On One-World Government

One of the recurring fantasies of Christian end-times believers is that, after the Rapture, the world will be united into a single government which will be presided over by the Antichrist. As such, these believers view any sign of increased global peace or cooperation as an ominous sign of growing Satanic influence. (Oddly, increased war is also taken to be a sign of the approaching Rapture – go figure.) Hence, Rapture Ready’s Rapture Index tracks “Globalism” as one component of its prophetic stock market. The European Union was initially thought to be the first bellwether of one-world government (a different page explains, “Many prophecy students see the European Union as the prophesied kingdom of the Antichrist”), but most paranoid speculation has now shifted to the United Nations.

End-times Christians typically believe that this global hegemony, when it arrives, will be enthusiastically accepted by everyone except the believers who recognize its danger. Slacktivist, in one installment of his ongoing deconstruction of the Left Behind series, quotes how the characters in that book respond to this event:

“There is no guarantee, of course, that even member nations will unanimously go along with the move to destroy 90 percent of their military strength and turn over the remaining 10 percent to the U.N. But several ambassadors expressed their confidence ‘in equipping and arming an international peacekeeping body with a thoroughgoing pacifist and committed disarmament activist as its head.’”

Another added, “…We’re supposed to be objective and cynical, but how can you not like this? It’ll take years to effect all this stuff, but someday, somewhere down the line, we’re going to see world peace. No more weapons, no more wars, no more border disputes or bigotry based on language or religion. Whew! Who’d have believed it would come to this?”

As Slacktivist notes, the characters in LB are “Imaginary Liberals”, downright eager to surrender their sovereignty at the first sign of a global dictatorship. End-times believers seem to think all us non-Christians are just itching for this to happen.

I’d like to disabuse them of this notion. To all theists who believe this, I say: Are you insane? A one-world government would be a horrible idea.

Until it was abolished in 2005, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights included such well-known violators of human rights as Sudan and Saudi Arabia. Its replacement, the United Nations Human Rights Council, still counts as members rogue states and repressive dictatorships such as Cuba and Saudi Arabia (again), and still has refused to take even symbolic action against many brutal regimes worldwide.

This deplorable situation showcases a basic problem: there are still far too many places around the world that lack fundamental protection for human rights, and far too many people willing to accede to such. As long as situations like this persist, a global government would be a horrendous idea – it would simply allow devotees of tyranny and autocracy to outvote and overrule the defenders of liberty.

Granted, democracy is spreading. Between the Americas, Europe and India, we citizens of democracies certainly constitute a plurality, if not a majority, of the world’s population. This bodes well for global cooperation in the future. But democracy alone is not a guarantee of human rights. Unless democracy is backed by strong legal protections for the rights of minorities – and more importantly, widespread understanding by the majority of why such protections are needed – then it can simply become tyranny of another form.

Examples abound. In countries like Canada and many European nations, free speech is still a conditional right, often contingent on the speaker’s not offending any powerful identity group. Even the progressive, First World democracy of Australia has recently announced plans to censor the Internet. The U.S., too, has gotten in on the act. Even in these “advanced” nations, we have a long way to go.

I grant that it does seem irrational for human beings to be forever divided by artificial political boundaries. They correspond to nothing intrinsic about us, and perhaps in the far future we’ll be able to safely remove them. But for the moment, they are necessary. While people’s attitudes still exhibit such disturbing variation on basic issues of human rights and morality, we need separate nations to ensure that freedom thrives in at least some places. Trying to persuade the whole world at once to adopt a rational ethics would be an impossible task. By splitting the world up into distinct societies, we have the easier task of establishing human rights in some places to begin with, so that they can serve as examples for – and, where need be, redoubts against – the rest.

Once all human societies are brought up to a comparable level of stability, prosperity, and most importantly moral development and outlook, then it may be time to start thinking about dissolving political boundaries. But until that day, the question is scarcely worth contemplating. Are we ready for a one-world government now? Absolutely not! Will we ever be? It depends – ask me again in a few hundred years…

The Atheist Community Is Diversifying
Is Terrorism Courageous?
Photo Sunday: Stone Wall, Winter
Weekend Coffee: March 28
About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Jim Baerg

    Wikipedia has an interesting article on the observation that democracies rarely or never fight one another.
    This suggest to me that if we were ready for one world government, such a government would be unnecessary.

  • mikespeir

    “A one-world government would be a horrible idea.”

    Amen. History tells us nothing if not that governments tend to go bad in time. And in doing so they seek ways to maintain their grasp on power, making it tough to change things for the better. We’re entering a time when overthrow of government might become, for the first time in history, literally impossible. A totalitarian government will soon be able to monitor all the activities of its citizens and, eventually, maybe, even their thoughts. (Or, at least, make fair inferences as to what people are thinking.) Bad, bad time for a one-world government to form.

