Fundamental Principles of Humanitarianism

“As a doctrine, or as a social-political philosophy, Humanitarianism is based on only five great principles that, despite its apparent simplicity, encompass a whole metaphysical vision that, synthetically and allegorically, is supported by two master columns that are the motto of Humanitarianism: UNITY IN DIVERSITY. These two central aspects constitute the essence of the Universal Brotherhood Law which, applied to humanity, is the first and most important principle of Humanitarianism. As we will try to demonstrate in this work, this metaphysical perspective and these principles are of central importance for the welfare of humanity. These five principles are:

1 – All human beings constitute an UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD.

2 – All human beings have the same origin and the same essential nature and, therefore, the SAME ESSENCIAL VALUE.

3 – Notwithstanding the essential unity, and the same essential value, the human beings present DIFFERENT CAPABILITIES.

4 – As a consequence of these first three principles, the rule that should guide the justice and the harmony which is possible among the human beings is the EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITIES, in order to better promote the development of the different levels and types of individual capacities.

5 – The ethical principle of ELITE’S RESPONSIBILITY, from which also depends the advent of the new social institutions.” [Arnaldo Sisson Filho. What Is Wrong with Politics? Bases for a True Democracy (O Que Há de Errado com a Política? Fundamentos para uma Verdadeira Democracia)]

The Universal Brotherhood As a Law: the Only Object

The principle or Law of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity actually encompasses the other four principles presented above. These additional principles are important because they specify the foundational aspects of the great principle or Law of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity. Therefore, in reality, the sole objective of HUMANITARIANISM as a social movement, is the dissemination and practical application of the principle or Law of the Brotherhood of all human beings, as long as it is properly understood.” [Arnaldo Sisson Filho. What Is Wrong with Politics? Bases for a True Democracy (O Que Há de Errado com a Política? Fundamentos para uma Verdadeira Democracia), Chapter 1, Introduction]


All Subjects Are Connected to Metaphysics and Ethics (which Transcend the World of Ordinary Science): If They Are Not True, They Inevitably Lead to Disaster

“All subjects, no matter how specialized, are connected with a centre; they are like rays emanating from a sun. The centre is constituted by our most basic convictions, by those ideas which really have the power to move us. In other words, the centre consists of metaphysics and ethics, of ideas that — whether we like it or not — transcend the world of facts. Because they transcend the world of facts, they cannot be proved or disproved by ordinary scientific method. But that does not mean that they are purely ‘subjective’ or ‘relative’ or mere arbitrary conventions. They must be true to reality, although they transcend the world of facts — an apparent paradox to our positivistic thinkers. If they are not true to reality, the adherence to such a set of ideas must inevitably lead to disaster.” (Ernst Schumacher. Small Is Beautiful, pp. 94-95; emphasis added)


XIXth-Century Great Ideas Deny or Obliterate the Hierarchy of Levels in the Universe

“While the nineteenth-century ideas deny or obliterate the hierarchy of levels in the universe, the notion of an hierarchical order is an indispensable instrument of understanding. Without the recognition of ‘Levels of Being’ or ‘Grades of Significance’ we cannot make the world intelligible (…) Maybe it is man’s task — or simply, if you like, man’s happiness — to attain a higher degree of realization of his potentialities, a higher level of being or ‘grade of significance’ than that which comes to him ‘naturally’: we cannot even study this possibility except by re-cognizing the existence of a hierarchical structure. To the extent that we interpret the world through the great, vital ideas of the nineteenth century, we are blind to these differences of level, because we have been blinded.” (Ernst Schumacher. Small Is Beautiful, pp. 95-96; emphasis added)


Secret of the Spiritual Failure and Unconscious Egotism of this Age: Lack of a Universal Moral Law or Principle

The philantropy you Western thinkers boast of, having no character of universality; i.e. never having been established on the firm footing of a moral, universal principle; never having risen higher than theoretical talk; (…) is but a mere accidental manifestation but no recognised LAW. (…) This, I think is, the secret of the spiritual failure and unconscious egotism of this age.” (K.H. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, n. 28, p. 215; emphasis added)


Universal Brotherhood Is a Law in Nature, Not Only an Aspiration

Brotherhood, then, in its full meaning, is a law in nature. Stress has more than once been laid on this in our meetings, but not too much stress has thereon been laid. For it is the very object, the desire, of our work that brotherhood shall become practical in society, and it will never become practical until men understand that it is a law, and not only an aspiration. It is a common experience that when men have discovered a law of nature they no longer fight against it. They at once accommodate themselves to the new knowledge. They at once adapt themselves to the newly understood conditions, and in that very way we have preached brotherhood. And yet brotherhood is but so little known in our world.” (Annie Besant. The Spiritual Life, Vol. II, p. 160; emphasis added)


