Global Holism and Educational Transformation: Our Way Forward to a World of Peace, Social Justice, and Sustainability

CCEAM Conference, 19-21 September, Hotel Chunda Palace, Udaipur, India
Abstract: Our problems concerning social justice in all countries are increasingly becoming global
problems. This address examines why this is so. It also discusses the multiple ways in which the variety
of social justice problems are interrelated and interconnected (problems such as economic inequality,
inadequate due process, political corruption, multiple forms of discrimination, social marginalization,
massive immigrant and refugee displacements, lack of basic human necessities, human trafficking,
terrorism and wars, etc.). It examines the fragmentation and inadequacy of our present global institutions
for dealing with this nexus of problems and contrasts this fragmentation with the new paradigm of holism
that emerged within the past century. How can we teach and practice this holism within our educational
institutions? Finally, the address considers how to unite humanity within a unity in diversity under a
Constitution for the Federation of Earth that deals with all these problems and provides a vision of a new
world of social justice, peace, and environmental sustainability.
* * * * *
The very idea of democracy, the meaning of democracy, must be continually explored afresh; it has to be constantly discovered, and rediscovered, remade and reorganized; while the political and economic and social institutions in which it is embodied have to be remade and reorganized to meet the changes that are going on in the development of new needs on the part of human beings and new resources for satisfying these needs…. What direction shall we give to the work of the school so that the richness and fullness of the democratic way of life in all its scope may be promoted?

John Deweyi

Part One: Education and Planetary Maturity
Education at the broadest level can perhaps be abstractly defined as the transfer of knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next. However, as John Dewey suggests, the framework for education is and should be growth toward human maturity within the context of democracy, freedom, and the many possibilities for human flourishing. It is democracy that best promotes the perpetual growth and flourishing of human beings, the actualization of our human potential, and it is democracy that promotes social justice within a planetary vision of peace and freedom. Education, like democracy, is about our ability to transcend and transform the present in the process of creating a truly human and fulfilling future for humanity. In this address, I hope to show that our present world disorder defeats both democracy and our efforts toward social justice at every turn. With Dewey, I believe that we need to explore the meaning of democracy afresh: to rediscover democracy, and reorganize our political and economic institutions to make this possible.
Human beings have been deeply temporalized beings since the famous Axis Period in human history
approximately the 8th to the 2nd century BCE.ii

Each person lives in a dynamic present that synthesizes her memory and knowledge from the past and projects toward a future that actualizes the potential implicit in this process. Each person projects an ideal self or set of possibilities toward which she strives. Education guides and informs this process with knowledge and wisdom, helping persons actualize their individual potential as well as their human
potential for maturity and wisdom.

Similarly, human civilization itself constitutes a temporalized and historical process in which collective
memory of the past is synthesized in a present and projected into an imagined future of possible growth and
development. Today, many thinkers attest that we are living in an age of “conscious evolution” in which the human race as a whole is moving to a higher level of maturity that is becoming worldcentric, compassionate, holistic, and

that embraces the vast unity in diversity of the human civilizational project. Education must be also wise enough, and visionary enough, to foster growth in the human civilizational project for the Earth and its citizens. We must begin “education for conscious evolution.”iii
In the past half century we have come to understand a great deal about developmental processes toward human maturity. Human maturity can be directly linked to our concern for social justice, from local to global levels. Human maturity is required for global social justice along three dimensions: (1) the moral and cognitive growth of individual persons, (2) the cultural growth toward maturity of our common human civilization, and (3) the structural-institutional maturity of our institutional systems. Collectively, these three dimensions comprise what I call “planetary maturity.”iv

(1) Moral, Cognitive, and Spiritual Growth. For many decades, psychologists, philosophers, and
developmental thinkers have been defining the stages of human moral, cognitive, and spiritual growth. On the level of individual development there has been a powerful consensus with regard to the basic model. There are relatively distinct and identifiable stages of growth toward moral, cognitive, and spiritual maturity.

A broad consensus has emerged (despite a range of second level disagreements) from such thinkers as Lawrence Kohlberg, Jürgen Habermas, Erich Erickson, Abraham Maslow, James Fowler, Ken Wilber, and Carol Gilligan. This basic model traces the growth of children to adulthood through common pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional stages. The post-conventional stage exhibits moral and cognitive maturity and is often further subdivided into stages of higher self-realization in relation to maturity.

Kohlberg speaks of a highest stage that experiences unity with the cosmos.v Fowler traces spiritual growth to its highest levels in terms of “universalizing faith,”vi Habermas traces communicative growth to a highest level of “discourse ethics,”vii and Maslow describes the highest level of need satisfaction for the self-actualized person as “self-transcendence.”viii Ken Wilber, who synthesizes all these traditions in many of his books, summarizes the work of Carol Gilligan and others into four basic stages. He calls the first stage “egocentric,” in which young children have not yet been fully socialized. The second stage can be called “ethnocentric.” It includes older children and many adults who accept the conventions and customs within which they grew up as “true” or basically correct. The third stage, and the beginning of moral and cognitive maturity, can be termed “worldcentric”: “I now have care and compassion, not just for me (egocentric), and not just for my family, my tribe, or my nation (ethnocentric), but for all humanity, for all men and women everywhere, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed.” Wilber and Gilligan call the highest stage of moral and cognitive maturity “integrated.” At this level the masculine and feminine attributes of our care and compassion come together in a higher synthesis of holistic and integrated consciousness. Such a person exhibits an integration of our highest human qualities: relationship with autonomy, mercy with justice, and compassion with wisdom.ix

(2) The cultural maturity of human civilization. Maturity here affirms the vast unity in diversity of human life
with respect to persons, cultures, races, nations, religions, etc. This wonderful diversity should be embraced with love and deeply caring respect (which does not mean endorsing what blocks or represses the wholeness of life and human well-being). This embrace cannot be accomplished by any form of “fundamentalism” or “ethnocentrism” that takes its own traditions, scriptures, or customs literally. Maturity here again is worldcentric, embracing the holism of humanity.

It is well-known that advanced thinkers of human development have taken the growth model further into the
transpersonal dimensions and have applied this process of growth to civilization as a whole. Jean Gebser traces the development of civilization through archaic, magic, mythic, and rational stages, and Gebser projects our emergence as a species into a higher “integral” stage of harmony and global integration.
Sri Aurobindo traces
development out of nature through a subconscious-vital stage to subconscient mind to higher mind, to the
illuminated mind, to the stage that he calls “intuition,” and finally into the “Overmind.”xi Teilhard de Chardin traces evolutionary development from the geosphere to the biosphere to the noösphere of human collective consciousness, the entire process moving toward what he calls “Omega,” the unity and fulfillment of humanity and its union with the divine.xii Such spiritually advanced persons give us an insight into our common human and collective potential. They allow us to imagine how things really could be different as we move toward ever-higher levels of collective

(3) Institutional maturity for humanity. We have seen John Dewey affirm that we need to continually rethink
democracy in the light of changing human needs and circumstances. This is also true for our historical development on this planet. Institutions themselves become inadequate or destructive. They are understood to be morally wrong or immature. Take, for example, the institution of slavery. Throughout the early-modern period in the West, this was not only accepted but deeply institutionalized economically and politically. Today, this institution is gone, no longer legitimate, considered outgrown, only engaged in by criminals. In this paper, I argue that the dominant institutions of our planet today, both global capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states, have become fetters on the growth process of civilization toward human moral maturity. We require planetary democracy that can effectively deal with the reality of our human situation as we have
come to understand it in the past century. We now understand the fundamental unity of our situation across at least four fundamental dimensions: (a) Our common humanity—and our common communicative and social matrix within which all languages are translatable into one another. (b) Our common natural environment—from microsystems to macrosystems—we need to integrate our political and economic life in ways that live in harmony with that environment. (c) Our common economic, social, and cultural interdependency that should result in mutual understanding, compassion, and support rather than in war, conflict, and lethal competition. (d) Our common manifold of truly global issues that can only be effectively dealt with on a planetary scale: from weapons of mass destruction to perpetual wars to planetary resource depletion to global poverty and hunger to human rights violations to climate destruction.

What is missing today is the maturity of a moral, civilizational, and political holism for humanity. All three of
these dimensions of growth toward maturity are essential: fostering personal maturity, fostering civilizational cultural maturity, and fostering planetary institutional maturity. Cultivating personal maturity in students will not in itself open up a decent future for humanity. Cultivating cultural maturity from a worldcentric point of view will not by itself overcome humanity’s endangered future. We also need to be actively working for institutional transformation of the economic and political systems now dominating our planet. Education needs to foster personal growth, cultural growth, and transformative institutional growth. Only the three of these together can give us a credible future of social justice, planetary freedom, and human dignity.

Social justice derives from the embrace of those universals that bind us together as one humanity (vasudhaiva
kutubukum in the Indian tradition): our common dignity, our common human rights, our common communicative capacity, our common basic needs, our common equality, our common moral and cognitive freedom. These are all universal features of our human reality. They can only realized in a meaningful way at the planetary level. The fragmented, non-holistic systems that continue to dominate our planet actively interfere with our ability to realize social justice on this planet. Let us examine this fragmented “early-modern paradigm” and the institutions deriving from it.

Part Two: The outdated early-modern paradigm

he early-modern economic and political paradigm was predicated on assumptions about the universe as
mechanistic, materialistic, atomistic, and reductionistic, assumptions that inevitably influenced our much of the dominant philosophical self-understanding.xiii It has led to the vast cataclysms of war and destruction that pervaded the 20th and 21st centuries as well as to the on-going destruction of nature and our planetary
environment. The universe was seen as a collection of impersonal forces and laws operating within a universal causal determinism. These forces and laws left no intelligible place for human consciousness, spirituality, morality, or religion. It appeared that humans were estranged within an impersonal and implacable world system built up mechanistically from its atomistic premises, within which objects and forces had only external relationships with one another. The world, in this view, was inherently fragmented: diverse forces, atomistically conceived, with fundamentally external relationships to one another.

Two major civilizational components that seemed to correctly mirror these premises developed out of the
European Renaissance and came to dominate all human relationships: the system of sovereign nation-states
integrated with the system of global capitalism. Both systems appeared to correctly derive from early-modern
scientific assumptions. It was assumed as “natural” that human beings would live within territorially bounded, militarized states in external relationships with one another that resulted in diplomatic and strategic maneuvering vis-à-vis one another. In Western thought since the 17th century, thinkers such as Baruch Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and G.W.F. Hegel were naming the system of so-called “sovereign nation-states” as inherently “war system.”xiv Sovereign nation-states. Today our world is fragmented into some 193 independent territorial units, mostly militarized, guarding absolute territorial boundaries and competing with one another militarily and economically. It is not correct to think of this system as occasionally breaking down in war. A world defined politically in terms of a collection of militarized independent units recognizing no enforceable law above themselves cannot but be a war-system. As both Kant and Hobbes put this, the system is inherently a war system: there is war even then there is no fighting, since without enforceable world laws, anyone at any time can simply do what they want. In his essay Perpetual Peace, Kant calls this system “savage and barbaric.”

Global Capitalism. Similarly capitalism understood human life as composed of rationally self-interested
individuals who, both individually and collectively through their businesses and corporations, competed with one another for the accumulation of profit in the service of satisfaction of their unlimited desires. The theory stated that free competition for profit within a “free market” defined by the freedom of contracts, among this (atomistic)
multiplicity of competing entities, would result in the greatest efficiency and maximum production of goods and services necessary to human flourishing. Adam Smith termed this promised result “the invisible hand”—many individuals competing in the market-place out of pure self-interest would produce the greatest good for the greatest number of persons.xv Self-interested individuals and corporations stood basically in external relationships to one another: strategically maneuvering vis-à-vis one another and occasionally economically destroying one another in the competitive struggle (economic warfare).

Integration of nation-states and capitalism. Just as nations, although made up of millions of persons, act as
“particular wills” in external relations that struggle strategically and may wind up in war (as Hegel pointed outxvi) so corporations, although employing many persons, are run by a CEO or tiny CEO group representing the investors who act as “particular wills” (bosses over many employees who obey their orders) in external relations that struggle strategically and may wind up in economic warfare. The system of autonomous nation-states operates on very similar assumptions to the economic system of autonomous individuals and corporations. In practice, these institutions have always operated and worked together, each nation-state promoting its own perceived economic interests through the promotion of its private businesses at home and worldwide, diplomatically and militarily.

As social scientist Christopher Chase-Dunn expresses this: “The state and the interstate system are not separate from capitalism, but rather are the main institutional supports of capitalist production relations. The system of unequally powerful and competing nation-states is part of the competitive struggle of capitalism, and thus wars and geopolitics are a systematic part of capitalist dynamics, not exogenous forces.”xvii
Are the immense and continuous wars, genocides, and crimes against humanity of the 20th and 21st centuries
connected with these two dominant institutions deriving from early modern assumptions? Philosopher Nolan Pliny Jacobson concludes that “the major source of retardation endangering the future planetary civilization about which so much has been written…. is the kind of selfhood in which the terrors of the modern nation are rooted. It is the archaic legacy of a self-substance, mutually independent of all others, which supports the entire superstructure of Western nations.”xviii Jacobson refers to a nationalistic selfhood that is expressed in “particular wills” facing one another in strategic and external relationships, the final result of which is ultimately war. In just the same way, under capitalism, corporations function as a form of collective selfhood understood as “particular wills” in external relationships, locked in struggles for profit and ascendency. This outmoded and lethal paradigm continues to dominate human civilization, endangering our future, and even the future of life on our planet.

The United Nations. Why has the United Nations failed in nearly every respect? The answer is that the UN is
premised on the fragmentation of sovereign nation-states intertwined with global capitalism. Despite the idealistic rhetoric about “peace” in the Preamble to the UN Charter, the charter itself structurally defeats all attempts to achieve a world of peace with justice. The UN Charter is most fundamentally a treaty of sovereign nation-states. Today, it fragments our planet into some 193, mostly militarized, territories with absolute borders and supposedly independent governments. So-called “international law” is in reality no law, just unenforceable “voluntary” treaty agreements.

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights should not be confused with the unworkable UN Charter.
The Universal Declaration expresses a substantially planetary perspective. Within the UN, this Declaration is not considered international law but a merely “symbolic” ideal statement. By contrast, the UN Charter expresses an exclusively nation-state perspective. Article 26 of UN Universal Declaration describes the right of education as a form of planetary maturity: “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”

Aside from the implication that the United Nations is capable of furthering peace (which it is not), this gives
us a coherent worldcentric definition of education. The UN Universal Declaration asserts that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.” This is indeed the basis for social justice. It points to a worldcentric, planetary maturity. The problem is that the UN Charter makes this recognition effectively impossible for the majority of human beings.

Article 28 of the UN Universal Declaration makes clear what is missing. It declares that “Everyone is entitled
to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.”
Under the UN Charter, this article is blatantly and institutionally violated. A system of militarized sovereign nations in economic, political, and military competition with one another can only bring disaster to the Earth, as the past 71 years of UN activities have clearly demonstrated. We will never have a world of social justice under this system.

We have a human right to a democratic international system in which our human rights and freedoms can be fully realized. We have a right to institutionalized global democracy. However, for all these decades we have seen instead:
People working through the UN on preventing human bondage and trafficking – a failure.
xix People working for decades on disarmament and elimination of WMDs – a failure.
People working through dozens of UN agencies on protecting the environment – a failure.
xx People working on promoting international dialogue – a failure.
People working on human rights (with 9 human rights conventions in place) – a failure.
xxi People working to provide basic needs to the poor (health care, sanitation, clean water, education) – a
failure. People working through UNESCO and other agencies to educate persons for world citizenship – a failure.

People working to deal with the problems of war and terrorism – a failure.xxii
The UN is neither a government, nor is it anything even remotely resembling a democracy. Its nations relate to ne another in terms of power politics and economic competition. Its five permanent members of the Security Council, all with a veto, are among the world’s worst aggressor nations. The UN cannot solve our lethal global problems, and it cannot give us social justice. Its premises themselves (sovereign nation-states and global corporate capitalism) actively defeat our progress toward planetary maturity and social justice.

Part Three: The worldwide paradigm-shift to holism he new paradigm arising from both the social and natural sciences centers around holism—wholes within wholes and fields within fields constitute the basic structure of the universe, ecology, and human life, not atomistically conceived fragments. From systems theory to social scientific understandings of sociology and psychology to macroscopic and microscopic physics, across the entire conceptual landscape, it has been recognized that wholes are prior to parts and these wholes integrate the parts into dynamic systems in which the parts flourish in a set of internal relationships to one another.

Internal relationships mean the parts are not autonomous atoms apart from the systems within which they are both constituted and embedded. Rather, the parts are interdependent and interrelated in a multiplicity of ways conditioned by the principle of the wholes of which they are part. When there is a change in any of the parts there are necessarily corresponding changes in the other parts as well as the whole.

This is not the place to undertake a full documentation of the new holism of the social and natural sciences. I
have already done this in such works as Ascent to Freedom (2009), The Anatomy of a Sustainable World (2014), and One World Renaissance (2016). A few brief quotes will suffice to indicate the conceptual foundations of the paradigm shift to holism—quotes from social sciences, from life-sciences (ecology), and from contemporary physics. Psychologist Erich Fromm writes:

We consider people to be “religious” because they say they believe in God. Is there any difficulty in saying this? Is there any reality in it, except that the words are uttered? Obviously I am speaking here about an experience which should constitute the reality behind the words. What is this experience? It is one of recognizing oneself as part of humanity, of living according to a set of values in which the full experience of love, justice, truth, is the dominant goal of life to which everything else is subordinated; it means a constant striving to develop one’s powers of life and reason to a point at which a new harmony with the world is attained; it means striving for humility, to see one’s identity with all beings, and to give up the illusion of a separate, indestructible ego.xxiii

Fromm’s language is strikingly similar to that of Jacobson, quoted above. Human beings emerged into self-consciousness during the Axial Period in human history (8th to 2nd century BCE) and more acutely so during the Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries. This emergence of self-awareness resulted in a growing sense of autonomy, of personal separateness from nature and the rest of humanity. “The illusion of a separate, indestructible ego” became fundamental to both sovereign nation-states (collective egos) and personal economic life under
capitalism (competitive rationally self-interested egos). But our task for Fromm is precisely to overcome this
illusion and discover a new harmony with humanity and nature. “God,” for Fromm, is a symbol of that wholeness and harmony.

To be religious is to be concerned with all others in a relationship of agape, as emphasized in Christianity, or
karuna, as emphasized in Buddhism. Jesus understands God as saying to humanity: “When you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40). The great compassion of the bodhisattva leads to the vow never to enter final nirvana until all sentient beings have been saved. From within Hinduism Mahatma Gandhi declares: “Man’s ultimate aim is the realization of God…. The only way to find God is to see Him in his creatures and be one with them.”xxiv The harmony is really there in the pervasive holism of existence and can be recognized if we give up the illusion of a separate ego.

Advanced psychology and sociology today understand that individuals are not prior to, nor independent from,
society, other persons, or humanity as a whole. Our relations with others are internal—our personhood as well as our well-being are functions of the whole. We are genetically disposed to acquire language and are bound together within the communicative dimension. Individual and whole arise together throughout the cosmos—there are no wholes without parts and no parts without wholes that constitute them and condition their nature. Unity in diversity is the principle of holism. Parts are not denied but understood as deeply (internally) related to the wholes of which they are parts.

This is not only the view of advanced psychology and sociology, it is also the view of advanced physics. The
holism of the universe has been discovered (since Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity that
appeared in 1905 and 1915), and this holism includes human life. As scientific cosmologist Milton K. Munitz puts this: “The universe and human life are coupled. If we are to understand either, we need to move in both
directions: from the universe to man and from man to the universe, since they are mutually involved in a very special way.”xxv Renowned physicist Henry Stapp comments on the insights of “quantum ontology” in which human beings appear “as an integral part of the highly nonlocal creative activity of the universe”: “It must inevitably lead us away from the egocentric bias that was the rational product of the ontology of classical physics, to the values inherent in the image of self, not as a local isolated automaton but rather as a nonlocalizable integrated aspect of the creative impulse of the universe.”
Again, Stapp sees our “egocentric bias” as a product of the older paradigm of classical physics. Human beings
are no longer understood as alienated strangers in a mechanistic and impersonal cosmos. We are now an “integrated aspect of the creative impulse of the universe” itself. Holism pervades all things, and the parts are integral to the series of wholes that encompass and condition them. The same principle applies in biology and ecology.

In his book The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, Fritjof Capra expresses the
holism understood by contemporary life-science: “Interdependence—the mutual dependence of all life processes on one another—is the nature of all ecological relationships. The behavior of every living member of the ecosystem depends on the behavior of many others. The success of the whole community depends on the success of its individual members, while the success of each member depends on the success of the community as a whole.”xxvii
Relationships, therefore, are not external but internal.
It is the lack of operating from these internal relationships by contemporary nation-states and capitalist “free
markets” that is playing such havoc with the biosphere of our planet. In economics, we operate according to so called “natural laws” of the market regardless of who gets hurt economically in terms of the poverty of vast sections of humanity and regardless of the consequences for our planet’s biosphere. As Chris Williams expresses this: “capitalism is thus systematically driven toward the ruination of the planet and we underestimate how committed the system is to planetary ecocide at our peril. As stated above, ecological devastation is just as intrinsic to the operation of capitalism as is the exploitation of the vast majority of humans in the interests of a tiny minority,
imperialism, and war.”xxviii

The recognition of holism would necessarily mean devising an economic system premised on the reasonable
interdependent prosperity of all rather than the appropriation of super-riches for the few at the expense and
impoverishment of the vast majority. It would mean devising an economic system recognizing that we live within a finite, delicately balanced biosphere, in which resource and energy extractions from nature, as well as waste and heat externalities at the other end of the economic process, must conform to that finitude and ecological balance.

It would also necessarily mean the end of the war-system and the industrial-military complex that profits from that system, for war is not only supremely destructive of human well-being but devastating for the environment. The older fragmented and mechanistic assumptions about human life embodied in the system of autonomous, militarized nation-states and the economics of atomistic self-interest unconcerned with the consequences for the whole must be abandoned if we are to survive much longer on this planet. They must be replaced by a civilizational holism in which nations institutionalize their internal relations with all other nations and with humanity as a whole and in which economics is predicated on this same recognition. We are all in this together.

