Environmental Collapse and the Pending Death of Civilization

Environmental Collapse and the Pending Death of Civilization

Glen T. Martin

(11 May 2018, Reader Supported News)

 

Human beings are rapidly heading toward a planet that will no longer support higher forms of life. The implications of living on a finite planet, with a delicately interwoven set of ecosystems comprising its life-giving biosphere, have yet to sink in to most people. These implications are systematically ignored by the mass media (owned and operated for private profit and therefore catering to petty politics and the status quo). These implications are also, by and large, systematically ignored by the governments of militarized “sovereign” nation-states, since these nation-states are trapped, like a dysfunctional family, in a set of power-based relationships that consciously ignores or minimizes what is common to us all: our common humanity, or common biosphere supporting life, our common species being, and our common fate.  Our common fate appears to many thoughtful people, at the moment, to be imminent extinction.

To live sustainably would necessarily mean the end of the obsession with growth. Economist Hermann E. Daly defines sustainable development correctly as: “Development without growth beyond environmental carrying capacity, where development means qualitative improvement, and growth means quantitative increase” (Beyond Growth, 1996, 9). Capitalism is predicated on growth. Every business understands the maxim: “grow or die.” The economic success of nation-states is calculated as “GDP, Gross Domestic Product.” This measure includes all economic transactions, even those involving destruction, such as dealing with natural disasters or production for war and the military. Increase in GDP is supposed to indicate economic success.

However, a chorus of environmental economists has declared for decades (since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962) that you cannot have unlimited growth on a finite planet.  Yet the human population continues to grow out of control, every business endeavors to grow, every NGO and institution wishes to grow, and the military might of imperial nations aspires to grow without end in response to the insane declaration of endless war in a world of power struggles entirely oblivious of our collapsing planetary environment.

The immensely complex set of ecological balances that have evolved on our planet over many millions of years created a biosphere with a rich, life-giving atmosphere, with a wealth of life-giving water sources, and with immense forests, farmlands, and natural resources capable of allowing human civilization to grow and flourish since the discovery of agriculture some 10,000 years BCE.  A biosphere is not a set of static conditions, but a living whole of interdependent relationships such as the movement of air and water (rivers and ocean currents), flourishing of forests and their biodiversity, interactions between plant and animal populations, geo-thermal dynamics of heating and cooling, etc.  A biosphere will continue to reproduce the conditions that support life as long as its interconnected set of ecosystems remain sufficiently intact to continue to grow the crops, re-fertilize soil, grow more trees to replace those cut down, allow water to absorb wastes and clean itself deep underground, produce adequate photosynthetic plants to absorb carbon dioxide and release life-giving oxygen, etc.

There is a common analogy, one version of which I first heard 20 years ago from environmental biologist John Cairns. If you put bacteria in a petri dish with a sugar solution covering the dish for food, the bacteria will grow (geometrically) to fill the dish.  The same analogy could be envisioned as a pair of rabbits in an enclosed (finite) field. The first pair will reproduce (say 10 new rabbits) the second generation will reproduce (say 100 new rabbits), the third generation will reproduce (say 1000 new rabbits), etc. Each rabbit requires so much grass from the field to eat. Each produces waste in the form of rabbit droppings. It won’t be long before the rabbits’ need to eat grass exceeds the capacity of the grass-roots to produce new grass. After that point, the rabbits may eat the roots themselves of the grass embedded in the soil. Each root they eat reduces the capacity of the field to support rabbit-life. Soon all the roots are eaten and there is no capacity to support the rabbits.  They all die.

It is the same with John Cairnes’ petri dish.  The bacteria multiply and thrive on the sugar solution until it is gone. In the moments before it is all gone, it may appear that their growth process is thriving and they are a successful bacteria civilization. Then, suddenly, they are all dead.  For at least the past century, like the rabbits, we have been eating the roots in the field of nature that supports human life.  The ability of the biosphere to reproduce the resources necessary for human life is rapidly declining. The delicate network of air, water, forests, minerals, and geothermal conditions has been seriously disrupted by human activity and our obsession with growth: economic, military, population, and every other kind of growth.

The disruption has become synergistic. The thickening of the atmosphere through carbon dioxide pollution has caused a thermal cascade of effects in the form of heating and acidifying the oceans, destroying the conditions for the reproduction of fish, phytoplankton, and other foundations of the food chain. It has caused the disruption of climate stability, the desertification of vast portions of the Earth, the dying of forests, the melting of the polar ice sheets, and countless other on-going disasters to the systems supporting higher forms of life.  All the while, our human population continues to grow uncontrolled. Some countries even encourage population growth among their citizens.

Mainstream economics might be called the dark (pseudo) science. Economists in “the dark science” do not really know what they are doing. They are very good at creating formulas for the circulation of goods, services, credits, debits, and the extraction of surplus value on behalf of the investors, but they have no clue that economics must be a subset of ecology, as Daly rightly declares. Living creatures, on a finite, delicately balanced planet that supports their life, can only survive and flourish if their economics mirrors the balances and patterns of planetary ecology. The dark scientists, of course, operate in the service of growth.

Their masters want profits to grow, their nation-states (to which they are without exception loyal) want military power to grow, and the growth of the planetary population is of no interest to them. The dark science is the science of human extinction. It is about how we can most efficiently eat all the roots up on the planet that supports us, making as much profit as possible for the investor class before the entire system collapses and we become extinct.  The latter (population growth) is none of their business. Their business is wealth creation for the investor class. Period.

How do we make economics a subset of ecology? The answer is that we have to recognize and actualize the holism of humanity just as ecologists have recognized the holism of the biosphere. As long as humanity remains fragmented into militarized, sovereign nation-states, with absolute territorial boundaries, such holism is impossible. As long as the dark scientists continue to promote the fragmentation of corporate competition and the atomism of capitalism, such holism will remain impossible.

The holism of humanity can only be actualized if we unite under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We must end the absurd fragmentation of humanity into some 193 mostly militarized sovereign states. The planet is one, all human beings are one species, and the biosphere in one interdependent reality. Our fate is also one—it is everyone or it will be no one. Our economics can only be a subset of this holism if we have a democratically grounded planetary economics under an Earth Federation government acting for the common good of humanity and the biosphere that supports us. Economics cannot be for the private profit of the few; nor cannot it be in the service of militarized nation-states. Both of these will inevitably continue to violate the biosphere that supports all life. Both of these are leading us to extinction.

The Earth Constitution is predicated upon green economics and planetary ecological sustainability. I have demonstrated this in detail in my 2013 book The Anatomy of a Sustainable World. Every aspect of our global economy, from extraction, to transportation, to manufacturing, to distribution, to consumption, to energy use, to recycling, to disposal must conform to ecological principles. There is simply no way this can happen under the current global fragmentation of waring nation-states and competing capitalist, profit-seeking enterprises. The UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifying 17 (inadequate) goals to be accomplished by the year 2030, are simply incapable of being realized, since they are set forth to be implemented by the collection of chaotic, sovereign, self-interested, militarized national entities.  Even if these nations signed the Paris Climate Accords, they are not bound to accomplish these goals and may even withdraw, as the US did under Trump.

The Earth Constitution binds the nations into a lawful federation, thereby uniting humanity under the principle of unity in diversity. It places the world’s essential resources in the hands of the united people of Earth. It establishes governmental agencies to monitor the planet’s ecosystems, its technological development, its usage of resources, and its biospheric health. It devises democratic, non-discriminatory ways of reducing population growth in line with the carrying capacity of the Earth. It establishes global public banking to ensure an economics of qualitative, sustainable development (not quantitative unsustainable growth). And it guarantees every person the right to clean water, clean air, nourishing food, and the conditions for biospheric sustainability.

The key, once again, is to actualize the holism that we really are. We are one planetary civilization, one dominant species, one interactive and interdependent reality.  Our fragmentation into sovereign nation-states and competing economic corporate entities violates that holism and ensures the destruction of our planetary biosphere.  We must unite as a species or die.  The Earth Constitution (www.earth-constitution.org) offers a clearcut, well-designed, democratic way to do this. It must be studied and promoted worldwide.  It is the clearest, most available, most doable path to a decent future for the Earth and its living creatures.

(Glen T. Martin is professor of Philosophy and Chair emeritus of Peace Studies at Radford University in Virginia. He is President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA))

The Clueless Left and the Future of Humanity

The Clueless Left and the Future of Humanity

Glen T. Martin

Published at OpEd News, 9 May 2018

world

http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/should-we-have-a-world-government-einstein-thought-so

 

The Left in the United States remains clueless.  The “Left,” as I am using the term, includes a broad range of perspectives ranging from those who believe that government should serve the needs of the people with respect to social security, health-care, and addressing social problems to those who believe that we need a radical transformation of the system itself if there is going to be significant change. The Right, on the other hand, defends the interests of the ruling class, the interests of wealth and power (either through ignorance or deception or both). On the Left, there are a few (very few) apparently honest politicians (like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders) who fit into the former category of those who do not challenge the system itself, and there are even fewer who recognize that the fundamental problem is the system, requiring radical change. In general, the Left is supposed to represent the people, the Right represents the ruling class.

Most people on the Left  appear to think that organizing and protesting within a hopelessly corrupt system might make a difference.  They see the corruption of voter suppression.  They see the corruption of gerrymandering.  They see the corruption of racist, sexist, and anti-immigrant policies.  They see the paramilitary suppression of blacks and minorities in the cities.  They see the punitive use of the law as a “war against the poor,” and they attempt to organize at the local and state levels to address these issues.

On a broader scale they may also see the domination of the industrial-military-academic complex and the relative impunity of the NRA. They see the ignorance and corruption of the electoral process, and the role of big money in destroying any semblance of democracy.  And, more and more, they see one leader after another exposed for corruption. They see money laundering, buying of influence, amoral lobbying in the service of wealth and power, rampant sexual predator behavior, and the utter moral deprivation of the ruling class, from the President, to members of Congress, to the Attorney General of New York State to the Governor of Missouri.

In terms of foreign policy, the Left sees the condition of endless war proclaimed after 9/11 and many of them realize that 9/11 was an inside job designed to make that endless war happen.  The Project for the New American Century document (https://www.loc.gov/item/lcwa00010308/) laid down the blueprint, which has been successfully followed almost to the letter by the so-called “deep state” that enjoys a decisive hegemony over the course of events. The opinion of the people is entirely irrelevant.  No matter how many millions protested before the invasion of Iraq, the deep state remained impervious and invaded, knowing that there would be no negative repercussions for themselves.

It simply makes no difference what the public wants or believes. The threat of nuclear holocaust, which was never significantly lowered after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is back with even greater intensity, and the massive effort of the US to militarize space and control the world from this “ultimate high ground” continues unabated.  Millions die in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Syria while the Left ineffectually attempts to organize “town hall” meetings as if this could make any difference in the grand scale of things.

The Left sees the prostitution of so-called journalism by all the major news outlets.  Journalism, largely owned by major, profit-making corporations, is inevitably “framed” in the service of the system, that is, in the service of the ruling class,   Even so-called respectable institutions such as the Washington Post and the New York Times prostitute themselves to this class as well as to the deep state with its endless imperialism and wars. Honest journalism becomes a rarity, and the intimidation of honest journalists escalates through government prosecutions, character assassinations by the corporate media, and other forms of intimidation.

More than four million US citizens have “security clearances,” and most of their work within the government is entirely hidden from the public. Anyone breaching this deep separation between the public and the elite who rule in secrecy is subject to harassment and prosecution. The truth lies discredited in the gutter and “fake news” reigns undisputed. The propaganda of the corporate media is designed to protect the system at all costs through a dumbing down of the public so that the average citizens lives on the level of the moronic.  Critical thinker Herbert Marcuse pointed this out as long ago as 1965 in his essay on “Repressive Tolerance.”

All the while, climate collapse progresses in leaps, the nexus of ecosystem problems affecting one another and portending ever-greater disasters, beyond all predictions or expectations.  Environmental groups struggle to stop pipelines, or to ban fracking, or to prevent drilling along the coasts, or to protect engendered species. All to little avail. There is simply no way our planetary environment can be protected through these local actions. Greenpeace, like 350.org, Earth First, the World Wildlife Fund, and all such organizations, are failing to protect our planetary ecosystem.  Both planetary environmental disaster and massive endless war will inevitably define the future of the 21st century, that is, if we do not wipe ourselves out first through nuclear holocaust.

None of these problems I have listed can be addressed in these ways; nor will our planet have a credible future beyond the next few decades, because the problems are all interrelated manifestations of a global system. We cannot solve any one of them without solving them all. At the very least, the “radical” Left sees that the problem involves the global capitalist system itself, and that the solution requires system change. However, by and large, their conception of the world system remains seriously truncated.

They fail to understand that the global capitalist system is inseparably linked to the worldwide system of sovereign nation-states, that these two together inseparably form our broken, self-destructive world system.  As social-scientist Christopher Chase-Dunn put it: “the state and the interstate system are not separate from capitalism, but rather are the main institutional supports of capitalist production relations” (Global Formation, 1998, p. 61).  If we want a future on this planet, we must overcome both global capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states.  We will only have a future if we unite, first and foremost, as human beings and construct a global public authority representing the common good of us all through a democratic unity in diversity.

The immense energies of the millions of people on the Left that I described above are all directed to addressing the symptoms of the disease, not its causes. The cause of our problems is our lack of holism, our refusal to overcome our imaginary national boundaries and our compulsive competitive greed to possess more money or goods than the next person, or the next county, or the next country. The most fundamental reality of our situation is that we are all human beings, having evolved over many millennia on the Earth, that we are all fundamentally the same, and that our sameness is expressed in a wonderful diversity of races, colors, backgrounds, cultures, religions, nationalities, and personalities.

Unless we truly unite, and end both capitalism and the system of militarized sovereign nation-states, we will not survive the 21st century in any credible fashion. This idea may at first sound “utopian” in the negative sense of this phrase, until one realizes that thoughtful people have been calling for this transformation in large numbers since at least World War One, and that today all around the world there are millions who support this transformation, many of whom are organized into major democratic world federalist organizations like the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA).

What is truly utopian in the negative sense is to bury our heads in the business of organizing, demonstration, and protests without seeing how ineffectual all this is without fundamental system change.  The uniting of humanity may at first appear “utopian,” until one realizes that the world already has a Constitution for the Federation of Earth, which is a brilliant document ready for democratic ratification by the people and nations of Earth (www.earth-constitution.org).

The solution to our lethal problems, heading rapidly toward the extinction of humanity, is to democratically elect a global public authority in the form of a World Parliament that represents the common good of the people of Earth.  This common good includes ending war, disarming the nations, protecting universal human rights, establishing a sustainable global economy, and ending extreme poverty for all the people of Earth.  The Earth Constitution creates a global public authority over both the nations and the gigantic capitalist corporations and subjects them to the rule of enforceable law.

There is no other way to control them and to establish true system transformation to the unity in diversity of human beings everywhere. International law, so-called, is a joke, ignored by militarized nation-states; universal human rights are similarly a joke, for militarized sovereign nation-states are the only ones entrusted to enforce them in today’s system.  Environmental protection and sustainable development?  Again, the recently agreed upon UN Sustainable Development Goals are a self-delusional joke, because it is sovereign nations who are expected to fulfill them, and sovereign nations can ignore them or simply withdraw, as the US did under Trump.

The Earth Constitution is therefore not “utopian” in the negative sense, for it does establish a world system that addresses our fundamental problems and their root causes.  In this sense, it give us a “practical utopia.” However, “practical utopia” is precisely what the Left was always about.  The fundamental idea of the Left all along, going back to Karl Marx and beyond, was that the people of Earth can unite to solve their most fundamental problems.  And it is not only the radicals who have called for this union. Thinkers as diverse as Jawaharlal Nehru (first Prime Minister of India), Pope John XXIII, and Albert Einstein all understood that the only real solution to our problems is a democratic global public authority.

We can create a world system that serves human needs rather than the greed and power of the few, whether this “few” be the capitalist ruling class or the big imperialist nation-states.  The Left has always been about some form of global democratic socialism.  That means a world in which satisfying universal human needs and universal human rights are the direct responsibilities of both the economy and government.  That is precisely what is established by the Earth Constitution. If we are on the Left, we need to be not only for our community, or our country, but for humanity as a whole. Supporting the Earth Constitution is precisely the way to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters everywhere on Earth.

 

(Glen T. Martin, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy at Radford University in Virginia and President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association)

Authentic Global Democracy and the Earth Constitution

Glen T. Martin

The Earth Constitution is the foundation for authentic global democracy. This article explains both the fundamentals of what democracy is and why the Earth Constitution best satisfies these criteria. It not only presents the pattern for a transformed and redeemed world system, but may also be the key to saving human beings from extinction. It founds our world system, for the first time in history, on the global common good.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth, Professor Errol E. Harris maintains in his 2005 book Earth Federation Now!, is by far our best option for accomplishing both of the necessities of saving human beings from extinction and establishing authentic democracy for the Earth.  It is designed to effectively deal with the entire range of world problems: global militarism and wars, global human rights protection, global resource management for the common good, reasonable global economic equality, global environmental protection and restoration, as well as with all other problems beyond the scope of sovereign nation-states (Articles 1 and 4).

The democratic idea that arises from our common human situation, Harris maintains, can only be regenerated through shifting the scale to planetary democracy. The Earth Constitution is brilliantly designed to both deal with our global crises and to establish truly meaningful democracy premised on the equality, freedom, security, and common good of the peoples of the Earth. The most advanced democratic theorists have articulated the conditions for a more mature and participatory democracy beyond a regime based on mere “preferences.” This advanced democracy is structured into the Earth Constitution.

For philosopher John Dewey, the “totalitarian menace awakens us to a deeper loyalty to intelligence, pure and undefiled, and to the intrinsic connection between it and free communication: the method of conference, consultation, discussion, in which there takes place purification and pooling of the net results of the experiences of multitudes of people” (1993: 208).  Democratic government provides the mechanisms for a collective rationality in which people work together for the common good. For Robert E. Goodin, in his book Reflective Democracy, democracy must develop infrastructure that encourages people’s “empathic recognition” of opposing points of view, so that democracy becomes “reflective” even on the level of large societies that transcend the level of face to face discussion and rely on representative “trustees” to deliberate empathically on the issues (2003: 72).

For Benjamin Barber, democracy must become animated through the activation of a citizenship based solidarity that goes beyond voting for preferences to transformative participation in governing: “the creation of a political community capable of transforming dependent, private individuals into free citizens and partial and private interests into public goods (1984: 132, italics his). The Earth Constitution is not only designed to deal with all those global crises that transcend the internal affairs of nations, it is designed to actualize all of these features with respect to living democracy as well.

In its second bill of rights, called “Directive Principles for the Earth Federation,” the Constitution requires that the Federation “assure to each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential” (Article 13.12). Here we see one of the many ways that the Constitution reflects the very essence of democracy, which we have seen above is based on our common humanity and individual potentialities. Our continuous growth as human beings requires that we actualize the potentialities within each of us and within the human community.

The Constitution also reflects Dewey’s insight that communicative forums of all sort magnify our individual intelligence into a collective rationality that can effectively deal with our problems. The Constitution, throughout its structures, agencies, and departments, is based upon dialogue and collective decision-making. The World Parliament, central to the entire system, is comprised of three houses: the House of Peoples, the House of Nations, and the House of Counsellors. Each house dialogues within itself and all houses also meet jointly in a common conversation.

The entire Earth Constitution is constructed on a holistic basis to integrate agencies, departments, and the Parliament itself within a synergistic framework. In addition to this, each agency or branch of the government never headed by one CEO but rather by a group of 5 or sometimes 10 highly qualified persons.  We might modify the popular saying here to declare: “Five heads are better than one.”   Each of the 5 is elected from a different one of the 5 official continental divisions of the Earth Federation.

Hence, the World Executive is headed by a Presidium of five, one from each continental division. The Collegium of World Judges is headed by a “Presiding Council” of five World Judges, one from each continental division, the World Attorneys General is headed by five Attorneys General, one from each continent, the World Ombudsmus is headed by a “Council of World Ombudsen,” one from each continent.  Each House of the World Parliament shall elect a “panel of five Chairpersons,” one from each continent.  Six of the seven agencies of the Integrative Complex shall be headed by a “ten member commission” (in addition to their Cabinet Minister and Senior Administrator), divided among the continental divisions.

Dialogue and discussion are structurally built into the fabric of every agency of the Earth Federation government. In each case, the 5 or 10 members of the “council” or “commission” must reach decisions and act collectively.  In addition, the powers of each agency or branch of the Earth Federation are defined specifically, along with the limits on these powers.  Dialogue is the basis for the action of each agency and that action is carefully limited to the broad function, repeated throughout the Constitution, of “service to humanity.”  In many cases, including for each member of the World Parliament, the leaders must take a “pledge of service to humanity” (Article 5.4.4).

The Constitution requires that “Voter’s Information Booklets” be prepared before each Parliamentary election, summarizing the issues, giving the candidates backgrounds, and allowing the same space for the candidates to speak to the issues.  No longer will big money or deceptive advertising determine elections. People will necessarily have to make their decisions based on thoughtful assessment of the issues, not on blind emotions evoked by deceptive big-money advertising.

The World Executive, head of the Executive Branch and the World Administration, is carefully limited in its powers. It has no military powers, no authority to declare a state of emergency or refuse to administer the budget approved by the World Parliament. It does not supervise the World Police, who are directly responsible to the World Parliament (not the Executive Branch). It has no veto power over any legislation passed by the Parliament. It is restricted to dialogue and reasoning within a framework of transparency. There are no reasons for any national security secrets in the form of classified documents and secret meetings. Democracy is here institutionalized at the global level, which is not only its appropriate level, but the only level on which it can actually work.

The same arrangements apply to the World Police and Attorneys General. The “means of enforcement” in Article 10.4 encourage continually reducing the need to use lethal force and finding alternative methods of enforcement.  The Police are required to continually develop the means of non-violent conflict resolution and fair hearings for all peoples. The Police and Executive are watched over by the World Ombudsmus (again directed by a group of 5, one from each continental division) who has responsibility for seeing that human rights are protected, that Article 13 “Directive Principles” are implemented, and that government operates transparently, efficiently, and democratically.

Article 10.1 states that “The enforcement of world law and world legislation shall apply directly to individual, and individuals shall be held responsible for compliance with world law and world legislation regardless of whether the individuals are acting in their own capacity or as agents or officials of governments at any level or of the institutions of governments, or as agents or officials of corporations, organizations, associations or groups of any kind.”  Here we discern a key to a democratic world system transcending the nation-state war system. There is no immunity: no more “diplomatic immunity,” no privileges of corporate power or nation-state government immunity from prosecution, no more military personnel claiming they are “only obeying orders.” These non-democratic features are rife in our present world system.  Democracy can only exist when law is enforceable over all individual persons, and this can only be effectively realized at the world level.

Article 10.1.5 states that: “Those agents of the enforcement system whose function shall be to apprehend and bring to court violators of world law and world legislation shall be equipped only with such weapons as are appropriate for the apprehension of the individuals responsible for violations.”  Just as all individuals are responsible to the law, so there is no need for weapons that target whole groups or communities (hence no military weapons).  A military is only necessary where democracy does not exist, when whole nations or groups can be targeted outside of due process of law and outside of recognition of their universal human rights to “life, liberty, and security of person.”  Under global democracy the role of the police is transformed. It is not in the least military, but rather, foundational to genuine democracy.

The mandate of the police includes article 10.4.4: “A basic condition for preventing outbreaks of violence which the Enforcement System shall facilitate in every way possible, shall be to assure a fair hearing under non-violent circumstances for any person or group having a grievance, and likewise to assure a fair opportunity for a just settlement of any grievance with due regard for the rights and welfare of all concerned.”  Here, again, we find a fundamental feature of democracy. The mandate of the World Police, like that of the World Courts and the World Ombudsmus, is precisely this institutionalization of fairness, justice, and nonviolence.

Democracy eliminates violence because its goal is justice and the “welfare of all concerned,” not the welfare of the rich, nor of any sovereign government, nor of corporate power. “All,” as Mortimer Adler declared, “is the most radical…term in the lexicon of political thought,” and for the first time (under the Earth Constitution) “we are beginning to mean ‘all’ without exception when we say ‘all’” (1991: 90). Thomas Jefferson declared that “All men are created equal,” at the same time excluding slaves and women. Only under democratic world law can we really mean this as a fundamental moral principle. Under nation-state absolute sovereignty, the slogan has little meaning.

The World Ombudsmus is an entire agency dedicated to realizing this principle. Part of its mandate is “To promote the welfare of the people of Earth by seeking to assure that conditions of social justice and of minimizing disparities are achieved in the implementation and administration of world legislation and world law.”  It must protect the two bills of rights: the great range of civil liberties in Article 12 and the rational ideals of a transformed world system in Article 13.

Among the many wonderful freedoms guaranteed by these Articles, I will only mention three: (1) “Freedom of assembly, association, organization, petition and peaceful demonstration.” (12.4), (2) “Freedom for investigation, research and reporting.” (12.8) and (3) “Encouragement for cultural diversity; encouragement for decentralized administration.” (13.16)

The World Police, the World Courts, and the World Ombudsmus are mandated to provide the citizens of Earth with the freedom of assembly and association necessary to rational dialogue and debate, with the power of investigation and information necessary for informed dialogue and debate, and to respect the diversity and decentralized citizen participation necessary for vibrant participatory democracy.

The Earth Constitution, as our global social contract, puts humanity for the first time ever on the foundation of true democracy. This is because the three fundamental functions of democracy, outlined above, can only be actualized on the global level when the citizens of Earth have given up their obsession with violence and war and come together to create a society in which each child is assured “the right to the full realization of his or her potential.”

These structural arrangements for empowered democracy are enhanced through the elaborations that have been made by the Provisional World Parliament meeting under the authority of Article 19 of the Constitution. Article 19 calls for the people of Earth to begin the Earth Federation now, even while they are waiting for full ratification to take place by the peoples and nations of the Earth.  The Parliament has met 14 times between 1982 and 2015 and has passed some 67 World Legislative Acts (WLAs) that have enhanced, enabled, and promoted the letter and spirit of the Earth Constitution.

On the level of dealing with world problems (the addressing of which is defined as “broad functions” of the Earth Federation in Article One) the Parliament has passed World Legislative Acts further protecting the environment, outlawing weapons of mass destruction, dealing with resource depletion, addressing global economic equality and poverty reduction, and protecting human rights. On the level of establishing an empowered, vibrant democracy for the Earth, the Parliament has also passed a number of acts directed toward this goal.

It has passed WLA 26, the Education Act, in which all schools under the authority of the Earth Federation will have students progressively study (1) global issues, (2) the Earth Constitution, (3) issues with respect to quality of life, (4) the requirements for world peace, (5) unity in diversity, and (6) requirements for good government. Through such a curriculum students will be empowered to become active world citizens contributing to planetary democracy and the common good, and they will receive training in that “empathic recognition” that Goodin affirms as essential to representative, trusteeship, democracy.

Among the many other acts of the Provisional World Parliament directed to enhancing vibrant global democracy under the Earth Constitution, let me mention just three more. First, the Parliament as passed WLA 57 establishing the “Collegium of World Legislators.” This requires all of those elected to the World Parliament, including the 1000 in the House of Peoples, the 200 in the House of Counsellors and the approximately 300 in the House of Nations to undergo training in “dialogue directed toward mutual understanding” and “nonviolent communication skills.”  The clear purpose is to enhance the quality of dialogue and debate within the World Parliament, helping the Parliament to become the collective intelligence for the trustees of humanity and not a mere place for promoting partisan interests.

Secondly, the Parliament has passed WLA 59, the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Act. This Act requires the government to set up such commissions wherever in the world there are serious disagreements that may lead to violence or significant social harm. Procedures for these commissions require local empowerment with local participants taking the lead in the process of truth and reconciliation through non-violent communication and mutual dialogue. The act prohibits the government from using these for any spying or undercover work, and requires that governmental authority provide the framework, sanction, and empowerment for the reconciliations that take place.

Vibrant democracy operates in just this way. It means that mechanisms for communication and understanding and collective intelligence provide a foundation for citizen participation, so that violence, whether overt or structural, is avoided, and human flourishing can take place within a safe and supportive framework.  None of this is seriously possible under the present regime of militarized nation-states and whose lawless and violent behavior is both mimicked and mirrored by global terrorism. This global chaos of violence continues unabated while the planetary environment is collapsing all around us.

Thirdly, the Parliament has passed WLA 29 that creates a “Global People’s Assembly,” creating a worldwide system of meeting places for civic dialogue and debate through which citizens have a direct link to the government offices of their representatives in the House of Peoples. This displaces the current  lobby system, such as that in the U.S., in which wealthy and corporate entities hire professional lobbyists to promote their privileged, non-democratic interests. The Global People’s assembly will encourage dialogue and debate about global issues and democratic living worldwide. It provides a direct, grass-roots means for people to communicate with their elected representatives in the House of Peoples.

As Harris, Dewey, and Habermas understand it, democracy emerges as our fundamental mode of human association. Its development must therefore be moved to the planetary level, since democracy is defeated at the national level by world crises that are beyond the control of the nations. At the planetary level it can really flourish for the first time because democracy is precisely about our common human dignity and about developing our common human and individual potential. It cannot intelligibly be said to stop at arbitrary territorial borders.

The Earth Constitution serves as a global social contract that recognizes our fundamental human condition as persons within community. It is designed not only to establish world peace and environmental sustainability while eliminating global poverty and misery. It is also designed to empower planetary citizenship everywhere, creating a framework for dialogue and debate such that our collective human intelligence will be immeasurably enhanced and our human potential significantly actualized.

For the first time in history, a framework will be in place in which all individual persons can develop to the fullest of their capacities, assuring “each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential.” At the same time, it will enhance, empower, and “complete” our global community, that vibrant and harmonious community that can only be, and indeed must be, the essential framework for both our global consciousness and individual human flourishing. Let us join together to establish real democracy on the Earth for the first time. It is high time to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Adler, Mortimer J. (1991). Haves Without Have Nots: Essays for the 21st Century on Democracy and Socialism. New York: Macmillan.

Barber, Benjamin (1984). Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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

Burke, Edmund (2001). Reflections on the Revolution in France. A Critical Edition. J.C.D. Clark, editor. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Daly, Herman E. (1996). Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. Boston: Beacon Press.

Dewey, John (1993). The Political Writings. Debra Morris and Ian Shapiro, eds. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.

Finnis, John (1980). Natural Law and Natural Rights. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Goodin, Robert E. (2003). Reflective Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Habermas, Jürgen (2003). The Future of Human Nature. William Rehg, et. al., trans. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.

Harris, Errol E. (2005). Earth Federation Now! Tomorrow is Too Late. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

Harris, Errol E. (2008). Twenty-first Century Democratic Renaissance: From Plato to Neoliberalism to Planetary Democracy. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

Hart, H.L.A. (1994). The Concept of Law. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Held, David (1996). Models of Democracy. Second Edition. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Locke, John (1963). “Second Treatise on Civil Government” in Social and Political Philosophy. John Somerville and Ronald Santoni, eds. New York: Doubleday, pp. 169-204.

Mill, John Stuart (1956). On Liberty. Currin V. Shields, editor. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company.

Locke, John (1963). “Second Treatise on Civil Government” in Social and Political Philosophy. John Somerville and Ronald Santoni, eds. New York: Doubleday, pp. 169-204.

Nusbaum, Martha (2013). Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1947). The Social Contract and Discourses. G. D. H. Cole, trans. New York: E. P. Dutton & CO.

 

Glen T. Martin is Professor of Philosophy and Chair Emeritus of Peace Studies at Radford University and President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA).

 

 

Human Freedom and the Earth Constitution

Glen T. Martin

Presentation at the World Intellectual Forum Summit  (Hyderabad, India, December 13-15, 2017)

Human freedom lies at the very heart of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. At the very beginning of the Constitution, Article 1.2 declares that the second “broad function” of the Earth Federation is “to protect universal human rights, including life, liberty, security, democracy, and equal opportunities in life.” This broad function of the Earth Federation Government weaves throughout the Constitution. It is fundamental to the operations of the World Police, the World Ombudsmus, the two bills of rights that comprise Articles 12 and 13, and many other articles. Perhaps for the first time in history, human beings really mean “all” when they say “all” (Adler 1991: 90). Everybody on Earth has equal rights to “life, liberty, security, democracy and equal opportunities in life.” The advance to such universality, might be considered the very meaning of human civilization.

The fundamental text of the Constitution was written in 1972 by five primary authors, all experts in law, political science, and international affairs (Martin 2010: 22). It was finalized and declared ready for ratification at the Fourth Constituent Assembly in Troia, Portugal in 1991. In 1963, Pope John XXIII had published Pacem in Terris, affirming very similar principles in which he asserts that the moral order demands a global public authority (sect. 137), based on the truth that: “human society thrives on freedom, namely, on the use of means which are consistent with the dignity of its individual members, who, being endowed with reason, assume responsibility for their actions” (sect. 35).

In his book Development as Freedom, global thinker Amartya Sen distinguishes “freedom as process” from “freedom as capability” or opportunity.  Freedom is concerned with both “processes of decision making” as well as “opportunities to achieve valued outcomes” (1999: 291). If social conditions are such that people can achieve valued outcomes that are largely independent of their income level (for example, working at meaningful and satisfying jobs), then they can be said to be substantially freer than if they simply have a high income. The Earth Constitution assures “to each child the right to full realization of his or her potential” (13.12). Liberty means both the intrinsic value of “each” and the fundamental equality of “all,” within the framework of a democratic community directed toward these ends.

Freedom, therefore, becomes another dimension of human life available for self-transcendence through the collective action of society. A philosophy of “negative freedom,” like that of Michael Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), ignores the capacity of human beings to move to a higher level of freedom through cooperative arrangements, rather than negative and competitive arrangements. Social arrangements that allow for education and development of individual talents and capabilities are essential here. Many thinkers from Hegel to T.H. Green to Earnest Barker to Errol E. Harris have elaborated the concept of “positive freedom” as essential to decent, democratic government (see Martin 2016).

Positive freedom means a social-political-economic framework that enhances human life and growth through a society of cooperate empowerment. In this conception, freedom is not seen as a struggle against the interference of government, but a condition of enhancement and enabling that arises when society functions as a true community, with the vast majority respecting and appreciating the matrix of conditions that empowers all their legitimate life-projects, what Amartya Sen calls “freedom as capability or opportunity.”

The key to the liberating potential of positive freedom is a matrix of conditions that establish good government from multiple, intersecting angles. How does the World Parliament interact with the World Judiciary, World Police, and World Ombudsmus?  What are the roles of the seven agencies with the Integrative Complex designed by the Earth Constitution in coordinating and empowering all the functions of planetary democracy?  Philosopher Alan Gewirth elaborates human rights in terms of two broad categories: the rights to freedom and the rights to well-being (1982: 3). Freedom in the sense of the liberty to successfully pursue goals in life requires not only political liberties, but also the “well-being” provided by healthcare, social security, safe working conditions, basic necessities, etc. These two categories of rights correspond to the rights listed in Articles 12 and 13 of the Earth Constitution, which amounts to a conception of positive freedom empowering people through the most fundamental arrangements of society.

There have been many criticisms of democracy by conservative thinkers during the 20th century. These include the criticisms of Carl Schmitt, the professor of law who was advisor to the Nazi regime in Germany, who declared that democracy lacked the capacity to act decisively. They include those of Joseph Schumpeter, a colleague of Schmitt, who believed that wealthy entrepreneurs, willing to take risks, should have the freedom to operate economically with very little interference by the state. These critics also include US philosopher, Leo Strauss, influenced by Schmitt and Schumpeter.  Followers of Strauss have glorified war, praised “manly” virtues such as bravery and sacrifice for country, as well as the supposed virtues of authoritarian governments that claim to know what is best for their subject populations (see Harris 2008).

Such critics have pointed out the many failures of what is taken as democracy in the modern world, such as the fickleness of voters, the poor criteria on which many voters make their decisions, the rejection of the use of reason by proponents of religions or ideologies, manipulation by the mass media, and the paralysis of democratic bureaucracies in the face of crises. However, their proposed remedies inevitably take us backward in history: Schmitt proposes dictatorship to break the impasse of democracy, Schumpeter proposes a free-wheeling capitalism like that which ravaged the lives of so many workers in the early part of the 20th century, and Strauss advocates more authoritarian forms that preserve the old virtues like courage and honor.

In doing this, they miss the individual and collective dynamic of human self-transcendence. Human beings are fundamentally temporal creatures, structured to envision and pursue a future that transcends the past. As philosopher Martin Heidegger (1962) and many others have pointed out, a human being lives temporally within a dynamic present continuously integrating her relationships between a remembered past and a projected future. The past is completed. It is “already,” but is subject to an on-going reinterpretation of the meaning and coherence of its events. The future is “not yet,” and is similarly subject to an on-going reinterpretation of its relation to past and present. Our envisioned future expects to be better than the past. We pursue the good in relation to a past and present that need improvement and transformation.

A human person lives in relationships with other persons and within an infinite number of relationships that ultimately signify the environing universe as a whole. Because the openness to the future and the wholeness of the universe transcend all possible determinant relationships and experience, a human being moves perpetually within a field of transcendence. To be self-aware with regard to this multiplicity of relationships is already to transcend one’s finitude. Human existence is “multidimensional.” It participates in both finitude and infinitude as Paul Ricoeur (1967: 7), Immanuel Levinas (1969), Earl Harris (2000), and others affirm. Both our experience and relationships continually move into a beyond, an “evermore,” that cannot be reduced to any amount of past experiences or relationships (see Kirchhoffer 2013: 178).

Many thinkers have pointed out, therefore, that the temporal structure of both our personal lives and human civilization includes an “eschatological” or “utopian” dimension. Both personally and historically, we are always acting to create a future that is better than the past. Each willed action that I take includes both actual and ideal dimensions, because each willed action is not only a fact of my life but pursues some good that transcends the facts in pursuit of its ideal.

My small actions that I take each day may also be part of a larger life-project in which I seek ever-greater satisfaction, happiness, truth, or love. I strive to be a just or loving person precisely because this ideal transcends what I am in the living present in accordance with these higher, future possibilities. I may also categorize even the simple act of self-maintenance under a larger ideal that it serves, perhaps as part of serving my family, or community, or God. I may orient my life to serving humanity perhaps because I sense the transcendent value of humanity, or wish to obey the commands of God, or want to ease human suffering. In each case, my concrete willed actions contain both factual and ideal dimensions.

Philosopher David Kirchhoffer (2013) calls this ideal futurity our “eschatological proviso.”  Philosopher Ernst Bloch calls this “our utopian conscience and knowledge” (1970: 91). Philosopher Emanuel Levinas calls this “the eschatological vision”: “The eschatological as the ‘beyond’ of history, draws beings out of the jurisdiction of history and the future; it arouses them in and calls them forth to their full responsibility” (1969: 23). Our responsibility and our deepest ethical conscience are not to regress to authoritarianism, or limitations on the democratic ideal, earlier barbaric forms of capitalism, or nostalgia for lost traditional “virtues.” Our responsibility is self-transcendence—to move to a higher level of human civilization and organization in which the old problems are not so much solved, but dis-solved, since they will no longer appear at the higher level.

That is what the Earth Constitution represents. Ratification of the Constitution will move human beings to a higher level of existence that institutionalizes concepts that today appear merely idealistic such as universal human rights, universal recognition of human dignity, the ending of extreme poverty and economic bondage, the sustainable protection of our planetary environment, and the elimination of war along with the demilitarization of the world.  All these concepts serve as ideals arising from our common temporal existence. We remember a past that violated all these goods within a present that continues to violate them but shows directions we might pursue toward transcending them. The future that we envision, one coherent democratic world under the Earth Constitution, will transform these temporal ideals into future actualities.

The failures of contemporary democracy are not merely “adjusted for” under the Earth Constitution. They are transcended. Today’s worldwide structure of global capitalism and warring nation-states, both of which destroy the potential of democracy, is transcended under the Constitution, and the global community is moved from a “negative” concept of freedom to a truly “positive freedom” built upon a genuinely peaceful, just, and sustainable world system. The promise of Article 1.2 to all persons for “life, liberty, security, democracy, and equal opportunities in life” attains actualization under such a transformed world system. “Liberty, equality, and fraternity,” the three pillars of all classical democratic theory, find their true meaning within this new system. As philosopher Errol E. Harris declares: “Liberty…cannot be realized by some persons while it is withheld from others…. It must be realized by everybody” (1966: 244). It is precisely the democratic universality of the Earth Constitution that allows it to transcend the failings of inadequate, nation-state attempts at democracy.

Social Scientists Terry Boswell and Christopher Chase-Dunn call this human futurity the drive for a “practical utopia” in which our vision of human possibilities serves as a goal against which “to organize criticism” and “to direct progress.” (2000: 9). Human beings grow and become transformed though this process of temporal self-transcendence. Psychologists and spiritual thinkers, such as Lawrence Kolhberg, Carol Gilligan, and Ken Wilber, describe the process of growth toward maturity as beginning with the egoism of childhood, moving to the “ethnocentric” level of accepting the conventions of our own culture as truth, then growing to the autonomous, mature level of a “worldcentric” vision, (which sees the complementary universality of values and human ideals), and, finally, to higher “integrated” levels of spiritual awakening and insight (Wilber 2007).

By embracing the dignity, equality, freedom, and interdependence of all humanity under the Earth Constitution, we thinkers and visionaries of human liberation encourage and enhance human responsibility for the planet and our collective future. The magnificent bestowing of responsibility to the people of Earth to elect representatives to the House of Peoples, the House of Counsellors, and, indirectly, to the House of Nations, itself lifts humanity to greater levels of freedom, reason, and mature accountability. The Earth Constitution, therefore, is both means and ends. It provides the practical utopian end of rising to a higher level of existence, something human civilization must do if it is to survive much longer on this planet. It also provides the grounds for criticism and directing progress in the present. It shows us the direction, and the means we must embrace, to achieve human liberation.

The embrace of genuine unity in diversity by the Earth Constitution also solidifies a unity that was never fully there previously. Rather, humanity has always been fractured by nation-states, classes, race differences, cultural fragmentation, gender prejudice, and other forms of division. In my book Ascent to Freedom (2008), I defined a human being as “rational freedom oriented toward wholeness.” It is important not to fracture humanity in any way, which would be a profound mistake. This global social contract under the Earth Constitution actualizes our newfound unity. Our unity in diversity as a planetary civilization requires that our diversity affirm itself in and through our political, economic, and civilizational unity. We must actualize the conditions that make genuine unity possible. As Buckminster Fuller (1972) declared, a great human “synergy,” a great leap forward in human creativity and energy, awaits us through this profound identification of our sameness.

The Constitution establishes, for the first time in history, a global public authority representing the common good of all humanity.  That common good is clearly defined in Article 1: ending war and demilitarizing the world, eliminating extreme poverty, protecting universal human rights, and protecting “the environment and the ecological fabric of life.” Our planetary common good, which must be achieved if we expect human survival, is also the ideal posed for us by our capacity for self-transcendence. We seek the means to realize the ideal and find that the means involve ratification of the Earth Constitution, which embodies the ideal and makes possible its actualization for all humanity.

Amartya Sen declares that freedom includes both the “process” of how we make decisions and the “opportunities to achieve valued outcomes,” that is, to actualize the ideals arising from our futurity and capacity for self-transcendence. The Provisional World Parliament has passed World Legislative Acts (WLA) that require training in dialogue directed toward mutual understanding for all legislators in the World Parliament (WLA 57), that encourage active participation of the citizens of the Earth with their representatives around the world within a Global People’s Assembly (WLA 29), and that define a liberating curriculum in freedom and responsibility for educational institutions worldwide (WLA 26). Together with the integrating framework provided by the Earth Constitution, the groundwork is thereby established for genuine human transcendence. The means and the ends interconnect, the empowerment of human freedom in the present by affirming the Earth Constitution, points forward to a more mature and world-centric human freedom within the future Earth Federation.

Works Cited

Bloch, Ernst (1970). Philosophy of the Future.  New York: Herder and Herder

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

Fuller, R. Buckminster (1970). Operating Manuel for Spaceship Earth. New York: Pocket Books.

Gewirth, Alan (1982). Gewirth, Alan (1982). Human Rights. Essays on Justification and Applications. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Harris, Errol E. (1966). Annihilation and Utopia: The Principles of International Politics. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Harris, Errol E. (2008). Twenty-First Century Democratic Renaissance: From Plato to Neoliberalism to Planetary Democracy. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

Harris, Errol E. (2000). The Restitution of Metaphysics. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books.

Heidegger, Martin (1962). Being and Time. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, trans. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Kirchhoffer, David (2013). Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics, Teneo Press.

Levinas, Emmanuel (1969). Totality and Infinity, Alphonso Lingis, trans., Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.

Martin, Glen T. (2010). Constitution for the Federation of Earth: With Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press. www.earth-constitution.org,   www.worldparliament-gov.org,

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

Nozik, Michael (1974). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Basic Books, 1974.

Ricoeur, Paul (1967). Fallible Man. Charles Kelbley, trans. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.

Sen, Amartya (1999). Development as Freedom. New York: Random House.

Wilber, Ken (2006). Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World. Boston: Integral Books.

The Socialist Imperative and Our Global Social Contract

The nerve of the right historical concept is and remains the Novum…. The tomorrow in today is alive, people are always asking about it. The faces which turned in the utopian direction have of course been different in every age, just like that which in each individual case they believed they saw. Whereas the direction here is always related, indeed in its still concealed goal it is the same; it appears as the only unchanging thing in history…. True genesis is not at the beginning but at the end, and it starts to begin only when society and existence become radical, i.e. grasp their roots. But the root of history is the working, creating human being who reshapes and overhauls the given facts. Once he has grasped himself and established what is his, without expropriation and alienation, in real democracy, there arises in the world something which shines into the childhood of all and in which no one has yet been: homeland.

Ernst Bloch

 

Abstract.  This essay elaborates the “socialist principle” in which people recognize their interdependence and integral relationships as part of the human community. It links this principle with our emerging human moral maturity and shows the immaturity of the fragmented system of militarized sovereign nations interlocked with global capitalism. It articulates the basic principles of a democratic market socialism through citing a number of past and present thinkers on this topic.

This synthesis of this scholarly thought on socialism reveals in broad outlines what a mature human community would look like at this point in history and how this would be both embodied and enhanced through ratifying a global social contract such as the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We need to replace the U.N. Charter with the Earth Constitution in which real sustainability and mature human equality link together under a democratic world parliament. The vision of democratic socialism articulates the common good of humanity. This essay argues that only a global social contract can make this a reality.

  1. Human Beings Growing Toward Moral Maturity

Humanity is struggling to emerge from a long history of cruelty, barbarism, and savagery. As Jonathan Glover shows in his book Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, we are not very far along in the quest “of the human species as it struggles to escape from its brutal past.” The use of technology in mass exterminations, the dehumanizing of “enemies” and closing of our hearts against the “others,” the lack of compassion for those of different nations, races, or religions have been rampant phenomena throughout the 20th century to the present. Glover is not optimistic that “either torture or cruel punishment is certain to fade away as the human race grows up” (1999: 41 & 39).

But grow up we must, for time is rapidly running out before our savagery, combined with awesome technologies of mass destruction, obliterates the entire hope, beauty, and promise of our human project. The psychologists and philosophers of human development have reached a broad consensus concerning the stages of moral, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive development. As many contemporary philosophers, psychologists and spiritual thinkers have asserted, upon reaching adulthood we are capable of continuous growth toward becoming ever-more “worldcentric” (e.g., Habermas 1979; Kohlberg 1984; Gilligan 1982; Beck and Cowan 2006; Wilber 2007). We are capable of becoming ever-more “integrated” and “integrating” persons, embracing the vast diversity of humanity and other sensitive living creatures with an encompassing reason, love, compassion, kindness, and friendship. We are capable of replacing violence and fragmentation with the harmony of compassionate unity in diversity.  We are, therefore, capable of moving to a higher level of existence through uniting to govern our “spaceship Earth” (Fuller 1972).

In moving to the stage of worldcentric maturity, we will simultaneously be transcending our present fragmentation toward a deeper awareness of humanity as the subject of history and collective agent responsible for the future of freedom. We establish a global public authority superseding the capitalist nation-state, which always functioned as a fragmented collection of bourgeois power-centers that were integral to the capitalist system itself (Petras and Veltmeyer 2005). The Earth Constitution provides this global democratic public authority superseding the war-system and uniting humanity as a global community. Four Constituent Assemblies between 1968 and 1991 joined hands in writing it. The Constitution is widely available on-line and in print (see Martin 2010). Since 1991, is has been ready for ratification by the people and nations of the Earth using common sense, democratic procedures. This Constitution places the people of Earth at the center of human history, for the true proletariat comprises all the people who live upon the Earth, even the bourgeois insofar as they are capable of growing to human maturity and universal consciousness.

Rather than class-interests controlling the course of events, the people of Earth can now become the conscious agents of history. The Constitution embodies universal rights, universal sustainability, universal freedom, and the universal responsibility for the people of Earth for creating a future for humanity and our planet. The character of government changes with the ascent to universality. Government no longer fragments humanity into territorial bound, militarized and competing power centers. With the further actualization of human unity, democratic socialism becomes self-evident as the proper way of living and working together on the Earth, for the people of Earth begin to discern their true interdependence and internal relationships within a principle of unity in diversity.

Historical anarchism always assumed that the authority of government was itself the problem. However, many thinkers concerning “positive freedom,” from Hegel (1991), to T.H. Green (1964), to Earnest Barker (1967), to Errol E. Harris (2014), argue that genuine democratically legislated laws empower human life and make possible the living of authentic lives in much greater freedom than possible under a mere negative resistance to governmental authority. Bolshevism, on the other hand, assumed that a revolutionary vanguard could commandeer a fragmented territorial government in a liberating way, thereby only exacerbating the fragmentation against competing power centers. However, it has to be all people or none, not a new form of state capitalism or a fragmented dictatorship over some territory. The domino theory of the spread of socialism has long been dead.

With the advent of truly universal government under the Earth Constitution, the character of government itself will dramatically change, for government will no longer be easily subverted or managed behind the scenes by a capitalist ruling class or some dictatorial minority. The Constitution sets up a system of equality and transparency in both government and elections that militates against such oligarchical rule. Genuine democracy can only emerge when the nation-states affirm their limited sovereignty as parts of the whole and when economics truly functions in the service of human flourishing (Boswell and Chase-Dunn 2000). Government will therefore lose its repressive character and begin to undergird, fully for the first time in history, truly positive freedom. Article 2 of the Earth Constitution declares that all the people who live on Earth constitute the sovereign authority and that the global public authority will be non-military.

All this is integral to the process of human self-transcendence. In the epigraph to this essay, Ernst Bloch (1986: 1374-1376) describes this process in human history. He emphasizes that we are always future oriented: “the end” in terms of human fulfillment, democracy, justice, and truth is implicit within the reflections and struggles of every age. Inherent in the “direction” of self-transcendence toward the future is a “concealed goal” that is always revolutionary because it is the “true genesis.” That goal is a just and fulfilled human reality: the “homeland” implicit in our perpetual self-transcendence into the future embraces a free and peaceful human community. Compare Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind who affirms that “the true answer will be at the end, when we have gone through history, not before that” (1969: 104).

The resources open to us to enhance this transformative process include philosophical reflection, meditation, holistic education, research in sciences and  humanities, dialogue, demonstration, nonviolent resistance, the positive power of satyagraha, institutional reforms, and social activism on behalf of the Earth Constitution. People are more easily led to the dehumanizing of others, to a lack of care for others and hardness of heart, when they are devoid of all or some of these resources. Lack of access to these resources can result in cultures and institutions that promote bigotry, fear, narrowness, ethnocentrism, nationalism, racism, and the dehumanization of others that accompany these responses. Satyagraha, as developed by Mahatma Gandhi and others, is a positive philosophy of self and social transformation, a philosophy of human liberation (Jesudasan 1984). Gandhi himself was an advocate of world federalism (see Martin 2017). However, our ultimate tool and blueprint, at this stage of history, remains the Earth Constitution itself.

 

Transformative growth comprises a growth in values: reciprocity, respect and concern for others, spiritual awareness, and universality of insight, understanding, and action. As philosopher of liberation, James L. Marsh declares: “The results of such experiencing, understanding, judging, and choosing would be radical political conversion. Negatively, such conversion implies a rejection in theory and practice of all forms of injustice…. Positively such conversion requires the choice in thought and life of…the imperative to work for democratic socialism in the short and long run” (1995: 174). My argument adds to Marsh’s insight that this must be a global democratic socialism under an Earth Constitution.

 

The socialist concept includes the imperative of our emerging human maturity in which we discover that we are one humanity in whom reason and love must develop to the point where we make the Earth a decent home for all its children. However today, Erich Fromm points out, the only oneness recognized by the present Lords of the Earth is our planet as both a battleground for global wars and a giant marketplace for capital accumulation. Fromm declares that we need a new, worldwide “socialist humanism” in which economics is placed in the service of human flourishing and well-being:

The one world is one, so far, inasmuch as it is one potential battlefield, rather than a new system of world citizenship. We live in one world, yet in his feelings and thoughts contemporary man still lives in the nation state. His loyalties are still primarily to sovereign states and not to the human race. This anachronism can only lead to disaster…. The alternative of socialism or barbarism has become frighteningly real today, when forces working toward barbarism seem to be stronger than those working against it.  (1962: 171-173)

For Fromm, we need a new renaissance of worldwide socialist humanism in which our “new technical powers” function “for the sake of man”:  “It is a new society in which the norms for man’s unfolding govern the economy, rather than the social and political process being governed by blind and anarchic economic interests” (Ibid. 173). In a similar vein, Sheldon Wolin declares: “While it cannot be emphasized too strongly that democracy requires supporting conditions—social, economic, and educational—the democratization of politics remains merely formal without the democratization of the self. Democratization is not about being “left alone,” but about becoming a self that sees the values of common involvements and endeavors to find in them a source of self-fulfillment” (2008: 289).

