A Response to “Narrow Nationalism” — A Message from the President

A Response to “Narrow Nationalism” — A Message from the President

By Bob Flax, Ph.D.
DWF President

Although our disclaimer, found at the bottom of most of our articles, states that the views expressed in the article are not necessarily our position, I’m taking the extra step of writing to add further clarification to this with regard to the article Narrow Nationalism or World Citizenship and Global Conscience? which we published in the November edition of DWF News.  I feel that the article may convey certain misimpressions that do not reflect the overall policy of the Democratic World Federalists, so I wish to make that clear.  Here are a few of the specifics that I am referring to:

First, several statements in the article may give the false impression that the DWF dislikes or is somehow against the British people.  That is not the case.  We understand that the Brexit vote had many complexities, with the youth and politicians overwhelmingly voting to stay in the EU.  In addition, there are many World Federalists in Great Britain who are actively working for both regional and global federation.  It would be as much of a folly to lump all British citizens together as it would be to lump all US citizens together, and as an organization, the DWF understands that.  However, we also believe that many of the attitudes conveyed during the debate leading up to the Brexit vote, such as a fear and demonization of foreigners, and a lack of recognizing our interdependence in this globalized world, are the very attitudes that help fuel our most pressing problems; from war and global violence to the myriad of social justice issues we face. I imagine that the new British Prime Minister and all those who voted to leave the EU believe that they are doing what is best for their country, however, we feel they are sorely misguided.

Second, Prime Minister May’s comment, “But if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what citizenship means” is, of course, technically correct.  There is no legally recognized basis for the status of “world citizen”.  However, as the GlobeScan survey shows, that attitude is being supplanted by what might be called an emerging “global consciousness”.  With the globalization of major systems such as communications, transportation, and commerce, it is only a matter of time until democracy is also brought to the global level.  In many ways, much of the next generation is already there.

Third, the article points out that many people at Donald Trump’s rallies shout “USA! USA! To boast of their belief that their country is exceptional.”  At DWF we recognize that the idea of American exceptionalism is expressed in many quarters, and even though many of us disagree with most of Trump’s policies, we agree with him in the futility of the endless wars that we find ourselves embroiled in.  We welcome his people to join us.    

Finally, the general tone of the article may give the misimpression that the DWF is intolerant of other points of view.  We are not.  In a democratic world it is important to hear all points of view, but also point out the harm that may be caused by acting on them.  We are also happy to receive your comments in response to these articles.  Thank you for your interest.

Narrow Nationalism or World Citizenship and Global Conscience?

Narrow Nationalism or World Citizenship and Global Conscience?

world citizenBy Roger Kotila, Ph.D.
DWF Vice President 

Narrow nationalism is easy to find as we discovered from a recent speech by Great Britain’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May who said: “But if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what citizenship means.”  

May’s derogatory view of (world citizenship) brought a quick reaction from world federalists, one of whom felt that May was attacking our values and therefore requires a strong answer. 

A response by one leading world federalist cautions that to limit citizenship to nationalism undergirds the world community’s ability to address fundamental challenges facing the world.  We couldn’t agree more.

A Washington Post reporter wrote an article on May’s speech and included the results of a research survey about global citizenship. People were asked to “Agree” or “Disagree” with the statement:  “I See Myself More as a Global Citizen than a Citizen of My Country.”  This 18 nation survey shows a surprisingly large number of people identifying with global citizenship.

May’s narrow nationalism, one might speculate,  gives the British an excuse to avoid the plight of the unfortunate refugees fleeing the violence in the Middle East, wars that Britain itself helped to cause.  To hell with the flood of desperate immigrants, they are not British!  Let the European Union worry about them. 

By leaving the European Union (Brexit) the British can avoid taking responsibility for these unfortunate immigrants whose lives have been ruined by militant foreign powers whose lust for regime change has led to violent chaos from Iraq to Syria to Libya.  

By contrast, world federalists worry about the whole world and peaceful change, a moral value that gives me great pride.  Part of the genius of world federalism is world patriotism is required in order to be a genuine national patriot.

Logic tells us that what is good for the world is good for my nation since my nation is part of the world.  It follows then, that if one truly loves one’s country, one must also be a world citizen. 

