Human Rights and Our Global Social Contract


Glen T. Martin

Radford University


Part One: What are Human Rights?

Human rights derive from the immeasurable dignity and intrinsic worth of the human person.  Lists of rights, such as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, attempt to spell out what this immeasurable dignity means in terms of life among others in a human community. In this essay, I will further develop the meaning of this statement concerning our human community through references to contemporary scholarship concerning human rights. The essay will then address the reasons why human rights are violated everywhere on Earth today, and, finally, examine the ways in which our global social contract under the Earth Constitution can effectively restore respect for human rights within a decent global civilization.

Human rights are often misunderstood today because of the misleading ways that they were expressed by some 18th century social contract thinkers such as John Locke. Locke attempted to describe specific ‘natural rights’, such as life, liberty, and property, that were prior to civilized life under governmental authority. However, we shall see that human rights are, rather, central prerequisites for moral life within communities, not something inhering in human beings prior to their social nature.

Recently I published an essay on “Human Dignity and Our Global Social Contract” that defines human dignity in terms of our self-aware, temporalized human structure. In every person (and in history) a perpetual process of self-transcendence takes place dynamically linking our intrinsic dignity and our continuously acquired dignity as we actualize the ideals inherent in our human possibilities that always transcend the present moment [1]. Ultimately, as Immanuel Levinas affirms, we may recognize the infinite transcendence of both others and the divine [2]. In this essay, I will describe human dignity in slightly different (but correlative) terms using the language of philosopher Alan Gewirth and others.

Immanuel Kant had already identified our infinite human dignity or worth in terms of our status as “ends in ourselves” that can never serve as a means to some further end, a status deriving from our free ability to legislate for ourselves universal moral laws, regardless of our inclinations. For Kant, we must have all the rights necessary to have this dignity respected within the framework of a free society. Our rights ultimately entail the ideal of a “kingdom of ends” in which moral principles and mutual respect define human relationships [3].

Alan Gewirth expands upon the Kantian starting point by identifying our intrinsic worth, and therefore our human rights, with our ability to purposively pursue ends or goals and the human capacities and conditions that make this possible:

This attribution of worth to the agents encompasses not only their purposiveness but also the abilities of reason and will to enter into their agency. For in acting for their purposes agents will use both will and reason: will in their freedom as controlling their behavior by their unforced choice and in their endeavors to achieve their purposes; reason in ascertaining the means to their ends, in attributing to themselves rights to the necessary conditions of their agency, and in accepting that all other agents also have these rights….. Human dignity consists in having and at least potentially using these abilities, and human rights are derived from human dignity thus conceived. [4]


Human beings are structured to use their reason and will in the pursuit of purposes they believe to be good. Our human rights, for Gewirth, arise directly from this structure and can be expressed in terms of two “generic” sets of rights: those of freedom and those of well-being. Together, these are the necessary conditions of our being able to pursue and achieve any purposes at all. Our dignity can be said to reside in these capacities of reason and will to pursue what appears good to us, and society is a necessary framework, providing both freedom and well-being, for protecting human flourishing in pursuit of our ends.

The entire panoply of human rights arises from this dignity and these generic rights to freedom and well-being. But this dignity and these generic rights must be conceived in terms of our inherent membership in the human community. They are integrally linked to the concept of justice in which each of us has both rights (to be treated morally, justly, and fairly) and duties (to treat others morally, justly, and fairly). The human community is a community of rights and duties, that is, a community based on the requirements of justice.

Rights to freedom entail the range of political and personal rights such as speech, assembly, thought, religion, association, research, and information.  The rights to well-being include right to those conditions which allow our free agency to operate: food, clean water, sanitation, health-care, education, social security, housing, etc. These rights cannot be secured without people in authority being responsible to provide or protect these things, for they are representatives of justice for the community as a whole. Different constitutions or manifestos may list these rights somewhat differently, but the fundamental principle is that the entire range of rights to freedom and well-being is necessary to human flourishing.

Philosopher Leonard Nelson, in his book System of Ethics, articulates human rights in a somewhat similar fashion.  Nelson also attributes dignity to persons because of their moral agency. Morality, the law that we treat each person with concern and respect as an end in herself, is the source of all human rights and is largely coextensive with those rights:

On the basis of the principle of personal dignity each person is entitled, by virtue of his interests, to restrict the will of others. We call such a title a person’s “right.” The moral law is thus a law of rights, i.e., it determines the content of our duties by rights….

The moral law, as we know, is a law of right. As such it grants each person a right, namely, the right to have his interests respected by rational beings…. What is the extent of one person’s right vs, another person’s right?… We have already learned that the moral law commands us to respect the dignity of the person; now we can define that law more closely as the command of justice, or as the law that commands us to safeguard the equality of persons. The command of justice may be formulated as follows: Each person per se has equal dignity with every other person. [5]

Nelson points out that the social ideal of justice is integral to the moral law as the law of rights.  Each person has a general human right to all the specific rights necessary for flourishing in justice, that is, in equal dignity with all others.  Human rights, therefore, hang together. They are interdependent with one another. They are the requirements of justice within the human community. They can be articulated in different listings or manifestos.

Nevertheless, there has been progress in the understanding of human rights beyond the effort that first began in a widespread manner during the 18th century. The 18th century thought of John Locke was that government was needed to protect our a priori natural rights as well as to supply an “impartial judge” so that disputes can be reasonably adjudicated according to equitable principles of equally impartial laws. In his understanding of the government as having these limited functions, the expression of rights involved primarily political rights.  Such rights are embodied, for example, in the first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution, written in 1787 by Thomas Jefferson and others who were followers of Locke.  “Congress shall make no law restricting” this or that. “Everyone shall have the right” to speech, assembly, redress of grievances, etc.

However, as capitalism expanded and raged on throughout the 19th century, people began to realize that it was meaningless to protect only these political rights when the majority of citizens lived in such poverty, hunger, and desperation that they could not effectively exercise their rights.  It became widely understood that the rights to freedom were interrelated and inseparable from the rights to well-being, that human beings living in wage-slavery without decent food or housing, and without education or health care, were indeed having their rights violated. Human rights, it was understood, must include all the nexus of conditions in society that make possible human flourishing. Human flourishing means the reasonable ability to pursue purposes and ends in one’s life with some chance of success. Clearly people living on the margins of existence as wage slaves for their entire lives, and then dying young, are not people exercising human rights in any credible form. They are excluded from the community of justice that should obtain among human beings.

As both Gewirth and Nelson insist, the concept of rights is integrally related to the concept of justice, the obligation of the state to foster the equal conditions for people to live flourishing and fulfilling lives. Capitalism purports to be a “purely economic” theory that does not include any objective moral dimension.  Capitalists do, nevertheless, colonize the state in order to secure legal conditions that foster their interests.  The 19th century required immense struggles against both the capitalists and the states that served as “committees” to promote the interests of the ruling classes (as Engels observed).  For Karl Marx, political democracy without economic democracy is merely “formal” and empty. “Substantive democracy” can only exist when the state is organized to promote some significant form of socialism.

The mid-20th century produced globally-recognized declarations of human rights that included both political and economic-social rights, epitomized, for example, by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration is a brilliant document that encompasses the dynamic of human rights pointed out by the contemporary philosophers I have been citing. It begins and ends with principles that show the link between these rights and our future global social contract.

The Preamble and Article 1 of the Declaration repeat the core principle of human dignity (linked with “reason and conscience”) that grounds all human rights. The Preamble declares correctly that respect for this dignity “is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Article 2 emphasizes the universal principle of justice (also emphasized by Gewirth and Leonard) that grounds human rights in a principle of universal equality: everyone has the right to equal treatment and equal realization of their human rights. Article 3 focuses on what is most fundamental: “life, liberty, and security of person.” The Declaration presupposes the entire human community as a community of justice.

The list of rights from numbers 4 through number 21 goes on to primarily identify political rights such as assembly, due process of law, a fair trial, freedom of thought and religion, freedom of expression, etc. With articles 22 to 27, the emphasis changes to economic and social rights, specifying the right to social security, to protection in case of illness or old age, to favorable conditions of work, to just wages, to rest and leisure, to medical care, to education, to the benefits of culture, etc. Articles 28, 29, and 30, however, return to the foundational dynamic of human rights and project their realization into the future.

Article 28 points ahead to a world order quite different from the one that existed in 1948 or that continues to exist today: “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” What would it mean for this to be fully realized?  Clearly, this implies a dramatically different world order from the one that presently dominates. I will discuss this further below.

Article 29 identifies the central purpose of the entire list: “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible,” and the only limitations on these rights have to do with the equal right of all others to their exercise and benefit: “and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.” This tells us that the purpose of the entire list is human flourishing, namely, the rights to freedom and well-being within a framework of justice ensuring equality of treatment for all within a community based on the principles of justice. Human rights arise from the vision (implicit in our self-aware, temporally oriented, human structure) of what is required for human flourishing within society. What is required is the entire nexus of political, social, and economic rights organized around the principle of justice: concern and respect for the equal dignity of all persons.

In his book, Taking Rights Seriously, philosopher of law Ronald Dworkin makes a point related to that made by Articles 28 and 29 of the Universal Declaration:

…The right to concern and respect is fundamental among rights in a different way, because it shows how the ideal of a collective goal may itself be derived from that fundamental right. If so, then concern and respect is a right so fundamental that it is not captured by the general characterization of rights as trumps over collective goals, except as a limiting case, because it is the source both of the general authority of collective goals and of the special limitations on their authority that justify more particular rights. [6]

Dworkin calls the rights specified in the normal list (for example, articles 4 to 27 of the UN Declaration) “trumps” because they must be treated as more fundamental than society’s policies or programs and must be protected as such. But the ultimate purpose of any list of rights is human flourishing: the ability of persons to live lives in which their personalities can develop through the effective agency provided by freedom and well-being. For this reason, Dworkin concludes, the specific rights are secondary to the “respect and concern” of governmental authorities for the human flourishing of the citizens. This overall framework of “respect and concern” can also be called concern for the “common good” of society. The meaning of the common good is precisely that of maintaining the societal framework in which all members of the society can flourish in equality and dignity.

Philosopher of Law John Finnis defines the common good in the following way:

When we survey this list we realize what the modern ‘manifesto’ conception of human rights amounts to. It is simply a way of sketching the outlines of the common good, the various aspects of individual well-being in community. What the reference to rights contributes in this sketch is simply a pointed expression of what is implicit in the term ‘common good’, namely that each and everyone’s well-being, in each of its basic aspects, must be considered and favored at all times by those responsible for coordinating the common life. [7]

Human rights are simply a fundamental part of the way societies must be organized to promote the equal flourishing of all their members. This can be understood as the “Principle of Generic Consistency” (Gewirth) in which our rights to freedom and well-being are understood to be the basic principles behind any legitimate society. It can be understood as the mandate for Justice (Nelson) in which the fundamental aim of society must be promoting the equal dignity and ability to flourish of each of its members.  Or it can be understood as the common good (Finnis) in which “each and everyone’s well-being, in each of its basic aspects, must be considered and favored at all times by those responsible for coordinating the common life.”

Yet another aspect of human rights has emerged since the late 20th century as human beings became ever more aware of the conditions necessary for human flourishing. If 18th century political rights can be termed “first generation rights,” and 19th century economic and social rights can be termed “second generation rights,” then the 20th century can be said to be the birthplace of our “third generation” rights to peace and to a healthy planetary environment [8]. Just as Article 28 of the UN Declaration states the right to an “international order” in which all the conditions for human flourishing are realized, so some UN documents since that time have articulated a yet larger context for human flourishing. The 1994 UN Draft Declaration of Principles of Human Rights and the Environment states:

All persons have the right to a secure, healthy and ecologically secure environment. This right and other human rights, including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, are universal, interdependent and indivisible (Principle 2). All persons have the right to an environment adequate to meet equitably the needs of present generations and that does not impair the rights of future generations to meet equitably their needs (Principle 4). [9]

The first photographs of our Earth from space became available to humanity only during the early 1960s. For the first time in history, we saw our planet in its photographic reality: a tiny, fragile island floating in the immensity of space. For the first time we began to deeply understand that human flourishing is impossible without a planetary environment that supports life and without intercontinental weapons of mass destruction that can at any moment wipe out all life. We began to deeply understand our fragile interdependency that requires both peace and a protected environment as a foundation for human flourishing. We also began to understand that future generations have the right to inherit a planet capable of sustaining human flourishing [10].

Human rights are about the ideal of a human community organized in such a way that it promotes the equal dignity and ability to flourish of all its members. Human rights are universal and derive from the inherent structure or “purposive agency” for each and every human being. Human rights may vary slightly in the ways they are listed, but basically they are the same everywhere because they simply articulate the basic social conditions necessary for human flourishing.

With the third generation of human rights, we began to understand that we need to found a planetary civilization based on human dignity and human flourishing. We are all in this together, and human rights can never be widely protected unless there is a planetary “social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” Unless there is a global order founded upon world peace and the integrity of our planetary biosphere and the rights of future generations to inherit a livable planet, human flourishing will be defeated at every turn and human rights will never be widely protected and respected. Because we lack such an order today, human rights are violated nearly everywhere on the Earth.

Part Two: The Failure of Today’s World Disorder and How We Can Establish a World Peace System 

In his book The Endtimes of Human Rights, Stephen Hopgood asserts that the humanist human-rights story of an ever-increasing universal set of values involving human rights recognition is no longer credible:

Rather, we are entering a neo-Westphalian world. That is, a world of renewed sovereignty, resurgent religion, globalized markets, and the stagnation or rollback of universal norms about human rights…. We have entered an era of multipolar authority where what is “normal” or “appropriate” no longer has one answer. Traditional values and conservative religious doctrine will not be outposts, like the Barbary Pirates, waiting for the “universal modern” to arrive. They will be global-level alternative discourses to human rights. [11]

Similarly, Eric A. Posner in The Twilight of Human Rights Law argues that, in spite of the many conventions on human rights that have been passed by the UN, the world system (involving an intractable multiplicity of conflicting nations and cultures) means that human rights law as an international norm is fading way: “It turns out that foreign countries really are foreign” [12].

Our world system today is an inheritance from the “Westphalian” system of sovereign nation-states begun at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Our world system is also an inheritance from a global capitalism (claiming to operate by intrinsically amoral universal laws of economics) begun in the Italian Renaissance of the 16th century and now operating under a global neoliberal ideology premised on the same “free market” dogma. These critics fail to see the growth toward planetary maturity, connected with universal human rights, that is an integral part of the veltgeist of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Multinational corporations with more wealth than many nation-states dominate the world’s airways and seaways with transnational trade, along with patterns of exploitation, corruption, and domination.  Within poor nations, where even public officials often live in poverty and painful scarcity, the ability of these corporations to bribe and coerce is immense. The 1% of the world’s population who owns more than 50% of its wealth have unlimited political and administrative power to bend and ignore human rights in their own interests. The result is a world in which some four billion (60%) of its population live in a state of poverty and deprivation that effectively prevents human flourishing.

Similarly, the nations of the world still spend over one trillion US dollars per year on weapons and war. Half of this sum is spent by the United States alone in its desperate attempt to maintain its global empire in the face of significant rival powers, such as Russia and China, and a diaspora of restive neo-colonial, peripheral countries in South America, Africa, and south Asia.  Computerized electronics has resulted in global spying and ever increased tensions as nation after nation is simultaneously torn apart by imperial blundering and terrorist responses [13]. The 21st century has witnessed the vast increase in national security state regimes ignoring the right to privacy of their own citizens and others and continually reducing the scope of civil liberties and respect for human rights.

It is important to understand that the deleterious effects of both capitalism and the system of militarized sovereign nations cannot be addressed within the framework of that system. This is where perhaps most peace studies programs and peace activists worldwide fail in their efforts to address the human rights problem. They are trying to evolve or improve a world-system that itself is a central root of the problem. Capitalism inherently violates our human rights and dignity. It treats human lives as instruments in the pursuit of wealth. A democratic socialism in which human flourishing (human rights) is seen as the purpose of the market and economics is alone legitimate [14].

Similarly, our rights to lead flourishing lives in peace, security, freedom, and sustainability are inherently violated by the fragmented system of militarized sovereign states. As Kant already pointed out in the 18th century, paying war taxes, having to fight in their wars, having to address the devastation caused by their wars, having our freedoms and security compromised because of their militarism, having our brothers and sisters in other countries killed and their life-support systems destroy by war: all of this violates our human rights and human dignity [15]. The sovereign nation-state system is a fundamental violation of our human rights and dignity. War is immoral and is a violation of the human rights of both the victims and the victors.

Yet nether Hopgood nor Posner, cited above, understand that human dignity is our fundamental reality as temporalized creatures who require freedom and well-being to pursue and secure goals in the development of our lives and personalities.  Neither Hopgood nor Poser understand that the institutions we inherit from the past (global capitalism and the Westphalian system of sovereign nation-states) are totally out of sync both with our human dignity and with the holistic paradigm that has emerged from the natural and social sciences during the past century. We are one planet, one biosphere, and one humanity. Both global capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states intrinsically violate these fundamental truths.

We cannot rely on the bureaucrats in these outmoded institutions of nation-states and global capitalism to lead the way to transformation to the new holistic paradigm. They are like robots or automatons spewing forth the ideological lies of capitalism and the war system. They draw their paychecks precisely because they support the Ancien Régime. But the Ancien Régime in France got overthrown because it was out of sync with the new paradigm that was animating 18th century thought, the paradigm of human rights and human dignity. Today, the larger dominant institutions that we inherent from centuries ago, global capitalism and the sovereign nation-state system, constitute the Ancien Régime. They are outmoded, outdated, and anachronistic. They inherently violate the moral foundations of human life and the purposive structure of human flourishing [16].

They must be overthrown, not by a new form of the guillotine (tempting as that may be), but by the new, truly holistic paradigm that is sweeping through the thoughtful, intellectually and spiritually awakened people in every country on our planet. The present writer has traveled to many countries in the past 20 years and has seen this everywhere. People are embracing the new holistic paradigm: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, they say in India: “the world is one family.” The emerging holistic paradigm points forward to one Earth, one Humanity, and one civilization premised on human flourishing.

However, it is not enough to simply profess a holistic philosophy of human unity in diversity. Nor is it enough to meditate and pursue inner peace as the foundation for outer peace. It is not enough to study non-violent communication or non-violent forms of civil resistance. This is where we still have to grasp both the enormity of the danger facing us and the depth of the paradigm-shift that is necessary if we want to protect human rights, avoid World War III, and mitigate climate collapse. We must found a new world order that transcends the system of sovereign nation-states and the scourge of global capitalism.  Our institutions must mirror the holism of the universe, the biosphere, and humanity.  And, integral to this, our institutions must mirror the structure of human beings and the conditions of human flourishing that flow from this.

We can only make this happen by founding a world system based on holism, human rights, and unity in diversity.  Such a transformed, holistic world system is embodied within the Constitution for the Federation of Earth [17]. The Constitution articulates a social democracy that integrates the moral principles that include human well-being into economics as directed by a World Parliament and a World Financial Administration concerned to actualize both human flourishing and planetary sustainability.

The Constitution frames global democracy in dozens of overlapping ways to protect and promote human rights and dignity. It explicitly embodies all three generations of rights necessary to establish human flourishing everywhere for the first time in history: rights to freedom, rights to well-being, and rights to peace with a protected, sustainable environment. Our planetary human community is a community of rights. What draws us all together into a global social contract is our common humanity and universal human dignity.

By contrast, every sovereign nation-state (even those that have some form of social democracy) has been founded through accidental and ad hoc historical circumstances reaching far back into the fragmented early-modern era that knew nothing of the holistic paradigm that emerged only in the 20th and 21st centuries. But in fact, given the fragmentation of the current world system with its militarized sovereign nations and dominant capitalist system, even nations that pursue social democracy fail to actualize human flourishing significantly within their borders, and they certainly ignore the horrendous problem of human rights violations throughout the rest of the world. The world system ravaged by militarism and capitalist exploitation inundates and overwhelms all attempts to protect human flourishing within national boundaries, even within the western European nations.

In the face of this devastation, a world system based upon human rights appears “utopian” and unreachable. Samuel Moyn, in his book The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, asserts that this “utopian” dimension is precisely the meaning of human rights at this point in history. Political utopias, such as the Marxist or Anarchist conceptions, have vanished, leaving us with the intact vision of universal human rights:

There is no way to reckon with the recent emergence and contemporary power of human rights without focusing on their utopian dimension: the image of another, better world of dignity and respect that underlies their appeal, even when human rights seem to be about slow and piecemeal reform. But far from being the sole idealism that has inspired faith and activism in the course of human events, human rights emerged historically as the last utopia—one that became powerful and prominent because other visions imploded. Human rights are only a particular modern version of the ancient commitment by Plato and Deuteronomy—and Cyrus—to the cause of justice. [18]

Moyn’s book goes on to point out the immense difficulties that this utopian ideal poses for those trying to negotiate the world disorder through such institutions as the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a world of rogue superpowers, such as the U.S., Russia, and China, little can be achieved. International law, which includes some nine human rights conventions, remains unenforceable and leads human rights activists to despair. Yet, like Hopgood and Posner, Moyn lacks a transformative perspective. He lacks insight into the holistic paradigm-shift taking place everywhere on the Earth and the need to embody this paradigm-shift in a concrete document that lays the institutional foundations for a holistic world civilization actually based on human dignity and justice.

This so-called “last utopia” needs to become actualized as a pragmatic and practical utopia under the Earth Constitution. Without a global system-transformation from fragmentation to holism, from a world-system based on territorial power centers and corporate power machinations to a system explicitly based on human dignity, human flourishing, and justice, human rights will always remain an unrealizable utopian ideal.  Article 1 of the Earth Constitution defines the “broad functions” of the Earth Federation to: (1) end war and secure disarmament, (2) protect human rights everywhere on Earth, (3) diminish social differences and end poverty, (4) regulate trade for equitable use of world resources, (5) protect and restore the planetary environment, and (6) find solutions to all problems beyond the capacity of national governments.

We can see now that all of these six necessary functions of the Earth Federation go together: they are all necessary for human flourishing in dignity and quality. Human rights embody and include all of them. The ideal of justice going back to Plato, Deuteronomy, and Cyrus can only be realized in a world system based on justice.  The U.N. with its outdated Charter (founded on the principle of national sovereignty) must be integrated into the emerging Earth Federation by replacing its Charter with the Earth Constitution. The Earth Constitution devises an integrated set of institutions that constitute a peace system, a freedom system, a justice system, and a sustainability system for the Earth [19].

Only through such a global social contract can we establish a world system that makes true human flourishing possible through protecting human dignity, human rights, and justice on a planetary scale. The Earth Constitution institutionalizes the holism necessary for human flourishing.  All nations become states within the Earth Federation, and global capitalism is brought under control and transformed into global social democracy.

Human rights constitute the fundamental groundwork for human flourishing in dignity and equality. They will remain a mere utopian ideal until they become embodied in concrete, democratically legislated, planetary laws. If we want a credible future on this planet, we need a global social contract, turning the human community into a legally recognized community of dignity and justice.  We need to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.





[2] Immaneul Levinas, Totality and Infinity, Alphonso Lingis, trans., Duquesne University Press, 1969, pp. 48-52.

[3]  Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, H.J. Paton, trans., Harper Torchbooks, 1964.

[4]  Alan Gewirth, The Community of Rights, University of Chicago Press, 1996, p. 66.

[5]  Leonard Nelson, System of Ethics, Norbert Guterman, trans., Yale University Press, 1956, pp. 98, 110.

[6]  Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously, Harvard University Press, 1978, p. xv.

[7]  John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights, Oxford University Press, 1980, p. 214.

[8]  Raymond Wacks, Law, A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 149-50.

[9]  In Patrick Hayden, ed., The Philosophy of Human Rights, Paragon House, 2001, p. 670.

[10]  In Hayden, Ibid., Edith Brown Weiss, “Planetary Rights,” pp. 618-637.

[11]  Stephen Hopgood, The Endtimes of Human Rights, Cornell University Press, 2013, pp. 166-167.

[12]  Eric A. Posner, The Twilight of Human Rights Law, Oxford University Press, 2014, p. 146.

[13] See Glen T. Martin, One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract, Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2016, Chapter 5.

[14]  See, e.g., Michael Luntley, The Meaning of Socialism, Open Court Publishers, 1990, p. 15.

[15] Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays, Ted Humphrey, trans., Hacket Publishers, 1983, pp. 115-117.

[16]  See Glen T. Martin, Ascent to Freedom: Practical and Philosophical Foundations of Democratic World Law, Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2008.

[17]  Glen T. Martin, ed. A Constitution for the Federation of Earth: With Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion, Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2010. The Constitution is also on-line in many places such as:

[18]  Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, Harvard University Press, 2010, pp. 4-5.

[19]  For elaboration of these see Glen T. Martin, The Earth Federation Movement, IED Press, 2011.




The Nature and Function of Our Global Social Contract

Glen T. Martin

Social contract as “external agreement.” The phrase “social contract” may give the impression, so common in capitalist societies, of some external agreement among contracting parties. Some of the 18th century social contract theorists such as John Locke also had the idea that human beings and their rights existed prior to society and entered into a social order under government as a “contract” designed to protect these a priori rights and freedoms (Two Treatises on Government, 1680-90).

However, a global social contract is, and should be, much more than this kind of external agreement among independently existing parties. The world has received from Indian culture, and from many other traditional religions and cultures, the principle Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the world is one family. It is a family made up of diverse cultures, nations, races, and religions, but that is at the same time “one family.” Contemporary science has borne out this contention that we are all one species, deeply interdependent and fundamentally related to one another. The principle of a global social contract is to actualize this oneness, to bring to reality the several dimensions of our common humanity that will bring to fruition a world of peace, freedom, justice, and sustainability.

A global social contract would involve an “agreement” penetrating deeply into our subjective, civic, and social selves involving our habits, our assumptions, and our largely unspoken recognition of the common good at the heart of legitimate communities. The social contract embodies our moral obligation to live under the rule of democratically legislated laws within cultural, ethical, and civic frameworks that all interface to promote both individual freedom and the common good of all. The largest dimension of this integrated social matrix would be embraced by the planetary democratic government generating institutions for protecting and regulating the common good of humanity and the Earth (see my One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract, 2016).

Fragmentation. This oneness of humanity as one family and one community is as yet implicit and ideal. It has not been actualized on the Earth. Instead, fragmentation and division threaten the future of our human project as well as our planetary environment. The fragmentation involves private, profit-driven corporations worldwide exploiting persons and nature in the service of the accumulation of private profit and power. This fragmentation also involves a consequent world of scarcity where a few have more than their share of wealth, comfort, and power while billions live without the basic necessities for a decent and fulfilling life.

Our present planetary fragmentation includes a worldwide multiplicity of media organizations serving private interests and spewing out misleading or false information and analysis in the service of dogmas and points of view that have little interests in the common good of the whole of humanity. People become divided against one another by race, religion, culture, or nationality. This fragmentation involves vast digital and electronic spy systems in which people around the global treat one another with suspicion and fear of what the others might be doing and thinking.

This fragmentation includes the system of some 193, mostly militarized, “sovereign” nation-states in competition and conflict with one another. It involves both the militarism and wars of these nation-states (“state terrorism”) and the hate and fear of violent extremists around the world (“private terrorism”). In the face of a global population of 7 billion people, and growing, this world of fragmentation, violence, hate and fear, makes the future look bleak indeed.

Eclipse of Reason. In the late 17th century, Thomas Hobbes declared that human nature involved “a general inclination for all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power that ceaseth only in death” (Leviathan, 1690, chap. Xi). In the 18th century David Hume had declared that “reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them” (Treatise on Human Nature, 1740).

Hume’s compatriot Adam Smith integrated this false assumption into his book The Wealth of Nations (1776), arguing that self-interest for pursuing, wealth, pleasure, and power were fundamental principles of “human nature.” Following Adam Smith closely, the 19th century Utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill argued that “pleasure” was the good and that reason was simply the instrument of utility that allowed people to pursue pleasure and minimize pain in life. In the 20th century such figures as Hans Morgenthau, Joseph Schumpeter, or Leo Strauss emphasized the struggle for power and profit and generally took a dim view of human motivations and possibilities.

This distorted view of human nature was denied and corrected by many thinkers from Spinoza in the 17th century to Kant in the 18th century to Thomas Hill Green and G.W.F. Hegel in the 19th century to thinkers like Ernest Barker, Errol E. Harris, and Jürgen Habermas in the 20th century. However, irrationalism prevailed and today dominates the irrationalist foreign policies of militarized sovereign states, global corporations, and planetary banking institutions such as the World Bank and IMF. This fundamentally wrong paradigm endangers our future on this planet.

Reason and selfhood. For Kant, reason reflected the very essence of our humanity. The fact that we exist as free, moral agents capable of doing what we understand to be right “regardless of our inclinations” shows our connection with the very foundations of the universe (the “noumenal” world) and our infinite “dignity” as moral agents, beyond all “price” (Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals, 1785). This view of humanity is quite the opposite of Hume’s view. Rather than reason being the “slave of the passions” Kant asserted that reason was primary over the passions. As Plato, Aristotle, and many others had argued, our passions are capable of being controlled, modified, and redirected into the service of reason. Indeed, Kant posited a fundamental division in us between reason and our “inclinations,” but he also determined that we could acquire virtues that brought these inclinations progressively into harmony with the dictates of reason.

Despite the fact that Kant developed a critique of theoretical reason that identified limitations on our ability to directly know the metaphysical foundations of the universe, his view of practical reason harkens back to Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and the ancient Stoics who all, in various ways, saw human beings, with our capacity for reason, as microcosms of the macrocosm. The rational depths of the universe are manifest in us.

Kant distinguishes between ordinary voluntary contracts and the social contract, which he characterizes as a “union as an end in itself—as the end that everyone ought to have, and thus as the first and unconditioned duty in each external relationship of human beings” (Theory and Practice, 1974: 57). There is an absolute moral obligation to live under planetary “republican” government, a universal duty forever violated by the system of “sovereign” nation-states who refuse to recognize enforceable laws beyond themselves. This link between rationality and our basic humanity was developed further by the thinkers mentioned above, two of which I will briefly mention here.

Hegel discerned two things about the world that he linked to reason. First, the world was a whole, a dynamic whole consisting of a multiplicity of particular things, forces, and laws. Reason sees not only this holism, but the many interrelations of things that make each thing what it is through its relationships with all other things. Second, the world was a developing historical-cosmic process. It was not a static holism (such as the Ancients posited) but it was an evolving, developing holistic process.

Therefore, Hegel understood that reason was not something that discerned universal essences independently of the “particulars” that embody these essences (as many ancient and medieval thinkers had thought), but rather reason operated dialectically: discerning the dynamic interaction of ideas and natural phenomena that result in ever-new, ever-more holistic configurations. His famous statement “the real is the rational and the rational is the real” must be understood in this light. The teleological progression of the holistic process itself, and the human ability to comprehend this process as free, moral beings arising out of that process, constitute the rational.

