A report published this week by researchers working for the U.S. government and the European Union envisions a future in which non-governmental organizations have achieved what national governments working together could not: the elimination of national sovereignty and the establishment of a borderless superstate encompassing the entire world.
At the end of the report, the authors indulge in a bit of fantasy, imagining a “promised land” in which environmental disaster has swept away resistance to global governance and eliminated the “parochial” institution of the nation-state.
In expressing this fantasy, the authors acknowledge that governments are proving ineffective in bringing about global governance and that the globalist agenda is running off the rails.
The report, titled “Global Governance 2025: At a Critical Juncture,” was presented Sept. 20 at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., by Mathew Burrows, counselor at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s National Intelligence Council, and Giovanni Grevi, former senior research fellow at the European Union Institute for Security Studies. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence describes the report this way:
“It posits that the growing number of issues on the international agenda, and their complexity, is outpacing the ability of international organizations and national governments to address these challenges. As a result, global governance—the collective management of common problems at the international level—is at a critical juncture.”
The solution, the authors suggest, is for non-governmental organizations and other “non-state actors” to take up the banner of globalism. This, they hope, will unify people across cultures and replace allegiance to the outdated nation with allegiance to the new global superstate. The report may be read in its entirety here.
At the end of the report, which totals 120 pages in length, the authors present a fictional column from the Financial Times, dated Sept. 14, 2024, in which the achievement of global governance is explained after the fact. Governments, the fictional article explains, failed to bring about the end of the “Westphalian Era”—that is, the age of the nation-state—and it was left to non-governmental organizations communicating through international networks and responding to environmental disasters to make global governance a reality.
Here is the fictional Financial Times article. (We have boldfaced the most telling paragraph.)
Politics is Not Always Local
September 14, 2024
We are in a new era in which governments are no longer king. All of us commentators talked a lot about the end of the Westphalian era, but we never really believed it. Moreover it was harder to get our arms around nonstate actors than to report on government ministries with their solid granite foundations and columned porticos. Now we have to recognize the new force of these loose networks. Unlike governments, they actually got something done. They have shown they really matter. I’m talking about the new climate change treaty that was recently agreed upon—even before the previous one expired—that instituted stricter carbon emissions ceilings and established global programs for renewable energy and new technologies to deal with the increasing water supply problems.
Of course, there is no single network and maybe that is the secret. Not only were there various national groups, but many of the networks responsible for forcing the climate change negotiations collected together professional groups, NGOs, and religious groups, across national, class, and cultural divides. The wide deployment of the next-generation Internet (Ubiquitous computing), although done for commercial reasons, greatly facilitated the empowerment of these nonstate interest groups.
This probably would not have come about without a succession of environmental disasters. The New York hurricane was a trigger. Importantly the fact that it happened about the time of UNGA, which many of these networks and groups had been scheduled to attend, facilitated the initial coalescence. However, it would not have happened without other events like the cyclone a year earlier that devastated Bangladesh and the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report showing much higher levels of CO2 despite efforts at cutbacks. A crisis atmosphere prevailed. Indeed it was one of those moments in history in which a new millennium or apocalyptic atmosphere was operating—as if the end of the world was nigh—and immediate action was needed.
In a sense, we have reached the Promised Land in which global cooperation is more than a “conspiracy” among elites but bubbles up from the grassroots across historic national and cultural divides. We had hoped for this with the European Union but never achieved it. Everyone maintained his narrow parochial viewpoint, speaking first as a Frenchman, or Pole, not as a European.
A lot of this can be ascribed to the rise of the middle classes in Russia, China, and India. Like their Western counterparts before them in the 19th and 20th centuries, they are wealthy enough now to decry the health hazards associated with pollution and rapid growth. They wanted their governments to take action, but they did not. The middle classes have been incensed by the shoddy construction and poor planning that led directly to large numbers of casualties when disasters struck. Anti-corruption and environmentalism merged. As the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere suffered more and more from climate change, religious activists also became mobilized. Migrants pushed off unproductive land, and unable to get access to clean water technologies, turned to churches for help.
Institutions were more savvy than governments in detecting the change. The annual Davos meeting was transformed several years ago. It brought in a host of activists from these networks and has since established virtual meetings where thousands more could participate. The pressure became too much for member-states to ignore. The UNGA set aside 20 seats for NGOs who yearly competed among themselves to take up a seat for a year and have the same voting rights as nation-states. International politics is forever changed even though I doubt these networks can be as effective on other issues. The environment was tailor-made because the widespread commonality of interest in avoiding Armageddon. At another time or on a different issue, my guess is national, religious, ethnic, and class differences will resurface. But the achievement stands and the precedent set will make it hard for governments to ignore NGOs. Maybe they can even begin to partner.