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
Global issues such as 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. 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. It seems that gatherings like Bilderberg influence the political agenda. For instance the European Union has been discussed at Bilderberg and it may well be that these meetings helped to create the European Union by making the elite agree on the agenda. As Europe had just been ravaged by two world wars, that probably seemed a good plan. It is easy to overestimate the influence of these meetings. Social networks are far more important.
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. There is no effective way to reclaim illicit profits and stolen funds.
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. 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
Good paying jobs moved to low wage countries because of international competition. People in emerging economies like China and India saw their living standards increase. The question is how the living standard in Europe and the United States would have developed if these neoliberal reforms had not taken place, but the loss of security and perspective promoted populism in Europe and the United States.
Politicians come and go but many officials remain within the governmental institutions for a longer period of time. Most of these people aren’t democratically elected. Often they are technocrats who believe to work interest of the country. They may obstruct decisions made by democratically elected officials. That may not always be bad as technocrats tend to have better knowledge of the field they are working in than politicians.
The deep state also consists of 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 interests 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 are a number of secretive clubs with secretive rituals in which member of the power elite gather. 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 emerging oligarchy as a result of social and economic developments, they believe it was deliberately planned by those secretive groups.
In the United States politicians need to fund their campaigns. They often accept money from large corporations and wealthy individuals so that they represent their wealthy donors rather than the people electing them.
Conspiracy theorists tend to mischaracterize facts to spin them into their narrative. Traditional media tend under report issues that can threaten the social order. With the advent of internet and social media, everyone can start a website and become a source of information and opinion and traditional media are losing their grip on the public.
Russian troll factories further helped to blur the distinction between facts and fiction. There is a Russian campaign to undermine Western nations by spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories, supporting right-wing and left-wing extremist groups and widening ethnic rifts in multicultural societies.
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. The importance of the European Union and the United States is declining. If current trends continue, China will be the most powerful nation soon. 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 loans to 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.
A better political system
The elite hardly cares for ordinary people. Individual members of the elite may, 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 this issue. The same applies to humans caring for the planet. Individual people may care, but as a group humans behave as if they don’t care at all. Democracy may help to solve the first issue. Taking on the second issue might require a form of dictatorship.
Direct democracy as practised in Switzerland can be helpful to curtail the power of the elite. It gives the citizens more control over their government. If this power is used wisely, which may require a culture of compromise, issues rather than people taking the centre stage, and an adequate education of the citizens, this may work well. The Swiss have confidence in their government while political debates tend to be rational. A world-wide adoption of Swiss direct democracy may ensure that citizens are more in control.
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).