Safeguards Against Totalitarianism
By Glen T. Martin
This article is excerpted from Dr. Martin’s 2016 book, One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract — Chapter 7: The Problem of Power in Relation to Global Government.
- Conditions Fostering the Rise of Totalitarianism
- The Earth Constitution and Paradigms of Power
- The Question of an “Outside” to the System
- Legitimate Power as the Alternative to Violence
- Power as Qualitative rather than Quantitative
- Self-limiting Features of the Earth Federation Government
- Education as Empowerment
All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble…. They can never be solved but only outgrown. This “outgrowing” proved on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient’s horizon, and through this broadening of his or her outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge.
— Carl Gustave Jung
What are the pros and cons of the attempt to create democratic world government under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth? Some say it will save us from nuclear holocaust, ultimate climate collapse, and other such planetary disasters. Others claim it will open up the possibility of global totalitarianism. With the continuous technological revolutions in military and surveillance capability that have continued unabated since the Second World War, all these fears (of nuclear holocaust, ultimate climate collapse, and global totalitarianism) should be taken very seriously.
The first includes an understanding that the possibility of a major holocaust that has not significantly abated since the end of the Cold War. The second understands that human activity is destroying the planetary ecology on which we are dependent for our survival, and the third understands that totalitarianism, today, is a technological and military possibility exceeding anything previously dreamed of in human history. Such global domination might signal the end of human political freedom, perhaps forever.
The first and second concerns provide a fundamental argument for federal world government, the first articulated, for example, in Albert Camus’ 1946 essay “Neither Victims nor Executioners,” which called for a “world parliament” with authority over all the nations. The second has become a powerful force through the ecology movement that has largely developed since Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring. The third concern, however, raises doubts in people’s minds about the wisdom of placing governmental power in the hands of a single governing body for the entire planet. This chapter explains why these reservations concerning the danger of world government under the Earth Constitution are largely misguided.
Such doubts arise from the same outdated paradigm that gives rise to the possibility of totalitarianism in the first place. They involve a conception of “power” as “power-over” derived from the fragmented system of sovereign nation-states integrated with unrestrained global capitalism. This chapter attempts to draw on the new, holistic paradigm that this book seeks to articulate to show that this latter paradigm is behind the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. The new paradigm that informs the Earth Constitution substantially transforms our understanding of governmental “power.” The “power” integral to the Earth Federation government will be qualitatively different from totalitarian or dictatorial power that we fear today. “Power” within a holistic paradigm is fundamentally different from “power” within the fragmented, early-modern paradigm.
We have examined the central paradigm of the modern period since the Renaissance that involved a fragmented conception of “power-over,” what Moltmann calls “the boundless will for domination” (2012:67), manifested clearly in a system of sovereign nation-states characterized by multiple wars, dictatorships, and colonial empires of domination and exploitation. The new holistic paradigm embodied in the Earth Constitution, on the other hand, manifests a new paradigm of “power” best associated with holistic health and vitality. It manifests the holism that has been a fundamental discovery of science since Einstein. The old “atomistic” paradigm of modernity has been superseded during the 20th century by this new paradigm that demands a reevaluation of our conception of power in relation to properly constructed governmental authority.
Since the perpetual military revolution symbolized by the development of nuclear weapons during the Second World War, thoughtful people around the world have been deeply concerned about the possible fate of our Earth. We continue to live with the obvious possibility of a major war using chemical, biological, geo-dynamic, or nuclear weapons of mass destruction so devastating as to wipe out the human race or at least destroy the planetary environment to the extent that the human race is thrown back into a primitive and brutal Hobbesian struggle for existence in a poisoned world of mutants, unstoppable diseases, and global wreckage. Hollywood movies have exploited this scenario relentlessly for decades. The popularity of this dystopian genre indicates the credibility of these fears in people’s minds.
Some scholars have also assessed the destructive possibilities of major nuclear war in empirical and objectively scientific terms. In 1966, for example, Errol E. Harris, published a study of the effects of “thermonuclear war” as part of his book Annihilation and Utopia. The study provides substantial scientific data concerning the effects of nuclear war, including the immense initial destruction, the radiation effects, long range effects on survivors, planetary shock, collapse of medical facilities, the devastating ecological effects, destruction of food sources, epidemics, and worldwide cultural disintegration.
Harris concludes this section of his book by quoting another scholar who asserts that “a nuclear disaster would be far worse, in both intensity and duration of suffering, than any previously recorded event in human history.” Harris states: “For today men have in their possession weapons of such devastating destructive power that their full-scale use would, without doubt, completely destroy organized social life on earth, any standard worth the name of civilization. It would completely obliterate the human race (if not immediately, within a measurable period of the nuclear conflagration), and might even make the planet uninhabitable by any developed form of life” (1966: 11).
7.1 Conditions Fostering the Rise of Totalitarianism
The funeral speech of Pericles, as written by Thucydides in the 5th Century BCE, initiated a tradition of reflection on the best social arrangements and modes of governing that has continued down to the present. The speech raises the image of a meaningful and fulfilled human life involved not only with its private occupations but outwardly engaged with others in public participation in governing, and in making the decisions that affect everyone. This image of a free and meaningful life in relation to citizen participation in the community has become, over the centuries, an ideal that lives in the background of this on-going dialogue about the relation of persons to government and the role of citizens in governing.
Many people fear being subjected to the arbitrary will of another, and many long for freedom to determine their lives in satisfying and meaningful ways. Within society, criminal behavior will often subject individuals or groups to the arbitrary will of others (fraud, coercion, theft, intimidation, assault, blackmail, extortion, rape, murder, etc.), a phenomenon that usually requires government—the legitimate use of force under the rule of law—to control or mitigate. However, when the arbitrary will of another is instituted in the name of the legitimate use of force and the rule of law, when government itself becomes tyrannical, the situation becomes a totalized criminality even worse than ordinary criminal activity, for there appears to be no recourse other than submission or the attempt at violent revolution—the latter being a horrific and devastating affair when attempted against modern governments with their technologically sophisticated police and military powers.
Thinkers have studied the history of democratic thought and the history of totalitarianism in the attempt to reveal the appropriate conditions under which each arises and flourishes. Like all human social phenomena, there are causes and conditions for each that can be studied, articulated, and appropriated by future generations as they participate in the on-going effort to actualize the best social arrangements for human flourishing and dignity. The debate continues into our own day and is far from concluded, although we possess a wealth of insight accumulated from experience and past generations that was not available to them
Thomas Hobbes famously argued in his Leviathan that, because human beings were basically selfish, competitive and egoistic creatures, when they exist in a “state of nature” (without government), their situation is that of a “war of all against all” in which life is “solitary, nasty, brutish and short.” In relation to this imagined background, Hobbes argued that leaving this condition of the war of all against all required the creation of authoritarian government, a government against which citizens had no recourse and no rights except the right to preserve their lives. Peace, for Hobbes, requires government, and the government must be authoritarian because of these characteristics in human nature. Yet subsequent thinkers have recognized that the problem of peace runs deeper than governmental control of a supposedly greedy and selfish human nature.
Hannah Arendt’s book Eichmann in Jerusalem goes beyond simple description of the trial of Eichmann to a substantially detailed account of the totalitarian Nazi regime during the 12 years of its existence (1933-1945). The experience of this trial, which she attended, and her previous study of the Nazi regime that had been undertaken for her monumental book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, provided the background for her assessment of Eichmann. How to understand the Nazi phenomenon remains, of course, controversial, and Arendt’s assessment has been criticized from a number of directions as documented, for example, by Richard Wolin (2001).
Yet there is a very real element of truth in her account of the ease with which ordinary people are coopted and coerced by institutional systems that produce radically evil consequences. The subtitle of this book on Eichmann, A Report on the Banality of Evil, indicates one component in the origins of totalitarianism: human personalities conditioned to conform to their social context and, to an alarming extent, apparently incapable of forming an independent judgment or autonomous conscience that allows them to discern and resist a developing totalitarian social context and its inevitable crimes against the humanity of its citizens.
In Chapter Two we briefly discussed the Nazi legal theorist, Carl Schmitt, who used what he claimed was the inherent ambiguity in the interpretation of law to argue for a “decisionistic” (totalitarian) form of government. We also saw some of the problems inherent in capitalism as a form of class society in which the law is tailored to the needs of the ruling class. Inherent in any class society is a possible telos for totalitarianism. Schmitt, who emphasized the “decisionism” theory of law also spoke of the “state of emergency” in which there is a transformation from the inherent (concealed) power of the capitalist constitutional state to the actuality and “realism” of fascism. As Bloch describes this, for Schmitt:
The “state of emergency” is always something other than anarchy and chaos; it always consists in a juridical order even if not a legal order. The existence of the state is confirmed by its undeniable superiority to the validity and value of the legal norm (Political Theology¸ 1922, p. 13). Consequently both sovereignty and the politician are conserved; and even more, dictatorship disengages itself for the first time from the concealed dictatorship of the bourgeois constitutional state. (1986: 150)
Inherent in capitalism, as in any form of class society, is a “concealed dictatorship.” As monopolization occurs and free market competition declines (inevitable under capitalism) philosophies of law arise, such as that of Schmitt, to justify the end of the pretense of democracy (“formal democracy”) and the initiation of totalitarianism. Theoretical decisionism and state of emergency were key concepts necessary for the rise of totalitarian fascism in the case of Nazi Germany. In any class situation, the ruling class will use language and conceptual manipulation to further its power and open up the prospect of totalitarianism. Such factors must be kept in mind as we examine the question of the danger of totalitarianism under the Earth Constitution.
In Chapter One we also saw P.A. Sorokin, Karl Jaspers, Jacques Ellul, and Max Weber critically evaluate modern society (under the bourgeois Western democracies) in related contexts that found these societies functioning, in a multiplicity of ways, to diminish human freedom and the capacity for meaningful, fulfilled life. Ellul sees the threat of totalitarianism arising from the domination of technique, from an instrumentalization process in which intrinsic values are evacuated from human life and the organization of society focuses on technique for its own sake, assuming that all perception of intrinsic value and meaning in human life is merely subjective.
He links the development of totalitarian societies in the Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany with this domination of technique, and he sees a potential for the same slide into tyranny in the United States. Ellul’s analysis does not necessarily disagree with the class-analysis perspective on the rise of totalitarianism put forward by Ernst Bloch and Karl Marx, but may well complement it. Capitalism and the class-based sovereign nation-state, we have seen, are indissolubly connected within the early-modern paradigm.
