Friday, January 29, 2010

Comenian Outline

An Outline of Comenian Governance

By John Taylor; 2010 Jan 29, Sultan 10, 166 BE

There follows here the umpteenth draft of the introduction to my book-in-progress, People without Borders. My apologies to regular readers for the repetition.

Comenian world government

The Enlightenment project in the 18th Century proposed that progress toward an ideal enlightened state can be attained through science alone. Religion can safely be left out of the equation. Faith is at best a distraction, at worst inherently harmful. It is reactionary, corrupt and prone to fundamentalism. For over a century the spectacular advance of scientific research seemed to justify this notion, especially in physics and medicine. Since the close of the 20th Century, though, it has become clear that in spite of its many benefits, scientific knowledge has also contributed to potentially lethal threats to human survival. To name only two striking examples, we now live under the constant threats of both nuclear Armageddon and accelerating global warming.

The cause of human betterment would have been better served had there been no divorce between science and religion, for ultimately the purposes of both are the same, the betterment of humanity. Although they have slightly different purposes and methods, and they deal in vastly different scales of time and space, as long as they recognize and keep within their limitations both can enrich human experience and conduce to progress and enlightenment.

Rather than drawing false dichotomies and bringing these essential kinds of knowledge into competition, we should heed the latter writings of one pre-enlightenment genius who straddled all three of the great potential sources of human progress: politics, science and religion. John Amos Comenius was an experienced peace negotiator, a renowned educational reformer, a founding father of the Royal Society, and a leader in his religious community, the Moravian Brotherhood.

His long experience in these three fields inspired his posthumous masterpiece, the Panorthosia, or Universal Reform, a detailed proposal for a comprehensive reform program that works simultaneously on the personal, local and planetary levels. Panorthosia details how we might strike a happy balance among science, politics and religion. This is by far the most persuasive proposal for a world government ever put forward.

Proposition: the best government conceivable, one far more reliable and efficient than any in the past, should run a world order.

The most common objection to world government is ancient, familiar even in the time of Comenius. The argument goes that world government may well degrade into a tyranny, as have so many well-intentioned regimes in the past. By its very nature, a planetary autocracy would be more oppressive and intrusive than geographically limited authoritarian regimes because it would be impossible to escape. Barring space travel, there would be no escape into exile.

In Panorthosia, Comenius proposes a unique design for a world government that systematically decentralizes power. Its very structure excludes individual leaders and prevents orthodoxies or ideologies from gaining ascendancy. It is inspired by what is often regarded as impossibly idealistic, the dictum in the Sermon on the Mount to see to it that we "call no man master."

A world republic based on this model would not be solely political, or merely religious, or exclusively scientific, but a carefully balanced union of the best of each. Most importantly, it would encourage individuals to strike the same balance in their own lives among practical action, spiritual piety and learning scientifically. A Comenian world government would consist of democratically elected continental parliaments functioning semi-independently of one another. In matters of international law and universal policy, these continental bodies would unite in a tripartite world parliament consisting of three separate, core institutions, disparate in jurisdiction and function but harmonious in purpose.

Thus the universal parliament of humanity intentionally diffuses power. It functions by relying on indirect influence through a world-embracing network of affiliation by common design and methodology, rather than direct fiat. That is, its threefold structure is in some way reflected on each level of society and, like a tuning fork, the vibration of one prong sets forth a harmonic vibration that is heard, understood and expressed everywhere, at every level, especially on the periphery. Thus, individuals, families and neighbourhoods all respond to governance in the center by finding their own balance among common religious, scientific and political experiences and expressions.

The Cosmopolitan Condition and the UCS

In People without Borders I will adapt two Kantian terms to refer to the condition of the world after a de-centralized Comenian world government forms. The first term, "cosmopolitan condition," refers to the ways of thinking and acting that all or most individuals will adopt when the first constitutional and therefore permanent peace comes into being. Continuing the analogy of the tuning fork, the cosmopolitan condition is the form and material of the fork, the shape and strength that make it vibrate as a single entity. The second term, universal civic society (or UCS), I will use to describe the new social structure that planetary unification will permit. The UCS is, then, the musical instrument that a skilled technician, using the vibrations of the fork, puts into perfect tune.

A World Infrastructure

Cosmopolitan reform in the UCS permits us to contemplate a rebuild of our infrastructure from the ground up, including quicker, more efficient travel, the elimination of combustion through electrification using renewable power sources, and new ways of building. Combining these infrastructural improvements would not only avoid pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and other negative impact on the environment but would also maximize the freedom, welfare and security of residents.

As local human potential learns to express religion, science and politics in balance, plans and policy promulgated by the universal parliament will commensurately grow stronger and more effective. Since the mutual tie between the collective center and the individual is not forced but indirect, not dictatorial but ineffable and spiritual in nature, there can be no degradation into arbitrary measures, corruption or manipulation. Democracy itself will for the first time be subject to evolutionary improvement.

A World Electoral System

Instead of "one man, one vote," a new electoral system would offer each individual three votes in three ongoing election cycles, based on a repeating ten year world plan. Each of the three election cycles supports its respective world institution, the religious and spiritual institution, the scientific and educational body, and the institution for politics, peace and practical policymaking. Thus, the triple voting franchise confers upon each human being one vote as a believer, one as a worker and one as a citizen.

As believers, each elects members of an affiliated interfaith institution at each level of society, starting at the household and neighbourhood level and extending right up to the world parliament of religions.

The same applies for our vote as a worker and as citizen. In a Comenian system, everybody is a worker. In this role as tradespersons, professionals, experts or teachers, each votes in an affiliated scientific and professional body, again at the local, neighbourhood, continental and world levels. The general purpose of these institutions of science and education is to promote the enlightenment of humankind. As part of this, they will regulate science and technology and work out an educational curriculum, not only for schools and universities but also for the press, the Internet and other media.

Similarly, as citizens we will elect once every decade a political institution that will keep the peace at each level, right up to the political parliament.

Next Time:

A World Financial System

A World Intelligentsia

World Security


No comments: