Vittorio Possenti

Pagine di filosofia - Etica, Metafisica, Politica

  • Aumenta dimensione caratteri
  • Dimensione caratteri predefinita
  • Diminuisci dimensione caratteri
Home Politica Governance of Globalization and Global Political Authority

Governance of Globalization and Global Political Authority

Rivista di Studi Politici Internazionali”, fasc. 310, aprile-giugno 2011

The recent big world crisis, economic but also political, has brought in again the question of a better operation of financial system, of governance of globalization and its failures. Among these failure momentous is the permanent deficit of the political factor, and consequently of a world political authority responsible for the main systemic decisions. This matter is considered through some fundamental categories and perspectives laid down in the Church social doctrine, especially in the encyclicals Pacem in terris (1963) and Caritas in veritate (2008), which clearly speak in favour of public political powers at a worldwide scale: the essential argument is the inherent relation between common good and authority, and the fact that the dimension, by now global of common good of human family, demands a political authority of the same level, structured according to the principle of subsidiarity.



La récente crise, économique mais aussi politique, a relancé la question d’une meilleure opérativité du système financière, de la governance de la globalisation and des ses faillites. Parmi ces faillites d’une grande envergure est le déficit permanent du facteur politique, et par conséquence d’une autorité politique mondiale responsable des majeures décisions systémiques. Ce question est considérée a travers les principal catégories et perspectives développes par la Doctrine sociale de l’Eglise, et particulièrement dans les encycliques Pacem in terris (1963) et Caritas in veritate (2008), qui parlent clairement à faveur de pouvoirs public à l’échelle mondiale. L’argument pivot est l’inhérente relation entre le bien commune et l’autorité, et le fait que la dimension, déjà globale du bien commune de la famille humaine, veut une autorité politique du même niveau, structurée selon le principe de subsidiarité.



Governance of Globalization and Global Political Authority

Vittorio Possenti (University of Venice - Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences)


The topics pointed out in the title are currently very heavily debated. It is of some interest to approach them through the standpoint of Church social doctrine (CSD) and mainly of the encyclical Caritas in veritate (CV), considered as an expression of a peculiar ‘public/political philosophy’. CV was promulgated by Benedict XVI in 2009, about 120 years after the starting point of the modern CSD, usually recognized in the issue of Rerum Novarum (Leo XIII, 1891). The method to make reference to CSD is not so frequently used in social sciences and in political thought, but it could show itself fruitful and carrier of a fresh approach to the matter, as that doctrine has an its own access to the ethical and political problems on the basis of a long tradition and constant attention to new events.

One of the central assumptions of this paper is that the era of ideologies is not ended with the collapse of communism: some ideologies are still alive, and they falsify the reality. If this is true, then we have to strive after knowledge, a sufficient knowledge able to reduce risks of wrong actions or of wrong non-actions. Many things go wrong because we do not have a sufficient knowledge of social phenomena, which are in themselves very complex.


A multiple crisis of governance


1. The problem of the governance of globalization became urgent at the moment in which its process started: it began slowly in the seventeenth and eighteenth century and became powerful in the second half of the twentieth. By governance I mean the whole of the functions of government and control, authority and direction, decisions and purposes that it is necessary to exercise in the political, economic, legal, social and communicative fields, for the achievement of a positive outcome and of an equitable allocation of public goods. There cannot be such an outcome, and therefore a global common good, without a multiple and stratified governance from the bottom up, which aims at achieving global institutions and solidarity between 'foreigners' - foreigners because of culture and civilization - capable of recognizing and including the other. Humanity now forms a community of destiny.

The problem we are facing is the most fundamental and ancient of all the political problems, namely to 'invent' political institutions for human groups which have none and yet need them, with the aggravating circumstance that today these groups are the entire human family.


2. The issue of governance must now be addressed in a context, which has been deteriorated by a multiple crisis, which has proceeded from the financial and economic system, but which cannot be reduced to these areas only and that manifests itself as social, cultural and moral one. It is a crisis in the global economy that is manifested mainly in it, but which does not only come from economics. Benedict XVI focused on the ethical and cultural roots of the crisis in his Message for World Peace Day 2009 ("Fighting poverty to build peace"), and Caritas in Veritate (see in particular n. 65), about the failures of unscrupulous finance (1).

