The Concept of Power and the Constitution for the Federation of Earth

Glen T. Martin

January 2013

(1) The Older Fragmented Paradigm versus the New Holistic Paradigm

What are the pros and cons of the attempt to create democratic world government under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth? Some say it will save us from nuclear holocaust or other such planetary disasters. Others claim it will open up the possibility of global totalitarianism. With the continuous technological revolutions in military and surveillance capability that have continued unabated since the Second World War, both these fears (of nuclear holocaust and global totalitarianism) should be taken very seriously. The first includes an understanding that possibility of major holocaust that has not significantly abated since the end of the Cold War. The second understands that totalitarianism, today, is a technological and military possibility exceeding anything previously dreamed of in human history. Such global domination might signal the end of human political freedom, perhaps forever.

       The first concern provides a fundamental argument for federal world government, articulated, for example, in Albert Camus’ 1946 essay Neither Victims nor Executioners, which called for a “world parliament” with authority over all the nations.[1]  The second concern, however, raises doubts in people’s minds about the wisdom of placing governmental power in the hands of a single governing body for the entire planet. This article explains why these reservations concerning the danger of world government under the Earth Constitution are largely misguided. Such doubts arise from the same outdated paradigm that gives rise to the possibility of totalitarianism in the first place. They involve a conception of “power” as “power-over” derived from the fragmented system of sovereign nation-states integrated with unrestrained global capitalism. The article attempts to elucidate the new, holistic paradigm behind the Constitution for the Federation of Earth that substantially transforms our understanding of governmental “power”[2]. 

       The central paradigm of the modern period since the Renaissance has involved a fragmented conception of “power-over” manifested clearly in a system of sovereign nation-states characterized by multiple wars, dictatorships, and colonial empires of domination and exploitation. The new holistic paradigm embodied in the Earth Constitution manifests a new paradigm of “power” best associated with holistic health and vitality. It manifests the holism that has been a fundamental discovery of science since Einstein. The old “atomistic” paradigm of modernity has been superseded during the 20th century by the new, holistic paradigm that demands a reevaluation of our conception of the power in relation to properly constructed governmental authority.

       Since the perpetual military revolution symbolized by the development of nuclear weapons during the Second World War, thoughtful people of the world have been deeply concerned about the possible fate of the Earth.  We have lived with the obvious possibility of a major war using chemical, biological, geo-dynamic, or nuclear weapons of mass destruction so devastating as to wipe out the human race or at least destroy the planetary environment to the extent that the human race is thrown back into a primitive and brutal Hobbsian struggle for existence in a poisoned world of mutants, unstoppable diseases, and global wreckage. Hollywood movies have exploited this scenario relentlessly for decades. The popularity of this genre indicates the credibility of these fears in people’s minds.

       Some scholars have also assessed the destructive possibilities of major nuclear war in empirical and objectively scientific terms. In 1966, for example, British philosopher of science and scientific cosmologist, Errol E. Harris, published a study of the effects of “thermonuclear war” as part of his book Annihilation and Utopia. The study provides the scientific data of concerning the effects of nuclear war, including the immense initial destruction, the radiation effects, long range effects on survivors, planetary shock, collapse of medical facilities, devastating ecological effects, epidemics, and worldwide cultural disintegration. Harris concludes this section of his book quoting another scholar who asserts that “a nuclear disaster would be far worse, in both intensity and duration of suffering, than any previously recorded event in human history.” Harris continues:

“Complete social and economic chaos would result as well as great imbalances of nature. Destruction would be widespread encompassing many nations and probably there would be no place to turn for aid as there was for Japan and Germany after the last war. The socio-economic spiral could only descend to the most abject primitive economic conditions, and to moral and mental as well as material degeneration.”[3]

       As a philosopher of science and scientific cosmologist studying the new paradigm articulated by relativity physics, quantum-mechanics, and the cosmological revolutions articulated by contemporary astronomy, Harris also became an eminent spokesperson for the fundamental paradigm-shift characterizing all these scientific breakthroughs. It is this paradigm-shift that has not yet been recognized by much contemporary social and political theory, which still retains its modernist atomistic assumptions articulated, for example, by Hans Morgentheau in his famous 1948 book Politics Among Nations. This book sees the international terrain as a struggle among fragmented, militarized sovereign nation-states for power, influence, and ascendancy.

