Laudato Si on the Common Sense Fact that a Global Political Authority…

Laudato Si on the Common Sense Fact that a Global Political Authority… June 24, 2015

… will be necessary to deal with lawless transnational corporations.  He is, of course, in line with his predecessors on this, but American conservatives will still wet themselves about it.  We easily forget that the Church was *born* in the context of a “One World Government” called the Roman  Empire and had no particular problem with it (except, of course, when it behaved badly).  We forget that so important was the order of the state to the apostles that Paul would commend Caesar’s authority to keep that order even when Caesar was Nero.  It was an acceptable trade for Paul.  The Church rightly perceives that a global economy is going to require, sooner or later, a global state to manage it or the rapine of the lawless and immeasurably powerful against the weak  will lead to global catastrophe–as it is already doing in many places.

The twenty-first century, while maintaining systems of governance inherited from the past, is witnessing a weakening of the power of nation states, chiefly because the economic and financial sectors, being transnational, tends to prevail over the political. Given this situation, it is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions. As Benedict XVI has affirmed in continuity with the social teaching of the Church: “To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago”.

Here’s what happens when transnationals have no accountability:

The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world’s worstindustrial disaster.[1]

It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way into and around the shanty towns located near the plant.[2]

Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release.[3] A government affidavit in 2006 stated that the leak caused 558,125 injuries, including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.[4] Others estimate that 8,000 died within two weeks, and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases.[5]

The cause of the disaster remains under debate. The Indian government and local activists argue that slack management and deferred maintenance created a situation where routine pipe maintenance caused a backflow of water into a MIC tank triggering the disaster. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) contends water entered the tank through an act of sabotage.

The owner of the factory, UCIL, was majority owned by UCC, with Indian Government-controlled banks and the Indian public holding a 49.1 percent stake. In 1989, UCC paid $470m ($907m in 2014 dollars) to settle litigation stemming from the disaster. In 1994, UCC sold its stake in UCIL to Eveready Industries India Limited (EIIL), which subsequently merged with McLeod Russel (India) Ltd. Eveready ended clean-up on the site in 1998, when it terminated its 99-year lease and turned over control of the site to the state government of Madhya Pradesh. Dow Chemical Company purchased UCC in 2001, seventeen years after the disaster.

Civil and criminal cases were filed in the District Court of Bhopal, India, involving UCC and Warren Anderson, UCC CEO at the time of the disaster.[6][7] In June 2010, seven ex-employees, including the former UCIL chairman, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by Indian law. An eighth former employee was also convicted, but died before the judgement was passed.[1]Anderson also died at a nursing home in Vero Beach, Florida on September 29, 2014.

$2000 dollars.

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  • Gunnar Thalweg

    I recall seeing some things Pope Benedict wrote on the One World Government, specifically we need one to put an end to war. I can’t go there with him, much as I love and respect him.

    As far as “lawless” corporations, there are numerous movements to rein in bad behavior, including from the corporations themselves, but also through NGOs, as well as individual governments. There is also the issue of technology — it’s difficult to hide a mess in an era of cell phone cameras.

    Just one example of an improving situation: SEC regulations now require conflict-minerals reporting, and that requires corporations to dig deep into their supply chain to find out where things are coming from, to see if they are coming from conflict or otherwise banned zones. One kind of funny example — a computer manufacturer in the U.S. assembles in China but has some assembly done in the Philippines, which purchases gold on the market, and when traced, that gold came from North Korea. (Not allowed.)

    There are plenty of ways existing governments can work together, along with NGOs, the public, and corporations themselves, short of a one-world government. There are movements well underway to improve human rights, environment, and employee relations.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      You were doing so well until you set off the squirrel poop alarm in your last paragraph…

      • Gunnar Thalweg

        Fine. I removed it.

  • Re_Actor
  • Peggy

    Indian law should have been stronger.

    A world governmental body? No way. The powers that be and would run this are against freedom and faith. Heck no.

  • antigon

    A world authority that won’t be manipulated by the very financial interests it’s supposed to monitor?
    Cling to the hope.
    Or if you will, how could it hurt, followed by how were we supposed to know?

  • iamlucky13

    A united global authority is not common sense. It’s alarming because it subjugates local interests to a less accountable, more remote authority, with the aim of accomplishing what has historically been done by the trade laws and treaties that we’ve been systematically dismantling for decades.

    Also, trying to force a single government upon nations that do not want to participate would be wrong.

    Unfortunately, countries that historically have maintained policies fundamentally incompatible with accession to the authority of the current leading candidate for a glorious people’s republic of the world such as opposing abortion, are one-by-one abandoning those morals.

    The Bhopal disaster is not a counter-argument to this. India and the United States had the joint authority to hold Union Carbide fully accountable within the scope of their own laws and treaties, but chose not to.

    Of course, part of that was because of the Indian goverments’ own complicity as a shareholder in the local subsidiary of Union Carbide.