Will the Earth Keep on Keepin’ On? Will We?

Mar Peter-Rieux's review of Anatomy of a Sustainable World by Glen Martin.

Will the earth keep on keepin’ on? As a motto for the civil rights movement in the U.S., “keep on keepin’ on” meant to keep on with the struggle all the way to the goal to build the ‘beloved community’, to keep on all the way to making a community that is socially and economically just, wherein all people of good will participate in bringing about a world without racism, poverty, or war.

Glen Martin’s surpassing The Anatomy of a Sustainable World: Our Choice Between Climate Change or System Change – And How You Can Make a Difference is a perceptive, informed, systematic, and visionary map detailing how we get to such a community. Designed by members of the World Problems Institute and the World Constitution and Parliament Association – world civic and political activists, spiritual leaders, scholars - over years of serious and sustained work, this sought-for community is organized globally as the Federation of the Earth, structured to ensure a sustainable environment, and for the maximum benefit of all the world’s people. With a serious, sober, analytic appraisal of climate change, its causes and consequences, the committees have kept on, studying, analyzing, and mapping a sustainable alternative to the present world order of savage inequities and the predatory plundering of an earth now on the brink of disaster.

Martin’s “map” resonates with King’s ‘beloved community’, as well as with the Planetary Theology of Sri Lankan Tissa Balysuria, and Benjamin R. Barber’s ‘second front’ against terrorism, that is, Barber’s thesis of “interdependence” and a loose federation of willing countries. The Federation of the Earth is designed to actualize a quality of life that shares equitably the goods of the earth, provides universal, progressive education, universal healthcare, and eliminates poverty and scarcity, triggers of conflict. In contrast to the now dominant system of “monstrous” banks and multinationals, and a rigged economic system causing terrible poverty for billions at the bottom, and unimaginable wealth for the few at the top, the Federation puts the economic system where it rightfully belongs, in the service and power of the people.

Lucid and learned, Martin’s book lays out the organization of an amazing array of ideas and items that are necessary for organizing the Federation. Key concepts include: planetary democracy based on a paradigm shift from fragmentation and sovereign nation states to a Federation founded on holism, diversity in unity, global economics that benefit all fairly, privileging the earth’s fragile ecological systems, and healing deep ecological damage as much as possible.

It is hard to dismiss the planning and prodigious work towards founding the Federation. But with evil across the earth, slaughtering, torturing, trafficking into the millions, such a global paradigm shift would seem unlikely to happen. But then, as Martin notes, one must consider the unlikely paradigm shifts in the past, the gradual shifts in public consciousness and actions that appear in the course of life and which increase to a tipping point, and, finally, result in a new paradigm. In our time, emerging concepts of holism, the interconnectedness of all things, of unity in diversity are supported by science, and to which spiritual wisdom has long given witness. Ralph Ellison once remarked that the great thing about literature is that it reveals the wholeness of humanity.

Commentators refer to the need of global governmental structures to deal with transnational problems that are not rooted in single nations, such as the case in point, the enormous consequences of climate change. However, the character of that global government is pivotal. Martin makes the case that the nature of humankind and the universe, itself, require an authentic global democracy. This planetary democracy is the cornerstone of the Federation.

An interesting correspondence to Martin’s thesis is found in Matthew Albracht’s article, “The Leading Edge of Peace: Our Evolutionary Path Forward”. As Martin sees emerging in this century the concepts and components necessary for a paradigm shift, Albracht makes a case for today’s burgeoning field of peace-building, with new methodologies of peace appearing “at every level of society.” He urges that a movement be galvanized “to create much stronger systems and infrastructure to support it.” As society’s thought and actions further the possibility of a new planetary order of peace and social justice, the roadmap is drawn, the complex, interrelated structures conceived and mapped, ready for the Federation to be founded. For Martin, “our praxis at this point of history must be advocacy of the founded society under the Constitution of the Federation of the Earth.” For the sake of our earth, that it might keep on keepin’ on, we must realize the environmental crisis facing all of us, and, with Martin, keep on with an urgent praxis-of-advocacy. Will we?

(Mar Peter-Rieux is a professor of philosophy at Marist College in New York State, a member of the World Constitution and Parliament Association, and the Treasurer of International Philosophers for Peace.)