This is a first draft for a statement to be potentially added to my Firefox add-on at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5235/
Even Slashdot users don't know about CyberSearch? https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/7931/ or http://cybernetnews.com/cybersearch/ . This has been public at AMO since June 2008 and at their site earlier than that.... Granted, this one really ought to be built into Firefox (like Tree Style Tab) so more know about it, since it's not just a niche use.
One particularly handy tip you might miss about the add-on: type "^" and then your search term to instantly search the site already loaded in the same tab (no need to define a keyword).
Yeah because what one official says means we should condemn the whole institution.
(Since presumably no one here is condemning the U.S. government's existence, I won't hold my breath for the partisan attacks on Obama, Bush, etc. to stop in deference for the institution, and in the case of the U.S., unlike the U.N., its presidents actually are given some power.)
While science fiction can definitely foretell real developments and raise concern about them, it is sad that so many people seem to get their ideas about world government (particularly odd given the Star Trek base here) as though it is inevitably going to lead to a comic book dystopia. With proper checks and balances, a greater federation enables our expressive potential as a race as demonstrated in our successive history out of the slime.
For those blaming the U.N. for its ineffectiveness, why not blame its structure instead of its existence? If we lived at the time of the Articles of Confederation, should we blame the concept of a national government for its ineffectiveness? No doubt some states rights advocates at the time did, yet does any intelligent person now feel we would be better off without any national government (or government at all)?
I hardly see a lot of people believing in the miraculous powers of the U.N., though I do think there is a strong impetus toward people feeling that things should be done in an international rather than go-it-alone way--a sentiment which is rather suitable to a nation priding itself on democracy. Maybe there is some naivete within some in this group, but I don't think even naive people would fail to accept politicians who indicated by their words and proposals, that they did want to work within a more international umbrella, if certain core concerns were met.
It is even possible that with the right incentives and assurances to the rest of the membership that the present-day U.N. could come around to expelling the most egregious violators. Majority decisions of the General Assembly have been found to condemn rights abuses in certain countries, and not merely when it was the U.S. and Israel either, but countries like Iran.
But even if not, threats to leave the U.N. might also be politically viable (even a major windfall) if joined with a middle-road expressed desire to unite with a diversity of truly peace-loving nations and offer more real (but still federated) power to any proposed newly created collective body.
The UN will address the symptoms with food and aid, but will never address the problem of dictatorships and warlords that cause this poverty and corruption.
The U.N. doesn't have any way to deal with dictatorships and warlords, since most of them are members in good standing of the U.N. If you were to expel all the nations with disfunctional governments from the U.N., it would look a lot like NATO (plus Japan and India)...
While there is no doubt a continuing and increasing need for regional alliances between countries with a relatively high level of sustainable political development, and while it is a good point that dictatorships having membership in the U.N., no less on bodies like the Human Rights Council, is a serious issue, as with any union of countries wishing to refine its membership, there is still great unrecognized potential in picking a fight you can win: starting with denying membership to the most obvious targets, the most egregious violators, so as to avoid spooking those which may eventually come around with the right incentives.
There is a VAST difference between countries like Iran which systematically and even have a blueprint for violating rights, like how they deny their largest non-Muslim religious and non-political minority, Baha'is access to university education, bulldoze their cemeteries, imprison their leaders, instigate violence even against children, etc., and other countries which may be a bit too heavy-handed with those actively working against them, but which otherwise do not have a proactively rights-abusing agenda.
Restricting membership in the U.N. (which can be done according to Chapter 2 of the U.N. Charter) might be done simultaneously with other reforms which would give incentives to less developed countries to go along with this (and also improve the U.N. in the process), such as phasing out permanent membership in the Security Council, making the General Assembly partially proportional to population and making their resolutions binding, and extending jurisdiction of the hamstrung International Court to actually make judgments in cases where both parties have not agreed to put the case before them.
If Esperanto became popular (e.g., through nationalist sentiment unwilling to see English take over) and because of the constructed nature of the language (if nationalist sentiment against English would not do the same), it motivated more people to preserve their so-called natural languages*, a scramble to save traditional languages might not be a bad thing given the fact that with the increasing consolidation of existing languages (but not a single one), traditional languages are being lost quite rapidly, thus losing access to some of their cultural knowledge as well.
While I do not feel it would be a great loss in the long run for linguistic diversity to be lost (is anybody but a few hobbyists really lamenting we don't speak Old English anymore?), whether for cultural or religious reasons, no doubt people will be motivated to preserve their languages, and that is fine; it is wholly unrealistic to propose a universal language at this time which is not an "auxiliary one", i.e., supplementing local and/or national languages, as opposed to intending to replace them, and that's what most Esperantists (or International English) proponents are advocating. The point is that everyone in the world will have at least one common language in which they can speak, having learned it since early childhood.
We talk about web standards being a good thing, but how much enormous impact do you think having a common form of communication would have as far as science, technology, medicine, and dare we say, opportunities for better cultural understanding/peace, elimination of some immigration/native friction, etc.? I find it rather stunning that more people have not taken up this movement, though there does seem to be a bit of work to get people to stop thinking it means eliminating native languages, that the only possibility of an international language would be Esperanto, that democratic choice could not play a role, etc..
* The second generation of Esperanto parents ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_Esperanto_speakers ) appear to adopt Esperanto nearly wholesale, unlike the typical need for creolization as needed by linguistically-impoverished pidgins, thus suggesting it is already a complete "natural" language)
Esperanto does have at least ten or tens of thousands of speakers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto#Number_of_speakers , and even a couple thousand native speakers. And with the internet, there are many more opportunities to have such communication.
