The Global Pandemic and the Earth Constitution

Glen T. Martin

 

Urgent message to all WCPA members:  The world is facing a global pandemic from the COVID-19 virus.  We urge you to continue working on behalf of the Earth Constitution in every way possible except in face to face meetings. You should cancel scheduled WCPA related meetings and work on-line or by telephone. Pay attention to your government announced restrictions.  Let us join in solidarity with the rest of the world to try to get through this thing without taking unnecessary risks and without putting others at risk.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization in Geneva said yesterday that the latest data indicated 118,000 cases of COVID-19 infection in 114 countries with some 4,291 deaths, recognizing this as a “pandemic.” The COVID-19 virus first surfaced in Wuhan China in December and has since spread worldwide. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on solidarity among the nations and peoples of the world in controlling the pandemic. He said that science tells us that we can control this if we “detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize” the people of each nation in the face of this global threat. The WHO is developing a COVID-19 Virus Treatment Master Plan. (For the sources of the information in this article, see the links below.)

              Entire countries or regions of countries in China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and elsewhere have been immobilized, health-care systems have been overwhelmed causing critical deficiencies in their ability to handle both the pandemic and the other health-care requirements of their populations. Such extreme situations, of course have huge secondary consequences.  Industries, transportation, tourism, schools, public events and the supplying of basic services become severely compromised. Food distribution and the supply of other necessities becomes reduced and precarious. Businesses, stores, and marketplaces begin to shut down.

              In relation to all this the stock market has plummeted, and a number of economists are talking about the coming great crash in the global economy, which could throw the entire world into an economic depression. Perhaps coincidentally, Russia and Saudi Arabia have both begun pumping great quantities of oil into the global marketplace, abandoning their former voluntary restraint and sending the price of oil down to $20 or less per barrel. This move substantially undercuts the US production of gas through fracking, since fracking is expensive and can only succeed economically if the price of oil is $50 or more. Some think this is payback by Russia for the US blocking the development of the Nord Stream Pipeline intended to bring inexpensive natural gas from Russia to Europe, and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, because the US supposedly supported a recent coup attempt against the current ruler, Mohammed Bin Salman. A fragmented and dysfunctional world now faces not only global pandemic but possible global economic collapse.

              There are reports that COVID-19 is not likely to be a natural mutation of the flu virus. Rather, it is more likely a result of genetic engineering from one of the world’s many biological warfare labs. These labs are BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs, designed to be especially secure. There are such labs in many countries, such as Winnipeg, Canada, several in the USA, Britain, Europe, Russia, and other countries, often run under the direction of the USA. There is speculation that the COVID-19 virus was stolen from Canada’s lab and transferred to the Wuhan lab.

According to Dr. Francis Boyle, who wrote the legislation for the US Congress for US participation in the UN Biological Weapons Convention, there are BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs in many countries and the only real reason for the existence of such labs is biological weapons research. There is no other reason why such labs need to exist. There is one such lab in Wuhan, China, and some speculate that the virus escaped from that lab, whether intentionally or by accident. On the other hand, the US had some 300 military personnel in Wuhan during October of 2019 for some World Military Games going on there. There is speculation that the virus may have been released by the US in order to undercut China’s ascendency toward becoming the world’s major economic power, with the fact that there was a BSL-4 lab in Wuhan serving as a convenient cover for this act of bio-warfare.

In any case, all these research labs violate the UN Convention and they are all, according to Dr. Boyle, extremely dangerous, disasters waiting to happen. And now we have a disaster that has happened. According to Boyle, the World Health Organization, now encouraging the world to respond properly to this global threat, has itself been colonized by big pharma, and they all know what has been going on. Indeed, the WHO approved many of these BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs. The WHO and big pharma also work in concert with the CDC, the Center for Disease Control in the US, so the US government also has a hand in this global corruption of bioengineering and bioweapons research. There are vast profits to be made for big pharma in the development of vaccines and medicines to treat such outbreaks.

              There is evidence as well that much of the bio-warfare research focuses on creating germ-agents that target certain ethnic groups, such as those of Chinese ethnicity, those of African ethnicity, or those of European descent. It all depends on who the sponsors of the research would like to see eliminated in their drive to power and ascendency. Dr. Anthony Hall, in the article linked to below, writes: “In this digital and biological theatre of rivalry, the new gene splicing capacities of CRISPR technology constitute a formidable new tool for major and irreversible interventions into life’s most fundamental cycles of death and renewal. The ability to alter the genetic makeup of organisms, including human organisms, is thereby becoming a key facet in establishing new domains for warfare, including various forms of hybrid warfare.” The world has descended into a maelstrom of power-hungry groups intent on using the new gene-splicing technology for their own evil purposes.

              As both Professor Hall and Professor Boyle point out, not only can we not believe what governments say about these issues, nor what the WHO or CDC or big pharma say about them. We also cannot trust what the colonized mainstream media report.  The media have been appropriated by the ruling powers to justify and cover up the entire structure of global corruption. For example, in the US a great many thoughtful, aware people understand the attacks on the US  on 11 September 2001 as an inside job from within the US establishment in order to promote the infamous “New American Century” doctrine put forward by a group of militaristic neo-conservatives. The Project for the New American Century document, that predated 9/11 was signed by these prominent neo-conservatives who later became part of the Bush administration during which this supposed “attack” took place. The document advocates biological warfare as one of the fields in which the US must remain supreme. After the 9/11 attack, a prepackaged bill was rushed through the US Congress called the “Patriot Act.” This bill eliminated many civil liberties of Americans, increased the power of government propaganda, and made the US effectively a police state.

              Since that time the CIA has ever-more effectively colonized journalists and news media to protect the government’s official ideological lies. Part of its strategy is to promote a counter-concept denigrating “conspiracy theories.”  Anyone who questions the official propaganda line put forward by the dominant media or government sources is accused of being a “conspiracy theorist.” In this way, real investigative journalism into their corruption and lies is marginalized and intimidated.  To suggest that COVID-19 was a bio-terror weapon possibly planted by the US military in Wuhan to destroy China’s competitive edge in global production and investment is to be immediately dismissed as an absurd “conspiracy theorist.”

Both Boyle and Hall call for independent investigations of the COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, investigators may eventually piece together what actually happened, but by the time this is done the world will have moved on, just as a great deal of evidence has been assembled about what really happened in the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, but people have moved on, lost interest, and have refused to reopen the official version of those events. The world continues blindly down its erratic and incoherent path, waiting for the next big disaster.

              But after this current disaster, what will the world have “moved on” to?   What will it move on to after the global pandemic and global economic collapse of 2020?  Will it be more of the same?  More war preparations, more bio-terror research, more chance of accidents that create new pandemics?  Will we return to continuing collapse of the climate while the world spends its precious resources on war and militarism and weapons research?  Will we return to more government and mass-media lies and propaganda covering up a global culture of corruption and fragmentation? Isn’t it more than past time that the world begins to realize that we have no credible future at all unless we unite as a world community under democratic world law directed to the common good of everyone?

              The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is designed to create a decent world system.  It makes no sense to live on a planet in which most nations have signed a global bio-terror convention into international law but many of those same nations just ignore the convention and engage in bioweapons research. UN conventions have no binding authority and cannot give us a decent world system. The Constitution’s very first function in Article 1 is to put an end to war and preparations for war. In the midst of the present global pandemic, perhaps we can see why this needs to be the first function of the Earth Federation government.  With 21st century technology, war and war research become ever more lethal at a planetary scale. Major nuclear war would wipe out humanity. Major biological warfare could make our planet unlivable. Our global economic system of speculation, corruption, and graft continually teeters on the brink of collapse, throwing the entire world into economic chaos and ruin. Why do we continue to live with these absurdities when we could take the steps to actualize a truly different world system?

              Even if the COVID-19 virus were a naturally occurring viral mutation that became a pandemic, the governments of the world have proved totally incapable of responding to it effectively. Like the US and Iran, China began by denying the emergency and persecuting the doctor who raised the alarm. In the US, the Trump Administration has just declared that information about the virus has been classified as a national security issue. Rather than taking the steps necessary for testing, control, and saving lives, the government is controlling information for clearly political reasons. Something similar is likely going on with all sovereign governments in a world of distrust, manipulation, lies, and hybrid wars.  Why would we want to continue living in a world such as this when we could change it, if not immediately for ourselves at least for our children?

              The Earth Constitution was designed with an understanding that all our problems must be solved together as a whole or not at all.  We cannot deal with climate crisis and at the same time spend 1.8 trillion US dollars per year on militarism.  We cannot set up the universal health-care systems and research labs genuinely dedicated to human health and well-being while human rights around the world continue to be violated and global economic inequality continues unchecked. All our increasingly lethal human problems are interdependent and interrelated.  Why do we not recognize this simple truth?  The design of the Earth Constitution brings them all together with explicit powers to treat the global economic, political, environmental whole as a whole, which is the only possible level on which these apparently intractable problems can be addressed.

              The Constitution is designed to address a global health crisis (e.g., Article 4.10). It is designed to give everyone free, quality healthcare coverage (Article 13.5).  It is designed to eliminate war research, secrecy, and militarism (Articles 4.1 and 4.2).  It is designed to protect the planetary environment (many articles) and to guarantee each child “the right to the full realization of his or her potential” (Article 13.12).  The present global pandemic reveals how fragile and at risk our planet really is and how economics, politics, health, and environment are all deeply interdependent.  We see that the system as a whole must be changed.

              WCPA members should be promoting the idea in all possible venues that we need to emerge from this global health crisis and economic crisis with the determination to change the system that allows these absurdities to happen. We need to get rid of these bio-terror labs.  We need to get rid of nuclear weapons. We need to have a global economic system that does not collapse at the threat of a health crisis. We need to live under a civilized world of democratically legislated laws rather than global fragmentation, fear, animosity, and distrust. The Earth Constitution is the blueprint for a world of peace, justice, freedom, transparency, and sustainability.  What could we possibly be waiting for?

Web sources:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/53087.htm

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/53001.htm

https://greatgameindia.com/

https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19—11-march-2020

 

 

Review of The Zero Marginal Cost Society and other books by Jeremy Rifkin

Glen T. Martin

Jeremy Rifkin’s books have long been a major source of creative and deeply informed paradigm-shift thought, and The Zero Marginal Cost Society is no different. The book chronicles the vast transformations called the “Third Industrial Revolution” (which is also the title of one of his earlier books). It describes the immense import of the Third Industrial Revolution for a liberated human future on Earth of abundance, fulfillment, justice, and sustainability. In this 435 page book, there is a wealth of valuable information documenting, elaborating, and historically grounding his arguments that cannot be adequately summarized in a review such as this.

In Part One I will summarize Rifkin’s central ideas and arguments while necessarily omitting much of the wealth of background information. People should read the whole of this book, and his other books, for themselves. In Part Two I will offer a critical review of these ideas and arguments and try to show that Rifkin has not adequately conceptualized the fundamental features of the paradigm-shift that he is brilliantly attempting to explicate. I will show that the Constitution for the Federation of Earth much more clearly envisions the necessary paradigm-shift to a resilient, cooperative, and sustainable planetary society. In Part Three, I will discuss Rifkin’s 2019 book called The Green New Deal in relation to the Green New Deal (GND) that our world must soon accomplish and again compare his thought with the paradigm-shift offered by Earth Constitution.

Part One: Rifkin’s Thesis

Rifkin’s first chapter in The Zero Marginal Cost Society is titled “The Great Paradigm-Shift from Market Capitalism to Collaborative Commons.” In economics, a marginal cost is defined as the cost added by producing one additional unit of a product or service. The vaunted “efficiency” of capitalism was always that competition would lead companies to continually introduce new technologies and ever-leaner forms of production that lowered the cost of the goods and services provided. With automation and mechanized assembly lines, for example, automobiles or anything else could be reproduced at an ever-lower marginal cost. However, the Third Industrial Revolution, which has engendered the digital, robotic, computerized “collaborative commons,” is lowering the marginal cost of goods and services in many domains to nearly zero.

The fact that computerized machines will bring the marginal cost of goods and services to nearly zero means, Rifkin says, that “the ultimate triumph of capitalism also marks its inescapable passage from the world stage” (p. 11). The digital revolution, the “third industrial revolution,” changes everything. Part One of his book is about “the untold history of capitalism.” Rifkin goes into the details of the rise of capitalism and the dynamics of the first, second, and third industrial revolutions.

The first industrial revolution involved the invention of the steam engine, the use of coal for fuel, and the use of the telegraph for communications. Rifkin says this transformed the world within a 30-year period from 1860-1890. The second industrial revolution involved the invention of the internal combustion engine, the use of gasoline and oil for fuel, and the telephone for communications, again transforming the world in the 25-year period between 1908 and 1933. Both these eras gave rise to huge “vertically integrated” systems, run in top-down form by managers and boards of directors distributing energy, as well as goods and services, through vast centralized industrial systems.

However, the third industrial revolution, now going on, has given us locally generated green energy, low-cost and locally empowered green transport systems, as well as the collaborative communications commons of the worldwide web. It has the potential to transform the world from vertically integrated centralized fossil fuel systems to laterally networked, locally powered and empowered sustainability systems within the next 20 years (2019, pp. 243-344). With our geometrically expanding capacity to do 3D printing, the capitalist “consumer” is now becoming a “prosumer” who can produce or collaboratively share goods and services for herself or the local community.

We are rapidly moving to a world in which the “technological unemployment” generated by machines replacing people in both goods and services is finding entrepreneurial responses in people working in cooperative ways to mutually empower everyone with more and more virtually free goods and services. This new system operates outside of the traditional parameters for employment in which workers labored as employees of vertically integrated industrial systems.

The third industrial revolution, making traditional capitalism obsolete, requires a corresponding paradigm-shift in our thinking. Rifkin details at least two ways that classical capitalism failed to comprehend the reality of our situation. First, “in classical and neoclassical economic theory, the dynamics that govern the Earth’s biosphere are mere externalities to economic activity” (p. 12). The law of entropy necessitates that all production and uses of energy necessarily transforms these things into useless heat and waste. For example, the burning of fossil fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere. Today, “the entropic bill for the Industrial Age has arrived” in the form of “wholesale destruction of the Earth’s biosphere” (2013, p. 13).

Second, capitalism, Rifkin argues, framed both the natural world and human nature in its own image “suggesting that its workings are a reflection of the way nature itself is organized” (ibid., p. 70). Rifkin spends all of Chapter Four outlining the history of such practices of framing nature within our human self-image. Today, he says, human beings are no longer framed as autonomous, competitive self-seeking creatures as classical capitalism supposed. The third industrial revolution, the emerging science of ecology, and the growing collaborative commons are “accompanied by a sweeping rethink of human nature that is fundamentally altering the way we perceive our relationship to the Earth” (p. 80).

The new view of human nature contends that we are intensely social creatures capable of shared, empathic consciousness and capable even of what he calls “biospheric consciousness.” Rifken has already written a 2009 (678 page) book titled The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World of Crisis. At the end of this book he asks: “Can we reach biosphere consciousness and global empathy in time to avert planetary disaster?” (p. 616).

This Zero Marginal Cost Society chronicles the many collaborative and cooperative features of the third industrial revolution that call out for a shared plenitude of knowledge, experience, and mutual service rather than private profit deriving from scarcity of knowledge, experience, and services. In Part Two of the book, he describes how “extreme productivity” is both possible and happening now, at near zero marginal cost. These developments point to a future world of abundance, solidarity, empathy, and freedom.

 Part Three of the book presents a historical overview of “the rise of the collaborative commons,” going back to the transition of medieval to modern economic relationships. He addresses the issue of the “tragedy of the commons,” a well-known issue in economics deriving from Garrett Hardin’s 1968 essay arguing that unrestricted use of a commons always led to its overuse and destruction. Rifkin cites the growing research and literature showing that throughout history people can and have cooperated successfully in their uses of a commons. Part Four describes the many contemporary movements regarding “social capital and the sharing economy.”  People are rapidly moving away from an ethos in which they define themselves in terms of their possessions and toward an ethos in which they define themselves in terms of their relationships, and their belonging to larger, meaningful wholes.

Part Five of the book is called “the economy of abundance.” Capitalism’s dynamics “feeds off scarcity.” But when the marginal cost of production approaches zero (through 3D printing, shared knowledge on the Internet, and many forms of collaborative action) then the abundance produced means that “profits disappear because goods and services have been liberated from market pricing.” The products and services still have use and value, “but no longer have exchange value” (p. 333). People can get most of what they need without having to pay for it.

Rifkin refers to Mahatma Gandhi’s intuitive understanding of sustainability. Local communities become self-sufficient and their citizens empowered through cooperative endeavors to produce enough “for every man’s need but not for every man’s greed” (p. 334). Universally locally generated green power from sun and wind will be networked across the globe providing everyone on Earth with the means for sustainable living, assuming that this process and our conscious effort also serve to limit the population explosion. He asks, “how many human beings can live comfortably without destroying the biosphere’s ability to continually replenish the necessary ecological resources?” Depending on how we calculate this, it may be anywhere from 2.5 to 10 billion people (p. 335-36).

He cites many studies that happiness comes through relationships, quality of life, and meaningful existence, not through wealth or private property. The “materialism” of modern capitalism and culture is replaced with empathic relationships and the quest for sociability and community. He details how access to electricity alone has been shown to lower the number of children in families within developing countries.  If we can bring the fertility rate for the Earth to 2.1 children and eventually level the population off at 5 billion, he affirms, we will secure a decent future for humanity (p. 349).

Rifkin reviews the now familiar consequences of climate change that are happening worldwide: shrinking food availability, superstorms, high-intensity water-related events, extreme wind, changes in climate patterns, including droughts, uncontrollable wildfires, loss of biodiversity, etc. It is extremely foolish, he says, to think we can deal with these things in a patchwork way under a carbon-based regime (p. 355). The need to make this paradigm-shift (that must include a shift in consciousness coordinate with a shift in fundamental economic and social relations) puts us in a race against time.

In my own books and articles concerning the need for a fundamental shift in consciousness and paradigm, I speak of the transformations of human consciousness throughout history and the current mutations of conscious taking place during our contemporary “second axial period” (Martin 2008, 2010, 2018). Rifkin presents a similar progressive series of transformations but under different names. His progression moves from primitive mythological to theological to ideological to psychological to advanced biospheric consciousness. Roughly speaking, what I call “holistic evolutionary consciousness,” or what Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry call “ecozoic consciousness” (1992), he calls “biosphere consciousness.”

We are in transition now, he argues, between psychological consciousness (with its great capacity for empathy with people and other creatures) to biospheric consciousness in which we understand how to live in harmony with the biosphere of the Earth that sustains us. He concludes this book by stating that “the transition from the capitalist era to the Collaborate Age is gaining momentum in every region in the world—hopefully, in time to heal the biosphere and create a more just, humane, and sustainability global economy for every human being on Earth in the first half of the twenty-first century” (p. 380).

Part Two: Critique

Jeremy Rifkin largely omits discussion of the world of militarized sovereign nation-states with absolute borders and recognizing no effective laws above themselves. His book about the coming zero marginal cost of production leaves out this entire dimension of life on planet Earth. He omits the largest profit-making industry on Earth—the production and sale of weapons worldwide by the US, Russia, and other industrialized nations—the nations of Earth spending some 1.8 trillion dollars per year on militarism, weapons, and war. Is the production of these weapons also approaching zero marginal cost so as to become virtually free?

What about the economic rivalry of nations?  National sovereignty (a fundamental paradigm-assumption that he never mentions) engenders the perceived need for governments to use tariffs, trade relations, sanctions, military power, profits from investments in development from rich to poor nations, and similar relationships designed to benefit the nation at the expense of the poor or those wanting ever-more weapons. Capitalism (defined as economic exchange with the goal of accumulating private profit) may be disappearing into an “Internet of Things” within some industrialized nations but perhaps it has now transferred to the rivalry between nations, which the system of absolute sovereignty makes inevitable.

The “World Systems” paradigm articulated by social scientists such as Christopher Chase-Dunn (1998), documents the institutionalization of these economic-military relationships within a center/semi-periphery/periphery world structure. Rifkin’s “history of capitalism” leaves out the role of capitalism in slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, global structures of nation-state led exploitation, and endless wars. He does appear to recognize that the needed paradigm-shift to empathic and biosphere consciousness must go much deeper than the ways that he describes.

Perhaps Rifkin as a successful author, scholar, and head of TIR Consulting Group, LLC, accepts without serious questioning the privileges that stem from living in the center of the current global empire. His books are full of examples of him consulting with the super-rich, with heads of state, with the European Commission, etc.  Despite his vast knowledge and global exposure, in this book he never mentions the nearly 800 military bases that the US has worldwide designed to further US economic and military interests (interests which are seen by the US rulers as coextensive). He never mentions the European Union’s complicity in extending NATO to the borders of Russia while demonizing the Russians in a new Cold War, etc.

Perhaps he thinks the increase in empathic consciousness will make governments deploy their cruise missiles, fighter jets, anti-aircraft rockets, battle ships, space-based military forces, or weaponized drones in less lethal ways as they act to destroy the lives and life-support systems of people around the world in their endeavor to grab the resources and markets of the world for their own perceived interests. Perhaps his access to those of wealth and power would be limited if he exposed their corrupt system too explicitly.

In his earlier book about “empathic civilization,” mentioned above, Rifkin does chronicle the emergence of the modern nation state system (pp. 292-300). He speaks about the collective national consciousness engendered by this system that has the positive feature of uniting whole peoples in ways that allow for greater national empathy among the nation’s citizens. He does say that now we need to go beyond national consciousness to planetary consciousness, but he appears to assume that the latter development is compatible with retaining absolute sovereign-state borders. He misses the dialectical relationship between institutions and consciousness at the global level, beyond national borders. These absolute borders inhibit and defeat the needed rapid growth of planetary “biospheric” consciousness.

He does not, therefore, apply this same reasoning to the Earth as a whole, in the sense that uniting the Earth as one political whole would engender this same process of planetary mutual identification and empathic expansion. Instead, he returns immediately to his description of the development of “psychological consciousness” leading, he argues, toward empathy and a new understanding of what it means to be human (apparently regardless of the militarized nation-state system). In his concluding remarks to that book, he does bring up “geopolitics” once again, stating:

Geopolitics has always been based on the assumption that the environment is a giant battleground—a war of all against all—where we fight with one another to secure resources to ensure our individual survival. Biosphere politics, by contrast, is based on the idea that the Earth is a living organism made up of interdependent relationships and that we each survive by stewarding the larger communities of which we are part. The new bottom-up continentalization and globalization allow us to complete the task of connecting the human race and opens up the possibility of extending the empathic sensibility to our species as a whole, as well as to the many other species that make up the life of the planet (2009, p. 615).

Very good. Except that Rifkin omits the insight that this “giant battleground” is institutionalized in the system of militarized sovereign nation-states, and that such institutions inevitably condition human consciousness. To change the consciousness, we must also change these flawed and fragmented institutions. Not only that, but the lawless character of the system of sovereign nation-states gives law itself a bad name and encourages the colonization of all governments by rulers who manipulate the law in the self-interests of themselves and their nations.

If we are to “complete the task of connecting the human race,” as he puts it, then we must be truly connected, which means both politically and economically. We must create a system of law in the world that is transparent, accountable, integrated, and holistic, just as the planetary biosphere is holistic. The so-called “bottom-up” and top-down must meet in holistic reciprocity. This is precisely the role of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth (www.earth-constitution.org) that appears to find no place in Rifkin’s thoughts or writings.

I believe this significant omission is due to a flawed analysis that is found as well in The Zero Marginal Cost Society and elsewhere. Rifkin defines and describes three sectors: government, the commons, and the regime of private property and private enterprise. His analysis makes it appear as if we can emphasize the growing commons and deemphasize the private property and enterprise sector and that government will simply adjust accordingly, or perhaps even get out of the way of the Collaborative Commons. In this book, it is as if these were three semi-autonomous dimensions (we will see below that he changes his analysis in his last book, The Green New Deal, 2019).

However, his analysis does not clearly show the way human affairs can or should work.  Government is necessary to define both the commons and the scope and patterns of private property and enterprise. And, if human beings are ever to unite in an empathic civilization, then the absolute “sovereign” borders must come down and be replaced by the rule of democratically legislated planetary law, leaving the borders as mere administrative units for the purpose of local governance. Sovereign borders influence people to think in “us versus them terms,” and in terms of “our interests versus their interests.” They block global empathic realization. Today’s world is a cauldron of hot wars, cyber wars, culture wars, and economic wars.  Rifkin largely ignores this institutionalized war-system.

His own analyses presuppose the primacy of law (again we will see below that he makes this explicit in The Green New Deal). In The Zero Marginal Cost Society, he speaks of the legal battles over the internet between those who would privatize it for profit and those who advocate the collaborative commons. It is government and law that will secure and define the results of these battles. It is the law that can and should give us open-source knowledge and define its limits. The publisher’s page on Rifkin’s own book declares “All rights reserved,” demonstrating that it is OK for the law to protect some things from being open source.

He speaks of civil society in the twentieth century becoming “institutionalized in the form of tax-exempt organizations,” again presupposing that “civil society,” with its collaborative rights and duties, is defined by government and law. He speaks of the development of all sorts of collaborative projects, from Airbnb to Couchsurfing to HomeAway to Rent That Toy! to Tie Society to The Freecycle Network, however, not pointing out that all of these are made possible and governed by law.

As collaborative, cooperative, and empathic as we might become, we cannot live without government and democratic laws. There is no reason why law cannot be empathically and equitably legislated. There is no reason why law must be the instrument of some ruling class once capitalism has seen its demise. There is no reason why law cannot be global and finally bring the world into truly just and civilized relationships governed by law.

Philosopher of law H.L.A. Hart points out in The Concept of Law that the law does not only limit our behavior through sanctions. It also empowers us in innumerable ways.  Laws are there in the background of all that we do, empowering us to marry and raise family, to get an education, to form binding contracts and agreements, to have our rights and dignity protected, to have safe food and transportation, to exchange goods and services, to have healthcare, fire, and police protection, to have a protected clean environment, to freely speak or publish, to collaborate with others for social change, to practice the religion of our choice, to gather information and keep it open-source, etc. But the multiplicity of laws of some 193 sovereign nations create a global chaos of conflicting legal regimes engendering endless smuggling, trafficking, tariffs, blockades, trade wars, immigration and migration problems, visa requirements, surveillance, spying, militarism, distrust, conflict, and violence.

Do we need all human beings, whether they are male or female, stronger or weaker, more clever or less clever, to be equal to one another before the law?  Or can we live without law and hope that the stronger will be empathic enough not to rape or pillage?  If some ideal sustainable community or nation is created somewhere in the world, who or what is to stop others from invading or stealing their resources?  Perhaps they should be supplied with weapons to defend themselves? In fact, such national “self-defense” is exactly what Rifkin assumes. But then there goes this community’s supposed empathy for all other humans and animals.

  Who or what gives nations or communities the right to live in peace, free from possible interference by others?  Only enforceable democratic laws can do this. Rifkin defines correctly the difference between negative and positive freedom, but he fails to point out that positive freedom is enhanced and empowered by good laws, and ultimately by a global legal framework. The culture of trusting others that he emphasizes (e.g., p. 343) is enhanced and empowered by good laws, often invisible in the background of our relationships but influencing our ability to trust others nevertheless. The system of militarized, sovereign nation-states destroys, in significant measure, these beneficial functions of good law. This is because it is a lawless system, presupposing that there can be no enforceable laws over the nations.  So-called international laws are merely treaties of sovereign nations that the powerful nations break with impunity.

First, it is important to see that law cannot rule legitimately over nation-states as autonomous entities, but must be over all individual persons. This was initially admitted and stated in the Nuremberg Convention of 1950, but the UN has failed to move forward on individual accountability to the law, since its charter remains an agreement between sovereign nations that exempts individual persons from its clauses. Rikin states that “the Second Industrial Revolution infrastructure gave rise to global markets and international organizations like the United Nations, the World Bank, the OECD, and the World Trade Organization to comanage governance alongside nation-states” (2019, p. 231).

Not only is this dual system of extra-national shadow governance-structures undemocratic and elitist in the extreme. There is also a wealth of critical social-scientific literature showing that the World Bank and WTO are institutionalizations of a system of global pillage and exploitation and that the United Nations is there to defend the absolute sovereignty of militarized nations and the domination of the five victor nations from the Second World War (see, e.g., Brecher/Costello 1994; Chomsky 2003). These systems are symptoms of a 350-year old, nation-state paradigm that is ripping our world apart. You cannot have a successful paradigm-shift to sustainability while retaining this chaotic, undemocratic governance of our planet.

The heads of many of today’s nations are war criminals and should be in jail. Yet they are exempt under today’s sovereign nation-state system. Good law holds all individuals equally accountable. Second, law must equitably empower and protect all human beings. Only democratic world law can do this. Today’s chaos of localized, often undemocratic, law-systems the world over, with their sovereign militarized borders and planetary human rights violations, only breeds cynicism and skepticism regarding what is needed most—the rule of equitable law for all people framed in ways to encourage cooperation, empathy, collaboration, freedom, synergy, and sustainability (see Fuller 1981; Martin 2018).

By misunderstanding the nature and role of democratic law in human affairs, and by ignoring the gigantic global war-system and its industrial-military complex, Rifkin appears to hope he can influence the rich and powerful to adopt a Green New Deal. In doing so, he ignores the Earth Constitution as a necessary framework for demilitarizing the nations, establishing global economic equity, and protecting our planetary environment. Rifkin presents a flawed picture of the way out of the disastrous future toward which we are plunging. As right as he appears to be about the wonderful possibilities of the Collaborative Commons and empathic planetary civilization, these things cannot and will not happen without simultaneously ratifying the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

 Part Three: A Green New Deal for the USA or the Earth?

 Rifkin believes in democracy and empowering the workers, but his analysis of capitalism here ignores that it is predicated on exploitation—exploitation  either of the workers, or of other countries, or of nature, or all three together. In The Zero Marginal Cost Society, he describes the inevitable demise of capitalism with the development of means of sustainable livelihoods worldwide that are practically self-sufficient and that can produce for their own needs at near zero marginal costs. And he does recognize that “in classical and neoclassical economic theory, the dynamics that govern the Earth’s biosphere are mere externalities to economic activity” (p. 12).

In The Green New Deal (2019), Rifkin brings capitalism very much back into the picture and into our future by arguing for investment (for private profit) in the green revolution and in order to avoid the “stranded assets” that will result from abandonment of the fossil fuel economy. He describes an impressive range of companies and enterprises that are responding to the fast-rising green economy. He now appears to ignore his earlier analysis projecting the demise of capitalism and instead discovers a new hybrid that he calls “The New Social Capitalism” (p. 166). Apparently, it is now possible to seek private profit without seeing the biosphere as “a mere externality to economic activity.”

In this book, he no longer claims that “the ultimate triumph of capitalism also marks its inescapable passage from the world stage.” The older fossil fuel capitalism of the Second Industrial Revolution with its implicit slogan “buyer beware,” he declares, has changed with the Third Industrial Revolution to a new slogan: “doing well by doing good” (pp. 167, 205). Indeed, companies around the world (with support from some governments) are converting to become ESCOs (Environmental Service Companies), “a pragmatic business model that can speed the transition into a near-zero emission era in the short time horizon before us” (p. 205).

He entirely ignores the deleterious role of global private banking in the planetary economic system, a role that has condemned successive generations of several billion poor people in developing nations to perpetual poverty through forcing their governments to pay back international debts to the profit-making banks that loaned them billions for falsely framed “development” projects. These poor nations were then coerced into “austerity” measures in order to ensure payback from the poor to the rich. He similarly ignores the fact that the European Union (which he so admires for its progress toward a green infrastructure) recently condemned one of its own member nations (Greece) to serious poverty and perdition in order to force the pay-back of billions in loans to the gigantic banks of the world, a move that was supported, even advocated, by Germany (which otherwise is a leader in the conversion to a green economy). Germany is apparently willing to cut the green economic development of Greece off at the knees in order to secure the flourishing of its own green prosperity.

He ignores the fact that most of the world’s money is created as debt to these private banking cartels, a system that creates top-down domination, perpetual exploitation, and continuing corruption everywhere on Earth (see Brown 2007). It is difficult to see how human beings could affect a revolution to empathic consciousness and planetary solidarity with such economic systems in place. Just as the nation-state system divides people and defeats empathic and biospheric consciousness, so does the global monetary system. On the other hand, both of these systems are holistically and synergistically transformed by the Earth Constitution.

Just as capitalism is resurrected in The Green New Deal as “social capitalism,” so the role of government is no longer minimized. He describes impressive support for the Green Revolution from the government of China, as well as from the European Union and the government of Germany. These, plus the United States, he says, form the “three elephants” in the room whose leadership is the key to a global green revolution (pp. 215 ff). The last of the three, of course, remains is a rogue elephant, but Rifkin hopes that the new USA President taking office in 2021 will bring a complete commitment at the federal, state, and local levels to a Green New Deal with the focus and urgency of the war-footing adopted by the US during the Second World War (pp. 230-31).

The real “elephant in the room” is very much the system of militarized sovereign nation-states, which Rifkin ignores. He declares that we need “binding legal standards” to ensure universal conformance to serious non-carbon markets.  Nearly every one of his 23 points outlining what is necessary for a USA Green New Deal places federal, state, and local governments into the equation (pp. 223-30). He describes this process in Germany (and the EU) as well as in China and many local initiatives within the USA.

These three “elephants” may indeed be crucial to conversion (and he recognizes that the USA remains far from being on board with any GND). However, as we have seen, even if these large beasts manage to establish binding standards for their societies, they remain lawless in the refusal to recognize any effective laws over themselves. Under the militarized sovereign state system, there can be no “binding legal standards” for the world, and, as stated above, this very lawlessness (with its obvious manifestations in global military and economic chaos) breeds skepticism everywhere concerning the need for the rule of law.

With the complicity of the EU, China, and the UN (by all remaining silent), the U.S., through remote controlled drones or CIA assassination teams, lawlessly executes any and all persons around the world whom it designates (according to secret criteria) as its enemies. By ignoring these horrific realities, Rifkin misses the real elephant (the lawless system of sovereign states). In order to promote a hope for success that rings hollow as soon as one opens the morning newspaper, he paints a rosy picture of all the work being done by profit-making companies that are doing very well by supposedly doing good.

“Social capitalism,” however, is really nothing new since critical thinkers have been taking about “market socialism” or “cooperative capitalism” for decades (e.g., Harrington 1972, Smith 2013). “Socialism” fundamentally means that law regulates markets in such a way that they serve the common good rather than the unlimited accumulation of private wealth (Martin 2018). That is what Rifkin’s social capitalism reportedly does.

However, Rifkin (who interacts with the very rich and powerful in his consulting role) never claims in this book that “social capitalism” should limit the amount of “doing well” they can accumulate in the process of “doing good.” Nevertheless, there is a vast literature showing that excessive accumulations of wealth distort democracy, empathic consciousness, and civilizational well-being. Recently economist Thomas Piketty concluded that “capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based” (Piketty 2014, p. 1; see also Parenti 1995; Chomsky 1996). All Rifkin recommends here is a graduated income tax to be used by government to promote the transition required by the Green New Deal.

Recently economist Kate Raworth underlined a fundamental truth—success in overcoming our planetary crisis will come from the way we design our systems: “Economics, it turns out, is not a matter of discovering laws. It is essentially a question of design. And…the last two hundred years of industrial activity have been based upon a linear industrial system whose design is inherently degenerative…. From a systems-thinking perspective….far greater leverage comes from changing the paradigm that gives rise to the system’s goals” (2017, pp. 180 & 182). Doing good by doing well, helpful as it may be in the short run, does not fundamentally change the system

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is designed to address the multiple crises of our linear world system—both our economics and our politics with their the war system, global poverty system, and unsustainability system. It integrates all of these factors into a holistic planetary design so that the system’s goals become entirely different—those of a peace system, a prosperity system, and a sustainability system.

Virtually every one of the 23 actions and policies recommended in this book for a USA Green New Deal is already there in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth and the World Legislation enacted to date by the Provisional World Parliament. The Constitution makes democratically legislated world laws binding over every person on Earth, and it promotes local empowerment through a federal system ascending from local to state to national to global levels. The Constitution provides worldwide agencies for monitoring the health of the planet and for deploying and empowering the Third Industrial Revolution technology equitably around the planet to ensure real sustainability.

In Article 8, the Constitution also establishes global public banking and debt-free money creation. This means that the global inequality (and concomitant undemocratic political power) fostered today by global private banking, money creation, and profit-making corporations can be addressed rapidly, effectively, and justly by the Earth Federation Government. It means that local sustainability initiatives everywhere in the poor countries of the developing world will have ample funding to activate the third industrial revolution. It means the rapid elimination of extreme poverty globally while preserving the well-being of today’s first world nations.

The Earth Constitution also deals with the population crisis in noncoercive ways and, most fundamentally, it sees our planet Earth as a global commons, belonging to all the people who live on Earth, who possess the collective authority to protect and restore it. It is not, as under the UN system, that oil somehow “belongs” to Saudi Arabia, the lungs of the Earth somehow “belong” to Brazil, giant natural gas reserves somehow “belong” to Russia, and the right to exit itself from the Paris Climate Accords somehow “belongs” to the United States (as well as any other nation). This paradigm, assuming that each nation somehow “owns” is resources, results in what I have called “The Tragedy of Our Planetary Commons.” It structurally prevents a planetary biosphere consciousness from developing (Martin 2019).

In his early book, Entropy: Into the Greenhouse World, Rifkin seems to agree with a radical rethinking of the paradigm of private property:

In a low-entropy culture the concept of private property is retained for consumer goods and services and family real estate but not for large tracts of land and other renewable and nonrenewable resources. The long-accepted practice of private exploitation of “natural” property is replaced with the notion of public guardianship. The orthodox economic view that each person’s individual self-interest when added together with the self-interest of everyone else always serves the common good of the community is regarded with suspicion or, more appropriately, with outright derision. (1989, p. 245)

Nevertheless it appears that, by the time of The Green New Deal book (2019), he has not yet managed to apply this principle to the bizarre conceit that sovereign nation-states “own” their internal resources. Yet the same principle exactly applies, because the atmosphere of the Earth, the oceans of the Earth, and the climatic balances of the Earth belong to the people of Earth, not to sovereign nation-states. It should be regarded with “outright derision” that they somehow “own” their internal resources.

This is also exactly what the UN document “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” claims: “We reaffirm that every State has, and shall freely exercise, full permanent sovereignty over all its wealth, natural resources and economic activity” (“UN Sustainable Development Goals,” item 18). This is what Rifkin’s support for the sovereign nation-state system entails. The Earth Constitution, by contrast, explicitly recognizes that the global commons belong to the people of Earth (e.g., Articles 4.22, 4.23, 4.24, and 13.9).

Most of The Green New Deal is about what is happening with green business in the EU, China, and the USA. But, as in his other volumes, Rifkin returns to the world level toward the end of this book in a section titled “Thinking Like a Species.” He says, “the great paradigm changes in human history are infrastructure revolutions that change our forms of governance, our cognition, and our very worldview” (p. 211). He then gives his account of the history of transformations of human consciousness (that I reviewed above) in which the empathic impulse has occurred within ever-larger frameworks that include both the great world religions and national loyalties to “nation-state identity” (p 213).

Here again he recognizes that government at nation-state levels has created “figurative families” and “larger collectivities” for human empathy. Yet, when it comes to “thinking like a species” and establishing a planetary empathic civilization with a “biosphere consciousness,” he implies that the technical infrastructure of the Third Industrial Revolution alone is sufficient to do this. He does not suggest the obvious—that if national governments created figurative, empathic national families, then democratic world government would clearly expand this transformation of consciousness to the species level that he deems necessary for a global green new deal. If we design a world system that truly is a holistic world system, then “thinking like a species” will automatically follow.

The Earth Constitution would certainly rapidly foster this transformation of consciousness because it is designed to do so. It is also designed to cede public ownership to our planetary commons (our oceans, air, and water) to the people of Earth. It is designed to holistically and effectively deal with the technical, logistical, and local empowerment actions that Rifkin recognizes as globally necessary to transform the entire planet to sustainability.

We need a deeper paradigm-shift if we are to truly achieve sustainable civilization. The Constitution is designed to demilitarize the planet—to eliminate wars, nuclear weapons, and the industrial-military complexes (which Rifkin largely ignores). The Constitution integrates our fragmented and flawed linear world system into a holistic unity-in-diversity thereby transforming the world’s system imperatives to peace, prosperity and sustainability. It should be clear that ratification of the Earth Constitution alone can truly give us the Planetary Green New Deal that is necessary for human survival and flourishing on our precious planet Earth.

 Works Cited

 Constitution for the Federation of EarthWith Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion by Glen T. Martin. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.  Also found on-line at www.earth-constitution.org.  The World Legislation enacted by the Provisional World Parliament can be found on-line at www.worldproblems.net.

Brecher, Jeremy and Tim Costello (1994). Global Village or Global Pillage: Economic Reconstruction from the Bottom Up. Boston: South End Press.

Brown, Ellen Hodgson (2007). Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth about Our Money System. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Third Millennium Press.

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

Chomsky, Noam (2003). Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. New York: Henry Holt & Company.

Chomsky, Noam (1996). What Uncle Sam Really Wants. Tucson, AZ: Odonian Press.

Fuller, R. Buckminister (1981). Critical Path. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

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

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

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

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

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

Martin, Glen T. (2019). “The Tragedy of Our Planetary Commons,” on-line at my blog:

https://oneworldrenaissance.com/2019/10/08/the-tragedy-of-our-planetary-commons-climbing-out-of-the-abyss/

Parenti, Michael (1995). Democracy for the Few. Sixth Edition. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Piketty, Thomas (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Raworth, Kate (2017). Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Rifkin, Jeremy (1989). Entropy: Into the Greenhouse World. Revised Edition. New York: Bantam Books.

Rifkin, Jeremy (2009). The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis. New York: Penguin Books.

Rifkin, Jeremy (2011). The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Rifkin, Jeremy (2013). The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Rifkin, Jeremy (2019). The Green New Deal: Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028 and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Smith, J.W. (2013). Cooperative Capitalism: A Blueprint for Global Peace and Prosperity. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

Swimme, Brian and Thomas Berry (1992). The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era—A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos. San Francisco: Harper San-Francisco Publishers.

UN Sustainable Development Goals: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld, item 18.)

 

 

Planetary Noncooperation with Evil Is Our Duty

Glen T. Martin

Venice, Italy, January 2020, on the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi

“Noncooperation with Evil is a Duty”

Mahatma Gandhi

These words of Mahatma Gandhi bring out the revolutionary Truth of our human situation.  Today they grow ever more compelling as we watch our planetary environment disintegrate everywhere into droughts, wildfires, water shortages, superstorms, floods, and relentless, stifling heat waves (Wallace-Wells 2019; Romm 2018).  These words of Mahatma Gandhi grow ever more compelling as the Lords of Death and Destruction dedicate yet another trillion US Dollars to upgrading nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. This paper argues that true noncooperation with evil requires action in support of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

Some groups are beginning to realize the absolute imperative for revolutionary transformation of our broken and anti-life planetary systems.  One group calls itself “Extinction Rebellion.”  Without massive rebellion against the systems of evil that are destroying our planet and our future, there will soon be simply no planet and no future. Yet rebellion without a concrete vision of what must replace the system of evil is hardly sufficient. You cannot effectively resist evil without concretely understanding the good, the ideal, what should be there in place of evil. Like Gandhi, we capitalize the word “Truth” because it names our fundamental human and cosmic reality.

Mahatma Gandhi was a revolutionary who envisioned total transformation of life on Earth, a transformation from violence to nonviolence, from evil to good, from hate, fear, greed, exploitation, and domination to love, justice, freedom, and Truth. Swaraj or liberation was to include all aspects of life, from economics to politics to world order (see Jesudasan 1984). Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. declared “I have a dream.”  Without a dream of total transformation of our broken humanity and this evil world system we can do nothing. We cannot be “evolutionaries” working within the system to slowly change things but must be “revolutionaries” acting on a credible vision of total transformation of our partitioned, fragmented, anti-life world system. Today, Swami Agnivesh in India is one such revolutionary (see Agnivesh 2015).

Yet our duty is not simply to be followers of Gandhi or King or Agnivesh. It is not to adopt their vision or their dream. Our duty in Gandhi’s formulation is satyagraha, clinging to Truth, acting on Truth, living according to the gigantic Truth at the heart of our cosmic and human situation. We must see for ourselves the evil nature of the world system and discern clearly the requirements of goodness, nonviolence, and justice. This requires self-actualization, self-realization. Each of us can realize the divine Truth within as we grow out of immature egoism and self-centeredness toward worldcentric and cosmocentric forms of consciousness (see Wilber 2007).

The vision of good transforming the immense evil of our present world system arises within each of us as we discern our common humanity and the oneness of our human project. We must see for ourselves the absolute need for love, justice, compassion, and Truth to replace, hate, injustice, hardness of heart and ignorance.  We do not follow Gandhi or King.  We embrace the Truth of our cosmic and human situation.

Here in Venice the streets are filled with people on holiday from all over the world, families, couples, visiting groups—tourists all. They walk the streets, alleys, and bridges, and ride the canals, laughing and conversing, sitting in endless restaurants or gaping into the brightly lit shop windows of this consumer paradise. They appear oblivious. Some may worry that Venice is sinking beneath the sea as waters continue to rise and ever more frequent floods begin to envelop the precious Medieval and Renaissance heritage that this city represents. 

Yet none appear to realize that our entire planet is suffocating under evil institutions destroying the future of everyone—every man, woman, child, and living creature. The evil institutions comprising the militarized sovereign nations around the world that these tourists call home is so “normal” to them, so much in the unspoken background of everyday life, that they do not question it. Their ignorance is part of this evil system. Ignorance is indeed evil, but we must repudiate the evil itself, the ignorance itself, not the persons who are lost within this planetary criminal matrix of deceptions, lies, and propaganda.

Likewise, the correlative evil institution of a global economic system that has empowered them to have money for travel and tourism at the expense of the world’s billions of poor living in wretched hunger and scarcity again lies in the background of their consciousness, so pervasive as to be invisible, like the air we breathe. Their ignorance is palpable was they tend their credit cards or pay out their Euros to shops and restaurants in this mecca of global tourism and consumerism.

Mahatma Gandhi’s thought today is pigeonholed and marginalized. It has been truncated into a mere resistance against British colonialism in India. Few realize that he saw the world system itself as intrinsically evil. He demanded a total revolutionary transformation of our ways of living on the Earth predicated on Truth. He demanded that we live from the gigantic Truth of our universal common humanity, from the gigantic Truth of our precious planet Earth that sustains and embraces us, and from the gigantic Truth of God becoming ever more self-aware within our human reality.

Gandhi declared that the modern nation-state was “violence in a concentrated and compacted form” and that, under the capitalist system, “the few ride on the backs of the millions.” He lived through the two world wars in which these evil systems expressed their true anti-life imperatives, wiping out tens of millions of persons and destroying the planet that sustains us with bombs, explosives, chemicals, and poisons. Gandhi called not only for grassroots economic independence for the masses but also for a World Parliament above the nations, predicated not only on ending war but on removing poverty, misery and exploitation from the entire Earth (see Kripalani, ed. 1972; Hudgens 1986; Martin 2017).

The great Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism generally spoke of “knowledge versus ignorance,” rather than good and evil.  The great Western religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam generally spoke of “good and evil,” rather than knowledge and ignorance. Gandhi was influenced by both traditions. He was deeply influenced by the Christian Gospels, Leo Tolstoy, and John Ruskin as well as the readings from the Quran in his own Hindu temple when he was a boy. He rightly saw the confluence of these two traditions and declared that all the religions come from the same source (see Iyer 1973).

Noncooperation with evil is a duty, and the economic and political institutions that dominate our planet are evil. Evil is what destroys life and the future, whether from ignorance or malice or both. The system of militarized sovereign nation-states, fragmenting our common human project into some 193 competing national projects with their absolute borders, secrecy, manipulations, bombs, warplanes, ships, and missiles, is evil and anti-life. It destroys our ability to live in peace with one another as well as our ability to respond to the climate crisis. It results in an immense militarism that pours some 1.5 trillion US dollars down the global toilet annually while the poor languish in hunger and the climate that sustains us rapidly disintegrates.

The global capitalist economic system is evil. It is predicated on endless growth on a finite planet, an omnicidal quest of the unredeemed human ego. It is predicated in creating money as debt, to sinking humanity into endless indebtedness to the one percent (the banking-corporate elite) with their minions and academic enablers in the top twenty percent, and enslaving the bottom eighty percent to endless scarcity, economic desperation, lethal competition, and financial liability. It is a system designed for the domination by the rich and the elite, the few, who ride on the backs of the honest labor of the rest of humanity (see Martin 2010b, Part Two).

It is a system that promotes the lucrative military destruction of people and our planet, an industrial military complex that reaps trillions in profits from its institutionalized order of death and destruction. It is a system that promotes fragmentation and collapse of the planetary environment, pumping out endless fossil fuels and limitlessly devouring the finite resources of the planet that sustains our life. Capitalism, like the militarized sovereign nation-states, is intrinsically evil.  We need a revolutionary transformation of our world system predicated on life rather than death.

How is it possible not to cooperate with these gigantic planetary institutions that have so colonized our thinking and our world processes that they are everywhere and nowhere, like the air we breathe? The militarized sovereign nation-states force us to pay taxes to support their military death machines and their “national security” insanities.  They force us to use their debt-based monetary systems. If we spend some of our money organizing meetings and educational events to resist their evil system, they make a profit from our action. How do we cling to Truth when the untruth controls the media, the banking, the governments, and the very infrastructure of our lives?

The answer lies in the dream, in the vision of Truth that lies within every human heart and cannot be killed by their evil institutions. The dream of transformation and redemption is always there (see Martin 2018). Yet the dream must be made concrete. It must tell us how to transform evil into good, how to transform the world system from a broken and fragmented nightmare of injustice and untruth to one of justice, Truth, and sustainability.  That concrete vision is available to humanity in the form of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth (see Martin 2010a).

The Earth Constitution is predicated on the gigantic Truth of our common human situation. It is founded upon the unity in diversity of human civilization. It is founded on the absolute imperative to organize our planetary system premised on the common good of all. The “broad functions” of the Earth Federation government specified in Article One articulate the premises of this common good: ending war and disarming the nations, protecting universal human rights, ending poverty and “diminishing social differences,” and protecting the ecological fabric of the Earth to make the planet “a safe and happy home” for all.

The system of sovereign nation-states interfaced with the global debt-based economic system is centuries old, (some three to four hundred years old). It developed long ago when the Truth of our common humanity living together with fragile planetary ecosystem were entirely unknown. These developed within an age of slavery, colonialism, discrimination, and inequality. These developed long before the idea of universal human rights, planetary justice, or comprehension of our global, holistic ecosystem. The vast momentum of these interfaced institutions has colonized every corner of our world and today threatens to destroy our entire human project and the life support of nature’s other living creatures.  Their evil and ignorance are palpable.

The duty of noncooperation with evil is most effectively achieved by advocating ratification of the Earth Constitution in thought, word, and deed.  Article 19 of the Constitution demands that we begin the World Government here and now in its provisional, pre-ratification form.  We can act now to create it though establishing provisional world ministries, a provisional world judicial system, a provisional world parliament, and worldwide programs for global grassroots empowerment for sustainability and justice. 

We have little choice to avoid living within the framework of the evil system of militarized sovereign nations with its corresponding corrupt monetary system of exploitation, debt, and scarcity. But the Lords of the Earth cannot stop us from dreaming, from speaking out for gigantic Truth of our common humanity, our common planetary ecosystem, and our common human destiny of love, justice, compassion, and freedom. By spreading awareness of the Earth Constitution as an institutionalization of gigantic Truth, of satyagraha, we are actualizing our noncooperation with evil. 

By making no concessions to their so-called pragmatic, practical, reality of “evolving toward the good,” we resist the evil and declare it for what it is. Their evil propaganda system also claims to honor the good. But we must go slow, they tell us, we must evolve the good patiently and incrementally. Their lies and deceit pollute even the vision of the good.

We cannot “evolve” toward the good. Those days and that possibility are over.  Our future on this planet is in imminent danger and we can no longer compromise with the corruption and ignorance that are destroying that future. We need revolutionary transformation of our broken world system through ratification and activation of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

The Constitution does not give us a set of empty ideals about loving one another and our planet with no concrete way to make this a reality. It is not an Earth Charter or an unenforceable set of UN system ideals. Rather, it gives us a blueprint on how we can transform the system that now blocks and derails love, compassion, justice, and Truth. The Earth Constitution provides a nonviolent revolutionary manual for human liberation. It explicitly incorporates all viable UN agencies into its framework.

We must study it, promote it, organize around it, and speak from its premises in everything we say, think, or do. Noncooperation with evil is a duty.  We fulfill that duty by living from the premises of a transformed future. We begin living from the framework of valid law provided by the Earth Constitution and recognizing that no government of any sovereign nation is any longer legitimate. 

A legitimate government serves the common good of its citizens, but today no government can any longer do that because the common good is planetary, not national. No national government can protect the environment of its citizens or their universal human right to peace with justice. Only democratic world government under the Earth Constitution can do this (see Harris 2008, Chapter 8). National governments can regain their legitimacy only insofar as they unite under the Earth Constitution, thereby becoming participants in actualizing the common good for humanity and future generations.

Our absolute duty is noncooperation with the evil world system of militarized sovereign states interfaced with their global economic system of exploitation, debt, and misery. This noncooperation requires a vision of a transformed world system under the Earth Constitution.  This vision can be actualized here and now as we establish the agencies and institutions called for by the Constitution. The most effective from of noncooperation with evil is dedication to ratification and implementation of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We must act now. Tomorrow will simply be too late.

Works Cited

Agnivesh, Swami (2016). Practical Spirituality: A Spiritual Vision for the Dialogue of Religions. New York: Harper Element Books.

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

Hudgens, Tom A. (1986). Let’s Abolish War. Denver: BILR Corporation.

Iyer, Raghavan N. (1973). The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jesudasan, S.J., Ignatius (1984). A Gandhian Theology of Liberation.  Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Kripalani, Krishna, ed. (1972). All Men are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as Told in His Own Words, New York: World Without War Publications.

Martin, Glen T. (2010a). Constitution for the Federation of Earth with Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press. The Constitution can also be found in an inexpensive pocket edition and on-line at www.earth-constitution.org and many other locations.

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

Martin, Glen T. (2017). “Gandhi’s Satyagraha and the Earth Constitution” in Examining Global Peacemaking in the Digital Age: A Research Handbook, Bruce L. Cook, Editor, published by IGI Global, pp. 361-371.

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

Joseph Romm (2018). Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

David Wallace-Wells (2019). The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. New York: Tim Duggan Books.

Wilber, Ken. 2007. Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World. Boston:Integral Books.

A Human Rights System for the Earth Establishing a Foundation for the Beloved Community


Glen T. Martin

Human Rights and Law Forum
New Delhi, India
16 December 2019

In this paper I argue that the realization of human rights for the people of Earth can only happen if we change the horrific organizational systems that now dominate the Earth—the system of militarized sovereign nation-states and the globalize capitalist economic system. We need democratic world government, specifically under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.  I argue that democratic world government arises from human dignity with its attendant human rights regime which is the basis for all legitimate law.  Democratic world law, in turn, lays the foundation for the spiritual self-realization of humanity, the result of which will be a planetary beloved community. I will sketch out several philosophical arguments behind these contentions and briefly attempt to show how the Earth Constitution establishes a true “human rights system” for our planet and for future generations, thereby laying the only practical and feasible foundation for universal spiritual self-realization.

Philosophical Foundations

Human rights derive from the a priori dignity of human beings, that is, from the fact that the universe has evolved a human creature that is self-aware, free, and rational. If there were some non-human creature, like an alien, who was self-aware, free, and rational, then this creature would also have dignity and therefore rights.  Nevertheless, integral to our dignity as moral creatures is our capacity for evil, for violating the dignity and the rights of others.  Our first question asks what is the role of government in the actualization and protection of human dignity, and why does it need to be world government?

I will sketch a background for this paper by reviewing the thought of the great 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant. To my knowledge Kant was the first thinker in western thought to put his finger clearly on the scope and role of government in relation to human dignity and rights.

Kant expressed what is perhaps the most fundamental moral principle that embraces the very essence of morality.  That is the principle of universality in relation to the concept of human dignity.  Kant saw that human reason is capable of legislating moral principles for itself. He saw that a free, rational being is intrinsically a responsible being. Every free, rational being is a “legislator” of the moral law. Morality has to do with laws and lawmaking.

He articulated the fundamental moral imperative as “always do what is right regardless of your inclinations.”  It is not feelings, emotions, or desires that define or inspire what is right but rather our capacity to legislate universal moral principles applicable to our present situation, whatever that situation might be. In any particular situation we must ask ourselves “can I make it a universal law that everybody act the way I am about to act in these circumstance?”  When I act I am always implicitly making laws that everyone would have the moral right to act as I am acting in this situation.

The very universality of the moral principles articulated by our reason and applicable to the present circumstances means that each person has equal dignity—each is embraced by the universality of the moral principle— that each person is an end in his or herself. I must always do what any free, rational being should do in these circumstances. I should always treat every person as an end in themselves never merely as a means, for only free, rational beings have this intrinsic dignity of moral beings. (Today we understand that the natural world also has intrinsic value, as many environmentalists and deep ecologists have argued, but we also understand that only rational beings have the unique value that we associate with human dignity).

What are the social implications of this “categorical imperative,” this universal “legislated” moral principle without exceptions? First, Kant argued that the imperative included the moral ideal of a universal “kingdom of ends.”  As philosopher Leonard Nelson points out, following Kant, every “right” that a person legitimately claims presupposes duties on the part of others. If you have the right to life, I have the duty to respect your life and the life of everyone else. If you have a right not to be tortured, I have the moral duty not to torture you or anyone else.

At the heart of human freedom and rational responsibility is the ideal of a moral world order in which every person treats every other person morally, that is as an end in his or herself, and never merely as a means. To treat someone merely as a means is to use someone for one’s own selfish ends: to cheat or exploit or dominate or demean someone. Any immoral use of another person violates their human dignity, if effect, dehumanizing them. By contrast, in a world envisioned as a kingdom of ends, human rights would always be respected. This ideal world is implicit in our rational freedom, Kant argued, and provides a goal for human historical development.

How do complex societies embody the categorical imperative?  The first principle of legitimate government is to provide a framework for human moral development. This means a legal framework for freedom and equality.  The universality of the categorical imperative implies universal human equality. We are all the same morally speaking and this is precisely why morality can be governed by universal laws that each of us makes regarding our behavior.  Legitimate government actualizes the social categorical imperative by providing a legal framework that makes each person morally equal to everyone else and equally free to take moral responsibility for his or herself.

The role of government is to protect our freedom and equality through enforceable laws impartially applied to all citizens. In terms of the way that we organize complex human societies, we must live under the authority of what Kant called a “republican constitution.” A republican constitution embodies the categorical imperative of universal legislation impartially applied to citizens who are free and equal before the law. A republican constitution, Kant argues, declares that the constitutional law of the land guarantee the freedom and equality of each citizen. If there is no constitutional law over citizens, then Kant declares that we are in an immoral condition of defacto war with one another, since there is nothing to prevent the stronger from violating the weaker.

The size, or strength, or cleverness of different citizens is irrelevant only under a republican constitution, because under the rule of constitutional law we have moved from a condition in which power or strength is always there to override the universality of morality and impose the will of one or a few over the dignity and rights of others. Kant understood that the rule of enforceable law under a republican constitution provides the moral framework that makes moral relationships among citizens possible and feasible. To live without such enforceable constitutional law guaranteeing our freedom and equality before the law is therefore immoral.  The universality of morality in the social context requires enforceable law under a republican constitution.

In several of his late essays of the 1790s Kant examines the system of sovereign nation-states that had become the dominant form of international organization since the mid-17th century. He points out the obvious—that the relationships between these sovereign entities recognize no enforceable laws above themselves. To be a sovereign nation, in terms of these mutually accepted international arrangements, means to have exclusive determination over internal affairs and independence in external affairs.  This “independence” in external affairs is, in effect, the claim to recognize no binding laws above the level of the nation state. Sovereignty cannot be bound by any law higher than itself since sovereignty is, by definition, the ultimate power and authority that determines the law.

Kant correctly states that this makes the world system immoral and places upon all of us the moral obligation to transform this world system from one in which power defines the relations between nations to one in which a republican world constitution guarantees the freedom and equality of all persons on the planet.  It is impossible to treat every person (on the planet) as an end in his or herself when those who are not citizens of one’s own country are not constitutionally free and equal with ourselves through universal, equally applied, constitutionally sanctioned laws.

The moral imperative to live under a republican constitution guaranteeing the freedom and equality of each before the law is therefore universal, and the law guaranteeing this must be universal and the same for all. That means that only a world republican constitution can satisfy the categorical imperative and that the system of so-called sovereign nation-states is inherently immoral. You cannot morally or logically divide the world into a collection of territorially bound, militarized entities, each recognizing no enforceable laws above itself, and somehow at the same time that all are free and equal under the law. Each of us who accepts this system and fails to work to change it is morally culpable.  The moral imperative demands republican world government in which the nations become administrative units within an Earth Federation guaranteeing the freedom and equality of each before democratically legislated world law.

With respect to this principle, therefore, republican and democratic constitutions should be identical. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau pointed out, in accord with Kant, the law must form the “general will” of the people, which is not the same as the will of the majority. The general will is the universal moral reality created by the constitution guaranteeing the freedom and equality of each citizen before the law. The general will means that each citizen is an end in his or herself and that each is morally bound to the others and to the constitutional whole.

“Eachness” is important to note here. World law must be over each individual human being, not over abstract entities called nation-states. To try to somehow “govern” abstract entities called nations rather than holding individuals accountable to the law, is to perpetuate the war-system. You cannot arrest and put a nation on trial. You can only go to war against it. The moral imperative that we treat each person on Earth as an end in him or herself, never merely as a means, requires that each person on Earth live in equality and freedom, constitutionally guaranteed, with every other person on Earth.  Kant’s moral ideal of the Kingdom of Ends in which all persons treat all other persons morally logically requires (presupposes) a republican or democratic world government guaranteeing the freedom and equality of each.

The Necessity of a World Human Rights System

Kant lived in a time when armies were fighting with swords and riding on horseback.  The greatness of his vision nevertheless understood the logical and moral difficulties of a world divided into autonomous, militarized nation-states recognizing no governing authority above themselves.  Since that time, we have seen two world wars fought by mechanized armies with industrial scale capacity for destroying human beings and their life support systems, as well as the development of horrendous weapons of mass destruction that have the potential to go beyond even industrial scale destruction to destroying the entire planetary ecosystem that makes human life possible on Earth.

Yet today we find ourselves in the 21st century attempting to defend human rights in the face of a world system whose very existence violates human rights.  In his well-known book on Human Rights, scholar Jack Donnelly points out the paradox of the UN system of sovereign nation-states.  He says that under the UN system each government is responsible for protecting the human rights of its citizens and yet, at the same time, it is governments that are by far the most significant violators of human rights. If human rights are truly universal, then what are we doing placing their protection in the hands of territorially bound, militarized power-centers that themselves refuse to submit to the rule of law? The system outlined by the UN Charter is immoral and unworkable. The vast and valuable infrastructure of the UN must be integrated into the system of democratic world law under the Earth Constitution.

In his books on human rights, philosopher of law Alan Gewirth derives human dignity and rights from the existential structure of human life in which people freely pursue goals they consider to be good.  Similarly, in my book Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence (2018), I show how this teleological structure provided by human temporality results in the entire panoply of human rights and in the concept of an intrinsic as well as an evolving human dignity.

Governments in today’s world live a planetary matrix of power relationships.  Professor Hans Morgenthau in his classic 1948 book Politics Among Nations argues that the relations between nations must necessarily be those of self-interest projected through power, and that morality should not be allowed to get in the way of this struggle.  However, I want to emphasize that this condition of living in a world of power relations (rather than moral-based dignity relations) is intrinsic to the system of sovereign states. Entities who insist on lawlessness, that is, entities who refuse to recognize the rule of constitutionally grounded enforceable law over themselves are already power-based and therefore immoral. The world system is intrinsically a war system and therefore a system destructive of human rights and dignity.

Governments cannot be expected to honor human rights, whether of their own citizens or those of other governments, since they are attempting to operate within this gigantic self-contradiction.  Externally they are lawless and immoral and need to operate in terms of power and national self-interest.  Internally, they are supposed to be moral and respect the rights of their citizens.  In such a schizophrenic situation, almost inevitably human rights are sacrificed to “national security” issues, or “economic issues” catering to multinational corporations and global economic pressures.

The power relations of the external world-anarchy serve to foster nihilism and skepticism regarding moral values.  The heads of nations pay lip service to moral values, but in reality they operate under capitalist economic imperatives and/or so-called “national security” imperatives. Politicians everywhere are said to be corrupt, but their corruption is in significant measure a result of the system within which they are expected to perform.

Similarly, the attempts at democratic or republican constitutional systems within nations become corrupted because they attempt to operate within an immoral global economic and political framework that necessarily impacts internal decision-making and law-making. The capitalist economic system of greed and self-interest penetrates every nation, corrupting many bureaucrats and politicians.  Moral cynicism and nihilism flow directly from capitalism as they also do from the system of power relations called sovereign nation-states.

In a world of ungoverned multinational corporations and lawless militarized nation states, there can be no real protection of human rights.  The system itself defeats respect for moral principles and human rights.  If we want human rights respected and protected, we must establish a human rights system for the world.  It cannot be successful in a fragmented world of sovereign nation-states or ruthless capitalist competition.  We need to base our global institutions on who we really are: ethical creatures capable of living under universal moral principles as free and equal citizens, creatures who have intrinsic dignity, and, we shall see below, creatures who are also capable of love, compassion, kindness and care, that is, capable of living within beloved human communities worldwide.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth creates a human rights system for the Earth by establishing a democratic Earth Federation that represents the sovereign of the people of Earth. Ultimate authority, sovereignty, derives from the collective dignity of humanity as a whole. It places the representatives of that sovereignty, the Earth Federation government, above the nation-states, removing their absolute sovereignty and making them administrative units within the Earth Federation, responsible for governing their internal affairs as long as this is consistent with the human rights system of the Earth Federation government.

Sovereignty, therefore, becomes delegated and descends in levels from humanity as a whole all the way to the relative self-determination of local communities. The Constitution also places the Earth Federation government above the multi-national corporations requiring that they operate for the common good of humanity and not for the enrichment of a tiny group of wealthy investors. The rule of legitimate law predicated on the freedom and equality of each human being, at last becomes a reality for our planet.

Article 28 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” After 73 years of endless wars, economic exploitation, power politics, and moral corruption of politicians, it should be clear that the UN system does not give us an “international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration can be fully realized.”  We have seen that this is because the world system of sovereign nation-states and multinational corporations is an anti-human rights system. It is intrinsically a war system, a greed system, and a domination system. 

A human rights system for the Earth requires all the dimensions of good government: a democratic legislature truly representing the people of Earth, a world judicial system with highly qualified impartial judges, an effective, professional world Executive system to carry out the laws enacted by the World Parliament, and a world enforcement system of Attorney Generals and civilian World Police dedicated to enforcing the law equally over all individuals. In other words, a human rights system requires real, effective government predicated on the equal dignity, freedom, and integrity of all persons.

Persons staffing the bureaucratic and governmental positions with such an Earth Federation government would be much less likely to descend into moral cynicism and nihilism because the system itself is predicated on human rights and dignity, not on power and economic greed. Our central problem is not some inherently “corrupt” human nature. Our central problem is that we live under global institutions that lead to corruption, cynicism, and nihilism. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is about bringing equality and freedom before the law to all the citizens of Earth by recognizing our universal human dignity and founding the world system on that dignity and its consequent rights. Legitimate, planetary institutions correctly based on human dignity will result in much greater integrity and authentic moral insight among government officials within all agencies of the Earth Federation government.

The Earth Constitution both presupposes and articulates the so-called “third generation” rights of the right to peace and the right to a healthy environment. It institutionalizes these rights along with all first and second generation economic and political rights as articulated in Articles 12 and 13. It sets up a world system designed to protect and actualize these rights. It institutionally eliminates power and exploitation relations from human affairs as much as reasonably possible and focuses on moral relations as embodied in the concepts of the common good of humanity and the human rights of all citizens.

The human rights system under the Earth Constitution has unique features that should be emphasized here. The World Parliament has 3 houses: the House of Peoples with 1000 representatives from around the planet, the House of Nations with 1, 2, or 3 representatives from each nation, depending on population, and the House of Counselors, with some 200 counselors elected from around the world.  The World Supreme Court system includes 8 benches, including a bench for human rights cases.

The World Executive has no military or police power and no authority to suspend the Constitution in a state of emergency. The World Police and Attorney Generals form a separate agency from the Executive branch and are directly responsible to the World Parliament. In addition, there is a special agency called the World Ombudsmus, with offices worldwide.  The World Ombudsmus, with its planetary system of World Advocates, is dedicated to the protection of the human rights of all the world’s citizens and serves as a watchdog on the government to ensure that human rights are not being violated by the World Police or any other governmental authorities.

This is what a human rights system looks like. It must be focused on the real common good of humanity for ending war, protecting human rights everywhere on Earth, eliminating poverty as well as exploitation, and protecting the environmental integrity of our planet. (These are the “broad functions” of the Earth Constitution outlined in its very first article.) Logically, a human rights system can only be global in scope, and it must be a system designed to realize these ends.  The nation-state system and the corporate-driven economic system, by contrast, are not designed for moral ends nor for human rights, and that is why we cannot achieve the goal of protecting human rights under the present world anarchy.

Our job, our mission, must be to promote the Constitution for the Federation of Earth in every venue and every way possible until it becomes everywhere a household word.  In this way, the people of Earth, who want nothing more than peace, a decent standard of living, and respect for their human rights, will at last know that they have a way out—that we human beings can at last create a world system in which moral relationships and human rights become primary.  Then only will the people of Earth be able to choose a decent future for themselves and all future generations. Building on this human rights foundation, human beings will then be able to move to a yet higher level of moral and spiritual growth.

A Spiritually Realized, Loving Planetary Community

As I reviewed in my 2018 book Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence, a broad consensus exists concerning the fundamental stages of human cognitive, moral, and spiritual growth. This consensus includes such well-known thinkers as Ken Wilber, Lawrence Kohlberg, Carol Gilligan, and Jürgen Habermas. The most fundamental stages commonly recognized move from the egocentric stage of children (or immature adults) to the ethnocentric stage of recognition of others within one’s own community. This second (ethnocentric) stage assumes that the values and beliefs of one’s own community are somehow more correct, rational, or moral than those of others around the world.

Moral, cognitive, and spiritual maturity begin at the third stage, which Kohlberg calls the stage of “Autonomy” and Wilber calls the “Worldcentric” stage. At this level persons begin to understand that the world includes many different ways of culturally organizing thought and experience and one’s perspective becomes progressively evermore universal and affirmative of humanity and civilization as a whole. Kohlberg emphasizes the “autonomy” of this stage and links this explicitly with the ethical thought of Kant.  One’s moral principles are now arrived at through independent crucial rational thought and are formulated on the grounds of logical universality, consistency and coherence.