And, for Hegel, this places human beings in the category of microcosms of the macrocosm, just as many of the Ancients had thought. For Hegel, the universe is becoming conscious of itself in us, in our rationality, freedom, and self-awareness. Similarly, contemporary physicist, Henry Stapp, sees the human mind as participating in the fundamental creative dimension of the universe itself, as “an integral part of the highly nonlocal creative activity of the universe” (in Kitchener, The World View of Contemporary Physics, 1988: 57).

Habermas, like Hegel, like 20th century sociologist George Herbert Mead, and many 20th century social scientists, understands that the Lockean idea, mentioned above, that human beings exist prior to their social contract and enter into this contract with a priori natural rights, is fundamentally mistaken. First, Habermas understands that “human nature” is not a preexisting metaphysical characteristic but rather something that is created through history. Second, Habermas understands that society and individual persons arise together: our “subjectivity and singularity” as individuals are inseparable from our  universal socialization, our common humanity as language speaking beings (Theory of Communicative Action, Volume Two, 1987: 97).

Habermas critically examines Max Weber’s theory of the progressive rationalization of society after the collapse of Medieval societies in Europe founded on supposedly unchanging sacred dogmas. Weber had despaired of hope at the progress of this rationalization process that led, he determined, into the blind alley of “the iron cage” of late capitalism with its “loss of freedom” and “loss of meaning.” But Habermas reveals that Weber had implicitly limited the “reason” behind this rationalization process to “instrumental” reason, reason as Hume or Bentham had described it: simply instrumentally figuring out how to satisfy human drives for profit, power, pleasure, and mastery of nature (Theory of Communicative Action, Volume One, 1984).

Habermas’ analyses of language show that the fundamental presuppositions of language are communicative, not instrumental. He further shows that instrumental uses of language (and hence reason) are secondary and parasitic upon the primary assumptions that make language itself possible. These assumptions behind the very possibility of language mean that human rationality is much deeper than instrumental rationality. They also show that human subjective individuality is inseparable from our commonality as language-structured beings. They show that individuals are not prior to society and that communicative reason is as much a fundament of the community (of humankind) as it is of individual persons (On the Pragmatics of Communication, 1998).

Society. In his 18th century Groundwork, cited above, Kant famously pronounced that every person is an “end in his or herself.” He had already identified the basis for a universal human community, as had the Stoics before him who argued that the entire world was a cosmopolis of rational beings or the Upanishads of India who pronounced vasudhaiva kutumbakam. Kant saw the telos and principle behind existing governments as a categorical imperative to actualize the “kingdom of ends,” that is, as “a systematic union of different rational beings under common laws.”

This systematic union, he says, abstracts from all personal differences and their private ends “to conceive of a whole of all ends in systematic conjunction.” In his 1795 essay Perpetual Peace, he declares: “Since the narrow or wider community of the peoples of earth has developed so far that a violence of rights in one place is felt throughout the world, the idea of a law of world citizenship is no high-flown or exaggerated notion.” A union of ends in systematic conjunction, Kant declares in this essay, would mean a worldwide “federation of free states.”

Hegel, in the 19th century, understood that human beings are within a process of development, a process in which we now understand ourselves as the universe becoming conscious of itself in us. This holistic process involves society as well. While a global society was clearly implicit in Hegel’s philosophy, he generally stopped at the nation-state in his analysis. Nevertheless, he saw that individuality cannot be separated from society, that ethics and reason are not simply individual characteristics but involve the whole of society, and that the government, as the maker of laws, was part of a deep common human agreement and social processes from family to workplace to civic organizations to government, a holism that he termed sittlichkeit (Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 1820). This holism also characterizes our life on this planet. Holism is implicit in family, workplace, civic organizations, and even governments. Laws (against murder, rape, etc.) are said to embody universal principles. Constitutions of nations routinely cite universal rights, or human dignity, or our common humanity, as does the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the 20th century, Habermas has shown the basis for all this in language, in the very fact that every normal human being is a language-constituted being. Every human being orients his or herself within a universal communicative framework. Every human being is individualized through and by this very framework. Our common humanity and individual uniqueness arise hand in hand. Therefore, every aspect of global civilization involves this same dynamic of simultaneously universalizing and particularizing. Human beings are within a vast historical process of actualizing the holism implicit in our individual selves and within planetary civilization.

Conclusion. The lethal and destructive fragmentation of planetary society described above is why there is an absolute need for ratifying the Constitution for the Federation of Earth (found on-line in many places such as We are in the process of destroying ourselves and need to bring democratic order and law to our beleaguered planet directed toward establishing a worldsystem based on peace, freedom, justice, and sustainability. Hence, on the one hand, this Earth Constitution can be termed our global social contract. Its ratification would involve a major agreement from the majority of the Earth’s citizens to move history to a higher level of actualization by uniting humanity together within global democracy.

On the other hand, this Constitution is simply the actualization of the global social contract that is implicit in the global common good at the heart of civilization mentioned everywhere in world literature, cultures and religions. The great early 20th century Indian sage, Rabindranath Tagore, writes: “It is the mission of civilization to bring unity among people and establish peace and harmony: (Gitanjali, 2006: 214). The 20th century French-American visionary Teilhard de Chardin proclaimed: “It is impossible to become one with All without carrying to their extreme limit, in their simultaneous progress toward differentiation and convergence, the dispersed elements that constitute us and surround us” (Let Me Explain, 1970: 117). Albert Einstein famously declared: “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.

It should be clear that this “mission of civilization” is actualized within our united universality and particularity. We humans synthesize our “differentiation and convergence” to become “one with All.” Through our “substantially new manner of thinking,” we can become one with the rest of humanity and, indeed, with the cosmos from which we emerged. We take first real steps toward this conscious oneness by ratifying the Earth Constitution.

This new way of thinking involves a deep recognition of the holism of humanity, of the planetary biosphere that embraces us, and of the sacred cosmos that created us. It means recognizing, as Einstein himself declared, the need for democratic world government. The ratification of the Earth Constitution would embrace the unity in diversity that is the true social, linguistic, and evolutionary principle at the heart of our human situation. The Preamble of the Constitution declares:

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….

This passage correctly identifies a link between embracing this constitution and the actualization of “a new age.” The Constitution embraces the principle of unity in diversity brilliantly within all of its 19 articles. Holism permeates the Constitution and reveals a recognition of our human situation that goes much deeper than the mere signing of a contractual agreement. The Constitution not only recognizes societies, cultures, civic organizations, and religions as part of the holism of humanity, but clearly its ratification would significantly help raise this holism to much greater human awareness. Dialectically, ratifying the Constitution as our global social contract would help actualize the deep holism, rationality, and common good of our human project implicit at every level of global and local societies. It is this deep reality that constitutes the real substance of our global social contract.

Our global social contract already lives within the deep dimensions of the dynamic unity in diversity of our human situation. Ratifying the Constitution for the Federation of Earth will help bring our deep common reality to actuality and self-awareness everywhere on our planet. Global democracy embraces our fundamental human reality and raises it to mutual recognition among the peoples of Earth. It will lay the foundations for a world of peace, freedom, justice, and sustainability that is the true heritage of our common human project.

(Glen T. Martin is Professor of Philosophy and Chairperson Emeritus of the Peace Studies Program at Radford University in Virginia. He is President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA), the Institute on World Problems (IOWP) and International Philosophers for Peace (IPPNO). He is author or editor of eleven books and dozens of articles on world law, world peace, and human liberation.)

Fundamentals of Human Liberation

Fundamental Principles of Human Liberation

Glen T. Martin


Everywhere I travel on our planet people speak of political corruption. Many of the politicians who supposedly represent their people in government are really bought and paid for by corporations, wealthy patrons, or criminal enterprises.  Everywhere on Earth the wealthiest 1% run the show, the top 15 or 20% live very well, and the other 80% just struggle for survival. This wealthy minority own the mass media that misinforms and manipulates people in the interest of its class domination. They own the giant transnational corporations who use their immense wealth to corrupt and dominate people around the world in the interests of private profit.

They own the banking cartels that manipulate currencies, create dangerous financial instruments based on speculation, and engage in immense risk-taking with other people’s money. They dominate once democratically elected governments in the interest of wealthy bankers, investors, and corporations. Everywhere on Earth the climate is changing, stable patterns necessary for survival and flourishing are collapsing, and every thoughtful person knows our collective human future is in great danger.  Around the world there are perpetual wars, terrorism, and violence.

The big nations of the Earth, led or threatened by the global hegemon, the United States, spend immense quantities of money and resources of the Earth on military and wars, while neglecting the social welfare and human rights of their own citizens. They continue to develop nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction along with the speed and effectiveness of delivery systems thereby continuing to keep our planet in danger of devastating sudden death for its human population and much of the planet’s higher forms of life. Institutionalized secrecy, mass surveillance, and debilitating security systems encompass our planet, with horrific consequences for public information, honesty, and integrity. Despite some nine human rights conventions passed by the U.N., human rights are routinely violated in nearly every country on Earth.

Part One: Liberation Theory

It is clear to any thoughtful person that there is something fundamentally wrong about our human condition. In terms of the four quadrants that together encompass human life as developed by Ken Wilber (cf. Integral Spirituality, 2006), what is wrong embraces all four of these quadrants: the subjective dimension, the interpersonal-cultural dimension, the institutional dimension and basic aspects of the scientific dimension. Human beings are by and large unenlightened and unliberated subjectively, culturally, institutionally, and in terms of scientific methodologies. In Wilber’s language, we are unliberated in terms of the I (subjectively), the WE (culturally and collectively), the ITS (institutionally), and the IT (in our scientific study of nature and ourselves).

Any short article, of course, runs the risk of oversimplification, and I refer interested readers to my books where these principles are more fully elaborated. However, there is a need for people to grasp the overall parameters of human liberation because these parameters determine praxis: how we act to establish institutions, cultural forms, subjective attitudes, and scientific methodologies. Understanding the broad parameters of human liberation allows us to engage effectively in the kinds of praxis necessary to make it happen.  Contemporary world-class thinker, Jürgen Habermas, distinguishes the ideas of human liberation that emerged from the 18th century Enlightenment from our very different contemporary understandings. The Enlightenment thought of the human race as “constant in its essential nature.” However:

Theory now deals with the objective, overall complex of development of a human species which produces itself, which is as yet only destined to attain its essence: humanity. What has remained is theory’s claim to providing orientation in right action, but the realization of the good, happy, and rational life has been stretched out along the vertical axis of world history; praxis has been extended to cover stages of emancipation. (Theory and Practice, 1973, p. 253).

Across the board, the social and psychological sciences, as well as critical social thinkers, have understood that humanity is a process of development to higher stages of consciousness, cultural forms, and institutional embodiments. Human liberation requires that we study these processes of development theoretically and the kinds of praxis that make liberating development possible. In this article, I sketch an overview of these stages of development and the praxis necessary to enhance and enable them in the most effective manner possible.

