The Political Legitimacy of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth
By Dr. Glen T. Martin
President, World Constitution and Parliament Association
Some people in the broad movement for democratic world government have recently become interested in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth as a prototype or model for people to study who wish to develop thinking toward an earth constitution. The leadership of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) very much affirms the idea that groups thinking about a constitution for the Earth use the WCPA Constitution as a model or paradigm that they might like to draw from. We support all initiatives that move the world forward toward a world of freedom, justice, and world law.
However, this raises the issue of the special legal situation that many of us in the WCPA find ourselves in with respect to the Earth Constitution. We are not offering the Constitution for the Federation of Earth as a model or suggestion or proposal for the people of Earth. Many people within the WCPA recognize it as the supreme law of planet Earth. Since the Constitution is not generally accepted by the population of the Earth, and since it does not have institutional mechanisms to enforce itself as the supreme law for the Earth, this places its current status in a very interesting "in-between" legal position. In what way is the Constitution for the Federation of Earth "politically legitimate"?
Often encyclopedia definitions of "political legitimacy" will specify that a set of laws, regime, or constitution must be popularly recognized or accepted to be politically legitimate. But such a notion is problematic in several ways. As you may know, there was a well-known debate in the 1960s between revolutionary political thinker C. Wright Mills and liberal political thinker Robert A. Dahl over issue of political legitimacy in the United States. Mills argued that the United States government was under the control of a tiny elite and that its popular mandate with the people was engineered through propaganda and manipulation. Dahl argued that there were a variety of elite groups struggling with one another and that legitimacy was more widespread and less manipulated that Mills thought. Dahl called this "polyarchy.
"Popular acceptance and obedience to a set of laws alone cannot make political legitimacy. People recognize and obey authorities for all kinds of reasons. People have obeyed oppressive and morally illegitimate authorities out of fear, habit, cowardice, feeling of powerlessness, religious tradition, ideological manipulation, etc. And philosophers of democracy has often argued that democratic institutions alone are legitimate. Other forms of government fail to meet the universal moral principles that give democracy its legitimacy: the recognition of universal human rights, the equality of all under the laws, the right to politically participate in government, sovereignty of the people, etc.
The social contract theory behind the U.S. system (referred to in the Declaration of Independence) makes this point about legitimacy and argues that the right of revolution resides in the people and "whenever any government is in violation of these rights it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it." Hence, the ultimate appeal of political legitimacy are universal moral principles, and democracy is thought to be the only system (which can take various forms) that is therefore legitimate. These ideas are not just "philosophical hot air" for real revolutions have been based on them such as the French and U.S. revolutions. Similar ideas have entered into many subsequent revolutions, for example, the Cuban revolution of 1959 and the Nicaraguan revolution of 1979, both of which began with a small cadre of revolutionaries who justified their actions, and their subsequent regimes, on moral principles.
Authentic revolutionaries (as opposed to power-grabbers who have effected coups, subversions of the people, take-overs, etc.) have always operated out of this sort of justification. Many of us in the WCPA are non-violent revolutionaries. We are not trying to evolve the world (as my opening speech at the Eighth Session of the Parliament, "A Founded World Order versus an Evolved World Order," asserted). Revolutionaries claim that the current order is illegitimate. The attempt to evolve political legitimacy within the present context of mass propaganda and manipulation, power brokering, and systems of domination and subversion is futile and hopeless. It only allows the controlling elite to forever postpone the morally legitimate world order. In the complex world of mass media owned by dominant elites today, to what extent are people manipulated by dictatorial governments and their super-wealthy sponsors to maintain the perception of democratic legitimacy when there is none?
The "Declaration on the Rights of People..." (unanimously passed at the Eighth Session of the Provisional World Parliament) asserts that all the dominant institutions of today's world (governments, the U.N. and the economic system) are illegitimate. They are not only illegitimate because they are not genuine democracies (although they are not). They are also illegitimate because they cannot satisfy the universal demands of morality that apply to every human being. The declaration makes this very clear. It also makes clear that one of the universal demands of morality is that people live under the rule of democratically legislated laws. Otherwise we are in a condition of "defacto war," as the document states.
Given this situation today, the many thousands of people who chose to write, ratify, and sign the Constitution for the Federation of Earth have realized that it is their right and moral duty to live under the rule of universal democratic constitutional law. By becoming a personal ratifier of the Constitution, I recognize it as the supreme law of planet Earth. This is a revolutionary act. I am morally obligated to live under universal democratic law. There is no such law to be found anywhere on Earth except in the form of the Constitution. Therefore, I recognize the Constitution as law.
