Creating Global Community

A Critique of Economist Herman E. Daly

Glen T. Martin

There are many books, websites, and blogs today that talk about “global citizenship” or membership in our planetary global community. At the same time, there are thinkers who believe that such talk is substantially empty and superficial. Herman E. Daly, for example, argues that a community is necessarily local and that the best we can hope for is a “federation of national communities” (2014, 159-60).  He fails to affirm that we must unite humanity within the holistic embrace of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth (Martin 2016) or some other sort of unifying plan for democratically governing our planet.

Daly is an important economist of sustainability who makes many excellent arguments concerning the need for our planet to move beyond the growth model to a model of development that focuses on qualitative improvement rather than quantitative growth.  In this respect, his thinking is significant, which is all the more reason why we must address his misconceptions regarding the possibility of a “world community.” If the economic system is to really become a subset of the ecological system, Daly says is necessary, then our extraction, production, consumption, and disposal must become a carefully monitored and modulated planetary project requiring a truly integrated human unity.

In the book that Daly co-authored with John Cobb, called For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, they point out that human identity and many interactions are fundamentally characterized by “internal relations,” rather than merely “external relations.” To be characterized by internal relations means that the members so related are part of a larger whole in which each has a unique role that is significantly defined in terms of the others.  Hence, a change in any one of the members of such a whole is simultaneously a change in other members as well. The relations are internal and hence constitutive of the whole and the parts.  In their book, they apply this insight specifically to the fact that each human being exists as a “person-in-community” and hence, we are internally related to the others. This insight is excellent as far as it goes.

However, Daly apparently does not sufficiently realize the import of the universal cosmic and planetary holism that has emerged throughout the 20th century and continues to the present.  Scientists have realized that the universe is a single, integrated whole, the planetary biosphere is a single, integrated whole, and that human beings are a single species, each fundamentally related to all the others genetically, linguistically, and civilizationally.  As Daly knows well, the logic of wholes was first effectively articulated by G.W.F. Hegel in terms of the dialectical relationship that obtains among the members within every whole. A correct logic, and correct articulation of the structure of every whole, specifies internal relations among the members. External relations may also be used for analysis to a certain reduced extent but are limited in a variety of ways and can never exhaust the description of the parts and their relationships.

The pervasive emergent holism discovered by the natural and human sciences directly implies the universality of internal relations throughout all dimensions of the universe. Daly correctly asserts that the one major area that has refused to incorporate internal relations into its dogmas is contemporary economics.  Most economists today continue to work with the presupposition that human beings form a collection of atoms of “rational self-interest,” thereby giving us a dominant economic paradigm that is fragmented, atomistic, and intrinsically destructive of the internal relationships that constitute the web of life and the biosphere of our planet (see also Kovel, 2007). Their “infinite growth” model is founded on the idea that economic growth is irrelevant to the limitations and interdependencies of our planetary biosphere.

Philosopher Errol E. Harris describes the logic of any holistic system with its internal relationships:

What is self-contradictory is what disrupts the system—what at one and the same time posits the system (implicitly affirming and exemplifying its principle of organization) and conflicts with that principle so that implicitly the structure is wrecked. A is what it is in virtue of its relationships with B, C, and D. It is not self-subsistent but depends for its being and character on its place in the prevailing order. Affirm A in isolation, as self-maintaining and independent, and, while implicitly invoking the structure that gives it meaning, you explicitly deny or suppress the principle of order giving the system structure. (2000b, 217)

Affirm endless economic growth in isolation and you “explicitly deny or suppress the principle of order” giving our planetary ecosystem structure. Similarly, at the moment, the United Nations recognizes some 193 “sovereign nations,” all loosely related to one another through economic competition, external (“foreign”) relations, and unenforceable international laws. Daly argues that these nations can never become parts of a genuine human community but that we need to more loosely “federate” them in order to coordinate their attempts to deal with climate crises. They must primarily deal with the climate crises on the local level he claims. Here he seriously goes astray and presents us with recommendations that can only mean the failure to achieve a sustainable global economy and therefore a more or less rapid destruction of the planetary biosphere that supports human life.

Among these 193 entities, some are tiny island nations and others are gigantic economic and military powerhouses.  Most of the larger ones are extremely diverse internally and could never qualify for the “national community” status that Daly recommends. In addition, Daly ignores the credible insights put forward in Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, which demonstrate that many of the historically arbitrary and contingent collection of “sovereign” nation-states now exiting form simply “imaginary” communities and have no possibility of becoming something different.

We live in a globalized world in which we are economically interdependent, technologically, interdependent, culturally interrelated, and linguistically significantly globalized.  We are rapidly moving toward civilizational unification yet Daly, like most of the economists that he criticizes, continues to cling to the atomistic fantasy of sovereign nation-states as if they were or could be genuine communities related to one another in a beneficent way. This system of sovereign states is an active impediment to integrating economics into our larger planetary ecosystem.

To apply the example above from Errol E. Harris: suppose nation A (the USA, with the verbal support of some lackey nations in Europe) attempts to overthrow the government of nation B (Venezuela, thereby dividing Latin American nations over this issue), and nation C (Russia) protests that attempt and establishes an air force base on one of Venezuela’s islands, while nation D (China) increases trade with Venezuela to offset the US embargo. How are we ever going to convince these “sovereign” nations to give up this illusion of external relations and embrace the ecological paradigm of internal relations conforming to our planetary biosphere? How are we ever going to imagine that each of these nations is a “community” that can activate sustainability internally and voluntarily federate with other nations who have similarly activated internal sustainability?

Will they not still be tempted to compete with one another economically?  Will they not be tempted to compete with one another militarily?  Will their “diplomacy” not continue to be based on the presumption of external relations rather than the authentic dialogue directed toward mutual understanding characteristic of internal relations?  Who is going to ensure that they demilitarize, since militarism alone defeats sustainability? The Maha Upanishad of India’s sacred literature declares, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the world is one family. Both anthropology and biology confirm that the world is one family. Sovereign nation-states contradict this fact.

Another example is the tragedy of our planet’s oceans, which are now treated as an open-access resource for whomever wishes to fish or mine in international waters. The oceans are being overfished, and even the ecological environments that nourish new fish are being degraded. This resource that contributes to feeding one third of humanity is rapidly being destroyed. Environmental sustainability means that these oceans need to belong to the people of Earth, ecologically managed by the united people of Earth, and their natural resources (including fish) equitably cultivated and distributed to the people of Earth. The same needs to be done for the air, forests, and other essential elements of our planet’s ecosystem necessary for feeding and protecting the people of Earth and future generations. This can only be done through a democratically united world system.

This holism, pervasive throughout contemporary science and ignored by the pseudo-science of mainstream economics, leads us logically and morally to conclude that we must establish planetary economic, political, and cultural structures that mirror our unity in diversity.  The illusion that nation-states are, or could be, genuine communities is just as dangerous as the economic illusion that individuals and businesses must compete in external relations with one another under a model of perpetual growth. Both illusory assumptions are disastrous for humanity. Both the nation-state system and global mainstream economics fragment humanity into external relationships. Both derive from an outdated paradigm centuries old when science knew nothing about holism.

It is true, of course, that we need local communities to deal with developing local sustainable economic systems that conform with the ability of the Earth to supply the input that feeds, clothes, and shelters us, and are capable of absorbing the wastes that this throughput inevitably generates. However, the uniting of humanity under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth does not inhibit or defeat these local initiatives: it can only empower them, coordinate them, and integrate them into the planetary holism necessary for a sustainable world.  In doing so, the very act of ratifying the Earth Constitution and recognizing every human being as a world citizen with universal rights, including the rights to a sustainable planetary environment and the right to a demilitarized peaceful world, will help establish a planetary community consciousness.

Daly correctly claims that we need to focus on values: we need to pursue truly valuable ends to which we direct our economic and technical means. Without meaningful objective values, the result will be more of today’s value nihilism in which no effective counter arguments can be mounted against a maelstrom of endless growth possibly leading to human extinction. Why not “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”?  Why not “après nous, le deluge”?  Daly correctly affirms the principle that ethics in the present is the lure of objective value from the future (2014, 128). However, he cannot bring himself to envision our true human destiny in a fulfilled human community. What calls to us from the future is a fulfilled human community of love, justice, truth, and ecological sustainability: vasudhaiva kutumbakam.

In the dialectic of wholes, the economic, political, and cultural structures that human beings create for themselves simultaneously foster or impede their intrinsic holism. The Earth Constitution fosters our planetary community in a huge way, bringing economics, politics, and culture more in line with what we truly are, in line with the holism that characterizes everything in the universe, including human beings.  Herman E. Daly and others, who do such a great job of articulating sustainable economics, need to more consistently and honestly draw on the new holistic paradigm that is absolutely necessary across the board if human beings are going to have a future on this planet.  The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is necessary condition for establishing human beings as a true global planetary community. Only a truly global community can give us a sustainable world system.

 

Works Cited

Anderson, Benedict. 2006. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.

Daly, Herman E. and John B. Cobb, Jr. 1994. For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future.

Daly, Herman E. 2014. From Uneconomic Growth to a Steady-State Economy.

Harris, Errol E. 2000. The Restitution of Metaphysics.

Kovel, Joel (2007). The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World?

Martin, Glen T., ed. 2016. Constitution for the Federation of Earth.  On-line at www.earth-constitution.org.

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

Holistic Planetary Sustainable Development

 

Neither “top-down” nor “bottom-up”

Glen T. Martin

January 2019

All human beings require freedom, the freedom to reasonably determine and develop their lives. All human beings have the right and duty to democratically participate in the economic and political decisions that affect their lives.  All human beings deserve to have the entire range of their human rights respected, including political rights, social-economic rights, and their “third generation” rights to world peace (without war), and a sustainable, healthy environment.

None of these rights can be fulfilled without a global framework of world law placed above the corporations, the banks, and the national governments, a framework explicitly dedicated to actualizing these rights and freedoms. Today’s world system of militarized sovereign nation-states interfaced with globalized transnational corporate banking and commercial enterprises structurally denies this entire set of rights for the majority of human beings.  That is why our planet needs to be organized around the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, a document that creates a democratic world government with the authority to modify both national and corporate priorities in the direction of the common good of the Earth and future generations, thereby including and protecting universal human rights.

As stated, true democratic freedom for human beings requires their direct participation in political and economic decisions that affect their lives. Democratic world law can and should represent people’s interests in being free and creative participants in their local communities in ways that solve local problems, deal with local conflicts, and create ever- renewed local solutions.  The World Parliament can establish legal worldwide protections for human rights. It can also establish a range of economic and ownership solutions that become available on the local level in ways that can be adapted to local conditions and needs.  There is no “one size fits all” solution to local problems around the world that necessarily involve a range of local customs, resources, cultures, and needs.

The role of the World Parliament is defined in Article 1 of the Earth Constitution as dealing with all those issues that are beyond the scope of the nations.  The first of these is ending war and disarming the nations. This will be accomplished during the second stage of implementation of the Earth Federation as defined in Article 17. The second “broad function” of the Earth Federation in Article 1 is to protect universal human rights.  There are many ways this can and must be done, including promoting global solidarity among human beings, promoting global education for human rights, conflict resolution programs at the local and aggregate levels, and articulating the meaning of human rights to include democratic economic and political freedom at the local levels worldwide. An entire world agency, the Ombudsmus, will be dedicated to this task, and the fundamental design of the Constitution fosters this result.

Another essential “broad function” of the Earth Federation government, given in Article 1.5, is “to protect the environment and the ecological fabric of life from all sources of damage, and to control technological innovations whose effects transcend national boundaries, for the purpose of keeping Earth a safe, healthy and happy home for humanity.”  In the past half century, Earth System Science as developed on the scientific understanding that our planetary biosphere is one integrated, interdependent whole, and that human beings are inescapably part of that whole.  Without planetary coordination, monitoring, and communications with every locality on Earth, this goal of protecting the environment cannot be reached and the already damaged biosphere cannot be restored (to the extent that this is still possible).  Again, environmental sustainability cannot be top-down, nor exclusively “bottom-up,” but must be holistic and integrated through and through.

Some aspects of our planet’s geology must be under the control of the global public authority. For example, the oceans, now being desecrated by the nations of Earth because there is no enforceable global control over what the nations or private corporations do to the oceans.  The Constitution brings the rule of public law to protection of the Earth’s oceans. On the other hand, local communities need to find creative ways to employ local resources sustainably to address their unique problems. The holistic approach of the Constitution brings in both dimensions. Protecting our planetary home has to involve both the global public authority with its knowledge base, funding, and capacity to really empower sustainable efforts worldwide, but this very funding and capacity needs to empower local communities to address their unique problems of water, pollution, ownership, cultural disparities, waste disposal, disease control, etc. Holism involves both dimensions working together.

The third broad function of the Earth Federation reads: “To obtain for all people on earth the conditions required for equitable economic and social development and for diminishing social differences.”  This goal is carefully detailed in Article 13 in terms of human rights. Everyone has a right to a decent standard of living, to social security, medical care, education, clean air and water, and the other conditions by which to “assure each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential” (13.12).  This is one of the explicit functions of the World Ombudsmus agency—to promote this result as rapidly as possible through transformation of the world system in all the ways necessary to make this happen.

The World Financial Administration is structured to empower economic and political democracy at the local levels through the creation of its global public banking system, with a “Planetary Monetary and Credit System based upon useful productive capacity and performance….without requiring the payment of interest on bonds, investments or other claims of financial ownership or debt” (8.7.1.6). Furthermore, it will “establish criteria for the extension of financial credit based upon such considerations as people available to work, usefulness, cost/benefit accounting, human and social values, environmental health and esthetics, minimizing disparities, integrity, competent management, appropriate technology, potential production and performance” (8.7.1.7).  This means that the monetary and financial system will be used in the service of human flourishing rather than the accumulation of private profit for the few.

The legislation passed by the Provisional World Parliament is not binding on the final World Parliament that is established once the Constitution is ratified by the people and nations of Earth under Article 17.  Nevertheless, these World Legislative Acts reveal the inclusive spirit and letter of the Earth Constitution and elaborate the kinds of global local empowerment that can and will derive from the World Parliament once it is constituted.  There is the “Global Equity Act,” for example, limiting the presently immense disparity between the rich and poor.  There is the Bureaucracy Reduction Act, ensuring that people at the local level are not bound up and constricted by unnecessary bureaucracy.

There is also the Global People’s Assembly Act, that actively encourages direct political participation from the grassroots into the World Parliament. There is the Cooperative Communities Empowerment Act that enhances the conditions for local communities to form cooperatives and to establish common forms of ownership. There is the Conflict Resolution Act requiring that Earth Federation officials address local conflicts by actively involving the local parties to these conflicts in working out solutions.  All these and more reflect the holism of the Earth Constitution directed to empowering participation and synergy between the Earth Federation and local communities.

The Earth Federation government can delineate a legal variety of forms of property and ownership. Personal ownership can be “private property” and limits may be placed on the amount of this any individual can possess. But there can be a variety of other forms of ownership: cooperatives (of different kinds), collectives (of different kinds), social ownership of schools, roads, parks, farms, factories, etc., protections for small businesses, and legally defined ways for larger businesses to involve their employees in decision-making processes.  One such possible way is described by Professor Richard Wolfe:

“The surplus-producing workers themselves would make the basic decisions about production and distribution. They would become, collectively and democratically, their own board of directors….. Capitalist enterprises would thereby be transformed into workers’ self-directed enterprises (WSDEs)”.

The  non-binding work of the Provisional World Parliament continues to make provisional world laws regarding the many issues confronting humankind, most of which are misrepresented by the UN and sovereign nations who do not wish to deal with them—since dealing with them requires changing the system to holism. Under the Earth Constitution, the World Parliament will also likely delineate and promote different kinds of rewards that are not limited simply to monetary rewards, although some monetary incentives should remain at least into the foreseeable future. It should be clear that the Constitution’s system of credit for productive or useful enterprises, quoted above, converts the credit system from a profit oriented debt system directed to profit for the lenders to a system premised on human flourishing and well-being. Good laws can be easily designed, following the model pioneered by democratic socialists in Sweden, to allow for “collective capital formation” in which many workers together create investment capital in order to extend and empower their sustainable development initiatives.

As American socialist thinker Michael Harrington asserts, in agreement with environmental economist Herman E. Daly, the presently disastrous GDP (Gross Domestic Product) measure of economic success can be transformed into a QDP or a QIP.  Instead of measuring economic success on a gross quantitative scale that includes pollution, environmental degradation, creation of self-made disasters, war profiteering, wasteful packaging, and mind-numbing advertising, a “Qualitative Domestic Product” or a “Qualitative International Product” could easily be devised to accurately measure the increase in human and environmental happiness and well-being. The UNDP (United Nations Development Program) has already done considerable work in this direction. However, the UNDP has no legal authority, nor resources, to make the QIP a global standard.  This is exactly one of the broad functions of the Earth Constitution: “to keep the Earth a safe, healthy and happy home for humanity.”

Under the Earth Constitution system, so-called “top down” and “bottom-up” come together in a holistic synergy that mirrors the holism of the human species and our planetary biosphere. The World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA), creator and sponsor of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, today encourages progressive grass-roots organizations of all sorts to adopt its logo and operate as members and participants in the Earth Federation Movement (EFM).  The Constitution can only bring the World Parliament to legitimate authority when ratified by the votes of the majority of people on Earth. As much as we also want the support of leaders and politicians in all countries, a global grass-roots movement is absolutely necessary for ratification.

WCPA and its Earth Federation Movement is the worldwide movement of organizations and persons who support ratification of the Earth Constitution and the initiation of a founded, intentional, holistic world system to supersede the present world fragmentation and chaos.  Whatever “world order” exists now is designed by the big banks, transnational corporations, and imperial nation-states to serve only elite interests. It is therefore illegitimate and must be replaced by a holistic world system that represents the flourishing of all and the protection of the biosphere for the benefit of future generations. The chart at the end of this article attempts to show something of this holistic synergy as WCPA includes more and more grass-roots organizations within the Earth Federation Movement.

A version of this chart was published by one of the grass-roots development organizations that participates in the EFM: the Development Organization for the Rural Poor (DORP) in Bangladesh, founded by Mr. AHM Nouman. Voters Party International (VPI), a huge grass roots movement within India, founded by Mr. Bharat Gandhi, also supports the Earth Constitution.  As British Professor Errol E. Harris points out in his 2008 book Earth Federation Now! Tomorrow is too Late, “a vigorous and determined global campaign such as we have described above must be conducted without delay for the ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth—a concerted campaign, in which all the appropriate organizations and societies must join—to inform and educate the peoples of the world of the enormity of the dangers and the indispensability of the required world order.”

The World Parliament, once constituted, will be tasked to address all of the above broad functions. It will also need to take into account the growing transformation of the world by technology and automation, and the fact that many of today’s jobs will be performed by machines tomorrow. In the light of this transformation and the accelerating climate crisis, the people of Earth may, on the one hand, end up under the domination of a tiny elite of corporations, super-power nations, and banking cartels. On the other hand, they may join together to democratize the world through ratification of the Earth Constitution and begin the creation of enforceable world laws that use technology to fulfill its implicit promise of a better life for all.  It is not inconceivable that the work-week can be reduced at the same time that our planet’s shameful absolute poverty is eliminated. It is not inconceivable that a civilization could be constructed that will include art centers everywhere, hobby and craft centers everywhere, non-denominational spiritual centers everywhere, libraries everywhere, and recreational sports centers everywhere. If we can pacify the current war-system of the world and redirect technology from weapons and war to human flourishing, the possibilities for a practical utopia may well be within reach.

Our choice, in easily conceivable ways, may be between dystopia and a very realistic practical utopia. The on-going technological revolution means that major transformations are on their way to humankind, whether we like it or not. Are the people of Earth going to take advantage of those transformations through creating an effective World Parliament that represents all of us?  Can we “decommodify” the market to the extent that it serves genuine human needs rather than exclusive private profit?

Can we “decommodify” the labor market so that workers are treated as human beings, yet still take note of the responses of the market in relation to supply and demand?  Under the Earth Constitution, the main agencies of the Integrative Complex will gather detailed scientific data on the environment, on the health of the population of Earth, and the social and technical options available. They will be able to submit proposals and cost/benefit analyses to the World Parliament for debate and consideration. In this way, humane and democratic “planning” for the optimum common good will integrate with market demands and free entrepreneurial activity at the grassroots level to allow for the simultaneous well-being and flourishing in freedom of the human population. (And this most certainly will include a dimension of care and compassion for our fellow living creatures on the Earth.)

These agencies are also necessary at the global level for three fundamental purposes: to ensure efficient market interactions worldwide, to ensure reasonable economic equity worldwide, and to ensure a sustainable total scale for the throughput of matter and energy that constitutes the global economy. They must monitor this scale carefully to keep it within the carrying capacity of the ecological system of our planet. A holistic sustainable development model joins global government with the grassroots in complementary ways that mirror the holism of our planetary ecosystem.

To do these things, the people of Earth must take charge of our planet in their own interest, as well as on behalf of the common good and future generations. Are we going to passively allow the present elites of the world to colonize these technological revolutions to make themselves even more powerful, and to perhaps extinguish our hopes for a peaceful, just, prosperous, and sustainable world system altogether?  Or are we going to create a holistic world system that creatively unites humanity at all levels? The Constitution for the Federation of Earth holds the key to making this choice, a choice that must be made now, before it is too late.

Works Cited

Constitution for the Federation of Earth. On-line at www.earth-constitution.org

Daly, Herman E. (1995). Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development.

Daly, Herman E. (2014). From Uneconomic Growth to a Steady-state Economy.

Harrington, Michael (1989). Socialism Past and Future.

Harris, Errol E. (2014). Earth Federation Now!  Tomorrow is Too Late: Second Edition.

Martin, Glen T. (2018). Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence.

Wolff, Richard. (2012). Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism.

World Legislative Acts of the Provisional World Parliament.  On-line at www.earth-constitution.org

World Federalism

Beyond War, Totalitarianism, and Donald J. Trump’s “State of Emergency”

Glen T. Martin

If we want a future on this planet, we must move beyond the current fragmented paradigm of militarized sovereign states to the holistic paradigm of unity in diversity based on the discoveries of every field of human endeavor for the past century.  Human beings are one species. Human civilization is one historical movement from primitive beginnings in Africa two million years ago, spreading globally over the past one hundred thousand years to every continent and every corner of our planet. The biosphere of our planet, into which human beings are inseparably woven, is one holistic reality that cannot be saved as long as we continue to operate with the anachronistic paradigms inherited from centuries ago that placed human beings above and separate from their natural environment.

Similarly, war, that today involves supersonic weapons of immense destructive power, cannot be abolished as long as we cling to the fragmented early modern paradigm that divided the world into absolute, “sovereign” nation-states with military forces capable of defending their absolute territorial borders and capable of aggression into other such sovereign territories.  Institutional arrangements have consequences that can be studied and predicted.  We can examine the history of militarized sovereign nation-states, a history of endless wars, imperial ambitions, and international intrigue, and conclude correctly that this institutional system for governing our planet has been an unmitigated disaster.  Indeed, since 1945, as European thinker Jürgen Moltmann declares, humankind has entered its “end time” (2012: 46). At any moment, we can wipe out humanity with our nuclear weapons.

The United Nations Charter declares that the UN system was founded to “end war.” However, the UN system is a “confederation” of sovereign nation-states. This means that the UN Charter gives the Security Council and the UN authority to use sanctions or military coercion against entire nation-states, not against individuals. Under the UN Charter, all legal authority over individuals is exclusively a function of the sovereign nation-states. Each nation has enforceable law authority over its individual citizens.

Even the development of the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not supersede this fragmented paradigm. The Rome Statute governing the Court has retained deference to the “sovereignty” of the nations in the Assembly of States Parties who joined as a group to establish the court. The court is powerless over individuals within these “states parties.” It cannot operate without the consent of the governments within which the court has identified some individuals guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes, or crimes of aggression. The ICC, even though it gestures toward individual accountability, retains the form of a confederation and therefore remains helpless to seriously advance the rule of democratic law on planet Earth.

The argument is sometimes made that a world federation, by creating a single supreme government for the Earth, would remove any possibility of resistance that now exists. For example (the argument goes) the U.S., being free from the domination of Europe and Asia by the Nazis and the Japanese imperialists during the Second World War, was able to come to the rescue of the world through defeating these imperialist totalitarian governments.  However, this reasoning is false on several levels.  The very structure of the system of sovereign nations creates a world where such emergencies are endemic. For militarized sovereign nation-states, recognizing no enforceable law over themselves, are forever tempted to use their military and economic competition with other such nation-states to their own advantage through aggression or economic manipulation. The US, far from being a bastion for freedom, has invaded Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and numerous other nation-states, causing immense death and destruction. In a recent article (2018), social scientist James Petras identifies the many current targets of US aggression.

Critical social thinker Ernst Bloch describes the “concealed dictatorship of the bourgeois constitutional state” that exists in today’s class societies, all of whom suffer under the domination of capitalism (1986: 150).  Class dominated society under capitalism is “concealed” because the ideology claims that unrestrained “free enterprise” is a function of democracy. The population is indoctrinated to think that their poverty and struggle with economic scarcity is a function of their freedom, while the top 10%, who own 90% of the wealth and clandestinely control the government are reaping the benefits of their concealed dictatorship in the form of ever more wealth and power. Karl Marx had already pointed this phenomenon out during the mid-19th century.

Secondly, nearly every sovereign nation-state feels that it must militarize. Given the speed and power of modern weapons, it must be ready for an emergency response to sudden attack.  To do this requires a “national security state” that operates in secret, and that spies not only on other nation-states but upon its own population as well. Democracy and its rule of law are therefore diminished, and all societies live today on the cusp of an emergency that might need to be declared because of subversion or sudden attack. In addition, within the past half century, the sovereign nation-states (with their concealed dictatorships) have discovered a new form of threat that requires similar “emergency” measures: terrorism. Their war against terrorism, a function of the lawlessness inherent in the system of sovereign nation-states itself, means a permanent suspension of human rights.  Philosopher of law David Luban writes:

That means that the real aim of the war is, quite simply, to kill or capture all the terrorists—to keep on killing and killing, capturing and capturing, until they are all gone…. The war has no natural resting point, no moment of victory or finality. It requires a mission of killing and capturing, in territories all over the globe, that will go in perpetuity. It follows as well that the suspension of human rights implicit in the hybrid war-law model is not temporary but permanent. (2003: 59-60)

Totalitarianism requires both the threat of enemies and internal emergencies to come to power. It requires the “suspension of human rights” as a perpetual emergency measure. As Bloch asserts, the “concealed dictatorship” of capital is always ready, if necessary, to emerge as an unconcealed dictatorship if they find this necessary to retain their dictatorial powers. In my recent article on “Global Democracy,” I described the role of capital in bringing Hitler and the Nazis to power during the 1920s and its continuing role in supporting their totalitarian dictatorship of 1933-45. Totalitarianism requires both some emergency and designated enemies to successfully emerge. (In that article, I described the “enemies” designated by the Nazis, but neglected to mention that they also targeted homosexuals and anyone outside of traditional German gender stereotypes.)

When the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, with an absolute power soon leading to the terrible Stalin dictatorship in the early years of the Soviet Union, the claim was that the civil war in Russia required emergency solutions. During the Stalinist era, it was the Trotskyites and bourgeois compromisers who had to be eliminated. When the Nazis came to power, as described in my “Global Democracy” article, they cited not only enemies, but also the economic crisis of terrible inflation and chaos. Their chief political theorist, Carl Schmitt, argued that democracy (imposed upon Germany by the victors in World War I) was inherently unstable and required a “decisionism” in the form of commands from a supreme commander in chief.  The state of emergency, with enemies both abroad and internal to Germany, required establishing the totalitarian system to restore and maintain order.

When Pol Pot came to power in Cambodia, their country and its institutions had been devastated by the US saturation bombing of Southeast Asia. The dictatorship declared that the emergency required the genocidal winnowing of their own population (enemies within) to address the crisis and implement their communist ideology.  The genocide in Rwanda during 1994, as Michel Chossudovsky (1999) has shown, was significantly caused by the “structural adjustment” programs imposed by the IMF and World Bank on this already poor nation. This externally caused economic desperation and chaos brought to power one tribe that designated another tribe as the “enemy within,” with well-known genocidal consequences.

After the attack on the US in September 2001, the government declared a state of emergency in which civil liberties were severely curtailed, internal spying on Americans and others around the world was officially launched, and perpetual war was declared on terrorism, with the consequences described by David Luban in the above quote.  The Bush and Obama administrations continued this systematic attack on universal human rights through their lawless policies of assassination of suspected “enemy combatants.”  Today, Donald J. Trump, after giving massive tax breaks to the capitalist ruling class in the US, now threatens to invoke his power to declare a national emergency to build his wall against the “threat” of lawless immigrants and terrorists on the southern border of the US.  All these elements of totalitarianism are clearly functions of the system of militarized sovereign nation-states integrated with the “concealed dictatorship” of capital.

None of this would have much chance of happening if the world were organized as a universal federation under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. As John Scales Avery (2018) has observed, the UN has failed in its declared mission to “end war.” This is mainly because it remains a “confederation” of sovereign nation-states in which so-called “international law” primarily involves rules governing the behavior of entire nations and not laws holding individuals responsible to the law as in a federation.

Within a federation, local affairs are addressed by local government, regional affairs by regional government, national affairs by national government, and planetary affairs by the World Parliament. The Earth Constitution holds individuals responsible to the law worldwide and thereby eliminates the need for any military forces anywhere on Earth. Because the UN system fails to do this, the UN Security Council is empowered to keep the peace internationally through the use of “land, air, or sea forces,” in other words, by war.

In a planetary federation under the Earth Constitution, the people of Earth are empowered above the corporations, the wealthiest top 10%, and the national governments. The “concealed dictatorship” of capital is significantly ended along with the ever-present threat of totalitarianism. No agency or officials of the Earth Federation government will have the power to declare a state of emergency and suspend the Constitution. This authority is simply unnecessary within a democratic world federation (cf. Martin 2016, Chap. 7). All individuals are responsible to the laws, which are enforced by civilian police: world laws by civilian world police, national laws by national police, regional laws by regional police, and local laws by local police.  War and the threat of totalitarianism are effectively ended, precisely because the sovereign nation-state war system is effectively ended.

There are a number of national federations today that embody this principle.  For example, the US is a federation of 50 states with national laws enforceable over all individuals, and none of the 50 states has or needs a military. Rather, they have their own civilian state police forces enforcing state laws.  One can travel from one state to another without visa or passport.  This is what a peace system looks like (at least to the extent that this is possible under current economic and political paradigms), and this is the only way to bring peace to the world.  A world federation under the Earth Constitution constitutes a world peace system.  And that is why the UN system has not been able to achieve peace, nor prevent genocides, or prevent totalitarian governments from arising. The UN Charter needs to be replaced by the Constitution for the Federation of Earth and all viable UN agencies integrated into the democratic world government under the Constitution.

Donald J. Trump has the authority to declare a state of emergency on false pretenses and assume dictatorial powers, just as Hitler assumed dictatorial powers after the false-flag “emergency” of the burning of the Reichstag. These powers derive from a world political system based on a false paradigm. The holistic world system under the Earth Constitution raises human institutions into a new paradigm of unity in diversity, a paradigm that conforms to the holistic reality of our human situation as revealed by all contemporary sciences. The paradigm includes world federalism, the principle of unity in diversity under which all persons are held accountable to democratically legislated laws enforced by civilian police.

The deeper problem is not dictatorial personalities like Donald Trump, Muhammed din Salman, Vladimir Putin, or Adolph Hitler.  The problem of totalitarianism, wars, genocides, and perpetual human rights violations is most fundamentally a system problem.  We will not solve this problem until we change the system.

 

Works Cited

Avery, John Scales. 2018. “A World Federation,”

found at: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1812/S00012/a-world-federation-by-john-scales-avery.htm

Bloch, Ernst. 1986. Natural Law and Human Dignity. Dennis J. Schmidt, trans. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chossudovsky, Michel. 1999.. The Globalization of Poverty: Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms. London: Zed Books LTD.

Constitution for the Federation of Earth.  Found at many websites such as www.earth-constitution.org

Martin, Glen T. 2016. One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract, Chapter 7.

Moltmann, Jürgen. 2012. Ethics of Hope. Trans. Margaret Kohl. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Petras, James. 2018. “A World of Multiple Detonators of Global Wars” reprinted in Information Clearing House at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50753.htm

 

 

 

Global Democracy

Global Democracy

Glen T. Martin

6 January 2019

Abstract. In this article, I argue that the deeper causes of war, social chaos, and movements like Nazism are rooted in the twin institutions of the system of “sovereign” nation-states and global capitalism. We shall see that right wing ideologies become exacerbated and encouraged by these intertwined institutions. In addition, I argue that the only proper locus for democracy is at the planetary scale, and, indeed, only on the global scale can human beings begin to inherit the inner promise of democracy for a world of peace, justice, and sustainability. Finally, this article advocates ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth and the advent of truly global democracy.

I am writing this article in Munich, Germany, the birthplace of the Nazi movement that led to the Second World War and the Holocaust.  Yesterday, we visited the Nazi Documentation Center (NS Dokuzentrum Muenchen) and today the National Socialist wing of the Munich City Museum (Munchner Stadtmuseum). Both centers do an excellent job in collecting the historical record that documents the sentiments, conditions, events, and personalities that led to the triumph of the Nazis from before World War I. They trace the movement, in which Adolph Hitler played a key role here in Munich, through the post war chaos that made the rise of the Nazis possible, to the assumption of dictatorial power in 1933, to World War II (1941-1945) and the “denazification” process after the war.

These centers also chronicle the reaction of the people of Munich to their role in this horrific history and the controversies over openly recording and recognizing this history that have persisted to the present day. The Nazi Documentation Center itself was only established a few years ago (May 2015), apparently as the third such center in Germany after the ones in Berlin and Nuremberg. This entire history shows the role of right wing ideas and right wing movements in creating the institutions and conditions of aggressive war, holocaust, totalitarianism, and atrocities against all who are not the mythically constructed “superior” ones of right wing ideology.

Nazi ideology thrives and grows through the mythic magnification of some “in-group” and the exclusion of others as impure, corrupting, and inferior to the in-group. In the case of the Nazis, led by Hitler and others, it was the Jews, the Roma, the blacks, the communists (as social decadents), and in general, all non-Aryan peoples who polluted and corrupted the superior German race.  However, this history also reveals that these mythically constructed prejudices, fears, and hatreds grow when there are chaotic social conditions that drive people to desperation, who seek some common enemy and cause for their desperate situation.

The conditions during and following World War I in Germany were of this nature. The many principalities of Germany had only become administratively unified by 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War. There was resentment in Bavaria and its capitol, Munich, against the Berlin central government. Munich had its own identity and conservative ethos, and disliked many “liberal” and more progressive ideas that emanated from Berlin.  Following the war there were many people, like Hitler, who blamed other Germans for the defeat of Germany.  There was little German central government control in Munich (far from Berlin), which made the city ripe for struggle for political power by Communists, right wing movements, moderates, liberals and others seeking control of the government.

There was also wide resentment of the Versailles Peace Agreement that ended the war and imposed harsh reparations against Germany.  There was growing economic chaos and runaway inflation in which the German Deutschmark, beginning during the war, became progressively evermore worthless and many people rapidly lost their life savings and means of living. The conditions were ripe for extremists like Hitler, who was a stirring speaker and clever strategist, to rally masses of people to the ideology of hate, fear, exclusion, solidarity against the enemies, and pride in one’s superiority and strength.  Mass meetings to hear Hitler speak took place in the huge beer halls and public places here in Munich during the 1920s.

Right from the beginning, the nascent movement behind Hitler often used lethal violence to intimidate and silence opponents, as in the attempted “Beer-hall Putsch” in 1923 when Hitler’s National Socialist People’s Workers Party (NSDAP), led by Hitler himself, attempted to take over the government here in Munich. The Putsch failed, and Hitler was charged with treason, but many prominent people (including the right wing judiciary) supported him and, therefore, he spent very little time in jail and was not deported to his country of origin, Austria.

The NSDAP beat up or assassinated opponents and used the media to emphasize the atrocities or violence of those who disagreed and to cover over and minimize their own atrocities and violence. The swastika, the Nazi symbol, was used and displayed everywhere right from the beginning. The mainstream Catholic and Protestant churches were largely accommodating and complicit with the growth of this violent, hate-filled, movement. Religious resistance came mainly from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who refused to cooperate with this paramilitary and violent extremism, and were badly persecuted because of this.

The holocaust (the “final solution”), the aggressive wars, the totalitarian control over the thought and lives of all citizens, were all implicit in the Nazi ideology from the very beginning, an ideology not at all incompatible with capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states. These wars, totalitarianism, and “final solutions” were not, therefore, an aberration to this right wing extremism but an integral part of its mythical ideology. Hitler could never have succeeded without investors, and there were plenty of these available in capitalist Germany and Munich (as well as many US investors). Both capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states are institutions fundamentally necessary to the flourishing of right wing extremism because both exacerbate the conditions described above that undergirded the Nazi rise to power.

Capitalism is a system of “free enterprise” in which those with economic resources can invest in profit-making ventures.  As such, capitalism thrives in nearly all human social conditions: from natural disasters to wars to conditions of social chaos like those that existed in Germany after World War I. Those with money to invest will invest in whatever appears to be growing or flourishing so that the investor may expect a return on the investment.

Capitalist “entrepreneurs” are those who see the possibility of making a profit off people’s difficulties and needs no matter under what conditions they find themselves. It is the ultimate creed of amorality. Capitalists saw the growing acceptance of right wing ideology in Munich and began to fund the Nazi party, its leadership, and its media that spewed forth relentless propaganda. After the Nazi Party assumed totalitarian state power in 1933, the big corporations worked hand in glove with the party and raked in profits hand over fist, not least because of the slave labor provided to them from the Nazi concentration camps.

Capitalism also thrives on racism, and/or on nationalism, on anything that divides human beings from one another and leads them to blame someone else for their situation of scarcity and misery. Capitalism generates a ruling class whose wealth and power makes them feel superior to the rest of the population. However, rather than have the majority in difficulty target this ruling class for political action and change, capitalism is happy to fan the flames of racism or nationalism (both endemic to the Nazi ideology) in order to distract people from the real cause of their problems, which is the capitalist system itself.

Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine and the Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) documented the horror of the US sponsored system of imperial capitalism that has raged around the world since the 1970s. In the view of the capitalist-imperialists (quoting what she calls “the Chicago School of Economics”), any society that has public assets (public transportation, free education, public health care, social security, etc.) is an impediment to capitalism because private profit-making is diminished by resources directed to the public good rather than private profit. Ideologues like Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs promoted the US government using political and imperial power to force economic “shock therapy” on governments around the world in which all assets were suddenly privatized and available to private profit-making.

This system of imperial promotion of capitalism was also chronicled by James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer in Capitalism with Imperialism and studied by Christopher Chase-Dunn and James Boswell in The Spiral of Capitalism and Socialism: Toward Global Democracy, and in many other scholarly books. These scholars show that the “rise of disaster capitalism,” in which entrepreneurs profit from the social chaos that results from both human made disasters (such as war) and natural disasters (such as tsunamis or hurricanes), is nothing new but intrinsic to the system of capitalism itself from its very inception centuries ago.

The system of sovereign nation-states, dividing our planet into about 200 separate governmental entities with absolute borders, means that human and natural disasters become compounded since nations are largely on their own and easily subject to aggression from other nations or subversion through economic or other means. Nazi Germany came to power as a militarized sovereign nation-state, fostering a rabid nationalism, and its invasions of Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, Russia and other countries could not have happened if the world was a demilitarized federation as envisioned by the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Each of these nations was part of the fragmented system of militarized sovereign nations recognizing no enforceable laws above themselves. Each of these nations fostered nationalism in its own population as it fought back against the enemy Germans.

The fragmented system allows the powerful imperial nations (run by their capitalist ruling classes) to dominate the weaker nations through economic pressure, monetary indebtedness, threats, or outright war.  In the late 20th century, the US wiped out 3-4 million people in southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), and with its NATO allies destroyed the former Yugoslavia, a successful socialist state. US subversion of Yugoslavia and NATO created a human rights nightmare of wars and atrocities among the Balkan sub-states of Yugoslavia, and later acted as saviors by pacifying the mess they had created. In the 21st century, the US and its imperial allies have invaded Afghanistan, destroyed Iraq, bombed Pakistan, Somalia, and other states, destroyed the stable, prosperous government of Libya, and caused immense suffering in Syria and Yemen. As Michael Parenti has pointed out in The Face of Imperialism and other works, the list of interventions and destruction of other people’s nations and lives by the US with its ideology of global capitalism appears endless.

Capitalism loves this divided and suffering world as the source of immense profit for its “entrepreneurs.” They make high profits from the manufacturer, transport, and sale of weapons worldwide and they make immense profits from securing, and rebuilding, the devastated societies that their weapons manufacture has created.  Capitalism as such has no moral grounding. It simply makes profit. It profits more from human disasters and misery than from stable societies in which assets are public, since public assets are there not for private profit but for the common good of the citizens. The sovereign nation-state system, which is a system of war and perpetual humanitarian disasters (as well as a system of imperial domination of the rich nations over the poor nations) is therefore fundamental to the capitalist drive to maximize private profit.

The drive for private profit requires a system of scarcity. There must be simply not enough to go around, and therefore prices can be kept high enough to maximize private profit. Similarly, money must be created as debt to private banking institutions, since money must also necessarily be in short supply in order to maximize private profit. In a system where assets are publicly owned and directed to the common good (a system in which there is reasonable economic equality and enough for everybody), capitalists have significantly less opportunity to maximize their profit at the expense of people and the environment.

Publicly owned resources may include protected national parks or forest preserves in which capitalist exploitation is prohibited by law. Such protection enrages those who believe that the right to private profit is the ultimate right, superseding all other rights. Their mythic ideology, not unlike that of the Nazis, proclaims that “democracy” means the right to exploit without restriction in order to maximize profit.

The Nazis claimed the ultimate “right” of the Volk, the mythically conceived people, to dominate and exploit. The US capitalists claim that they foster “democracy,” a mythically conceived “right” of the rich to dominate and exploit the poor. When the US proclaims it is “promoting democracy” worldwide, this, of course, is merely a code word for maximizing private profit worldwide, at the expense of people, the environment, and future generations.

Both the system of capitalism and the system of warring sovereign nation-states goes back 3 to 4 or more centuries. Over this period in every nation-state, capitalists have colonized the governments of these states, very often in the name of “democracy.” Therefore, because they have coopted the politicians and colonized the governments of many nations, there is no nation today that really serves the common good of its people. One of the principle founders of their ideology was the British philosopher John Locke, who said that the ultimate rights that all governments must respect are “life, liberty, and property.”  It is vast accumulations of private property today that dominate every nation that calls itself “democratic.”

Nearly every nation, in one way or another, serves the regime of private profit at the expense of nature and society. Even Western European nations participate in the imperial destruction of other nations world-wide through NATO, which is an imperialist military organization under US domination. These nations with their high standard of living benefit from a world-system in which many of their goods are manufactured within poor, sweatshop nations, to be imported to the great economic advantage for the wealthier nations. It is in the interest of their ruling classes to support the US led imperial domination of the world.

Any nation that rebels against this world system (of sovereign nation-states interfaced with global capitalism), and tries to create a socialist or economically democratic regime, is immediately targeted for destruction by the dominant system of capitalist-imperialist nations: Chile, which democratically elected a socialist in 1970, had its government destroyed by a US sponsored coup in 1973. Cuba, which threw out a US supported dictator in 1959, was targeted by a 50 year total economic blockade as well as by many attempts at assassination or overthrow of its revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro.

Yugoslavia, a successful socialist federation of nations, had to be destroyed under capitalist-imperialist ideology, which as Noam Chomsky affirms, cannot tolerate “the threat of a good example” anywhere on Earth.  Nicaragua, which threw out a US supported dictator in 1979 and instituted a democratic-Christian socialist government, had to be, and was, destroyed by US sponsored terrorist attacks over the next decade. Venezuela today is similarly under systematic attack by the US because of its attempt to end poverty, end homelessness and lack of education, and provide healthcare for all its citizens.

“Democracy” literally means “rule of the people.” However, under capitalism, governments calling themselves democratic have been colonized by the wealthy in their own interests. Any government that limits the ability of the capitalists to rule as an oligarchy is immediately targeted and destroyed. Karl Marx pointed out long ago that there cannot be effective political democracy unless there is also reasonable economic democracy, and this remains at true today as it was in the 19th century. That is why there can never be effective democracy on the Earth unless it is global democracy.

Capitalism thrives upon scarcity as well as disaster. If resources are abundantly available to people, prices remain low and profit severely curtailed.  However, if a needed commodity is scarce, prices and profits soar.  The fragmented system of sovereign nation-states is a perpetual disaster for many places around the world, fostered by wars, economic competition, tariffs, blockades, and shifting alliances.  This makes it perfect for capitalism, which thrives on right wing ideologies, fears, and hatreds, perpetuating social disasters and wars without end—all of which bring tremendous profit to capitalists.

How do we create government that is responsive to the needs of citizens and thereby establishes peace, justice, and sustainability? Under today’s world system, it is impossible to create any such government. The global capitalist-imperialist institutions will immediately target such a government for overthrow or elimination.  Today, we face the prospects of both global nuclear war and planetary climate disaster. At the heart of both of these planetary crises lie the twin evils of capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states. If humanity were united, there would be no supposed need for nuclear weapons or any weapons of war, and, if humanity were united under the Earth Constitution, there would be no more capitalist taking advantage of fragmentation and disaster to maximize private profit.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth creates a World Parliament as the ultimate legal authority on our planet, representing the sovereignty of the people of Earth and dedicated to promoting their common good. It places the basic resources of the Earth necessary for the common good in the hands of the global public authority (Article 4) and establishes global public banking that ends the indebtedness of nations and peoples to the private banking cartels (Article 8). This common good clearly and explicitly entails ending war and disarming the nations, protecting human rights worldwide, ending extreme poverty on the Earth, and protecting the global environment (Article 1).  The world system of elections and agencies is arranged so that big money cannot dominate and so that people from around the world are truly represented.

The Constitution, therefore, nonviolently establishes legitimate governmental authority higher and greater than the nation-states, the corporations, and the private bankers.  It creates a global public authority that will end the system of nation-state imperialism (by the US and NATO or any other imperial powers). Therefore, for the first time in history there will be government not colonized by imperial powers, nor by capitalists, nor by banking cartels.

There cannot be successful democracy (that is, reasonable economic and political equality for all) anywhere on Earth as long as the system of global capitalism in league with the system of militarized nation-states persists on our planet.  Reasonable economic equality will be destroyed anywhere and everywhere until the day when the people of Earth raise their true sovereign authority over every nation, every bank, and every corporation. Then we will have global democracy and the law will constrain the market place to serve the common good rather than the accumulation of private wealth.

Democracy must be global democracy under the Earth Constitution, or there will never be authentic democracy on the Earth. The fundamental assets of our planet must belong to the people of Earth and be used to serve the common good (Article 4).  Only in this way is a decent future possible for human beings.  If we want to end capitalism and the war system, and their spin offs in fascism and Nazism, then we must ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

Works Cited

Boswell, Terry and Chase-Dunn, Christopher (2000). The Spiral of Capitalism and Socialism: Toward Global Democracy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Chomsky, Noam (1995). What Uncle Sam Really Wants. New York: Odonian Press.

Constitution for the Federation of Earth.  On-line at www.earth-constitution.org.

Klein, Naomi (2007). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Martin, Glen T. (2010a). Constitution for the Federation of Earth. With Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

Martin, Glen T. (2010b). Triumph of Civilization: Democracy, Nonviolence, and the Piloting of Spaceship Earth. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

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

Marx, Karl (1972). Karl Marx: The Essential Writings. Federic L. Bender, ed. New York: Harper & Row.

Parenti, Michael (2011). The Face of Imperialism. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.

Petras, James and Veltmeyer, Henry (2005). Empire with Imperialism: The Globalizing Dynamics of Neo-liberal Capitalism. London: ZED Books.

 

 Sovereignty versus Freedom What does it mean to be a “free nation”?

 

Glen T. Martin

The World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA), creator and sponsor of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, affirms that the authority of government, any and all government, arises from the people. The primary function of all government is to represent the common good of the people, since its legitimate authority, or “sovereignty,” refers back to them and derives from them through their continually renewed and on-going consent.

Article 2 of the Earth Constitution states that “The World Government for the Federation of Earth shall be non-military and shall be democratic in its own structure, with ultimate sovereignty residing in all the people who live on Earth” (Martin, ed. 2010). In this essay I will show that (1) the only correct meaning of sovereignty is precisely “all the people who live on Earth,” (2) that national claims to absolute sovereignty are therefore illegitimate, and (3) that a “free nation” is not a sovereign nation (according to the present day skewed definition of sovereignty), but rather, quite the opposite.  Finally (4), I will show that the Constitution for the Federation of Earth represents a document that can establish true (legitimate) sovereignty for the nations and simultaneously constitute them as truly free nations for the first time in history.

A truly free nation is one empowered and protected by the genuine rule of democratic law, with a limited sovereign authority derived from the people of Earth, just as a “free human being” is similarly one who is empowered and protected by the genuine rule of democratic law. A free human being can be called “sovereign” insofar as he or she lives under the rule of democratic laws that are constitutionally limited by specified inalienable rights. Therefore, the individual person is a sovereign “ultimate authority” as to how he or she will live life within the empowering and limiting framework of the rule of law.

The constitution establishes a federation of all nations and peoples of Earth through the creation of a World Parliament, a World Judiciary, and all the institutions necessary for the people of Earth to govern themselves in peace, justice, freedom, and sustainability. World legislation is binding and enforceable over all individual persons on Earth, and from this national governments derive their legitimate political authority to both govern their internal affairs and to democratically participate in the Earth Federation government under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

Scholars often date the emergence of the modern system of sovereign nation-states to the Peace of Westphalia that took place in 1648 after the Thirty Years War in Europe. Even prior to that time, however, the concept of the sovereignty of Kings or Emperors was symbolically associated with the idea that they represented the good of the people over which they ruled (Philpott 2001).

Sovereignty means the ultimate authority, the place where debate stops and decisions must be made which make enforceable laws possible (Green 1964; Ingram 2006).  How to interpret the application of the rule of laws to specific conflicts or contentions requires that the law be interpreted by a final authority, an authority that represents sovereignty, a judge or judges with the authority to interpret and apply the law to specific circumstances.  That is why all forms of government require not only a Parliament to make laws, and an Executive to administer the laws made by the Parliament, but also a judiciary to interpret and make final decisions that make possible the genuine rule of law, enforceable over all individuals.

Sovereignty means government deriving from the authority of the people and representing their common good. As such, no national government is legitimately sovereign because it derives only from a territorially bounded segment of the people of Earth (Reves 1946). It does not represent all people and therefore is not legitimately sovereign. The holism of humanity, scientifically discovered and confirmed throughout the 20th century, requires that all law be ultimately derived from the sovereignty of the people of Earth. The fragmentation of absolute sovereign militarized national territories violates this principle.

Democratically legislated, executively administered, and judicially enforced laws are what make individual persons free. This is normally constituted within a constitutional framework that specifies the rights of persons that must be respected by government and the limits on the powers of governmental officials whose one and only mandate is to serve the common good of the people. A democratic constitution is one ratified by the people and structured as to serve the common good of the people. At present, no national constitution on Earth represents the common good of the people of Earth. Our common good and that of future generations (which includes the rights to peace and a protected planetary environment) is, therefore, structurally denied.  The very existence of militarized sovereign nation-states is a violation of the rights and dignity of all humanity and future generations.

The personhood of every human being is a socially constructed.  Our personhood is a social product. There is no selfhood or personality prior to our interaction with others. The law institutionalizes this as legal citizenship, specifying rights and duties that make possible life in complex communities.  In very small communities, we may interact solely in terms of rules of custom or courtesy that define our behavior and relationships.  In any larger community beyond the level of face to face interactions, human freedom is necessarily constituted by enforceable laws, not exclusively by custom and courtesy.

As many jurists and philosophers of law have pointed out, the law is not only criminal law in which some sovereign authority prohibits certain behaviors and punishes transgressors. This aspect of law, of course, also protects and serves human freedom. True democratically legislated criminal law is meant to protect the well-being and independence of citizens from murder, assault, rape, robbery, etc.  However, there are also substantial dimensions of civil law and tort law that empower citizens to live their lives with autonomy and dignity, not only protecting citizens from unwanted interference by others but coordinating the common life so as to maximize everyone’s freedom equally (Hart 1994; Luban 2007).

Democratic laws under a credible Constitution also place limits on the authorities, who themselves must obey the rule of law. Its purpose is to empower citizens to be able to live lives that are safe, with their basic needs satisfied, and empowered to pursue goals that develop, evolve, and make possible fulfillment of their aspirations, making human lives meaningful and worthwhile (Gewirth, 1995). The law empowers us to pursue our dreams and ideals, and it helps us secure our attainments (Luban 2007). If we complete a course of study and attain a degree, the law ensures that this attainment is legally recognized and that it cannot be taken away from us.  If we go to a doctor or a dentist to maintain the health of our body so that we may continue to pursue the goals we believe worthwhile, the law helps guarantee that the person providing medicine or medical help is qualified and certified. If we purchase a product or a food item, the law helps ensure its quality. If others attempt to interfere with our pursuit of our aspirations, the civil law protects us from many forms of interference and allows us to proceed unhindered toward our goals.

Democratic law is directed toward the empowerment of persons over two dimensions: the economic and social dimension of providing security and other institutions directed to serving economic and social needs such as healthcare, education, social security, decent income, and free access to information and the cultural heritage of civilization.  The second dimension is that which the first dimension supports and empowers: the ability of people to make life choices and pursue goals they deem meaningful and worthwhile (Gewirth 1982).  These two dimensions together form the purpose of democratic law and both are necessary for meaningful freedom to exist.

The law thus makes us free, and legal citizenship for each person is the foundation of his or her freedom. Then what constitutes a “free nation”?  A person who defies the rule of democratic law, who arrogantly insists that he or she is above the law and independent of the law is not a free person, but rather an enemy of both other people’s freedom and his or her own. A person who claims that he or she is above the law is a criminal. Does freedom suddenly become something entirely different when applied to the concept of a nation?

The Westphalian system of sovereign, independent nation-states locked inside of absolute territorial boundaries is a product of fragmented 17th century thinking, under an atomistic paradigm that had not yet understood the holism of humanity, our planetary system, and the universe itself (Harris 2000). It was only in the 20th century that humankind finally began to fully understand that holism and interdependency comprise the structure of the universe and everything in it.  It is now clear that the atomism of the system of sovereign territorial nation-states contradicts the holism and indivisibility of human rights, the holism and dignity of our common humanity, and the fact that sovereignty arises from the people of Earth as a common species and not from any historically conditioned territorial power centers.  Legal citizenship, universal human rights, within a framework of democratic law equally enforceable over all individuals is the right and duty of each human person (Kant 1965).

That is why sovereignty must belong to the people of Earth and cannot legitimately belong to any historically conditioned territorial nation-state.  Even in the 17th century, many major philosophical thinkers understood that the sovereign nation-state system was intrinsically a war system.  These thinkers included Spinoza, Hobbes, and Locke in the 17th century, Kant in the 18th century and Hegel in the 19th century. At that time, the issue was framed in terms of social contract theory.  The social contract (the creation of government over the citizens of a territory) was instituted, according to Hobbes to keep the peace (Hobbes 1963, orig. pub. 1651).

Yet beyond the borders of these territorial islands of legally enforced peace, Hobbes declared that the nation-states confront one another as “gladiators.” In his 1795 essay on “Perpetual Peace,” Kant called this system of militarized sovereign nation-states “savage and barbaric.” Hegel observed this same phenomena in the 19th century.  To be in a perpetual condition of war is not to be “free,” but rather to be a slave to fear, insecurity, and action directed toward defense and preparations for defense, rather than to actualizing legitimate life goals. Just as a person who refuses to live under the rule of democratically legislated laws is a criminal, so nation-states claiming no enforceable laws above themselves are criminal organizations at war with the holism of humanity. They violate the very foundation of legitimate law and government. Today, rogue states like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States make this very clear.

It is the same with individuals as with nations.  Individuals in a condition where there is no law (which the social contract theorists called the “state of nature”) are not free but rather enslaved by constant fears, constant security concerns, constant arms races or violent confrontations. Hobbes surmised that in this condition life was “nasty, brutish, and short.”  Such individuals cannot pursue their life goals in peace and security.  Just as no individual in this condition of anarchy is free, so no nation in this condition of international anarchy is free.  To claim that an entity is a “sovereign nation,” (under today’s definition of sovereignty embodied, for example in the UN Charter) is to claim that there is no enforceable laws above the level of national governments.

People mistakenly call a sovereign nation a “free” nation, at least partly because during the colonial era people longed to be free from foreign domination.  But when nation-states finally were “freed” from colonial domination, they found out very quickly that they were now enslaved by the fragmented global war system and global economic system: by the World Bank, the IMF, the need for defense, militarism, protection of borders, prevention of terrorism, exclusion of foreigners, and the threat of subversions from internal and external sources (see Klein 2007).

India won it freedom from the British in 1947.  Today, it is a sovereign nation but hardly a “free” nation. It is beset by security concerns vis-à-vis its neighbors such as Pakistan and China, in constant fear of terrorism, and unable to deal with the immense slavery and bondage of millions of its citizens because it is part of a global economic system in which wealth moves upward to the rich or to foreign corporations operating in India, and never trickles down to the poorest of the poor.  It has been sucked into a nuclear arms race and its freedom to extricate itself from this horror is close to nil because there is no enforceable world law that can disarm any of these nations. The idea of a “free” sovereign nation is an illusion and simply serves as an ideological mantra for those who benefit from the current “savage and barbaric” system: mostly corrupt politicians, corporate executives, and weapons manufacturers.

A free person is one whose life is empowered and protected by living within a framework of democratically legislated laws under a democratic Constitution for the Federation of Earth.  That the Constitution be global is necessarily the case, for the personal freedom of people within militarized sovereign nation-states is severely compromised by war taxes, national security measures, endless spying on the personal lives of citizens, and a general atmosphere of fear and insecurity.  The people of the USA, for example, have been forced by their corrupt government to spend some 4 trillion dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while the people themselves suffer poverty, lack of healthcare, denial of decent education, inadequate social security, and a crumbling infrastructure.

Just as human persons only become truly free under democratic world law, so nations only become truly free under democratic world law encompassed by the Earth Constitution. Freedom means they will no longer have to exhaust their resources in absurd military spending. Freedom means they will be able to provide quality healthcare, education, social security, and infrastructure to all their citizens.  Freedom means they can operate their government in security without having to worry about invasion or subversion or even most terrorism (which I have shown elsewhere is largely a product of the militarized sovereign nation-state system). Freedom means they will be able to fully cooperate with others to protect the planetary environment.

A free nation is a secure nation living in harmony and cooperation with all other nations with ample resources to protect the environment, enhance its cultural creativity and traditions, and truly serve the common good of its citizens, rather than sacrifice that common good to security concerns and an implacable war and terrorism system (see Luban 2003).  Peace, social justice, environmental protection, and authentic freedom all go together.  War, injustice, environmental destruction, and lack of freedom all go together.

Persons become truly free for the first time under democratic world law and nations will become truly free for the first time under democratic world law.  A free nation, like a free person, has a sovereignty that is derivative from, and legitimated by, the sovereignty of the people of Earth.  The Constitution establishes a Federation of free nations.  Immanuel Kant declared that the world needs a “federation of free nations,” and Mahatma Gandhi called for exactly the same solution to our world anarchy (see Martin 2017). Albert Einstein declared that “a world government must be created that can solve conflicts between nations by judicial decision” (Martin 2018, p. 21). What they envisioned was not some impossible amalgamations of militarized nation-states claiming a sovereignty that recognizes no enforceable laws above itself. What they envisioned was the true freedom that derives from living under constitutionality defined democratic world laws.

A federation of free nations is not some impossible forcing together of so-called sovereign nations in a confederation like the present UN system, recognizing no effective law above themselves. It is rather a federation in which they are truly united— in which the sovereignty of each is derived from the ultimate sovereignty of all. This is what it means to be free, for both individuals and for nations. We must join our hands, hearts, and minds to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

 

Works Cited

Gewirth, Alan (1982). Human Rights: Essays on Justification and Applications.

Gewirth, Alan (1996). The Community of Rights.

Green, T.H. (1964). T.H. Green: Political Theory. John R. Rodman, ed.

Harris, Errol E. (20 00). Apocalypse and Paradigm: Science and Everyday Thinking.

Harris, Errol E. (2008). Twenty-first Century Renaissance: From Plato to Neoliberalism to Planetary Democracy.

Hart, H.L.A. (1994). The Concept of Law.

Hobbes, Thomas (1963). Leviathan.

Ingram, David (2006). Law: Key Concepts in Philosophy.

Klein, Naomi (2007). The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Kant, Immanuel (1965). The Metaphysical Elements of Justice.

Kant, Immanuel (1974). Perpetual Peace and Other Essays.

Luban, David (2003). “The War on Terrorism and the End of Human Rights.”  In Verna V. Gehring, ed. War After September 11.

Luban, David (2007). Legal Ethics and Human Dignity.

Martin, Glen T. (2010). A Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Edited, with an Introduction by Glen T. Martin. See also www.earth-constitution.org.

Martin, Glen T. (2017). Gandhi’s Satyagraha and the Earth Constitution,” In Global Peacekeeping in the Digital Age: A Research Handbook.

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

Reves, Emery (1946). The Anatomy of Peace.

Three Reasons Why it Is Immoral to Serve in the Military of Any Country

Three Reasons Why it Is Immoral to Serve in the Military of Any Country

Glen T. Martin

President, World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA)

www.earth-consitution.org

The first reason why it is immoral to serve in any military is based on our moral freedom as human beings. Our sense of ethical obligation, our capacity to do what is morally right and not merely live according to our desires, is the source of our dignity as human beings. Since this is what justifies our lives and gives us our innate value as human beings, it is vital for each of us as individual persons to pay careful attention to the quality and implications of our actions (see Martin 2018, Chap. 2).

A free, moral human being is personally responsible for his or her actions. This capacity for moral integrity the glory and crown of human existence. Our worth derives not from wealth or power or fame, but from our moral autonomy and dignity as persons.

The idea of human rights in such documents as the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights derives from this dignity. Animals don’t have rights except insofar as human beings give these to them, or at least have compassion for them. They can be bought, sold, or used for human purposes. Only a human being cannot be bought, sold, or used by other human beings because of our innate dignity, our human rights. Only a human being, and no other animal that we know of, has the innate dignity of rights that derive directly from the fact that we are free, self-aware, moral agents.

One 20th century thinker wrote a book entitled Moral Man, Immoral Society, pointing out that people are often corrupted when they are part of institutions that pressure them to act in ways they might not choose to act as individuals. However, in a free society, individuals usually have a choice about whether to follow “immoral institutions” and can maintain at least some of their moral integrity. They can quit their job and get another job if their employer expects them to do something immoral. If their community insists they participate in a lynching, they can refuse, and perhaps move to another community. If their church wants them to hate and fear those who are different, they can join another church.

They can do this because they have enough moral autonomy to want to preserve their moral integrity and dignity as human beings. Any relatively free society makes possible this moral autonomy in its citizens, even though such integrity may often require great courage and personal sacrifice. However, there is one institution in nearly every society that systematically works to obliterate this moral autonomy in its members. It systematically works to substitute in the minds of its victims a sense of participating in an illusory and immoral substitute for true moral integrity and dignity. In place of the sense of moral integrity and individual human dignity, this institution forcibly substitutes the illusory dignity, pride, or glory of the nation-state. This institution is the military.

No military organization could operate if it respected human moral autonomy, that is, the capacity of individuals to take full responsibility for their actions. In spite of the lip service sometimes paid to the principles of moral responsibility formulated in the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war criminals after the Second World War, military training must seek to destroy moral autonomy in those subjected to it. At Nuremburg, the victorious powers in the war put some of the Nazi leaders on trial for committing crimes such as genocide.

The Nazis defended themselves by saying that they were just obeying the laws of their own society and the orders of their military commanders or the commander in chief. The prosecution held that every human being is personally morally responsible for his for her actions and that these Nazis should have disobeyed the law and their military commanders. Yet this disobedience would have required immense personal sacrifice (they would probably have been shot for disobeying orders) and would require them to go against their entire society and its military training to always obey orders no matter what.

In all military training anywhere in the world, the constantly repeated, overwhelming message is unquestioning obedience to orders, no matter what these orders are. Recruits are forced to do agonizing exercises or other absurd tasks to ensure that they will obey any order no matter what. Once inducted into the military, there is no quitting, no looking for another job, no moving to another community, or joining another institution. Serious punishments, such as long prison terms at hard labor or execution by firing squad, are meted out to those who insist on their right to quit or refuse to obey an order. Once in the military, there is no discussion of the rightness or wrongness of actions, just blind obedience and absolute, unquestioning submission to authority.

This means that people are “trained,” forced under extreme pressure, to give up their moral autonomy and substitute the false dignity of the state and the military. The substitute values are forced upon recruits under such slogans as loyalty to one’s fighting unit, courage, honor, discipline, defending the values of the state, etc. But to give up one’s moral autonomy is to give up one’s dignity as a human being. It is to become, in effect, a robot, a human machine at the disposal of the will of others. To be trained to obey orders no matter what (the very essence of military training), is to be trained to debase one’s very humanity, the essence of which is one’s capacity for moral autonomy and integrity.

The nation-state can never have genuine dignity, for dignity derives from the moral freedom of human beings only. The state attempts to exalt itself through the idolatry of flags, national anthems, worship of leaders, or symbols of collective power and glory, but in the end every state is solely made up of human beings and whatever dignity it may have derives only from their individual human dignity. That is why the institutionalized promotion of freedom, democracy, and equality define the only legitimate form of government (see Martin 2010, Chaps. 7-10).

For the dignity of the state is proportional to the moral autonomy and integrity of its individual citizens. If the citizens are free (and hence their capacity for moral autonomy is promoted by the state), then the state derives whatever legitimate dignity it may have from that freedom. Just as with individual persons, wealth, power, or fame do not give dignity, only the free capacity to do what we believe is right regardless of desires, social pressure, or institutional demands.

Every military attempts to submerge the sense of dignity that its members innately have (that is awareness that they are free, moral beings) into the false dignity of its collective noble aims and ideals. “We are citizens of this great country.” “We stand for freedom and democracy in the world.” “We are fighting terror and evil.” “We defend our homeland against all enemies.” “We defend human rights and justice.”

However, it is an explicit contradiction for a military to claim it upholds ideals such as these at the same time that it attempts to destroy the moral autonomy of its members. Military trainees must be made to kill whomever their commanders say to kill. They must be willing to destroy the homes and factories and livelihoods of whomever their commanders designate. They must be willing to use weapons of mass destruction if their commanders so order.

This is why even militaries that are authentically founded in the above named ideals are inevitably perverted. An organization whose members who have had their moral autonomy destroyed is an immoral organization from the very beginning. It cannot be expected to care about noble ideals or human dignity. For military training is based on the very denial of these in military personnel.

Members of military organizations cannot be allowed to question strategy or tactics or individual commands that they are given. To questions any of these (as rational, moral agents always should) would be to destroy their imposed function of acting as robots in a command structure who have given over their moral autonomy to the military machine designed for killing and destroying. It would also destroy the inevitable secrecy that attends to all military planning and action. Soldiers must give up their dignity as human beings for the false dignity imposed by the military machine. Our moral dignity is something real and concrete and must not be sacrificed in the name of some vague ideals of the nation-state claiming that some noble end (e.g. defending freedom) justifies the means we are now using. There are some means that are not justified by any end.

A second decisive reason why no one should serve in the military of any country derives from the all-important distinction between the police and military. To be a member of a police force under the rule of law in a democratic country can be a noble and respectable form of employment. To be a member of a military machine, as we have seen, is neither noble nor morally respectable (see ibid. Chap. 9.2).

Police operating under democratically legislated laws serve the people by protecting them, enforcing legitimate laws, and promoting the common good. In a democracy, police always have civilian oversight. They are carefully and legally restricted in their ability to use force. They are required by law to use the minimum force necessary to apprehend those for whom and independent warrant has been issued and must accord such persons their due-process rights. Police are required to do everything reasonably possible to avoid harm to innocent bystanders and those present who are not named in the warrant. Their function (to uphold the laws using the minimum of force necessary to do so) is vital to a free and law-abiding society.

They police can remain morally autonomous as individuals and still serve effectively as police officers. If given an order by their commanders that violates their conscience or integrity, officers can challenge the order within the police department itself. They may also challenge the order by taking the matter to the civilian review board. Or they may ask for a transfer within the police department. They may resign from their job without the fear of being shot or imprisoned for years at hard labor. The argument here is not that the use of reasonable police force is never justified in human affairs. It is that the use of force to maintain order and freedom in a democratic society can be justified only if those empowered to use force are able to maintain their moral autonomy and integrity as human beings.

None of these features of police work obtain in military service. Since military organizations normally exist to perform certain functions within the international system of sovereign nation-states, they operate in an international environment where there are no democratically legislated laws circumscribing their behavior. What is commonly called “international law” is merely a treaty system among sovereign nations, broken at will by the parties to the treaty.

Secondly, there are no legal restrictions on the ability of a military to use force (international conventions like the Geneva conventions are not laws but voluntary agreements among sovereign states). Since war is the systematic attempt to cause suffering to an enemy to the point where the enemy surrenders, the use of tremendous force and violence is built into the system. Military forces do not serve people in general by protecting them for the common good. Rather they serve a certain group (their nation) at the expense of all other peoples and nations.

They may claim some noble ideal of serving “freedom,” but to destroy the homes and factories and lives of some enemy not included in this “freedom” is to act outside of the rule of law and all possibility of a democratically legislated freedom. The good of those against whom they are commanded to use force is not part of the equation. Indeed, they must try to harm those against whom they are commanded to use force. And there is no question of those against whom they use force being “innocent” or “guilty,” since there is no due process whereby warrants are issued and evidence is assessed under democratic rules to determine innocence and guilt. The civilian and military commanders act as police, judge, jury, and executioners all in one, the very antithesis of democracy.

In addition there is no genuine democratic civilian oversight of the military because the very nature of militarism requires immense secrecy: secret planning, secret strategies, secret development of weapons, secret maneuvers and tactics. A military is an organization of blind robots in the service of a few commanders or politicians operating in secret within the vacuum of international affairs where there is no law, no democracy, no real option to perform a legitimate police function. Victims of military actions need not be accorded any due process rights. They have no legal grounds to sue for damages. Their human rights need not be respected. They are either targeted as an official enemy (without due process) by the secret elite controlling the military (for example by a President or a National Security Council) or they are mere “collateral damage” for whom no one is legally responsible.

Military action is action to destroy, kill, or defeat in a lawless world. To be a member of a military organization is to have given up one’s moral autonomy and integrity to kill or destroy in a lawless world. This is never justifiable. We have an absolute moral duty never to serve in any military.

The so-called “argument from self-defense” is not valid. Individuals (who are moral decision-makers under the rule of democratically legislated laws) do have the right to use force in the defense of their persons, property, or family under certain very limited circumstances. When we live under the rule of law, disputes and conflicts must be handled by the due-process of law whenever possible. If I am under threat from my neighbor, I must call the police. I may only use force in self-defense if I am able to justify the immediacy of this need before an impartial court of law. Otherwise, I am liable to be convicted of a crime myself. Only under these circumstances, can I legitimately engage in self-defense as a morally autonomous human being (see Martin 2018, Chap. 8.5).

None of this obtains in military service under the system of nation-states. There are no democratically legislated world laws that determine individual rights to self-defense under certain circumstances. Each nation decides for itself what is self-defense in a lawless world without democracy or the enforceable rule of law.

As an individual, as we have seen, I can morally engage in the use of force in self-defense under certain circumstances. As a member of a military organization, I cannot. Militaries decide to use the self-defense argument whenever the political leaders of the nation believe it is in the national interest. There is no objective court or rule of law with binding authority over individuals to determine the moral or legal legitimacy of these decisions.

If, as an individual under the rule of law, I decide those in the next community are out to get me, how am I to behave? I believe I see them preparing the weapons or logistics to attack me and destroy me and my family. If I take a machine gun and wipe out the entire community using a self-defense argument, an impartial court of law will hold me accountable and guilty. However, individual members of a military organization are not even party to such “self-defense” decisions. I am a robot commanded to obey orders no matter what. Hence, any action I take involving force or logistical support for those using force (which includes all military jobs) is not morally justifiable under the “self-defense” argument.

Does the self-defense argument work for the decision makers? If I am a political or military decision-maker for the military machine, and I decide to attack some perceived enemy using this same self-defense argument, there is no democratic world-law to hold me legally accountable. Hence, my “self-defense” argument is invalid. There is no way to distinguish the use of force in “self-defense” from the use of force in my self-interest. I have simply acted as police, judge, jury, and executioner all in one. In a lawless world, my moral duty is not to defend myself against all perceived enemies by settling down with military force within the barbarism and chaos, but to create the rule of enforceable law. Only under the rule of democratically legislated law is the self-defense argument cogent or valid.

A third decisive reason for not serving in the military of any nation is because all militaries are inherently terroristic. In other words, there is no essential difference between terrorism as engaged in by non-governmental groups and the kind of force and violence engaged in by military organizations of nation-states (see Martin 2016, Chap. 5).

Since terrorism has become such a well-known political and moral issue in the past few decades, this fact has emerged repeatedly in the literature. Scholars commonly speak of “state-terrorism” (when nations use direct military force out of self-interest) or “state-sponsored terrorism” (when nations sponsor terrorist organizations to promote their perceived self-interest). State forms of terrorism, as is often pointed out, are many more times as vicious and destructive as terrorism by non-governmental groups since military organizations have such vast resources for violence and destruction at their command.

Naturally, individuals within military forces are not allowed to decide between state-terrorist actions and some idea they may have of legitimate self-defense actions because they have given up their moral autonomy. However, we have already seen that the “self-defense” argument itself fails to justify military violence. There is no legitimate reason for the claim of the military that it operates in self-defense, for “self-defense” by definition is whatever actions a military decides to undertake. “Self-defense” becomes just another word for “self-interest” and the rule of might makes right.

The U.S. FBI definition of terrorism, issued in 1999, reads as follows: Terrorism is “the unlawful use of force or violence committed by a group or individual, who has some connection to a foreign power or whose activities transcend national boundaries, against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in furtherance or political or social objectives.”

We can see that this definition applies to the militaries of nation-states as much as to non-governmental terrorist groups. Militaries are “international” in that they threaten the use of force between nations. Their actions are not lawful, since there is no world law to govern their actions. Third, their actions always use force or the threat of force to achieve political or social objectives. Even “defending the motherland” is the use of force or the threat of force with regard to all other nations to achieve the political/social goals of preserving this nation with its institutions, customs, etc.

Therefore, since we live in a world without democratically legislated laws over all peoples and nations, the very existence of any military satisfies this FBI definition of terrorism. A military organization is precisely the perpetual threat of force, outside the rule of law, to achieve political and social objectives. Morally autonomous persons do not use force or the threat of force to achieve political or social objectives. They use discussion, voting, writing, meetings, democratic organizational structures, and other non-violent means. Hence, to be a member of a military organization is to be part of a terrorist organization. This is absolutely, morally forbidden. No one and no organization has the right to use force or the threat of force to achieve their political or social objectives.

Each of the above three reasons why military service is morally wrong is decisive. Together they represent the foundations of a new world order and new level of human civilization. For under the present world order military service is accepted and acceptable, even lauded as patriotic or as service to one’s country. Few young people have the courage or moral autonomy that makes them capable of resisting this morally deadly form of employment. As long as there is a system of sovereign nation-states in a lawless world, there will be militarism with its vast violation of human dignity and moral integrity.

Implicit in the above arguments, however, is the moral demand for all human beings to live under the rule of democratically legislated and enforceable law. Only such law, applied equally to all human persons, can enhance as well as respect human dignity. These arguments show that there is a new level of human civilization on the horizon, for implicit in our moral capacity and human dignity is the demand for universal democratic laws over all persons and nations. In fact, at the dawn of the 21st century, the world is experiencing a global movement to create non-military democratic world government under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

World government under this constitution will move humanity to a new level of moral autonomy and growth. War and all forms of militarism are progressively and carefully outlawed by the Constitution. This is not just some idealistic formulation extraneous to world government under the Constitution. No world government can be democratic and founded on the principles of human rights and human dignity if it includes a military. This conclusion is a direct consequence of the above three arguments why military service is immoral. In a pacified and decent world economic and political system, no military would be necessary because due process of law would apply to all individuals on the planet, and not to abstract collective entities called “nation-states.” So-called international law both accepts and requires militarism.

The institutions of a free society encourage moral autonomy and responsibility in individual citizens. (They do not lay down the content of morality—what is specifically right or wrong—but institutionalize the form of morality, which is the free capacity of individuals to make moral choices.). They are legitimate to the extent that they do this.

Since all military service necessarily destroys individual moral autonomy, our obligation is to create a world free of military service. Insofar as any person pays taxes in any society that fund militarism, they are complicit in the destruction of the rule of law and autonomy in the world. They are complicit, as we have seen, in fostering state terrorism. Our obligation is to create real democratic law in the world enforced by police forces responsible to the common good of all human beings, for the rule of law can only be universal if it rises above militarism and terrorism.

Under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, all nations joining the Earth Federation will be required by law to progressively disarm and disband their militaries. All weapons of war are outlawed, from the manufacture, to the transport, to the sale or deployment of such weapons. Morally decent people do not engage in such activities. For the first time in the history of civilization, human moral autonomy will be respected by the laws of the Earth. For the first time in history, human dignity will be respected upon the Earth.

This can only happen through non-military democratic world government. We can all contribute to bringing about this new level of civilization, first, by refusing to serve in the military of any country (see Martin 2018, Prologue and Chap. 1). This is the first and absolutely crucial step—to see that it is wrong to give up our moral autonomy to any institution. The second step involves working for non-military democratic world government, for only in this way can governmental institutions serve the autonomy and dignity of all citizens. The only fully legitimate democracy is world democracy. Hence, our moral obligation as free citizens is to work to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth  (www.earth-constitution.org).

 

References

Martin, Glen T. (2010). Triumph of Civilization: Democracy, Nonviolence, and the Piloting of Spaceship Earth, Appomattox, VA, Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

Martin, Glen T. (2016). One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract, Appomattox, VA, Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

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

Global Ecofeminist Socialism and the Earth Constitution

Global Ecofeminist Socialism and the Earth Constitution

Glen T. Martin

In my 2018 book Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence, I describe the transformative potential that lies in the very structure of our common temporalized humanity. The book elaborates an understanding of the oneness of humanity with all of nature and the deeper sources of being, showing that the divine, the universe, and human existence form an emerging, evolving unity.

From the emergent evolutionary processes of the universe, which all contemporary sciences describe as holistic to their depths, human freedom emerges, making human beings, as Teilhard de Chardin declares, “the vanguard and leading shoot of evolution.”  My book describes the many ways in which love unites us and actualizes our unity as it embraces a wondrous diversity of genders, colors, cultures, and uniqueness of persons inhabiting our beautiful planet. Love, as Teilhard also proclaims, both unites and personalizes us.

My book also describes the many ways that the regime of capitalism has colonized the dimension of law, and with it the system of militarized sovereign nation-states, in order to fetishize private property and maximize its power to commodify the labor of human beings required for this planetary system of domination and exploitation. Capitalism not only institutionalizes a regime of perpetual growth, like a cancer, within a finite and delicately balanced planetary ecosystem, thereby inevitably leading to climate disaster. Capitalism is also patriarchal as a manifestation of the male drive to dominate the body of the female. Capital perverts and distorts the domain of law for the purpose of removing human beings from the global commons in which we all share equal rights to the life-support ecosystems of our precious planet. It converts the global commons to private property of the few and the labor-power of the non-owners to an exploitable commodity.

Capital privatizes the commons through the domination of private property and forces the workers of the Earth to labor as commodified agents of exchange value for the perpetual valorization of the wealth and power of the dominant ownership class. Just as patriarchy forces the women to serve as domestic servant for her boss, husband, or boyfriend, performing not only all the menial tasks at his request but making her body available for his pleasure and domination, so capitalism dominates all workers in the same manner, forcing them to perform the menial tasks of production while dominating their bodies in the service of maximizing exchange value for the owners.

For these reasons, the struggle for the liberation of the producers from slavery under capital has clear parallels with the struggle of women for liberation from the domination of patriarchy. The ideal of democratic socialism envisions all of humanity (the associated producers of the goods and services necessary for life and health) as freely joining in solidarity to take responsibility for the processes of production for the equitable benefit of all. Human productivity must no longer work for the benefit of the exploiters and dominators who own the means of production.  So too, the ideal of feminism appears to envision a common humanity in which the feminine principle within all of us fosters a loving, sharing, and embracing global community.

A feminist world-community of loving unity in diversity is necessarily a democratic socialist world community of common producers concerned with the embracing well-being of all. Today we understand that our planet is animated within a single biosphere, a complicated and intricate synchronicity of innumerable smaller ecosystems that make up the evolving, flourishing wholeness of our planetary ecological community.  Today we understand that economics must become a subset of ecology and that the production of the goods and services necessary for human life must integrate into the ecosystems that intricately make up and sustain the web of life on Earth.

The ecological insight dovetails with the socialist insight and the feminist insight. The future of our planet must become a democratic, global ecofeminist, ecosocialism or we will not have a future at all, since the regime of capital and patriarchy violate the ecological principles of life on Earth and inevitably destroy the life-support systems that make human life possible. Patriarchy, as with its economic manifestation in capitalism, triumphs through separation and exclusion. It requires incommensurable differences: women have a nature inferior to men; ruling classes have a nature superior to the peons who work for them; nation-states have absolute borders to protect the “private property” of their “national sovereignties,” excluding the aliens and foreigners.

Capitalism, patriarchy, and sovereign nation-states have colonized the principles of law to institutionalize their systems of domination, exploitation, and separation. However, the principles of law are themselves inherently democratic and universal. The principle of law manifests our common species being and is neither masculine nor feminine, neither socialist nor capitalist. No complex society can exist for long without laws that lay out the groundwork for people to freely interact and relate to one another in trust and mutual understanding. The law “completes” and institutionalizes our unity in diversity. The law can be a great liberator when not colonized by patriarchy, capital, or militarized nation-states. The law can enshrine universal human rights, provide due process protections for everyone, and empower a multiplicity of human activities.

The law can end exploitation and empower cooperative and communal forms of human association.  The law can ensure impartiality within the diverse processes and conflicts that inevitably arise within any complex society. The law can erase militarized borders, ensure demilitarization, and unite all human beings everywhere under a universal democratic world citizenship.

The law can dovetail with spiritual awakening to the fact that the world is one family, as declared by the Vedas (vasudhaiva kutumbakam). The law can make sure that everyone is on the same ecological page as we work to produce goods and services in harmony with our planetary biosphere from every different corner of our planet. If we are to survive the planetary Earth System collapse that is happening everywhere on our planet today, we must unite under the rule of democratic world law. As Ian Angus concludes in his book Facing the Antrhopocene:

Profit must be removed from all consideration; all changes must be made as part of a democratically created and legally binding global plan that governs both the conversion to renewables and the rapid elimination of industries and activities, such as arms production, advertising, and factory farming…. The world our children and grandchildren will inherit will be defined by the way our generation responds to the planetary emergency (p. 191).

Since the very idea of law implies everyone, that is, common rules and principles that apply to everyone equally, it has the potential for overcoming natural differences of strength or intelligence and establish a baseline for our common humanity and global interactions.  I have argued in One World Renaissance and elsewhere that the idea of universal law is inherent in our common humanity, as is the ideal of universal democratic socialism. This means that the feminist vision of a loving human community of unity in diversity is also central to our common humanity.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth (as I have argued in many books and articles over the past two decades) is a central and proper expression of our common humanity, for it lays the groundwork for human freedom from class oppression and patriarchy for the first time in history.  We, the free people of Earth, can now govern our planet democratically, which means restoring the global commons to its associated producers and empowering everyone to live sustainability on the Earth within a loving global community.

Human self-transcendence occurs when people unite in solidarity to actualize the universal human spirit of cooperative service and production within an embracing global community of unity in diversity.  Global democratic government in the form of the Earth Constitution in itself raises us toward self-transcendence, since it overcomes the capitalist and patriarchal separation of the world into absolute classes and militarized sovereign territories. Domination requires separation between sexes, races, nations, and classes. When we have united in solidarity, in true global democracy, the inherent liberating features of universal democratic law will lift us toward both socialism and the actualization of the feminine principle.

In these books (such as One World Renaissance and Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence), I have pointed out the democratic socialist features of the Earth Constitution. This Constitution makes possible the dynamics of a world lifted to global unity in diversity that will inevitably take us beyond the features of law as domination and potential tyranny to law as empowering the positive freedom of people whose higher human potential is now able to emerge in global ecofeminist democratic socialism.

The patriarchal-capitalist system has colonized the domain of law worldwide as an instrument of domination, exploitation, and gendered slavery. It has exacerbated a planetary climate crisis of lethal proportions. We will not be able to establish an effective global ecofeminist socialism unless we liberate the domain of law to the service of our common humanity and human liberation. For law is in essence a potentially liberating and positive feature of all complex societies and hence of our common humanity. It is neither inherently patriarchal, nor capitalist.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is the key to this liberation of law.  Liberation for all humanity cannot succeed within a fragmented system of militarized nation-states, itself a product of both capital and patriarchy, whose absolute borders foster the psychological, cultural, political, and military separation of our natural planetary human community. The Constitution unites humanity under a universal democratic principle of unity in diversity and reorients law to the service of the common good of all in harmony with our precious planetary biosphere.  Ratification of the Earth Constitution is inseparable from the process of human self-transcendence toward planetary ecofeminist democratic socialism.

 

Brief Bibliography

Agnivesh, Swami (2015). Applied Spirituality: A Spiritual Vision for the Dialogue of Religions.

Angus, Ian (2016). Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System.

Constitution for the Federation of Earth is on-line many places such as www.earth-constitution.org and www.worldparliament-gov.org.

Gable, Peter (2013). Another Way of Seeing: Essays on Transforming Law, Politics, and Culture.

Hansen, Karen and Ilene Philipson (1990). Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination.

Kovel, Joel (2007). The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World.

Plant, Judith, ed. (1989). Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism.

Martin, Glen T. (2008). Ascent to Freedom: Practical and Philosophical Foundations of Democratic World Law.

Martin, Glen T. (2016). One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract.

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