If I ruled the world? First things first, I'd stop Brexit

Charity begins at home. But my goal would be to create a united, rational world

September 08, 2017
AC Grayling explains what he'd do if he ruled the world. Photo: PA
AC Grayling explains what he'd do if he ruled the world. Photo: PA

Before tackling the world at large I’d start with sorting out the UK ("charity begins at home"), by immediately stopping the madness of Brexit, introducing proportional representation, restricting the Party whipping system so that only votes on manifesto pledges can be whipped, giving the electoral commission serious powers, limiting spending on elections, and requiring complete transparency on political funding. These measures would go a long way to fixing our currently hijacked democracy.

I would substantially increase spending on health and school education, using the money saved from the first of my world-wide initiatives (see below); would tackle the income inequalities which are so corrosive in our society; and would address the question of regional deprivation—but not at the expense of London, which, until the poison of Brexit began its work, was the goose that lays the country’s golden eggs; and could easily be so again if it remains the EU’s financial and cultural capital. It would be done by serious regional investment incentives for new businesses, on the model of the ‘special economic zones’ that have worked so well for China.

All faith schools would be abolished, religion taken out of the school curriculum, and charitable status removed from religious organisations. Religion is a private matter and should not receive state sponsorship in any form.

Remove Trump—and increase aid budgets

Next, the world at large. I’d remove Trump from office and put someone with common sense in the White House. Same for Kim Jong-Un and a few similar: they can all live together on Love Island. I’d abolish not only all nuclear weapons, but the entire arms trade. I’d get the everyone serious about tackling climate change. I’d give the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court real teeth. I’d free the Security Council from its paralysis, and oblige all member states to pay their UN dues, which I’d increase to enhance UN peace-keeping activities. International aid budgets would be increased to ensure good quality primary and secondary education for every child everywhere; and equal opportunities and pay between the sexes would be made internationally mandatory. Aid increases would also go to support more clean water and health initiatives, a high priority being safe childbirth and universal immunisation against communicable and infectious diseases.

I’d encourage and highly reward more effective AI language-translation apps that enable anyone to talk to anyone anywhere in the world as easily as if they are conversing in the same language. More mutual interchange and understanding is a promoter of peace, and peace is a promoter of progress.

A united, rational world

Despite the difficulty connoted in the proverb about taking horses to water, I’d try to get as many people as possible to share the ideal of a united and rational world, where generosity and tolerance prevail, and where moralism and the infantilising, divisive and conflict-promoting effects of religion fade away. Such a world would be a literate one, where shared humane values promote not merely acceptance but celebration of diversity, so that what people have in common and what makes them individual can both work for the good.

The sources of our world’s troubles are superstitions and the conflicts they prompt, injustice and the bitterness it prompts. Getting rid of injustices, and replacing superstition by more mature thought, would be a big step to freeing humankind from its painful internecine quarrels, so that it can face the real challenge not just of saving the planet, but of enhancing the experience of all life in it, human and otherwise, into something truly good.