- Study Questions
- Overview Article K
- Reading Set K1: History of Governance — Tribalism to International Law
- Reading Set K2: Theories of Governance
- Reading Set K3: Democracy
- Reading Set K4: Domestic Governance Issues
- Reading Set K5: Global Governance Issues
- Additional Resources
How can people resolve conflicts and work together for the common good?
- Is the world becoming more democratic?
- Is the influence that non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations, religious fanatics, and other outside entities have on government mostly positive or negative?
- The United States Constitution pulled all the states together into a single nation. The United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Court, and other entities are beginning to knit together the countries of the world. Does it now make sense to have a world government that consolidates all the nations of the world?
- What promising new efforts are moving us towards greater and better democracy?
Overview Articles K
20 pages total
“Hardt & Negri’s ‘Multitude’: the worst of both worlds,” by Thomas N. Hale and Anne-Marie Slaughter, openDemocracy.net, May 26, 2005, 11 p.
The latest neo-Marxist extravaganza by the authors of “Empire” fails to deliver the global governance model the world needs.
“Founding America,” by Jacob Needleman, Yes! Magazine, Spring 2002, 9 p.
A clear-eyed love of country, that includes an understanding of our crimes as well as our ideals, can bolster our republic.
Reading Set K1: History of Governance — Tribalism to Inter- national Law
76 pages total
“Where Flags Do Not Rise,” by Manuel Valenzuela, February 17, 2005, 21 p. Read the section “Humanity and the Tribe." (9 p.)
A broad overview of global governance.
“The Effect of the Iroquois Constitution on the United States Constitution,” by Janet L. Daly, Social Science Journal, Fitchburg State College, 1997, 15 p.
Historical perspective on representative democracy and federalism.
“Is the Nation State Obsolete?,” by Fjordman, Global Politician, August 25, 2007, 23 p.
A Norwegian conservative considers a noted historian's theory of the rise and impending fall of the nation state, critiques the European Union, and calls for support for the nation state into the future, against a variety of forces of globalization.
“Governing globalization: Don’t wait for crisis before reforming key institutions, experts warn. Study urges overhaul of U.N., IMF, World Bank,” news release from the United Nations University, May 2, 2001, 10 p.
A new study warns the U.N., World Bank, and International Monetary Fund, created at the end of World War II, need to be overhauled before a crisis induced by globalization forces the changes required. In particular, the study calls for repeal of the Security Council veto accorded the five major post-war powers in the 1940s and the addition of other countries as permanent members of that body.
“NGOs and Global Policy-Making,” by James A. Paul, Global Policy Forum, June 2000, 10 p.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Greenpeace and Amnesty International serve the public on a national and international scale and have a growing role in the world.
“NGOs; the peoples’ voice in international governance?” a presentation made at a UNU public forum on human rights and NGOs, Tokyo, September 18, 1996, 9 p.
NGOs promoting human rights provide a voice from people who want a voice for all people. This activity is consistent with democratization and liberalization, but some governments and some other social organizations still make serious efforts to still the NGO voice.
Reading Set K2: Theories of Governance
41 pages total
“Anarchy 101,” by Bob Black, Anarchy, 13 p.
An introduction to anarchism with some responses to critics.
“Totalitarianism,” by Gilbert Pleuger, new perspective, Volume 9, Number 1, 4 p.
An overview of totalitarianism, including its six characteristics, how the definition fits Mussolini’s Italy, Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, and how liberal capitalist societies can be vulnerable to totalitarian tendencies.
“Myth: There’s no such thing as a ‘social contract.’ Fact: Our constitution and laws form our social contract.” An entry from “The Long FAQ on Liberalism,” which is part of the Liberalism Resurgent web site, Steve Kangas, editor, 11 p.
Raises and counters libertarian objections to the concept of a social contract.
“What is political pluralism?” AllAboutReligion.org, 1 p.
Describes political pluralism and then challenges it from a fundamentalist Christian perspective.
“America Beyond Capitalism: What a ‘Pluralist Commonwealth’ Would Look Like,” by Gar Alperovitz, Dollars & Sense, November/December 2004, 12 p.
Outlines an alternative social model: a “Pluralist Commonwealth” — “pluralist” to emphasize the priority given to democratic diversity and individual liberty; “commonwealth” to underscore the centrality of new public and quasi-public wealth-holding institutions.
Reading Set K3: Democracy
32 pages total
“The Robber Baron’s Party: Let’s Bring Tea!" opinion column by Thom Hartmann, Baltimore Sun, January 22, 2005, 6 p.
The battle is between those who, like the founding fathers, believe that free people can govern themselves — and have the right to keep out powerful interests that would corrupt government — and those who believe that a powerful father-figure is necessary for governance, the people should be kept largely in ignorance, and the rich know best.
“Citizen Panels,” by Tom Atlee, Yes! Magazine, Winter 2003, 3 p.
Citizen deliberative councils could provide not only guidance on specific issues, candidates, and proposals, but vision and oversight for the entire political process. Convening a cross section of the population in high-quality dialogue, with full access to whatever information is vital to their deliberations, and helping them find common ground, and then publiicizing their work to the public and its representatives.
“Citizens in Conversation,” review by Leo Casey of Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education by Danielle S. Allen, Dissent, Fall 2006, 6 p.
Democracy can maximize political agreement and consent, but it can not universalize it. Democracy requires trusting conversation and requires sacrifice, for the greater good, by those holding a minority perspective.
“Smooth Sailing,” by Richard Posner, Legal Affairs, January/February 2004, 5 p.
