RADICAL PHILOSOPHICAL PAPERS

Glen T. Martin

(copyright 2004 and 2007)

 

1.  ENDURING PEACE AND THE QUEST FOR INTEGRAL LIBERATION:    A     POSTMODERN PHILOSOPHICAL AND EDUCATIONAL AGENDA

 

2.  PLANETARY CRISIS AND ESCHATOLOGICAL AWARENESS:    OUR FUTURE VIA HABERMAS, BUGBEE, AND MARCEL

 

3.  REVOLUTIONARY DEMOCRACY AND THE PROBLEM OF THE OTHER -JOHN DEWEY, THE PHILOSOPHY OF LIBERATION, AND HUMAN SPIRITUALITY

 

4.  UNITY IN DIVERSITY: GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION FROM DEEP VIOLENCE TO DEEP NONVIOLENCE

 

5.  TRANSFORMING THE GLOBAL SYSTEM:  FROM VIOLENT ECONOMICS IN TODAY'S WORLD DISORDER TO GLOBAL PEACE AND PROSPERITY

 

 


 

 

ENDURING PEACE

AND THE QUEST FOR INTEGRAL LIBERATION:

A POSTMODERN PHILOSOPHICAL

AND EDUCATIONAL AGENDA

 

Glen T. Martin

Radford University

(copyright 2004)

 

The world of the late 20th century is characterized by "global problems" which threaten the quality as well as the very existence of human life on our planet. There is a growing common awareness that we are facing the immanent destruction of our planetary environment, that we face a world wide trade in weapons of mass destruction, including the deployment of massive numbers of nuclear weapons, and that our would is characterized by masses of impoverished and marginalized human beings struggling for the most rudimentary survival in a global capitalist system which has institutionalized both structural exploitation and violent suppression of the majority of the world's population.

What "agendas for enduring peace" can philosophy entertain in the face of such overwhelming, seemingly world-historical forces? Philosophy's traditional role of abstract and detached knowing must certainly have long ago been replaced by the truths of Marx's eleventh thesis on Feuerbach: that philosophy must aim toward transforming the world. Yet it is not clear that either abstract knowledge, nor institutional critique alone can transform a world in which human greed, hate, compulsion, and fear seem to arise from what appear to be unknowable and incomprehensible depths within the human psyche. The transformation called for by both philosophical wisdom and human compassion would seem to require not only transformation of the institutions of war, exploitation, and oppression which dominate our planet, but spiritual transformation of that tormented psyche that appears to reciprocally arise from, as well as perpetuate, our violent planetary condition.

Yet, perhaps it is not correct to characterize the traditional role of philosophy as "abstract and detached knowing." For many great philosophers have recognized the necessity of just such a spiritual transformation of human life as inseparable from the possibility of a just and peaceful world. The obvious transformative orientation of such eastern thinkers as the Hindu Sankara, the Buddhist Nagarjuna, or the Zen Master Dogen can be complemented by the work of many central thinkers in the Western tradition: Socrates, in the Apology, attempting to "wake up" his fellow citizens to what truly matters in life, Plato of the Republic, seeking a "conversion of the soul" from darkness to light, Augustine, attempting to find the source of rest for the "restless" human heart, Spinoza, leading men from bondage to freedom and "blessedness," Kant, placing men back at the spiritual center of the universe, Nietzsche, attempting the revaluation of all values, and Wittgenstein, attempting to free us from "the darkness of these times." My suggestion here is that any philosophical agenda for enduring peace will have to combine critical social critique with the drive for spiritual transformation, that there can be no peace on our planet until we have sufficiently realized the complementary transformations of both aspects of our planetary human condition.

A.  THE EROS FOR BEING AND TRADITIONAL METAPHYSICS

By "integral liberation" I mean our intuitive sense that human beings are "unfinished" animals, beings on the way into a future with a tremendous potential for becoming more fully human in a perpetual transformation toward ever deeper realization of our possibilities of being-in-the-world. I also mean this to include reflection on a liberation which includes the social, economic, and political dimensions of our being as well as its spiritual, religious, or philosophical dimensions. Ultimately, I wish to suggest these diverse aspects of a possible "liberation" cannot be separated from one another.

Introduction to philosophy courses often begin with Socrates. One might call Socrates the ultimate philosopher and educator: a master at bringing out of others both the beginnings of wisdom and a longing for that wisdom which constitutes human fulfillment and liberation. This wisdom, which is also virtue (arete) cannot be taught, according to Socrates, it must be brought out through a process which involves awakening in the student a deep eros for that beauty and goodness and fullness of being which constitute both human fulfillment and the meaning of the human project.

Philosophy is therefore understood as a lifelong eros for wisdom. A perpetual examination of self and others, always challenging the stagnation and spiritual death that results from thinking one knows when one does not know. Hence, philosophy for Socrates is a process, not sophia but philo-sophia, and philosophers are always on the way, as the Symposium has it, between the mortal and the divine. The goal of this Socratic quest is not just any knowledge, but a wisdom comprehending the integration of being and value, and which portends our metaphysical destiny and eventual fulfillment of our humanity. For Socrates, to enter upon this path is to wake up to what it means to be human: to be on the path is itself arete or virtue.

The subsequent history of western philosophy creates from this initial inspiration a strange duality. On the one hand, many great philosophers saw philosophy as a path towards wisdom. On the other hand, the path and process of philosophy became subordinate to the reified and substantialized goal of this process: a conception of being over and against becoming. A timeless, ahistorical metaphysical reality arose whose predicates contradicted and devalued the temporal and historical processes which characterize concretely lived human life.

Both the rise of science with its "Copernican principle" that there is no privileged position in the universe and a growing insight into the historical and contingent nature of thought led the modern world of the 19th and 20th centuries to radically question the static metaphysical formulations of traditional philosophy. Human beings are now left with a merely contingent process of thinking and being: we challenge the idea that there are atemporal truths independent of the social, cultural, economic, and existential forms which constitute the very substance of both our thinking and the expression of our being-in-the-world.

Indeed, the postmodern world moves towards deconstructing all logo-centric narratives and leaving us with what could seem like a rootless relativism where all meaning and value are seen to be merely subjective, and hence unworthy of educators to discuss. Postmodernism, as Huston Smith puts it, "rejects all worldviews" and instead "offers us reality as kaleidoscopic." Nietzsche called this collapse of western metaphysical presuppositions due to a realization of the ultimate consequences of science and Kantian critical philosophy by the name of "nihilism." And Wittgenstein offers us an understanding of all language and meaning as being ontologically groundless, rooted in forms of life and language-games in terms of which traditional metaphysics is seen as "nonsense."

The one-dimensional positivism fostered by technological society, which systematically excludes all value considerations from the realm of authentic knowledge, is beginning to collapse in a "fog" of deconstructed narratives, none of which can claim ontological or epistemological superiority. Even though postmodernism claims, as Huston Smith points out, to be on the side of human liberation, in practice it seems to have nothing to offer to replace the oppressive positivism of the modern world.

B.  THE 21st CENTURY AS TURNING POINT

It is the contention of this paper that postmodernism has not yet gone far enough. It has not yet seen the ultimate implications of the deconstruction of all onto-theological conceptual systems, implications which dispel the fog of relativism and bring us for the first time into the clear light of a restored human situation. By systematically showing that all theories of grounding for language or knowledge break down under scrutiny, postmodernism has put us on the way to recognizing what Wittgenstein called the "limits of language."

Deconstruction does not simply show the relativity of all narratives to one another and the impossibility of establishing a metanarrative. Rather, it confronts us with the astonishing fact that we are beings in a world, beings immersed in constant interaction with this world, whose every articulation of that world is epistemologically and metaphysically groundless. It confronts us with the incredible realization that there is no way to ground language or meanings in the world that confronts and surrounds us.

Our astonishment is not lessened as it begins to dawn on us that the immediacy of our experience of this world is in principle unsayable: it cannot be gotten into language. Perspectivism and relativism dominate our vision of the human situation as long as we remain trapped in the net of language, unable to see clearly this unsayable immediacy, the "suchness" (tathata) of the phenomena in which we participate in the intensity of present experience.

If philosophy is the attempt to see the human situation clearly, coupled with the drive for fulfillment and realization of our humanity, then this postmodern critique of language moves toward recognizing those dimensions of experience which cannot be gotten into language. All narratives about our human situation become relative to one another in the absence of any ontologically grounded metanarrative, but that fulfillment and seeing clearly toward which philosophy tends results, not in the giving up of language, nor necessarily even of metaphysical language, but with the inclusion within language of an awareness of the unsayable depths of existence, the overwhelming ecstatic silence of the immediate present, which represents, as Nishitani Keiji points out, the ultimate source "where not only poetry, but also religion, philosophy, and morality originate."

Spiritual traditions such as Buddhism have long recognized the need for an existential and meditative practice designed to bring people out of ego-centric consciousness towards a non-verbal intuitive wisdom (prajna) in which the subject-object structure of experience and apprehension is transcended. At the same time Buddhism has developed philosophical expressions as aids to this liberating experience which show marked similarities to contemporary process philosophy. Nolan Pliny Jacobson has demonstrated these correspondences at some length. Speaking of "the confluence of these two traditions," he writes: "Buddhism is the first orientation in history to suggest that ultimate reality - what is 'really real' - is social in the deepest sense. Nothing is independent of its contemporaries; nothing endures in its present form forever; everything is a creative part of the organic unity of the world."

From a different direction, process philosopher and theologian John B. Cobb, Jr. has shown that it is not only legitimate but compelling to see, as the title of his book indicates, "Process Theology as Political Theology." Referring affirmatively to Delwin Brown's "doctrine of God as a 'lure toward freedom', doctrine of sin as 'the denial of freedom'..., and a soteriology as 'the future of freedom'," Cobb remarks that "Whitehead's philosophy...far from offering an antithetical direction for theology, can deepen and ground the central commitment to liberation....The weakness of recent process theology," he continues, "is that the discussion of freedom remains somewhat abstract in relation to actual practice in political life."

Cobb speaks here of his realization "that the whole human race [is] on a collision course with disaster" as the root of his move to political theology. In a similar spirit, it is possible to see the 20th and 21st centuries as a potential turning point in human life on planet earth. Either we continue on our "collision course with disaster" or we discover a new mode of being-in-the-world beyond the murderous dualisms and relations of objectification that now inform much of human life and society. It is this sense of urgency that requires process philosophy to reformulate its notions of temporal openness and creative journeying into a future of novel emergent nows into a more concrete vision of the possibilities of a human liberation that seems, in some sense, just beyond our present historical reach.

With the clear capacity of technological knowledge to feed, clothe, provide health care and education to every person on the planet, and with a growing understanding of both the limitations of the "modern paradigm" and the direction in which we must move to realize more fully the highest possibilities of our humanity, the vision becomes possible, perhaps for the first time in history, of a world characterized by peace, justice, freedom, and community. But to pass through the suicidal darkness in which the modern world seems trapped requires that we envision a liberation that is integral and deals with the whole human being: social, political, economic, cultural, and spiritual. Such a vision would require a community of thought and action between those, such as process or comparative philosophers, who are philosophically articulating a transformed future and social thinkers like neo-Marxists who are struggling in solidarity with the disenfranchised majority of human beings to realize a more human economic and social order.

As Cobb suggests: "From Marxism process theology can learn the importance of critical analysis of the interests that arise within the situation and of the way that the social situation controls thinking which does not become self-critical." Unless our own thinking includes a politically self-critical dimension, it will tend to be submerged, or perhaps co-opted, by the massive ideological and paradigmatic forces defining present social reality. In a world characterized by pervasive oppression and injustice, critical theory becomes an essential aspect of postmodern philosophizing.

The development of a transformed "future planetary civilization," according to Jacobson, is not primarily thwarted by infamous warring nation states of the 20th century, but rather by "the kind of selfhood in which the terrors of the modern nation are rooted. It is the archaic legacy of a self-substance, mutually independent of all others, which supports the entire superstructure of Western nations." Here lies a recognition that social and political oppression have an identical root with the spiritual bondage and ignorance (avidya) identified in Buddhism. Similarly, Paulo Freire's analysis in Pedagogy of the Oppressed understands the "oppressor consciousness" as a subjectivity that finds its reason for being precisely in domination and possession of objects.

It would seem that the consciousness fostered by modern capitalism represents ultimate embodiment of an egoistic dualistic consciousness. Freire writes that "For the oppressors, what is worthwhile is to have more - always more- even at the cost of the oppressed having less or having nothing. For them, to be is to have and to be the class of haves." The structure of egoistic desires, cravings, and compulsions, combated in the Buddhist tradition for 2500 years, culminates in a commercial culture whose mass media systematically cultivate greed and envy, a process in which, E.F. Schumacher writes, "the inevitable result is nothing less than a collapse of intelligence" and the destruction of "man's freedom."

For Freire, the social and economic relations that characterize the contemporary world dehumanize both the haves and the have nots. And these lead to a distorted consciousness on the part of both. Just as the oppressed are treated as objects, rather than persons, and come to a sense of their own worthlessness so the oppressors are similarly dehumanized through being cut off from our common vocation of becoming ever more fully human, a vocation for which freedom is "an indispensable condition."

Mysticism in general and the Buddhist tradition in particular question the ultimacy and the substantiality of ego-consciousness. These traditions see human fulfillment in a "holistic consciousness" free from both the inner as well as the outer split. The subject-object structure of consciousness is seen to be a limited form of human awareness containing internal divisions which militate against true realization of our human possibilities. In ego-consciousness, the ego knows itself as subjective freedom and yet at the same time given to itself in self-awareness as object. Just as the ego finds the world as object for its subjectivity, so it finds itself in the same fashion.

The ego is internally split as object to itself as well as subject for itself. In the drive for fulfillment and realization, the ego attempts to satisfy its desires (tanha) through the process of becoming. Believing it possesses itself through being conscious of itself as object, the ego struggles or fulfillment though this self-object by striving for a self-identity connected with various objectifications of itself as reflected, for example in "wealth, power, prestige, masculinity, femininity, knowledge, moral perfection, artistic creativity, physical beauty, popularity, individuality, or success." It ultimately desires an objectivized identity while at the same time retaining its freedom as subject.

Under the illusion that it can "have" or possess its own being, the ego finds its relationships with the world structured similarly. The world as object provides the possibility for the seeming enhancement of the ego as subjectivity through its ability to be possessed and turned into a thing. The drive towards material possession and control, while devastating to the welfare of both other human beings and nature, is derivative from the ability to possess the world through the subject-object relationship: to treat people, plants, animals, and other beings as things to be manipulated, as objects possessed by my subjectivity. Ego-consciousness, with its perpetual internal divisions and frustrations is forever bound to the wheel of suffering (dukkha), never knowing the condition of true "peace,"" the first effect" of which, according to Whitehead, is "the removal of stress of acquisitive feeling arising from the soul's preoccupation with itself."

C.  THE CENTRAL CRITERION OF LIBERATION

Liberation from the bondage of ego-consciousness results in a transformed way of being human characterized by compassion. It is a mode of being free of this "acquisitive feeling" with its tendency to dehumanize others through objectifying them in an "I-it" relationship. Only when an assumed metaphysical difference between myself and others is dropped can the sense of shared being, oneness, arise which Buddhism calls the "great compassion" (mahakaruna). Compassion here is to be carefully distinguished from pity, an emotion which retains the difference between the pitied and the one who pities.

Compassion, rather, arises from what Matthew Fox calls "suspended egos" together in a sense of shared oneness and mutual relatedness which becomes the basis of all human justice and the possibility of liberation. Charles Hartshorne affirms the relation of compassion with Jesus' command to love our neighbor as ourselves. The "Buddhist-Whiteheadian view" that human beings do not exist as separate substantial egos, he says, "makes it possible literally to love the other as oneself." To love another as oneself means the suspension of ego-centeredness with its assumption of the metaphysical priority of one's own subjectivity which views the other first as object, and then feels it must "infer" that the other has feelings, feels pain, or experiences despair. When we no longer see human life as the competition of billions of ego substances existing in a brutal struggle for survival and ascendancy, a new way of being-in-the world shows up in which, literally, the sufferings of others become my sufferings.

Similarly, the neo-Marxist struggle for human liberation is rooted in compassion, the sense of shared being. In his discussion of "the Frankfurt School" of social theory, Henry A. Giroux states that "it strongly supported the assumption that the basis for thought and action should be grounded, as Marcuse argued just before his death, "in compassion, [and] in our sense of the sufferings of others." Perhaps another expression of this sense of shared being is the experience and affirmation of "solidarity," an important term in contemporary liberation theology and affirmed as well in the political theology of John Cobb, Jr. Just as we have seen Charles Hartshorne affirm the relation between compassion and Christian agape, so Paulo Freire affirms the relation between solidarity and love:

...True solidarity with the oppressed means fighting at their side to transform the objective reality which has made them these "beings for another." The oppressor is in solidarity with the oppressed only when he stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived of their voice, cheated in the sale of their labor - when he stops making pious, sentimental, and individualistic gestures and risks an act of love. True solidarity is found only in the plenitude of this act of love, in its existentiality, in its praxis. To affirm that men are persons and as persons should be free, and yet do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality, is a farce.

This "art of loving," Jacobson writes, is directly related to the "penetration of all the egocentered compulsive drives and delusions that prevent men and women from participating in the fullness of experience.... It is the art of responsible caring which involves the uprooting of the false self and its alienated social reality...."

By contrast, the discussion of the "Moral Basis of Process Education" by Oliver and Gershman in their book Education, Modernity, and Fractured Meaning, does not use the words "compassion," "solidarity," or "love." Yet the center of process morality as they characterize it is in harmony with the mystical sense of shared being expressed by these three terms. Rather than another abstract theory of morality, these authors stress relationships that arise out of the sense that "we all have a common being." They call this sense of common being "mystical unity" or "implicate connectedness" and characterize it as the realization that "all share participation in a universal and interconnected nature so that none and nothing is separate and cut apart."

This is an appropriate expression of the compassion that arises spontaneously with liberation from ego-centric consciousness. Yet this marvelous book seems to lack a concrete sense of the transformative possibilities toward human liberation currently confronting human life on our planet. After Oliver and Gershman provide a penetrating investigation of the non-verbal, intuitive sense of interrelatedness of all things that seems to have characterized many "primitive" peoples, a sense singularly lacking in modern consciousness, and after expressing the insight that "process [philosophy] sees nature [and hence human nature] as essentially incomplete," the moral force of a process view of the world is characterized as "a generosity of heart and generality of concern as we enter into and participate within occasion." But a realization of our ontological solidarity with all life and, indeed, all nature points beyond traditional "generosity" to the possibility of a new completeness in our human being, the movement to a new level, as Freire puts it, of being more fully human.

The drive towards spiritual liberation, which has always characterized the world's great mystical traditions, is a drive towards a fundamental transformation of our being-in-the-world. The process of overcoming of ego-centric consciousness (a consciousness not only reflected in the modern paradigm) brings us towards a fundamentally new level of awareness which is simultaneously a culmination and fulfillment of our humanity and the beginning of a perpetual journeying into a creative and open future. The term for this realization of shared being is not "generosity of heart" but total "compassion," a term which in fact goes beyond all moral theorizing precisely because it involves direct, existential realization of new possibilities of being human. Compassion, solidarity, and love characterize the path as well as the goal in our drive towards an integral liberation which includes not only spiritual freedom but also a world-wide struggle for social, political, and economic liberation.

D.  FOUR PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHICAL AND EDUCATIONAL PRAXIS

John Cobb's book Process Theology as Political Theology sees God's power in the universe as "persuasive power." Similarly, in political life he stresses that we must "construct institutions that encourage persuasive relationships" and ourselves "affect the course of events creatively, and that means by persuasion." In a similar spirit, Paulo Freire points out that "propaganda, management, manipulation - all forms of domination - cannot be instruments of... rehumanization." Only "a permanent relationship of dialogue" can truly effect human liberation. It follows that the first point of a philosophical and educational praxis must be conscious realization on the part of philosophers, as with all philosophical teachers and students, that philosophical discussion, in and out of the classroom, is a truly unique mode of discourse.

With no place for ideology, pious emotions, or dogma, philosophical discussion revolves around authentic dialogue and the process of human beings struggling for truth, wisdom, and human fulfillment. It may be that philosophers, like their predecessor Socrates, are teachers and learners par excellence in that we are always on our way towards wisdom and transformation. Philosophy itself is a guide for praxis and an agenda for enduring peace in so far as it represents an inherently anti-dogmatic way of life, ever examining its self and others through participation in a perpetually emergent future. The process which is philosophy is forever in anticipation of an enlarged, and possibly transformed, future. Global peace can only arise from this mode of educational and philosophical praxis: "dialogical praxis."

Secondly, the authentic philosophical life, like the post-modern classroom, must be informed by a spirit of living "critical consciousness." It is not necessary that any particular critical theory, say that of Habermas or Marcuse, be used in the classroom, nor in professional discourse, certainly not in any dogmatic fashion. Rather, critical theory (or "critical praxis") must be present in its broadest sense as a critique of our present institutions and ideologies of domination and dehumanization generated through what might be defined as an "awareness of the possibilities of human liberation."

This would involve awareness that oppression does not simply characterize third world communities where routine first world economic decisions cause immeasurable suffering among millions of marginally existing poor. But also of the dehumanization fostered by affluent modern technological societies in which massive economic interests manipulate public desires, opinions, and needs to produce a one-dimensional consciousness which is the antithesis of a creative, liberated human being growing towards fuller realization of his or her humanity.

The consciousness produced by technological capitalist society involves a distorted set of compulsions ever striving for unattainable fulfillment through useless consumption and possession, and whose self-alienated focus on "having" rather than "being" results in an objectivization and dehumanization of the masses of oppressed and suffering human beings worldwide. The attitude of not caring, and not wanting to know about the results of one's country's economic, political, and military policies that characterizes the citizens of the affluent first world is not an innate feature of "selfish" human nature but a manifestation of their own oppression by the manipulative structures of liberal capitalist society. Cobb affirms this need for the educational process to liberate consciousness: "If those of us engaged in teaching the privileged are to justify our work," he writes, "it cannot be only by claiming that we enrich the experience of our students.

That enrichment must be an appropriate enrichment, one that arouses an awareness of the real situation of the world and elicits solidarity with the oppressed." In the classroom, as in the study, a vision of possible human liberation becomes a necessary aspect of the dialogic quest for truth and truthfulness, a necessary antidote to the institutionalized pressures pervasive in the culture at large, including the mass media. A concomitant of such a critical awareness might well be a practice of deconstruction of modern culture's ideology and manipulative structures by exposing the hidden assumptions never expressed in the overt rhetoric of society.

The third principle of philosophical and educational praxis is perhaps inseparable in practice from each of the above: both thinking and teaching must include articulation of the path and the goal of human liberation ("utopian praxis"). This need not be dogmatically expressed but might be explored in diverse ways, from discussion of the development of a genuinely historical consciousness, to the exploration, as Oliver and Gershman suggest, of comparative cosmological paradigms and their consequences for the quality of human being-in-the-world, to dialogue concerning what constitutes authentic human freedom and fulfillment. An integral part of this vision might well be the understanding of the human project as a self-correcting process, and exploration of a non-metaphysical model of this process of being human which is in fundamental harmony with the scientific method.

The concept of "utopia," so readily dismissed by the proponents of institutionalized domination who masquerade as political or economic "realists," need not be viewed naively as a dogmatic terminus of history. "Utopia" can rather function as a symbolic shorthand for the ever present possibilities, immanent within concrete experience, for lives of ever greater fullness, sensitivity, and depth. Added to a praxis of dialogue and openness, and the praxis of critical engagement with institutionalized domination, must be a praxis which articulates and explores the utopian possibilities for global peace and justice inherent in the structure of everyday life and experience.

A final aspect of philosophical and educational praxis directed toward integral liberation is a Socratic practice of self-examination aimed not only at arousing the sense of incompleteness with its concomitant eros for the fullness of being but also aimed at deconstruction of the egoistic self with its pretensions to self-sufficiency and metaphysical priority over all other selves (a "praxis of non-dual realization"). We have seen Jacobson and others identify this self as the root inhibitor of the process of self-transformation toward liberation. Only a future world community governed or regulated from an awareness beyond the bifurcated self can deal with the seemingly insurmountable problems we now face. The solution to our global problems is, in one fundamental aspect, neither technological nor commercial, but rather human and existential. As Jiddu Krishnamurti points out:

The problem of the "me" and the "mine" is one in which we are all involved. It is really the only problem we have, and we are everlastingly talking about it in different ways....

Although in some countries there is a fair degree of prosperity, throughout the world there is still hunger, starvation, and millions of human beings have insufficient clothing and no proper place to sleep. And how is fundamental reformation to take place without creating more chaos, more misery and strife?....

Surely, it is the function of education, whether in the small school or in the large university, to tackle this problem, not abstractly, theoretically, not merely by philosophizing or writing books about it, but by actually facing it in order to find out how to solve it.

When the problem of the bifurcated self is resolved, a new dimension of our humanity is realized which can be characterized as right action arising from a non-attached love free of the "me" and the "mine." It is the function of an integral philosophical and educational praxis to help people thus solve our human problems by becoming ever more fully human.

Existential practices and meditations designed through centuries of experience, such as those of the Buddhist tradition, may help free us from bondage to the conscious ego and its desires. Yet even in the absence of these, the philosophical life, like the classroom, must be a locus for pointing to the unsayable immediacy in gesture, word, and deed. A thinker or teacher in the process of struggling for a liberating participation in that "fullness-emptiness" beyond dualistic consciousness, can point to this process of awakening in him or her self as well as in the often unrecognized experiences of people in all walks of life. A philosopher's writings, deeds, or pedagogical practices can also provide, as a background to all thought and discussion, an awareness of the absolute mystery of existence that confronts us at every moment of our lives. The philosophical and educational processes of thinking ultimately must not exclude the processes of direct, precognitive realization inherent in the potential of every human being.

As with the critical struggle against the nightmarish institutional and military violence of late, post-industrial capitalism, this "spiritual" aspect of liberation is not a private goal to be realized outside the global human community. Integral liberation involves the very core of what it means to be human, inclusive of our cultural, institutional, rational, personal, and spiritual dimensions. Ultimately dialogical praxis, critical praxis, utopian praxis, the praxis of non-dual realization cannot be separated from one another. The distinction between institutional liberation and spiritual liberation is a false dualism. No effective "agenda" for enduring peace can prescribe concrete actions apart from an integral transformation of all aspects of our being-in-the-world. Yet the possibilities for this transformation are not far away in some dreamy "utopian" future. They are immanent in the very structure of present experience. Integral liberation is the heart of any authentic agenda for enduring peace.

 

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PLANETARY CRISIS

AND ESCHATOLOGICAL AWARENESS:

OUR FUTURE VIA HABERMAS, BUGBEE, AND MARCEL

 

Glen T. Martin

Radford University

(copyright 2004)

 

Disillusionment with the world knows nothing of the sacrament of coexistence. It can find no place for the sacramental act. It can conjure out of itself no philosophy of action, for its ultimate implication is inaction.

If we fail to find finality in the world we will ultimately fail to find it necessary to do anything; and all that we have done will come to seem senseless. But if we can act on faith that is an appreciation of the finality of things, we may come to understand that neither ourselves nor any finite being should be counted at naught. We all stand only together, not only all men, but all things. To abandon things, and to abandon each other, is to be lost....

But the agile mind and the distraught soul militate against true perception; for true perception requires stillness in the presence of things, the active, open reception of the limitless gift of things.

                                                                                       H. G. Bugbee

The pursuit of happiness might one day mean something different - for example, not accumulating material objects of which one disposes privately, but bringing about social relations in which mutuality predominates and satisfaction does not mean the triumph of one over the repressed needs of the other.

                                                                                       Jurgen Habermas

 

We live in a time when the carrying capacity of the earth to sustain its ever increasing population is in doubt. We are told that the population of the earth may reach some eight and a half billion by the year 2025. We live in a time when the possibility of a global breakdown of the planetary environment is widely discussed. In our day the concepts of global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer, massive deforestation, desertification of fertile lands, and industrial pollution of air and water have become topics of deep concern. By the early 1990s the governments of the world had created for themselves a world military arsenal that "defies comprehension," including some 388 billion dollars worth of conventional weapons, 50,000 nuclear warheads, and more than 70,000 tons of poison gas.

We live in a time when twenty percent of the earth's population, more than one billion persons, barely survives without adequate food and is clinically malnourished, with by far the greatest suffering falling to the world's women and children. Indeed, forty thousand children die of starvation related causes daily, while one hundred thousand children are permanently blinded annually for lack of five cents worth of vitamin A in their diet. Meanwhile, the massive transfer of wealth from the poorest 90% to the richest 10% of the earth's population continues. According to the World Health Organization, there has been a $50 billion net transfer of wealth world-wide from the "poor" to the "rich" nations within the 1984-1994 period alone, as well as approximately ten trillion dollars in military expenditures during this same period.

Rosemary Radford Ruether points out the interconnectedness of these conditions: "air, water, and earth pollution, the exhausting of natures basic resources, overpopulation,..hunger and increasing poverty of half the world's population....These phenomena can be understood as components of the crisis in the modern developmental model...that exploits nature but is uninterested in restoring its resources or in promoting justice among human beings." It is this interrelation between worldwide social injustice and massive destruction of our global environment that constitutes "our planetary crisis."

Contemporary philosophers concerned to address these massive issues have often moved in two fundamentally different directions. One the one hand, "critical theorists" in the tradition inspired by such thinkers as Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, or Jurgen Habermas argue that structural analysis of the history and functioning of those institutions which have created the current world crisis is necessary for the clear understanding and action required to address presently entrenched structures of power, dehumanization, and degradation in the hope of a better future. The promise implicit in a technology and science which can produce the wealth necessary to satisfy real human needs can only be realized if technology is used to serve human needs and the common good rather than for the private profit and power of a tiny elite. The institutionalized relations of power and property, protected and reinforced by an ideological curtain obscuring the reality of these relationships, must be exposed and understood in the light of human potential for more rational, free, and egalitarian social structures.

On the other hand, some contemporary philosophers have been concerned to address what might be termed "the spiritual roots" of the present world crisis, the mis-orientation, misdirection, and deformed human self-understanding which has prevented the human spirit from realizing its potential for a life of caring, sensitivity, openness, and freedom. These latter philosophers often see institutions as reflecting our general human spiritual condition rather than as determinative of that condition. Institutions may indeed have the effect of degrading, distracting, and cutting the human spirit off from those dimensions or depths, from that openness to "mystery," through which a fully human life may arise. Yet the "call" inherent in the human situation remains available. The redeeming silence is always there, as Max Picard affirms, encompassing the superficial technological noise of a civilization oblivious to the spiritual depths of human life. I have in mind such thinkers as H.G. Bugbee, Gabriel Marcel, Martin Heidegger, Max Picard, and Masao Abe.

This essay will explore the notion that both orientations are necessary for a more comprehensive understanding of the present world crisis and how human beings might most perceptively and effectively respond to this crisis. It will look at the insights and deficiencies of contemporary critical theory as these are expressed in the work of Jurgen Habermas and attempt to show both in what ways critical theory is necessary and in what ways it is hopelessly deficient and impoverished. Secondly, the essay will examine the issue of "spirituality" as this is explored by the above named thinkers. It will attempt to identify a broad spiritual orientation which is necessary for understanding the depths of our human situation and the demands implicit in our current world crisis. Finally, on the basis of its discussion of critical theory, and a corresponding discussion of the problem of human spirituality, the essay will sketch the outlines for an approach to our present precarious human situation which includes an "eschatological awareness" drawing from each of these twentieth century philosophical orientations.

I.  Habermas, Critical Theory, and Compassion

Under late twentieth century capitalism a system of transnational corporations and financial institutions has evolved which functions as a set of gigantic multi-billion dollar institutions organized around the accumulation of private profit. The vast destructive effects of these institutions on both human beings and the environment has been noted repeatedly by contemporary thinkers of conscience. Noam Chomsky, for example, has documented the devastating human consequences of U.S. foreign policy (in the service of transnational corporations) worldwide and Helen Caldicott has documented the environmental devastation being wrought by what she terms our global system of exploitation and "greed." Deep ecologist Dave Foreman writes that "we are all engaged in a battle for life against profit" and social ecologist Murray Bookchin writes that "this problem is systemic, not just ethical. Multinational, corporate capitalism is a cancer in the biosphere, rapaciously undermining the work of eons of natural evolution and the bases for the complex life-forms on this planet."

Jurgen Habermas has undertaken a critical analysis of late twentieth century capitalism that has caught the attention of thinkers worldwide. Drawing not only on critical thinkers such as Marx, Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse, and sociologists such as Durkheim, Parsons, Mead, and Weber, but also a variety of important philosophers (Kant, Hegel) and psychologists (Piaget, Kohlberg), Habermas has developed a critical theory of societal rationalization which attempts to throw light on the nature of late twentieth century capitalism and provide a set of normative premises through which society can comprehend its inherent telos and move toward a world where production and culture are directed toward genuine, universal human needs rather than power and profit for the few at the expense of the many.

Without attempting to encompass all of Habermas' immense system in the limited space available here, I wish to look at some of his central insights concerning the institutions of late capitalism and their ability to obscure the real roots of contemporary environmental and social devastation with an ideology that masks and legitimates the system even in the eyes of many of its victims. This will lead to a critique and enlargement of the Habermasian perspective in parts two and three of this paper.

Habermas understands the human self as fundamentally social, in opposition to the Cartesian-Lockean self understood as existing prior to its entrance into social relations. The social self is characterized by a "communicative competence" which provides all speakers with implicit norms for truth and values. In attempting to address the question, "how is mutual understanding among speakers possible?", Habermas extrapolates general norms of "communicative rationality" which he understands to be presupposed in all forms of discourse, since all communication is fundamentally oriented toward what he calls "the intersubjective mutuality of reciprocal understanding." Since human beings are fundamentally social, and since language is primordially oriented toward mutual understanding, it follows that communicative rationality oriented to understanding is central to the realization of shared ideas, norms, practices, and expectations which bind people together into human communities.

It is spoken language itself which makes possible social cohesion, solidarity, and the ideal of rational consensus. Implicit in communicative competence is an intuition of what Habermas calls "the ideal speech situation," a situation in which all relevant information is available to the participants, in which all participants affected by the discussion are involved, and in which there is no coercion or limitations on the right of the participants to freely speak in the redemption of their validity claims, whether in the spheres of truth and science, morality and normative validity, or personal sincerity.

Communicative competence oriented to mutual understanding by implicit norms, which provide the foundation for social integration, also provide an implicit telos for the further developmental rationalization of society. The normative goal of society in the sphere of values is "discursive will formation" in which participants discuss normative validity claims to the point where universally generalizable norms and interests emerge. As with Kant, Habermas is not interested in specifying the content of such norms as much as he is in articulating the communicative procedures which make possible their emergence. This telos of the rationalization of society oriented toward mutual understanding provides a criterion by which a critical theory of society and its institutions can be developed.

The process of "societal rationalization" that characterized the breakdown of medieval society and the emergence of modernity has taken two central forms, zweckrational or purposive-instrumental reasoning and wertrational or value reasoning. The latter is located in our everyday lifeworld in the form of the communicative basis of speech, the former has evolved into the economic and administrative subsystems of modern capitalism. To deal with the economic crises and deleterious human consequences generated by capitalism, modernity has further extended functional rationality in the form of bureaucracies which institute social programs, welfare programs, regulate market forces, and in general attempt to deal with public demands for protection against these disruptive economic forces while masking the exploitative and arbitrary nature of the system.

Functional rationality has been extended to the point where it is "colonizing the lifeworld" and hence threatening the communicative basis of all social cohesion and solidarity. People are expected to deal in a communicative (ethical) way within their families and communities, yet interact daily with employers, bureaucracies, or legal systems which replace mutual understanding and communicative interaction with functionalized and anti-communicative relationships based on power, commercial manipulation, and strategic calculations.

Yet Habermas does not share the deep pessimism of an Adorno or a Marcuse concerning the prospects for human liberation toward a just, free, and equitable world society. Marcuse's One Dimensional Man, for example, gives the impression of a systemic domination and ideological self-justification so complete that there is little hope for a multi-dimensional awareness which would allow society to critique its own positivist assumptions. To Habermas, such pessimistic assessments ignore the communicative basis of human reason in relation to which functional reasoning is secondary.

The modern state-capital collaboration is in a bind. In order to preserve and legitimate the exploitative capitalist system, it must colonize the lifeworld with administrative systems which deny communicative rationality. Yet this colonization process, which involves "systematically distorted communication," inhibits the communicative basis of society itself. Social disintegration sets in: crime, drugs, violence, homelessness, broken families, and alienated communities, phenomena related to what Max Weber refers to as the "loss of freedom" and "loss of meaning" associated with modern capitalism.

As with Marx, for Habermas the capitalist system has inherent contradictions which cannot be patched up indefinitely. But unlike most interpretations of Marx, he argues that human progress is not primarily a function of the "development of the means of production" in the technological-instrumental sphere. Rather progress involves the development of communicative rationality which itself plays a role in the evolution and transformation of institutions. The communicative basis of language functions as a perpetual critique both of institutions of exploitation and power and of their ideological self-justifications.

This is reflected in the Habermas quote at the beginning of this essay. The meaning of "the pursuit of happiness" as "private accumulation of material objects" reflects an immature form of rationality and an ideological veiling of institutions which hinder the progressive development of the communicative basis of human life. Yet one day happiness, meaning, and human fulfillment will involve a freely shared brotherhood and sisterhood in which, as Marx put it "the free development of each is the condition of the free development of all."

Within the psychological dimension, the psycho-social development of the human individual mirrors the possible cultural-social development of the human species. Drawing on the work of Piaget and Kohlberg, Habermas identifies seven stages in the development of moral consciousness. Since the human self arises out of social interaction which presupposes the telos of mutual understanding, the same communicative criteria apply to both societal and individual development. The "moral consciousness" of early childhood involves the "maximization of pleasure" and "avoidance of pain" through obedience. From here a person normally develops through the stage of reference to the "concrete morality" of primary and secondary groups toward a mature morality based on principles. Within the sphere of morality based on principles, the final stage is characterized as a "universalized ethics of speech" involving "universalized need interpretations" of all human beings. Habermas describes his seventh stage as follows:

Only at the level of a universal ethics of speech [Sprachethik] can need interpretations themselves - that is, what each individual thinks he should understand and represent as his "true" interests - also become the object of practical discourse. Kohlberg does not differentiate this stage from stage 6, although there is a qualitative difference: the principle of justification of norms is no longer the monologically applicable principle of generalizability but the communally followed procedure of redeeming normative validity claims discursively.... The meaning of the transition from the sixth to the seventh stage - in philosophical terms from a formalistic ethics of duty to a universal ethics of speech - can be found in the fact that need interpretations are no longer assumed as given, but are drawn into the discursive formation of will. Internal nature is thereby moved into a utopian perspective....

It would be difficult to overestimate the significance of Habermas' conception of stage seven. The ethical dimension has moved beyond the private Kantian "legislation" of universal maxims for one's proposed actions into a social and dialogical dimension in which my understanding of the right, as well as my understanding of my needs and inclinations, requires an openness to, and equality with, others in a process of discursive will formation. The social dimension takes on a reality unknown in the Hobbesian-Lockean- Adam Smith tradition which formulated the theoretical principles of competition among self-interested individuals that serves as a justification for capitalism. Habermas writes that "this flow of communication requires sensitivity, breaking down barriers, dependency - in short, a cognitive style marked as field-dependent.... Ego identity means a freedom that limits itself in the intention of reconciling - if not identifying - worthiness with happiness."

If happiness, in the Kantian tradition, means the complete satisfaction of my needs and inclinations, while the worthiness to be happy means the good will to do what is right regardless of my inclinations (often requiring their sacrifice), recognition of social, intersubjective reality as the discursive source of both the right and my genuine, universalizable needs, makes possible the "utopian" reconciliation of worthiness with happiness. Human beings become capable of realizing the higher potential of a truly human fulfillment through their social nature, a realization which Marx also understood to be repressed by capitalist institutions.

Yet there is another aspect in which the ethics of stage seven has moved into a "utopian" perspective. For once "need interpretations" are no longer assumed as given, but require openness, sensitivity and fluidity in a communicative intersubjectivity premised on freedom, equality, justice and mutuality, then a critical force is released which unveils the unethical and unjust nature of the systematically distorted forms of communication characteristic of capitalist society. Implicit in communicative rationality and its "universal ethics of speech" is a "utopian" vision of a society free of hierarchy, domination, exploitation, and injustice, a truly classless society.

The idea of "utopia" appears here as it does in Marx and in the philosophical work of Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch. Utopia is not an impossible ideal imagined for human life but a sense of the very real possibilities inherent within the human situation. As Bloch puts it, "...not only the specific existent, but all given existence and being itself, has utopian margins which surround actuality with real and objective possibility." Habermas has developed his theory of communicative rationality to be, in principle, empirically demonstrable. The normative grounds of the utopian possibilities for civilization inherent in speech, like the normative grounds of a moral consciousness that bases its principled actions on communicative possibilities shared by all, are also empirical principles of language, society, and psychology.

Douglas Kellner writes that the task of a critical theory is "to define the highest human potentialities and to criticize society in terms of whether it furthers...the realization of these potentialities." Without some "utopian" awareness of the highest human potentialities a theory cannot be normative and critical, but sinks into the spiritual and intellectual one-dimensionality of positivism.

Yet a serious limitation of Habermas' philosophy involves its inability to develop a utopian vision which includes ecological reconciliation between culture and nature. A human social reality in which the potential of each individual is realized through a communicative mutuality oriented toward consensus still revolves around the anthropocentric constraints of much of the Marxist tradition, leaving out both God and nature. Steven Best writes that "Habermas' claim that the postconventional stage of ego development is the last stage in moral development legitimates the domineering sensibility of Descartes and Bacon as the summit of human consciousness."

The potentially utopian reconciliation of human beings with one another in a civilization based on communicative rationality leaves humans unreconciled with nature. In the face of the global destruction of our planetary environment occurring within Habermas' own lifetime, this limitation to his philosophy is crucial. There can be no human liberation if there is no planetary environment within which to live. And there can be no genuine human liberation at the expense of the multiplicity of precious life-forms that have evolved on this planet over nearly five billion years of existence.

The normative grounds for Habermas' utopian vision seriously restrict the scope of his vision. If the presuppositions of speech form the basis for authentic mutuality and the define the possibilities for human liberation, then in principle the non-speaking world of nature and its non-human life forms are excluded. Mutuality, the shared oneness of social reality, does not extend to the natural world. Anthropocentric domination of nature is not overcome. Indeed, it would seem that because of the impossibility of a communicative relation to nature, we are by default destined to control nature through functional-instrumental forms of rationality.

Yet Habermas' achievement in carrying forward the critical philosophy of the western Marxist tradition is not to be minimized. The only intellectually effective way to combat the human and environmental devastation wrought by capitalism is through a critical analysis of its institutions which penetrates the ideological self-justification spewed forth by its dominant political and cultural institutions. Without such analysis exposing how these institutions work and how the system of domination and exploitation works, people are left with experiences and feelings of oppression but lack the intellectual tools for identifying and exposing that oppression.

Nevertheless, Habermas' thought is exposed to a second, and related, fundamental limitation. The objective, empirical, and social-scientific framework of his thought functions both as a strength and a limitation. It obvious strength lies in its carrying forward of the Marxist project of a critique of capitalist institutions (and all forms of privilege and domination) that is both public and social-scientific in form. It weakness is that Habermas has missed the dimensions of human spirituality both in relation to individual life and to the possibilities of social transformation.

His psychology of moral development brings us to the level of a universal ethics of speech requiring an ego-relation to others that is 'open,' 'fluid,' and reciprocal. Yet Habermas seems to have little insight into the serious limitations to reaching mutual understanding posed by the human ego itself. He exposes structural limitations to communicative rationality that inhere in male-female, employer-employee, rich-poor, bureaucrat-petitioner, or commercial-consumer forms of speech. But in any concrete discourse situation, it is egoistic self-image, with its feelings of pride, inferiority, superiority, disrespect, distaste, irritability, craving, or inattention, which routinely interfere with mutual understanding.