Embracing world citizenship, however, is not always easy.

We are taught from an early age to look first and foremost as to what is good for our nation, not what is best for the world.  At Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s political rallies, for example, the crowd bursts forth repeatedly shouting “USA! USA!” to boast of their belief that their country is “exceptional” and deserves special consideration over all others.

Such extreme nationalism trumps global citizenship and Global Conscience.  Blind love of country can lead to national policies that are harmful to the world at large as we see when countries refuse to deal responsibly with climate change, universal rights, or insist upon their sovereign right to endanger the world by military invasions and by possessing nuclear weaponry capable of destroying the world.

*Please consider reading A Message from the President, which is a direct response to this article.

NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.

BBC: Most Identify as Global Citizens

BBC: Most Identify as Global Citizens

Global Citizen 2This news should cheer up any pessimists among us: a majority of people on the planet identify as global citizens, according to a new BBC poll. A special survey of 20,000 people in 18 countries revealed that 51 percent of people see themselves “more as global citizens than national citizens.” There were many other surprises, including high percentages for Nigeria (73% identifying with global citizenship, up 13 points since 2002), China (71%, up 14 points), Peru (70%, up 27 points), and India (67%, up 13 points), all far above the U.S. at 48%. Read this interpretation of the BBC data by David Swanson, acclaimed author of War No More. Another indicator of this trend is a recent TED talk. In it, Hugh Evans, the co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen, a charitable organization focused on inspiring global action by millennials, explains that Global Citizen’s events and other initiatives have had the effect of recruiting thousands of youth into the war against global poverty. “When you make global citizenship your mission you suddenly find yourself with extraordinary allies,” says Evans. Among these allies is President of the World Bank Dr. Jim Yong Kim, who announced at a Global Citizen event a commitment of $15 billion over the next 5 years towards improving access to clean water and sanitation. And meanwhile, don’t forget to order your World Citizen ID Card from the Registry of World Citizens, the original organization of world citizens founded in 1948 by Garry Davis. The card is now available for the first time in plastic for 5 Euros. 


NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.

2016 DWF Annual Luncheon

2016 DWF Annual Luncheon

Getting to democratic world government is what we might call the “long game.” Of course, most us are playing the “short game” right now, because of our deep concern about the November election. In our upcoming annual luncheon on August 6, we at the Democratic World Federalists invite you to switch your thinking for a few hours and play the long game as we look out a decade or two into our future. During this exercise you will be able to envision, along with our keynote speaker Stephen Dinan, a scenario in which the United States plays a key role in our evolution to a just world through fostering democratic global governance, which will make possible a truly effective global response to inequality and climate change—and even the total abolition of war on our planet.

It is because of this long-term hope for justice and peace, which is only possible when we create a well-governed world, that we have scheduled this special event on Hiroshima Day—the starkest possible reminder of the consequences of a colossal failure of vision. So, don’t miss our speaker, whose highly acclaimed new book embraces world federalist politics and links our core federalist ideas to another “long game” trend known as transpartisanism—the idea that the left and the right will some day meet not only on bipartisan common ground, but on higher ground in order to create an America and a world that contains qualities of what he calls “sacredness.” Dinan’s new book, Sacred America, Sacred World—which lays out this vision—will be available at the lunch.

On the Occasion of Hiroshima DayStephen Dinan - head shot 336crop

The Annual Good-Government Luncheon
of the Democratic World Federalists

Featuring a keynote by Stephen Dinan

“The Crucial Role of the United States
in Creating a Well-Governed World”

Stephen Dinan, a noted social entrepreneur and political strategist, is the CEO of The Shift Network who has also held senior positions at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Esalen Institute. The author of Radical Spirit, he is a graduate of Stanford University and the California Institute of Integral Studies. In his highly acclaimed new work, Sacred America, Sacred World: Fulfilling Our Mission in Service to All, Dinan explains how to reunite America to fulfill our ideals once again, which includes pursuing a sacred mission to create a democratic world federation.