One principle that has developed as a fundament for the progressive liberation of humankind is the notion of humanity as one human family: as universally equal and potentially harmonious. The caste system has been legally abolished in India and the slave-system legally abolished in the West. People today are working everywhere to abolish other forms of slavery such as bonded labor and human trafficking. The poor are realizing their intrinsic human rights that make them equal with the rich and demand actualization in equitable institutions. Women, peoples of color, and minority cultures around the world are beginning to take their stand on the universal equality and dignity of human beings.

These principles have their roots in ancient spiritualties and philosophies (from the Greek and Roman Stoics to the Hindu Vedas to Buddhist scriptures), but they reached a higher level of awareness during the Enlightenment. Since that time, philosophies of liberation from Marx to Levinas to Habermas have presupposed this equality as the essential starting point for further development. In the 18th century, Thomas Jefferson declared that “all men are created equal.” For Habermas, universal equality is built into the very presuppositions of language. If you speak a language, universal equality is already presupposed. He writes:

Let us imagine individuals being socialized as members of an ideal communication community; they would in the same measure acquire an identity with two complementary aspects: one universalizing, one particularizing. On the one hand, these persons raised under idealized conditions learn to orient themselves within a universalistic framework, that is, to act autonomously. On the other hand, they learn to use this autonomy, which makes them equal to every other morally acting subject, to develop themselves in their subjectivity and singularity. (Theory of Communicative Action, Volume Two, 1987: 97)

Today, this assumption of the correlation in development of selfhood between human uniqueness and universal equality has been transferred into the newly emergent holistic paradigm. All these developmental stages involve a paradigm shift from fragmented early-modern paradigms to holism (see my book One World Renaissance 2016). This means that our praxis directed toward liberation in the subjective, cultural, institutional, and scientific dimensions of human existence must emphasize developmental and transformative holism. We cannot erect institutions or cultural forms that artificially attempt to remedy our immense global problems with “sociotechnical controls” that inhibit or limit the collective transformation of humanity to higher, more integrated and holistic forms of consciousness, culture, and institutions. Habermas declares:

A theory which confuses control with action is no longer capable of such a perspective. It understands society as a nexus of behavioral modes, for which rationality is mediated solely by the understanding of sociotechnical controls, but not by a coherent total consciousness—not by precisely that interested reason which can only attain practical power through the minds of politically enlightened citizens.  (Theory and Practice, 1973: 255)

Our goal must be the global empowerment of a humanity consisting of politically (and spiritually) enlightened citizens, that is, a “coherent total consciousness” of mature human beings. Human liberation will only come from the whole of humanity developing together. Our praxis must be directed toward empowering this global transformation. There are four key principles that must be understood for making this possible.

  • Human Development Theory. Throughout the 20th century, a number of psychologists and social scientists studied human development in depth, including such well-known figures as Abraham Maslow, Erich Erickson, Eric Fromm, Lawrence Kohlberg, Carol Gilligan, James Fowler, Don Edward Beck, Christopher Cowan, and Ken Wilber. Despite secondary differences, a powerful consensus has developed understanding that human beings move along multiple developmental lines (for example, cognitive, interpersonal, moral, and spiritual) toward higher levels of awareness, integration, autonomy, and fulfillment. There is in addition a broad consensus that human beings also develop civilizationally, culturally, and institutionally through a similar series of developmental stages.

Perhaps the most common model of this development sees proper human growth as moving from egoism (the me, my, and mine orientation, including my family, my nation, my race, etc.) to pluralism (the tolerance and social acceptance of differences in cultures, nationalities, points of view, races, gender orientations, etc.) to a worldcentric perspective (what is important is humanity, human rights, justice, mutual respect, freedom for all, etc.) to an integral outlook (I have internalized and integrated the developmental lines within myself and see human life as a whole, perhaps as a microcosm of the cosmic and divine dimensions of existence, and myself as a living manifestation of this holism). Human liberation requires that human beings grow to these higher levels of self-actualization and awareness. What kind of social, economic, and political institutions best foster this growth?

here are also a number of great philosophers and thinkers who have outlined integral developmental models encompassing civilization as a whole. Sri Aurobindo in India outlined stages of collective human development that move from our current egocentric mind to universal mind to intuitive mind to overmind, that is, toward ever-more awakened states of mind-consciousness, ultimately including world government and the unity in diversity of all humankind.  Jean Gebser understood human civilization as moving from archaic modes of consciousness and culture (in pre-historic times) to magical to mythic to rational to pluralistic to integral modes, the integral modes of the future uniting humankind in a universal civilization of peace, harmony, and freedom. Teilhard de Chardin saw evolution as moving holistically on Earth from the geosphere to the biosphere (life holistically encompassing the Earth) to the noösphere in which mind would encompass and integrate the lower levels. The emergent reality of the noösphere moves toward ever-greater integration of unity in diversity, the progressive incarnation of the divine within the cosmos and human life.

  • Critical Social Theory. This movement is larger than the famous Frankfort School of social thought from which its name derives. Perhaps the most fundamental idea of critical social theory is that we need to look behind prevailing ideologies and institutions and expose their hidden forms of domination, exploitation, and dehumanization. This includes the tradition stemming from some Enlightenment thinkers (e.g., Immanuel Kant’s essay “What is Enlightenment?”) through Karl Marx, György Lukács, and Antonio Gramsci, to Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Jürgen Habermas, and others in the 20th  century.

It also includes forms of Liberation Theology developed by thinkers such as Gustavo Gutierrez, Jon Sobrino, Juan Luis Segundo, and Enrique Dussel (see Dussel’s Ethics and Community 1988). Today, thoughtful people are suspicious: suspicious of government, ideologies, religious institutions and dogmas, economic institutions and their dogmas, as well as many cultural forms. But this suspicion must not result in the paralysis of skepticism or nihilism. It must be creatively and systematically used to further human development toward authentic liberation subjectively, culturally, institutionally, and in terms of the uses and abuses of science.

Critical social theory systematically fosters human growth toward our highest human potentialities through penetrating the deceiving appearances in economic, social, political, and cultural existence with the goal of human liberation. It critiques society in terms of whether existing conditions constrict and repress these potentialities or enhance and foster them. As critical social thinker Evelyn Bologh writes: “Marx shows greed to be an historical as opposed to a natural phenomenon. This is not to say greed us unnatural or deviant, but that its possibility derives not from an ahistorical human nature but from an historical, social development.” She continues: “Marx formulates history from within a form of life characterized by the possibility of self-conscious community…. He reads history in terms of the repressed community (capitalism) versus…a self-conscious community (post-capitalism)…a historical accomplishment not conceived as external to the members and their activity” (Dialectical Phenomenology, 1979: 76, 237, 239).

It is important to reflect on the words “not external to the members and their activity.”  Liberation is about our common human destiny on this planet, about our collective level of human maturity and spirituality. It is about our ability to actualize fully the compassion envisioned by the Lord Buddha or the love envisioned by Jesus Christ and embody these within our economic and political institutions. It has been properly proclaimed that “Justice is what love looks like in the public sphere.” We have the potential to create a world of love, justice, peace, freedom, and sustainability. Critical social theory is not about social engineering or the manipulation of human beings but our collective human destiny. What kind of planetary social, economic, and political institutions can we establish that promote the actualization of our highest human potential? I will say more about these institutions below.

My own critical theory of our human condition and its possibilities has been elaborated in a developed form from my book Millennium Dawn (2005) through Ascent to Freedom (2008) and Triumph of Civilization (2010) to my recent book One World Renaissance (2016). These works fit the contention of Marx, Habermas and Bologh that our human situation is fundamentally historical and that we have great potential for transformation that is blocked by current economic and political institutions. All three critical thinkers, as well as my own works, attempt to move humanity toward becoming an ever-more self-conscious community. We are moving into the future with immense possibilities for a world of peace, freedom, community, love, justice, and sustainability. However, we are trapped within global institutional arrangements (primarily the system of sovereign nation-states interlinked with global capitalism) that repress, distort, and block the actualization of our higher human potential.

  • The world’s Spiritual and Religious Traditions. There is much in the world’s great spiritual and religious traditions that applies to human cognitive, moral, spiritual, and interpersonal development. Since the late 19th century, these traditions have been progressively freed from their ancient metaphysical and ethnocentric biases. Their immense wisdom is now available for the progressive development of humanity. As many scholars have pointed out, there is a powerful consensus among the spiritual-mystical traditions of the great religions as to stages of spiritual awakening. We can, therefore, add these stages of awakening to the stages of growth articulated by the social scientists.

We can also reflect on the very important eschatological dimension articulated by a number of great religious visionaries. That is, we can reflect on the power of the divine ground to illuminate and transform our human condition. This involves dimensions of our human situation often neglected by developmental thinkers like Wilber as well as critical social theorists such as Habermas. The more deeply aware we become, the more we access the divine depths of our situation and the more we encounter our potential for deep transformation. What social, economic, and political arrangements can foster access to these depths?  Our present global institutions block our potential in this aspect of our human condition as well.

There are different names for the stages of human moral and spiritual development, depending on the thinker. For example, we have seen that proper human growth can be said to move from egoism to pluralism to worldcentric orientation to integral awareness. Or, if we add spiritual stages to this model, we might articulate a commensurate set of stages as “Archaic to Magic to Mythic to Rational to Pluralistic to Integral to Super-Integral” (Integral Spirituality 2006: 90). “Super-Integral” itself can include a series of ever more profound mystical-spiritual stages involving direct awareness of the divine ground. People have long understood the relation between inner peace and outer peace. These higher stages of development involve ever-greater states of inner peace, fulfillment, harmony, and bliss—with the implication that this potential could deeply transform our social, economic, and political arrangements as well.

  • Paradigm Shift from Fragmentation to Holism. As outlined above, this holism must be the framework for the first three principles. We embrace the holism of humanity, the holism of our planetary biosphere, and the holism of the cosmos. Paradigm shift requires transformation to a holistic paradigm in all four quadrants that encompass human life. First, the new paradigm promotes subjective transformation to post-egoic, holistic modes of consciousness. Second, this paradigm shift requires cultural transformation to enlightened holism in our collective lives. From literature, to rituals, to song and dance to all the multiplicity of cultural forms, we need to celebrate our unity in diversity, our harmony and holism. Third, the paradigm shift to holism must include transfer of control of science from the military and economic interests of the top 20% to the interests of the whole of nature and humanity. Fourth, our global economic and political institutions (capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states) must be transformed under holistic principles to systems that work for everyone, not just the power and economic interests of the few.

Part Two: Liberation Praxis

The key transformative element at this stage of history is ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth (found on-line in many places such as In terms of development theory, the uniting of the nations in a universal federation under the Earth Constitution would provide a fundamental stimulus and incentive for moving the people of Earth from the current egoistic and ethnocentric stage of maturity to the necessary worldcentric stage. It provides a holistic framework that will profoundly influence all four quadrants: subjective consciousness, culture, institutions, and science.

The Earth Constitution, for example, joins humanity together under the principle that the life-giving resources of the Earth belong to all of us, not the 20% or the 1% only. The Provisional World Parliament has already enhanced this principle of the Constitution with World Legislative Acts 22, 42, and 51, establishing reasonable global economic equity ( These institutional transformations will necessarily empower the transformation of people’s subjectivity toward worldcentrism. Once the citizens of Earth are primarily at the worldcentric stage of cognitive, moral, and spiritual development, the model of further growth in maturity and awareness will flourish, and humanity will have begun its journey into ever more profound levels of peace, freedom, and liberation.

In terms of critical social theory, the Earth Constitution is designed to take the undemocratic power out of the hands of the global ruling classes and place governing power democratically within a multiplicity of representatives from around the globe whose mandate is to focus on our common global problems (ending war, protecting human rights, protecting our planetary environment, etc.). The Provisional World Parliament has already created World Legislative Act 57 as an institution that will enhance this process for legislators. Critical self-awareness, as well as awareness of hidden power, exploitation, and domination relationships will flourish evermore widely. Critical social theory in this broad sense will become a standard intellectual and moral praxis of the citizens and government officials of the Earth Federation. The Parliament has also created World Legislative Act 29 for a Global People’s Assembly that will enhance this process for citizens.

In terms of the world’s spiritual and religious traditions, the Constitution opens up universal protection for the diversity of the world’s spiritual traditions which abolishes the current false links of their messages with ethnocentrism and nationalism. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., are no longer divided from one another because of association with certain nation-states (as political, economic, and military power centers), but the citizens of the Earth Federation are truly free to access and investigate the profound holistic wisdom of these traditions for the first time in history. The model of spiritual development will flourish. Indeed, the Earth Constitution itself is a concrete manifestation of the global vision of spirituality from awakened thinkers like Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi in India, Baha’u’llah in Persia, or Onisaburo Deguchi in Japan. It both fosters and represents a higher level of ethical and spiritual actualization on the part of humanity.

Clearly, then, the establishment of the Federation of Earth under the Earth Constitution will enhance the developmental, holistic paradigm shift in all four quadrants of human endeavor. It will overcome the horrific fragmentation of a world-system of sovereign militarized nation-states. It will powerfully promote cultural transformation to an enlightened worldcentric holism. It will make possible on a planetary scale subjective transformation to post-egoic, holistic subjective modes of consciousness and powerfully promote the spiritualties of the world’s great religious traditions moving people to higher, more integral modes of consciousness. Finally, and extremely important, it will decouple science from the industrial-military-academic complexes of the world and direct the vast potential of science into healing the environment and providing quality of life to all the world’s citizens.

To effectively make this transformation happen, it is important that the people of Earth feel the holistic unity in diversity implemented by the Earth Constitution.  They must feel the power, freedom, and equality reserved to them and understood as inalienable rights by Articles 12 and 13 of the Constitution. One key to cognitive, moral, and spiritual development is the feeling of empowerment and democratic equality with the rest of humanity, inherent in the very languages that we speak. Any hierarchies of classes, institutional discriminations, or superior political empowerment will defeat the growth of the human population toward evermore peaceful, free, and liberated subjective, cultural, institutional, and scientific modes of existence. Any institutionalized elitism will immediately be exposed by critical social theorists as a devious cover for hidden power and self-interest relationships.

From the ancient Stoics in the West to the Vedic tradition in the East it has been declared that vasudhaiva kutubukum: the world is one family. This is the presupposition of the Earth Constitution and the fundamental principle for human liberation. It is the principle of unity in diversity announced in the Preamble to the Constitution and embodied in the immense holism that informs ever article within the Constitution. Upon creation of the Earth Federation under the Constitution, people will immediately begin to feel and assimilate these principles of the holism of humanity and the holism of the biosphere that encompasses the Earth.

The universal equality and empowerment before the law will empower growth to a worldcentric, politically aware, involved, and conscientious stage of human consciousness. The Earth Constitution also promotes universal education for developing worldcentric consciousness. This has been powerfully enhanced by the Provisional World Parliament in World Legislative Act 26, the Education Act.  The majority will begin deeply caring about humanity, the Earth, and the future of the divine-human project upon the Earth. It is the framework of an integrated and institutionalized unity in diversity, premised on the universal equality of dignity and rights of every citizen of Earth that will effect this transformation, not some sociocultural engineering attempting to put the supposedly wiser or more highly educated into power over the rest.

In terms of a coherent understanding of the processes of human liberation, the idea of a “Supreme Council for Humanity,” (proposed recently by some well-meaning people) or any other body of people placed in power over the rest of us because they are wiser or more educated is counter-productive, as well as frightening in its possible totalitarian implications. We need an institutional framework for the people of Earth that encompasses and empowers everyone equally, for it is our general civilizational and common human transformation that will liberate us, not any sociopolitical tools that divide us and attempt to substitute social engineering for genuine transformation.

Currently we are divided from one another (and our common development toward liberation is largely defeated) by the system of sovereign nation-states, most of them militarized, interfaced with a global economic system designed to funnel the wealth of our planet to the top 20% and mostly to the top 1%. The Earth Constitution transforms both these institutions along holistic principles. Under the Constitution the nations are federated with one another, ultimately demilitarized, and joined within a single constitutional framework. Similarly, the global economic system is transformed under the same holism to work for all the world’s citizens, not just the few.

Under the Earth Constitution, the people of Earth will begin energetically and voluntarily educating themselves for participation in this exciting journey into an ever-more holistic and bliss-filled future. On the foundation of human universality and equality we can move into the future developing ever-more integrated forms of unity in diversity. It is all of us together, in equality and freedom, or it will be none of us. This is the fundamental principle of human liberation at this stage of history. And the key to making it happen is ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

(Glen T. Martin is Professor of Philosophy at Radford University and Chair Emeritus of its Peace Studies Program. He is President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA), President of the Institute on World Problems (IOWP), and President of International Philosophers for Peace (IPPNO). He is author or editor of 11 books and dozens of articles on human liberation and democratic world law.)

The Sovereignty of Humanity

Glen T. Martin

Our time is a time of vast danger for the future of humankind and the integrity of our precious Earth.  Forces of disintegration, division, and war everywhere attack human unity and inhibit the emergence of a planetary civilization based on our common humanity. Human beings continue to cling to pseudo-realities, pseudo-realities that become extremely dangerous and tear our world apart: nations, races, religions, ethnicities, cultures, languages, corporate interests, etc.  Attachment to pseudo-realities obscures from us our common humanity, our common human reality evolving out of the vast cosmic evolutionary process from the Big Bang, to human emergence some two million years ago, to human ascendancy over nature and colonization of the entire Earth in the past two centuries.

Since the 20th century, physics has shown us in great depth and detail that the reality (the basic nature) of the cosmos cannot be imagined by the human pictorial imagination.  Unlike the old magical and mythological relations to reality that assumed that the real could be pictured and named, everything in contemporary physics reveals the world in terms of mathematical equations that cannot be translated into imaginative pictures. Physics unveils the absolute oneness of the universe and the thoroughly interdependent and relative nature of all the fields within that whole: within that dynamic, ever-flowing holism.

The cosmos is being restored to the mysterium magnum that encompasses our lives. Physics shows that the universe is relative through and through: all things existing as fields within fields whose identities depend on the fields and their relation to one another.  Rather than a diversity of substantial realities opposed to one another, what emerges is the ONE that all these fields manifest: the cosmic plenum.  Not a magical or mythological relation to nature and the cosmos, not the pseudo-realities of nations, races, etc., but cosmic consciousness, the mysterium magnum of the deeply integrated Oneness of all things.

But the integral oneness of all things can emerge in our common human consciousness only when we have detached ourselves from these multiple pseudo-realities and embraced our common human destiny. The heart of the universe, God or the ONE, is becoming conscious of itself in us. This is central to our human destiny: to become a focal point, compacted like a laser beam, of awareness of the depths: the oneness of Humanity and the oneness of the divine depths actualized in the living human community upon the sacred Earth. The sovereignty of humanity cannot be separated from the sovereignty of the divine plenum of the cosmos in human life and consciousness.

Our planet is passing through its dark night of the soul in the terror of fragmentation: endless wars and destruction in the name of pseudo realities: nations, races, idolatrous religious identifications, egoistic greed: partial and parochial identities all. Becoming truly worldcentric (universally human centric) is not merely a stage in some schema of moral and cognitive growth as put forward by today’s psychologists. Becoming worldcentric, human-centric, and cosmos-centric is the giant imperative of human history—the gigantic ethical demand to become fully human and therefore transparent to the divine mysterium magnum of existence.

The realization of our full humanity does not abandon the body or nature but raises the body and nature up to their true levels and true destiny—to become transparent to the divine presence, to the Oneness at the heart of all things. Our full humanity sanctifies nature and spirit and shows their profound integration. Human beings become sovereign as the expression of the gigantic cosmic telos at the heart of the primordial cosmic explosion, guiding cosmic evolution, and coming to fruition on our precious green and blue planetary home (among other places in the vastness of our cosmos). Human beings become the community of the Earth, the expression and children of the Earth, but also the expression and children of the unimaginable and inconceivable divine.  These are joined together in the sovereignty of the human community—living in love, justice, peace, and compassion in the magnificent intensity of the fullness of life become conscious of itself on our beautiful green and blue spaceship Earth.

The Earth Constitution is not the end of this process. It is, however, an absolutely necessary step in the actualization of our human destiny. The Constitution brings humanity together politically and economically under the concept of the sovereignty of humanity. It recognizes our fundamental oneness, not to the exclusion of diversity (which it protects), but a oneness in which all the diverse elements (nations, races, cultures, ideologies) are raised up to a higher level of respect and protection precisely because they are now joined together within institutions founded upon our common humanity.

Nearly all things created in human history up to this point have not been consciously founded. They have largely evolved in historical struggles on the basis of natural features of the world such as geography, race, culture, language, and so-called “natural” divisions of the world deriving from these features such as nation-states.  There is nothing whatsoever that is fundamental about nation-states. They are thoroughly contingent, relative to one another and interdependent with one another within our common human situation. They are historical pseudo-realities, evolving by geography, accident, and arbitrary human decision-making. There is nothing fundamentally real or “right” about them.

