What if the World Was One Country
2050. About 7 pm. A family from Lake City, South Carolina, is huddled in front of their telescreen, watching a highly anticipated movie hailed by critics as a “modern masterpiece.”
The name of the movie is “The Even Faster and Now Ridiculously Furious: Episode: XXIX. Crashastrophe Returns.” Their viewing is then rudely interrupted with the words, “We Interrupt This Broadcast.” It’s the President of the world. He has some bad news, really bad news. We’ll come back to what this very annoyed family was told, but first, you need to hear a few facts.
The United States of the world (the USW) would be a pretty big place. We can’t say how many people there will be in the world come 2050, but as we make this show, we’re told that the world's population is just over 8 billion. They live in 195 countries and between them speak something like 7,150 languages, not to mention the countless dialects. Getting them all on the same page won’t be easy.
According to UN estimates, by the time we reach 2050, there will be about 9.7 billion people. It’s said that in the year 2100, there might be 10.4 billion. This is not an exact science, of course.
We can’t know what will happen or if something will greatly affect those predictions, but scientists these days say it’s very likely we’ll get up to around 10 billion, and then there will be a plateau. The world will be different in 2050 because some countries will see their population decrease, not increase. Again, these are just predictions. Four examples are Japan, Thailand, Italy, and Spain. The UN says that come 2050, China will be the second largest nation in terms of population size, and at a predicated 1.4 billion, it won’t be too different than it is now. India will have the highest population at 1.63 billion.
The US population might reach 379 million from the current 335 million. There will be some movers and shakers in terms of population growth. It’s thought Nigeria will go from around 218 million now to 401 million in 2050. Pakistan is estimated to go from 231 million today to 338 million.
Ethiopia, Tanzania, Niger, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will see big increases in population size, as much or more than double the population size today. Note that these are countries that are not very wealthy. In all, Asia will see the most growth, followed by Africa, while Europe and the Americas won’t see much change in population sizes. The world in 2050 shouldn’t look all that different regarding nations' populations.
The question is, will the world be more modernized then? Will countries that have been poor in the past have better standards of living in 2050? After all, isn’t that what we all want? We are sure some of our viewers are globetrotters. They might usually live in the US suburbs, where their family has the standard two cars. They might want three cars.
Their neighbor has four. Their fridge is always packed, looking to some folks in the world like the fridge of a king. There are TVs all over the house. There are smart lights and smart doors. The garage is full of forgotten dinghies, hockey goals, skateboards, telescopes, and other things the kids have lost interest in. This will all seem quite normal to some of our viewers if they come from a wealthy nation.
So, if they travel to the hinterlands of India, see the hill tribes of northern Thailand, experience rural Mozambique, or break bread with folks who live in the vast expanse of the Mongolian grasslands, they will certainly see how different their life is compared to the locals there. The Infographics Show’s Creative Team has done quite a bit of traveling. They’ve been places where people live on very little money. And let’s just say in much of the developing world, you have to get used to the sound of chickens and possibly not feel too squeamish about how they are killed.
Many people still live off the land and kill the animals they eat. This is a far cry from buzzing about the supermarket on a mobility scooter while letting it be known you are peeved about the lack of Lucky Charms with those rainbow speckles on them. Can we all live like that, is the question? Having so much food you need to throw much of it out is not the norm. Thinking cars are old when they are five years old is not the norm. Mass consumption is a kind of global outlier.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) tells us that 6.69 billion people in the world live in what it calls the developing world. World Bank data says some countries produce much of the world’s waste, and we bet you won’t be surprised to hear that the US and Canada are right up there. Canada was top on one list, although the data was from 2018. The US was third. Other countries that produced a lot of waste per capita were Bulgaria, Estonia, and Finland.
Things are changing, though. We mentioned Thailand just then. This is a country that has been part of Asia’s economic boom. If you visited there in 2000 and then in 2020, you’d have seen so much change.
Not only in how many tall buildings there are but in how people live in general. Sometimes you could mistake parts of the new Thailand for the US, especially in those posh malls they have these days all over Bangkok. Thailand has modernized.
Sure, if you head up to the mountainous in the North or visit the arid East, you can find folks who live in huts with corrugated roofs, but these days they might have a car, TVs with huge screens, and even eat Lucky Charms. The number of cars in the nation has shot up since 2000. Thailand is just one of many nations around the world that have modernized like this.
Look at China, a country that has been something of an economic miracle. The before and after photos of places such as Shanghai are incredible, and we are not talking about a great distance in time. Sure, there is still lots of poverty in China, but much less than before.
What’s happened in merely decades is amazing. This is a country where under Chairman Mao and his disastrous Great Leap Forward initiative, millions upon millions of people starved. People ate tree bark.
Some sold their kids for a handful of rice. A few folks even ate the dead. This was only in the 1950s and 1960s, not the 1700s. And look at China now. If you’ve been there, you’ll have no doubt experienced ultra-modernity in the cities. There are nouveau-riche everywhere, driving around in Rolls Royce cars and buying up vineyards in France.
Of course, not everyone can live like that, but your average Chinese citizen nowadays wants and gets modern things. The days of boiling shoe leather to make it softer to chew are well and truly over. All the world wants to develop. That doesn’t mean everyone needs the latest Playstation or wouldn’t be happy if they didn’t get at least one vacation abroad each year, but they do want a comfortable house, proper medical care, clean water, and not to worry all the time about having enough food to eat. People strive for an easier and safer life, and why shouldn’t they get it? That’s what the world should want for them.
Everyone will have to have multi-layered safety nets for us to say civilization has improved. It certainly won’t mean everyone has the same standard of living as they do presently in Switzerland or Norway, but like the Thais, they just want some of those smaller luxuries, like cars, L-shaped couches, and Nike shoes. They want a bit more than just food security. Can this happen, though? It is highly unlikely that everyone can waste as much as the average American, Canadian, or Brit.
We doubt everyone in the world can righteously feel precious about having a modern kitchen with a fancy island in the middle. According to the Global Footprint Network, if everyone in the world lived like Americans, we’d need five Earths. We don’t really buy into soundbites like that, as they sound just too vague. Nonetheless, it is pretty obvious that the world would struggle if everyone wanted to live with bursting fridges and abandoned telescope-filled garages. It takes a lot of energy to make all those things, creating a lot of waste.
Americans only make up about 5 percent of the world’s population, but according to one report, they use 20 percent of the world’s energy. That same report said the US eats 15 percent of the world’s meat. If you’ve seen certain documentaries, you will know how much effort and pollution goes into murdering millions upon millions of chickens, pigs, and cows. We believe it would be pretty hard or impossible for everyone to live as Americans live as things stand right now. But it seems that this is what most people want.
It’s actually quite weird when you see folks whose lives were always about going to the local market at 5 am and buying fresh produce turning into people that now prefer buying their groceries wrapped in plastic. In Thailand, for instance, mom-and-pop stores are being replaced at a very fast rate by 7-Eleven. People want to feel modern, even if it is not good for them. They buy single bananas in plastic wrapping from convenience stores when bananas are sold much cheaper at a nearby market.
A lot of fast food, the plastic-wrapped stuff, is arguably worse for the person in terms of health, but modernity feels modern, so often people can’t resist its pull. No doubt it annoyed the late great Anthony Bourdain when he saw Mcdonald's restaurants packed to the brim in developing nations when amazing street food was nearby. Countries want more stuff. People want more things. They like the new stuff that’s advertised on TV. That’s just how it is, but whether they can all have it is another matter.
And if we try to get to that stage, you can better your bottom dollar that many country’s “carbon footprint” will look more like the Chicxulub crater. But if you have it, why shouldn’t they have it? There’s a possibility that countries will fight over resources in the future. Humans tend to do that. We’ve been doing this since we climbed down from the trees. There is a huge downside to this nowadays, though.
