With law shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste. Njal's Saga, Iceland, c 1270 AD
The present United Nations Charter
After the unspeakable horrors of World War II, delegates from 50 Alliednations met in San Francisco California. The purpose of the conference,which took place between 25 April and 26 June, 1945, was to set up aninternational organization that would be able to abolish the institution ofwar. However, the Charter which the delegates produced was too weak toachieve this goal.
In many respects the United Nations has been highly successful. Duringthe 73 years that have passed since its establishment, a world war has beenavoided. The agencies of the United Nations, such as the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, UNESCO and the IPCC,have provided urgently-needed services to the international community. TheUniversal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Millennium DevelopmentGoals have set up norms towards which we can and should aim. Further-more, the UN has provided a place where representatives from many nationscan meet for informal diplomacy, through which many dangerous conflicts have been avoided.
Nevertheless, the United Nations, with its present Charter, has proved to be too weak to achieve the purpose for which it was established – thecomplete abolition of the institution of war. If civil wars are included, thereare, on any given day, an average of 12 wars somewhere in the world. The
task of abolishing war has become extremely urgent since the advent of thermonuclear weapons. The danger that these weapons will be used, throughaccident, technical or human error, or through uncontrollable escalation ofa war with conventional weapons, poses an existential threat to human civi-lization and the biosphere.
The Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955 describedour present situation in the following words:
"Here then is the problem that we present to you, stark and dreadfuland inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankindrenounce war?... There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress inhappiness, knowledge and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death becauswe cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings:Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way liesopen to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death."
Why call war an "institution"?
Because the world spends almost two thousand billion dollars each year onarmaments, it follows that very many people make their living from war.This is the reason why it is correct to speak of war as a social institution,and also the reason why war persists, although everyone realizes that it is
the cause of much of the suffering that inflicts humanity. We know that waris madness, but it persists. We know that it threatens the future survival ofour species, but it persists, entrenched in the attitudes of historians, newspaper editors and television producers, entrenched in the methods by whichpoliticians finance their campaigns, and entrenched in the financial power ofarms manufacturers, entrenched also in the ponderous and costly hardwareof war, the fleets of warships, bombers, tanks, nuclear missiles and so on.
Military-industrial complexes, throughout the world, drive and perpetuate the institution of war. Each military-industrial complex involves a circular flow of money. The money flows like the electrical current in a dynamo,driving a diabolical machine. Money from immensely rich corporate oligarchs buys the votes of politicians and the propaganda of the mainstreammedia. Numbed by the propaganda, citizens allow the politicians to votefor obscenely bloated military budgets, which further enrich the corporateoligarchs, and the circular flow continues.
A World Federation
In order to save the world from destruction in a thermonuclear World WarIII, the United Nations Charter must be reformed and strengthened. Atpresent, the UN is a confederation of absolutely sovereign nation-states. Butin a world of all-destroying modern weapons, instantaneous global communi-cation, and economic interdependence, the absolutely sovereign nation-statehas become a dangerous anachronism.
Furthermore, history has shown confederations to be fatally weak. Forexample, the original United States Constitution was a confederation; but itsoon became apparent that this form of governance was too weak. Instead, afederation was needed. In his Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote: "To coerce the states is one of the maddest projects that was ever devised...Can any reasonable man be well disposed towards a government which makeswar and carnage the only means of supporting itself, a government thatcan exist only by the sword? Every such war must involve the innocentwith the guilty. The single consideration should be enough to dispose every