The multiple crisis that undermines the foundations of a free and just society and involves the three main areas of each society (socio-economic, political and cultural-axiological), includes:

a) A heavy defect of governance on behalf of the global institutions, primarily but not exclusively economic, which were not able to keep up and often failed. One result has been an incredible destruction of wealth. If global economic governance was capable of facing up to the task, political governance did not fare better. Systemic disorder remains very high. With respect to globalization, it seems that it is the risks and negative repercussions, which are globalized, much less the benefits. Consequently, many require a strengthening of the international authorities responsible for global financial regulation and control.

b) A crisis of capitalism, which became manifest in the vehement and dangerous transition from an industrial capitalism to a purely financial one, based on greed and blind to systemic risks: this is a transformation that can change for the worse the very nature of capitalism (2). Indeed abstract financial transactions have replaced human relations and a wise risk assessment. And the market itself, which is not an abstract mechanism but an institution and a place for relations, is in urgent need of rules.

Such a crisis has materialized into a real lust for wealth, fuelled by speculation and irrational financial betting, in a ruthless desire for rapid enrichment. Global finance turned out to be based on very short-term rationales, almost exclusively aimed at maximizing the value increase of the activities themselves, indifferent to aspects that are not the speculative ones and unconnected with any consideration of the common good. We should investigate the violations of basic ethical standards of fairness and justice which have taken place in the process of economic globalization, the lies that were told to the detriment of savings accounts and the thefts perpetrated.

Finance cannot be an independent and crazy variable, nor can it separate work and wealth, implying that the latter does not result from work but from speculative and financial activities. On the disasters caused by a concentration of wealth in the hands of very few people, who are often not owners but depositaries and administrators of borrowed capital, see the lines of Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, which are still eloquent (3). The economic crisis fueled by a type of finance that is not linked to any rule other than greed (auri sacra fames), highlighted a strong resurgence of the privatization of public goods. In any case the serious damages resulting from deregulation and laissez-faire policies, which began in the Anglo-Saxon countries in the 80s and later spread to the West, came out. With deregulation, the economic sector and even more the financial one were made increasingly independent of democracy and politics, with the formation of oligopolistic financial mergers.

c) A cultural crisis, in which in the negative weight of anthropological and moral models of behavior emerged: with respect to the former, I would like to point out the figure of 'homo oeconomicus' guided by self-interest, and with respect to the latter the reference to a strongly utilitarian ethics and to an instrumental rationality.

It is naïve, I said at the beginning, to believe that the era of ideologies ended with the collapse of communism. The ideology of scientism and, in the economic and political field, that of neoliberism, which in the last forty years has experienced a surprising revival in the West, are still going strong. Neoliberism, which stakes only on market, is a form of materialism: it considers as essential reality only the economic goods and attaches a primordial value to the market, which becomes the benchmark for everything else. The laissez-faire ideology has convinced companies and states to practice ever more the primacy of the market and of the freedom of exchange. It has influenced the actors' behaviour, leading them to consider many goods as mere commodities with the related idea that anything can be bought.

This was coupled with the systematic underestimation of an ethics of virtue in the market and in economic behavior, i.e. of the civic virtues of trust, loyalty, and moral integrity, capacity for healthy relationships with each other. The economics is and remains a human science that can never marry a neutral axiology, and it is futile to rely on a real development without honehaving recourse to st men (4).

d) A crisis of justice. It is obvious but often forgotten that an efficient economic system that produces high quantities of goods can at the same time also be unfair in their allocation. Development aid has strongly diminished and on the world scene the poor are left with very few representatives that speak on their behalf.


Political Globalization


3. Within the problem of globalization as a multilevel process that concerns the economy, technology, law, politics and its institutions, the most decisive and at the same time the most lacking area is political globalization and the structure of authority and of the public powers at global level. I will give particular importance to this issue, not only for its decisiveness, but also for the delay and lack of analysis in which it is left: indeed the analytical elaborations and attention given to economic and sociological issues are more frequent and accurate than those which address political ones. More generally it is a matter of giving back to the political responsibility and to the reality of politics that objective weight that has sometimes remained latent or less developed in the recent Church's Social Teaching, perhaps for the prevalence of other more markedly economic and sociological languages. Now these can be the bases to develop important theories and practices on the state-market nexus and its shortcomings, much less on many other fundamental political phenomena: peace-war, human rights and duties, common good, environmental, bioethical and biopolitical matters, etc. And it is the reality itself of the world situation which imperiously invites us to reclaim the domain of politics.

Caritas in Veritate (CV) recaptures, so to speak, the political issue, devoting some considerations to it, which are not very lengthy but are absolutely relevant as far as the issues they address. CV incorporates the powerful conceptual structure of Pacem in Terris, updating its specific references several decades later. Published in 1963, John XXIII's encyclical will be fifty years old in 2013: the fact that CV returns to it brings with it the hope that a major document might be issued on its anniversary. In a way, the messages for the World Days of Peace, which have been taking place since 1969, have traced its path.

The references to PT and its update are particularly evident in § 67 of the CV. The current crisis, which many have felt almost exclusively as financial, has deep roots in politics and in the related institutions. The big global problems have many names: poverty, war, arms race, energy and environmental crisis, mass migration, genocide, serious situations of injustice and violations of human rights. It is unthinkable that the solution of such a bundle of global problems can be found without a grand project leading to a global political authority: "there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago, and organized according to subsidiarity. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good” (CV, n. 67). An organization, which oversteps but does not cancel the level of the state, is necessary on the basis of the existence of a universal common good which cannot be ensured by a fragmented political responsibility. In this decisive field Caritas in Veritate applies the criterion of tradition that is evolving in new contexts, raising and recovering the precious acquisitions of Pacem in Terris.

According to John XXIII's encyclical, “the rulers of individual nations, being all on an equal footing, largely fail in their efforts to achieve this, however much they multiply their meetings and their endeavors to discover more fitting instruments of justice. And this is no reflection on their sincerity and enterprise. It is merely that their authority is not sufficiently influential”, because of the unbridgeable difference between the current political organization and the objective requirements of the universal common good. The new, global problems cannot be adequately addressed and solved unless they are addressed by political authorities that have a breadth, structure and means of the same proportions and capable of operating efficiently on a global scale (see n. 137). Consequently the moral order itself demands the establishment of some such general form of public authority.

Note that PT analysis is not only concerned with the tragedy of war and the establishment of perpetual peace (Kant 1795, Maritain 1951), but turns to the common good of the human family and to the safeguarding of the dignity of every human being.

There is a fundamental and perennial task that concerns the whole human family and that is summed up in the safeguarding of the rights of each and all: this goal was put into concrete form for the first time in human history in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Magna Charta of international law on human rights and of the world political authority.


4. Within three years (1963-65) John XXIII with Pacem in Terris, Paul VI with his 1964 address to the UN and the Council with Gaudium et Spes, speaking with one voice on the political key, laid the foundations for a postmodern political philosophy, of which modern thought for centuries remained free even in its most enlightened representatives, while its prevailing line (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Hegel, etc.) went in the opposite direction. Now Benedict XVI reiterates this essential theme in CV. About 15 years before the Pacem in Terris J. Maritain with Man and the State had paved the way by establishing the need for a global political authority that did not limit itself to a UN reform. This reform is certainly necessary but flawed by the simple but radical fact that the UN is an association of sovereign states which do not renounce their sovereignty on the most essential points: for example they want to guarantee themselves at all costs the alleged right to declare war. However precious, the UN work cannot get to the root of evil, and inevitably remains precarious, because it is a body created and set in motion by the states, of which it can only record the decisions (especially of the most powerful ones). The most formidable obstacle that prevents the resolution of the great problems of the human family is the lack of political organization in the world which, by perpetuating international anarchy and irresponsibility, makes vain many projects for improvement. In the absence of that political organization, we should certainly appeal to multilateralism, although we should be aware of its inherent limitations.

Giving proof of realism, CV lists a number of fundamental matters that should be managed by such authority: the governance of the global economy; full disarmament, food security and peace; the safeguarding of the environment and the regulation of migrations. Single States are no longer able to exercise their sovereignty over all these fields: the new situation requires the building of sites of integration of responsibilities and decisions: European Union, G8, G20, etc. Of course the world authority called for by the Church's Social Doctrine would need to be legitimated from the bottom up and this is lacking today in several international bodies.


5. World political authority and the common good. Happily the Church's Social Doctrine does not follow the 'libertarian' path, which when taken to the extreme leads to anarchy of a civil society that builds itself by autopoiesis, and proceeds without any real function of authority. Recalling the value of the person and of the intermediate social formations between individual and state, this teaching goes beyond the scope of the state-market relations, within which some would like to confine the social dialectic. It inserts a more fundamental level of reality: that of the link between common good and authority. Indeed, the CSD reacts to that demonization and accusation against authority, which largely afflicts the social sciences and public sphere, and that makes us blind to reality, interpreted through the blinkers of ideology. Yet authority is omnipresent, and its concept is one of the foremost in theological and political thought: Leo XIII recalled it in 1885, even before Rerum Novarum, with the encyclical Immortale Dei (5).

