Globalization and the Earth Constitution Key Stages in the Struggle for Human Liberation

Globalization and the Earth Constitution Key Stages in the Struggle for Human Liberation
Author: Martin, Glen T.
Journal: Journal of Globalization Studies. Volume 6, Number 2 / November 2015

Globalization characterizes a process inherent in the world system of sover-eign nations interlinked with capitalist economic relations from its early be-ginnings several centuries ago. It also names the recent manifestations of this process in which the world has reached new, unprecedented levels of economic integration and levels of decision-making (‘governance’) beyond that of nation-states, making the role of nations contested. Planetary crises developing everywhere have also made the future of this nation-state system and globalization themselves hotly debated. Both the promoters and detractors of the globalization process often ignore the emergence of scientifically grounded holism that took place throughout the twentieth century. This holism reveals that what has been globalized to date is a fragmented version of the early-modern paradigm and that there are vital aspects of planetary universality and unity that have been ignored. By drawing holism into the debate, the way opens for a transformation of our concept of ‘globalization’ that addresses our planetary crises and opens up a liberated and promising future for humanity. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth serves as a model and blueprint for this new transformative holism.

Keywords: Neoliberalism, economics, globalization, world-system, governance, global crises, class analysis, capitalism, sovereign nation-states, economics, socialism, democracy, holism, unity in diversity, universalism, human liberation.

The goal is not so much to see that which no one has seen, but to see that which everyone sees in a totally different way.

Arthur Schopenhauer

We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.

R. Buckminster Fuller

1. Globalization as a Phenomenon

Globalization, on the one hand, can be understood as a process that goes back to the beginnings of the modern world system in which capitalist search for markets, resources, and new modes of production tended to expand beyond national boundaries, eventually characterizing the world system as a whole. Marx and Engels noted this phenomenon in the Communist Manifesto: ‘The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe… All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe… In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal interdependence of nations’ (Marx and Engels 1955: 13–14).

Globalization also commonly refers to some distinctive features of this process that began in the 1970s, in which contemporary information technology and the immense reach of multinational corporations, aided by international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in concert with the most powerful imperial nation-states, pushed international trade and investment to astronomically high levels resulting in what some consider to be a qualitatively new mode of worldwide integration and interaction among governments, peoples, companies, and financial institutions (Chumakov, Mazour and Gay 2014).

As James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer assert, globalization can be understood both as a description and a prescription. ‘As a description, “globalization” refers to the widening and deepening of the international flows of trade, capital, technology and information within a single integrated global market’ (Petras and Veltmeyer 2001: 11). Here the description may well end and the question cui bono will be raised: Is globalization an inevitable and ‘natural’ development arising from the global market economy in conjunction with new developments in information technology or is globalization a prescriptive ideology promoted by a global capitalist class designed to increase profits and decrease people's ability to thwart or resist the process of capitalist exploitation?

The cui bono question is also the question of the economic theory behind globalization. The dominant theory here is often called Neoliberalism. David Harvey writes:

Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices… Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution) then they must be created, by state action if necessary… State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because, according to the theory, the state cannot possibly possess enough information to second guess market signals (prices) (Harvey 2007: 2).

As Harvey implies, the Neoliberal economic doctrine at the heart of the globalization movement since the 1970s raises the question of the role of the sovereign nation-state in relation to global capitalist expansion. In the past several decades the question of ‘global governance’ has been widely debated, with many claiming that ‘governance’ on Earth has moved beyond the nation in significant ways and is now in the hands of a multiplicity of actors such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) the IFIs, the U.N. treaty system, and global corporations, some of which have greater resources than the nation-states who host their enterprises (Harris and Yunker 1999).

The claim that recent globalization has appeared as a qualitatively new phenomenon is often linked to the perceived reduced role of the nation-state. The ‘Westphalian system’, we are told (founded from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648) has been superseded by a new regime of global governance that no longer centers on sovereign-nations as the primary determinants of law, trade rules, security, or global order (Philpott 2001). The new governance transcends nation-states and might be termed ‘polyarchy’ as opposed to democracy (Dahl 1989; Goerner, Dyck, Lagerroos 2008). The law can now be characterized as ‘a hydra-headed process of social decision-making, involving persons at all levels and from all walks of public and private life’ (Weston, Falk, and D'Amato 1990: 15). No longer simply the product of legislation, ‘law’ now derives from secret WTO negotiations, international U.N. treaties, or programs implemented by economists at the World Bank or IMF.

