You Have to Name the System

Glen T. Martin

12 March 2022

Well-known critical thinker of late capitalism, Frederick Jameson, ends his powerful book, Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, with this imperative that derives, he says, from the positive “utopian” insights of the late 1960s: “You have to name the system.” I take this to mean that the postmodern deconstructionism claiming “There is no Truth” crushes thought and obliterates our ability to conceptualize our human situation in ways that might lead to our survival and flourishing on our precious planet Earth.

By naming the system, by bringing its horrific implications and consequences to consciousness, we make possible a revival of our utopian capacity to envision true human liberation. Jameson writes:

Utopian representations knew an extraordinary revival in the 1960s; if postmodernism is the substitute for the sixties and the compensation for their political failure, the question of Utopia would seem to be a crucial test of what is left of our capacity to imagine change at all. (1991, xiv)

Do we world federalists still have the capacity to imagine real change at all?   In her book on the thought of Karl Marx called Dialectical Phenomenology (1979), Roslyn Wallach Bollogh articulates Marx’s thought that capitalism is a mode of production that involves a “repressed community”—energetically and naively exploiting nature and human beings in self-destructive ways that ultimately destroy both nature and the dignity of human life. Marx’s socialism envisioned human beings becoming a “self-conscious community” that includes awareness of how we produce our necessary goods and services and how our “mode of production” impacts others and the human community as a whole (1979, 237).

In a somewhat similar way, contemporary thinker Ken Wilber, in his book Trump and the Post-Trump World (2017), blames the phenomenon of throwing out science and facts that characterizes much of the culture in today’s United States on the “postmodern destruction of truth” that came out of European and USA universities during the past several decades. The culture of lies and the total abandonment of the distinction between truth, mere belief, and propaganda that characterized the Trump presidency is simply a consequence of this postmodern phenomenon that, according to Wilber, represents the psychological stage of maturity that embraces tolerance and relativism to the point of not being able to stand courageously and consciously for what is right as discerned by a greater human maturity. In this lower stage of maturity, “diversity” is epitomized and tolerated to the point where all discrimination between truth and falsity, better or worse, more mature or less mature, is abandoned.

Nevertheless, over the past few decades in the West there has emerged a host of excellent scholarly works dealing with our planetary climate crisis and the utter need for human beings to transform both their production and their psychology as rapidly as possible to stave off engineering their own likely extinction and with it the demise of the human project altogether.  My own recent book, The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet (2021) summarizes much of this climate crisis literature.

Yet today, in the year 2022, suddenly, there is a sea-change: the USA is at war, leading a host of lackey nations in a great struggle with an enemy country that has invaded Ukraine. War propaganda is everywhere. The enemy is demonized while the virtues of “our side” are exalted.  Even many world federalists, who should know better, succumb to the war propaganda of demonizing the enemy and defending the “homeland” (a “homeland” that now largely comprises North America and much of Europe, including Ukraine).  War simplifies things.

The quandary of truth or the struggle for greater spiritual maturity are happily abandoned. Psychologically, it is like the sexual encounter, when for a few minutes the entire problems of the world are suspended and forgotten in the intensity of an embrace. World federalists have embraced a war fever and slipped back into a repressed consciousness, covering up of the deeper truths of our human situation.

Many world federalists have welcomed the intensity of the war passion and the war propaganda. Russia is the enemy of the UN system, they say, the “aggressor” nation that wants to restore the Soviet empire. Forgotten is the North American and European genocidal obliteration of North Korea; forgotten are the genocidal mass exterminations in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos; forgotten is the destruction of the former Yugoslavia by NATO forces, forgotten is the “coalition of the willing” who destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and who attempted to destroy Syria except for Russian intervention and protection of the Syrian people. Forgotten is the imperial support for the crushing of the Palestinian people, or the suffering of the people of Cuba and Venezuela. The repressed, imperialist, self-justifying consciousness has not been abandoned by global world federalism.

It is so much easier to indulge the emotions generated by war than it is to struggle with the transformations necessary to save the environment, or to “name the system” for what it is, or to lift ourselves to a higher psychological stage of maturity. To “name the system,” to bring it to fuller self-awareness requires seeing the deluded capitalist madness for what it is (the repressed rape of both nature and the vulnerable majority of human beings).  It requires seeing the system of militarized sovereign nation-states for what it is (the utter self-destructive fragmentation of human beings in a technological and psychological rush toward mutual annihilation).  It requires seeing our condition of maturity for what it is (so distant from embracing the love and affirmation of human beings and human civilization as a whole).

The terrible suffering and destruction of the people of Ukraine is not the fault of Russia alone. Many astute critical thinkers have pointed to the West’s (led by the USA) intentional provocation of the war with the strategic aim of preventing the completion of Nord Stream 2 and cutting Europe away from closer economic integration with Russia. (At the same time, the market value of the US weapons industry as soared, just as has the value of its gas and oil industry, the two industries that practically run the country and its foreign policy.)

World federalists lack the courage and insight to say “enough!”  Enough of capitalist destruction of the environment!  Enough of militarism and absolutely sovereign territorial nation-states!  Enough of the childishness, partisanship, and deceptions of popular politics!

We must take our stand on something that transcends all this current human quandary.  We must honestly name the capitalist system for what it is, name the ugly nation-state system for what it is, and call out the immaturity of these popular movements and politicians for what they are.  Biden is not substantially different from Putin. Both are nation-state and war-system ideologues. Neither is a mature human being embracing the dignity of humanity and the holism of human civilization and our precious cosmos.

And yet we World Federalists have a tool, a blueprint, a map into the future that can serve as a rallying point for moving into a transformative and liberated future—the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.  It appeals to our utopian imagination, which is precisely our human capacity for transformation and transcendence (Martin 2018). At the same time, it gives us a concrete plan for how things can be truly different.  It retains the highest values of civilization—basic human law founded on universal human dignity rather than on wealth and power. It lays out a truly democratic path for transcending the fragmentation and corruption of both capitalism and the system of militarized nation states, and it shows us the way to an environmentally sustainable and restorative planetary ecosystem.

American philosopher John Dewey defines the function of our utopian imagination. He states: “Imagination of ideal ends pertinent to actual conditions represents the fruition of a disciplined mind” (1934, 32, emphasis added). It requires a disciplined mind to name the system for what it is, to realize that growth is required and that our utopian imagination is essential to the process of growth, and to relate “actual conditions” as pertinent to these “ideal ends.” The Earth Constitution embodies precisely those ideal ends and concrete means that a disciplined mind sees as required for ending war, protecting universal human rights, and restoring our planetary ecosystem.

Both truly naming the system and striving toward a fuller maturity require courage and decision. History will not passively make these things happen. It is up to us. Both nuclear war and destruction of our planetary environment are real and present dangers. Now is the time to ratify the Earth Constitution, to have the courage to act.  There is no other time.

Works Cited

Bologh, Evelyn Roslyn (1979). Dialectical Phenomenology: Marx’s Method. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Found On-line at and Paperback version from Institute for Economic Democracy Press, Appomattox, VA or

Dewey, John (1934). A Common Faith. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Jameson, Friedrich (1991). Postmodernism: Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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

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

Wilber, Ken (2017). Trump and a Post-Truth World Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications.