Glen T. Martin
The Earth Constitution is the foundation for authentic global democracy. This article explains both the fundamentals of what democracy is and why the Earth Constitution best satisfies these criteria. It not only presents the pattern for a transformed and redeemed world system, but may also be the key to saving human beings from extinction. It founds our world system, for the first time in history, on the global common good.
The Constitution for the Federation of Earth, Professor Errol E. Harris maintains in his 2005 book Earth Federation Now!, is by far our best option for accomplishing both of the necessities of saving human beings from extinction and establishing authentic democracy for the Earth. It is designed to effectively deal with the entire range of world problems: global militarism and wars, global human rights protection, global resource management for the common good, reasonable global economic equality, global environmental protection and restoration, as well as with all other problems beyond the scope of sovereign nation-states (Articles 1 and 4).
The democratic idea that arises from our common human situation, Harris maintains, can only be regenerated through shifting the scale to planetary democracy. The Earth Constitution is brilliantly designed to both deal with our global crises and to establish truly meaningful democracy premised on the equality, freedom, security, and common good of the peoples of the Earth. The most advanced democratic theorists have articulated the conditions for a more mature and participatory democracy beyond a regime based on mere “preferences.” This advanced democracy is structured into the Earth Constitution.
For philosopher John Dewey, the “totalitarian menace awakens us to a deeper loyalty to intelligence, pure and undefiled, and to the intrinsic connection between it and free communication: the method of conference, consultation, discussion, in which there takes place purification and pooling of the net results of the experiences of multitudes of people” (1993: 208). Democratic government provides the mechanisms for a collective rationality in which people work together for the common good. For Robert E. Goodin, in his book Reflective Democracy, democracy must develop infrastructure that encourages people’s “empathic recognition” of opposing points of view, so that democracy becomes “reflective” even on the level of large societies that transcend the level of face to face discussion and rely on representative “trustees” to deliberate empathically on the issues (2003: 72).
For Benjamin Barber, democracy must become animated through the activation of a citizenship based solidarity that goes beyond voting for preferences to transformative participation in governing: “the creation of a political community capable of transforming dependent, private individuals into free citizens and partial and private interests into public goods (1984: 132, italics his). The Earth Constitution is not only designed to deal with all those global crises that transcend the internal affairs of nations, it is designed to actualize all of these features with respect to living democracy as well.
In its second bill of rights, called “Directive Principles for the Earth Federation,” the Constitution requires that the Federation “assure to each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential” (Article 13.12). Here we see one of the many ways that the Constitution reflects the very essence of democracy, which we have seen above is based on our common humanity and individual potentialities. Our continuous growth as human beings requires that we actualize the potentialities within each of us and within the human community.
The Constitution also reflects Dewey’s insight that communicative forums of all sort magnify our individual intelligence into a collective rationality that can effectively deal with our problems. The Constitution, throughout its structures, agencies, and departments, is based upon dialogue and collective decision-making. The World Parliament, central to the entire system, is comprised of three houses: the House of Peoples, the House of Nations, and the House of Counsellors. Each house dialogues within itself and all houses also meet jointly in a common conversation.
The entire Earth Constitution is constructed on a holistic basis to integrate agencies, departments, and the Parliament itself within a synergistic framework. In addition to this, each agency or branch of the government never headed by one CEO but rather by a group of 5 or sometimes 10 highly qualified persons. We might modify the popular saying here to declare: “Five heads are better than one.” Each of the 5 is elected from a different one of the 5 official continental divisions of the Earth Federation.
Hence, the World Executive is headed by a Presidium of five, one from each continental division. The Collegium of World Judges is headed by a “Presiding Council” of five World Judges, one from each continental division, the World Attorneys General is headed by five Attorneys General, one from each continent, the World Ombudsmus is headed by a “Council of World Ombudsen,” one from each continent. Each House of the World Parliament shall elect a “panel of five Chairpersons,” one from each continent. Six of the seven agencies of the Integrative Complex shall be headed by a “ten member commission” (in addition to their Cabinet Minister and Senior Administrator), divided among the continental divisions.
Dialogue and discussion are structurally built into the fabric of every agency of the Earth Federation government. In each case, the 5 or 10 members of the “council” or “commission” must reach decisions and act collectively. In addition, the powers of each agency or branch of the Earth Federation are defined specifically, along with the limits on these powers. Dialogue is the basis for the action of each agency and that action is carefully limited to the broad function, repeated throughout the Constitution, of “service to humanity.” In many cases, including for each member of the World Parliament, the leaders must take a “pledge of service to humanity” (Article 5.4.4).
