Examples of Movements for World Unity
July 13, 2005 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Citizenry of the world identify!

Many of us, myself included, will, during the course of some discussions, offer that we are not Australian, American, English etc but rather, that we are citizens of the planet earth.

I want to know if there have been any organized movements of any kind that have sought to harness this widespread, although perhaps semi-serious at times, notion into a political or social force?
(Simply asking the question I suppose brings to mind Albert Einstein's hope for some form of international body and the League of Nations and the U.N. by way of analogies/examples. Perhaps even the peace movement from the 60's).

Is there a world flag? If there have been any transending international phenomena, what symbols were used and what did the movements seek? Do you think there's anything current and if not, why?
It would seem to be an eminently sensible reaction (although perhaps admittedly naive) to the problems of the world or so I would have thought, especially in this age with internet (which I guess itself might be construed as a notional illustration of border breakdown) availability.
Otherwise, what flag or symbol do you think would best garner support and how would you go about establishing such a movement? What would you hope a movement for 'Citizens of the Planet Earth' achieves? Any other relevant points would be most welcome unless they are meant to crush my fragile and stupid ego.
posted by peacay to Grab Bag (14 answers total)
posted by benzo8 at 7:35 AM on July 13, 2005

Although originally intended as a symbol of Earth Day, many people associate the earth flag with the global community. I can't think of of more elegant choice for a world flag.
posted by jgee at 7:52 AM on July 13, 2005

It's not quite what you're talking about, but Servas seem to be thinking along the same lines...
posted by handee at 8:07 AM on July 13, 2005

If you're looking for internationalist, might I suggest the communist movement, and their anthem that is aptly titled "The International" ;) ?
posted by NekulturnY at 8:10 AM on July 13, 2005

Don't forget to include the Esperanto Flag. ;)

Only slightly kidding. ;) Cxu vi parolas Esperanton?
posted by unixrat at 8:17 AM on July 13, 2005

(Waitaminnit.... Does that mean there are Esperanto nationalists?)
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:22 AM on July 13, 2005

I can't think of of more elegant choice for a world flag.

That's such an Eastern Hemispherist attitude.

Um, what about these obvious world citizens?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:31 AM on July 13, 2005

What Nekulturny said. :)
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:07 AM on July 13, 2005

What would you hope a movement for 'Citizens of the Planet Earth' achieves?

There are two completely different aims that can fall under this banner. One is to transfer sovereignty from national governments to a world government. I personally hope this never happens. All it accomplishes is to move government power from a body close to where you live to one further away. The further away that governments get from the experience of individual people in their local circumstances, and the less democratic they become. This can be seen in almost all of the super-national governing bodies out there: the UN, the WTO, the World Court, and the regional trading groups (ASEAN, NAFTA). None of them have any real direct democratic control over how they operate or exercise their authority. All of them provide imperfect forums in which competing national interests can be worked out, but the basis for linking people's interests to the process is still the national government.

The second aim is to break down the ties that bind individuals to national governments. This means reducing or eliminating immigration, trade, and communications barriers. Utopically, it could mean creating a "World Citizen" status that has agreed-upon privileges in a wide variety of countries. I'm a big supporter of this in theory, but I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how it might actually work in practice.

The EC is an excellent model of the realities of trying to achieve both aims. They've been very successful in creating an idea of European citizenship that gives people freedom to move around and trade. At the same time, like any government at any level, the EC has continually sought to increase the scope of its authority, and create additional structures that stand between voters and the decision-making process. Getting national governments to agree on this process has been long, slow, and difficult, despite the fact that a majority of Europeans bought into the concept. Only a minority of the EC countries were able to agree on removing border controls. The model probably can't be extended much further beyond Europe, as the debate over Turkey shows.

World citizenship can only work if it is limited to the very very small subset of things that everyone (or at least, those who choose to participate) can agree on.
posted by fuzz at 9:19 AM on July 13, 2005

The Ohio State Uni Radio Observatory has a better Earth Flag than the difficult-to-reproduce Apollo photo.
posted by Rash at 9:45 AM on July 13, 2005

Transcendental Meditation, now entering its senile years, has started an effort to make a "world country of peace", including a world currency currently accepted in one province in the Netherlands. It's probably the biggest and most financially supported effort of this kind, which is not saying very much.
posted by abcde at 11:50 AM on July 13, 2005

Rash: Thanks for the link, somehow I've never run into that one before! I can't wait for them to redesign it with the red circle.

I find it particularly poignant that the Flag of Earth flies at other SETI sites as well. IMHO, any one-world movement won't gain much traction until we have an 'other' off-planet (either non-human or some breakaway human colony). Unfortunately, us vs. them isn't going to disappear anytime soon.
posted by jgee at 12:04 PM on July 13, 2005

Does this count? (In concept, I mean, as I doubt it'll ever be built.)
posted by LordSludge at 12:15 PM on July 13, 2005


I think you're missing what is (to me) the main point of an internationalist movement, which is to undercut the them-vs-us kill-or-be-killed attitude that drags down everyone's standard of living, creates pseudo-moral excuses for unnecessary lose-lose behaviour, etc etc.

Many people utterly believe in a distorted Realpolitic in a way that goes far beyond its practical use and allows short-term-gain-for-long-term-loss politics free reign. Putting one's loyalty to what seems generally best overall, instead to what will benefit one's own nation at a disproportionate expense of others, can (and does) rein in the bad behaviour of nation states, and when nation states play nicely, the benefits are pretty huge.

Not many countries have a reputation for putting global interests ahead of their own. Those that do take the view that their own interests are the same thing as global interests - eg that a more prosperous world is the best guarentee of security, for example).

Those countries that do have a reputation for doing "the right thing" instead of "the best thing for us" don't do so because of hippy love in the hearts of the politicians, they do so (1) because too many of the people like to think of themselves as (and take pride in their country being) good global citizens, and so do not like to see their policitions using backstabbing Realpolitic, and also because it is plain that the world is now globalized, and thus there is no escaping repercussions of the problems of others, so preventing problems is better than curing them, and curing them is better than creating them.

To me, that's the first, and most important purpose of internationalist movement - to change loyalities.

When loyalty is only to the tribe, instead of the nation, your average standard of living will always suck compared to that of a nation where the people's loyalty is wider than the tribe, and thus they are move effective at working together at a massive scale, have a powerful economy as a result, and they live to enjoy it rather than dying in their prime due to continual inter-tribe skirmishes. Likewise, when people's loyalty is wider than the nation state, the average standard of living rises again. (Note: I say "average" :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:36 PM on July 13, 2005

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