The idea that our world is on the verge of eventually coagulating into one
colossal state with one single government is not as far fetched an idea as
it might seem on the first glance. This may not sound as pithy and
metaphoric as saying that the world is becoming one small village, but it is
more accurate and realistic diagnosis of unfolding events. But this raises
another important question: What would be the character and cultural
identity of this emerging political formation!
We know that communication has always been the principal limit on the size,
extent, and maintenance of states and empires. But this obstacle has already
been taken care of. We now can communicate with the moon and distant stars,
let alone far corners of the earth. From Nasa you can give instructions to
the man walking on the moon, and from your headquarters in the pentagon you
can easily direct a street battle in the back alleys of Basrah or the dusty
roads in Afghanistan, just as easily as you can instantly transfer an
account from Chase Manhattan to a small bank in a remote village in the
backwoods of India. The whole globe is turning into one uninterrupted
communication field. Hard as they may try, autocratic and absolutist
governments are no longer able to stop the flow of information on satellites
and the Internet. Over the last few thousand years the world has moved from
camels through the wheel to supersonic jets and from clay tablets through
the press to microchips.
Let’s go back to the Aristotelian logic and his theory on the origin of
human society and the state. In the beginning there was the family, or, if
you prefer to argue the case from the holy scripture, Mr. Adam and Mrs. Eve
and their children. Then comes the small village followed by the tribe. The
state itself was a late and momentous event in human history. Empire
building came later. Colonialism was an early attempt to unite the world
under one central government. But neither the aims, mainly merchantalistic
with moral dressing, nor the communication means, the telegraph and the
ocean fleet, were sufficiently effective to sustain the colonial grip.
Nowadays, the whole world is practically intermeshed in one economic system.
World Trade Organization is the visible organ of such intermeshing.
Globalization of the economy is the first step towards realizing the global
Recent events in human history have proven two important facts. The first
fact is that you cannot conquer people by weapons and ruthless means, but
you can do that through much softer and more effective means, by snaring and
enticing them culturally. The second fact is that alphabets and systems of
writing are important facilitators of cultural dominance. Some scripts, such
as Arabic and Chinese are beautiful as calligraphies, but Latin and Greek
are more amenable to technological manipulation. Digital technology has
entrenched this fact. The interlocking of Latin script with communication
and software technology has already determined the future course of human
civilization. So far, all attempts to adapt other scripts to modern software
and information technologies are mere make-do. Information is the backbone
of human culture and the world is on its way to being dominated by software
and paperless offices.
Furthermore, the market approach of capitalism has divested cultural
products of their national exclusiveness and regional particularism. It
turned cultural items from being revered marks of racial or social identity
into marketable commodities that could be mass- produced, packaged and
marketed, from cuisine, to music, to fashions, and what have you. This
practical matter-of-fact approach made capitalist culture irresistible and
facilitated its global circulation and consumption. Hamburgers, pizzas,
stakes, blue jeans, the beetles, and the list is endless. Even Christian
holidays such as Christmas and Valentine are spreading world wide due to the
mass appeal of the commercialism and consumable products, which have become
associated with them.
An important factor in this race towards cultural dominance is the
capitalist emphasis on the brute fact that man, after all, is a biological
organism, before he was a moral or spiritual being. Capitalism has turned
the old formula around to give precedent to the need of the flesh over the
need of the soul. Through giving due importance to basic biological needs
and making them licit, such as food, sex, fashion and display, the
capitalist culture is enticing and snaring people from other cultures. Aside
from their deep seated appeal, such basic biological needs are much more
universal and eternal than religious morals and ideologies that are
relative, ephemeral and culture specific, varying across time and space.
Under capitalism, religious and moral injunctions have given ground to
utility and efficiency, the aim of which is to keep the universe livable,
the social system running, and the human individual alive, healthy, happy
Morals have always been buttressed by religious beliefs, but science has
settled the old controversy between spiritualists and rationalists on the
one hand and the materialists and empiricists on the other hand in favor of
the latter. More and more people are tuning to scientific manuals, rather
than holy scripts, to look for meaning and explanation of physical and
social phenomenon. The heaven, where God and the angels once resided, has
evaporated into gases and constellations. Adam, after all, turned out to be
an ape who did not fall from heaven, but walked out of the jungle, a much
more optimistic and hopeful perspective, which promises progress for
humankind rather than degeneration. Not much is left for the hazy hereafter,
which has receded into a very indistinct background. Only life on this earth
is real and worth pursuing. Very faint traces of the belief in life after
death have remained.
Religious morals have given ground to contractual and legal arrangements.
The subjective notions of right and wrong have been replaced by the
principles of legal and illegal, which are more objective and practical.
Right in the moral sense, is being replaced by right in the legal sense.
Prerogatives of reward and punishment have been transferred from the hand of
the deity to the hand of the state apparatus represented by courts of law.
When we talk about Western science, we are not talking merely of its
technological byproduct, though this is not to be underestimated,, but, more
importantly, about the corollary mental perspective; about the positivist,
empirical, objective and practical outlook on the physical and social world
around you. Once again, the more you push to the background the subjective
aspect of human existence the closer you come to universal standards of
perceiving, evaluating, and dealing with things and events, the more you
come to realizing the absolute mind, a la Georg Hegel.
Hamburger and pizza are not the only force behind the appeal of Western
capitalist culture. Since the age of enlightenment, the West has been busy
articulating principles and coining terminologies with universal human
appeal, such as individual liberty, racial equality, political democracy,
human rights and other principles, which are based on intuitive and
self-evident truths, a la John Lock. It is very difficult to contest the
validity and power of these values. At times, they are given a sacred ring
and used as a pretext to launch a new brand of jihad against countries and
nations, which do not adhere to them. Such errant countries would be forced
to be “democratic” through undemocratic means, just as various religions
resort to slaughter to force others into the love and mercy of their deity.
process of cultural homogenization across the whole world, the rapid
development of communication technology, and economic globalization are the
essential infrastructural ingredients that are clearing the ground for
eventual unification of the whole world under one state. The legal side of
this process started with the formation of the United Nations, followed by
various international organs, the latest of which is the World Trade
Organization. Not to join these world organizations would put a country at
great disadvantage. But to join them would mean abiding by their bylaws and
fine-tuning all local rules and regulations to conform to these bylaws. On
the political side, we have already entered the age of big coalitions, such
as NATO, EU, and GCC.
As for currency, Western coins (dollar, pound, and Euro) are becoming the
international money by default.
Some people already have the feeling that the world in actuality is run by
one superpower. All that remains is for the rest of the world to start
participating in the election of the president of this superpower, since the
decisions he takes affect their lives more than their own local rulers,
especially those countries dependent on foreign aid.
Please take note
of two important points. First, I am not talking here of imperial conquest
nor clash of civilization. The process I am expounding here takes place more
through osmosis than through force and violence. Second, I am not talking
about an Anglo-Saxon culture, but a Western capitalist culture. This would
shift the focus of the argument from the racial to the socio-economic
conditions and historical processes and accidents (such historical accidents
as the choice of a particular alphabet), and perhaps a pinch of natural
ecology and physical environment, which gave rise to this culture. Whoever
happened to live in this social and physical setting, whatever might be his
racial or national background, could be a positive contributor to it.
Furthermore, any race or nation could easily elbow its way into this culture
and contribute to it.