World Government and Big History


Centre member Ian Crawford, Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology in Birkbeck’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, has been in touch with some ideas about World Government.

Ever since the Enlightenment, some of the more utopian internationalist thinkers have speculated about the desirability, and practicality, of uniting the world politically under some kind of global government. An excellent recent book by Jo Leinen and Andreas Bummel, entitled A World Parliament, Governance and Democracy in the 21st Century, published by Democracy without Borders, Berlin, 2018, outlines much of the history and rationale for world government. The concept continues to be aired periodically, most recently by former Foreign Secretary David Milliband on BBC Radio 4. The concept has also attracted renewed scholarly attention. In 2015, a group of academics created the World Government Research Network as an on-line clearing house for ideas.

As Leinen and Bummel note in their book, any dreams of practically achieving global political unity would be greatly aided by the “formation of a planetary consciousness” so that all human beings come to see themselves as denizens of the same small planet. Achieving such a perspective will always be difficult, but in a recent article for the World Government Research Network, I have argued that the cosmic and evolutionary perspectives provided by modern science (sometimes popularised under the name of ‘Big History’) may be helpful in this regard.

My article can be viewed here: