Glen T. Martin
What is the end or goal of human existence? Is human life just a meaningless accident within an impersonal and uncaring cosmos or is the very depth and meaning of existence coming to fruition through human consciousness? As many people know, I see the Constitution for the Federation of Earth as integral to the latter. That is, I see the “very depth and meaning of existence” linked in some fundamental way to human beings uniting under the principle of democratic unity in diversity. I have long maintained that the Constitution for the Federation of Earth is both a means and an end.
As many people know, the Constitution for the Federation of Earth unites the nations and peoples of Earth based on the principle of unity in diversity. A “federation” means that existing political boundaries are maintained and respected but all the parts are united under a single binding constitution that guarantees the rights of both the parts and all the individual persons living on Earth. The Earth Federation is run as a parliamentary system.
The World Parliament is the highest authority, made up of three houses, the House of Peoples representing communities in every corner of the Earth, the House of Nations representing all nations big and small (with bigger nations having slightly more representation) and a House of Counsellors, made up of people chosen worldwide for their knowledge and wisdom. The four main branches, the World Judiciary, the World Administration, the World Attorneys with Civilian Police, and the World Ombudsmus are all constructed for maximum unity in diversity. All officials in the government take a pledge of “service to humanity” (www.earthconstitution.world).
How is this Earth Constitution a means? And what is the “end” beyond the Earth Constitution toward which it is pointing? Regarding the end, I think we can take our guiding star from the great religious and spiritual traditions of the world. Perhaps also from the great humanists of the world. What is the end for Islam? For Judaism? For Christianity? For Buddhism? For Taoism? For the Vedic tradition in Indian thought, often called Hinduism? Do these multiplicity of ends have something in common? I believe that they do. If one studies the dynamics of the “paths” toward right relationships with the ground of Being laid out by these traditions, one discerns amazing resonance, a profound convergence.
In this essay, I will not discuss the end of human existence at any length. However, means and ends are always deeply intertwined as Mahatma Gandhi showed. The reader can consult my books beginning with Millennium Dawn (2005) for elucidations of the paths and the end in relation to the means. One dimension of the “end” of human existence has to do with our astonishing human potential for self-development and self-transcendence.
We are capable of growth in our reasoning power and our loving power toward ever greater forms of creativity, relatedness to others, relatedness to nature, and to the cosmos. This relatedness can progress to the point where we find the ever-increasing fullness of life lifting our spirits and embracing our lives with meaning, truth, beauty, justice, and compassion. Hence the development of our reason and our love is part of the process of “spiritual awakening.” There is a life-long process of awakening, found in all the world’s great spiritual traditions, that embraces many levels. We might call the initial stages in this process “humanist self-realization.” This is clearly a valid part of the process of growth and self-transcendence. We grow from a narrow ethnocentrism to “worldcentric” realization of our universal human qualities such as truth, beauty, justice, and compassion.
There are also higher levels of what we can call “spiritual awakening” or human liberation. These may involve an enlightenment that transforms our most fundamental problems and brings, so to speak, “the Kingdom of God to Earth,” in ways that our own lives become transformed. The end is the eschatological fulfillment of our human microcosm so that we live in harmony with the depths and embracing fullness-emptiness of the macrocosm. As microcosms, we are the cosmos become conscious of itself in us. Our reason and our love become ever-more transpersonal, non-attached, non-egoistic. Our reason, truth, compassion, and justice, objective and universal as these may be, are then seen to be rooted in the transrational groundless-ground of Being (cf. Frank 2020).
This on-going process, however, is marred and blocked by egoism, greed, passions, hate, fear, sin, and guilt. Human beings at less mature levels of development may either see values as subjective and relative, or they may cling to so-called “objective” values dogmatically, claiming that these are “revealed” by this or that scripture or Guru. True objectivity, however, is discovered through spiritual and moral growth. It must be seen “from the inside,” as it were. The consequence of immaturity is what we see worldwide today—a world of conflict, struggle, deceit, corruption, and violence. How do we transcend these impediments, or sublimate them, to realize our true destiny on the Earth?
There is a process. There are steps along the way. And one absolutely necessary step is the ratification and implementation of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Human beings are capable of true growth and self-transcendence (Martin 2018).However, the conditions that prevail on Earth today, hinder or block the realization of our human potential for growth and self-actualization. Both capitalism and the system of militarized sovereign nation-states encourage egoism, competition, fear, hate, lack of compassion and irrational power relations, rather than rational, democratic and compassionate relations. These dominant systems are intertwined and centuries old. They are entirely anachronistic and out of date.
In contrast to both capitalism and sovereign nation-states we must have democracy. Democracy means a society in which the development and well-being of each citizen within the framework of the common good of all is institutionalized within transparent government. As Erich Fromm points out, democracy is “a system that creates the economic, political and cultural conditions for the full development of the individual” (1941, 274).
Capitalism blocks the actualization of our potential by (1) dehumanizing working people and making them focus on survival from day to day rather than on growth and self-realization. (2) creating an oligarchical class that runs the society from behind the scenes in the interest of their own wealth and power rather than the well-being of each and every citizen and the common good of the whole, and (3) creating a condition of institutionalized unconsciousness in which everything becomes a matter of money, everything becomes “commodified,” and people begin more and more to treat others, especially strangers, as things to be manipulated and controlled rather than as free subjectivities to be loved and respected.
Something similar happens with the sovereign nation-state. It fosters a culture in which people think that their primary identity is to be Chinese, or Russian, or British, rather than simply a human being like all others. Militarized national sovereignty fosters national egoism. On the international level, the sovereign nation-state system fosters power politics, rather than democratic relatedness. It fosters militarism and war preparations, rather than disarmament and peace preparations. And it creates a culture of “enemies” who are to be feared, distrusted, and hated rather the people whose differences from me are loved and respected simply because we are one humanity.
Fromm explains the consequences of these institutions from a psychoanalytic perspective:
The whole personality of the average individual is molded by the way people relate to each other and it is determined by the socioeconomic and political structure of society to such an extent that, in principle, one can infer from the analysis of one individual the totality of the social structure in which he lives. (1947, 86)
This clearly bears on the situation in the United States today, for example, in which the nation is divided nearly in half by people with fascist tendencies who hate diversity, equality, and social justice since they are influenced by the greed, domination, egoism, and exclusivity of the economic-political culture of the country. The other half appears made up of people who support limited diversity within the national borders and some degree of civil liberty but who affirm at the same time capitalism. They cater primarily to the hidden oligarchy of wealthy people and corporations running the country. This characterization may be oversimplified, but the point is well taken.
Perhaps these are but two stages on the scale of growth toward maturity as Ken Wilber and others might say, with the first of these groups primarily within “egoistic-formal-operational” stages while the second is moving out of the formal-operational toward more pluralistic growth stages (2007, 68-69). Nevertheless, both groups embody a nationalist exclusivism that ranks as immature egoism of the first order. Both affirm the country in its foreign policy—claiming to believe in freedom and democracy while invading, murdering, overthrowing, and manipulating others around the world. Millions die in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and many other places, while the “American conscience” remains pure and unsullied.
This constitutes a hypocrisy and dishonesty built into the American character through of a quasi-religious mythology of “manifest destiny.” “Democracy,” as it is called, is ideologically confused with a “free market,” “national sovereignty,” and “God’s will.” Consequently, the entire socio-economic-cultural structure of the country is built upon lies, manipulation, hidden power-relations, and corruption. All of this transpires through the lens of national self-idolatry. This is clearly not a nation that “creates the economic, political and cultural conditions for the full development of the individual,” but quite the opposite. Individuals by the millions are desperate, impoverished, crushed, and sacrificed to this false-god.
Just analyze the social character of any Republican or Democrat, Erich Fromm is saying, and you will find the same reflection of social-economic conditions embedded in his or her personality structure. Institutions condition people, independently of their so-called “free will.” The ordinary “American” personality structure is not just immature but borderline psychotic. This includes people who run the country and control its nuclear weapons. Many call themselves “Christian” while they support murder by the CIA and the military of people of other religions and nations. They think that “democracy” is a struggle for power and the right to impose one’s ideology on others. They prefer the bizarre, hate-filled symbology of the Book of Revelation to the transparent love found in the Gospels of Jesus Christ.
This realization, that the outer manifestation of society “mirrors” the inner spiritual condition that we find within, goes all the way back to Plato’s Republic. This kind of sickness, a consequence of immature egoism, of course, is not contained with the national borders of the USA. It is there in a variety of ways in nations and fundamentalist religions throughout the world. China is sick, Russia is sick, India is sick. Humanity as a whole struggles with the egoistic sickness. Human health requires a continual process of growth of one’s reason and one’s love, synchronized within an ascending spiral of the creative, ecstatic fulness of life, a process symbolized by Plato’s “ladder of love” in the Symposium. Erich Fromm declares that it is like Tat Tvam Asi (I am Thou) of the Vedas. He then continues:
Knowing men in the sense of compassionate and empathetic knowledge requires that we get rid of the narrowing ties of a given society, race, or culture and penetrate to the depth of that human reality in which we are all nothing but human. True compassion and knowledge of men has been largely underrated as a revolutionary factor in the development of man” (1968, 82-83).
