Chapter XXII

FEDERALISM AND SOVEREIGNTY


Democracy requires organization. One person can not constitute a democracy, but two can. Cooperation is the same. Certain definite steps in political organization are required in each. Success of democracy depends upon the implementation of control. First is control that resides in each individual by which he expresses himself to his neighbors in his local organization. Here is the fountain head of democracy. Democracy begins in the heart of the individual who desires and is willing to cooperate with his neighbor on a mutual basis. Second, democratically minded individuals who are neighbors unite in their small community to form the initial local organization--in the ward, town, or county--an organization to serve them and to take its orders from them. Third, neighboring local organizations unite to create a district federation--represented by the state to serve these initial organizations and to take its orders from them. Democratic groups when federated observe the same democratic practices as federated individuals. Fourth is a regional in large countries or areas or a national federation in smaller countries, each federation being answerable to and taking its orders from the constituent membership. Fifth is national federation of states or regions on this basis. This is the ultimate in each country.

In political organization in the United States, wherever democracy prevails, this sequence begins with the ward in each town, and with the township in the county; then the wards control the city or town and the townships control the county; counties control the state; and the states control the national government. This is the political theory of democracy, which basically begins with the town meeting.

Sixth, nations unite in an international federation which concludes the sequence. This is the world federation which civilization is now striving to perfect, having completed in an imperfect way, the preceding steps up to this last stage of the implementation of democracy.

Beginning with the first, each constituent group elects individual representatives to the federation of which it is a constituent part. Democracy demands that federation at each stage shall be in the interest of and under control of its constituent membership. Central federation at each level should not control or dictate to its membership; it should be the servant of its members and dictated to by them. The cooperative way is the outstanding example of these steps in democratic organization. Political governments are only theoretically democratic. In the United States the states are supposed to dictate to and control the federal government. This is political theory. They once did. In time they lost their control to a large degree and are now much dictated to by the national government. Political governments as statism advances tend to lose their democracy and to move in the direction of totalitarian centralized power. This means that the central government dictates to the states, counties, and townships. Where this condition prevails, democracy declines. Democracy demands decentralization of control. Communist-fascist-nazi regimes begin with control centralized in the autocratic government with a dictator or other authoritarian power in command. Where control emanates from such a center and goes out through the various levels to the primary organization of individuals, democracy is lost.

As centralized power dictates to the people, democracy fades out, for democracy requires that the people dictate to the centralized power. These facts are simple and easily understood. The fate of civilization depends upon their observance.

The above steps aimed to make democracy workable may seem complicated by regimentation, but expanding democracy does require organization. This is the only way for democracy to work if it is to move step by step from the individual and his neighbors to the whole nation and then to the whole world. People to act together must be organized together into a society. No stage can be omitted because all the people of the world, or of one nation, or even of one state, can not meet together in one hall to carry on their affairs. Representatives of the people must function for them. Political organization attempts to eliminate some of these steps and thereby loses some of its democracy. Where cooperative societies attempt to follow the prevalent political practices they sacrifice democracy.

Final need is world federation. The cooperative associations of forty countries have shown the way to such federation in the International Cooperative Alliance. Political organization of the whole world is attempting the same in the United Nations. Inasmuch as political organization is the largest and most comprehensive of all forms of social unification, it is hoped that it succeeds in effecting a permanent international federation of all countries. Such a federation has become necessary to prevent war. This is because, without a power superior to the national political governments of the world, these national governments make war upon one another. Such a union of governments can not guarantee peace but it is a step toward peace. Nations make war upon one another where no power is superior to them to hold them in control. Peace among nations can be promoted by a sovereign power to which each nation yields a measure of its own sovereignty. Such a superior sovereign power can be established by a union of nations.

Political government prevents fighting between individuals who are its citizens or subjects. War between states is prevented by the federal government to which they are subject. War between nations can be prevented by the same means, when nations are subject to a superior power which they have created for their own good. Such sovereignty has been attempted in the past. Single nations have set out to conquer the world, to attach other nations to themselves, and thus to become the sovereign power. This method has always failed--with Greece, Rome, France, Germany, and others fired by dreams of sovereignty. The League of Nations after World War I failed to unite the nations. Such a sovereignty must be attained in the interest of bringing war-making nations under control.