Globalization as a phenomenon, therefore, cannot simply be described, because the process of understanding the worldwide market integration going on since the 1970s is deeply contested. Questions are raised concerning the capitalist system (its nature, functioning, and meaning), the recent economic theory called Neoliberalism, and the system of sovereign nation-states. All together these are components of the modern ‘world system’ as this has been conceived by thinkers like Immanuel Wallerstein, Christopher Chase-Dunn, and Terry Boswell (Wallerstein 1983; Boswell and Chase-Dunn 2000). Describing the phenomenon of globalization requires examining the question of the modern world system.

2. Globalization as the Perfection of Theft: Imperial States, Corporations, and Banking Cartels

Advocates and believers in globalization argued that a globalized market of ‘free trade’ would increase prosperity everywhere, taking societies everywhere in new, positive directions. They also declared that this transformation was inevitable given communications technology, modern transportation, and the economic interdependence of all nations. They argued that there would be greater worldwide economic growth and prosperity (Saul 2005: 3).

What actually happened was quite the reverse. Not only has the ecological crisis deepened but the world economic situation has left more than half the world's population – more than 3.5 billion people – in a condition of abject poverty. The U.N. describes this situation: ‘Despite all our technological breakthroughs, we still live in a world where a fifth of the developing world's population goes hungry every night, a quarter lacks access even to a basic necessity like safe drinking water and a third lives in a state of abject poverty – at such a margin of human existence that words simply fail to describe it’. Overall, there are more than 1 billion people living in absolute poverty in the world today – 70 per cent of whom are women (Karliner 1997: 22).

Either a number of well-meaning economists were very wrong or Marx's insight that the dominant ideas of a society are those of its dominant class explains this error as a (perhaps semi-conscious) deception. World Systems Theorists, however, understand the modern world going back centuries as organized around one or more powerful nations serving as imperial centers of capital and peripheral nations serving as sources of cheap labor and raw materials for the profit of multinational corporations located in the imperial centers. The dominant class is now a world-class, albeit located primarily in the imperial centers, promoting its interests on a global scale.

What this suggests is that the world system is an integrated whole of capitalist economic relations and nation-state actors, a cohesive and integrated system designed to serve the interests of the capitalist ruling classes at the expense of our planetary environment and the majority of the Earth's citizens. Globalization is a project of this dominant class using the system of nation-states as a central tool for promoting its interests. This is the central these of Globalism Unmasked by social theorists James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer. Pepe Escobar writes:

According to Eric Hobsbawm, for multinational corporations – we call it Corporatistan –‘the “ideal world” is a world without States, or at least with small states’. (And perhaps a Super-State to enforce Corporatistan's worldview?) By 2004 there were more than 63,000 multinational corporations. When unreachable by national or international law, ecological preoccupations, social responsibility and all of the above simultaneously, they can become more destructive than hurricanes. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), 57 per cent of the Corporatistan Top 500 has absolutely no plans to fight global warming. 140 companies did not even both to answer questions by CDP's research team. BAE Systems – a top U.K. weapons producer – happen to be among the worst in environmental protection…

Figures attest to a demential cornucopia of chaos – capitalism is a wrecker's ball where a happy few profit infinitely more than all the others: no equilibrium here (Escobar 2007: 27).

Global capitalism involves an integrated nexus of capitalist ruling classes and imperial nation-states inseparably linked under the imperative inherent in capital to expand or die. The globalization process described by Marx morphs into its final form as an integrated planetary system of exploitation and domination encompassing every aspect of the global commons and nearly every person living on the Earth. It is one system, nation-states being an integral part. Social scientist Christopher Chase-Dunn writes: ‘The state and the interstate system are not separate from capitalism, but are rather the main institutional supports of capitalist production relations. The system of unequally powerful and competing nation states is part of the competitive struggle of capitalism, and thus wars and geopolitics are a systematic part of capitalist dynamics, not exogenous forces’ (1998: 61).

The process of globalization requires three interrelated components operating in tandem: a world fragmented into multiple nation-states, a class of powerful multinational corporations with the economic power to bribe and control most nation-states, and immense banking cartels that control the finance and debt-servicing worldwide. These three are deeply integrated, of course, since the banking cartels are themselves corporations and the capitalist ruling class in every society largely controls the governments of the multiple nation-states: the most powerful one, the United States, being the primary hegemon and primary promoter of neoliberal globalization through worldwide economic and political pressure, through its substantial control over the IMF and World bank, and through its vast military system with more than 700 bases worldwide and multiple connections with the militaries of most other nations.

Marx analyzed the capitalist process as a system of legalized ‘theft’ or ‘slavery’ in which the wage-laborer was forced to work part of the day for free in order to generate surplus value for the employer. This theft was possible after the accumulation of capital in the process of ‘primitive accumulation’ (outright theft, for example, from the privatization of the commons) and the stolen capital was subsequently legalized under private property laws enforced by the state. However, since capitalism is intrinsically as system of theft, primitive accumulation (outright theft) has always been part of the process. Neoliberal globalization has in many ways perfected this process of theft. David Harvey writes:

The main substantive achievement of neoliberalization, however, has been to redistribute, rather than generate, wealth and income. I have elsewhere provided an account of the main mechanisms whereby this was achieved under the rubric ‘accumulation by dispossession’. By this I mean the continuation and proliferation of accumulation practices which Marx had treated as ‘primitive’ or ‘original’ during the rise of capitalism. These include the commodification and privatization of land and the forceful expulsion of peasant populations (compare the cases described above, of Mexico and China, where 70 million peasants are thought to have been displaced in recent times); conversion of the various forms of property rights (common, collective, state, etc.) into exclusive private property rights… and, most devastating of all, the use of the credit system as a radical means of accumulation by dispossession. The state, with its monopoly of violence and definitions of legality, plays a crucial role in both backing and promoting these processes (Harvey 2007: 159; Bown 2007).1

3. The Contested Role of the Nation-State

In The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World, John Ralston Saul argued that globalism, as of 2005, was largely dead, since it could not fulfill its promises of increased general prosperity and because ‘today's military and political crisis requires the reestablishment of the authority aspect of the nation-state’ (2005: 251). He asserts that we are now in a ‘vacuum’ of theories about how to proceed, but we do know that ‘the nation-state will make its comeback within a newly complex system’ (279). However, if my description of the world system above is at all credible, then it should be obvious that the globalized system of domination and exploitation will not disappear so easily. Currently, the continued encircling of Russia and China by imperial military bases (Engdahl 2009), the struggles in Asia over control of gas and oil pipelines, and the promotion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement are indicators that the global imperial capitalist juggernaut is far from dead.

However, among progressive thinkers the role of the nation-state remains contested. Early in the twentieth century, and even today, many progressive thinkers believe that national governments can be taken over (by revolution or by voting) and serve as a bastion for socialist values and a defense of citizens against the worst predations of global capitalism. The Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Chilean vote for socialism in 1970, and the Nicaraguan Revolution of 1979, and the 1999 election of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela serve as examples of this belief in action. In the struggle for human liberation, what will be and should be the role of the sovereign nation-state? Can it be the idyllic coexistence envisioned by the U.N. Charter as ‘a harmonious concert of equal and autonomous national subjects’? (Hardt and Negri 2001: 132) Many progressives bemoan the encroachment on national sovereignty by globalized trade regulations in which corporations can sue a host nation before a secret court if labor laws or environmental laws cut into its margin of profit or in which the IFIs can force debilitating structural adjustment programs on indebted nations. They assert that the ‘sovereignty’ of the nations must be restored as part of the progressive battle.

Petras and Veltmeyer, for example, argue both that the claim of globalization to have significantly superseded the nation-state is false and that there is great potential for human liberation in the reassertion of state sovereignty and the struggle to win control of national governments in the name of democratic socialism. They confirm this by writing affirmatively about the current struggles in Latin America to ‘socialize strategic sectors of the economy’ in Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, etc. (Petras and Veltmeyer 2001: 89–90). The worldwide struggles against globalized capital must certainly link and cooperate with one another, but the main legal and power support for solidifying progressive gains remains the sovereign nation-state.

On the other hand, global social theorists Christopher Chase-Dunn and Terry Boswell envision an ascent beyond the system of sovereign nations to ‘global democracy’. Global democracy will include both a legal order transcending the sovereign nations and local democracy with economic management and politics subject to local controls (Boswell and Chase-Dunn 2000: 5–6). We have seen Chase-Dunn argue above that the capitalist world system involves an inseparable amalgam of nation-states and global capital. Hence, since individual nation-states cannot be separated from this world system, global socialism will require a political-legal, economic level transcending this system. Any nation that manages to form a progressive government will necessarily have to operate within a capitalist world economic system, and hence necessarily compromise its socialist principles with the negative values of commodification and alienation.

