Tagged: Functionalism

Fabian, Fellow Traveller or Free Agent? The Strange Case of David Mitrany

By Will Banyan, Copyright © March 2005 (updated October 2007)

Author’s note: This essay was completed in early 2005 in response to repeated entreaties from “Winston”, webmaster of the Modern History Project to explore his contention that David Mitrany was in fact a Fabian, evident in his associations with a number of prominent Fabians (detailed below). In subsequent correspondence “Winston” conceded that my paper, addressing his particular concern was “actually rather good”, but he took exception to my “arrogant attitude”, apparently evident in the final paragraph. I would contend that my final paragraph was a plea not to let “guilt-by-association” guide our understanding of whether or not Mitrany was a Fabian, but to instead focus on the facts of what he believed as opposed to his social companions. Some of the internet addresses have been updated if they have been archived, but others appear to be unrecoverable.

A Question of Character

One of the more persistent flaws in much of research into the alleged conspiracy to establish a “One World Government” or “New World Order”, in the view of this author, is the tendency to assume the loyalties and beliefs of certain individuals solely on the basis of the organisations they belong to or are associated with, rather than their actual and proven beliefs. Unless these links are examined with care false assumptions about the philosophies of key figures can be constructed resulting in a distorted picture of the N.W.O. People are no longer seen as individuals, possessing free will, but become mere pawns of a larger seemingly omnipotent cabal. At the same time, however, it is still a fact of life that the people we associate with can sometimes be a measure of what we stand for. Determining whether that association stems from convenience or common purpose can be difficult, especially if it is assumed the purpose of those associations is to pursue a secret grand strategy, thus making all evidence to the contrary suspect.

The case of David Mitrany, the subject of the partner essay “Outflanking the Nation-State: David Mitrany and the Origins of the ‘Functional’ Approach to the New World Order”, is certainly illustrative. Was Mitrany a free agent who consorted with British socialists out of expedience and convenience, or, alternately, a sympathiser, if not an “agent” of the Fabian Society and its program of achieving socialism through gradualism? Mitrany’s association with a number of leading Fabians and other British socialists, from 1912 through to the 1940s, is indisputable and perhaps of greater significance than originally acknowledged in “Outflanking the Nation-State.” More importantly, these associations raise pertinent questions about Mitrany’s own beliefs and motives. In particular it challenges us to explore the truth of Mitrany’s claim that as a “matter of principle” he had decided not to tie himself “to any political party or ideological group” and to instead “work with any and all of them for international peace”, accounts for his collaboration with these groups.[1]

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Outflanking the Nation-State: David Mitrany and the Origins of the ‘Functional’ Approach to the New World Order

By Will Banyan (Copyright © March 2005)

Defining Functionalism

In the dense academic language employed in the International Relations departments of most universities, “functionalism” refers to that policy of shifting responsibility for resolving various problems from the nation-state to international bodies “indirectly, by stealth.”[1] According to one key academic International Relations textbook, under functionalism “the role of governments is to be progressively reduced by indirect methods, and integration is to be encouraged by a variety of functionally based, cross-national ties.”[2] As international mechanisms expand in scope and authority, “the role of the nation-state would diminish and the prospects for world government [would] become more real”[3] The functionalist approach, quite simply, seeks to undermine the nation-state and build world government, not through a frontal assault but by outflanking it.

Readers of populist accounts of the New World Order would be more familiar with Richard N. Gardner’s formulation of functionalism presented in his article “The Hard Road to World Order” published in the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) journal, Foreign Affairs in 1974. In his contribution to the “quest for a world structure that secures peace, advances human rights and provides conditions for economic progress”,[4] Gardner had endorsed an “end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece…”[5] This “functional approach to world order”,[6] Gardner explained, would involve “inventing or adapting institutions of limited jurisdiction and selected membership to deal with specific problems on a case-by-case basis…”[7]

The impact of Gardner’s article on New World Order researchers is not to be underestimated; it is probably the most widely cited Foreign Affairs article in the genre, with many researchers crediting Gardner as the sole architect of that strategy. Dr. Steve Bonta, for example, the Executive Director of the Robert Welch University and a regular contributor to the John Birch Society’s periodical, The New American, declared in 2004 that Gardner was obviously “one of the most influential men alive” and the “intellectual godfather of the modern new world order.” That Gardner’s “program for world order” was still being followed three decades later, argued Bonta in a direct reference to Gardner’s 1974 article, was “testament to his cunning as a global strategist.”[8]

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