt of small national states. And meanwhile, commercial, monetary, and antitrust policies – and even the domiciliary supervision of earth-straddling corporations – will have to be increasingly entrusted to supranational institutions….
We will never be able to put the world’s resources to use with full efficiency so long as business decisions are frustrated by a multiplicity of different restrictions by relatively small nation states that are based on parochial considerations, reflect no common philosophy, and are keyed to no common goal.”
“I guess it turns out that the conspiracy theorists who believe in UN-controlled black helicopters aren’t as wrong as you might think about trade policy, and not just because United Technologies, which actually makes black helicopters, has endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Oh sure they’re wrong, but so are the people who deny that our trade agreements are just about trade. They aren’t. These agreements are about getting rid of national sovereignty, and the people who first pressed for NAFTA were explicit about it. They really did want a global government for corporations. At the time, of course, multinationals didn’t treat American workers like disposable objects, this was the era of the “Treaty of Detroit.” So Ball wasn’t as naive as he would sound today if he used these same words; it wasn’t totally crazy then to assume that global multinationals might operate in good faith. Moreover, given that there had just been two world wars because of nationalism, it also wasn’t crazy to hope that corporations would “wash away national boundaries”.
But what’s interesting is more the why than the what. Ball in particular expressed his idea of a government by the corporations, for the corporations, in order to benefit all mankind. Keep that in mind when you think you’re being paranoid.”
Does sort of answers some questions I asked earlier.