We could have wars, wars with modern weapons that can chew up the planet. Now with nuclear weapons, we can strike a blow that humanity might not easily recover from. It wasn’t that long ago when the Europeans sailed around the world, creating empires. They stole precious artifacts, exploited resources, and got incredibly rich. People joke about how so much in the British Museum was stolen.
It’s true, although the Brits might not have called it theft. It should also be remembered that when Britain was becoming ridiculously rich, the industrial revolution for the working class was hardly a time of luxury. The working class in Britain now wants a better life. They want an island in their kitchen. And why not, Godammit? They’ve worked for it.
Their ancestors were worked to death in the mills and killed in the coal mines. Now they want a bloody island in their kitchen, and you just try and stop them from getting it. After the British empire went out of business, the US became the world’s most wealthy and powerful nation. We’ve been in this position for quite a while, but China is now catching up. Everyone wants a bigger slice of the cake, but it’s likely that everyone can’t have their cake and eat it, as the saying goes. We’re trying to say here that the fight for resources could get pretty serious.
It’s something we need not let get out of control. The alternative could be a nuclear war. Nations will align with other nations as everyone grasps for that extra bit of pie.
It could get deadly. What would be better is global peace. In this scenario today, we are going to say that a one-world government is created so we have global peace and everyone gets the pie they need. This may sound dystopian to some of you.
It might sound like a New World Order, which could consist of a bunch of very powerful corporations, banks, and energy companies. They might control the media and the Internet. They might militarize the police. They might be totalitarian like Big Brother in George Orwell’s ever-prescient novel, 1984. Still, for Big Brother to come about, there had to be a constant war between Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia.
A one-world government would be different, although mankind would still be in conflict. Under a one-world government, the fighting would take place not between countries but between the government, militias, and rebels. Since the global military and police would be so powerful, the fighting would be of the guerilla kind, and there’d be lots of terrorism, although, in the year 2050, we expect technology will ensure most people are tracked and traced all the time. Possibly from birth with the use of microchips. A one-world government would be a surveillance state, and people will be told that it’s for the greater good. Without this new normal, the world would self-destruct, will be the mantra kids sing in schools.
Like in the novel Brave New World, many folks might just accept it because they’ve been sold on its greatness, and anyway, powerful drugs and mesmerizing entertainment take up much of their time. They live in a kind of Metaverse and take a fix-all medication to get through the day. If you think that’s too weird or over the top, just look around you right now. Now, we have to consider what kind of government it would be. We guess most of you would say the best kind of world would be a liberal democracy.
That means people get to choose their leaders, and human rights are the first principles. Human rights would be at the forefront of what people believe in, even though they may not consider mass surveillance a breach of their rights because they’ve been told it’s for their benefit. In the USW, double-speak will be the norm, and history will be rewritten so people don’t know any different. If you look at the world today, there are countries that are allocated the political designation of being a full democracy. They absolutely respect people’s rights. They have a fair and open media.
They are deadly serious about civil liberties, governmental checks and balances, and a very equitable justice system. This is according to an index created by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Canada, Germany, Australia, Norway, the UK and Austria, and some other nations are called full democracies in this index.
The US, France, Italy, Philippines, Panama, and many, many other nations have what the index calls a flawed democracy. They are also concerned with civil liberties but lack in some other areas, such as a free media or how developed politics is. We’ll mention Thailand again. This nation is ruled by a military junta, and politics is highly corrupt. It’s not just flawed.
It’s really flawed. There are many levels of flawedness. Thailand, at times, could also be called a hybrid regime. That means it has some democratic values but is also partly authoritarian. Many developing nations are either hybrid regimes or full-on authoritarian.
The index puts much of Africa in the authoritarian bracket. If we ignore China, one thing this list shows is that the wealthiest nations, the nations that have the best living standards and are relatively safe, are full democracies and, to a lesser extent, flawed democracies. We are going to go out on a limb here and say that if there were a United States of the World, it would want to look like a full democracy but, in actuality, would be more like a hybrid regime. It would be a cross between 1984, Brave New World, but it would also, at times, embrace human rights while trying to ensure most people in the world have safety nets. You can’t run a tight ship when people are starving. People would vote, but they wouldn’t be educated about politics.
Writers that exposed corruption and lies would be smeared and called dangerous conspiracy theorists. Most people would agree with that since they are highly susceptible to propaganda after not reading history and being too involved in their drug-addled metaverse. Education would concentrate mostly on the sciences, not history or social criticism. It would be a materialist world where engineers are king.
A bit like Joseph Stalin said he wanted when he wasn’t murdering his best scientists. As US political scientist John Mearsheimer points out in his most recent book, “The Great Delusion,” liberal democracies can’t always decide on the “Good Life.” So, people in the USW will be told a version of the good life. The USW will call itself a liberal democracy.
It will be in name but not in nature. The government will say it knows what’s good for the world, so you must do as told. This will make it an illiberal liberal government. Two plus two will equal five. That will be the only choice because pure liberality will be out of the question.
There would be just too many opinions to appease if people knew any better, so it will have to be both liberal and authoritarian at the same time. Still, the United States of the World would be a tough place to run. We just can’t see a one-world country not having constant conflicts, and as we said, because of that, there would have to be surveillance like we’d never seen before. The many cultures in the world would be so different that getting everyone on the same page would be a constant battle.
Plato said in his Noble Lie precept that the elite can create mythologies to help run the ship, such as a perfect liberal government, and over generations, people will eventually believe it. Inventing a God could be a noble lie, and it might become, as Karl Marx said, an opiate for the masses. Still, doing this in all four corners of the world would be a social engineering project that we think would be a bridge too far.
That’s why there'd be constant rebellions. There would have to be a parliament for the USW, something like what they have now in the EU, and it would have to have representatives from all corners of the globe. There would be a president, and there would be a council.
No one representative should have any more power than the other, despite the level of power that representative’s country had in the past. This equality, though, we think would be a noble lie. Humans will always form hierarchies. We believe the USW project will again teach humans that the concept of the noble savage is balderdash. People will still fight for power, and there will be loads of corruption, favoritism, and nepotism.
The formation of the USW is hard to swallow, given that the US has been trying to spread its version of liberal democracy around the world for years, and it hasn’t gone very well for the most part. Look at what’s happened when religious groups have tried to force their religion on another religious group. It’s never been easy. Look at what happened when the communists tried to force communism on people. It failed badly, but not before hundreds of millions of people died because of it. The USW will not ban religion, but it will call it a superstition, and fewer people will be religious after a while.
Nonetheless, people will still fight to retain their cultural uniqueness, and some will cling to their religious beliefs. The good thing, of course, would be if the USW adopted an all-for-one, one-for-all attitude, there shouldn’t be any really poor places. There would have to be a kind of consumption agreement based on what is sustainable. Still, again, there would be a lot of corruption, and people will clamber for more than others have.
They’d lie and cheat, and sooner or later, there would be mass inequality anyway. Many people will also figure out that freedom is just as important as equality. Having enough to eat might not feel great if you live in a prison. Still, the USW could possibly ensure no one gets left behind regarding food security and medical care, and most people do not live in abject poverty. Mankind looks to science to sort all these problems out.
It all sounds a bit idealistic, and if you’ve read about communism, you’ll know that the communists also wanted science to lead their world. Science, they said, could lead to a kind of utopia. It didn’t.
We might, at the very least, avoid a nuclear war. Nonetheless, without a common enemy, politicians might struggle to unite people and make folks think they are direly needed. An enemy would likely have to be invented, such as aliens. The government might do some false flags, which have worked quite well in the past, to get people to hate an enemy. The world under the USW will probably see a few explosions coming from outer space, but also remember that the rebels will be a common enemy.
Also, we’ve tried to create global institutions before so we might avoid war, but things haven’t always gone so well. Henry Kissinger once said he would like to see: “An inexorably expanding cooperative order of states observing common rules and norms, embracing liberal economic systems, forswearing territorial conquest, respecting national sovereignty, and adopting participatory and democratic systems of government.” This didn’t quite happen. Sure, we have avoided another big war so far. We have come on leaps and bounds regarding human rights, starvation numbers, and death from disease, but the conflicts haven’t stopped. The US experiment to try and spread liberal democracy around the world has left millions dead, and the countries where it has gotten involved have often been turned into the definition of chaos.
As you know, the communist experiment was just as bad. Forming the USW would certainly mean a lot of blood being spilled. You could say that humans are too culturally diverse for the USW, but we are all one, really. We are genetically very much alike.
We have created cultures, sure, but could there be a world culture? Globalization is already making this happen already to some extent. As we said earlier, you can now go to South East Asia, and people dress and eat just like in the US. The thing is, would people want to lose their Americanness, Thainess, Englishness, or Nigerianness? And if you want one culture, whose culture is it modeled on? Probably the culture of the hegemonic country, which won’t go down well with many other people in the USW. It's also become a bit of a cliché for people to say that we all might become closer together if something happens that will put us all in the same boat or close to in the same boat.
Perhaps a world-shaking catastrophe might do it, such as being hit by an asteroid. We don’t think that will happen, but nuclear war is a real possibility. Still, even if there were a great disaster and after it, we created the USW, people would still create their own cultures, which at one point would become states in themselves. With that in mind, even if something did bring us closer together, we think there is as much chance of the United States of the World being successful as there is a Fast and Furious movie being hailed as a “modern masterpiece.” We are all too separated, too shaped by our cultures, by the weather, by religion, by the history we’ve grown up reading.
We don’t think noble lies and addictive tech could just erase all that history. It would be a disaster to try and create a New World Order. It’s good to be different. It makes our planet interesting. What’s important, though, is that we don’t blow each other up.
It’s also not cool to be so nationalistic that you hate strangers that you would probably get along with if you met them and weren’t so drunk on propaganda. It would be good if we learned to respect other people in other countries and also appreciated their sovereignty. The days of spreading ideology around must surely be coming to an end. We could end global conquest and use science to help struggling nations, but that doesn’t have to be under a one-world order. More pie could be shared if our scientists can work on projects more related to human survival than companies’ profits. In conclusion, the USW would be impossible to manage, leading to conflicts and a kind of Big Brother surveillance.
That would create widespread unhappiness and resentment. If anything, we guess what the future might hold is downsizing, not upsizing. More states might want independence, such as many people in Scotland want from the United Kingdom. This doesn’t solve the problem we discussed earlier regarding a planet that wants to modernize. It might just turn out that we either have to consider changing the ways we consume things or we create technologies that make our mass consumption safer.
We think people worldwide are already beginning to see that more things don’t necessarily make people happier. Look at the depression rates and drug addiction rates, the violence, and the huge number of people on mood-enhancing medications in the wealthy US, the country where consumption is king. A professor of neurology, Robert Sapolsky, wrote in his book “Behave” that even if we have enough, seeing we have less can make us unhappy. Can we learn to feel content? Does having all that money lead to more well-being, or should we re-think our opinion on what constitutes a good life? In the future, there might be a United States of the Mind, in which people have evolved to accept that there’s more to life than the latest gadget or fast car. It might be a place where artistry is more important than viewing figures, where happiness isn’t sold in a pill.
You could call this a New World Order, but it’s only about informed choice, not governance. We are sounding idealistic, and idealism can be dangerous, but we also reckon that there is a better way to live our lives. We just have to think about it.
We humans can be very clever. We can likely develop a better way to live and ensure that the world enjoys a bit of modernity without damaging the planet too much or bashing our brains and bodies. We just have to come up with something, but certainly not the United States of the World. So, if you’re wondering what the President said at the start of the show, he announced that The United States of the World was a foolish idea from the start, and it’s now abandoned.
Now you really need to watch “Could 2 People Actually Repopulate Earth.” Or, have a look at “Why It Would Suck To Live Through The End Of The Universe.”