Going back in the Marxist tradition to before the First World War, we find that Rosa Luxemburg strongly opposed any nationalist solutions within the struggle for a humane and just socialist world order. Hardt and Negri describe her position:

Rosa Luxemburg argued vehemently (and futilely) against nationalism in the debates internal to the Third International in the years before the First World War… Luxemburg's most powerful argument, rather, was that nation means dictatorship and is thus profoundly incompatible with any attempt at democratic organization. Luxemburg recognized that national sovereignty and national mythologies effectively usurp the terrain of democratic organization by renewing the powers of territorial sovereignty and modernizing its project through the mobilization of an active community… The crisis of modernity, which is the contradictory co-presence of the multitude and a power that wants to reduce it to the rule of one – that is, the co-presence of a new productive set of free subjectivities and a disciplinary power that wants to exploit it – is not finally pacified or resolved by the concept of nation, any more than it was by the concept of sovereignty or state. The nation can only mask the crisis ideologically, displace it, and defer its power (Hardt and Negri 2001: pp. 96–97).

Hardt and Negri themselves argue that placing hope in the sovereign state involves accepting ‘the poisoned gift of national liberation…. It is a February revolution, one might say, that should be followed by an October. But the calendar has gone crazy: October never comes, the revolutionaries get bogged down in “realism”, and modernization ends up lost in hierarchies of the world market’ (Ibid.: 132). This is another way of affirming the traditional idea that socialism within individual nation-states is impossible within a capitalist world system.

The system will always undermine, subvert, and prostitute the socialist principles beyond recognition. Liberation has to be planetary or it will never be. And the system of fragmentation is essential to the imperial system of bankers, corporations, and militarized nation-states. The governments of weaker nations can be isolated, attacked or subverted with little fear that other nations will come to the rescue. Thus the government of Yugoslavia was destroyed with impunity by imperial forces in 1998–1999, as was the government of Afghanistan in 2001, the government of Iraq in 2003, and the government of Libya in 2011. In addition, the imperialist forces are not simply located in the most powerful militarized nation-states, they also constitute multinational corporations legally registered in the U.S., Europe, or Japan, and the IFIs such as the World Bank and IMF, funded by private banking cartels themselves located in the world centers of capital. Hence, both the peripheral victim-nations and the imperial exploitation nations and their ruling classes form essential components within the capitalist world system.

4. Planetary Crises and Globalization

On the one hand, we have seen that the globalization process has exacerbated the planetary crises of poverty and environmental collapse. It has also exacerbated the crises of resource depletion, weapons proliferation, and human rights violations (Posner 2014). Nevertheless, these global crises have become widely known and place a pressure on human consciousness that may result in the activation of a revolutionary subjectivity among people anywhere on Earth.

As long as human beings continue to think in the ideological terms dictated by the dominant ruling classes, there is not likely to be significant liberating change. The ideological slogans like ‘promoting free markets’, ‘superior efficiency of private enterprise’, ‘green corporations’, ‘green technologies that will save the environment’, ‘national democracies’, ‘supporting family values’, ‘fighting terrorism’, ‘supporting our troops’, ‘protecting homeland security’, ‘countering the danger of foreign aggression’, ‘supporting law and order’, ‘beneficial austerity programs’, and ‘the threat of Islamo-fascism’ are internalized uncritically by the national populations, especially in the imperial centers of capital. As long as this continues, little change can be expected.

But the entire planet is descending into political chaos, social and economic disrepair, and climate collapse – features that are difficult for the capitalist media to ignore or properly spin to place the blame on official enemies. There are many signs and a very wide growing literature that people are responding to these pressures by thinking in truly new terms, outside the box of traditional capitalist ideology. C02 levels in the atmosphere increase relentlessly; the glaciers and polar caps are clearly melting at unprecedented rates; planetary forests are disappearing in alarming quantities; two thirds of global fisheries are fished at or above their capacity for regeneration; quality agricultural land and fresh water are rapidly growing scarce, while the global population continues to increase at a net rate of 80 million persons per year (Martin 2013). These crises are global crises, widely known, and the Neoliberal project of globalization has no effective ideological devices that can effectively mask this frightening planetary situation.

