Glen T. Martin
Published at OpEd News, 9 May 2018
The Left in the United States remains clueless. The “Left,” as I am using the term, includes a broad range of perspectives ranging from those who believe that government should serve the needs of the people with respect to social security, health-care, and addressing social problems to those who believe that we need a radical transformation of the system itself if there is going to be significant change. The Right, on the other hand, defends the interests of the ruling class, the interests of wealth and power (either through ignorance or deception or both). On the Left, there are a few (very few) apparently honest politicians (like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders) who fit into the former category of those who do not challenge the system itself, and there are even fewer who recognize that the fundamental problem is the system, requiring radical change. In general, the Left is supposed to represent the people, the Right represents the ruling class.
Most people on the Left appear to think that organizing and protesting within a hopelessly corrupt system might make a difference. They see the corruption of voter suppression. They see the corruption of gerrymandering. They see the corruption of racist, sexist, and anti-immigrant policies. They see the paramilitary suppression of blacks and minorities in the cities. They see the punitive use of the law as a “war against the poor,” and they attempt to organize at the local and state levels to address these issues.
On a broader scale they may also see the domination of the industrial-military-academic complex and the relative impunity of the NRA. They see the ignorance and corruption of the electoral process, and the role of big money in destroying any semblance of democracy. And, more and more, they see one leader after another exposed for corruption. They see money laundering, buying of influence, amoral lobbying in the service of wealth and power, rampant sexual predator behavior, and the utter moral deprivation of the ruling class, from the President, to members of Congress, to the Attorney General of New York State to the Governor of Missouri.
In terms of foreign policy, the Left sees the condition of endless war proclaimed after 9/11 and many of them realize that 9/11 was an inside job designed to make that endless war happen. The Project for the New American Century document (https://www.loc.gov/item/lcwa00010308/) laid down the blueprint, which has been successfully followed almost to the letter by the so-called “deep state” that enjoys a decisive hegemony over the course of events. The opinion of the people is entirely irrelevant. No matter how many millions protested before the invasion of Iraq, the deep state remained impervious and invaded, knowing that there would be no negative repercussions for themselves.
It simply makes no difference what the public wants or believes. The threat of nuclear holocaust, which was never significantly lowered after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is back with even greater intensity, and the massive effort of the US to militarize space and control the world from this “ultimate high ground” continues unabated. Millions die in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Syria while the Left ineffectually attempts to organize “town hall” meetings as if this could make any difference in the grand scale of things.
The Left sees the prostitution of so-called journalism by all the major news outlets. Journalism, largely owned by major, profit-making corporations, is inevitably “framed” in the service of the system, that is, in the service of the ruling class, Even so-called respectable institutions such as the Washington Post and the New York Times prostitute themselves to this class as well as to the deep state with its endless imperialism and wars. Honest journalism becomes a rarity, and the intimidation of honest journalists escalates through government prosecutions, character assassinations by the corporate media, and other forms of intimidation.
More than four million US citizens have “security clearances,” and most of their work within the government is entirely hidden from the public. Anyone breaching this deep separation between the public and the elite who rule in secrecy is subject to harassment and prosecution. The truth lies discredited in the gutter and “fake news” reigns undisputed. The propaganda of the corporate media is designed to protect the system at all costs through a dumbing down of the public so that the average citizens lives on the level of the moronic. Critical thinker Herbert Marcuse pointed this out as long ago as 1965 in his essay on “Repressive Tolerance.”
All the while, climate collapse progresses in leaps, the nexus of ecosystem problems affecting one another and portending ever-greater disasters, beyond all predictions or expectations. Environmental groups struggle to stop pipelines, or to ban fracking, or to prevent drilling along the coasts, or to protect engendered species. All to little avail. There is simply no way our planetary environment can be protected through these local actions. Greenpeace, like 350.org, Earth First, the World Wildlife Fund, and all such organizations, are failing to protect our planetary ecosystem. Both planetary environmental disaster and massive endless war will inevitably define the future of the 21st century, that is, if we do not wipe ourselves out first through nuclear holocaust.