This means that (for many personal ratifiers such as myself) the Constitution is not and cannot be a proposal, a mere prototype, as suggestion, a creative input into the evolution of a decent world order. If it is law, then laws can only be changed by legal democratic procedures (as outlined by the Constitution). Otherwise we are in a condition of chaos and defacto war where there is no genuine law. The Constitution has this strange legal status, therefore. (Similar to the status of all revolutionary documents.) It is recognized as law by a minority (on the extremely substantial grounds of universal moral principles) at the same time that it is not yet popularly recognized by the people of Earth.
On what grounds does one and should one obey the law? They should be moral grounds. The fact that I obey some laws (of nation states) because of fear of punishment does not give those laws legitimacy. (Professor Errol E. Harris writes about this issue in his book One World or None (2000) and again in his book Earth Federation Now (2005).) We who see the moral demand to live under the rule of universal democratic law must take the Constitution as the politically legitimate document that it is. It is not a proposal. It is the law of the world, superseding all merely national laws (themselves illegitimate in the current world disorder).
The sessions of the Provisional World Parliament share this same "in-between" status of political legitimacy. They are held under the authority of Article 19 of the Constitution and the laws they pass are real world law with this "in-between two worlds" legitimacy status. While they are not binding on the real world parliament once it has been activated (upon ratification of the Constitution), they will be a tremendous asset and impetus to that parliament, giving it guidelines that will influence the entire spirit of the emerging world government. The "Declaration of the Rights of Peoples..." has this same status since it was ratified by the Eighth Session. It can only be changed through a properly introduced proposal at the Ninth or subsequent sessions. It is now an official declaration of the emerging Earth Federation, beyond my personal control.
That is why these sessions of the Provisional World Parliament are of world-historical significance. They are not mere conferences, nor assemblies of do-gooders trying to produce a better world (as the "Declaration on the Rights of People..." puts it). They are representations of the emerging "in-between two worlds" politically legitimate world order. Once ratified, only a subsequent, legitimately assembled (under Article 19) parliament can change their determinations. While we support those in other world government movements who wish to use the Constitution as a prototype or suggestion, for those of us who have made the revolutionary decision to live under the rule of universal democratic laws, the Constitution can only be changed in two ways.
One, of course, would be after it has been ratified by the people and nations of Earth. There are provisions in the Constitution for amendments and changes. The other is for another Constituent Assembly to be called under the WCPA by-laws. There have been four Constituent Assemblies so far in 1968, 1977,1979, and 1991. There is no a priori reason why another could not be called. I personally would use great caution and hesitation in doing this, however, because to open the Constitution easily to revision would weaken its promotion for official ratification by the people and nations of Earth. It would diminish its status as the official Constitution of the emerging Earth Federation and return it to the status of a mere proposal.
We affirm and support all who make friendly suggestions to us or who work toward a similar goal of a democratically legitimate world order. But we cannot change our moral stance as revolutionaries who have committed ourselves to leave the state of defacto war and live under the rule of universal law. We now even have a pledge of allegiance, officially ratified by the Seventh Session of Parliament, and hence not alterable except by a subsequent act of parliament.
People can take this pledge, and commit themselves to be citizens of a truly new, and morally legitimate, world order. At the opening ceremonies of the Eighth Session of Parliament, the audience, led by Eugenia Almand, read this pledge aloud. It is very powerful. If people all over the world begin taking this pledge, a new world order will emerge before our very eyes. It is a pledge, an oath, a commitment to live one's life as a legally constituted world citizen under the genuine rule of universal law.
Below is the Pledge that has been taken by many world citizens and serves as a basis for the "act of civil obedience" taking one's life out of the immoral condition of the present world disorder (with no legitimate law) and placing one's life under morally grounded universal world law. This pledge was approved by the Provisional World Parliament. Below the Pledge is the Declaration of the Rights of Peoples unanimously approved by the delegates of the Eighth Session of the Provisional World Parliament.
A Pledge of Allegiance to the Federation of Earth
I pledge allegiance to the Constitution for the Federation of Earth,
and to the Republic of free world citizens for which it stands,
One Earth Federation, protecting by law the rich diversity of the Earth's citizens,
One Earth Federation, protecting the precious ecology of our planet.
I pledge allegiance to the World Parliament representing all nations and peoples,
and to the democratic processes by which it proceeds,
One law for the Earth, with freedom and equality for all,
One standard of justice, with a bill of rights protecting each.
I pledge allegiance to the future generations protected by the Earth Constitution,
And to the unity, integrity, and beauty of humankind, living in harmony on the Earth,
One Earth Federation, conceived in love, truth, and hope,
with peace and prosperity for all.