In Chapter Five we examined some of the essays in the book War After September 11 in order to clarify this slide toward tyranny in relation to the US and examine ways in which it can be averted and transcended. We looked at David Luban’s essay on the concept of “enemy combatant” used by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations in the US to create a “hybrid war-law” concept that allows the government and military to trash the rule of international and domestic laws in favor of a totalitarian (lawless) attitude toward possible internal and external enemies. In his 2007 book Legal Ethics and Human Dignity Luban similarly analyzes the “torture memos” created by lawyers for the Bush administration in which language and legal concepts were manipulated to legalize the torture of those captured under the label of “enemy combatant.”
Concepts are manipulated to justify the assumption of ever more absolute power: Torture is now called “enhanced interrogation,” any struggle for liberation against oppression is now called “terrorism,” a government department is created for “homeland security,” a phrase reminiscent of Nazi Germany. At the same time statistics from multiple sources show the ever-greater concentration of wealth within the US among the top 10 percent and especially among the top one percent. As with Schmitt in relation to the rise of fascism in Germany, ideas appear, and language is manipulated, in ways that justify a “state of emergency” and the distortion of the traditional rule of law.
In previous chapters we also examined some basic features of the early-modern paradigm and its institutional progeny: the global capitalist system and the system of sovereign nation-states. The assumed separation of fact from value, the rapid rationalization of society to accommodate the growing power of both these institutions, and the growing power of instrumental thinking and technique concomitant with scientific progress in controlling nature all combined to create a civilization that substantially repudiated intrinsic values and replaced them with what Heidegger (1977) termed “the autonomous will and its desires” facing a world conceived of as “standing reserve.”
Clearly, a totalitarian perspective is inherent in such a world: Power and domination are thought to be the “facts” of our human situation, and compassion, kindness, and morality are thought to be “merely subjective.” We saw that positivism and so-called political “realism” are products of this paradigm, all the way from Machiavelli through Morgenthau to Bush and Obama. Nations and corporations pay lip service to universal human rights but act on the principles of a “realism” that entirely ignores these rights.
In their book Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri write that “totalitarianism consists not simply in totalizing the effects of social life and subordinating them to a global disciplinary norm, but also in the negation of social life itself, the erosion of its foundation, and the theoretical and practical stripping away of the very possibility of the existence of the multitude” (2001: 112). Social life, that is the unity in diversity of our common humanity, is denied by totalitarianism, precisely the opposite of the principles on which the Earth Constitution is founded. What I have called “human flourishing” requires just the opposite of such a “global disciplinary norm.”
Chapter Four elaborated the conditions of human flourishing and, through doing this, the conditions of legitimate, morally justifiable government. The only legitimate government is that in the service of human flourishing, providing the economic, infrastructure, social, and political conditions for people to live good human lives. Non-democratic or non-republican governments of all forms (oligarchy, monarchy, dictatorship, fascism, etc.) violate the fundamental moral and social imperative constituting legitimate government.
As human beings convert to creative holism through planetary government under the Earth Constitution, the basic conditions of good government will be established and protected. “Power” will be understood in entirely new ways. As Harris remarks: “The only consistent moral relationship between a truly good moral ruler and his subjects is that of friendship and service. The power of such a ruler cannot be physical force but can only be moral power, the power of inspiration and love” (1958: 148).
Harris also affirms my point, discussed in Chapters Two and Five, that power politics, and with it the danger of one power becoming tyrannous over the entire world, disappears under a world federal government that converts the world to a “community of communities” with a common interest and common welfare (in preventing nuclear holocaust, promoting human flourishing, etc.). Under an earth federation this “is not only possible but inevitable.” A “community of Sovereigns,” on the other hand, is impossible (1950: 173-74), whereas the tyranny of one Sovereign over others is clearly possible due to imperialism and the quest for empire inherent in the early-modern world system. Let us examine, therefore, the conditions that foster totalitarian government and contrast these with the holism embodied in the Earth Constitution.
Reves affirms that the original democratic idea of sovereignty was the sovereignty of the community. The community meant the totality of people who established government to ensure freedom and their common good. “Our present system of national sovereignty,” he writes, “is in absolute contradiction to the original democratic conception of sovereignty, which meant—and still means—sovereignty of the community” (1945: 135). For Reves, as for Baker and Dewey cited above, real freedom is only possible at the level of democratic world government, since nation-state capitalism, socialist dictatorships, and fascist governments are all inevitable by-products of the false “sovereignty” of nation-states (ibid. 100-102). Under a world government:
Sovereignty would continue to reside in the people in accordance with the original conception of democracy, but institutions would be created to give realistic and effective expression to the democratic sovereignty of the people in place of the inefficient and tyrannical institutions of the nation-states. (Ibid. 143)
The world community, as the totality of the people who live on Earth, is the proper locus for the highest sovereign authority. To fragment that community into warring incommensurable territories, is to invite totalitarianism. It is to ensure “class domination” of one form or another because the military readiness in a world of secretive, dangerous adversaries requires a secretive militarized government to run each state.
From these reflections the first, and perhaps most fundamental, thing we can conclude is that there are several important factors (causes and conditions) that are involved in the rise of totalitarian government. Fascism, dictatorship, Stalinist absolutism, or the fanatical social engineering of a Pol Pot, do not just come about by accident. By making ourselves aware of these causes and conditions we can also learn how to establish societies that protect against these dangers. We can build institutions that systematically and carefully avoid the factors that could lead away from peace, justice, democracy, and freedom and toward their destruction.
I have identified here nine factors that can be understood as fundamental to the rise of totalitarianism, with the proviso that any list and any analysis can be framed differently and that this list does not aspire to be exhaustive. Entire volumes can be, and have been, written on these or similar factors. Our purpose here is to examine the danger of totalitarianism in relation to establishing the Earth Constitution.
1. The paradigm. A paradigm is defined by the unspoken assumptions behind a culture or civilization. In the case of the early-modern paradigm, the possibility of the totalitarian state, we have seen, is clearly inherent. When human morality is effectively discounted as merely subjective, and “objective” fact and the realism of an “external world” are divided from mere subjective emotions and sentimentality, and, when technological rationality in the service of non-rational desires and the human will supersede the idea that reason can discern real objective value and moral principles, then all societies informed by this paradigm will be in danger of succumbing to totalitarianism.
2. System imperatives. We have seen the ways in which the system of sovereign nation-states intertwined with the system of corporate capitalism have fostered a war system, an exploitation system, and a global domination system throughout the world. System imperatives tend to foster totalitarianism as well as environmental destruction. The ways things are organized have consequences. Cause and effect here are not an impenetrable mystery. We can study systems and their consequences as we have seen Laszlo (2007) point out. If we change the fundamental and deep structures of this system, it is obvious that different consequences will emerge.
3. Class societies. Any time there is a ruling class with immense power in relation to the rest of society (whether a dictatorship of the proletariat, a ruling religious elite, or a super-wealthy capitalist class), there will be a tendency for that class to use its power and influence to increase its power and influence. In the modern world, so-called political democracy without a substantial corresponding economic democracy always contains the threat that the “concealed” dictatorship of the ruling class will find excuses to unconceal itself and become totalitarian. In the United States, the 2010 Supreme Court decision referred to as Citizens United overturned restrictions on direct corporate involvement in election campaigns and allowed corporations to now spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, with devastating results for whatever democratic processes previously existed.
4. Crises. In any class society, domestic and international crises (both social and natural) are normally excuses for increasing executive powers and curtailing freedom. A “state of emergency” elicits the demand that those in power take extraordinary measures to save society. The “revolutionary” emergency of emerging civil war required the extreme measures that brought the Bolsheviks to (unconcealed) dictatorship in 1917. The chaos of hyperinflation and national degradation allowed the German people to respond to Hitler’s promises to restore their greatness in 1933. In The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein shows that totalitarian practices follow capitalism around the world as it uses both natural and human-made crises to circumvent democratic law in its drive to maximize profits. The George W. Bush administration and Congress (representing the US ruling class) responded to “the new Pearl Harbor” of an attack on American soil in September 2001 to radically curtail civil liberties and set up vast systems of spying on the American people.
In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt outlines the multiple crises engendered by the First World War, one of which was that hundreds of thousands of stateless persons, refugees, immigrants, etc., had no legal rights as citizens of any nation-state (1958: 280). There were no legal mechanisms adequate to handle this immense social chaos, and the lack of legal rights of these people opened the possibility of denying legal rights to other classes of people. Such universal human rights, she says, should be the source of law independently of class privileges or of nations themselves (290). However, she does not see a way for this to happen, as she appears trapped by the early-modern fact/value separation: “How should one be able to deduce laws and rights from a universe which apparently knows neither the one nor the other category?” (298). Under the Earth Constitution, exactly this will be the case: all persons have legally protected rights of citizenship from birth, and such social chaos with such classes of unprotected persons will no longer exist. The principle of holism is itself the ground for universal human rights.
5. Threat of enemies internally and abroad. One mode of crisis is the common claim that there are lethal adversaries who are without restraint in their desire to destroy or harm us. The George Bush administration claimed falsely that Iraq was building a nuclear weapon with the intention of attacking the US. Stalin claimed that global capitalism wanted to crush the burgeoning alternative of Communism. Hitler claimed that the nations of Europe wanted to forever humiliate Germany and its need for “living space,” that Hungary was “like a knife pointed at the heart of Germany,” and that “opponents” of the German spirit were guilty of “Communism, Sabotage, Liberalism, and Assassinations” and that “sects” (Catholics, Protestants, Freemasons, and Jews) together constituted a social crisis polluting the purity of the German idea and German race (Arendt, 1963: 70).
In the Stalinist era, it was Trotskyites and Bourgeois compromisers who had to be eradicated. In the US, it was the threat of a worldwide Communist conspiracy that fueled the rise of the national security state that now has been replaced by a global terrorist threat (emanating from Arab cultures and radical Islam) bent on attacking and destroying the US from everywhere and nowhere. Arendt states that this is one of the basic totalitarian tenants: “that the world is divided into two gigantic hostile camps” (1958: 367). Under the all-inclusive unity in diversity of the Earth Constitution, such ideas will appear for what they are: ridiculous. In terms of our common human project, unity without diversity is tyranny. Diversity without unity is war. We need the holism of a global social contract.
6. Secrecy and “language rules.” The manipulation of language and law is a common feature in the ascent of totalitarianism. Hannah Arendt points out that the “Oath of Secrecy” became more important in Nazi Germany than the Oath of Loyalty (1963: 84-85). In Nazi Germany, the use of the word for “murder” was avoided and code words were instituted such as “the final solution.” “The word for ‘murder’ was replaced by the phrase ‘to grant a mercy death’” (108). The Obama administration in the US now threatens journalists with prosecution if they fail to turn over their sources to the government (which largely operates in secret according to secret criteria of who is a terrorist, etc.), and it prosecutes whistle blowers under the 1917 Espionage Act, treating transparency, investigative journalism, and telling the truth as criminal acts. It continues the Bush administration’s special use of language to cover its global policy of assassinations, murder, and attack on others without due process of law.
7. Totalitarian Ideologies and massive propaganda campaigns. Propaganda and illusory ideologies are not unique to totalitarian movements or regimes. Noam Chomsky in Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (1989) details the pervasive uses of propaganda to promote ideologies protecting the status quo and the system of private wealth, primarily in the US. Totalitarian discourse, however, political theorist Claude LeFort asserts, “before anything else…effaces the opposition between the State and civil society” (in Kroker & Kroker, eds., 1991: 71). Totalitarian propaganda, as Arendt points out, seeks to obliterate the impartial rule of law, which is intended, in significant measure, to protect human autonomy and rights, with an ideology of absoluteness in which atomized individuals are directly ruled by the will of the supreme totalitarian center, whether this be Hitler or Stalin (1958: 341-364).
8. The social character of citizens. Chris Hedges, in War is a Force that Gives US Meaning (2002), describes the elation that comes with crisis, danger, lawlessness, and war that fascinates and attracts many human beings like moths to a flame. But along with the few attracted to the flame, there are the vast majority who are simply complicit. Jonathan Glover’s Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century (1999) ponders the amazing complicity of ordinary citizens in every 20th century genocide—from the Armenian Genocide in Turkey after 1915, to Stalin’s genocide through starvation in 1932-33, to the Nazi genocide during the 1940s, to Vietnam’s genocidal mass murder by US forces in the 1960s and early 70s, to the Pol Pot Cambodian genocide in the 1970s, to genocide in Rwanda during 1994. Arendt reflects on the very ordinary social character of Eichmann (1963: 52-54), on the complicity of the German people, and on the apparent complicity of some Jewish leaders themselves in the systems of organized death during the Nazi period (1963: 117-125).
In his famous 1974 book Obedience to Authority, psychologist Stanley Milgram reveals the surprising proclivity of the students in his psychological experiments to obey authority, even to the point of giving potentially lethal shocks to the subject persons in the experiments. Milgram also interviewed many soldiers who had returned from Vietnam, virtually all of them having committed atrocities (such as wanton murder or torture). In a situation of apparent legitimate authority, those obeying the authority appear to routinely transfer responsibility for their actions to those who give the orders, or to the system as a whole with its vague utilitarian goals.
Eichmann spoke of his “duty to obey the law” and of the overwhelming authority of “acts of state” to determine his actions (Arendt, 1963). Milgram writes: “There is fragmentation of the total human act… no one man decides to carry out the evil act and is confronted with its consequences. The person who assumes full responsibility for the act has evaporated. This is the most common characteristic of socially organized evil in society” (1974: 11). Arendt writes: “this total responsibility for everything done by the movement and this identification with every one of its functionaries have the very practical consequence that nobody every experiences a situation in which he has to be responsible for his own actions and can explain the reasons for them” (1958: 375). Institutions themselves can be organized to systematically produce evil consequences and to influence “good citizens” to obediently participate in producing those consequences.
Erich Fromm agrees. His 1941 study of totalitarianism, Escape from Freedom, attempts to show at length the relations between the “social character” of people in a social order and the rise of a totalitarian society. Certain types of “social characters” are much more open to blind obedience to authority, acquiescing to the dictates of government, being swayed by totalitarian propaganda, and mass conformity with popular emotions than are people with a social character that is mature, individualized, democratic, and free.
In today’s “dangerous” world requiring immediate military and executive decisions, citizen participation in government is significantly reduced. Secrecy has replaced transparency and citizen questioning, investigation, and debate are considered detriments to the efficient functioning of the national security state. Police and administrators have been given ever-greater authority and the right of citizens to question this authority has been significantly reduced. The tendency to obey authority studied by Milgram and Fromm has only been exacerbated by government emphasis on security and the need to absolutely obey the authorities “for our own safety.” The price paid for disobedience, as in Nazi Germany, is raised higher and higher as the regime slides toward totalitarianism.
9. Inadequate checks and balances. In any social system oriented to democracy, human rights, and human dignity, there will be checks and balances built into the constitution or the legal structure of the system to guard against abuses and the rise of totalitarianism. These checks and balances can be more or less effective, more or less deeply institutionalized, and more or less well designed and organized. Also, societies continually need to reexamine their checks and balances in order to update them in the light of new technological developments and new experiential levels of insight into the pitfalls and dangers. In the case of the Bolshevik revolution, these were practically nonexistent to begin with. In the case of the Weimar Republic, these were weak and plagued by the economic crisis, etc. In the case of the US, since the late 1970s the ruling class has systematically worked to promote its “Neo-liberal” ideology that advocates removing the environmental, financial, and other restraints on its activities and to neutralize the checks and balances intended by the US Constitution.
In the US, the checks and balances intended to prevent tyranny were placed into the Constitution more than 200 years ago when high speed weapons were non-existent and instant life or death decisions did not need to be made by the Executive Branch. Since the advent of the Cold War, the invention of weapons of mass destruction, and the rise of a vast military industrial complex, the Executive Branch of government has taken on immense powers that have dwarfed the checks and balances that were supposed to be supplied by the legislative and judicial branches. Presidents, the military, and cabinet meetings of high level civilian and military officials in the Executive Branch have taken on a huge, largely clandestine, power significantly independent of the other two branches. In G-8 or G-20 economic summit meetings, the huge corporations and world’s largest economies meet in secret to decide the economic rules for the rest of the planet. Checks and balances are practically nonexistent.
All of these nine factors are clearly interrelated and interdependent. They influence one another in the complex and difficult world within which nations and corporations act. They are clearly not all on the same conceptual level. The key factors are clearly at the level of numbers 1, 2, and 3, the levels of paradigms, system imperatives, and class societies. The key to preventing totalitarianism is to transform the fragmented paradigm that makes the drive to domination conceptually possible to a holistic paradigm in which it largely loses its meaning and possibility. Power then becomes health, harmony, cooperation: empowerment of people. Checks and balances must remain stringent. But what is most fundamental is the transformation of paradigms, systems, and class societies. The other six factors remain details to be guarded against through carefully designed democratic safeguards.
If we change the systems that follow from the early-modern paradigm: if we eliminate the system of sovereign nation-states and its alliance with the system of global capitalism within the context of a new, holistic paradigm, and if we substitute global economic and political democracy for the “concealed dictatorship” of class societies, the threat of totalitarianism will substantially disappear. If we convert to an economic system that transforms the class-structure of societies, and restrains the ability of the wealthy to influence the political process, we will substantially reduce the threat of totalitarianism. In spite of the special significance of items 1, 2, and 3, however, all nine factors that I have outlined here need to be considered when reflecting on the best social arrangements to establish peace, justice, democracy, and freedom.
In point of fact, all nine factors implicated in the rise of totalitarianism have been dealt with by the Earth Constitution and by the paradigm-shift to holism that is behind the Constitution.
1. The new paradigm is democratic, egalitarian, and holistic: reuniting fact and value and the recognition of inviolable human dignity, as well as the dignity of natural living things. All of human civilization on Earth will rapidly convert to the new paradigm since it comes from the sciences and is the basis not only of human flourishing but of preserving the ecology of our planet. The Earth Federation government reflects a direct embodiment of this new interdependent and cooperative paradigm.
2. The new paradigm results in new planetary institutions designed very differently from the early-modern institutions that foster war, exploitation, and environmental destruction. Our analysis of the “system imperatives” of capitalism and sovereign nation-states has revealed the totalitarianism implicit in these. By contrast, a holistic world system implies planetary democracy and public order. Moreover, the “federal” system mandated by the Earth Constitution will diminish centralized authority and distribute legitimate governmental authority around the world. The authority of national governments will regain legitimacy, once they become functioning parts within the whole provided by the Earth Constitution.
3. Simple economic changes (reviewed in Chapter Six) will substantially reduce the disparity between rich and poor and the condition of scarcity that exacerbates the greed and lethal competition among and between peoples. Corporations will be regulated by law to serve the common good, not the private profit of the top 10 percent. Class differences will be reduced to the point where the threat of totalitarianism implicit in them is close to nil.
4. The excuse of “crisis” will be vastly reduced in a world which is demilitarized, in which nation-states are administrative, non-military units (like states within the US or Pradesh within India), and in which nuclear weapons have been abolished and dismantled. Under the Earth Constitution the administration has no power to declare a “state of emergency” and suspend the Constitution.
5. In a world in which every nation has an effective voice in the World Parliament and its equal rights with all the others effectively protected by the world courts, the World Ombusdmus, and the whole of the Earth Federation government, the threat of “enemies” will be virtually eliminated and will become, in the case of any remaining isolated terrorist groups, not a military, but rather a civilian police matter dealing with criminal behavior.
6. The need for the national security state in a dangerous world will virtually disappear: Governmental transparency is required by the Earth Constitution and citizen participation encouraged. Government will see no need to manipulate language to hide the true intentions and secret plans of a ruling or security elite. The propagandistic fictions emphasized by both Arendt and Fromm as essential to totalitarianism will find no place to flourish.
7. The capacity for propaganda itself can be associated with societies unclear about the nature and meaning of authentic democracy as well as societies in which there are concentrated class resources that have colonized big media to propagate their authoritarian interests and ideologies. Establishing reasonable economic democracy under the Earth Constitution, as well as the global educational practices described below, will radically reduce the danger of such propaganda “taking off.” Under the Constitution, a diversity of news media, and freedom of research, reporting, and investigating (guaranteed under Article 12) are combined with a requirement for government transparency that cuts off the possibilities for totalitarian propaganda at their roots. The distinction between civil society, replete with many citizen-watchdogs, and governmental authority (itself protecting citizen autonomy in numerous ways) is rigorously maintained.
8. The emphasis by governments on absolute obedience to authority will be vastly reduced since authorities will no longer have the excuse that there is a crisis (lethal terrorist, Communist, or some other threat) that requires such unquestioning obedience. Due process of law will then protect all citizens on Earth. Education, by law, will encourage confident, articulate, perceptive citizens capable of challenging authority and actively participating in political affairs. The civilian police force will truly be able to “protect and serve” for the first time in history. The World Ombudsmus will encourage independence, truth-telling, and critical evaluation of all aspects of government.
7.2 The Earth Constitution and Paradigms of Power
The Preamble to the Earth Constitution provides the conceptual framework for the whole of the document. It gives us the language of a “new world…which promises to usher in an era of peace, prosperity, justice and harmony.” Given the bleak and bloody history of humankind to date, how can the framers of the Earth Constitution be so confident? The answer is given in the second paragraph of the Preamble: “Aware of the interdependence of people, nations, and all life.” This is a declaration of holism that could not be clearer: There is no such thing as autonomous independence from the rest of humanity, from the other nations of the world, or from the natural world.
The next four paragraphs in the Preamble address the consequences of the older fragmented paradigm: we are at the “brink of ecological and social catastrophe”; we are aware of the “total illusion” of “security through military defense”; we are aware of the terrible consequences of the global economic system that causes “ever increasing disparity between rich and poor”; and we are aware that we need to save humanity “from imminent and total annihilation.” All these are caused by the older, dysfunctional world system of autonomous sovereign nation-states and a flawed, class-controlled economic system operating in coordination with this nation-state system. The seventh paragraph of the Preamble again returns to the new paradigm announced in paragraph two:
“Conscious that Humanity is One despite the existence of diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies and cultures and that the principle of unity-in-diversity is the basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail; when the earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare; and when basic human rights and responsibilities shall be shared by all without discrimination.”
The statement of holism from paragraph two is here spelled out in greater detail. The “diverse nations, races, creeds, ideologies and cultures” of the world no longer mean incommensurable fragmentation, war, and conflict. They are united within this Constitution under a “principle of unity-in-diversity” that is the basis for this “new age” of peace, justice, protection of rights, and assumption of mutual universal responsibilities by the people of Earth. The new concept of “power” in the Preamble to the Constitution and everything that follows must be understood in terms of this fundamental paradigm-shift from fragmentation to holism.
The Earth Constitution is permeated with the concepts of holism, sustainability, interdependence, and unity-in-diversity. The document emerges from the new holistic paradigm and therefore, once actualized as an Earth Federation Government, it will operate in a manner qualitatively different from traditional governments with their top-down, class based, structures. The Constitution makes clear that it operates through networks of relationships: the people of Earth with direct input into the World Parliament, itself based on unity-in-diversity, and the several agencies of the “Integrative Complex” operating within a cooperative and integrated system. Here we have the collective social mind for Earth described by contemporary science. We have the “global brain” awakening, described by Peter Russell, or the “deep heartfelt impulse to connect with others and co-create a world equal to our love and our capacities,” described by Barbara Marx Hubbard. Fritjof Capra describes this new pattern of thinking:
Understanding ecological interdependence means understanding relationships. It requires the shifts of perception that are characteristic of systems thinking—from the parts to the whole, from objects to relationships, from contents to patterns. A sustainable human community is aware of the multiple relationships among its members. Nourishing the community means nourishing those relationships. (1996: 298)
Study of the Earth Constitution reveals that the Earth Federation System set up by the Constitution is premised on this understanding of the primacy of relationships and the ecological understanding of sustainability as a healthy condition of the whole (of humanity in relation to one another and the biosphere). Under this new paradigm, totalitarianism will largely become a non-issue, for the holism of a now organized democratic global brain and global consciousness for Earth will operate on a qualitatively different level from the fragmentation of the early-modern paradigm where the threat of totalitarianism and arbitrary power was a very real issue.
The Constitution for the Federation of Earth gives a number of substantial planetary powers to the Earth Federation government, many of which are detailed as “specific powers” in Article 4. This is done within the context of Article 1 that specifies the “broad functions” of the Earth Federation government: Its functions are to address those issues of governing that fall beyond the scope of nation-states. As Article 2.3 also reads:
The authority and powers granted to the world government shall be limited to those defined in this Constitution for the Federation of Earth, applicable to problems and affairs which transcend national boundaries, leaving to national governments jurisdiction over the internal affairs of respective nations but consistent with the authority of the World Government to protect universal human rights as defined in this World Constitution.
The Earth Constitution wants to make clear that the “powers” of world government are not indiscriminate and are limited in their scope to what transcends national boundaries, as well as being subject to numerous checks and balances. In spite of the fact that the Earth Federation will be operating on a qualitatively different holistic principle, multiple checks and balances are built into the system. These checks and balances can be seen as clearly preventing abuse of power by any persons or agencies of the Earth Federation government. But they can also be understood as arising from an integrated governing system, outlined by the Constitution, that will have no need to place extraordinary powers in the hands of the Executive Branch, for example, and no need to place extraordinary powers in the hands of the World Police or any other agency.
In fact, the Constitution separates the World Administration from the World Police. The World Executive does not have police powers, and there is no military at all. The head of the executive branch is a “Presidium” of five persons, one from each continental division, and all elected by the World Parliament. Term of office for each is five years and can be renewed only once (Art. 6.3). The World Executive may not limit or abridge any provision of the Earth Constitution, has no veto power over world legislation, has no power to declare a state of emergency and suspend the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and must faithfully execute the budget allotted to it by the World Parliament (Art. 6.6). In addition, any official violating the Constitution may be removed from office by due process vote of the World Parliament.
Regarding the nations as federated parts of the whole, the “self-governing” parts will not be “sovereign” autonomous, militarized parts as in today’s world-anarchy, capable of interfering with and destroying the whole. Hence, the world will also be safe from any one state dominating and colonizing the whole. Our planet is an ecological and geological whole, humanity is a biological and ethical whole, and civilization is an immense holistic tapestry of cultures, languages, and histories. All these wholes are made up of diverse parts integrated into the wholes. The parts will have self-governing integrity (and moral legitimacy) precisely to the extent that they function as parts integrated into the self-governing whole of humanity.
The Earth Constitution distinguishes its “power and authority” from that of national governments. Like human beings within any community that has effective government, the individuals are both parts of the whole (under binding, enforceable laws applicable to everyone) and they are self-governing individuals with rights vis-à-vis the whole (individual freedoms are specified with which government may not interfere). Ultimately the healthy functioning of the whole, however, can improve the lives of all the parts (as we saw above in the concept of “positive freedom”). We shall see further that woven throughout the Constitution, and specifically embodied in the “directive principles” of Article 13, is a telos directing these powers to perfect the human potential for developing civilization (in the form of peace, justice, prosperity, etc.) while simultaneously dealing with the global crises that are beyond the capacities of nation-states.
The very important Article 14 entitled “Safeguards and Reservations” makes this again clear. It assures “freedom of choice within the member nations and countries of the Federation of Earth to determine their internal political, economic, and social systems consistent with the several provisions of this World Constitution.” These provisions of the Constitution that respect the internal autonomy and integrity of nations, however, should not be understood in terms of the older paradigm that sees nations as sovereign atoms with only external relations to the rest of the world system.
The many dimensions of authority attributed to the Earth Federation make clear that national freedom can only be understood and empowered as part of the planetary freedom provided by the Earth Constitution in relation to the multiplicity of the world’s diverse nations and peoples. These disclaimers concerning “safeguards and reservations” give political weight to the idea of a federation in which the units are not lacking their share of authority and, as such, have a role in safeguarding the freedom and integrity of both themselves and the entire system. Nevertheless, the units and the system are holistically bound together if there is to be freedom, peace, protection of human rights, sustainability, and prosperity for the people of Earth.
Again, these “safeguards and reservations” do not harken back to an autonomous national sovereignty assumed to be independent with respect to the whole system. The Earth Federation government will be no weak and impotent UN system premised on “the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members” (UN Charter, Chap.1.2.1). For “sovereignty” under the Constitution lies with “all the people who live upon the earth” and their representatives in the form of the Earth Federation government (Art. 2.2). This government is “organized as a universal federation, to include all nations and all people, and to encompass all oceans, seas and lands of Earth, inclusive of non-self-governing territories, together with the surrounding atmosphere” (Art. 2.1). The conception of holism could not be more specific. The Earth Federation represents the whole of humanity and the ecology of Earth on which we depend.
This government is delegated substantial “powers” by the Earth Constitution to save the ecological integrity of Earth, to create economics that benefit all human beings, to end war and militarism, and to establish peace upon Earth. These substantial powers are not only necessary to address the lethal global crises that we collectively face. They also derive from the fact that the planet has now been conceived as a holistic system in which all societies, nations, and persons are interdependent. Such a holism is in itself very powerful. Humanity as a whole is empowered as a collective world civilization of unity-in-diversity both transcending the individual powers of the parts and enhancing the power of each part through the healthy functioning of the whole.
7.3 The Question of an “Outside” to the System
When we point out that “sovereignty” under the Earth Constitution no longer lies with territorial nation-states but now with the “people of Earth” (Article 2.2), skeptics may respond with something like: “Is this not likely to become a new form of domination and new totalitarianism?” Such skeptics might continue: “Perhaps this Constitution now projects all power into a unified governmental force for which there will be no outside force that could put up a fight for freedom and independence.”
These questions are based on a misunderstanding of how the concept of sovereignty functioned during the modern era and also a misunderstanding of the nature of the conceptual paradigm-shift embodied in the Earth Constitution. In nature, the universe, and human life, there is no longer a physical, space-time “outside” that transcends the series of holisms within which we are embedded and to which we are integral. Even the transcendence of God, as Christian thinker Errol E. Harris points out, can no longer be conceived as another being exterior to the universe, which reduces God to just another being among beings (1993: 91-92).
And the “otherness” posited by Emmanuel Levinas (1969), discovered in the “infinity in the human face,” is not such an outside. Levinas insists that the sacred depths of our humanity are not reducible to the “system” of the world studied by science. It is, therefore, not some territory from which we can fight for the freedom of some fragment of humanity. It is, rather, a depth that can more easily shine through society and civilization from within the holistic paradigm (see Chapter Eight).
Or, perhaps better put, the “outside” is now found in our inner human depth-perception and its freedom, a freedom that itself points to the “exteriority” of God and of human beings as truly “Other” in the depths of their being. This form of “exteriority,” however, is really an interiority of human freedom and spiritual openness to inner transcendence as well as to a non-predetermined future. This lack of an external “outside” does not limit our political and social freedom, for genuine freedom of this kind can and does only emerge from cooperation among human beings. War, national security fears, and fragmented sovereign nation-states destroy freedom at every turn. As we will see in Chapter Eight, Levinas himself recognizes the present system as a “war” system.
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2001) argue that both the ancient Roman Empire and the American Empire project (from the 18th century to the present) extended the dynamic republican “power of the people” through ever-greater territorial expansions. This territorial expansion included the developing of natural and human resources in the ever-newly acquired territories. In the US empire, therefore, the expansionism of capitalism appeared to synchronize perfectly with the territorial expansion across the continent as well as throughout Latin America and finally the world. While publicly repudiating “colonialism,” the US empire has nonetheless established binding hegemony over the “grand areas” connected with the economic interests of its ruling class.
The postmodern “power” of the global empire of hegemonic domination, now administered by the US, is more diffuse and flexible than that of the earlier colonialism of modernity, and the postmodern power of the capitalist system is more tolerant of diversity among workers as long as the authority of the managers is obeyed within the regime of maximizing profits for the owners. The empire, still deeply integrated with global capital, now promotes a regime of discipline and power that is flexible and adapted to innumerable local situations around the planet, but the power of the empire remains one of domination, and the modes of production and consumption are still those of exploitation. The world already has a far-flung and internally conflicted system of power and domination, one that is merciless to its two to three billion victims who happen to live in the periphery of empire.
For Hardt and Negri, power, in these instances, becomes a complex mixture of power-over (the authority of the sovereign government over citizens), republican power arising from the dynamic politics of the people, and, finally, the power of ever-increasing scope of wealth and territory being appropriated by the ruling elite of the empire. This power of hegemonic domination and exploitation simultaneously serves the process of capital expansion, which is the goal of the ruling classes of the dominant imperial nations (2000: Chaps. 2.5-2.6). But none of these senses of power (expansion of the hegemony of empire, republican power represented in a territorial fragment, or political domination by an economic elite) will be able to function under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
7.4 Legitimate Power as the Alternative to Violence
The people of Earth are sovereign (Article 2), not territorial fragments of Earth. The structure, spirit, and letter of the Earth Constitution underwrite the imperative of government to create universal peace, justice, and freedom. The mainsprings of imperialism and class rule are broken: the paradigm fostering totalitarianism has changed; the system supporting this tendency has changed, and the class structure that tends toward totalitarianism has been undermined. The sovereign people of Earth retain for themselves many specifically enumerated “inalienable rights” (Articles 12, 13, and 14) and the nations retain their integrity as parts of the whole. The paradigm and related system that empowered imperialism and exploitation are broken and transformed into one that empowers universal solidarity and (its complement) personal dignity and autonomy.
The recognition of the sovereignty of the people of Earth is equivalent to recognizing the Earth as a community. A community has common interests and a common good that bind it together in a system of social cooperation under that good. A collection of sovereign nations recognizing no law above themselves and each operating out of its own national self-interest can never be a community. We have seen that the Earth Constitution legally establishes a human community. By superseding national sovereignties and recognizing the people of Earth (and their representatives in the World Parliament) as sovereign, the Earth Constitution is legally recognizing common interests of humankind (e.g., peace, security, prosperity, human rights, sustainability) as more fundamental than the interests of individual states. Power becomes something different. It is no longer the power of conflicting autonomous fragments, but the power of the human community to represent the common good of humanity.
One of the political thinkers who began to recognize the implications of both democratic theory and the emerging holistic paradigm discovered by science was Hannah Arendt. She points out that power itself is not the enemy, for power can and should be manifest in a many-faceted political process of recognition and support by the people, resulting in that sense of the legitimacy and authority of government that constitutes its proper power. The enemy of legitimate power is violence, she declares. Insofar as any government must resort to violence, it betrays its lack of legitimate power and its fragility as a recognized authority. She writes:
Power needs no justification, being inherent in the very existence of political communities; what it does need is legitimacy…. Violence can be justifiable, but it never will be legitimate…. We saw that the current equation of violence with power rests on government’s being understood as domination of man over man by means of violence…. To substitute violence for power can bring victory, but the price is very high: for it is not only paid by the vanquished, it is also paid by the victor in terms of his own power…. Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance. This implies that it is not correct to think of the opposite of violence as nonviolence; to speak of nonviolent power is actually redundant. Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it. (1969: 52-55)
Similarly, in Fallible Man, Paul Ricoeur understands that the power inherent in all organizational relationships need not be oppressive power associated with violence. Human intelligence, the power of the human imagination, can understand the difference between human power-motivations that are base (or “fallen”) and those that are perfectly natural (“innocent”) and directed toward our common human good:
The fact remains that I could not understand power as evil if I could not imagine an innocent destination of power by comparison to which it is fallen. I can conceive of an authority which would propose to educate the individual to freedom, which would be a power without violence; in short, I can imagine the difference between power and violence; the utopia of a Kingdom of God, a City of God, an empire of minds or a kingdom of ends, implies such an imagination of nonviolent power. The imagination liberates the essence; and this essence governs all efforts to transform power into an education to freedom. Through this highly meaningful goal I “endow” history, in fact, with a meaning. By means of this imagination I discover power as primordially inherent in the being man. In turning away from this meaning, in making himself foreign and alienated from this sense of nonviolent power, man becomes alienated from himself. (1967: 182-83)
As a holistic thinker, Ricoeur does not separate the feelings and desires of human beings from their reason, intuition and capacity for imagination, for we cannot formulate a truthful “philosophy of perception prior to a philosophy of discourse.” This “binds one to work them out together, one with the other, one by the other” (139). We are capable of discerning a primordial intentionality to our feelings and desires that points beyond their historically negative manifestations to a non-fallen human “essence” that can be understood as the goal of culture and history (1967: Chap. 4). This conception of an actualized human potentiality is also present within the Earth Constitution; the concrete legal institutions that it constructs are designed to protect this vision of planetary maturity.
The Earth Constitution does assume substantial legitimate power and authority for the government of the people of Earth. This precludes neither diversity of cultures nor local governments within a federated system, but presupposes it, explicitly, for example, in its Preamble. The Earth Federation government will lack power only if the diverse local governments of Earth are opposed to it, or serve as merely fragments upon which it has been imposed, or become the victims of violence. This is not the proper model, however. Under the Constitution the whole is presupposed to be significantly more integrated than a mere “confederation” or collection of fragments posing as “sovereign nation-states.” This is the difference between the UN system (a confederation of semi-autonomous parts, and therefore not a whole) and the Earth Constitution (a holistic federation).
Local governments will flourish precisely because of the economic and political integration of the whole in a cooperating world that makes possible their flourishing. In an ecologically and economically interdependent world, there is no local autonomy that can flourish excluded from the empowerment and cooperation provided by the whole. Power, therefore, becomes substantially different. It is no longer the power of economic and/or political fragments (like a ruling class or an imperial hegemonic nation-state) imposing domination and exploitation over other fragments, whether internally or externally.
The power of the Earth Federation government will not involve the sinister and corrupt aspects of imperial power and capital power, always linked with violence, as these have operated throughout the modern period. The imperial power of territorial expansion involves war and the destruction of those resisting the imperial encroachment on their territories. Even if the post-colonial imperial regime has the tendency to incorporate them into its legal universe, as Hardt and Negri assert, the process is an ugly and immoral one. Something similar is true of capitalist expansion, which necessarily generates wealth and productivity through the exploitation and dehumanization of large segments of the population of Earth as capital searches for ever-new markets and new ways of production and expansion. As we have seen Naomi Klein point out (2007), torture and political repression follow wherever this economic system raises its ugly head.
The power of the Earth Federation deriving from the substantial worldwide consent of the people of Earth will not result in either the corrupt phenomenon of violent territorial expansion, nor in the ugly phenomenon of searching for new populations for exploitation in the service of capital expansion. It will be the power of the human community, bound together in unity and diversity, now recognizing a common humanity and a common good that supersedes all fragmented, particular goods and interests. If for some reason all power naturally seeks expansion (a hypothesis that should be questioned and that would require substantial justification), then that expansion under the Earth Federation will be intensive, qualitative, and internal to the system, not extensive and expansive. “Power” takes on an entirely different character within a holistic system.
7.5 Power as Qualitative rather than Quantitative
As economist Herman E. Daly points out (1969), “development” under a sustainable system will be “qualitative” not quantitative. So too, “power” under an ecologically and humanly sound holistic world system will be qualitatively different from the power-over of today’s world. Violence, the failure of legitimate power, will be minimized and essentially eliminated, for violence is a product of fragmentation and injustice, or, as Gandhi puts it, violence is a product of deception (always used to cover up injustice).
Harris calls such processes that are intensive and internal to systems “teleological” (2000a: 132-164). The logic of a holistic system moves the parts toward synergy and harmony. The whole teleologically draws the parts together in a healthy unity-in-diversity. In the case of the Earth Federation, this means toward peace, justice, freedom, and reasonable prosperity. By contrast, the logic of a fragmented system necessarily leads to situations in which the parts become involved in conflict, war, domination, and exploitation. What is “expanded” under the Earth Constitution is the telos toward peace, harmony, and mutual flourishing. Power means something qualitatively different.
The paradigm has now shifted. Power in a holistic system will involve “expansion” of the quality of life, not quantity for the sake of accumulation and ever more quantity. The technologies supporting environmental sustainability and the protection of human life, education, cultural flourishing, and the cultivation of our higher human capacities for love, compassion, justice, thought, reflection, and other aspects of human and civilizational virtue will become the beneficiaries of the integrated power of the whole. Quality replaces quantity as the telos of life and society. As Harris points out, only this holism makes real political freedom possible (2000b: 121-22).
We should recall here the quotation from Paul Ricoeur in section 1.2 above. It is through “imagination” that we discover our human essence by “breaking the prestige of the fact.” We can understand very clearly a situation in which “the quests for having, power and worth would not be what they in fact are…. In imagining another state of affairs or another kingdom, I perceive the possible, and in the possible, the essential” (1967: 170). We can easily imagine a qualitative transformation of the concept of power in human affairs. Indeed, we already experience this everyday in some of our relationships.
We want the power of living fully—God’s cosmic joy in creation expressed through us—to manifest itself within the Earth Federation. Paradoxical as it may sound at first, by establishing the unity of humanity through uniting all together within a common democratic framework, we reaffirm the rootedness of every person in their distinct communities, languages, differences, and cultures that nourish the human soul and make it loving, harmonious, and healthy. The unhealthy “fetish of nationalism” Tagore affirms, distorts our fundamental “human truth” and leads to “living in the dense poisonous atmosphere of worldwide suspicion and greed and panic” (2011: 173). Power in the negative sense is linked to human fragmentation rather than to that fullness of our humanity that can be termed “perfect”:
Man in his fullness is not powerful, but perfect. Therefore, to turn him into mere power you have to curtail his soul as much as possible. When we are fully human, we cannot fly at one another’s throats; our instincts of social life, our traditions and moral ideals stand in the way. If you want me to take to butchering human beings, you must break up that wholeness of my humanity through some discipline which makes my will dead, my thoughts numb, my movements automatic, and then from the dissolution of the complex personal man will come out that abstraction, that destructive force, which has no relation to human truth, and therefore can be easily brutal or mechanical. Take away man from his natural surroundings, from the fullness of his communal life, with all its living associations of beauty and love and social obligations, and you will be able to turn him into so many fragments of a machine for the production of wealth on a gigantic scale. (2011: 177)
Another word for the telos generated from social wholeness of humanity is “community.” Persons are really free only within communities that respect their uniqueness and use the common power of the community to support their freedom and personal flourishing. The Earth Constitution treats human beings on Earth as a community of free, equal, and cooperative citizens. And a community, as a holistic social reality, carries within it a telos (power) for both the common good of all and the productive flourishing of every individual or group within it. As Moltmann expresses this: “The opposite of poverty is not wealth, but community. In community individuals become rich, rich in friends who can be trusted, rich in mutual help, rich in ideas and powers, rich in the energies of solidarity” (2012: 159).
Within our Earth community, the economy will no longer be expansive in the sense of the gross (and inappropriate) indicator of an ever-increasing gross domestic product (GDP) produced by the fragmented nation-states in competition with one another. Under present methods of measuring GDP even destruction, pollution, and chaos can increase GDP and appear as an indicator of economic “health.” Under the new paradigm embodied in the Earth Constitution, the economy will be “intensive” (and not disastrously growth-oriented) in the sense of searching for ever-better ways to increase the quality of sustainable production, environmental restoration and protection, and human well-being within this framework. People will not obsessively seek monetary wealth within this framework, for they will be rich in community. Similarly, the power of the Earth Federation, deriving from the consent and active cooperation of the people of Earth, will result in a continual improvement and perfectibility of the rights in the bill of rights (Art. 12) and the progressive actualization of the “directive principles” (“certain other rights”) specified in Article 13.
Power is neither good nor bad in itself and is open to a multiplicity of interpretations. It can have very different dynamics and very different consequences depending on how it is constituted and conceived. Power in the Earth Federation derives from the new holistic paradigm on which the Constitution is founded. It is power deriving from integration, cooperation, unity-in-diversity, and community, not from domination, which always finally perverts power and turns it into violence of one sort or another, delegitimizing itself in the process. Power as domination denies holism, and operates from a conception of autonomous fragments, however diffuse these fragments may now be under the hegemony of today’s postmodern empire.
Similarly, the new paradigm of power does not involve exploitation, which requires structural violence, that is, exploitation requires poverty, scarcity of resources, and human desperation for its success. But the holistic world system initiated by the Earth Constitution eliminates all of that. It establishes a universal social democracy that retains private property but regulates its accumulation in corporate or private hands so that democracy is not undermined in the process. It places human dignity and well-being first, and transforms the present soulless sphere of market forces in large measure by removing the conditions of scarcity necessarily required for capitalist exploitation. Within a genuine community of free and equal citizens in a condition of reasonable prosperity, people do not exploit one another.
The consequence of the domination of power in the sense of resorting to violence is human misery and loss of freedom. The consequence of power resulting from holistic integration is precisely the flourishing of human freedom. We become free from fear of enemies, from food insecurity, housing insecurity, healthcare insecurity, educational deprivation and, therefore, free to formulate life plans according to our personal values and flourish within our communities and natural environments in pursuit of those life plans, or by simply living fully within the fullness of our humanity and our communities. As Moltmann expresses this:
Power in itself is good. There is the power of love, the power to understand, the power of conviction and the forces of nonviolent communication…. With violence, we have to do with the perversion of the powers of life into destructive and ultimately deadly drives…. Life itself distinguishes between violence and power. Power strengthens and enhances life. Violence diminishes and destroys it” (2012:190).
Only a new holistic political, economic, and social paradigm (of an Earth community) can make the power of life prevail against the destructive forces of violence.
The power of people united in solidarity and creative cooperation within the Earth Federation transforms power into its proper civilizational dynamic. The holism of the people of Earth must be actualized across several dimensions—ethically, ecologically, culturally (as unity-in-diversity), economically, politically, and in terms of our “rational loyalty” to the whole. The loyalty to the Earth Federation under the Earth Constitution fosters the economic and political unity and encourages all the other forms of consciousness of interdependence with the whole as well. Theologian Sallie McFague expresses something of what the realization of holism means:
We are not separate, static, substantial individuals relating in external ways—and in ways of our choice—to other individuals, mainly human ones, and in minor ways to other forms of life. On the contrary, the evolutionary, ecological perspective insists that we are, in the most profound ways, “not our own”: we belong, from the cells of our bodies to the finest creations of our minds, to the intricate, constantly changing cosmos. (1987: 7-8)
This realization, she argues, generates a new understanding of power: power is no longer understood as domination, as power-over. The relations of power that arise from holism are now associated with “love” and bring to mind “the characteristics of love shown by parents, lovers, and friends, the words that come to mind included ‘fidelity,’ ‘nurture,’ ‘attraction,’ ‘self-sacrifice,’ ‘passion,’ ‘responsibility,’ ‘care,’ ‘affection,’ ‘respect,’ and ‘mutuality’.” (ibid. 20-21).
Theologian Matthew Fox says that the current paradigm advocates “the wrong kind of power—a power that is outdated and therefore deadly. Theirs is the power to control instead of the power to heal. It is a power over instead of a power with. It is the power of power instead of the power of nurturing and celebration” (1990: 246-47). The emergence of the Earth Federation within the context of humanity’s conversion to holism will transform our conception of power across the board. People will literally begin thinking differently. Government officials as well as citizens will begin thinking and acting primarily for the common good, no longer out of greed, compulsive egoism, the fetish of nationalism, and the drive for domination.
7.6 Self-limiting Features of the Earth Federation Government
The Earth Federation government will also be transparent, and therefore any tendency of government officials to slide into corruption will be checked by public scrutiny. Indeed, by the second stage of the Earth Federation, as outlined in Article 17, the nations of the Federation will begin a carefully designed and systematic process of disarmament. A militarized nation in a potentially hostile world requires governmental and military secrecy, which in turn always breeds corruption and a supporting industrial-military complex that enriches itself through violence and war. Democracy only flourishes in the light of transparent forms of government and authority. Secrets kept from the population under militarism and corporatism necessarily strike at the very heart of democracy.
Transparent government means that the income and assets of all government officials are publicly known and accounted for. There are no secret “offshore” bank accounts or assets. Public auditing of the workings of all government agencies, and the income and assets of all government officials, means that the potential for corruption will be substantially minimized. Similarly, the elimination of militarized nation-state sovereignty will mean transparency for the government since there will be no more military and no more need for a national security state.
Secondly, the elimination of scarcity (food, healthcare, housing, educational, etc.) from the Earth (which will soon be accomplished under a cooperative, united Federation aiming at the common good) means that the incentive for bribery, extortion, fraud, or theft will be radically minimized. People will find their personal aspirations addressed in alternative ways. It will no longer be “me and my family against the world,” since “the world” will be recognized as the nexus that empowers and sustains the freedom and security for me and my family.
Similarly, the limitation of the private accumulation of wealth that we may assume will be legislated by the World Parliament (since it has already been legislated by the Provisional World Parliament) will not result in a denial of entrepreneurial energy in creative and innovative people. The immense task of creating a sustainable global economic system and the continuing transformation of technology and innovation directed toward improving the quality of living for all persons (while reducing to a minimum their environmental impact and the impact of the production process) will be more than sufficient to engage even the most creative entrepreneurs. Their rewards will be social recognition and honored status, not wealth beyond the legal limits of personal wealth.
The limits to personal wealth and income set by the Provisional World Parliament are four to one (World Legislative Act 22). The “one” here indicates the minimum wage and decent standard of living applied to all human beings. Under Article 13 of the Constitution, this includes healthcare, social insurance, housing, clean water, nourishing food, education, a protected environment, etc. The lowest income level, therefore, will be entirely sufficient for a flourishing human life. Four times this level will, therefore, be quite wealthy. If we include with this “quite wealthy” status, social recognition and awards, the incentive for entrepreneurs will be entirely sufficient.
The power of the Earth Federation government, therefore, will not result in a new system of domination and exploitation as feared by those today who lack insight into the nature of the paradigm-shift embodied in the Earth Constitution. The reification of the nation-state as a new god on Earth (that began with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and continues to this day), resulting in its militarism and oligarchical systems of power and exploitation, is eliminated by the new paradigm, as is the “right” to unlimited accumulation of private wealth by individuals or corporations considered to have all the legal rights of persons. Such “deifications of the state” resulting in totalitarian governments, as Moltmann asserts, are today understood as an “idolatry” to be repudiated (2012: 24).
Without the shibboleths of “national security” and “national glory” in war to cover over the self-interests of the industrial-military complex and the process of domination and exploitation embedded within the capitalist system, the Earth Federation government will naturally enjoy a very different philosophical and ideological environment. Lies, manipulation, and strategic uses of language covering hidden greed and special interests will be unnecessary and frowned upon. Like all other industries, the news media will also be transformed. There will no longer be a ruling class with the incentive to privately own the media and use it for status quo propaganda, nor a national-security war mentality using the media to terrorize the population with threats of enemies. Within the community of Earth, lying and manipulation (phenomena central to both capitalism and nation-state power politics) are no longer socially acceptable.
The articulation of a powerful Earth Federation government by the Earth Constitution is elaborated within a constitutional system assuring its authentic legitimacy. Legitimate power has no need of violence, the use of which only diminishes its legitimacy. Realistically, in a decent world civilization, the use of force can be reduced to a minimum. The telos of the Earth Federation system is toward harmony under the principle of unity-in-diversity. Within the multiplicity of ways by which the Earth Constitution assures a legitimacy arising from the people of Earth, there are two more that I will briefly mention here.
The first is that the World Police will “only possess weapons necessary to apprehend individuals” (all production, possession, or deployment of military weapons will be banned everywhere on Earth). Police are also required to obtain warrants for searches and arrests. In addition, the police are mandated to engage in “conflict resolution” and to minimize the resort to force as much as possible in the course of enforcing the law (Art. 10.4-5). The specification of these goals for the civilian world police force is by no means arbitrary. The logic of holism provides an intrinsic goal for the police characterized by progressively reducing the use of force in their work and progressively increasing their role of conflict resolution.
When the police are no longer protecting the property rights of a dominating ruling class (as is the case everywhere in today’s world), their role will become literally one of protecting and serving the people of Earth. They will likely be widely recognized public authorities for mediation, conflict resolution, and the defusing of potentially violent conflict situations. In fact, the Constitution explicitly assigns “conflict resolution” of one of their functions. The wide recognition of their vital and beneficent role will support the legitimate power of the Earth Federation government and, in turn, continually lessen the need for using force in any and all situations. The description of the role of the police in Article 10, therefore, is no utopian dream, but a mere drawing out the logic of holism on which the Earth Constitution is based.
Secondly the World Ombudsmus (Article 11), a worldwide agency assigned to protecting the human rights of the people of Earth, will function as a watchdog on the government itself, including the World Police. The Ombudsmus will have the power to investigate accusations of violence or other kinds of corruption and bring these before the courts. Like the many other checks and balances built into the Earth Constitution, this agency will underline the legitimacy of the Earth Federation government in the eyes of the people of Earth.
Its relation to the World Police will not likely be hostile, however. Indeed, the World Ombudsmus also will have mediation and conflict resolution functions that somewhat mirror those of the World Police. But the Constitution explicitly places conscious realization of the telos of its holism into the functions of the World Ombudsmus. Among these functions are “to press for the implementation of the Directive Principles for the World Government as defined in Article 13 of this World Constitution” (Art.11.1.3), and “to promote the welfare of the people of Earth by seeking to assure that the conditions of social justice and of minimizing disparities are achieved in the implementation and administration of world legislation and world law” (Art.11.1.4).
The Directive Principles of Article 13, we have seen, include all those “intensive” uses of holistic power to perfect the quality of human life through universal nourishing food, housing, health care, education, social insurance, clean water, healthy environment, etc. The role of the World Ombudsmus is to see that this telos toward harmony and perfection is followed as efficiently and rapidly as reasonably possible. This, again, is neither utopian nor arbitrary, for it follows from the logic of holism at the heart of the Constitution.
The power of that government, therefore, will be directed, on the one hand, toward addressing the terrible global problems of climate collapse, resource depletion, pollution of air, land, and water, corporate crime, violent crime, militarism, terrorism, etc. Such problems can never be effectively addressed without substantial cooperation of the nations within the federation and the active participation of the people of Earth. On the other hand, the power of the Earth Federation government will also be directed toward actualizing the directive principles of Article 13 and perfecting the quality of human life for everyone on the planet. The logic of holism demands both these goals. The government will be powerful enough to address these apparently overwhelming tasks precisely because it will have the massive support of the people and nations of Earth. The beneficent roles of the World Police and the World Ombudsmus in this process will simply be manifestations of this holistic power.
The power of the Earth Federation, therefore, will now be authentically directed toward creatively moving into the future on behalf of the common good of the people of Earth. This explains how and why the great power accorded to the Earth Federation government by the Earth Constitution will be qualitatively different from power as it is now understood within the global capitalist and nation-state systems, as well as the system of global empire and hegemony currently promoted and defended by the world’s imperial nations. As we have seen, a holistic system is qualitatively different from a system of fragmented autonomous parts. In a holistic system the unity-in-diversity means that the whole functions well because of the parts and the parts function well because of their integration into the whole.
There is an analogy with the power of health, for example, in a human body when all the organs are functioning and integrated into a harmonious whole. Parts and whole working cooperatively together create health in living things, in natural systems, and in the planetary ecosystem. Fragmentation in all these dimensions means death. Similarly, social and international fragmentation means war and violence, domination and exploitation. The power generated by social holism and world-system holism transforms these negative consequences into a synergistic flourishing of the whole with the harmonious integration of all its parts. This is what social power is and should be—the power of a genuine human community. Let us have this power, and work to establish this power, by ratifying the Constitution for the Federation of Earth!
7.7 Education as Empowerment
The Earth Federation government will have tremendous influence over educational processes and practices worldwide. The Provisional World Parliament has already passed an “Education Act” as World Legislative Act 26 that outlines the kind of core syllabus that will be essential to Earth Federation schools and recommended to educational institutions worldwide. It stipulates that all students study the Earth Constitution, that all students study the fundamentals of democracy and good government, and that all students study the requirements of citizenship as participation in government and the community pursuit of the common good of all.
Education will be directed to producing genuine “world citizens” who are loyal to the Earth and the common good of present and future generations, qualities that are also required for an ecologically sustainable civilization. Becoming such world citizens requires cognitive, moral, and spiritual development on the part of human beings, actualizing their capacities for reason, love, and intuition. The problems that I identified above in my list of nine factors in the rise of totalitarianism will be substantially overcome not only through the new world system but also through global education. Let us examine the dynamics of education from a holistic perspective in order the show the fundamentally transformed understanding of power that arises from holistic educational practices.
Every human being lives in the dynamic present, that is, every human being lives within a pervasive process of recalling and synthesizing the past within the ever-changing present in a process of projecting a future on the basis of perceived possibilities. Thinkers from Kierkegaard to Heidegger to Ricoeur have articulated these structures of human temporality. We live only in the present, a present synthesizing its past and envisioning its future in an ever-changing and ever-renewed process of projecting itself toward that future. This same dynamic holds true of families, groups, societies, nations, and cultures.
With the development of a universal consciousness of human beings and our common history upon Earth, the dynamic of a synthesized past, in a lived present, projected toward future possibilities begins to operate for humanity itself. We can ask about human destiny, human opportunities, human possibilities, and our common human future: about the gigantic hope for a transformed human future. In chapters eight and nine we will see further that a transformed future requires the realization of a human spirituality in which each person begins to live from a deeper level of awareness that connects them with the source, the ground of being. Education must take place with teachers, and within a context, that evokes development to higher levels of spiritual awareness in the learners.
Human beings possess immense possibilities for cognitive, moral, and spiritual development. Education, therefore, is about enhancing, refining, articulating and enlivening this creative process of actualizing these possibilities for individuals, for groups, and for humanity as a whole. It draws upon history and human knowledge in a dynamic interaction between the older generation and the younger generation directed toward a future of enhanced or transformed possibilities, including the possibility of living fully and blissfully in the present.
As Krishnamurti affirms, education is not simply about getting a job or fitting into some role in society, it is also about how to live, about living fully decently and fearlessly with love, beauty, and order (1964: 9-13). The development of spirituality cannot be turned into an ideology or doctrine imposed by a teacher on the students because spirituality involves inward awakening that must be realized by each individual person. Teachers can point the way and institutions can provide a harmonious, balanced and conducive environment for spiritual, moral, and cognitive growth, but none of this can be imposed. As Krishnamurti expresses this:
Life is really very beautiful, it is not this ugly thing we have made of it; and you can appreciate the its richness, its depth, it extraordinary loveliness only when you revolt against everything—against organized religion, against tradition, against the present rotten society—so that you as a human being find out for yourself what is true. Not to imitate but to discover—that is education, is it not? (Ibid. 11)
The fullness of human life involves the mysterious duality of human existence: we need to live fully and blissfully in the present while at the same time synthesizing a past within a dynamic projection of our lives into the future. Education is about both these dimensions, for the structure of human temporality—moving from a recalled past through a dynamic present toward an imagined future—is always about some future, always projecting toward some set of imagined possibilities, while at the same time living fully and deeply in the present. In this book we have seen that these two dimensions of our cosmic-divine situation also characterize the world: the blissful, eternal fullness of the present (what Whitehead calls God’s primordial nature also reflected in the world) and the evolutionary development of ever-greater, more complex holistic systems (what Whitehead calls God’s consequent nature). These two dimensions, as they operate in and through human life, compose the subject-matter of authentic education.
Perhaps most people, much of the time throughout human history, have experienced life as a nightmare of scarcity of resources, or the dehumanization of oppression of one form or another. History records experiences of domination, slavery, exploitation, war, hate and fear, clinging to a precarious and uncertain existence in the face of horrible possibilities of disease, suffering, death, and destruction. We may want to preserve some values, insights, and wisdom from the past, or an understanding of sacred scriptures, or some ideals of culture, but these preserved remembrances are invariably in the name of a better future, a future transformed in the direction of peace, justice, truth, love, community, and freedom.
Some contemporary Christians, such as Paul Tillich, Enrique Dussel, and Jürgen Moltmann, have understood the future in terms of God: the power of God and the call of God toward a transformed future. Moltmann writes:
When we speak in such an absolute and dominant way of “the” future which defines all history and therefore itself does not pass away, God is meant as the power of the future. The power of the future affects people in such a way that they are liberated from the compulsion to repeat the past and from bondage to the givenness of what is already there. To speak of the history of the future means to speak of the history of human liberation. That is the basic thinking of the eschatologically oriented hermeneutic of history. (Italics in the original, 2007: 106)
Human history can be rightly understood as the story of the struggle for human liberation in general. Several of the world’s great religions have understood history this way, as did Karl Marx who criticized religion as a fetter on the process of liberation. Since the Axial Period in human history 2500 years ago, there have been religious and philosophical thinkers who have seen humanity as one reality and history as the actualization and articulation of that one temporalized reality. By the 20th century the unity of humanity has become widely recognized and articulated in documents such as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Authentic education is about human liberation into a decent future for everyone on Earth. It brings the experiences and knowledge of past generations into the present with a view to a better future. In situations of broad structural injustice, it is inherently revolutionary.
Law has also been a feature of most human societies throughout these past 2500 years. And thinkers have reflected on the nature and foundations of the idea of law in human societies. Is the law simply the expression of the arbitrary power of rulers or a ruling class? Or is there a moral basis behind the idea of law that makes arbitrary power illegitimate and only democratic systems of law morally legitimate? Ronald Dworkin (1978), for example, argues that the power of the law (legal coercion) only has moral legitimacy if it arises from a “true community,” that is, if the members of the community consider that the obligations to the law that are an expression of their community are: (1) specific to their community, (2) personal obligations binding them to other members of the community, and (3) directed toward the common good or welfare of the entire community.
