The nerve of the right historical concept is and remains the Novum…. The tomorrow in today is alive, people are always asking about it. The faces which turned in the utopian direction have of course been different in every age, just like that which in each individual case they believed they saw. Whereas the direction here is always related, indeed in its still concealed goal it is the same; it appears as the only unchanging thing in history…. True genesis is not at the beginning but at the end, and it starts to begin only when society and existence become radical, i.e. grasp their roots. But the root of history is the working, creating human being who reshapes and overhauls the given facts. Once he has grasped himself and established what is his, without expropriation and alienation, in real democracy, there arises in the world something which shines into the childhood of all and in which no one has yet been: homeland.
Abstract. This essay elaborates the “socialist principle” in which people recognize their interdependence and integral relationships as part of the human community. It links this principle with our emerging human moral maturity and shows the immaturity of the fragmented system of militarized sovereign nations interlocked with global capitalism. It articulates the basic principles of a democratic market socialism through citing a number of past and present thinkers on this topic.
This synthesis of this scholarly thought on socialism reveals in broad outlines what a mature human community would look like at this point in history and how this would be both embodied and enhanced through ratifying a global social contract such as the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We need to replace the U.N. Charter with the Earth Constitution in which real sustainability and mature human equality link together under a democratic world parliament. The vision of democratic socialism articulates the common good of humanity. This essay argues that only a global social contract can make this a reality.
- Human Beings Growing Toward Moral Maturity
Humanity is struggling to emerge from a long history of cruelty, barbarism, and savagery. As Jonathan Glover shows in his book Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, we are not very far along in the quest “of the human species as it struggles to escape from its brutal past.” The use of technology in mass exterminations, the dehumanizing of “enemies” and closing of our hearts against the “others,” the lack of compassion for those of different nations, races, or religions have been rampant phenomena throughout the 20th century to the present. Glover is not optimistic that “either torture or cruel punishment is certain to fade away as the human race grows up” (1999: 41 & 39).
But grow up we must, for time is rapidly running out before our savagery, combined with awesome technologies of mass destruction, obliterates the entire hope, beauty, and promise of our human project. The psychologists and philosophers of human development have reached a broad consensus concerning the stages of moral, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive development. As many contemporary philosophers, psychologists and spiritual thinkers have asserted, upon reaching adulthood we are capable of continuous growth toward becoming ever-more “worldcentric” (e.g., Habermas 1979; Kohlberg 1984; Gilligan 1982; Beck and Cowan 2006; Wilber 2007). We are capable of becoming ever-more “integrated” and “integrating” persons, embracing the vast diversity of humanity and other sensitive living creatures with an encompassing reason, love, compassion, kindness, and friendship. We are capable of replacing violence and fragmentation with the harmony of compassionate unity in diversity. We are, therefore, capable of moving to a higher level of existence through uniting to govern our “spaceship Earth” (Fuller 1972).
In moving to the stage of worldcentric maturity, we will simultaneously be transcending our present fragmentation toward a deeper awareness of humanity as the subject of history and collective agent responsible for the future of freedom. We establish a global public authority superseding the capitalist nation-state, which always functioned as a fragmented collection of bourgeois power-centers that were integral to the capitalist system itself (Petras and Veltmeyer 2005). The Earth Constitution provides this global democratic public authority superseding the war-system and uniting humanity as a global community. Four Constituent Assemblies between 1968 and 1991 joined hands in writing it. The Constitution is widely available on-line and in print (see Martin 2010). Since 1991, is has been ready for ratification by the people and nations of the Earth using common sense, democratic procedures. This Constitution places the people of Earth at the center of human history, for the true proletariat comprises all the people who live upon the Earth, even the bourgeois insofar as they are capable of growing to human maturity and universal consciousness.
Rather than class-interests controlling the course of events, the people of Earth can now become the conscious agents of history. The Constitution embodies universal rights, universal sustainability, universal freedom, and the universal responsibility for the people of Earth for creating a future for humanity and our planet. The character of government changes with the ascent to universality. Government no longer fragments humanity into territorial bound, militarized and competing power centers. With the further actualization of human unity, democratic socialism becomes self-evident as the proper way of living and working together on the Earth, for the people of Earth begin to discern their true interdependence and internal relationships within a principle of unity in diversity.
Historical anarchism always assumed that the authority of government was itself the problem. However, many thinkers concerning “positive freedom,” from Hegel (1991), to T.H. Green (1964), to Earnest Barker (1967), to Errol E. Harris (2014), argue that genuine democratically legislated laws empower human life and make possible the living of authentic lives in much greater freedom than possible under a mere negative resistance to governmental authority. Bolshevism, on the other hand, assumed that a revolutionary vanguard could commandeer a fragmented territorial government in a liberating way, thereby only exacerbating the fragmentation against competing power centers. However, it has to be all people or none, not a new form of state capitalism or a fragmented dictatorship over some territory. The domino theory of the spread of socialism has long been dead.
With the advent of truly universal government under the Earth Constitution, the character of government itself will dramatically change, for government will no longer be easily subverted or managed behind the scenes by a capitalist ruling class or some dictatorial minority. The Constitution sets up a system of equality and transparency in both government and elections that militates against such oligarchical rule. Genuine democracy can only emerge when the nation-states affirm their limited sovereignty as parts of the whole and when economics truly functions in the service of human flourishing (Boswell and Chase-Dunn 2000). Government will therefore lose its repressive character and begin to undergird, fully for the first time in history, truly positive freedom. Article 2 of the Earth Constitution declares that all the people who live on Earth constitute the sovereign authority and that the global public authority will be non-military.
All this is integral to the process of human self-transcendence. In the epigraph to this essay, Ernst Bloch (1986: 1374-1376) describes this process in human history. He emphasizes that we are always future oriented: “the end” in terms of human fulfillment, democracy, justice, and truth is implicit within the reflections and struggles of every age. Inherent in the “direction” of self-transcendence toward the future is a “concealed goal” that is always revolutionary because it is the “true genesis.” That goal is a just and fulfilled human reality: the “homeland” implicit in our perpetual self-transcendence into the future embraces a free and peaceful human community. Compare Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind who affirms that “the true answer will be at the end, when we have gone through history, not before that” (1969: 104).
The resources open to us to enhance this transformative process include philosophical reflection, meditation, holistic education, research in sciences and humanities, dialogue, demonstration, nonviolent resistance, the positive power of satyagraha, institutional reforms, and social activism on behalf of the Earth Constitution. People are more easily led to the dehumanizing of others, to a lack of care for others and hardness of heart, when they are devoid of all or some of these resources. Lack of access to these resources can result in cultures and institutions that promote bigotry, fear, narrowness, ethnocentrism, nationalism, racism, and the dehumanization of others that accompany these responses. Satyagraha, as developed by Mahatma Gandhi and others, is a positive philosophy of self and social transformation, a philosophy of human liberation (Jesudasan 1984). Gandhi himself was an advocate of world federalism (see Martin 2017). However, our ultimate tool and blueprint, at this stage of history, remains the Earth Constitution itself.
Transformative growth comprises a growth in values: reciprocity, respect and concern for others, spiritual awareness, and universality of insight, understanding, and action. As philosopher of liberation, James L. Marsh declares: “The results of such experiencing, understanding, judging, and choosing would be radical political conversion. Negatively, such conversion implies a rejection in theory and practice of all forms of injustice…. Positively such conversion requires the choice in thought and life of…the imperative to work for democratic socialism in the short and long run” (1995: 174). My argument adds to Marsh’s insight that this must be a global democratic socialism under an Earth Constitution.
The socialist concept includes the imperative of our emerging human maturity in which we discover that we are one humanity in whom reason and love must develop to the point where we make the Earth a decent home for all its children. However today, Erich Fromm points out, the only oneness recognized by the present Lords of the Earth is our planet as both a battleground for global wars and a giant marketplace for capital accumulation. Fromm declares that we need a new, worldwide “socialist humanism” in which economics is placed in the service of human flourishing and well-being:
The one world is one, so far, inasmuch as it is one potential battlefield, rather than a new system of world citizenship. We live in one world, yet in his feelings and thoughts contemporary man still lives in the nation state. His loyalties are still primarily to sovereign states and not to the human race. This anachronism can only lead to disaster…. The alternative of socialism or barbarism has become frighteningly real today, when forces working toward barbarism seem to be stronger than those working against it. (1962: 171-173)
For Fromm, we need a new renaissance of worldwide socialist humanism in which our “new technical powers” function “for the sake of man”: “It is a new society in which the norms for man’s unfolding govern the economy, rather than the social and political process being governed by blind and anarchic economic interests” (Ibid. 173). In a similar vein, Sheldon Wolin declares: “While it cannot be emphasized too strongly that democracy requires supporting conditions—social, economic, and educational—the democratization of politics remains merely formal without the democratization of the self. Democratization is not about being “left alone,” but about becoming a self that sees the values of common involvements and endeavors to find in them a source of self-fulfillment” (2008: 289).
The socialist imperative is the moral imperative at the heart of human maturity: our personal individuality is not entirely separable from our common humanity, as Habermas (1984) and many others have pointed out. The two are dialectically related. Human beings exist as a dynamic synthesis of personal uniqueness and species universality. Authentic democracy cannot but be socialist, recognizing the need to address simultaneously our potential for personal development and our common “species being.” Karl Marx saw these two dimensions as antagonistic under capitalism (1978: 42-46). However, global democratic socialism engenders a positive freedom that enhances both dimensions.
Democratic self-hood necessarily demands economic and social “supporting conditions” that establish universal equality and freedom (Gewirth 1982). Our love and compassion have grown to identify with the entire world, its human children and its living creatures (Gewirth 1996: 15). Education, economics, politics, and institutions need redirecting toward making our planet a decent place for all to live. We need one world with a world parliament that has the mandate and the vision to actualize a democratic socialist, loving, and sustainable environment for the entire Earth.
Human growth is fundamentally the growth in self-awareness, a mindfulness that is simultaneously awareness of the depths of our human situation, the cosmos, and the dynamics of self-transcendence. Implicit in Karl Marx’s approach (following Hegel on this issue) is the idea that freedom is a concrete reality and value that is emerging dialectically through the process of human history. It begins for Marx, as Carol Gould writes, “as the capacity for self-transcendence” which “characterizes all individuals in all historical periods” (1980: 169). Philosopher Roslyn Wallach Bologh sees a similar dynamic in the thought of Marx:
Marx formulates history from within a form of life characterized by the possibility of a self-conscious community…. He reads history in terms of repressed community (capitalism) versus natural community (pre-capitalism) and self-conscious community (post-capitalism)…. This is how I interpret Marx’s concept of socialism—a self-consciously social mode of (re)production, (comm)unity as a historical accomplishment not conceived as external to the members and their activity. (1979: 237 and 239)
Lack of deep self-awareness fosters much of today’s incremental, merely evolutionary resistance to the recognition of human futurity and the necessity for transformative growth. The maturity-fear runs deep even within today’s scholars and intellectuals. A fuller world-centric awareness would awaken to the fact that we are at the point in history when we must found our planetary society on practical, value-based principles that transform our fragmented world into a world system making possible universal human flourishing, the self-aware protection of nature, and further growth toward the development of our common human project. The project of ratifying the Earth Constitution in itself dramatically increases the historical awareness of the people of Earth. Means and ends work in harmony here: the means by which we liberate ourselves foster the ends of human liberation.
- Reason, Love, and Critical Self-Awareness
It is not only the new human maturity emphasizing the development of our reason and our love that advocates democratic socialism, the socialist imperative is also the moral imperative found at the heart of all the great scriptures of the world: the imperative for love, compassion, kindness, and friendship. It recognizes the moral demand at the heart of our human situation to recognize our common humanity with others and organize our institutions in such a way that protects and enhances the human dignity of everyone. In Christianity, it is the universal love (agape) taught by Jesus. In the Vedic religions, it is the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam translated as “the world is one family” (Agnivesh 2016).
The great scriptures of the world understood that human existence ethically revolves around the golden rule and the principles of love, kindness, and justice (Hick 2004: Chap. 17). Mo Tzu in China during the 5th century BCE declares: “It is the business of the sages to effect the good government of the world. They must examine therefore into the cause of disorder; and when the do so they will find that it arises from a want of mutual love” (in Sterba 1998: 355). Jeremiah in Israel during the 7th century BCE wrote, on behalf of God: “You have been allowing people to cheat, rob, and take advantage of widows, orphans, and foreigners who live here…. Now I command to do what is right and see that justice is done. Rescue everyone who has suffered from injustice” (22:1-3). Jesus in his Parable of the Vineyard has the owner declare that all the workers be paid the same amount no matter how long they worked (Matthew 20: 1-16). For the ancient scriptures, social and economic arrangements should be based on moral and spiritual principles, not on so-called “iron laws” of wages and commodities.