All of these negative phenomena are the result of the capitalist dogma of growth, the drive built into the system itself that requires a perpetual increase in capital (‘to grow or die’), but as economist Herman E. Daly writes: ‘The technical and economic problems involved in achieving sustainability are not that difficult. The hard problem is overcoming our addiction to growth… Such idolatry cannot admit that the elimination of poverty requires recognition of limits, not faster growth – limits to growth in per capita resource use, limits to population growth, limits to the growth of inequality. Refusal to recognize these creaturely limits results in growth beyond the carrying capacity of the earth, with its consequent destruction’ (Daly 1996: 224). But human consciousness will not shift from an alienated consciousness to a humane, rational, socialist consciousness in response to these crises alone.

5. The Paradigm-Shift to Holism2

It is not only people's response to the devastations of neoliberalism and the planetary crises that constitute the source of hope for a transformation of human consciousness before it is too late. Holism comprises the most fundamental understanding of our world order emerging from the twentieth century revolutions in science. This holism can transform our entire way of thinking and living on the Earth. It can become the basis for a new economics, a new ethics, and a new understanding of human social and political life. Yet these new understandings simply represent the fulfillment of certain civilizational fundamentals – like democracy – that go back to the ancient world.

As Schopenhauer said, the change involves not in seeing something different from what everyone sees, but seeing what everyone sees in a new way. This paradigm shift in human thinking has not yet taken root in our ethical, social, or institutional life. We remain trapped in the older paradigms predicated on fragmentation and division. Our immense suicidal problems of the twenty-first century stem from this fragmentation.

Universally – in quantum theory, cosmology, ecology, systems theory, social science, and psychology – part and whole have come to be understood as inseparable from one another. The very meaning, structure, and function of the parts have become incomprehensible apart from the wholes within wholes (fields within fields) within which the parts are embedded and in terms of which their nature, evolution, and functioning must be understood. Yet our thinking remains mired in divisions, separations, and fragments that appear incommensurable with one another. The result is collective and personal egoism, war, conflict, economic exploitation, destruction of nature, and destruction of one another. Like the nation-state system, which is inherently fragmented, so capitalism is a system fragmented by competition, multiple crises, and inherent contradictions.

Science has revealed that, at every level, distinct entities, individuals, are part of an interrelated matrix of organized matter and energy societies: fields that relate the individuals to one another in a multiplicity of ways and distinguish them as distinct individuals embedded within the fields. In other words, individuals are not only contradictory to one another in the sense that ‘a’ and ‘not a’ appear as logically mutually exclusive. They are simultaneously complimentary to one another as instances of a more encompassing set of universals or fields (Harris 2008: сh. 3).

Holism means that we must enlarge our thinking to encompass the manifold of fields within which we are embedded. Other persons and I interpenetrate and overlap in a vast multiplicity of ways that unify us as human beings within our common moral and civilizational project. Today, we have also realized that our common civilization project includes the precious Earth on which we dwell – its beauty, its ecological integrity, its fragile biosphere, and its proper, holistic governance. Capitalism and its evil twin, sovereign nation-states, only impedes the actualization of our common civilizational project.

Human beings are integral parts, not only of the holism of the cosmos and the ecosystem of the Earth, but of one human species and planetary society encompassing the Earth. However, in practice, just as we have not yet harmonized our civilization to the delicately balanced biosphere that sustains all life on our planet, so we have not harmonized our social life to the holism of planetary society. We remain trapped in systems of fragmentation that are destroying the biosphere and continue to destroy planetary society through war, patterns of exploitation, linguistic forms of deceit, organized violence, and perpetual conflict.

Out of the dozens of thinkers affirming ethical and human holism since the twentieth century, I will cite here only one. Philosopher Errol E. Harris affirms that the universal drive at the heart of the evolutionary process (its nisus) operates in us (as it does everywhere) to promote wholeness, holism: the removal of internal and external conflict so that the individual person (or group or nation) and the human species can live at peace within a dynamic and diverse yet ordered whole. Its standard is reason, a reason discerning the holistic character of the world process and progressively conforming our lives and institutions in harmony with it. However, its dynamic includes an integration and harmonization of the whole person: thoughts, emotions, intuitions, customs, habits, and instincts (Harris 2014: xv–xliv).

What kind of institutions would reflect this holism and these internal relationships? The most basic answer is familiar yet strange to us: globalized democracy, properly understood. The uniting of persons within a democratic community in which people understand that they are bound to one another by internal relationships traditionally known as their ‘social contract’. Democracy, properly understood, is the foundation-stone for human beings coming together to establish a sustainable civilization in harmony with the holistic principles of ecology. In the face of the immense terrors of our time, and the on-going collapse of our planetary ecology, we need to understand the fragmentation of our thought and our outdated institutions. We must act to discover the holism within ourselves and how it might be reflected in holistic, nonviolent, and sustainable institutions.

My contention is that uniting humanity under a Constitution for the Federation of Earth constitutes our best hope for actualizing a fully human holism capable of establishing a civilization in harmony with our planet's ecological holism. Planetary democracy embodies the holism that is necessary in three essential ways: for our ecological survival on this planet, for the progress and fulfillment of the historical human project, and for our personal fulfillment as individuals.

This describes in a very brief way the coming great transformation: the rebirth of human civilization that will either develop rapidly, signaling the happy survival and flourishing of the human historical project, or will happen not at all because the human project will have ended in major planetary disaster or possible extinction of our species. We must come to understand that violence against persons and the environment diminishes in our world to the extent that democracy is realized. Democracy, sustainable socialist economics, and environmental concern go hand and hand in any effective form of governance. Their actualization on Earth will mean the beginning of a sustainable planetary civilization.

6. Holism and the Struggle for Human Liberation

Holism is diametrically opposed not to globalization per se but to the globalization of the world system arising from the early-modern paradigm. If globalization means the integration of persons, governments, transportation, communications, and economic relations, holism supports globalization. But the early-modern world system is structurally fragmented to its very core. It divides the world into some 193 ‘sovereign’ states, each with an independent government and absolute territorial boundaries. It integrates the economics of the world under a system of private enterprise designed to accumulate wealth in thousands or millions of private, competitive centers of accumulation (individuals and corporations), internalizing private profits and externalizing negative costs of the production process to society and the environment. Like the fragmented system of a multiplicity of militarized governmental centers with absolute boundaries, the globalized economic system is fragmented among a multiplicity of private profit-accumulation centers with legalized economic boundaries excluding the majority of humanity and the common good of the planet.

Marxist theory always hypothetically posited a growing countervailing force to this system of private accumulation of wealth at the expense of nature and the common good of humanity, which it named ‘the proletariat’. Thinkers today are expanding the concept of the proletariat as a force that can transform the system of private accumulation in the name of a universal common good. For example, Hardt and Negri write:

The proletariat is not what it used to be, but that does not mean it has vanished. It means, rather, that we are faced once again with the analytical task of understanding the new composition of the proletariat as a class. The fact that we understand all those exploited by and subject to capitalist domination should not indicate that the proletariat is a homogeneous or undifferentiated unity… Our point here is that all these diverse forms of labor are in some way subject to capitalist discipline and capitalist relations of production. This fact of being within capital and sustaining capital is what defines the proletariat as a class (Hardt and Negri 2001: 53).

This new definition of the proletariat may well include nearly everyone on the planet with the possible exception of a few pockets of subsistence farming and indigenous tribal peoples. However, while the analytical method of ‘class-analysis’ remains an important tool for understanding globalization, holism transforms the notion of proletariat in the direction of the idea of a common humanity, in which individuals and the whole arise together in a unity in diversity characterized by pervasive internal relationships. This is perhaps something very close to what Marx understood as our ‘species-being’.

In The Poverty of Philosophy Marx writes that ‘the condition for the emancipation of the working class is the abolition of every class’. The proletariat need not be conceived as an aggregate of working people over against a bourgeoisie class, but rather as the abolition of every class within the universality of our species-being, which is holism. We can derive from the concept of our universal species-being a transformed understanding of economics and politics predicated on the common good of humanity and future generations.

The holism of humanity gives rise to the notion of a human community, perhaps akin to Teilhard de Chardin's idea of an emerging noösphere or universal human consciousness encompassing the globe. Neoliberal economic globalization does not give us a world community, as economist Herman E. Daly points out, but rather ‘a single cosmopolitan world of footloose money managers who constitute not a community, but merely an interdependent, mutually vulnerable, unstable coalition of short-term interests’ (Daly 1992: 64).

