2. Is It Really One World?

WENDELL WILLKIE, with an enthusiasm touched off by the wonders of modern air transport, popularized the phrase, "one world." The complex of feelings and ideas associated with the phrase were not, however, Willkie's discovery. They have a longer history.

It is worth while to be clear about this question of the unity of the world, since more is at stake than a fruitful subject for afterdinner conversation or election campaigns. To many, there seem to follow, from the belief that the world is one, certain political conclusions of great import. If the world is one, they argue, then it can and ought properly to be politically united; then there can, and should be, just one world government. In order to unite the world in a single world government, all that is necessary is to make known to the peoples of the world this fact that their world is one.

Is it true that the world is one? Or rather, since this first question is ambiguous, is a way of confusing several different and independent questions, let us put it: in what sense or senses is the world one? in what sense or senses is it many? In both cases, the answer must be in terms that are relevant to the problems of world politics. The fact that the world is one in an astronomical sense, as a single planet located in the gravitational field of a definite star, is not of political importance.

The first expression, in the West, of the notion of the unity of the world was, according to tradition, by Alexander the Great, who therein went beyond the philosophic ideas of his tutor Aristotle. It was developed further by the Stoics of the Roman Empire, by Dante, partly under Stoic influence, and by the medieval philosophers, with their doctrine of a universal "natural law." Kant, in his moral philosophy, gave it a new variation; and it reappears today among the beliefs of many internationalists.

The oneness of the world, as interpreted by the core of meaning shared in this lineage, extended over 2300 years, and to be found

-14-

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