We understand today that the only alternative to a regime of domination, exploitation, and violence is
democracy, democracy as an ideal of human relationships, as a planetary ideal: recognizing, as Dewey asserts, “the secondary and provisional character of national sovereignty.”xxx Democracy alone presupposes human equality, dignity, communicative solidarity, satisfaction of basic needs, and freedom. Militarism destroys democracy with national secrecy, the waste of precious resources, and a self-perpetuating cycle of never-ending violence. Capitalism destroys democracy by placing the rich into oligarchical control within all such societies. Effective democracy, therefore can only be planetary. We require world economic and political democracy under an Earth Constitution.

Part Four: Holism and the Earth Constitution

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth was written through the collective work of hundreds of world
citizens, meeting in four international “Constituent Assemblies,” between 1968 and 1991. The 1968 assembly
in Interlaken, Switzerland elected a drafting committee of 25 persons and provided a set of criteria for them to follow. The result, finalized in 1991 at the Constituent Assembly at Troia, Portugal, was the masterful 30 page document that we have today, found on many websites and translated into 23 languages, including Hindi.xxxi The Earth Constitution embodies the holism of humanity, ecology, and the cosmos. It provides a model for global democracy that moves humanity to a higher stage of maturity.
In the diagram below, I have entered the Constitution onto an adaptation of the well-known “AQUAL” diagram
of Ken Wilber.

xxxii This chart locates the process of growth toward maturity along the four quadrants that encompass
our human situation. The upper right quadrant describes the growth of scientific understanding of the evolutionary process, as discussed above. The upper left names many levels of development of human subjective consciousness toward ever-greater maturity. The bottom left names levels of growth in the cultural development of human civilization. The bottom right names the primary economic-political institutions by which humanity has organized itself as it grows toward holism. Notice that the ascending levels of growth parallel one another across all these quadrants: the higher levels of maturity involve the ascent to a worldcentric holism and beyond that to an “integral” level. I have located the Earth Constitution in the lower right quadrant, far beyond the lower and less mature levels of “early nations” and “corporate states,” those institutional entities that today continue to dominate our endangered planet.

The holism of all these quadrants, not simply the lower right, is also brought together under the Earth
Constitution. Ratification of the Constitution will not only transform our planet’s fragmented economic and political systems, it will quite naturally promote the transformation of human consciousness with respect to both the “We” dimension and the “I” dimension. People and groups will begin thinking holistically as world citizens rather than as autonomous fragments. The institutionalization of world democracy will itself promote democracy, cooperation, respect for human rights, and freedom within the dimensions of subjective consciousness and cultural development, as well as the transformation of our global institutions. All the infrastructure and resources now possessed by the United Nations can be easily transferred into the Earth Federation system.xxxiii The Preamble to the Earth Constitution provides the conceptual framework for the whole of the document. It gives us the language of a “new world…which promises to usher in an era of peace, prosperity, justice and harmony.” Given the bleak and bloody history of humankind to date, how can the framers of the Constitution be so confident? The answer is given in the second paragraph of the Preamble: “Aware of the interdependence of people, nations, and all life.” This is a declaration of holism that could not be clearer: there is no such thing as autonomous independence from the rest of humanity, from the other nations of the world, or from the natural world.

The Earth Constitution is predicated throughout on this principle of unity in diversity based on awareness of
the interdependence of all people and all life on Earth. Every agency or branch of the government established under the Constitution (from the World Parliament, the World Judiciary, the World Administration, and the World Police to the World Ombudsmus) is designed for a maximum of diversity, drawing its leadership from all continents and administrative regions of the world. Every agency or branch of government is structured to work harmoniously with all the others.

At the same time, the government under the Constitution is designed so that power is dispersed and
democratized widely. The Administrative or Executive branch has no police or military powers; all branches are responsible to the diverse World Parliament (composed of three houses, each very diverse in membership); the Ombudsmus is responsible to watch all the other branches, ensuring democratic operation and protection of human rights. The Constitution is brilliantly designed for maxim diversity within a unity of democratic principles of freedom, peace, sustainability and prosperity. It presents humanity with a holistic system that alone can end war and provide a foundation for a sustainable and humane economic system.

The collective effect of the structure and the rights articulated in the Constitution is the conversion of the
economic system of the planet from neoliberal capitalism to a social democracy in which markets are legally guided for the common good of all. The Constitution also establishes planetary public banking thereby democratizing money creation, lending, and investment on behalf of the common good. It also mandates enforceable world law directed to protecting our planetary ecology and keeping the Earth as “a safe, healthy and happy home for humanity” (Article 1). The political and economic holism at the heart of the Constitution is again stated in the Preamble: Conscious that Humanity is One despite the existence of diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies and cultures and that the principle of unity in diversity is the basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail; when the earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare; and when basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination.

The “diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies and cultures” of the world no longer mean incommensurable
fragmentation, war, and conflict. They are united within this Constitution under a “principle of unity in diversity” that is the basis for this “new age” of peace, justice, protection of rights, and assumption of mutual universal responsibilities by the people of Earth. The “earth’s total resources” are now used for human welfare, no longer for the luxury of the top 10 %. The integrated ability of the Earth Federation government to deal with our climate crisis also must be understood in terms of this fundamental paradigm-shift from fragmentation to holism.

There is an analogy with the power of health, for example, in a human body when all the organs are functioning and integrated into a harmonious whole. Parts and whole working cooperatively together create health in living things, in natural systems, and in the planetary ecosystem. Fragmentation in all these dimensions means death. Similarly, today’s political and economic fragmentation means war and violence, domination and exploitation. The power generated by social holism and world-system holism transforms these negative consequences into a
synergistic flourishing of the whole with the harmonious integration of all its parts.

This is what social power is and should be—the power of a genuine human community. The democratic
function of the human community as the integration of unity in diversity will reflect the same holism that we seek to preserve for the biosphere of the Earth. Our aspirations for social justice are served by a system directed to the preservation of the planetary ecosystem. Climate disruption primarily effects the poor, and its famines, floods, and epidemics inevitably target the poor before anyone else. The social disruption that will necessarily accompany climate collapse will mean the increase of even more crime and exploitation targeting the poor. Social justice also requires planetary sustainability.

Conclusion: Educational Transformation Envisioning Global Democracy
ducation needs to address the whole of our human situation. Despite the fact that all areas of human endeavor are the subject matter of education, from technical training to poetic self-expression to scientific investigation, the framework for education needs to be the whole—the whole of civilization, the whole of our common planet Earth—the wholeness of our common humanity, and the need for rapid and further transformation toward the wholeness of an economic system that works for everyone, including future generations, and for a political system that abolishes war, establishes peace, and protects universal human rights, dignity, and our common humanity. As John Dewey declares, democracy, which embodies our civilizational ideal of a world of peace, cooperation, justice, and freedom, must be re-envisioned according to an ever-changing human situation. Democracy, today, can only realize its potential if institutionalized at the global level.

As administrators, teachers, and learners, we all should be thinking and acting as world citizens loyal to the
Earth Constitution and what it symbolizes. It is not enough to work on social justice issues locally only, because even success at the local level will not transform the fragmented and deeply immoral planetary system before that system destroys us all. The Earth Constitution can serve as a model, a paradigm, a guide to thinking globally and holistically. One need not advocate immediate ratification to see its immense benefit as a framework for educational dialogue about planetary transformation.

This is the absolute need of our time. Unless we can truly envision and actualize a democratic planetary
economic and political system, a decent future for humanity will be lost through nuclear holocaust, climate
destruction, or other disasters arising from our present institutionalized forms of fragmentation. As educators we often have a sense of responsibility for the future, a responsibility to be role models and advocates for a truly better future. To fulfill this responsibility, we must all begin to truly think and act first as world citizens legitimated and empowered by the Earth Constitution, and only secondly, as national and local citizens.

We are intrinsically connected with every other person on this planet, and this planet is our common home, for which we are all responsible. The Earth Constitution is a key to making this a subjective, cultural, and institutional reality for all, a key to envisioning how it could truly be different. It can function as a blueprint, a roadmap, or a basis for discussion directed toward a genuinely holistic future for both education and humanity. Now is the time to rethink democracy as planetary democracy. For tomorrow, it will already be too late.