However, I agree there is nothing wrong with learning existing languages, except that, unfortunately, our world hasn't officially standardized on just one of the existing languages either, thus requiring people needing to learn multiple lingua francas if they want to get by in more places (thus Esperanto advocates put forward Esperanto as a way of breaking an impasse in deciding which existing language to choose). As it is now, pretty much the official languages of the U.N. function as lingua francas around the world (Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, English, and Russian), and it is a waste of our resources, and a barrier to access to each other's resources to have no single common medium of communication.
My strong opinion is that the issue should be put to a vote at the global level (maybe the Inter-Parliamentary Union which might more represent peoples of the world than the U.N. at this point) so that if English is as popular as people think it is (its not as widespread as people think it is, for sure), then the majority/plurality decision can give democratic backing to it being implemented earlier on and in more places, and if English will not get enough support, then the human race needs to get started on learning whatever will get support (e.g., Esperanto).
Esperanto is a great experiment and may help such a global decision weigh the desirability/feasibility of adopting such a constructed language, though no one could/can expect everyone in the world would/will drop everything to learn any constructed language when there weren't/aren't any institutional guarantees that it would/will be implemented universally in schools around the world.
While it is necessary to recognize human capacity for evil, it is also necessary, particularly in the prevailing climate of self-defeating cynicism, to recognize our demonstrable capacity for justice and greater federation.
Has not, in practically every region of the world, a system of laws and administrative machinery developed to support a level of organization which transcends tribes, and city-states, and even now to some degree, transcending nations? Yes, there is still tribalism in our nature, still conflicts between nations, and indeed yes, within nations, but even while the scale of our problems has correspondingly increased in our adolescent state on the planet, we have demonstrated the ability to transcend by achieving progressively higher levels of sustainable organization. This organization has not been achieved merely by homogenizing imperialism, as imperialism has also given way to greater, if inadequate, degrees of self-governance and federation, even while certain issues raise to higher levels of standardization and need for some component of centralized management, and may from time to time go too far in one direction.
We can quite simply not afford to continue ignoring our equally powerful human capacity to transcend limiting selfishness such as has delivered to us, despite continuing tension between the poles, the achievement of a good degree of decentralization along with a good degree of centralization in our societal structures, even while admitting that to date, this has mostly reached a reasonable balance only up to the national level. Despite a past history of warring tribes and states, in much of the world, we have absolutely no such fears left of cities arming themselves to take over neighboring cities, or neighboring states doing the same. We have consolidated loyalties which are far larger than the constituencies which originally formed our nations.
And despite being inadequate, that is still a remarkable achievement, and one which itself proves our capacity to be able to further extend such a loyalty and organizational capacity more fully to the international level. The real solution here indeed is to eliminate entirely the need for such a high degree of weaponry, just as we have freed our internal states or provinces from the need to possess massive amounts of arms to protect themselves from neighboring provinces. Had we not done so, if not in blood, we would be wasting our preciously limited resources on redundant and fear-inducing, non-productive goods. Of course, just as the states forming our Union (for my fellow U.S. citizens here) would not lay down their arms against one another immediately, and indeed a human rights issue (slavery) needed to be resolved before it lastingly could be, disarmament cannot and should not be achieved unilaterally while effective and justly representative unifying and security measures are not in place at the global level. But this is not a mere dream, unless we malign our own ancestors' achievements and our own selves.
If you respond that somehow this is different because we in different nations are different peoples, I would agree with you that indeed we have to promote, just as the Founding Fathers of the U.S. (such as Benjamin Franklin) did, the concept of a wider loyalty and identity within our educational systems, this time to the world level (i.e., to promote world citizenship in schools around the world) so that we do see ourselves as the same people, while simultaneously overcoming the weaknesses and inefficiencies of the current world system of governance, just as the Founding Fathers discovered they needed to overhaul the weak and ineffectual Articles of Confederation.
It is a chicken-and-egg situation--we need a stronger international government to be able to consolidate our identification as world citizens, but we also need greater promotion of this concept, in order for us to get there (just as was needed in the joining of the U.S. states into a wider Union where the concept of a national identity had not yet existed but had to be forged).
One cannot hand over power to a dictator, nor accept tyranny, nor imagine the task to be easy, but just as George Washington realized and acted on this realization, we can find our strength only in a wider unity and by first believing it is possible and consonant with our natures (as also evidenced by our own history) to do so, rather than shrinking away or surrendering to cynicism.
Hippie idealism is indeed true in setting a goal in the right place and not stopping with the status quo, but it must be joined with a practicality and effort that recognizes that greater measures must be taken before people trust a truly International government with sufficient power to handle problems, such as by our insisting on a more representative and powerful General Assembly, a World Court which can intervene even where the parties did not both agree, and an Executive with the ability to obtain its own revenue and maintain a long-standing International Force able to resolve conflicts at the national level, so that excessive arms not only become unnecessary but are forcibly disallowed by a federation of nations which realizes it in their interest to cede some autonomy to such an authority, just as we have successfully achieved at the city and state level.
Nations will still need a National Guard in the case of large disturbances, just as states today require the ability to respond to any potential large conflicts or disasters, but there will be absolutely no need or tolerance of suspicion-and-conflict-inducing massive arms build-ups. It is not a pipe dream; based on our proven capacity for building up our own nation, it is the most reasonable projection forward for our human race as a whole, even if does depend on persistent and multi-faceted action for us to get there more smoothly.
Blinding speed can compensate for a lot of deficiencies. -- David Nichols