World Governance in Selected Writings By Bertrand Russell: Utopia or Ideology



This article studies the idea of “World Government” as envisioned in a
series of essays published by Bertrand Russell in the period of the Cold War. It draws
upon the theoretical categories introduced by Karl Mannheim in Ideology and Utopia
(1936) to account for the nature of the reconstruction schemes the author advances to
spare human society a possible apocalyptic nuclear confrontation. The study has
shown that Russell’s liberal outlook is utopian insofar as it has shown advanced
positions regarding self-determination, the dissemination of progress and cooperation
toward the reconstruction of a peaceful and prosperous world. However, given the
technological abyss separating the industrial West in the 1950s from the rest, an open
“World State” would be another form of imperialism in disguise. The risk involved is
that this “global utopia” whose rulers monopolize military, legislative as well as
economic power, would turn into an institutional and ideological instrument of
control in the hands of the technologically powerful few.

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