By John Taylor; 2010 Oct 02, Mashiyyat 06, 167 BE
We have seen some of Plato's ideas about wisdom and corruption in the Laws. Here he offers the thesis that only by wisdom does a society become stable; power corrupts and therefore, "it is wrong to establish overpowerful or unmixed sovereignties..." (Plato, Collected Dialogues, The Laws, 693a, p. 1282). Most of Panorthosia, or Universal Reform, is concerned with reforms that avoid corruption by diversifying the bases of power, starting within the individual, continuing on up to the highest level.
Only at the end of Panorthosia, in two short closing chapters, does Comenius deal with the details of world government. Once corruption is under control, we can safely set up a global government by either electing or appointing representatives from each continent to come together in a universal gathering, an intercontinental constitutional conference. Although Comenius does not offer as many details as one might expect, he does paint the general outlines of what he expects would emerge.
At the global convention, organizers would give each delegate a condensed version of Panorthosia as supplemental reading. The delegates would then choose from among themselves the members of standing world institutions, including a senate and parliament, who would stay and meet permanently at a world capital -- he suggested London. Initially, the members of the international institutions, one set for each continent and one for the whole world, would be appointed or at least ratified by national governments. After everything is set up, elections would take place again every decade. Once a working, dependable global election process is in operation the appointment of delegates can stop, since the world's people have primary moral authority. At that point Cosmopolis Earth will have come into being.
Because wisdom is only possible when every part of the whole participates in due proportion, this can be no ordinary conference restricted to narrow, limited ends. It would involve experts of all kinds, who would devise international standards including not only weights and measures, but the much more difficult question of an official world language. Today, we would include many more areas to be regulated, including ocean fisheries and mines, and climate change issues, eliminating carbon and soot emissions, and development and wildlife conservation goals. Educators would devise standards for school curricula designed to encourage diversity while removing artificial barriers of class and culture. An economic section would seek ways and means of narrowing the gap between rich and poor, and so forth.
Comenius had good reason for devoting so little space to the details and setup of a world government. He had seen first hand the truculent peace negotiators in Amsterdam, trying to end the Anglo-Dutch war. It is folly to fill a room with angry, greedy partisans and expect productive results. The clashes of blathering bigots can only prolong conflicts. This is because, as Plato asserts in the Laws, it is impossible to be a partisan and a citizen at the same time. It is crucial, no matter how the global constitutional convention is organized, that the meeting room be filled with citizens concerned with the welfare of all, and that partisans be kept away. Plato and Comenius would be horrified to find out that today's democracies require of those who wish to become politically involved that they join a political party. That is like forcing cadets to join the Mafia in order to become police officers.
For all these reasons, Comenius chose to devote over 90 percent of his text to the question: how do we involve everybody as sober, balanced and vigorous citizens, without degrading anyone into a fanatical partisan? That is, how do we mix power relations? His answer was to make every world citizen a member of three guiding institutions, each specialized according to a fundamental human purpose. In our lives we are called upon to balance three basic expressions or reasons for being through three relations, with nature, God and with our fellow man.
First, we maintain a relationship with nature and the physical world; through science and education, we seek enlightenment through a philosophy of life. Therefore, each of us can be a card carrying member of what Comenius calls the College of Light.
Second, we all have a relationship to God, or at least seek a place in eternity and infinity. No matter what our beliefs, all in some way enjoy or participate in expressions of music, art and religion. As such, we have the right to be voting members of the Consistory of Holiness.
Third, each of us relates with our fellows. Every human, therefore, has an interest in the establishment of peace, reciprocity and political harmony in the world. This qualifies every individual as a functionary of the Dicastery of Peace.
We express this triple human right and responsibility by serving in affiliated institutions -- a college of light, a consistory of holiness and a dicastery of peace -- at every level, especially local ones, the family, neighbourhood and the workplace. That way, instead of a monolithic state, each level of governance, from family to neighbourhood right on up, bifurcates according to Comenius' three chambered model, each branch of which is affiliated with a global franchise. Every government at every level of society, from the global right down to the family and the individual, expresses in its own way each of these three pursuits. As a result, the narrow democratic principle of "one man one vote" grows into, "one person, three votes."