There is no doubt that the notions of authority and common good are among the most controversial and harassed by the political thought of the last half-century. Looking at the first, at least three objections must be overcome to return to use the term, and fortunately the Church's Social Doctrine has enough courage not to be intimidated by the headwind: the invisible hand tends to make superfluous the task of the political authority; the authority is disastrously assimilated to illegitimate power. The third objection is more hidden and 'theological' or better antitheological, and concerns the rejection of the father and of paternal authority, in which the opponents see a repercussion or a reflection of the divine authority. The concept of authority has to deal with the attitude of secularism that seeks to dissolve all theological traces to arrive at an immanent political doctrine without transcendence. Therefore the (a)theological reasons for the crisis of the concept of authority should also be explored.

6. After these hints to the problem of authority, which deserves a wider development, the question that counts should be raised: for what purpose and why does the international political reality itself force us to address the problem of a world political authority? It is a dream or a need? For a long time the more conscious political thought has developed the idea of a world political authority to overcome independent state sovereignties and the solution of the war problem, which arises from the clash between sovereign states. According to L. Robbins, 'The ultimate condition that gives rise to those clashes of national economic interests which lead to international war, is the existence of independent national sovereignties. Not capitalism, but the anarchic political organization of the world is the main evil of our civilization ... the existence of independent sovereign states should be rightly regarded as the fundamental cause of conflict' (6). According to mentioned author, therefore, the political anarchy of the world inevitably leads to conflicts between sovereignties and to the war as an irrational way of resolving disputes. His diagnosis is acute and valid today as yesterday, but is no longer sufficient: the overcoming of the organization of the world based solely on sovereign states is imposed not only by the removal of war, but by the existence of those purposes that concern everyone and by the need to pursue the global goals. Avoiding this, politics would fail and a long series of counter finalities would have to be suffered: hunger, chaos, destruction, injustice, and continuous violations of the human person. A global political authority is necessary in principle for governing globalization, not only to remove war.

Its need emerges from the very theme of the common good, which has now reached a global dimension. Its theme was neglected for decades by political thought, except in the personalistic and humanistic one, and now re-emerges as unavoidable. Its most meaningful personalistic, communitarian and ‘perfectioristic’ formulation can be found in Gaudium and Spes: "The common good, i.e. the set of those conditions of social life which enable groups and individual members to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily." The text echoes the formulation of the encyclical Mater et Magistra of John XXIII, according to which the common good is the ' total of those social conditions which permit and foster in human beings the integral development of their person' (7). So the single man as well as social groupings can be defined by a goal, an achievement, i.e. a 'perfection', by an improved and higher implementation of themselves (please note that 'perfection' does not designate only an axiological and moral characteristic, but also an ontological one: development and a good and achieved life). With reference to the concept of perfection, the discourse on the common good is no longer just the prerogative of the social sciences, but invites philosophy and theology to join it.

A similar approach is found in CV, which rightly stresses the difference between abstract transaction and human relation, and the importance of integration between individuals and between peoples. Precisely for this reason it requires a deeper critical evaluation of the category of relation. This is a task that cannot be undertaken by the social sciences alone, insofar as the contribution of disciplines such as metaphysics and theology is needed if man's transcendent dignity is to be properly understood'. (n. 53). These are not random notes in CV but also appear in other texts of the CSD and highlight two caveats that I consider important. They mark a distance with respect to positions that sometimes can also be found today among the personalists and which excessively expand the scope and scale of relation. Firstly in ontological personalism the idea of relation cannot be led to the limit of declaring the human person nothing more than a 'subsistent relation' if not at the exorbitant price of dissolving the concept and reality itself of the human person (in this case the laudable goal of combating individualism leads to a relationism that dissolves the substantiality of the subject). Secondly, the common good cannot be simply traced back to a relational good: it certainly comes from the cooperative and relational action of the members of society, but it is realized in substantive goods regarding the individuals and society in its hubs and groups.

However it still remains true that the common good emanates from a society that is not a collection of unrelated functional subsystems, each with its internal rules, but is a concrete and actual whole. A sectional and functionalist philosophy of society, rather than a holistic one, is well on its way to not understand the social dynamics and the very idea of common good, which is not the sum of goods produced by different functional subsystems.


7. Subsidiarity and polyarchy. The paragraph 67 of CV must be completed by § 57, which rightly emphasizes the principle of subsidiarity, “particularly well-suited to managing globalization and directing it towards authentic human development. In order not to produce a dangerous universal power of a tyrannical nature, the governance of globalization must be marked by subsidiarity, articulated into several layers and involving different levels that can work together”. The same supreme political authority should be organized in a subsidiary and polyarchich way (ibid. and §. 41). The concept of polyarchy thus enters the CSD for the first time. Polyarchy means that social reality and authority cannot be traced to a single level that incorporates all the rest. Polyarchy, which opposes both monarchy and anarchy, cannot be but an ordered polyarchy, structured according to different levels and in accordance with subsidiarity, unified by global goals, capable of boosting the role of equilibrium and mutual control between the various levels, never forgetting the ultimate goal that is unified and global. Ordered polyarchy is the real subsidiarity, and the true antidote to the dangerous myth of world state and 'world government' (the Pope does not use the latter term which is somewhat ambiguous, and could suggest a world state without multilevel polyarchy and without subsidiarity). The element of polyarchy introduces the constitutional limitation of powers that exists in the tradition of constitutionalism and of the CSD.


8. CV rightly requires both a reform of international economic and financial architecture, and a reform of the UN, in various ways already advocated by Paul VI and John Paul II, in order to “give real substance to the notion of family of nations”, to implement the principle of responsibility to protect and also give the poorer nations an effective voice in common decisions (n. 67). The impartial observer of the current situation does not record significant changes in this regard, as four permanent nuclei exist that deserved and still deserve our attention:

I) the serious crisis of the multilateral order based on the United Nations involves the stalling of the movement towards worldwide political institutions. In the last few years instability and complexity have increased, especially at the international level, and the temptation to unilateralism and disrespect for international law have also increased. Events in Iraq and the preemptive war of 2003 brought the UN to a serious crisis with the real risk of its substantial irrelevance, a crisis which is not yet fully overcome;

II) the failure to achieve UN development goals and the tangible risk that the Millennium Goals projected to 2015 will be circumvented;

III) the growing problems in the regulation of global trade and consequent aggravation of global inequalities;

IV) inertia towards the environment and the dangers of global warming.


Despite the extreme need for reforming and strengthening the UN, a reformed UN can be only a distant precursor of a global political authority. To achieve such an authority a strong cosmopolitism must be present, which is feeble today, and a kind of recognized legitimacy. But equally important is the ability to identify and achieve shared goals. My opinion is that this point is so fundamental that it may also require some sacrifice on the side of the full cosmopolitan and democratic legitimacy. In other words a world political authority could perhaps precede the formation of a global civil society, which is its natural base. While giving all the weight they deserve to the criteria of subsidiarity and polyarchy, you cannot hide the fact that there will have to be a place where final decisions are taken on the overall purposes and global problems.



Modernity of the Social Doctrine of the Church

9. Modern CSD (the encyclicals Pacem in Terris, Populorum Progressio, Centesimus Annus, Laborem Exercens, Caritas in Veritate, etc.) represents a wise and invaluable contribution on social issues, justice, politics, economics: it is naturally allied to the most sensitive public philosophy of the last half century, and sometimes more advanced and progressive. This assessment fits especially for political domain, where this doctrine represents perhaps the most authentic future for politics with acquisitions that are not present in important thinkers of the XXth century. I refer to three of them, and precisely on the problem to progress towards worldwide political institutions.

Hans Kelsen felt the mortal risk represented by sovereignty, but he did not go beyond a draft of organization of world society (see Peace through Law, 1944), developed only at a juridical level and drastically undermined by its extreme legal positivism that excludes all natural law and is very near to juridical nihilism with his devastating idea that law can have any content. In his research on war and peace Norberto Bobbio recognized prominence and importance of international political institutions, though without reaching the idea of world political authority, which he mistrusted because he thought of it, following Hobbes, as a tyrannical superstate without subsidiarity. Jurgen Habermas has recently taken up the Kantian project for perpetual peace, without in my opinion going beyond the realm of law to enter that of politics: I want to mean that Kantian-Habermasian key word is only law/right (internal, international and cosmopolitan), while CSD perspective looks towards more basic realities, such as political authority, common good, and surely law (8). The categories themselves of modern politics (indivisible sovereignty, power, conflict) and its paradigm, often focused only on force, are inadequate, while the paradigm of the Church's social doctrine rests on the hinges of the common good, authority, justice, subsidiarity, solidarity. From this side it shows the need to escape from the Hobbesian and Hegelian scheme, unhappy legacy of modernity, for a new beginning (9).