None of these problems I have listed can be addressed in these ways; nor will our planet have a credible future beyond the next few decades, because the problems are all interrelated manifestations of a global system. We cannot solve any one of them without solving them all. At the very least, the “radical” Left sees that the problem involves the global capitalist system itself, and that the solution requires system change. However, by and large, their conception of the world system remains seriously truncated.
They fail to understand that the global capitalist system is inseparably linked to the worldwide system of sovereign nation-states, that these two together inseparably form our broken, self-destructive world system. As social-scientist Christopher Chase-Dunn put it: “the state and the interstate system are not separate from capitalism, but rather are the main institutional supports of capitalist production relations” (Global Formation, 1998, p. 61). If we want a future on this planet, we must overcome both global capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states. We will only have a future if we unite, first and foremost, as human beings and construct a global public authority representing the common good of us all through a democratic unity in diversity.
The immense energies of the millions of people on the Left that I described above are all directed to addressing the symptoms of the disease, not its causes. The cause of our problems is our lack of holism, our refusal to overcome our imaginary national boundaries and our compulsive competitive greed to possess more money or goods than the next person, or the next county, or the next country. The most fundamental reality of our situation is that we are all human beings, having evolved over many millennia on the Earth, that we are all fundamentally the same, and that our sameness is expressed in a wonderful diversity of races, colors, backgrounds, cultures, religions, nationalities, and personalities.
Unless we truly unite, and end both capitalism and the system of militarized sovereign nation-states, we will not survive the 21st century in any credible fashion. This idea may at first sound “utopian” in the negative sense of this phrase, until one realizes that thoughtful people have been calling for this transformation in large numbers since at least World War One, and that today all around the world there are millions who support this transformation, many of whom are organized into major democratic world federalist organizations like the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA).
What is truly utopian in the negative sense is to bury our heads in the business of organizing, demonstration, and protests without seeing how ineffectual all this is without fundamental system change. The uniting of humanity may at first appear “utopian,” until one realizes that the world already has a Constitution for the Federation of Earth, which is a brilliant document ready for democratic ratification by the people and nations of Earth (www.earth-constitution.org).
The solution to our lethal problems, heading rapidly toward the extinction of humanity, is to democratically elect a global public authority in the form of a World Parliament that represents the common good of the people of Earth. This common good includes ending war, disarming the nations, protecting universal human rights, establishing a sustainable global economy, and ending extreme poverty for all the people of Earth. The Earth Constitution creates a global public authority over both the nations and the gigantic capitalist corporations and subjects them to the rule of enforceable law.
There is no other way to control them and to establish true system transformation to the unity in diversity of human beings everywhere. International law, so-called, is a joke, ignored by militarized nation-states; universal human rights are similarly a joke, for militarized sovereign nation-states are the only ones entrusted to enforce them in today’s system. Environmental protection and sustainable development? Again, the recently agreed upon UN Sustainable Development Goals are a self-delusional joke, because it is sovereign nations who are expected to fulfill them, and sovereign nations can ignore them or simply withdraw, as the US did under Trump.
The Earth Constitution is therefore not “utopian” in the negative sense, for it does establish a world system that addresses our fundamental problems and their root causes. In this sense, it give us a “practical utopia.” However, “practical utopia” is precisely what the Left was always about. The fundamental idea of the Left all along, going back to Karl Marx and beyond, was that the people of Earth can unite to solve their most fundamental problems. And it is not only the radicals who have called for this union. Thinkers as diverse as Jawaharlal Nehru (first Prime Minister of India), Pope John XXIII, and Albert Einstein all understood that the only real solution to our problems is a democratic global public authority.
We can create a world system that serves human needs rather than the greed and power of the few, whether this “few” be the capitalist ruling class or the big imperialist nation-states. The Left has always been about some form of global democratic socialism. That means a world in which satisfying universal human needs and universal human rights are the direct responsibilities of both the economy and government. That is precisely what is established by the Earth Constitution. If we are on the Left, we need to be not only for our community, or our country, but for humanity as a whole. Supporting the Earth Constitution is precisely the way to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters everywhere on Earth.
(Glen T. Martin, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy at Radford University in Virginia and President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association)