The Constitution requires that “Voter’s Information Booklets” be prepared before each Parliamentary election, summarizing the issues, giving the candidates backgrounds, and allowing the same space for the candidates to speak to the issues. No longer will big money or deceptive advertising determine elections. People will necessarily have to make their decisions based on thoughtful assessment of the issues, not on blind emotions evoked by deceptive big-money advertising.
The World Executive, head of the Executive Branch and the World Administration, is carefully limited in its powers. It has no military powers, no authority to declare a state of emergency or refuse to administer the budget approved by the World Parliament. It does not supervise the World Police, who are directly responsible to the World Parliament (not the Executive Branch). It has no veto power over any legislation passed by the Parliament. It is restricted to dialogue and reasoning within a framework of transparency. There are no reasons for any national security secrets in the form of classified documents and secret meetings. Democracy is here institutionalized at the global level, which is not only its appropriate level, but the only level on which it can actually work.
The same arrangements apply to the World Police and Attorneys General. The “means of enforcement” in Article 10.4 encourage continually reducing the need to use lethal force and finding alternative methods of enforcement. The Police are required to continually develop the means of non-violent conflict resolution and fair hearings for all peoples. The Police and Executive are watched over by the World Ombudsmus (again directed by a group of 5, one from each continental division) who has responsibility for seeing that human rights are protected, that Article 13 “Directive Principles” are implemented, and that government operates transparently, efficiently, and democratically.
Article 10.1 states that “The enforcement of world law and world legislation shall apply directly to individual, and individuals shall be held responsible for compliance with world law and world legislation regardless of whether the individuals are acting in their own capacity or as agents or officials of governments at any level or of the institutions of governments, or as agents or officials of corporations, organizations, associations or groups of any kind.” Here we discern a key to a democratic world system transcending the nation-state war system. There is no immunity: no more “diplomatic immunity,” no privileges of corporate power or nation-state government immunity from prosecution, no more military personnel claiming they are “only obeying orders.” These non-democratic features are rife in our present world system. Democracy can only exist when law is enforceable over all individual persons, and this can only be effectively realized at the world level.
Article 10.1.5 states that: “Those agents of the enforcement system whose function shall be to apprehend and bring to court violators of world law and world legislation shall be equipped only with such weapons as are appropriate for the apprehension of the individuals responsible for violations.” Just as all individuals are responsible to the law, so there is no need for weapons that target whole groups or communities (hence no military weapons). A military is only necessary where democracy does not exist, when whole nations or groups can be targeted outside of due process of law and outside of recognition of their universal human rights to “life, liberty, and security of person.” Under global democracy the role of the police is transformed. It is not in the least military, but rather, foundational to genuine democracy.
The mandate of the police includes article 10.4.4: “A basic condition for preventing outbreaks of violence which the Enforcement System shall facilitate in every way possible, shall be to assure a fair hearing under non-violent circumstances for any person or group having a grievance, and likewise to assure a fair opportunity for a just settlement of any grievance with due regard for the rights and welfare of all concerned.” Here, again, we find a fundamental feature of democracy. The mandate of the World Police, like that of the World Courts and the World Ombudsmus, is precisely this institutionalization of fairness, justice, and nonviolence.
Democracy eliminates violence because its goal is justice and the “welfare of all concerned,” not the welfare of the rich, nor of any sovereign government, nor of corporate power. “All,” as Mortimer Adler declared, “is the most radical…term in the lexicon of political thought,” and for the first time (under the Earth Constitution) “we are beginning to mean ‘all’ without exception when we say ‘all’” (1991: 90). Thomas Jefferson declared that “All men are created equal,” at the same time excluding slaves and women. Only under democratic world law can we really mean this as a fundamental moral principle. Under nation-state absolute sovereignty, the slogan has little meaning.
The World Ombudsmus is an entire agency dedicated to realizing this principle. Part of its mandate is “To promote the welfare of the people of Earth by seeking to assure that conditions of social justice and of minimizing disparities are achieved in the implementation and administration of world legislation and world law.” It must protect the two bills of rights: the great range of civil liberties in Article 12 and the rational ideals of a transformed world system in Article 13.
Among the many wonderful freedoms guaranteed by these Articles, I will only mention three: (1) “Freedom of assembly, association, organization, petition and peaceful demonstration.” (12.4), (2) “Freedom for investigation, research and reporting.” (12.8) and (3) “Encouragement for cultural diversity; encouragement for decentralized administration.” (13.16)
The World Police, the World Courts, and the World Ombudsmus are mandated to provide the citizens of Earth with the freedom of assembly and association necessary to rational dialogue and debate, with the power of investigation and information necessary for informed dialogue and debate, and to respect the diversity and decentralized citizen participation necessary for vibrant participatory democracy.