Theologian Paul Tillich affirms this truth. The basis of authentic socialism is the moral and spiritual realities of human existence, not simply secular economics: “Religious socialism was always interested in human life as a whole and never in its economic basis exclusively…. It recognized the dependence of economy itself on all other social, intellectual, and spiritual factors, and it created a picture of the total, interdependent structure of our present existence…. There are social structures that unavoidably frustrate any spiritual appeal to the people subjected to them” (1987: 74-75). Capitalism is just such a social structure: it actively hinders and corrupts human moral and spiritual maturity.
Capitalism structurally denies the moral and spiritual dimensions of human existence. Its “iron laws” deny human dignity, love, freedom, community, human rights, and universal justice. Tillich declares:
Religious socialism is not “Marxism,” neither political Marxism in the sense of communism nor “scientific” Marxism in the sense of economic doctrines. We have, however, learned more from Marx’s dialectical analysis of bourgeois society than another other analysis of our period. We have found in it an understanding of human nature and history which is much nearer to the classical Christian doctrine of man with its empirical pessimism and its eschatological hope than the picture of man in idealistic theology. (Ibid. 75)
The socialist imperative for a just, moral, and compassionate world system arises from the whole of our human situation: not from an “economic substructure,” nor from a class-struggle by a proletariat that has “nothing to lose but its chains.” Marx’s love, his humanism, and his compassion animate his entire life and shine through his early and late writings. Tillich writes: “In his description of the ‘poverty of philosophy’ Marx challenged a philosophy which interprets the world without changing it…. Religious socialism took over the insight of the Fourth Gospel that truth must be done, and took over the insight of the whole biblical tradition that without active participation in the ‘new reality’ its nature cannot be known” (1967: 92-93). The socialist imperative is the imperative integral to human growth toward world-centric planetary maturity. We come to know life by choosing life.
Our situation, therefore, is not best portrayed by Albert Camus’ profound and moving novel The Plague (1947) in which Dr. Rieux stoically stands against the overwhelming onslaught of evil and destruction, without fear and without hope. Our human situation, rather, is permeated by the dynamism of perpetual historical transcendence, and by the possibility of genuine self-transcendence. As Tillich agrees, this insight does not require any formal religious orientation for its foundation. However, it does reveal the “eschatological” hope and possibility at the heart of our human condition such as that pointed to by Ernst Bloch in the epigraph to this essay.
With the growth of critical self-awareness among human beings, especially since the 15th century and prominently since the “Enlightenment” of the 18th century, the moral imperative found at the heart of the great scriptures of the world is being progressively disentangled from the dogmas, rituals, mantras and institutional frameworks of these religions, as Swami Agnivesh (2016) makes clear. From Immanuel Kant’s 18th century affirmation of human dignity independently of all religion (1964), to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, it is now become possible, for the first time in history, to proclaim universal ethical principles independently of all religious scriptures. The U.N. Declaration affirms: “recognition of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.”
- Historical Emergence of the Socialist Concept
The 4th century Greek fathers of the Christian Church understood the socialist imperative taught by Jesus the Christ: St. John Chrysostom (c. 349-407) wrote: “Do not say, ‘I am using what belongs to me.’ You are using what belongs to others. All the wealth of the world belongs to you and to the others in common, as the sun, air, earth, and all the rest” (in Cort 1988: 45). St. Ambrose (c. 340-397) wrote: “God has ordered all things to be produced so that there should be food in common for all, and that the earth should be the common possession of all. Nature, therefore, has produced a common right for all, but greed has made it the right for a few” (Ibid. 47).
In the 18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau appeared to agree with St. Ambrose concerning the system of scarcity imposed when the resources of the earth became “the right of a few”:
The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying “This is mine,” and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: “Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.” (In Martin 2008: 147)
Historian and Christian thinker Richard Henry Tawney in his book Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926) writes: “Compromise is as impossible between the Church of Christ and the idolatry of wealth, which is the practical religion of capitalist societies, as it was between the Church and the state idolatry of the Roman Empire” (in Cort 1988: 173).
For John Ruskin in Unto this Last, which appeared in 1862, the capitalist system simultaneously created riches and poverty, for accumulation of riches by the few is nothing but robbery from the poor: “The art of becoming ‘rich,’ in the common sense, is not absolutely nor finally the art of accumulating much money for ourselves, but also of contriving that our neighbors shall have less. In accurate terms, it is ‘the art of establishing the maximum inequality in our own favour’” (1997: 182). For Ruskin “political economy” as taught by J.S. Mill, Adam Smith, or David Ricardo, is simply the art of stealing, for the wealth of the few necessarily correlates with the poverty of the many. Wealth is properly correlated with the use-value of products to promote health, life, and well-being in the population (in everyone), distributed in justice from person to person, not just the rich. The proper political economy of any state, in contrast to the capitalist system of theft, operates according to principles of justice:
The universal and constant action of justice in this matter is therefore to diminish the power of wealth, in the hands of one individual, over masses of men, and to distribute it through a chain of men. The actual power exerted by the wealth is the same in both cases; but by injustice it is put all into one man’s hands, so that he directs at once and with equal force the labour of a circle of men about him; by the just procedure, he is permitted to touch the nearest only, thorough whom, with diminished force, modified by new minds, the energy of the wealth passes on to others, and so till it exhausts itself. (Ibid. 199)
The democratic revolutions of the 18th century embodied the revolutionary idea of the equality of all citizens and their inherent “natural rights” existing independently of governmental authorities (who might deny those rights). The U.S. Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson (a follower of John Locke) declares: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Such documents announce the birth of the concept of universal human rights, a concept still ideal and not yet universally embodied in the concrete lives of human beings.
This first generation of human rights was born there in the 18th century: the rights to freedom, civil liberty, religion, assembly, habeas corpus, and due process of law. This focus on a priori rights over and against government was not the case, however, for Kant, as pointed out by Harry van der Linden in Kantian Ethics and Socialism. Kant demanded a public, social ethics aiming to transform society so that there would ultimately be a union of moral duty and human happiness, meaning a social contract that that provided not only for political freedoms but for human well-being as well (1988: 17-22). Kant also understood that the fullness of human reciprocal rights could never be realized without an Earth Federation that ended the war-system among supposedly “sovereign” nations recognizing no enforceable laws above themselves (1957 and 1974).
Nevertheless, the 19th century with its industrial revolution saw the vast expansion of the capitalist system, with the so-called “right to private property” enshrined in laws that allowed the owners of factories to employ child labor, pay starvation wages to employees, force labor to work for 12 hours per day, and build factories replete with dangerous and unhealthy working conditions. This economic system created masses of extremely poor people living in horrific conditions struggling to survive while being exploited in every possible way to enhance the profits of the owners.
Moral outrage permeates the writings of Karl Marx and many other 19th century revolutionary critics of this horrific system of exploitation and degradation. Scholars such as José Miranda in his book Marx Against the Marxists (1986) show that the so-called “materialist” interpretation of Marx that repudiates the moral dimension in favor of historical forces operating independently of morality is false. Marx was both steeped in the Bible and animated by a much deeper moral love and compassion than the “Bourgeois morality” that he repudiated (see Martin 2005: Chapter 8).
The Socialist Imperative recognizes our common humanity, our “species being” as Marx called it, and the imperative of society to organize itself in ways that optimize human equality, dignity, and freedom. In this respect, the socialist imperative is fundamentally identical with the democratic imperative, for democracy is also the organization of society around human equality, dignity, and freedom. Our collective understanding of the moral requirement to recognize our common human dignity, emphasized by Kant in the 18th century, was now expanded in the 19th century with the birth of “second generation” rights: the rights to the conditions that make possible our individual human flourishing and development: education, health care, limited and safe working conditions, sanitation, and the basic necessities for life such as food, clothing, and shelter.
The U.N. Universal Declaration of 1948 includes both generations of rights. Article 25 declares: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” The moral discourse of humanity and our “species being,” now divorced from formal religions and forming the ground for a universal ethical discourse, affirms that economics and society must be organized to preserve human dignity and opportunity for all, even for the least privileged members of society. Human beings continued to grow toward moral maturity.
The worldwide recognition of multiple global crises during the 20th century activated understanding that there is a third generation of human rights. It is not enough to have civil liberties and one’s basic needs satisfied if constant war, fear, and violence continue nearly everywhere on Earth. It is not enough to have liberty and well-being if the global climate is collapsing all around us portending ever-increasing disasters throughout our lives and those of our children. Within the U.N. there has been a growing understanding of the “indivisible” nature of human rights (Whelan 2010). Human beings are the same everywhere and the entire set of rights in the U.N. Declaration reinforce one another and undergird a complete human life. This holism continues to grow into a third generation of human rights that includes the right to peace and to a protected planetary environment (Wacks 2008: 149-150).
Human beings, therefore, have a right to peace and a right to a protected and wholesome planetary environment as these permeate in the Earth Constitution. Human rights become a coherent set of ideals surrounding our common humanity and our universal human dignity. One cannot have some of these without the others. Together they form the basis for a planetary democratic socialism premised on these rights and values, not on the chaos of the so-called capitalist “free market.” All these rights (and our corresponding responsibilities) form an integrated whole and require a global public authority to protect these rights and educate people concerning their significance. Human dignity demands institutions that honor this dignity. These historical developments reflect our developing human moral maturity.
Christian philosopher Enrique Dussel in his book Ethics and Community (1986) declares of sinners: “They totalize themselves, asserting themselves to be God, fetishizing the divinizing themselves. They fall into idolatry…. The act by which one asserts oneself to be the end of other persons—as factory owners think they have the right to the factory’s profit even though that profit be their workers’ hunger transformed into money—is idolatry…. These modern “gods” are the product of the “logic” of sin, of the domination of one human being over another….” (1986: 19). For Dussel, the dominant world capitalist system creates a pseudo-morality for itself in order to justify and cover up its vast regime of domination and exploitation. This conventional morality is the negation of the socialist imperative taught by Jesus to love one another in a spirit of harmony and sharing.
We may address the problem of “right to private property” (that allows significant accumulations of property to exploit the poor) by distinguishing personal property from property as capital. Perhaps there is such an aspect of “private property” that may cultivate the sense of responsibility and custodianship, as some have argued, and that also serves as a bulwark against illegitimate interference from a government (e.g, Finnis 1983). However, we can easily distinguish this aspect of property, under democratic laws, from concentrations of wealth capable of exploiting other people for private gain. We can easily protect personal flourishing and well-being through the possession of personal property alone. Vast capital accumulations in private hands, on the other hand, diminish the personal well-being of their victims, as well as democratic institutions that should be serving the common good of all.
- The Socialist Imperative and Sovereign Nation-states.
For John Dewey (1859-1952): “The ultimate problem of production is the production of human beings. To this end the production of goods is intermediate and auxiliary. It is by this standard that the present system stands condemned…. The means have to be implemented by a social-economic system that establishes and uses the means for the production of free human beings associating with one another on terms of equality” (1993: 170). Economics and social institutions need to support the quest of each person to develop his or her potential. This is the socialist imperative. Economics must serve human growth and well-being, not the reverse. Economics must enhance “use value” for the fullness of life, not “exchange value” for the extraction of surplus as profit. For Dewey, capitalism reverses this imperative for economics to promote human well-being by sacrificing human beings to the drive for private profit. Democracy, the fundamentally mature mode of human association, includes “the breaking down of the barriers of class, race, and national territory” (1993: 110-11) and seeing “the secondary and provisional character of national sovereignty” (ibid. 120). The analysis of Karl Marx was similar in many ways.
Marx saw the bourgeois principle of “formal equality” as a great step forward. People were no longer serfs or slaves but formally free to exchange their property, including their own labour-power as they saw fit. However, this formal freedom covered up a situation of “objective dependency” and concomitant domination in which those who owned capital and the means of production had the power of exploitation over those who lacked such wealth. Mere “political equality” continues the bourgeois system of “egoistic man” and demands an emancipation as “a restoration of the human world and of human relationships to man himself” (1978: 42-46). All of life appears commodified, and the fullness of life is lost for the majority who live their lives as commodities within a world of commodities. The socialist principle, I am arguing, does not most fundamentally advocate a specific set of economic arrangements but rather the recognition of our common humanity and our joining together in unity and diversity to create a set of economic and political arrangements based on that common species being.
The result of this system of domination, for Marx, is “alienation” from our higher human potential for mutually supportive, loving, and cooperative relationships with others. The capitalist system with its “world market” cuts people off from the means to pursue their higher human potential. It cuts people off from what I called above “positive freedom.” The point of socialism is to replace “formal freedom” with the kinds of “substantive freedom” that can lead to genuine human fulfillment, in which “the liberation of each single individual will be accomplished in the measure in which history becomes transformed into world history” (1978: 163). Only by transcending the fragmented nation-state system and uniting under a democratic world order directed to the common good of the whole of humanity can history become truly transformed into world history.
For philosopher Michael Luntley, in his 1990 book on The Meaning of Socialism, capitalism destroys the capacity of people to pursue the good (including their own potential for development). It systematically obstructs moral pursuit of the good. It introduces an “atomism” in which each possesses a “negative freedom” to pursue his or her own welfare at the expense of nature and the community. As Adam Smith had put it, “it is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of society, which he has in view.” Capitalism repudiates that normativity in which society collectively supports the development of each of its members and their cooperative effort to actualize justice, freedom, and truth within our human situation.