1. The CSD rests upon some fundamental principia and criteria such as human dignity; ethical character of social, economic and political action; solidarity and subsidiarity; the need of political authority at any level to reach common good, with the consequence of a proportion between the level of common good and the level of authority; the universal destination of goods. Among them the most original are perhaps the last one and the second-last. CSD, at least starting from Pacem in terris, insists heavily on the structural imbalance between the real exigencies of a global/world common good and the fragmented structure of political authority: several central issues of our epoch remain unresolved due to the lack of a global or at least regional agreement, such as migrations, governance of finance, settlement of conflicts and so on.

We stand in need of a global governance, for on these matters the phenomena pointed out cannot be regulated by national authorities alone. And this requires an extension and a strengthening of international institutions in order to reach stability and protect against irresponsible behaviours, and to put into effect multilevel decisions. The problem of governance cannot be reduced to a spontaneous mechanism: the saying which rather usually says ‘governance without government’, or also ‘governance without authority and decisions’ is deceptive and short-lived. The lack of governance is found today mainly in the economic and technological globalization, due to the frailty of political responsibility. The axiom that there cannot be governance without authority recalls the importance of the generation and organization of authority and decision. What can be expected is that the major global leaders bear it in mind in making their decisions.

2. In relation with the weakness of the political factor, we have to remark a serious lack of anthropological and political conceptualization, useful to appreciate the cases which are growing and which cannot understood through the two main models so diffused in modernity and late modernity: homo oeconomicus and homo contractualis models. Starting from an individualistic paradigm it is impossible to think of and form a political organizations capable of being resistant to bad practice of unrestrained financialization and aggressiveness. In both cases the civil society is defenceless, and weak in moving from a reactive to a proactive structure. In the case of economic crisis almost none global action has been carried out, and the actions taken by States were reactive, and not anticipated and proactive. Another problem on which we must reflect is the difficulty of transferring good models from national to international level.

The shortcoming of the political paradigm show itself through the problem of peace and war, and the everlasting problem of ‘just war’. The problem of an world/international political authority, that is of a ‘third’ over the parties, is preliminary to the right implementation of the just war doctrine: its central problem is that of ‘quis judicabit?’. Which should be the international authority legitimated to recognize the character of a just war? In our epoch this legitimacy is attributed to the Security Council, that is to the supreme instance in the present situation of the world political structure: but this instance is subordinated to the veto power of five States. The perspective of a world common good would require adhering faithfully to the major international institutions. Important is the example of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which some large countries (China, India, Russia, USA) have so far refused to join. The message sent results negative and based on a concept of state sovereignty, the great myth of modern politics that drips blood and tears, which is summarized in the ruinous criterion of superiorem non recognoscere. And it is this myth that makes so impervious the road designed by PT and CV.

An additional knotty problem concerns the rejection of the doctrine of preemptive war, through which states regain possession of the fatal right to declare war. This doctrine re-introduces in a broad and uncontrollable form the jus ad bellum of states (especially those more powerful), proposes again the legitimacy of the war as a means of resolving international disputes, restores an unquestionable and unpredictable war-power, weakening the brakes of prudence and fostering a vehement and thoughtless treatment of policy issues. In the doctrine of preemptive war the State which intends to declare it, is both judge and party, claiming the right to determine when, how and why to have recourse to weapons (10).

3. An economic globalization and financialization left to neoliberal orthodoxy, subordinates public decisions to the imperatives of global capitalist integration which weakens the most vulnerable individuals, and leaves unsheltered the effective protection of substantive rights, such as the right to life, freedom from hunger and thirst, basic sanitation and education. Returning to the decision taken by the General Assembly on 8 September 2000 UN Millennium Declaration, many observers are urging the reform of ECOSOC, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, turning it into a kind of Security Council with jurisdiction over environmental and social crises, which trouble the world, on the basis of a combined representation between large economic powers, countries demographically significant and members elected by the UN General Assembly, with powers similar to those assigned to the Security Council already existing. It would seek to (re) construct a global view, that has worsened considerably and often decomposed into sectional and national frameworks.





