A Review by Ron Glossop, PhD.
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University
ONE WORLD RENAISSANCE is an unusual species of book that combines a theoretical overview of the revolution taking place in our fundamental understanding of the universe together with a practical recommendation concerning what we humans must do to rescue ourselves from the overwhelming global problems presently confronting us. In its subtitle “Holistic Planetary Transformation” refers to the theoretical aspect while “Global Social Contract” alludes to the practical part, the ratification of the EARTH CONSTITUTION developed by the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA). Martin’s aim is to show “that dealing with the global crises that threaten human existence is directly related with the imperative to establish a world based upon human dignity and human flourishing, a world that will include both a spiritual renaissance and a practical, planetary social contract” (p. 11). Humanity seems to be moving gradually in the right direction, but “celebration at this point would be premature, since this new paradigm of wholeness has not penetrated into the practices and institutions of civilization. The power of [global] capitalism, the system of [completely] sovereign nation-states, and instrumental-technological rationality remain fundamentally entrenched” (p. 37). The obstacles to be overcome are huge.
Martin describes in detail how new developments in science in the 20th century have engendered an important more general change in how the world is conceived. A significant transition is occurring from the Newtoniam materialistic, atomistic, mechanistic, deterministic view of the universe to a new view that leaves room for the mental and spiritual. Intellectuals have come to see the universe as holistic, teleological, and open to an emerging future. The world is not a machine that can be reduced to the movements of physical particles but rather a transcendent unity with a built-in overall purpose like any growing living thing. Martin supports his observations with quotation after quotation from leading thinkers. In fact a great value of this book is its inclusion of a very large number of important carefully documented quotations.
Professor Martin believes that capitalism and the current nation-state political system are both the result of the old early-modern Newtonian view of reality. For him, it is these two facets of the current social system that need to be rejected and replaced by a global social democratic federation such as the EARTH CONSTITUTION would establish. He does not explicitly oppose all capitalism but only unrestrained global capitalism, which I believe results from the other thing that he adamantly opposes, unlimited national sovereignty. I also think that he somewhat carelessly condemns national sovereigny of any kind when he omits that important qualifying adjective “unlimited.” He is a world federalist who wants to retain some national sovereigny but it must be limited by and subordinate to a global authority.
I especially like Martin’s observation that those in the peace movement who champion commitment to personal nonviolence “have positive insights, but not meaningful concrete proposals for institutional transformation. . . . We need to oppose the global war system with a global peace system. . . . A philosophy of nonviolence alone will not do it” (p. 300).
This short review does not at all do justice to Martin’s extended commentary about how the changes in modern science have caused vast changes in the general cultural outlook. At the same time I want to note the absence of any discussion about what specifically should be done to gain support for a world federation in general or ratification of the EARTH CONSTITUTION in particular. This book should help, but obviously more efforts from others are needed.