What is Socialism?

Glen T. Marin

The basic ideas of socialism go back to the roots of the great world religions and to the conceptions of justice and community envisioned by many ancient thinkers and religious texts. These basic ideas did not come from the critiques of capitalism that emerged with the works of Karl Marx and other thinkers critical of capitalism in the 19th century. For socialism means, most basically, social justice, human moral decency, institutions and social practices based on love and compassion.

 

In An Interpretation of Religion, scholar of religions John Hick characterizes the rise of all the post-Axial religions as concerned with “progressively freeing us from ego-concern and for love and compassion for others” (2004, 26). He quotes the ancient texts to confirm this generalization (ibid. Chap. 18):

 

He has compassion toward all creatures and no greed.  (Bhagavad Gita)

As a mother cares for her son, all her days, so toward all living things a man’s mind should be all-embracing. (Gautama Buddha, Sutta Nipata)

It is affirmed that universal mutual love throughout the country will lead to its happy order, and that mutual hatred leads to confusion. (Neo-Confucian: Mo Tzu: Universal Love; in Sterba, 1998, p. 356)

You shall not enter Paradise until you believe; and you shall not believe till you love one another.

(Islam: Al-Hadis of Miskat-ul-Masibih, I:226)

Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees…to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor.  (Judaism: Isaiah 10:1-2)

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  (Jesus the Christ: Matthew 22:39)

 

Fourth century Christian thinker, St. John Chrysostom, wrote: “The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor, even if they have acquired them honestly or inherited them legally.” Twelfth century Christian thinker St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “Do not say, ‘I am using what belongs to me.’ You are using what belongs to others. All the wealth of the world belongs to you and to the others in common, as the sun, air, earth, and all the rest” (in Cort 1988, 45).

 

The very first fundamental principle of socialism, therefore, is the principle that all human beings are one family who inherit our precious Earth in common, and that we should be living in such a way that we share with one another in love and justice.  In the modern world, however, the understanding of this principle has expanded due to what Hick calls our emerging “sociological consciousness.”  Today we understand that human institutions, not simply individuals, can be just or unjust:

 

In its social analysis this movement has drawn attention to the structural, as distinguished from the purely individual, evils of the world: the capitalist system…. Liberation has come to mean the freeing of whole populations from these large-scale and long-lived structural forms of oppression…. Structural evil is a recent development in the history of human consciousness…. The modern world has produced a growing number of political saints whose agape/karuna is directed to changing the structures of human life” (2004, 304-5).

 

In the modern world, “socialism” has become the self-aware understanding that there are vast institutions of injustice and exploitation that alienate us from our true mission of human brotherhood, love, justice, and peace with one another. The second fundamental principle of socialism is that the traditional moral principles of love and justice should inform human institutions just as much as personal relationships. This is why socialism in the modern world has developed in opposition to capitalism. Capitalism claims to be a neutral set of economic principles that operate independently of human moral concerns. It claims to be based on the private “rational self-interest” of individuals and businesses competing for goods and services within a “free market” that is not designed on any moral principles but is simply an institution for economic exchange.

 

The resulting global economic institutions have become a worldwide “structural genocide,” according to Garry Leech in his book on capitalism. He quotes Marx who wrote: “It makes an accumulation of misery a necessary condition, corresponding to the accumulation of wealth. An accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time an accumulation of misery, the torment of labor, slavery, ignorance, brutalization and moral degradation at the opposite pole” (2012, 41).  He also quotes Iśtvan Mészáros: “Structurally enforced inequality is the all-important defining characteristic of the capitalist system” (Ibid.).

 

Capitalism is a system of wealth production that proports to be value free. It is money not simply for purposes of exchange, but money used for purposes of accumulation. It is entirely independent of moral value and contains only the function of a perpetually increasing economic value. Marx writes:

 

Thus, growing wealthy is an end in itself…. Fixed as wealth, as the general form of wealth, as value which counts as value, it is therefore the constant drive to go beyond its quantitative limit: an endless process. Its own animation consists exclusively in that: it preserves itself as a self-validated exchange value distinct from a use-value only by constantly multiplying itself. (1973, 270).

 

The fundamental moral principle coming from ancient sources is equality through love and justice: love thy neighbor as thyself. The defining characteristic of capitalism is inequality: institutionalized through private property rights and legally enforced by militarized sovereign nation-states. This contradicts the fundamental moral principle, which is equality and dignity. As 20th century philosopher Leonard Nelson affirms: “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” (1956, 98, 110).

 

The third fundamental principle of socialism is the equality and dignity of all persons. There have been many different institutional systems proposed for achieving this, from nationalization of the means of production (as in the Soviet Union), to state run capitalism (as in China today), to Israeli Kibbutzim, to cooperatives at the grass-roots level (as in today’s Venezuela), to alternative communities like Auroville in India or Damanhur in Italy, to systems of worker-based ownership (as advocated today by economist Richard D. Wolff: 2012), to various forms of market-socialism (advocated by Michael Harrington: 1989). Some, but not all, of these proposed systems have turned out to be undemocratic in practice.

 

It should be clear that socialism is not identical with any of these proposed institutional systems. Its most basic meaning is that human relationships and institutions should be based on moral principles, not on power, greed, violence, or exploitation. Scholars have pointed out that Karl Marx’s entire critique was morally based (Miranda 1986). Other scholars have agreed that his work was focused on freedom (Brenkert 1983). Twentieth century political philosopher Robert A. Dahl argues that capitalism embodies a “freedom” that is necessary to democracy, but at the same time, he declares, with capitalism “the moral foundation of democracy, political equality among citizens, is seriously violated” (2015, 178). However, true freedom embraces moral principles. The so-called “freedom” of unlimited accumulation, with its power to exploit and dominate others, is a perversion of true freedom.

 

Similarly, socialist thinkers like economist R.H. Tawney in 1920 affirmed that a decent society must be based on moral purposes (which presuppose freedom), not on property and private profit as ends in themselves. Today, social scientists Boswell and Chase-Dunn sum up socialism as follows:

 

Our definition of socialism is a theory and a practice of progress toward the goals of steadily raising the living standards, and ensuring the basic needs of the working class, expanding the public sphere and community life, and eliminating all forms of oppression and exploitation. Global democracy assumes a democratic and collective rationality that promotes greater equality between as well as within countries, greater international cooperation and an end to war, and a more sustainable relationship to the biosphere…. Undemocratic socialism is simply not socialism regardless of the good intentions of its creators.  (2000, 6).

 

Notice that their definition does not specify any specific types of ownership or institutions as “socialist.” Their definition sees socialism as all encompassing and holistic, as raising living standards for ordinary people, as enhancing community life, ending exploitation, ending war, and protecting the biosphere. This is a correct definition because if institutions are based on the moral principles of dignity and equality, holistically realized, all these consequences follow.

 

Their definition also points out that socialism is equivalent to democracy. The French Revolution of 1789 broadly defined democracy as the quest for “equality, liberty, and fraternity.” This is exactly what socialism is about—equality, liberty, and community for all people (not just for the rich and powerful). These social scientists also point out that it must be a global democratic-socialist revolution: “Basic needs, sustainable development, social justice, and peace are the goals. Global democracy is both a means and goal” (ibid., 8). It cannot be rich nations protecting their wealth and power against poor nations. It cannot be militarized sovereign nations. The only viable democratic socialism requires world-wide institutions based on the moral principles of love, justice, equality, and dignity.

 

The fourth fundamental principle of socialism is holism. Socialism means that love, justice, equality, and dignity holistically permeate all aspects of human life and human institutions. Just as democracy is a way of life that is intrinsic to all humanity (arising from what Marx called our species-being) so socialism means that we have actualized the deeper oneness of our common humanity in a transformed world order (Martin 2018). It means that growth and accumulation are no longer the determinants of human behavior but rather the quality of our lives and relationships becomes fundamental. Holism also means that we integrate our economic system into the ecologically integrated holism of the biosphere, that economics, like human moral values, becomes kosmocentric in harmony with the holism of the universe and nature. Philosopher Joel Kovel writes that our socialism must therefore be called “ecosocialism”:

 

As alienation and exploitation are overcome, therefore, we would not expect human life to expand, but rather to develop ever more subtle, interrelated, mutually recognizing, beautiful, and spiritually fulfilled ways of being. We should not seek to become larger within socialism, but more realized…. So it would be expected for an ecocentric society, where the ideal of growth as such simply needs to be scrapped. Sufficiency makes more sense, building a world where nobody is hungry or cold or lacks healthcare or succor in old age. This can be done at a fraction of the current world output, and would create the ground for ecological realization. (2007, 228)

 

Socialism therefore arises from the integrated wholeness of human beings, the planetary biosphere, and the cosmos. True socialism embraces culture, politics, and economics, all of which must manifest love and justice, based on human equality and dignity, that must become holistically embodied in our human institutions and relationships. It is the self-actualization of our higher human potential. Twentieth century Indian sage Sri Aurobindo declared that we embody the Oneness at the heart of cosmos, which “creates in itself a self-conscious concentration of the ALL through which it can aspire” (1973, 49). Philosopher of Science Errol E. Harris affirmed: “holism should be the dominating concept in all our thinking” (2000, 90).

 

This is why the Constitution for the Federation of Earth is a democratic-socialist document. It sets up a holistic world system based on the legally recognized equality and dignity for every person on Earth. Its two bills of human rights (Articles 12 and 13) list a multitude of rights that are “inalienable” for all persons as well as explicit goals for the Earth Federation government to enhance and protect. These goals include ecological harmony with the biosphere of our planet. The Constitution designs a democratic system based on fundamental ecological and moral principles. It directs the World Parliament to further elaborate social and economic institutions that holistically embody these principles.

 

The “broad functions” of the Earth Federation government specified in Article 1 include ending war and disarming the nations, protecting universal human rights, diminishing social differences (inequality), and protecting the “ecological fabric of life.”  As in the definition of socialism (and democracy) above, all these consequences and functions derive from the fact that the Earth Constitution is based on the holistic moral principles that should be foundational in human institutions: love, justice, equality, freedom, and dignity. All these concepts demand increased quality, not quantity. They demand realization for the whole of humanity, including our relationship with nature.

 

This is why socialism is universal and can only legitimately be global. It is not something that some countries can choose while other countries choose capitalism, for the capitalist system (based on power and greed, not on moral principles) will always imperialistically destroy attempts to establish socialism in individual countries, just as it is doing today against Venezuela and Cuba. The capitalist system dominates our planet and is not separate from the imperialism of the system of so-called “sovereign nations.” Christopher Chase-Dunn writes:

 

The state and the interstate system are not separate from capitalism, but rather are the main institutional supports of capitalist production relations. The system of unequally powerful and competing nation states is part of the competitive struggle of capitalism, and thus wars and geopolitics are a systematic part of capitalist dynamics, not exogenous forces. (1998, 61)

 

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth does not contain the words “socialism” or “capitalism.” It makes “private property” a right and encourages “free trade.”  However, like all systems of democratic law, the World Parliament will legislate laws defining “private property.”  There are many ways it can be defined, regulated, and limited so as to prove beneficial to human beings and ecological systems, whereas as currently defined, it is largely destructive of both.  The same applies to “free trade.” All trade requires regulation of some sort, even under capitalism. But real free trade will not exploit, nor corrupt with bribes and monopolies, nor destroy the environment. Real free trade will be fair trade, holistically seeking to benefit all concerned and to integrate with the Earth’s ecosystems. Only enforceable democratic world law can make this happen.

 

In 2005, I published a book called World Revolution through World Law. The title is appropriate to our effort to ratify the Earth Constitution. We need fundamental change in our global capitalist and sovereign state institutions. But that change can only come about through the force of morally based democratic laws that include holistic and morally based definitions of “private property” and “free trade.” Real democracy, like real socialism, is revolutionary and must be embodied in our planetary institutions.

 

The World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) is not a power-based institution. It is based on the holistic moral principles of love, justice, equality, and dignity.  Our tools are love and persuasion along with emerging governmental authority under the Provisional World Parliament.  We must get the people of Earth to see that a decent world system respecting their equality and dignity can only happen if they ratify the Earth Constitution under the democratic criteria specified in its Article 17.

 

We do not command armies or capitalist power-blocks. But we do draw from the power of holistic universal moral principles that come to us from all the ancient scriptures as well as from our intrinsic human rationality. This law of love and justice is objective and real and has the authority to awaken human beings to their true destiny.  Our true destiny is to live sustainably, peacefully, and justly, without war or exploitation, in harmony with our beautiful planet Earth.  Our true destiny is to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

 

Works Cited:

Aurobindo, Sri (1973). The Essential Aurobindo. Ed. Robert A. McDermott. New York: Schocken Books.

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

Brenkert, George G. (1983). Marx’s Ethics of Freedom. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Chase-Dunn, Christopher (1998). Global Formation: Structures of World Economy. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Found on-line at www.earth-constitution.org and www.worldparliament-gov.org.

Cort, John (1988). Christian Socialism. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Dahl, Robert A. (2015). On Democracy: Second Edition. With Ian Shapiro. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Harrington, Michael (1989). Socialism: Past and Future. The Classic Text on the Role of Socialism in Modern Society. New York: Arcade Publishing.

Harris, Errol E. (2000). Apocalypse and Paradigm: Science and Everyday Thinking. London: Praeger Publishers.

Hick, John. 2004. An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent. Second Edition. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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

Leech, Garry (2012). Capitalism: A Structural Genocide. London: Zed Books.

Martin, Glen T. (2005). World Revolution through World Law: Basic Documents of the Emerging Earth Federation. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

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

Marx, Karl (1993). Grundrisse. Trans. Martin Nicolaus. Penguin Books.

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

Nelson, Leonard. 1956. System of Ethics. Trans. Norbert Guterman. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Sterba, James P. (1998). Social and Political Philosophy. New York: Wadsworth Publishers.

Tawney, R.H. (n.d.) The Acquisitive Society. (Publisher not listed). ISBN 9781544682877.

Wolff, Richard (2012). Democracy at Work: A Cure of Capitalism. Chicago: Haymarket Books.

World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) found at: www.earth-constitution.org and www.worldparliament-gov.org and www.wcpaindia.info.

What is the Purpose?

Glen T. Martin

April 2019

In his famous 1920 essay critical of the irrationality of capitalism, British economist R.H. Tawney shows that the system of profit for profit’s sake is not only irrational but disastrous. He declares: “The essential thing is that men should fix their minds upon the idea of purpose, and give that idea pre-eminence over all subsidiary issues….as long as it does not conflict with some still more important purpose” (p.59).

For Tawney, by making profit an end in itself, modern capitalist society has made a disastrous mistake. Marx had understood that the purpose of production, of work, should be to create use-values for the sake of living a good life. Production was for the purpose of a good life, not an end in itself. But modern capitalism has made the ownership of property, and the profit that can be derived from this ownership, the end in itself. Not the creation of useful things, not support for the goods and services needed for life, not justice, truth, or beauty, but profit for profit’s sake.

There need be no purpose beyond this, we were told, because the “invisible hand” would take care of all the rest. The immense suffering of the majority of humanity for the past several centuries has testified to efficacy of this “invisible hand,” as does the destruction of our planetary environment, which may soon become beyond repair (Klein 2014). If there is no credible purpose, then the only recourse is appeal to some “invisible hand,” or some “inscrutable will of God,” or some mysterious karma accounting for the failure of our purposes in the present.

Let us then consider our purposes. Human beings are first and foremost temporal creatures who synthesize our remembered past within an ever-moving dynamic present and project a future that seeks to transcend that past and present by intending to create a better future. We also understand that our purposes, directed toward creating a better future, are necessarily social. We are connected with others in ever-widening circles. Our better future and their better futures are interdependent and interconnected. Ultimately, it is all of us, or there will be none of us left (Martin 2018).

With the advent of contemporary global issues and global crises, we have begun to see ever-more clearly that all human beings are in this situation together, and that, unless we unite under universal common purposes (which include the prevention of nuclear holocaust and devastating climate collapse), we do not have a future at all. Purposes are about the future, and they invariably give meaning to the present. Indeed, even the meaning of the unalterable past can be transformed depending on the quality and intensity of our purposes for the future.

A negative past of suffering and confusion can be reinterpreted as the precondition for our enlightenment and joy as we move into a transformed future. An unintelligent past, when our purposes were nothing better than private profit for its own sake while appealing to an “invisible hand,” can be redeemed as we reclaim an intelligent future based on authentic, inspiring and credible purposes. We can wake up, have a moral conversion, or become enlightened.

The great world religions have all formulated answers to the question of purpose. What is the ultimate purpose?  Yet the answers emerging from the history of these religions may only serve to deepen the mystery of the ultimate purpose, or even whether these may be an ultimate purpose. Every religion has had sages claiming there are levels of understanding to the depths of the revelation or the depths of meditative experience, and that what may look like the purpose at one level may not appear as the purpose at deeper levels.

Similarly, every religion has had both theologians and mystics, and sometimes both are joined in a single sage or movement. The truths conveyed may appear contradictory. Some theologians speak of God’s purposes in history, and the power of the three Abrahamic religions draws greatly from this image. However, mystics of all religions, and especially in the East, appear to discover an unsayable dimension beyond all purpose, a dharmakaya that is imageless, nameless, and purposeless.

In the name of Hinduism, Swami Vivekananda declared in 1893 that “we can no more think about anything without a mental image than we can live without breathing.” While the ultimate ground of being, he affirmed, is beyond any and all mental images (2006, 17). Meister Eckhart, the 14th century German Christian thinker, declared of God that “you should love him as he is a non-God, a non-spirit, a nonperson, a non-image, but as he is a pure unmixed bright ‘One,’ separated from all duality” (1981, 208). If the Godhead is a non-God and non-person, how can there be divine purposes? What is the relation between this depth dimension and our human purposes?

Initiates in Buddhism being guided toward enlightenment are often drawn upwards through a meditative process beyond the sambhogakaya level of images to the nameless and purposeless fulness-emptiness of sunyata. In Zen and the Art of Archery, professor Eugen Herrigel describes his experience of studying with a Zen master in Japan as he is taught to become one with the depths of the universe in the act of releasing the arrow. At one point, Herrigel cries out in frustration to the master: “How can I become purposeless on purpose?” However, despite Herrigel’s dilemma, purpose and so-called “purposeless” may be intimately related.

We know today that the world has evolved through a 13.8 billion year history since the Big Bang. Physicists have formulated “the Anthropic Principle” arguing that the emergence of self-conscious, rational creatures was inherent within the very structure of the universe from its earliest origins through an astonishing integration and coherence that has continued as the universe has expanded to its present vast dimensions (Harris 1991). It would appear that human life emerges from some mysterious cosmic purpose.

Contemporary physics has also discovered that the universe, with its immense, deep systemic coherence and consistency, can be characterized as “mind” just as much as “matter” (Laszlo 2014; Katatos and Nadeau 1990). In fact, this duality between mind and matter has substantially disappeared in recent physics, since the distinction is based on mere sensory experience, leaving out the depth dimensions. As cosmologist and interpreter of science Ervin Laszlo summarizes:

A mature science recognizes that the world is far greater and deeper than our sensory experience of it, just as a mature religion recognizes that the higher or deeper intelligence its doctrines suggest is the real core of the cosmos. A mature science is spiritual, and a mature religion is scientific. They are built on the same experience, and they reach basically the same conclusion. (2014, 93)

As physicist Henry P. Stapp expresses this, science gives us the image of a self “not as an isolated automaton but rather as a nonlocalizable integrated aspect of the creative impulse of the universe” (in Kitchener 1988, 57). Our minds participate in the depth dimension of the cosmos, an insight that should surely impact our sense of purpose. As Laszlo expresses this:

Consciousness can extend the range of our freedom. If we adopt consciously envisaged worldviews, and bring consciously envisaged goals and values to bear upon our life, our freedom acquires an additional goal-oriented dimension. And if we allow not only the sensory information that connects us with the manifest world to penetrate to our consciousness but also the more subtle insights and intuitions that reach us from the A-dimension [depth dimension], we further extend the range of our freedom. (2014, 63)

What goals and purposes emerge from this wisdom?  “Life,” he says, is clearly the fundamental value. This universe has produced conscious life, a reality that appears to have incalculable value and that translates into the idea that human beings possess the inherent dignity claimed by thinkers such as Immanuel Kant and documents such as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This seemingly miraculous phenomenon of a self-conscious creature with the freedom to create and live by values has been produced, Laszlo affirms, through the immense coherence of the universe that is also grounded in the “supercoherence” of the quantum dimension (ibid. 66-67). Nevertheless:

The great exception to this rule is the human species. In the last few hundred years, and especially in the last decades, human societies have become progressively incoherent both with respect to each other and with their environment. They have become internally divisive and ecologically disruptive…. We can now say what is truly good in this crucial epoch. It is to regain our internal and external coherence: our supercoherence. This is not a utopian aspiration, it can be achieved. But it calls for major changes in the way we think and act. (ibid. 67)

Our purpose is coherence, harmony, unity in diversity, the uniting of all men and women within world union. Philosopher Errol E. Harris summarizes this: “the whole of humankind has become a single community, the common good of which is necessarily implicated in the good of every individual and every society. Contemporary politics as well as contemporary ethics should therefore be global.” (2000, 106).

Just as modern economics has left out purpose with its bizarre theories of the “free market” and the “invisible hand,” so the modern system of nation-states has left out purpose from the political organization of our planet. The Westphalian system of autonomous, sovereign nation-states was created in 1648 only for the purpose of ending the Thirty Years War, not with any intent for the future of society or the good of humanity. The result, as Laszlo affirms, is that nations have “become progressively incoherent both with respect to each other and with their environment.”

As Tawney expresses this: “nationalism, like individualism, lays its emphasis on the rights of separate units, not on their subordination to common obligations” (p. 35). Just as money as an end-in-itself violates our human capacity for intelligent purposes, so sovereign nation-states as ends-in-themselves violate our common human intelligence that requires common human, planetary purposes.

However, the “invisible hand” of the nation-state system has perhaps been more apparent than that of the economic system. For that invisible hand had been characterized by perpetual war. By definition, war is the breakdown of civilized relationships in an anarchy of violence and destruction. Like capitalism, in which the purpose is not a common good or the production of use-values but simply property and profit for their own sake, the system of sovereign nation-states has no stated purpose beyond “sovereignty” itself.  That is, in some mysterious way, the purpose of being a nation-state is to maintain, strengthen, and protect its own “sovereignty.”

This, of course, is another word for autonomy and independence in defiance of the reality of our interdependent humanity and the coherence of both ecology and human civilization. It is another word for perpetuating what many thinkers, including Kant, have called the “war-system,” a system of “savage and barbaric” lawless freedom that refuses to accept a “rational freedom” characterized by the rule of law, order, justice, and civility for the whole of humankind (1957). Like the system of private property and profit that is tearing humanity apart because it has no purpose beyond itself, the sovereign nation-state, now sporting nuclear weapons, threatens to exterminate all of humanity in the service of a “sovereignty” that has no purpose beyond itself.

Both contemporary science and the deep insights of the world’s religions have shown that we live in one, coherent world system arising from unsayable depths (as the dharmakaya in Buddhist language or the quantum plenum in scientific language). In either case the unity and deep coherence of the cosmos is emphasized. From any whole that is simultaneously temporal in its existence, the intrinsic coherence will give rise to a teleological end—a movement toward the self-actualization and completion of the whole. Philosopher of cosmology Errol E. Harris writes:

It is the immanence of the principle of order in the parts of a structured whole that constitutes its teleology…. In the case of a dynamic movement or a genetic process, subjection of the phases to the governance of the principle of wholeness will determine the end, which is typically the completion of some whole; thus a teleological process is one of genesis of a whole, and if the process is consciously directed it is purposive…. The goal of purposive activity is not merely…its terminal stage. The aim of a musician composing a symphony is not the final chord but the symphonic whole…. As Aristotle rightly perceived, “not that which is last deserves the name of end, but that which is most perfect.” (1991, 168)

The very fact of systemic coherence, Harris tells us, implies purpose in at all levels of nature and human life. The purpose of the supercoherence of the cosmos, Laszlo asserts, is “life”—as consciousness, freedom, and actualization of the good. The wholeness of the cosmos, Harris likewise affirms, is the teleological actualization of ever-greater coherence, harmony, consciousness, and freedom. These purposes, inherent in the universe (whether conscious or not) also inform human life. Theologian and philosopher Teilhard de Chardin summarizes this process:

The flame that for thousands of years has been rising up below the horizon is now, at a strictly localized point, about to burst forth: thought has been born. Beings endowed with self-awareness become, precisely in virtue of that bending back upon themselves, immediately capable of rising to a new level of existence: in truth another world is born. (1969, 102)

The evolutionary thrust of the universe has come to consciousness in us and a new level of existence has been born. The human mind, Harris concludes, embodies the organizing principle of the whole, now conscious in us, “For what ought to be done is what promotes health, unity, and harmony, as well in the biosphere as in human society” (2000, 262). Laszlo also concludes that the good is life and what made it possible: the coherence and supercoherence of the cosmos (2014, 66-67). It is here that we begin to integrate the conflicting claims of the world’s religions between a cosmic purpose and an intuition of cosmic purposelessness.

The matrix of coherence and supercoherence has given rise to conscious beings who may comprehend and live from that wholeness. The conscious purposes of our lives need to foster coherence, harmony, peace, and sustainability but, in any teleological system, the ultimate goal is not simply a temporal end point but what Aristotle called “perfection”—the living of the ecstatic fullness of life in each moment as we continue to live in terms of legitimate purposes of greater or lesser scope.

The greater scope of our purposes necessarily includes planetary peace, justice, and sustainability for all people on our planet. The purpose of the symphony of life is the perfection and harmony of the whole, a temporalized progression in which the end point includes within itself the very process of self-actualization. Both the system of private profit and the system of sovereign nation-states violate and impede the self-actualization our common human purpose.

In his book The Fate of Man in the Modern World, Christian-Russian philosopher Nicolas Berdyaev declares:

The problem of man takes precedence over that of society and of culture, and here man is to be considered, not in his inner spiritual life, not as an abstract spiritual being, but as an integral being, as a being social and cosmic as well…. But the true and final renaissance will probably begin in the world only after the elementary, everyday problems of human existence are solved for all peoples and nations, after bitter human need and the economic slavery of man have been finally conquered. (1969, 130-31)

The problem of man is that of fragmentation, our inability to solve our most elementary problems such as the means of survival for citizens of the Earth. Our first purpose, and the first necessary result of our quest for wholeness, needs to be addressing the horrific suffering of at least 50% of humanity who are victims of our planetary economic and political chaos. Before the fullness and ecstasy of life can arise for all people, we need food, clothing, shelter, and security for all people. Our lack of compassion and action on their behalf impairs our holistic purposes all around.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth draws all these purposes together within a common sense blueprint for their actualization. It overcomes the incoherence of a global economic system that has no legitimate purposes, as well as the irrationality of a system of sovereign nation-states with no purpose beyond fragmentation, irrational sovereignty, and defiance of the wholeness of humanity. The Earth Constitution is founded on legitimate ultimate purposes from the very beginning: on the unified sovereignty of the people of Earth with their natural and coherent purposes to end war, disarm the nations, establish universal human rights, diminish social differences, and protect our planetary environment.

Without expressing any religious or scientific conclusions, the Earth Constitution nevertheless presents a beautifully designed holistic world system to actualize our higher human purposes for peace, harmony, and coherence that derive from the very foundations of the cosmos. It overcomes the irrational fragmentation of both today’s economics and the system of sovereign nation-states, joining human beings together to cooperatively solve our horrific economic and governance problems of planet Earth.

No option is more important. None is more fundamental. Ratifying the Constitution for the Federation of Earth needs to be integral to our most fundamental purpose. It is an expression of both the holism of humanity and the cosmic holism that informs the very ground of Existence.

Works Cited:

Constitution for the Federation of Earth, on-line at www.earth-constitution.org or www.worldparliament-gov.org.

Eckhart, Meister (1981). Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense. Ed. Bernard McGinn. Mahway, NJ: Paulist Press.

Harris, Errol E. (1991). Cosmos and Anthropos: A Philosophical Interpretation of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle. New Jersey: Humanities Press International.

Harris Errol E. (2000a). Apocalypse and Paradigm. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Harris, Errol E. (2000b). The Restitution of Metaphysics. Amherst, NY: Humanities Press.

Herrigel, Eugen (1971). Zen in the Art of Archery. New York: Vintage Books.

Kafatos, Means and Robert Nadeau (1990). The Conscious Universe: Part and Whole in Modern Physical Theory. London: Springer-Verlag.

Klein, Naomi (2014). This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Kant, Immanuel (1957). Perpetual Peace. Ed. Lewis White Beck. New York: Macmillan.

Kitchener, Richard F., ed. (1988). The World View of Contemporary Physics: Does it Need a New Metaphysics? Albany: State University of New York Press.

Laszlo, Ervin (2014). The Self-Actualizing Cosmos: The Akasha Revolution in Science and Human Consciousness. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

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

Tawney, R.H. (n.d.). The Acquisitive Society. (Publisher not listed). ISBN 9781544682877.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1969). Hymn of the Universe. New York: Harper Colophon.

Vivekananda, Swami (2006). The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Volume 1. Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama Publisher.

 

The Immense Significance of Article 19 of the Earth Constitution

Glen T. Martin

April 2019

 

The World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) supports the ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth under the criteria outlined in Article 17. The 4th Constituent Assembly, meeting in Troia, Portugal, in 1991 determined that the Constitution was a completed document ready for ratification. The Constitution sets up a parliamentary system for the world in which the 3 Houses of the World Parliament make democratic laws for the Earth regarding all those global problems beyond the scope of nation-states: ending war, protecting universal human rights, eliminating extreme poverty, and protecting the planetary environment. All this is in the future, a future that activists for WCPA are helping to create.

 

But Article 19 opens up an additional perspective. Article 19, named “Provisional World Government,” gives human beings the right and duty to begin world government here and now. It lays out concrete steps that can be taken now under the authority of the Earth Constitution to actually begin the world government.  The justification for this, as the Preamble to the Earth Constitution declares, is that the world is in crisis, in danger both of nuclear holocaust and in the throes of ongoing climate collapse. What are we waiting for?

 

As the Second Constituent Assembly declared in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1979: The people of Earth have the right and responsibility to create world government since every one of the world’s nation-states, without exception, have abdicated their duty in this regard.  The only credible solution for these crises is democratic world law uniting humanity to effectively deal with these lethal threats to human existence. It is all of us or none, a phrase that Albert Einstein first used when he called for democratic world government, and that, following Einstein, Errol E. Harris used as the title for his 1993 book about why we need to ratify the Earth Constitution.  Hence, article 19 says that we have the right and duty to start it now.

 

Article 19 outlines the emergence of provisional world government through a framework of steps that should be taken to develop the organizations necessary for the Earth Federation to come into its final form.  It calls for the formation of “preparatory commissions” that address the multiple initiatives necessary: a Ratification Commission, a World Elections Commission, a World Problems Commission, a Finance Commission, etc. These commissions are organized and promoted through the Provisional World Parliament (PWP), which is taken to be the primary organ within the emerging Earth Federation government.

 

The Provisional World Parliament will elect its own Presidium and be responsible for the formation of the Provisional World Executive with its Executive Cabinet. Together these shall begin programs dealing with the most urgent world problems (Article 19.5.1).  In the light of this, Article 19.5.4 states that “insofar as consider appropriate and feasible, the Provisional World Parliament and Provisional World Executive may undertake some of the actions specified under Article 17, section 3.12, for the first operative stage of World Government.”

 

Article 17.3.12. The World Parliament shall proceed to work upon solutions to world problems. The World Parliament and World Executive working together shall institute through the several organs, departments and agencies of the World Government whatever means shall seem appropriate and feasible to accomplish the implementation and enforcement of world legislation, world law and the World Constitution; and in particular shall take certain decisive actions for the welfare of all people on Earth, applicable throughout the world, including but not limited to the following:

17.3.12.1.  Expedite the organization and work of an Emergency Earth Rescue Administration, concerned with all aspects of climate change and climate crises….

 

Any feature, agency, or aspect of the Earth Constitution can be started as part of the Provisional World Government initiative. Our worldwide organization, WCPA, sponsor of the Constitution, has however been limited by both resources and by forces that do not want us to succeed. (I’m sure it is easy for you to imagine whom these forces might be.)  In spite of the limited availability resources and personnel, we have already initiated several features of Provisional World Government, under the authority of Article 19, representing an immense accomplishment of WCPA from the early 1980s to the present.

 

The most basic initiative has been the creation of the Provisional World Parliament (PWP) itself, the sessions of which over time, have become increasingly professionalized and up to the highest standards of legislative expertise. This has largely been due to the hard work of Dr. Eugenia Almand, who has remained Secretary of the Parliament and Chair of the Legislative Review Commission for some time.  We have held 14 sessions of the Provisional World Parliament to date in cities and countries around the world and have passed some 67 World Legislative Acts that the provisional world government could be implementing to the limit of its organizational and financial resources. These include the Emergency Earth Rescue Administration mentioned in Article 17.3.12.1 that was established as World Legislative Act # 6 in New Delhi in 1985. We will see below that we have already taken a first step toward the actualization of the work of the EERA.

 

The first session of the Parliament was held at the famous Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England in 1982. The second session was opened at the renowned Constitution Club in New Delhi, India, by the then President of India. The third session was in Miami Beach, Florida, USA; the fourth session in Barcelona, Spain; the fifth on the island of Malta; the sixth in Bangkok, Thailand, etc. The 14th session was held at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Kolkata, India, in 2014.  These 14 sessions have passed a substantial body of provisional world law that illuminates the kind of world that can be created under the authority of the Earth Constitution.   (https://www.radford.edu/gmartin/PWP.legis.acts.list.htm)

 

These sessions constitute the World Parliament in action, in rudimentary form to be sure, without a secretariat and significant resources, but provisional world government nevertheless. The implications couldn’t be greater: we have started it. It is on-going. It needs, of course, to be built upon and nurtured. But the key to a decent human future is not simply an imagined future that does not yet exist, but this living reality in embryotic form. As many of you know, we are now looking for a venue and host for the next session of Parliament that recognizes its great world-historical significance and that magnifies it in the ways that this phenomenal development in human history deserves. Those of us who attend such a Parliament, either as delegates or officers, thereby become government officials, and no longer simply WCPA members.

 

As stated above, Article 19 does not limit what can be created now to the World Parliament, which is our first accomplishment in the direction of provisional world government. The World Executive should also be created with any of its ministries. The World Judiciary, the World Attorney’s General, the World Police, or the World Ombudsmus all can be established now, under the authority of Articles 19 and 17.3.12. We need people of integrity and stature to head these burgeoning agencies and make it clear to the world that world law under the Earth Constitution is actually happening.  The PWP in fact has a number of standing commissions, however, these are not active right now for lack of resources and personnel to staff them.

 

Nevertheless, the provisional world judiciary was started with the passage of WLA 48, the Collegium of World Judges Act, passed in 2010, which is our second accomplishment and initiative. This act activates provisional Collegium of World Judges (modelled on the Collegium outlined in Article 9 of the Constitution) to develop the world court system and begin a process of adjudicating and dispensing judgments under the authority of the Earth Constitution. High court justices from various countries, both sitting and retired, have signed up as members of the Collegium.  From the Collegium, once we have enough membership and resources, the first Bench of the World Supreme Court System can then be created.

 

Our third accomplishment with respect to Article 19 involves the burgeoning development of the World Parliament University (WPU).  The Earth Constitution calls for a World University System, and Article 19 empowers us to begin that system. The Education Act of the Provisional World Parliament (World Legislative Act # 26, passed in 2004) describes the broad requirements for all educational institutions receiving funding or support from the Earth Federation government. The World Parliament University is close to the point where we will be offering courses on-line, some of which will follow the syllabi for global education worked out in this world legislative act. Its legal precursor was the Graduate School of World Problems established, under World Legislative Act # 4, at the very first session of the PWP in Brighton, England in 1982. Both WCPA and the WPU are funded and supported by the Earth Federation Institute (EFI) based in Virginia, USA (www.worldproblems.net)

 

Fourth, we have begun the World Executive Branch by appointing a leading environmentalist as Environmental Minister for the Provisional World Government. This person is directing in a vast project for planting trees as part of our strategy to slow down global warming and restore forested lands. The trees are being planted in the name of Provisional World Government by the World Environmental Minister, under the authority of the EERA (World Legislative Act #6) and Article 19 of the Earth Constitution. What is needed, of course, is a global program unifying all nations and peoples to combat climate collapse. That is what the Earth Emergency Rescue Administration intends. We are proud to say that the world already has an active Environmental Minister. This can serve not only to publicize our work, but also as an incentive for the people of Earth to join together under the Earth Constitution before it is too late. The EERA needs funding and resources to expand such environmental measures worldwide.

 

The text of the Constitution does not mention its sponsor, the WCPA, and the officials empowered by the Constitution are normally those originating with the Provisional World Parliament. (The WCPA By-laws, on the other hand, do mandate its Trustees to activate the Provisional World Parliament and corresponding Provisional World Government.) Article 19 states that all past delegates to sessions of the PWP remain official delegates for future sessions. From the 14th session, for example, we have Indian Gandhian activist E.P. Menon and leading Malaysian lawyer Puan Saraswathy Devi who remain recognized as governmental law makers.

 

Also, of course, original signatories to the Earth Constitution such as Dr. Roger Kotila and Dr. Dauji Gupta (both Vice-Presidents of WCPA) remain recognized lawmakers. The elected President of the last session of the Parliament was Dr. Glen T. Martin and the Executive Secretary for the Parliament was Dr. Eugenia Almand. Hence, the appointment to the post of Environmental Minister was in terms of our governmental roles as members of the Provisional World Parliament and not simply as leaders of WCPA. Nevertheless, WCPA is a global non-governmental organization (NGO) specifically created to sponsor and promote the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, with a considerable mandate to do so.

 

The key principles to focus on here are that provisional world government is already in operation, and that this process can actualize the kind of institutions and actions so badly needed by the people of Earth before it is too late. WCPA chapters and members can and should be starting up as many aspects of the Earth Federation government as possible, beginning with the elaboration of commissions and infrastructure for the Parliament itself.

 

The Parliament needs a Secretariat and funding. And it needs leading persons to staff and guide its commissions. The first step in the process of becoming a representative of the Provisional World Government is to sign the Pledge of Allegiance to the Earth Constitution: http://earth-constitution.org/support/pledge/   This is the essential precondition for becoming a member of the Provisional World Parliament or holding any position within the government. There is a new environmental activist organization called “Extinction Rebellion” that has been committing civil disobedience in France and England, raging against the very real prospect of human extinction. Our WCPA membership should be just as passionate. We too are fighting tooth and nail against the prospect of human extinction.

 

We are not merely visionaries but doers. All manner of useful work at the local level can be done in the name of the emerging World Government, thereby giving special incentive and vision to people everywhere. We need to awaken to the significance of our own work and to the power and responsibilities given to us by the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Together, with both pride and courage, we must move forward rapidly to empower the Provisional World Parliament to grow the provisional Earth Federation into the final Earth Federation under a ratified Earth Constitution. The entire future of our planet hangs in the balance; it depends on what we do today.

 

 

 

Earth Federation Movement Fundamental Principles

(These principles were published in The Earth Federation Movement: Founding a

 Social Contract for the People of Earth. History, Documents, Philosophical Foundations

by Glen T. Martin, Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2010.

They have been translated into several different languages)

 

Prologue. The Earth Federation Movement (EFM) is an interactive network of world citizens, non-governmental organizations, concerned governments, and peace thinkers dedicated to promoting planetary awareness of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Together, we also work tirelessly to secure ratification the Constitution by the people and nations of Earth. The seven principles expressed here comprise the creed by which we live and the goal to which we give our lives, energy, and resources. These principles are summed up in the following concepts: (1) a free republic, (2) universality applying to all human beings, (3) a regime founded on the highest principles, (4) creation of living systems, (5) an in-depth principle of peace, (6) deep sustainability, and (7) integrity of the whole. These principles form the conceptual foundation of the new paradigm of universal civilization embodied in the Earth Constitution. Together, they guide us toward a transformed future of human beings and our precious planet Earth.

1) The concept of a universal free republic. The very first principle of our movement involves the culmination of the history of political thought in the concept of a free republic embracing all the peoples and citizens of Earth. The idea of freedom, emerging from the deepest levels of the human spirit and the farthest reaches of recorded history, has culminated in the concept of a free, universal planetary republic under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Our present world of fragmentation and divisiveness defeats human freedom at every turn, replacing our deepest aspirations with violence, hatred, surveillance, systems of domination, and war.

A universal free republic places the emerging Earth Federation at a higher level than a planetary order that merely protects civil liberties for all persons. There exists a vast difference between political and economic thought predicated on the satisfaction of private desires through civil liberties and the political foundations of human freedom centered in a universal republic of free citizens. An authentic republic constitutes a regime of genuine public space for dialogue and debate among all persons and provides for the participation of citizens in all aspects of government.

It provides, therefore, a “public freedom,” far transcending mere “private freedom,” that brings the historical human quest for freedom to fulfillment within carefully designed planetary institutions. While civil liberties are necessary to a free republic, they are not sufficient – a level of “public freedom” must emerge in which citizens themselves engage directly in governing. The thousands of world citizens involved in the development of the Earth Constitution over the space of 33 years from 1958 to 1991 designed a brilliant framework for planetary public freedom, providing for the citizens of Earth to participate in self-government in the multiplicity of ways detailed within the Constitution.

2) The principle of universality. The concept of a free republic for the Earth necessarily includes the concept of “all.” From the ancient Stoic affirmation of all human beings as creatures of rationality with common moral principles deriving from that rationality to the ringing words of the U.S. Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” philosophers and sages have used the word “all” throughout history. But only with the Earth Federation Movement, and some related contemporary global movements, have we begun to really mean “all” when this word is used.

The Stoics excluded “barbarians” from their “all,” and the Declaration of Independence excluded women and slaves. However, unlike other contemporary movements that use the word “all,” with the intent of true universality, the Constitution for the Federation of Earth is not only premised on the concept of “all,” it embodies that concept in a set of institutions that brings a mere ideal down into the concrete world of legal, political, and economic arrangements that make this universality a living reality. Like the concept of a “free republic,” universality remains a mere ideal until it us embodied in concrete institutions and institutional protections that make it a living reality. The Earth Federation Movement has pledged itself to actualizing this living reality for “all.”

3) The principle of a founded public regime. The concept of a truly new beginning, of an origin that at the same time raises human life to a higher level of existence, is a principle of utmost importance for the Earth Federation Movement. For the founding principles in such a regime are public and there for all to see, shining through the concrete institutions and arrangements of the emergent Earth Federation. Those organizations of world citizens who are attempting to evolve the U.N., to affect small, incremental changes in the unjust and violent disorder of things, fail to understand that the compromises inherent in the evolutionary model of human affairs will forever prostitute the ideals one wishes to achieve. Perpetual compromises with immense systems of economic exploitation and imperial sovereign nation-states have led to disaster after disaster for the people of Earth.

In the ratification of the Earth Constitution as an integral, completed, and foundational document lies the assent of humanity to true freedom and dignity. An integral legal system, founded on explicit principles of freedom, justice, prosperity, and peace from the very beginning, avoids the prostitution of deeply held ideals involved in all merely evolutionary models by the forces of unfreedom, injustice, poverty, and war. The Constitution embodies its highest ideals within an integrated, holistic, legal system that can substantially actualize these ideals in the daily lives of the people of Earth.

The campaign for ratification of an already completed Constitution since 1991 indicates, therefore, a disciplined refusal to offer the Constitution as a mere draft that can be forever tinkered with by querulous academic pedants and duplicitous forces that would subvert human progress. The campaign for ratification understands that only a founded system, only ratification of a completed document of surpassing brilliance (whatever minor flaws might remain), can establish human freedom upon the Earth. The flourishing (and indeed survival) of human life on our planet can only be accomplished through a founding ratification convention bringing the peoples and nations of the world to a truly higher level of human and political existence.

4) The principle of living systems for human economic and political life. A logical implication of the principle of a founded free republic involves the principle that living systems establish freedom, peace, justice, and prosperity. A widely held assumption today looks at these ideals as reflections of the subjective attitude of people, nations, or economic managers. If the people in government or business are moral, peaceful, and just, it is believed, then this may lead to a world of peace with justice.

This attitude fails to examine the fragmented and distorted institutionalized systems that block morality, peace, and justice no matter who makes-up their institutional participants. If economic institutions are flawed and inherently destructive of people and the environment, it matters little whether the captains of banking and industry are moral or immoral. If the system of sovereign nation-states is inherently a war system and a system of power politics, it matters little who is president or prime minister of various countries.

The Earth Federation Movement understands that freedom, peace, justice, and prosperity primarily arise from properly designed institutions. If we live under such institutions, democratically and transparently governed, then the flawed human beings who staff these institutions are much more likely to embrace freedom, peace, justice, and universal prosperity. People who staff today’s dysfunctional and unjust economic and nation-state institutions are, for that very reason, more likely to embrace unfreedom, war, injustice, and vast poverty in a world of obscene power and riches for the few. The Earth Constitution establishes these ideals in an integrated and universal world legal system. It constitutes a freedom system, a peace system, a justice system, and a prosperity system for the people of Earth.

5) Multiple elements within the in-depth principle of peace. All seven principles expressed in this document imply one another, including the concept of peace. The condition of peace has remained an illusory ideal throughout recorded human history. The tragic history of war and violence has created a nightmare for a large portion of the Earth’s citizens over the centuries, including today. Pursuit of the ideal of world peace in today’s world has resulted in a number significant movements. Among the most prominent of these are movements for peace education and groups devoted to the quest for inner peace.

Both inner peace and peace education are important elements in the quest for a peaceful world order (which would necessarily also be a free, just, and prosperous world order). But inner peace and peace education can never be sufficient, for the most fundamental dimension of peace is yet missing: the institutionalization of a peace system for the Earth. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth, along with its principles developed by the Provisional World Parliament under the authority of Article 19, establishes a dynamic peace system for the Earth.

Among the Constitution’s institutionalized elements of an in-depth peace system include (1) universal, transparent democracy for all nations and peoples, (2) enforceable, democratically legislated laws ensuring that no one is above the law, (3) systematic and carefully designed demilitarization for all the nations and organizations of the Earth, (4) mechanisms preventing remilitarization or reestablishing of institutions or organizations predicated upon violence, (5) prohibition of all military for the Earth Federation government itself, (6) judicial institutions for the peaceful settlement of disputes among all people and nations, (7) institutionalized protections of human rights and freedoms for all people on Earth, along with their right to participate in governing themselves on multiple levels from local to planetary, (8) the substantial elimination of poverty, misery, and disease from the Earth and creation of an infrastructure for keeping the people of Earth healthy and economically secure, (9) the development of worldwide institutions for mediation and conflict resolution designed to promote peace and mutual understanding among people, obviating in most cases the need to call upon the judicial system, and (10) worldwide peace education for all children in Earth Federation supported schools, and, through public radio, TV, and Internet, for all adults within the Earth Federation.

The principle of living systems is here briefly illustrated in the principle of an in-depth peace system for the Earth. All successful living systems must include a free republic, must be universal, must be founded, and must embody multiple, integrated elements, under the rule of enforceable law, as illustrated in this example of an in-depth peace system. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is the only living document today that includes all of these elements necessary for moving the human project to the next higher level of planetary existence.

6) The principle of universal sustainability. The concept of sustainability developed from the ecological sciences has become a fundamental principle for understanding the relationship between human economic, political, and social activity and the carrying capacity and ecological integrity of the ecosystem of our planet. We live today, as in the past, in an unsustainable manner that destroys the ecological integrity of our planet’s life-support system.

Today’s unsustainable world disorder includes far more than a life-style carrying an “ecological footprint” greater than the planet will bear. It also includes vast poverty in the world’s population forcing desperate people to deforest the world, to produce very large families, and to over-cultivate land and over-exploit resources. It includes the vast military apparatus of the world that is deadly for the environment not only in the production of horrid bombs and chemicals but even more deadly when these technologies of death and destruction are used around the world. It includes an economic system predicated on private profit without regard to any human values, including sustainability, that systematically externalizes the costs of production into the environment and onto society in a process that amounts to eating our planetary biosphere alive.

Sustainability, therefore, like peace, is a comprehensive principle requiring transformation of our entire planetary system as envisaged by the Earth Constitution. Sustainability applies not only to the ecological footprint of consumers. Rather, it is universal, as it applies to all the central institutions that structure our lives at every level. The present global economic system is unsustainable. The present system of sovereign nation-states is unsustainable. The present cultural patterns of consumption and personal gratification are unsustainable. Global poverty signifies unsustainability for our entire planet as does global militarism.

The Earth Constitution provides the foundation for political, social, ecological, and economic sustainability for our endangered planet Earth. Sustainability can only be achieved through democratic world law within a transparent, institutionally sound, democratic world system. Sustainability is a comprehensive financial, social and ecological concept that cannot be achieved without ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

7) The principle of integrity of the whole. The integrity of the whole arises from the systemic and integrated wholeness of the system articulated in the Constitution and the understanding that wholeness itself is the most fundamental principle discovered by virtually every science of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Human life on Earth is a whole. Our personal individuality in relation to our “species-nature” as language using creatures is a whole. The biosphere of our planet is a whole; our solar system is a whole – our galaxy and, ultimately, our universe are integral wholes. In religious language, God is the principle of integrity and wholeness in all things, “through whom all things were made.”

The Earth Constitution embodies this principle in human economic, political, and social life at the planetary level. It is wholeness that carries natural, spiritual, and moral integrity, not division, violence, or fragmentation. The integrity of the Earth Constitution lives in its wholeness, and in the wholeness of the Earth Federation that it establishes for the Earth. That is why freedom, peace, justice, and prosperity are the substantial consequences of its ratification and implication. It is the whole that has integrity, and the Constitution institutionalizes that integrity for human society for the first time in history.

This wholeness and its integrity can only be protected and concretely established through ratification of the Earth Constitution. The whole of our world system, a system of freedom, peace, justice, and prosperity, will then ascend to an inviolable integrity. These are the principles to which we pledge ourselves, and which we pledge to one another – to all humanity, and to future generations living upon the Earth. It is the institutionalized integrity of the whole that will lead future human beings to live lives of dignity, reverence, and honor upon our precious planet Earth.

Epilogue. The principles at the heart of the Earth Federation Movement are the most fundamental principles of ethical and political thought. Our thought and action are directed toward the primacy of human freedom for every person and community on Earth. The conceptual foundations of the Earth Constitution, upon which our work is based, involve only the most fundamental and universal of principles, principles necessary for coherent, integrated, and consistent thought regarding the human condition at the dawn of the 21st century.

Our movement refuses to adulterate its conceptual foundations with the cynicism, skepticism, relativism, and superficiality that today dominate thought within both nation-states and the United Nations. We have not watered down our work with ideas of limited and secondary value, ideas that clandestinely import fragmentation, division, and violence into human affairs. Such limited and secondary ideas include the sovereignty of nation-states as well as false notions of unbridgeable divisions among religions, races, cultures, ethnicities, or creeds. Such adulterating ideas also include the necessity of compromise with the corrupt regimes and prostituted principles that we find everywhere prevalent within our current world of fragmentation, chaos, and disorder.

Our personal integrity resides in the rigorous honesty with which we critique the present world of injustice, violence, and unsustainability. It resides in our unfailing commitment to remain loyal to the highest principles arising from the human mind and human history, and from our determination to institute these principles within a transformed world order predicated on freedom, justice, prosperity, and peace for all human beings everywhere. Our integrity lies in our word, in the sanctity and faithfulness of our word in relation to the principles to which we have pledged ourselves. It also lies in the quality of thought and action arising from our principles, thought and action vigilant against a pragmatism that forever compromises with a corrupt status quo.

This rigorous honesty and sanctity of our words and pledges themselves arise from a yet deeper level of insight. We pledge not only to the highest principles of human thought that constitute the foundations of our movement, but we pledge to one another to engage the future and our commitments through mutual dialogue, respect, understanding, and shared vision. Our pledges, therefore, maintain an unfailing commitment while avoiding dogmatism and closed-mindedness. For we commit to the highest principles of dialogue, discussion, and communication with all willing persons. This communicative foundation constitutes the living, phenomenological dynamic from which our highest principles and concepts emerge. Our integrity flows from this communicative foundation and from our commitment to these highest principles of human and planetary life.

 

 

Critical Social-Spiritual Theory for Human Liberation

 

 

Glen T. Martin

Human liberation has been an idea that has inspired philosophers and thinkers around the world for many centuries. People have always dreamed of a world of peace, justice, and freedom. This vision is present in some of the great religious texts of the world.  However, as scholar of religions John Hick (2004) points out, it was not until the 19th century rise of a social scientific understanding of society (with its class divisions and power relationships) that human beings became capable of more correctly diagnosing the problems of lack of peace, injustice, and unfreedom. Hence, it was only by the 19th century that we have been capable of taking real social, economic, and political steps to address these problems.

 

The first tier in articulating a credible process of human liberation involved the powerful 19th century analysis of capitalist society developed by Karl Marx (1972) showing that human poverty and misery were not the inscrutable “will of God” but were the result of specific social-economic relationships. We now understand, as the young Marx put it, that true human emancipation only begins when “all the conditions are overturned in which human beings are humiliated, enslaved, forsaken, and distained.” We need planetary economic and social conditions in which every person can live with dignity, freedom, peace, and personal security.

 

This analysis was creatively deepened and carried forward by many other thinkers concerned to clarify the dimensions of political and economic liberation. This tradition includes far too many thinkers to identify here, but I will mention a few more familiar names in order to help delineate the subject matter under discussion. Georg Lukács, Antonio Gramsci, Jean-Paul Sartre, Herbert Marcuse, Ernst Bloch, and Jürgen Habermas were all influenced by Marx and all attempted to go deeply into our human situation to identify the central features of our domination and unfreedom and to articulate the nature and direction we must take to further human liberation.

 

The second tier that developed for articulating the process of human liberation belongs to world systems theory. Thinkers began to apply the critical-social insight not only within societies, but to the world system of nation-states as a whole. This analysis revealed systems of domination and exploitation that linked global capitalism with a set of dominant nation-states who used military violence and social-economic hegemony to exploit peripheral nations and peoples for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful elites in the world’s center nations.

