I think EAs should pay attention to the world federalist movement, as it's recently been gaining traction and offers a promising approach to global governance.
According to the Young World Federalists' website:
- 🖐️ Federalism is a means of achieving a balance between unity and diversity by vertically separating powers. The sovereignty of the world federation originates from the sovereignty of humanity.
- 🧭 Decisions and responsibilities should be distributed to the lowest level of government at which they can be effectively addressed. This principle of subsidiarity ensures that power stays as close to the people as possible.
- 🔵 A global federation would not replace sovereign nations: these would continue to deal with national issues. A world federation would complement national sovereignty over national issues with an additional, global layer of governance for a clearly defined set of global issues.
- 🗳️ A world federation derives its legitimacy both from the constituent nations and the inherent, global citizenship of all people in the world.
Many of the global challenges that EAs care about - including existential risks, climate change, and global development - require stronger global institutions to be addressed. World federalism would provide for stronger global coordination while retaining autonomous national and regional governments. Since countries retain political autonomy in a federal system, it would be less likely than a unitary world government to collapse into global totalitarianism, a concern that has been raised by Bryan Caplan in "The Totalitarian Threat."
Although the World Federalist Movement has been around since the 1930s and 40s (around World War II), it's been gaining more traction recently with the founding of the Young World Federalists and the associated r/GlobalTribe subreddit in 2019. I think EAs involved in longtermist and global development causes should consider making connections with this movement.
Some thoughts I have:
Interesting, thank you for this! I haven't read much on global governance, which is likely why I struggle to think of ideal structures for such institutions despite my strong belief in its necessity.
I am not convinced federalism does much to mitigate risk of totalitarianism. I think there is tendency for power to get concentrated to the federal level, regardless of what legal documents say, and to achieve totalitarianism it should be enough to get power over armed forces, law enforcement and highest courts.
The problem with federalism is that it perpetuates our system of competing nation states with their diverse law and economies. This competitive environment:
A one world government system with global law and a single economy, as proposed by the likes of globalhumanparty.org, offers a systemic evolution that could resolve all these organisational issues (at least on paper!), but it would require long term (multi-generational) transitional support for which the EA movement seems unsuited.