    If one bad government rules the world

    1) to where do the oppressed run?

    2) where is the seed and soil for democracy to rise again?

  • random guy

    Its interesting when you look at history about the alliances that last and the ones that don’t. Economic alliances can last for hundreds of years. Defensive alliances usually last as long as a danger persists, but they encourage economic alliances. Most conquests or forced alliances can’t last for more than a generation or two. The only real exception to conquest I can think of is the roman empire but the roman empire’s main hold on a conquered populace was the goods and infrastructure they brought with it. People didn’t really care that they were conquered so long too many of them weren’t enslaved and as long as they got roman roads, aqueducts, baths, and goods.

    I think globilization will lead more to world peace and a unified government than something like the UN. I remember in a TED Talk one speaker said something along the lines of “I don’t want to go to war with the Japanese, in part, because they built my car.” Trade always leads to an exchange of culture, and once people have been exposed to alternative ways of living they begin to think about improving their own home. It took decades of trade and travel before something like the European Union was possible. I think it comes down to trust, people can’t really trust other people unless they get to know them and understand them first, the same is true of nations.

  • paradoctor

    I agree that a one-world government would be tyrannical, given the governments that exist now. So would a one-world church; and so (we are now learning) is the present one-world market. Neither church, state nor market is, by itself, able to make a society fit for human habitation. It seems that we have to set the three against each other.

  • Alex, FCD

    “There is no guarantee, of course, that even member nations will unanimously go along with the move to destroy 90 percent of their military strength and turn over the remaining 10 percent to the U.N. But several ambassadors expressed their confidence ‘in equipping and arming an international peacekeeping body with a thoroughgoing pacifist and committed disarmament activist as its head.’”

    As a commenter at Slacktivist pointed out, this is like saying “There is no guarantee, of course, that a full legion of mauve armadillos will fly out of my arse.”

  • Sean M.

    Another reason that one world government is a bad idea right now is disparities of wealth. How can you have a stable democracy when many voters make $400/year and many voters make $40,000/year?

    The UN has done a lot of good, however, a fact which seems to be less appreciated in the US than in other countries. In particular, there is the -revolutionary- principle that no state may go to war except in self defense, that the world should support the defender, and that no state may annex another by conquest. Powerful countries tend to flout it, but significantly very few countries recognize Israel’s annexation of Palestine, or China’s of Tibet, or other similar situations. I judge that tightening up the concept of a just war, and an international rule of law, does more to prevent another series of great power wars with nukes than a probably-illusionary “democratic peace” or “wealthy nations peace” (there was much international trade in 1914, and the Germany of 1914 was a democracy of sorts).

  • http://mog.com/sporkyy Todd Sayre

    All I know is that we need one world government as a prerequisite for the formation of the United Federation of Planets and thus Star Fleet.

    I assume my impeccable logic will put a swift end to this debate.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    Tangentially – I’ve never understood why this is an “ominous” sign, and why they fight it so hard. Don’t they want the Second Coming?

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone


    That’s only if you ignore the War of 1812 (Britian and the US- both were democracies). A more complete version is also “stable democracies” (existing for at least 10 years) and “true democracies” (the elections are real). Otherwise you have a lot of other counterexamples (US and Iraq, Israel and Egypt et cetera).

  • Samuel Skinner

    One-world government is most probable if humanity gets FTL drive and finds aliens. Hostile would definitely do it, although neutral ones could do it to to avoid becoming the laughing stock of the universe. Other than that a one-world government would be likely to come about after a LONG period of development.

    I actually think it would be a good idea- makes dealing with global problems easier. However, currently, and for the for see able future I see no way to get it to work.

  • Steve Bowen

    If anyone seriously sees the European Union as a model for world government they are barking up the wrong tree (or just barking). It is the most beaurocratic, money wasting, internally corrupt political institution in the world as far as I can see;and I voted to be part of it 32 years ago. If world government is really a herald of the end times, I am pretty sure it won’t happen anytime soon, phew!

  • Jim Coufal

    1984. Brave New World. etc.


  • Brit-nontheist

    While I agree with the general thrust of this article, a few points ought to be made alongside it:

    * While wars between stable democracies are relatively rare, instances of democracies being involved in conflicts are far from rare and are arguably less rare now that when democracy was not being to thoroughly spread.

    * The kind of democracy being spread by the West is very often of a thin, formal kind characterised by excessive economic neo-liberalism and focus on procedural issues such as elections rather than substantive ones such as active participation. In addition, the kind of democracy being exported is of a kind pretty much unrecognisable even to the most right-leaning developed economies of the West.

    * America’s failure in Human Rights practice go far beyond the lessening of free speech… rendition flights, anyone? Guantanamo Bay, perhaps? That’s not to say that other places aren’t more anti-Rights, but the ‘shining lamp of democracy’ is rather tarnished.

    A well written and reasonably concise book on this subject is “The Riddle of all Constitutions” by Susan Marks, which I’d recommend whether you agree or disagree with what I’ve just said ;)

  • Jim Baerg

    Re: Democratic Peace
    Even if you include the cases where it’s dubious to include both parties to a war as democracies & the cases in which one can say were those countries really at war with one another (eg: Finland fighting the USSR while Britain was allied with the USSR during WWII), there are still fewer wars between democracies than one would expect from the # of wars & # of pairs of democratic & non-democratic nations.

    I think the Democratic Peace idea has good evidence for it.

  • Ingersoll’s Revenge

    If anyone seriously sees the European Union as a model for world government they are barking up the wrong tree (or just barking).

    You’ve got a point there, Steve. This may sound like blown smoke from an American, but trade-wise, the EU is just now doing what the United States has been doing for a long time. They are not forging the future; they are struggling to play catch-up.

    And yes, I’ve lived in an EU country, so I’m fully aware of the other side of the story, thank you.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    That reminds me of that video Max Blumenthal made where he interviewed attendees at some John Hagee sponsored conference on Christians united for Israel, Blumenthal was interviewing one woman and he asked her how she would know who the antichrist was. She replied “He would be a man of peace.” So much for calling Christ the Prince of Peace, eh? If he did come back, they would probably murder him.

  • http://deconbible.blogspot.com bbk

    How can anyone really say what a one-world government would be like? Just about the only thing I can guarantee is that it won’t be anything remotely close to the Christian prophecy. The Christian story was written by some angry old men hiding in caves from the Roman Empire. We all know the Roman Empire took over the world and brought about the Apocalypse, right? Even Martin Luther found the book of Revelation to be an offensive piece of work. Yet between Leviticus and Revelation, these relics of antiquity are the basis for almost the entire agenda of the religious right. If a one-world government is to be avoided, then it is for entirely different reasons than anything that pertained to some cave dwelling Christians.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone


    Even if you include the cases where it’s dubious to include both parties to a war as democracies & the cases in which one can say were those countries really at war with one another (eg: Finland fighting the USSR while Britain was allied with the USSR during WWII), there are still fewer wars between democracies than one would expect from the # of wars & # of pairs of democratic & non-democratic nations.

    I think the Democratic Peace idea has good evidence for it.

    Well, for one, democracies are still relatively new in a historical sense. It has only been in the last century that there has been a massive polifiration of democracies, so there other coorelative factors involved. (Just as a side note, I always laugh when physicists say that social sciences are “soft” sciences, or easy. I’d like to see a physicist try to do an experiement where there were no independent variables).

    I do think that the spread of democracy is a good thing, and there is evidence for Democratic Peace. I’m just pointing out that we can’t possibly no for sure that democracies = peace.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone


    When I say “spread” I mean internal adoption, not “conquest” or “forced democracy”.

  • http://www.bellatorus.com Petrucio

    Antigone, ‘soft’ is not at all equal to ‘easy’ in this case, you just pulled that out of thin air. The fact that there are so many variables is what makes it ‘soft’, as in you can’t really put your finger in it, it’s more subjective.

  • http://wilybadger.wordpress.com Chris Swanson

    I was actually pondering this very notion just the other night. My conclusion was that a unified world government is indeed a desirable goal, but one we’re quite some distance from. Needless to say, it would have to wait until the other nations have reached at least some reasonable level of democracy and development (elitist attitude? You bet!). I don’t picture it happening within the next 50 years. Within the next 100 or so seems reasonably likely.

  • Steve Bowen

    As a nudge towards world government could I suggest we start by quashing the illegal American rebellion of 1776 and bringing all the states under Q.E.2′s benevolent rule. Then with the U.S resources usefully employed the invasion of France and Germany should’nt take too long and from there, the world! There is a danger Charles could be on the throne by then, but I’m sure he’d rule the world wisely until one of the kids took over.

  • Christopher

    I don’t doubt that we *could* have a one-world government, why why *would* we want one? All I see coming out of it is more of the same old shit that our national governments feed us – just on a much larger scale.

    It would be better, I think, if we simply shift more power to the localities and individuals: leaving federal governments as mere shells of their former selves that joust with other federal governments – leaving the locals and individuals to make the real decisions about running their sphere of influence.