Hardt and Negri argue that the idea of a common, truly human and redeemed future was inherent in proletarian internationalism from the beginning: ‘International solidarity was really a project for the destruction of the nation-state and the construction of a new global community… Proletarian internationalism constructed a paradoxical and powerful political machine that pushed continually beyond the boundaries and hierarchies of the nation-states and posed utopian futures only on the global terrain’ (Hardt and Negri 2001: 49–50).

Karl Marx was steeped in the Bible, as Marxist Christian thinker José Miranda has shown in his book Marx and the Bible. Miranda affirms that: ‘[For Marx], we understand reality to the measure that we identify with the conscience of humankind, which is the true subject of history’ (Miranda 1974: 270). Similarly, Marxist Christian thinker Enrique Dussel points out in his 1986 book Ethics and Community that the rich under the capitalist system try to deny their internal relationships with the poor, internal relationships that should be and are expressed within genuine ‘communities’. In their insistence on external relationships, on their ‘right’ to enjoy the wealth they have accumulated at the expense of the poor, they deny our common human community (Dussel 1986: 22–24).

For Miranda (following both Marx and the Bible), the holism of humanity reflected in ‘the conscience of humankind’ must become the focal point of global economic and political systems. For Dussel, it is the human community in which all persons are embraced and recognized ‘as persons with dignity’ that is the focal point. Both are ways of expressing the holism of humanity suggested by Marx's concept of ‘species-being’. Internal relationships become the central factor in which human beings self-consciously see political and economic relationships as socially constructed, not as ‘objective’ laws reified to allow denial of our internal relationships with one another.

The internal relationships that all human beings share with one another (that form the basis of a concept of a global human community) are denied by the capitalist economic system in which owners exploit workers by reifying the economic system as if it were a matter of objective economic laws over which they have no control, rather than a set of social relations in which they are stealing the life-blood of the poor, enriching themselves at the expense of others and the common good. The story of the human project as an emerging global community has only come to real prominence in the 20th century with the scientific confirmation of the holism that was earlier expressed by both the Bible and the work of Marx.

Holism provides the basis not for an incremental evolution of the globalized world-system in the direction of greater justice, equality, and sustainability, but rather for a revolution in thought that provides a new, more universal foundation for the concepts of democracy and socialism. Because the neoliberal globalized world-system is inherently fragmented, it cannot form the basis for a credible human future. Rather, the present dominant world system necessarily blocks and destroys such a future. Democracy can no longer be understood as a system of rule by majority whims and prejudices all the while manipulated by the mass media, consumerism, and catered to by pandering politicians. Democracy must now be understood as an expression of the holism of humanity in which the common good of all (the right to flourish in peace, security, and sustainability) is the foundation for global political decision-making.

Democracy is now understood as expressing the same holistic vision as the core of traditional socialist theory. As Boswell and Chase-Dunn express this: ‘Our fundamental starting point is one of global democracy. Democracy includes civil and individual human rights, without which democratic institutions are meaningless… Democracy encompasses political, social, and economic realms, rather than posing an artificial separation among them… Undemocratic socialism is simply not socialism regardless of the good intentions of its creators’ (Boswell and Chase-Dunn 2000: 5–6). Marx distinguished between ‘formal democracy’ and ‘substantive democracy’. The latter required the abolition of privatized wealth accumulation, cooperative economic production, and substantial economic equality. Holism gives rise to a transformed conception of a planetary human community from which arises a new notion of our global common good and the realization of this common good through global substantive democracy – a globalized economics and politics, both democratic and socialist.

The early-modern world system, inherently fragmented and self-defeating, is overthrown with the founding of a new holistic world system. Capitalism and the system of sovereign nation-states have created one, integrated world system with globalized transportation, communications, and economic relations. But it is a system inherently fragmented and incapable of actualizing our human potential for liberation.

The anti-globalization movement has not yet grasped the full holism of our situation. We need not abolish all aspects of globalization and return to national production regimes under a multiplicity of sovereign nation-states. As Daly writes: ‘The true road to international community is that of a federation of communities – communities of communities – not the destruction of local and national communities’ (Daly 1992: 163–164). The world needs to move to a higher level in terms of both economics and politics that is commensurate with the holism of the human community and nature. We need to establish a non-military democratic Earth Federation.

7. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth

A number of constitutions for the Earth have been written over the past century, but only one is the product of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of world citizens working together to create a truly global and democratic world system, and only one has been disseminated worldwide and translated into some 23 languages. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth was written as part of a world movement led by the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) from 1958 to its completion in 1991. During this period four large, international ‘Constituent Assemblies’ were held in four different countries in which international legal experts and thinkers joined with other world citizens to design a brilliant template for a renewed world system. It provides what Buckminster Fuller declared as a necessity for survival: an operating manual for Spaceship Earth.

The globalization of the current fragmented world-system must be replaced by a globalized holism. Just as Marx declared that capitalism would create the material conditions necessary for the assent to a classless world society so neoliberal globalization has created the technical and communicative conditions for the assent to planetary democracy. Global ratification of the Earth Constitution by the people and nations of Earth is easily possible under the three progressive stages of ratification outlined in Article 17. And a World Parliament representing the people and nations of Earth is easily possible due to globalized technology, transportation, and communications.

The entire Constitution is constructed on the principle of unity in diversity to ensure maximum participation of people from all corners of the Earth in all aspects of the Earth Federation government. On this basis, it sets up the World Administration and global civil service, the World Court system, the Enforcement System consisting of attorneys and civilian World Police, and the World Ombudsmus dedicated to protecting human rights worldwide. All of these agencies operate under the World Parliament that serves as the law making body for the Earth within the framework of the values, limitations, and procedures mandated by the Earth Constitution.

The World Parliament is comprised of three houses: the House of Nations consists of one to three representatives from each nation depending on population, the House of Peoples consists of 1000 delegates elected from 1000 electoral districts worldwide apportioned according to population, and the House of Counsellors consists of 200 delegates, 10 chosen from each of 20 magna-regions of the Earth. This last group is designed to get highly knowledgeable persons into the World Parliament who also represent the common good of humanity as a whole. Heads of the many agencies of the Earth Federation government will be elected from this World Parliament (of perhaps 1500 persons) in order to assure a powerful coherence and integration to the Earth Federation.

Here is a summary listing of the holistic principles underlying the Earth Constitution: (1) the principle of unity in diversity in which the diversity of all persons, cultures, religions, races, and nationalities is united within the unity of common world citizenship, (2) the principle of the global common good from which none are excluded, (3) the principle of equitable distribution of the means and necessities for a flourishing life to all people on Earth, (4) the principle of human rights as including not only political rights but economic, social, and environmental rights, (5) the principle of a global commons in which vital resources are nationalized for the purpose of equitable use throughout the world, (6) the principle of global public banking with one universal currency valued the same everywhere, prohibiting currency speculation and market fluctuations, (7) global public banking is further mandated by the Constitution to foster the sustainable and equitable productive capacity of the people of Earth in the service of human flourishing, (8) the principle of on-going dialogue and discussion among the representatives of the people of Earth in the service of a better future for all people, the ending of militarism and war, sustainable production and consumption with protection of the environment, universal respect for human rights, and equitable access to global resources.

It should be clear, therefore, that the Earth Constitution is not just an attempt to evolve, tinker with, or adjust the inherently fragmented early-modern world system. It provides the opportunity for the people of Earth to found a new world system premised on the reality of our situation: as socially, linguistically, and morally holistic creatures living within the delicately balanced holism of our finite planetary ecosystem. This act of founding the new world system could be as simple as replacing the unworkable U.N. Charter (premised on the outmoded fragmented world-system) with the Earth Constitution, while integrating the many viable agencies of the U.N. into the ministries of the Earth Federation government.

Globalization has given us the necessary technical capacity, but only holism can give us a viable future. Globalism as it now exists actively blocks human liberation. It concentrates wealth in fewer and fewer hands, overthrows democratic processes everywhere on Earth, and destroys the planetary ecosystem. The conversion to holism does not give up the global vision, returning us to the fragmentation of multiple sovereign localities. Rather, it establishes a higher, reality-based unity that simultaneously empowers local communities and returns nations to the possibility of genuine democracy and legitimate, limited autonomy. The Earth Constitution embodies this holism in a multiplicity of ways that provide a practical blueprint for a transformed world system and a liberated human future. It should be studied and promoted everywhere on Earth.


1 Harvey, op. cit, P. 159. Naomi Klein, in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2008) traces this process through many countries with respect to the use of torture and coercion in the process of implementing Neoliberal economic globalization. Ellen H. Brown, in The Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth about Our Money System (2007) traces this process with regard to global banking and money creation.

2 This subsection draws from Chapter Two of my Anatomy of a Sustainable World, cited above.


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