The Importance and Limitations of the Parliamentary Model in Development of a World-State

The parliamentary model provides leverage to the populace of a nation to offset the control and power of a ruling elite or aristocracy.  This function, when properly developed, allows the citizens to take a certain measure of control in the direction and policies of the nation.  When we look at the next transitional phase, the need to develop some kind of unified world-state to tackle the global issues of modern society, we naturally look to the parliamentary model as a potential direction, as a world-state must find a way to take into account, in a fair and balanced way, the differences of culture, religion, historical variations in economic and political organisation within each of the nations.  There are however also limitations to the parliamentary model, as it tends to move slowly, and only effectively works when it has been set up to protect the rights of minorities and thus, must find ways to reach some form of consensus between a majority and the minorities in the societal grouping.  The very nature of this process, however, makes it difficult for such a governing body to respond promptly and efficiently to acute issues.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “…it has not yet been found possible to combine Parliamentarism and the modern trend towards a more democratic democracy; it has been always an instrument either of a modified aristocratic or of a middle-class rule.  Besides, its method involves an immense waste of time and energy and a confused, swaying and uncertain action that “muddles out” in the end some tolerable result.  This method accords ill with the more stringent ideas of efficient government and administration that are now growing in force and necessity and it might be fatal to efficiency in anything so complicated as the management of the affairs of the world.  Parliamentarism means too, in practice, the rule and often the tyranny of a majority, even of a very small majority, and the modern mind attaches increasing importance to the rights of minorities.  And these rights would be still more important in a World-State where any attempt to override them might easily mean serious discontents and disorders or even convulsions fatal to the whole fabric.  Above all, a Parliament of the nations must necessarily be a united parliament of free nations and could not well come into successful being in the present anomalous and chaotic distribution of power in the world.  The Asiatic problem alone, if still left unsolved, would be a fatal obstacle and it is not alone; the inequalities and anomalies are all-pervasive and without number.”

The exploitation of resources, and the imbalance in access to the basic resources of the planet, combined with the impacts on the air, land, and water of the misuse or overuse of those resources, combine to create world crises that impact various regions and peoples unequally.  Those who have control over the levers of power try to maintain their power through military and economic forces, as well as through oppression and manipulation of information.  Such a circumstance makes it impossible to address the aspirations of the large numbers of existing nations which want to have a free, fair and balanced say in the questions of interrelationships, commerce, and resource utilisation in any kind of successful parliamentary model.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 23, Forms of Government, pp. 202-203