If a community of people operates according to these principles, then it will be a system of “integrity” based on fundamental moral principles and the equally recognized human rights of all. In such a society, the common understanding of the citizens creates a social and moral harmony that is bound together and enlivened by the rule of enforceable laws. It is clear that the conflict and chaos of the world as a whole today is linked to the fact that the world is not a community in this sense and that there is no morally legitimate regime of enforceable law over all nations and citizens that could establish and institutionalize a community of peace and harmony for the entire Earth. However, it has become clear that the idea of such a community is presupposed in the very concept of law.
The story of the human project as an emerging global community has only come to real prominence in the 20th century, and we have seen through Swimme and Berry that we can integrate the human story into that of the evolving universe itself. Yet the story of the rule of law within this emerging global community has yet to be fully told. How can the rule of morally legitimate enforceable law establish, enhance, and undergird a world of peace, justice, freedom, harmony, and sustainability? How can the human community as a whole appropriate a common past within a dynamic present of reflection and decision-making and project itself toward a future characterized by moral legitimacy and harmony?
Education, which clearly bears on enhancing the future possibilities of individual students, can also be about creating a transformed future for humanity, as we have seen Ricoeur assert. It can be about creating a harmonious civilization for all humanity on Earth, empowering both the individuals and the community. Indeed, every aspect of human knowledge, when taught, operates within this dynamic of a recalled past synthesized in a dynamic present with imagined possibilities for the future. If we study war, military training and strategy, we are similarly recalling a past and defining or imagining certain future possibilities. However, it is dawning on people worldwide that we do not have to study war, we can study peace and in doing so establish and articulate long suppressed possibilities for human liberation and a transformed future.
In this sense education is not simply about the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next through classrooms, books, lectures, and electronic media. Education becomes a universal process by which each of us and society as a whole engages reason and imagination in a dynamic process of learning from the past, and the horrific failures of the human project throughout the past and present, and exploring the immense possibilities for a future beyond war, poverty, injustice, and oppression. Reason, imagination, love, and intuition do not stand as opposed faculties, but rather as complementary powers through which the processes of growth and transformation are energized.
Reason here is not the tired positivist reason that erroneously constructs the world as a collection of facts and maintains that the future must be merely an extension and continuation of these depressing facts. Rather, reason, with power of imagination, opens up a world of possible alternative futures, understanding the immense creative and transformative powers flowing through human beings that can bring very different futures into existence. Reason also understands that the very possibility of parts presupposes the wholes that encompass them. Positivism fails to understand the creative power of values, principles, and imaginative vision within human life and history. The tired and unimaginative study of war brings with it a future of war. The creative and hopeful study of peace and harmony draws with it a future of peace and harmony.
Education is also about cognitive, moral, and spiritual growth. Across the board, psychologists and spiritual thinkers show broad agreement about stages of growth, the higher stages being fundamental to global harmony. It is understood that perhaps a majority of persons remain at the lower stages of growth throughout their lives. In Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” (1970), people are understood to have a primary need for “belongingness” that often binds them to their local community and its conventions. Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg (1984) and philosopher Jürgen Habermas (1979) call this lower stage “conventional.” Carol Gilligan (1982) calls this stage “ethnocentric” and James Fowler (1981) calls it “synthetic-conventional.” If one’s identity is defined by local religion, local conventions, national customs, and regional mores, then global harmony is not likely, since it appears from this level of growth that the other religions in the world and other national customs and perspectives are simply wrong or misguided.
These thinkers posit the higher stages of moral, cognitive, and spiritual growth as essential to universal harmony. Maslow speaks of self-transcendence, and Kohlberg of harmony with nature and the cosmos (embracing all people and cultures). Habermas (1998a) speaks of developing the capacity for dialogue directed toward mutual understanding, which assumes the equality of the other and makes possible the harmony of mutual understanding. He shows that the very possibility of language presupposes claims to truth, truthfulness, and normative rightness: making possible true mutual understanding among peoples. Fowler speaks of “conjunctive faith” in which truth is recognized as multidimensional and found in all faith traditions.
Spiritual philosopher and cognitive scientist Ken Wilber (2007) articulates a number of developmental stages applicable both to individual persons and the historical development of the human species. Lower stages include the “mythic self” and the “achiever self,” neither of which can harmoniously embrace the diversity of humankind. Higher stages move through the “sensitive self” to the “holistic self” to the “integral self” where people are now able to more and more fully embrace and affirm the vast unity-in-diversity of humanity. The educational process directed toward harmony must address the need for development toward these higher, more universal, moral and spiritual stages of growth.
Wilber draws on his immense scholarly corpus of studies in the development of science, world cultures, planetary psychologies, and the history of mysticism embedded within the world’s religious traditions to create a developmental model for humanity across four “quadrants”: science, culture, individual consciousness, and organizational systems. He calls this model AQAL (All Quadrants All Levels, 2007: 72, 180). Drawing on the insights of these same developmental and educational thinkers (Maslow, Kohlberg, Gilligan, etc.), Wilber has created a model of human development for all four quadrants that can serve as a fundamental guide to education. The pattern of development in each quadrant roughly parallels that of the others. Individual development culminates in the “holistic self” and the “integral self.” World culture culminates in “holistic world culture” and then moves to the integral level. Science progresses to the cosmic and biospheric holism that we have been discussing in this book.
In the quadrant for the social, economic, and governmental “systems” by which human beings organize themselves, Wilber’s developmental model culminates in “holistic commons” and “integral mesh networks” (ibid.). At the level of systems people begin to see that planetary ecology with its oceans, atmosphere, forests, and interdependent systems as part of a holistic commons belonging to all of us. In a video discussion of planetary governance with Jim Garrison, Wilber advocates moving toward a “world federation government” that is capable of meeting the interrelated needs and problems of our planet with the spiritual maturity, authority and effectiveness (https://vimeo.com/12354463). My contention is that the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, that places the key resources of the planet, including its oceans and atmosphere, under a holistic commons belonging to the people of Earth, fulfills the vision articulated by Wilber in these works.
Education, if it is to be enlightened and informed, must show the students this developmental model across all four of Wilber’s quadrants: scientific, cultural, personal, and structural. Education can and should bring the unity of humankind and human civilization into the awareness of students. But the structure of the systems by which we organize our lives is educative as well. Wilber’s timeline includes the lower levels of “feudal empires,” “early nations,” and “corporate states.” History shows clearly that people organized under these systems thought and acted in terms of the presuppositions of these system. If we organize the world as a “holistic commons” under the Earth Constitution, people will begin thinking and acting from these higher more integral levels.
Above, we considered the role of law, and law education, within this process. We examined the relation between law and harmony with respect to at least three dimensions. First, the function of the rule of law that establishes a unity-in-diversity that frees human beings from naked power relationships and establishes the primordial harmony of the social contract. Second, within the framework provided by the social contract, a dialogue directed toward mutual understanding is made possible through which racial, cultural, religious, and other forms of harmony can be pursued.
Third, within the framework provided by the social contract, freedom can develop from a mere “negative freedom” into an empowering matrix of “positive freedom” in which society as a whole pursues the common good of universal harmonies of peace, justice, freedom, and sustainability. People begin to understand that cooperation and mutual support give much greater freedom to all than do fragmentation and conflict. People are influenced by their institutional framework to grow to maturity. But maturity means freedom, autonomy in relation to that institutional framework. This understanding goes all the way back to Kant:
Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! “Have courage to use your own understanding!”—that is the motto of enlightenment. (1983: 41)
This effort to bring people to moral autonomy and maturity is fundamental to the purpose of education. But good laws under a universal social contract, Kant also insists, help bring people to moral autonomy and maturity. All three of these functions of good law are educational for the citizens who find themselves within the embrace of this law. The fact of a global social contract, establishing democratic world law for Earth, alone helps lift people from ethnocentric and partial perspectives to universal, more all-embracing perspectives. Erich Fromm stresses the relation between the individual and society that, as for John Dewey considered above, makes possible the actualization of our higher human potential:
Positive freedom on the other hand is identical with the full realization of the individual’s potentialities…. The victory of freedom is possible only if democracy develops into a society in which the individual, his growth and happiness, is the aim and purpose of culture…. I have stressed the psychological side of freedom, but I have also tried to show that the psychological problem cannot be separated from the material basis of human existence, from the economic, social, and political structure of society. It follows from this premise that the realization of positive freedom and individualism is bound up with economic and social changes that will permit the individual to become free in terms of the realization of his self. (1941:270-71)
The economic transformation of global society under the Earth Constitution and the guarantee of universal human rights and freedoms, permit people everywhere to grow to maturity. The making possible of a dialogue directed toward mutual understanding by the law (what Fromm terms genuine democracy) also lifts people out of their parochial, strategic, and instrumental patterns of speech and helps them actualize the maturity of genuine openness to the other through authentic dialogue. Moral autonomy (the ability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another) and openness to others through dialogue are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary, both essential features of moral maturity. The actualizing of positive freedom similarly helps bring citizens to a more and more universal understanding of what it means to be human and the role of a diverse global community in supporting freedom and the roughly equal capacity of everyone to live a decent, morally mature, human life.
The rule of democratic law is essential to this process. As Harris declares: “If the implications of this scientific revolution and the new paradigm it produces are taken seriously, holism should be the dominating concept in all our thinking.” Holism is revolutionary holism, the source of our gigantic hope for a transformed future, for the emergence of new, holistic levels of human existence on the Earth. Education concerning the law must carefully study today’s law—its nature, strengths, and limitations.
Education must reveal the law’s role in our current conflicted and endangered human situation. It must also study the relation of law and the development of our higher human potentialities to the new holistic paradigm that encompasses all four of Wilber’s quadrants, including the structural and organizational dimension. It must show the potential of that law for contributing to a transformed and harmonious human future. It must show that this future is presupposed in the very concept of law. Power becomes something entirely different within this context. It becomes the power of life, the power of human flourishing, the power of living blissfully and fully in the present, the power of free people using their understanding without guidance from another, the power that arises from a holistic and harmonious community. It is this transformed conception of power that will inform the Earth Federation government under the Earth Constitution.
But education does not provide our only hope. It will contribute substantially toward awakening humanity to its common vocation of becoming ever more fully human and creating a worldwide consciousness of world citizenship. Yet it is but one element within a holistic context that is creative, dynamic, dialectical, flexible, and in process. The mechanistic world view of the early-modern paradigm made no room for teleology, for dialectical emergence of higher levels of synthesis, nor for the influence of the unspeakable depths of existence on the surface dimensions of existence. It made no room for a future that is substantially different from the past.