The direction of history
We are heading towards a single integrated world order, sometimes called the New World Order. Humanity is converging in three major ways, intellectually, economically and politically. The spread of religions and ideologies made it possible to unify different peoples under the same set of ideas. Trade and money enabled the cooperation between strangers all over the globe. And the increased cooperation between nation states is paving the way for a closer integration of governments.1
The world is now run by a global elite of business people, politicians, bureaucrats, engineers, journalists, scientists, opinion makers, writers and artists. No matter where they live, whether it is New York, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Dubai or Cape Town, these people increasingly have the same interests, the same viewpoints about the world, the same culture, and increasingly live similar lifestyles. The individuals in these elites have more in common with each other than with their fellow countrymen.1
The need for global cooperation
Issues like climate change, human rights, international crime and financial markets require international agreement and cooperation. The Old World Order was based on the sovereignty of nation states, which means that at least in theory, there was no higher authority than the nation state. All nation states were equally sovereign, at least in theory, and their power was restricted only by the treaties they signed.
Nowadays nation states are increasingly under pressure to conform to global standards as actions of one nation affect other nations as well. The global elite makes decisions on these issues. The elite believes that it acts to the benefit of mankind and that we need more international cooperation or even a global government. This is reflected in the words of the British politician Denis Healey, who had been involved in Bilderberg Conferences in which members of the elite gathered in secrecy. He told the Guardian:
To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn’t go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.2
The power-elite is first and foremost a social network. Bilderberg is just a visible part of it, the tip of the iceberg so to say. Gatherings like Bilderberg can influence the political agenda. For instance the European Union has been discussed at Bilderberg and it may well be that these meetings helped to make the elite agree on the agenda. As Europe had just been ravaged by two world wars, that probably seemed a good plan.
Neoliberalism or neofeudalism?
The share of the wealthy of global wealth and income has increased in recent decades. A 2017 report from Oxfam points out that the world’s eight wealthiest people own as much as the poorest 50%.3 Until now there is no global government or binding international treaties so nation states end up competing to please large corporations and billionaires.
In the 1970s the situation in Western Europe and the United States was different from how it is nowadays. Most people were middle class. Since then a growing divide between the rich and the poor emerged. This coincided with the rise of neoliberalism, which is the idea that more should be left to the markets and that governments shouldn’t interfere.
Neoliberalism emerged in the 1970s when the ruling class was in trouble. The economy was stagnating. Unions had a lot of power. Businesses were struggling because of the competition of low-wage countries. And so the elite started to promote freedom of the markets, privatisation, entrepreneurial spirit and individual liberty. The power of labour was curtailed and wealth inequality began to increase.4
Many jobs moved to low wage countries because of international competition. People in emerging economies like China and India saw their living standards increase as a consequence. The question is how the living standard in Europe and the United States would have developed if these neoliberal reforms had not taken place as it also reflects a global rebalancing of wealth that probably would have taken place anyway.
The rise of China and India
Half the world’s population lives in Asia. In China and India live nearly four times as many people as in the European Union and the United States. As these nations are rising, the relative importance of the European Union and the United States is declining. If current trends continue, China will become the most powerful nation in the near future. The Chinese economy may be the biggest in the world already. If India is going to follow a similar path, it may become China’s main contender.
Chinese leaders are preparing for a New World Order under Chinese leadership. Chinese policies include economic colonisation of developing countries like the United States did previously. For instance, China grants high-interest loans to developing countries to build their infrastructure. If these countries fail to repay these loans, China may take possession of assets like mines, harbours and corporations as payment.
Politicians come and go but many officials remain within the governmental institutions for a longer period of time. Most of them aren’t democratically elected. Often they are technocrats and most believe to work interest of the country. They can obstruct decisions made by democratically elected officials. That is not always a bad thing as technocrats tend to have the best knowledge of the field they are working in.
The deep state also consists of the interest groups that have captured the government to profiteer at the expense of the taxpayers. One can think of lobbyists and think tanks who represent the interests of businesses that live off government contracts or benefit from favourable legislation, for instance the Military Industrial Complex. These people work covertly via social networks to influence politicians and other officials.
There is a conpiracy theory claiming the elite has a secret plan to create a New World Order where ordinary humans will be serfs. Rather than seeing the globalisation and the emerging oligarchy as a result of social and economic developments, they believe it was deliberately planned by the elite.
In the United States politicians need to fund their campaigns. They often accept money from large corporations and wealthy individuals so they tend to represent their wealthy donors rather than the people electing them. It is therefore not suprising that conspiracy theories thrive in the United States.
There may also be a lack of high-quality independent investigative journalism. Much of main-stream journalism is guided by advertisement budgets. The political division in the United States may also play a role. If people are willing to pay for high-quality content, investigative journalism could replace conspiracy theory peddling.
That may not be as easy as it may seem. People often ignore evidence that contradicts their opinions. Conspiracy theories are a way of coping with unwanted information. For instance, many people do not like the actions that need to be taken to deal with climate change and therefore like to believe that climate change is a hoax.
A better political system
The elite doesn’t care for ordinary people. Individual members of the elite may care, but as a group the elite behaves as if they don’t care. The rise of populism in Europe and the United States signals a growing discontent. A violent revolution could bring a disruption of society. It may be better to aim for political reforms that increase the legitimacy of government institutions and make it possible to resolve issues in a rational mannner, most notably the issues that divide people.
Direct democracy as practised in Switzerland can help to curtail the power of the elite. It gives the citizens more control over their government. Making direct democracy work requires a culture of reason and compromise, issues rather than people taking the centre stage, and an adequate education of the citizens. The Swiss have confidence in their government while political debates tend to be rational. An adoption of Swiss direct democracy can give citizens more control over their government.
1. Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind. Yuval Noah Harari (2014). Harvil Secker.
2. Who pulls the strings? (part 3). The Guardian (2001). [link]
3. Just 8 men own same wealth as half the world. Oxfam (2017). [link]
4. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. David Harvey. Oxford University Press (2005).