I've been reading Jorge Gracia's recent book Surviving Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality: A Challenge for the Twenty-first Century. I came across a passage earlier today that, while largely irrelevant to my dissertation, caught my interest. Gracia presents a whole bunch of arguments in his first chapter against the notions of race, ethnicity, and nationality. He himself doesn't oppose these terms but simply wants to distinguish among them while acknowledging the role such categories play in reality. But he begins with these arguments to show what he's responding to.
One of the arguments against nationality struck me as particularly awful. When you have nations that aren't under some higher authority there's room for abuse, and there isn't a lot that other nations can do when countries like Saudi Arabia, China, or Cuba violate what everyone else sees as human rights. National sovereignty prevents enforcement of human rights. This is all true as far as it goes (although those who think a just war can be waged on humanitarian grounds will be less affected by this). The argument establishes, then, that this view of national sovereignty prevents nations from being held accountable. But what follows is strange. Gracia summarizes the conclusion: "The argument, then, points out the need to do away with the myth of nationality and to recognize that all humans are equal and deserve an inter-national, rather than a national, government." (Gracia, p.8)
I was following along (aside from the parenthetical issue above) until this point. Just how does making one absolute authority count as removing the potentiality for abuse? Isn't this removing accountability rather than providing more? Local leaders would have less chance of abusing their authority under a worldwide government, but those at the top would have a much easier time of abusing theirs. Abuse at higher levels is often much worse and much harder to deal with. Someone defending nations as good things will need to say more than this to overcome the argument, but what amazed me was that someone might use these considerations for this conclusion. They seem to me to point more toward anarchy than a global government.