The challenge for humanity in this century is to coordinate itself into a single organism. With the internet we now have the beginning of a central nervous system and are able to be conscious of the state of ourselves as a coordinated whole. We are conscious of the challenges we face more clearly than ever, and must defeat self interest where it works against the interests of the whole. Unfortunately those self interests are working against any sort of control, and consolidating their power, even as we become more aware of how their actions are detrimental to the welfare to the rest of the species.
The current world order is essentially still one of warring national tribes, competing for resources, with the allocation of resources mediated by capitalism. Capitalism is an efficient means of applying resources to real world problems, but when we see capital everywhere growing itself without any connection to real world value, then this is a sign that there is a feedback loop, of capital creating capital, which at the largest scale is similar to a ponzi scheme as it favours those who already hold capital. This has got out of control in recent decades, and is concentrating power into the hands of a very few. Many multinational corporations which hold this capital are now so powerful that most national governments can no longer effectively regulate them, and so the interests of society and the ordinary people who make up 99% of it, which governments are there to represent, are being subverted.
There is increasingly a need for centralized oversight that works in the interests of everyone. This does not mean smashing the current system, but it needs to be managed like a living organism, so that individual components work in harmony for a common aim. Ultimately this coordination is necessary for the continuation of all life on the planet, as it is clear that individual corporations and nations will destroy the habitability of the planet if it serves their immediate interests. Individuals are not automatically against the interests of humanity at large, but such is the nature of subjectivity, that our personal interests will override the interests of the community at large if they are not checked. This is true at every scale, from the individual person, to small companies, or cities, nations, or multinationals.
In return for regulation, the overarching government would ensure that different communities and organisations and parts of society had their needs met and their voices heard. Capitalism could power on, like a mitochondria in a cell, but with limits to ensure it did not burn through the entire planet. Movement of people and resources could be freed to to flow wherever it was needed, without arbitrary artificial boundaries. All the world’s citizens would be guaranteed healthcare for life, and an education, but there would have to be control of birth rates to ensure that population does not outstrip the resources of the planet. The planet itself would be managed like a garden, and the decision making would be informed by the best science of the day, continually being sharpened in the educational institutions assisted by Artificial Intelligences that would lie at the nucleus of society.
The shift from the current system of world governance based on individual nations vs corporations, to one which is larger than both is enormous and revolutionary.
The world’s military will need to be reassigned to the higher authority of humanity itself, its nation states accept that authority, and corporate and family interests will also need to become pliant to the decree of this new master. Power structures and flows of materials will need to be streamlined and imbalances addressed – developing nations will ultimately benefit, at the expense of the rich nations. How can this divestment of all the world’s existing powers, into a new global power, possibly come about? Will the hands in which power is now vested willingly release their grip, or will power be torn from their clutch? It is clear that the better interests of humanity as a whole will need to cohere into a single solution for this to work, and this can only happen thanks to one new agent, the internet.
A whole-world government would be possible without the internet, but it would be a lot more difficult. Without the internet, it is difficult to see how it could be run efficiently or very democratically. Bodies like the United Nations are natural homes for bureaucratic inefficiencies, and this is a problem with the way governments are run everywhere, but it becomes increasingly so when such organisations become larger. The traditional apparatus of democratic government does not scale very well. Existing bodies like the UN have emerged out of existing cliques of nation states, and are designed to operate without challenging existing power structures too much. Many of these organisations suffer from an uneven allocation of power, and the uneven allocation of consequences of bad governance which has its origin at the national level. The underlying imbalance of national interests is still at play in all these organisations.
Nation states appeal to the instincts which create divisions between people. They are unlikely to hand over all of power, and there is little appetite in the general community to enforce it, as we all have an interest in the power of our own particular nation state. Even if there were an appetite, how could this be communicated through the existing democratic structures? They are self-reinforcing, and resistant to such paradigm shifting ideas. There is some capacity for incremental change, but there may not be time given the challenges which humanity as a species will face. And this is made worse by the problems discussed earlier; democracies are under assault from the freedom hungry instincts of corporations, so that they are less and less the agents of change in society, and more often involved in battles to protect a narrowing sphere of rights against a changing world.
