Changing the System Requires Seeing It Clearly

Published at OpEd News and Reader Supported News, 21 January 2015

The recent killing of 13 workers at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has elicited powerful
reactions around the world. A mass march in Paris attracted many heads of state, including Francois
Hollande and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Yet their slogan of solidarity “We are Charlie Hebdo” was
challenged by the National Antiwar Coalition in the US in a powerful January 16th statement entitled “We
are not Charlie Hebdo.” UNAC pointed out the massive global terrorism of France, Israel, the US, and the
imperial nations as they hypocritically claim they are fighting terror and defending freedom and civility. In
reality, they are manipulating the public to advance the demonization of Islam, their global imperial
designs, and the myth that they are against violence and terrorism.

Commentator Robert Perry wrote a long analysis for Consortium News on January 18th distinguishing the
“Anti-realist” Neocons from their “Realist” predecessors in the US government. Perry speaks of the
effectiveness of “perception-management” as the Neocons manipulate the public to elicit support for their
wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Libya, and elsewhere. Perry concludes:

“What the neocons have constructed through their skilled propaganda is a grim wonderland where no one
foresees the dangers of encouraging Islamist fundamentalism as a geopolitical ploy, where no one takes
heed of the historic hatreds of Sunni and Shiite, where no one suspects that the U.S. military slaughtering
thousands upon thousands of Muslims might provoke a backlash, where no one thinks about the
consequences of overthrowing regimes in unstable regions, where no one bothers to study the bitter
history of a place like Ukraine, and where no one worries about spreading turmoil to nuclear-armed Russia.
Yet, this neocon madness – this “anti-realism” – has been playing out in the real world on a grand scal
destroying real lives and endangering the real future of the planet.”

I want to point out, however, a description is not an analysis, and true as it may be that the Neocons

endanger the real future of our planet, a deeper analysis points toward the world-system as a whole that
is endangering the future of our planet. Nor is it simply enough to resist imperialism and capitalism without
posing a genuinely practical alternative. The world-system as a whole has evolved from the early-modern
rise of capitalism within the context of the early-modern development of the system of sovereign nationstates. These two developments belong together: the political form hosts the economic form and provides
legal enforcement and protection for those who have accumulated massive concentrations of private
wealth. As social-scientist Christopher Chase-Dunn expresses this in Global Formation: Structures of World
Economy (1998):

“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.” (61)

Whether “Realists” or “Neocons” or progressive democrats are in power makes little effective difference.
Inherent in the system is the drive to colonize and control the world in the service of the 1%, as James
Petras and Henry Veltmeyer made clear in Empire With Imperialism (2005). It is not a matter of “Realists”
versus “Antirealists” coming to power. It is not a matter of a popular movement to elect Elizabeth Warren
or Bernie Sanders as President. If we want a future on this planet it must be the global system itself that
undergoes fundamental change.

Neither is it enough to stop the proposed Keystone Pipeline Project and/or the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Trade Agreement. Stopping these disastrous initiatives will not change the system. Neither will electing
Democrats or some Green Party candidate to the US Congress. The evil marriage between capitalism and

the system of sovereign nations will not tolerate the substitution of democratic socialism within the system
of sovereign states. Sovereign states exist as inherently a war-system (as was pointed out by Thomas
Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, Immanuel Kant, and G.W.F. Hegel), and a war-system invites imperialism and
requires a capitalist industrial military complex. To institute democratic socialism means simultaneously
to rid the world of militarized sovereign states.

If our analysis is to go to the root of the problem, then we must re-envision both economic capitalism and
its political embodiment in militarized sovereign nation-states. Our analysis also requires that we move
to a planetary perspective. No longer can we tolerate a world fragmented into multiple competing, greedy
corporations or multiple militarized lawless sovereign states. The reality of our human situation is that we
are one species, one human reality, living within one fragile planetary ecosystem. Our vision must be
global and our solution must be global.

Our vision must convert the economics of greed with absolute winners and losers to a planet-wide
ecologically sound economics of cooperation, resource sharing, and mutual empowerment.
Simultaneously, the mirror image of a global economics of sustainability is a global earth federation under
the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Politics and economics mirror one another (as Karl Marx and
many others have pointed out). We must have a politics that can place the common good of the Earth and
its citizens before the private goods of nations and corporations. Only an Earth Federation government
with real power to make and enforce laws for the common good of all can achieve this.

The history of anthropogenic climate change alone should make my argument convincing to all reasonably
mature, rational people (which leaves out about half the U.S. Congress). Already, by the 1992 U.N. Climate
Conference at Rio de Janeiro, the scientific evidence was overwhelming and the urgency of our situation
was well known. In spite of this massive evidence that we are destroying the very planet that supports
human life, and despite similar massive conferences at Johannesburg in 2002 and Copenhagen in 2009,
the nations and corporations of the world today (more than two decades later) continue to destroy the
ecosystem of the Earth unabated.

The system of warring sovereign nations animated by the system of globalized corporate greed is in
principle incapable of change to the degree required to save the planet for future generations. Only a
transformed planetary system, uniting humanity where we belong under a global social contract, is
capable of creating a viable future for the Earth and its living creatures.
The Constitution for the Federation of Earth establishes a new economic system (global public banking
directed toward sustainability and the planetary common good) and a new political system—a
democratically elected World Parliament with the mandate to protect the planetary ecosystem, end
poverty, demilitarize the nations, and protect human rights worldwide.

If we have a genuine insight into the nature of the world system, then it will be clear what a number of
great thinkers from Albert Einstein to Carl Jung have stated: you cannot solve fundamental problems on
the same level from which the problems arose in the first place. Yet that is exactly what we are trying to
do by attempting to “manage” or “modify” global capitalism and the militarized sovereign states. We need
to move to a higher level of thinking, and fast, for our planet is in danger as never before in human history.
We need to think truly globally, which means to think in terms of a global, democratic economics and
politics. The pattern for this is there for all to see in the Earth Constitution. It is time we rise to the higher
level from which our earlier problems will not so much become solved as dissolved. It is time to unite
humanity in a global social contract—a democratic Federation of the Earth. It may well be now or never.