       The modernist paradigm was derived from early-modern empiricism and scientism that assumed the universe was composed, in a machine-like way, of immense numbers of discrete particles in external relationships with one another existing within the grand container of absolute space and time (the so-called “Newtonian paradigm”). These cosmological assumptions naturally influenced the conception of human life and politics put forth by the early-modern philosophers. Socially and politically, the world appeared as a collection of self-centered and self-promoting egos in competition for scarce security, goods, and resources.

       In Leviathan, for example, Thomas Hobbes drew on the apparent social implications of this early-modern paradigm to conclude that the natural human condition was a “war of all against all,” declaring that the only thing that could prevent this war would be a totalitarian sovereign power over all, forcibly restraining their tendency for war against one another.  Hobbes also recognized that the situation of sovereign nations was similar to that of personal egoisms in a condition of perpetual war with one another. He declared that the multiple sovereign nations confronted one another “as gladiators,” existing in a state of nature lacking any dominant force that might enforce a peace among them[4]. For Hobbes, under the early modern paradigm, the only reasonable conception of “peace” involved an order enforced by the domination of an unchallengeable power over all the warring egoistic units.

Two centuries later, G.W.F. Hegel concurred. Like Morgenthau and Hobbes, he understands the condition of sovereign nation-states as one of rival national egoisms, power politics, and war. In the Philosophy of Right, he writes:

“The nation state is the spirit in its substantial rationality and immediate actuality, and is therefore the absolute power on earth; each state is consequently a sovereign and independent entity in relation to others. There is no Praetor to adjudicate between States, but at most arbitrators and mediators, and even the presence of these will be contingent, i.e., determined by particular wills…. Consequently, if no agreement can be reached between the particular wills, conflicts between states can only be settled by war.”[5]

This conception of the human condition, deriving from early-modern atomistic assumptions, has been thoroughly overthrown with the scientific paradigm-shift of the 20th century. What the early-modern conception did not comprehend was the holism of the universe, of nature, living organisms, the ecosystem of our planet, society, and human life on this planet. Science has revealed that the structure of everything in existence is holistic, that holism is the defining reality and central nature of everything.

Things are not composed of discrete atoms in external relations with one another. They are composed of principles of order in which wholes and parts inseparably imply one another within a nexus of internal relationships. Neither could exist without the other. The parts can exist only in virtue of the wholes of which they are parts, and these wholes (inclusive of their parts) involve an ascending series of ever-more encompassing wholes from the individual to society to humanity to the ecosystem to the galaxy to the universe. In his book The Tao of Physics (1975), physicist Fritjof Capra describes the interconnected holism of our universe that has been the central discovery of twentieth-century physics:

“Thus modern physics shows us once again – and this time at the macroscopic level – that material objects are not distinct entities, but are inseparably linked to their environment; that their properties can only be understood in terms of their interaction with the rest of the world. According to Mach’s principle, this interaction reaches out to the universe at large, to the distant stars and galaxies.  The basic unity of the cosmos manifests itself, therefore, not only in the world of the very small but also in the world of the very large; a fact which is increasingly acknowledged in modern astrophysics and cosmology.”[6]

       I have elaborated on this holism at some length in my books Ascent to Freedom and Triumph of Civilization [7] and there is no need to repeat that presentation here along with the many quotations from contemporary physicists that attest to this paradigm-shift. Here, I will simply add one more quote from well-known contemporary physicist Henry Stapp. For Stapp extrapolates from the discoveries of the holistic paradigm to the implications for our view of human beings, the human ego, and, by extension, the collective egos known as sovereign nation-states described by Hobbes and Hegel.  He writes:

“The scientific task of explicating this general quantum-mechanical ontology is just beginning.  But even the general features of the quantum ontology involve a conception of man and nature profoundly different from the picture provided by classical physics.  For man appears no longer as an isolated automaton.  He appears rather as an integral part of the highly nonlocal creative activity of the universe.  The revision of the conception of a person, and of his perceived relation to the rest of nature, cannot help but have an immense impact on what is perceived as valuable.  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.”[8]

       The self, Stapp argues, must not only be seen as inherently social (a conclusion also affirmed by eminent philosopher Jürgen Habermas and many other social thinkers). And it must not only be seen as inherently linked to the holistic ecosystem of our planet. It must ultimately be linked to the “creative impulse of the universe” itself. Our egocentric (and fragmented) bias, Stapp concludes, must be abandoned in favor of this pervasive holism, giving rise to an entirely new sense of what is valuable.

