The previous essay contains a call for us to be the protagonists of globalization rather than its victims. But what group defines "us"? Although globalization may be the responsibility of humanity in general, most individuals have little direct control over the process. Businesses and governments mediate an individual's contribution to the process of globalization. Today's essay explores the role of nations in the process of globalization.
If you read any main stream media coverage of the the encyclical, you probably are familiar with the encyclical's call for a strong world government. Sadly — but not surprisingly — main stream media reports of this fact failed to present the background from which this claim is made.
Globalization has changed the role of the state. From 24,
In our own day, the State finds itself having to address the limitations to its sovereignty imposed by the new context of international trade and finance, which is characterized by increasing mobility both of financial capital and means of production, material and immaterial. This new context has altered the political power of States.
Commentators on the role of government often neglect this fundamental idea. Although recent years may have seen, in many countries, and increase in the power of the state over individuals, state power over businesses and financial markets has decreased as those players gain the ability to choose the global location most favorable to their needs (usually their short term profit needs).
In light of this change, government should re-evaluate their roles. From section 24 again:
Today, as we take to heart the lessons of the current economic crisis, which sees the State's public authorities directly involved in correcting errors and malfunctions, it seems more realistic to re-evaluate their role and their powers, which need to be prudently reviewed and remodelled so as to enable them, perhaps through new forms of engagement, to address the challenges of today's world.
The problems facing the global economy arise from systemic underlying problems. The bandaid fixes applied by governments might be better than doing nothing, but they do not really fix anything. Fixing those problems will require a rethinking of the role and responsibility of government.
Greater economic interdependence can be seen removing one of the primary roles of the state: mediating international cooperation (or lack thereof). The encyclical does not support such a view. From 41:
we must also promote a dispersed political authority, effective on different levels. The integrated economy of the present day does not make the role of States redundant, but rather it commits governments to greater collaboration with one another. Both wisdom and prudence suggest not being too precipitous in declaring the demise of the State. In terms of the resolution of the current crisis, the State's role seems destined to grow
Individual governments will continue to exist, but they must cooperate with one another to deal with the challenges of a global economy.
More than economic concerns feed into the need for increased international collaboration and cooperation. Nations depend on each other for stability as well as economic benefits. For example, from 24, "the elimination of world hunger has also, in the global era, become a requirement for safeguarding the peace and stability of the planet." Hunger, water shortages, and other problems which previously impacted a nation now impact the world.
How should world governments change in response to global changes? This will vary by the needs of each region. From 41:
The State does not need to have identical characteristics everywhere: the support aimed at strengthening weak constitutional systems can easily be accompanied by the development of other political players, of a cultural, social, territorial or religious nature, alongside the State. The articulation of political authority at the local, national and international levels is one of the best ways of giving direction to the process of economic globalization. It is also the way to ensure that it does not actually undermine the foundations of democracy.
he nature of the State may vary from region. Different regions have different needs even as they become more dependent on each other. A stable developing region has different needs than an unstable developing region or a stable developed region.
The evolution of the State can benefit from the development and evolution of other entities outside the government. We should not depend solely on government to government aid, especially in areas where the government suffers from weakness or instability.
Finally, political authority should be articulated "at the local, national, and international levels". No level of government removes the need for the others. This comes back to the principle of subsidiarity. Political power belongs at the lowest level that can accomplish the desired task, so there will always be a need for local authority. However, the local level lacks the resources to accomplish some tasks, so there is a need for an additional level of government. As global interdependence increases, the same tension exists between national and international centers of authority.
This brings us to the most talked about part of the encyclical: the call for a single world government. Clearly, by this point, we see that this does not indicate a desire for the decease of nations. But the Pope does make a strong call. From 67:
In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization[.] … To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority. … Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights. [emphasis removed, there was a lot of it]
I quoted a long passage (and that's only part of it!), but the passage provides the key to understanding the encylcical's vision of the evolution of global governance. Because so many problems are beyond the control of a single nation, nations need to come together to solve these problems, but they must come together in such a way as to vest the international organization with true authority. However, this international organization needs to rely on the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity so as not to overreach its bounds.
Although I do not know how such an authority would come into being, the encyclical does clearly make the case that current national governments are not structured to be able to deal with the new challenges that arise from increased global interdependence. This does not indicate the obsolescence of national governments, but rather a need for restructuring where some powers will be pushed down and others will be pushed up, all based on the needs and resources at different levels of authority.
Links to the encyclical and all of my essays: