The Earth Federation Movement – Founding a Social Contract for the Earth.
History, Documents, Philosophical Foundations.
Glen T. Martin
Two aspects of holism in the Earth Constitution:
1.4 Democratic Holism
Those envisioning a more holistic concept of human life and democracy go back at least to Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz in the 17th century. Their ideas developed through the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant in the 18th century. These thinkers proved to have a philosophical understanding that has been corroborated by the 20th century scientific discoveries of the pervasive holism of nature and human life. Habermas (1998a) discovered that the very possibility of language requires other persons in a communicative relationship with the speaker presupposing equality, freedom, and mutual recognition. Manipulative or strategic uses of language are secondary and parasitical upon its primary communicative function.
Hence, language itself, in its very possibility, presupposes the rudiments of a democratic relationship among persons who have a right to challenge claims of “truth, truthfulness, or normative rightness” implicit in every utterance. For this reason, communicative uses of language directed toward mutual understanding form the core of human relationships and point to the development of legitimate, morally grounded, “political will formation” through horizontal processes of dialogue and debate (Habermas 1998b: 450).
A properly structured democratic society provides the “public space” for such dialogue and debate that results not in an atomistic struggle for power but in a transformation of all the parties to the dialogue through their formation of a “general will” (Harris 2008) or a societal mutual understanding that then allows citizen participants to see the laws of society as products of their own communicative actions. The “vertical” relation of government to citizens, Habermas affirms, rests upon the “horizontal” relation of citizens in dialogue with one another within the public spaces making such dialogue possible (Habermas 2003: 76-77).
Ernest Barker describes democratic holism in which the development and communicative function of the human self is inseparable from democratic society. This positive freedom, we have seen him assert, could only find its perfection in “a world society”:
So far as society exists by dynamic process, it exists for and by the mutual interchange of conceptions and convictions about the good to be attained in human life and the methods of its attainment. It thus exists for and by a system of social discussion, under which each is free to give and receive, and all can freely join in determining the content or substance of social thought – the good to be sought, and the way of life in which it issues. Now such discussion is also, as we have seen, the essence of democracy…. A regime of political or constitutional liberty is a necessary part of the development of human personality in and through a society of selves. (1967: 19)
However, even while the foundations of democracy and positive freedom in the human community were being articulated during the 20th century, the structural problems of democracies, predicated on negative freedom and economic competition among the plutocracies of various nations, continued to multiply. As a result, a number of critiques of democracy developed in the 20th century have had considerable influence.
Authors such as Carl Schmitt, Joseph Schumpeter, Friedrich von Hayek, and Leo Strauss presented a variety of reasons why the historic attempts at popular democracy, beginning with the 18th century American and French Revolutions that led to the 19th and 20th century spread of democracies around the world, had largely failed. Behind all of these critiques lay empirical observations of the immense problems and difficulties facing democracies in the 20th century in conjunction with the suspicion that ordinary people en masse were not capable of governing themselves. Carl Schmitt, the Nazi legal theorist who supported Hitler, asserted that the spirit of the people needed to be embodied in a strong leader whose policies the people were only capable of ratifying in a “yes” or “no” plebiscite (Harris 2008: 96-97).
Strauss asserted that modern democratic equality ignored the crucial role of elite leaders of exceptional excellence and virtue that are essential to good governance. He emphasized the role of such people of exceptional excellence in the ancient thought of Plato and Aristotle. In terms of modern democracy, Strauss suggested that elite leaders need to lead the masses using forms of deception akin to Plato’s “noble lie” that was designed to secure the loyalty of the masses while their guardians ruled for the common good in ways that the masses could not comprehend.
One assumption behind many of these views critical of liberal democracy was the assumption that political parties, advocacy groups, and individuals within modern democracy were most fundamentally engaged in a struggle for political (and economic) power within the state. In this respect, these critics of democracy retained the Newtonian model that saw the world as made of individuals and corporate entities for which government was simply a mechanism for controlling and regulating their competitive affairs. Like the international system of power politics, internally democratic polity was also basically a form of power politics. These views were also developed in the light of the social-Darwinism that arose after 1859 when Darwin published his Origin of Species, for now society and politics could be understood under a model of natural selection and survival of the fittest.
We have seen, however, in what ways these critics missed the ethical and holistic foundations of both genuine democracy and freedom. For they continued to operate under the outmoded Newtonian and social-Darwinian model of atomistic negative freedom in which a multiplicity of parts (whether nations, persons, parties, or corporations) struggle in competition with one another. They critiqued the so-called liberal democracies as incapable of successful working by using the very same false premises that prevented these democracies from successfully working in the first place.
Kant (1957) had already argued in the 18th century that the first and foremost moral obligation of persons is to live under republican government that protects their freedom, equality, and independence. Republican government, for Kant, created a legal and moral framework for persons to be and act as ethical beings. For this reason, government itself is mandated by the ethical principle of the “categorical imperative” which states that the will of every rational being should submit itself to universal laws equally applicable to all. A free rational ethical being is as much a politically responsible being as a personally responsible one. For Kant (1974), the whole of society and the individual are inseparably tied together within a holistic relation of unity in diversity. Republican government is simply the moral framework of our relations with other persons writ large.
Kant’s insight into the holism of human life underlines both the cosmopolitanism emphasizing our moral obligations to all other persons and that form of communitarianism requiring democratic government to bind persons into a legal, holistic moral community. As pointed out above, Kant’s insights were confirmed by 20th century science. MIT professor of linguistics, Steven Pinker, for example, writes that “Just as there is a universal design to the computations of grammar, there is a universal design to the rest of the human mind – an assumption that is not just a hopeful wish for human unity and brotherhood, but an actual discovery about the human species that is well motivated by evolutionary biology and genetics” (1994: 425-426).
Kant deeply understood the implications of his own holistic thought. The world was divided, then as now, into a collection of “sovereign” nation-states recognizing no enforceable law above themselves. This situation, Kant understood, places them in an immoral relation to one another, a relation that he called “war.” Any relation in which individuals or nations stand apart from one another outside the framework of the enforceable laws of republican government is one in which the stronger can dominate or manipulate the weaker.
This situation is an immoral one of “war” since the only possible moral relationship of nations or persons is one in which the freedom, equality, and independence of each is protected by republican government providing a universal legal-moral framework for their diversity. Kant stated unequivocally that the system of sovereign nation-states is immoral (he called it “savage” and “barbaric”) and that nations were under an absolute moral command to join together in an Earth Federation under one republican government over all the nations (1957, originally published 1795).
On the global level today, for example, we confront a situation of immense, cruel poverty crushing the life prospects of some 20% of the world’s population, or nearly two billion people. A person embracing cosmopolitan moral principles would want to find ways to alleviate this suffering through some form of distributive justice (Loriaux 2010). However, there is currently no effective or meaningful way to address global poverty. There are no planetary institutions that even come close to an adequate attempt at global distributive justice.
Ethics and politics are inseparable for Kant. The moral imperative demands that we establish a “kingdom of ends” in human society in which everyone treats everyone else as an “end in themselves.” This is demanded because “morality consists in the relation of all action to the making of laws whereby alone a kingdom of ends is possible” (1964: 100-101). Morality, whether on the personal level or the governmental level, consists in the making of universal laws directed toward establishing moral relations among all human beings. Clearly, only democratic world law could make this effectively possible.
Kant understands that good laws promoting civilized human freedom will help develop the moral level of citizens, making us capable of dealing with ever-larger moral issues. As contemporary thinker Terry Eagleton expresses this: “What really alters our view of the world is not so much ideas, as ideas which are embedded in routine social practice. If we change that practice, which may be formidably difficult to do, we are likely in the end to alter our way of seeing” (2011: 94). Our moral level can be elevated through decent political and economic institutions, which, in turn, allow us to address global moral problems.
The same dynamic applies to our moral obligation to deal with global poverty. There is no effective way that we can discharge this obligation without creating a democratic world government with the authority and resources to address this moral requirement of distributive justice. Just as government is necessary to provide freedom, equality, and independence (and hence a moral framework) for all, so, too, government is necessary to address the massive injustice of global poverty. Ethical and political obligations are fashioned from the same holistic cloth.
Similar conclusions follow if we turn to the great statements that have been made concerning human rights in the modern world. We have seen that the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a holistic (unity in diversity) document. Its very first article expresses the foundation of cosmopolitan global ethics: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Ethical principles are universal because they follow from the dignity of each as a moral being who can freely choose the principles by which he or she will operate in daily life.
The 30 articles of the U.N. declaration articulate in great detail the rights of individuals to freedom from political interference from government, the rights to be left alone, for freedom of religion, thought, and conscience. However, the document also includes “communitarian” ethical principles in the sense of social and economic rights that can only be protected through the common efforts of governmental communities. For example, Article 25 states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services….”
Under the current world system such rights are not (and cannot be) recognized by the prevailing institutions (such as the World Bank or the World Trade Organization) since they would immediately deny the ability of globalized “free trade” to exploit poor people by paying sub-living standard wages within poorer countries for the benefit of foreign corporations located in richer countries. Universal economic and social rights (to a living wage, health care, sanitation and clean water, or education) require a global social contract – democratic world government – to actualize and enforce them.
Article 28 as much as admits this: “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” And this is why the entire set of human rights in this declaration is considered by most governments of the world, the U.N., and international institutions as “merely symbolic.” The declaration serves as an ideal, a goal, but does not have the force of international law. Clearly, an international order that protected the rights specified in the Universal Declaration would have to be democratic world government, which the U.N. Charter abjures in favor of nation-state sovereignty. Compare the political, economic, and social rights given in Articles 12 and 13 of the Earth Constitution. These articles are not merely symbolic. They become enforceable world law upon ratification of the Constitution, thereby fulfilling for the first time Article 28 of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.
Some commentators on human rights speak of first generation rights (e.g., traditional political freedoms), second generation rights (social and economic guarantees), and, finally, third generation rights, such as the right to peace and to a healthy environment (Wacks 2006: 58). This evolution of the concept of rights indicates a growing, historically developing understanding of the concept of rights and what it entails. All three generations of rights require the moral framework of democratic world government to make their actualization possible.
Social and economic rights, like political rights, may be possible to a limited extent within sovereign nation-states but the fact that economics is globalized and the fact that most nations are militarized (creating an unstable and dangerous world system) militates against success in this respect. With regard to third generation rights, however (such as peace and a protected planetary environment), actualization is clearly impossible within the system of sovereign nations precisely because they violate the holism of humanity which is required for both peace and sustainability. We have the right, therefore, to democratic world government (as Article 28 of the U.N. Declaration implies), as the only possible form of world order that can holistically implement and protect the entire range of our human rights.
The language of “rights,” however important and necessary it may be, can be misleading, because all so-called rights are correlative to responsibilities and to a relational community that forms the supporting matrix of both rights and responsibilities. The false atomistic assumptions behind the negative conception of freedom as competition among autonomous individuals, groups, or nations is often couched in the language of rights, as if rights inhered in individuals or groups apart from the community that necessarily forms the matrix and context for rights, responsibilities, and freedoms. (See Document Eight below: Declaration of Citizen and Government Responsibilities under the Earth Constitution.)
With the development of second generation social and economic rights and third generation peace and environmental rights, the language of rights has moved from atomism to the holism of community, since the latter two generations of rights necessarily require a social community for their actualization. And, with the development of the third generation of rights (to peace and environmental protection), we have moved to the level of the global community since neither of these can be realized at the level of sovereign nations. These rights can only be actualized if we legally and intentionally found a world community, a global social contract. (See Documents Three and Four below that legislate on behalf of our global environmental rights.)
This is the primary function behind the ratification of the Earth Constitution. Ratification will formally and legally establish the world community that already exists in the form of our universal humanity and our universal moral relationship with one another. The Constitution embodies the global social contract necessary to institutionalize our ethical relationship with all other persons. This ethical relationship requires that we engage in dialogue with one another at the planetary level within a public space that makes this dialogue possible and within an institutional framework that makes consequent genuinely ethical political action possible.
Democratic holism understands that we are morally obligated (in the several ways described above) to leave our present immoral, defacto state of war (that is a consequence of our false conception of negative freedom). This condition of de facto war is a product of the fragmentation (of nations, peoples, classes, religions, races, etc.) brought on by the outmoded Newtonian and social-Darwinian paradigm to which we continue to cling (cf. Harris 2000). We must join together within a republican governmental framework that actualizes our moral relation to one another in the holistic form of universal liberty, equality, justice, peace, and sustainability. Democratic global government actualizes the moral-political obligation that we all have to one another.
1.5 Political Holism
Philosophical history contains a wealth of insightful documents that reflectively consider the basis of a viable and legitimate political and social order. These go back to ancient Greek and Roman thinkers such as Plato (who reflected on the nature of justice), Aristotle, and Cicero. They continue through medieval thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas, and emerge with great vigor in the Renaissance reflections of such thinkers as Athanasius, Duplessis Mornay, and Machiavelli.
Reflections systematically laying the groundwork for contemporary democratic theory especially emerged in the 17th century thought of writers like Gottfried Leibniz, Baruch Spinoza, and John Locke. During the 18th century, thinkers such as Baron de Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant brought reflection on the social contract through which society defines legitimate government into a powerful focus, helping to define the democratic societies that emerged out of the French and American revolutions toward the end of that century.
In the 19th century, thinkers such as G.W. F. Hegel, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Karl Marx helped refine and critically analyze democratic theory, defining many of the issues and difficulties faced in the functioning democracies. Marx, for example, saw political democracy (with equal political rights such as voting) as a great step forward, but not sufficient for “substantive democracy”: “Political emancipation certainly represents a great progress. It is not, indeed, the final form of human emancipation” (1978: 35). For “people cannot be liberated as long as they are unable to obtain food and drink, housing and clothing in adequate quantity and quality” (1978: 169). Political freedom must be accompanied by substantial economic freedom from want and deprivation. Democracy is impossible without actualizing that moral dimension of equality under the law that necessarily includes reasonable economic equality. Marx’s critique was a great step forward in the philosophical understanding of democracy.
The 20th century saw new and deeper understandings emerge concerning the nature of the social contract, the nature of humans in relation to language, the relation between individuals and society, and the role of technology and mass society. Our understanding of the nature, extent, and meaning of the social contract deepened even while serious threats to democracy arose in the form of totalitarian societies like Nazi Germany, the USSR under Stalin, or Maoism in Communist China.
A wealth of studies and political theories emerged, too numerous to mention here (some of which are listed in the bibliography). Outstanding thinkers such as T.H. Green, Herbert Spencer, Bernard Bosanquet, Ernest Barker, Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, David Held, Benjamin Barber, Errol E. Harris, and Jürgen Habermas created substantial theoretical underpinnings for democracy in the light of a more sophisticated contemporary understanding of the human condition. At the heart of their understanding, as we will see in greater detail, is the insight that democracy requires a genuinely “public space” where persons can transcend their partisanship, special interests, and individual particularities and engage in communicative discussions that, on some level, transform the participants and allows a higher perspective ever more closely representing the common good of the whole to emerge.
Ironically, as suggested above, at the same time that this profound insight into the fundamental requirement of democracy developed during the 20th century, rapidly changing global conditions and technologies began undermining functioning democracies worldwide. This fostered regimes premised on fear and national security that severely curtailed civil liberties and modified the democratic “spirit of the laws” that Montesquieu had identified as a fundamental feature of a social contract predicated on “consent of the governed.”
The idea of a social contract between people to create government over themselves as an impartial authority, representing the common good and responsible to the people who remain sovereign, was articulated by John Locke, Montesquieu, and the other 18th century theorists. Montesquieu insists on a clear separation of the branches of government, creating a diversity of power centers and the checks and balances necessary to keep government responsible to the people as a whole whom it serves, rather than to special interests, a ruling elite, or an absolute monarch. Locke distinguished clearly between “tacit consent” by the people and “overt consent.” Overt consent is what is given at the founding of the social contract, when, for example, a constitution is signed by the founders and then is ratified in a free and fair referendum by the people whose law of the land it will become.
The idea of tacit consent presents greater conceptual difficulties. Can people born and raised within a society be said to have given tacit consent to its laws? In Plato’s Crito, Socrates argues that the coherence and order of the society within which he lived, the fact that he was free to leave and never left, and the fact that he was free to “persuade” his government to change its laws, together indicate that he has consented to obey its laws. However, most people are more embedded within their social situations than Socrates appears to have been when he claims he was free to leave at any time. Many people have family, friends, recognition in their local communities, a job, and other forms of significant investment in the societies within which they were born and grew up. The fact that they do not immigrate hardly indicates an active consent to obey laws that they may consider unjust or an active consent to some non-democratic government that happens to reign in their societies.
Does the right to vote indicate consent of the governed? There are, of course, many variations on this right, and many ways governments can allow people this right without compromising their undemocratic or even dictatorial character. In his study of the United States entitled Democracy in America that appeared in two volumes in 1835 and 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville speaks of a kind of universal tacit consent that characterized the society in the United States. He characterized it as a general feeling among the people of a “consensus universalis.” This feeling was perhaps generated by the right to participate in government and the freedom of speech and association that prevailed (in addition to voting), a freedom that allowed even many minorities to form associations and become active political advocates.
In her 1972 discussion of Tocqueville’s observations, Hannah Arendt asserts that this consensus universalis, if it ever existed, has been lost in the United States, having been replaced by lobbying for special interests and party politics directed toward winning power for certain interests rather than political debate based on alternative conceptions of how best to realize the common good of the whole society (1972: 85-102). This loss of a sense of the legitimacy of today’s democratic societies is clearly a worldwide phenomenon. The idea of a common good, developed and pursued through citizen participants who feel they can effectively participate in the generation of the laws under which they are governed, is disappearing from many so-called democratic societies worldwide.
The reasons for this are, doubtless, many and complex. The present writer has had the opportunity to gain some familiarity with the governing of both Bangladesh and Libya, for example. In the former the “Freedom Fighters Movement” and in the latter the “Revolutionary Committees Movement” claim to be struggling against odds to keep alive what each perceives as the original democratic spirit of their society. Threats to this struggle come from a number of sources, including fundamentalist religious forces within each of these societies. However one evaluates these claims, perhaps the intent of these movements are not that different from movements in the United States like “People for the American Way” that struggle against the destruction of democracy within the U.S. by fundamentalist religious forces and other right wing threats to a free society.
However, the reasons for the threat to democracy within many nations today have much to do with a globalized world that has generated immense forces transcending the boundaries of nation-states. The development of ever-faster and ever-more-lethal weapons in a militarized world threatens civil liberty within nations and forces their governments into a national security state mode. Gigantic global economic forces, stripping economic independence and internal economic control from nations, means that governments can no longer protect their citizens in the interest of a common economic good. The consequent separation of extreme wealth for a few within every nation and serious poverty for the majority further erodes the social contract.
The disappearance of basic resources such as fresh water and arable land worldwide (and the power for foreign interests to control the internal resources of sovereign nations) has forced governments to take measures that appear to violate the social contract. Global climate activity has created major droughts, storms, flooding, and other severe weather patterns that, again, force governments to interrupt the coherence, consistency, and regularity of the social processes of free association, dialogue, and citizen participation that appear fundamental to generating a consensus universalis among the population.
These globalized historical forces will necessarily worsen over time, making it clear that there is no possibility of reversing the historical process and returning to the kind of “democracy in America” described by Tocqueville in the 19th century. If democracy is to be protected and defended, this can only be through a new social contract that is now globalized to the point where an Earth Federation government can deal with the international forces (military, economic, resource depletion, and climate destruction) that now destroy legitimate political processes everywhere on our planet. Consent of the governed within a free society cannot function when government exists in a perpetual state of emergency, which is exactly what our globalized world order has imposed on all nation-state governments.
The idea of an active consent of the governed within a sustainable society that protects peace, freedom, and justice to the point where the citizens recognize that government represents their will and their sovereignty can no longer happen at the nation-state level. Even the most powerful nation-states have lost the ability to sustain functioning democracy within their borders. We return to the inseparability (described above) of the moral dimension from the dimension of political responsibility. Our moral and political responsibility requires that we establish a genuine community among human beings living on the Earth, a community that necessarily requires a protected planetary public space where genuine dialogue and communication can take place.
How are human beings to come together in a forum capable of action to reach, through honest dialogue and debate, a mutual understanding concerning the realities of our human situation (its totality) and how are we to move into the future on the basis of this understanding? How are we to reach collective decisions on the coordinated actions that must be taken to create and protect a future for humanity and our common home, the Earth? It is clear that there is little public space for genuine discussion within nations, since their false assumptions about negative freedom have led to an internal space dominated by slogans, ideologies, accusations, public relations, and other forms of strategic language. The wealthy plutocracy, on the one hand, and government with its militaristic propaganda, on the other, colonize the internal informational spaces within nations. However, at the planetary level, there is no significant space at all for open dialogue. There are no global institutions at present that might even make this a genuine possibility.
The U.N. General Assembly, as is widely admitted, is merely a forum for representatives of sovereign nations to represent the negative sovereign “rights” and the fragmented interests of their nations vis-à-vis one another. Some agencies of the U.N. (such as UNESCO) attempt to create a framework for genuine dialogue among cultures and peoples of the world, but the militarized, political framework of sovereign nation-states everywhere defeats these feeble attempts. A global public space framed by a global community making possible dialogue concerning our endangered future does not exist at the international level of nation-states. Hannah Arendt writes:
Only in the freedom of our speaking with one another does the world, as that about which we speak, emerge in objectivity and visibility from all sides…. The freedom to interact in speech with many others and experience the diversity that the world always is in its totality….is rather the substance and meaning of all things political. In this sense politics and freedom are identical, and wherever this kind of freedom does not exist, there is no political space in the true sense. (2005: 128-129)
“The world,” as an objective set of qualities, processes, and characteristics, only emerges in its fullness through the intersubjective encounter of different human viewpoints with one another. In today’s globalized situation, such a dialogue requires a global social contract. Only such a contract could create a public political space for humans to intersubjectively articulate an objective “world” in terms of which we might take action to forge a decent future for ourselves. Where this democratic public space for authentic politics does not exist, as on the global level, then neither does freedom exist. Human beings on planet Earth are pulled toward a calamitous future, as if by a raging river, yet lack any meaningful freedom to determine their common destiny.
The more this dialogic encounter of differing perspectives is lacking, the more our ideas about the “world” become illusory ideological fantasies. Without genuine dialogue among the diversity of human beings, the more we get institutions like the Pentagon, employing the immense violence at the disposal of its ideological fantasies (ideas about “the world”), and wondering why its policies always lead to unmitigated disaster both at home and abroad. Such illusions (products of a lack of genuine dialogue) are the stock in trade of most of the nations in the U.N. General Assembly.
Freedom and the public space for communicative interaction (politics in its highest, ethical sense) are substantially identical, and neither exists at the global level where concerted action on the part of nations, corporations, groups, and citizens is so fundamental to human survival and the creation of a decent future for ourselves as well as future generations. The “objectivity and visibility” of the world emerge when people dialogue from different points of view and come together in mutual understanding or, at the very least, mutual toleration and respect, which allows them to collectively act to create a future for the community.
Freedom requires not only public space but human beings who have entered that public space as full human beings, not as distorted mouthpieces of some ideology, interest group, or social pathology. The ratification of a global social contract and the creation of the public space of the World Parliament will likely attract the best among us who see the opportunity to express their deeper and common humanity in service to the planet and its citizens. The Earth Federation government will function above the vast concentrations of wealth in banking and multinational corporations and above the fanatical religious or other interest groups that today colonize governments worldwide.
The Constitution is designed to prevent such colonization. Mature human leaders, capable of intelligence and compassion and internally free of compulsion, fear, and hate, will likely staff both the World Parliament and the agencies of the Earth Federation. Humanity will be in the process of taking its next step from fragmentation to wholeness. Psychologist Erich Fromm expresses something of the kind of freedom to which I am referring:
This discussion of “humane experiences” culminates in the statement that freedom is a quality of being fully humane. Inasmuch as we transcend the realm of physical survival and inasmuch as we are not driven by fear, impotence, narcissism, dependency, etc., we transcend compulsion. Love, tenderness, reason, interest, integrity, and identity – they all are children of freedom. Political freedom is a condition of human freedom only inasmuch as it furthers the development of what is specifically human. Political freedom in an alienated society, which contributes to the dehumanization of man, becomes un-freedom. (1968: 89-90)
The creators of the Earth Constitution deeply understood the urgent need for an institutionalized public space, a viable global social contract, where peoples and nations could together participate within the protected public space of a tricameral world parliament to make those laws and decisions that open up a viable future for humanity. In deeply alienated societies like the U.S. today, what remains of “public freedom” in the national security state has become the “unfreedom” of hate speech, political hypocrisy, partisan dogma, and vicious self-interest at the expense of the common good.
The Constitution provides humankind with a carefully worked out structure for democratic world government centered on public freedom. It articulates a process of discussion, decision-making, and action that completes and embraces the historical human project of temporalized freedom that all along (going back to the ancient Stoics) included the entire human community as its most basic presupposition. Its Preamble expresses the dynamics of a mature, compassionate response to the human condition. Its detailed structure as a global social contract invites fully humane and mature human beings to step into that hallowed public space and create the conditions of freedom for all of humankind.
Article One of the Constitution states six “broad functions” of the Earth Federation – revealing that the sphere of action of the world government shall be all those global problems beyond the scope of individual nation-states. The ability to deal with these global problems constitutes grounds for ratification of the Constitution by the people and nations of Earth. But the ability of the Earth Federation government to act effectively with regard to these global problems depends on the public space created for decision-making by the World Parliament and within the ministries responsible to the Parliament. The history of political philosophy with its reflection on the grounds of human freedom culminates in human beings taking practical steps to create public space and mature public freedom at the planetary level.
The sixth “broad function” of the Constitution captures something of this dimension: “to devise and implement solutions to all problems which are beyond the capacity of national governments, or which are now or may become of global or international concern or consequence.” Drawing on the collective knowledge of the world (especially represented in the House of Counselors within the World Parliament) and the entire World Parliament representing the people of Earth (in the House of Peoples) and the nations of Earth (in the House of Nations), the Earth Federation government makes it possible for humanity to address global problems that are beyond the capacity of the nation-states.
Having understood the communitarian foundations of our individual personal freedoms, political philosophy has articulated the theoretical and practical foundations for democratic and republican forms of government. However, with the ascent to the philosophy of democratic world government, political philosophy now fulfills its historical quest to understand and properly institutionalize the relation between individual and public freedom in its only fully coherent and logical possible form – public freedom for the entire human community that can only be affected through a global social contract (Harris 2008, Ch. 8). The maturity of this planetary political form will enhance the process of transformation toward personal maturity of all the citizens, religions, and associations comprising the Earth Federation.
The social contract within nations can no longer function properly. The democratic agreement between people and government assigning rights and duties to both disintegrates as global forces influence nation-state contracts from without and make functioning democracy focusing on the common good of the nation impossible. Freedom, national self-determination, and self-governance arising from the limited communities of nation-states is no longer possible in the face of a multiplicity of economic, political, environmental, and military decision-making forces beyond the scope of national sovereignty. The social contract, democratic governance, and corresponding human freedom can now only authentically exist at the planetary level.
We have seen that the Preamble to the Constitution for the Federation of Earth provides the most basic philosophical framework for the Constitution through making clear that the “principle of unity in diversity” is the only possible coherent basis for planetary peace, justice, and freedom. Unity in diversity is the principle of human maturity and holism that transcends puerile compulsion and fragmentation. And the Constitution itself provides a framework for global public space within the World Parliament encompassing all the peoples and nations of Earth along with the set of institutions, from judiciary to civilian police, necessary to maintain and protect that global public space. Here lies the real significance of the Constitution for world citizens and global thinkers. It culminates the human quest for freedom and draws humanity together into the global community that is already presupposed by every individual life-project and every community of decision-making on Earth.
The practical effects of this planetary political holism will likely result in binding humans together within a framework of common dialogue and decision-making regarding our common human fate. For institutions are established that make all persons equally responsible as legal world citizens before one, universal common law that allows for democratic diversity at every level within the world federal system. It brings the theoretically understood structure of human freedom (that the human community is presupposed in every individual freedom) into the practical public realm by institutionalizing a public freedom for the human community (where that public freedom ultimately belongs) to deal with issues unsolvable at the local and regional levels.
This public freedom is not only a fulfillment of the philosophical quest of political thought over the centuries and a major actualization of our human quest for mature freedom. It is also the foundation stone for human survival and flourishing upon planet Earth – for that survival and flourishing can only take place in freedom – through the establishment of a holistic planetary public freedom embracing and protecting the individual personal freedom (and hence the future) of every citizen of our precious planet Earth.
A new social contract is necessary, a newly-founded global society, in which the participants understand that their freedom, security, and survival depend on their universal affirmation of a consensus universalis. Political holism understands that positive freedom ultimately arises from a planetary human community that has consented to create that global public space necessary for human beings to envision their world and take action to actualize a peaceful, just, and sustainable future for the Earth and all its creatures. The ratification of the Earth Constitution constitutes by far our best bet for affecting this planetary social contract before it is too late.