Only today, in the monumental 21st century, have enough human beings evolved in their thinking to a consciousness of our common humanity and our common human destiny upon the Earth.  We are now for the first time ready to found, to consciously establish, a world system based upon our common humanity.  In this lies the immense significance of the Earth Constitution. In consciously doing this, we move to a higher level—beyond the old magical and mythical pseudo-realities to a common consciousness of the sovereignty of humankind and our shared destiny upon planet Earth.

Our destiny is not to abandon nature and the body for some other world or through asceticism as so many historical religions would have it (even though a great non-attachment is indeed required). Our destiny is not to live in a world of allegiances to pseudo-realities of nationality, race, gender identity, culture, or class privilege. Our destiny is to elevate nature and spirit in the magnificent union of ecstatic living in joy within the absolute here and now of life on our beautiful Earth. It is to redeem nature, and ourselves, through the integration (unity in diversity) of God, nature, and humanity.  Evolution and human history have been ever moving toward this cosmic fulfillment.

Our divine-human destiny is the union of mind and nature in the fullness of consciousness of the magnificent present moment. It is to simultaneously live in communion and community with all our brothers and sisters on the Earth. We must become creatures of joy in living—joy in the fullness of the living, divine present. We must find joy in these pots and pans, in this rain upon the roof, in this beautiful human form, in this loving relation with others.  This is the sovereignty of humanity. It is also the sovereignty of God and the redemption of nature. There can be no separation, only integration, in the unity of the mysterium magnum.

The Deeper Roots of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atrocities

ground zero

Ground Zero: the Atomic Dome, Hiroshima
(image by Glen T. Martin)

The Deeper Roots of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atrocities

By Dr. Glen T. Martin

On Friday, May 27th, 2016, President Obama visited the Hiroshima Peace Park for two hours commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. He offered no apology, but gave a stirring speech about the need for a moral transformation of human beings on the Earth that will end war and establish a peaceful, interdependent world. His speech ended with these memorable words:

“That is why we come to Hiroshima. So that we might think of people we love. The first smile from our children in the morning. The gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table. The comforting embrace of a parent. We can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here, 71 years ago.

Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.

The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

In the week following Obama’s visit, my wife and I were in Hiroshima for three days speaking with Japanese citizens of that city who had witnessed President Obama’s speech. What were their thoughts and feelings about this historic visit (the first by a sitting American President)? One of our hosts was Professor Mineko Morishita, who was interviewed by the Associated Press regarding Obama’s statement.

There have been some excellent articles analyzing the hypocrisy and crassness of this spectacle engineered for public consumption by President Obama and the U.S. State Department at Hiroshima. Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick outline a truer history (than that implied by President Obama) behind the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki three days later. They point out that 100 Japanese cities had already been destroyed by firebombing, including Tokyo in March 1945, five months earlier. They point out that Japan was ready for surrender, and that the key event that led to surrender was the Soviet Invasion of Japanese held Manchuria on August 8.

They point out the lies in history textbooks in the U.S. that claim these bombings were necessary to save the U.S. from having to invade, which would have lost many more lives than those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We know today, they point out, that the real motive of using these horrific weapons had nothing to do with saving lives. The intent was to send a message to the Soviets that would supposedly cow them before the might of the U.S. military (instead the result was that the Soviets threw all their energies into building a bomb of their own). They intimate as well that the state of war was used as an excuse to test these weapons against human populations. The two bombs were different forms of atomic bomb (one fission-based uranium and the other an implosion plutonium based device) for which the U.S. wanted to test for their actual effectiveness as weapons.

The last time I visited Hiroshima, in February of 2005, I saw testimony in the Hiroshima War Memorial Museum that the U.S. brought in medical teams immediately after the bombing and Japanese surrender. Although there were many thousands with horrific burns and terrible wounds from the blast, these medical teams did nothing for the victims. Their purpose was to assess the effects of the blast, to record its effectiveness as a weapon. Has Obama had a change of heart? Is he different from the callous war-criminals like President Truman who mercilessly and needlessly used these weapons against civilian populations?

The call for “moral awakening” in President Obama’s speech comes from the one individual who has served as the most powerful agent of US imperialism worldwide for the past eight years. It issues from the Commander in Chief of a military that is in the process of surrounding Russia with offensive military weaponry, including nuclear weapons, that is challenging China’s need to protect its primary trade routes through the South China Sea, that is waging a dozen clandestine wars in Africa, including support for a brutal Saudi Arabian assault on Yemen that targets many civilians, that is promoting coup d’etats in Brazil and Latin America, that has recently destroyed the stable societies and civilian infrastructures of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and that is currently supporting terrorist forces bent on “regime change” in Syria.

Obama heads a military and security machine that has killed several million persons in this process since 2001, the vast majority of them civilians, women and children, just like those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This speech issues from the man personally in charge of a program of targeted killings by militarized drones, who assumes the arrogant power over life and death of people anywhere in the world whom he decides, without trial, by so-called “secret evidence,” are guilty of resistance to imperial forces and must be executed remotely, with inevitable “collateral damage” to families, women, children, their homes, lives, and hopes. Surely the words quoted above illustrate the epitome of callous, compassionless, meaningless rhetoric.

William Boardman correctly identifies Obama’s speech as that of an “empty suit”: “the sterile language of a detached president illustrates how far we are from facing the reality of our own government’s deliberate atrocities.” He points out the “passive voice” used by Obama. It as if this atrocity just happened, as if no one was actively responsible. While Obama currently spearheads a one trillion dollar upgrade of the U.S. nuclear weapons systems, the “empty suit” speaks of “America’s commitment to peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons.” The callousness of this publicity stunt defies the imagination.

This technique of propaganda (i.e., “we care so much and seek a moral awakening for the world”) reminds one of that of Nazi minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who, following Hitler’s Mein Kompf, used the principle of the “big lie” to mold the German people to the will of the Nazis. If the lie is big enough, he declared, people will believe it even in the face of apparently contrary evidence. They will not be able to imagine a lie that big, in such contradiction to the reality they are experiencing. So too with President Obama: his entire record of speeches for the past eight years evidences a perpetual lie about morality, responsibility, concern, and ideals that bespeaks the exact opposite of his actual record of criminal wars, crimes against humanity, and callous use of terror and violence at the head of U.S. global imperialism.

However, neither Obama, with his contention that human beings must morally grow, nor Stone and Kuznick with their admirable commitment to bringing forth an honest history of the past century, nor Boardman who rightly exposes the moral atrocities of the atomic bombings that are continued in the on-going war crimes of the Obama administration, have penetrated to the heart of the matter of these bombings and the perpetual wars of which they are simply one manifestation. I was in Hiroshima to meet with the leading World Federalists of Hiroshima and with the Directors of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation that sponsors the “Mayors for Peace” project worldwide. The Chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, Yasuyoshi Komizo, told me that there were more than 7000 mayors of cities around the globe who work with them for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Mayors, he told me, were closer to the people than heads of state, and perhaps understand more concretely why nuclear weapons must be eliminated from the Earth.

My friends at the World Federalists of Hiroshima put the matter more in terms of the world system: it is the existence of autonomous territorial entities called “sovereign nation-states” that is itself a central root of war and violence everywhere on Earth. World Federalists believe in “World Peace through World Law.” It is the due process of enforceable democratically legislated laws that can establish fundamental peace. We do not have to wait, as Obama declared, for human beings to awaken morally and finally end war and live in peace (somewhere “beyond his lifetime”). Indeed, as long as absolute territorial nation-states exist, living in peace will be impossible, because the rule of law does not exist between or over the nations. And without the enforceable rule of the due process of law, there remains only power relationships: the powerful do what they please (like execute people worldwide by remotely controlled drones) and the weak resist violently (with suicide bombs and surprise terror attacks). The system of sovereign nations is inherently a war-system.

I pointed this out in my talks with the people of the Universal Love and Brotherhood Association (ULBA) in Kameoka, Japan: internally Japan is at peace because all the individuals and cities there live under the common rule of enforceable laws. Externally, the U.S. is urging Japan to repeal Article 9 of its Constitution (the article placed there by the U.S. after WW II prohibiting Japan from having a military) and to remilitarize itself. The argument is that there are hostel nations nearby, whether China or North Korea, from which Japan might need defense. Hence, the U.S. is urging Japan to come back into the war-system of fear, mistrust, secrecy, arms races, and ultimately war. In a world without enforceable laws this is inevitable.

To my friends at ULBA, the World Federalists of Hiroshima, and the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation I presented copies of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We want not just to end weapons of mass destruction, we must end all war, all extra-legal executions, all state and private terrorism. The only practical and really actualizable way to do this (within our lifetimes) is to transform the war-system into a world peace system through uniting all nations under a World Parliament and the enforceable rule of democratically legislated laws.

Under the Constitution, every nation has representation in the World Parliament where they can dialogue with one another about how together we can best pilot our Spaceship Earth. No more arms races, fear, and distrust, but rather dialogue and discussion on how we can work together to solve our planetary problems. The Earth Constitution is our best bet for doing this. It is widely available and brilliantly designed for planetary unity in diversity (

This is also the key to the moral ascent of humanity. We will only grow to world-centric compassion and conscience if we can end the fragmentation of militarized sovereign states, allowing people everywhere to identify as brothers and sisters and fellow world citizens. The root cause of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki terror is the sovereign nation-state system itself. What we need most is a democratic world parliament, legislating laws enforceable by civilian world police, under the authority of the Earth Constitution and the sovereignty of all the people who live upon the Earth.

Empire of Chaos meets Global Dracula: Trashing Democracy: What is Our Way Out?

Dr. Glen T. Martin

The Empire of Chaos promotes its full spectrum dominance for its own sake, as Pepe Escobar makes clear.[1] There is no credible objective for this globalized militarism that benefits any but the 1%, their global megacorporations and banking cartels, and the self-perpetuating military-academic-industrial-security complex itself. The Empire exists to serve this Global Dracula, which draws the life out of the open veins of Mother Earth. Even decent people in global corporations siphon the life-blood of Mother Earth rather than lose their lucrative jobs. Corporate power is the power of domination and exploitation for its own sake, carried forward by its own colossal momentum, regardless of consequences for people or the ecosystem of our planet. Terrorism is a consequence of this globalized Empire of Chaos: the more chaos the more terrorism.

Here we have a self-evident correlation that should make us suspicious. Are these drone executions really trying to stop terrorism? Or do they need the perpetual threat of terrorism to justify and protect the Global Dracula? World peace researcher Johan Galtung: “Hyper-capitalism sucks the Periphery dry with humans in misery and nature depleted-polluted. Interventionist militarism engenders resistance, the higher the overkill”. Force engenders counter-force. Social processes are dialectic, not linear.”[2]

Consider the current US bombing of Mosul. The pattern is to destroy the civilian infrastructure. This is a key modus operandi of the US military. They claim that the bad guys “hide” within civilian populations but they instinctively know that the civilian populations hate us, just as people everywhere hate invasion, domination and tyranny. In effect, the entire civilian population becomes the enemy and must be targeted.

Do we believe the Global Dracula and the Empire of Chaos do not know about this dialectic? The militarized “full spectrum dominance”requires chaos, the more chaos the more it is justified. Hyper-capitalism requires human misery in at least three senses: (1) the more impoverished and desperate people become, the greater the capacity for exploitation (think Bangla-desh or Indonesia), (2) the more global misery, the more the “free-market system” is justified under the impossible ideal that only a “truly free market” can address the need: “we need more free market not less.” This insane logic is addressed in detail by Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine and the Rise of Disaster Capitalism,[4] (3) all destruction of civilian infrastructure is a lucrative opportunity for the disaster capitalists to reap tremendous profits for reconstruc-tion. The destruction of Mosul, like the destruction of Fallujah, becomes a low-risk investment for future reconstructionist private contractors and hosts of venture capitalists.

The operations of the military are truly globalized, involving every country on Earth in one form or another.[5] Global stock market forces and currency exchanges make our entire planet economically interdependent. When the US banks crashed the sub-prime mortgage bubble in 2008, nearly every country in the world was affected. Today’s oil war, in the attempt by the global hegemon to bankrupt Russia, Brazil, and Venezuela through reducing oil prices so that their economies crumble, affects everyone on Earth, for better or for worse.[6]

The Empire of Chaos and the Global Dracula have created hyper-national systems of “global governance” that now put their fingers into every pie: NATO, IMF, the World Bank, the Bank for International Settlements, WTO, GATT, NAFTA, TPP, etc. USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy seek to subvert democratic processes in every country that interfere with the Global Dracula. The 1% are not by any means “global citizens” (implying responsibility to humanity and our planet) but they are “globalists”: unrepentant non-patriots loyal to nothing but mammon and sucking the lifeblood from the Earth and its people. If anyone had doubts about these facts, these doubts should have been dispelled by the Panama Papers.[7]

Articles about the Panama Papers point out that the offshore shell-company and tax-evasion industry is not limited to Panama. It includes dozens of locations throughout the world: a globalized system beyond the territorial boundaries of sovereign nation-states. In the universal corruption encouraged by this globalized system (in which all values such as democracy, justice, truth, or compassion appear foolish and childish), both the Empire and the Global Dracula work together as one. World systems scholar James Petras writes about the “legacy” of President Obama: “At this stage, Obama’s supreme goal is to leave an enduring legacy, where he will have: (1) surrounded and weakened Russia and China; (2) re-converted Latin America into an authoritarian free-trade backyard for US plunder; (3) turned the Middle East and North Africa into a bloody playpen for Arab and Jewish dictators bent on brutalizing whole nations and turning millions into refugees to flood Europe and elsewhere.”[8]

Both Empire and Dracula desire it all, not just 50% of the world’s wealth, but it all. They therefore have turned their attention to Europe and North America where ordinary people have too much of everything: housing, social security, food, leisure time, and democracy. Former economic hit man John Perkins describes how the same techniques that he used to insnare third world governments into debt-bondage are now directed at the US and Europe.[9]

It is happening in a major way in Greece and Spain. And they are threatening this in France.[10] Michael Moore’s new film “Who To Invade Next?” pretends to invade primarily European countries with the idea that we should take back from them social practices so much more advanced than anything in the US: drug policy from Portugal, education from Finland, jailing corrupt bankers from Iceland, the food provided for school children from France. But Moore ignores the Troika, the attempts to destroy the social systems in Spain and Greece, and the current attempt to neo-liberalize the social democratic system in France. Like so many progressives who can’t really bring themselves to become authentically “global citizens,” his orientation, despite the “invasion” theme, remains a nation-state perspective.

The movie “The Big Short,” directed and co-written by Adam McKay, attempts to make clear the banking collapse of 2008 and the consequences. Leading characters declare of the bankers: “they are either really stupid or really corrupt.” However, in the end it reveals that they were not stupid because they knew that the US taxpayers would bail them out, and hence they could gamble with millions of people’s lives, homes and pensions without risk to themselves. They are not just partly corrupt, but totally corrupt: absolute greed without conscience, without a shred of morality. Then watch the film about the prostitution of US democracy called “Free for All: One Dude’s Quest to Save Democracy,” produced by Holly Mosher. The politicians, and those who control voting processes, are just as crooked as the bankers.

On a brighter note, the very fact that we can understand and be aware of these things means that we can change them. The global mess is a consequence of global corruption. To combat corruption you have to change the system. So the people of France are fighting back, and some in the US are fighting back in the form of “Democracy Awakening” and “Democracy Spring” protests that I was recently part of in Washington, DC. More than 1300 people were arrested for refusing to move from the steps of the Capitol building within a two week period.[11] When I was in Venezuela last month, we marched in Caracas with perhaps a thousand women in vocal support of the Bolivarian revolution that Venezuela is struggling to preserve in the face of US-sponsored subversion.

James Petras, in the above-cited article, argues that the subversion of Argentina and Brazil by US sponsored forces has been relatively easy because the left-orientated governments of these countries failed to engage their people in a genuine “class struggle” with the oligarchs. The people of Greece, Spain, and France want to defend their countries against the global economic forces dominating them. The people of the US in “Democracy Spring” want to take back Congress from the politicians who are controlled by big money: a big money that has global interests and global scope. Civil liberties lawyer John Whitehead wants citizens to struggle against the pervasive presence of the US police state.[12]

These, of course, are all good things: all struggle raises consciousness and generates the possibility of lives that are liberating and transformed. But this article should have made clear by now that the “enemy” is global, not local. The enemy is a system, a globalized 1% and their transnational corporations, private security armies, and collaboration with the military-academic-industrial-banking complex within the imperial center. Social thinker Sheldon Wolin writes of the US system: “Its genius lies in wielding total power without appearing to, without establishing concentration camps, or enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident elements so long as they remain ineffectual.”[13] Like a Hydra head, reform of the system in one country will only allow it to pop up in another, for the Empire of Chaos and Global Dracula encompass the planet, independently of any particular nation-state. The system can never be overcome at the nation-state level.

If we want to protect freedom, democracy, and a decent future for people everywhere, we need to begin thinking globally and acting globally. Democracy movements in France, the US, or Venezuela can easily be marginalized and controlled. Even if successful, as Venezuela was under President Chavez, the global empire can easily destabilize and subvert such temporary successes. Even if successful, the “people” only temporarily gain control of some little territory in a world of some 193 countries. The progressive left is still thinking in 19th century sovereign nation-state terms, while the 1% are thinking and acting in 21st century globalized terms. There will be no future for democracy or our planetary environment until the PEOPLE OF EARTH decide that the planet belongs to the 99%, not the 1%.

There will be no viable future for human civilization unless we make the conscious decision to transcend our “patriotic” nonsense (which the dominators did long ago) and become loyal to the Earth and its citizens. If we are authentically world citizens, then we see the need for political and economic institutions that are democratically sovereign under the authority of the people of Earth, to end the Empire of Chaos and drive a stake through the heart of the Global Dracula.

By far the best option for doing this involves ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.[14] The Earth Constitution creates a democratic World Parliament with the authority and mandate to demilitarize the world, control and reform multinational corporations, protect the global environment, and take banking powers away from the 1% and place them in the service of the people of Earth. It is difficult for me to understand why the left in so many countries seems incapable of transcending its ethnocentric, localized perspective. The world has been our “spaceship” for at least half a century and needs to be run as one. Right now it is run in totalitarian fashion by the Darth Vaders of the Empire of Chaos and Global Dracula.

There can be no decent future for humanity, nor for any nation, nor for our planetary environment, unless WE THE PEOPLE take over the spaceship and run it for the benefit of all. As Bernie Sanders recently said: “We are all in this together. We are all interdependent with one another.”[15] National interests alone will not cut it on spaceship Earth. But American listeners, perhaps including Sanders himself, conditioned as they are to think in terms of a little piece of the Earth defined by territorial boundaries, do not readily think about the deeper meaning of what he said.

They think he meant “All Americans are in this together.” But anuthentic spirituality goes beyond this to all human beings, and, despite what Bernie sometimes says, it appears as if he has an authentic spirituality–a sense of compassion so fundamental to our common human dignity. If Bernie is elected, he may well be forced by the nation-state institutions to violate his own spirituality and promote the interests of some territorial fragment to the exclusion of the rest of humanity.

The “left” might be defined as including those people who recognize, at least in some degree, the dignity of all human beings and the moral imperative to establish economic and political systems that satisfy our basic human needs. The left supports democratic socialism, preservation of our planetary ecology, societies of, by, and for the people, and people’s right to develop the potential of their lives in peace and freedom.

But the left is in disarray because it lacks a unifying vision. It operates from democratic instincts and impulses, but has no coordinated vision of how things could really be different. Resistance alone, civil disobedience alone, will not change the global system of domination and exploitation. This vision is supplied by the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

In the 21st century, you cannot have an authentic “left” within sovereign nation-states, because an authentic, spiritually awakened and morally credible left is necessarily universal. Democracy is a universal moral concept. So are ideals of human rights, human dignity, human freedom, and world peace. As Sanders said, we are all in this together. We need to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We need to act from our common humanity and become voices for the people of Earth who long for freedom, peace, justice and sustainability. Our best hope for doing this is to become living global advocates on behalf of the World Parliament and the Earth Constitution.



[2] The Fall of the US Empire–And Then What? (Kolofon Press, 2009), 13

[4] New York: Henry Holt, 2007.

[5] See Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire (New York: Henry Holt, 2004).

[6] The Empire of Chaos Strikes Back against Brazil, Russia and China Pepe Escobar

[7] Panama Papers in the Guardian:


[9] More Confessions of an Economic Hitman: This Time They’re Coming for Your Democracy, by Sarah van Gelder

[10] French Protests currently taking place:



[13] Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton University Press, 2008), 57.

[14] Found on-line at and many other locations. Also see the newly published “Pocket Constitution”