The Occupy Movement, Political Discourse,

and our Endangered Human Future

Glen T. Martin

February 2012

The themes of the dominant social conversation influence the consciousness of people in powerful ways and raise questions about just what enduring themes should be informing these conversations. The question of the content of the conversation itself is now entering our national consciousness. It is becoming clear to people that the Occupy Movement has rapidly changed the political discourse within the U.S.[1] What is this transformed conversation, and is it enough?

Over the past decade or more the dominant discourse in the mainstream media in the U.S. has been the national debt, the deficit, and the need for cutting budgets and "belt tightening." Today, the dominant discourse in these same media suddenly emphasizes income inequality, "economic fairness," and the demise of the middle class in the U.S. This amazing transformation within less than a year is attributed to the Occupy Movement, to massive citizen protests in the U.S. and worldwide, and to the power of an uncensored internet.

Karl Marx’s principle that the dominant discourse in a class society will be the themes set by its ruling class must be modified in the age of the internet. The people’s voice can be heard in ways that Marx never dreamed of, and can even influence the themes of the mainstream corporate dominated media. Just last week two internet censorship bills before the U.S. Congress supported by the big Hollywood media conglomerates, and likely to easily pass, were defeated within days when millions of emails and other internet protests flooded Congress and the net.[2]

Such prominent figures as Bill Moyers are now leading a national movement to overcome the corrupting of the political process in the U.S. by corporate money flooding directly into politics through a sluicegate opened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that removed limits on the use of corporate cash in political campaigns. Moyers argues that the fight against these corporate "predators" will be an uphill battle. However, "surrendering to the plutocracy is not an option." The only real effective option is a popular movement for a Constitutional Amendment abolishing legal corporate personhood. He correctly says that at bottom this is not a political issue but a moral issue: "If we condone political theft, if we do not resent the kinds of wrong and injustice that injuriously affect the whole nation, not merely our democratic form of government but our civilization itself cannot endure." [3]

My description of these developments has focused on the national debate within the U.S., a debate extremely important, as Moyers points out, and at the same time forgetful and blind to the real perils that we face on the Earth. Perhaps the perils that we face are too overwhelming for most persons to allow into their conscious awareness. If this is true, then it looks like we are doomed on this planet. For the real threats endangering "our civilization" are planetary threats endangering human existence on the Earth.

In his new e-book on-line, internationally renowned environmental biologist, John Cairns, Jr., describes "eight global crises" that we face on this planet – human economy, climate change, exponential population growth, ecological overshoot, biotic impoverishment, renewable resource depletion, energy allocation, and environmental refugees. Some, perhaps all, of these crises "are close to tipping points that, if tipped, will result in irreversible change" and will "act as a threat multiplier for the remaining crises." [4]

Our national discourse remains parochial precisely because it reflects a national consciousness rather than a planetary consciousness. Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, looking at the Earth from space, declared "you develop an instant global consciousness, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it." [5]  An amendment to the U.S. constitution abolishing corporate personhood, important as this may be, will be less than useless if climate collapse makes higher forms of life on this planet impossible.

At the planetary level, the threat of nuclear holocaust remains significant, as Noam Chomsky has recently pointed out.[6] Worldwide, many countries are now developing the military capacity to use pilotless drones to catch up with the U.S. that now uses them for summary execution of its perceived enemies in at least six countries on two continents. [7] These new technologies, like anti-missile defense shields, cruise missiles, stealth bombers, and independently targetable warheads on ICBMs before them, raise the global threat of holocaust to a new pitch.

At the same time, global poverty, hunger, disease, trafficking in human beings, and social displacement due to wars and environmental degradation affect at least half of the human population, making life hell on Earth for ever-increasing numbers of people. The Occupy Movement may have changed the dominant discourse in the U.S. for the immediate future, but where is our compassion and global awareness as human beings living on this single, tiny spaceship Earth? As I said above, if the subject is too big and too threatening, then we appear doomed.

The internet giant Twitter has announced that it now has the technological capacity to censor the twitter interactions of users country by country. [8] The U.S State Department monitors human rights country by country. The control of human rights, travel, visas, and currency values, operates country by country. The big economies (the G8 and their imperial military arm NATO) will be meeting this May in Chicago to continue their global system of imperial domination over the economics and nations of the world.

Their foreign policy, led by the U.S., uses the system of so-called "sovereign" nation-states to divide and conquer, globally extending their imperial military and economic power. Because the people of Earth are not united, these powers can invade Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, or weak east African nations with impunity, knowing that other countries will look the other way hoping they will not be next. Because the 99% are not united, these powers can economically blockade Iran or engineer economic disasters for other nations, causing immense harm to innocent people. Clearly, the problem is that we lack a global consciousness, that we still think "country by country."

If we want a future for our children on this planet, we have to occupy more than Wall Street. We have to Occupy Everything by creating global social democracy under the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Just as Bill Moyers says that the only way to deal with the plutocracy dominating U.S. politics is constitutionally, through good government constitutionally empowered to address the common good of everyone, so this principle is absolutely true at the planetary level.

We must stop thinking in terms of "sovereign" nation-states and begin to think of the nations as constitutionally governed political units within the democratic framework of the Earth Constitution. The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been around since 1948 declaring that all people have the right to "life, liberty, and security of person," not just U.S. citizens or Egyptians or Venezuelans. But the structure of the U.N., predicated on "the sovereign integrity of its member states," defeats this universality for us all.

If we want to survive much longer as a civilization, as Moyers puts it, we need to be thinking globally in everything that we do. We need to become citizens of the Earth, legally empowered citizens of the Earth, not just some abstract ideal. For only good government under an effective democratic constitution can control the plutocracy now destroying our future, and only good government can demilitarize the world and establish an economy, as Ellen Brown so eloquently points out, that empowers all people everywhere.[9]

Local struggles for justice and decency can be very important and should not be taken lightly. But our thoughts, our compassion, our discourse, and our lives should be simultaneously focused on establishing the Earth Constitution as the effective law for our planet. For only in that way can we deal with multiple climate crises, global poverty and misery, and the global militarism threatening our common future. The local will be worth nothing if we cannot also find a global solution. Only by ratifying the Constitution for the Federation of Earth can we create a truly human future for our planetary civilization.

 

References:

[1] The Occupy Effect, Katrina vanden Heuvel, TheNation.com Blog, January 26, 2012.

 [2]  How the Web Won. Last week’s online uprising made it official: Hollywood rules the culture no more. Will Leitch, New York Magazine, January 20, 2012.

[3] Fighting Back Against Corporate Personhood, Bill Moyers. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. | Book Excerpt, Published in Reader Supported News, January 27, 2012.

[4] Threats to the Biosphere: Eight Interactive Global Crises, John Cairns, Jr., http://www.johncairns.net/ebook2/CHAPTER_2.pdf.

[5] http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=311021202284060&set=a.206596742726507.70463.199067310146117&type=1&theater.

[6] Is the World Too Big to Fail? Noam Chomsky, Al Jazeera English, September 30, 2011.

[7] Under Obama, and emerging global apparatus for drone killing. Greg Miller, Washington Post National, December 27, 2011.

[8] Twitter Commits Social Suicide, Mark Gibbs, Forbes, January 12, 2012.

[9] Web of Debt, Ellen Hodgen Brown, http://www.webofdebt.com/.

 

 

(Glen T. Martin is President of the World Constitution and Parliament Assoc (WCPA), President of the Institute on World Problems (IOWP), and Professor of Philosophy at Radford University in Virginia. His many articles and books are widely available on the internet and from booksellers.)

 

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