Challenges to Global Peace: Four Myths Destroying US. Four Truths that Can Save US

Glen T. Martin

Keynote address:

University of Madras Peace Conference, 9 June 2008

I am very pleased to be invited to address you today, here in this important and dynamic city of Chennai.  I wish to thank our eminent persons who have conducted the opening ceremonies for this seminar, and Mr. Ananthanarayanan and the wonderful members of the Chennai chapter of WCPA for their hard work in preparing for this meeting and the events of this week.  And thank you all for coming. 

I come to you as a servant of humanity and the World Constitution and Parliament Association.  I first became aware of the terrible problems faced by humanity during the Vietnam war when I was a college student in the United States.  The U.S. government had a military draft at that time, and I had to make a decision.  After thinking deeply about the conditions of our world, I came to the decision that I could not participate in any wars or military activities.  That it had to stop someplace and that place was with me.

It was only later, after I had long been studying philosophy, that I came across the thought of three great Indian thinkers:  the philosophy of nonviolence of Mahatma Gandhi, the philosophy of evolutionary growth toward world union of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and the holistic philosophy called PROUT and Ananda Marga of P.R. Sarkar of Bengal.

For a number of years now I have been travelling the world as Secretary General of the World Constitution and Parliament Association working for world peace, world unity, and non-military world government under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.  But the philosophies behind much of my work and my writings are those of Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo, and P.R. Sarkar.

I have given my address today the title: “Four myths that are destroying us and four truths that can save us.”   It is about four illusions that prevent world peace from developing and four truths that will allow world peace with prosperity to develop rapidly.

We live in a world of gigantic illusions and myths.  These myths enslave our thinking and prevent us from seeing clearly the way toward a civilization of peace and prosperity for planet Earth.  I will name the four myths and truths that I have in mind and then develop them one by one.

Number one: the myth that the sovereign nation state can bring us peace and prosperity.   Number two: the myth that weapons and military can make us secure.  Number three:  the myth that globalized capitalism can end poverty or protect the environment.   Number four: the myth that technology can save us from the coming global disasters of climate collapse, wars, or disappearance of resources.

All of these four myths are interconnected and interrelated.  They are contrasted with four truths:  Number one: the truth that humankind is one and must unite under a global democratic Earth Federation.  Number two: the truth that only by abolishing weapons and militarism from the Earth will be find security, peace, and prosperity.   Number three: the truth that only economic democracy: democratic market socialism can eliminate poverty from the Earth.  Number four: the truth that technology must be democratically managed, planned for, and regulated by world law if it is to serve humankind rather than destroy humankind.

Myth number one: the myth that the sovereign nation state can give us peace or prosperity.  Two days ago the front page of a Chennai newspaper said that India had entered into an agreement with China that was going to increase peace and security between the two nations and was going to put on hold the border dispute with China in the interest of greater cooperation between the two nations. 

When any government makes claims such as this we should immediately be skeptical.  We live in a world of some 193 sovereign nation-states, each claiming the exclusive right to govern its own internal affairs and the exclusive right to have an independent foreign policy.   This system was first officially sanctioned at the European Treaty of Westphalia in the year 1648.  Nations were to be entirely independent both internally and externally.   The world was divided into a set of fragments, without unity, without coherence, community or planning.   And this system has developed as the “natural” system of governing down to the present.

One European philosopher after another pointed out that this system is intrinsically a war system:  Thomas Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, and Immanuel Kant.  Nations may enter into “treaties” with one another but ultimately they are positioned against one another as “gladiators,” in a position of war or potential war.   Are Pakistan and India positioned against one another as “gladiators”?

How can an agreement between India and China promote peace and prosperity?  Peace and prosperity for whom?   For the people of Tibet?  India must be silent about their plight if it wants to be “friends” with China.   Will this pact help the hundreds of millions of poor people in India who lack the basic necessities?  Not likely. 

Both India and China have affirmed economic globalization.  The days of Nehru and Indian socialism are over.   Multinational corporations, World Trade Organization rules, and gigantic international financial forces now determine the fate of India.  Treaties between sovereign nations are only “promises” made by current rulers.  They can be broken at any time.  If China sees its self-interest in breaking its agreement with India, nothing will stop it.

In our global fragmented system of independent sovereign nations, peace and prosperity are only accidents of the chaos of competition and perceived self-interest of national governments.  They cannot be guaranteed, and no treaties can bring these benefits to the nations.

The problem is not bad treaties or rulers.  The problem is the system of sovereign nations itself that is incapable of bringing peace or prosperity to the world.  We have had this system for 400 years!   When has there ever been peace or prosperity for the majority?  Our very future on this planet is now endangered and all we can think of is the same failed system of sovereign nation states.  When will we unite together to end this violence, greed, and chaos of competing interests?  Who considers the interests of future generations or the planet as a whole?  No one.

Truth number one: Only if human beings unite under non-military, democratic world government, with a world parliament legislating enforceable world laws, can there ever be peace or prosperity for the majority of humankind.   The Constitution for the Federation of Earth was developed over a period of 33 years by thousands of world citizens and international lawyers.   Ratification of the Constitution will bring peace and prosperity to humankind, including India, for the nations would be disarmed and their relationships would be according to democratic world law, not arbitrary treaties forged within a chaos of competing national interests.

Myth number two:  The myth that weapons and military can make us secure.  Weapons and militarism are a direct consequence of the system of sovereign nation-states that we examined as myth number one.

The world today spends about one trillion U.S. dollars per year on weapons and war preparations.  In the year 2004, global weapons sales reached 42.1 billion dollars.  The U.S. spends some 420 billion per year on militarism, while China and Russia spend over 60 billion each.  India spends about 22 billion per year.  Its spending is number 8 in the world after the U.S. China, Russia, the U.K. Japan, France, and Germany.  Then comes India at 22 billion U.S. dollars per year.

It has been calculated that a mere 400 billion U.S. dollars per year could bring clean water and sanitation to every person on Earth.  Instead, the world pours one trillion dollars per year down the toilet of militarism.  There have been some 250 wars since the Second World War with 25 million dead from these wars.  90% of those dead were civilians.  

It does not take a genius to figure out that this is madness, the insane waste of resources while the poor of the world rot in hell, while the poor in the slums of Chennai rot in hell, while the global environment continues to collapse, and while the future of our planet is threatened by ever-more weapons of mass destruction.  

Does this militarism make nations more secure?   With modern technology these weapons can be delivered against people anywhere in the world in minutes.   China or Pakistan or Russia could send their nuclear missiles reigning down upon India at any time.  Who is to stop them or control them?  Some treaty between China and India?   Does the development of nuclear weapons by India make her more secure?   Since India developed these weapons, China and Russia and Pakistan must watch India all the more closely and be all the more ready, for India could send her nuclear weapons down upon them at any time.

All this is a consequence of a system of so-called sovereign nation-states who refuse to live under the rule of enforceable law above themselves.  Each nation is an outlaw.  It refuses to recognize any law above itself that might give real peace and security.  Instead it builds ever more weapons in a perpetual arms race, in reality, forever decreasing security.

The United States is threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons in an attack upon Iran.  Who is to prevent the United States from doing this?  Who will arrest the criminals who now run that country as the torturers, murderers and war criminals that they are?  Under the system of sovereign nation-states, there is no enforceable law to allow for the arrest of such criminals.

If the United States uses tactical nuclear weapons in an attack on Iran what will India do with its 22 billion dollars per year in weapons that are supposed to make you more secure?    It is estimated that the radioactive fallout from these tactical nuclear weapons would be carried across Afghanistan into northern India and that 10s of millions of Indian citizens would be poisoned by this radioactive fallout.  How will your 22 billion in military weapons protect you from this?

Truth number two:  It should be obvious that only a democratic world government with the authority to disarm the nations and arrest any criminals who tried to develop weapons or war-making capacity can bring peace and security to the world.  The world is too small and the technology of weapons is too advanced for there to be any real security from militarism.   The only answer is the enforceable rule of law, disarming the nations.

If the world were disarmed and peace were kept through civilian police enforcing democratically legislated law coming from a world parliament, then this one trillion dollars per year now wasted on militarism could be used to protect the environment and to give clear water, sanitation, and education to every person on Earth.

Myth number three is the myth that globalized capitalism can end poverty.  There is constant propaganda from the World Bank, the IMF, the multinational corporations, and the imperial nation-states to the effect that only “globalized free trade” can give us prosperity.  That this is a lie should be evident from our knowledge of history.  Globalized capitalism has been around even longer than the nation-state.  Since the rise of the nation-state, it has worked hand in hand with the militarized nation-state to enrich the few at the expense of the many worldwide.  The British military in India were here in the service of international British capital.

Who believes the British were in India because they cared about the welfare of the people of India?   Contemporary Indian defender of the poor, Dr. Vandana Shiva, writes that during the 1990s under World Trade Organization rules India continued to lose its national wealth to the multinational corporations bent on exploiting her.  One year in the mid 1990s, India had a two billion ton grain harvest surplus at the time of harvest.  Under World Trade Organization rules India was required to sell this on the world market, knowing full well that at the end of the year that grain would be needed by the people of India for food.  Sure enough, six months later India had a severe grain shortage and had to buy the same two billion tons of grain back on the international market.  The losers: the people of India.  The winners: international capital and multinational corporations.

The history of the capitalist era since the Renaissance is the history of global plunder by trade. The British in India did not plunder the country primarily by force but rather stole the wealth of India through trade. 

Global capital has always been in league with the executive functions of the nation-states. In the case of foreign trade, colonialism, and neocolonialism, the ruling class in each national state worked (and still works) with the government and its military to procure colonies or economic neocolonies and exploit them in the service of its capitalist class. Control of the wealth producing and transfer process has always constituted a fundamental goal of the imperial nations and their allied bourgeoisie classes during the entire modern period.

The imperial center of capital since WW II is no longer Britain but the United States. Since the Second World War, the U.S. has overthrown or subverted two dozen nation-states, many of them democracies; it has invaded or bombed some 68 nations, causing the deaths of literally millions of persons, 90 percent of them civilians. It has systematically trained foreign military in “counter-insurgency” warfare in some 80 countries to protect the ruling powers in these poverty stricken nations against rebellion or revolutionary movements. It has transferred untold billions of dollars worth of weapons to repressive regimes it considers worth preserving through force of arms and strength of militaries, regimes such as Indonesia, Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. (Blum 2000; Parenti 1995).

What is the purpose of all this destruction and militarism by the United States?  If you examine the relationship of the World Bank, the global financial institutions, and the multinational corporations to the U.S. government, the answer becomes clear: to control the wealth producing process of the world in the interest of the U.S. ruling class.  Why did the U.S. support and train the military of the brutal dictator Suharto in Indonesia from 1965 until recently?   The answer is found in the Wall Street Journal and other business journals: Indonesia has cheap labor and resources and is, according to the journal, “an investor’s paradise.”

The human rights and poverty of the people of Indonesia are of no concern to the United States, just as the possible nuclear attack on Iran resulting in the possible deaths of millions of Indians is of no concern to the United States.  The real reason for the possible attack on Iran is economic: the Iranians have converted their oil currency to the Euro and the U.S. dollar is in trouble as the primary imperial currency.  The U.S. military has always been in the service of the U.S. dollar and its financial ruling class.  Human beings are of no concern to global capitalism.  Only global democracy can protect and recognized the dignity and rights of every person on Earth.  Only economic democracy can provide prosperity for every person on Earth.

Truth number three: only a democratic world government under the Earth Constitution can end poverty and create a decent, prosperous and peaceful world order for all the Earth’s citizens.   For the economic rights given to all citizens of the Earth by Article 13 of the Earth Constitution eliminate poverty through a market socialism that is premised on the welfare of people first, rather than the needs of global capital.

Myth number four is the myth that technology can somehow save us from global climate collapse, global resource depletion, global pollution, or global war.  We seem to have a blind faith in technology, as if it were a new god that will save us if we worship it properly.  But technology is out of control. 

There is little regulation, control, or planning regarding technology in the world.   National governments fund vast amounts of research for weapons and war technology.  Corporations develop and sell chemicals and other technologies as fast as they can in order to reap a profit.  There is very little testing of the potential effects of introducing new technologies or chemicals into the market.  Toxic chemicals are now found in the tissues of every living creature on Earth, even in the Innuit Eskamos in the Article Circle (Speth 2004), even in the tissues of every person in this room.

