Tag Archives: new world order

Stop the World I Want to Get Off…Political Edition

If at first you don’t secede…..

Apparently, according to a report from CBS, folks in Northern Colorado are so unhappy with the elitist pinko liberals in Denver, that they are seriously .talking about seceding. They propose to create a 51st state, and are inviting like-minded folk in Nebraska and maybe Kansas to join them.

Readers of this blog know that I frequently pontificate about the dangers of an “us-versus-them” worldview, but it’s increasingly obvious that Americans come in (at least) two very different flavors: oh-my-god terrified and reality-based. The OMG terrified folks wake up each morning to a world that is increasingly multicultural, increasingly technological, increasingly complex, and they want off. This wasn’t what they bargained for, they don’t want to understand it, they don’t like it, and they definitely don’t like the people who seem to accept, deal with and even welcome the scary changes.

They want out.

These are the people most disoriented by the presence of a black guy in the White House….not necessarily because they’re racists (although many are), but because Obama is a symbol of a “new world order,” a symbol of the immensity and rapidity of the hated change. These are the people who were most vicious about Nancy Pelosi when she was Speaker–a woman running the House? Unnatural! These are the people who find “illegals” from south of the border immensely more threatening than those from Canada because they’re brown and speak a different language.

While the rest of us are just trying to cope with a changing world–trying to figure out how to live together on a planet getting smaller every day (and not incidentally, trying to figure out how to save that planet for our children and grandchildren), they are frantically looking for a way back to a simpler past and a world they can understand.

It’s not going to happen. And that makes them crazy.

A Thought Experiment

Sometimes, it’s useful to step outside our usual political debates about programs and policies, about this or that candidate or pundit or official, and think a bit about a more basic question–perhaps the most basic question facing any society: how should we live together?

In my graduate Law and Public Affairs class, we spend a semester considering the American answer to that question. We discuss the effect of Enlightenment philosophy on our understanding of the role of the state, we examine the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the constraints those documents impose on policy formation, and we take a closer look at current policy debates through that lens. Well and good–the stated purpose of the class is to give public affairs students an appreciation of the myriad ways our legal system shapes our policies.

But every so often, I give an exam with multiple questions from which students can choose (“write an essay on one of the following questions…”), and among the choices, I include one that poses the following scenario:  Earth has been destroyed in WWIII. You and a few thousand other inhabitants, representing a cross-section of nationalities, cultures, races and religions, have escaped to an M-Class planet. (I’m a Star Trek fan. Sue me.) Create a new government.

The question instructs students to identify the values they will privilege, the measures they will take to ensure stability, etc.

The point of the question is to shake students’ tendency to think that the world they inhabit is the only world possible; to get them to question structures and processes they take for granted, and to think about more basic questions. Typically, those who choose to answer my “science fiction” question, rather than the more mundane alternatives (immigration, taxation, environmental issues, etc.) are the better students, although even among them there are plenty who simply fashion their new world government after that of the U.S.,who simply  replicate the world they inhabit, albeit with minor changes. (Most would get rid of the electoral college, for example.) Over the years, however, I have gotten some truly inspired answers–funny, thoughtful, creative approaches to that fundamental question of how humans should construct our social order.

The answer someone gives to that question is a pretty good clue to what they truly value–not to mention to their ability to understand what can and cannot be expected to work in a world composed of real, diverse and quarrelsome humans.

What “new world order” would you create, if you had the chance?