Granted, none of the charges I just levied against the United Nations are particularly new or even that uncommon. As a matter of fact, all three of them were applicable as far back 1945, the very year the U.N. Charter was signed by the fifty-one founding members. The founding members included such prestigious nations as Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Yugoslavia, the Republic of China, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, all of which were dictatorships at the time. If this list of members is indicative of anything, it is that standards of admission were (and continue to be) relatively nonexistent.
Ironically, the first phrase following the U.N. Charter’s Preamble reads: “The purposes of the United Nations are: 1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”
Here, I will echo the sentiments of Ayn Rand, who said:
“I do not sanction the grotesque pretense of an organization allegedly devoted to world peace and human rights, which includes Soviet Russia, the worst aggressor and bloodiest butcher in history, as one of its members. The notion of protecting rights, with Soviet Russia among the protectors, is an insult to the concept of rights and to the intelligence of any man who is asked to endorse or sanction such an organization. I do not believe that an individual should cooperate with criminals, and, for all the same reasons, I do not believe that free countries should cooperate with dictatorships.”
From the very beginning, the U.N. was founded on basic contradictions and unsupported philosophical doctrines. Its own Charter states that it is devoted to “international peace and security” and to taking “effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace” while allowing into its ranks the very causes of the things it is sworn to defeat, let alone into its higest enforcement mechanism, the U.N. Security Council. Clause 2, Article 2 of the same Chapter further states that all members “shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter” in order to have “all rights and benefits resulting from membership.” If it is not already clear, this clause has never been enforced. Since its inception, not a single member state has been suspended or expelled from the General Assembly under Articles 5 and 6, the two Articles that enumerate provisions for suspension and expulsion.
Regardless of whether the U.N. actually follows its own Charter any more than our current government follows its own Constitution, much of the philosophy that the U.N. was founded upon is false. Excepting its nominal support for human rights (which it later butchers with its Universal Declaration of Human Rights among other things), the guiding philosophy of the U.N. is as flawed as the implementation of it – it holds “peace” as the ultimate value.
In essence, values are the various things which individuals seek to attain through their actions, undertaken in accordance with said values. One’s values, in turn, are determined by one’s philosophy, regardless of whether an individual’s philosophy was reached consciously or unconsciously, i.e., with or without active, deliberate processes of thought. Morally, one’s values can only be considered correct in relation to the ultimate value that they work toward – the teleological end result of pursuing a particular set of values. Metaphysically, the only legitimate end value that should be pursued is man’s life, the only existential end in itself and the one value without which all other values would have no meaning. A dead man, for example, faces no alternatives to his state of existence and therefore can possess no values.
The problem with pursuing peace as the “ultimate” value is that it is not the actual teleological end of pursuing that value. Instead, the metaphysical result of placing peace above such values as “liberty” and “justice” is neither life nor peace – it is death. Because pacifists reject the use of force, even in unequivocal cases of self-defense, the proverbial door is thrown open for any Attila to enter without opposition. The victims on the other side of that door then subject themselves to the absolute rule of any mindless brute that decides to seek power, each with death as his own ultimate value even if he is not aware of it. Quite literally, pacifism is a self-destroying doctrine. It cannot sustain itself and, so long as it seeks peace regardless of what sacrifices must be made to achieve it, it will ultimately be destroyed by the first aggressor that does not hold peace as a value.
While Chapter VII lists out numerous provisions for responding to threats, they specifically apply only to “any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression,” placing “peace” above such values as “justice” and the “human rights” that the U.N. was intended to defend. It follows the antiquated idea of pre-WWII Europe of “peace at all costs,” regardless of what is being sacrificed to attain that peace. Pacifism, meaning total and complete opposition to war and violence, was the brainchild of intellectuals across Europe which was later counterfeited and employed by their American counterparts.
Despite idealistic claims to contrary, pacifistic policies have never prevented any armed conflict between two nations – a lack of militaristic might in Western nations during the Cold War certainly is not what kept Stalin and his successors from expanding westward. Instead, pacifism presents a dangerous path to follow for free nations and provides more despotic nations with tempting targets. These doctrines are founded on the idea that military might, i.e., weapons, manpower, training, and funding, are the causes of war rather than flawed philosophical premises (note that these kinds of the ideas are also used by gun-control advocates who claim that removing guns from the hands of citizens that already obey the law will somehow bring an end to gun violence). When a free nation gives up the means to defend itself, it grants the upper hand to statist nations that would not otherwise have it. This will be discussed in more detail below.