       The set of assumptions made by Hobbes, Hegel, Morgenthau, and many contemporary political philosophers and international relations theoreticians have been called into question at the most fundamental level, beginning with Einstein’s special theory of relativity that appeared in 1905. Advanced thinkers, responding to this emerging new paradigm, have begun to rethink what are human beings, nations, and planetary society in the light of this new holistic understanding. Errol E. Harris spells out these implications in a number of his books. Here are two key quotations relevant to our present attempt to understand “power” in the light of the new paradigm embodied in the Earth Constitution:

“If the implications of this scientific revolution and the new paradigm it introduces are taken seriously, holism should be the dominating concept in all our thinking. In considering the diverse problems and crises that have arisen out of practices inspired by the [older] Newtonian paradigm, it is now essential to think globally. Atomism, individualism, separatism, and reductionism have become obsolete, are no longer tolerable, and must be given up…. In short explanation must be teleological, for the proper import of teleology is the domination and direction of the part by the whole. Further, the parts discovered are to be treated as provisional wholes in their own right, participant in and contributory to more complex and more highly integrated wholes. Such holistic thinking would make an incisive and far reaching difference to both theory and practice in every field of human interest and activity.”[9]

“Just as no organism can be isolated and remain alive, so no person can realize his or her personal capacities in solitude. All knowledge is a social product, not alone because it requires education of the younger by the already learned for its acquisition, but also because its advancement and retention is maintained only through discussion and the intercourse of minds. Without knowledge and some degree of intelligence there can be no deliberate co-operation for material production. Again, physical welfare can be assured only through social co-operation, and the advancement of moral aims only on the basis and through the realization of social welfare. Without all this, again, political freedom must remain imperfect and at best an unattained objective.”[10]

The clear “far reaching difference” such holistic thinking can make in political thought would include the understanding that our immense problems of conflict, militarism, and war derive from the outmoded modern paradigm and that their solution lies in the creation of a holistic world system like that embodied in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. The Constitution would represent the whole of human and thus the teleological project of unification in the form of peace, justice, equality, freedom, and respect for diversity. Harris himself drew this conclusion and wrote two books explicitly advocating ratification of the Earth Constitution[11].

       The second quote explicitly recognizes the social character of the human personality and its ability to flourish, something recognized as well by Karl Marx and many other thinkers. Harris concludes that political freedom can only be achieved through a holistic organization of planetary society, a conclusion that he argues for in great detail in his book Twenty-first Century Democratic Renaissance: From Plato to Neoliberalism to Planetary Democracy[12].  Let us, then, examine the Earth Constitution with a view to the ways that “power” (and by extension freedom) is understood within its 19 articles.

(2) The Earth Constitution and Paradigms of Power

       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 next four paragraphs in the Preamble address the consequences of the older fragmented paradigm: we are at the “brink of ecological and social catastrophe”; we are aware of the “total illusion” of “security through military defense”; we are aware of the terrible consequences of the global economic system that causes “ever increasing disparity between rich and poor”; and we are aware that we need to save humanity “from imminent and total annihilation.” All these are caused by the older, dysfunctional world system of autonomous sovereign nation-states and a flawed, class-controlled economic system operating in coordination with this nation-state system.  The seventh paragraph of the Preamble again returns to the new paradigm announced in paragraph two:

“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 statement of holism from paragraph two is here spelled out in greater detail. 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 new concept of “power” in the Constitution and everything that follows must be understood in terms of this fundamental paradigm-shift from fragmentation to holism.

       The Constitution for the Federation of Earth gives a number of substantial planetary powers to the Earth Federation government, many of which are detailed as “specific powers” in Article 4.  Article 1 specifies the “broad functions” of the Earth Federation government as addressing those issues beyond the scope of nation-states, as does Article 2.3 which reads:

“The authority and powers granted to the world government shall be limited to those defined in this Constitution for the Federation of Earth, applicable to problems and affairs which transcend national boundaries, leaving to national governments jurisdiction over the internal affairs of respective nations but consistent with the authority of the World Government to protect universal human rights as defined in this World Constitution.”

       The Earth Constitution wants to make clear that the “powers” of world government are not indiscriminate, and not unlimited by numerous checks and balances, but are directed toward those global problems beyond the scope of nation-states to address. It articulates this point by distinguishing its “power and authority” from that of national governments. Nonetheless, we shall see that woven throughout the Constitution, and specifically embodied in the “directive principles” of Article 13, is a telos directing these powers to perfect the human potential of civilization (in the form of peace, justice, prosperity, etc.) while simultaneously dealing with the global crises that are beyond the capacities of nation-states.

       The very important Article 14 entitled “Safeguards and Reservations” makes this again clear. It assures “freedom of choice within the member nations and countries of the Federation of Earth to determine their internal political, economic, and social systems consistent with the several provisions of this World Constitution.” These provisions of the Constitution that respect the internal autonomy and integrity of nations, however, should not be understood in terms of the older paradigm that sees nations as sovereign atoms with only external relations to the rest of the world system.

       The many dimensions of authority attributed to the Earth Federation make clear that national freedom can only be understood and empowered as part of the planetary freedom provided by the Earth Constitution in relation to the multiplicity of the world’s diverse nations and peoples. These disclaimers concerning “safeguards and reservations” give political weight to the idea of a federation in which the units are not lacking their share of authority and, as such, have a role in safeguarding the freedom and integrity of both themselves and the entire system. Nevertheless, the units and the system are holistically bound together if there is to be freedom, peace, protection of human rights, and prosperity for the people of Earth.

       These “safeguards and reservations” do not harken back to an autonomous national sovereignty assumed to be independent with respect to the whole system. The Earth Federation government will be no weak and impotent UN system premised on “the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members” (UN Charter, Chap.1.2.1). For “sovereignty now lies with “all the people who live upon the Earth” and their representative in the form of the Earth Federation government (Art. 2.2). This government is “organized as a universal federation, to include all nations and all people, and to encompass all oceans, seas and lands of Earth, inclusive of non-self-governing territories, together with the surrounding atmosphere” (Art. 2.1). The conception of holism could not be more specific. The Earth Federation represents the whole of humanity and the ecology of the Earth on which we depend.

       This government is delegated great powers by the Earth Constitution to save the ecological integrity of the Earth, to create economics that benefit all human beings, to end war and militarism, and to establish peace upon the Earth. These substantial powers are not only necessary to address the potentially lethal global crises that we collectively face. They also derive from the fact that the planet has now been conceived as a holistic system in which all societies, nations, and persons are interdependent.

       When we point out that “sovereignty” under the Earth Constitution no longer lies with territorial nation-states but now with the “people of Earth” (Article 2.2), skeptics may respond with something like: “Is this not likely to become a new form of domination and new totalitarianism?”  Such skeptics might continue: “Perhaps this Constitution now projects all power into a unified governmental force for which there will be no ‘outside’ that could put up a fight for freedom and independence?” 

       These questions are based on a misunderstanding of how the concept of sovereignty functioned during the modern era and also a misunderstanding of the nature of the conceptual paradigm-shift embodied in the Earth Constitution. In nature, the universe, and human life, there is no longer an “outside” that transcends the series of holisms within which we are embedded and to which we are integral. Even the transcendence of God, as Harris points out, can no longer be conceived as another being exterior to the universe, which reduces God to just another being among beings[13]. 

       Or, perhaps better put, the “outside” is now found in our inner human subjectivity and its freedom, a freedom that itself points to the “exteriority” of God, as philosopher Emmanuel Levinas has persistently pointed out[14]. This form of “exteriority,” however, is really an interiority of human freedom and spiritual openness to inner transcendence. This lack of an external “outside” does not limit our political and social freedom, however, for genuine freedom of this kind can and does only emerge from cooperation among human beings. War, national security fears, and fragmented sovereign nation-states destroy freedom at every turn.

       As we have seen, the modern era has been characterized by sovereign nation-states having absolute authority over the citizens within their territorial borders and “sovereign rights” in foreign policy decisions. States have recognized no enforceable laws beyond themselves. The result has been oligarchies or dictatorships within nations (even those that call themselves “democracies”) as well as expansionism in the form of conquest and colonialism abroad. More recently, expansionism has taken the form of neocolonial hegemony involving systems of vast structural violence and exploitation.

       As Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri point out in their book Empire, both the ancient Roman Empire and the American Empire project from the 18th century to the present extended the dynamic republican “power of the people” through an ever-greater territorial expansion.  This territorial expansion included the developing of natural and human resources in the ever-newly acquired territories. In the US empire, therefore, the expansionism of capitalism appeared to synchronize perfectly with the territorial expansion across the continent and later throughout Latin America and finally the world. While largely repudiating “colonialism,” the US empire has nonetheless established binding hegemony over the “grand areas” connected with the economic interests of its ruling class.