 

This system began, of course, as colonial conquests. It has continued to the present as neocolonial imperialism, domination, and economic exploitation. Today, we need a new world system that transcends these evils. As Boswell and Chase-Dunn put this: “Fundamental change in the system happens only at the global level. For socialism to replace capitalism, it too must be a global system that embraces a democratic world polity” (2000, p. 11).

 

Some thinkers in this tradition, or influenced by it, are Immanuel Wallerstein, Terry Boswell, Christopher Chase-Dunn, Samir Amin, Thomas Shannon, Michael Parenti, and James Petras. These thinkers add to the classical Marxist analysis described above the insight that human liberation must not only take into account economic relationships but the political organization of the world system as well. A system of militarized sovereign nation-states with absolute borders, recognizing no enforceable laws above themselves, is a disaster for the well-being of humankind and future generations. The unity of humankind is the only possible way to overcome the threats to human existence such as possible nuclear holocaust or global climate collapse.

 

The third tier in understanding the process of human liberation involves the ethical-spiritual dimension. Human liberation cannot be reduced to economic relationships, nor to political and nation-state relationships. It also requires spiritual growth and development to higher modes of awareness and consciousness, freeing people from egoism, ethnocentrism, materialism and immaturity and opening up the process of awakening and inner self-realization that is described within the great religious traditions of the world as well as by many psychologists and spiritual thinkers.

 

In this tradition, I would include Christian liberation thinkers such as Gustavo Gutierrez and Jürgen Moltmann, Buddhist thinkers such as Nolan Pliny Jacobson and Abe Masao, Vedic-based thinkers such as Swami Agnivesh and Mahatma Gandhi, Moslem thinkers in the Sufi tradition going back to Jalaladdin Rumi, contemporary scholars of spirituality and religion such as John Hick and Ken Wilber, and humanist psychologists such as Abraham Maslow and Erich Fromm (1947). Whether they be secular psychologists or spiritual visionaries, there is a consensus that spiritual and moral growth is a necessity if we are to create a decent world where people can live with peace, justice, and sustainability.

 

Critical social-spiritual theory (CSST) as I am describing it, therefore, involves a collection of social perspectives and analyses on capitalism and class societies in general, along with reflection on the political structure of the world system. These investigations have advanced to the point of seeing through the deceptive ideological justifications of capitalism and sovereign nation-states that have been promulgated by the ruling classes of the world. Secondly, these perspectives and analyses arise from an awareness of a set of ethical-spiritual values or fundamental truths that allow thinkers to identify the system of class domination as wrong, distorted, exploitative, or spiritually corrupt in various ways. If there were no objective values, there would be no grounds for critically evaluating unjust economic, social, and political arrangements and advocating fundamental change.

 

We need to discern and actualize ethical-spiritual values in our own lives and create the social-economic conditions leading to their broad actualization for all of humanity. Those who claim that “the human heart must change” before the world system changes express only a “half-truth.” As Christian liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez elaborates: “And this was a half-truth because it ignored the fact that ‘hearts’ can only be transformed by altering socio-cultural structures” (in Leonard p. 183). In other words, human ethical and spiritual awakening is dialectically related to social-political-economic transformation. Transformed hearts promote transformation of the world system and a transformed world system in turn transforms human hearts. We must work for both these dimensions simultaneously.

 

For Marx, the dynamics of capitalism have little to do with promoting human welfare and everything to do with the growth and maintenance of ruling class power, domination, and exploitation. Marx himself embraced the objective values of freedom, democracy, and justice (see Miranda 1986). Marx showed that the capitalist system included an inherent tendency to break down periodically, throwing society into economic chaos, and that it was directed to “exchange value” and the maximizing of profit, not toward “use values” and the satisfaction of human needs.

 

In addition, Marx saw that the daily operation of the system appropriates the surplus wealth created by workers for the private enrichment and use of the owners of capital, a fact that amounts to institutionalized theft of the life energy and productive efforts of those who produced the goods and services upon which society is built. This fact also accounts for the massive poverty and misery we see all around us today (as well as in Marx’s day), and it results in the vast militarized violence designed to protect and promote this status quo.

 

Mahatma Gandhi declared that under capitalism, “the few ride on the backs of the millions.” But “socialism,” he declared, must be “pure hearted.” In other words, without spiritual awakening to truth and love (the core of Satyagraha), there can be no legitimate socialism (1972). Human liberation must be both spiritual and socio-economic, and it must be worldwide.

 

Jürgen Habermas (1998) also contributed to critical social-spiritual theory through revealing the communicative core of language. The presuppositions of the very possibility of language involve the claims (within every utterance) to truth, truthfulness, and normative rightness.  These claims are present in all uses of language and can be distilled out of our complex and multiple uses of language to isolate the “ideal speech situation” that serves as the presupposition for the possibility of all uses of language. The ideal speech situation also presupposes the equality and democratic right of each speaking participant to participate equally in the dialogical effort of arriving at general principles that serve everyone’s interests and exclude none.

 

Hence, Habermas shows that instrumental or strategic uses of language are parasitic upon the communicative core of language. Social, political, and economic arrangements use language strategically to cover up and veil the equality at the heart of our common humanity. Equality is defined in terms of our common ability to use language. Strategic uses of language justifying inequality, therefore, often violate of the very nature of language itself and our common human right to participate in the formulation of the principles by which we all live. Therefore, analysis of language itself generates a critical social theory exposing class domination, deception, and distortion of our common human project.

 

Habermas (1998) affirmed the model of growth put forward by prominent psychologists from egoism through ethnocentrism to worldcentric and kosmocentric modes of awareness. We can only actualize real “dialogue directed toward mutual understanding” if we have grown out of egoism into a worldcentric perspective that makes it possible to recognize others as my equal and as deserving of my respect. For him, therefore, spiritual and social liberation must go together.

 

For Swami Agnivesh (2015), spirituality involves an awakening beyond the ego of self-interest and the collective identification with this or that party or religion to the point at which the spiritual awakening of the individual becomes identical with the transformation of society through love and compassionate action. This involves seeing the “unimaginable powers of coercion” that have accumulated in the hands of the dominant classes of the world and the imperative for taking action to address this coercion. It involves enunciating a spiritual vision for the world community that sees our planet as one family in which all persons have equal rights to decent, secure, and peaceful lives, liberated from poverty, domination, and exploitation. The holism of God, acting in and through our personal lives, empathically embraces the holism of the human family and acts on behalf of integral human liberation.

 

My own work has emphasized a fourth tier to Critical Social-Spiritual Theory, a tier that has always been part of CSST but has not, to my knowledge, been fully recognized nor emphasized. My writings focus on the objective feature of human self-transcendence as necessary to the matrix of concepts making up CSST. In my recent book Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence (2018), every human being lives as a temporalized project moving from a past through a dynamic present into an imagined future.

 

This temporalized process generates in the present a “utopian horizon,” which includes a broad understanding that things could always be better, that needs could be better satisfied, and social relations could be improved. The future, and the call of the future to create a harmonious, just, and peaceful human community, takes on an ontological priority over the present and past. The process allows us to envision a transformation from present conflict to kindness and love, from injustice to justice, from overt and institutionalized violence to nonviolence, and from systems of exploitation and domination to systems of prosperity and freedom.

 

“Utopia,” as a word indicating our common human ability to realize that things could be fundamentally different (that we could live in a world of peace, justice, freedom, and sustainability) is central to Critical Social-Spiritual Theory. As Gutierrez points out, this is not the same as “ideology” (1988, p. 137). Ideology often covers up and justifies the violence, domination, and exploitation of the established order. Utopia represents the clear-sighted vision inherent in our capacity for self-transcendence. We see that things could really be different, and that transformation of the world system can really lead to transformation of the human heart.

 

In addition to living within our utopian horizon, human reason can discern objective values implicit within that horizon that should be pursued and actualized in life. These objective values can be articulated in terms of at least 10 distinct, yet interrelated goals inherent in our temporalized human situation: dialogue directed toward mutual understanding, nonviolence, human rights, political and economic democracy, compassion and kindness, unity in diversity, justice-making, sustainability, global education, and Earth Constitution (Martin, Chap. 8).

 

Since each item on this list of objective values articulates a part of the holism that is integral to human life, and is itself part of the nexus of ideals inherent in the human utopian horizon, analysis of each one can reveal the others as implicit within it.  For example, an elaboration of “justice” would reveal communicative dialogue, nonviolence, human rights, political and economic democracy within the concept of justice.  An analysis of compassion and kindness would reveal the same nexus of ten values within our utopian horizon, including justice, nonviolence, etc.  This means that a critical social-spiritual theory (CSST) is inherent in the very structure of human existence.

 

For Critical Social-Spiritual Theory to actualize itself in individual persons or social groups requires a growing sophistication into the processes by which class societies systematically generate a deceptive ideology to justify and legitimate their class divisions and unjust political and social arrangements. For example, who owns the mass media and why?  How does the mass media select and privilege certain topics and issues while excluding others as outside the range of acceptable discourse?  How does the electoral system encourage politicians to lie and to serve wealth and power rather than the people?  Who does the government really represent and why? How do the laws institutionalize injustice and class divisions?

 

The temporalized development of a critical theory within persons and groups requires the growth of persons through the objective stages of development articulated by critical thinkers and psychologists: from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to kosmocentric levels (see Wilber 2007). In other words, just as class structures impede human liberation by setting up distorted communication systems designed to privilege certain groups in relation to the majority, so individual egoism and self-interest distort communication and clear vision in ways that privilege the immature persons (who may well be rich and powerful adults) over and against all others (see Wilber 2007; Leonard 1990).

 

Nevertheless, critical social-spiritual theory is implicit in our human condition and provides a revolutionary “voice” that calls to us from the future to actualize our practical utopian potential through continuing intellectual, moral, and emotional growth. This call from the future includes the Earth Constitution.  Of course, insofar as world democracy is implicit within our common human utopian horizon, this value is not dependent on a specific document like the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. (I have argued in Martin 2018 and elsewhere why it is to our great advantage to focus on this particular document.) Nevertheless, our common utopian horizons directly imply globalized democracy.

 

Implicit in the Earth Constitution are all the other values on the list: creating the Earth Federation under this Constitution will help maximize dialogue directed toward mutual understanding on the Earth. It also outlines social and economic arrangements of humanity that significantly maximize nonviolence, protection of human rights, economic and political democracy, unity in diversity, compassion and kindness, justice-making, sustainability and global education. This makes the Constitution for the Federation of Earth a key tool for critical social theoretical analysis of oppression, domination, and exploitation and a key document for envisioning a liberated and liberating global society.

 

Although the Earth Constitution, like these other values, is implicit in our utopian horizon as a general concept of a democratic (peaceful, just, and sustainable) world system, it is important to understand that it is not a blueprint for a detailed utopian society in the sense of identifying the specifics of some such future “perfect” society.  Thinkers such as Hannah Arendt (1958) have pointed out that the use of state power to impose upon people in the present some vision of a detailed perfect society in the future is one of the roots of totalitarianism.  Stalinism violently imposed collective farming on the peasants of Russia, Maoism, through its Red Guards, violently imposed a cultural ideology on the people of China, Hitlerism imposed the vision of a “pure Aryan” society on the people of Germany. Mussolini violently imposed the theory of fascism on the people of Italy.

 

The Earth Constitution, by contrast, sets up democratic procedures by which the people of Earth can move with reason and common sense into a better future for humanity. It gives us the necessary means to creating a decent future. It articulates a “practical utopia,” a way to move legitimately into a better future. Means and ends must be in harmony. The means, like the ends, must be nonviolent, democratic, and just. This understanding itself is integral to our utopian horizon.

 

The Earth Constitution does not impose a specific vision on that future using the false utilitarian reasoning that these violent means can be justified by some “utopian” end called “the greater good” (see Finnis 1983). Our utopian horizon cannot be legitimately coopted by utilitarianism to allow for any means that might violate human freedom, rights, and dignity in the present for some future goals. The Constitution is about creating a reasonably just, peaceful, equitable, and free society in the present that will allow human beings the means to have a future at all.  In this sense, it is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for human liberation. It is the necessary means. It alone, through global democracy, gives the people of Earth the means to achieve everything sufficient to complete a world of peace, justice, and sustainability.

 

Critical Social-Spiritual Theory (CSST) must include four tiers: first, economic analysis of class domination and exploitation; second, global political analysis of the world system of nation-state violence, domination and exploitation; third, description of an objective process of human spiritual growth and liberation from ego-centric existence to kosmocentric existence, from self-centeredness to compassion, from hate and fear to love and justice. The latter in each case provides the values through which the current systems of domination and exploitation can be judged, as well as the direction we must move to progressively actualize human liberation on planet Earth.

 

The fourth tier involves the recognition that human liberation is built into the very structure of our temporalized human consciousness. A utopian critique of today’s unjust world system is not a product of some idle imagination. Rather, such a critique, and the praxis necessary for actualizing the utopian vision, are fundamental to our very nature as human beings. We were born for liberation, for a world of love, peace, justice, freedom, and sustainability. Critical Social-Spiritual Theory analyzes the economic, political, and spiritual reasons why we have not achieved our true human potential. It shows how economic systems impede liberation, how the system of militarized sovereign nations impedes liberation, and how spiritual immaturity impedes our liberation.

 

What were the great documents directed toward human liberation in the 19th century?  Perhaps Marx’s Das Kapital?  What were the great documents in the 20th century? Perhaps the UN Declaration of Human Rights or the Autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi? (Certainly not the UN Charter, which solidifies the system of militarized nation-states.)  But Das Kapital, the UN Universal Declaration, and Gandhi’s Autobiography point forward toward global democracy. For Gandhi, “the future peace, security, and ordered progress of the world demand a world federation of free nations, and on no other basis can the problems of the modern world be solved” (see Martin 2017).

 

The Earth Constitution extends a concrete vision beyond these 19th and 20th century documents to offer a more complete 21st century critical theory for human liberation. It ends economic exploitation, establishes a global democratic community, encourages a change in the human heart, and actualizes the practical utopian dimensions of human life. Today, it constitutes a necessary component within any credible theory of planetary peace, justice, and sustainability.

 

 

Brief Bibliography

 

Agnivesh, Swami (2015). Applied Spirituality.

Arendt, Hannah (1958). The Origins of Totalitarianism.

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

Chase-Dunn, Christopher (1998). Global Formation: Structures of World Economy. Updated Edition.

Constitution for the Federation of Earth: Compact Edition (2016). Edited, with an Introduction by Glen T. Martin. On-line at www.earth-constitution.org.

Finnis, John (1983). Fundamentals of Ethics.

Fromm, Erich (1947). Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics.

Habermas, Jürgen (1998). On the Pragmatics of Communication.

Hick, John (2004). An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent.

Gandhi, Mahatma (1972). All Men are Brothers. Compiled by Krishna Kripalani. UNESCO Publications.

Gutierrez, Gustavo (1988). A Theology of Liberation. Trans. Sister Caridad Inda and John Eagleson.

Leonard, Stephen T. (1990). Critical Theory in Political Practice.

Martin, Glen T. (2017). “Gandhi’s Satyagraha and the Earth Constitution,” in Cook, ed. Examining Global Peacemaking in the Digital Age: A Research Handbook.

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

Marx, Karl (1972). The Essential Writings. Frederic L. Bender, ed.

Miranda, Jose Porfirio (1986). Marx Against the Marxists: The Christian Humanism of Karl Marx.

Wilber, Ken (2007). The Int

Limits to Growth? A Critique of the book Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update by Meadows, Randers, and Meadows

This book is excellent in that it shows how and why our planet is in “overshoot” and therefore how and why we are headed for imminent collapse. The book is a 30-year update on their original book Limits to Growth that first appeared in 1972. It has been through numerous printings. It chronicles the input and output for 11 different computer models for our planetary future (chosen from hundreds they have run) that powerfully show the options available to us and the ways that most of our possible choices will lead to planetary disaster. The options of what we need to do to avoid disaster are fairly narrow and clear.

Computerized modelling of possible planetary futures in relation to human activity has become a fundamental feature of contemporary Earth System Science (Lenton 2016). Many factors are introduced into the model such as economic and population growth along with a corresponding growth of extraction (taking from the Earth the substances we need to support human life) and sinks (discharging our heat and material wastes back into the ecosystem of the planet). Variations on many models are run, and the computer is able to generate possible futures depending on the variables programed into each model. The broad consensus of the thousands of variant models that have been run is that we are currently in overshoot, and that without major changes in the ways we do things (that can also be modelled), we are rapidly heading toward planetary collapse and major civilizational disaster.

Meadows, Rander, and Meadows correctly outline what is necessary for a sustainable world system:

(1) Extend the planning horizon for the world. This would have to include pollution reduction planning for soils, water, and atmosphere, planning for technology use and production goals, planning regarding extraction practices and loss of nonrenewable resources, and planning for the future health and maintenance of our entire planetary ecosystem.

(2) We must improve the signals for monitoring the real impact of human activity on our planetary ecosystem across all these dimensions. In response to monitoring, we must be able to take action.

(3) We must speed up response times so that we can keep resource extraction, production, and waste disposal to sustainable levels. We must be able to respond effectively on both local and planetary levels.

(4) We must prevent the erosion of renewable resources (such as soils and forests) and minimize the use of non-renewable resources (such as minerals and fossil fuels), and do these things consistently worldwide.

(5) We must use all resources with maximum efficiency (including repair, recycling, and innovating), with massive technology transfer to the third world to make this possible, and, finally,
(6) We must slow down and eventually stop the exponential expansion of population and

physical capital (pp. 259-60). Limitless growth on a finite planet is impossible.
Nevertheless, the entire framework of the book elicits a living contradiction between these authors’ acceptance of the present world political and economic system and their vision of a necessary paradigm-shift to a sustainable world system. This paradox vitiates the power of their message and leaves the reader with the impression that their vision of sustainability is hopelessly utopian.

They say “it takes clarity and courage to challenge an established system,” but their book constitutes an implicit defense of the world’s established economic and political system and neglects to rethink that system. It does not evidence a great deal of clarity and courage. To promote the massive changes required for planetary sustainability, they can offer us no better options than what they call “soft-tools” of “vision, networking, truth-telling, learning, and loving.”

Everyone knows that the millions of people who have engaged reasonably well in these five “soft tools” over the past half century have not made a significant difference in changing the omnicidal trajectory of the world system. Since Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring launched the modern environmental movement in the early 1960s, more than half a century has passed and nothing substantial has changed with regard to overshoot. It has only gotten worse.

Such an inept solution as these authors propose to a monstrous global problem can only breed hopelessness and despair. The world political and economic systems do not constitute a political peace system (rather they manifest an institutionalized war system). Nor do they include a justice system (rather our world system exhibits an institutionalized system of poverty, injustice, exploitation, and domination), nor, of course, is our world system a sustainability system.

These authors promote a “revolutionary” change toward a sustainability system without seriously advocating fundamental change in the war-system or the injustice-system. One would think that “systems theorists” like themselves would know better.  They have written a good book that shows the nature of our present overshoot and the inevitability of collapse. However, at the same time, this book is fundamentally flawed.

Like the rest of the book, their description of these tools brings forward their limited model and vision of our human reality. They say: “All models, including those in our heads, are a little right, much too simple, and mostly wrong.” Indeed, their arguments that their 9th version of a modeled computer projection (leading to sustainability) will not get us there. This is because it includes their flawed assumptions about both political and economic realities. They explicitly state that their computerized model “has no war, no labor strikes, no corruption, no drug addiction, no crime, no terrorism” (p. 150). This utopian computerized model looks at the world as a whole and ignores the fragmentation of present world realities.

In their final chapter, these authors quote Buckminster Fuller regarding truth-telling. But the truth about Buckminster Fuller is that he advocated world government, a fact that they omit. Instead their “vision” includes dangerously vague and barely comprehensible recommendations for “decentralizations of economic power, political influence, and scientific expertise” and “political structures that permit a balance between short-term and long term considerations.”

It is difficult to imagine what these vague generalizations could possibly mean. Would they be global? Would they separately exist within each nation-state?  How would they be organized and funded?  What could these suggestions possibly mean with respect to our present world of some 193 militarized sovereign nation-states with absolute borders and murderous political, military, and economic competition?  Their vague ideas are incommensurate with present realities and show no way to get us from here to there.

Everywhere, these authors tout diversity and decentralization but then talk as if the world were a unity that could adopt their recommended new paradigm: they speak in terms of “the sustainable society” that must take these actions; or we must have a world that benefits “everyone;” or “a sustainable world” would not be this or that. They are recommending, they say, “a formidable twenty-first century program” for sustainability. A program for whom?  Of course, for humanity as a whole. Everywhere they fudge the realities of political and economic fragmentation. Humanity as a whole must do this or that, but they unveil no mechanism for humanity as a whole to do these things, certainly not the UN, which is helpless before the militarized autonomy of the big sovereign nation-states and has no global authority to make things happen on a planetary scale.

These authors promote a unified paradigm-shift and system transformation to a sustainable world-system as a whole and then declare (unbelieveably) that “world government is not needed to deal with global problems” (p. 201).  They say they “believe” in markets as feedback indicators, and they have built “perfectly responsive markets” into their computer models.  Then they go on to show all the ways that markets are inefficient, poor indicators, and flawed, and declare that we need vastly improved ways of monitoring and planning. Such cognitive dissonance is glaring in this apparently well-meaning book. Whether this omission is intentional or due to ignorance, it is inexcusable in people who claim to care so much about the future of humanity.

They seem to favor democracy, along with plurality, diversity, and decentralization, but these prominent systems theorists do not appear to comprehend that democracy itself is a system—a system designed so that government can represent the common good and interests of the people and take steps, through planning, dialoguing, and drawing upon scientific information, to implement that common good over planned shorter or longer periods of time. Their entire perspective coalesces around the planetary “we,” around the idea of “humanity’s long-term future” (p. 250). Yet they present no clear idea how “humanity” can achieve these things in the face of the Westphalian system of some 193, militarized, fragmented political-economic entities. They seem to assume that any truly unified global planning, monitoring, and economic guidelines would have to take the some form of a totalitarian system like the former Soviet Union (p. 257).
However, democratic theorists have for three centuries articulated the dynamics of the only system human beings have ever invented for embodying the common good of human beings combined with planning and action to further actualize that common good as we move into the future (Harris 2008, Chap. 7).  That system is called “democracy.” Hence, Thomas Jefferson declared that “all men are created equal” at the same time he and his society excluded slaves and women from human rights. But these values (that embody our universal human common good) became enshrined in the U.S. Constitution of 1787 and led to a progressive movement that ended slavery and enfranchised women.

So too, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 says that all people everywhere have the entire list of inalienable rights, including the right to democracy. Yet, then as now, it is far from the case that the people of Earth enjoy these rights. However, Article 28 declares: “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” The UN Declaration points forward to a democratic world system.

By 1991, hundreds of world citizens from dozens of countries had collaborated to write the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, laying the foundations for such a democratic world system and articulating the procedures and methods by which the common good of the people of Earth could be embodied, planned for, and progressively actualized into the future (see Article 13). The Constitution recognizes the rights to peace, justice, and to a protected, sustainable planetary environment, and it structures a democratic world system to actualize these.

It designs a democratic system that is deeply pluralistic and diverse, but at the same time is united and representing the whole of humanity. This is precisely what all honest democracy does: it establishes unity in diversity. TheConstitution protects human diversity while it embodies and sets up the procedures and agencies necessary to actualize our planetary common good of peace, justice, and environmental sustainability.

Meadows, et.al. appear to have no clue that “peace” is not merely an interim between endless wars of the war-system but rather authentic peace is necessarily a product of a peace system. They recommend a more equal world system in the future that addresses poverty, quoting J.S. Mill, Lewis Mumford, and others that we need to be more compassionate and human. Yet they appear not to understand that injustice is a product of a world system founded on domination and exploitation, and that justice is necessarily a consequence of a justice system, founded and designed differentlyThey surmise that we need to have peace, justice, and sustainability together, but they have no clear idea how to make this happen—because they ignore the one possible system in which these three are united and integrated for success: global democracy.

All of the six principles necessary for sustainability found in Limits to Growth(and listed in the third paragraph above) are built into global democracy under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. The Constitution sets up worldwide, participatory agencies for planning. It sets up worldwide participatory agencies for monitoring. It mandates the democratic government to find ways to reduce response times, to prevent erosion of renewables (such as soil, water, and forests) and minimize the use of non-renewables (such as oil or mineral deposits). It mandates efforts for maximum efficiency and charges the world parliament to find ways to reduce population explosion through nonviolent, non-authoritarian means. It is designed to do all these things with a clarity and efficiency far beyond anything the UN or any other agencies can now accomplish.

The Earth Constitution is explicitly and consciously designed as a sustainability system for the Earth (see Harris 2014). Because it is holistic (mirroring the fact that humanity is a whole and the planetary ecosystem is a whole), it also is designed as a justice system and a peace system. It progressively and carefully ends poverty and war. It does not abolish markets, but it takes markets out of the war, weapons, and industrial military complex business. It is difficult to fathom why this is not obvious to systems theorists.

Intelligent creatures are not limited to the virtues of “vision, networking, truth-telling, learning, and loving” embodied within civil society independently of political and economic arrangements. Intelligent creatures are also capable of designing systems that cultivate these values. Democracy, properly designed and operated, embodies these virtues as well. However, the potential for democracy everywhere on our planet is limited and, indeed, destroyed by the global Westphalian political (war) system and a global economic (exploitation) system run by and for the rich at the expense of the poor and our planetary environment (see Held 1995).

The Earth Constitution is the key to a sustainable, just, and peaceful world system. The Limits to Growth: the 30-Year Update shows us the interdependent dimensions of sustainability and where we need to go. It completely obfuscates how we might get there. To get there we need to draw upon the systems-theoretical concept called “democracy” and understand that a truly planetary crisis can only be addressed by planetary democracy.

Under the Earth Constitution, freedom is enhanced everywhere on Earth, and local communities are empowered and protected, at the same time that the world is united to wisely and carefully actualize the requirements to avoid collapse and establish global sustainability. To address the environmental crisis, our first and foremost task must be to ratify the Earth Constitution.

Brief Bibliography
Constitution for the Federation of Earth (2014). Pocket Edition, with an Introduction by Glen T. Martin. Also on-line at www.earth-federation.org.
Daly, Herman E. (1996). Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development.
Harris, Errol E. (2008). Twenty-First Century Democratic Renaissance: From Plato to Neoliberalism to Planetary Democracy.
Harris, Errol E. (2014).  Earth Federation Now! Tomorrow is Too Late.
Held, David (1995). Democracy and the Global Order: From the Modern State to Cosmopolitan Governance.
Lenton, Tim (2016). Earth System Science: A Very Short Introduction.
Martin, Glen T. (2013). The Anatomy of a Sustainable World: Our Choice between Climate Change or System Change.
Martin, Glen T. (2018). Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence: The Power of the Future for Planetary Transformation.
Meadows, Donna, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows (2004). Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. 
Romm, Jospeh (2018). Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know. Second Edition.

The U.S. Imperialist Attack on Venezuela

venezuela 2019

The U.S. Imperialist Attack on Venezuela

Glen T. Martin

I have visited Venezuela three times.  The photo above was taken during the first visit of my wife and myself in 2016. We were part of a big rally in Caracas in support of the Bolivarian Revolution.  We were in the audience listening to President Maduro, not 50 feet from him, with very little “security” separating him from the crowd.  He was clearly a leader who was not concerned that he might be attacked by the people.  He was right there with the people, and his “security detail” was made up entirely of young women proudly wearing their red berets and the Venezuelan state colors, a “security detail” that was more symbolic than threatening.

WCPA has an active chapter in Venezuela, headed by Leopoldo Alberto Cook Antonorsi, who is also our Vice-President for Latin America.  The people in our chapter, including Leopoldo, support the Bolivarian Revolution. On our first visit, they gave me a book of writings by their former President, Huge Chavez. Our friends there also understand that the Constitution for the Federation of Earth intends something like a Bolivarian Revolution for all the people of Earth.  WCPA also has many sympathizers among the PROUT cooperatives there.  PROUT has many cooperatives in Venezuela, run by PROUT priests and nuns, because that country has a social environment sympathetic to cooperative and communitarian organizations and movements. It is a country oriented toward its people instead of big capital.

Three decades ago, Venezuela was very different. It was a typical third-world country run by the wealthy 1%, in partnership with U.S. multinational corporations and with the support of U.S. military “aid.”  The people were very poor, without education, housing, medical care, hospitals, or schools. Its vast reserves of oil and other natural resources were owned by multinational investors, and the profits were shipped out of the country to the first world bank accounts of the wealthy. Hugo Chavez led a popular revolution to change all that.  He spoke in the name of the vast numbers of poor people in Venezuela and they responded in turn and placed him in power.  The U.S. attempted a coup against him in 2002 but the people rallied and placed him back into power within 48 hours.

This horrific situation in Venezuela three decades ago was the result of the US sponsored “free market” system.  “Free markets” mean that the rich are “free” to exploit natural resources and the poor by paying as little as possible.  “Free markets” mean there are no effective environmental laws, social-protection laws, or minimum wage laws. “Free markets” mean that governments are supposed to benefit their wealthy classes and not direct funds into services for the poor.  The U.S. imperial system has militarily enforced “free markets” around the world by attacking countries that redirected their natural resources and social programs for the benefit of their ordinary citizens.  Hence, in Iran in 1953, the US overthrew the democratically elected President Mossadegh and installed the brutal dictator, the Shah, in order to keep the oil monies in the hands of Western corporations and out of the hands of the people of Iran.

In Guatemala at the same time, the democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown by the U.S., and a brutal military dictatorship installed, because Arbenz was engaged in “land reform” by buying unused corporate land and giving it to starving peasants.  In Chile, in 1970, the people democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende as their President.  He began a program of providing state support to the poor: education, medical care, and housing.  He was very popular with the poor, as is Venezuela’s President Maduro.  After three years of bringing the poor into a much better life, Allende was overthrown by a US sponsored coup de etat that installed a murderous general, Augusto Pinochet, as dictator.  Pinochet tortured and “disappeared” socialists and opposition citizens and opened up Chile to exploitation by multinational corporations, all supported by the U.S.

In 1979, the people of Nicaragua threw out a homicidal U.S. supported dictator named Somoza, whose family had robbed the people blind for three generations.  They instituted a new, democratic government serving the people, and began programs of education, literacy, health care, and housing.  Immediately the U.S. attempted to destroy this revolution by mining the harbor of the capital city Managua and other violent measures.  When they failed in this, they set up terrorist camps in Honduras just north of the Nicaragua border and sent terror gangs into northern Nicaragua to gang rape, pillage, destroy schools, bomb health care centers, and terrorize the people. The famous “Iran-Contra” scandal in the U.S., that helped finance this terrorism, remains as evidence of the corruption that infects the U.S. government. By 1990, they had ruined the democratic socialist government in Nicaragua and a new president was put in power who invited the transnational corporations back into the country and allowed the people to sink back into extreme poverty.

I could go on with this history of imperial interventions, and write about literally dozens of nations that have felt the bitter pain of U.S. wars of aggression and destabilization. These include much more than the famous wars in places like Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and the like. It is time we got the picture and repudiated the absurdity that the U.S. ever cares about “humanitarian” issues or gives “humanitarian” aid.

Venezuela is in a very difficult economic situation today primarily because of the decade-long economic sanctions from the U.S. that have frozen the government’s assets abroad, have blocked the government’s ability to purchase medicines or foodstuffs for its people, and attempted to strangle Venezuela’s ability to serve its people. The cynical ploy of now offering “humanitarian aid” is unbelievably corrupt, since the humanitarian crisis was clearly caused by the economic blockade of the country. Of course, this blockade, like attempts to arrange a coup, and like any form of military intervention for humanitarian or other reasons, is in direct violation of international law.  “International law,” like the word “humanitarian,” carries no meaning for imperialists like Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, or Mike Pompeo, who, like their boss Donald Trump, are lacking even the barest modicum of human decency.

I have seen for myself what is going on in Venezuela.  I have spoken with ordinary people, government officials, and high court judges.  The degree of support for the government among average citizens is very widespread.  How long are we the people of Earth going to put up with an imperial system that rapes and pillages the people of Earth in the service of first world nations and the 1% who own the transnational corporations?  Without placing a global public authority above the corporations and the imperial nations, there will never be an end to this madness.  We need to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.  And we need, while we are working for its ratification, to simultaneously defend all the victims of imperialism, including Venezuela, against the horrors of this global system of domination and exploitation.