Philosopher of law John Finnis (1980) identifies seven intrinsically valuable goods some combination of which makes for a fulfilled and worthwhile human life. These are life, knowledge, practical reason, friendship, aesthetic experience, play, and religion (in the broad sense of a discerning a meaning to existence). Finnis mounts a powerful critique of the utilitarian doctrine that there can be some instrumental means to “achieving the greatest good of the greatest number” (a justification often used for capitalism). Unrestrained competition in a “free market” does not create the greatest good. Rather it actively interferes with our common human pursuit of what is good. The fullness of any human life involves the ability to develop and participate in these goods along some or all of these multiple lines, and the common good of society involves the organization of economics and institutions to make this possible for all citizens.
Capitalism violates this common good. None of these intrinsic goods (which Finnis calls “natural rights”) identifies as wealth or possessions. All of them require a genuine “community” that goes much deeper than the formal contractual basis of capitalist society: competing commercial persons and entities making legal contracts with one another. A “community,” Finnis insists, attains completion by binding together through a constitution that “completes” the union, granting rights and responsibilities to all citizens and pursuing the common good of them all. At the planetary level, only a global social contract, with economics and institutions predicated on the common good of all, can complete and vivify the human community (1980: 130, 148). This vision of the “completed community” is the democratic socialist vision.
Finnis himself defends “private ownership” insofar as this “enhances [a person’s] reasonable autonomy and stimulates his productivity and care” (172-733). He does not speak of socialism but of a “competitive market system” geared toward a “trusteeship” in which wealth beyond a certain point needs to be used for the flourishing of others within the community and in which “the public authority may rightly help them to perform” what is necessary to the flourishing of persons if individual initiative is not sufficient for this task (Ibid.). Depending on the historical situation, such a system “may coexist in the same community with more or less extensive public ownership” (171). If the public authority is thus fundamental to achieve distributive justice, then this result in the conception of Finnis appears quite similar to the market socialism we are describing here.
However, “the community” as Finnis understands it points humanity forward to a global community in his analysis, for the function of the public authority is a common good that may not be realizable any longer at the national level. He declares: “If it now appears that the the good of individuals can only be fully secured and realized in the context of international community, we must conclude that the claim of the national state to be a complete community is unwarranted and the postulate of the national legal order, that it is supreme and comprehensive and an exclusive source of legal obligation, is increasingly what lawyers would call a ‘legal fiction’.” (129-130)
Finnis declares in defense of his economic analysis: “a theory of justice is to establish which is due to a person in the circumstances in which he is, not in the circumstances of some other ‘ideal’ world” (170). However, here he appears to miss the dynamic of human futurity, even though his entire ethical theory depends on the structure of human futurity insofar as the human community must maximize the conditions for individuals to pursue some combination of the seven intrinsically valuable goods that he identifies. Both individuals and history are future orientated, capable of a growing maturity, awareness, and understanding. It is precisely planetary socialism that both embodies and promotes this growth, not the ideology of capitalism that promotes, not merely autonomy and care but, more fundamentally, egoism, greed, and corruption and objective economic conditions that prevent to self-realization of the vast majority.
Philosopher of holism, Errol E. Harris, more insightfully recognizes that the “the economic health and success of every country is dependent on all the others” and that “the world economy has to be seen as a single system and must be treated as a whole,” a situation requiring democratic world government. In addition, within this global context “the conception of profit must be transformed: It must be socialized rather than individualized. Production and supply have to be viewed as a cooperative enterprise rendering service to the community, rather than a venture undertaken for personal gain” (2000: 167). If the goal is the integrity, dignity, and freedom of human beings, then production and supply must necessarily be “socialized.” For a rationally and morally grounded society, this should be self-evident. Harris (2014) finds these requirements embodied in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
James L. Marsh understands that capitalism is not simply a system that operates in the world apart from our basic human consciousness. Rather, as for Habermas, it is a pervasive institutional force that has colonized our human life-world to the point of fundamentally distorting human consciousness and our potential for a free, wholesome, and decent world system:
The life-world as a whole should also maintain its integrity in relation to economic and administrative systems. Late capitalism is characterized by an illegitimate imposition and extension of the economic imperative onto the life-world. The extension occurs in the interest of class domination exerted through systems media, structures that operate beyond human intention and choice. The basic media operative here are those of money and power. Capital, in the interest of maintaining and enhancing class domination, illegitimately encroaches on spheres to which it should be foreign. As a result, for example, politics, rather than being primarily the exercise of symbolic interaction, democratic, free, equal, reciprocal, becomes an exercise in public relations, manipulation, and secrecy. Culture, rather than being the flowering of an aesthetic consciousness, becomes degraded, passive, and commodified. Culture is transformed into a reified mass culture. (1995: 82-83)
Marsh describes the contemporary perversions of democracy under the capitalist system in terms consistent with Marx’s insight that political democracy alone, without economic democracy, cannot bring human liberation. For Marsh, human liberation requires the development of our reason, understanding, love, and spirituality—the wholeness of our humanity (1999). He recognizes the “colonization of our life-worlds” by the subsystems of capitalism and the nation-state (1995: 230-39). However, his analysis is not entirely complete. Our human lifeworld, I argue, remains so deeply colonized by the system of militarized sovereign nation-states that even most critical thinkers fail to recognize the obvious: that the real problem is not only capitalism but the system of nation-states as well.
Nation-states are pseudo-realities, “spectacles,” in the words of Guy Debord (2014). They remain in power as part of the global capitalist system through the generation of ever more spectacles: vast pageants at football games in the United States, imposing military parades in China and North Korea, spectacular conferences against imperialism and for “A World without Borders” in Bolivia (hence, asserting sovereignty in resistance to imperialism and envisioning ways to unite Latin America in this resistance), and, astonishingly, the land of Mahatma Gandhi announces creation of nuclear weapons to the swelling pride of its population. Sovereign nation-states generate a set of illusions that negate holistic life and our potential for self-transcendence while colonizing our lifeworld with the certainty of their “reality.” Implicitly, they deny and obscure the deeper reality of our common humanity together on the Earth.
