Ideals Alone Spell Disaster for Humanity

Glen T. Martin

  24 December 2022    


The world likely has many millions of ‘world citizens’ in it. This is perhaps a good sign that we are moving past the age of “egoism” toward an age in which people live from their common humanity, which is deeper and more fundamental than the superficialities of ego.  Such people appear to have begun to develop what I called in my 2005 book, Millennium Dawn, “planetary maturity”.

They have are diminishing their identity with nationality and beginning to identify with our planet and with human civilization as a whole. Often, loosening identity with nationality also means loosening identity with race, class, religious dogma, etc.  It means a growing recognition of our common humanity. More than simply “recognition,” it may mean the beginning of living from our common humanity, from that deeper dimension within all of us. This, of course, is a wonderful development, but it is very unlikely to prevent our rapid descent toward ever-growing planetary chaos and ultimately human extinction.

Well documented books like Daniel Ellsberg’s The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, remind us that humanity has been on the brink of being wiped out by nuclear war a number of times since the 1960s.  Books by environmental experts such as David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming show the likelihood of humanity making itself extinct within a century if we keep going on our present path of endless war, endless economic growth, and endless population growth.  The millions of world citizens who espouse ideals of peace, harmony, justice, and sustainability decry these phenomena, of course, but neither their protests, nor their endless Zoom and Google meetings in which they groove with one another and reiterate and reenforce their wonderful ideals, will have much of an effect on our bleak future.

The reason this will have little effect is because they stick to culture and personal growth only and fear antagonizing the real power structures of the world entrenched in global capitalism and sovereign militarized nation-states. They may make changes in their personal lives such as recycling as much as possible or avoiding single-use plastics, but these actions, even if performed by millions of people, have only a minimal effect on the overall environmental picture.  For a long time, people have been espousing loyalty to the famous Earth Charter, or, more recently, to the Earth-Wise Constitution.

These loyalties may give their lives meaning and purpose, and people may live under the illusion that they are doing a great deal to save the Earth, but ultimately this is not the case.  Their popularity may be widespread; the bank accounts of these organizations may be replete with donations, but ultimately they will fail—they will fail the Earth, humanity, and the divine nisus at the heart of our Cosmos.  The reason may be a combination of a lack of courage and a lack of insight that is behind the collective failure of these millions of ‘world citizens.’ But it is a failure, nevertheless.

Such world citizens intuitively know better than to threaten the pillars of power behind the world system, pillars that are extremely dangerous and homicidal. These world citizens are very muted when it comes to challenging the criminal cabals behind the superpower governments of the world: China, Russia, and the USA.  They are indirect and circumspect in their criticisms of the global economic system that fosters planetary exploitation and domination.  Economically, by and large, their members are from the lower levels of the Bourgeoisie, that is, they are financially comfortable.  For them, the hundreds of millions of people who lack even the most basic necessities may be merely an abstraction, a set of numbers. They are not willing to risk much to save or liberate these suffering masses.

Some of these organizations may list specific proposals for changes in economic policies or the United Nations or the world political system. But their recommendations address a world system already in place and include no credible ways of transforming that world system to include the truly fundamental changes needed.  People have been proposing reforms to the UN since it was founded in 1945 and very little has changed, including the seriously outdated Charter, which remains the same. 

Nevertheless, what is needed are not limited proposals to change this or that policy of nations, the International Monetary Fund-World Bank, or the UN.  What is needed is a world system premised on the dignity and welfare of human beings. Neither the UN, nor the system of militarized nation-states, nor the World Bank and IMF are based on this premise. One and all they are based on power relations among militarized sovereign entities, as well as systems of economic competition and exploitation among corporate, banking, and national entities.

Others among these World Citizen organizations may claim to be “religious” or in some way spiritually advanced, yet few would likely comprehend deeper meaning and be able to act upon Eric Fromm’s profound description of religion:

We consider people to be “religious” because they say they believe in God. Is there any difficulty in saying this? Is there any reality in it, except that the words are uttered? Obviously, I am speaking here about an experience which should constitute the reality behind the words. What is this experience? It is one of recognizing oneself as part of humanity, of living according to a set of values in which the full experience of love justice, truth, is the dominant goal of life to which everything else is subordinated; it means a constant striving to develop one’s powers of life and reason to a point at which a new harmony with the world is attained; it means striving for humility, to see one’s identity with all beings, and to give up the illusion of a separate, indestructible ego. (1962: 156)

Can I attain “love, justice, and truth” in my personal life while seeing all around me a civilization based on hate, fear, injustice, and untruth? Does it really work that way?  Can I be separate from society in my pristine quest for happiness or enlightenment while children beg on street corners in nations all around the world?  Can I tell “sacred stories” or hold “world unity week” or belong to a “global harmony association” or “uniting for peace” or engage in intellectual discussions boldly labeled “the great transition” while organizing my personal life for comfort, economic security, pleasant family gatherings, or other forms of what the Marxists call “bourgeois self-indulgence”?

These strategies do not work because, whatever the bourgeois mentality may think, we are all in this together. The present global economic and nation-state system is premised on fragmentation. It destroys unity and cultivates scarcity, hate, fear, and exploitation of both persons and nature.  Yet my financial investments (and I may have tried to make them “green”) and my personal financial security, or my job, depend on this broken and immoral system. Hence, my criticisms of this system become muted and indirect. I may fool myself by arguing that “warmth” and “inclusion” make more friends than “explicit criticism.” But at the same time, I am well aware that the powerful administrators of this world system have devised really nasty names for anyone they believe is seriously challenging their system. I may support union organizing, but heaven forbid if they were to start calling me a “communist” or a “socialist” or a “traitor” or a “terrorist.”

Even if I argue that I am promoting a “paradigm-shift” through my exposition of these ideals, this will not be sufficient to address our fundamental global problems sufficiently to avoid planetary disaster and possible human extinction. The paradigm-shift from the medieval to the early modern worldviews that spanned (at the very least) the 15th to 18th centuries, engendered not only immense social confusion and conflict but also significant areas of resistance. The fact remains that a consistent sent of transformative ideals, together comprising a true paradigm-shift, requires a concrete embodiment in the form of a blueprint that can actualize the new paradigm within the dynamics of our world system. We simply do not have time for several centuries of social confusion and resistance.

Holding regular inspirational gatherings or celebrations of the current solstice on the internet will not solve our global problems, nor will belonging to a “pathwork” group dedicated to personal awakening.  Nor will non-governmental world citizen groups formed to discuss and support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN, of which there are many.  The world system behind those goals (assumed and barely mentioned by the goals) makes their achievement impossible. For example, the SDG document never mentions the 1.5 trillion US dollars spent annually worldwide on weapons and wars. This by itself will prevent these goals from being attained by their target year of 2030. 

Second, the SDG document never mentions the crisis of the world population explosion, now at 8 billion people and climbing.  This by itself will prevent these goals from being realized by the target year.  There should be another SDG goal (say, number 18) declaring “reduce the birth rate and substantially slow down population growth by the year 2030.” Instead, the population crisis is never mentioned.  Hence nations are supposed to “end hunger” (Goal number 2) at the same time that their burgeoning populations require ever more mouths to feed. 

Third, the SDG document never mentions the “limits to growth,” which has been an incessant theme of environmentally awake economists since the beginning of the environmental movement in the late 20th century.  The assumption behind the SDG document is that nations will pay for much of achieving these goals through taking loans from the World Bank, IMF, etc., at “fair” and “reasonable terms” (see Goal 17) and that the repayment of the loans or use of other funds to achieve these goals will necessarily require growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), exactly what must be questioned if we are to achieve a sustainable world economic system for our planet.

There are other serious problems with the SDGs and no space to go into them here.  If you wish to read these, see Chapter Six of my 2021 book, The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet. The present article is about why social movements from World Unity to One World to World Parliament to Global Harmony Association to Earth-Wise Constitution, to Evolutionary Leaders Voice-America broadcasts, etc., etc., cannot possibly achieve the changes necessary for human survival and flourishing.  None of them dare to directly address the issue of the system of militarized “sovereign” nation-states, and none of them dare to really address the issue of globalized capitalism.

To authentically address these issues requires presenting a concrete process for their transformation and a blueprint for what will replace them. It takes the courage to be willing to stand for something besides abstract values.  Nations, big corporations, and global banking cartels are not about to throw away their procedures to transform into “something they know not what.”   We say we want “peace” but peace often only means signing a treaty between, say, Ukraine and Russia, and the cessation of hostilities.  It never means going to the root causes of the world’s war system and transforming the world war system into a peace system. For the latter to happen, we need (to repeat) a blueprint that lays out specifically what the law will be and how and why the law can prevent war and maintain peace and a plan about how we can get from here to that actually existing, enforceable set of laws.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth provides such a blueprint for a world peace system, justice system, and sustainability system. Supporters of its ratification certainly agree with the litany of values professed by the global values spokespersons who promote their ideas in many venues online.  Sure, we must conserve and respect the Earth and its resources.  But the world system as we now know it structurally trashes the Earth and its resources. Where is the blueprint for changing this competitive economic system that privatizes profits and socializes its losses onto society and the environment?  They offer none.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth goes right to the heart of the global problems of this competitive economic system. Not only does it not require the travesty of infinite growth on a finite planet, it establishes a debt-free money system that makes possible the real financing of the transformation to sustainability. Sure, we must strive for world peace and compassionate mutual understanding. But the world system of secretive, militarized “sovereign” nation-states structurally trashes compassion and understanding (as does global capitalism)—making these nearly impossible for effecting truly transformative change under this world system.  Where is the blueprint for changing this war system to a peace system that promotes compassion and understanding?  They offer none.

The Earth Constitution creates a democratic world system through a dynamically designed World Parliament and contributing agencies that clearly has the institutional capacity to end war and disarm the nations, protect universal human rights, create social justice, and protect our planetary environment. It provides a blueprint for precisely those world system features that the SDG document ignores and covers up: it ends militarism and arms-races; it provides for a worldwide campaign for voluntarily reducing the global population; and it provides global debt-free banking within which growth of GDP is no longer required.

The World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) and the Earth Constitution Institute (ECI) both work for the dissemination and ratification of the Earth Constitution.  The ECI website presents a list of 10 global ethical principles that we support: ( The website describes each of these, but I will simply list them here to illustrate the central point of this article:

Ten Principles of Global Ethics affirmed by WCPA and ECI

  1. Dialogue directed toward mutual understanding
  2. Nonviolence respecting everyone involved
  3. Human rights and dignity for all
  4. Democratic laws protecting equality before the law
  5. Compassion and kindness cultivated everywhere on Earth
  6. Unity in diversity: respecting all precisely because we are also all one
  7. Justice-making for all and dismantling unjust systems
  8. Sustainability and harmony with our planetary ecosystem
  9. Global education free for all and emphasizing the above principles
  10. Ratification of the Earth Constitution, which makes all the above possible, while they remain impossible under the current world system.

Here is the absolutely fundamental difference between WCPA, ECI and all these wildly popular movements promoting global unity, tolerance, love, and other values.  WCPA and ECI understand that the present world system defeats these values at every turn, and these organizations have the courage and wisdom to offer a brilliant blueprint that makes possible the actualization of these values.  Other groups may promote the first 9 of these values, but only our movement understands that this promotion is self-defeating unless the world system itself is transformed according to principle 10—the brilliant democratic blueprint for an Earth Constitution.

Below is a diagram presenting this thesis. (This diagram is also printed on p. 30 of my book Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence. Its basic form, before my editing modifications, is drawn from Ken Wilber’s The Integral Vision. Boston: Shamballa, 2007, pp. 72 and 180.)

[The image is not available here for now, but the following discussion should make sense nevertheless]

This chart uses Ken Wilber’s famous AQAL (All quadrants all levels) chart to illustrate the thesis of this article. All of our experienced world is divided into these four quadrants.  The upper left is about selfhood.  Wilber includes levels of growth on the line that moves up through each quadrant diagonally.  The lower left represents cultures and includes a similar growth model.  I have added a highest level of growth for both these quadrants: a holistic selfhood and a holistic world culture. 

The upper right represents the growth of science, which, of course, is experienced worldwide, and the lower right represents the evolution of “social, economic, and governmental systems.”  There is growth here also and I have added near the pinnacle of growth “Earth Federation under the Earth Constitution.”  The yellow rectangles with red borders, along with the red and purple arrows, represent my thesis.  Our selfhood, our cultures worldwide, and sciences worldwide are colonized by global capitalism and the system of militarized sovereign nation-states.

From the “militarized nations and global capitalism rectangle emanates these three arrows of influence. In the lower left of culture, the result is “cultures of fear and insecurity.” In the upper left rectangle, the result is a selfhood of “inner hate, fear, and uncertainty.” In the upper left sphere of science, the result is “science directed toward war research and nuclear weapons.”

The scholarship documenting the effects described in this chart is overwhelming.  We all know much about these facts.  Why are we then not willing to do something real and effective about it?  Affirming an Earth Charter or a merely Earth-wise Constitution (despite the intriguing names) will simply not change these empirical facts. The world system as we know it blocks our human ascent to a humanly based civilization.  The Constitution for the Federation of Earth replaces global capitalism and militarized nations in the lower right quadrant. By doing so it removes these impediments to growth and not only frees our selfhood, culture, and science to fulfill their potential, but actually promotes our rapid growth toward planetary maturity within these quadrants.

Ideals alone, without a means to institutionalize them in real system transformation, change little or nothing. They spell disaster for humanity. The key lower-right quadrant is precisely the one mostly ignored by the world citizen value movements so popular today. Indeed, we must join hands behind all these values. But we also absolutely need to make them real—to actualize them through working for the ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.