Sorry I've been absent from the blog -- I don't have any good excuse, just general distraction. But I have been thinking a bit more about the question of international law, especially after I commented at beppeblog on what went wrong with Star Trek. Especially the bit about how its creators couldn't envision a peaceful future Earth without making it basically monocultural.
As I said when I was discussing abortion law a while back, I think that for a legal code to work it needs a critical mass of citizens who support it -- or at least, a critical mass who either support it or who could go either way. Making something official certainly helps solidify this mass and perpetuate the principle to future generations, but I still think you need that basic starting point. Otherwise, the law either goes largely unenforced, or you have a civil war on your hands.
When it comes to the United Nations and the laws it promulgates, it seems like mostly the former is happening. And I think that's because, while you can garner lip-service agreement for basic principles of human rights and so on, there is no deep cultural consensus on those issues. This is apparent just in the makeup of the U.N.: governments run the gamut from democracies to monarchies to dictatorships to one-party states. Hell, I'm not sure how many Americans would sign on to the Geneva Conventions, given some poll data.
So while I understand the Platonic ideal of international law as Neil laid it out, I don't think the world is currently in a state to have it. I do, actually, agree that moral law is very broadly similar around the world (hey, I don't always differ with C.S. Lewis). But the philosophy of government, the extent to which rulers have different moral laws unto themselves, and just how much moral law should be written into civic law to begin with, is a matter of much greater disagreement.
There's also the fact, as I mentioned not long ago, that even if your morals are similar your epistemology may be different. When I look at myself now vs. pre-church, I don't think my morals have changed, but my view of the universe has changed, and that has altered how those morals are applied. I don't think total pacifism is really feasible without the assurance of eternal life, for instance, because not every threat can be met with an effective nonviolent solution. (This is another reason why the Star Trek premise failed, but that's another subject.)
So does Pax Christi's emphasis on the U.N. do anything for this? I tend to think it's too legalistic and top-down an approach to really resonate with people. But of course, top-down vs. bottom-up was one of the original disputes between Anabaptists and Catholics, so I suppose I would think that, wouldn't I?Posted by Camassia at February 08, 2005 11:44 AM | TrackBack