The socialist imperative is the moral imperative at the heart of human maturity: our personal individuality is not entirely separable from our common humanity, as Habermas (1984) and many others have pointed out. The two are dialectically related. Human beings exist as a dynamic synthesis of personal uniqueness and species universality. Authentic democracy cannot but be socialist, recognizing the need to address simultaneously our potential for personal development and our common “species being.” Karl Marx saw these two dimensions as antagonistic under capitalism (1978: 42-46). However, global democratic socialism engenders a positive freedom that enhances both dimensions.

Democratic self-hood necessarily demands economic and social “supporting conditions” that establish universal equality and freedom (Gewirth 1982). Our love and compassion have grown to identify with the entire world, its human children and its living creatures (Gewirth 1996: 15). Education, economics, politics, and institutions need redirecting toward making our planet a decent place for all to live. We need one world with a world parliament that has the mandate and the vision to actualize a democratic socialist, loving, and sustainable environment for the entire Earth.

Human growth is fundamentally the growth in self-awareness, a mindfulness that is simultaneously awareness of the depths of our human situation, the cosmos, and the dynamics of self-transcendence. Implicit in Karl Marx’s approach (following Hegel on this issue) is the idea that freedom is a concrete reality and value that is emerging dialectically through the process of human history. It begins for Marx, as Carol Gould writes, “as the capacity for self-transcendence” which “characterizes all individuals in all historical periods” (1980: 169). Philosopher Roslyn Wallach Bologh sees a similar dynamic in the thought of Marx:

Marx formulates history from within a form of life characterized by the possibility of a self-conscious community…. He reads history in terms of repressed community (capitalism) versus natural community (pre-capitalism) and self-conscious community (post-capitalism)…. This is how I interpret Marx’s concept of socialism—a self-consciously social mode of (re)production, (comm)unity as a historical accomplishment not conceived as external to the members and their activity. (1979: 237 and 239)

Lack of deep self-awareness fosters much of today’s incremental, merely evolutionary resistance to the recognition of human futurity and the necessity for transformative growth. The maturity-fear runs deep even within today’s scholars and intellectuals.  A fuller world-centric awareness would awaken to the fact that we are at the point in history when we must found our planetary society on practical, value-based principles that transform our fragmented world into a world system making possible universal human flourishing, the self-aware protection of nature, and further growth toward the development of our common human project. The project of ratifying the Earth Constitution in itself dramatically increases the historical awareness of the people of Earth. Means and ends work in harmony here: the means by which we liberate ourselves foster the ends of human liberation.

  1. Reason, Love, and Critical Self-Awareness

It is not only the new human maturity emphasizing the development of our reason and our love that advocates democratic socialism, the socialist imperative is also the moral imperative found at the heart of all the great scriptures of the world: the imperative for love, compassion, kindness, and friendship. It recognizes the moral demand at the heart of our human situation to recognize our common humanity with others and organize our institutions in such a way that protects and enhances the human dignity of everyone. In Christianity, it is the universal love (agape) taught by Jesus. In the Vedic religions, it is the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam translated as “the world is one family” (Agnivesh 2016).

The great scriptures of the world understood that human existence ethically revolves around the golden rule and the principles of love, kindness, and justice (Hick 2004: Chap. 17). Mo Tzu in China during the 5th century BCE declares: “It is the business of the sages to effect the good government of the world. They must examine therefore into the cause of disorder; and when the do so they will find that it arises from a want of mutual love” (in Sterba 1998: 355). Jeremiah in Israel during the 7th century BCE wrote, on behalf of God: “You have been allowing people to cheat, rob, and take advantage of widows, orphans, and foreigners who live here…. Now I command to do what is right and see that justice is done. Rescue everyone who has suffered from injustice” (22:1-3). Jesus in his Parable of the Vineyard has the owner declare that all the workers be paid the same amount no matter how long they worked (Matthew 20: 1-16). For the ancient scriptures, social and economic arrangements should be based on moral and spiritual principles, not on so-called “iron laws” of wages and commodities.

Theologian Paul Tillich affirms this truth. The basis of authentic socialism is the moral and spiritual realities of human existence, not simply secular economics: “Religious socialism was always interested in human life as a whole and never in its economic basis exclusively…. It recognized the dependence of economy itself on all other social, intellectual, and spiritual factors, and it created a picture of the total, interdependent structure of our present existence…. There are social structures that unavoidably frustrate any spiritual appeal to the people subjected to them” (1987: 74-75). Capitalism is just such a social structure: it actively hinders and corrupts human moral and spiritual maturity.

Capitalism structurally denies the moral and spiritual dimensions of human existence. Its “iron laws” deny human dignity, love, freedom, community, human rights, and universal justice. Tillich declares:

Religious socialism is not “Marxism,” neither political Marxism in the sense of communism nor “scientific” Marxism in the sense of economic doctrines. We have, however, learned more from Marx’s dialectical analysis of bourgeois society than another other analysis of our period. We have found in it an understanding of human nature and history which is much nearer to the classical Christian doctrine of man with its empirical pessimism and its eschatological hope than the picture of man in idealistic theology. (Ibid. 75)

The socialist imperative for a just, moral, and compassionate world system arises from the whole of our human situation: not from an “economic substructure,” nor from a class-struggle by a proletariat that has “nothing to lose but its chains.” Marx’s love, his humanism, and his compassion animate his entire life and shine through his early and late writings. Tillich writes: “In his description of the ‘poverty of philosophy’ Marx challenged a philosophy which interprets the world without changing it…. Religious socialism took over the insight of the Fourth Gospel that truth must be done, and took over the insight of the whole biblical tradition that without active participation in the ‘new reality’ its nature cannot be known” (1967: 92-93). The socialist imperative is the imperative integral to human growth toward world-centric planetary maturity. We come to know life by choosing life.

Our situation, therefore, is not best portrayed by Albert Camus’ profound and moving novel The Plague (1947) in which Dr. Rieux stoically stands against the overwhelming onslaught of evil and destruction, without fear and without hope. Our human situation, rather, is permeated by the dynamism of perpetual historical transcendence, and by the possibility of genuine self-transcendence. As Tillich agrees, this insight does not require any formal religious orientation for its foundation. However, it does reveal the “eschatological” hope and possibility at the heart of our human condition such as that pointed to by Ernst Bloch in the epigraph to this essay.

With the growth of critical self-awareness among human beings, especially since the 15th century and prominently since the “Enlightenment” of the 18th century, the moral imperative found at the heart of the great scriptures of the world is being progressively disentangled from the dogmas, rituals, mantras and institutional frameworks of these religions, as Swami Agnivesh (2016) makes clear. From Immanuel Kant’s 18th century affirmation of human dignity independently of all religion (1964), to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, it is now become possible, for the first time in history, to proclaim universal ethical principles independently of all religious scriptures. The U.N. Declaration affirms: “recognition of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.”

  1. Historical Emergence of the Socialist Concept

The 4th century Greek fathers of the Christian Church understood the socialist imperative taught by Jesus the Christ: St. John Chrysostom (c. 349-407) wrote: “Do not say, ‘I am using what belongs to me.’ You are using what belongs to others. All the wealth of the world belongs to you and to the others in common, as the sun, air, earth, and all the rest” (in Cort 1988: 45).  St. Ambrose (c. 340-397) wrote: “God has ordered all things to be produced so that there should be food in common for all, and that the earth should be the common possession of all. Nature, therefore, has produced a common right for all, but greed has made it the right for a few” (Ibid. 47).

In the 18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau appeared to agree with St. Ambrose concerning the system of scarcity imposed when the resources of the earth became “the right of a few”:

The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying “This is mine,” and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: “Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.” (In Martin 2008: 147)

Historian and Christian thinker Richard Henry Tawney in his book Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926) writes: “Compromise is as impossible between the Church of Christ and the idolatry of wealth, which is the practical religion of capitalist societies, as it was between the Church and the state idolatry of the Roman Empire” (in Cort 1988: 173).

For John Ruskin in Unto this Last, which appeared in 1862, the capitalist system simultaneously created riches and poverty, for accumulation of riches by the few is nothing but robbery from the poor: “The art of becoming ‘rich,’ in the common sense, is not absolutely nor finally the art of accumulating much money for ourselves, but also of contriving that our neighbors shall have less. In accurate terms, it is ‘the art of establishing the maximum inequality in our own favour’” (1997: 182). For Ruskin “political economy” as taught by J.S. Mill, Adam Smith, or David Ricardo, is simply the art of stealing, for the wealth of the few necessarily correlates with the poverty of the many. Wealth is properly correlated with the use-value of products to promote health, life, and well-being in the population (in everyone), distributed in justice from person to person, not just the rich. The proper political economy of any state, in contrast to the capitalist system of theft, operates according to principles of justice:

The universal and constant action of justice in this matter is therefore to diminish the power of wealth, in the hands of one individual, over masses of men, and to distribute it through a chain of men. The actual power exerted by the wealth is the same in both cases; but by injustice it is put all into one man’s hands, so that he directs at once and with equal force the labour of a circle of men about him; by the just procedure, he is permitted to touch the nearest only, thorough whom, with diminished force, modified by new minds, the energy of the wealth passes on to others, and so till it exhausts itself. (Ibid. 199)

The democratic revolutions of the 18th century embodied the revolutionary idea of the equality of all citizens and their inherent “natural rights” existing independently of governmental authorities (who might deny those rights).  The U.S. Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson (a follower of John Locke) declares: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Such documents announce the birth of the concept of universal human rights, a concept still ideal and not yet universally embodied in the concrete lives of human beings.

This first generation of human rights was born there in the 18th century: the rights to freedom, civil liberty, religion, assembly, habeas corpus, and due process of law. This focus on a priori rights over and against government was not the case, however, for Kant, as pointed out by Harry van der Linden in Kantian Ethics and Socialism. Kant demanded a public, social ethics aiming to transform society so that there would ultimately be a union of moral duty and human happiness, meaning a social contract that that provided not only for political freedoms but for human well-being as well (1988: 17-22). Kant also understood that the fullness of human reciprocal rights could never be realized without an Earth Federation that ended the war-system among supposedly “sovereign” nations recognizing no enforceable laws above themselves (1957 and 1974).

Nevertheless, the 19th century with its industrial revolution saw the vast expansion of the capitalist system, with the so-called “right to private property” enshrined in laws that allowed the owners of factories to employ child labor, pay starvation wages to employees, force labor to work for 12 hours per day, and build factories replete with dangerous and unhealthy working conditions. This economic system created masses of extremely poor people living in horrific conditions struggling to survive while being exploited in every possible way to enhance the profits of the owners.

Moral outrage permeates the writings of Karl Marx and many other 19th century revolutionary critics of this horrific system of exploitation and degradation. Scholars such as José Miranda in his book Marx Against the Marxists (1986) show that the so-called “materialist” interpretation of Marx that repudiates the moral dimension in favor of historical forces operating independently of morality is false. Marx was both steeped in the Bible and animated by a much deeper moral love and compassion than the “Bourgeois morality” that he repudiated (see Martin 2005: Chapter 8).

The Socialist Imperative recognizes our common humanity, our “species being” as Marx called it, and the imperative of society to organize itself in ways that optimize human equality, dignity, and freedom. In this respect, the socialist imperative is fundamentally identical with the democratic imperative, for democracy is also the organization of society around human equality, dignity, and freedom. Our collective understanding of the moral requirement to recognize our common human dignity, emphasized by Kant in the 18th century, was now expanded in the 19th century with the birth of “second generation” rights: the rights to the conditions that make possible our individual human flourishing and development: education, health care, limited and safe working conditions, sanitation, and the basic necessities for life such as food, clothing, and shelter.

The U.N. Universal Declaration of 1948 includes both generations of rights. Article 25 declares: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”  The moral discourse of humanity and our “species being,” now divorced from formal religions and forming the ground for a universal ethical discourse, affirms that economics and society must be organized to preserve human dignity and opportunity for all, even for the least privileged members of society. Human beings continued to grow toward moral maturity.

The worldwide recognition of multiple global crises during the 20th century activated understanding that there is a third generation of human rights. It is not enough to have civil liberties and one’s basic needs satisfied if constant war, fear, and violence continue nearly everywhere on Earth. It is not enough to have liberty and well-being if the global climate is collapsing all around us portending ever-increasing disasters throughout our lives and those of our children. Within the U.N. there has been a growing understanding of the “indivisible” nature of human rights (Whelan 2010). Human beings are the same everywhere and the entire set of rights in the U.N. Declaration reinforce one another and undergird a complete human life. This holism continues to grow into a third generation of human rights that includes the right to peace and to a protected planetary environment (Wacks 2008: 149-150).

Human beings, therefore, have a right to peace and a right to a protected and wholesome planetary environment as these permeate in the Earth Constitution. Human rights become a coherent set of ideals surrounding our common humanity and our universal human dignity. One cannot have some of these without the others. Together they form the basis for a planetary democratic socialism premised on these rights and values, not on the chaos of the so-called capitalist “free market.”  All these rights (and our corresponding responsibilities) form an integrated whole and require a global public authority to protect these rights and educate people concerning their significance. Human dignity demands institutions that honor this dignity. These historical developments reflect our developing human moral maturity.

Christian philosopher Enrique Dussel in his book Ethics and Community (1986) declares of sinners: “They totalize themselves, asserting themselves to be God, fetishizing the divinizing themselves. They fall into idolatry…. The act by which one asserts oneself to be the end of other persons—as factory owners think they have the right to the factory’s profit even though that profit be their workers’ hunger transformed into money—is idolatry…. These modern “gods” are the product of the “logic” of sin, of the domination of one human being over another….”  (1986: 19). For Dussel, the dominant world capitalist system creates a pseudo-morality for itself in order to justify and cover up its vast regime of domination and exploitation. This conventional morality is the negation of the socialist imperative taught by Jesus to love one another in a spirit of harmony and sharing.

We may address the problem of “right to private property” (that allows significant accumulations of property to exploit the poor) by distinguishing personal property from property as capital.  Perhaps there is such an aspect of “private property” that may cultivate the sense of responsibility and custodianship, as some have argued, and that also serves as a bulwark against illegitimate interference from a government (e.g, Finnis 1983). However, we can easily distinguish this aspect of property, under democratic laws, from concentrations of wealth capable of exploiting other people for private gain. We can easily protect personal flourishing and well-being through the possession of personal property alone. Vast capital accumulations in private hands, on the other hand, diminish the personal well-being of their victims, as well as democratic institutions that should be serving the common good of all.

  1. The Socialist Imperative and Sovereign Nation-states.

For John Dewey (1859-1952): “The ultimate problem of production is the production of human beings. To this end the production of goods is intermediate and auxiliary. It is by this standard that the present system stands condemned…. The means have to be implemented by a social-economic system that establishes and uses the means for the production of free human beings associating with one another on terms of equality” (1993: 170). Economics and social institutions need to support the quest of each person to develop his or her potential.  This is the socialist imperative. Economics must serve human growth and well-being, not the reverse. Economics must enhance “use value” for the fullness of life, not “exchange value” for the extraction of surplus as profit. For Dewey, capitalism reverses this imperative for economics to promote human well-being by sacrificing human beings to the drive for private profit.  Democracy, the fundamentally mature mode of human association, includes “the breaking down of the barriers of class, race, and national territory” (1993: 110-11) and seeing “the secondary and provisional character of national sovereignty” (ibid. 120). The analysis of Karl Marx was similar in many ways.

Marx saw the bourgeois principle of “formal equality” as a great step forward. People were no longer serfs or slaves but formally free to exchange their property, including their own labour-power as they saw fit. However, this formal freedom covered up a situation of “objective dependency” and concomitant domination in which those who owned capital and the means of production had the power of exploitation over those who lacked such wealth. Mere “political equality” continues the bourgeois system of “egoistic man” and demands an emancipation as “a restoration of the human world and of human relationships to man himself” (1978: 42-46). All of life appears commodified, and the fullness of life is lost for the majority who live their lives as commodities within a world of commodities. The socialist principle, I am arguing, does not most fundamentally advocate a specific set of economic arrangements but rather the recognition of our common humanity and our joining together in unity and diversity to create a set of economic and political arrangements based on that common species being.

The result of this system of domination, for Marx, is “alienation” from our higher human potential for mutually supportive, loving, and cooperative relationships with others. The capitalist system with its “world market” cuts people off from the means to pursue their higher human potential. It cuts people off from what I called above “positive freedom.” The point of socialism is to replace “formal freedom” with the kinds of “substantive freedom” that can lead to genuine human fulfillment, in which “the liberation of each single individual will be accomplished in the measure in which history becomes transformed into world history” (1978: 163). Only by transcending the fragmented nation-state system and uniting under a democratic world order directed to the common good of the whole of humanity can history become truly transformed into world history.

For philosopher Michael Luntley, in his 1990 book on The Meaning of Socialism, capitalism destroys the capacity of people to pursue the good (including their own potential for development). It systematically obstructs moral pursuit of the good. It introduces an “atomism” in which each possesses a “negative freedom” to pursue his or her own welfare at the expense of nature and the community. As Adam Smith had put it, “it is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of society, which he has in view.” Capitalism repudiates that normativity in which society collectively supports the development of each of its members and their cooperative effort to actualize justice, freedom, and truth within our human situation.

Philosopher of law John Finnis (1980) identifies seven intrinsically valuable goods some combination of which makes for a fulfilled and worthwhile human life. These are life, knowledge, practical reason, friendship, aesthetic experience, play, and religion (in the broad sense of a discerning a meaning to existence). Finnis mounts a powerful critique of the utilitarian doctrine that there can be some instrumental means to “achieving the greatest good of the greatest number” (a justification often used for capitalism). Unrestrained competition in a “free market” does not create the greatest good. Rather it actively interferes with our common human pursuit of what is good. The fullness of any human life involves the ability to develop and participate in these goods along some or all of these multiple lines, and the common good of society involves the organization of economics and institutions to make this possible for all citizens.

Capitalism violates this common good. None of these intrinsic goods (which Finnis calls “natural rights”) identifies as wealth or possessions. All of them require a genuine “community” that goes much deeper than the formal contractual basis of capitalist society: competing commercial persons and entities making legal contracts with one another. A “community,” Finnis insists, attains completion by binding together through a constitution that “completes” the union, granting rights and responsibilities to all citizens and pursuing the common good of them all. At the planetary level, only a global social contract, with economics and institutions predicated on the common good of all, can complete and vivify the human community (1980: 130, 148). This vision of the “completed community” is the democratic socialist vision.

Finnis himself defends “private ownership” insofar as this “enhances [a person’s] reasonable autonomy and stimulates his productivity and care” (172-733). He does not speak of socialism but of a “competitive market system” geared toward a “trusteeship” in which wealth beyond a certain point needs to be used for the flourishing of others within the community and in which “the public authority may rightly help them to perform” what is necessary to the flourishing of persons if individual initiative is not sufficient for this task (Ibid.). Depending on the historical situation, such a system “may coexist in the same community with more or less extensive public ownership” (171). If the public authority is thus fundamental to achieve distributive justice, then this result in the conception of Finnis appears quite similar to the market socialism we are describing here.

However, “the community” as Finnis understands it points humanity forward to a global community in his analysis, for the function of the public authority is a common good that may not be realizable any longer at the national level. He declares: “If it now appears that the the good of individuals can only be fully secured and realized in the context of international community, we must conclude that the claim of the national state to be a complete community is unwarranted and the postulate of the national legal order, that it is supreme and comprehensive and an exclusive source of legal obligation, is increasingly what lawyers would call a ‘legal fiction’.”  (129-130)

Finnis declares in defense of his economic analysis: “a theory of justice is to establish which is due to a person in the circumstances in which he is, not in the circumstances of some other ‘ideal’ world” (170). However, here he appears to miss the dynamic of human futurity, even though his entire ethical theory depends on the structure of human futurity insofar as the human community must maximize the conditions for individuals to pursue some combination of the seven intrinsically valuable goods that he identifies. Both individuals and history are future orientated, capable of a growing maturity, awareness, and understanding. It is precisely planetary socialism that both embodies and promotes this growth, not the ideology of capitalism that promotes, not merely autonomy and care but, more fundamentally, egoism, greed, and corruption and objective economic conditions that prevent to self-realization of the vast majority.

Philosopher of holism, Errol E. Harris, more insightfully recognizes that the “the economic health and success of every country is dependent on all the others” and that “the world economy has to be seen as a single system and must be treated as a whole,” a situation requiring democratic world government. In addition, within this global context “the conception of profit must be transformed: It must be socialized rather than individualized. Production and supply have to be viewed as a cooperative enterprise rendering service to the community, rather than a venture undertaken for personal gain” (2000: 167). If the goal is the integrity, dignity, and freedom of human beings, then production and supply must necessarily be “socialized.” For a rationally and morally grounded society, this should be self-evident. Harris (2014) finds these requirements embodied in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

James L. Marsh understands that capitalism is not simply a system that operates in the world apart from our basic human consciousness. Rather, as for Habermas, it is a pervasive institutional force that has colonized our human life-world to the point of fundamentally distorting human consciousness and our potential for a free, wholesome, and decent world system:

The life-world as a whole should also maintain its integrity in relation to economic and administrative systems. Late capitalism is characterized by an illegitimate imposition and extension of the economic imperative onto the life-world. The extension occurs in the interest of class domination exerted through systems media, structures that operate beyond human intention and choice. The basic media operative here are those of money and power. Capital, in the interest of maintaining and enhancing class domination, illegitimately encroaches on spheres to which it should be foreign. As a result, for example, politics, rather than being primarily the exercise of symbolic interaction, democratic, free, equal, reciprocal, becomes an exercise in public relations, manipulation, and secrecy. Culture, rather than being the flowering of an aesthetic consciousness, becomes degraded, passive, and commodified. Culture is transformed into a reified mass culture. (1995: 82-83)

Marsh describes the contemporary perversions of democracy under the capitalist system in terms consistent with Marx’s insight that political democracy alone, without economic democracy, cannot bring human liberation. For Marsh, human liberation requires the development of our reason, understanding, love, and spirituality—the wholeness of our humanity (1999). He recognizes the “colonization of our life-worlds” by the subsystems of capitalism and the nation-state (1995: 230-39). However, his analysis is not entirely complete. Our human lifeworld, I argue, remains so deeply colonized by the system of militarized sovereign nation-states that even most critical thinkers fail to recognize the obvious: that the real problem is not only capitalism but the system of nation-states as well.

Nation-states are pseudo-realities, “spectacles,” in the words of Guy Debord (2014). They remain in power as part of the global capitalist system through the generation of ever more spectacles: vast pageants at football games in the United States, imposing military parades in China and North Korea, spectacular conferences against imperialism and for “A World without Borders” in Bolivia (hence, asserting sovereignty in resistance to imperialism and envisioning ways to unite Latin America in this resistance), and, astonishingly, the land of Mahatma Gandhi announces creation of nuclear weapons to the swelling pride of its population. Sovereign nation-states generate a set of illusions that negate holistic life and our potential for self-transcendence while colonizing our lifeworld with the certainty of their “reality.” Implicitly, they deny and obscure the deeper reality of our common humanity together on the Earth.

Among the thinkers treated in this essay on the “Socialist Imperative,” John Dewey, Errol E. Harris, and Boswell and Chase-Dunn all included the system of sovereign nations in their analysis of the distortions faced by the contemporary world. Dewey speaks of “the secondary and provisional character of national sovereignty” (1993:120), and Harris affirms that “the unity of humanity should be the watchword of the new epoch, inspiring all our thinking and action” (2000: 132). Boswell and Chase-Dunn assert that “global democracy is the equivalent of social democracy at the world level” (2000: 12) because, in the contemporary world, “class relations expanded beyond the labor process to become institutionalized in state, colonial, and interstate structures. A system of sovereign states (i.e., with an overarching definition of sovereignty) is fundamental to the origins and reproduction of the capitalist world economy” (23-24).  If we want a decent world system and a liberated life-world capable of a redeemed love, reason, compassion, and wholeness, then these two deadly adversaries of life must be included together: a decent world system under the Earth Constitution overcomes both capitalism and militarized sovereign nation-states.

  1. Market Socialism and the Holism of Human Development

I will argue that socialist holism ultimately implies human political unity. Political philosopher Bernard Crick argues that a rationally grounded society would maximize the three key factors of liberty, equality, and community:

Socialism has both an empirical theory and a moral doctrine. The theory is that the rise and fall of cohesion in societies is best explained not by the experience and perpetuation of elites (which is conservatism), nor by the initiatives and inventions of competitive individuals (which is liberalism), but by the relationship to the ownership and control of the means of production of the primary producers of wealth…. The doctrine asserts the primacy and mutual dependence of the values of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’, and it draws on the theory to believe that greater equality will lead to more cooperation than competition, that this will in turn enhance fraternity and hence liberate from inhibition, restriction and exploitation both individual personality and the full productive potential of society. (1987: 79)

Just as John Dewey understood that the institutions of society should be directed toward the actualization of our (universal) human potential, so Crick asserts that both the development of individuals and the productive potential of society are enhanced by socialism. These structural changes make possible further self-transcendence. The holism of these visions of human well-being appears very close to the conception of human freedom put forth by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Reports of the past two decades. The holism of our integral human lifeworld finds embodiment through a socialism that extends liberty, equality, and community to our entire planetary civilization. We have seen that the extension to the planetary level is the key to overcoming the oppressive nature of bourgeois law and to developing historical consciousness in the people of Earth.

In fact, we have allowed wealth and power to dominate our so-called free societies to our own detriment. Socialism rests on the three foundations of true democracy: liberty, equality, and fraternity. Neither liberalism nor conservatism rest on all three. Conservatism minimizes equality and, in some respects, freedom, in terms of an ersatz idea of historical community. Liberalism minimizes community, and ultimately equality, through an ersatz notion of negative freedom that ultimately destroys both equality and community. As Sheldon Wolin affirms: “Democracy is first and foremost about equality: equality of power and equality of sharing in the benefits and values made possible by social cooperation” (2008: 61).

Capitalism, whether conservative or liberal, results in inequality as well as consequent corruption. Contemporary social thinker Terry Eagleton writes: “We know that socialism has established itself when we are able to look back with utter incredulity on the idea that a handful of commercial thugs were given free rein to corrupt the minds of the public with Neanderthal political views convenient for their bank balances but for little else” (2011: 28). Donald Trump, now President of the United States, may be a case in point.

Political thinker André Gorz affirms:

For socialists it is a question, to an increasing extent, of organizing society and sociability as spaces for individual emancipation and development…. Only through such solidaristic association and voluntary co-operation can individuals free themselves from their subordination to the uncontrolled logic of capital and market forces to become actors in the creation of a new society. To fight for socialism means concretely to claim the right of individuals to freedom, equality, physical integrity and self-determination, by acting so that the social conditions which conflict with this right are remodeled. (1994: 41)

Democratic socialism does not mean central planning by some unaccountable elite. Gorz understands that such ideas were largely a propaganda device of capitalist mass media. Global society must tame the “uncontrolled logic of capital” through the development of planetary maturity. Democratic socialism, precisely because it does not fracture the moral centrality of liberty, equality, and fraternity, makes possible the “right of individuals” to self-determination, the right of human flourishing. At this point in history, this right can only be satisfied through a globalized market socialism. It will combine the reputed efficiency of markets with the moral imperative that institutions and economics support the development of our higher human potential and pursuit of the good. Christopher Pierson writes:

 [Market socialists] offer an alternative model in which markets are combined with varying forms of the social ownership of capital. Amongst its supporters, the market is recommended not only as a way of attaining greater economic efficiency under socialism, but also as a way of securing greater individual liberty or a more equal value of liberty, of increasing democracy and of enhancing social justice. (1995: 84-85)

The socialist imperative, stated here again by Pierson, involves the moral imperative to organize our institutions to enhance human freedom, social justice, and well-being, that is, authentic democracy and global social justice.  This cannot happen when the wealth of the world is sucked up by a tiny minority of extremely wealthy persons and corporations in a relation of exploitation and political domination to the rest of us. It is not a matter of government planning of everything. This is a smoke screen put forward by current ruling class propaganda to serve their own interests. As Gorz asserts above, capitalism’s “uncontrolled logic” devastates human communities and the environment worldwide. Unless there is enforceable regulation worldwide, remodeling the rapacious logic of capitalism toward the universal common good, many of today’s “poor” countries will continue to bear the brunt of exploitation.  As economist Herman E. Daly (1996) confirms, we cannot have uncontrolled and perpetual “growth” on a finite planet, and we cannot have the 1% sucking up the wealth of the planet, if we want a decent future for our children.

In his 1972 book, Socialism, Michael Harrington declares that socialism means not simply about an economic theory claiming that ownership must be in the cooperative hands of people for the common good of everyone. It is also about “a truly new order of things” in which human fulfillment within the framework of a protected natural world is the foundation of our institutions and economic arrangements. For several thousand years, Harrington affirms, human beings have struggled in the “desert” of scarcity, deprivation, and unjust distributions of wealth. We have gotten used to this “bitter experience; we do not dare to think that things could be otherwise” (1972: 272). I am arguing that the Earth Constitution is the key to this “truly new order of things” precisely because it makes that order universal and no longer fragmented into territorial segments used by the 1% to foster its system of manipulation and domination.

Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, quoted above, rings true. We have allowed the few to claim “private ownership” of what belongs to us all as our birthright: to live with freedom, peace, and well-being within a protected planetary environment and able to externalize our lives in work without being alienated and exploited in that process. The few will always intone the mantra that this is impossible, that scarcity and deprivation are the natural human condition. What we need, some of them also say, is more capitalism, not less. However, those who are morally awake and mature know that compassion, love, justice, and freedom need to become incarnate within our human condition. This means that planetary economic and political institutions must be not only “practical,” but value-based, not greed based, nor divided into absolute, militarized, territory-based fragments.

Commenting on the work of Herbert Marcuse, philosopher Douglas Kellner describes critical social theory in the Marxist tradition. The goal of “critical theory,” he states:

is to define the highest human potentialities and to criticize society in terms of whether it furthers the development and realization of these potentialities, or their constriction and repression. The ultimate goal and fundamental interest of critical theory is a free and happy humanity in a rational society. What is at stake is the liberation of human beings and the development of their potentialities.” (1984: 122)

Critical social theory, therefore, is a philosophy of self-transcendence, of actualizing our higher human potentialities. We know that the socialist imperative, which is the imperative of reason and freedom, embodies these principles. Our human futurity and our growing moral maturity require democratic socialism. Our task is to end the wretched slavery, poverty and misery that plague the human condition where the few live well at the expense of the many. In the words of Marsh: “The overcoming of capitalism and movement to democratic socialism is both an ethical and existential imperative. Not only duty and right but also survival and well-being depend on the overcoming of capitalism” (1995: 313).

Our task, in the words of Jesus in the New Testament is to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth. Our task, expressed in the words of Article 28 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is to actualize this: “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.”  We are far from such a “world order” because we lack a global social contract. The holism of the socialist imperative ultimately implies a democratic world system.

  1. Our Global Social Contract

Just as we have seen Michael Luntley affirm that no common moral good for human life can arise from the “atomism” of capitalism, so the moral imperative that actualizes our third generation rights to peace and a protected environment cannot arise from the atomism and fragmentation of the system of so-called “sovereign” nation-states. Every nation believes it has the “right” to militarize because faced with potential enemies. In doing so, each fragmented nation-state becomes an unwitting enemy of humanity. Human beings have a genuine and unalienable right to a world order that actualizes all three generations of human rights, including peace, that is, to a world order united to create our planet as a decent home for all its citizens and other living creatures.

Today people who are born into small, poor nations appear to be born into a prison camp. They cannot travel beyond their tiny borders. No one wants them, and their chances for a flourishing life are severely restricted within their own nation, subject as it is to exploitation and domination within the global capitalist system, by the global banking cartels, and the powerful imperial nations. Today, people born anywhere, whether in a large or small nation, are forced to pay for a militarization that violates their right to live in peace.  How many people in the world today who are not making a profit from the war system want to have war rather than peace?

Within today’s “national security” framework, sponsoring a perpetual “war on terror” as well as competition among big nations for security, wealth, resources, and ascendency, the options for changing this system become ever more limited. Protestors, honest journalists, nonviolent resistors, and those who speak out in criticism are blacklisted, targeted as supportive of “enemies,” or criminalized by ever-increasing set of repressive laws. In a world of systemic secrecy, systemic corruption cannot help but follow. Where there is no transparency or democratic accountability, our lowest human instincts become empowered: greed, pillage, rape, revenge, hate, fear, resentment, extortion, violence, and sadism (Valentine 2017).

All around the world today, secret blacklists expand on secret criteria, arrest without reasonable cause and “administrative detentions” without due process of law oppress subject populations. Secret prisons, with torture, abuse, and “enhanced interrogation,” force people to betray relatives, perceived enemies, and anyone else they can implicate to try to make the torture stop. Top-secret computerized lists identify every “potential enemy,” with details on their family, connections, biography, assets, and possessions. Democracy, with equal protection of properly legislated laws for everyone, becomes a joke and a mockery.

This system of secrecy and lack of public accountability allows the mass media, a key component within this system, to cover up, justify, protect, and enable the corruption to spread unhindered. The same plutocracy that hides behind this lawless system of corruption and elite unaccountability own the mass media. These media promote a childish immaturity and selfish unconcern in the population: whose proper role is to be unrepentant consumers and unquestioning “patriots.”

We can rise above this nightmare only as a planet and as a species. No nation or group can be free of it when this horror is the modus operandi of the entire system. Humanity can avoid sinking ever deeper toward perdition and likely self-extermination only by establishing a global democratic public authority premised on universal transparency, on universal nonviolence, human rights, sustainability, and universal due process of law. The Earth Constitution is a blueprint for making this possible. Thoughtful and decent people everywhere should embrace this framework for spiritual and civilizational ascendancy to maturity, decency, accountability, justice, and sustainability.

The apparent necessity of this planetary war system is a direct result of the fragmentation and atomism of the system of territorially bound so-called “sovereign” states: as Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, and many others recognized. No state is willing to allow truly enforceable laws above itself.  Every state embraces this lawless world system of war, scarcity, suspicion, secrecy, hate, and fear. Many nations claim the “right” to build nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, claiming the need for “self-defense” while increasing the terror of those at whom these weapons aim.

The capitalist system of domination and exploitation profits immensely from this war system. Great wealth accrues from the development, manufacture, and sale of weapons, security, and surveillance systems worldwide. As many thinkers have point out (e.g., Boswell and Chase-Dunn, 1996), the capitalist system is intricately linked to the system of militarized territorial nation-states. The socialist imperative, by contrast, is the imperative to unite humanity around the principles of universal justice, equality, freedom, peace, and environmental sustainability.

It is not only the scourge of capitalism that prevents us from leaving the desert of historical scarcity for the promised land of human fulfilment. We cannot escape from the desert as long as we embrace the parochial concept of a world divided into absolute territorial fragments. Such fragmentation empowers the global disorder of systemic corruption. The very existence of this fragmented, militarized world clearly violates Article 28 of the U.N. Universal Declaration. It violates our rights to peace and a protected planetary environment.

As many thinkers from the 17th century to the present pointed out, the system of “sovereign” nation-states is intrinsically a “war-system.” In the early 21st century, we now know that we are one world, one humanity, one universal set of moral imperatives, and one interlinked destiny. The sovereign nation-state system, like the economic system based on giant concentrations of capital, organizes the world around the principles of power. Powerful nations have the power to dominate and exploit weaker nations and concentrations of capital allow the rich to exploit the poor in the service of their ever-increasing wealth. Why do we continue to cling to this atomism and fragmentation, centuries old, which violates these universal truths?

As Boswell and Chase-Dunn, Dewey, Habermas, Harris, Luntley, Marsh, and Marx understand it, democracy emerges as our fundamental mode of human association and is inseparable from substantial economic equality (e.g., Boswell and Chase-Dunn 2000: 6-7). This implies that its development must therefore move to the planetary level, since democracy is defeated at the national level by world crises that are beyond the control of the nations. At the planetary level, it can really flourish for the first time because democracy is precisely about our common human dignity and about developing our common human and individual potential. It cannot intelligibly be said to stop at arbitrary territorial borders.

When I speak of a global social contract, it should be apparent that does not imply a conception of a priori rights that must be protected through a limited government, making my freedom only a negative one of resisting encroachments on my “rights.” Rather, the global social contract under the Earth Constitution institutionalizes our mutual recognition of human economic, political, moral, and civilizational interdependency. The integral nature of human rights as understood today are not those of the “egoistic man” criticized by Marx, but rather represent our species-being and our growing world-centric, global consciousness.

Neither the word “capitalism” nor the word “socialism” appears in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Yet, the Constitution announces the socialist imperative at the very outset, in its Preamble. It proceeds to construct a world system that institutionally embodies these principles in a practical, organized, democratic manner. Let us examine this key passage from the Preamble, once again, this time with an eye to its socialist features. It states:

Conscious that Humanity is One despite the existence of diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies and cultures and that the principle of unity in diversity is the basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail; when the earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare; and when basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination….

The principle of unity in diversity declares that the wonderful diversity of humanity, its languages and cultures, must be embraced in a political, economic, and institutional unity that preserves and protects that diversity. We are all legal world citizens under the Earth Constitution with all the rights and responsibilities guaranteed in Articles 12 and 13. The socialist principle manifests here in three dimensions: first war shall be outlawed and peace prevail. The socialist imperative is the imperative for social cooperation on behalf of the freedom, equality, and community of all people: a society and economy dedicated to the right of each person to develop her or her life potential. The right of peace is a necessary component in this equation.

Secondly, the Preamble states that the “new age” will be one in which the “earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare.” Again, we recognize the socialist imperative. We must equitably use the planet and its resources for the benefit of all, not the 1% who own more than 50% of the world’s resources, not the richest 15% who currently own 90% of the world’s resources.

Third, “basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination.” This affirms the socialist principle that our common human dignity must be protected and cherished through concrete economic and social institutions that guarantee all people equally both freedom and well-being. We have both the “rights” to well-being and the shared “responsibilities” of freedom. The basic idea of democracy, the basic requirements of universal moral principles, and the socialist imperative are one and the same. As human beings, our task is to take back our planet Earth from the 1% and make it a decent home for all persons and other living creatures.

The Constitution sets up a World Parliament of three houses: a House of Peoples with 1000 representatives elected from equal districts worldwide, a House of Nations with 1, 2, or 3 representatives appointed or elected by each nation, depending on its population, and the House of Counsellors with 200 representatives, 10 each from 20 world regions who will represent the whole of the planet and the common good. The mandate of the World Parliament as given in Article 1, however, is not to represent the parochial interests of their constituencies but to address the global problems that are beyond the capacity of nations to handle: disarming the nations and ending wars, protecting universal human rights, diminishing social differences, and protecting the planetary environment. The World Parliament is socialist in this sense: its mandate is the good of everyone within an economic and institutional framework that makes this possible.

The basic premises of the Earth Constitution focus on human dignity and the rights of everyone to live in peace, security, with all the basic necessities required for this, within an environment that sustainably supports life, with the clean water, air, and land required for healthy living. These basic premises appear identical with those of socialism. The reason for this is that socialism is most fundamentally a moral conception, whereas capitalism is a self-proclaimed amoral system governed by what it claims are “objective economic laws.”  This claim to being “amoral” covers up the fact that capitalism is objectively immoral. It objectively violates human rights, human dignity, human freedom, human equality, and human fraternity, as well as our rights to peace and to a protected sustainable environment.

The list of “specific powers” granted to the Earth Federation government in Article 4 includes the following: “Place under world controls essential natural resources, which may be limited or unevenly distributed about the Earth. Find and implement ways to reduce wastes and find ways to minimize disparities when development or production is insufficient to supply everybody with all that may be needed.” The Constitution everywhere manifests with this imperative: “to supply everybody with all that may be needed.” If we really mean “all” when we say “all,” then we are taking our stand on the democratic socialist imperative (Adler 1991: 90).

The Constitution affirms a market economy directed to the satisfaction of basic human needs, with global public banking providing necessary income and financing to all based on their ideas and ability to work, not on the basis of collateral or previously accumulated capital. It establishes a market socialist democracy directed to the common good of all the people on the planet and future generations. For Marx, the free exchange of goods and services in a marketplace is not the central feature of capitalist exploitation. The central feature is the creation of surplus value in the process of production where owners exploit the labour of their employees. A market economy is entirely compatible with a limited conception of private property, distinguishing personal property from investment capital, global public banking directed toward the common good of all, widespread cooperative ownership of the means of production, and government control of certain essential resources and productive activities.

In the list of 19 economic and social rights given in Article 13 (which includes a number of rights to a protected, sustainable, planetary environment) there is one that may initially strike us as odd: “Assure to each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential.”  However, this is fundamental to the entire framework of the Constitution which presents a set of institutions designed to achieve exactly this: the dignity and fundamental rights of each child must include a global social and economic framework in which that child can realize his or her potential. Like global democracy, and like the universal moral principles of equal justice, love, and compassion, the socialist imperative means “all” when it says “all.”

Unless we can unite under a global social contract as presented in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, the chances of actualizing Article 28 of the Universal Declaration, or of obeying Jesus the Christ’s commandment to open the way for receiving the Kingdom of God on Earth, appear slim indeed. The immoral, fragmented, and anachronistic institutions that dominate our world actively defeat morality, justice, and environmental sustainability at every turn. The socialist imperative of human liberation within all three dimensions of liberty, equality, and community, properly understood, simultaneously reveals the imperative for democratic world government.

Both capitalism and the system of so-called sovereign nation-states are atomistic, fragmented, and immoral, both in their conceptions and in their observable consequences. They cannot evolve, at least not in time to salvage our human future; they must be transformed through founding a world system based on the democratic, moral, rational, and socialist imperatives from the very beginning. Article 17 of the Earth Constitution makes this process practical and doable. Human self-transcendence means that human beings can and must collectively make the decision to move to a higher level of existence on planet Earth. We must become conscious agents of our own history. We must unite under a single Constitution, founded on substantially correct values and institutions from the very beginning.

The Earth Constitution serves as a global social contract that recognizes our fundamental human condition as persons within community. Its design not only establishes world peace and environmental sustainability while eliminating global poverty and misery. Its design also empowers planetary citizenship everywhere, creating a framework for dialogue and debate such that our collective human intelligence will be immeasurably enhanced and our human potential significantly actualized. The actualization of the socialist imperative in this way will reveal the turning point at which a truly world history can begin.

 


 

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The Socialist Imperative and Our Global Social Contract

  1. Human Beings Growing Toward Moral Maturity

 

Humanity is struggling to emerge from a long history of cruelty, barbarism, and savagery. As Jonathan Glover shows in his book Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, we are not very far along in the quest “of the human species as it struggles to escape from its brutal past.”  The use of technology in mass exterminations, the dehumanizing of “enemies” and closing of our hearts against the “others,” the lack of compassion for those of different nations, races, or religions have been rampant phenomena throughout the 20th century to the present. Glover is not optimistic that “either torture or cruel punishment is certain to fade away as the human race grows up” (2000: 41 & 39).

 

But grow up we must, for time is rapidly running out before our savagery, combined with awesome technologies of mass destruction, obliterates the entire hope, beauty, and promise of our human project. The psychologists and philosophers of human development have reached a broad consensus concerning the stages of moral, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive development. Upon reaching adulthood we are capable of continuous growth toward becoming ever-more “worldcentric.”  We are capable of becoming ever-more “integrated” and “integrating” persons, embracing the vast diversity of humanity and other sensitive living creatures with an encompassing love, compassion, kindness, and friendship. We are capable of replacing violence and fragmentation with the harmony of compassionate unity in diversity.

 

The resources open to us to enhance this growth process include philosophical reflection, meditation, holistic education, and institutional reform. People are more easily led to the dehumanizing of others, to a lack of care for others and hardness of heart, when they are devoid of all or some of these resources. Lack of access to these resources can result in cultures and institutions that promote bigotry, fear, narrowness, ethnocentrism, racism, and the dehumanization of others that accompany these responses.

 

The socialist imperative is the imperative of our emerging human maturity in which we discover that we are one humanity in whom reason and love must develop to the point where we make the Earth a decent home for all its children. However today, as philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm points out, the only oneness recognized by the present Lords of the Earth is our planet as both a battleground for global wars and a giant marketplace for capital accumulation. Philosopher and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm declares that we need a new, worldwide “socialist humanism” in which economics is placed in the service of human flourishing and well-being:

 

The one world is one, so far, inasmuch as it is one potential battlefield, rather than a new system of world citizenship. We live in one world, yet in his feelings and thoughts contemporary man still lives in the nation state. His loyalties are still primarily to sovereign states and not to the human race. This anachronism can only lead to disaster…. The alternative of socialism or barbarism has become frighteningly real today, when forces working toward barbarism seem to be stronger than those working against it. (1962: 171-173)

For Fromm, we need a new renaissance of worldwide socialist humanism in which our “new technical powers” are used “for the sake of man”:  “it is a new society in which the norms for man’s unfolding govern the economy, rather than the social and political process being governed by blind and anarchic economic interests” (ibid. 173).

 

The socialist imperative is the moral imperative at the heart of human maturity: our personal individuality is not separable from our common humanity. Our love and compassion have grown to identify with the entire world, its human children and its living creatures. Education, economics, politics, and institutions need to be directed toward making our planet a decent place for all to live. We need one world with a world parliament that has the mandate and the vision to actualize a democratic socialist, loving, and sustainable environment for the entire Earth.

 

It is not only the new human maturity emphasizing the development of our reason and our love that advocates democratic socialism, the socialist imperative is also the moral imperative found at the heart of all the great scriptures of the world: the imperative for love, compassion, kindness, and friendship. It recognizes the moral demand at the heart of our human situation to recognize our common humanity with others and organize our institutions in such a way that protects and enhances the human dignity of everyone. In Christianity it is the universal love (agape) taught by Jesus. In Vedic religions it is the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family).

 

With the growth of critical self-awareness among human beings especially since the 15th century, and prominently since the “Enlightenment” of the 18th century, the moral imperative found at the heart of the great scriptures of the world is being progressively disentangled from the dogmas, rituals, mantras and institutional frameworks of these religions.  From Immanuel Kant’s 18th century affirmation of human dignity independently of all religion to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, it is now become possible, for the first time in history, to proclaim universal ethical principles independently of all religious scriptures: “recognition of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.”

 

The democratic revolutions of the 18th century embodied the revolutionary idea of the equality of all citizens and their inherent “natural rights” existing independently of governmental authorities (which might deny those rights).  The U.S. Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson (a follower of British philosopher John Locke) declares: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

 

The first generation of human rights was born: the rights to freedom, civil liberty, religion, assembly, habeas corpus, and due process of law. However, the 19th century with its industrial revolution saw the vast expansion of the capitalist system, with the so-called “right to private property” enshrined in laws that allowed the owners of factories to employ child labor, pay starvation wages to employees, force labor to work for 12 hours per day, and build factories replete with dangerous and unhealthy working conditions. This economic system created masses of extremely poor people living in horrific conditions struggling to survive while being exploited in every possible way to enhance the profits of the owners.

 

Moral outrage permeates the writings of Karl Marx and many other 19th century revolutionary critics of this horrific system of exploitation and degradation. Scholars such as José Miranda in his book Marx Against the Marxists (1986) show that the so-called “materialist” interpretation of Marx that repudiates the moral dimension in favor of historical forces operating independently of morality is false. Marx was steeped in the Bible and animated by a much deeper moral love and compassion than the “Bourgeois morality” that he repudiated.

 

The Socialist Imperative recognizes our common humanity, our “species being” as Marx called it, and the imperative of society to organize itself in ways that optimize human equality, dignity, and freedom. In this respect, the socialist imperative is fundamentally identical with the democratic imperative, for democracy is also the organization of society around human equality, dignity, and freedom. Our collective understanding of the moral requirement to recognize our common human dignity, emphasized by Kant in the 18th century, was now expanded in the 19th century with the birth of “second generation” rights: the rights to the conditions that make possible our individual human flourishing and development: education, health care, sanitation, and the basic necessities for life such as food, clothing, and shelter.

 

The U.N. Universal Declaration of 1948 includes both generations of rights. Article 25 declares: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”  The moral discourse of humanity and our ‘species being,’ now divorced from formal religions and forming the ground for a universal ethical discourse, affirms that economics and society must be organized to preserve human dignity and opportunity for all, even for the least privileged members of society. Human beings continued to grow toward moral maturity.

 

The worldwide recognition of multiple global crises activated understanding that there is a third generation of human rights. It is not enough to have civil liberties and one’s basic needs satisfied if there is constant war, fear, and violence nearly everywhere on Earth. It is not enough to have liberty and well-being if the global climate is collapsing all around us portending ever increasing disasters throughout our lives.

 

Human beings have a right to peace, and a right to a protected and wholesome planetary environment. Human rights become a coherent set of ideals surrounding our common humanity and our universal human dignity.  One cannot have some of these without the others. All these rights (and our corresponding responsibilities) form an integrated whole. Human dignity demands institutions that honor this dignity.

 

  1. The Socialist Imperative

 

The 4th century Greek fathers of the Christian Church understood the socialist imperative that was taught by Jesus the Christ: St. John Chrysostom (c. 349-407): “Do not say, ‘I am using what belongs to me.’ You are using what belongs to others. All the wealth of the world belongs to you and to the others in common, as the sun, air, earth, and all the rest.”  (Cort, 1988: 45)   St. Ambrose (c. 340-397): “God has ordered all things to be produced so that there should be food in common for all, and that the earth should be the common possession of all. Nature, therefore, has produced a common right for all, but greed has made it the right for a few.” (Ibid. 47)

 

In the 18th century, social philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was to agree with St. Ambrose concerning the system of scarcity imposed when the resources of the earth became “the right of a few”:

 

The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying “This is mine,” and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: “Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.” (In Martin, 2008: 147)

 

Historian and Christian thinker Richard Henry Tawney in his book Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926) writes: “Compromise is as impossible between the Church of Christ and the idolatry of wealth, which is the practical religion of capitalist societies, as it was between the Church and the state idolatry of the Roman Empire” (In Cort, 1988: 173).

 

Christian thinker Enrique Dussel in his book Ethics and Community (1986) declares of sinners: “They totalize themselves, asserting themselves to be God, fetishizing the divinizing themselves. They fall into idolatry…. The act by which one asserts oneself to be the end of other persons—as factory owners think they have the right to the factory’s profit even though that profit be their workers’ hunger transformed into money—is idolatry…. These modern “gods” are the product of the “logic” of sin, of the domination of one human being over another….”  (1986: 19). For Dussel, the dominant world capitalist system creates a pseudo-morality for itself in order to justify and cover up its vast regime of domination and exploitation. This conventional morality is the negation of the socialist imperative taught by Jesus to love one another in a spirit of harmony and sharing.

 

For philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952): “The ultimate problem of production is the production of human beings. To this end the production of goods is intermediate and auxiliary. It is by this standard that the present system stands condemned…. The means have to be implemented by a social-economic system that establishes and uses the means for the production of free human beings associating with one another on terms of equality” (1993: 170). Economics and social institutions need to support the quest of each person to develop his or her potential.  This is the socialist imperative. However, for Dewey, capitalism reverses this imperative by sacrificing human beings to the drive for private profit.

 

For philosopher Michael Luntley (1990), capitalism destroys the capacity of people to pursue the good (including their own potential for development). It systematically obstructs moral pursuit of the good. It introduces an “atomism” in which each possesses a “negative freedom” to pursue his or her own welfare at the expense of nature and the community. It repudiates that normativity in which society collectively supports the development of each of its members and their cooperative effort to actualize justice, freedom, and truth within our human situation.

 

In his book Natural Law and Natural Rights (1980), philosopher of law John Finnis identifies seven intrinsically valuable goods some combination of which makes for a fulfilled and worthwhile human life. These are life, knowledge, practical reason, friendship, aesthetic experience, play, and religion (in the broad sense of a discerning a meaning to existence). Finnis mounts a powerful critique of the utilitarian doctrine that there can be some instrumental means to “achieving the greatest good of the greatest number” (a justification often used for capitalism).  Unrestrained competition in a “free market” does not create the greatest good. Rather it actively interferes with our common human pursuit of what is good. The fullness of any human life involves the ability to develop and participate in these goods along some or all or these multiple lines, and the common good of society involves the organization of economics and institutions to make this possible for all citizens.

 

Capitalism violates this common good. None of these intrinsic goods (“natural rights”) is identified as wealth or possessions. All of them require a genuine “community” that goes much deeper than the formal contractual basis of capitalist society: competing commercial persons and entities making legal contracts with one another. A “community,” Finnis insists, can only be completed when it is bound together by a constitution that “completes” the union, granting rights and responsibilities to all citizens and pursuing the common good of them all. At the planetary level, only a global social contract, with economics and institutions predicated on the common good of all, can complete and vivify the human community. This vision of the “completed community” is the democratic socialist vision.

 

For political philosopher Bernard Crick (1987):

 

Socialism has both an empirical theory and a moral doctrine. The theory is that the rise and fall of cohesion in societies is best explained not by the experience and perpetuation of elites (which is conservatism), nor by the initiatives and inventions of competitive individuals (which is liberalism), but by the relationship to the ownership and control of the means of production of the primary producers of wealth…. The doctrine asserts the primacy and mutual dependence of the values of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’, and it draws on the theory to believe that greater equality will lead to more cooperation than competition, that this will in turn enhance fraternity and hence liberate from inhibition, restriction and exploitation both individual personality and the full productive potential of society. (79)

 

Just as John Dewey argues that the institutions of society should be directed toward the actualization of our human potential so Crick asserts that both individuals and the productive potential of society are enhanced by socialism. We have allowed wealth and power to dominate our so-called free societies to our own detriment. Contemporary social thinker Terry Eagleton writes: “We know that socialism has established itself when we are able to look back with utter incredulity on the idea that a handful of commercial thugs were given free rein to corrupt the minds of the public with Neanderthal political views convenient for their bank balances but for little else” (2011: 28). Donald Trump, now President of the United States, is a case in point.

 

Political thinker Andre Gorz affirms:

 

For socialists it is a question, to an increasing extent, of organizing society and sociability as spaces for individual emancipation and development…. Only through such solidaristic association and voluntary co-operation can individuals free themselves from their subordination to the uncontrolled logic of capital and market forces to become actors in the creation of a new society. To fight for socialism means concretely to claim the right of individuals to freedom, equality, physical integrity and self-determination, by acting so that the social conditions which conflict with this right are remodeled. (1994: 41)

Socialism does not mean central planning by some unaccountable elite. Democratic socialism at this point in history will be a market socialism. It will combine the reputed efficiency of markets with the moral imperative that institutions and economics support the development of our higher human potential and pursuit of the good. Christopher Pierson writes:

The core principle of the market socialist position is easily stated. At its simplest, market socialism describes an economic and political system which combines the principles of social ownership of the economy with the continuing allocation of commodities (including labor) through the mechanism of markets…. [Market socialists] offer an alternative model in which markets are combined with varying forms of the social ownership of capital. Amongst its supporters, the market is recommended not only as a way of attaining greater economic efficiency under socialism, but also as a way of securing greater individual liberty or a more equal value of liberty, of increasing democracy and of enhancing social justice. (84-85)

The socialist imperative, therefore, involves the moral imperative to organize our institutions to enhance human freedom and well-being.  This is clearly not done when the wealth of the world is sucked up by a tiny minority of extremely wealthy persons and corporations. It is not a matter of government planning of everything. This is merely a red herring put forward by current ruling class propaganda to serve their own interests. As Gorz asserts above, capitalisms’ “uncontrolled logic” devastates human communities and the environment worldwide.  You cannot have uncontrolled and perpetual “growth” on a finite planet, and you cannot have the 1% sucking up the wealth of the planet, if we want a decent future for our children.

As Michael Harrington asserts in his 1972 book Socialism, socialism is not simply about an economic theory that says that ownership must be in the cooperative hands of people for the common good of everyone, it is also about “a truly new order of things” in which human fulfillment within the framework of a protected natural world is the foundation of our institutions and economic arrangements. For several thousand years, Harrington affirms, human beings have struggled in the “desert” of scarcity, deprivation, and unjust distributions of wealth. We have gotten used to this “bitter experience; we do not dare to think that things could be otherwise” (1972: 272)

But Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, quoted above, rings true. We have allowed the few to claim “private ownership” of what belongs to us all as our birthright: to live with freedom, peace, and well-being within a protected planetary environment. The few will always intone the mantra that this is impossible, that scarcity and deprivation are the natural human condition. But those who are morally awake and mature know that divine compassion, love, justice, and freedom need to become incarnate within our human condition.

We know that the socialist imperative embodies these principles. Our task is to end the wretched slavery, poverty and misery that plague our human condition where the few live well at the expense of the many. Our task, in the words of Jesus the Christ is to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth. Our task, expressed in the words of Article 28 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is to actualize this: “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.”  We are far from such a “world order” because we lack a global social contract.

  1. Our Global Social Contract

Just as we have seen Michael Luntley affirm that no common moral good for human life can arise from the “atomism” of capitalism, so the moral imperative that actualizes our third generation rights to peace and a protected environment cannot arise from the atomism and fragmentation of the system of so-called “sovereign” nation-states. Every nation believes it has the “right” to militarize because it is faced with potential enemies. In doing so, each fragmented nation-state becomes an unwitting enemy of humanity. Human beings have a genuine and unalienable right to a world order that actualizes all three generations of human rights, including peace, that is, to a world order united to create our planet as a decent home for all its citizens and other living creatures.

Today people who are born into small, poor nations appear to be born into a prison camp. They cannot travel beyond their tiny borders. No one wants them, and their chances for a flourishing life are severely restricted within their own nation, subject as it is to exploitation and domination within the global capitalist system and under the powerful imperial nations. Today, people born anywhere, whether in a large or small nation, are forced to pay for a militarization that violates their right to live in peace.  How many people in the world today who are not making a profit from the war system want to have war rather than peace?

The apparent necessity of this planetary war system is a direct result of the fragmentation and atomism of the system of territorially bound so-called “sovereign” states: as Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, and many others recognized. No state is willing to allow enforceable laws above itself.  Every state embraces this lawless world system of war, scarcity, suspicion, secrecy, hate and fear. Many nations claim the “right” to build nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, claiming the need for “self-defense” while increasing the terror of those at whom these weapons are aimed.

The capitalist system of domination and exploitation profits immensely from this war system. Great wealth is extracted from the development, manufacture, and sale of weapons worldwide. As many thinkers have pointed out, the capitalist system is intricately linked to the system of militarized territorial nation-states. The socialist imperative is the imperative to unite humanity around the principles of universal justice, equality, freedom, peace, and environmental sustainability.

It is not only the scourge of capitalism that prevents us from leaving the desert of historical scarcity for the promised land of human fulfilment. We cannot escape from the desert as long as we embrace the parochial concept of a world divided into absolute territorial fragments. The very existence of this fragmented, militarized world clearly violates Article 28 of the UN Universal Declaration. It violates our rights to peace and a protected planetary environment.

As many thinkers have pointed out from the 17th century to the present, the system of “sovereign” nation-states is intrinsically a “war-system.” In the early 21st century, we now know that we are one world, one humanity, one universal set of moral imperatives, and one interlinked destiny. Why do we continue to cling to the atomism and fragmentation, centuries old, that violates these truths?

Neither the word ‘capitalism’ nor the word ‘socialism’ appears in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Yet, the Constitution announces the socialist imperative at the very outset, in its Preamble. It proceeds to construct a world system that institutionally embodies these principles in a practical, organized, democratic manner.  The Preamble states:

Conscious that Humanity is One despite the existence of diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies and cultures and that the principle of unity in diversity is the basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail; when the earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare; and when basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination….

The principle of unity in diversity declares that the wonderful diversity of humanity, its languages and cultures, must be embraced in a political, economic, and institutional unity that preserves and protects that diversity. We are all legal world citizens under the Earth Constitution with all the rights and responsibilities guaranteed in Articles 12 and 13. The socialist principle is articulated here in three dimensions: first war shall be outlawed and peace prevail. The socialist imperative is the imperative for social cooperation on behalf of the freedom, equality, and community of all people: a society and economy dedicated to the right of each person to develop her or her life potential. The right of peace is a necessary component in this equation.

Secondly, the Preamble states that the “new age” will be one in which the “earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare.” Again, the socialist imperative is affirmed. This planet and its resources must be equitably used for the benefit of all, not the 1% who own more than 50% of the world’s resources, not the richest 15% who currently own 85% of the world’s resources.

Third, the Preamble states that “basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination.” This affirms the socialist principle that our common human dignity must be protected and cherished through concrete economic and social institutions that guarantee all people equally both freedom and well-being. The basic idea of democracy, the basic requirements of universal moral principles, and the socialist imperative are one and the same. We are tasked as human beings to take back our planet Earth from the 1% and make it a decent home for all persons and other living creatures.

The Constitution sets up a World Parliament of three houses: a House of Peoples with 1000 representatives elected from equal districts worldwide, a House of Nations with 1, 2, or 3 representatives appointed or elected by each nation, depending on its population, and the House of Counsellors with 200 representatives, 10 each from 20 world regions who will represent the whole of the planet and the common good. The mandate of the World Parliament for each and every representative, however, is not to represent the parochial interests of their constituencies but to address the global problems that are beyond the capacity of nations to handle: disarming the nations and ending wars, protecting universal human rights, diminishing social differences, and protecting the planetary environment. The World Parliament is socialist in this sense: its mandate is the good of everyone within an economic and institutional framework that makes this possible.

 

The basic premises of the Earth Constitution focus on human dignity and the rights of everyone to live in peace, security, with all the basic necessities required for this, within an environment that sustainably supports life,  with the clean water, air, and land required for healthy living. These basic premises are identical with those of socialism. The reason for this is that socialism is most fundamentally a moral conception, whereas capitalism is a self-proclaimed amoral system governed by what it claims are “objective economic laws.”  This claim to being “amoral” covers up the fact that capitalism is objectively immoral. It objectively violates human rights, human dignity, human freedom, human equality, and human fraternity, as well as our rights to peace and to a protected sustainable environment.

 

The list of “specific powers” granted to the Earth Federation government in Article 4 includes the following: “Place under world controls essential natural resources which may be limited or unevenly distributed about the Earth. Find and implement ways to reduce wastes and find ways to minimize disparities when development or production is insufficient to supply everybody with all that may be needed.”  The Constitution is permeated with this imperative: “to supply everybody with all that may be needed.” If we really mean “all” when we say “all,” then we are taking our stand on the democratic socialist imperative.

 

The Constitution affirms a market economy directed to the satisfaction of basic human needs, with global public banking providing necessary income and financing to all on the basis of their ideas and ability to work, not on the basis of collateral or previously accumulated capital.  It establishes a market socialist democracy directed to the common good of all the people on the planet and future generations.

 

In the list of 19 economic and social rights given in Article 13 (which includes a number of rights to a protected, sustainable planetary environment) there is one that may initially strike us as odd: “Assure to each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential.”  But this is fundamental to the entire framework of the Constitution which presents a set of institutions designed to achieve exactly this: the dignity and fundamental rights of each child must include a global social and economic framework in which that child can realize his or her potential. Like global democracy, and like the universal moral principles of equal justice, love, and compassion, the socialist imperative means “all” when it says “all.”

 

Unless we can unite together under a global social contract as presented in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, the chances of actualizing Article 28 of the Universal Declaration, or of obeying Jesus the Christ’s commandment to open the way for receiving the Kingdom of God on Earth, appear slim indeed.  The immoral, fragmented, and anachronistic institutions that dominate our world actively defeat morality, justice, and environmental sustainability at every turn. Both capitalism and the system of so-called sovereign nation-states are atomistic, fragmented, and immoral, both in their conceptions and in their observable consequences. They cannot be evolved; they must be transformed through founding a world system based on the democratic, moral, and socialist imperatives from the very beginning.

 

We must understand that we no longer need to wander in the desert of scarcity, injustice, and immaturity. We must rise to planetary maturity and affirm that we can institutionally ascend to a real fulfillment of our human project. We can enter the Promised Land only if we keep our eyes steadily on that vision; or at very least, we can establish the necessary institutions that make this vision possible. Unless we take this stand now, the future looks bleak indeed. Nothing less than this indicates the significance of our present historical moment with its opportunity to affirm our global social contract under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

 

Works Cited

 

Cort, John C. (1988). Christian Socialism: An Informal History. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Crick, Bernard (1987). Socialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Dewey, John (1993). The Political Writings. Debra Morris and Ian Shapiro, eds. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.

Dussel, Enrique (1986). Ethics and Community. Robert R. Barr, trans. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Eagleton, Terry (2011). Why Marx Was Right. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Finnis, John (1980). Natural Law and Natural Rights. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Fromm, Erich (1962). Beyond the Chains of Illusion: My Encounter with Marx and Freud. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Glover, Jonathan (1999). Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gorz, André (1994). Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology. Chris Turner, trans. London: Verso Press.

Harrington, Michael (1972). Socialism. New York: Saturday Review Press.

Kant, Immanuel (1964). Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. H. J. Paton, trans. New York: Harper & Row.

Luntley, Michael (1990). The Meaning of Socialism. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court Publishing.

Martin, Glen T. (2008). Ascent to Freedom: Practical & Philosophical Foundations of Democratic World Law. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

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

Miranda, José (1986). Marx Against the Marxists. The Christian Humanism of Karl Marx. John Drury, trans. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

 

 

The Concept of Democracy and Our Global Social Contract

Glen T. Martin

 

Part One: The Concept of Democracy

 

Most people commonly understand that the word “democracy” literally means “rule of the people.” However, what this means in practice has long been contested and continues today to be plagued with deep misunderstandings.  Is democracy a matter of conserving traditions and inherited forms of authority as provided by educated leaders, wealthy patrons, and community values (Edmund Burke)?  Is democracy a set of formal agreements by which right-bearing, self-regarding individuals compete with one another within a spirit of self-interest and entrepreneurial competition (John Locke)?

 

At the other extreme, is democracy a corporate enterprise in which individuals become transformed into citizens through their social contract creating a solidarity in which they now defer to the “general will” of the whole (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)?  Or does authentic democracy involve a “strong” participation of citizens who see community, solidarity, and the common good as created through their participatory actions and public involvement (Benjamin Barber)?

 

Throughout history rulers were always said to be ruling in the name of the people, for example, receiving a mandate from God to be protector of the people and guardian of the common good. One fundamental issue of democracy is exactly what is this “common good”? If democracy is about the “rule” of everyone, then the common good would seem to be the social matrix that benefits everyone. It this social matrix the “thin” procedural framework by which rights-bearers can pursue their (largely economic) self-interests within a free, competitive market place (Locke, John Stuart Mill)?

 

Or does the common good involve a comprehensive social gestalt that empowers people with a community spirit and forms of participation transcending competitive self-interest (Rousseau, Barber, John Dewey)?   Or is the common good identical to the “requirements of justice” within a social framework that supports the flourishing of individuals participating in a range of intrinsically valuable goods discerned by practical reason (John Finnis)?

 

If we conceive of global democracy in terms of a global social contract, that contract might be conceived in Lockean terms as an agreement on a minimum set of conditions for people to pursue their competitive self-interests. However, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology have come a long way since the 18th century with its Newtonian paradigm of atomism, mechanism, and subjectivism.  These disciplines have shown that human beings do not exist as autonomous, rational individuals who exist prior to government and constitutional authority. Today, we understand that human beings are not the atoms of classical liberalism, and not the faceless ciphers of classical collectivism.  Rather, we exist as “persons in community” (Daly 1996: 55).

 

When Robert E. Goodin argues that the “communitarian” view of democracy with its notion of “the social construction of identity” (2003: 39) destroys the personal independence and autonomy necessary for quality democracy, he creates a caricature of the insights that have been gained into personal growth since the 20th century. It is now widely understood that persons are simultaneously universal (the social construction of identity) and in a process of growth toward personal moral and cognitive autonomy that arises out of our socially constructed nature.  Jürgen Habermas and many others have pointed this out. The implication is that we exist fundamentally and primordially as “persons in community” and we cannot place personal autonomy above community nor community above personal autonomy.  They arise together and the theory of democracy must be founded on this understanding. As Habermas asserts, “Individuation, as part of life history, is an outcome of socialization” (34).

 

Goodin is correct, however, that democracy must become “reflective” rather than merely preference based.  It is disastrous to think of democracy as simply recording people’s preferences through elections or referendums. Preferences can be whimsical, mistaken, based on ignorance of the facts, emotionally driven, and easily manipulated by mass media or government propaganda. Whatever the common good may be, it is unlikely that the rule of preferences will comprehend or promote that. We need to find ways to get thought and reflection into the democratic process and ways to discover the deeper common good in which democracy must be grounded.

 

What does “rule of the people” really mean? A human being is a growing, developing person within community.  A human being lives in a dynamic present between a remembered past and an envisioned future structured by a range of immediate, as well as remote, possibilities. As Habermas declares: man “in his anthropological universality – is everywhere the same” (39). “The concept of humanity,” he continues, “obliges us to take up the “we”-perspective from which we perceive one another as members of an inclusive community no person is excluded from” (56)

 

For Habermas, the morality governing our individuality is identical to the morality governing communities, both arise from a communicative core that presupposes equality, freedom, and a normativity of mutual respect. Our individuality arises from a community that presupposes this and grows toward an autonomy in which we freely choose to recognize and respect the equality and freedom of others.  The constitution, government, must be founded on this reality, on “the reciprocal and symmetrical relations of mutual recognition proper to a moral and legal community of free and equal persons” (2003: 65). “Rule of the people” means that government must be based on the moral foundations that arise from our existence as “persons in community.”

 

“Government” is the collective authority of society not only to ensure a basic conformity with the ground rules necessary for effective coordination of large numbers of people (e.g., no murder, no theft, no extortion, etc.).  Government is also the organization of society in such ways as to empower citizens to flourish through equal opportunities in pursuit of the life-goals and in the development of their potential as unique human beings. Third, government operates within a framework of “rules of recognition and change” that provide a stable continuity for the human community to move through time in patterns of ordered, nonviolent change and progressive movement into an ever-better future under our common human ideals of justice, fairness, equality, and freedom.

 

“Rule of the people,” in its deeper meaning, then, clearly does not indicate the rule of arbitrary preferences or the tyranny of some ignorant majorities. The phrase points to the foundational human truth that “government,” if it is to satisfy these three basic functions, must be democratic in the sense that the authority of society is organized on behalf of human flourishing, human aspirations, and nonviolently on behalf of the continuity of society in the progressive service of actualizing our common human ideals. There need be nothing “paternalistic” about this in that many of the mature, autonomous citizens produced within an authentic democratic framework will be precisely those elected to positions within the administrative, legislative, and judicial branches of such a society.

 

Today, we must add “ecological sustainability” to these ideals since the nonviolent continuity of society cannot endure without a healthy and supportive biosphere. This clearly is one reason why democracy today must be planetary. No territorial nation can any longer provide nonviolent continuity into the future by itself. Similarly, war, in all its forms, is the very opposite of democracy and inevitably destroys democracy, again making it imperative that we move to the level of planetary democracy under the social authority of the people of Earth.

 

John Dewey substantially agrees: “Democracy, in a word, is a social, that is to say, an ethical conception, and upon its ethical significance is based its significance as governmental. Democracy is a form of government only because it is a form of moral and spiritual association” (1993: 59). “Rule of the people” means the rule of the moral and ethical framework that embraces all human beings now embodied within specific rules for recognition, change and adjudication (Hart 1994) that we know as government.  Democracy arises from what it means to be a human being.

 

One might associate these ideas with the “Religion of Humanity” expressed by Rabindranath Tagore in which “Religion consists in the endeavor of men to cultivate and express those qualities which are inherent in the nature of Man the eternal and to have faith in them” (in Nusbaum 2013: 88). If religion can be understood as the quest for the actualization of our highest human qualities of love, compassion, justice, and freedom so democracy can be understood as the collective social foundation that undergirds this quest. In other words, “rule of the people” means governmental arrangements that promote the development of morally mature, free, loving and autonomous people and the nonviolent continuity of these arrangements into the future.

 

For Dewey, democracy is about cultivating the highest potential of the human personality: “From this central position of personality result the other notes of democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity,–words which are not mere words to catch the mob, but symbols of the highest ethical idea which humanity has yet reached—the idea of personality….” (1993: 62).  The “real” in human affairs, is necessarily based on the “ideal” (65), since the ideal arises from our temporalized existence in which we act to realize the ideal that we envision out of the dynamic present.

 

For Dewey, as for Habermas, our growth toward ethical and cognitive maturity is always a growth toward universality, which is “equivalent to the breaking down of those barriers of class, race, and national territory which kept men from perceiving the full import of their activity” (111). The full import in the development of personality involves discernment of our common humanity, transcending even “national territory.”  We must discern “the secondary and provisional character of national sovereignty in respect to the fuller, freer, and more fruitful association and intercourse of all human beings with one another [that] must be installed as a working disposition of mind” (120).

 

Democracy is the conception of human association and human potential arising out of our common human condition of temporalized persons -in-community who grow toward the ideals arising out of that

condition. It is inherently universal, for the realization of our fuller human potential necessarily transcends the limitations of class, race, and national sovereignty to the planetary level of unity in diversity. The “rule of the people” means these essential possibilities of our humanity embodied in a concrete constitution that protects and enhances human growth toward our common human ideals across the board.

 

Mainstream democratic theorists are slowly working their way toward this universality of the concept of democracy. But the process is laborious for those whose context has always been the [unwarranted] presupposition of nation state sovereignty as the proper locus for democratic government. Philosopher David Held in Models of Democracy attempts to “rethink democracy for a more global age.”  He finds that we must develop a model of “cosmopolitan democracy” that envisions democratic participation “across nations, regions and global networks” (353).

 

He appears to understand some of the limits and difficulties of trying to actualize democracy on the level of militarized territorial states whose destinies are strongly influenced by transnational global, political, and environmental forces, but he has no real, viable proposals for actualizing “cosmopolitan democracy,” barring timid modifications of the unworkable UN system. (The UN system is based on treaties among sovereign nations and hence can never solve our global dilemma under its current Charter. Sovereign nations recognizing no enforceable law above themselves are precisely the problem.)

 

Social scientists Terry Boswell and Christopher Chase-Dunn offer a more concrete vision of global democracy in their 2000 book The Spiral of Capitalism and Socialism: Toward Global Democracy. Their analysis of the global capitalist system reveals much more clearly why democracy is defeated at every turn within nation-states. As they put it: “We contend that it may also produce a better world in the future if the peoples of Earth understand the structures and processes of the modern world-system and act to transform the current system into a collectively rational and democratic global commonwealth” (xii). Nevertheless, their correct vision that human rationality both envisions and requires a global commonwealth remains largely in the realm of theory since they do not mention any specific constitutional arrangements necessary to make global democracy a reality.

 

More advanced than any of these thinkers is the work of philosopher Errol E. Harris in his 2008 book Twenty-first Century Democratic Renaissance: From Plato to Neoliberalism to Planetary Democracy. Harris discusses the variety of democratic theories and their critics throughout the book. The essential features of democracy, he argues, include government that effectively promotes the common good, which includes “the condition of positive liberty” (118) in which “civil and human rights are indefeasible” as well as “the equality of all persons before the law” (120) and the basic “security” of all citizens (131). The notion of the common good, he concludes, is a concept that has “objective significance.” No one can doubt the benefit of “an efficient and well organized transport system,” or “a well-run and hygienic health service” for the common good (118-19).

 

However, he goes on to show that the system of militarized sovereign nation-states with its perpetual wars and national security regimes systematically defeats democracy within nations, as do the growing planetary environmental crises in which the conditions for a flourishing life are rapidly diminishing. These conditions throw nations internally into chaos requiring emergency measures that defeat democracy (121-131). “As the sole condition on which sovereign power can be legitimized is that it can maintain the conditions of the good life, strictly speaking the nation-state is no longer the legitimate bearer of sovereign authority…. Only if the dangers currently overshadowing the human race can be removed and the associated world problems effectively tackled will there be any prospect of regenerating the democratic idea” (132).

 

Part Two: Democracy and the Constitution for the Federation of Earth

 

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth, Harris maintains in his 2005 book Earth Federation Now!, is by far our best option for accomplishing both of these necessities.  It is designed to effectively deal with the entire range of world problems: global militarism and wars, global human rights protection, global resource management for the common good, reasonable global economic equality, global environmental protection and restoration, as well as with all other problems beyond the scope of sovereign nation-states (Articles 1 and 4).

 

The democratic idea that arises from our common human situation, Harris maintains, can only be regenerated through shifting the scale to planetary democracy. The Earth Constitution is brilliantly designed to both deal with our global crises and to establish truly meaningful democracy premised on the equality, freedom, security, and common good of the peoples of the Earth. The most advanced democratic theorists have articulated the conditions for a more mature and participatory democracy beyond a regime based on mere “preferences.” This advanced democracy is structured into the Earth Constitution.

 

For Dewey, the “totalitarian menace awakens us to a deeper loyalty to intelligence, pure and undefiled, and to the intrinsic connection between it and free communication: the method of conference, consultation, discussion, in which there takes place purification and pooling of the net results of the experiences of multitudes of people” (1993: 208).  Democratic government provides the mechanisms for a collective rationality in which people work together for the common good. For Goodin, democracy must develop infrastructure that encourages people’s “empathic recognition” of opposing points of view, so that democracy becomes “reflective” even on the level of large societies that transcend the level of face to face discussion and rely on representative “trustees” to deliberate empathically on the issues (2003: 72).

 

For Barber, democracy must become animated through the activation of a citizenship based solidarity that goes beyond voting for preferences to transformative participation in governing: “the creation of a political community capable of transforming dependent, private individuals into free citizens and partial and private interests into public goods (1984: 132, italics his). The Earth Constitution is not only designed to deal with all those global crises that transcend the internal affairs of nations, it is designed to actualize all of these features with respect to living democracy as well.

 

In its second bill of rights, called “Directive Principles for the Earth Federation,” the Constitution requires that the Federation “assure to each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential” (Article 13.12). Here we see one of the many ways that the Constitution reflects the very essence of democracy, which we have seen above is based on our common humanity and individual potentialities. Our continuous growth as human beings requires that we actualize the potentialities within each of us and within the human community.

 

The Constitution also reflects Dewey’s insight that communicative forums of all sort magnify our individual intelligence into a collective rationality that can effectively deal with our problems. The Constitution, throughout its structures, agencies, and departments, is based upon dialogue and collective decision-making. The World Parliament, central to the entire system, is comprised of three houses: the House of Peoples, the House of Nations, and the House of Counsellors. Each house dialogues within itself and all houses also meet jointly in a common conversation.

 

The entire Earth Constitution is constructed on a holistic basis to integrate agencies, departments, and the Parliament itself within a synergistic framework. In addition to this, each agency or branch of the government never headed by one CEO but rather by a group of 5 or sometimes 10 highly qualified persons.  We might modify the popular saying here to declare: “Five heads are better than one.”   Each of the 5 is elected from a different one of the 5 official continental divisions of the Earth Federation.

 

Hence, the World Executive is headed by a Presidium of five, one from each continental division. The Collegium of World Judges is headed by a “Presiding Council” of five World Judges, one from each continental division, the World Attorneys General is headed by five Attorneys General, one from each continent, the World Ombudsmus is headed by a “Council of World Ombudsen,” one from each continent.  Each House of the World Parliament shall elect a “panel of five Chairpersons,” one from each continent.  Six of the seven agencies of the Integrative Complex shall be headed by a “ten member commission” (in addition to their Cabinet Minister and Senior Administrator), divided among the continental divisions.

 

Dialogue and discussion are structurally built into the fabric of every agency of the Earth Federation government. In each case, the 5 or 10 members of the “council” or “commission” must reach decisions and act collectively.  In addition, the powers of each agency or branch of the Earth Federation are defined specifically, along with the limits on these powers.  Dialogue is the basis for the action of each agency and that action is carefully limited to the broad function, repeated throughout the Constitution, of “service to humanity.”  In many cases, including for each member of the World Parliament, the leaders must take a “pledge of service to humanity” (Article 5.4.4).

 

The Constitution requires that “Voter’s Information Booklets” be prepared before each Parliamentary election, summarizing the issues, giving the candidates backgrounds, and allowing the same space for the candidates to speak to the issues.  No longer will big money or deceptive advertising determine elections. People will necessarily have to make their decisions based on thoughtful assessment of the issues, not on blind emotions evoked by deceptive big-money advertising.

 

The World Executive, head of the Executive Branch and the World Administration, is carefully limited in its powers. It has no military powers, no authority to declare a state of emergency or refuse to administer the budget approved by the World Parliament. It does not supervise the World Police, who are directly responsible to the World Parliament (not the Executive Branch). It has no veto power over any legislation passed by the Parliament. It is restricted to dialogue and reasoning within a framework of transparency. There are no reasons for any national security secrets in the form of classified documents and secret meetings. Democracy is here institutionalized at the global level, which is not only its appropriate level, but the only level on which it can actually work.

 

The same arrangements apply to the World Police and Attorneys General. The “means of enforcement” in Article 10.4 encourage continually reducing the need to use lethal force and finding alternative methods of enforcement.  The Police are required to continually develop the means of non-violent conflict resolution and fair hearings for all peoples. The Police and Executive are watched over by the World Ombudsmus (again directed by a group of 5, one from each continental division) who has responsibility for seeing that human rights are protected, that Article 13 “Directive Principles” are implemented, and that government operates transparently, efficiently, and democratically.

 

Article 10.1 states that “The enforcement of world law and world legislation shall apply directly to individual, and individuals shall be held responsible for compliance with world law and world legislation regardless of whether the individuals are acting in their own capacity or as agents or officials of governments at any level or of the institutions of governments, or as agents or officials of corporations, organizations, associations or groups of any kind.”  Here we discern a key to a democratic world system transcending the nation-state war system. There is no immunity: no more “diplomatic immunity,” no privileges of corporate power or nation-state government immunity from prosecution, no more military personnel claiming they are “only obeying orders.” These non-democratic features are rife in our present world system.  Democracy can only exist when law is enforceable over all individual persons, and this can only be effectively realized at the world level.

 

Article 10.1.5 states that: “Those agents of the enforcement system whose function shall be to apprehend and bring to court violators of world law and world legislation shall be equipped only with such weapons as are appropriate for the apprehension of the individuals responsible for violations.”  Just as all individuals are responsible to the law, so there is no need for weapons that target whole groups or communities (hence no military weapons).  A military is only necessary where democracy does not exist, when whole nations or groups can be targeted outside of due process of law and outside of recognition of their universal human rights to “life, liberty, and security of person.”  Under global democracy the role of the police is transformed. It is not in the least military, but rather, foundational to genuine democracy.

 

The mandate of the police includes article 10.4.4: “A basic condition for preventing outbreaks of violence which the Enforcement System shall facilitate in every way possible, shall be to assure a fair hearing under non-violent circumstances for any person or group having a grievance, and likewise to assure a fair opportunity for a just settlement of any grievance with due regard for the rights and welfare of all concerned.”  Here, again, we find a fundamental feature of democracy. The mandate of the World Police, like that of the World Courts and the World Ombudsmus, is precisely this institutionalization of fairness, justice, and nonviolence.

 

Democracy eliminates violence because its goal is justice and the “welfare of all concerned,” not the welfare of the rich, nor of any sovereign government, nor of corporate power. “All,” as Mortimer Adler declared, “is the most radical…term in the lexicon of political thought,” and for the first time (under the Earth Constitution) “we are beginning to mean ‘all’ without exception when we say ‘all’” (1991: 90). Thomas Jefferson declared that “All men are created equal,” at the same time excluding slaves and women. Only under democratic world law can we really mean this as a fundamental moral principle. Under nation-state absolute sovereignty, the slogan has little meaning.

 

The World Ombudsmus is an entire agency dedicated to realizing this principle. Part of its mandate is “To promote the welfare of the people of Earth by seeking to assure that conditions of social justice and of minimizing disparities are achieved in the implementation and administration of world legislation and world law.”  It must protect the two bills of rights: the great range of civil liberties in Article 12 and the rational ideals of a transformed world system in Article 13.

 

Among the many wonderful freedoms guaranteed by these Articles, I will only mention three: (1) “Freedom of assembly, association, organization, petition and peaceful demonstration.” (12.4), (2) “Freedom for investigation, research and reporting.” (12.8) and (3) “Encouragement for cultural diversity; encouragement for decentralized administration.” (13.16)

 

The World Police, the World Courts, and the World Ombudsmus are mandated to provide the citizens of Earth with the freedom of assembly and association necessary to rational dialogue and debate, with the power of investigation and information necessary for informed dialogue and debate, and to respect the diversity and decentralized citizen participation necessary for vibrant participatory democracy.

 

The Earth Constitution, as our global social contract, puts humanity for the first time ever on the foundation of true democracy. This is because the three fundamental functions of democracy, outlined above, can only be actualized on the global level when the citizens of Earth have given up their obsession with violence and war and come together to create a society in which each child is assured “the right to the full realization of his or her potential.”

 

These structural arrangements for empowered democracy are enhanced through the elaborations that have been made by the Provisional World Parliament meeting under the authority of Article 19 of the Constitution. Article 19 calls for the people of Earth to begin the Earth Federation now, even while they are waiting for full ratification to take place by the peoples and nations of the Earth.  The Parliament has met 14 times between 1982 and 2015 and has passed some 67 World Legislative Acts (WLAs) that have enhanced, enabled, and promoted the letter and spirit of the Earth Constitution.

 

On the level of dealing with world problems (the addressing of which is defined as “broad functions” of the Earth Federation in Article One) the Parliament has passed World Legislative Acts further protecting the environment, outlawing weapons of mass destruction, dealing with resource depletion, addressing global economic equality and poverty reduction, and protecting human rights. On the level of establishing an empowered, vibrant democracy for the Earth, the Parliament has also passed a number of acts directed toward this goal.

 

It has passed WLA 26, the Education Act, in which all schools under the authority of the Earth Federation will have students progressively study (1) global issues, (2) the Earth Constitution, (3) issues with respect to quality of life, (4) the requirements for world peace, (5) unity in diversity, and (6) requirements for good government. Through such a curriculum students will be empowered to become active world citizens contributing to planetary democracy and the common good, and they will receive training in that “empathic recognition” that Goodin affirms as essential to representative, trusteeship, democracy.

 

Among the many other acts of the Provisional World Parliament directed to enhancing vibrant global democracy under the Earth Constitution, let me mention just three more. First, the Parliament as passed WLA 57 establishing the “Collegium of World Legislators.” This requires all of those elected to the World Parliament, including the 1000 in the House of Peoples, the 200 in the House of Counsellors and the approximately 300 in the House of Nations to undergo training in “dialogue directed toward mutual understanding” and “nonviolent communication skills.”  The clear purpose is to enhance the quality of dialogue and debate within the World Parliament, helping the Parliament to become the collective intelligence for the trustees of humanity and not a mere place for promoting partisan interests.

 

Secondly, the Parliament has passed WLA 59, the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Act. This Act requires the government to set up such commissions wherever in the world there are serious disagreements that may lead to violence or significant social harm. Procedures for these commissions require local empowerment with local participants taking the lead in the process of truth and reconciliation through non-violent communication and mutual dialogue. The act prohibits the government from using these for any spying or undercover work, and requires that governmental authority provide the framework, sanction, and empowerment for the reconciliations that take place.

 

Vibrant democracy operates in just this way. It means that mechanisms for communication and understanding and collective intelligence provide a foundation for citizen participation, so that violence, whether overt or structural, is avoided, and human flourishing can take place within a safe and supportive framework.  None of this is seriously possible under the present regime of militarized nation-states and whose lawless and violent behavior is both mimicked and mirrored by global terrorism. This global chaos of violence continues unabated while the planetary environment is collapsing all around us.

 

Thirdly, the Parliament has passed WLA 29 that creates a “Global People’s Assembly,” creating a worldwide system of meeting places for civic dialogue and debate through which citizens have a direct link to the government offices of their representatives in the House of Peoples. This displaces the current  lobby system, such as that in the U.S., in which wealthy and corporate entities hire professional lobbyists to promote their privileged, non-democratic interests. The Global People’s assembly will encourage dialogue and debate about global issues and democratic living worldwide. It provides a direct, grass-roots means for people to communicate with their elected representatives in the House of Peoples.

 

As Harris, Dewey, and Habermas understand it, democracy emerges as our fundamental mode of human association. Its development must therefore be moved to the planetary level, since democracy is defeated at the national level by world crises that are beyond the control of the nations. At the planetary level it can really flourish for the first time because democracy is precisely about our common human dignity and about developing our common human and individual potential. It cannot intelligibly be said to stop at arbitrary territorial borders.

 

The Earth Constitution serves as a global social contract that recognizes our fundamental human condition as persons within community. It is designed not only to establish world peace and environmental sustainability while eliminating global poverty and misery. It is also designed to empower planetary citizenship everywhere, creating a framework for dialogue and debate such that our collective human intelligence will be immeasurably enhanced and our human potential significantly actualized.

 

For the first time in history, a framework will be in place in which all individual persons can develop to the fullest of their capacities, assuring “each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential.” At the same time, it will enhance, empower, and “complete” our global community, that vibrant and harmonious community that can only be, and indeed must be, the essential framework for both our global consciousness and individual human flourishing. Let us join together to establish real democracy on the Earth for the first time. It is high time to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

 

Works Cited

 

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