Saturday, January 21, 2012


Can you Become a Citizen of the World… Legally?

Garry Davis

"We are living in a geocentric world of nation-states. We look upon economic, social and political problems as 'national' problems. No matter in which country we live, the centre of our political universe is our own nation." -- The Anatomy of Peace, Emery Reves

People write to me at the World Service Authority from time to time asking if it is possible for them to legally and officially withdraw from the nation-state system and raise their allegiance to the global level. In other words, can they legally give up US citizenship and declare themselves World Citizens?

The answer is yes...But why? Before I answer that question, let me tell you that in 1948 I renounced United States Citizenship -- to prove that it is possible to exist in a new space, legally, above and beyond the nations that divide us, i.e., a world space! Well I’ve proved it. For 64 years I’ve been a citizen of no nation, only the world! Legally![1]

How did I do it? Following my stint as a B-17 bomber pilot in WWII, first I read the U.S. Nationality Act of 1940, an update of an act of 1868 when the United States was receiving tens of thousands of immigrants from Europe streaming into the US to take advantage of Lincoln's Homestead Act: Stake out 111 acres of land in the wild West, build your own log cabin, till the soil for 5 years, (don’t kill anyone except maybe some indigenous natives who might resent your presence on their ancestral land), and lo and behold, you could become a bona fide US citizen. However, due to the hallowed principle of reciprocity in law, a natural-born United States citizen could legally renounce his or her nationality but to do so represented a certain number of problems, the first three being, how, when and where?[2]
Now when we are asked this primordial questions, we have a totally different take on the answer.
"Why renounce your national citizenship," we ask, "when it no longer exists legitimately?" We receive blank, bewildered stares. "Or put it this way," we continue, "Shortly after the turn of the century around the time of the airplane’s debut but certainly after Hiroshima at the start of the nuclear age when wars became omni and genocidal, the United States ‘renounced’ you as viable citizens. It became a garrison state, a mockery of "We, the people..". Example: The oath of allegiance now incoming migrants must take today to become US citizens:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
"The reference to God," we note, "as the sanctifier for this modern garrison state exposes the shameless mockery of 'e pluribus unum,'  the underlying basis of the USA's founding two centuries prior. The code now is, 'From many, blind obedience to one'!"[3]
"Or look at it another way even more basic," we continue "Take a human birth. Did you choose your own place of birth? Can you be born into a political fiction? I mean, birth is a biological not a political fact. After all, you come out of your mother's womb into the world itself, a human being, member of humankind, not in a fictional state which claims you, body and soul. And since the technological, then electronic breakthroughs at the turn of the 19th century-with so-called world wars starting in 1914-followed by the "Nuclear Age" and then space travel, wasn't the 18th, 19th century divided system of nation-states rendered increasingly obsolete not to mention totally dysfunctional and now mortal?"[4]
Our fellow human questioner, his (her) eyes wide with bewilderment and anguish, remonstrates, "Yes but they're in bloody power over us what with the national laws, police and damn armies."
"Yes, we know all that," we reply. "But the word 'power' brings up the idea of sovereignty. And most people don’t really know what that means. We haven’t yet figured out what really happened in that Philly hall in the summer of 1797 when those 55 citizens of their brand-new 13 states bordering the Atlantic Ocean, exercised sovereignty (or political choice) by artificially creating out of sheer imagination a new level of government.[5]
"Are you suggesting, Garry, that United States citizenship is a fiction and not real?" we are asked in astonishment.
"Let me give you a simple example of reality versus fiction," we respond. "When driving a car anywhere in the world you come to a crossing and the traffic light is red, what do you do?"
"I stop of course." is the instant reply.
"And why do you stop?" we ask.
"Because when it's red, that means stop. Green means go. Everyone knows that."
"Does everyone throughout the world stop at the red light at a road crossing?"
"They do if they have a brain in their head."
"Ah, you’ve just 'renounced' your United State citizenship," we reply, "by stating that 'everyone' knows that when a traffic light turns red, that means "Stop", therefore, not only a local "law," or a United States or even inter-national "law," but a universal traffic reality! In other words, a code of conduct for us human drivers. And no matter where you are in the world when you come to a traffic crossing and the light is red, you stop. and go when it turns green. But the traffic light itself is a "fiction". For instance, did you ever consider that principle behind that everyday global event?
"What do you mean, the principle? It’s just commonsense."
"And there you’ve hit on another 'renunciation' of nationality: 'commonsense.' And does not everyone at that crossing exhibit the same knowledge of commonsense?" we ask.
"Of course."
"Then haven't you defined a universal law based on commonsense or even justice since the traffic light is regulated for every driver who comes to that crossing and for the community of drivers taken together?"
A glimmer of light begins to shine in my friend’s eyes. "I'm beginning to see what you’re getting at," (s)he says. "The one and the many principle."
"Bingo! E pluribus unum on a world scale![6] Just like a symphony orchestra or a flock of birds. Or humankind. Now let’s go back to that meeting in Philly," we continue. "When the so-called Founders carved out a tiny part of the coastal area in the North American continent-part of the world territory actually-in which around 3 millions of their fellow humans resided, and circumscribed it with millions of 'traffic lights' called 'frontiers,' (continually expanding) weren't they denying the self-evident universality, both of their own humanity and that of everyone else's humanity?"
"Yes, but at that time the British, French and Spanish man'a'wars were still out in the Atlantic ready to knock off the states one by one if they didn't unite," he replies.
"The fictional 'states' yes, but not the people, and because of this fundamental difference, the founders were obliged to make a crucial and fatal compromise in the legal text they were preparing to impress on the 3 millions inhabitants now living no longer in mere colonies."
"I'm listening," he returns nervously no doubt wondering where all this led.
"Now a major dilemma had arisen: Who was going to represent the new fictional nation they were creating vis-a-vis the nations poised in the Atlantic and the rest of the world of similarly fictional nations, large and small? Well, they figured it had to be the president when he was acting as the 'Commander-in-Chief' of the army and navy in time of war. But then, who would be representing the citizen's rights? In short, which was 'sovereign,' the people or the nation? Remember, there was no bill of rights in the original Constitution they wrote. In time of war between nations, only the nation was considered 'sovereign.' And as the army and navies of the world operate in the anarchic space between nations, the national citizens were left without civic representation but on the contrary became mere subjects to the imperial state in which, as the prime executive, the president would be a virtual dictator. The people, in brief, in time of war would at his singular command. But the nation-state, by definition, is a war state. The rational? "National Security."[7] Now, are you beginning to understand why and when the United States 'renounced' the entire citizenry…right at the very beginning of its founding. Now today, when wars between nations have become global and genocidal since 1945, you want 'out' when you were always 'out' right from the start since in a world of anarchy, the fictional nation-state is in a continual state of war….with the people."
"Wow!, s(he) replies. “That’s quite a revelation!"
"But happily, there's an antidote, not only rational but the only road to a world without war. James Madison proposed when drafting the famous Bill of Rights between 1787 and '89 that there had to be included a legal remedy for the people when the president put his Commander-in-Chief war hat on. And it bears directly on your question of renouncing your United State citizenship because in effect it recognizes your already inalienable right to claim your own sovereign humanity."
"So what is it exactly," s(he) asks eagerly.
"It's the Ninth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, the most revolutionary right ever included in any national constitution.[8]"
"And why is that?"
"Because it refers to that right we already discussed when stopping and going at the traffic light at the entire discretion of the driver of each and every car in the whole world community. In other words: world law at the command of each national citizen!"[9]
"Amazing! World law! Part of the US Constitution? How do you figure that?"
"Ah, because of Madison's genius The Ninth Amendment doesn't spell out any particular rights. But what it does reveal is that the eight rights he did spell out are not all there are BUT all the other human rights —and here is the universality built in to the US Constitution—are 'retained by the people.' That simply means they are inalienable which in turn means universal. So, you see, the United States of America 'renounced' or rather, recognized you right from the start as a sovereign human being! But, and here's the catch: Since inalienable rights belong to the people, YOU MUST CLAIM THEM YOURSELF AS THE SOVEREIGN IN QUESTION. AND THESE ARE BRIEFLY, 'LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS' AS PRESCRIBED IN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.[10]
"And in political terms that simply means claiming world citizenship as the Founders claimed national citizenship in the 18th century to embody those inalienable rights. And, almost miraculously, that claim is the beginning of a higher level of government.[11] So rather than renounce that now invalid and deadly national allegiance caught historically in an anarchic political world,, simply exercise your inalienable sovereign power by claiming the higher one relevant to fundamental and inalienable human rights.
"That's 'world government!' And that's what law-making is all about!"[12]
"Where do I sign up?"
Postscript: "The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government..." Article 21(3), Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

