Even today, we find that there are clashing tides of colour, race, nation, religion and gender that continue to create mutual antagonisms, myths and dreams that divide the human society into hostile camps, and unfortunately there is no world body with a firm resolve to neutralize such hostilities. It was hoped that the United Nations Organisation could finally carry out its duties in a world government framework, but it does not yet have the authority, strength or the necessary political design to accomplish its task.
The tyrannisation and oppression of Tibetan people, suppression and subjugation of Palestinian people, persecution of minorities in Bangladesh, ruthless invasion of Iraq on falls pretext and denying the authority of U.N., conflict in Kashmir and Sri Lanka, conspiracy of the economic tycoons to control the economic power, demonstrate clearly the impotence of the United Nations.
The powerlessness of the world body lies in the fact that one of the Big Five (the permanent members of the security council) can veto any crucial decision of the collective body. Another vital problem is the contradiction in the UN charter between its first purpose- to maintain international peace – and the first principle of the sovereign equality of all its member states. This means that the UN has no real authority to interfere in the internal affairs of any nation, even if its minorities are victimised by the ruling class. The powerful nations can actually invade any country with impunity without the mandate of the UN, as was carried out by the USA on Iraq on false pretexts.
One of the principal tasks of the UN, as set forth in Article 55 of the charter, is to promote “Universal respect for, and observance of human rights and fundamental freedom for all without distinction as to race, sex, language and religion.” In conformity with this provision of the charter, the Human Rights Commission was set up by the Economic and Social Council of the UN. The commission drew up the famous Universal Declaration of Human rights, which was adopted by the General Assembly of the UN in December 1948. This declaration is still now regarded as an international Magna Carta for all.
This declaration consists of a preamble and thirty articles. Closely following the American Bill of Rights and declaration of people’s rights in other countries, the first part of the declaration reaffirms political and civil rights and various freedoms, such as freedom of speech and worship, personal security, equality before law, a right to own property etc. The second part, prepared later, deals with human rights, generally called economic, social and cultural rights.
However, a mere declaration of rights cannot ensure the enforcement of these rights unless they are recognised by the concerned governments. In the absence of any constitutional obligation and any agency to enforce these rights, the Declaration has so far remained a pious wish. It is essential today to ensure some form of legal sanction so that the rights can be enforced. For that to happen, the world body must have constitutional sovereignty over national sovereignty.
To neutralise the antagonism between ethnic, racial, religious and tribal groups, the spirit of Neohumanism should be given prime importance. In the middle of the twentieth century, M.N. Roy wrote, “Humanism is cosmopolitan. It does not run after a utopian internationalism, which presupposes the existence of autonomous nation states. A cosmopolitan commonwealth of free men and women is a possibility. It will be a spiritual community, not limited by the boundaries of nation states – capitalists, fascist, communist, or any other isms, which will gradually disappear under the impact of cosmopolitan humanism.”1
Shrii P.R Sarkar proposed: “The universe is just like a joint family. Peace and tranquility depend upon the well-knit socio-economic structure. The mould of the socio-economic structure depends upon the ideological outlook. First we should have a constructive ideal. The ideal should not only be a culminating point but it should be a starting point also”.2
He further advised:
“Universalism does not depend upon any relative factor. Hence it is free from the vices of “isms”. “Isms” thrive because of group interests. Amongst any other factor, “isms” form a major factor of war. Those who are eager to establish peace should shake off nationalism and other allied “isms”. If we are to shake off these “isms” we have to organise a universal body and go on strengthening its power. This will be the first phase in establishing the World Government. In the initial stage it will be a law framing body. The first beneficial effect of such a body will be that no country will be allowed to frame laws detrimental to the interest of its minorities. The right execution of those laws will be vested with the local government and not with the World Government. The World Government will decide the principles to enforce law in a particular country”. 3
With the constitutional empowerment of the World Government, economic power should be decentralised. Self-reliant socioeconomic zones should be formed on the basis of the sentimental legacy and economic potentiality of each zone. This will be the lowest unit of the world confederation.
Factors essential for a World Government:
Discarding all forms of nationalism or internationalism in the form of fascism, communism, capitalism, etc., universalism must find its way towards the establishment of a world government. The following factors are essential for this purpose:
- A common philosophy of life
- Universality of constitutional structure
- A common penal code
- Availability of the minimum requirements of life
(1) A common philosophy of life:
“People unite on a common ideology. Unless and until the inhabitants of this vast planetary world accept one vital ideology, there is little chance of social synthesis. In its absence, quarrels among the members are inevitable. Hence a common philosophy is an essentiality. Amongst all the cruder and subtle philosophies of life, only one philosophy rests absolute and other philosophies depend on relative factors. Amongst the different schools of philosophical thoughts, the cruder is the philosophy, the weaker will be the social knitting. When people unite in a subtle motive, the philosophy becomes subtler and subtler, and the social tie will become stronger”.4
(2) Universality of constitutional structure:
The dominating classes have framed laws in different eras of their domination. The difference between cardinal law, moral law and human law should be minimised. Discarding narrow considerations of religion and class domination, there should be one universally accepted law. The world constitution must be based on the following principles (Neo-Magna Carta):
(a) Complete security should be guaranteed to all the plants and animals of the planet.
(b) Each country must guarantee purchasing power to all citizens to secure their minimum requirements of life.
(c) The constitution must guarantee four fundamental rights:
…………Spiritual practice or Dharma
………….Indigenous linguistic expression
(d) If the practice of any of these rights conflict with cardinal human values, then the practice should be immediately curtailed. That is, cardinal human values must take precedence over all other rights.
(3) A common penal code:
The penal code should also be prepared on the basis of constitutional structure. The entire conception of vice and virtue needs to be changed, as explained earlier.
(4) The minimum necessities of human life should be guaranteed:
Food, shelter, clothes, education, and medicine constitute the minimum requirements of life. Special amenities may be given to the people who are making bigger contributions to society, only after guaranteeing the minimum requirements to every person. For this purpose, economic balance for the whole world must be restored.
Democracy – Its concept and character
What is the democratic way of life? It includes faith in human relations, tolerance, respect for opinion even if contradictory, equal justice and rights for all, freedom of thought and expression. It also means to act according to one’s conscience, to do one’s rightful duty without fear and to support a government which a person has a voice in making and dissolving. Finally, it also entails promoting moral causes and advancing proper reforms without fear of a repugnant reaction from the ruling class.
Democracy may mean either a form of society or a form of government. Democracy in the form of a social organization rests on the principle of social equality. It presupposes the absence of race, caste or class distinctions. Democracy becomes meaningful, however, only when all the members of the society have equal economic rights and when the ultimate power rests with the people.
Democracy as a form of government, means a government in which the people exercise their indirect control over the government through their elected representatives. In modern times, democracy implies something more than a form of government. It is a form of a social character.
Today, political thinkers are realizing that the democratic ideal will remain imperfect unless the entire domain of economic activity is democratized. The main features of modern democracy in its political aspect are:
- Indirect popular rule in the form of universal franchise
- Rule of majority
- Responsible government
- Alternation of power
- Decentralisation of power through the institution of local government.
It is to be noted that democratic principles today apply only to the government, or at best to the political structure. There still exists an undemocratic social, economic and judicial order. In order to be real, democracy must be a combination of social, political and economic democracy, including a judicial system with the opportunity for all to get equal justice. The ideal of equality and liberty will remain unrealized by giving voting rights alone; they must be extended to social, economic, religious and to all other institutional forms where a collective decision is essential.
Democracy is not confined to the concept of voting rights or multi party government, but to the mechanism by which the most qualified person has the best chance to be elected. According to PROUT, democracy can be successful only when the masses are educated, social consciousness is quite evolved, when moral standards are sufficiently high and the minimum requirements of all people are guaranteed.
In the nineteenth century it was believed that “Universal suffrage could once change the character of society from a state of watchfulness, doubt and suspicion to that of brotherly love, reciprocal interest and universal confidence”.5 But what is the condition today? Does the system of franchise reflect the will of the people? Does it create a world of mutual trust, confidence and unity? What are the shortcomings of the present system of election in democratic countries?
According to Erich Fromm, “the problem of democracy today is not any more the restriction of franchise but the manner in which the franchise is exercised. How can people express “their” will if they do not have any will or conviction of their own, if they are alienated automations, whose tastes, opinions and preferences are manipulated by the big conditioning machines. Under these circumstances universal suffrage becomes a fetish. It is supposed that if a government can prove that everybody has a right to vote, and that the votes are counted honestly, it is democratic. If everybody votes, but the votes are not counted honestly, or if the voters are afraid of voting against the governing party, the country is undemocratic. But this is a misnomer.
It is true indeed that there is a considerable and important difference between free and manipulated elections, but noting this difference must not lead to forgetting the fact that even free elections do not necessarily express “the will of the people”. If a highly advertised brand of toothpaste is used by the majority of people because of some fantastic claims it makes in its propaganda, nobody with any sense would say that the people have “made a decision” in favour of it. All that could be claimed is that the propaganda was sufficiently effective to coax millions of people into believing its claims.
In an alienated society the mode in which people express their will is not very different from that of their choice in buying commodities. They are listening to the drums of propaganda, and facts mean little in comparison with the suggestive noise which hammers at them. In recent years, we have seen more and more how the guidance of public relations counsels determines the political propaganda. Accustomed to make the public buy anything for the build up of which there is enough money, they think of political ideas and political leaders in the same terms. They use television to build up political personalities as they use it to sell a soap product; what matters is the effect, in sales or votes, not the rationality or usefulness of what is presented…In principle this is not different from the endorsement of a cigarette by a famous sportsman or movie actor”. 6
According to PROUT, the right of people to vote on acquiring a certain age only, is fundamentally defective. The majority of people are incapable of judging the qualities of a candidate unless they have acquired a fair level of consciousness. Common people remain engrossed in satisfying their common needs. They are reluctant and uninterested to find a true leader. Some argue that fair education for the masses is an answer to that, but it has proved futile even in developed countries. Much energy and resources are being spent on literacy in these countries, but people are not satisfied with the order or values thriving under their elected democrats. In fact, education in modern society has been designed towards specialisation and to fill the need of the job market. In a deeper sense, it has not been directed to arouse maturity, conscience, awareness or consciousness. Unless these virtues are taught, no judgment, no opinion and no decision can be mature or fitting, and these virtues come neither through age, status, or instruction. For this, human beings has to realise their own self, liberate their intellect, and some basic moral values.
PROUT suggests that voting rights should be confined to people who are socially and politically conscious and who have minimum moral standards. Voters should be selected by independent social bodies and not by political institutions or any government. In order to survive fascism, democracy must outgrow the limitations of formal Parliamentarianism based on a split and therefore helpless electorate. It may be argued that we are proposing to curtail the democratic rights that are prevalent today. However, it must be remembered that liberal democracy has led to serious economic domination by economic oligarchies and failed to provide the proper environment for the achievement of freedom and the rights to control the means of production.
Without proper social consciousness and the enhancement of cardinal human values, any conception of democratic rights is deceptive. Real democracy demands more participation of the people in political and economic activities and does not confine them to a class or party. Democratic rights are not just confined to the idea of putting a piece of paper into a box every four or five years: it also demands freedom of thought and expression which is indirectly controlled in the so called democratic countries through their public relation apparatus and mass media.
The Structure of Government
Even after the formation of a World Government, governments of regional self-reliant economic units will still operate under the guidance of the World Government. A coherent structure and infrastructure needs to be built up for a successful administration. Under the World Government, there should be successive levels of government administration. Federal government, the provincial or state government, and local self government. There should be a clear division of responsibilities among the different layers of the government. At the same time, there should be a proper system of coordination between the horizontal and vertical layers of governments.
The World Government will frame the constitution and function as a coordinating body. It will have three branches of administration: Executive, judiciary and legislature. The legislative body will have the responsibility for framing laws, and its members will be elected. This is the synthetic portion of the government. Executives are the analytical portion of the government and they will be selected, functioning under the guidance of the legislative body. The legislative council will be bicameral – the Lower and Upper Council. The members for the lower council will be elected population wise, and the representation in the upper council will be elected country wise.
Prout favours a party-less democracy in the long run. In two party or multiparty systems, party interest casts a shadow over the national interest. Parties today are generally manipulated by the capitalist class. A strong leader in a party may manipulate the party to serve his personal interests. In a one party system, party bureaucrats form the privileged class. However, different federations may adopt different system: either two party, multiparty, one party or even a benevolent dictatorship, provided they accept the world constitution. This political pluralism is accepted in Prout, because Prout accepts that the political system should evolve naturally in the light of the existing social-psychology and culture, depending on the domination of different classes. In a party-less democracy each candidate will seek election on the basis of his personal moral integrity and universal outlook, and the working agenda. It is not essential at this stage to define the function and jurisdiction of each level of government. Each federation will develop its system of working based on basic principles laid down in the constitution.
Though at its inception, the World Government will function only as a law making body, subsequently it should have the authority to interfere with the federal government, only in the case of violation of the constitution or human rights. Otherwise, it will become another impotent body like the United Nations Organisation (UNO). National sovereignty has to be subordinated to the World Body.
Role of Social Boards( Civic society)
As mentioned earlier, Social Boards should be formed to balance the power of political structure. The political institution is one of the many institutions in the society. This should not interfere with the cultural and educational institutions, mass media, trade unions and other professional bodies. In economic development also, its function will only be to coordinate. Social boards should guide the policy of working in the above matters. Today, in the absence of social institutions, every one of these functions are controlled by political bureaucrats in totalitarian countries; and in democratic countries, capitalists directly control the above institutions and indirectly influence the collective psychology.
Social Boards will not interfere in the day-to-day activities of the political structure, but will check if the constitution or any human rights are violated. They will be assisted in their function by organised unions and different professional bodies. They will guide the educational policies, assist the growth of value-oriented spiritual culture, and will frame the guiding principles for the mass media. In the absence of such a system the mass media mostly serve the interest of the ruling class.
The influence of the Social Boards will restrain political and economic exploitation or any misuse of power. Previously, religious institutions played such a role to some extent, but the power was confined to a particular class (the priests), and religious dogma created another form of suppression.
Members of Social Boards will represent different sections of society. Only value-oriented intellectuals and spiritually awakened people should take upon themselves the responsibility to form such social institutions. They should neither be selected by any government, nor be elected through normal adult franchise. Those selfless persons, whose integrity is beyond doubt, and who can infuse confidence and dynamism in people’s minds, will gain the support of the people through consensus. Such enlightened people should take the initiative to organise themselves on a global basis with their respective functioning branches. They will introduce a normal democratic process in their internal functioning.
Now the question may arise to what will be the source of the social boards’ power? These can be as follows:
- Most importantly, their strong moral integrity, selfless attitude, courage, dynamism and spiritual awareness will be their source of spiritual power.
- The world constitution should incorporate their supervisory jurisdiction over the political institutions.
- A strong and powerful social infrastructure will guarantee their popular support and ensure their organised power.
- The Social Boards will control the world militia (if at all needed).
Social Boards on a world level will also control all the research and construction of sophisticated weapons if needed. They will remain responsible for decisions about the use of nuclear energy or the like, or any such policies should vested with social boards.
With the higher evolution of social consciousness, the role and function of social institutions will expand without the fear of interference by the dominating class. Today we find that everywhere the government has distanced itself from the people. It has allowed the growth of bureaucracy in abnormal proportions. People’s aspirations and sentiments have constantly been ignored.
Take for example, the aspirations of the people of Tibet, Palestine and Iraq, which are ruthlessly suppressed. The native Americans, and other minorities throughout the world have yet to get the scope for their free expression.
Social control will neutralise the power hungry dictators, minimize the role of bureaucracy and safeguard the rights of the minorities and it will also neutralize the superpowers. It will enable free expression of creative arts without political and other sectarian influence. At the same time, it will arrest the growth of pseudo-culture which is proliferating in the guise of art and literature. The fear of political repression and economic domination will be eliminated.
If in any parts of the world any self styled dictator or group violates human rights and tries to create disunity, the World Government will take direct action with the approval of the Social Boards.
The Formation of a World Government
In the first instance, it will be preferable that regional parliaments (for example, Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia) should be created, similar to the European Parliament. These should be the legitimate independent sources of regional and international law.
The formation of a world government will presuppose firstly the formation of an administrative assembly of all democratic states and societies – which will ultimately lead to the reformation of the United Nations. The UN, as previously mentioned, combines two contradictory principles of representation: the equality of all countries (one country – one vote in the General Assembly) and deference to geo-political strength (special veto power in the Security Council to those with current or former superpower status).
The formation of an administrative assembly of all democratic states and societies – the world government – would seek automatically to place principles of democratic representation above those of superpower politics. The new assembly of the world government in its early stages will function purely as a law-making body and as a complement to the UN; which in the course of time it will replace.
The Proutist Election System
As mentioned earlier, there should be three branches of government. It is essential to define the interrelation between the executive, legislative and judiciary systems. In the USA the executive branch is more powerful than the others. Very much power is vested in the President, whereas in Britain, the Prime Minister is head of both the executive and the legislative branch, and the legislature is more powerful. In Switzerland there is a seven-person council, all members with equal power. In the USA, the judiciary can bring about amendments of the constitution, whereas in Britain and Switzerland they cannot, but all these three countries are known as ideal democratic countries.
Prout suggests that the legislative, executive, judiciary and audit departments should be neutrall and autonomous to avoid ministerial interference. To form the world council, each country will send specified numbers of elected representatives to both the councils of the world government. Members of both the councils jointly will elect the chairperson, who will then select the executive branch of the administration. The chairperson will remain responsible to the council for his or her actions and can be impeached by the joint session of the council.
At the federal or national level, Prout proposes a Presidential form of republic with much power vested with the President. The President will select the executive branch, and the members of both councils will form committees to advise the President on policy matters. The President will remain responsible to the council for his or her actions, and will be elected by the electoral college. Social boards on different levels will remain responsible for selecting the members of the electoral college. The election will be held in two stages like the French system, to ensure that the President has the support of more than 50% of the voters. The Presidential election can be confirmed through a plebiscite of the general population if considered essential. The electoral college will also elect the legislature in local self government, state and federal councils (both upper and lower councils).
Members of the lower council will be elected population-wise, and that of the upper council state-wise. In the absence of a party system, representatives will be elected on their merits only. Each will have to submit their ideas to the people. If they fail in their obligations, they can be recalled by the electoral college. In case of a single candidate, instead of automatic elections a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote will be required.
The World Court
A world court will deal with cases of international disputes and the grievances of minority communities. The decision of the world court should be binding on all member nations or federations. If any nation continues to violate the world constitution, the World Government should have the power to interfere.
Prout proposes a system to maintain the balance of power between political structure and social structure. This system will involve the maximum participation of people in the political and economic decision-making process, which is the real foundation for the success of democracy.
- Roy, M. N. – The New Humanism, Renaissance, Publishers, Calcutta 1952
- Sarkar, P. R. – Problem of the Day, A. M. Publications, Calcutta 1978
- Ibid –
- Ibid –
- Chackravarti, Shivnath – Introduction to Politics, Modern Book Agency, Kolkata 1977
- Fromm, Erich – The Sane Society, Holt, Rhinehard and Wiriston N.Y. 1973