Individuals, sufficiently subject to the state to prevent their fighting among themselves, do not necessarily lose their personal independence. The same should be true of states federated into a nation. Such states have a power above that can control them and that also can help them to preserve their independence. But when the nations of the world federate there is no superior authority. The only other sovereign power with which it could clash would be that of some other planet.

When individual citizens attack one another, and the municipality of which they are citizens can not control them, the county or state which is the next higher power, assumes the responsibility to restore order. Fighting among individuals is thus made controllable. The same with states or provinces of a nation; there is something above them to see that they observe the covenants. But a federation of nations can depend only on itself for control. There is no superior power excepting its inferior constituent states. They made it; they control it; they can destroy it if they wish.

Such a federation of nations to be effective must possess sovereignty over all its constituent nations. Sovereign power constituted by union of nations becomes sovereign by virtue of agreement among constituent nations to recognize its sovereignty. Where such a sovereignty prevails the united nations willingly submit to its sovereignty. It is when sovereign power resides with each nation that war occurs. War can be expected where there are sovereign nations possessing great power.

There is a salutary aspect of this ultimate world sovereignty; there is no other similar global sovereignty with which it can go to war. Astronomical interplanetary politics and war, promoted by celestial diplomats, have not yet developed. Therefore the conflicts of a world federation can not be with its equals. Its conflicts can only be with its constituent members. And here a solution of problems is possible, because the constituent members, democratically organized, control the sovereign power and provide it with means and authority to prevent war. A control over the supreme sovereignty resides in the democratic organization which created it. This is the way of democracy. Democracy appoints an agent to do things for the united units. They give to this agent authority to control and govern them, as the citizen yields a measure of his liberty and of his power to the policeman who is his servant but who will by force stay his hand if he raises it to strike another citizen. Still the police force remains subject to the citizens of the community. Where democratically organized units want order kept among themselves, they create a power to keep themselves in order. The automobilist obeys the traffic policeman, his servant. Democracy permits the abolition of this power when it will, but so long as this central authority is maintained, it must exercise the functions which are for the good of its constituent creators.

Inexorable circumstances have driven the world to its last stand in the use of political power to solve its problems of peace and war. The world now faces the great disillusionment. Political power in the end will fail its creators. Prevention of war, they will find, must depend upon elimination of the causes of war--largely economic. Political governments alone are not only powerless to prevent war, but they are also, by their very nature as instruments of force, war-making institutions. History shows political governments as serving the predominant economic interests. So long as these interests are occupied in the quest of privileges, government becomes their tool to be used to further their ends. So long as the predominant economic methods are based upon the purpose of getting profits from purchasers, as long as production and distribution are not under the control of the consumers but are in the hands of another class interested in winning profit from consumers, a conflict prevails in which political government becomes the agent of the class with the greatest economic power. Thus a sovereign authority, set up by political powers to be administered as a political institution, may by its police methods prevent open brawls among its constituents; but among these constituents, under prevalent economic conditions, the same war-producing activities will go on as of yore. Since the sovereign world power is created by them, if these nations want to engage in war, each side thinking it can win, they can abrogate their covenants with the United Nations, or whatever is set up, and proceed to war. This, of course, applies only to the strong nations, possessed of great striking power.

These reasons should not prevent the setting up and maintenance of a world government. They do not prevent towns from setting up a police force. Fighting and disorder do go on, but they are to a considerable degree curtailed. Improvement in the maintenance of order is well worth the effort, while measures for eliminating the causes of disorder go their slow way.

A United Nations is a political organization, and fails as a sovereign power unless it have the support of the masses of people in its constituent countries. Without public support, its councils, assemblies, courts, and guns come to nothing. If the people of one great power want to go to war against another country, the political covenants that hold nations together melt away. Even though the United Nations have a world police force more powerful than the army of any of its constituent nations, public opinion can find a way to circumvent such a force and make war. No atom bomb equals the power of public opinion. It behooves the diplomats in building their political structure to take this fact into consideration. To prevent such defections, a state of economic justice and economic peace must prevail. Force can not be relied upon to preserve peace.

All this points to the basic need of the cooperative method for improvement of human relationships. The political state needs to be used to do the superficial and immediately pressing job, while the fundamental work addressed to causes requires time and patience in its democratic organization of economic affairs. This is the task to which the cooperatively organized consumers are dedicated.


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The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.