Glen T. Martin
This paper contends that understanding the role of the Earth Constitution in human affairs requires seeing it within the context of several principles concerning our human situation that have emerged since the early 20th century. These include the principles of unity in diversity, of holism, and of the nature of constitutional law itself. I hope to show that the Earth Constitution embodies the positive features of this paradigm-shift in human consciousness and that it can also function as a catalyst for further transformations that will solve our most basic human problems concerning war, social justice, human rights, and the destruction of nature.
- Unity in Diversity
Diversity can be understood in various ways. An atomistic concept of diversity deriving from early-modern science takes the elements of a group to be autonomous components in external relations with one another (Harris 2000). The individual elements maintain their identity and autonomy through not allowing other elements to interfere with their autonomy. Their posture is defensive and suspicious of encroachment. Similarly, if there is a collective authority over the parts, the feeling is that this authority may limit the autonomy and individuality of the parts and hence such a collective authority is treated with suspicion as if it were a danger.
However, although the atomistic concept of diversity continues to influence human thought worldwide, the conceptual revolution initiated by 20th century sciences has revealed a more ontologically appropriate idea of diversity in which diversity cannot be separated from the unities that embrace it and constitute the respective elements as what they are.
This fundamental paragraph from the Preamble to the Earth Constitution affirms a principle of unity in diversity:
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;
Unity in diversity is conceived here as a single ethical principle: There is no true diversity without unity and no true unity without diversity. That is why there will be a truly “new age” without war, injustice, or human rights violations. The “atomistic concept of diversity” described above, believes that diversity is ontologically prior to holism, that the world is merely the sum of its parts. This can be understood through the concept of fragmentation—the world is a collection of fragments in external relations to one another.
By contrast, the contemporary revolution in cosmological understanding that began with Max Planck and Albert Einstein in the early 20th century understands that parts cannot be separated from the wholes that embrace them and that make them what they are. All things are embraced by fields within ever-greater fields, and there are no wholes without parts and all parts are what they are in virtue of the wholes that embrace them. In the latter case, the diverse elements are in internal relationships with one another, not merely external relations. What I do to others affects me as well; our unity joins us in ways that constitute and do not diminish our individuality.
The atomistic conception of diversity assumes that relations with other parts or elements are primarily external. What I do to you does not affect me. We are ontologically separate. The unity in diversity conception, on the contrary, holds that relations are primarily internal. We are mutually part of one another and mutually part of ever-larger embracing wholes.
What I do to you does affect me. In Greek thought, Socrates declared that it is better to suffer evil than to do it to others. The reason is that when I do it to others it simultaneously harms me. Our relationship is internal, not external. In 18th century European thought, Immanuel Kant, in his essay on “Perpetual Peace” declares that a violation of rights in one part of the globe is felt around the world. In the Christian scriptures Jesus evokes the ultimate holistic context in which God is all in all. He declares, “When you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me” (Matt. 25).
When it is understood, as the Maha Upanishad declares, that vasudhaiva kutumbakam (all human beings are brothers and sisters) then it becomes clear that diversity is embraced and protected precisely through unity. Mahatma Gandhi states, “If I found myself entirely absorbed in the service of the community, the reason behind it was my desire for self-realization” (1972, 17). Self-realization and service of the community are identical only because self and other mutually embrace and define one another.
Perhaps this paradigm-shift from atomism to the holism of unity in diversity can be discerned in the successive generations of human rights. The 18th century developed the idea of personal rights and freedoms—freedom of speech, religion, assembly, property, and personal autonomy. However, the world realized during the 19th century that these personal freedoms were useless without economic and social rights—the right to a decent livelihood, to social security, to healthcare, and to education. Individual rights do not and cannot exist apart from the social and community contexts that form a matrix inseparable from the flourishing of individuals. As philosopher Jürgen Habermas points out, “A correctly understood theory of rights require a politics of recognition that protects the integrity of the individual in the life-contexts in which his or her identity is formed” (1994, 113). The unity of our societal life-contexts and the diversity of individuals establish an inseparable bond between unity and diversity.
Nevertheless, the veltgeist of the 20th and 21st centuries has expanded the scope of unity in diversity still further. Neither personal rights nor social-economic rights make sense in a world that is devastated by the threats of nuclear war or catastrophic climate collapse. Our third-generation rights include the right to planetary peace and to a protected planetary environment. These planetary rights recognize the holism of our human situation at a global scale. The diversity of cultures, religions, races, ideologies, and nations is embraced within a global framework that recognizes that all our wonderful diversity is meaningless if we cannot assimilate the deep holism of our human situation. We are all part of the ecosphere, all participants in the Noosphere, all members of a planetary community yet to be actualized.
Without the actualized unity of our planetary community, the global fragmentation we now experience (of cultures, religions, races, ideologies, economic relations, and nations) is destructive of diversity precisely because what remains when organic unity is removed are merely power-relations, the assumption that relations are external and that your demise does not affect my flourishing. When are we going to realize what Mahatma Gandhi understood that not only are Hindus and Moslems brothers but that we need their diversity. Both these religions with their penetrating insights and profound awareness increase and deepen our participation in the divine ground of Being. Not only are the USA and Russia brothers, but both are complementary and necessary dimensions of our planetary human civilization. Rabindranth Tagore certainly understood as much, as did Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda.
The Earth Constitution actualizes our planetary community of unity in diversity. Fragmentation destroys the ability to flourish for all the elements. Instead of celebrating its diversity and the beauty of Moslem and Hindu, India spends its time and wealth on developing nuclear weapons. Instead of partnering with Russia and celebrating the profundity of the Russian spirit and culture, the USA commits another trillion dollars to upgrading its nuclear weapons systems. With the ratification of the Earth Constitution we move humanity to a higher level of existence. We make ourselves more capable of living fully in relation to the divine ground of Being. Diversity can never flourish and can never be protected until it is embraced by the deeper level of being and wholeness that makes it what it is.
- Design of the Earth Constitution
Study of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth reveals that the principle of unity in diversity is built into the structure of the emerging Earth Federation government from beginning to end. The World Parliament includes a House of Peoples with delegates from 1000 electoral districts worldwide, roughly equal in population. The House of Nations includes delegates from all the nations of the world and the Constitution does not prohibit the creation of more nations if we wish to recognize additional diversity among states, for example, a Kurdish state, a Palestinian state, or an Uyghur state. The third house is the House of Counselors, 200 representatives chosen from 20 World Electoral Regions and again representing the diversity of humankind.
No main agency established under the Earth Constitution is headed by one person. Every agency or department is required to have a presidium of 5 leaders, one from each continental division of our planet. Diversity is built into each agency and into the operative procedures of each agency, making the Earth Constitution truly representative of the whole of our planet. And the universal rights that it identifies and commits to protect involve all three generations of rights—the flourishing of individuals is always within the context of their locality, their nation, and their planetary home.
Because the Constitution addresses our fundamental planetary problems that are beyond the scope of sovereign nation-states and likewise beyond the scope of the U.N. and international law, it lays the foundation for a planetary flourishing of diversity. Its broad functions mandate the Earth Federation to end war and disarm the nations, to protect universal human rights, to regulate trade and reduce social inequality and injustice, to protect our planetary ecosystem, and to deal with all other problems that are beyond the scope of sovereign nation-states.
If “sovereignty” (that is, ultimate authority) is placed in militarized territorial nations, then it is impossible to accomplish any of these broad imperatives. The parts, the atoms, the fragments conceive of themselves as ultimate and their egoism fosters war, injustice, and lack of cooperation everywhere. The Earth Constitution rightly declares that the people of Earth are sovereign thereby recognizing the holism of humanity that is necessary not only to protect diversity but to effectively address the apparently insoluble problems that are generated by incommensurable fragments.
The Earth Constitution places the global commons under the authority of the Earth Federation government representing the peoples of Earth in their unity in diversity. The oceans, for example, belong to the people of Earth. This obviates the “tragedy of the planetary commons” that I have written about elsewhere and makes possible the preservation of the planetary ecosphere with its oceans, land-masses, and atmosphere (Martin 2020). By contrast the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea is a complete failure. Earth scientists with one voice proclaim that the oceans are dying in multiple ways and there appears to be no way to prevent this under the present world-system of fragmentation and disorder. Nuclear submarines, on alert to initiate Armageddon, slither beneath the oceans representing a nation-state incommensurability that portents planetary death and destruction. This perilous situation is hardly respect for diversity—as the Bhagavad Gita declares, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” In the face of our truly organic world of unities within diversities, such absolute fragmentation that denies these unities can only spell planetary death.
The Constitution is a living document. Under Article 18, the Earth Federation government is required to hold a complete constitutional review within 10 years of its first formation and at least every 20 years after that. What the Constitution provides for the people of Earth is a decision-making capacity that allows the Earth Federation to effectively address global problems while uniting the Earth under a universal World Citizenship that creates equality and recognition of dignity planet-wide that was not there previously. The Constitution embraces all viable U.N. agencies within its framework.
Under the U.N. system as it has existed for 75 years, there is no such decision-making capacity (only precarious treaties) and only an ideal recognition of human dignity. Under the U.N. system growth and progressive change are virtually impossible. World Citizenship under the Constitution makes recognition of human rights universal and mandatory, no longer contingent on the whims of the fragmented parts. As a living document unifying the people of Earth, the Constitution makes possible an ever-greater freedom of individual, cultural, and national dignity and diversity.
- Empowering Our Common Humanity
Early theorists in the philosophy of law such as John Austin or Hans Kelsen understood law as deriving from the “commands of a sovereign.” They emphasized the power of the law-making authority to legislate behavioral rules and use force to hold people accountable to obeying these rules. However, as philosophy of law developed and became more sophisticated, subsequent thinkers, such as HLA Hart, Lon Fuller, and John Finnis, understood that much of the law empowers and enables people in all sorts of ways to live thriving and fruitful lives.
Moreover, as I have argued in a number of my previous works, the law is a civilizational phenomenon, deriving from our universal human rationality, that is intrinsic to our common humanity. For this reason, the law needs to be both universal and planetary. As pointed out above it is only at the universal and planetary level that law can enable elected representatives of the people of Earth to effectively deal with the plethora of lethal global problems. In his analysis of the concept of a “community,” John Finnis points out that human beings cannot become a “complete” planetary community without the advent of world constitutional law (1980, 149).
Similarly, philosopher Errol E. Harris concludes that no government of existing sovereign nation-states is any longer legitimate because no government can serve the common good of its citizens; that common good is now global, requiring the demilitarization of the nations and the protection of our planetary environment (2008, 134-35). Both Finnis and Harris understand that the purpose of government is to serve the common good and that the common good is planetary, requiring a world community under the rule of a democratic constitution. A true community recognizes and supports the diversity of its constituents and promotes a common good framework that makes possible their flourishing in synergistic cooperation with the whole and with one another.
The second Bill of Rights in the Earth Constitution, Article 13.12, promises that the full force of the Earth Federation will “assure to each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential.” This statement is emblematic of the spirit of the Constitution as a whole. It is only with the completion of the human community under the principle of unity in diversity that the diverse individuals of Earth can at long last expect the realization of their human potential. The realization of that potential includes both communal and civilization dimensions as well as personal and individual dimensions. As we have seen, these two phenomena are inseparable and arise together within our common human reality. The Constitution is not a Procrustean bed for standardization and leveling, it is a springboard for the realization of our higher human potential.
- There Is No True Diversity in a War System
Major western thinkers since the 17th century identified the system of sovereign nation-states as a “war-system.” In terms of social contract theory, as elaborated by Hobbes, Kant, and others, the act of uniting under a single constitution is an act that establishes peace. Western thinkers regularly pointed out that a collection of militarized sovereign territorial entities, recognizing no effective law above themselves, is inherently a war system (Harris 2014, xxxix-xli). War is immoral, as Kant maintained (1957), and there is really no such thing as a “just” war (Martin 2018, 241-45). Peace is a direct consequence of institutionalizing the unity in diversity of humanity. War presupposes incommensurable parts. Emery Reves made this same point in his book The Anatomy of Peace when he wrote, “War takes place whenever and wherever non-integrated social units of equal sovereignty come into contact (1946, 121, emphasis in original).
Reves similarly declared that “A picture of the world pieced together like a mosaic from its various national components is a picture that never and under no circumstances can have any relation to reality, unless we deny that such a thing as reality exists” (1945, 22). This is because humanity is already one. To be a human being is precisely to be human, a category that embraces all. Our diversity emanates from our common humanity; we are said in the East to be embodiments of the divine and in the West to be images of the divine. This is precisely what empowers and protects our diversity. But the war-system institutionalized in today’s world destroys diversity. It necessarily dehumanizes the enemy into an object that can be impersonally exterminated by bombs and bullets.
It is here that we can realize, once again, that the Earth Constitution is not simply the imposition of more government upon the world, analogous to the fractured, militarized governments that now colonize the territories of our planet. The Constitution transcends and transforms government to its true meaning. It ends the war-system in the world just as it ends the injustice system and the environmental destruction system. To establish the world as a peace-system means to transform and transcend the very premises on which the current world is based. It is to recognize our human reality as imago dei as Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Agnivesh, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others have declared.
Under the current planetary war-system, many people mistakenly confuse their identity and its diversity with their nation-states as militarized sovereign entities. On every one of my six trips to Cuba I have heard the refrain “We are a sovereign nation and the United States has no right to do these things to us.” However, the world of such sovereign nations is precisely a world based on power relationships, not on right, not on justice, not on human brotherhood. In the world of power relationships of course the US can do these things, just as India can build nuclear weapons in “defense” against the Pakistanis, etc. Such fragmentation is not diversity, it is death, for the diverse parts only flourish and live as branches of the whole tree. Unity and diversity are inseparable in the very nature of things.
- Establishing a Healthy Holarchy for the Earth
Contemporary sciences understand nature as patterning itself through fractal formations that bring the smallest levels into progressively larger spheres of organic coordination, from peripheries through ever-greater trunk-lines to organic wholes. This patterning applies to ecosystems as well for these ascend from localized life-communities to ever-larger patterned systems to the planetary ecosystem that supports all life.
The only phenomenon that manifestly does not follow this patterning principle is human civilization. Human beings fragment themselves from the diverse communities around the planet that are constitutive of their very being. Rather than recognizing their mutual inseparability, they divide the world into vast accumulations of private wealth associated with barely 1% of its population, as well as into some 193 territorial fragments whose sovereignty is incommensurable with the sovereignty of each of the others. In nature, the patterning that takes place is known as fractal. There is an interconnected order from the smallest particles to the largest ecosystems.
World democratic government under the Constitution is designed as a fractal – a representation of unity in diversity elaborated in parliamentary, judicial, administrative, and conflict resolution functions. Moreover, these patterns of democratic governance would repeat at ever smaller levels from the national to regional to local levels. At present we have the chaos of a fractal pattern that has yet to unite and coordinate all its parts. It’s as if the blood were trying to circulate without a whole living body to animate and enliven. When the holism of civilization is recognized and actualized, humanity will exist on a level closer to Sri Aurobindo’s “super-mind” in deep contrast to its current fragmented level that can be termed “sub-mind.”
For contemporary thinkers such as Ervin Laszlo, this holistic pattern formation should be termed “holarchy” (2002, 51-52). Such a formation is fundamentally different from the “hierarchies” that have hitherto prevailed in human affairs—wealth hierarchies, gender hierarchies, caste hierarchies, racial hierarchies, nation-state hierarchies, etc. We need to abolish all such hierarchies in favor of unity in diversity. But this does not obviate the fact that the organic world moves through levels of interconnectedness from relatively simple systems through intermediate levels linking below with above to higher-level wholes. This is precisely what the Earth Constitution brings to humanity.
What would it look like if we federated Earth into a holarchy – from the lowest community levels, through regional levels, national levels, all the way to the global level? Such an emergent Earth Federation government would represent the worldcentric self-awareness of humanity. Human intelligence, now representing the sovereign authority of the people of Earth and reflecting the holism of humanity, could effectively address the elimination of war, the protection of universal rights, and the problems of establishing a sustainable world system. The grass-roots of humanity needs to flourish within a holarchical framework provided by democratic world law. Top and bottom require one another and empower one another.
- Solving Fundamental Problems from a Higher Level of Thought and Being
To think that such a unifying constitution imposes a monotonous uniformity upon humankind is to frame the constitution within the presuppositions of the current fragmented and broken world disorder. Our fundamental problems are global problems. Our fundamental problems arise from a fragmented and irrational economic system called capitalism and from a nation-state system fragmenting the planet into some 193 absolute territorial fragments. In the universe there is no ontological fragmentation. Everything is interrelated with everything else. However, under the current system of fragmentation we are, as Albert Camus stated after the apocalypse of World War II, “cut off from the future” (1980). We are unable to become who we are meant to be because we cling to a false ontology of fragmentation which does not preserve true diversity but strangles it.
A human being does not exist as a unit independent of the species and society from which we are born and without which we would not exist. As spirituality and law thinker Peter Gabel affirms: “Law ought to be the particular temporal embodiment of our effort as a real historical community to move from one to the other…. Law must maintain its connection to justice by following an ETHICAL intuition anchoring the present to the future, an intuition of what we are in our being but are not yet in reality” (2013,19). The Earth Constitution as the coming framework for all law on planet Earth anchors the present within an emergent future through which we have transcended our lethal problems of fragmentation and united synergistically within a unity that embraces and empowers our connection to an ever-more fulfilling and redeemed future.
Numerous thinkers, from Albert Einstein to Carl Jung, have remarked that apparently intractable problems are not solved but dis-solved through moving to a higher level of thought and consciousness. When seen from the higher level, the problems vanish and their elements become integrated into a more transcendent solution (Martin 2018). That is the function of the Earth Constitution. This Constitution liberates us to move to a higher level of thought, action, and self-realization. It is both means and ends.
Teilhard de Chardin (1959) understood our evolutionary development on the Earth as moving from the geosphere to the biosphere to the Noosphere. The Noosphere is the most recent encompassing level of mind that encircles our planet. Mind is everywhere on the Earth. In every place it can be accessed through radios, TVs, mobile phones, or other instruments. However, as I argue in Design for a Living Planet: The Earth Constitution Solution, our planet may have a Noosphere but as yet it has no brain. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth provides the Earth (and humankind) with a brain. It gives us the ability to plan our “conscious evolution” into a future that actualizes our highest spiritual and cognitive potential. May God bless this Constitution and enable our common human future.
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