[1] "…a reverence for our great Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of conscience, must convince all those who reflect on the subject that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end." Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, 1775; "Every man... possesses the right of self-government. Individuals exercise it by their single will." Thomas Jefferson, 1790
[2] My latest book, World Citizen Garry Davis goes to Court, (World Government House, 2011) ( goes into these questions in detail
[3] "Any method of maintaining international peace today must eventually fail if it is not grounded on Justice under Law and the protection of the Individual under due process of law." World Habeas Corpus, Luis Kutner, 1968, p. 73
[4] [12] "Our so-called 'contemporary' political systems are copied from models invented before the advent of the factory system...They were designed in an intellectual world that is almost unimaginable -- a world that was pre-Marx, pre-Darwin, pre-Freud and pre-Einstein." The Third Wave, Alvin Toffler, Bantam Edition, p. 414
[5] Tom Paine, who sparked the revolution with his essay "Commonsense," wasn't taken in by the subterfuge noting that "Independence is my happiness and I view things as they are without regard to place or person; my country is the world; my religion is to do good and all men are my brothers."
[6] "Government can be safely acknowledged a temporal blessing because, in terms of the power it wields, there is nothing inherent in it. Government is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Its authority is the free and revocable grant of the men who have promised conditionally to submit to it. Its organs, however ancient and august, are instruments that free men have built and free men can alter or even abolish." Earl Warren, Chief Justice, Supreme Court.
[7] When the so-called "enemy" is "terrorism" the war becomes total virtually incriminating the human race itself as exclusive national citizens.
[8] The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. --The Ninth Amendment
[9] "The inalienable human right of the United States citizen to add world citizenship -- as the founding fathers added United States citizenship to that of their state allegiances -- is incontestable and indeed the highest act of patriotism. For only in that planetary social and political level can the lesser members be protected and nurtured. The US Constitution itself, in the Ninth Amendment, provides for the rational extension of civic rights and responsibilities to the highest level as foreseen implicitly by the original founders." (From Dear World, A Global Odyssey, World Government House, 2000)
[10] "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…"
[11]"I no longer find it compatible with my inner convictions . . . by remaining solely loyal to one of these sovereign nation-states. I must extend the little sovereignty I possess, as a member of the world community, to the whole community, and to the international vacuum of its government . . . I should like to consider myself a citizen of the world." (Original renunciation of US nationality May 25, 1948)
[12] "As nations are torn apart and restructured, as instabilities and threats of war erupt, we shall be called upon to invent wholly new political forms or ʻcontainersʼ to bring a semblance of order to the world – a world in which the nation-state has become, for many purposes, a dangerous anachronism." Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave

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