Compassion accompanies the realization that we are all the same. It is precisely this oneness with its compassion that would be enhanced by implementing the Earth Constitution. People’s distortion by the psychopathic assumptions of capitalism and sovereign nation-states would diminish, making possible a healthy, creative, loving human consciousness to emerge. True empathic identification with others is “revolutionary” because it allows society to place the common good, the well-being of all, over selfishness, greed, egoism, hate, and fear. Claiming to be above politics, and promoting authentic spirituality independently of socio-political institutions (as many attempt to do today) is hopeless and ultimately self-defeating. Fromm concludes:
It follows that man will attain the full capacity for objectivity and reason only when a society of man is established above all particular divisions of the human race, when loyalty to the human race and to its ideals is considered the prime loyalty that exists. (1972, 58)
Overcoming the “particular divisions” of the human race, such as absolute sovereign nation-states, actualizes our capacity for “objectivity and reason,” giving us the possibility to actualize the love and compassion that can and should accompany objective reason. The work for spiritual illumination within our human reality is necessarily also work of ratifying the Earth Constitution, creating “loyalty to the human race and its ideals.” The two cannot be cogently separated.
In any system, in any whole, philosopher Errol E. Harris demonstrates, the parts all exhibit the imprint of the organizational principle of the whole (1987, Chap. 12). For example, in the complex system of the human body, the parts are billions of individual cells, but genetics reveals that each cell in the body carries the imprint of the whole. If we create a healthy world-system reflecting the wholeness of humanity, the result would be similar. Just as each person today carries an identity structure reflecting the sickness of the broken world system of which we are part, so, under a healthy holistic world system, each individual person would reflect in his or her thought and identity the characteristic principle of the whole.
This healthy and compassionate unity in diversity built into the Constitution is based on universal human rights (established to be enforceable, unlike the UN Declarations), universal human welfare (ending extreme poverty and wealth), ending war (by demilitarizing the planet), and universal ecological integrity (for both present and future generations). These socio-political arrangements will help empower people to actualize their higher potential—people who are ready and able to engage the process of growth toward moral and spiritual maturity. This in itself would diminish nationalistic egoisms.
The Constitution is designed in multiple ways to promote diversity in the Earth Federation Government and to prevent colonization by any one culture, nation, or religion. At the same time, it truly unites humanity as the whole that we are. Holistic unity in diversity is the principle of health and well-being. Erich Fromm has hit the nail on the head.
But lest one dismiss Fromm as merely a “humanist” (which he is, albeit a profound, wise, and insightful one), let me end with a quotation from Nicholas Berdyaev, a visionary thinker strongly influenced by Eastern Orthodox Christianity who focuses on the awakening of humanity to the Holy Spirit. Berdyaev declares:
But the true and final renaissance will probably begin in the world only after the elementary, everyday problems of human existence are solved for all peoples and nations, after bitter human need and the economic slavery of man have finally been conquered. (1969, 130-31)
Berdyaev asks why we have not yet created what he calls a “compassionate socialism” for the Earth? How can we expect a new renaissance for humanity if we have not even yet solved the most elementary problems such as poverty, deprivation, misery, and want? Surely there can be no next stage for growth until we have traversed the stage of uniting humanity in a political-economic system that truly addresses this scourge. Once we have true democracy on the Earth, that is, a system that enhances the well-being of each within the common good of all, then we may expect a renaissance for the human spirit. The Earth Constitution is the means for making this happen.
Berdyaev, Nicolas (1969). The Fate of Man in the Modern World. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Constitution for the Federation of Earth is found on-line at www.earthconstitution.world and in print from the Institute for Economic Democracy Press.
Frank, S. L. (2020). The Unknowable: An Ontological Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Trans. Boris Jakim. Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press.
Fromm, Erich (1947). Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Premier Books.
Fromm, Erich (1941). Escape from Freedom. New York: Rhinehart & Company.
Fromm, Erich (1972). Psychoanalysis and Religion. New York: Bantam Books.
Fromm, Erich (1968). The Revolution of Hope. New York: Bantam Books.
Harris, Errol E. (1987). Formal, Transcendental, and Dialectical Thinking: Logic and Reality. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Martin, Glen (2005). Millennium Dawn: The Philosophy of Planetary Crisis and Human Liberation. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.
Martin, Glen T. (2018). Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence: The Power of the Future for Planetary Transformation. London: Cambridge Scholars.
Wilber, Ken (2007). Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Post-Modern World. Boston: Integral Books.