Among the thinkers treated in this essay on the “Socialist Imperative,” John Dewey, Errol E. Harris, and Boswell and Chase-Dunn all included the system of sovereign nations in their analysis of the distortions faced by the contemporary world. Dewey speaks of “the secondary and provisional character of national sovereignty” (1993:120), and Harris affirms that “the unity of humanity should be the watchword of the new epoch, inspiring all our thinking and action” (2000: 132). Boswell and Chase-Dunn assert that “global democracy is the equivalent of social democracy at the world level” (2000: 12) because, in the contemporary world, “class relations expanded beyond the labor process to become institutionalized in state, colonial, and interstate structures. A system of sovereign states (i.e., with an overarching definition of sovereignty) is fundamental to the origins and reproduction of the capitalist world economy” (23-24). If we want a decent world system and a liberated life-world capable of a redeemed love, reason, compassion, and wholeness, then these two deadly adversaries of life must be included together: a decent world system under the Earth Constitution overcomes both capitalism and militarized sovereign nation-states.
- Market Socialism and the Holism of Human Development
I will argue that socialist holism ultimately implies human political unity. Political philosopher Bernard Crick argues that a rationally grounded society would maximize the three key factors of liberty, equality, and community:
Socialism has both an empirical theory and a moral doctrine. The theory is that the rise and fall of cohesion in societies is best explained not by the experience and perpetuation of elites (which is conservatism), nor by the initiatives and inventions of competitive individuals (which is liberalism), but by the relationship to the ownership and control of the means of production of the primary producers of wealth…. The doctrine asserts the primacy and mutual dependence of the values of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’, and it draws on the theory to believe that greater equality will lead to more cooperation than competition, that this will in turn enhance fraternity and hence liberate from inhibition, restriction and exploitation both individual personality and the full productive potential of society. (1987: 79)
Just as John Dewey understood that the institutions of society should be directed toward the actualization of our (universal) human potential, so Crick asserts that both the development of individuals and the productive potential of society are enhanced by socialism. These structural changes make possible further self-transcendence. The holism of these visions of human well-being appears very close to the conception of human freedom put forth by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Reports of the past two decades. The holism of our integral human lifeworld finds embodiment through a socialism that extends liberty, equality, and community to our entire planetary civilization. We have seen that the extension to the planetary level is the key to overcoming the oppressive nature of bourgeois law and to developing historical consciousness in the people of Earth.
In fact, we have allowed wealth and power to dominate our so-called free societies to our own detriment. Socialism rests on the three foundations of true democracy: liberty, equality, and fraternity. Neither liberalism nor conservatism rest on all three. Conservatism minimizes equality and, in some respects, freedom, in terms of an ersatz idea of historical community. Liberalism minimizes community, and ultimately equality, through an ersatz notion of negative freedom that ultimately destroys both equality and community. As Sheldon Wolin affirms: “Democracy is first and foremost about equality: equality of power and equality of sharing in the benefits and values made possible by social cooperation” (2008: 61).
Capitalism, whether conservative or liberal, results in inequality as well as consequent corruption. Contemporary social thinker Terry Eagleton writes: “We know that socialism has established itself when we are able to look back with utter incredulity on the idea that a handful of commercial thugs were given free rein to corrupt the minds of the public with Neanderthal political views convenient for their bank balances but for little else” (2011: 28). Donald Trump, now President of the United States, may be a case in point.
Political thinker André Gorz affirms:
For socialists it is a question, to an increasing extent, of organizing society and sociability as spaces for individual emancipation and development…. Only through such solidaristic association and voluntary co-operation can individuals free themselves from their subordination to the uncontrolled logic of capital and market forces to become actors in the creation of a new society. To fight for socialism means concretely to claim the right of individuals to freedom, equality, physical integrity and self-determination, by acting so that the social conditions which conflict with this right are remodeled. (1994: 41)
Democratic socialism does not mean central planning by some unaccountable elite. Gorz understands that such ideas were largely a propaganda device of capitalist mass media. Global society must tame the “uncontrolled logic of capital” through the development of planetary maturity. Democratic socialism, precisely because it does not fracture the moral centrality of liberty, equality, and fraternity, makes possible the “right of individuals” to self-determination, the right of human flourishing. At this point in history, this right can only be satisfied through a globalized market socialism. It will combine the reputed efficiency of markets with the moral imperative that institutions and economics support the development of our higher human potential and pursuit of the good. Christopher Pierson writes:
[Market socialists] offer an alternative model in which markets are combined with varying forms of the social ownership of capital. Amongst its supporters, the market is recommended not only as a way of attaining greater economic efficiency under socialism, but also as a way of securing greater individual liberty or a more equal value of liberty, of increasing democracy and of enhancing social justice. (1995: 84-85)
The socialist imperative, stated here again by Pierson, involves the moral imperative to organize our institutions to enhance human freedom, social justice, and well-being, that is, authentic democracy and global social justice. This cannot happen when the wealth of the world is sucked up by a tiny minority of extremely wealthy persons and corporations in a relation of exploitation and political domination to the rest of us. It is not a matter of government planning of everything. This is a smoke screen put forward by current ruling class propaganda to serve their own interests. As Gorz asserts above, capitalism’s “uncontrolled logic” devastates human communities and the environment worldwide. Unless there is enforceable regulation worldwide, remodeling the rapacious logic of capitalism toward the universal common good, many of today’s “poor” countries will continue to bear the brunt of exploitation. As economist Herman E. Daly (1996) confirms, we cannot have uncontrolled and perpetual “growth” on a finite planet, and we cannot have the 1% sucking up the wealth of the planet, if we want a decent future for our children.
In his 1972 book, Socialism, Michael Harrington declares that socialism means not simply about an economic theory claiming that ownership must be in the cooperative hands of people for the common good of everyone. It is also about “a truly new order of things” in which human fulfillment within the framework of a protected natural world is the foundation of our institutions and economic arrangements. For several thousand years, Harrington affirms, human beings have struggled in the “desert” of scarcity, deprivation, and unjust distributions of wealth. We have gotten used to this “bitter experience; we do not dare to think that things could be otherwise” (1972: 272). I am arguing that the Earth Constitution is the key to this “truly new order of things” precisely because it makes that order universal and no longer fragmented into territorial segments used by the 1% to foster its system of manipulation and domination.
Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, quoted above, rings true. We have allowed the few to claim “private ownership” of what belongs to us all as our birthright: to live with freedom, peace, and well-being within a protected planetary environment and able to externalize our lives in work without being alienated and exploited in that process. The few will always intone the mantra that this is impossible, that scarcity and deprivation are the natural human condition. What we need, some of them also say, is more capitalism, not less. However, those who are morally awake and mature know that compassion, love, justice, and freedom need to become incarnate within our human condition. This means that planetary economic and political institutions must be not only “practical,” but value-based, not greed based, nor divided into absolute, militarized, territory-based fragments.
Commenting on the work of Herbert Marcuse, philosopher Douglas Kellner describes critical social theory in the Marxist tradition. The goal of “critical theory,” he states:
is to define the highest human potentialities and to criticize society in terms of whether it furthers the development and realization of these potentialities, or their constriction and repression. The ultimate goal and fundamental interest of critical theory is a free and happy humanity in a rational society. What is at stake is the liberation of human beings and the development of their potentialities.” (1984: 122)
Critical social theory, therefore, is a philosophy of self-transcendence, of actualizing our higher human potentialities. We know that the socialist imperative, which is the imperative of reason and freedom, embodies these principles. Our human futurity and our growing moral maturity require democratic socialism. Our task is to end the wretched slavery, poverty and misery that plague the human condition where the few live well at the expense of the many. In the words of Marsh: “The overcoming of capitalism and movement to democratic socialism is both an ethical and existential imperative. Not only duty and right but also survival and well-being depend on the overcoming of capitalism” (1995: 313).
Our task, in the words of Jesus in the New Testament is to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth. Our task, expressed in the words of Article 28 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is to actualize this: “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” We are far from such a “world order” because we lack a global social contract. The holism of the socialist imperative ultimately implies a democratic world system.
- Our Global Social Contract
Just as we have seen Michael Luntley affirm that no common moral good for human life can arise from the “atomism” of capitalism, so the moral imperative that actualizes our third generation rights to peace and a protected environment cannot arise from the atomism and fragmentation of the system of so-called “sovereign” nation-states. Every nation believes it has the “right” to militarize because faced with potential enemies. In doing so, each fragmented nation-state becomes an unwitting enemy of humanity. Human beings have a genuine and unalienable right to a world order that actualizes all three generations of human rights, including peace, that is, to a world order united to create our planet as a decent home for all its citizens and other living creatures.
Today people who are born into small, poor nations appear to be born into a prison camp. They cannot travel beyond their tiny borders. No one wants them, and their chances for a flourishing life are severely restricted within their own nation, subject as it is to exploitation and domination within the global capitalist system, by the global banking cartels, and the powerful imperial nations. Today, people born anywhere, whether in a large or small nation, are forced to pay for a militarization that violates their right to live in peace. How many people in the world today who are not making a profit from the war system want to have war rather than peace?
Within today’s “national security” framework, sponsoring a perpetual “war on terror” as well as competition among big nations for security, wealth, resources, and ascendency, the options for changing this system become ever more limited. Protestors, honest journalists, nonviolent resistors, and those who speak out in criticism are blacklisted, targeted as supportive of “enemies,” or criminalized by ever-increasing set of repressive laws. In a world of systemic secrecy, systemic corruption cannot help but follow. Where there is no transparency or democratic accountability, our lowest human instincts become empowered: greed, pillage, rape, revenge, hate, fear, resentment, extortion, violence, and sadism (Valentine 2017).
All around the world today, secret blacklists expand on secret criteria, arrest without reasonable cause and “administrative detentions” without due process of law oppress subject populations. Secret prisons, with torture, abuse, and “enhanced interrogation,” force people to betray relatives, perceived enemies, and anyone else they can implicate to try to make the torture stop. Top-secret computerized lists identify every “potential enemy,” with details on their family, connections, biography, assets, and possessions. Democracy, with equal protection of properly legislated laws for everyone, becomes a joke and a mockery.
This system of secrecy and lack of public accountability allows the mass media, a key component within this system, to cover up, justify, protect, and enable the corruption to spread unhindered. The same plutocracy that hides behind this lawless system of corruption and elite unaccountability own the mass media. These media promote a childish immaturity and selfish unconcern in the population: whose proper role is to be unrepentant consumers and unquestioning “patriots.”
We can rise above this nightmare only as a planet and as a species. No nation or group can be free of it when this horror is the modus operandi of the entire system. Humanity can avoid sinking ever deeper toward perdition and likely self-extermination only by establishing a global democratic public authority premised on universal transparency, on universal nonviolence, human rights, sustainability, and universal due process of law. The Earth Constitution is a blueprint for making this possible. Thoughtful and decent people everywhere should embrace this framework for spiritual and civilizational ascendancy to maturity, decency, accountability, justice, and sustainability.
The apparent necessity of this planetary war system is a direct result of the fragmentation and atomism of the system of territorially bound so-called “sovereign” states: as Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, and many others recognized. No state is willing to allow truly enforceable laws above itself. Every state embraces this lawless world system of war, scarcity, suspicion, secrecy, hate, and fear. Many nations claim the “right” to build nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, claiming the need for “self-defense” while increasing the terror of those at whom these weapons aim.
The capitalist system of domination and exploitation profits immensely from this war system. Great wealth accrues from the development, manufacture, and sale of weapons, security, and surveillance systems worldwide. As many thinkers have point out (e.g., Boswell and Chase-Dunn, 1996), the capitalist system is intricately linked to the system of militarized territorial nation-states. The socialist imperative, by contrast, is the imperative to unite humanity around the principles of universal justice, equality, freedom, peace, and environmental sustainability.
It is not only the scourge of capitalism that prevents us from leaving the desert of historical scarcity for the promised land of human fulfilment. We cannot escape from the desert as long as we embrace the parochial concept of a world divided into absolute territorial fragments. Such fragmentation empowers the global disorder of systemic corruption. The very existence of this fragmented, militarized world clearly violates Article 28 of the U.N. Universal Declaration. It violates our rights to peace and a protected planetary environment.
As many thinkers from the 17th century to the present pointed out, the system of “sovereign” nation-states is intrinsically a “war-system.” In the early 21st century, we now know that we are one world, one humanity, one universal set of moral imperatives, and one interlinked destiny. The sovereign nation-state system, like the economic system based on giant concentrations of capital, organizes the world around the principles of power. Powerful nations have the power to dominate and exploit weaker nations and concentrations of capital allow the rich to exploit the poor in the service of their ever-increasing wealth. Why do we continue to cling to this atomism and fragmentation, centuries old, which violates these universal truths?
As Boswell and Chase-Dunn, Dewey, Habermas, Harris, Luntley, Marsh, and Marx understand it, democracy emerges as our fundamental mode of human association and is inseparable from substantial economic equality (e.g., Boswell and Chase-Dunn 2000: 6-7). This implies that its development must therefore move to the planetary level, since democracy is defeated at the national level by world crises that are beyond the control of the nations. At the planetary level, it can really flourish for the first time because democracy is precisely about our common human dignity and about developing our common human and individual potential. It cannot intelligibly be said to stop at arbitrary territorial borders.