The Earth Constitution, as our global social contract, puts humanity for the first time ever on the foundation of true democracy. This is because the three fundamental functions of democracy, outlined above, can only be actualized on the global level when the citizens of Earth have given up their obsession with violence and war and come together to create a society in which each child is assured “the right to the full realization of his or her potential.”
These structural arrangements for empowered democracy are enhanced through the elaborations that have been made by the Provisional World Parliament meeting under the authority of Article 19 of the Constitution. Article 19 calls for the people of Earth to begin the Earth Federation now, even while they are waiting for full ratification to take place by the peoples and nations of the Earth. The Parliament has met 14 times between 1982 and 2015 and has passed some 67 World Legislative Acts (WLAs) that have enhanced, enabled, and promoted the letter and spirit of the Earth Constitution.
On the level of dealing with world problems (the addressing of which is defined as “broad functions” of the Earth Federation in Article One) the Parliament has passed World Legislative Acts further protecting the environment, outlawing weapons of mass destruction, dealing with resource depletion, addressing global economic equality and poverty reduction, and protecting human rights. On the level of establishing an empowered, vibrant democracy for the Earth, the Parliament has also passed a number of acts directed toward this goal.
It has passed WLA 26, the Education Act, in which all schools under the authority of the Earth Federation will have students progressively study (1) global issues, (2) the Earth Constitution, (3) issues with respect to quality of life, (4) the requirements for world peace, (5) unity in diversity, and (6) requirements for good government. Through such a curriculum students will be empowered to become active world citizens contributing to planetary democracy and the common good, and they will receive training in that “empathic recognition” that Goodin affirms as essential to representative, trusteeship, democracy.
Among the many other acts of the Provisional World Parliament directed to enhancing vibrant global democracy under the Earth Constitution, let me mention just three more. First, the Parliament as passed WLA 57 establishing the “Collegium of World Legislators.” This requires all of those elected to the World Parliament, including the 1000 in the House of Peoples, the 200 in the House of Counsellors and the approximately 300 in the House of Nations to undergo training in “dialogue directed toward mutual understanding” and “nonviolent communication skills.” The clear purpose is to enhance the quality of dialogue and debate within the World Parliament, helping the Parliament to become the collective intelligence for the trustees of humanity and not a mere place for promoting partisan interests.
Secondly, the Parliament has passed WLA 59, the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Act. This Act requires the government to set up such commissions wherever in the world there are serious disagreements that may lead to violence or significant social harm. Procedures for these commissions require local empowerment with local participants taking the lead in the process of truth and reconciliation through non-violent communication and mutual dialogue. The act prohibits the government from using these for any spying or undercover work, and requires that governmental authority provide the framework, sanction, and empowerment for the reconciliations that take place.
Vibrant democracy operates in just this way. It means that mechanisms for communication and understanding and collective intelligence provide a foundation for citizen participation, so that violence, whether overt or structural, is avoided, and human flourishing can take place within a safe and supportive framework. None of this is seriously possible under the present regime of militarized nation-states and whose lawless and violent behavior is both mimicked and mirrored by global terrorism. This global chaos of violence continues unabated while the planetary environment is collapsing all around us.
Thirdly, the Parliament has passed WLA 29 that creates a “Global People’s Assembly,” creating a worldwide system of meeting places for civic dialogue and debate through which citizens have a direct link to the government offices of their representatives in the House of Peoples. This displaces the current lobby system, such as that in the U.S., in which wealthy and corporate entities hire professional lobbyists to promote their privileged, non-democratic interests. The Global People’s assembly will encourage dialogue and debate about global issues and democratic living worldwide. It provides a direct, grass-roots means for people to communicate with their elected representatives in the House of Peoples.
As Harris, Dewey, and Habermas understand it, democracy emerges as our fundamental mode of human association. Its development must therefore be moved 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.
The Earth Constitution serves as a global social contract that recognizes our fundamental human condition as persons within community. It is designed not only to establish world peace and environmental sustainability while eliminating global poverty and misery. It is also designed to empower 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.
For the first time in history, a framework will be in place in which all individual persons can develop to the fullest of their capacities, assuring “each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential.” At the same time, it will enhance, empower, and “complete” our global community, that vibrant and harmonious community that can only be, and indeed must be, the essential framework for both our global consciousness and individual human flourishing. Let us join together to establish real democracy on the Earth for the first time. It is high time to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
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Glen T. Martin is Professor of Philosophy and Chair Emeritus of Peace Studies at Radford University and President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA).