Glen T. Martin
November 2020 www.earthconstitution.world
The Constitution for the Federation of Earth represents the concept of humanity brought to self-actualization in a comprehensive and synergistic form. This short article broadly reviews the development of this idea in human civilization. We see today that we are at an impasse, a blockage to the further development and actualization of the concept of humanity. This blockage has suicidal consequences in the forms of nuclear holocaust and impending climate collapse. Those of us who care about the future of humanity are under an absolute imperative to transcend the blockage and actualize the concept of humanity in the immediate future. For without this, there appears to be no future at all except planetary omnicide.
The concept of humanity emerged during the famous Axial Period in human developmental history and was reflected in the great world religious and philosophical teachers that followed from that period: Lao Tzu, Confucius, Buddha, the author of the Bhagavad Gita, great Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and Mohammed. In the East, there was an identity between the ground of Being, the Brahman, or the vast fullness-emptiness of Sunyata, and the ground of the soul, Atman, or Buddha-nature. In the West, the divine image was embodied in each and every person, and the humanity within the person was considered sacred, inviolable.
During the next 2000 years, the concept of the human became progressively ever more associated with planetary authority and governance. In the West, the idea of “Natural Law” (that is the divinely ordained moral law that lay behind all social and authority arrangements on Earth) was believed to obligate even monarchs and emperors to represent and act for the common good of their subjects. In the ancient world Cicero focused on the universality of the moral principles behind all governance systems anywhere on Earth and declared that the local systems of law must embody and implement the universal principles of right that formed the matrix for all earthly government.
Thomas Aquinas at the heart of the middle ages declared that a law was no law that did not conform to the Natural Law of justice coming from God: “The force of a law depends on the extent of its justice,” he wrote, again putting the religious and secular authorities of his day under the obligation to recognize the concept of the human (the dignity and rights of each person) as the basis of legitimate governing. With the Renaissance, the concept of sovereignty of the people began to be introduced by such thinkers as Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) and Johannes Althusius (1557-1638). Nicholas of Cusa declared that all earthly power derived from God and required the consent of those governed who were subject to that power. Althusius taught that the people themselves were sovereign, and not their rulers, and that good government needed to be led by representatives of the people.
The 18th century carried forward the idea of Natural Law into the concept of “natural rights” as political freedoms vis-à-vis the state, and the social contract was engaged, in the thought of John Locke and others, precisely so that the state could protect these rights. The 19th century then formulated the idea of economic and social rights as integral to the “common good” of all citizens that the concept of a legitimate state must necessarily embrace. Both of these aspects of human rights are included within the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 that functions, we are told, as an “ideal” toward which humanity and nation-states must aspire.
The entire development of these 2000 years of thought involved the concept of the human (the dignity and rights of persons as made in the image of God) in relationship to the power of those entrusted with governing. This development culminated ever more clearly and forcefully in the 20th century Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet the system of governing in the world, going back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, was in terms of territorially fragmented, militarized sovereign nation-states, each promoting its own interests. Each sovereign nation was and is structurally determined to act from power (rather than from right) in the promotion of its own interests (rather than from universal rights connected with our universal humanity).
The framework that was created in 1945, post-World War II, called the United Nations Organization, quite literally institutionalized the system of territorial, militarized sovereign nation-states that the world inherited from the 19th century and before. It was this system that was the most fundamental causal condition of both World War I and World War II. World Federalist thinkers from the time of World War I (1914) to the decade following World War II in the 1950s vocally declared this truth—these world wars were the product of a system of sovereign militarized nation-states recognizing no effective laws above themselves.
Nevertheless, emerging from the 20th century in ever more powerful form was the idea of one humanity, one human civilization, one universal human dignity that stands in contradiction to the plethora of militarized sovereign nation-states. It is a system fragmenting humanity into centers of territoriality, power, and rivalry. Out of this one universal human dignity the 20th century formulated a third generation of human rights—global rights, the right to genuine world peace and the right to a healthy protected planetary environment. The concept of “humanity” was moving to a higher level of self-understanding and self-actualization, beyond the system of sovereign nation-states.
This 20th century understanding of our humanity and our human situation is not embodied in any national constitution, nor in the UN Charter. Brief references to it are found here and there but the very fact that national constitutions must restrict political and juridical right to a defined territory on the Earth means that the internal processes of the nation stand in contradiction to the universal right and dignity of our common humanity inhabiting every surface of the planet. Territorial sovereign states now inhibit and contradict the self-actualization of humanity.
This lethal impasse cannot be transcended unless humanity unites. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth represents a growth, a fundamental evolutionary step, a movement to a new level of self-understanding and actualization of the part of humanity. Evolution does not only proceed with incremental changes. It includes—and requires—periodic jumps, rapid transformations. Unlike every national constitution, and unlike the UN Charter, the Earth Constitution fully embodies the concept of humanity and organizes global democratic government on the premise of the equality, freedom, and dignity of every member of our human family. It explicitly includes the third-generation rights of the right to peace and the right to a protected planetary environment for every human being. It represents the jump, the rapid transformation that helps bring the evolutionary process to self-awareness and synergy in us.
It unifies and brings to fruition our evolutionary holism, implicit in human development from the beginning. Sovereign fragments or parts cannot evolve into a whole. This is what many so-called “world federalists” do not comprehend. Every one of our 20th and 21st century sciences declares the opposite—that the whole is required for the evolution of the parts. Atomism is dead, gone, and a very dangerous assumption in a world of nuclear weapons and on-going climate collapse. If we want progress in human affairs, if we want survival and flourishing on our precious planet Earth, we need to begin with the whole, to affirm the whole and then work with the parts under the principle of unity in diversity to actualize the potential of the concept of humanity for every person and community on the Earth.
That is why the Earth Constitution represents the concept of humanity brought to self-actualization in a comprehensive and synergistic form. Our universal dignity deriving from the fact that our deep selfhood is divine, or from the fact that our deep selfhood is made in the image of God, cannot be actualized any further under the system of militarized sovereign nation-states that fragment our common humanity into nearly 200 territorial fortresses. Government must represent what is universal in us, our common good, our common dignity. Fragmenting humanity into sovereign states violates and blocks that realization. Human evolution is stymied. Our future is strangled, asphyxiated.
The Earth Constitution frees the process of self-actualization for humanity to continue the evolutionary process. It opens up our future for genuine spiritual, moral, and organizational growth. It unites humanity in a new synergy and unity beyond wars and national rivalry. The Earth Constitution embodies our true human destiny, the self-realization of our highest values. The very future of our children depends on our ability to further actualize the concept of humanity through ratifying the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. This alone will make a redeemed and renewed human future possible. Now is the time. Tomorrow is too late.
Althusius, Johannes (1995). Politica. An Abridged Translation of Politics methodically Set Forth and Illustrated with Sacred and Profane Examples. Trans. Frederick S. Carney. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.
Aquinas, Thomas (1945). Basic Writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Volume Two: Man and the Conduct of Life. Anton G. Pegis, ed. New York: Random House.
Cicero, Marcus Tullius (2006). On the Commonwealth and On the Laws. James E.G. Zetzel, ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Found on-line at www.earthconstitution.world
Cusa, Nicholas (1996). The Catholic Concordance. Paul Sigmund, ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Donnelly, Jack (2003). Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Glover, Jonathan (1999). Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Harris, Errol E. (2008). Twenty-first Century Democratic Renaissance: From Plato to Neoliberalism to Planetary Democracy. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.
Hick, John (2004). An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent. Second Edition. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Locke, John (1963). Two Treatises on Government. Revised Edition. Peter Laslett, ed. New York: Mentor Books.
Martin, Glen T. (2008). Ascent to Freedom: Practical & Philosophical Foundations of Democratic World Law. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.
Martin, Glen T. (2010). Constitution for the Federation of Earth: With Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Democracy Press.