Fortunately, through the internet, these structures can be bypassed and the needs of humanity as a whole can be given a voice. The internet, in a very real way, is becoming the brain of our species. Through the multitude of our voices, a single voice can emerge, a voice that does speak for us all. It has only happened in a piecemeal way so far, but we are getting much closer. I envisage a sort of stream of consciousness twitter type feed in which decisions are made in a continuous rolling fashion, with the involvement of millions in the preparation and the voting. The process, an eternal play of policy deliberation, will deliver I believe a much more sophisticated engine of governance than anything currently in existence.
If anything, the thrill in participating in such a system – one that was endowed with real decision making power, rather than a simple talkfest like twitter – will be one of its greatest strengths over existing methods of governing. As people are drawn to participate the system, through their own concerns and interests (perhaps nothing will be outside the scope of its decision making power) it will get legitimacy and will grow. It may start out as a national system, a kind of ‘open democracy’ movement, or perhaps a technical tool that is confined to a certain set of users, but the demonstration of its efficacy – its lightning speed, its superior representation, its sheer spark and intelligence, must be what turns it into a system that can speak for all of humanity. Its final shape will be a reflection of who we are as a species – insofar as we have weaknesses and problems, the system will have those too. I expect it to be capable of emotion, inanity, wit, compassion and logic, none of which is guaranteed by a society run by bureaucrats or cyborgs.
The challenge to such a system is that it can be hacked and subverted by the same vested interests which it is designed to transcend. This kind of manipulation is so antithetical to the well being of the human organism that it must be constantly be guarded against, just as white blood cells seek out rogue parasites and viruses and coordinate to quickly stifle them. Such attacks on the system must be given the status of the highest crimes, a crime as serious as treason. Without going down the rabbit hole of policing this, I merely assert that such a system can and should exist as a way of ensuring a single voice for humanity itself, to outweigh the authority of any single government, or corporation, or indeed any clique of governments and corporations. It should cut through as a voice of authority and be integrated enough in the lives of every human being that they do not doubt that they are part of that voice, which is endowed with the decision making power of human society, and that their interests are somehow being accounted for.
This sounds very revolutionary but I do not see that having an overarching internet based ‘brain’ needs to lead immediately to the reorganisation of society down to the minutiae. In fact, its principal concerns may be to see that healthy competition – the market place of ideas – can continue to occur, in a fair and balanced way. It will demonstrate in its own activity just how such a market place can be run. Its primary mission will be to preserve the conditions of a healthy human organism – the environment obviously needs to be preserved where it is sustaining for our health and wellbeing, but each individual human is also worthy of society’s care just as is every cell in a human body. In this respect it resembles a socialist ideal, and it does have much in common with that ideal. But it is fundamentally democratic, and should focus on allowing the maximum personal freedom to individuals, within the confines of what is required for the continuation of humanity. Humans need to work out their own personal desires in order to stay healthy and happy. This requirement for a reasonable amount of personal freedom is just as important to us as individuals as is clean air and water. So while the cost of cohesion is some loss of freedom by those who currently have more of it than the average, the gain will be security, and the provision of human needs to everyone. I do not envisage that there will be princes and paupers in the new society. Perhaps, with this loss, it will be slightly less colourful. This seems to be the inevitable price unfortunately for the continuation of the species on this planet.
The crucial part that the internet plays in this must be emphasized. Individuals have enormous difficulty in separating their own desires for freedom from the greater desires of the society they inhabit. For this reason, individuals or individual entities like corporations or nation states can never be the ideal candidates for ruling such a human wide system. Every democratic system of governance in essence seeks to remove the risks of too much power vested in too few hands for too long. The internet, with its ability to assimilate the views of millions into a coherent whole, in real time, is a breakthrough technology for democracy through a fair and representative system of governance on a vast scale, without becoming bogged down in bureaucracy. It will be quite different to every government that has come before – it is not really government, more like a personality. For that reason alone it will have the agency to power this change.
 The human body analogy is a rich one, and initially appeared in Vedic thought. I will not draw it out further here except to say that human bodies do have the capacity to remove ‘rogue cells’ (cancers) which suggests some fairly ruthless policies might still emerge from what is initially an all-inclusive ideal. I also like the idea of expelling mutated cells as zygotes to test alternative systems somewhere away from the main body.
 In the future it may well be possible for new societies to emerge in space which will be wild and risky again.