In my post about the Doomsday Clock I received a comment from Gary about an organization he is promoting called United Democratic Nations. Click on the title to go there. (This, by the way, is not any Gary I know.) I don't know how these things happen, but he responded very quickly to that post. Interesting.
I went to the website to have a look. It's an organization that doesn't exist. Even though it has a sort of charter and a mission statement and a working definition and a goal. In fact, it's a dream. A big one.
As I say, I don't know this Gary. But I admire him in a way. He has this dream. A big one...and he believes in it enough to post a comment on an obscure Mental Blog that, presumably, he just happened to come across while surfing. Or maybe his surfing is more focused, looking for items that pop up related to the thing he's dreaming about. It is possible to do that now. Anyway, good for him.
As for the dream, I think that's admirable too, although I have lingering doubts, as yet too nebulous to articulate fully.
He wants either a reformed United Nations, or a new United Democratic Nations. That's all very well. And exclusive, which gives me pause. The definition excludes most of the nations on the planet, I think. Which makes me wonder how effective it could be.
Confining yourself to "democratic" nations is, perhaps, a moral choice. It assumes that democracy is some sort of panacea. Or the best form of government. Or the most equitable. Or the most likely to respond to the needs of its citizens. But I've long had doubts about the "democratic state" of most democratic states in the world. Is it possible to have a one-party democratic state? Is a two-party state democratic? What if those two parties clandestinely conspire to shut out other rising movements, a proposition which is not far-fetched in the US?
Does the fact that one may vote make a nation democratic? Or is it a multiple choice that makes the democracy? That would apply to Canada, I suppose. Except that most everyone already knows that one choice or the other hardly makes any difference, except at the margins. A little left, a little right, a mosh pit in the centre. But the common voice, or rather, the voice of the commoner, still is unheard. (The Reform Party of Canada was one of those prairie populist movements, much like Social Credit. Vox Populi! The West wants In! And when it folded itself into the Conservative Party of Canada, it spawned a Prime Minister who doesn't even let his Cabinet Ministers speak for themselves! Not to mention making and announcing policies without consulting them.)
Canadians have long been advocates (in the international arena) of quiet engagement. ie. You engage those oppositionist elements, those difficult nations, those non-democratic players, in dialogue and slowly but surely bring them around to your point of view. Sometimes you have to be tougher, sometimes not. South Africa comes to mind. I don't know whether this really works. Would it work with China? Has it ever? Perhaps we've not been tough enough? But the United Democratic Nations would not include China.
It might be good to remember that the failure of the UN's predecessor, the League of Nations, was largely due to the refusal of the United States to participate. If the major players are not involved, then it seems like a UDN standing on the outside shouting at the others.
I tend to agree with Gary, that the existence of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, each with an absolute veto, is a flaw and a recipe for deadlock. At the formation of the UN, those were the big players, the winners of a recently fought big war, and that was the price they exacted in order to play. In geopolitics, every nation wants its edge. So now, it's 60 years later. Has the US changed so much that it is willing to relinquish that edge? I think not. Even the "democratic nations" have not become so altruistic.
Nevertheless, change begins with a dream. And we know that Gary is not the only one who thinks it is time for a change in the international regime.