When I speak of a global social contract, it should be apparent that does not imply a conception of a priori rights that must be protected through a limited government, making my freedom only a negative one of resisting encroachments on my “rights.” Rather, the global social contract under the Earth Constitution institutionalizes our mutual recognition of human economic, political, moral, and civilizational interdependency. The integral nature of human rights as understood today are not those of the “egoistic man” criticized by Marx, but rather represent our species-being and our growing world-centric, global consciousness.
Neither the word “capitalism” nor the word “socialism” appears in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Yet, the Constitution announces the socialist imperative at the very outset, in its Preamble. It proceeds to construct a world system that institutionally embodies these principles in a practical, organized, democratic manner. Let us examine this key passage from the Preamble, once again, this time with an eye to its socialist features. It states:
Conscious that Humanity is One despite the existence of diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies and cultures and that the principle of unity in diversity is the basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail; when the earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare; and when basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination….
The principle of unity in diversity declares that the wonderful diversity of humanity, its languages and cultures, must be embraced in a political, economic, and institutional unity that preserves and protects that diversity. We are all legal world citizens under the Earth Constitution with all the rights and responsibilities guaranteed in Articles 12 and 13. The socialist principle manifests here in three dimensions: first war shall be outlawed and peace prevail. The socialist imperative is the imperative for social cooperation on behalf of the freedom, equality, and community of all people: a society and economy dedicated to the right of each person to develop her or her life potential. The right of peace is a necessary component in this equation.
Secondly, the Preamble states that the “new age” will be one in which the “earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare.” Again, we recognize the socialist imperative. We must equitably use the planet and its resources for the benefit of all, not the 1% who own more than 50% of the world’s resources, not the richest 15% who currently own 90% of the world’s resources.
Third, “basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination.” This affirms the socialist principle that our common human dignity must be protected and cherished through concrete economic and social institutions that guarantee all people equally both freedom and well-being. We have both the “rights” to well-being and the shared “responsibilities” of freedom. The basic idea of democracy, the basic requirements of universal moral principles, and the socialist imperative are one and the same. As human beings, our task is to take back our planet Earth from the 1% and make it a decent home for all persons and other living creatures.
The Constitution sets up a World Parliament of three houses: a House of Peoples with 1000 representatives elected from equal districts worldwide, a House of Nations with 1, 2, or 3 representatives appointed or elected by each nation, depending on its population, and the House of Counsellors with 200 representatives, 10 each from 20 world regions who will represent the whole of the planet and the common good. The mandate of the World Parliament as given in Article 1, however, is not to represent the parochial interests of their constituencies but to address the global problems that are beyond the capacity of nations to handle: disarming the nations and ending wars, protecting universal human rights, diminishing social differences, and protecting the planetary environment. The World Parliament is socialist in this sense: its mandate is the good of everyone within an economic and institutional framework that makes this possible.
The basic premises of the Earth Constitution focus on human dignity and the rights of everyone to live in peace, security, with all the basic necessities required for this, within an environment that sustainably supports life, with the clean water, air, and land required for healthy living. These basic premises appear identical with those of socialism. The reason for this is that socialism is most fundamentally a moral conception, whereas capitalism is a self-proclaimed amoral system governed by what it claims are “objective economic laws.” This claim to being “amoral” covers up the fact that capitalism is objectively immoral. It objectively violates human rights, human dignity, human freedom, human equality, and human fraternity, as well as our rights to peace and to a protected sustainable environment.
The list of “specific powers” granted to the Earth Federation government in Article 4 includes the following: “Place under world controls essential natural resources, which may be limited or unevenly distributed about the Earth. Find and implement ways to reduce wastes and find ways to minimize disparities when development or production is insufficient to supply everybody with all that may be needed.” The Constitution everywhere manifests with this imperative: “to supply everybody with all that may be needed.” If we really mean “all” when we say “all,” then we are taking our stand on the democratic socialist imperative (Adler 1991: 90).
The Constitution affirms a market economy directed to the satisfaction of basic human needs, with global public banking providing necessary income and financing to all based on their ideas and ability to work, not on the basis of collateral or previously accumulated capital. It establishes a market socialist democracy directed to the common good of all the people on the planet and future generations. For Marx, the free exchange of goods and services in a marketplace is not the central feature of capitalist exploitation. The central feature is the creation of surplus value in the process of production where owners exploit the labour of their employees. A market economy is entirely compatible with a limited conception of private property, distinguishing personal property from investment capital, global public banking directed toward the common good of all, widespread cooperative ownership of the means of production, and government control of certain essential resources and productive activities.
In the list of 19 economic and social rights given in Article 13 (which includes a number of rights to a protected, sustainable, planetary environment) there is one that may initially strike us as odd: “Assure to each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential.” However, this is fundamental to the entire framework of the Constitution which presents a set of institutions designed to achieve exactly this: the dignity and fundamental rights of each child must include a global social and economic framework in which that child can realize his or her potential. Like global democracy, and like the universal moral principles of equal justice, love, and compassion, the socialist imperative means “all” when it says “all.”
Unless we can unite under a global social contract as presented in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, the chances of actualizing Article 28 of the Universal Declaration, or of obeying Jesus the Christ’s commandment to open the way for receiving the Kingdom of God on Earth, appear slim indeed. The immoral, fragmented, and anachronistic institutions that dominate our world actively defeat morality, justice, and environmental sustainability at every turn. The socialist imperative of human liberation within all three dimensions of liberty, equality, and community, properly understood, simultaneously reveals the imperative for democratic world government.
Both capitalism and the system of so-called sovereign nation-states are atomistic, fragmented, and immoral, both in their conceptions and in their observable consequences. They cannot evolve, at least not in time to salvage our human future; they must be transformed through founding a world system based on the democratic, moral, rational, and socialist imperatives from the very beginning. Article 17 of the Earth Constitution makes this process practical and doable. Human self-transcendence means that human beings can and must collectively make the decision to move to a higher level of existence on planet Earth. We must become conscious agents of our own history. We must unite under a single Constitution, founded on substantially correct values and institutions from the very beginning.
The Earth Constitution serves as a global social contract that recognizes our fundamental human condition as persons within community. Its design not only establishes world peace and environmental sustainability while eliminating global poverty and misery. Its design also empowers planetary citizenship everywhere, creating a framework for dialogue and debate such that our collective human intelligence will be immeasurably enhanced and our human potential significantly actualized. The actualization of the socialist imperative in this way will reveal the turning point at which a truly world history can begin.
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