  • nfpendleton

    A number of governments (US at the top) and almost every international corporation has it in their best interest to keep certain parts of this globe permenantly in Third World status. We’ll only intervene in the African chaos when it gets too expensive to pay an Asian middle class to do our manufacturing for us. Any company that says it wants these nations to be lifted to a level of direct competition is lying to you, and since this seems to be a prerequisite for a GloboGuv(TM), I think we’re quite a ways off. Thankfully.

  • Ziggy


    Just as a side note, I always laugh when physicists say that social sciences are “soft” sciences, or easy. I’d like to see a physicist try to do an experiement where there were no independent variables.

    That is pretty much the opposite of what “soft science” means. Soft means that it’s more complicated, harder to predict, and not obviously entirely deterministic. In a sense, soft sciences are harder than the hard sciences; this is what provides the wiggle room that makes them soft. ;)

  • Valhar2000

    Well, I want a one-world-government, but that does not mean that I consider the UN or the EU ideal, or that I would not mind being outvoted by the current inhabitants of Saudi Arabia. It is fallacious to imply this.

    The reason I want a one-world-government is so that it can implement useful policies that span the entire world. While the UN has done this on occasion, it has always been as a small sideline to its main job, political grandstanding by its members. Same for the EU. So I don’t support them.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    This point still carries the day: the marriage of OWG and modern technology is terrifying in its possibilities. Even if when this government is set up it is democratic, the implicit assumption seems to be prevalent that it will always remain so, and as our current experience in America shows, this is not necessarily so. Indeed, OWG might make more tempting the idea of a coup (legal or illegal), simply because the reins of power are already gathered up and conveniently kept in one place. If “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, then the last aim we should adopt is the centralization of all governmental power in the world, be that government benign or malignant.

  • goyo

    I agree with Thumpalumpacus. The centralization of power is a scary thought indeed.
    It’s a great thought experiment, as I also agree that a one-world govt. could accomplish so many good things.
    Wouldn’t that be the ideal situation for the advancement of science and the reduction of religious influence? Again, it depends on who is in power.

    Thump: Don’t forget to shoot me a comment on a thread when you’re ready to come to Texas this summer, then I’ll get you my email.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Goyo –

    I haven’t forgotten, and I sure hope it can happen!

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    Goyo said:

    The centralization of power is a scary thought indeed.

    From what I have seen here in the USA, lots of religious people LOVE centralization of power. They only hate it when somebody else does it.

  • http://deconbible.blogspot.com bbk

    Please, stop it with these crazy strawman arguments. Especially in America, we use this aversion of Satanic Rule and the Apocalypse not for avoiding any sort of meaningful progress in the world. Look at the Christian Right’s vilification of the U.N. while America ignores international inspection teams and goes to war based on fabricated stories of WMD’s, then turns around and tortures people. At the same time, lack of world-wide cooperation in a common set of trade laws has at its roots the unwillingness to establish a common set of rules that respect labor standards and the environment. Instead, we have a hodge-podge set of treaties such as NAFTA, which at the same time limit preferential treatment to just a few nations and take advantage of other nations who, standing alone, can be leveraged much more easily.

    But lesser known to those outside of the engineering fields, American politicians also use the same irrational sentiments to avoid creating any meaningful international cooperation on technological standards. For fuck’s sake, this is the same country who can’t even switch from standard to metric, that’s how isolationist we are. That’s why every SD card manufactured in a different country has is made to its own set of standards, and then every camera or cell phone becomes a bigger pain in the ass to design and more expensive to build. And the problems only multiply as you look at technology as a whole. This is what our protectionists rackets are doing for us while Americans make hypothetical assumptions about why things are so much better just the way they are now. I just wonder what an American laying in a hospital in France will say 10 years from now when the doctors can’t access his medical records because of – you guessed it – an incompatible file format made to an unknown specification. Oh, everyone will say stuff like “computers suck” and move on with their lives, I guess, and keep on going with their knee-jerk reactions to associate governments with tyranny and chaos with freedom.

  • DWH

    some form of unification is inevitiable, you only have to look at Europe several hundred years ago, with its myriad or kingdoms and city states. Over time, via a variety of methods, conquest, common culture or language, royal marriage, etc, these merged to form the modern day nation state. even within the borders of most of the western nation states there are ‘other’ nations as borders do not always match up with how populations are dispersed on the ground.

    The best example of the next progression of this norm in international relations and cooperation is the EU, while not perfect, it is easy to see how in a few decades, this might replace the nation states of Europe and form a superstate. this isnt going to happen overnight but it is going to happen, the historical precident has been set. And it is only a matter of time ( albeit a long time) that this process expands to include other nations.

    It might well happen that we do not end up with one government, some cultural/ religious issues might very well see there being two or three dominant governments, with a scattering of isolationist or unimportant states on the periphery.

  • DWH

    Just my 2 euro cents worth