The production of hazardous wastes globally has grown sixtyfold since World War II.  About 2.5 billion pounds of toxic wastes are released into the environment annually in the United States alone.  Several hundred new chemicals not found in nature are created and introduced commercially each year (Speth, p. 47).  Of roughly 80,000 chemicals in commercial use today, about half are considered potentially or actually harmful to human health.  In the last century, according to one source, several hundred billion pounds of pesticides have been released into the environment of our planet.  These poisons are carried by wind and water all over the globe.

As I mentioned earlier, we have the technology to provide clean water and sanitation for every person on Earth for less than half of what the world spends annually on militarism and weapons.  Yet this technology is not used for human welfare because of the twin myths that we must militarize our nations for “security” reasons and that only “globalized free trade” can solve our problems.  Both of these, we have seen, are sources of our problems. Both are myths, illusions.

Only about 10 percent of India’s cities have effective sewage treatment.  This morning I jogged down to the river that pours into the ocean down the road from here.   Raw sewage and filth are flowing into the ocean where people in small boats fish for food.  Waters contaminated by human wastes are one of the biggest killers in the developing nations.   India does not have sanitation or clean water, but it does have cell phones and dozens of commercial technologies. It does not have sanitation or clean water, but it does have nuclear weapons. What is the problem here?   Clearly, it is the same everywhere in the world: there is no democratic world authority that can pass laws requiring clean water and sewage treatment and providing the technology and funding to make this possible.  Everything must be left to the global market, which means cell phones for the rich and dirty water and death for the poor.

Developing countries rank high in their exposure to toxic chemicals.  In a sample of ten developed and developing counties, three of the four countries with highest level of lead in the blood of their populations were Mexico, India, and Peru. (Speth, p. 51).  The contamination of human breast milk with the toxic chemical DDT was highest in China, India, and Mexico.  Pollution is widespread because of unregulated discharge of pesticides, toxins, sulfur dioxide, and other chemicals into the environment.  Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand have had crops and forests seriously damaged by pollution.

It is not technology that will save us or our global environment, which is being poisoned by the uncontrolled introduction of new technologies daily.   It is the creation of a global democratic community with the authority to assess the environment of the Earth as a whole and protect that environment for all citizens on the planet equally.  Chemicals invented and today legally prohibited in the United States are today still used in India and other developing countries. 

Under the nation-state system such inequalities are inevitable, just as militarism, war, and economic exploitation of the poor by the rich of the world is inevitable.   Mahatma Gandhi had it right when he said that if there were no economic exploitation,  nations of the world would have no need for militaries.   Sri Aurobindo had it right when he said that we must realize our common humanity and develop one human-divine consciousness for the entire Earth.   P.R. Sarkar had it right when he said we need democratic world government if we are to survive and have a decent future on this planet.

The fourth truth is that technology will not save us but only uniting together in a global community that regulates technology for the common good.  Yesterday, I visited Auroville and saw the simple and inexpensive technologies that can create clean, sustainable prosperity for every person on the planet.  But this will not happen unless we ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.   It will not happen unless we free ourselves from the myth of the sovereign nation-state, the myth of weapons and militarism, the myth of globalized capitalism, and the myth of technology as a savior.

We need to unite together under enforceable democratic world law that places the nations under the common rule of world law, eliminates war and militarism, creates an economics of prosperity and sustainability for every person on Earth, and regulates technology in the service of humanity and future generations.

We have looked at four myths and four truths, but there is one further point I would like to make.  Truth alone is not sufficient without love.  Our intellect can recognize truth but that will not motivate us to act on the truth that we see unless we have our hearts and lives filled with love.  We must love the common humanity in all of us.  We must love the precious and beautiful Earth and care deeply about its preservation.  We must love our children and future generations deeply enough to create a new world that will give them peace, prosperity, and a healthy environment.  Finally, we must love God and God’s promise to bring a kingdom of peace, prosperity, and beauty to our precious planet.

I want to thank you all again for your coming today and your kind attention.  I hope you will continue to dialogue about the Earth Constitution and its practical solutions for humanity’s problems.   The future of our children, our planet, and humanity itself depend on it.  Thank you.