It would seem that mutual understanding and communicative reciprocity are only possible to any degree of adequacy when the human participants have come upon a level of spirituality in which the ego-structure with its self-image and other accoutrements are in a state of abeyance or suspension. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, a spirituality which thus moves beyond the ego-self realizes compassion (karuna), a shared oneness in which the other and oneself are no longer separate ego-existences and in which the sufferings of the other are in some fundamental way also my sufferings. Canadian philosopher Robert Carter, in discussing Kohlberg's stage seven, describes this "Buddhist" spirituality as an awareness not fully expressed by Kohlberg.

A person coming upon this "Buddhist" awareness "speaks of compassion, of union and oneness, of direct experience of a higher and more valued reality, of the emergence of the unitive self and the death of the ordinary ego of selfishness. Her/his self is integrated, peaceful, loving, and transparently open to whatever and whomever is before her/him." Matthew Fox points out that such compassion is the result of a spiritual transformation. It is fundamentally different from "pity" which implies "condescension" and "separateness." Without this sort of freedom from the ego of selfishness (a subject seemingly ignored by Habermas) it is difficult to see how the "ideal speech situation" could ever be realized.

This critique also bears on Habermas' critical theory of society. An intellectual analysis of the systematically distorted forms of communication dominant in capitalist society and the exposure of institutionalized exploitation needs to be supplemented by a compassionate motivation to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and to join in their struggle. Habermas' philosophy does not seem to adequately address the question "why be moral?" If the basis of speech is the telos of mutual understanding and, while seeing this, I do not act to change patterns of distorted communication, Habermas can accuse me of being involved in a "performative contradiction."

But intellectual recognition of a contradiction is not sufficient motivation to sacrifice privilege and comfort by joining the struggle for liberation. Henry Bugbee may be getting at this dilemma when he writes that "every emphatic stroke by which our ethical thinking is informed with understanding is a moment of strange awakening into what was already in our experience as active beings; that every stroke of ethical "argument" is futile and fails to engender understanding which is not ad hominem." Critical theory as a social-scientific analysis based on normative principles, while a necessary condition for liberation, is clearly not sufficient. Without a spiritual transformation based "in our experience as active beings," without moving beyond "the ego of selfishness" to a compassionate sharing of reality with other creatures, there can be no liberation. There can be no true communication and mutuality.

Japanese philosopher Masao Abe does not see the unity of humankind as possible unless each individual has "broken through his or her ego structure, thereby realizing original Self." To do this, he writes, is "to overcome the very stand point wherein one distinguishes self and other" and to realize "wisdom and compassion." The means the realization that humankind "is a corporate entity with a single fate, one living self-aware unit placed within the vastness of space." For Abe, the social reality based on communicative rationality envisioned by Habermas could not be realized apart from a spiritual transformation beyond the ego structure of separation.

For both thinkers such a corporate human reality would be inseparable from true individuality of peoples and persons. Yet true individuality is realized simultaneously with a universal "ethics of mankind," for Abe, only when the divisive ego, operating as it does in terms of power, has moved beyond separation into compassion. Spiritual transformation beyond ego-limitations to compassion is a necessary addition to Habermas' vision of human liberation. And such a transformation, pointing as it does to a compassionate identification with all creatures, also enlarges our vision of liberation to include the natural world.

II.  Marcel, Bugbee, and Spirituality

The philosophy of Gabriel Marcel serves in many ways as a necessary complement to the work of Habermas. For Marcel, that history of metaphysics is past which attempted to abstract from the concrete situation of human beings in their lived and reflective experience. Like modern science, traditional metaphysics abstracted from concrete lived experience by adopting an objectivating attitude, but in those dimensions of reality within which we are participants, such an attitude obscures rather than reveals. Authentic metaphysical philosophy involves the reflection of a concrete human being who is a participant in the realities at stake, whereas the objectivating attitude attempts to divorce the thinker from such participation. But "participation cannot be objectified," and in the most fundamental dimensions of philosophical reflection upon human life we encounter mysteries, not problems.

The mysteries which are fundamental to our human being and our reflections on being are never solved or resolved but entered into as participants and elucidated through a "secondary reflection" which never eventuates in abstract categories or objectivized principles. "The more we experience things in depth," Bugbee writes in relation to Marcel's notion of mystery, "the more we participate in a mystery intelligible to us only as such; and the more we understand our world to be an unknown world. Our true home is wilderness, even the world of everyday."

Here we enter the dimension of human spirituality to which the objectivating attitude has no access. Through entering into relationship, philosophy now elucidates our situation and the possibility of participating in the fullness of being which encompasses our situation. When we reflect on the fundamental aspects of our situation such as love, human intersubjectivity, death, temporality, fidelity, freedom, the relation of mind to body, hope, creativity, being, or God, only a participating relationship (involving such modes of responsiveness as listening, receptivity, openness, creative fidelity, or stillness) will deepen our insight and elucidate these realities with which we are involved. The deepening of authentic philosophy is also the deepening of spirituality.

Our existential anxieties over meaning, the threat of despair and hopelessness, the loss of freedom and creativity, and the encounter with death are all connected in fundamental ways to the possibilities of human responsiveness in the face of the perpetual temptation to slip into an objectivating attitude toward myself, others, and the mystery of being. Henry Bugbee characterizes Marcel's spiritual orientation as follows: "...One becomes responsive to the source in depth of one's very life....One agrees to forego the treatment of the life one leads as a province over which one exercises administrative jurisdiction and opens oneself to the instruction to be received from its own depths in meditation."

Habermas' positive contribution can be understood as an attempt to preserve the authentic core of enlightenment-modernity concerning the possibility of a liberating progress through the development of human rationality against a post-modern relativism and skepticism concerning human rationality. Marcel can be seen as attempting to preserve the depths of human spirituality and responsiveness against the domination of the technological and objectivating attitude which has created a "mass state of abasement and alienation." "...Technical man," he writes, "having in the deepest sense lost his awareness of himself - having lost, above all, his awareness of these transcendental laws which allow him to guide his behaviour and direct his intentions - is becoming more and more completely disarmed in the face of the powers of destruction unleashed around him and in the face, also, of the spirit of complicity which these powers encounter in the depths of his own nature."

In the view of the present writer, both projects are generally valid and should be seen as complementary aspects of a more complete philosophy. To paraphrase Kant, critical theory without spirituality is empty; spirituality without critical theory is blind. Critical theory alone is empty of the grace of authentic compassionate action and spiritual transformation necessary for human liberation. Yet spirituality without critical theory is at least partially blind to the social-scientific analyses of the structural social transformations necessary for this same liberation.

What is missing in the thought of Habermas is an encounter with that "silence," fostered by meditation, which is prior to language in the depths of existence. Spirituality is responsive to life's own "depths" through "meditation," Bugbee says, a meditation in which communicative rationality is seen to be both incomplete and impossible without rootedness in a silence prior to language. Rationality alone can give us the objective intellectual categories of social science but never true perception. For as Bugbee expresses this in the epigraph to the present essay, "true perception requires stillness in the presence of things, the active, open reception of the limitless gift of things." Such a stillness would open one not only to the compassionate identification with all other human beings but to identification and participation with the wordless natural world as well. Martin Heidegger describes authentic speaking as a "response" to call, as "receptive listening."

Heidegger writes of language as arising out of stillness, as "the peal of stillness." For him, meditative thinking involves a mode of our being entirely different from "calculative" thinking. For in meditative thinking our saying must be responsive to "the soundless gathering call,..the ringing of stillness." Similarly, Bugbee writes that "...Silence is that pregnancy with meaning from which speech gathers power - redolent of the world fostering and calling it forth." And Max Picard describes, as pervading life, the priority of silence as this informs a meditative mind: "silence reveals itself in a thousand inexpressible forms: in the quiet of dawn, in the noiseless aspiration of trees towards the sky, in the stealthy descent of night, in the silent changing of the seasons, in the falling moonlight, trickling down into the night like a rain of silence, but above all in the silence of the inward soul, - all these forms of silence are nameless: all the clearer and surer is the word that arises out of and in contrast to the nameless silence."

Yet the meditative mind of solitude and silence involves no withdrawal from the world, no ascetic renunciation of beings in favor of some abstract God only distantly related to beings. As the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti puts it, "to be religious is to be sensitive to reality. Your total being - body, mind, and heart - is sensitive to beauty and to ugliness, to the donkey tied to a post, to the poverty and filth in this town, to laughter and tears, to everything about you. From this sensitivity for the whole of existence springs goodness, love; and without this sensitivity there is no beauty...." The communicative rationality of Habermas may involve a new level of openness and sensitivity to other participants in discourse, but it cannot open us fully to others, nor to reconciliation with nature.

Only a meditative silence prior to speech in which the chatter of ego noise is stilled, and one's "total being - body, mind, and heart" becomes sensitive to the immediacy of the moment, can reconcile us with wordless creatures and the holy presence of the natural world. Bugbee writes that "solitude miscarries if it does not issue in a more decided participation with the beings of the world; in a participation that is more knowing in its acknowledgement of these beings as due our response." The radical attentiveness of a meditative mind encounters the world, and other persons, as holy. The experience of a "fullness of being," evoked by Marcel, is inseparable from that solitude in which a human being returns to his or her authentic self through a deeper participation and sensitivity with the world. The person who has lost this silence, Picard writes, "has not merely lost one human quality, but his whole structure has been changed thereby."

To hallow and reconcile ourselves with nature, we must ever renew the innermost springs of silent attention. To adequately address our global crisis with its central question of our relationship with the natural world is also to discover the silence that defines our highest human possibilities. "For the hallowing of the natural," Bugbee writes, "occurs only in and through our being radically recalled out of immersion in thoughtless ways, inadvertent cheapening of life, and the oppressive incubus of things-taken-for-granted and threatening to go stale.... Radical solitude [on the other hand, involves] readying and reorienting us for participation in the world anew with a deeper and truer knowing, even of the instantly given, which may come to awakening, as in the utter resonance of early morning sounds, so unostentatiously ushering in the holy hour, opening the whole world anew, and gathering the soul to recollection of herself in all simplicity."

Yet it is not sufficient for individuals alone to discover that spirituality arising from silence in which the natural world and the community of beings are experienced as holy. The environmental crisis alone is a global crisis in terms of which our planet may not be habitable for many species, including humans, by the end of the twenty-first century. What is required is global spiritual transformation. It requires entering into what Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme call the coming "ecozoic era" through a "radical change in human consciousness," a realization of the possibilities inherent within our uniquely human "mode of conscious self-awareness."

"We are discovering anew," they write, "our human capacity for entering into the larger community of life.... This new experience enables us to activate the more extensive dimensions of our own being. Indeed our individual being apart from the wider community is emptiness. Our individual self finds its most complete realization within our family self, our community self, our species self, our earthly self, and eventually our universe self." When the ego of separateness is suspended through meditative silence, we discover the "emptiness" of any self apart from the multi-dimensional communities from which we are inseparable. The spirituality of silence extends the vision of human mutuality and solidarity understood by Marx and Habermas to the community of beings as a whole.

III.  Eschatological Awareness

But in the face of the universal devastation of the human and natural worlds going on around us, can there be any genuine hope? In the face of the gigantic institutions of corporate capitalism and the first world nation-states promoting their brutal exploitation and desecration of human life and the planet, where is our needed spiritual transformation to come from? These questions raise issues not sufficiently addressed by Habermas, Bugbee, or Marcel. To answer that there is genuine hope is to move into the dimension of eschatology.

Just as critical theory sees within present humanity potentialities for a more fully human mode of existence, eschatological awareness sees within the present moment itself the promise of total transformation. Just as Habermas sees a parallel development of moral consciousness in the individual and communicative rationality in society, eschatological awareness sees the ever present possibility for individual awakening in the present as parallel to the ever present possibility for spiritual transformation of humanity. Indeed such transformations have been an integral feature of human development on this planet.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein says that the present moment is not in time at all: "if we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present." Within the silence of the present, we encounter the absolute mystery of timelessness. Awakening to the timeless present can open up the transformative possibilities repeatedly given testimonial by meditative minds the world over. Eschatological awareness experiences this transformative and ecstatic core of the present and understands this simultaneously as the promise and fulfillment of history. Biblical Scholar Thomas Sheehan attributes such an awareness to Jesus' announcement of the arrival of the kingdom of God: "to be a prolepsis of God, to live the future now" characterizes "the eschatological present-future" of Jesus' consciousness.

Matthew Fox describes "Jesus' mysticism" as "both eschatological and prophetic" and speaks of the "already born Cosmic Christ" as "realized eschatology." Such persons live in terms of what we have seen the Marxist Ernst Bloch call a "utopian consciousness." With them individual spiritual awakening has resulted in a vision of the ultimate transformative promise at the heart of our human situation. A vision of such a transformed human community has been expressed by the Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind, for example, in his book The Absolute Collective.

Marcel occasionally refers to our present historical situation as "the eschatological age," but he uses the phrase in a negative sense indicating both the possibilities for human self-destruction and that "nameless horror of our age" that surround us on every side. Yet a philosopher of authentic human spirituality could not but express aspects of such awareness, and these intimations are most often seen in his reflections on "hope." In his essay, "A Metaphysic of Hope," for example, Marcel affirms the intersubjective nature of authentic hope which involves a "communion of which I proclaim the indestructibility" and affirms that it is "symbolized and supported by all experiences of renewal." In hope, a relationship is established between "the soul and time" in which there is an interpenetration of the sense of "preservation or restoration, on the one hand, and revolution or renewal on the other...." He continues: "here we undoubtedly come once again upon the theme of liberation, for it is never a simple return to the status quo, a simple return to our being, it is that and much more, and even the contrary of that: an undreamed-of promotion, a transfiguration."

A spirituality aware of the communal nature of hope understands the possibilities, discovered in the present, of a future transfiguration of human life. Without being named, the eschatological awareness is here revealed. Our deepest hope is eschatological hope. "In one's aloneness 'before God'," Bugbee writes, "one knows oneself to be called forth into the greeting of fellow creatures and participation with them in the realization of a destiny divinely ordained." Eschatological awareness sees a "destiny divinely ordained" for both the individual and the human reality. The two are intimately linked and ultimately inseparable.

In addition to the possibilities of transfiguration in the present and the inexhaustible character of the silence encountered beyond the ego of separateness, there is another dimension to the eschatological consciousness: its intimation of the "pull of the future" as a reality distinct from "the push of the past." In his study of "the stages of faith," which roughly parallel Kohlberg's stages of moral development, James Fowler finds in the highest stage of faith (stage six) not only "universalizing compassion" but the "eschatological reality" of a "monotheistic faith...oriented toward the coming Kingdom of God." "To take eschatology seriously," he writes, "is to see that present and past come to us out of the future."

The future is understood through our present faith as the "power" and "promise" of a "unified and unifying future for all being." This highest stage of faith is far beyond any blind belief in dogmas or doctrines and is closer to the living experiences of love and trust which Marcel associates with faith. For Fowler, this spirituality sees our "universal human vocation" as living "in anticipation of the coming reign of God.... We are called to point to the futurity of God and to the coming Kingdom as the universal, shared future of all being. Intrinsic to that witness is the assurance that the reality and character of the coming reign of God exceeds and spills over all our images, symbols and beliefs about it."

One need not think in terms of Christian faith to comprehend or experience an eschatological awareness. We live in an age in which the overt doctrines and rituals of Christianity may require either being largely dropped, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggests, or deeply ecumenized, as Matthew Fox suggests. However, to its credit the Christian tradition seems to have developed eschatological theology, and its cousin liberation theology, more fully than the other major world religions. Again, it is the concrete spirituality of Jesus, insofar as we can understand this through the New Testament, that leads the way for theological reflections on what theologian Carl Braaten calls "the future-oriented structure of human existence." "In Jesus," he writes, "the future becomes present without being realized in such a way that it ceases to be still future."

Theologian Ted Peters understands the spirituality of faith in a similar fashion. He describes such faith as "a proleptic consciousness of the yet-to-be consummated whole of reality, " expressed in the gospel of Jesus, which ultimately involves a "destiny-wholeness-integration formula" in which we realize that "what is real is future-oriented." "Only at the fulfillment of the divine promise," he writes, "will reality itself become a whole, and only with this whole of wholes will the true nature of all the participating parts - including ourselves - be revealed." Both these theologians, like James Fowler, understand eschatological awareness as an awareness of reality, the reality of a transfigured future called forth from within the present, and experiencing, in some fundamental way, the "pull" of that future.

Mexican philosopher and theologian Jose Miranda has written a work of foremost significance for the reconciliation of the traditions of critical theory and Christian spirituality. Marx Against the Marxists reveals the ethical and religious roots of Marx's thought and places his social-scientific analysis of capitalism within its larger spiritual framework. Marx's humanism, of course, remains fundamental in that Marx rejected the language and ideology of religion as complicit in the class exploitation and degradation of human beings under capitalism. It is the fact that human beings are ends-in-themselves or infinitely valuable, and should not be commodified as labor to be exploited by capital, that animates Marx's work from beginning to end. Miranda expresses the foundational value perspective of Marx's work in the following words:

And in fact how can we talk about overproduction when millions of human beings lack the most basic necessities? Doesn't such talk prove that there is a complete inversion of ends and means in capitalist production? How can humanity continue to put up with a system that channels all the resources of the world (including humanity itself) into obtaining a profit rather than into satisfying the needs of human beings?

The criterion for attacking capitalism is the fact that the workers are subjects and cannot be treated as objects. In capitalism the means of production and capital join to use human beings for the production of surplus value. In communism human beings, as subjects - a point stressed by Marx - use the instruments of production for their own human ends.

...The revolution against the capitalist mode of extracting surplus value will have to abolish any and all modes of extracting surplus value. Hence, this revolution will have to abolish all exploitation, ruling out all the potential ways in which some human beings might plunder other human beings.

Miranda writes that "this aspect of Marx's thought...clearly is not only moral but also Christian and eschatological." Unlike Habermas, who sees a telos within human rationality pointing toward a progressive development of human equality and mutuality, Marx's thought is "eschatological" for it is animated by the utopian consciousness of a future in which all forms of degradation and exploitation have been abolished. Marx's thought presupposes without needing to state it, Miranda asserts, "the existence of a God who guides history." For Miranda, "the most striking feature of Marx's thought is its full eschatological awareness. No one who lacks this awareness can be a revolutionary" (emphasis added). With the demise of the false Marxism of "materialist realism" and "state totalitarianism," we are free in the late twentieth century to reappropriate critical theory within the larger framework of authentic human spirituality.

Eschatological awareness does not consider present human suffering a means for the realization of a future end, however noble that goal may be. Nor does it rest on a Habermasian conception of a progressive or evolutionary movement towards full human mutuality. Rather, the eschatological awareness experiences the absolute mystery of the present-future that encompasses us like the silent fullness of being. It demands a transfigured world of justice and compassion now, for it experiences the paradoxical mystery of that future at the heart of the now. This is the core of a truly revolutionary consciousness, whether or not it is expressed in religious language.

The social-scientific dimension remains but is lifted up to its proper domain as an aspect of the eschatological meaning of history and civilization. The dawning awareness consistently fostered by meditation and secondary reflection takes us beyond individual destiny to historical destiny. It would be strange if Marcel's "problem and mystery" were two entirely independent domains, which they are not. We encounter mystery and the dawning awareness of the sacred everywhere in life, from the science lab to the city sidewalk. As much as the objectified "problem" orientation of social-scientific critical theory or the science of ecology is necessary to understanding our planetary crisis, it is not sufficient.

The question of our relation to nature or other human beings cannot be fully problematized or objectified, but requires entrance into the domain of mystery and hence spirituality. Human life falls away into the depths of mystery on every side. It is not only 'futurity' which encompasses us as an absolute mystery which cannot be objectified but only responded to through the realization of eschatological spirituality. The past, and the question of origins, is also encountered as such in the "mystery of creation." "That anything at all should exist," Wittgenstein says, is the mystical, engendering what he calls an experience of "absolute value." The present moment also opens up into absolute mystery, beyond time and linked, as mystics of all cultures have testified, to eternity. These are but three aspects of one present reality.

Responsiveness to our situation on a planetary scale inclusive of most human beings is impossible as long as our social, political, economic, and cultural institutions promote the opposite of this, operating as they do in a mode of commodification and objectification directed to the exploitation of human beings and nature. But there is no apriori reason why human institutions might not promote silence, meditative relationships, simplicity, trust, and openness. Only a revolutionary critical theory informed by eschatological spirituality can open up for us the needed social transformation which must be simultaneous with human spiritual transformation. As Brazilian theologian Dominique Barbe develops this idea, it is perfectly feasible that relationships of authority and institutions might be devised which are informed by what he calls "grace."

A socialist consciousness is one in which we discover the ability to "possess things in common," he says, which requires the situation in which law no longer prevails over that grace which is simply "the open heart of love": "What is grace but the free and spontaneous opening of one person to another - that is, to what is different from the self?" The opening to others that Habermas finds normatively assumed at the heart of human speech requires a spirituality infused by grace. Social revolution and spiritual revolution must be the twin poles of any integral philosophy of liberation. Our institutions must be transformed in such a way that they make openness to others possible, and spirituality must be promoted which places those institutions within an eschatological perspective. One will not happen without the other, and neither will happen without humans responding sensitively to the call of the future incarnate within the present.

The transformation of society according to the highest human potentialities envisioned in general by the tradition of critical theory looks forward to the emergence of a true human self in contrast to our present self distorted and repressed by the nightmare of capitalist commodification and our condition of systematically distorted communication. It looks to a future in which human beings produce the basic necessities for one another, not for ourselves, since we will live in and through one another and no longer from "the ego of separateness." This is the spiritual vision of Karl Marx: "Let us suppose we had carried out production as human beings....I would have been for you the mediator between you and the species, and therefore would have become recognized and felt by you yourself as a completion of your own essential nature and as a necessary part of yourself, and consequently would know myself to be confirmed both in your thought and your love.... In the individual expression of my life I would have directly created your expression of your life, and therefore in my individual activity I would have confirmed and realized my true nature, my human nature, my communal nature."

The eschatological self envisioned by Marx is a self of creativity, responsiveness, community, simplicity, and fullness of life. One of the fundamental insights of critical theory is the extent to which our institutions condition our consciousness. Capitalist institutions will produce people who brutally compete, who commodify and exploit one another, and who destroy the earth in the pursuit of profit. Without a social-scientific critical analysis of how this occurs, pointing toward a revolutionary transformation of the institutions which mass-produce this alienated consciousness, there is little hope either for the liberation of human beings or nature. The structural violence of repressive institutions influences human awareness. Transformed nonviolent institutions promote and make more likely a transformed human awareness.

If critical theory looks at society in the light of our highest human potentialities, eschatological awareness looks at the world in the light of its divine possibilities. The critical theory of Habermas in particular has watered down the Marxian eschatological consciousness to a mere telos at the heart of human speech. While the Habermasian analysis of systematically distorted speech is essential, alone it is wholly inadequate to address our present planetary crisis. It must be supplemented by a transformed human spirituality flowing from the silence prior to language. Such silence involves release from the ego of separation and the realization of compassionate identification with all human and non-human beings. Such a spirituality experiences the holiness of beings and understands the need for reconciliation and harmony with the earth and its creatures.

Yet a spirituality flowing from silence must take the further step into eschatological awareness, an awareness that experiences our need for a collective social reality open to the grace of being steered by the call of the future. To address our global crisis adequately means to recognize the 'divine' potentiality for a transfigured state of being inherent in our situation. It is to see the promise of the future as more fundamental than the causal determinants of the past. History does not develop by iron laws of economic necessity, as some dogmatic Marxists have held, it is pulled by futurity - towards transfiguration.

Such are the potentialities inherent in our concrete situation. Yet it is precisely the silence at the heart of being that makes possible and confirms the need for our being steered. Eschatological awareness must struggle with the moral imperative for revolutionary action in the present which does not close off or violate the guiding call of the eschaton at the heart our situation. Action must remain open to silence, meditation, and mystery, and must ever return to the deepest sources of responsiveness, if it is not to become violence, hatred, or new forms of domination.

As with the silence of compassion, eschatological awareness is inexpressible and ineffable. The speech that issues out of silence may ring authentically through gesture and metaphor. Yet, as Fowler says, "the coming reign of God exceeds and spills over all our images, symbols, and beliefs about it." The inexpressible depths and immediacy of this awareness are utterly incommensurate with the spoken word. Critical theory must open itself to the depths of being without giving up its rational institutional analyses of class society. For the futurity of the world as it moves towards transfiguration cannot be captured in rational analyses. Political action aimed at the revolutionary transformation of capitalism is an absolute necessity. But equally necessary is not to impose on society another technocratic blueprint leading towards a new totalitarianism. Only institutions graced by silence and steered into an unknown eschatological future will redeem human beings and their world.

"At the heart of our 'metaphysics'," Bugbee writes, "must lie the clear strain of responding to call." But such a responding must lie at the heart of civilization as well. We must come upon a simplicity, an emptiness, and an openness which allows our institutions and cultural expressions to be guided into an ineffable future. False starts or wrong directions can always be assessed by the criteria of compassion and the insights into the possibilities of ideological self-deception articulated by critical theory. Only institutions and cultural forms informed by silence and power structures graced by humility and compassion can allow us to respond sensitively to the call of the eschatological future.

The "world substance," as Bloch put it, "is not yet finished and complete, but persists in a utopian - open state." For this reason our philosophy must be large enough to embrace the multi-dimensional universe in which we participate. It must be large enough to realistically encounter our planetary crisis that confronts us with the utopian call: "become transformed or die." An adequate philosophy must include a rational-critical dimension exposing the ideological self-justifications of global capitalism and revealing its devastating core. It must also include an existential-spiritual responsiveness to our situation moving human beings beyond the self-encapsulated ego toward silence with its healing compassion. Finally, it must include a responsiveness to the overwhelming futurity of the world incarnated in temporality and revealed in the absolute mystery of presentness.

The rationality of critical theory provides a normative yet social-scientific standard by which to judge the present. But such a standard alone fails to encounter the utopian promise of the present, what Bloch calls "the eschaton." This utopian promise must also serve as a complimentary standard to measure our present state of affairs as unredeemed and immoral, to measure it, as Bloch says, "precisely as departure from the Right." Without this awareness, critical theory loses not only compassion, but its possibilities for a truly transfigurative criterion by which to expose the wretchedness of our unredeemed present. However, this criterion must be, in Bugbee's words, "no clear prospect, nor marked path ahead" in the sense that eschatological awareness is essentially an openness, a responsiveness, and a listening which allows us to be steered towards a redeemed and transformed future.

Such is the paradox of the human situation, akin to the classical paradox in Western theology between freedom and grace, which requires from each of us both openness and responsiveness. For we are faced with the absolute imperative for revolutionary action. Yet such action must be undertaken in what Gustavo Gutierrez calls a spirit of "spiritual poverty" - open and sensitive to the guiding call of the eschaton. As Bugbee writes in the epigraph to this paper,"...True perception requires stillness in the presence of things, the active, open reception of the limitless gift of things." Yet the limitless gift of things is given to all humanity and to the natural world: to be lifted up into wholeness and communion. Out of the stillness, our freedom responds with action and compassion to the guiding call of a transformed future.

 

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REVOLUTIONARY DEMOCRACY

AND THE PROBLEM OF THE OTHER:

JOHN DEWEY, THE PHILOSOPHY OF LIBERATION,

AND HUMAN SPIRITUALITY

 

Glen T. Martin

Radford University

(copyright 2004)

 

The terms of political discourse typically have two meanings. One is the dictionary meaning, and the other is a meaning that is useful for serving power - the doctrinal meaning.

Take democracy. According to the common sense meaning, a society is democratic to the extent that people can participate in a meaningful way in managing their affairs. But the doctrinal meaning of democracy is different....

A study of the inter-American system published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London concluded that, while the US pays lip service to democracy, the real commitment is to "private, capitalist enterprise." When the rights of investors are threatened, democracy has to go; if these rights are safeguarded, killers and torturers will do just fine....

Parliamentary governments were barred or overthrown, with US support and sometimes direct intervention, in Iran in 1953, in Guatemala in 1954,..in the Dominican Republic in 1963 and 1965, in Brazil in 1964, in Chile in 1973 and often elsewhere....

The methods are not very pretty. What the US run contra forces did in Nicaragua, or what our terrorist proxies do in El Salvador or Guatemala, isn't only ordinary killing. A major element is brutal, sadistic torture - beating infants against rocks, hanging women by their feet with their breasts cut off and the skin of their face peeled back so that they'll bleed to death, chopping people's heads off and putting them on stakes. The point is to crush independent nationalism and popular forces that might bring about meaningful democracy.

                                                                                          Noam Chomsky

 

Overview

The quotation at the beginning of this paper illustrates the agony and responsibility of philosophizing about democracy from a situation of first world privilege. The very freedom to reflect openly on the "problems of democracy" becomes an ideological justification for a brutal system of unspeakable world-wide oppression and death. This paper is an attempt to reflect on democracy, not from the universal eye of the philosopher with its historic claim to a perspectiveless gaze from nowhere, but rather from the situatedness of the imperialist center of the world. Thinking about democracy itself becomes problematic from within this situation. The paper begins with John Dewey, who also thought about democracy from within a first world situation. It then attempts to critique and go beyond him, asking the question how democratic ideals can achieve universality in relation to the concrete world in which we live.

Dewey was a philosopher of democracy before the set of contemporary problems currently facing us had evolved. Yet he is an important philosopher of democracy with whom dialogue can be fruitful. Like Habermas and others, he is engaged (without naming it) in the "philosophical discourse of modernity." That is, he is attempting to distil the rational, enlightenment core of the modern tradition as this pertains to human social, political, and economic arrangements. For Dewey, this rational , enlightenment center of modernity, properly understood, leads us to formulate "democracy as a moral ideal," an ideal which encompasses both our modern individuality with its need to develop the potentiality of every human being and a set of rational goals for social, economic, and political life.

Dewey's engagement with the discourse of contemporary debate (that of modernity) emphasized its enlightenment core without fully encountering the second and third of these related discourses that have since evolved. The second is the "discourse of deconstruction" in which has asserted the incommensuribility of life-worlds, metanarratives, the play of signifiers, totalizations, languages, or perspectives. In this discourse the assumed rational core of modernity is radically called into question with profound and disturbing implications for the theory of democracy. The third dimension of contemporary debate may be called the "discourse of liberation." Thinkers such as Enrique Dussel insist that both the discourse of modernity and the discourse of deconstruction have omitted what is most fundamental about our modern human situation: the massive oppression and exploitation of human beings hidden behind and within these other discourses, each in its own way justifying and covering up this oppression.

In this essay I will first examine Dewey's philosophy of democracy as a touchstone for the subsequent discussion Secondly, I will engage the discourse of liberation, inspired by the work of Enrique Dussel, in relation to Dewey's theory of democracy. This will serve to bring in both additional dimensions of the contemporary debate, since liberation philosophy is critical both of enlightenment modernity and its deconstructive nemesis. Finally, in part three, I will seek to address the problems of Dewey's democratic theory in the light of both liberation philosophy and my own reflections on those dimensions of human spirituality which complement the philosophy of liberation, dimensions which I name "eschatological spirituality" and the "spirituality of fullness-emptiness."

1. Democracy and Its Problems for Dewey

The concept of "democracy" is as broad and vague as it is fundamental. As Wittgenstein would remind us, its many uses in specific contexts show overlapping similarities and differences but never any essential core common to all uses of the word. Yet like all ideas, especially those that surround the social dimension of human life, concepts like justice, equality, liberty, fraternity, human rights, and democracy have a concrete history. They arise from the concrete struggles and relationships of human beings in history. The historical uses of the word could be retrieved and collated. If this were done, these historical uses might fall into at least two broad categories: first, the idea of democracy as an ideal of human relationships (including political, social, moral, and economic dimensions) and, secondly, as a specific form of government embodied in concrete historical societies.

To address "problems of democracy" would seem to include the need to confront concrete historical realities with democracy as a social ideal, to reflect on the cogency of the ideal, its meaning for the human project, and its possibilities of embodiment in specific historical circumstances. This seems to be a large part of the method used by Dewey, who reflected throughout his career on democracy in relation political and social conditions primarily within the United States. Indeed, Dewey asserted the priority of the moral ideal over the political. "Democracy," he wrote, "is a social, that is to say ethical conception, and upon its ethical significance is based its significance as governmental. Democracy is a form of government only because it is a form of moral and spiritual association." Dewey never abandoned this view, expressed early in his philosophical life.

His philosophy continued to emphasize a community oriented and interpersonal conception of the democratic ideal. As Jerome Nathanson puts it, for Dewey, democracy is neither a political, social, nor economic concern, but rather "a moral ideal, a statement of the relations that should prevail among human beings. It is the hypothesis, if not the belief, that if man creates the proper institutions, then his better possibilities will actualize themselves." This ideal included, for Dewey, "industrial democracy" or socialism in that all the institutions of modern life, like industry, "are to become the material of an ethical realization; the form and substance of a community of good (though not necessarily of goods) wider than any now known.... so that economic society must mean unity of interest and purpose."

Democracy as a moral ideal, for Dewey, was not an "ideal" in the sense of a set of dogmatic assertions concerning the good, although he did repeatedly assert that it involved "faith in the potentialities of human nature." Rather, it was integral to his pragmatism with its understanding of the scientific method. The scientific method for the first time had made possible a progressive development of human knowledge and understanding of the natural world. It brought, he wrote, "democracy to the knowledge process..." in that "there are no final "truths" laid down once and for all by some authority which everybody has to accept.... Every proposition is open to doubt and subsequent testing by anyone competent to inquire into it." The cooperative experimental and critical methods of the sciences give society a clue as to how to translate the moral ideal of democracy into a "moral fact...a commonplace of living." As Dewey expresses this:

...Democracy is belief in the ability of human experience to generate aims and methods by which further experience will grow in ordered richness. Every other form of moral and social faith rests upon the idea that experience must be subjected at some point or other to some form of external control; to some "authority" alleged to exist outside the processes of experience. Democracy is the faith that the process of experience is more important than any special result attained, so that the special results achieved are of ultimate value only as they are used to enrich and order the ongoing process. Since the process of experience is capable of being educative, faith in democracy is all one with faith in experience and education. All ends and values that are cut off from the ongoing process become arrests, fixations. They strive to fixate what has been gained instead of using it to open the road and point the way to new and better experiences.

Implicit in the scientific method are not only the cooperative and critical methods of democracy but also universality, in that its progressive spirit depends on collective effort and affirmation of society with respect to all its members. Every institution, from the workplace to the educational institutions, can only benefit from the cooperative and communal efforts of its members openly discussing and collectively pooling their experiences. Hence there is a reciprocity between the conditions that make knowledge possible at all and the democratic belief in the "potentialities of every human being, and all the need of providing conditions that will enable these potentialities to come to realization." Both involve a commitment to "develop intelligence.... a deeper loyalty to intelligence, pure and undefiled, and to the intrinsic connection between it and free communication: the method of conference, consultation, discussion, in which there takes place purification and pooling of the net results of the experiences of multitudes of people."

For Dewey, therefore, implicit in the moral ideal of democracy were the correlative concepts often traditionally associated with it: liberty, equality, and fraternity. The spirit of democracy was the spirit of human beings working cooperatively to maximize the possibilities for liberty and an ever richer experiential life for all. Dewey disagreed with that aspect of the democratic tradition which opposes a personal individualism, both social and economic, to the social whole. For him democracy was social, just as morality, with which it is intertwined, is social.

Both morally and democratically we should be using organized planning to provide a better future for all members of society. "Fraternity," Dewey wrote, "is the will to work together; it is the essence of cooperation." Thus "liberty" for Dewey, is not simply satisfaction of one's individual desires as "blind preferences" or "impulses not reflected on." Rather freedom or liberty on the individual level "consists in a trend of conduct that causes choices to be more diversified and flexible, more plastic and more cognizant of their own meaning, while it enlarges their range of unimpeded operation."

In opposition to the traditional democratic liberalism of a Locke or Mill which thought simply in terms of removing impediments and obstructions to individual freedom, Dewey emphasized social conditions, patterns of education, and institutions which promoted the development of thinking, judgment, and insight with the consequent laboriously developed "power" of individual members of a society to act with intelligent freedom. Thoughtful freedom, therefore, is not "something antecedently possessed" prior to society, but is the result of growth made possible through social cooperation. Democratic liberty is inseparable from equality and fraternity. The social matrix does not provide a locus for apriori freedom deriving from a Lockean state of nature. Rather, the social matrix makes the development of intelligent freedom possible. Functioning properly, society is itself a "collective intelligence operating in cooperative action" which ultimately produces "free human beings associating with one another on terms of equality."

Dewey insists that democracy is not an apriori moral ideal known by abstract reasoning apart from concrete intelligent experience of people within a social order. Further, there is no apriori human nature that need be appealed to antecedent to the social order. If there is such a human nature it could not be fully known and at any rate would be quite irrelevant. For the moral ideal of democracy is concerned with individual human possibilities, something with which we are experientially familiar. The liberty, quality, and fraternity integral to this ideal all involve the "organized intelligence" of a social order in a process of perpetual planning to maximize the actualization of potentialities of all its individual members with respect to the quality and richness of their experience. Liberty arises from this social process as the power to act with respect to satisfying rationally informed desires and needs. It is inseparable from equality and fraternity as integral components of a democratic social order directed toward actualizing the human potential of all its members.

Democracy, as a moral ideal for our individual and collective intelligence, ultimately becomes synonymous with the possibilities for an ever greater fullness of life and richness of experience inherent in our human being-in-the-world. It is as if each of us has a pretheoretical experiential sense of how life could be richer and fuller. When we reflect on the conditions which would promote fullness and richness of life versus those that would promote a diminishment and reduction of the fullness of life, we are able to extrapolate the basic from of democracy, a basic understanding of the patterns of liberty, equality, and fraternity that promote and maximize the richness of life for individuals within a social order.

On the other hand, impediments to democracy are those social patterns which destroy or hinder the richness of life for individuals. Dewey, in various places, discusses four central impediments: (1) the problem of violence and war, (2) the problem of intolerance, bigotry, and dogma, (3) the problem of totalitarianism, (4) the problem of the sovereign nation state, and (5) the problem of capitalism and lack of what he calls "industrial democracy." Each of these impediments involves social patterns deleterious to the richness of individual life within a social order.

Violence and war do this for the obvious reason that open discussion, attempts at mutual understanding, cooperation and organized planning together for the benefit of all have broken down. Similar reasoning applies to the problem of intolerance, bigotry, and dogma. These violate the openness of the experimental, scientific approach to experience with a view not only to knowledge (for there is no neutral value-free knowing according to Dewey) but to cooperatively maximizing the fullness of life for all. For Dewey, this can only be effectively done on a universal scale (for all), and no group or class can maximize the fullness of life for itself to the exclusion of others. Hence, no government or society has yet come close to embodying the democratic ideal. Only a universal community, working cooperatively could begin to achieve this. "...Everything which bars freedom and fullness of communication," he writes, "sets up barriers that divide human beings into sets and cliques, into antagonistic sects and factions, and thereby undermines the democratic way of life."

It should be clear from our discussion why neither totalitarianism nor the sovereign nation state as we now know them can maximize the actualization of the individual potentialities of their citizens. Totalitarianism violates the most basic principle of community and cooperation required to achieve this, as well as recognition of the value of human individuality as the basic end of any legitimate social order. On the level of the nation state, Dewey argues, just as there is no individual morality apart from the "organized intelligence" of the community to which one belongs, so a collection of nation states unregulated by an international social order is a prescription for national "irresponsibility." The plea that nation states "ought" to conduct themselves morally is useless without "the establishment of a social organization which will make moral responsibilities and regulations a fact."

The chief cause of war is "a clash of interests due to absence of organization," a cause that can only be removed through a "definitely organized federation of nations" or a "supernational organization,.. outlawing war itself....[which will] align the moral code of state behavior with the best which obtains to personal conduct." Democracy as a moral ideal is more than a form of government, Dewey says, it is "equivalent to the breaking down of the barriers of class, race, and national territory which kept men from perceiving the full import of their activity." It involves seeing "the secondary and provisional character of national sovereignty" and emphasizing the superior value of the democratic ideal in which "the fuller, freer, and more fruitful association and intercourse of all human beings with one another must be instilled as a working disposition of mind."

Comprehension of democracy as a moral ideal fundamental to our being-in-the-world is the key to addressing all the basic problems of democracy, including the problem of private property or capitalism. The social values of liberty, equality, and community, Dewey maintained, are all inhibited or destroyed by capitalism in which industrial organization, the production of economic necessities for human life, and the lion's share of the wealth produced through this system, are all controlled by what he termed a "plutocracy," a small group of individuals who possess massive concentrations of private wealth. "Industrial organization must be made a social function," he says, by which he seems to mean that just as democratic political life involves people working together to maximize the possibility of everyone actualizing their potential for the fullness of life, so economic organization of society must do the same.

Hence, to bring the "democratic community" forward toward completion we need a "socialized economy" in which economic life is brought under social control. The present competitive economic system must be replaced "by a cooperative one," directed toward creating "material security and plenty" for all, "that will release human energy for the pursuit of higher values." Material sufficiency is not the end but is "instrumental to the good life" which we have seen is the actualization of individual human potential for fullness and richness of life. Secondly, there is no democracy except through the practice of it, and present top down industrial organization not only inhibits the ability of citizens to develop capacities for cooperative planning and organized intelligence, it also uses its power to control opinion through "propaganda," which Dewey calls "the greatest weapon of anti-social forces."

The goal of democracy as the moral ideal at the heart of human life is not a "planned society," Dewey says, but a continuously planning society" which requires "the release of intelligence through the widest form of cooperative give-and-take" and "the freest possible play of intelligence" as "an operative method of activity, not a predetermined set of "final" truths." "The ultimate problem of production is the production of human beings," he writes, and "by this standard the present system stands condemned." Material security, technology, and the rest are only the means to the production of the fullness of life and richness or experience for individual human beings.

Political, social, and economic life are all means to this end. That is why democracy is the moral ideal at the heart of human life, because its ultimate end and goal is the individual human person judged in the concrete terms, not of abstract dignity and apriori rights but in terms of actualization of an ever increasing fullness of life. Dewey's thinking is nothing if not "utopian" is a positive sense of this word. Democracy is an ideal of human individual and social fulfillment which seems realizable without limit. As a moral ideal it is a perpetual source of critical thinking concerning the concrete social, political, and economic affairs of any particular society.

II.  Enrique Dussel and the Philosophy of Liberation

Both the "discourse of deconstruction" and the "discourse of liberation" postdate Dewey's work elucidating the "discourse of modernity." Yet Dewey's thought has a great deal in common with that of Habermas, the contemporary proponent of the enlightenment core of modernity, and seems strongly opposed to the discourse of deconstruction which has challenged the notion of universal truth through its focus on the incommensuribility of life-worlds. For Dewey, "truth" is indeed a social norm and not an agreement between human perceptions and a supposed "external reality" being perceived. Problems of social disagreement over the nature and scope of truth, however, can be resolved through two related strategies.

First, focus on truth as a methodological approach to experience, as science has done, frees us from dogmatic orientations which might on the surface seem incommensurable. Second, this social norm, which amounts most fundamentally to "truthfulness," revolves around the possibilities of communication among persons, the greater the communication, Dewey assumes, the more apparent incommensuribility of orientations will dissolve.

Although Dewey never encountered the discourse of deconstruction in its present form, he does reject traditional skepticism on the same grounds that many thinkers reject deconstruction today: that it is involved in the classical "dilemma of skepticism" whereby the claim that there is no truth appears to be a universal truth claim. This Habermasian "performative contradiction" is compounded by deconstruction's claim to have a liberatory core. In following a liberatory impulse to free people from what it takes to be oppressive totalities, deconstruction asserts the very thing it denies in a living performative contradiction. It implicitly asserts the truth of its deconstructive skepticism as well as the truth of its drive toward liberation while claiming all along that there is no universal truth but only incommensurable life-worlds.

Within a yet larger framework the discourse of deconstruction seems to sink into a false epistemological objectivism, claiming its deconstructive analyses have validity beyond the mere personal whim of the writer, which leads the aforementioned dilemma of skepticism. In doing this, deconstruction betrays its liberatory impulse which is, or should be, the real foundation of its discourse. To retain the liberatory starting point would be to begin with the oppressed other, the concrete suffering of human beings, rather than beginning with abstract analysis of "signifiers," "metanarratives," or "totalities." A Salvadoran campesino suffering torture by his U.S. supported military police, or a Guatemalan woman being gang raped by her CIA advised security forces, are not likely to believe there are "other interpretations" of this text. Only by taking as its starting point the real fact of oppression, starvation, torture, and humiliation, can philosophy begin to free itself from its intellectual absurdities as well as its moral complicity in oppression.

Here we come upon the foundational point of the discourse of liberation articulated by Enrique Dussel and others; the starting point of all thought and action directed toward democracy, justice, or human liberation must be the other, the oppressed as necessarily exterior to any system of thought and action that does not take them as foundational. Here Dewey's thought, assuming as it does the traditions of Greek and European philosophy, and actively engaged with the issues of democracy within the United States from a liberal and evolutionary point of view, fundamentally fails.

Democracy as a moral ideal encompassing both individual fulfillment and social existence fails when constituted from the center, whether the social-economic center of the imperialist state, the cultural center of imperial civilization, or the individual center of the ego cogito. Democracy can only succeed as a moral ideal when it begins with the other as other, the excluded, the oppressed, the marginalized, or the nameless. This is the fundamental understanding of the philosophy of liberation.

Dewey's thought, we have seen, has a great deal in common with that of Jurgen Habermas, the great contemporary defender of the democratic, enlightenment core of modernity. Both thinkers were strongly influenced in their social views by the method of science. Both start from the self as a social phenomenon and not as an independent substance antecedent to society. Both find the essence of democracy in communication and focus on removing the impediments to unconstrained communication, a process which will increase liberty and equality as well as fraternity.

Both see moral universality as arising from community and not from the moral legislation of an autonomous Kantian self. Both, in this regard, see democracy as a moral ideal, Habermas linking true equality and solidarity with the highest or seventh stage of moral development proposed by Lawrence Kohlberg. Finally, both see democracy as inseparable from a socialist society focusing on the meeting of human needs and reject contemporary capitalism with its use of strategic forms of language directed to the accumulation of private profit.

Habermas and Dewey seem to differ, however, with respect to Dewey's fuller conception of the purpose of a democratic society to promote an ever greater richness of experience for its individual members. Habermas, perhaps more aware of the deconstructive insistence on the incommensurability of alternative conceptions of the good life, makes a radical distinction between the minimal universality necessary for procedural justice and various conceptions of the good, which are open to relativistic interpretations. Secondly, they would seem to disagree over Dewey's emphasis on the essential role of "faith in human nature" for a theoretical formulation of democracy as a moral ideal. Habermas appeals, instead, to the presuppositions of the very possibility of communication and so perhaps dispenses with the need for a doctrine of faith in human nature.

From the viewpoint of a discourse of liberation, however, both the philosophies of Dewey and Habermas fail as extrapolations of what is universal within the discourse of modernity, since they fail to begin with the other as other. There is no other way to salvage the rational kernel of Greek and European philosophy, that is, what is truly universal, except by beginning with the other as other. The Greek-European-American philosophical tradition has long constituted itself as the center and hence has distorted all possible universality for its theories of democracy in spite of the fact that theory of democracy points indirectly towards true universality. When beginning from the center as center, democratic theory inevitably becomes complicit with the democratic ideology of the center which is promoted to mask domination and oppression. It "conflates," as Dussel puts it, universality with Eurocentrism and modernizing developmentalism." All centers require a periphery by definition. To begin from a center is therefore immediately to lose the universality implied in concepts like justice or democracy.

This is true even of much of the tradition of "critical philosophy" which mounts a liberatory critique of the system of capitalist domination. Habermas' critique of capitalism, for example, includes the notion of the "colonization" of the lifeworld by rationalized bureaucratic and economic subsystems. It assumes apriori the universal possibility of truly democratic communication which can arise with the elimination of impediments to communication such as capital accumulation, social hierarchies, manipulative and strategic uses of language, racism, sexism, etc. Hence, Habermas offers a theory of democracy elucidated as liberty, equality, and community which he claims to be truly universal. But this is a mistake and a fundamental flaw in Habermasian philosophy.

Like Dewey, Habermas understands himself to be extrapolating the rational universal core of the philosophical discourse of modernity. But this cannot be extrapolated from the philosophical tradition that has all along constituted itself, its culture, and its philosophical ego, as center. All centrism implies periphery. Any such merely abstract extrapolations remains part of the system of Eurocentrism which is necessarily imperialistic and aggressive. The only way of appropriating the universal essence of communication is to begin with the other, the exterior. Otherwise discourse remains what the deconstructionists have taken it mean - a mere logocentric totalizing of one's cultural horizon. Only the genuinely exterior as other is outside the cultural horizon (a possibility that deconstruction with its objectivating fallacy refuses to recognize). Only by beginning with the oppressed as first movement in philosophical reconstruction of the ideal speech situation or the ground of communication can philosophy achieve the true universality intuited by European democratic theory.

None of the political orientations of the center, broadly defined as conservative, liberal, or radical, can fully articulate democracy as a moral ideal insofar as each begins from the cultural, social, or individual center. As Dussel points out, the temporal orientation of the center is always sameness, status quo, protection of its domination of the periphery. Democracy and a conservatism of the center (especially in contemporary sense of the word "conservatism") simply do not mix and conservative talk of "democracy" is most fundamentally an ideological coverup for its protection of sameness. Liberalism, as in Dewey's thought, on the other hand, does mount a critique of the system and gesture towards universality.

However, it fails to attain true universality because it fails to negate the center-system itself which is constituted in terms of the oppressed. Capitalism requires owners of the means of production and those who must sell their labor to the owners. The powerful nation-state requires armaments and enemies to justify its continued existence. The global marketplace requires cheap resources from the global commons for exploitation. The white minority requires non-white races to in order to define itself as "white." The macho male requires gender defined female characteristics with which to contrast with his maleness. Liberalism believes erroneously that the center can evolve towards universality without having to negate itself as center. However, evolutionary democracy is an ideological fabrication. Only revolutionary democracy can attain to universality.

Politically speaking, therefore, only a radicalism (that which goes to the root, radix, of the problem) beginning with the oppressed other can articulate the rational universal core of enlightenment thinking. The root of the issue involves an abandoning of the center and taking up a position from the exterior, in conceptual and practical solidarity with the other, the oppressed of the system. Both Dewey and Habermas fail to become fully radical and hence universal in this sense. Dewey embraces an evolutionary socialism of "common sense" that affirms the need to extend participation and communication throughout society, while Habermas similarly replaces the revolutionary demand of Marxist thought with an evolutionary self-critique of the communicative dimensions of human life. All social evolutionary thinking would seem to implicitly preserve the center-periphery dynamic while promising slow progress toward the moral ideal of democracy. Yet we have seen that the center-periphery dynamic itself negates democracy.

A revolutionary perspective begins with exteriority, the oppressed and negated of the system, and demands, therefore, the abolition of the system itself to be reconstituted on a universal basis as true democracy, justice, and a fulfilled human reality. True democracy as moral ideal abolishes not only capitalism, but the nation-state, and recognizes the sovereignty (and the right to liberty, equality, and community) of all humankind. Whereas the conservative relation to temporality is preservation of the same, and the liberal relation is evolution of the system towards fuller democracy, the revolutionary relation, Dussel points out, should be characterized as "utopian" (in a fully positive sense of this word). The revolutionary looks towards a transformed future which is now literally "nowhere" and in which human existence is truly fulfilled through a universal liberty, equality, and community.

The utopian theme is socialist thinkers like Nicolas Berdyaev and Ernest Bloch bears recalling in this connection. For Bloch, the art, culture, and social thought of every historical era exhibits what he calls a "utopian surplus," expectations, ideas, and symbols which cannot be accounted for in any reductionist, materialist conception of the base-superstructure relationship. This utopian residue provides a critique of the era, pointing not only to its dialectical negation but to the intuited potential for utopian fulfillment and fullness of human existence on earth. Radical murmurings can even be heard from the center, given an attentive listener.

Yet Dussel would add to Bloch's thought the idea that only thought genuinely originating from exteriority (and then it must be thought that is not merely the cultural reflection of the imperialist center within the colonies) is consistently utopian. Perhaps the "utopian surplus" that Bloch describes itself functions as such an other. An "exterior" can indeed exist within the heart of any particular society or historical era. As Marx pointed out, only the oppressed have nothing to protect through force or ideological obfuscation. Marx's thought begins with the exteriority of the proletariat, dehumanized, commodified persons who have even had their humanity robbed from them along with the fruits of their labor.

Marx's industrial proletariat as other has evolved in contemporary revolutionary thought to an understanding of the other which includes the crushed, dehumanized, and disenfranchised people of the third world. Yet in either case the thought that begins truly outside the system is almost certainly utopian. It alone can envision and work for a true democratic universality in which the system is reconstituted on the basis of liberty, equality, and community.

The utopian aspect of Dewey's thought mentioned above bears reflection in this connection. Dewey himself commented that he was often accused of being "utopian" in this thinking. His explanation for this perception of his thought was that democracy as a moral ideal does indeed require a "faith in human nature" and its possibilities for and ever richer existence based on rational dialogue, discussion, and community engagement with social problems. However, "utopian" may be used in a somewhat different sense by Dewey, and this element in his thought comprises a fairly minor theme that can easily be exaggerated.

By and large Dewey always quickly brings the reader back to concrete solutions and limited efforts to evolutionarily move society in the direction of the democratic ideal. Dewey remains, therefore, by his own self-definition as well as from the viewpoint of a philosophy of liberation, a "liberal," constituting the problem of democracy from the center, and never moving to the revolutionary point where the universal communicative core of the democratic ideal becomes truly universal. Only what moves towards the utopian reconstitution of the center-periphery system itself can portend true universal rationality. Thought, whether for Dewey, Dussel, Habermas, or Bloch, does not float disembodied above the social systems from which it arises. The primacy of the other, outside the system, and the utopian impulse towards total transformation of the system, arise from one and the same democratic spirit.

III.  Spirituality and Revolutionary Democracy

I have called the dialectical conception of democracy being developed here a "revolutionary democracy." What is its relationship to human spirituality? There are many modes of spirituality, but two prominent modes stand out as bearing directly on the nature and possibility of democratic existence. I shall call the first a "spirituality of fullness-emptiness" and the second, "eschatological spirituality."

We have seen that revolutionary democracy must begin from the other of one's culture, one's society, or of the ego-centered orientation that conditions the thoughts and actions of most persons in any particular modern society. The exterior or other as starting point involves the overcoming of the center-periphery relation and beckons toward true universality. Yet frequent testimony from the history of world religious experience speaks of a mode of spiritual breakthrough (the fullness-emptiness mode) which abolishes the center-periphery structure of thought and consciousness in favor of a simultaneous unity-in-diversity which includes the experience of oneness with all beings.

In this spirituality, simultaneously I am you and you are me. An authentic compassion arises here which also constitutes the very core of revolutionary democracy. Being freed from the egoic perspective that begins from "me" as world-center, one spontaneously focuses where suffering is greatest, with the oppressed, marginalized, and brutalized of the center oriented system.

Every human being is an other, for every human being is a personal freedom. But those outside our ideological world system are radically other. For most of those within the world system, exterior persons are nothing, negligible, do not exist for the system, nor for consciousness, except perhaps as more of the same. By transcending ego-centricity through analysis, meditation, and mindfulness, Buddhism encounters this outside as non-duality, and sees the otherness of human beings as manifestations of it. What Buddhists call "compassion" (karuna in Sanskrit), is simply a manifestation of freedom from egocentricity. Compassion breaks the hold of the center and opens to the fullness of the other. Compassionate social relations are those of revolutionary democracy. Ken Jones describes these from a Buddhist point of view:

What is needed are political and economic relations and a technology that will: (a) Help people to overcome ego-centeredness, through cooperation with others, in place of either subordination and exploitation or the consequent sense of "righteous" struggle against these things.

(b) Offer to each a freedom which is conditional only upon the freedom and dignity of others, so that individuals may develop a self-reliant responsibility rather than being the conditioned animals of institutions or ideologies.

Except for the emphasis on overcoming ego-centeredness, there seems very little difference between this vision of democracy and that of John Dewey.

Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman calls "the basic principle of Buddhist social action" the "universal altruism of 'great love' (mahamaitri) and 'great compassion' or 'great empathy' (mahakaruna). The primary Buddhist position on social action," he writes, "is one of total activism, an unswerving commitment to complete self-transformation and complete world-transformation." Ken Jones elaborates this point that "individual liberation from the experience of separateness, of alienation, from other beings brings a sense of oneness from which arises the compassionate concern to put an end to all suffering...." Buddhism is a practice directed to overcoming the center-periphery orientation that inevitably includes oppression and dehumanization of the other. This practice overcomes both collective and individual centricity. As Rubin Habito expresses it,

This can be said of our personal life...and our corporate life as a member of various social groupings we find ourselves in and identify with, which we can consider our extended ego. Entrapped as in were in ego-centered consciousness, we are also overtaken by a sense of cosmic separateness.... We continue to live in a way that is in opposition to, and therefore tends to inflict wounds on, nature, our fellow humans, and our own selves.

Freedom from the center-periphery orientation activates in us hitherto unknown energy, what Fred Epsteiner calls "a clarion call of Emptiness and Non-ego in action.... Each [Buddhist] precept," he writes, "enjoins a form of moral action that is based on non-separation and an unceasingly aware state of compassion." Such moral action is inseparable from the freedom from ego and social centricity that engenders oppression and dehumanization of the other. It is an action arising not from the "rational moral principles" of Enlightenment modernity but from a direct realization of my identity with the other, even across time and space. Ruben Habito expresses this universality of non-egoic compassion:

I realize that I carry in this very body all the wounds of the whole Body, wounds that continue to cry for healing. The wounds of the millions of children born into this world malnourished and who are destined to die before they reach the age of five. The wounds of the victims of violence in different forms, whether through armed warfare or other kinds of physical acts of violence.... The wounds suffered not only by human beings but also by countless other species....brought about by human greed, anger, and ignorance wreaking havoc on individuals, on families, on ethnic communities, on the whole Earth-community itself.

It is this possibility of oneness and identity with all other human beings which is at the heart of revolutionary democracy as a moral and spiritual ideal. The horizons constituted within opposing life-worlds may or may not be incommensurable as Rorty and others maintain. But the testimony of such spiritual experiences, found in religious traditions worldwide, is that our deeper human reality, from which it is possible to live, is a simultaneous unity-in-diversity prior to the center-periphery constitution of the life-world.

The reality of such spiritual experiences undermines the debate between the discourse of modernity and the discourse of deconstruction referred to above while it simultaneously adds an unrecognized supporting dimension to the discourse of liberation. Deconstruction claims incommensurable life-worlds while modernity, for example, in the thought of Habermas, argues for a minimalist core of human rationality that is truly universalizable. Whatever the merits of these arguments, the spirituality of fullness-emptiness undercuts argumentation itself with a direct realization of the simultaneous unity-in-diversity prior to thought and action. In Dewey's language, we need not rely solely on abstract argumentation, but have an experiential touchstone from which to proceed. Within the limited space of this paper, one further example of this spirituality will have to suffice.

Sufi mysticism, through such figures as Junayd of Baghdad, al-Hallaj, al-Arabi or Jalal Ud-Din Rumi, has consistently expressed a similar experience of fullness-emptiness to that of Buddhism. The 13th century Sufi poet Rumi (1207-1273), for example, expressed his experiences in the following lines from his poem the Diwan of Shams-i-Tabriz:

What is to be done, O Moslems? for I do not recognize myself.

I am neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Gabr, nor Moslem.

I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea;...

I am not of the empyrean, nor of the dust, nor of existence, nor of entity....

My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless;...

I have put duality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one;...

Rumi's spirituality expressed here has gone beyond cultural, social, and egoic centeredness. He does not recognize himself, that is, the Rumi born into the Islamic life-world in a certain time, place, and cultural setting. The imperialist cultural, social, and egoic orientation of the Islamic world of Rumi's day which constituted (like all such worlds) its own exterior, its own other as non-human or partly human and subject to non-democratic oppression, is exploded and transformed through Rumi's experiential realization of himself as authentically universal. In his poem, he encounters in wonder his true self which is free of a determinant horizon and yet which recognizes the diversity of his fellow Moslems, his own character as simultaneously determinant, and the multiple dimensions of the world he inhabits. Emptied of both name and form, as the Buddhists would put it, Rumi encounters the possibilities of revolutionary democracy as the primal human reality, a truly universal liberty, equality, and community only possible when the constitutive centeredness of "Christians, Jews, Gabrs, or Moslems" is overcome.

The second set of spiritual experiences found in human history and bearing on a philosophy of revolutionary democracy I called "eschatological spirituality." This spirituality is found primarily in the Jewish and Christian traditions although it is not limited to these. It is related to the spirituality of fullness-emptiness in that both spiritualities awaken to the depths of the present moment, depths which ordinary temporal consciousness misses as it turns its face to anticipation and realization of future possibilities in the light of its memories of the past. Ordinary egocentric consciousness lives in what William James called the "specious present" as it negotiates its way from past to future, missing the eschatological depths of true presentness. This form of spirituality may well be related to the utopian emphasis in socialist thinkers like Berdyaev, Bloch, Dussel, and Marx, mentioned above, in that it shares an emphasis of the transforming character of radical futurity.

Eschatological consciousness experiences the fullness of the transformed and unifying future of all beings within the depths of the present moment. This consciousness, as it arises primarily out of the Jewish and Christian traditions, is conceptualized by James W. Fowler in his book Stages of Faith as the highest stage of human religious development. As such, it naturally uses the language of "God," the "coming reign of God," and "sin," although Fowler is careful to insist "the reality and character of the coming reign of God exceeds and spills over all our images, symbols, and beliefs about it." It is this inconceivability and Otherness of God and God's reign in the Jewish and Christian traditions that complements Enrique Dussel's emphasis that the starting point for any truly universal discourse of modernity must be that which is radically Other. God is the ultimate Other, beyond all possible life-world horizons. Hence, it would seem that the depths of the present moment can disclose an Otherness which portends what Fowler terms "the promise of a unified and unifying future for all being."

Universality here arises from the Otherness of a transformed future encountered in the depths of the present which leads those experiencing it to the conclusion that "to live in anticipation of the coming reign of God" must be "understood as a universal human vocation." This "universal, shared future of all being" is contrasted by Fowler with the "sin" of ordinary, self-centered temporal existence whose "personal, corporate, and cosmic" dimensions becomes clear to us in these moments of eschatological breakthrough or "disclosure." Persons who live from such an eschatological awareness with their "freedom and their costly love," he writes, "embody the promise and lure of our shared futurity.

These persons embody costly openness to the power of the future." Their very being "condemns our obsessions with our own security and awakens our taste and sense for the promise of human futurity." In social terms, Fowler continues, the effect of persons who live from the power of the future is to "...Actualize its promise, creating zones of liberation and sending shock waves to rattle the cages that we allow to constrict human futurity. Their trust in the power of that future and their trans-narcissistic love of human futurity account for their readiness to spend and be spent in making the Kingdom actual."

These words seem to fulfill the requirements of a philosophy of liberation for beginning with the Other (the power of the future, God) in such a way that cultural, social, and personal self-centeredness are not the originating point of thought or action. Such people are trans-narcissistic, beyond self-centeredness and only in this way do they create "zones of liberation" which make possible true democracy. As with the trans-centric character of the spirituality of fullness-emptiness, which results in truly universal compassion affirming the simultaneous reality of universality-in-diversity, eschatological spirituality encounters a trans-centric starting point which explodes the discourses of domination and imperialism cloaked within the ideology of democracy arising from the center.

Revolutionary democracy and the assumed "theocracy" of the Kingdom are not incompatible. The otherness of God always remains beyond all possible conceptualizations and all human frameworks. Yet the reign of God implies nothing if not democracy as a moral ideal, that is, human fulfillment through a maximization of liberty, equality, and community.

One final example of eschatological spirituality will have to suffice within the space of this paper, the example of Jesus as understood by Thomas Sheehan in his book The First Coming. Sheehan describes Jesus' consciousness as "to be a prolepsis of God, to live the future now" which was also the core of Jesus' message, that is, the "paradox of the simultaneous presence and futurity of God's kingdom,.. the eschatological present-future." Sheehan says this understanding of God's kingdom "was not measurable in such linear terms as "before" and "after," whether those be chronological or apocalyptic. Strictly speaking," he writes, "it appears that for Jesus the future did not lie up ahead." The consequences of this for Jesus' preaching, as Sheehan describes it, resonate with the ideal of revolutionary democracy as understood by a philosophy of liberation:

In Jesus' preaching, the happening of this forgiveness, the coming of the kingdom, was entirely the initiative of God. And yet at the same time is was not an objective event that dropped out of the sky. God became present when people allowed that presence by actualizing it in lives of justice and charity. The promise of eschatology was converted into the demand for love and justice. "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36).... And accepting forgiveness meant enacting justice and mercy in the world, for the gift of God-with-men was a future that became present only with such a life of conversion....

Just as Fowler describes the eschatological person as creating "zones of liberation" through embodying the radical otherness of the future in his or her present existence, Sheehan sees Jesus as preaching a conversion to this same liberation. The justice and mercy preached by Jesus are not ideas constituted by a center as are the subtle imperialist use of "ideals" like justice, freedom, or democracy to effect a perpetual postponement. Rather, the conversion realized through an encounter with the eschatological present-future is a conversion from ego-centric existence to Other centric existence. The universality implicit within the Eurocentric philosophic tradition becomes actualized in thought or action in the name of democracy or justice now truly universal because its originating impulse is the Other.

Conclusion.

In the view of the present writer, John Dewey did valuable work during his philosophical career carrying forward and elucidating the rational core of enlightenment modernity. Dewey helped illuminate, decades before Habermas, the fundamental character and interrelationships of the liberty, equality, and community that are at the heart of the democratic moral ideal. Yet the quote from Noam Chomsky at the head of this paper suggests both the seriousness of the problem of democracy and the radical limitations within Dewey's thought. Dewey's thought was certainly an improvement over traditional democratic liberalism that focused on the autonomous individual with apriori rights who stood over and against the seemingly necessary limitations imposed by society. Dewey now sees the individual as inseparable from society and realizes that the fullness of individual life is inseparable from the interrelated processes of liberty, equality, and community.

