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A Critique of Lewis, E.R.,

"Are We Ready for a Wor1d State?"

In The Yale Review, March, 1946.

David C. Hakim Pol. Sci. 281 Instr.: Dr. Singh December 6, 1962.


Lewis, E. R., "Are We Ready for a World State?"

The Yale Review, March, 1946.

In this article by E. R. Lewis, the question was raised as to whether we were ready for a world state. He stated the fact
that many eminent men, such as Albert Einstein and Norman Cousins,
were for the immediate founding of a world state in order to
prevent world destruction. But he did say that certain questions were not considered, such as the implication of a world state, the difference in
 effectiveness of a world state as far as control of nuclear weapons, and whether or not the world state would be successful.

Lewis said that the world state would consist of an executive,
legislative, and judicial departments, with a monopoly of military power.
However, he stated that if the legislature were chosen according to the population of the various countries, the nations
without the long-term knowledge gained in democratic ways of government or who have not developed the ingrained habits required
or it, would outnumber those that have these requisites. In other words, countries (such as Russia with its population of
192,000,000, China with 450,000,000 (now more than 650,000,000),
India with its 388,000,000, plus Germany, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Poland, the Arab nations, Burma, Iran, and the Malay states, plus
others, with no real democratic or representative type government, would outnumber those that do in number and population, such as Great Britain, the U. S., France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the British Dominions. Even if representation were on the basis of industrial or natural resources, the non-democratic nations would still overwhelm the democratic. Lewis goes on to say that it isn't the. fact that these countries are backward, but that they have tried out a representative type of government and didn't like it or that they just aren't interested in democracy due to their cultural heritage.

Another fact he states, which I will question later, is that "We may well ask that it should not be the task of the world state to educate backward member countries in self-government. 

Then the author stated that a world state would not prevent immigration from one nation to the other, that people would demand it as a right, and one would brand the negation of the right as "Nazism." But this, according to the author, is "counterfeit logic," and he cites, as an example, the words of Lincoln, who said although he wished Negro women free did not mean that he wanted one as a wife.

Furthermore, the author added, it would be naive optimism to imagine that a closely knit world state with world parliament, law, and a bill of rights could be formed of so heterogeneous and unevenly developed a concourse of constituent nations. He says this despite the fact that opponents call his attitude "querulous Bourbonism", or an emotional clinging to old ideas and customs, and that these opponents cite our growth as a nation as an example of what can be done.

Then Lewis attacks this argument, saying that the original 13 colonies were not independent nations, and that they had things in common. He stated that Rufus King, at the convention in 1787, said the 13 were not sovereign or independent nations, but formerly these held allegiance to a mother country.  Madison, he quoted, said that the 13 were only political societies. These colonies, Lewis said, were brought together by mitigating common aims and traditions into essential unity, and that these 13 had also fought together for the same common cause.

William James, Lewis adds, stated that common traditions and good temper towards others, along with a fierce and merciless resentment against those who break the peace, were essential for common unity.

Then he stated that at least the Charter of the U. N. was accepted, as weak as it was, and that if the world is doomed because it is not under a world state, he states that it is doomed anyway, for it would take a while to form a world state.

Then he adds that the people of the world are cast all over, and that no world state army or navy or air force could be big enough to police every corner of the globe; and that there have always been conflicts and rebellions, and he doesn't see where a world state would end such conflicts. He further adds that the world state would offer no more protection against nuclear weapons than the present U. N., and that a world state would face all the obstacles considered, such as a Babel of tongues, diverse laws and customs, people at different states of development with no common backgrounds, sustained political habits, and earlier experience in self-government.

Renau, states Lewis, said the nation is a soul, a spiritual principle, both of the present and the past, formed of a rich legacy of memories and the desire to live together, to maintain the heritage of the past.  He says the nation cannot be improvised, and neither can a world state.

Lewis concludes by saying that the advocates of a world state would try overnight to manufacture a world state to order. This cannot be done - a world state cannot be manufactured. It must grow and develop naturally, out of ever closer association of nation with nation, in a common effort to achieve unity.

Essentially this writer agrees with Lewis, in that a world state cannot be achieved overnight, that essentially it must evolve. However, in a sense I question the whole article.

For one thing, Lewis lays too much emphasis on the fact that the government might not be acceptable to all, due to the fact that it may be representative. However, a world state would be a new concept, the understanding of which I feel would not be beyond the mind of mankind. For example, we have the U. N. accepted by a majority of the world today, and with a readiness to compromise a world state could grow out of the United Nations with its evolution thereby accepted with little objection by the nations of the world.

Lewis says that the various customs of different nations would interfere with a world state. I say that they would not, for they do not basically interfere with the United Nations.

A world state would not have to interfere with the norms of various cultures unless they go into open violation with existing (almost universal) morality.

Of course, a world state would be interested in minor conflicts, but the U. N. is presently engaged in the same type of activity today, for example, in Viet Nam and

Laos, so this would be nothing new. Since almost all societies agree today on one basic moral issue, that it is wrong to kill ones fellow man, a world state could possibly easily evolve if people were made to understand that the chief concern of a world state would be to strengthen this morality, and possibly a minor, but obviously important concern, would be the alleviation of any tendency of a nation to violate this morality by feeling that
their rights are in jeopardy. However, this is nothing new, for the U. N  realizes this concern to be its chief task. Countries
of the world, this writer feels, would accept a world state if it were made explicit that there would be no interference with most
of the normal conduct of their daily affairs.

As for education of the idea of a world state, this would be the task of the principal nations concerned. With its evolution
from the U. N., however, this education would be mitigated.   I feel that the basic problem would be the education of all to a world
state limited to certain fields as stated in the above paragraph, and as long as the individual nations realized that the world state would not interfere with the normal procedure of every-day living, but would limit itself basically to the annihilation of warfare, and not exploit any nation, its acceptance can be achieved.

Of course, faith and trust would have to be extended by all, but this can be achieved if all nations realized that they follow a basic morality, that it is wrong to kill one's fellow man. We are fortunate in that the major countries of the past, that followed a different morality, such as Germany and Japan, are no longer major powers. With a little sympathy and understanding of the problems of other nations, the mistakes of the past can be averted. For example, if one realizes that it is inevitable that countries such as China will develop modern technology: with sufficient effectiveness to enable it to blow up the globe if it pleased, one could be spurred to action to aid all nations as much as possible, thereby alleviating any tendency of these nations, upon achieving power, to use it against others whom they felt handicapped them in the past. For example, possibly by the acceptance of China into the United Nations today could the future security of the world be achieved, especially since it seems inevitable to this writer that a strong world state (in the area specified above) will evolve from the. United Nations (or from another world organization should the U. N. die. out or another world war occur.; However, I feel that the U. N. will never die out, especially since it has achieved some success in the world today.)

If necessary, as long as the major nations go along with the world state (and these major nations must include China and those with large populations), this writer sees little wrong with the idea of coercion used against dissenters. However, if the world state evolved from the U. N., it would most likely be accepted by all, and those that weren't members (as long as they weren't major powers and did not have the means to destroy the globe) because they did not wish to become members would see that it would be stupidity to start any type of conflict. And, in fact, coercion is used by the United Nations today by its economic and political sanctions against "disturbers of the peace."

Since even totalitarian states realize that the ultimate responsibility of the government is to the people, as Lenin discovered when he tried to put across his ideas of Marxist communism and met resistance from the land-holding and small shop-owner elements of the population, the idea of a world state should not frighten any nation if the task was done in a proper manner with every effort made to compromise, if possible. The type of government need not be representative, as long as all agreed to it, but the idea of representation should not frighten anyone if all were educated to the limitations of the world state, as mentioned previously, and the fact that most nations do have a common morality. The realization that the world is shrinking due to faster means of travel and that scientific technology is rapidly becoming accessible to any nation, should be incentive toward the establishment of a world, state through the strengthening of the U. N.

Since a world state would be, and most likely remain, "weak", in that it would be limited to armed conflict situations, or the prevention of any tendency toward it, the acceptance of it by any nation should not be hindered, and if necessary it could be strengthened in time. All one has to do is reflect upon the

United Nation's weak construction now (and the weaker attempt at unity which failed, the League of Nations), before one is able to realize that even a weak beginning is better than no beginning at all.

Another point I totally disagree with, is the effectiveness of a world state to eliminating war. With modern technology, policing of the globe will become easier .and easier, for we can easily see that to travel around the globe in rockets or space satellites is becoming increasingly possible, and therefore one would be able to detect in a short space of time any establishment of missile bases. And the appearance of a large army, necessary
to take possession of even bombed territory, could be detected, and means taken to eliminate the threat of war before its attempt. Even the building of an underground city, conceivably designed to hide munitions and men, could be detected by swift, earth-circling satellites.

As to the William James quotation, one feels that common traditions need not be necessary to the establishment of a world state, especially if its establishment is through the U. N., for people would not have to forsake much in order for a world state to operate. And we see that much good temper among nations does exist today, and that this is no handicap. Furthermore, a fierce and merciless resentment is already exhibited by nations of the U. N. toward violation of the common weal.

Lenin did not consider that the Industrial Revolution is spreading to all countries, that all are coming more and more to resemble another, and therefore not only would a world state become more necessary, it would also be harder to obtain.

And as one sanctifies a nation because of its ability to express men's aspirations more fully, one would also perhaps sanctify a world state; for, by having such a state dedicated to strengthening the morality of mankind, much anxiety in the world today would be alleviated and mankind would most likely achieve a lasting peace and security. (Also, I have read approximately fifty pages of Village India studies in the Little Community, edited by Marriot and published by the U. of Chicago Press, 1945, but due to the. time element I am not able to read the rest and report on it. This would also have been a third book report. I will say, however, that what I read gives me a keener understanding of how the institutions of a nation somewhat alien to ours can adapt to modern times and remain somewhat intact. Perhaps I can see how it can even remain intact under a world state, for the basic structure need not be violated.)