Monday, August 19, 2013

World Citizens

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posted by Morley Evans



One World's first citizen was 'a man without nationality' 


On May 25, 1948, a former U.S. Army flier entered the U.S. embassy in Paris, renounced his American citizenship and, as astonished officials looked on, declared himself a citizen of the world.

In the decades that followed, until the end of his long life last week, he remained by choice a stateless man - entering, leaving, being regularly expelled from and frequently arrested in a spate of countries while carrying a passport of his own devising, as the international news media chronicled his every move.

His rationale was simple, his aim immense: If there were no nation-states, he believed, there would be no wars.

Garry Davis, a long-time peace advocate, former Broadway song-and-dance man and self-declared World Citizen No.1 who is widely regarded as the dean of the One World movement, a quest to erase national boundaries that today has nearly 1 million adherents worldwide, died Wednesday in Williston, Vt. He was 91, and though in recent years he had settled in South Burlington, Vt., he continued to occupy the singular limbo between citizen and alien that he had cheerfully inhabited for 65 years.

"I am not a man without a country," Mr. Davis told Newsweek in 1978, "merely a man without nationality."

Mr. Davis was not the first person to declare himself a world citizen, but he was inarguably the most visible, most vocal and most indefatigable. Sixty years ago he established the World Government of World Citizens, a self-proclaimed international governmental body that has issued documents passports, identity cards, birth and marriage certificates and occasional postage stamps and currency. He periodically ran for president of the world, always unopposed.

Mr. Davis, who spoke about the One World movement on college campuses and wrote books on the subject, seemed impervious to his critics. "The nation-state is a political fiction which perpetuates anarchy and is the breeding ground of war," he told The Daily Yomiuri, an English-language newspaper in Japan, in 1990. "Allegiance to a nation is a collective suicide pact."

The quest for a unified Earth was born of his discomfort with a childhood of great privilege, his grief at the loss of a brother in the Second World War and his horror at his own wartime experience as a bomber pilot.

Mr. Davis spent decades spreading his message, slipping across borders, stowing away on ships, sweet-talking officials or wearing them down until they let him in.

Last year, he had a world passport delivered to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Just weeks before he died, Mr. Davis had a world passport sent, via - Russian authorities, to Edward ~ Snowden, the fugitive former national security contractor accused of violating espionage laws, whose U.S. passport was revoked in June.

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