However, pacifism is not only a militaristic practice – after all, the U.K. and France still keep sizeable militaries and nuclear arsenals despite their fairly traditional stances on peace and war (stances that, unsurprisingly, carry little weight when a country that they receive vast amounts of oil from finds itself in political turmoil). Pacifism is an entire cultural practice, a sort of lack in will to fight. In military affairs, will to fight is not a negligible factor, as Herr Hitler correctly noted when attacking the superior French military on their own soil during the Second World War. To the pacifist, war must be avoided in all cases, whatever the cost. This is the doctrine that has traditionally guided the U.N. (the recent unprecedented, but equally unwise, swing in the direction of interference in the Middle East, particularly Libya, notwithstanding; nonetheless, do note that five members of the Security Council, while not voting it down, did abstain from the “no-fly zone” vote).
Furthermore, valuing peace above all other values begs the question, “Whose peace?” Undoubtedly, just because a certain nation oceans away is able to avoid conflicts with armed thugs does not mean that other free nations around those thugs are able to do the same, nor does it mean that the citizens in statist nations are in any state of peace themselves. In the long term, such peace may not even be in the distant country’s best interests – it would be very much reminiscent of an old poem by Martin Niemöller. If one does not stand for what is right (i.e. individual rights and justice) while he is still able, then he may very well find himself in a future situation in which he is no longer able to defend even himself from the threats of tyranny. This does not always mean that it is in the best interests of free nations to intervene – as I have said before, both unquestioned interventionism and pacifism are irrational doctrines. It is important that free nations serve their best interests, i.e., protecting and better securing the individual rights of their citizens, above any decision to send military force or diplomatic pressure abroad. It is up to these free nations to determine if the cost of waging war is worth the benefit to the rational self-interests of their citizens both at home and in conducting trade abroad. The several “non-wars” that the U.S. continues to find itself in at this moment are examples of intervention that does not serve the intervening nation’s rational self-interests.
Not only does the U.N. seem to value peace at any and all costs to justice and individual liberties, but it seems to send a slap in the face to any free nation that actually engages in war out of a sense of justice or individual rights (and, naturally, its own rational self-interests which necessarily follow the two previous criteria) in its own Charter. “Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations” (Article 4). Firstly, this statement should automatically rule out any statist country as a potential member, even though it does not. Secondly, this statement seems to imply an old false dichotomy that has seen continual support within intellectual circles: you are either a lover of peace at all costs, i.e. a pacifist, or you are a lover of war.
As Thomas Sowell writes in his book Intellectuals and Society, intellectuals have long taught that loving peace means shunning any kind of war. For example, he cites a quote by Anatole France when addressing school teachers about how to indoctrinate children into pacifism in France in 1919 which reads, “The teacher must make the child love peace and its works; he must teach him to detest war; he must banish from education all that which excites hate for the stranger, even the enemy of yesterday” (221). Essentially, France is arguing for the destruction of value judgments in ideology (not even prejudice on the basis of race, gender, or nationality, which would be a rational thing to eliminate) in the name of peace – statism and liberty are to be held on equal footing in the name of peace (the issues of publicly-run schools should also be examined). If history teaches us anything, it is that such doctrines are poison to the security of any free nation against the onslaught of statism, as the superior French force discovered when it found itself without any will to fight upon Hitler’s invasion in World War II; a will to fight, however, is not equivalent with a desire to fight, despite the false definitions of pacifists to the contrary. The predecessor to the U.N., the League of Nations, made the same mistakes – its failure was one of the pacifistic doctrine that guided it, not of the fact that the U.S. Senate still possessed enough integrity to deny Wilson the membership to the world government he had always wanted.
Additionally, the U.N. and many of its members openly support metaphysically unfounded propositions about the roots of war, thus leading to problems about how to maintain peace, even rational peace that serves their nations’ self-interests.
As stated throughout this article, statism is the cause of all war. If a nation does not respect the rights of its own citizens, it either has no right to sovereignty itself and provides the moral sanction for free nations to topple it (if, again, it is in their rational self-interests), it denies the legitimate rights of sovereignty owed to free nations, or it simply starts war with other statist nations for various reasons, always collectivist in nature. Only free nations wage war in the name of individual rights, and only ever in retaliation to force – either force carried out against themselves or against the citizens of the statist nation. If the force is a direct attack on a free nation, waging war against the attacker becomes the imperative of the free nation so as to defend the rights of its citizens and to bring justice to those that would attack them. In the case of stopping statism within another country abroad, more discerning judgments must be made – are the wrongs being rectified worth the costs, both economic and human, to the free nation and does the benefit of rectifying these losses (i.e. the creation of another free nation that will respect the rights of other nations and move toward global capitalism) outweigh these costs? Even more importantly, can a free government currently be achieved in the nation in question? Often, the philosophical state of the people within a given nation prevent this from happening, as is the case with the democratically elected theocracy of Iran (which is one reason that, for the time being, invading Iran does not serve the self-interests of the U.S., though it may very well serve the best interests of Israel which is a judgment which that nation must make independently).
