Human Beings Face Extinction: We need to act now
Glen T. Martin
The global climate is unraveling at rates far beyond the predictions of scientists. The studies are so common by this date, and the scientific evidence so pervasive going back at least half a century, that there is no need to cite sources about this fact. The oceans are dying, the fisheries are becoming exhausted. The forests are dying. They are devastated through human overuse, logging, wildfires, acid rain, and rapidly changing climate conditions.
Agricultural lands are drying up and losing productivity, the land, water, and air are polluted. Artificial human-made chemical compounds are found in the tissues of every living creature on Earth, with unknown synergistic effects. The oceans are rising, displacing millions of coastal dwellers and submerging prime agricultural lands.
The habitats for animals and life in general are disappearing, and many species go extinct daily. The polar caps are melting, irrevocably altering the planet’s climate. Rainfall is irregular, with periodic droughts alternating with devastating floods. The world becomes hotter every year with devastating consequences for the living things dependent on consistent temperatures and regular natural cycles
At the same time, the global human population unsustainabily continues to increase. Despite some promising UN Conferences on the endless global population increases that took place in 1974, 1984, and 1994, the UN has dropped this absolutely fundamental issue as a priority because it lacks popular support from many directions, not least of all from the world’s imperial Leviathan, the United States. Many planetary thinkers believe the carrying capacity of the Earth has been exceeded for decades now. Once the carrying capacity is exceeded, then climate collapse and extinction become inevitable. In a recent article (July 18), Noam Chomsky declares: “Survival of Organized Human Life Is at Risk Due to Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons.”
Meanwhile, the nations of the world focus on “sovereignty,” militarism, national independence, trade wars, and unsustainable capitalist development. “Sovereign independence” is written into the UN charter in multiple ways and continues to function as an untouchable sacred cow, preventing the development of global citizenship everywhere on Earth. Each nation inculcates loyalty into its citizens and criminalizes any non-government sponsored relationships with foreign officials, which they label “disloyalty” and “treason.” Trillions of dollars are poured down the toilet of militarism that are needed to protect and restore the planetary environment.
Nuclear weapons are refined and made “combat ready,” and countries like North Korea correctly understand that without the nuclear deterrent, they would suffer the same destruction as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. For the imperial system led by the U.S. and its NATO allies continues to work for a global hegemony to counter the growing influence of Russia and China, politically and economically, without concern for human rights, dignity, or the welfare and livelihood of many millions who appear of less worthiness to live because they are “not us.” Books such as Nuclear Madness by Helen Caldicott or The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg regularly appear detailing the many times that the near use of these weapons has brought humanity close to extinction, but few seem to care. Our fragmentation, hate, fear, and need for “enemies” is so much greater than our desire for a future for our children or the planet.
Our planetary system is inherently a war system requiring enemies and producing vast profits for the industries that supply and encourage this system. As climate and military disasters around the world increase so do the profits of the system of “disaster capitalism” described by Naomi Klein in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine the Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Meanwhile the big banks and masters of the global monetary systems continue to dominate unsustainable global economics, running the world as a debt system from which they derive not only vast profits but vast political power, as Ellen Brown showed in detail in her 2007 book The Web of Debt.
A Google search reveals a number of articles by different authors who have declared that the ruling class is “insane.” Indeed, if bringing the entire planet to ruin in the service of ones personal greed for wealth and power is insane, then this label is appropriate, although I prefer the term “criminal,” since the majority of the ruling class of the world are simply criminals who control the mass media, the politicians, and the UN in the service of their criminal enterprises that are bringing humankind to extinction.
In the US, the majority of both Democrats and Republicans in the Washington, DC, government are criminals in this sense, serving both themselves and the ruling class. Many so-called liberals in the US are working to remove Trump as President, and to “take back our country.” But the truth is they never had “their country.” The ruling class has always had it, and human extinction advanced perhaps just as rapidly under Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, or Barack Obama. The mass media, the war system, and the “sovereign nation” propaganda keep the people of the US asleep no matter who is president. Whomever fills that office can do little because the system itself defeats rationality, recognition of our common planetary humanity, and the changes necessary for survival.
Trump is a symptom and not a cause. People refuse to actualize what Karl Marx called our species-being. They refuse to become world citizens in any real sense of this word. They cling to their sovereign borders and delude themselves that somehow extinction can be avoided if the peoples of some 193 different, militarized sovereign nations all care about the environment, recycle, and “dispose” of the trash properly. Rather than living in what I call a “boundary-less world,” they insist on their puerile boundaries and identities, even as this exacerbates the rush to total climate collapse and human extinction. To cling to a tiny, exclusive identity that divides one from others who are “not me” becomes more important than the survival of the human race.
It has often been pointed out that the mass media keep ordinary people distracted, immature, and unable to think clearly. The mass media are designed for this purpose. For more sophisticated ordinary people, there are sources like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, which frame the immature ideologies in a more erudite manner to satisfy the egoism of the “educated” middle classes. But the entire world system is immature and structurally inculcates immaturity into the peoples of Earth.
The system of sovereign nation-states is nearly four centuries old, often said to have begun formally at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, developed at a time when people were riding horses and fighting with swords. The system of capitalism is just as old, developed at a time when the Earth seemed to have inexhaustible resources, was able to receive unlimited wastes from human industries, and the population of the world was a fraction of what it is today. These systems structurally condition people into loyalty to their puerile national identities and into a capitalism that has no concern for the environment or human dignity, but only for egoistically pursued private profit. “Freedom” becomes promoting egoistic self-interest regardless of the social or environmental consequences.
