Mind-forged Impediments to Human Liberation

Glen T. Martin

What prevents the ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth and creating an Earth Federation that can solve our most fundamental and dangerous problems on this planet?  Thinkers like Paul Raskin have declared that we need to take the next step in the coherent evolution of humanity by becoming a “planetary civilization.” If we allow things to continue in their present state of fragmentation and business as usual, we are courting the regression of humanity to what he calls “barbarism” (2016).

What is it that blocks our ascent to becoming a planetary civilization and creating a decent life for everyone on our precious planet Earth?  My argument has always been that the best instrument for actualizing a planetary civilization is ratification of the Earth Constitution. The British poet William Blake (1757-1827) wrote these lines in his poem “London”:

In every cry of every man,

In every Infant’s cry of fear,

In every voice, in every ban,

The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

The nightmare of London during the early industrial revolution with its “dark Satanic Mills,” its painful cries of young harlots, chimney sweeps, and homeless youth, as described in Blake’s poetry, was a product of “mind-forg’d manacles.” The nightmare of the world today with its raging climate collapse, its increasing threat of nuclear holocaust, and its extreme poverty for some two billion of the Earth’s citizens is likewise a product of “mind-forg’d manacles.” It doesn’t have to be this way.

The capitalist system has put more than 50% of the world’s wealth in the hands of a tiny group of human beings while at least 50% of the world’s population struggles to secure their next meal. It does not have to be that way.  The deceitful economists of the dominant system speak of the “iron laws” of economics, of production, investment, and markets, all the while covering up the fact that there are no such laws, that these human relationships are designed by the human mind, and they could be different (see Martin 2021, Chaps 3, 5, and 6).

In the USA, the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations all concur on the need for a one trillion-dollar upgrade in US nuclear weapons systems in order to ensure “national security.” They speak of this as an imperative dictated by circumstances while covering up the fact that these “circumstances” have been designed by the human mind and could be different. Many people fly in airplanes around the planet and see beneath them no national boundary lines, no absolute differences between this region below and that, only one planetary sphere in orbit around our life-giving sun.  Yet it does not occur to most of these people that these boundary lines are imaginary and the militarized nightmare of “security” that they engender does not have to be that way—sovereignty is imaginary, and the division of the Earth into some 200 autonomous units reflects our “mind forg’d manacles,” not reality.

The first step in the process of human liberation is to recognize that the boundaries, the divisions, the so-called “iron laws” do not represent realities. They are collective illusions.  Human beings could design things differently.  It is more than high time that we recognize our freedom—the precious gift of freedom—which means that we can design things according to our highest and finest intuitions.  We can design the world for peace, for justice, for human rights, and for sustainability. We need not wait for some slow “evolution” in our ways of thinking. We can wake up here and now to the realization that it need not be this way and that we can change it.

Boundaries can be useful for certain purposes. They are tools to serve human well-being. But when we link them with absolute sovereignty in which nations recognize no effective laws above themselves, the boundaries become destructive of human well-being. It is similar with the concept of private property.  For purposes of privacy and democratic protection from interference by both other people and government, private property as a boundary concept can enhance human well-being.  However, when it becomes a concept of an absolute right to endless accumulation of the Earth’s resources as the private domain of superrich individuals or groups, it clearly becomes destructive of human welfare. Both national boundaries and private property are human concepts that can become “mind-forg’d manacles” destructive of human well-being.

The second step in the liberation process is to realize that the “utopian horizon” framing our human temporality is not mere subjective fantasy but rather an ontological feature of our objective human situation built into our consciousness by the cosmic evolutionary process itself.  As I wrote in my essay on http://www.Academia.edu entitled “The Utopian Horizon of Objective Human Values”: “Objective human values populate the horizon of our common human temporality. Our task is to distinguish what is merely subjective from the objective lineaments of the utopian horizon. Our task is to live toward this utopian future as faithfully as possible, to transform our broken and degraded human condition on the Earth in the direction of the perfected human community, a community of love, peace, justice, and sustainability.”

We are not helpless creatures trapped in a merely “private” subjectivity of our own minds. In fact, our minds were produced by the cosmic evolutionary process. We are the only creature we know of that consciously lives within a temporality moving from past through a dynamic present into a future that we can envision as better than the past. This is our unique freedom presented to us as a gift by the cosmos. Our limitations, our constraints, come most often from “mind-forg’d manacles that we impose upon ourselves. But our intrinsic freedom allows for metanoia, transformation. We can liberate ourselves for a truly transformed future (Martin 2018).

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is a key to this transformation. It transcends the old imaginary boundaries of militarized “sovereign” nation-states and “iron laws” of economics and places authority in the hands of a democratically elected World Parliament to actualize a world based on peace, justice, sustainability, and human dignity.  This is not a “utopian fantasy,” but an objective tool written by hundreds of world citizens working together who had liberated themselves for their own “mind-forg’d manacles.” They understood the best way to actualize our collective human potential.

William Blake, who understood in his own way what I am saying about the objective validity of our utopian horizon values, also wrote:

I will not cease from Mental Fight,

Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England’s green & pleasant land.

The courage and energy to struggle for a transformed future arise from our objective human values and our gifts of human freedom and dignity.  For Blake, two centuries ago, the ideal city based on divine truth (Jerusalem) needed to be built in “England’s green & pleasant land,” free of its “mind-forg’d manacles” and “dark Satanic Mills.”

Today, it is global civilization that needs to be built.  Today, it is all of us or none.  Today, the very future of human existence is in danger because of these “mind forg’d manacles.”  Jerusalem today symbolizes the city of Earth, what Paul Raskin called “Earthland,” our planetary home as a cosmic city of peace and freedom. The sword of vision, the sword of criticism, the sword of struggle, the sword of justice, and the sword of freedom must not sleep in our hands.Indeed, the Earth Constitution itself is our most effective Sword, a concrete instrument for making it happen. We need to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

Works Cited

Blake, William (1970). In The Norton Anthology of Poetry: Third Edition. Alexander W. Allison, et al., eds. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Constitution for the Federation of Earth, at www.earthconstitution.world

Martin, Glen T. (2018). Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence: The Power of the Future for Planetary Transformation. London: Cambridge Scholars.

Martin, Glen T. (2020). “The Utopian Horizon of Objective Human Values,” www.academia.edu.

Martin, Glen T. (2021). The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet. Independence, VA: Peace Pentagon Press.

Raskin, Paul (2016). Journey to Earthland: The Great Transition to Planetary Civilization. Boston, MA: Tellus Institute.