       For Hardt and Negri, power, in these instances, becomes a complex mixture of power-over (the authority of the sovereign government over citizens), and republican power arising from the dynamic politics of the people, and, finally, the power of ever-increasing scope of wealth and territory being appropriated by the ruling elite of the empire. This power of hegemonic domination and exploitation simultaneously serves the process of capital expansion, which is the goal of the ruling classes of the dominant imperial nations[15].  But neither sense of power (expansion of the hegemony of empire or political domination by an economic elite) will be able to function under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

       The postmodern power of the global empire of hegemonic domination is more diffuse and flexible than that of the colonialism of modernity, and the postmodern power of the capitalist system is more tolerant of diversity among workers as long as the authority of the managers is obeyed within the regime of maximizing profits for the owners. The empire, still deeply integrated with global capital, now promotes a regime of discipline and power that is flexible and adapted to innumerable local situations around the planet, but the power of the empire remains one of domination, and the modes of production and consumption are still those of exploitation.

       Many environmental thinkers have also pointed out that the expansive, growth-oriented nature of the capitalist project is not commensurable with a finite ecosystem and a finite planet. Economics must become sustainable and begin to operate (holistically) in harmony with the integrated and interdependent nature of our planetary ecology. The unfettered expansionism of both empire and capitalism must be transcended if we are to survive on this planet. It is precisely these two dimensions of power: the territorial and hegemonic expansion of the authority of empire and the unlimited expansion of global capital that are transformed in the new paradigm of power embodied in the Earth Constitution.

       As we have seen, the Earth Constitution is written from the point of view of the entire Earth as included within the emerging Earth Federation. It does give a road-map for the transition from the fragmented world of sovereign nation-states to a world in which no territorial expansion is possible because virtually all the planet’s citizens will be voluntarily integrated into the global democratic order. The philosophical basis of the Constitution assumes the completion of this process in “stage three” of the Earth Federation movement as defined in Article 17.

       One of the political thinkers who began to recognize the implications of both democratic theory and the emerging holistic paradigm discovered by science was political philosopher Hannah Arendt. She points out that power itself is not the enemy, for power can and should be manifest in a many-faceted political process of recognition and support by the people, resulting in that sense of the legitimacy and authority of government that constitutes its power.  The enemy of legitimate power is violence, she declares. Insofar as any government must resort to violence, it betrays its lack of legitimate power and its fragility as a legitimate authority.  She writes:

“Power needs no justification, being inherent in the very existence of political communities; what it does need is legitimacy…. Violence can be justifiable, but it never will be legitimate…. We saw that the current equation of violence with power rests on government’s being understood as domination of man over man by means of violence…. To substitute violence for power can bring victory, but the price is very high: for it is not only paid by the vanquished, it is also paid by the victor in terms of his own power…. Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.  This implies that it is not correct to think of the opposite of violence as nonviolence; to speak of non-violent power is actually redundant. Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it.”[16]

As we have seen, the Earth Constitution does assume great legitimate power and authority for the government of the people of Earth.  This precludes neither diversity of cultures nor local governments within a federated system, but presupposes it, explicitly, for example, in its Preamble. The Earth Federation government will lack power only if the diverse local governments of the Earth are opposed to it or serve as merely fragments upon which it has been imposed. This is not the proper model, however. Under the Constitution the whole is presupposed to be significantly more integrated than a mere “confederation” or collection of fragments posing as “sovereign nation-states.”

Local governments will flourish precisely because of the economic and political integration of the whole in a cooperating world that makes possible their flourishing.  In an ecologically and economically interdependent world, there is no local autonomy that can flourish excluded from the empowerment and cooperation provided by the whole. Power, therefore, becomes substantially different. It is no longer the power of economic and/or political fragments (like a ruling class or an imperial hegemonic nation-state) imposing domination and exploitation over other fragments, whether internally or externally.

The power of the Earth Federation government will not involve the sinister and corrupt aspects of imperial power and capital power as these have operated throughout the modern period.  The imperial power of territorial expansion involves war and the destruction of those resisting the imperial encroachment on their territories. Even if the post-colonial imperial regime has the tendency to incorporate them into its legal universe, as Hardt and Negri assert, the process is an ugly and immoral one. Something similar is true of capitalist expansion, which necessarily generates wealth and productivity through the exploitation and dehumanization of large segments of the population of the Earth as capital searches for ever-new markets and new ways of production and expansion.

The power of the Earth Federation deriving from the substantial world-wide consent of the people of Earth will not result in either the ugly phenomenon of violent territorial expansion, nor in the ugly phenomenon of searching for new populations for exploitation in the service of capital expansion. If for some reason all power naturally seeks expansion (a hypothesis that could be questioned and would require substantial justification), then that expansion under the Earth Federation will be intensive and internal to the system, not extensive and expansive. “Power” takes on an entirely different character within a holistic system.

In the quotation above, Errol E. Harris calls such processes that are intensive and internal to systems “teleological.” The logic of a holistic system moves the parts toward synergy and harmony. In the case of the Earth Federation, this means toward peace, justice, freedom, and prosperity. By contrast, the logic of a fragmented system necessarily leads to situations in which the parts become involved in conflict, war, domination, and exploitation. What is “expanded” under the Earth Constitution is the telos toward peace, harmony, and mutual flourishing.

The paradigm has now shifted. Power in a holistic system will involve “expansion” of the quality of life, not quantity for the sake of accumulation and ever-more quantity. The technologies supporting environmental sustainability and the protection of human life, education, cultural flourishing, and the cultivation of our higher human capacities for love, compassion, justice, thought, reflection, and other aspects of human and civilizational virtue will become the beneficiaries of the integrated power of the whole. Quality replaces quantity as the telos of life and society. As Harris points out, only this holism makes real political freedom possible.

Another word for the telos generated from social wholeness of humanity is “community.” Persons are really free only within communities that respect their uniqueness and use the common power of the community to support their freedom and personal flourishing. The Earth Constitution treats human beings on the Earth as a community of free, equal, and cooperative citizens. And a community, as a holistic social reality, carries within it a telos for both the common good of all and the productive flourishing of every individual or group within it.

Within the Earth community, the economy will no longer be expansive in the sense of the gross (and inappropriate) indicator of an ever-increasing gross domestic product (GDP) produced by the fragmented nation-states in competition with one another. Under present methods of measuring GDP even destruction, pollution, and chaos can increase GDP and appear as an indicator of economic “health.” Under the new paradigm embodied in the Earth Constitution, the economy will be “intensive” (and not naively growth oriented) in the sense of searching for ever-better ways to increase the quality of sustainable production, environmental restoration and protection, and human well-being within this framework.  Similarly, the power of the Earth Federation, deriving from the consent and active cooperation of the people of Earth, will result in a continual improvement and perfectibility of the rights in the bill of rights (Art. 12) of the Earth Constitution and the progressive actualization of the “directive principles” (“certain other rights”) specified in Article 13.

Power is neither good nor bad in itself. It can have very different dynamics and very different consequences depending on how it is constituted and conceived.  Power in the Earth Federation derives from the new holistic paradigm on which the Constitution is founded. It is power deriving from integration, cooperation, unity in diversity, and community, not from domination, which always finally perverts power and turns it into violence of one sort or another, delegitimizing itself in the process.  Power as domination denies holism, and operates from a conception of autonomous fragments, however diffuse these fragments may now be under the hegemony of the postmodern empire.

Similarly, the new paradigm of power does not involve exploitation, which requires structural violence, that is, exploitation requires poverty, scarcity of resources, and human desperation for its success. But the holistic world system initiated by the Earth Constitution eliminates all of that. It establishes a market-socialism (without naming it as such) that removes human dignity and well-being from the soulless sphere of market forces and hence removes the necessary conditions of scarcity required for capitalist exploitation. Within a genuine community, people do not exploit one another.

The consequence of the domination of power in the sense of resorting to violence is human misery and loss of freedom.  The consequence of power resulting from integration is precisely the flourishing of human freedom. We become free from fear of enemies, from food insecurity, housing insecurity, healthcare insecurity, educational deprivation and, therefore, free to formulate life plans according to our personal values and flourish in pursuit of those life plans. Only a new holistic political, economic, and social paradigm (of an Earth community) can make this happen.

The holistic foundation of power in the Earth Constitution no longer derives from some segment of humanity seeking to expand its power territorially or economically. The power of people united in solidarity and cooperation within the Earth Federation transforms power into its proper civilizational dynamic.  The collective power of the people of Earth is now used for the well-being and common good of the people of Earth, no longer for domination and exploitation.

The Earth Federation government will also be transparent, and therefore any tendency of government officials to slide into corruption will be checked by public scrutiny. Indeed, by the second stage of the Earth Federation, as outlined in Article 17, the nations of the Federation will begin a carefully designed and systematic process of disarmament.  A militarized nation in a potentially hostile world requires governmental and military secrecy, which always breeds corruption and a supporting industrial-military complex that enriches itself through violence and war. Democracy only flourishes in the light of transparent forms of government and authority. Secrets kept from the population under militarism and corporatism necessarily strike at the very heart of democracy.

Transparent government means that the income and assets of all government officials are publicly known and accounted for.  There are no secret “off shore” bank accounts or assets.  Public auditing of the workings of all government agencies, and the income and assets of all government officials, means that the potential for corruption will be substantially minimized.  Similarly, the elimination of militarized nation-state sovereignty will mean transparency for the government since there will be no more military and no more need for a national security state.