Democracy doesn’t need Deliberation Day. If spending a day talking about the issues were a worthwhile activity, you wouldn’t have to pay voters to do it. All things considered, our career politician and apathetic voter system is working pretty well.
“Participatory democracy in the EU,” by John Parry, Federal Union, based on a speech prepared for the European Citizens’ Convention in Genoa on December 3, 2005, 8 p.
Simply going out to vote every few years is not sufficient. Democracy must become more interactive with citizen participation seeking other ways of influencing our elected parliaments and governments. Good historical piece, raising good issues
“People power,” opinion column by Hilary Wainwright, The Guardian, July 18, 2003, 4 p.
Experiments in London and Brazil have shown how participatory democracy solves problems better than the market.
Reading Set K4: Domestic Governance Issues
34 pages total
“While Continuing Our Voice in Patriot Act Debate, PRCB Fights the Administration’s Warrantless Domestic Spying Program: A Message from Chairman Bob Barr,” Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, 2005, 1 p.
A conservative perspective opposing domestic government spying.
“The Security of Checks and Balances,” opinion column by Bruce Schneier, Sydney Morning Herald, October 26, 2004, 3 p.
Since 9/11, the United States has seen an enormous power grab by the executive branch. Brief, a little history, Australian perspective on US.
“The Modern Era of Law,” excerpt from Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn, 1990, 4 p.
Replacing the arbitrary rule of men with the impartial rule of law has not brought any fundamental change in the facts of unequal wealth and unequal power, but the rule of law now makes it appear neutral and impersonal.
“It’s Not up to the Court,” by Howard Zinn, The Progressive, November 2005, 7 p.
An aroused citizenry is more important than the Supreme Court.
“Let Every Voice Be Heard,” by Steven Hill, Yes! Magazine, Winter 2003, 2 p.
More than 100 jurisdictions in the U.S. have adopted alternative voting systems such as cumulative voting and instant runoff.
“Beyond Majority Rule,” by Albert L. Huebner, Toward Freedom, September/October 1998, 6 p.
The fight for more democratic elections continues.
“Electoral College is #1 All-Time Constitutional Target: More Amendments Introduced to Reform Presidential Election Process Than for Any Other Issue,” press release from The Center for Voting and Democracy, July 12, 2007, 2 p.
A brief look at Electoral College issues.
“Instant Runoffs, Proportional Representation, and Cumulative Voting — Reclaiming Democracy in the 21st Century,” by Rob Richie and Steven Hill, Synthesis/Regeneration, Number 25, Summer 2001, 9 p.
While no cure-all, full representation systems and instant runoff voting are a necessary step toward creation of a more inclusive, responsive political system, and will give representation to those who have been denied access to power by our flawed winner-take-all election rules.
Reading Set K5: Global Governance Issues
41 pages total
“When Cultures Collide,” review by Michael Elliott of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington, Washington Post, December 1, 1996, 4 p.
Critiques Huntington’s thesis that the next great conflicts will be between civilizations.
“Europe and the Clash of Civilizations,” by Helmut Schmidt, The Globalist, March 15, 2004, 3 p.
Brief European perspective on western and Muslim conflicts and the roots of democracy.
“Why Sharia Law must be Opposed,” NO to Political Islam Campaign, 5 p.
The Sharia should be opposed for its imposition of theocracy over democracy, its abuse of human rights, its institutionalized discrimination, its denial of human dignity and individual autonomy, its punishment of alternative lifestyle choices, and for the severity of its punishments. Thoughtful…
“Empire Falls,” by Jonathan Schell, Tomdispatch.com, August 23, 2004, 9 p.
Is the U.S. the last empire? Once it has become clear to everyone that the American imperial bid has failed, and with it the entire age-old imperial enterprise, we can return to the mountainous real work of our time, which is to put together what we have never had but now must create — an anti-imperial, democratic way of organizing the world.
“Beyond Imperialism: The New Internationalism,” by Akira Iriye, Dædalus, Spring 2005, 17 p.
Does the international community need a superpower able and willing to use its military and economic resources to protect all against the forces of violence and anarchy? Or can we choose the internationalist alternative? Long, good history, analysis
“The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community,” by David Korten, Yes! Magazine, Summer 2006, 3 pages.
We face a defining choice between two contrasting models for organizing human affairs — Empire and Earth Community. Absent an understanding of the history and implications of this choice, we may squander valuable time and resources on efforts to preserve or mend cultures and institutions that cannot be fixed and must be replaced.
An excerpt from A Little Disquisition on Big Government by Howard Zinn, 2000, 7 p.
“Big government” is here to stay. The only question is: whom will it serve?
“The Power Shift and the NGO Credibility Crisis,” by James McGann and Mary Johnstone, The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, Volume 8, Issue 2, January 2006, 18 p.
After 9/11, the specter of terrorists using NGOs as a front for their operations and some highly publicized cases of abuse have made the effectiveness and accountability of NGOs an issue that needs to be addressed by the NGO community. Very long and comprehensive, seeing benefits and weaknesses of NGO’s. Perhaps best as additional reading.
“Was Democracy Just a Moment?” by Robert Kaplan, Atlantic Monthly, December 1997, 39 p.
We prevented the worst excesses of a “military-industrial complex” by openly fearing it, as President Dwight Eisenhower told us to do. It may be equally wise to fear a high-tech military complex today. Too long, meaty, lots of international examples
“History and the Hyperpower,” by Eliot A. Cohen, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2004, 21 p.
The “Age of Empire” may indeed have ended, but an age of American hegemony has begun. And regardless of what one calls it or how long it will last, U.S. statesmen today cannot ignore the lessons and analogies of imperial history. Very long