The world seen from space, or from an airplane, has no borders. From space, it is clear that the planet has been colonized by a single human species, homo sapiens, with the rational and organizational capacities to protect and manage the planet successfully as a happy and healthy home for its citizens and other living creatures. But immature people need an ego-identity that is not satisfied with our common humanity or our common planetary home.
People everywhere need to think: “I am an American,” not a Russian or Chinese. “I am of a certain skin color, not like those of red, yellow, brown or black complexions.” “I am a Republican, not a Democrat.” “I am a Christian, not a Hindu or a Moslem.” And it is the same everywhere else, national loyalty requires these identifications, as does so-called religious belief. In India, people go crazy over their Hindu identity, or their Moslem identity, or their caste status.
A borderless world does not mean that we abolish all practical administrative distinctions such as electoral districts or jurisdictions for local, regional, or national governments. A borderless world means that people have realized their species-being and become one in their common humanity and dignity. This is the world as seen by the great teachers of human kind such as Jesus Christ, Jiddu Krishnamurti, the 14th Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr. Despite their great differences, all these leaders lived from their fundamental humanity.
In this boundary-less world, political borders no longer serve militarized identities to be defended and walled off from all others. They serve only instrumental and administrative functions for persons living from their common humanity and dignity. For Jesus, religious identity did not matter, “neither Jew nor Gentile,” St. Paul says. For Jesus, there is only the oneness of love (agape) of God and human beings. Today, these identities are tearing the world apart because they mirror the structural (political and economic) fragmentation of the world into sovereign nation-states and the capitalist egoistic drive for power and profit.
Human dignity and our corresponding human rights mean that each and every person is “an end in his or herself” (as Immanuel Kant declared). Each person’s “worth” is incalculable and cannot be commodified as the capitalist model attempts to do. Human dignity encompasses both our common humanity and our capacity as free beings to actualize our love, justice, compassion, and a holistic relationship with all others and the Earth. Precisely this is what the present world system blocks with its wars, greed, unsustainability, and fragmentation. Our number one task is to become more fully human by actualizing our common human dignity in a world system structured for peace, justice, and sustainability.
We do not need to wait for humanity in general to grow up and embrace the holism of planet Earth, our planetary biosphere, and the human race. There is a process through which we can jump-start a borderless world system (a world peace and justice system) through the efforts of perhaps only 5% of humanity. We can ratify the “Earth Constitution” and place the common good of the planet, its citizens, and its living creatures at the heart of a global public authority that can reign in and control the egoism and nihilism of both the politicians and the capitalists.
Today, we need a global social contract that moves humanity from this childish and largely illusory fragmentation to a planetary constitution that recognizes our common humanity, universal human rights, and the need to work together to protect and restore our common planetary biosphere. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth (www.earth-constitution.org) is already completed and ready for ratification. It places what is common and universal (the common good of the Earth and its citizens) above the nations and the corporations as the single most legitimate source of governmental authority.
The Earth Federation will establish a democratic World Parliament with authority over both global corporations and so-called “sovereign” nation-states. For the first time in history, our common human dignity will be the basis of the global public authority, not fear, enemies, war, greed, and exploitation. There is no other way to end environmental and human destruction by the corporations as well as war and terrorism by the nation-states.
The Earth Constitution establishes global democracy predicated on what is common and universal and empowers an Earth Federation Government to conform both economics and politics to the universal common good. Article One defines that universal common good as ending war, protecting universal human rights, addressing poverty and inequality, and protecting and restoring the planetary environment. Law enforcement is assured through civilian police who must themselves obey the law. There is no military. Here we have the only true source of legitimate government authority: the common good of the Earth and its citizens: a global peace system, justice system, and sustainability system.
Human maturity and human institutions work together dialectically. All present-day governments (operating according to a paradigm 400 years old) are illegitimate and immature by this standard. They are all contributing to the pending extinction of human beings. A borderless world does not mean these governments or nations are abolished but that they take their proper (and legitimate) place within an Earth Federation that serves the welfare of all and is dedicated to restoring the biosphere of the planet for future generations (as much as this is still possible). We can only solve our lethal problems through moving to a higher level of existence, through actualizing our common humanity.
To be borderless means that we no longer build our childish ego-identities on identifications that divide us from others: my nation, my race, my religion, my unlimited private wealth, etc. To be borderless means that the borders and distinctions take their proper places as mere instrumental devices for organizational efficiency. They are no longer life or death identifications leading me to die for my country or my religion, etc. Our institutions must mirror the maturity of embracing our common human identity and dignity.
If we actualize our species-being, then we are open to love, concern, and identification with all, including the Earth’s many other living species. We no longer need to cling to an identity that excludes the others (whomever they happen to be). Some 200 years ago, the philosopher Lessing wrote to the Christians and Jews of Europe: “if only I had found one among you for whom it was enough to be called a human being!” My newest book,
Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence, develops these ideas in some detail.
The Constitution for the Federation of Earth structurally establishes a planetary democratic government that makes the world “borderless” in this sense. All persons become World Citizens first, responsible for their planetary home and future generations. Their primary identity becomes our common humanity. We need to ratify this Constitution if we want to avoid the rapidly approaching fate of planetary extinction of the human race.
It is time for humanity to grow up and face responsibility for ourselves and our precious planet. It is time we ended the global war system and converted to a peace, justice, and sustainability system. It is time we united our planetary home in a global democracy under the Earth Constitution.