 Secondly, the elimination of scarcity (food, healthcare, housing, educational, etc.) from the Earth (which will soon be accomplished under a cooperative, united Federation aiming at the common good) means that the incentive for bribery, extortion, fraud, or theft will be radically minimized. People will find their personal aspirations addressed in alternative ways.  It will no longer be “me and my family against the world,” since “the world” will be recognized as the nexus that empowers and sustains the freedom and security of me and my family.

Similarly, the limitation of the private accumulation of wealth that we may assume will be legislated by the World Parliament (since it has already been legislated by the Provisional World Parliament) will not result in a denial of entrepreneurial energy in creative and innovative people. The immense task of creating a sustainable global economic system and the continuing transformation of technology and innovation directed toward improving the quality of living for all persons (while reducing to a minimum their environmental impact and the impact of the production process) will be more than sufficient to engage even the most creative entrepreneurs.  Their rewards will be social recognition and status, not wealth beyond the legal limits to wealth.

The limits to personal wealth and income set by the Provisional World Parliament are four to one[17].  The “one” here indicates the minimum wage and standard of living applied to all human beings. Under Article 13, this includes healthcare, social insurance, housing, clean water, nourishing food, education, a protected environment, etc. The lowest income level, therefore, will be entirely sufficient for a flourishing human life.  Four times this level will, therefore, be quite wealthy.  If we include with this “quite wealthy” status, social recognition and awards, the incentive for entrepreneurs will be entirely sufficient.

The power of the Earth Federation government, therefore, will not result in a new system of domination and exploitation as feared by those today who lack insight into the nature of the paradigm-shift embodied in the Earth Constitution.  The reification of the nation-state as a new god on Earth (that began with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and continues to this day), resulting in its militarism and oligarchical systems of power and exploitation, is eliminated by the new paradigm, as is the “right” to unlimited accumulation of private wealth by corporations considered to have all the legal rights of persons. 

Without the shibboleths of “national security” and “national glory” in war to cover over the self-interests of the industrial-military complex and the process of domination and exploitation embedded within the capitalist system, the Earth Federation government will naturally enjoy a very different philosophical and ideological environment.  Lies, manipulation, and strategic uses of language covering hidden greed and special interests will be unnecessary and frowned upon. Like all other industries, the news media will also be transformed accordingly.  There will no longer be a ruling class with the incentive to privately own the media and use it for status-quo propaganda. Within the community of Earth, lying and manipulation (phenomena central to both capitalism and nation-state power politics) are no longer socially acceptable.

The articulation of a powerful Earth Federation government by the Earth Constitution is elaborated within a Constitutional system assuring its authentic legitimacy. Legitimate power has no need of violence, the use of which only diminishes its legitimacy. Realistically, in a decent world civilization, the use of force can be reduced to a minimum. The telos of the Earth Federation system is toward harmony under the principle of unity in diversity. Within the multiplicity of ways by which the Earth Constitution assures a legitimacy arising from the people of Earth, there are two more that I will briefly mention here.

The first is the World Police who will “only possess weapons necessary to apprehend individuals” (all production, possession, or deployment of military weapons will be banned everywhere on Earth). Police are also required to obtain warrants for all searches and arrests. In addition, the Police are mandated to engage in “conflict resolution” and to minimize the uses of force as much as possible in the course of enforcing the law (Art. 10.4-5). The specification of these goals for the civilian world police force is by no means arbitrary. The logic of holism provides an intrinsic goal for the police characterized by progressively reducing the use of force in their work and progressively increasing their role of conflict resolution.

When the police are no longer protecting the property rights of a dominating ruling class (as is the case everywhere in today’s world), their role will become literally one of protecting and serving the people of Earth. They will likely be widely recognized public authorities for mediation, conflict resolution, and the defusing of potentially violent conflict situations. The wide recognition of their vital and beneficent role will support the legitimate power of the Earth Federation government and, in turn, continually lessen the need for using force in all situations. The description of the role of the police in Article 10, therefore, is no utopian dream, but a mere drawing out the logic of holism on which the Earth Constitution is based.

Secondly the World Ombudsmus (Article 11), a worldwide agency assigned to protecting the human rights of the people of Earth, will function as a watch-dog on the government itself, including the World Police. The Ombudsmus will have to power to investigate accusations of violence or other kinds of corruption and bring these before the courts. Like the many other checks and balances built into the Earth Constitution, this agency will underline the legitimacy of the Earth Federation government in the eyes of the people of Earth.

Its relation to the World Police will not likely be hostile, however. Indeed, the World Ombudsmus will also have mediation and conflict resolution functions that somewhat mirror those of the World Police. But the Constitution explicitly places conscious realization of the telos of its holism into the functions of the World Ombudsmus. Among these functions are “to press for the implementation of the Directive Principles for the World Government as defined in Article 13 of this World Constitution” (Art.11.1.3), and “to promote the welfare of the people of Earth by seeking to assure that the conditions of social justice and of minimizing disparities are achieved in the implementation and administration of world legislation and world law” (Art.11.1.4).

The Directive Principles of Article 13, we have seen, include all those “intensive” uses of holistic power to perfect the quality of human life through universal nourishing food, housing, health care, education, social insurance, clean water, healthy environment, etc. The role of the World Ombudsmus is to see that this telos toward harmony and perfection is followed as efficiently and rapidly as reasonably possible. This, again, is neither utopian nor arbitrary, for it follows from the logic of holism at the heart of the Constitution.

The power of that government, therefore, will be directed, on the one hand, toward addressing the terrible global problems of climate collapse, resource depletion, pollution of air, land, and water, corporate crime, violent crime, militarism, etc. Such problems can never be effectively addressed without substantial cooperation of the nations within the federation and the active participation of the people of Earth. On the other hand, the power of the Earth Federation government will also be directed toward actualizing the directive principles of Article 13 and perfecting the quality of human life for everyone on the planet. The logic of holism demands both these goals. The government will be powerful enough to address these apparently overwhelming tasks precisely because it will have the massive support of the people and nations of Earth. The beneficent roles of the World Police and the World Ombudsmus in this process will simply be manifestations of this holistic power.

The power of the Earth Federation, therefore, will now be authentically directed toward the common good of the people of Earth. This explains how and why the great power accorded to the Earth Federation government by the Earth Constitution will be qualitatively different from power as it is now understood within the global capitalist and nation-state systems, as well as the system of global empire and hegemony currently under construction.  As we have seen, a holistic system is qualitatively different from a system of fragmented autonomous parts.  In a holistic system the unity in diversity means that the whole functions well because of the parts and the parts function well because of their integration into the whole.

 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, social 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. Let us have this power, and work to establish this power, by ratifying the Constitution for the Federation of Earth!


[1]  Camus, Albert (2002), “Neither Victims no Executioners” in The Power of Nonviolence. Howard Zinn, ed. Boston: Beacon Press.

[2] Martin, Glen T. (2010). Constitution for the Federation of Earth: With Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion. Pamplin, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press. The Constitution is also found on-line at,,, and

[3]  Harris, Errol E. (1966). Annihilation and Utopia. London: George Allen & Unwin LTD.

[4]  Hobbes, Thomas (1963). Leviathan. John Plamenatz, ed. New York: Merridian Books, Ch. XIII, p. 144.

[5] Hegel, G. W. F. (1991). Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Alan Wood, ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pars. 331, 333-334.

[6] Capra, Fritjof, The Tao of Physics: Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Berkely: Shambhala Publications. (209-210).

[7] Martin, Glen T.  Ascent to Freedom: Practical and Philosophical Foundations of Democratic World Law. Pamplin, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2009.  Triumph of Civilization: Democracy, Nonviolence, and the Piloting of Spaceship Earth. Pamplin, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2010.

[8] Stapp, Henry P. (1988). “Quantum Theory and the Physicist’s Conception of Nature: Philosophical Implications of Bell’s Theorem” in The World View of Contemporary Physics. Richard F. Kitchener, ed. Albany: State University of New York Press, p. 57.

 [9]  Harris, Errol E. (2000). Apocalypse and Paradigm: Science and Everyday Thinking. London: Praeger, p. 90.

 [10]   ________ (1993). Atheism and Theism. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International.

 [11] ­­­__________ . One World or None: Prescription for Survival. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1993 and Earth Federation Now! Tomorrow is Too Late! Pamplin, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2005.

[12] _________ . Pamplin, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2008.

[13] _________. Atheism and Theism, pp. 91-92.

[14]  Levinas, Emmanuel (1969). Totality and Infinity: An Essay in Exteriority. Alphonso Lingis, trans. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.

[15]  Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio (2000). Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Chapters 2.5 and 2.6.

[16]  Arendt, Hannah (1969). On Violence. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., pp. 52-55.

[17]  World Legislative Act 22 found on the Institute on World Problems website at