This is the level at which universal human dignity is fully recognized and universal human rights are affirmed. This is the level of maturity at which the vision of democratic or republican world government arises. One understands that all human beings must be protected as free and equal under the authority of universally legislated, enforceable world laws. The moral ideal of a universal kingdom of ends for the Earth begins to become clear and compelling.

But all these thinkers recognize a fourth level of cognitive, ethical, and spiritual maturity, which may be called, with Ken Wilber, the “Kosmocentric” stage of realization. Like the other stages, this stage itself may have many sublevels and complexities.  Human beings do not normally move through such clearly defined stages but often have progressions and regressions, often living simultaneously from mixed stages of moral development, etc.  In Kosmocentric stages one begins to realize something that lives at the very foundation of human life as we have evolved from the cosmos that gave us birth.  This is the One at the heart of all things, characterized by the great world religions as love.

At the kosmocentric stage of cognitive, moral, and spiritual realization one begins to go beyond morality as defined by Kant—the making of universal laws that govern one’s actions regardless of one’s inclinations—to a freedom from such moral rules (in the sense that one’s inclinations begin to come in harmony with one’s duty) because one begins to love one’s own deepest selfhood and the selfhood of all others without discrimination, judgement, or recrimination. Here dignity is not only recognized but loved. As Saint Augustine famously said, “Love, and do what you will.” There develops what philosopher Jacob Needleman called “a sense of the cosmos,” a cosmos whose foundation is love.  There develops a love such as contemporary Christian thinker Ilia Delio describes in her book under the title: The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love.

The sense of the whole, not as an object to a subject in which I cognitively recognize the universe as a whole, but as an inner realization of the One that is at the core of my being and at the core of every other being. “The unbearable wholeness of Being” is the intensity of love that wells up within the process of spiritual self-realization. Scientist and Catholic Christian thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes that “only love can bring individual beings to their perfect completion, as individuals, by uniting them with one another, because only love takes possession of them and unites them by what lies deepest within them” (1969, 145). Philosopher Errol E. Harris also recognizes love as superseding and encompassing the duty ethics of Kant.

Protestant thinker Paul Tillich speaks of love not as an emotion but as an “ontological principle,” permeating the cosmos that we are capable of actualizing in our own lives because it is already within us as well as everywhere at the heart of the cosmos. Jewish thinker Marc Gafni declares that humans begin with egocentric love, then move to ethnocentric love, then to worldcentric love, and finally to kosmocentric love. Kosmocentric love realizes that the cosmos is the original source of the love at all levels (2014, 69). We must begin within a moral framework in which we recognize one another’s dignity and legally constitution a world society of free and equal persons. This lays the groundwork for the next level of self-realization—the spiritual development of universal love.

It is through the Kosmocentric level that the beloved community becomes possible for humanity. It is here that the true Islamic Sharia of obedience to God can be found. It is here that the Kingdom of God can be brought to Earth, which is the basic message of Jesus Christ. It is at this level that we can realize tikkun olam, which the Jewish Kabbalah calls the “healing of the world,” the wholeness of things holding a reservoir of love that can transform human existence and raise us to our true destiny.

The Kosmocentric level of moral-spiritual development goes beyond the legislating of moral laws but presupposes and builds upon the earlier level. It involves what spiritual thinker Raimon Panikkar calls “the anthropocosmic intuition” (2013, 55). We intuit both the heart of our humanity and of the cosmos, which is love. Indian spiritual thinker Rabindranath Tagore links this realization with the nirvana of the Buddha: “we know for certain that nirvana is the highest culmination of love. For love is an end in itself” (2011, 161-2).

With this realization the possibility of a beloved human community has become tenable in the minds of the many people throughout history who have experienced this self-realization at the kosmocentric level. Throughout history, they have been spokespersons for such a redeemed and actualized human community.  My argument in this paper is that, as a civilization, we have not yet moved beyond the ethnocentric level of nation-state sovereignty and selfish economic relationships to the worldcentric level founded on universal human dignity protected by morally grounded laws under a world constitution.

Moving to the worldcentric level of moral maturity is, at the general level of human civilization, a prerequisite for the further development of cosmocentric awareness and spiritual realization among humanity in general. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth lays the necessary foundation upon which to build the beloved human community.  Our present world-anarchy of military and economic madness must be transcended by the rule of democratically legislated laws for planet Earth. 

The Earth Constitution establishes, for the first time in history, a moral world system. It makes possible on a planetary scale not only true dialogue, but respect for human rights, nonviolence, and planetary justice. It also makes possible peace and the demilitarizing of nations as well as environmental sustainability. Once we have established the Earth Federation government envisioned by the Constitution, then, and only then, will we be ready and available, as a species, to realize our true human destiny—the creation of a beloved human community in which love, and justice, and ecological sustainability become as routine and self-evident as this beautiful and miraculous human body from which we live every day of our lives.


Brief Bibliography

Constitution for the Federation of Earth. See on-line versions of the Constitution at www.earth-constitution.orgwww.worldparliament-gov.orgwww.radford.edu/gmartinCEF.pdf or http://www.worldproblems.net/english/fec/constitution_federation_earth_eng_full_text.htm.
Delio, Ilia. 2013. The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
Donnelly, Jack. 2003. Human Rights in Theory and Practice. Second Edition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Gewirth, Alan. 1982. Human Rights: Essays on Justification and Applications. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
—. 1996. The Community of Rights. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Gilligan, Carol. 1982. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Habermas, Jurgen. 1998a. Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory. Eds. Ciaran Cronin and Pablo De Greiff. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
—. 1998b. On the Pragmatics of Communication. Ed. Maeve Cooke. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
—. 2001. The Postnational Constellation: Political Essays. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
—. 2003. The Future of Human Nature. Trans. William Rehg, et. al. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Hick, John. 2004. An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the TranscendentSecond Edition. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Kant, Immanuel. 1957. Perpetual Peace. Ed. Lewis White Beck. New York: Macmillan.
Kant, Immanuel. 1964. Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. Trans. H. J. Paton. New York: Harper & Row.
Kant, Immanuel. 1965. The Metaphysical Elements of Justice. Trans. John Ladd. New York: Library of the Liberal Arts, Bobbs-Merrill Company.
Kant, Immanuel. 1974. On the Old Saw: That May Be Right in Theory but It Won’t Work in Practice. Trans. E. B. Aston. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Kohlberg, Lawrence. 1984. The Psychology of Moral Development: Volume Two, The Nature and Validity of Moral Stages. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Martin, Glen T., ed. 2010). Constitution for the Federation of Earth: With Historical Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion. 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. Cambridge Scholars Publishers.
Morganthau, Hans. 2006. Politics among Nations. Seventh Edition. New York: McGraw Higher Education. (Orig. Pub. 1948.)
Needleman, Jacob. 1975. A Sense of the Cosmos: The Encounter of Modern Science and Ancient Truth. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company.
Nelson, Leonard. 1956. System of Ethics. Trans. Norbert Guterman. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Panikkar, Raimon. 1979. Myth, Faith, and Hermeneutics: Cross-cultural Studies. New York: Paulist Press.
—. 1993. The Cosmotheandric Experience. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
—. 2013. They Rhythm of Being: The Unbroken Trinity. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
Wilber, Ken. 2007. Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World. Boston: Integral Books.

Humanizing the Human within an Era of Disruption

Glen T. Martin

World Philosophical Forum

World Philosophy Day, Keynote Address, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 21, 2019

What do we mean by the humanizing of the human?  And what do we mean by an era of disruption?  The attempt to answer these two questions will guide the discussion in this paper. Let me try to approach these questions through first sketching a broad overview of our cosmic and human situation as this has been uncovered by both Western history and contemporary thought. Secondly, I will undertake an analysis of the present world system to reveal both the outlines of our current disruption and the direction we must urgently proceed if we want to continue the ancient process of humanizing the human.

The ancient Greek philosophers understood, first, that human beings were related to the structure of the cosmos.  For Plato, in the Republic, human beings were capable of living in the light of the “Form of the Good,” itself beyond being (hyperousia), while cognizing the intelligible structure of the manifest world.[1] For Aristotle, we were capable of a contemplation mirroring that of God, the Unmoved Mover, and we apprehended a world in which all entelechies exhibited a nisus toward the actualizing of their unique potentialities, a nisus eternally animated by that Unmoved Mover.[2] 

These ancient philosophers understood our humanity as becoming ever-more actualized as we developed our specifically human potential, moving upward, for example, on Plato’s ladder of love toward the highest level, thereby becoming “a friend of God and immortal.” Ancient Greek and Roman civilization also often emphasized our common humanity, especially in the cosmopolitism of the Stoics, who recognized the rational nature and ontological equality of all human beings.[3]

Medieval thinkers added to the humanizing of the human in various ways, one of which involved  opening human experience to union with the divine source. From Plotinus to Dionysios the Areopagite to Eriugena to Avicenna to Jalal Udin Rumi to Meister Eckhart to Nicolas of Cusa, medieval thinkers experienced the immanence of God within our human reality.[4] This led to some, such as Sufi mystic al-Hallaj, to declare “I am the Truth,” offending ordinary believers by claiming one of the names of God, with tragic consequences for himself.[5] It also led Meister Eckhart in the 14th century to an indictment by the Catholic Church for possible heresy. The innovators and the pioneers in the process of humanizing the human often face great odds and take great risks.

Human beings are humanized through actualizing awareness of their participation with the divine source that flows through the depths of all being. Perhaps, as the Eastern Orthodox Church puts it, we are capable of “divinization,” or, as Buddhism has put it, of actualizing our Buddha-nature, or in Islam, we are capable, as Frithjof Schuon declares, of “seeing God everywhere and everything in Him.”[6]

The Early Modern period from the 17th century saw the rise of the scientific method in Europe. This period gave birth, in general, to a mechanistic reduction of the concept of human being. No longer the microcosm of the macrocosm as we were for the Greeks, no longer capable of the direct realization of the divine as we were for the Medievals, the early moderns such as Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and David Hume understood human beings as complex machines within what they took to be a mechanistic, deterministic, atomistic universe.  Here we encounter some roots behind our present “age of disruption.”[7]

From the discovery of the scientific method by Galileo and others in the early 17th century to the brilliant synthesis of Newton’s Principia Mathematica of 1687, the early modern thinkers generated a world view derived from what they took to be the fundamental components of reality.  Atomism: everything can be understood as built from parts that are real in themselves and make it what it is. Determinism: everything is causally determined by the principle of universal efficient causality.  Mechanism: everything operates like a machine with parts working together to make it function efficiently. External relations: the atoms and entities are externally related (only) to other parts and entities: in this world view, atomistic units impact one another externally but exhibit few internal relationships.[8]

However, human beings can only be adequately understood under the models of growth and evolution linked to the fundamental nature of the cosmos and the divine. Plato and Aristotle articulated our microcosmic connection with the macrocosm and our potential to grow into knowledge and harmony with the intelligible whole. The Medieval mystics apprehended the divine reality immanent within our depths.  Although their metaphysics was often limited by prescientific mythologies about the world, they added this dimension to our quest to humanize the human. However, while the discovery of the scientific method in the 17th century was a great step in and of itself, the reductionist world view that arose from early-modern science did a tremendous disservice to our intrinsic human vocation of humanizing the human.[9]

Arising out of this early-modern mechanistic paradigm were the two institutions that have come to dominate the contemporary world: the sovereign nation-state and global capitalism. Governance during the European middle ages had been by dynasty and lineage, that is, by royal families. The devasting 30 Years War was concluded at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.  Awareness of the new “scientific” paradigm led to a solution to the complex claims of royal families to rule disparate areas linked to family lineages.  They decided instead to create an atomized world of territorially bound sovereign nation-states. 

Each state would have absolute territorial boundaries ruled over by a unitary governmental authority, responsible for internal affairs and well-being. Each state would be independent of all other states in a collective equality. That is, each would be independent in its foreign affairs.[10]  Out of this agreement the atomistic system of sovereign nation-states was born.  Today, there are some 193 of these sovereign territories, with absolute borders, most of them militarized, not easily penetrable by “outsiders.”

Capitalism paralleled the atomism of territorial states. Individual businesses and persons competed in a marketplace for wealth and success. Similarly, nations competed economically for markets, colonial power, and wealth. It was not an accident that Adam Smith’s summary of this process in 1776 was called The Wealth of Nations. Today, world system theorist Christopher Chase-Dunn declares that “the state and the interstate system are not separate from capitalism, but rather are the main institutional supports of capitalist production relations.”[11] The human image became prostituted to the pursuit of wealth integrated within a patriotism directed toward discrete, militarized territorial entities, all of which were permeated by the nearly universal technological drive to military and industrial domination, exploitation, and control of both nature and human beings.[12]

In 1905 Einstein published his Special Theory of Relativity, the premise of which was that the universe is an integrated whole, every aspect internally related to every other aspect. Since that time science has continued to uncover evidence of the undivided wholeness of the cosmos, with quantum physics rooting the Einsteinian ontological holism in the undivided unity of a quantum dimension transcending even space and time.[13]  All individuals, from galaxies and stars to human beings and animals, are related to all other individuals. This means that the primary mode of relationship involves “internal relations,” not merely external relations. Atomism is dead. Mechanism is dead. Holism means universal relatedness.[14] A vast literature developed linking human beings holistically to the divine source of existence and the evolutionary process.[15]

In the mid-20th century, the Big Bang emerged as a leading theoretical concept for the whole. Recognition of this primal flaring forth some 13.8 billion years ago gave rise to the concept of universal evolution: everything evolves. Human consciousness has itself evolved from its primitive beginnings some 2 million years ago. It has moved away from its original unity with nature through successive stages of increasing self-awareness.

Scholars record the movement of human consciousness from its “Primitive Unity” through an “Age of Magic” evidenced in cave paintings around the world, to an “Age of Mythology” that characterized ancient civilizations from the Yellow River Valley in China to the Egyptian civilization along the Nile, to our present age of “Self-aware Reason.” The latter began during the famous “Axial Period” of human history from the 8th to the 2nd century BCE. Our present age could also be termed the age of dualistic “Subject-Object” consciousness.[16] We need an integral consciousness, a holistic consciousness.

The 20th century discovered, from multiple angles, the vast integrated unity in diversity of the universe. With the ecological crisis that emerged since the 1960s, we began to uncover the interrelated unity of our planetary ecosystem and the inseparability of human society from the planetary biosphere.  Everything evolves: the geological character of the Earth has evolved over the 4.6 billion years of its existence. Life on Earth has evolved over its 3.8 billion year history.[17] Human beings evolved from the hominids and human consciousness continues to evolve. Everything is interrelated within the evolutionary process. All human beings are brothers and sisters and intimately related to the divine ground of being from which self-consciousness and freedom have emerged.

Physicists have proposed “the Anthropic Principle” according to which human life was built into the fundamental structure of the universe from its very inception.[18] In India, Sri Aurobindo understood that the ONE (God) emerges in human beings as “a localized consciousness through which it becomes aware of itself.”[19]  20th century philosopher Errol E. Harris writes: “The universal principle [God] is necessarily immanent in every part and every phase of the system. It is the alpha and omega of the universe, and without it nothing could be what it is, or happen as it does. Bringing itself to consciousness in our minds, it determines the essential nature of our thinking….”[20]

Today, we require an “open synthesis”, or “open horizon,” that is, a vision of human participation in the cosmic reality that is evolving, open to the new, and does not close off emergent possibilities.[21] We need a principle of unity in diversity in which both the unity and the diversity are recognized as evolving, as we participate in the process of cosmogenesis as vehicles of the divine-human-cosmic project of emergent existence. In my view, in his book Al Fathun Nawa, Dr. Halo-N has shown us the inexhaustible richness of the Quran for such continued human growth and development.[22]

Whereas the ancient Greeks articulated a static ontological macrocosm toward which humanizing the human could aspire, and the Medievals mentioned above articulated a depth dimension that often emphasized divine reality in opposition to matter.[23] Today, we have uncovered the evolutionary upsurge of the universe and ourselves as an integral component of that upsurge. Body, mind, and spirit are aspects of one integrated reality, and we are in its midst.

This is the meaning of human freedom and why freedom must be an integral component of our unity in diversity.  Human freedom is essential to our cosmic-human-divine vocation.[24]  Can we understand this with more than just the abstract intellect?  Can we internalize this awareness so that it becomes fundamental to our being in the world? We need an existential paradigm-shift away from all forms of atomism and mechanism toward emergent evolutionary holism. Freedom envisions a transformed future.

In the light of contemporary science, well-known Physicist Henry Stapp observes that we have revised our conception of a person in relation to nature. This new conception “must inevitably lead us away from the egocentric bias that was the rational product of the ontology of classical physics, to the values inherent in the image of the self, not as a local isolated automaton but rather as a nonlocalizable integrated aspect of the creative impulse of the universe.”[25]

 The Cosmos belongs together with humanity and God, as philosopher Raimon Panikkar has long insisted.[26] Three dimensions, three principles in one, unity in diversity, the whole as an emergent evolutionary open future. We humanize the human today by recognizing our unity with the cosmos and God and by living in terms of this “open synthesis” that allows the genuinely new to emerge, that keeps open the eschaton, the emergent fulfillment, the vision, in more traditional language, of the Kingdom of God on Earth, or of the Shari’ah, an age of obedience, freedom, peace, and compassion, when God-consciousness is all in all. Sufi poet Jalal Udin Rumi sings:

Something opens our wings.

Something makes boredom and hurt disappear.

Someone fills the cup in front of us.

We taste only sacredness….

Real value comes with madness,

matzub below, scientist above.

Whoever finds love beneath hurt and grief,

disappears into emptiness, with a thousand new disguises.[27]

We need to “open our wings” to taste the sacredness of existence. We need to rediscover God-consciousness within the context of our emergent freedom.[28] The Quran is for everyone; the Bhagavad Gita speaks to all; the same is true for the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, and the sutras of Buddhism. We emerge from the emptiness in a thousand new disguises, a vast diversity within unity, animated by love.

Yet today’s world disrupts this process. We live in an era of disruption because both global capitalism and its sister institution the sovereign nation-state interfere with, block, and distort the process of humanizing the human. Ours is an age of disruption because the mechanistic materialism of the early-modern paradigm has colonized the life-worlds of people around the globe. Nations, economic wealth-seeking, technological domination, and the idolatry of false, anthropomorphically conceived images of divinity, enslave humanity to war, destruction of the environment, spiritual and planetary ruin.

These institutions with their false paradigmatic assumptions interfere with the open and evolving project of unity in diversity that constitutes our true human vocation. The sacred needs to appear to us in a thousand new disguises.  But this cannot happen within the global war system.

As several major western thinkers have pointed out, the system of sovereign nation-states is inherently a war system. Spinoza, in the 17th century, recognized that states will wage war according to their perceived national interests, since there is no higher authority that can arbitrate or mitigate the resort to violence. British philosopher Thomas Hobbes also understood the system as intrinsically a war-system. He declared that outside of their borders, states confront one another “as gladiators.” This state of nature, he declared, without government to keep the peace, consisted in a “war of all against all.”

 This condition violates the most fundamental ethical principle (that of treating all people as having equal dignity). This condition is, therefore, inherently immoral. In Perpetual Peace (1795), Immanuel Kant describes the relation between sovereign nations as an immoral condition of war.[29] In his Philosophy of Right, G.W.F. Hegel declares “if no agreement can be reached between particular wills, conflict between states can only be settled by war.”[30]

After the Second World War, journalist Emery Reves declared that, “War takes place whenever and wherever non-integrated social units of equal sovereignty come into contact.”  He concluded that, “‘Policy’ and ‘diplomacy’ not only may lead to war, but cannot fail to do so because they are actually identical with war.”[31] The system of “sovereign” nation-states, recognizing no enforceable law above themselves, remains intrinsically a war-system, impeding the humanizing of the human.  The United Nations Charter is fundamentally a treaty of sovereign nation states, and that is why it has been unable to stop war, protect human rights, or preserve our planetary environment.

The system of militarized sovereign nation-states, the capitalist system, and the technological civilization that these have generated, now dominate us. We no longer control or dominate them.  And this world system is leading us to total destruction.  Adjustments by the UN or climate treaties under this same paradigm are not going to address the issue.  Our present condition is vividly depicted in works such as Jonathan Glover’s Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century or in David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.[32]

The future may look bleak indeed. In the face of today’s planetary crises, the humanizing of the human becomes an urgent demand. We need to become different and to think differently. We need to see ourselves as integral participants in the biosphere, as citizens of the cosmos as well as planet Earth, and as manifestations of the divine ground of being with its evolutionary upsurge. 

We urgently need to transform the world system from a war-system, greed system, and domination system to the integrated harmony of democratic world law under a united humanity. Only this can make possible the continued upsurge of humanizing of the human. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth, of course, cannot of itself establish such a transformation of human consciousness.  But I am convinced that it remains an essential vehicle for making this happen. I will briefly describe its role in three ways: the principle of unity in diversity on which it is founded, the freedom system that it creates, and the “open horizon” that is built into its provisions.[33]

First, the Constitution is designed around the principle of unity in diversity, a principle that the Earth Federation will promote throughout the government as well as in media, education, and law. The Constitution’s design brings in people from every corner of the Earth and ensures diversity in every agency and organ of the Earth Federation Government.  It ensures participation from 1000 electoral districts around the world and draws human beings into a unity that respects and dignifies their immense human diversity. This constitutional unity in diversity in many ways mirrors the unity in diversity of our emergent evolutionary cosmos.

 Second, the Constitution maximizes human freedom. The second “broad function” of the Earth Federation specified in Article 1 states that it must “protect universal human rights, including life, liberty, security, democracy, and equal opportunities in life.” The entire system of the Constitution is built around this and the other five broad functions specified in Article 1, the first of which (Article 1.1) is world peace, the second of which (1.2) is freedom and the protection of human rights, and the fifth of which is “to protect the environment and the ecological fabric of life.” By transforming a world system that currently defeats freedom in every dimension, the Earth Constitution opens before humanity a horizon for moral, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive growth that would otherwise be impossible.

 Major impediments to human freedom and flourishing endemic within the present world chaos are removed and prevented from recurring by the integrated functions of the Earth Federation under the Constitution. For example, there will be no more national security states, world militarism, authoritarian regimes, rogue militarized terror groups, corporate violations of the dignity of employees, child labor, human trafficking, extremes of poverty and deprivation, lack of literacy and education, or lack of adequate health care. These phenomena are largely products of the system and require system transformation if they are to be adequately addressed.

Third, Article 18 establishes within the constitutional framework that “open horizon” that I believe necessary for human liberation. The Constitution is a manual for making decisions by the people of Earth and for piloting our planetary spaceship. It recognizes the need for this manual to evolve as circumstances change. Article 18 mandates a new constituent assembly within 10 years after the ratification of the Constitution and additional constituent assemblies every 20 years thereafter.

As such, the Constitution mirrors the emergent evolutionary telos and unity in diversity of the world system, and it places the evolutionary upsurge of freedom at its very heart. Humanizing the human means to me participating in the self-actualizing movement of the cosmic-divine-human adventure.  We are the universe become self-aware. We have the gifts of language, freedom, and reason.[34]

Or as some Islamic thinkers have put it, our intelligence is theomorphic, capable of discerning the divine Truth, Wisdom, and Compassion.[35] We can discern the outlines of this mysterious process and ask the question of who and what we should become through the immense gift of freedom and responsibility. We can work to actualize the Love, Justice, Compassion, and Truth that serve as the fountainhead for all the great world religions. Mahatma Gandhi declared his method as satyagraha, “clinging to Truth.” The Truth requires an emergent evolutionary transformation of both humanity and our world system. The two are dialectically related and inseparable dimensions of our emergent future.

Ratification of the Earth Constitution alone cannot make this happen. But I believe this ratification is a necessary and essential step in the process of humanizing the human, of conforming our existential freedom and responsibility to the divine-cosmic-human adventure of awakening and discovery.  It is an essential step forward in the process of becoming who we are meant to be.

Humanizing the human is not a fixed equation, formulated in final form anywhere in human history. It includes the challenge of becoming, of learning and growing. As visionary Roman Catholic thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin declared, human beings form “the axis and leading shoot of evolution.”[36]  We humanize the human by affirming, from the depths of our being, our participation in this divinely ordained, cosmic and human adventure.

Endnotes


[1] Republic, 509b. For Plato, the first principle of existence transcends the world and is derived from nothing beyond itself, while the intelligible world and knowledge flow from this source.

[2] Metaphysics, Book Lambda.

[3] See Glen T. Martin, Ascent to Freedom: Practical and Philosophical Foundations of Democratic World Law, Appomattox, VA: Institute for Democracy Press, 2008, Chapter 4.  Also, Ernst Bloch, Natural Law and Human Dignity, Trans. Dennis J. Schmidt, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986.

[4] See Glen t. Martin, Millennium Dawn: The Philosophy of Planetary Crisis and Human Liberation. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2005, Chapter 5.

[5] A.J. Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1970, p. 60.

[6] Firthjof Schuon, Understanding Islam. London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1963, p. 17.

[7] See Errol E. Harris, Apocalypse and Paradigm: Science and Everyday Thinking. Westport, CT: Praeger Publisher, 2000.

[8] See Harris, Apocalypse, ibid.; Also, Garrett Thompson, Bacon to Kant: An Introduction to Modern Philosophy. Third Edition. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2012; and Charles Birch and John B. Cobb, Jr. The Liberation of Life: From the Cell to the Community. Denton, TX: Environmental Ethics Books. For “internal” and “external” relations see the latter, pp. 79-88.

[9] Early modern science culminated in Newton’s Principia Mathematica, published in 1687. The work of such thinkers as Galileo, Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, and Newton himself resulted in what I am called the “early-modern paradigm,” often also referred to as the “Newtonian Paradigm.” In several books, I have discussed the transition from this paradigm to the new paradigm derived from Einstein’s relativity physics (after 1905) and the emergence of quantum physics (in the 1920s), for example, in chapter two of Ascent to Freedom, entitled “The Paradigm Shift from Human Nature to Human Possibilities.” I contend that the early-modern paradigm is still with us, institutionalized within the global capitalism and sovereign nation-states of the current world system.

[10] I have discussed this system in several places in my books and articles, for example, in One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract (2016), chapter five. Also, in my Triumph of Civilization: Democracy, Nonviolence, and the Piloting of Spaceship Earth (2010), Part Two. See also, Errol E. Harris, Earth Federation Now! Tomorrow is Too Late. Second Edition (2014), Chapters 4-6.

[11] Christopher Chase-Dunn, Global Formation: Structures of World Economy. Updated Edition. New York: Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001, p. 61.

[12] Jacques Ellul (1965). The Technological Society. Robert K. Wilkinson, trans. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. See also, Glen T. Martin, Triumph of Civilization (2010), Part Two: “Imperial Domination and Systematic World Disorder.”

[13] See Richard F. Kitchener, ed. The World View of Contemporary Physics: Does It Need a New Metaphysics? Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988.         

[14] Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics – An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Berkeley: Shambhala, 1975.  Also, Glen T. Martin, Triumph of Civilization: Democracy, Nonviolence and the Piloting of Spaceship Earth. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2010, Chapters 1-3. Fritjof Capra, The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living. New York: Anchor Books, 2002. Errol E. Harris, Errol E. Restitution of Metaphysics. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000.

[15] From, e.g., Alfred North Whitehead’s Process and Reality. New York: Macmillan, 1978 (first published in 1929), to Ervin Laszlo’s The Self-Actualizing Cosmos: The Akasha Revolution in Science and Human Consciousness. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2014.

[16] Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry. The Universe Story – From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2002. See also Glen T. Martin, Millennium Dawn: The Philosophy of Planetary Crisis and Human Liberation (2005), Chapters 1-2. See also John Hick, An Interpretation of Religion. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

[17] Tim Lenton, Earth System Science: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. See also Martin Redfern, The Earth: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

[18] An overview of this movement is found in Errol E. Harris, Cosmos and Anthropos. A Philosophical Interpretation of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle. London: Humanities Press International, 1991.

[19] Sri Aurobindo, The Essential Aurobindo. Ed. Robert A. McDermott. New York: Schocken Books, 1973, p. 49.

[20] Errol E. Harris, Cosmos and Theos. Ethical and Theological Implications of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle. London: Humanities Press International, 1992, p. 99. Contemporary cosmologist and interpreter of quantum physics, Ervin Laszlo writes: ““Through us, the beyond-spacetime intelligence of the cosmos enters the spacetime domain of the universe.” The Intelligence of the Cosmos. Why Are We Here? New Answers from the Frontiers of Science. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2017, p. 45.

[21] Raimon Panikkar, The Cosmotheandric Experience: Emerging Religious Consciousness. Edited, with an Introduction by Scott Eastham. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993, pp. 12-13.

[22] Dr. Halo-N, The First Al Quranic Scientist of the World, Al Fathun Nawa: Volume 1. Selayang: Hafizul Publications, 2013.

[23] Plotinus, for example, believed the body is only a “shadow” of being, ultimately closer to nonbeing than to anything real. See his Enneads, Book VI, Section 2.7, 12-14.

[24] See Hans Jonas, Mortality and Morality: A Search for God after Auschwitz. Edited by Lawrence Vogel. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996, Chapter 1: “Evolution and Freedom: On the Continuity among Life-Forms.”

                Jonas writes: “The great contradictions man discovers in himself—freedom and necessity, autonomy and dependence, ego and world, connectedness and isolation, creativity and mortality—are present in nuce in life’s most primitive forms, each of which maintains a perilous balance between being and nonbeing and from the very beginning harbors within itself an inner horizon of “transcendence”…. a progressive scale of freedom and danger, reaching its pinnacle in man, who can perhaps understand his uniqueness in a new way if he no longer regards himself in metaphysical isolation.” (p.60)

[25] In Kitchener, ed., The World View of Contemporary Physics, op. cit., Chapter Three: “Quantum Physics,” p. 57.

The larger passage by Stapp states: “The general features of the quantum ontology involve a conception of man and nature profoundly different from the picture provided by classical physics. For man appears no longer as an isolated automaton. He appears rather as an integral part of the highly nonlocal creative activity of the universe…. It must inevitably lead us away from the egocentric bias that was the rational product of the ontology of classical physics, to the values inherent in the image of the self, not as a local isolated automaton but rather as a nonlocalizable integrated aspect of the creative impulse of the universe.”

[26] Raimon Panikkar, Myth, Faith, and Hermeneutics. New York: Paulist Press, 1979. Pannikar writes: “The quintessence of faith, then, reflects this aspect of Man that moves him toward fullness, this dimension by which Man is not closed up in his present state but open to perfection, to his goal or destiny, according to the schema one adopts. Faith is not fundamentally the adhesion to a doctrine or an ethic. Rather, it is manifest as an act that opens us to the possibility of perfection, permitting us to attain to what we are not yet.” (p. 202)

[27] The Essential Rumi, Translations by Coleman with John Moyne. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1995, pp. 280-81.

[28]  Immanuel Kant, even before the discovery of the evolutionary process, as is well-known, linked human freedom directly with the moral law associated with our rational freedom flowing from God (the mysterious noumenal Ground of Being).  See, e.g., the Critique of Judgement, Trans. J.H. Bernard, New York: Hafner Press, 1951, subsection 77.

[29] See Kant, Immanuel, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays. Trans. Ted Humphrey. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1983. Kant writes: “Paying men to kill or be killed appears to use them as mere machines or tools in the hands of another (the nation), which is inconsistent with the rights of humanity” (p. 108). Again, Kant writes: “Just as we view with deep distain the attachment of savages to their lawless freedom—preferring to scuffle without end rather than place themselves under lawful constraints that they themselves constitute, consequently preferring a mad freedom to a rational one—and consider it barbarous, rude, and brutishly degrading of humanity, so also we should think that civilized peoples (each one united into a nation) would hasten as quickly as possible to escape so similar a state of abandonment…. The concept of the right of nations as a right to go to war is meaningless (for it would then be the right to determine the right not by independent, universally valid laws that restrict the freedom of everyone, but by one-sided maxims backed by force)” (pp. 115-17).

[30]  G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right. First published 1821, section #334.

[31] Emery Reves, The Anatomy of Peace. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1946. pp. 121 & 150 (italics in original).

[32]  Jonathan Glover. Jonathan. 1999. Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999. David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. New York: Tim Dugan Books, 2019.

[33] See Glen T. Martin, The Earth Federation Movement: Founding a Social Contract for the People of Earth: History, Documents, Philosophical Foundations. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2011. See also, Glen T. Martin, Constitution for the Federation of Earth: With an Historical Introduction, Commentary and Conclusion. IED Press, 2010.   The Constitution can be found on-line at www.earth-constitution.org.

[34] These gifts make us a creature that is open to the future. Economist Kenneth E. Boulding wrote “It would be presumptuous of us to think that the human race is any more than a link in the great evolutionary process of the universe that moves majestically from the unknown Alpha to the even more unknown Omega,” in Herman E. Daly, ed., Economics, Ecology, Ethics (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman & CO), p. 266. See also Glen T. Martin, Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence: The Power of the Future for Planetary Transformation. London: Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2018

[35] See Fritjof Schuon, Understanding Islam, op. cit.

[36] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1959, p. 36.

The New Moral Imperative of Holism

Glen T. Martin

 

There has been a fundamental paradigm shift taking place in the sciences since physicist Max Planck published his “quantum hypothesis” in 1900 and Einstein published his “special theory of relativity” in 1905. Both theories have flourished since that time with ever more corroboration and depth of insight into the nature of our cosmos. The world of the very small (quantum physics) and the vast universe as a whole (relativity physics) together reveal a world integrated at all levels as a dynamic and integrated cosmic whole. The result is that we now understand the universe to be fundamentally different from the paradigm developed by Isaac Newton and early modern science.

This paradigm shift corresponds to an emergent encounter with the reality of the cosmos and our growth toward true human maturity. The astonishing coherence of the cosmos demands a corresponding coherence from us. From this encounter arises a renewed understanding of what it means to be a human being, and a new understanding of the fundamental moral (categorical) imperative that arises from our common human situation. This article attempts to express, as concisely as possible, the nature and origins of this moral imperative and its implications for action in the form of ratification of the Earth Constitution.

Mind and Body

Traditional philosophy, going back to Plato, attempted to understand the relations between mind (capable of discerning intelligible order in the world) from the sensuous experiences of the world around us. What was the relation of mind and matter, inner consciousness and external world? Descartes in the 17th century declared that there were two kinds of finite realities—mind and matter. Mind was non-physical and matter was extended and physical. Subsequent early modern philosophy attempted to define these features of our common experience, or define one of them in terms of the other.

In 20th century thought, this dualism (or reductionism of one into terms of the other) begins to disappear. The holism that emerged from 20th century sciences recognized that mind and matter are just two aspects of one emergent world of pure energy manifesting itself in intelligible patterns. By the mid-twentieth century, major scholarly books began to appear challenging the dualism between consciousness (mind) and unconsciousness (matter). Physicist Amit Goswami affirms that “mental phenomena—such as self-consciousness, free will, creativity…—find simple, satisfying explanations when the mind-body problem is reformulated in an overall context of… [holistic coherence] and quantum theory” (1995, p.11).

Today, such volumes have become commonplace. In the philosophical discourse of the most advanced thinkers, we have moved beyond the early modern mind-matter dilemmas to comprehensive insights into the structure and functioning of the whole of the cosmos—the emergent, evolving dynamic wholeness of all things. The early modern paradigm tended to be atomistic, mechanistic, and deterministic, looking at the universe and human experience in terms of “bodies in motion.”  The contemporary paradigm has abandoned all three of these features attributed to the world.

Mind is no longer a stranger that finds itself self-aware within an alien mechanistic cosmos.  Mind is now an integral dimension of the cosmos itself and our human minds are emergent reflections of the cosmic phenomenon of mind. Quantum physicist Henry P. Stapp concludes: “Thus a radical shift in the physics-based conception of man from that of an isolated mechanical automaton to that of an integral participant in a non-local holistic process that gives form and meaning to the evolving universe is a seismic event of potentially momentous proportions” (2011, p. 140).

Just as the early modern distinction between mind and matter breaks down, so the early modern distinction between the “is” and the “ought” (emphasized by 18th century thinker David Hume and others) breaks down. Mind is teleological. Mind posits values and pursues them according to an “ought.” If mind is now inseparable from the reality of the world studied by science, then so are values.

What is and what ought to be now interface as part of the same, dynamic cosmic reality. Philosopher and cosmologist Errol E. Harris declares: “So far from excluding man and his mind, so far from standing over and against and opposing humanity, as something to be subdued and exploited, nature and mind are to be seen as one—matter and mind fused into a single reality, as body and mind form one person.” (1987, p. 262). Values (moral imperatives) he concludes, emerge from this dynamic holistic reality (ibid. Chap. 14).

Under the quantum theory that has emerged since the early 20th century, not only is mind understood as an emergent aspect of the holistic energy matrix that is our cosmos, mind also plays a role in the “unfolding of reality” (Stapp 2011, p. 6). We are in a reciprocal relationship with the cosmic process—that is, with the evolution of the whole from the Big Bang to the present. Physicist David Bohm writes: “Consciousness and matter in general are basically the same order…. This order is what makes a relationship between the two possible” (1980, p. 264). Pioneer of consciousness-studies Jean Houston concludes that we are “stewards of the earth’s well-being and conscious participants in the cosmic epic of evolution” (in Laszlo, Houston, Dossey 2016, pp. 6-7).

Human Beings Focus the Cosmos

The universe changes us and we change the universe in mutual interaction and coherence. Suddenly human beings are shifted back to the center, a center from which we were seemingly shifted by the Copernican Revolution that declared us peripheral to the center and spinning on a tiny planet going around the true center, at that time thought to be the sun. But with the progress of science, we all but disappeared into an ever-expanding, unimaginably vast cosmos. By the 19th century, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche pointed out that this shift called into question all previous human value systems: “Since Copernicus, man seems to have got himself on an inclined plane—now he is slipping faster and faster away from the center into—what? Into nothingness? Into a penetrating sense of his nothingness?” (1969, p. 155).

Today, we are back at the center. We understand that we embody the holism of the cosmos, a holism that both animates our consciousness and functions as an intelligible good for human values. In Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence, I wrote:

Holism functions not only as the new paradigm emerging from an entire range of twentieth century scientific discoveries, creative holism also arises from our futurity as an intelligible good, functioning as an ideal of human organization and relationships. As we have seen, our capacity for self-transcendence inherent within our temporal existence allows us to discern intelligible goods and motivates us to seek their realization. Holism as an intelligible good promises the unity of our human project, a cooperative, sustainable world of peace and prosperity, the end to all wars, to hatred, needless fears, and most violence. The oneness of genuine unity in diversity calls to us in the form of a transformed future. (2018, p. 233)

Today, we are beginning to understand that we are co-creators within the process of cosmic evolution. We discern the intelligible good of holism. We are now responsible for that evolution on our planet. Physicist Henry P. Stapp writes: “Thus contemporary orthodox physics delegates some of the responsibilities formerly assigned to an inscrutable God, acting in the distant past, to our present knowable conscious actions” (2011, p. 9). Our conscious actions can counteract the law of entropy which says that all things run down and die. We can enhance the emergent coherence at the heart of the evolutionary process.

The emergent complexity of the world reveals an anti-entropic movement at work. The anti-entropic movement of the evolutionary universe has been to actualize, at ever-higher levels of complexity and consciousness, what physicist David Bohm (1980) calls the “implicate order” of holism implicit in all existent things, what scientist-philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the emergent noösphere (mind-sphere).

If this is so, then it would appear that we are called upon to consciously assimilate that holism (that is also at the awakening core of our being)—act on it, enhance it, develop it, and coordinate it. Here I am using this great metaphor arising from western religions: We are called: “God’s call.” Teilhard writes: “this will open to an advance of all together, in a direction in which all together can join and find completion in a spiritual renovation of the earth” (1959, p.244).

Errol E. Harris declares: “If the implications of the scientific revolution and the new paradigm it introduces are taken seriously, holism should be the dominating concept in all our thinking…. Atomism, individualism, separatism, and reductionism have become obsolete, are no longer tolerable and must be given up” (2000, p. 90). Indeed, as Bohm also points out, “fragmentation” is precisely our problem. This fragmentation (atomism, mechanism, reductionism, and causal determinism) is derived from the early modern paradigm that continues to condition our thinking and our institutions. It lies at the root of our on-going destruction of the planetary environment and our on-going potential for destroying ourselves through weapons of mass destruction possessed by so-called “sovereign” states.

Albert Einstein wrote that our egoism and individualism is “a kind of optical illusion,” a “kind of prison” that “restricts us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.”  However, the awakening to the holism of which we are conscious expressions can allow us to “widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty” (in Kafatos and Nadau, p. 113). The values that follow from the realization that we are conscious manifestations of the Whole (or God non-anthropomorphically understood) are those of compassion, reconciliation, harmony, coherence, integration, and emergent wholeness.

The reality of the world, come to self-awareness in us, demands of us an “ought,” a “Categorical Imperative,” to promote and create wholeness through actualization of the unity in diversity of all humankind. We discern that we lack coherence among our human species. We are in conflict with the emergent evolutionary universe and with God. Our human situation implies an absolute moral command that admits of no exceptions—a new Categorical Imperative.

The great Indian sage Sri Aurobindo wrote: “The universe and the individual are necessary to each other in their ascent. Always indeed they exist for each other and profit by each other…. [The Universe] creates in itself a self-conscious concentration of the All through which it can aspire” (1973, p. 49). Contemporary Indian thinker Swami Agnivesh speaks of the Vedic insight as “a holistic vision in which all the parts dwell organically within the whole and the whole dwells within the parts” (2015, pp. 13-14). Jean Houston declares that “the infrastructure of the mind mirrors the structures of the universe” (in Laszlo, Houston, Dossey 2016, p. 7).

Harris writes: “The universal principle [God] is necessarily immanent in every part and every phase of the system. It is the alpha and omega of the universe, and without it nothing could be what it is, or happen as it does. Bringing itself to consciousness in our minds, it determines the essential nature of our thinking….” (1992, p. 99). Contemporary interpreter of scientific cosmology Ervin Laszlo writes: ““Through us, the beyond-spacetime intelligence of the cosmos enters the spacetime domain of the universe” (2017, p. 45).

The Fundamental Moral Imperative and Human Maturity

What moral imperatives derive from the discovery of the deep holism of our cosmos, manifest in self-conscious form in us?  We see that the emergent evolutionary universe is creative, whereas, as Stapp declares, under the early modern reductionism the “creative aspect of nature exhausted itself in the first instant.” The classical conception of humans was profoundly “egoistic,” seeing them as self-interested atoms struggling within a mechanical universe for self-interested success. The new image of the self, Stapp writes, is “not as a local isolated automation but rather as a nonlocalizable integrated aspect of the creative impulse of the universe” (in Kitchener 1988, pp. 56-57).

Scholar of transpersonal psychology Ken Wilber (2007) has developed a “psychograph” of human development that sees human moral and cognitive growth proceeding through four main stages (with which many other contemporary thinkers agree). Our proper human development is to grow out of the egocentric orientation of childhood, continue through the ethnocentric orientation of youth, and emerge into the worldcentric orientation of mature adults. Yet the worldcentric orientation itself needs to be transcended into the cosmocentric awareness characteristic of spiritually, morally, and cognitively awake human beings.

Our first task is to grow out of the immature levels into our true human destiny. The full self-actualization of our moral and cognitive potential requires that we become aware of ourselves as conscious embodiments of the cosmic whole. However unique each of us may be within the concrete circumstances of our lives, we share a common humanity and common imperative deriving from the very foundations of existence. Immanuel Kant (1964) called the fundamental moral imperative a “categorical” imperative because it admits of no exceptions.

An immense responsibility emerges from realization of the insight expressed by these thinkers, a new Categorical Imperative, incumbent on us all without exceptions. If our consciousness embodies an “integrated aspect of the creative impulse of the universe,” then how should we be acting in harmony with that impulse? We are tasked to establish the deep reality of true holism everywhere on our tiny home planet. The foundations of existence that have come to focus in our evolving consciousness are neither atomistic, nor mechanistic, nor deterministic. Each of us expresses the creative power of the deep unity in diversity of the whole.

Errol E. Harris has analyzed the concept of holism at length, showing that there cannot be wholes without diversity (1991, Chap. 2). Holism means uniting the parts in a unity that protects their respective diversities and integrates their unique functions within the whole. Our present world is one of immense fragmentation, a fragmentation so extreme it has threatened us for 70 years with nuclear holocaust and for the past 60 years with emerging climate disaster.

We begin to understand that the dominant institutions of our planet are founded on human immaturity, on an outdated paradigm that was atomistic, mechanistic, and deterministic. Capitalism is premised on an egocentric view of human beings as atoms of personal greed and self-interest.  The system of militarized sovereign nation-states is premised on an ethnocentric view of human beings as divided into nearly 200 atomistic and competing national societies. Both views are deeply immature and deeply wrong.

A number of scholars writing on today’s climate disaster have pointed out the role that the atomism and fragmentation of capitalism has had in the creation of climate disaster.  For example,

Joel Kovel. The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World?

Ian Angus. Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System.

Naomi Klein. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate.

James Gustave Speth. The Bridge at the End of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability.

But few scholars have pointed out the tragic role of the system of sovereign nation-states in threatening the end of the world and possible human extinction. One of the few deep thinkers who has done this extensively is professor Errol E. Harris. He first published his analysis of the tragically flawed system of sovereign nation-states as early as 1950 in The Survival of Political Man and has since expanded and developed this analysis in books like Apocalypse and Paradigm (2000), Earth Federation Now: Tomorrow is Too Late (Second Edition, 2014), and Twenty-First Century Democratic Renaissance (2008).  In Apocalypse and Paradigm, he writes:

The most dangerous effects of atomistic and separatist thinking are to be seen in the theory and practice of international affairs. Here the dominating concept is national sovereign independence, a status demanded by every ethnic group and cherished by every national state. The claim of independent national states to sovereignty creates an impasse in world affairs that is seldom diagnosed and presents so serious a problem that discussion of it merits a chapter to itself. Like everything that has been detailed earlier, this persistent way of thinking that independent sovereign states are the only possible and natural political structure for the nations of the world is a hangover in the twentieth century of the world view typical of the seventeenth and succeeding centuries. (2000, p. 52)

The Categorical Imperative is to unite humanity, to promote real unity in diversity, to eliminate war, and to restore and promote the ecological holism of our planetary ecosystem. The present system of sovereign nation-states makes this effectively impossible. It embodies the fragmentation of the early modern paradigm. Nevertheless, a minority of thinkers going back to Immanuel Kant and beyond have already maintained this imperative, and a significant minority of social activists have maintained this since the time of the First World War. However, even many within this movement have not understood the immense Categorical Imperative that defines our human situation.

The majority of these activists who maintained that we need to federate the Earth have often been called “world federalists.” Like the rest of humanity, they have abdicated their responsibility under this Categorical Imperative. They have deferred uniting until some unspecified future date, some date that will almost inevitably postdate the ever-present nuclear holocaust and the cascading collapse of a habitable climate (see Wallace-Wells, 2017). However, you cannot legitimately postpone a Categorical Imperative. It requires effective action in the here and now, without exceptions.

The New Moral (Categorical) Imperative

The new Categorical Imperative is very clear: we must unite NOW, within a binding holistic economic and political framework, for we are facing extinction and the consequent total abdication of our God-given mission to actualize holism on our planet. The new Categorical Imperative demands that we overcome our fragmentation and UNITE as one common humanity and universal civilization. The original Categorical Imperative, formulated by Immanuel Kant in the 18th century, remains valid. However, in the 18th century it was impossible to discern the true depth and force of the imperative that would emerge in the 20th century.

The original imperative correctly combined universality and human dignity. It insisted that all valid moral actions in any situation be universalizable, that any rational person should also act as I am about to act. And it insisted that in any situation we should always treat persons as ends in themselves (i.e. as having intrinsic dignity), never merely as a means. Implicit within these principles was the moral goal for society of establishing our human world as a “Kingdom of Ends” in which all people everywhere treated each other morally, as ends in themselves. Kant may have gone as far in the direction of holism and its Categorical Imperative as was possible in the 18th century.

Kant applied this original Categorical Imperative to the system of sovereign nation-states (1957). They did not operate by the Imperative but rather through lawless power-based, “might makes right” relationships. The system of sovereign states was, therefore, immoral and illegitimate. It needed to be replaced by all states joining under a world constitution, “similar to a civil constitution,” in which their relationships became based on the universal laws of humanity and respect for human dignity (hence, ending all war). Kant was clearly on the mark to the extent possible under the fragmentation of the early modern paradigm.

Kant’s understanding, great as it was, remained limited by a paradigm that viewed nature as atomistic, mechanistic, and causally determined, and by the fragmented economic and political institutions deriving from that paradigm. For example, Kant was forced to posit human freedom and reason (necessary if there was to be a Categorical Imperative and the responsibility to live according to its principles) as breaking into the causally determined world from the unknowable ultimate reality of things (which he called the “noumenal” dimension). There was no freedom nor responsibility to be found in the causally determined physical world as he understood it.

Today, with the scientific breakthrough to holism and the revelations of quantum theory, we no long require the positing of a mysterious “noumenal” source of freedom to account for the new Categorical Imperative and our responsibility to fulfill it. Today we know what Kant could not have known. First, we know that everything evolves toward coherence. The world is not a static, fixed reality created deterministically by God as a “giant clockwork” that just keeps deterministically operating until the end of time.

Today, we know that character of the world shortly after the Big Bang was vastly different than later developments, and that subsequently, with each succeeding billion years of its existence, the world has continued to evolve. This process, according to the “Anthropic Principle,” intrinsically led to self-conscious creatures capable of comprehending the whole (see Harris 1991). The universe has emerged into self-consciousness in us. From the very beginning, the development of self-conscious creatures was inherent within the telos of the universal evolutionary process.

Second, today we know that the mind-matter paradox has dissolved, that mind and all other things are vibrations of energy rooted in a quantum matrix of such incredible unity that space and time are transcended. Human freedom is therefore immediately comprehensible, and is integral to the reality investigated by science. Quantum physics has even shown that human decisions influence the reality that emerges in the events we are investigating. Our actions impact everyone and everything around us, like waves on the sea. We become participants (or as now impediments) in the evolutionary upsurge of the cosmos.

Third, today we understand that the deep holism and unity of the universe remain at the root of all things including the immediate mind-body reality of each of us. We are living embodiments of the whole and our emergent freedom is not some cosmic accident to be indulged by immature egos in the service of pleasure, wealth, and power. Our emergent freedom is the culmination of a 13.7 billion-year evolutionary process in which the evolving energy matrix of the cosmos becomes self-aware in us. Evolution now goes beyond the apparently naturalistic mechanisms that produced life. It is now delegated to free beings who have emerged as a self-aware community on the Earth.

We are responsible to continue the anti-entropic process of emergent unity in diversity and produce a holistic “kingdom of God” here on our beautiful home-planet called Earth. The earthly goal of Kant’s first Categorical Imperative to create a Kingdom of Ends on our planet is now magnified ten-fold in the light of the discovery of the holism at the root of all things. We now understand the Imperative to actualize the reality that continues to emerge from the heart of the Cosmos. That holistic principle is focused like a laser beam in human consciousness, waiting to be fully actualized on a planetary scale.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative commanded universality. The new Categorical Imperative, ten-fold more powerful and urgent, commands unity within diversity. It commands us to create a dynamic, holistic reality of unity in diversity that includes the ecological integrity of our planet’s biosphere and the mutual actualization of all the planet’s diverse peoples and nations. We are everywhere the same in our wonderful diversity. Ervin Laszlo concludes that “I am an irreducible and coherent whole with the community of humans on this planet” (2016, p. 122). We are in a position to actualize this Imperative through ratification of The Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

The Constitution for the Federation of Earth

The Preamble to the Earth Constitution is itself a concise statement of the new Categorical Imperative and the action that it demands. It outlines the fact that the old, immature paradigm has brought us to “the brink of ecological and social catastrophe.” It articulates the features of the new holistic paradigm on which the Constitution is based “aware of the interdependence of people, nations and all life.”

The Preamble describes the movement of the new Categorical Imperative from awareness to action:

Conscious that Humanity is One despite the existence of diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies and cultures and that the principle of unity in diversity is the basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail; when the earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare; and when basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination;…We, citizens of the world, hereby resolve to establish a world federation to be governed in accordance with this Constitution for the Federation of Earth. (2016, p. 70)

Consciousness of the holistic principle at the heart of our human condition declares that we UNITE. We citizens of the world “resolve” to unite. It requires concrete action to establish a world federation to be governed in accordance with the Earth Constitution. At present, we are whole only in potentia, and we become fully whole in actu upon embracing a worldwide constitutional unity. The moral imperative is to become whole.

Moral imperatives are worth little as abstract ideals unless they result in concrete human actions. Even though there are, of course, other options for uniting humanity, there are none so available, widely known in a variety of languages, and already backed by a worldwide organization as the Earth Constitution. There are also no other constitutions so brilliantly designed to unite humanity into a harmonious and effective federation for addressing the entire range of global problems.

 It is a truly amazing document, democratically empowering the people of Earth to address the multiple threats of extinction engendered by the immature capitalist and sovereign nation-state paradigm. It provides a manual for operating Spaceship Earth. And the very act of uniting under this common framework impels human consciousness forward to its higher levels, to a cosmocentric awareness of our common human destiny and responsibility.

Our cosmic destiny is to be the vanguard and stewards of holism on our planet, to foster peace, integration, coherence, sustainability, balance, synergy and fulfillment everywhere on Earth. Our responsibility is to dedicate our lives to the ratification and implementation of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. It embodies the holism that Errol E. Harris declared “should be the dominating concept in all our thinking.” It’s ratification directly manifests that effective and concrete action to UNITE humanity demanded by the new Categorical Imperative.

 

 

Works Cited

Agnivesh, Swami (2015). Applied Spirituality: A Spiritual Vision for the Dialogue of Religions. New York: Harper Element Books.

Angus, Ian (2016).  Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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

Bohm, David (1980). Wholeness and the Implicate Order. New York: Routledge Publisher.

Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Introduction by Glen T. Martin (2016). Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.  On-line at www.earth-constitution.org and other locations.

Davies, Paul (1983). God and the New Physics. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Goswami, Amit (1993). The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World. New York: Penguin Putnam Books.

Harris, Errol E. (1987). Formal, Transcendental & Dialectical Thinking: Logic & Reality. Albany: State University of New York Press.

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

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

Harris, Errol E. (2008). Twenty-First Century Democratic Renaissance. With a Foreword by Glen T. Martin. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Democracy Press.

Harris, Errol E. (2014). Earth Federation Now! Tomorrow is Too Late. Second Edition. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

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

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

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

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

Kant, Immanuel (1957, originally published 1795). 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?

Laszlo, Ervin, Jean Houston & Larry Dossey (2016). What is Consciousness? Three Sages Look Behind the Veil. Ed. Kingsley L. Dennis. New York: Select Books.

Laszlo, Ervin (2017). The Intelligence of the Cosmos. Why Are We Here? New Answers from the Frontiers of Science. 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 Publisher.

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1969). On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo. Walter Kaufmann, trans. New York: Vintage Books.

Speth, James Gustave (2008). The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Stapp, Henry P. (2011). Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer. Second Edition. New York: Springer Publishers.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre (1959). The Phenomenon of Man. Trans. Bernard Wall. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

Wallace-Wells, David (2019). The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. New York: Duggan Books.

Wilber, Ken (1984). Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists. Boulder, CO: Shambala Publications.

Wilber, Ken (2007). Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World. Boston: Integral Books.

Book Review of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

Glen T. Martin

This is an extraordinary book that has deservedly been a best seller. David Wallace-Wells writes beautifully, clearly, and with an impressive knowledge of wide ranges of relevant literature. He details all the ways in which the Earth will be (and is) rapidly becoming uninhabitable. He calls these “elements of chaos.” He discusses the crisis of capitalism and resistance to change, as well as the “politics of consumption,” two central impediments to addressing the climate crisis.

In Part One of this review, I will describe some of the main themes of the book. I also want to point out here that the text of this book contains no footnotes. Notes are given at the end of the book using boldface key phrases in relation to page numbers where these are found. This is not a positive feature, leaving the reader wondering whether each topic covered has some corresponding note. In Part Two, I will discuss Wallace-Wells’ ideas about the crisis, addressed in his final chapters, and his thoughts about how we should respond and what we might specifically do. I will show how he leaves out our most significant and hopeful option, which is ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

 

PART ONE

 

David Wallace-Wells opens the book by reflecting on “cascades,” that is, all the ways in which the present state of the world’s climate is already foreordained to make things worse, much worse. Each day that passes in which we do little or nothing address the climate crisis means another degree of serious impact that is necessarily going to happen. Lack of action cascades into the future. We are passing one tipping point, one point of no return, after another.

In his second part of the book, “Elements of Chaos,” he reviews the forms of destruction that are hitting us now and will inevitably increase. The only real question is whether they will increase to the point of human extinction or will we act in time to salvage a livable planet. First there is “Heat Death.” Wallace-Wells reviews what scientists tell us it will be like at and increase of 2 degrees Celsius, 4 degrees, 6 degrees, etc. The consequences multiply and the prospect of the higher temperatures means an uninhabitable Earth.

Next there is “Hunger,” already a world problem and inevitably getting much worse. The yield of staple cereal crops declines by 10% for every degree of warming: “Which means that if the planet is five degrees warmer by the end of the century, when projections suggest we may have as many as 50% more people to feed, we may also have 50% less grain to give them” (p. 49). Third, we face “Drowning.” Without a major reduction of emissions, standard scientific predictions give us “at least four feet of sea-level rise and possibly eight by the end of the century” (p. 59). This chapter describes the dynamics of melting polar caps as well as the vast land areas that will be inundated by the rising oceans.

The next chapter, “Wildfire” presents a detailed chronicle of the thousands of wildfires that have been consuming the Earth during the past few years. Drying out and drought help precipitate these enormous fires: “it is the cascading chaos that reveals the true cruelty of climate change—it can upend and turn violently against us everything we have ever thought to be stable” (p. 77). The following chapter is on “Freshwater Drain.” He describes the huge inland freshwater lakes that have been disappearing or have disappeared around the world from overuse. He chronicles the shrinking underground aquifers that are losing water faster than the rate of recharge. Also, half the world’s population depends on snow melts from glaciers in the Himalayas and elsewhere, all of which are rapidly melting.

Next we have the chapter on “Unbreathable Air” in which he describes the immense particle content and polluted air of many major cities around the world. Medical studies have shown the high increase in respiratory infection and many other ailments when the air is polluted to this degree. The following chapter, called “Plagues of Warming,” describes the increase of diseases, some of which have emerged from melting ice where they have been locked away for hundreds of years. Others are becoming more common due to global warming, from yellow fever to malaria to Lyme disease.

In the chapter called “Economic Collapse,” Wallace-Wells points out that some contemporary economists are not attributing the history of swift economic growth throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to the wonders of a “free market” but rather to the discovery of the fossil fuels that powered this growth from then to the present. Some are predicting a great depression that will dwarf the one of 1929. The world is drowning in debt (as Ellen Brown, 2007, and many others have pointed out), but with serious flooding, immense wildfires, droughts, and water shortages, is it possible for capitalism to continue its growth mantra? Again, there is the theme of “cascade.” The enormous losses from climate disasters are “cascading through the world system,” portending serious economic consequences: “Every day we do not act, those costs accumulate, and the numbers quickly compound” (pp. 112-23).

The final chapters under “Elements of Chaos” are “Climate Conflict” and “Systems.” The facts of climate conflict, he says, are there in the obsession of the US military with climate change. And climate shocks around the world are indeed causing instability, collapse of governments, major movements of refugees, and social instability. Under the chapter “Systems,” we encounter studies that have been done of those experiencing climate disasters: people experience PTSD, “climate depression,” and “environmental grief.” Some get angry and harbor “vengeful thoughts” (pp.136-37). When, he asks, are we going to wake up: “At what point will the climate crisis grow undeniable, un-compartmentalizable? How much damage will have already been selfishly done? How quickly will we act to save ourselves and preserve as much of the way of life we know today as possible?” (p. 140).

In his third section of the book, called “The Climate Kaleidoscope,” Wallace-Wells considers the problem of capitalism, the option of technological solutions to the climate crisis, and the issue of limitless consumption. All three of these phenomena are major impediments to effective change, and technology is not likely to be the answer. Wallace-Wells reviews some of the dramas, the stories, that we tell about ourselves and our human condition that can bear on how we might respond. However, whatever stories we invent, we are still clearly living in the Anthropocene, and a major theme of the book is that if we had the power to create climate crisis, then we humans must recognize that we also have the power to respond effectively.

Climate denial is not a legitimate option. The scientists writing the 2018 report of the IPCC (the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), speak in a note that is no longer merely “objective” and dispassionate sounding (p. 157). There is a serious crisis, they are saying, and it must be addressed with major immediate changes. At the same time, this book has chronicled the many possible responses to the coming uninhabitable Earth that evade the issue and try to find ways to escape, both physically and psychologically.

PART TWO

The last two chapters of this book address “Ethics at the End of the World” and “The Anthropic Principle.” Wallace-Wells clearly does not want the foreboding possibility of human extinction to happen. In “Ethics at the End of the World,” he surveys a range of responses to climate collapse and the impending demise of the human project. This chapter is not about ethics as the discipline reflecting on how human beings should act, but rather it is about the responses of groups and writers to the “toxic knowledge” of what is happening to all of us and our planet.

These responses range from a “hedonistic quietism” that withdraws from the world into private satisfactions in a kind of Stoic renunciation of hope, to the response (that he associates with the Dalai Lama) that we should be living as fully as possible with compassion, wonderment, and love. Indeed, it evokes wonder just reading in this book about some of the ways people and groups have responded to the prospect of the demise of civilization. On the negative side there has been widespread “climate nihilism” with synonyms like “climate fatalism” or “human futilitarianism.” There are writers like Roy Scranton who declare that “civilization is already dead” (p. 215).

We are in danger, he writes, of a “climate apathy” in which we are “drawing our circles of empathy smaller and smaller, or by simply turning a blind eye” and finding “ways to engineer a new indifference” (pp. 215-16). Or there is the movement toward a “new inhumanism” that rejects human self-focus and apparent narcissism for the primacy of what is “not man,” the world apart from human egoism in its “transhuman magnificence.” So what if human beings go extinct, these responses proclaim, the magnificence of the natural world will simply continue without us.

I wonder if Wallace-Wells believes that the traditions of ethics in both eastern and western thought have been merely symptoms of such a human narcissism? It is difficult to tell from what he writes, and from the way that he appears to ignore these traditions. In the final chapter, called “The Anthropic Principle,” he attempts to make a comeback from the varieties of denial and despair to a positive response to climate crisis. But his response is a weak one.

He recalls those physicists who have wondered why we appear to be alone in the universe. Is it because human-like civilizations have appeared many times in the vastness of the universe but have all burnt themselves out in climate suicide? But he opposes this pessimism by appealing to the Anthropic Principle in which physicists have pointed out that the initial conditions of the universe in the Big Bang were precisely such that human beings would eventually develop and self-consciously ask questions about the mystery of existence (p. 225, see Harris 1991).

Out of the ambiguity about who and what we are, and out of the variety of possible responses to the “tragic knowledge” of our imminent demise (unless serious world-wide action is taken immediately), Wallace-Wells comes down on the side of “thinking like a planet.” Or better, he says, we must “be thinking like a people, one people, whose fate is shared by all” (p. 226). He says that the very fact that we had the effective power to place ourselves in this terrible danger should awaken us to the fact that we have the power to save it. It should serve as a call to action. We must choose to protect our planet, which is also the only home human beings will ever have.

One wonders if this is the proper fruit of all the admirable erudition manifested in this book. If a person reads too much, perhaps there is the danger of having too many possible perspectives on every issue, leading to paralysis. Where are the great ethical traditions of both western and eastern thought that see human beings as having an “infinite” dignity and worth, beyond all price and calculation? Where is the great Upanishad principle of vasudhaiva kutumbakam, the world is one family, with its Vedic presupposition that human life is sacred? Where is the great Kantian principle that every person is an end in his or herself, having infinite dignity and incalculable worth, or the principles of universal love taught by Jesus?

Moving from this great traditional wisdom to contemporary science, we should ask how the breakthroughs of the past 80 years in quantum physics bear on our responses to the coming uninhabitable Earth? The great Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo declared that the Universe becomes conscious of itself in us (1973, p. 49). Contemporary interpreter of quantum physics, Ervin Laszlo, concludes that “Through us, the beyond-spacetime intelligence of the cosmos enters the spacetime domain of the universe” (2017, p. 45).

20th century philosopher Errol E. Harris writes: “The universal principle [God] is necessarily immanent in every part and every phase of the system. It is the alpha and omega of the universe, and without it nothing could be what it is, or happen as it does. Bringing itself to consciousness in our minds, it determines the essential nature of our thinking….” (1992, p. 99). This is what science has been discovering since Einstein first published his principle of relativity in 1905. The telos of the universe gives us the mission of holism, harmony, and unity with nature in the service of a loving consciousness of the whole. Surely this bears directly on how we should respond to climate change and the threat of extinction?

Wallace-Wells’ good instincts steer him away from climate nihilism and despair. But he appears to miss the nature-transcending dignity and worth of humanity and the human project. He is tempted to look at this tradition in both the East and the West through the lens of those environmental fatalists who see our special place in nature as a narcissistic illusion. To transcend nature as free, rational beings, to recognize that the universe has become conscious of itself in us, is not to claim the right to dominate and destroy nature. It is a realization of humility, of Buddhistic “no-self” (anatta), rather than one of arrogance. It opens us to our deeper self, what Marx called our “species-being,” what Swami Agnivesh calls “a holistic vision in which all the parts dwell organically within the whole and the whole dwells within the parts” (2015, pp. 13-14).

We are clearly part of nature and should be living in harmony with it. At the same time, we are inevitably custodians of nature and need to protect its balance and integrity. The great insight of both East and West is the incredible dignity and responsibility of being human. We need to connect with the transcendent foundations of our humanity and manifest this connection in active lives of love, justice, and compassion. The “great-souled” one, Mahatma Gandhi, declared that “non-cooperation with evil is a duty,” and it should be clear that the destruction of the ecological balances of our planet is evil.

Wallace-Wells calls us to action in the name of our common humanity, but it is a weak call, diluted by the plethora of possible (false) responses to our climate crisis. We have the duty to act because we are one world, one human family, and one civilizational project—all transcendently valuable as a manifestation of the deep foundations of the universe. There is something sacred about a human being within whom “Atman is Brahman.” There is something divine about a human being who is “made in the image of God.”

Climate response involves acting from the deepest sources of our being, not the superficial egoism of capitalist competition, nor the puerile self-centeredness of nationalistic pride, nor from some weak-kneed promise that if we made the mess, then we can also clean it up. It requires a waking up to who we really are as children of the Kosmos, as manifestations so deep that the voice of Being could proclaim: “let there be light.” Many thinkers have pointed out the danger of the emerging one-dimensional “cosmopolitanism” or “everydayness” of the modern world.

Theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich (1987) worried that modern man was trapped in a horizontal dimension that reduced everything to a manifestation of the same, ignoring the “deep dimension” of human existence. Psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm (1981) observed that mass society had reduced our capacity to respond fully and creatively to the holism of the world in a perpetual rebirth. Philosopher Karl Jaspers observed that modern man was losing the sense of the depths of being, he is “undergoing absorption into that which is nothing more than a means to an end, into that which is devoid of purpose or significance…. he would seem to be sacrificing the being in which he realizes his own selfhood” (1957, p. 83).

Wallace-Wells has no concrete suggestions about how we should be responding to climate crisis. And in this respect his book is less valuable than books like Speth’s The Bridge at the Edge of the World, Heinberg’s The End of Growth, Romm’s Climate Change, or Raworth’s Doughnut Economics. Nevertheless, all these authors have the insight that humanity is one and should act as one. But none of them draw the true implications of this insight that the best way that we can act to address climate change is through uniting the nations through ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. That is, we must actualize our oneness and not just wax poetic about it.

The Constitution is not a document deriving from any particular religious tradition. Its only reference to religion is in the Bill of Rights, which gives every person the equal freedom to either practice religion or no religion. However, the Constitution is founded on the gigantic truth of human unity and dignity. It is directed to addressing climate crisis with the holistic force of human beings working collectively together. If we are a human family, then it is time we began acting like one. The Constitution ends war and addresses the problem of poverty in the same way: through the synergistic force of the united whole of humanity.

This is the only reasonable and effective way that we can deal with climate crisis. The egoistic competition and nationalistic fragmentation that created it (along with the discovery of fossil fuels) must be overcome by human unity, solidarity, compassion, and love. These qualities are manifested as we join in global democracy under the Earth Constitution. There is no other credible alternative. G.F.W. Hegel declared that “universals” are worth little until they become “concrete universals;” ideals are worth little until they become “objectified” and actualized in history. And Karl Marx applied these insights to our real economic and political conditions.

The threat of collapse, the collapse that is already happening all around us, can only be effectively addressed through the united action of humanity, bound together in that unity by a Constitution that gives us an effective tool for taking action. Without that tool, all the idealistic slogans in the world about our common humanity remain ineffective and largely hot air. The Earth Constitution joins us together in democratic equality, and legally empowers us to take effective action.

Under the Earth Constitution, effective action addressing climate change is identified as one of the “broad functions” of the entire Earth Federation government in Article 1. The government is granted “specific powers” to protect the fresh waters, oceans, and atmosphere of the planet in Article 4. A protected and healthy environment for the planet is one of the human rights declared in Article 13, and a specific action oriented global program or addressing all aspects of climate change is outlined in Article 17.

Here is the powerful and effective way that human beings can respond to climate crisis. Not weak, disconnected responses here and there such as recycling, promoting solar, or a carbon tax. But a worldwide effort to address the multidimensional aspects of the crisis in a comprehensive and integrated fashion. Wallace-Wells does an excellent job of identifying the multifaceted crisis we are facing, currently leading toward an “uninhabitable Earth.” But the answer is not a weak “we should work together” but rather a concrete and real joining together, legally, economically, and morally. This effective action can only be achieved through ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

Works Cited

Swami Agnivesh (2015). Applied Spirituality: A Spiritual Vision for the Dialogue of Religions. New York: Harper Element Books.

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

Ellen Brown (2007). Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System. Baton Rouge, Louisana: Third Millennium Press.

Constitution for the Federation of Earth, with an Introduction by Glen T. Martin. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press. Also on-line at www.earth-consitution.org and other places.

Erich Fromm (1981). On Disobedience and Other Essays. New York: The Seabury Press.

Errol E. Harris (1991). Cosmos and Anthropos: A Philosophical Interpretation of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle. London: Humanities Press International. See also Harris’ 1992 book Cosmos and Theos: Ethical and Theological Implications of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle (London: Humanities Press) in which he shows the relationship between this principle, the holism of the cosmos, and the depth-reality of God.

Heinberg, Richard (2011). The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Karl Jaspers (1957). Man in the Modern Age. Trans. Eden and Cedar Paul. New York: Anchor Books.

Ervin Laszlo (2017). The Intelligence of the Cosmos. Why Are We Here? New Answers from the Frontiers of Science. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

James Gustave Speth (2008). The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing the Crisis to Sustainability. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Paul Tillich (1987). The Essential Tillich. Ed. F. Forrester Church. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kate Raworth (2017). Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Joseph Romm (2018). Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know. Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

David Wallace-Wells (2019). The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. New York: Tim Duggan Books.