What is even more concerning is that the very causes of war are actually members of an organization sworn to defend peace. Can any progress rightly be made toward true, rational peace if statist nations are allowed a free pass by the international community simply due to the fact that they are “members?” Metaphysically, it cannot.
Instead of recognizing that statism is the existential root of all war, many nations, as touched on at the beginning, take the Marxist approach and say that weapons are the root of all war. I am not saying that they are Communist, but it was Marx’s teachings that stated that the existence of certain technology directly leads to certain ideas – that the existence of militaries around the world is the cause of war. It is just another spin on the old “guns kill people” nonargument.
I know not many people have done this, but one day at my grandfather’s house I sat and stared at the gun on the table on his back porch for a few minutes. I was curious as to whether the gun would spontaneously spin toward me and shoot me straight in the chest. Well, as there was no gunner with malignant motives, it did not. If there is something I have also seen, it is that guns in the hands of those with respect for individual liberties and justice are often excellent deterrents when warding off people that do not share that same respect.
In effect, the same principles that apply on the individual level also apply on the international level – free nations with strong militaries (and a will to fight, as pointed out earlier) ward of statist nations. In a world of free nations each respecting the sovereignty of their own citizens and of the other free nations in the world, militaries would be unnecessary, but so long as one statist country in the world exists, there exists a threat that must be guarded against. Regardless of whether free nations willingly give up their military power, the statist nation will not – it needs its military to maintain force over its own citizens and to achieve collectivist goals internationally that free nations would normally not abide by.
Still, members of the U.N. continue to call for Western nations to “set an example” by disarming, hoping that other nations will follow suit. Surely Kim Jong Il in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Islamic Republic of Iran (along with a whole host of other Middle Eastern leaders and countries) would lay down their arms so long as South Korea and Israel did the same, respectively. Clearly, such idealistic notions are unrelated to the facts of reality. Instead, South Korea and Israel are right to hang on to, and expand, their military power to prevent threats to their security and the rights of their own citizens. The massive militaristic expenditures throughout the Cold War are commonly criticized for causing increased tensions between the West and the Soviet Bloc, despite the fact that “Mutually Assured Destruction” when met with an equal or superior Western force is the only thing that kept the U.S.S.R. from actually igniting a war in Europe or a nuclear war with the U.S. It takes little speculative ability to be able to determine the result of a nuclear U.S.S.R. when sitting next to a disarmed, pacifistic Europe.
Many intellectuals today like to point to South Africa as their “model student” for willingly giving up its nuclear weapons, completely ignoring the fact that South Africa already faced no immediate nuclear threats and that it continues to maintain an active military of 74,000 in peacetime even without such threats. I suppose that Moammar al Qaddafi is also to be praised for “voluntarily” giving up his WMD program – after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and display of force on the grounds of eliminating WMD’s (even if they were ultimately erroneous). If nuclear weapons were not in the hands of statists that pose a threat to the United States, we would not need them either, but force must necessarily be met with force – reason ends at the barrel of a gun. And even if there were no nuclear weapons in the hands of statist nations, the existence of a military is more than justified in the age of long-range missiles and jet bombers. The fact that South Africa has the backing of other, nuclearly-armed free nations in the world should also not be overlooked in the event that it does face some sort of real threat that I am failing to take note of.
The greatest misdeed of the United Nations, however, is not its pitiful pleas for peace between free nations and tyrants or its generally ignored calls for irrational disarmament – it is its distortion of the definition of individual rights.
When reading through the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one will come across several legitimate rights – speech, equal treatment before the law, etc. Still, upon reaching Article 15, one will encounter this little gem: “Everyone has a right to a nationality. No one shall be arbitrarily denied his nationality nor the right to change his nationality.” Though literally harmless, if not stupid, this edict proclaims that everyone has a right to be labeled and to label themselves, a seemingly odd thing to place in something that is supposed to guide the laws of nations.
Article 17 follows by listing another legitimate right: “Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” While this right is legitimate, provided that it means a right to the property that one earns, it immediately rules out every socialist, Communist, collectivist, Progressive, fascist, statist, etc. nation as one that actually follows individual rights. Most (though I only hesitate slightly from simply saying “all”) Western nations deny this right some form of another, Europe more openly and the United States more slowly in terms of increasing the magnitude of its violations.
Article 21 reads, “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” Here is yet another example of something statist nations do not practice.
But these rights, both the legitimate and the pointless, are paltry in comparison to the philosophical bombshell that gets dropped in Article 22: “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”
Every member of every society has a right to the “realization… of the economic, social, and cultural ‘rights’ … for his dignity and the free development of his personality.” No matter how one spins this Article, it directly conflicts with Article 17. Unless I am entirely misunderstanding what “economic, social, and cultural ‘rights’” mean, Article 22 is one of the most blatant calls for socialism that the U.N. has ever made. Assuming the “rights” of the three listed areas means the “benefits” of them, Article 22 is literally arguing that the “State” must use its “organization and resources” to provide for the personal economic, social, and cultural fulfillment of its constituency. This is definitional statism, and it is engrained in the very fabric of the U.N.
But it does not get better from there. Article 23 lists several moral nightmares:
“(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.”
According to this document, everyone has a right “to work,” regardless of whether or not an employer is willing to hire someone. Everyone has a right to “equal pay for equal work,” ignoring that employers in a free society will do this anyway in order to hire workers that are valuable to them. Everyone who works has a right to “favourable remuneration” (i.e. payment), which is to be judged by whether or not it is “worthy of human dignity.” The lack of clear definitions in these terms is apparent, and is therefore abhorrent when including them in any mandate that is meant to be objective. No matter what the meaning of these terms, they are arguing that workers should receive a certain, if not defined, standard of living, completely ignoring whether that standard of living corresponds to the value of their work, a decision that should be reached between employee and employer. And, the same clause continues, appeals to Article 22 for “social protection” should be made.
Here are just a few more “rights” included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with brief annotations following each (legitimate clauses will be skipped over):
Article 24: “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.” (I laugh very audibly every time I read this one – its ridiculousness should go without saying. Just ask any stay-at-home mother if she feels that she has a “right to rest and leisure.”)
Article 25: “(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.” (Where are all of these services coming from, how are they to be paid for, who is to provide them, and why? Blank out.)
Article 26: “(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.” (Since educators must be paid for their services, even according to Article 23, education is not free. Someone must pay for it. Who? Blank out. Why should the state have any authority over how parents choose to raise their children, compelling them to submit their children to programs that they may not otherwise choose to utilize (as in Amish communities)? Blank out. As for Clause 2, “the full development of the human personality” is an odd thing for teachers to be concerned with. Additionally, this Article appropriately includes the teachings of Anatole France about pacifism, and if excerpts of this Declaration are not clear, the U.N. knows little about “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”)
Article 27: “(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” (Who is to provide this enjoyment of the arts and these benefits of science? Blank out.)
Article 29: “(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” (Duty? What duty do I have? Are not the obligations I have to myself and my family paramount? What are these duties? How do we know they exist? Blank out. And I am curious – if these rights were legitimate, how can they be exercised in a manner contrary to promoting peace?)
Article 30: “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.” (Just because you add a clause at the end of a contract that says, “None of the above statements contradict one another,” does not make it true. So many contradictions exist, in fact, that the U.D.H.R. is worth little more than the minds that wrote it.)
Even if one is still not convinced of the philosophical default of the U.N., then it recently released a report that should solidify its appropriate place in the “horror sections” of historical and philosophical textbooks. According the the U.N., access to the Internet is a basic human right. Many of you may shrug your shoulders and say, “That makes sense. The government has no business restricting people’s access to the Internet.” However, the report does not merely claim that the right to Internet access is a negative right like a right to one’s property or a right to free speech. Instead, the report concludes that it is also a positive right. As Article 60 reads, “The Internet, as a medium by which the right to freedom of expression can be exercised, can only serve its purpose if States assume their commitment to develop effective policies to attain universal access to the Internet” (Italics mine). If Internet access is a positive right, then the rights of our ancestors had been violated for thousands of years by the scientists that were not able to invent it. Clearly, the claim that we have a right to a luxury rather than a metaphysical necessity for man’s existence is fundamentally flawed in its philosophical premises, just as is any organization that makes it.
For some reason, however, the United States continues to be the top contributor to the U.N. The U.S. keeps taking part in the genuinely worthless motions as a member of a genuinely worthless organization. The entire history of the U.N. is riddled with contradictions, metaphysical evasions, and moral delusions, and it is a history that the U.S. is still allowing to continue into the future. Ideally, the U.S. would find support amongst other relatively free nations, noting that the U.S. itself is no longer an actually free nation, to form a legitimate alliance built off of legitimate moral rights as defined by an epistemology of reason rooted in metaphysical reality. Until then, the U.S. should drastically cut its funding to the U.N. and should also play the international obstructionist – vetoing any resolution that goes through Security Council regardless of what it is – until the organization collapses under its own futility.
So long as the U.N. continues to scream about peace while ignoring the roots of war, it can justly be called irrelevant. So long as it continues to charge statist nations, the existential causes of war, with keeping peace and defending individual rights, it can justly be called ineffective. And, so long as the U.N. holds peace above all other values and worships false rights while placing the individual on the sacrificial altar of society, it can justly and most certainly be called immoral.