Glen T. Martin
Venice, Italy, January 2020, on the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi
“Noncooperation with Evil is a Duty”
These words of Mahatma Gandhi bring out the revolutionary Truth of our human situation. Today they grow ever more compelling as we watch our planetary environment disintegrate everywhere into droughts, wildfires, water shortages, superstorms, floods, and relentless, stifling heat waves (Wallace-Wells 2019; Romm 2018). These words of Mahatma Gandhi grow ever more compelling as the Lords of Death and Destruction dedicate yet another trillion US Dollars to upgrading nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. This paper argues that true noncooperation with evil requires action in support of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
Some groups are beginning to realize the absolute imperative for revolutionary transformation of our broken and anti-life planetary systems. One group calls itself “Extinction Rebellion.” Without massive rebellion against the systems of evil that are destroying our planet and our future, there will soon be simply no planet and no future. Yet rebellion without a concrete vision of what must replace the system of evil is hardly sufficient. You cannot effectively resist evil without concretely understanding the good, the ideal, what should be there in place of evil. Like Gandhi, we capitalize the word “Truth” because it names our fundamental human and cosmic reality.
Mahatma Gandhi was a revolutionary who envisioned total transformation of life on Earth, a transformation from violence to nonviolence, from evil to good, from hate, fear, greed, exploitation, and domination to love, justice, freedom, and Truth. Swaraj or liberation was to include all aspects of life, from economics to politics to world order (see Jesudasan 1984). Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. declared “I have a dream.” Without a dream of total transformation of our broken humanity and this evil world system we can do nothing. We cannot be “evolutionaries” working within the system to slowly change things but must be “revolutionaries” acting on a credible vision of total transformation of our partitioned, fragmented, anti-life world system. Today, Swami Agnivesh in India is one such revolutionary (see Agnivesh 2015).
Yet our duty is not simply to be followers of Gandhi or King or Agnivesh. It is not to adopt their vision or their dream. Our duty in Gandhi’s formulation is satyagraha, clinging to Truth, acting on Truth, living according to the gigantic Truth at the heart of our cosmic and human situation. We must see for ourselves the evil nature of the world system and discern clearly the requirements of goodness, nonviolence, and justice. This requires self-actualization, self-realization. Each of us can realize the divine Truth within as we grow out of immature egoism and self-centeredness toward worldcentric and cosmocentric forms of consciousness (see Wilber 2007).
The vision of good transforming the immense evil of our present world system arises within each of us as we discern our common humanity and the oneness of our human project. We must see for ourselves the absolute need for love, justice, compassion, and Truth to replace, hate, injustice, hardness of heart and ignorance. We do not follow Gandhi or King. We embrace the Truth of our cosmic and human situation.
Here in Venice the streets are filled with people on holiday from all over the world, families, couples, visiting groups—tourists all. They walk the streets, alleys, and bridges, and ride the canals, laughing and conversing, sitting in endless restaurants or gaping into the brightly lit shop windows of this consumer paradise. They appear oblivious. Some may worry that Venice is sinking beneath the sea as waters continue to rise and ever more frequent floods begin to envelop the precious Medieval and Renaissance heritage that this city represents.
Yet none appear to realize that our entire planet is suffocating under evil institutions destroying the future of everyone—every man, woman, child, and living creature. The evil institutions comprising the militarized sovereign nations around the world that these tourists call home is so “normal” to them, so much in the unspoken background of everyday life, that they do not question it. Their ignorance is part of this evil system. Ignorance is indeed evil, but we must repudiate the evil itself, the ignorance itself, not the persons who are lost within this planetary criminal matrix of deceptions, lies, and propaganda.
Likewise, the correlative evil institution of a global economic system that has empowered them to have money for travel and tourism at the expense of the world’s billions of poor living in wretched hunger and scarcity again lies in the background of their consciousness, so pervasive as to be invisible, like the air we breathe. Their ignorance is palpable was they tend their credit cards or pay out their Euros to shops and restaurants in this mecca of global tourism and consumerism.
Mahatma Gandhi’s thought today is pigeonholed and marginalized. It has been truncated into a mere resistance against British colonialism in India. Few realize that he saw the world system itself as intrinsically evil. He demanded a total revolutionary transformation of our ways of living on the Earth predicated on Truth. He demanded that we live from the gigantic Truth of our universal common humanity, from the gigantic Truth of our precious planet Earth that sustains and embraces us, and from the gigantic Truth of God becoming ever more self-aware within our human reality.
Gandhi declared that the modern nation-state was “violence in a concentrated and compacted form” and that, under the capitalist system, “the few ride on the backs of the millions.” He lived through the two world wars in which these evil systems expressed their true anti-life imperatives, wiping out tens of millions of persons and destroying the planet that sustains us with bombs, explosives, chemicals, and poisons. Gandhi called not only for grassroots economic independence for the masses but also for a World Parliament above the nations, predicated not only on ending war but on removing poverty, misery and exploitation from the entire Earth (see Kripalani, ed. 1972; Hudgens 1986; Martin 2017).
The great Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism generally spoke of “knowledge versus ignorance,” rather than good and evil. The great Western religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam generally spoke of “good and evil,” rather than knowledge and ignorance. Gandhi was influenced by both traditions. He was deeply influenced by the Christian Gospels, Leo Tolstoy, and John Ruskin as well as the readings from the Quran in his own Hindu temple when he was a boy. He rightly saw the confluence of these two traditions and declared that all the religions come from the same source (see Iyer 1973).
Noncooperation with evil is a duty, and the economic and political institutions that dominate our planet are evil. Evil is what destroys life and the future, whether from ignorance or malice or both. The system of militarized sovereign nation-states, fragmenting our common human project into some 193 competing national projects with their absolute borders, secrecy, manipulations, bombs, warplanes, ships, and missiles, is evil and anti-life. It destroys our ability to live in peace with one another as well as our ability to respond to the climate crisis. It results in an immense militarism that pours some 1.5 trillion US dollars down the global toilet annually while the poor languish in hunger and the climate that sustains us rapidly disintegrates.
The global capitalist economic system is evil. It is predicated on endless growth on a finite planet, an omnicidal quest of the unredeemed human ego. It is predicated in creating money as debt, to sinking humanity into endless indebtedness to the one percent (the banking-corporate elite) with their minions and academic enablers in the top twenty percent, and enslaving the bottom eighty percent to endless scarcity, economic desperation, lethal competition, and financial liability. It is a system designed for the domination by the rich and the elite, the few, who ride on the backs of the honest labor of the rest of humanity (see Martin 2010b, Part Two).
It is a system that promotes the lucrative military destruction of people and our planet, an industrial military complex that reaps trillions in profits from its institutionalized order of death and destruction. It is a system that promotes fragmentation and collapse of the planetary environment, pumping out endless fossil fuels and limitlessly devouring the finite resources of the planet that sustains our life. Capitalism, like the militarized sovereign nation-states, is intrinsically evil. We need a revolutionary transformation of our world system predicated on life rather than death.
How is it possible not to cooperate with these gigantic planetary institutions that have so colonized our thinking and our world processes that they are everywhere and nowhere, like the air we breathe? The militarized sovereign nation-states force us to pay taxes to support their military death machines and their “national security” insanities. They force us to use their debt-based monetary systems. If we spend some of our money organizing meetings and educational events to resist their evil system, they make a profit from our action. How do we cling to Truth when the untruth controls the media, the banking, the governments, and the very infrastructure of our lives?
The answer lies in the dream, in the vision of Truth that lies within every human heart and cannot be killed by their evil institutions. The dream of transformation and redemption is always there (see Martin 2018). Yet the dream must be made concrete. It must tell us how to transform evil into good, how to transform the world system from a broken and fragmented nightmare of injustice and untruth to one of justice, Truth, and sustainability. That concrete vision is available to humanity in the form of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth (see Martin 2010a).
The Earth Constitution is predicated on the gigantic Truth of our common human situation. It is founded upon the unity in diversity of human civilization. It is founded on the absolute imperative to organize our planetary system premised on the common good of all. The “broad functions” of the Earth Federation government specified in Article One articulate the premises of this common good: ending war and disarming the nations, protecting universal human rights, ending poverty and “diminishing social differences,” and protecting the ecological fabric of the Earth to make the planet “a safe and happy home” for all.
The system of sovereign nation-states interfaced with the global debt-based economic system is centuries old, (some three to four hundred years old). It developed long ago when the Truth of our common humanity living together with fragile planetary ecosystem were entirely unknown. These developed within an age of slavery, colonialism, discrimination, and inequality. These developed long before the idea of universal human rights, planetary justice, or comprehension of our global, holistic ecosystem. The vast momentum of these interfaced institutions has colonized every corner of our world and today threatens to destroy our entire human project and the life support of nature’s other living creatures. Their evil and ignorance are palpable.
The duty of noncooperation with evil is most effectively achieved by advocating ratification of the Earth Constitution in thought, word, and deed. Article 19 of the Constitution demands that we begin the World Government here and now in its provisional, pre-ratification form. We can act now to create it though establishing provisional world ministries, a provisional world judicial system, a provisional world parliament, and worldwide programs for global grassroots empowerment for sustainability and justice.
We have little choice to avoid living within the framework of the evil system of militarized sovereign nations with its corresponding corrupt monetary system of exploitation, debt, and scarcity. But the Lords of the Earth cannot stop us from dreaming, from speaking out for gigantic Truth of our common humanity, our common planetary ecosystem, and our common human destiny of love, justice, compassion, and freedom. By spreading awareness of the Earth Constitution as an institutionalization of gigantic Truth, of satyagraha, we are actualizing our noncooperation with evil.
By making no concessions to their so-called pragmatic, practical, reality of “evolving toward the good,” we resist the evil and declare it for what it is. Their evil propaganda system also claims to honor the good. But we must go slow, they tell us, we must evolve the good patiently and incrementally. Their lies and deceit pollute even the vision of the good.
We cannot “evolve” toward the good. Those days and that possibility are over. Our future on this planet is in imminent danger and we can no longer compromise with the corruption and ignorance that are destroying that future. We need revolutionary transformation of our broken world system through ratification and activation of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
The Constitution does not give us a set of empty ideals about loving one another and our planet with no concrete way to make this a reality. It is not an Earth Charter or an unenforceable set of UN system ideals. Rather, it gives us a blueprint on how we can transform the system that now blocks and derails love, compassion, justice, and Truth. The Earth Constitution provides a nonviolent revolutionary manual for human liberation. It explicitly incorporates all viable UN agencies into its framework.
We must study it, promote it, organize around it, and speak from its premises in everything we say, think, or do. Noncooperation with evil is a duty. We fulfill that duty by living from the premises of a transformed future. We begin living from the framework of valid law provided by the Earth Constitution and recognizing that no government of any sovereign nation is any longer legitimate.
A legitimate government serves the common good of its citizens, but today no government can any longer do that because the common good is planetary, not national. No national government can protect the environment of its citizens or their universal human right to peace with justice. Only democratic world government under the Earth Constitution can do this (see Harris 2008, Chapter 8). National governments can regain their legitimacy only insofar as they unite under the Earth Constitution, thereby becoming participants in actualizing the common good for humanity and future generations.
Our absolute duty is noncooperation with the evil world system of militarized sovereign states interfaced with their global economic system of exploitation, debt, and misery. This noncooperation requires a vision of a transformed world system under the Earth Constitution. This vision can be actualized here and now as we establish the agencies and institutions called for by the Constitution. The most effective from of noncooperation with evil is dedication to ratification and implementation of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We must act now. Tomorrow will simply be too late.
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Iyer, Raghavan N. (1973). The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi. New York: Oxford University Press.
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Martin, Glen T. (2010a). Constitution for the Federation of Earth with Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press. The Constitution can also be found in an inexpensive pocket edition and on-line at www.earth-constitution.org and many other locations.
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