UNITE OR DIE: Global Governance and a New Social Contract For Our Endangered Species

“Unite or die.” These fateful words were penned by Benjamin Franklin in 1774 when the American colonies were close to a Declaration of Independence from the British Crown.

Nowadays these words apply to the future of all humankind. We are at an historic choice point for the entire human species and, perhaps, for the ultimate fate of life on Earth. We are currently headed toward a dark future, with ever more terrorist attacks, divisive guerrilla wars, and even, possibly, World War Three (including the likely use of nuclear, chemical, and cyber weapons) – not to mention a drastic, irreversible climate change – unless we soon make a radical course change.  The solution to this growing global challenge is not to rely on some charismatic, self-serving, authoritarian leader. The world tried doing this back in the 1930s, and it did not end well (we had World War Two).  As the ancient Greek political theorist Plato put it, more than 2,000 years ago, the problem with this alternative is how do you “control the controllers?”

A better alternative is more effective global governance under the rule of law, with a new social contract that will provide for the basic needs of everyone, along with rewards for merit, and giving back in proportion to what we receive.  I call it the “Fair Society” model.  We must also make major changes/improvements to the United Nations and create new agencies with the authority and resources to address our mounting global challenges. All this is spelled out in detail in my 2023 book, Superorganism: Toward a New Social Contract for Our Endangered Species (Cambridge University Press). For your information, I was a professor in the interdisciplinary Human Biology Program at Stanford University for many years (now retired). Over the years, I have published nine books and more than 200 articles/papers in various journals. Some of them are available at my website: http://complexsystems.org   See especially my 2018 book, Synergistic Selection: How Cooperation Has Shaped Evolution and the Rise of Humankind (World Scientific).

In the essays that follow over the next four months, I will outline my “prescription” for the future in more detail.

Editor’s Note: To read all four essays now, please go to Dr. Corning’s website: http://complexsystems.org


Peter Corning

Peter Corning is currently the Director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems in Seattle, Washington.  He was also a one-time science writer at Newsweek and a professor for many years in the Human Biology Program at Stanford University, along with holding a research appointment in Stanford’s Behavior Genetics Laboratory.  


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