Yet as the Chomsky quote illustrates, democratic theory and action done from the center without challenging the structural dynamic of "center-periphery" itself is very easily co-opted into becoming an ideology justifying oppression and death. The very fact that we are free to philosophize about democracy and its problems is part of the ideology of our system that lives off the death and misery of millions. A truly democratic theory and praxis cannot begin with the assumption of a liberal evolution of the center and a philosophy promoting an extension of the rights of those in the center to other persons.

For the very constitution of the centric system demands a periphery. Only a democratic theory beginning with the excluded, non-persons of the margin with no rights , no name, and no birth date can aspire to true universality as a moral ideal. Ultimately democratic theory and praxis always remains to some extent an ideological smoke-screen for domination insofar as it is not conjoined theoretically with a discourse of human liberation and practically with a revolutionary commitment to the oppressed other.

Finally, as I hope the discussion of human spirituality in this paper suggests, democratic theory and praxis must move beyond what Dewey termed a "faith in human nature and its possibilities" towards actual transformation of what we take to be ordinary human nature with its egoic orientation. True democracy only begins with the drive towards genuine universality, and world spiritual traditions indicate that true universality, free of egoic partiality, is available to those willing to undergo the necessary spiritual practice. The possibility of encountering the priority of the other through a spiritual transformation of ourselves beyond self-centered egoity becomes an important consideration for the discourse of liberation which, we have seen, is an integral part of the discourse of authentic democracy.

The starting point must indeed be the concrete, oppressed other, but the transformation of the ego-centric system, and hence encounter with the other, is also found within our own spiritual transformation. The point of spiritual practices like meditation becomes, therefore, not my own happiness, nirvana, or freedom from egoic suffering. The purpose of spiritual practice is liberation of the other from oppression. The other remains the starting point. Ultimately, the theory and praxis of democracy cannot be separated from the theory and praxis of spiritual transformation.

 


UNITY IN DIVERSITY: GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION FROM DEEP VIOLENCE TO DEEP NONVIOLENCE

Glen T. Martin

(copyright 2007)

Radford University

Presented at the First Global Conference on Nonviolence

James Madison University

April 2007 

 

            The paper below considers four main topics.  First, in what ways nonviolence is the essence of religion; second, the several forms of the deep violence that characterize our world disorder; third, where religious violence fits in this scheme and what are its causes; and finally, how we can create a nonviolent world order based on the insight that nonviolence is the fulfillment of the historical process itself.

 

1.  Religion and Nonviolence

 

            Nonviolence and universality radiate from the heart of authentic religion and from all the great world religions.  Religion flows from a diversity of sources, all of which have emerged with the maturation process of human beings since the Axial period in human history during the first millennium BCE.   All sources of authentic religion point toward nonviolence, just as they point toward planetary maturity (Martin, 2005a).  Here I will mention four fundamental sources of authentic religion.

            First, spiritual awakening points forward to planetary maturity and world unity.  All thought and language arise from the deep silence that permeates the universe, as thinkers as diverse as Meister Eckhart (1980) and Max Picard (1952) have articulated.  The mystical realization of this silence leads to a direct awareness of the oneness of others with myself, the root of nonviolence.  In much of Buddhism and Hinduism, this transforming compassion is extended to all sentient beings.  Both the way of life directed toward moksa or nirvana must be nonviolent and the way of life consequent upon moksa or nirvana is nonviolent.  Means and ends are inseparable.

             Second, to adapt the philosophy of religion articulated by Paul Tillich (1987), the prophetic openness to the word of God is a consequence of a participation in the infinite power of being characterized as agape, the transforming love consequent upon the experience of grace, the saving power that grasps us when we participate with authentic ultimate concern in the infinite ground of our being.  The result is a love that rejects no human being and ultimately rejects the idea of violence against any human being.  To be established in the love of God, Jesus proclaims in Matthew 22: 34-40, also establishes us in the love of our neighbor as ourselves.

            In response to the question “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan (Luke (10:25-37).  The Samaritans were looked down upon by Jesus’ Jewish audience, yet the essence of obeying God’s commandment to love is embodied in the Samaritan who exemplified the simple life of agape, loving others as oneself.  “When you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me” expresses the source of authentic religion insofar as we participate with love and openness in the ground of our own being (Matt. 25: 40).

            Third, authentic religion fulfills itself in nonviolence as a result of the historical process of development of religious consciousness and understanding.  As human beings grow historically to planetary maturity, they understand the structure of the universe and the real from which nonviolence flows ever more fully.  For example, the structure of consciousness, of our minds, reflecting as this does, the fundamental organizing principle of the universe, points to human apperception as conscious unity in diversity.  Science in the twentieth century has discovered the absolute oneness or unity of the universe that constitutes an evolving whole diversifying itself in ever greater forms of complexification and organization (see Harris 1992, Ch. 1).  Similarly, since Kant, many have understood that the synthetic unity of human apperception constitutes a single organizational principle that comprehends the multiplicity of the universe within an all-embracing unity (Ibid).  Once again, we see that the other cannot be alienated from us as a fragment over and against our own being.  Our very ability to relate to and know the other requires the all embracing unity characteristic of both the universe and human consciousness.  The other person, nation, race, or religion cannot be separated from me as a fragment contradicting my own being.  The very possibility of my encounter with the other presupposes this all embracing unity.

            Fourth, this unity in diversity of human awareness may be the source of our sense of our universal humanity, the sense that we are human beings first in ways that cannot be separated from our respective individual identities.  This sense functions as a ground for the concept of universal human rights.  Marx called it our “species-being,” our fundamental oneness as human beings expressed, for example, in the moral principle fundamental to all religions: do unto others as you would have them do unto you (see Miranda, 1986).  The recognition of the humanity of the other, as philosopher Leonard Nelson has pointed out (1956), is also an immediate recognition of the others rights vis-à-vis myself.  Once again, I am not free to do violence against my neighbor.  This principle, as expressed in the words of philosopher Immanuel Levinas, involves the recognition of the “infinity in the face of the other” and includes an immediate claim upon me that says “thou shall not kill” (1985, 89).

            Each of the great world religions and many of the minor world religions such as the Baha’i religion, the Oomoto religion, or Unitarian Universalism proclaim the universality of God, Allah, Brahman, Tao, or Dharmakaya.  Their origins often involve the famous scandal of particularity.  They originated under particular circumstances within a particular culture but the message is one of a universal sacred principle available to all human beings and recognizing the sanctity of all human beings. 

            This message is most simply formulated by all of them as some form of the golden rule.  The consequence of the golden rule is nonviolence, just as the consequence of Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative is nonviolence: always treat every person as an end in themselves never merely as a means (1964).  If persons are treated as ends in themselves, they cannot be legitimately killed in any form of military or violent conflict.

            What all these sources of authentic religion have in common is the inseparability of myself from the other within a diversity embraced by a unity that cannot be dissolved but makes possible affirmation and recognition of that diversity.   The alternative to this, and the root cause of violence in my view, is fragmentation: the human mind, out of touch with its epistemic or metaphysical ground, objectifying and alienating the other as an opposite, as a contradiction to my being, as evil, or as enemy.  This is both philosophically and religiously false, and ultimately denies its own being which cannot be affirmed apart from its unity in diversity with the being of the other.  Below, I will return to practical ways that we can promote the unity in diversity of human kind.

 

2.  Four forms of violence in today’s world

 

            If the source of nonviolence flows from our oneness as human beings, then violence is everything that structurally, economically, socially, politically, or personally denies this principle of unity in diversity.  Violence is what violates the personhood of other human beings, whether using them without their consent, manipulating them, coercing them, or harming them physically, economically, socially, culturally, or personally.  The heart of all the great religions is the respect for the diversity of each person as an end in his or her self, and a concomitant affirmation of the unity of all persons that makes this respect possible.  From this principle, I have derived the following description of the deep violence of today’s world disorder in terms of both extent and significance. 

            Four categories of violence are outlined below in order of their pervasiveness and significance:  first, structural violence (primarily poverty and deprivation) and the process of creating ever-more structural violence, second, the imperial violence of nation-states that extends and maintains this structural violence, third, the nihilistic violence imbedded in weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear weapons, and, fourth, revolutionary and rebellious violence that reacts to the first three forms of violence, often with religious, ethnic, or sectarian identities that inspire more violence. 

            First, the central form of violence on our planet today involves the dynamic of structural violence that results in the impoverishment of the vast majority.  This structural violence is an historical consequence of the system of the private accumulation of wealth that has been imposed upon the world for the past several centuries.   Today, half the world — more than three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.    Nearly a billion people entered the twenty-first century unable to read a book or sign their names.  Less than one per cent of what the world spends each year on weapons can put every child on Earth into school.  The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money.  The developing world now spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants.  Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished.  30,000 children die each day due to poverty.  2.2 million children die each year because they have not been immunized. Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.  The slice of the economic pie taken by the richest 1% of the world’s people is the same size as that available to the poorest 57% of humankind.  The Gross Domestic Product of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a twenty-five percent of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined. (These global statistics are found at http://www.globalissues.org.)

            The second form of violence after structural violence involves the imperial violence of nation-states working to enhance, enforce, and control the populations subjected to structural violence.  This system of sovereign nation-states was first formally recognized in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia (see Philpott, 2001).   These early imperial centers proceeded to divide the world among themselves, appropriating for themselves the cheap slave labor and resources of the majority of humankind who were organized as colonies of these imperial centers of power.   The imperial powers controlled this system under their ideology of sovereign nation-states and claimed imperial rights of domination over their colonies.  The imperial nations all adopted the ideology of Adam Smith “free trade” as a cover for their nationalistic competition to control the global wealth-producing process in their own interests (Smith, 2006, Chs. 1-4).  They affirmed the ideology of unlimited capital expansion (at the expense of nature and the poor) as the only possible route to development and prosperity but attempted to channel this process of expansion to the ruling classes of their respective nation-states.

            This system of exploitation and domination in the name of both ruling classes and imperial nations was firmly rejected by Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi spoke of Athe organized violence of economic exploitation@  (Jesudasan, 1984, 120).  A world order in which these conditions of political domination and economic exploitation prevail is inherently violent for Gandhi.  AEconomics that hurt the moral well-being of an individual or nation are immoral and, therefore, sinful,” he wrote.  “Thus, the economics that permit one country to prey upon another are immoral@  (Ibid).   ATrue economics,@ he said, “stands for social justice, it promotes the good of all equally including the weakest, and is indispensable for decent life@ (Ibid).  Gandhi placed nonviolence in an historical perspective in which human beings, in real time, came to understand their unity in diversity and simultaneously to repudiate the dominant economic system and imperial nation-state system as inherently violent.

            With decolonization (which largely took place within the twentieth century), many of these former colonies become wretched basket-cases of nations, impoverished financially, culturally, technologically, and structurally, and subject to manipulation, overthrow, destabilization, or outright domination by one or the other of their former colonial masters.  They also became subject to financial control by the World Bank and IMF.  Hundreds of millions of poor now live in these countries as in prison camps, unable to leave and utterly unable to improve their own condition – controlled economically, politically, and militarily from abroad.

               The structural violence of enforced poverty and misery is not an accident.  It is a direct consequence of the imperial conquest and exploitation of the world by the European nations and their imperial heir, the United States, from the time of Columbus to the present.  Today, despite decolonization, that system of domination and exploitation is continued in the global economic system in which the military might and political power of the imperial nations, under the leadership of the United States, globally enforces this system of structural violence and death with its military, economic, and political might, in the service, as throughout its history, not of its people but of its ruling class and their powerful transnational corporations (Parenti, 1995).

            The world continues to move toward conditions of global totalitarianism under the control of the gigantic transnational corporations protected and promoted by the military might of the first world and the economic might of the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and IMF.    The Director-General of the World Trade Organization in the 1980s wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that began with the sentence “Globalization is a reality of our time.”  This globalization, as Vandana Shiva has pointed out, is a prescription for the dispossession of 80% of the planet’s population (1997b, see Shiva 1997a).  This “reality of our time” is not an accident, any more than the colonial exploitation and impoverishment of the majority of humankind was an accident, any more than centuries of slavery and violence against peoples of color was an accident.  It is a carefully planned and constructed process of the most powerful economic and political forces in the world to convert the economies of the world to serve their own interests.

            The rules of world trade require of nations (under the threat of severe economic penalties) to export and import the goods needed for their survival.  The engines of globalization imposed by the World Bank and the IMF impose structural adjustment programs on economically weak nations, forcing them to open up to the exploitation by the transnational corporations and to convert from subsistence, self-sufficient forms of production, to dependence on international markets and the dominant transnational corporations.  These principles, like powerful new rules of world intellectual property rights, were worked out in secret meetings between the giant corporations and the ruling elites of the most powerful nation-states and then imposed upon the rest of the approximately 120 nations within the WTO at the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).   Both structural adjustment programs and the rules of world trade formulated for the WTO were coercive instruments forced upon the poor of the world by its ruling elites.

            If I have poor women utterly dependent upon me as their employer or slave owner and I demand sex from them, I am guilty of violence against them even if I never use overt violence.  Exactly the same principle operates if I force structural adjustment upon poor nations or impose globalized trade rules upon them about which they have no choice.  Globalization in the service of the world’s powerful corporations and economies is a rape of the poorest 80% of humanity.  It is a dynamic of violence pure and simple.  GATT trade rules are coercive rules that demand of poor countries that they open their economics to foreign economic investment under the threat of economic retaliation and punishment (Mander and Goldsmith, 1996).

            Part of the mechanism by which this is done also includes what I call “spiritual violence” (see Martin 2005, Ch. 3). Spiritual violence is the violence of lies and deception in order to foster my self-interest at the expense of others.  We saw above that authentic religion in all its forms affirms love of other human beings as oneself.  We saw that this is essentially the same as Kant’s categorical imperative that requires treating others as ends in themselves never merely as a means.  Lies and deception in the service of domination and economic self-interest violate the personhood of others and are therefore a form of violence.

            There are many examples of this that could be given from the ideological arsenal of the globalizers, for example, the concept of “free trade” itself is such a lie.  There is nothing free about this trade.  It is coerced from the very beginning and forced upon the majority of humankind.  It is structured for the advantage of the ruling classes of the world at the expense of everyone else.  If human beings are ever to find real freedom for themselves, it will have to include real democratic freedom for all, including sufficient economic prosperity to allow the freedom from disease, suffering, and early death (see Martin 2005b, Ch. 4).

            At the International Food Summit in 1996, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture announced that the U.S. would never accept food as a right because this would constitute an unacceptable interference with free trade (Shiva, 1997). People in the world today have no right to water, to healthcare, to sanitation, even to eat, unless some set of global corporations can profit from their basic human needs.  This denial of the right to exist outside of the control of the powerful is not an inevitable or “natural” development of trade; it is a planned and coerced construction of the global economic system for the benefit of the few. 

            Under WTO rules, corporations can now sue governments if laws enacted by those governments restrict their “free trade,” cutting into their profit margins.   The only forces capable of controlling the rapacity and destructive power of corporations, governments with enforceable laws, are now superseded and capable of being attacked by the very forces that only government can control.  Civilization has undergone centuries of political struggle by citizens longing for freedom in order to create the principles of democracy in which governments are responsible to their citizens and laws are required to be made for the common good of all.  All this is today being wiped away by the economic elite of the world and their agents in the imperial nation-states.  The destruction of democracy and the authority of government to control the domination and exploitation of the wealthy classes could not have taken place except through violence, precisely because democracy is the essence of non-violent and non-coercive decision making for society. 

             But the violence thus imposed upon the world has been significantly the violence of deception.  Let us take one more example of the spiritual violence of lies and deception by which this dynamic of structural violence continues in today’s world. Vandana Shiva describes the development of the concept of the “production boundary” that defines productivity according to WTO rules in today’s globalized economy (1997b).  The production boundary is an arbitrary definition created to define growth and trade between nations.  It was decided that if people consume what they produce, then they are not producing.  Only what is produced and traded on the global market is defined as production and entered into the economic calculations that measure economic growth.  This decision is obviously wildly stipulative, but it is not arbitrary.  Its intent is very clear.

            With this definition, the hard productive work to survive and live of most of humanity simply disappears: all the subsistence farming and production that goes on throughout the third world, all the work of women inside the home, all the care-giving and sharing that defines and honors the humanity of the poor majority is counted at nothing (Shiva, 1997b).   In other words, what makes us human, our cooperation and hard work to give care to one another within our families, communities, and nations, is counted as zero in the institutionalized violence that is globalized trade.   It all simply disappears with intellectual lies and ideological distortions such as this concept of the production boundary.  Not only do such lies constitute a vicious spiritual violence against our humanity, their institutional consequences in the form of suffering, death, and disease are immeasurable.

            When the poor are hurt by globalized trade policies or by structural adjustment programs, they often rebel.  Their rebellion may take the form of trying to democratically elect or create programs that counter these imposed economic policies, or they may take the form of guerrilla warfare in an attempt to take control of their societies from the imperial forces of domination, or they may engage in acts of social or political violence, often called terrorism.  Such rebellion is an obvious and expected consequence of economic globalization. This expected consequence of the system of planetary exploitation has led the imperial powers to redefine the role of governments to adapt to the new neocolonial imperial system.  Governments no longer protect their people and act for the defense of their people and the common good.  In fact, as we saw, this power is being taken away from them since corporations now have the right to sue governments that restrict their economic exploitation within host nations.  

            Governments are now being redefined as security forces for multinational investors.  Their responsibility is no longer to consider their citizens’ basic needs, nor to provide essential services or utilities, nor to foster the common good.  All these functions are now placed in the hands of multinational corporate investors.  Rather, these governments are now to be solely concerned with their police and enforcement functions. Their military and police are being trained by first world imperial military forces to put down internal rebellion and subversion and to protect foreign economic assets within the host nations.   As political analyst Michael Parenti puts this: “Since World War II, the U.S. government has given over $200 billion in military aid to train, equip, and subsidize more than 2.3 million troops and internal security forces in some eighty countries, the purpose being not to defend them from outside invasions but to protect ruling oligarchs and multinational corporate investors from the dangers of anticapitalist insurgency” (1995, 37).

            The imposition and protection of this global system of exploitation and death goes far beyond mere training and funding for police repression of the poor worldwide.  Every empire in history has used massive systematic terror inflicted on dominated peoples to appropriate their land, labor, and resources.  The U.S. led global empire of today is no different.  The proper definition of the overwhelming quantity of violence to which the poor of the world have been subjected is “state terrorism.”  Compared to state terror, the private terror of weak and marginalized groups is a drop in the bucket.  It is not a major problem in the world.  The major world problem is global structural violence protected and enhanced by massive nation-state violence.  Michael Parenti writes:

 

            U.S. leaders profess a dedication to democracy.  Yet over the past five decades, democratically elected reformist governments in Guatemala, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Syria, Indonesia (under Sukarno), Greece, Argentina, Bolivia, Haiti, and numerous other nations were overthrown by pro-capitalist militaries that were funded and aided by the U.S. national security state.

                The U.S. national security state has participated in covert actions or proxy mercenary wars against revolutionary governments in Cuba, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Portugal, Nicaragua, Cambodia, East Timor, Western Sahara, and elsewhere, usually with dreadful devastation and loss of life for the indigenous populations.  Hostile actions also have been directed against reformist governments in Egypt, Lebanon, Peru, Iran, Syria, Zaire, Jamaica, South Yemen, the Fiji Islands, and elsewhere.

                Since World War II, U.S. forces have directly invaded or launched aerial attacks against Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Libya, Iraq, and Somalia, sowing varying degrees of death and destruction.  (Ibid. 38)

 

            In Vietnam alone, the U.S. genocidally wiped out the civilian population through massive saturation bombing of their villages and cities, causing the deaths of three to four million persons.  Private terrorism is a blip on the screen compared to the massive state terrorism of our world disorder led by the United States.   This is not an accident.  Vietnam was not a “tragic mistake” as the propaganda system would have us believe.  It was part of the dynamic of global imperial domination in the service of capital exploitation of the cheap labor and resources of the entire world.  No where on Earth is safe from attack if the people of some small nation want to take their economic destiny into their own hands.  The U.S. invasion of the tiny island of Granada under President Regan was not about nutmeg, as President Regan himself proclaimed.  The economy of that country had zero significance for the U.S. economy.  But the invasion was a message to every Caribbean and Latin American nation that if you try to control your own resources in the interest of your own people this is the kind of terror you are inviting upon yourselves.

            The invasion of Iraq and utter devastation of their society and destruction of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives was not only about oil.  It was also about geopolitical control of the Middle East, indicated by the building of four gigantic, permanent U.S. military bases on Iraqi soil.  There is no intention of ever leaving Iraq, and the Democrats in Congress, that majority who are representatives of the ruling class, know this very well.  Yet there was still another purpose to the terrorist destruction of the Iraqi society and its people: the military “shock and awe” devastation of that country in a matter of days was intended as a public demonstration of the U.S. capacity for state terror.  It was intended to send a message to the entire world that if you oppose the empire of the United States you will be subjected to your own total destruction through a similar “shock and awe” inflicted by the superpower.  This is the very definition of terrorism: the use of violence for political or social purposes.  Every imperial nation in history has used massive violence to achieve its political and social goals.

            The third form of violence in today’s world involves the development, production, and deployment of weapons of mass destruction, primarily nuclear weapons.   Nuclear weapons have no military use and have been declared illegal by the World Court in 1996 and repeatedly in sessions of the Provisional World Parliament from 1982 to the present (found at www.radford.edu/~gmartin).  The utter nihilistic violence indicated by the very existence of weapons of total destruction underlies the intrinsic violence of our world disorder.   Since none of these weapons have any legitimate military value (assuming for the moment that there can be legitimate military action), and since they are intended for nihilistic destruction of entire cities and populations (here incarnated in a human-made machine form) these doomsday weapons are violence pure and simple: nihilistic, absurd, and absolutely criminal violence. These weapons could not exist at all if there were even the slightest respect for human beings or for God. 

            They exist because there is no such respect, as evidenced in the structural violence imposed upon the Earth’s majority by the few who also develop these hideous weapons.   Like the hatred of life and human beings evidenced in the system of structural violence and state terrorism in the service of structural violence, these nuclear weapons evidence the ultimate demonic hatred of God’s creation and human life.  Whether they are used or not is not relevant to this point.  The deep violence of today’s world disorder is a violence permeated by the nihilistic criminality of all the nuclear weapons possessing nation-states.

            But this value nihilism is merely the final result of the negation of our humanity by the imperative of capital accumulation.  When all human values are negated – love, kindness, cooperation, sharing,  the value of people as ends in themselves – by an economic system that turns people into commodities whose labor is exploited in the service of capital expansion, and by the military might of nation-states who place themselves in the service of capital accumulation by their respective ruling classes – then all values eventually appear to be relative and the result is nihilism on the part of the ruling classes.  As political economist Istvan Meszaros expresses this:

 

From capital’s uncritical self-expansionary vantage point there can be no difference between destruction and consumption.  One is as good as the other for the required purpose.  This is so because the commercial transaction in the capital relation – even of the most destructive kind, embodied in the ware of the military/industrial complex and the use to which it is put in its inhuman wars – successfully completes the cycle of capital’s enlarged self-reproduction, so as to be able to open a new cycle.  This is the only thing that really matters to capital, no matter how unsustainable might be the consequences.  (2007, 26)

 

The inhuman construction of weapons of mass destruction, like the endless manufacture of bombs and others weapons and their use in wars for control of the wealth producing process, count, in the twisted economic calculations of capitalism, as economic health.  The result is value nihilism with its concomitant systems of violence and death.

 

3.  The fourth form of violence: religiously motivated violence

 

            In theologian Paul Tillich’s analysis, all people are religious (1987, Ch. 2).  That is, all people attempt to deal with the anxiety of finitude and pending death by grasping for a meaning in life though faith in something larger than themselves (1957, Ch. 1).  For Tillich, this grasp of a lebenswelt, a life-world, defines our very identity as persons.  Tillich’s analysis is useful for our purposes because it allows us to contrast the nonviolence of authentic religion with idolatry of all forms: the worship of power, the nation-state, wealth, one’s ethnic group, or one’s religious sect.   In Tillich’s analysis, to invest faith in something finite and limited is to court the disaster of idolatry, for the finite will always fail (1957, Ch. 3).  All forms of religious fundamentalism fall prey to this.  Yet faith in the nation, wealth, or power also attempts to escape the courage and doubt of authentic faith through the substitution of some worldly, finite institution in which one can invest one’s life.  The dominators of the world clearly do this, manifesting a hatred of human beings and life that borders on the demonic.

              The infinite, as the object of authentic religion, transcends the opposition between subject and object found on the finite level and hence encompasses all beings in its love.  Love is the power of being to sustain and redeem, the power to integrate and unite what is separated (1987, Ch. 16).   Faith in a finite idol such as wealth or power places one in opposition, deep existential opposition, to those of different idolatries, clinging to different finite gods.  It also places one in deep opposition to the loving power of being itself.  Hence, its demonic quality. This is what is happening all around us today, not only in what is called religious political violence but also in the idolatrous violence of economic imperialism and globalization.

            When people feel insecure and threatened, or when they feel damaged or violated, they regress to ever-more virulent forms of idolatry.  They bond in group solidarities to defend their identity, their culture, their lives, and their life-meanings.  Religious sectarian identities (Shiite versus Sunni), national identities (Iraqi or Iranian), religious resistance identities (Al-Qaeda), or  fundamentalist group identities (Taliban) are all instances of this phenomenon.  Christian groupings show the same range of solidarities and identities.  When I was a guest of Libya last April, at the 20th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Libya in 1986, one Libyan official recited in his speech the atrocities committed by the U.S. against the Palestinians, the Afghans, the Iraqis, the Libyans and others and then shouted at the audience: “This is war! This is total war for our very survival!”

            His point is easily understandable.  Threatened and violated people instinctively stand together against their violators and cling ever-more tenaciously to their collective identities, in this case their identity as Arabs, as Libyans, and as Moslems.  During the 1980s, the CIA callously used this instinctive tendency to arm and religiously motivate the Taliban in Afghanistan to fight with terrorist and guerrilla tactics against the Soviet army that had invaded their country.  The strategy, of course, invited blowback, as all such evil and violent strategies do.  Once the Soviets had been driven out of Afghanistan, the Taliban turned its attention to the other “Great Satan” of the world.

            What we call “terrorists” are often weak, oppressed, and angry groups who construct improvised bombs and attempt to set these off clandestinely or suicidally.  A terrorist, therefore, is someone with a bomb but not an air force to deliver it.  Those who have tens of thousands of more destructive bombs and sophisticated aircraft to deliver them are not labeled terrorists.  The latter activity is innocuously called “self-defense.”  Again, we see that lies are integral to the deep violence of our world order.  Social Scientist James Petras describes the increase in Islamic religious violence as follows:

 

            In the minds of the chaos, violence, dislocation, pillage, and occupation of a country, a whole people are adversely affected.  As they reach out to respond, to protest, to survive, they seek protest movements and institutions that have some resources, a modicum of power.  In the past there were powerful nationalist, socialist, and communist parties, dynamic trade unions and peasant movements.  In a few countries these are still active and a force to be reckoned with.  In many regions, however, they have been decimated by US client regimes, local secular or “religious” dictators, and by the disintegration of the Communist parties.  Under harsh conditions requiring clandestine activity and mass support, many secular activists have joined politically-oriented religious movements, which embrace anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, and social welfare programs.  The catalyst for secular “conversion” to Muslim-inspired movements is politics, not religion.  (2006, 150-151)

 

            In 1986, the nations of the world through the U.N. General Assembly attempted to come together cooperatively to fight terrorism.  They wanted to develop “measures to prevent international terrorism, to study the underlying political and economic causes of terrorism, to convene a conference to define terrorism and to differentiate it from the struggle of people for national liberation.”  The vote in the General Assembly was 153 for this effort (unanimous), and 2 against it (the U.S. and Israel) (Blum, 197).  Naturally, it was vetoed by the U.S. in the Security Counsel and did not happen.  The reasons the U.S. is against real measures to prevent international terrorism and differentiate it from the struggle of people for national liberation are twofold and quite obvious to impartial observers.  With the fall of the illusory threat of Communism, the U.S. needs a new implacable universal enemy as an ideological cover for its wars of imperial domination.  Second, to distinguish terrorism from authentic struggles for liberation would expose the U.S. global support for the violence of domination and exploitation, and much of what is now called terrorism would be seen as legitimate resistance to the violence of empire.

            Nevertheless, my fourth category of violence, violence stemming from fragmentation of the human community and the idolatry of finite identities or forces, encompasses not only what is today called religious violence but the three previous forms of violence, discussed above, as well.  If Tillich’s analysis has cogency, then not only is religious violence a form of idolatry but the dogmas of capital accumulation and imperial expansionism are forms of idolatry. Philosopher Enrique Dussel in his book, Ethics and Community (1988) defines the contemporary hegemony of empire in service dogma of capital accumulation as a supreme idolatry, demonic in quality, violating the integrity of persons and attempting, like the devil himself, to replace God with its own glory and eternity.

            It should be clear that an analysis of violence in terms of the dynamics of idolatrous religion is inadequate unless it is supplemented by a systems analysis and a class analysis (Ibid., see Miranda, 1986). The system of capitalism, the system of class exploitation, and the system of nation-states are integral to the immense deep-violence of today’s world disorder.  All three of these involve institutionalized and intentional fragmentation of the human community and the consequent violence that this fragmentation entails.   From the point of view of authentic religion, one could say that these phenomena are not only idolatry but the demonic rebellion against God pure and simple: the ultimate godlessness of base violence, exploitation, and dehumanization of the majority of humankind by the few.  Religiously inspired terrorist and guerrilla violence are primarily reactions to the exploitation and domination of a godless and demonic world disorder.

 

4. A nonviolent political and economic order for Earth

 

            A nonviolent order for the Earth cannot be premised on the system of sovereign nation-states. A nonviolent order for the Earth must be one based on the movement within historical time to ever-fuller awareness and understanding of our human situation.  There are 193 sovereign nation-states at present all competing with one another economically, politically, and militarily.  In this anarchic condition, the big fish will dominate and devoir the little fish.  Violence is intrinsic to this system.   Similarly, violence is intrinsic to the globalized economic system of monopoly capitalism.  You cannot create gigantic institutions like multinational corporations whose sole motive is profit for their investors and expect any form of justice, wide prosperity, environmental integrity, or democratic governance to be the result.   As American philosopher John Dewey insisted, the democratic ideal cannot be realized under capitalism, which always places an oligarchy of the rich into effective power.  Democracy can only be realized under some form of democratic socialism (1993, 148-152).

            A nonviolent order for the Earth can only be brought about through nonmilitary democratic world government under a system such as that articulated in A Constitution for the Federation of Earth (Martin, 2005b, Ch. 5). The nation-state system is intrinsically a war system, and monopoly capitalism is intrinsically a system of structural violence and dehumanization.   The Constitution for the Federation of Earth establishes the unity in diversity that we have seen as fundamental to authentic religion.  It does not establish religion, but the political and economic unity of humankind to the point where authentic religion can begin to flourish unimpeded.

This general idea was also affirmed by Mahatma Gandhi who envisioned a world federation premised socialist equality and freedom for all people.  AThe structure of a world federation,@ Gandhi wrote, Acan be raised only on a foundation of non-violence, and violence will have to be given up totally in world affairs@ (1987, 460).  “If there were no greed,” he said, “there would be no occasion for armaments.  The principle of nonviolence necessitates complete abstention from exploitation in any form” (1958, 112).  “I would not like to live in this world,” Gandhi stated, “if it is not to be one world” (1958, 112).

            Today, we have seen, the system of imperial nation-states promoting and violently protecting the system of global monopoly capitalism, activates in their victims worldwide a hardening of identities as forms of resistance to the anxiety and threat of violation and destruction.  People cling to fundamentalist religious identities for the very survival of who they believe they are as Moslems, Jews, Christians, Kurds, Palestinians, Iranians, Tamils, Serbs, or Bosnians.  The establishment of political and economic unity in diversity would go a long way to relax this instinctive process of hardening identities and promote the universality in uniqueness that is the dual glory of every human being.  We are all human beings who owe one another respect and nonviolence.  Precisely because we are all one, our individual integrity must be respected.  But this principle cannot be realized on Earth unless it is institutionalized in a planetary political and economic form.

            The Earth Constitution establishes itself firmly on the principle of unity in diversity.  All persons are united under the unity of one Earth Federation that represents not only their individual interests but the common interests of all people.  Their unity, interdependency, and interconnection is structurally affirmed.  But the Constitution also protects their individual identities as persons and as communities.  It establishes the Earth as a federation in which the units of the federation govern themselves in conformity with the universal protection of human rights guaranteed by Articles 12 and 13 of the Constitution.  Diversity is affirmed and protected precisely because it is not fragmentation but rather embraced within the larger unity of a world order affirming the equal validity and oneness of all persons on Earth.

            The only way to institutionalize nonviolence is through authentic democracy that embraces all in a unity (of rights and responsibilities) while providing procedures for decision making for social and political change that abjure violence.  Gandhi said the same thing, and that is why he was a democratic socialist who understood that there can be no democracy, when, as he put it, “the few ride on the backs of the millions” (1958, 115).  Neither sovereign nation-states nor global monopoly capitalism can give us authentic democracy for both ultimately defeat the liberty, equality, and freedom of all people who live upon the Earth.

            Democratic world government draws upon the crucial distinction between all forms of militarism and civilian police.  Under the Earth Constitution all militaries and weapons of war worldwide would be abolished and destroyed.  All enforcement of the law would be done by civilian police whose charge is not the destruction of a designated enemy as in the military but the apprehension and arrest of individuals suspected of violating the law, using the minimum of force necessary and with utmost care not to harm innocent bystanders. 

            The theory and practice of nonviolence is not in the final analysis simply an ad hoc technique for dealing with violence outside of the civilized relationships fostered by law under the democratic state.   Rather nonviolence is a manifestation of a planetary maturity that must permeate the political, legal, due process, and economic processes of the state.  It must be understood historically, as the growth of human beings to planetary maturity.  This growth is simultaneously spiritual, economic, social, and political.  Spiritual growth toward nonviolence is meaningless if it ignores economic, political, and social growth.

            Government can and should be converted to conscious nonviolence.  Police can be trained in substantially nonviolent techniques of apprehension and arrest, and the weapons they are allowed to use can be similarly non-lethal and non-injurious.  Courts can operate on the principle of restoring unity with the whole rather than fragmentation and violent punishment.   Government can abolish all forms of militarism and war-making capacity.  The Earth Federation will make conflict resolution for groups, nations, and individuals worldwide a fundamental initiative of its global government.

              There can be no peace without unity and there is no unity for the world without nonmilitary democratic government.  The violence of our world has its deepest roots in fragmentation: egoistic fragmentation, class fragmentation, political fragmentation, religious fragmentation, nation-state fragmentation, and economic fragmentation.  The creation of political and economic unity will allow people to relax their hardened religious identities and open themselves to the influx of the spiritual dimension of life that is the real heart of religion as well as nonviolence.

            The epistemic structure of a human being, as Immanuel Kant demonstrated, involves a spontaneous synthesis of apperception in which a unique individual person confronts the universe as an integrated totality of mutually related parts (Harris, 1992, Ch. 1).  Each of us encounters the world through a structure of unity in diversity.  Twentieth-century science has revealed the dynamic evolving unity in diversity of the entire cosmos.  From the initial conditions of the big bang, from the micro to the macro levels, the universe is a differentiated unity specifying itself in ever-higher levels of complexification up to human self-consciousness and the construction of integrated systems of human knowledge (Ibid.).   The historical development of science confirms that every level the universe is a dynamic confluence of unity in diversity. 

            Yet human history on planet Earth has mirrored neither the structure of human intelligence as unity in diversity nor the structure of the evolving cosmos that is a series of ascending levels of unity in diversity.  Human beings have remained mired in fragmentation, primarily today the fragmentation of global capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states, and massive planetary violence has been the consequence of this failure.  If we ascend to the maturity of a democratic Earth federation, we will have overcome the fragmentation of today’s world disorder that is the central root of violence.

            The overcoming of fragmentation in economic, social, religious, and political life does not result in some faceless domination of a “superstate” where diversity is sacrificed to a totalitarian unity so feared by those in today’s first world who deny their complicity in the present global system of totalitarian domination.  The result, rather, is a federation in which people participate in government on many levels, from local to regional to national to world levels.  There is no peace without the ascent to democratic world government, which will necessarily mean the overcoming of fragmentation with its concomitant violence. 

            This ascent will not automatically restore the maturity of authentic religion to humanity.  For this requires the free opening by human beings to the sources of grace and love and spirituality that flow from the foundations of the universe. But it will provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for the ascendancy of an authentic religious life for humanity.  The historical ascent to a nonviolent world order necessarily includes a complete conversion of our world system to nonviolence, as Gandhi pointed out.   Economics and political organization are just as fundamental to nonviolence as spirituality.  With the ascent to a nonviolent world order, religiously motivated violence with disappear of its own accord, since it is, most fundamentally, a result of the fragmentation of our contemporary world disorder.

Works Cited

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Gandhi, Mahatma (1958).  All Men Are Brothers – Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as Told in his Own Words.  Krishna Kripalani, ed.  UNESCO: World Without War Publications.

Gandhi, Mahatma (1966).   Socialism of My Conception.  Anand T. Hingorani, ed. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Gandhi, Mahatma (1987).  The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi.  R. K. Prabhu and U. R.Rao, eds. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House.

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

Kant, Immanuel (1964).  Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals.  H. J. Paton, trans.  New York: Harper & Row.

Levinas, Immanuel (1985).  Ethics and Infinity.  Richard A. Cohen, trans. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.

Mander, Jerry and Goldsmith, Edward (1996).  The Case Against the Global Economy: And for a Turn Toward the Local.  San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

Martin, Glen T. (2003).  “Democratic World Government and the Thought of Mahatma Gandhi.”  Bhavan’s Journal (May 2003).  Mumbai, India.  Reprinted in World Union Quarterly (Sept. 2003).

Martin, Glen T. (2005a).  Millennium Dawn – The Philosophy of Planetary Crisis and Human Liberation.  Sun City, AZ: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

Martin, Glen T. (2005b).  World Revolution Through World Law – Basic Documents of the Emerging Earth Federation.  Sun City, AZ: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

Martin, Glen T. (2007).  Website: www.radford.edu/~gmartin.

Meszaros, Istvan (2007).  “The Only Viable Economy.”   Monthly Review, Vol. 58, No. 11, April 2007.

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Parenti, Michael (1995).  Against Empire.  San Francisco: City Lights Books.

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Shiva, Vandana (1997a).  Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge.  Boston: South End Press.

Shiva, Vandana (1997b).  “Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge.”  Speech at the University of Colorado, Boulder: 4/29/97.  Boulder CO: David Barsamian, Alternative Radio.

Smith, J.W. (2006).  Economic Democracy: A Grand Strategy for World Peace and Prosperity.  Sun City, AZ: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.

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Tillich, Paul (1987).  The Essential Tillich – An Anthology of the Writings of Paul Tillich.  F. Forrester Church, ed.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

 


 

 

Transforming the Global System

From Violent Economics in Today’s World Disorder

to Global Peace and Prosperity

(copyright 2007)

 Glen T. Martin

 Radford University

Presented at the American Monetary Institute Reform Conference

Roosevelt University, September 29, 2007

  

Abstract

             This paper describes the global system as one of structural violence imposed by a tiny ruling elite in the world who control 40% of the world’s wealth.  It describes the dynamics of the world economy under the World Trade Organization, IMF, World Bank, global capitalism, and the system of sovereign nation-states.  This entire system is one of institutionalized violence in which the imperial nations use massive state terrorism to crush opposition to the system anywhere in the world.  The paper goes on to describe the changed fundamental assumptions behind the Constitution for the Federation of Earth that will ensure a global economics of prosperity for the vast majority and a global, non-military political system that will ensure peace as well as justice for the peoples of the Earth.

 1.  Our World System of Structural Violence

            The central form of violence on our planet today involves a dynamic of structural violence that results in the impoverishment of the vast majority.  This structural violence is a historical consequence of the system of the private accumulation of wealth that has been imposed upon the world for the past several centuries.   Today, half the world — more than three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.    Nearly a billion people entered the twenty-first century unable to read a book or sign their names.  Less than one per cent of the one trillion dollars that the world spends each year on weapons could put every child on Earth into school.  The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money.  The developing world now spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants.  

            Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished.  30,000 children die each day due to poverty.  2.2 million children die each year because they have not been immunized. Some 1.3 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.  The slice of the economic pie taken by the richest 1% of the world’s people is the same size as that available to the poorest 57% of humankind.  The Gross Domestic Product of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a twenty-five percent of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined. (These global statistics are found at http://www.globalissues.org, see also Brown 2007, p. 271).

            The global south has been colonized and exploited for five centuries by the ruling classes of the global northern imperial nations with no end in sight.  Today’s system of neo-colonial domination and exploitation is no less brutal than that exercised by Spanish conquistadors or British imperial troops.  Brazilian politician Luis Ignacio Silva writes:

 

The Third World War has already started…. The war is tearing down Brazil, Latin America, and practically all the Third World.  Instead of soldiers dying, there are children.  It is a war over the Third World debt, one which has as its main weapon, interest, a weapon more deadly than the atom bomb, more shattering than a laser beam. (in Brown 2007, p. 202)

 

Christian theologian Jürgen Moltmann writes:

 

            There are political and economic structures which are unjust because they are used to enforce the domination of human beings over human beings, the exploitation of human beings by human beings, and the alienation of human beings from one another.  Within these structures, violence is practiced, not directly and personally, but indirectly, by way of laws and prices.  Through structures of this kind, violence is legitimated.  Through them, violent death is spread. Today impoverishment, debt, and exploitation spread misery, disease and epidemics, and hence premature death, among the weakest of the weak in the Third-world.  The mass death of children in Africa is just the beginning.  There, the number of people dying a violent death through structural violence is greater than the number of soldiers killed by military violence in the great world wars.  (1996, p. 95)

           

2.   The Structure of Our Present World Order

 

            The second form of violence after structural violence involves the imperial violence of nation-states working to enhance, enforce, and control the populations subjected to structural violence.  This system of sovereign nation-states was first formally recognized in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia (see Philpott, 2001).   These early imperial centers proceeded to divide the world among themselves, appropriating for themselves the cheap slave labor and resources of the majority of humankind who were organized as colonies of these imperial centers of power.  

            The imperial powers controlled this system under their ideology of sovereign nation-states and claimed imperial rights of domination over their colonies.  The imperial nations all adopted the ideology of Adam Smith “free trade” as a cover for their nationalistic competition to control the global wealth-producing process in their own interests (Smith, 2006, Chs. 1-4).  They affirmed the ideology of unlimited capital expansion (at the expense of nature and the poor) as the only possible route to development and prosperity, but simultaneously attempted to channel this process of expansion to the ruling classes of their respective nation-states.

            With decolonization (which largely took place within the twentieth century), many of these former colonies become wretched basket-cases of nations, impoverished financially, culturally, technologically, and structurally, and subject to manipulation, overthrow, destabilization, or outright domination by one or the other of their former colonial masters.  They also became subject to financial control by the World Bank and IMF.  Hundreds of millions of poor now live in these countries as in prison camps, unable to leave and utterly unable to improve their own condition – controlled economically, politically, and militarily from abroad.

               The structural violence of enforced poverty and misery is not an accident.  It is a direct consequence of the imperial conquest and exploitation of the world by the European nations and their imperial heir, the United States, from the time of Columbus to the present.  Today, despite decolonization, that system of domination and exploitation is continued in the global economic system in which the military might and political power of the imperial nations, under the leadership of the United States, globally enforces this system of structural violence and death with its military, economic, and political might.  As throughout U.S. history, this is done in the service, not of the people of the U.S., but of its ruling class and their powerful transnational corporations (Parenti, 1995).

            In her 2007 book, The Web of Debt – The Shocking Truth About Our Money System, Ellen Hodgson Brown writes concerning corporations:

 

            Corporations are feudalistic organizations designed in the structure of a pyramid, with an elite group at the top manipulating masses of workers below. Workers are kept marching in lockstep, passing received orders down from above, out of fear of losing their jobs, their homes, and their benefits if they get out of line.  At the top of the pyramid is a small group of controllers who alone know what is really going on.  Critics have noted that the pyramid with an overseeing eye at the top is also the symbol on the Federal Reserve Note, the privately issued currency that became the national monetary unit in 1913.  (p. 104)

 

            Brown correctly describes the twisted logic of the corporation that has become a legal monster devouring our world, just as has the international banking cartel that creates most of the world’s money in the form of private debt.  A recent documentary film, entitled The Corporation (2005), describes the legally created characteristics of these monstrosities solely devoted to the accumulation of private wealth at the expense of people and the environment as clinically insane.         

           A corporation is a “legal person” with all the freedoms and rights of persons, except that it is legally and institutionally bound to maximize profits for its investors regardless of the consequences to the environment or other persons.  Hence, as a legal person, it also exhibits all the characteristics of a psychopath: reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of others, chronic lying and deceiving of others in the service of its own advantage, inability to experience guilt or remorse, and failure to conform to social norms or obedience to the law.

            Most fundamentally there are three features of our world order that are inherently undemocratic and destructive of the common good of the peoples of Earth: (1) the system of “sovereign” nation-states unaccountable to any law above themselves, (2) the system of transnational corporations unaccountable to the rule of law or the common good of the Earth, and (3) the system of private banking that supplies the world with money in the form of interest-bearing debt, making the world dependent on the control of these private banking cartels.

 

3.  World Trade, International Banking, and the Coming Global Totalitarianism

 

            The world continues to move toward conditions of global totalitarianism under the control of the gigantic transnational corporations and financial institutions protected and promoted by the military might of the first world and the economic might of the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and IMF.    The Director-General of the World Trade Organization in the 1980s wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that began with the sentence “Globalization is a reality of our time.”  This globalization, as Vandana Shiva has pointed out, is a prescription for the dispossession of 80% of the planet’s population (1997b, see Shiva 1997a).  This “reality of our time” is not an accident, any more than the colonial exploitation and impoverishment of the majority of humankind was an accident, any more than centuries of slavery and violence against peoples of color were an accident.  It is a carefully planned and constructed process of the most powerful economic and political forces in the world to convert the economies of the world to serve their own interests.

            The rules of world trade require of nations (under the threat of severe economic penalties) to export and import the goods needed for their survival.  The engines of globalization imposed by the World Bank and the IMF impose structural adjustment programs on economically weak nations, forcing them to open up to the exploitation by the transnational corporations and to convert from subsistence, self-sufficient forms of production, to dependence on international markets and the dominant transnational corporations.  These principles, like powerful new rules of world intellectual property rights, were worked out in secret meetings between the giant corporations and the ruling elites of the most powerful nation-states and then imposed upon the rest of the approximately 120 nations within the WTO at the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that took place between 1986 and 1995.   Both structural adjustment programs and the rules of world trade formulated for the WTO were coercive instruments forced upon the poor of the world by its ruling elites.

            At the International Food Summit in 1996, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture announced that the U.S. would never accept food as a right because this would constitute an unacceptable interference with free trade (Shiva, 1997). People in the world today have no right to water, to healthcare, to sanitation, even to eat, unless some set of global corporations can profit from their basic human needs.  This denial of the right to exist outside of the control of the powerful is not an inevitable or “natural” development of trade; it is a planned and coerced construction of the global economic system for the benefit of the few. 

            Under WTO rules, corporations can now sue governments if laws enacted by those governments restrict their “free trade,” cutting into their profit margins.   The only forces capable of controlling the rapacity and destructive power of corporations, governments with enforceable laws, are now superseded and capable of being attacked by the very forces that only government can control.  Civilization has undergone centuries of political struggle by citizens longing for freedom in order to create the principles of democracy in which governments are responsible to their citizens and laws are required to be made for the common good of all.  All this is today being wiped away by the economic elite of the world and their agents in the imperial nation-states.  The destruction of democracy and the authority of government to control the domination and exploitation of the wealthy classes could not have taken place except through violence, precisely because democracy itself is the quintessential form of non-violent and non-coercive decision making for society. 

            The world system today is dominated by international banking and corporate cartels whose aim, in the words of Dr. Carroll Quigley, President Bill Clinton’s mentor, is “nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole” (in Brown 2007, p. 2).   In When  Corporations Rule the World, American economist David C. Korten writes:

 

These forces have transformed once-beneficial corporations and financial institutions into instruments of a market tyranny that reaches across the planet like a cancer, colonizing ever more of the planet’s living spaces, destroying livelihoods, displacing people, rendering democratic institutions impotent, and feeding on life in an insatiable quest for money.  (2001, p. 22)

 

Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky writes that:

 

This manipulation of market forces by powerful actors constitutes a form of financial and economic warfare.  No need to re-colonize lost territory or send in invading armies.  In the later twentieth century, the outright “conquest of nations,” meaning the control over productive assets, labor, and natural resources and institutions, can be carried out in an impersonal fashion from the corporate boardroom.  (in Brown 2007, p. 255)

 

Nathan Rothschild, head of the Rothschild banking cartel in the nineteenth century, wrote:

 

I care not what puppet is placed upon the throne of England to rule the Empire on which the sun never sets.  The man who controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply. (Ibid. p. 65)

 

The global elite of the world comprise only one percent of the world’s population but control 40% of the world’s wealth.  Global banking in the hands of unaccountable private interests, like transnational corporations in these same hands, translates into slavery for the rest of the world and destruction of our planetary home that should be the inheritance of future generations.  Today, no power on Earth can control the ever-further concentration of the wealth of the world in to ever-fewer private hands.

 

4.  The U.S. Empire Enforced with Massive Military Violence

 

            When the poor are hurt by globalized trade policies or by structural adjustment programs, they often rebel.  Their rebellion may take the form of trying to democratically elect or create programs that counter these imposed economic policies, or they may take the form of guerrilla warfare in an attempt to take control of their societies from the imperial forces of domination, or they may engage in acts of social or political violence.  Such acts of rebellion are often called “terrorism” by the propaganda outlets called “news networks” owned by these same dominant elites (Chomsky and Herman 2002). Such rebellion is an obvious and expected consequence of economic globalization. This expected consequence of the system of planetary exploitation has led the imperial powers to redefine the role of governments to adapt to the new neocolonial imperial system.  Governments no longer protect their people and act for the defense of their people and the common good.  In fact, as we saw, this power is being taken away from them since corporations now have the right to sue governments that restrict their economic exploitation within host nations.  

            Governments are now being redefined as security forces for multinational investors.  Their responsibility is no longer to consider their citizens’ basic needs, nor to provide essential services or utilities, nor to foster the common good.  All these functions are now placed in the hands of multinational corporate investors.  Rather, these governments are now to be solely concerned with their police and enforcement functions. Their military and police are being trained by first world imperial military forces to put down internal rebellion and subversion and to protect foreign economic assets within the host nations.   

            As political analyst Michael Parenti puts this: “Since World War II, the U.S. government has given over $200 billion in military aid to train, equip, and subsidize more than 2.3 million troops and internal security forces in some eighty countries, the purpose being not to defend them from outside invasions but to protect ruling oligarchs and multinational corporate investors from the dangers of anticapitalist insurgency” (1995, 37).  Thousands of concerned citizens have been working for 17 years to close the U.S. Army “School of the Americas” at Fort Benning, GA, which trains Latin American military in torture, murder, blackmail and other forms of “counter-insurgency warfare” (www.soawatch.org).  It is not an accident that they have been unable to convince the U.S. Congress to close this school.  The school is essential to the corporate interests that most members of Congress represent.

            The imposition and protection of this global system of exploitation and death goes far beyond mere training and funding for police repression of the poor worldwide.  Every empire in history has used massive systematic terror inflicted on dominated peoples to appropriate their land, labor, and resources.  The U.S. led global empire of today is no different.  The proper definition of the overwhelming quantity of violence to which the poor of the world have been subjected is “state terrorism.”  Compared to state terror, the private terror of weak and marginalized groups is a drop in the bucket.  It is not a major problem in the world.  The major world problem is global structural violence protected and enhanced by massive nation-state violence.  Michael Parenti writes:

 

            U.S. leaders profess a dedication to democracy.  Yet over the past five decades, democratically elected reformist governments in Guatemala, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Syria, Indonesia (under Sukarno), Greece, Argentina, Bolivia, Haiti, and numerous other nations were overthrown by pro-capitalist militaries that were funded and aided by the U.S. national security state.

            The U.S. national security state has participated in covert actions or proxy mercenary wars against revolutionary governments in Cuba, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Portugal, Nicaragua, Cambodia, East Timor, Western Sahara, and elsewhere, usually with dreadful devastation and loss of life for the indigenous populations.  Hostile actions also have been directed against reformist governments in Egypt, Lebanon, Peru, Iran, Syria, Zaire, Jamaica, South Yemen, the Fiji Islands, and elsewhere.

            Since World War II, U.S. forces have directly invaded or launched aerial attacks against Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Libya, Iraq, and Somalia, sowing varying degrees of death and destruction.  (Ibid. 38)

 

            In Vietnam alone, the U.S. genocidally wiped out the civilian population through massive saturation bombing of their villages and cities, causing the deaths of three to four million persons.  Private terrorism is a blip on the screen compared to the massive state terrorism of our world disorder led by the United States (Herman 1982).   This is not an accident.  Vietnam was not a “tragic mistake” as the propaganda system would have us believe.  It was part of the dynamic of global imperial domination in the service of capital exploitation of the cheap labor and resources of the entire world (Chomsky 1993).  No where on Earth is safe from attack if the people of some small nation want to take their economic destiny into their own hands. 

            The invasion of Iraq and utter devastation of their society and destruction of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives was not only about oil.  It was also about geopolitical control of the Middle East, indicated by the building of four gigantic, permanent U.S. military bases on Iraqi soil, and about the fact that Iraq had begun converting its oil trade from U.S. dollars to Euros.  Iran, the next country to be attacked and devastated by the United States, announced in March 2006 that it was converting its petro-dollars to Euros.

            There is no intention of ever leaving Iraq, and the Democrats in Congress, that majority who are representatives of the ruling class, know this very well.  Yet there was still another purpose to the terrorist destruction of the Iraqi society and its people: the military “shock and awe” devastation of that country in a matter of days was intended as a public demonstration of the U.S. capacity for state terror.  It was intended to send a message to the entire world that if you oppose the empire of the United States you will be subjected to your own total destruction through a similar “shock and awe” inflicted by the superpower (Johnson 2004).  This is the very definition of terrorism: the use of violence for political or social purposes.  Every imperial nation in history has used massive state terrorism to achieve its political and social goals (Smith 2006a).

 

5.  Authentic Democracy Requires Global Market Socialism Under a Democratic World Parliament

 

            This value nihilism is merely the final result of the negation of our humanity by the imperative of capital accumulation.  When all human values are negated – love, kindness, cooperation, sharing, the value of people as ends in themselves – by an economic system that turns people into commodities whose labor is exploited in the service of capital expansion, and by the military might of nation-states who place themselves in the service of capital accumulation by their respective ruling classes – then all values eventually appear to be relative and the result is nihilism on the part of the ruling classes.  As political economist Istvan Meszaros expresses this:

 

From capital’s uncritical self-expansionary vantage point there can be no difference between destruction and consumption.  One is as good as the other for the required purpose.  This is so because the commercial transaction in the capital relation – even of the most destructive kind, embodied in the ware of the military/industrial complex and the use to which it is put in its inhuman wars – successfully completes the cycle of capital’s enlarged self-reproduction, so as to be able to open a new cycle.  This is the only thing that really matters to capital, no matter how unsustainable might be the consequences.  (2007, 26)

 

The inhuman construction of weapons of mass destruction, like the endless manufacture of bombs and others weapons and their use in wars for control of the wealth producing process, count, in the twisted economic calculations of capitalism, as economic health.  The result is value nihilism with its concomitant systems of violence and death.

            The system of monopoly capitalism, the system of class exploitation, the system of international banking, and the system of nation-states are all integral to the immense deep-violence of today’s world disorder.  All four of these involve institutionalized and intentional fragmentation of the human community and the consequent violence that this fragmentation entails.   All three violate the fundamental principles of democracy in which every person has a right to equality, liberty, and community with every other.  The rights of human beings, as expressed, for example, in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are incapable of being realized under these institutions.  Capitalism destroys the possibility of social and economic systems predicated on human dignity and morality.  In his book The Meaning of Socialism, philosopher Michael Luntley writes:

 

            Socialism is not a moral theory which offers a particular version of the good life, instead it is a theory about how the good life is possible.  It is, in short, a theory about the conditions necessary for creating a society in which our lives are shaped by moral values – we defer to the authority of the good – rather than a society in which our moral traditions have been erased by forces inimical to the moral life.  And part of this theory about the conditions necessary for the good life provides the leading critical aspect of socialism.  That part is the claim that it is capitalism which has been largely responsible for the destructions of the conditions necessary for the good life.  (1990, p. 15)

 

            Authentic Democracy means a society predicated on the moral values of human dignity, freedom, and respect for persons.  Authentic democracy therefore requires democratic, market socialism.  If democracy means a commonwealth that is run in the interests of the common good, or the interests of the vast majority of its citizens, then the central monopolies that make possible the common good must be in the democratic hands of the people.  These include water, major utilities, major transportation systems, major communications systems, and the banking system (Martin 2005a, Chs 7-9). 

             Since we have seen that control of the money system is fundamental to democracy and the common good, there is no compelling reason for private banking at all (Smith 2006b).  All banks must be democratically controlled public banks.  The idea of real democracy in America in which the people of the nation through their government controlled their monetary system was called by nineteenth-century Senator Henry Clay as system of “cooperative abundance” versus the British system of “competitive greed” (Brown 2007, p. 57; Blain 2004). 

            Cooperative abundance is exactly what democratic market socialism is all about.  As American philosopher John Dewey insisted, the democratic ideal cannot be realized under capitalism, which always places an oligarchy of the rich into effective power.  Democracy can only be realized under some form of democratic socialism (1993, 148-152).

            In the globalized twenty-first century, however, effective democratic socialism must necessarily take the form of planetary democratic socialism under a global civil Earth Federation. If democracy means that the inalienable rights and dignity of every person is respected by government and the rule of law, then democracy must transcend the system of sovereign nation-states, which is intrinsically a war system predicated on a national secrecy and espionage systems that are the antithesis of democracy. 

             The rule of democratically legislated laws predicated on the equality, liberty and community comprises the most fundamental principle of democracy.  Nation-states demand that their citizens respect the rule of law.  But they refuse themselves to submit to the rule of law in their foreign policy, claiming to be “sovereign” and recognizing no superior authority beyond themselves. 

            Ellen Hodgson Brown’s suggestion that we return “sovereignty” to the nations through their legislating for themselves debt-free “sovereign money” or “sovereign credit” (2007, p. 265) is unrealistic and unworkable.  It will not by itself eliminate war, militarism, population explosion, global poverty, resource depletion, or climate collapse.  For the competitive system of lawless “sovereign nation-states” that would continue would inevitably be unable to deal with these global crises that transcend the boundaries of all nations and require effective planetary planning and enforceable global law for their solutions.

 

6.  The Constitution for the Federation of Earth 

 

            Our world disorder is predicated on absolute fragmentation in which 193 “sovereign” nations each does whatever it likes without regard to any global rule of law, for there is none.  Only under a Constitution for the Federation of Earth, in which each nation receives its rightful place as an equal member of the Earth Federation under the rule of enforceable non-military democratic world law, can there ever be both peace and prosperity on the Earth (Martin 2005b).  This arrangement takes away the power of imperialism from the nations, disarms them, and makes them cooperating units within a whole that is predicated on equality, liberty, community, and the protection of human rights, very much like the coexistence of the states within the United States today.

            The rule of enforceable democratic law in the world makes possible the restoration of democracy within each nation-state for it (1) ends the chaos of militarism in all nations which destroys democracy, (2) deals effectively with global crises beyond the capacity of nation states such as climate-collapse, exhaustion of natural resources, world population expansion, and militarism, (3) nationalizes the key resources, transportation, and communications systems of the world to the point where private wealth can no longer interfere with the common good of humankind.  Finally, and most fundamentally, the Earth Constitution (4) nationalizes the global monetary system and converts it to a debt free system of money creation and government-issued credit.  Government is taken out of a system of indebtedness to private banking cartels and placed, for the first time in history, in a position to regulate these cartels for the common good.

            Today, transnational corporations, like the transnational financial institutions, operate beyond the control of any nation-state, even the United States.  They amass their hedge-funds and other assets in the Cayman Islands or other off-shore havens, avoiding not only taxes but national legislation that might control their activities in the interest of the common good.  Like the nation-states themselves that refuse to recognize any law above themselves, the transnational corporations and financial institutions write their own rules of world trade and financial interactions.   A global totalitarian order arises beyond the ability of sovereign nations to control.

            The Constitution for the Federation of Earth was developed and ratified by thousands of world citizens in four international constituent assemblies held between 1968 and 1991.  The collective wisdom of these world citizens has given us one of the most important and legitimate public documents that we possess today on this planet. The eloquent Preamble to the Constitution reminds one of Thomas Jefferson’s visionary writings and of his statement that constitutions are not to be written in stone for all time but are to be enlarged and transcended to suit the times.  Today, we must enlarge our conception of what is necessary for the democratic rule of law to the planetary level.  Anything less remains preliminary and inadequate.

            Article 1 of the Earth Constitution specifies the “Broad Functions of the World Government.”   These six broad functions form the central responsibilities of the Earth Federation and are the central justification for its creation: (1) To prevent war and secure disarmament, (2) To protect universal human rights, including life, liberty, security, and democracy, (3) To obtain equitable economic and social development for all peoples on Earth, (4) To regulate world trade, communications, transportation, currency, standards, and use of resources, (5) To protect the global environment and the ecological fabric of life, and (6) To devise solutions to all problems beyond the capacity of national governments. 

            Each of these articles addresses a global crisis that is clearly “beyond the capacity of national governments”: (1) the problem of global militarism and wars, (2) the problem of nearly universal human rights violations, (3) the problem of global poverty and misery, (4) the problem of inequitable trade, uses of resources, etc., (5) the problem of a collapsing planetary ecosystem, and (6) the problem of no planetary authority capable of protecting the people of Earth and planning for the future.

            The Earth Constitution creates a democratic world commonwealth directed to the common good of humanity and future generations.  It is non-military by law (Article 2) and democratic at every level, leaving economic and political self-determination to the nations insofar as these conform to universal human rights and world law (Article 14).  Hence, the three non-democratic sources of the deep violence of today’s world outlined in this paper: sovereign nation-states, transnational corporations, and global banking cartels are brought under the democratic control of the people of Earth through enforceable world law.  All nations joining the Earth Federation must demilitarize.  All transnational corporations are regulated by the World Parliament.  And global banking is nationalized.  The Earth Federation now issues debt-free, interest-free money for the democratic welfare of the people of Earth.

            Article 4 of the Earth Constitution, entitled “Grant of Specific Powers to World Government,” item number 17, reads: “Establish and Operate world financial, banking, credit and insurance institutions designed to serve human needs; establish, issue and regulate world currency, credit and exchange.”  To do this effectively, Article 8 of the Constitution establishes the “World Financial Administration.”  Section G. 1. F. reads:

 

Pursuant to specific legislation enacted by the World Parliament, and in conjunction with the Planetary Banking System, to establish and implement the procedures of a Planetary Monetary and Credit System based upon useful productive capacity and performance, both in goods and services.  Such a monetary and credit system shall be designed for use with the Planetary Banking System for the financing of the activities and projects of the World Government, and for all other financial purposes approved by the World Parliament, without requiring the payment of interest on bonds, investments or other claims of financial ownership or debt.

           

         Our global monetary system today is 99% composed of privately created debt-money (Brown 2007).  Because of this we live in a world of global scarcity and desperation requiring, as we have seen, massive military training for counter-insurgency warfare and massive military interventions by imperial nations designed to protect and promote the present world domination by a tiny elite.  The Earth Constitution is explicit that money must be created by the Federation as debt free money addressed to the common good and planetary prosperity.

            Under the authority of Article 19 of the Earth Constitution, a Provisional World Parliament has begun operating since 1982.  The Tenth Session of the Parliament recently took place in Kara, Togo in June 2007.  During its ten sessions, the Provisional World Parliament has passed some 42 World Legislative Acts designed to implement and develop the infrastructure of the Earth Federation under both the spirit and letter of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. 

            These acts include the creation of a World Economic Development Organization (WLA 2), an Earth Financial Funding Corporation (WLA 7), a Provisional Office for World Revenue (WLA 17), a World Patents Act (WLA 21), a World Equity Act (WLA 22), a World Public Utilities Act (WLA 38), and an act for a World Guaranteed Annual Income (WLA 42).  Together they are laying the economic foundations for a global market economy based on human rights, promotion of the common good, and a democratic world order that benefits everyone, not just the present 10 percent of humanity who today own 85 percent of all the global wealth (Brown 2007, p. 271).

            As early as the first session of the Parliament in 1982, when WLA 2 was passed creating the World Economic Development Organization (WEDO), the Parliament saw through the deception of debt-based money creation. Among the means of funding for WEDO is the directive to develop the financing potential and procedures defined under Article 8, Section G, paragraphs (d), (e), (f) of Earth Constitution to base finance on people’s potential productive capacity in both goods and services, rather than on past savings.

            From this principle of funding under the Earth Constitution, that is, the creation of debt-free fiat money and credit based on the potential of those funded to produce goods and services, follow all the other principles of the Provisional World Parliament that are building the infrastructure for an equitable and just world order.  With government-issued debt-free money, the Earth Federation will hire tens of millions of unemployed people in the Third World to restore the environment, replant the forests of the Earth, and restore the degraded agricultural lands of the Earth.  It guarantees everyone on Earth a minimum wage entirely sufficient to live with dignity and freedom.  It provides every person on Earth with free health care, free education, and ample insurance in case of accident or old age.  It provides every person over age 18 with a guaranteed annual income to eliminate extreme poverty and starvation from the Earth.

          The world order can be easily transformed into one of planetary peace with justice and prosperity. The present world-system of scarcity and domination is a result of the principle inherent in money created as public debt to private financial elites and on a global system of maximizing private profit at the expense of the common good of the people of Earth. The secret is in democratic money: money issued debt free in the name of the productive capacity of the citizens of Earth to produce goods and services.  But this global transformation cannot be accomplished without the ratification of the Earth Constitution and the basing of our world order on its fundamental principles of democratic market socialism and enforceable democratic world law.

 

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