i Dewey, John, Philosophy of Education: Problems of Men. (Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams & CO., 1975).
ii Jaspers, Karl, The Origin and Goal of History. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953).
iii Hubbard, Barbara Marx, Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential (Novato, CA: New World Library), Chap.
iv Martin, Glen T., Millennium Dawn: The Philosophy of Planetary Crisis and Human Liberation (Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic
Democracy Press, 2005).
v Kohlberg, Lawrence, The Psychology of Moral Development, Volume Two: The Nature and Validity of Moral Stages (San Francisco:
Harper & Row, 1984).
vi Fowler, James, Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981).
vii Habermas, Jürgen, On the Pragmatics of Communication. Edited by Maeve Cooke (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998).
viii Maslow, A.H., Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences. (New York: Penguin Books, 1970).
ix Wilber, Ken, The Integral Vision (Boston: Shambhala, 2007), pp. 46-51. See Gilligan, Carol, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory
and Women’s Development (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1982).
x Gebser, Jean, The Ever-Present Origin. Noel Barstad with Algis Mickunas, trans. (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1985).
xi Aurobindo, Sri (1962). The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, War and Self-determination. (Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo
xii Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1959). The Phenomenon of Man (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers).
xiii See Harris, Errol E., Apocalypse and Paradigm: Science and Everyday Thinking (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000). Note: this section and
the next draw upon my Introduction to the Earth Constitution: Compact Edition (Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic
Democracy Press, 2015).
xiv Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise, Samuel Shirley (trans.) & Seyour Feldman, eds. (New York: Hackett Publishing Co., 2002).
Hobbes, Thomas, Leviathan. John Plamenatz, ed. (New York: Merridian Books, 1963). Kant, Immanuel, Perpetual Peace. Louis
White Beck, trans. (New York: Macmillan, 1957). Hegel, G. W. F., Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Alan Wood, ed.


(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). See also Martin, Glen T., Triumph of Civilization: Democracy, Nonviolence, and
the Piloting of Spaceship Earth (Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2010), pp. 73-75.
xv Smith, Adam, The Wealth of Nations. (New York: Bantam Books, 2003).
xvi Hegel, G.W.F. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Alan Wood, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), sections 331 &
xvii Chase-Dunn, Christopher, Global Formation: Structures of World Economy. Updated Edition (New York: Rowman & Littlefield,
1998), p. 61.
xviii Jacobson, Nolan Pliny. “A Buddhistic-Christian Probe of Our Endangered Future” (The Eastern Buddhist. Vol. XV, No. 1, Spring
1982), p. 41.
xix See Agnivesh, Swami, Applied Spirituality: A Spiritual Vision for the Dialogue of Religions (Noida, UP: Harper Element Books, 2015)
in which Swami Agnivesh talks about his many years of working with the UN to try to stop bondage, child labor, and trafficking.
xx See my article “The New Sustainable Development Goals and Global Schizophrenia,” on line at OpEd News, 16 October 2015.
xxi See Posner, Erich A., The Twilight of Human Rights Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
xxii For all these issues see the website xxiii Fromm, Erich, Beyond the Chains of Illusion: My Encounters with Marx and Freud (New York: Simon & Schuster), p. 156. xxiv Gandhi, Mahatma, All Men are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as Told in His Own Words. Krishna Kripalani, ed.
(UNESCO: World Without War Publications), 1958), p 57.
xxv Munitz, Milton K., Cosmic Understanding: Philosophy and Science of the Universe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), p. 237.
xxvi In Kitchener, Richard F. ed., The World View of Contemporary Physics: Does it Need a New Metaphysics? (Albany: SUNY Press,
1988), p. 57.
xxvii Capra, Fritjof, The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems. (New York: Random House, 1996), p. 298.
xxviii Williams, Chris, Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010), p. 232.
xxix Daly, Herman E., Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996). See also my Anatomy
of a Sustainable World: Our Choice between Climate Change or System Change (Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy
Press, 2014). See as well Smith, J.W., Money: A Mirror Image of the Economy: Green Monetary Theory for Sustainable Development
(Appomatox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2009).
xxx Dewey, John, The Political Writings. Debra Morris and Ian Shapiro, eds. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1993), p. 120.
xxxi For a more detailed history see my introduction to Constitution for the Federation of Earth: With Historical Introduction, Commentary,
and Conclusion (Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2010).
xxxii Wilber, Ken, The Integral Vision. (Boston: Shambhala, 2007) pp. 72 & 180.
xxxiii The 14th session of the Provisional World Parliament, meeting under the authority of the Earth Constitution in Kolkata, India,
December 2015, passed two World Legislative Acts that effectively merge the UN, its resources and personnel, with the Earth Federation
under the Earth Constitution. See
(Glen T. Martin is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Program in Peace Studies at Radford University in
Virginia (his personal university website is He is president of the World Constitution
and Parliament Association (WCPA, and president of the Institute on World
Problems (IOWP, He is recipient of many peace awards including the GUSI Peace Prize
International in 2013. He is author or editor of more than ten books and dozens of articles. His most recent book
(2016) is One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract