Utopias Without Borders

Published: January 8, 2014

The word ‘utopia’ conjures visions of idyllic communities separated from the polluted and violent post-industrial world. Many people from decades past dedicated their lives and their fortunes to establishing new ways of living by separating from the larger world. Utopian experiments have typically involved a physical place where new ways of living would be embraced. Cooperative farms, planned communities or even urban squats have long served as models for new ways of living. Other visionaries, however, saw a radically different path to utopia; the dismantling of national boundaries and the establishment of a one-world government.

In the years immediately following World War II, a former American bomber pilot named Garry Davis began a utopian movement that would soon boast thousands of members all over the world. In May of 1948, Davis entered The American Embassy in Paris and announced that he was renouncing his allegiance to The United States and declared himself a “citizen of the world”.

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Davis believed that the only way to attain world peace was for individuals was to reject the nation-state system and to come together as global-citizens. Now stateless, Davis set up camp outside of the newly formed United Nations which was at that time meeting in Paris. The international forum, and the legions of press covering its proceedings, provided Davis with an opportunity to get his message out to the world. With support from some of his friends, Garry Davis burst onto the floor and said:

“I interrupt in the name of the people not represented here. The nations you represent divide us, separate us and lead us to the abyss of World War Three.  What we need is one government for one world, and if you don’t do it, step aside.  We’re going to do it ourselves.”

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(Newsreel footage of Garry Davis interrupting proceedings at the UN, courtesy of British Pathé)

Davis was dragged off of the floor, but thanks to the presence of reporters from all over the world, headlines around the world spread the idea of world-citizenship. Support for Davis poured in from all over the world, including from Albert Einstein who said of Davis:

“He has made out of himself a displaced person in order to fight for the natural rights of those who are the mute evidence of the low moral level of our time.”

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(Davis in 2013 with his World Government passport)

To facilitate this movement, Davis established the World Government of World Citizens which to this day issues passports to self-declared world citizens. Garry Davis dedicated his life to the utopian vision of world-citizenship and spent the over sixty years teaching, writing and organizing to that end. Davis died in 2013, but the World Government for World Citizens remains. Hear more about Garry Davis and his quest for a global utopia in this excerpt from our latest show:

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  1. Kimberly Kauling

    This story on Utopian colonies hit home with me! My mother’s paternal grandparents came to the U. S. In the 1880s in order to join the Kaweah Cooperative Commonwealth Colony in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Coming from Saxony, Germany to central California, they left the Colony before it formally disbanded, but stayed in the area to become farmers and ranchers. There is nothing left of the Colony today and few people traveling through the small foothills community of Three Rivers on their way to Sequoia National Park have any idea that the Colony ever existed or that the first road into the Giant Forest would not have existed without the colonists’ backbreaking labor. Thanks for the story! Kim

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