(1) Of great importance is the reaffirmation of a full right to food and water, maintained in the § 27.

(2) I think that are right people who, arguing that capitalism comes from caput, underline that the fundamental capital is the intellect. Mind is the primary source of wealth of nations: I mean inventive mind and practical intelligence, while a bad ethics can divert to the worst the most important discoveries of the mind (On these issues see V. Possenti, Oltre l’illuminismo. Ed Paoline, Cinisello Balsamo 1992, ch. V, ' Presupposti antropologici dei sistemi economici’).


(3) “In the first place, it is obvious that not only is wealth concentrated in our times but an immense power and despotic economic dictatorship is consolidated in the hands of a few, who often are not owners but only the trustees and managing directors of invested funds which they administer according to their own arbitrary will and pleasure. This dictatorship is being most forcibly exercised by those who, since they hold the money and completely control it, control credit also and rule the lending of money. Hence they regulate the flow, so to speak, of the life-blood whereby the entire economic system lives, and have so firmly in their grasp the soul, as it were, of economic life that no one can breathe against their will. And as to international relations, two different streams have issued from the one fountain-head: On the one hand, economic nationalism or even economic imperialism; on the other, a no less deadly and accursed internationalism of finance or international imperialism whose country is where profit is”, Pius XI, Quadragesimo anno, nn. 105-109.


(4) It 's a fact that in the pseudo-global world of today and tomorrow will continue to exist different ethics of economics (and divers anthropologies), in opposition and even conflict, with the possibility that their competition can delete the moral appraisal in economic decisions, or create relativistic attitude, in the sense that the lack of ethics pushes towards the multiplicity and equal legitimacy of moral options.

(5) Some developments on authority can be found in the following books or essays of mine: L’azione umana. Morale, politica e Stato in J. Maritain, Città Nuova, Roma 2003, "Solidarity and Subsidiarity in international relations", in AA.VV., Pursuing the Common Good: How Solidarity and Subsidiarity Can Work Together, The Proceedings of the XIVth Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Vatican City, 2008, pp. 637-640.

(6) L. Robbins, The Economic Causes of War (1940, Italian transl., Einaudi, Torino 1944, pp. 95 and 100). In I diritti umani oggi (Laterza 2005) A. Cassese presents the international community as anarchic "As long as states do not drastically limit their sovereignty, until we will not able to establish a centralized authority (but operating according to democratic rules), there will be no certainty to ensure a minimum universal respect for human dignity", p. 233s.


(7) Gaudium et Spes, n. 26. See Mater et Magistra, n. 69.

(8) H. Kelsen, Il problema della sovranità, Giuffrè, Milan 1989, H. Kelsen, Pace attraverso il diritto, Giappichelli, Turin 1990; E. Kant, Per la pace perpetua. Progetto filosofico (1795); N. Bobbio, Il problema della guerra e le vie della pace, Il Mulino, Bologna 1984, J. Habermas, L’inclusione dell’altro, Feltrinelli, Milan 1998.

(9) For more developments on these issues cf. V. Possenti,Sovranità, pace, guerra. Considerazioni sul globalismo politico”, Teoria politica, n. 1, 2006, pp. 57-79; “Mondialisation, souveraineté, paix perpétuelle. Les perspectives de Kant et de Maritain », Recherches philosophiques, tome IV, 2008, pp. 17-38.


(10) Another perspective that seems to me unfounded is the idea, put forward in recent years, of a league of democracies to replace the UN, deemed too much restricted by many obstacles. That league would conduct more freely the war, defence, and if necessary the duty to protect. Despite its possible greater efficacy in respect of the UN, such a league does not seem desirable since it lacks real international legitimacy, which on the contrary the Security Council and the initiatives it approves have. It could embark on initiatives not sufficiently motivated, and perhaps contrary to international law and the traditional doctrine of just war, with the risk of assessing only its own interests and not those global. Furthermore, democratic states would be elevated to a privileged status. On the other side it would be mere idealism not to assess the deep difference between democratic and quasi-democratic States, and States based on totalitarianism and dictatorship. It is true that the second-type States are a permanent risk for the achievement of common good and peace, but this should not lead to the abolition of UN.