Each decade and each year for decades the world’s best scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been pointing out that the fate of humanity hangs in the balance of the economic and political choices of the world’s great powers, especially the United States. The United States has been by far the world’s greatest polluter by pouring carbon into the atmosphere of the planet, only recently surpassed by the second greatest polluter, China, who burns more coal to power its huge economy than all other countries combined.
The scientists declaring that the fate of humanity hangs in the balance are demanding global action to stop carbon pollution and attempting to stop the climate collapse and chaos that was largely hypothetical when Donna Meadows and others first began demanding “limits to growth” in 1974.1 But today it is actual with heat waves, floods, droughts, superstorms, and climate irregularity gripping the entire planet. Under the irrational system of sovereign nation-states, any one of the great nations (in terms of size and resources) has the power to bring humanity to extinction. It will take deep cooperation among all nations to deal with the climate crisis.
But the three biggest powers are all expanding their militaries and nuclear weapons arsenals, in preparation for a World War Three that would most certainly make climate collapse irrelevant because it would wipe out our planetary environment in a matter of days. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are correct in one respect (although impossible to achieve as I have shown in Chapter 6 of The Earth Constitution Solution): they state that lifting people out of poverty and promoting democratic equality and collective decision-making (including the world’s women) is crucial to a sustainable world. 2
The American Dream was originally predicated on the idea of such equality. In the Declaration of Independence of 1776 Thomas Jefferson declared that “all men are created equal” with “certain inalienable rights.” The subsequent system in the US continued this thought as a subtheme and hidden possibility, but the dominant system instead embraced the rule of vast accumulations of private wealth and the political power (oligarchy) that came with it. The subtheme of human rights and equality raised its flag again in the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln, in fighting a war to end slavery, declared that the American system was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The American ideal prevailed a few more times during its 200-year history, for example, during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, only to be steadily turned back by neoliberalism and proto-fascism after Ronald Reagan came to power in 1980.
The oligarchy always preferred wealth and power over freedom and democracy. They preferred the extermination of the indigenous population of the continent and the imperial domination of other nations through the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, expanding, after the Second World War, from imperial domination of Latin America to domination of the entire planet (Grandin 2007).3 One supposes that the possession of hundreds of millions or billions of dollars makes them feel invulnerable even within an environment that will not support higher forms of life within a few decades.
European thinker Ernst Bloch observed in Natural Law and Human Dignity that the development of human rights and dignity was undermined the moment that “private property” was included among our inalienable human rights (1986, 63).4That is, vast accumulations of private wealth inevitably destroy freedom and democracy.
Are Americans not freer than citizens of many other nations? Noam Chomsky (1996) has pointed out that empires historically have well-tolerated a certain legally protected freedom for citizens of the core and handed out brutal repression of peoples on the periphery, for example, imperial Rome, the British Empire, and the American Empire. 5 Civil liberties at home—distorted and severely limited by the right to unlimited accumulation of private wealth—but, in stark contrast, repression, unfreedom, and torture abroad. The destruction of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, remote drone assassinations in numerous countries around the world, torture at endless “black sites,” etc. The list goes on and on (see Parenti 2015).6
Nevertheless, by the time of the First World War and the spread of print media, the propaganda system was secured by the oligarchy. They owned the big media and continue to own it to this day (Martin 2005, Chap. 9). 7 They fool us, for example, by telling us that the individual must recycle or environmentally conserve while subsidizing the big polluters and fossil fuel companies. They tell us how “free” we are while manipulating our opinions to support their wars and imperialism worldwide. They cultivate patriotism in this war-system and flatter our “service men and women” on the greatness of their service and sacrifice. When cynicism and lies are so deeply embedded in any system, the cost to our common humanity is incalculable. It is no wonder that our choice in the US 2024 presidential election is likely to be between Trump and Biden, two forms of unspeakable human degradation and barbarism. Biden a decades-long cold warrior who is willing to keep the fate of humanity balanced on the knife-edge of a possible nuclear war wiping out all of civilization, and Trump the chaotic end of all hope and the initiation of nihilistic rule, leader of a political party that is in psychopathic denial of reality. Biden has been throwing billions of our precious national wealth needed for social justice or environmental restoration into his proxy war against Russia and ramping up pretexts for a war against China (i.e., World War Three, see McCoy 2021) in abject denial of the plain fact that the entire world must unite if we are to survive climate collapse. 8 He remains an adherent of the idolatrous pseudo-religious faith in a divinely inspired mission for the US to rule the world. And Donald Trump, a chaos of narcissism, personal greed, and moral-cognitive impairment, idolatrous not of a false religion about “America,” but a worshipper of his own delusional ego. Both spokespersons of some portion of the ruling class. Our failure in leadership as a nation moves humanity ever closer to extinction.
Within the United States even civil liberties have been vastly diminished since the ruse of 9/11 and the staged “attack on American soil” that was supposed to galvanize the American people to support a 21st century of global military domination (Griffin and Woodworth 2018). 9 The democrats have been screaming that Trump attempted to “steal our democracy” in the January 6th, 2021, fiasco at the nation’s capital, but what they really mean is that Trump attempted to steal the façade of democracy that has served a portion of the ruling class well for many decades, the same “façade of democracy” that has been imposed on many countries through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) (see Engdahl 2018). 10 Who chooses these presidential candidates? How is it that every vote during my lifetime of voting has been choosing the lesser of two evils? It is always between two very real evils. Two liars and deceivers represent some portion of the ruling class. Both Republicans and Democrats: are always two supporters of unrestrained capitalism, global empire, lack of environmental action, and war. The Republicans or Democrats may differ on domestic issues, but they never challenge the industrial-military complex, the ruling class, and a foreign policy of endless wars.
Human civilization at great cost has winnowed ideals of justice, compassion, truth, freedom, equality, and community. Serious thinkers around the world confirm the objectivity of such values as do serious theologians and proponents of authentic religion. The objectivity is complex and requires a sophisticated understanding of hermeneutics and epistemology, and therefore not open to the lazy, corrupt, or mediocre. But it is there nevertheless and is represented by what some have called “constructive postmodernism” (Griffin 1993). 11 My forthcoming book entitled Human Dignity and World Order (2024) goes into these questions at some length. 12 But to the ruling class these ideals are nothing more than propaganda tricks to entice the masses to believe the candidates they put forward stand for something real or valuable. Environmentalist Bill McKibben in his 2019 book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? sums up the views of a good portion of the ruling class. They believe that “All codes of ethics they’ll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money to put out by swindlers to fleece people” (2019, 91-92).13 Civilization is not run by mature people but by mediocrities, with the USA in the leadership of barbarism and mediocrity.
A generation of world citizens just before the present one worked for more than two decades to bring humankind’s highest ideals to fruition in a document called the Constitution for the Federation of Earth (Martin 2010, Introduction). 14 The Constitution lays out a world system founded on our best human ideals of truth, justice, freedom (human rights), and environmental sustainability. This document could unify the nations of Earth in a common quest to end war and protect our planetary environment. But no. Who today is seriously interested in founding a decent world premised on civilization’s highest ideals? Instead, everything is parochial and/or partisan: “my property, my country, my religion, my race, my quest to finish ahead of my neighbor.” It is a race to the bottom.
When human ideals become mere propaganda and the world’s leaders lack the maturity to think of themselves as part of one humanity, one civilization, or one world democracy dedicated to ending war and protecting the environment, then we get the likes of Biden or Trump as non-choices for an inevitable dystopian future and likely human extinction. As long as we citizens of Earth refuse to democratically ratify the Earth Constitution, we have no one to blame but ourselves. It is not sufficient to blame the ruling classes since the only coherent alternative to their rule is our action to nonviolently take the rule from them through global democracy. What is truly revolutionary is authentic democracy, ending both political oligarchy and the unrestrained capitalism that feeds it. And authentic democracy can only be global, since the only way to escape the global corporate ruling classes, the private planetary banking cartels, and nation-state imperial rule is to put in place over them a power higher than them, one representing the sovereign people of Earth. The criminals now ruling our world need to be put in jail where they belong.
The current swamp of mediocrity in America is a microcosm and leading edge for a world headed for perdition. As Ken Wilber (2017) has put this, the destructive postmodern conclusion that “there is no truth….leapt out of the universities” into the general population to elect Donald Trump on a “no truth” platform. 15But truth does exist, and authentic democracy really does embody a truth about our human situation. The revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity inherited from the French Revolution summarize the bedrock of authentic democracy (see Martin 2021a). 16 Liberty (unrestrained capitalism) is utterly destructive without (reasonable economic) equality and deep societal cooperation for the common good (fraternity). Exactly the same dynamic applies to nation-states.
Liberty (nations want freedom) is not possible without genuine equality (no imperialism, economic sanctions, World Bank domination, or international subversive pressures) and there can simply be no fraternity (the deep cooperation of humankind) in a world of sovereign militarized nation-states and imperial, privatized banking systems. Genuine liberty, equality, and fraternity must embrace all humankind, or they will fail everywhere to give us genuine democracy. The current world system that produces our leaders is just as immature as the leaders themselves. We need to ratify the Earth Constitution.
1 Meadows, Donna, et al. (2004). Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.
2 Martin, Glen T (2021). The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet. Independence, VA: Peace Pentagon Press.
3 Grandin, Greg (2007). Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism. New York: Henry Hold & Company.
4 Bloch, Ernst (1986). Natural Law and Human Dignity. Trans. Dennis J. Schmidt. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
5 Chomsky, Noam (1996). What Uncle Sam Really Wants. Tuscon, AZ: Odonian Press.
6 Parenti, Michael (2015). Profit Pathology and Other Indecencies. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
7 Martin, Glen T. (2005). Millennium Dawn: The Philosophy of Planetary Crisis and Human Liberation. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.
8 McCoy, Alfred W. (2021). To Govern the Globe: World Orders & Catastrophic Change. Chicago: Haymarket Books.
9 Griffin, David Ray and Elizabeth Woodworth (2018). 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation. Ithaca, NY: Olive Branch Press.
10 Engdahl, F. William (2018). Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance. Weisbaden, Germany: mine.books.
11 Griffin, David Ray, ed. (1993). Founders of Constructive Postmodern Philosophy: Peirce, James, Bergson, Whitehead, and Hartshorne. Albany: State University of New York Press.
12 Martin, Glen T. (forthcoming 2024). Human Dignity and World Order: Holistic foundations of Global Democracy. New York: Hamilton books of Roman and Littlefield.
13 McKibben, Bill (2019). Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? New York: Henry Holt Publisher.
14 Martin, Glen T. (2010). Constitution for the Federation of Earth: With Introduction, Commentary, and Conclusion by Glen T. Martin. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press. The Constitution.
15 Wilber, Ken (2017). Trump and the Post-Truth World. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publisher.
16 Martin, Glen T. (2021a). “The I, the We, and the It and the Third Estate.” Academia Letters online.