Saturday, August 6, 11:30am – 2:30pm
WildFox Restaurant
225 Alameda Del Prado, Novato, CA

  $35—Speaker and lunch
$25—Speaker and lunch (low-income & students)
$15—Speaker only, at 1pm

Buy tickets online at: dwfannualluncheon2016.brownpapertickets.com

Or send a check to: DWF at 55 New Montgomery St. Suite 225, SF, CA 94105

Join our event on Facebook

Sacred America, Sacred World
“In Sacred America, Sacred World, Stephen Dinan offers us a highly compelling blueprint to engage in deep and totally achievable global transformation.”

—James O’Dea, former director of Amnesty International (United States)

“If, as the Bible says, ‘where there is no vision, the people perish,’ then this book is our survival manual. It provides exactly the vision we, the people, have been searching for.”
—Mark Gerzon, author of Leading Through Conflict


*This event is co-sponsored by Citizens for Global Solutions (Bay Area Chapter) and the Social Justice Center of Marin.

The Quest for a World Flag

The Quest for a World Flag

This piece continues our discussion of world flags from the August issue. To see an array of other planet flags not presented in this piece, please refer to planetearthflag.com. – Editor

Earth Flag #1

The Quest for a World Flag
by Phil Allen

If world federation ever achieves a real chance of implementation, some long deferred matters will have to be attended to, and one of them is the creation and adoption of a world flag—one like no other. The looming 70th anniversary of the UN presents us with a moment to consider some factors influencing such a choice. Today’s best known earth flag is, of course, the pacific-blue United Nations flag—inspired by Donal McLaughlin—that was first unfurled in 1947. Few world flag ideas were presented during the Cold War. An exception was Garry Davis’ ‘World Citizens’ banner (in 1954, shown above). This changed in the months leading up to the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, when numerous attempts at symbolizing a planetary understanding beyond political division suddenly appeared. Notably, these new flags shared symbols of global inclusion (circles, earth, peaceful colors), avoiding imagery of power and separation.

My interest in flags began in sixth grade, in New York City. I would take the subway into town to see them arrayed before the UN headquarters and buy a few desk-sized models. My childhood interest in flags returned during my college years, and I became a ‘vexillologist’—a student (and designer) of flags. This pursuit informed my ongoing engagement in world events and causes, and I eventually became a world federalist.

Earth Flag #2

You might be asking: Would we really need a world flag, anyway? Won’t a global gestalt of ‘unity’ seek to remove all symbols of division? I think we will. Even under a federated global polity, current sovereign nations and their multiple subdivisions will probably elect to retain their formal insignia and emblems, excepting those of militaries. After all, federation is not about homogenization. Also, political global unity will require an array of emblems descendant from its highest symbols, and many will be flags. The UN has already done this, to the point of creating a parliamentary-body flag! It now awaits the creation of that assembly.

But why must flags be the highest formal emblem? Why not symbols that can be placed on anything, like lapel pins? Aside from centuries of tradition, windblown cloth flags portray the eventual fragility of human power and associations. Held aloft, they provide a constant visible reminder of the need to uphold the values, hopes and traditions they embody.

Beyond looking skyward at them, other points of view may occur. As suggested by decades of movie-going, a planetary flag which represents an idea as well as a polity might say a lot about Earth to out-of-this-world visitors. It should say as much to its own inhabitants. A recently promoted ‘International Earth Flag’ by Oskar Pernefeldt of Stockholm is centered on its use by outward-gazing space colonists.

Earth Flag #3As noted, several ideas for a world flag have been promoted since, and before, the first Earth Day. A small variety is displayed on planetearthflag.com, and ideas both real and fanciful abound on other sites. Somehow missing, despite a graphically ecumenical design belied by its focus on a particular group, is the rainbow/gay pride flag—a banner not out of place in any New Age gathering of colors.

These efforts show an expected similarity of design. Colors tend toward blue and its spectral neighbors, and elements of inclusion predominate—circles, arcs, wreathes, un-armed humans. The Earth’s place as a celestial body is also frequent. What is so remarkable, though, is the absence of red and the symbols of war, power, threat and partition found on too many national flags.

However well-intended, though, many efforts show a lack of flag-design knowhow (see nava.org for more). The best way to show off a design’s success or failure is by seeing it flying on a breeze. Feeling uplifted by what you see is one measure of success.

So, while the verbal and oral components of persuasion continue, feel free to doodle world (federation) flag—or any flag—ideas. Did I say . . . it’s fun?

NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.