Universal Brotherhood: It Is the Only Secure Foundation for Universal Morality

“The term “Universal Brotherhood” is no idle phrase. (…) It is the only secure foundation for universal morality. If it be a dream, it is at least a noble one for mankind: and it is the aspiration of the true adept.” (K.H. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, n. 4, p. 17)


The Principle or Law of Universal Brotherhood is Very Little Understood: It Is the One Essential of Doctrine and of Life of Both Buddhism and Christianity

How little this principle of Universal Brotherhood is understood by the masses of mankind, how seldom its transcendent importance is recognized, may be seen in the diversity of opinions and fictitious interpretations regarding the Theosophical Society. This Society was organized on this one principle, the essential Brotherhood of Man, as herein briefly outlined and imperfectly set forth. It has been assailed as Buddhistic and anti-Christian, as though it could be both these together, when both Buddhism and Christianity, as set forth by their inspired founders, make brotherhood the one essential of doctrine and of life.” (Helena Blavatsky, quoting J.D. Buck, in The Key to Theosophy, p. 18; emphasis added)


Only by Comparing the Great Religions and Philosophers that Men Can Hope to Arrive at the Truth

“It is only by studying the various great religions and philosophers of humanity, by comparing them dispassionately and with an unbiased mind, that men can hope to arrive at the truth. It is especially by finding out and noting their various points of agreement that we may achieve this result. For the sooner do we arrive — either by study, or by being taught by someone who knows — at their inner meaning, than we find, almost in every case, that it expresses some great truth in Nature.” (Helena Blavatsky. The Key to Theosophy, p. 58)


Reincarnation and Karma, in Other Words, Hope and Responsibility, Will Bring Better Days

“(…) if the doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and Responsibility, find a home in the lives of new generations, then, indeed, will dawn the day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and are outcast.” (Helena Blavatsky. Collected Writings, Vol. XI, p. 202; emphasis added)


Universal Brotherhood Under the Law of Reincarnation and Karma Will Solve Many of the Problems

“But to understand Brotherhood, we must remember that evolution proceeds by reincarnation under the law of the karma.(…) Now most of you believe these two great teachings and in your individual lives they play a mighty part. Why do you not apply them to nations as well as to individuals, to social problems as well as to the helping of your own personal development? As the ideas of reincarnation and karma make their way in the western world, which has the habit of applying principles to practice, I think we shall find this Principle of Universal Brotherhood under the law of reincarnation and karma will solve many of the problems under which the western world is groaning, in our time.” (Annie Besant. The Ideals of Theosophy, p. 21; emphasis added)


Out of these Differences Grows Up All the Possibilities of an Ordered Society

“That great principle (or Law) of Reincarnation must ever go hand in hand with the principle (or Law) of Brotherhood if Brotherhood is to be applied, if it is to be made a working principle of ordinary life. For it is out of these differences of age that grows up all the possibilities of an ordered and happy society amongst ourselves.” (Annie Besant. The Changing World, p. 80; emphasis added)


How to Find the Best, That Is the Problem: To Solve It We Must Realise the Hopelessness of the Present Systems of Government

The Ideal is that the best should rule; but how to find them, that is the problem. Every one of us who studies must try to solve this problem, and the suggestions I am here making may perhaps give some hints for the solving. But you will not try to solve it, until you realise the hopelessness of the present line of rulingor not rulingand accept the Ideal that the best should govern.” (Annie Besant. The Ideals of Theosophy, p. 30; emphasis added)


India Should Evolve a New Model of Democracy

“If India can evolve a form of democracy in which there is some chance for the needed wisdom to come to the top, she will thereby be serving the best interests of her own people, as well as setting an example that might help and inspire other peoples.” (N. Sri Ram. On the Watch Tower, p. 82)


Proposal of a System in Harmony with the Law of the Universal Brotherhood (Annie Besant, N. Sri Ram and Jai Prakash Narain)

“Some time ago Pandit Nehru, in one of his speeches, threw out rather vaguely the idea that some day, instead of the present manner of elections to the Indian Parliament, some system, less direct and more suited to conditions in India, might be considered.

Since then, Mr. Jai Prakash Narain (…) has more definitely proposed, in the place of the present form of Democracy in India, a system somewhat similar to that proposed by Dr. Annie Besant in the days of her agitation for Indias Freedom. She did not think that the rule one man, one vote’ was good for any country, andleast of all did she favour it for India. Therefore she outlined, in her The Commonwealth of India Bill [1925], a system which would be broad-based at the village (and corresponding town) level, with adult suffrage and a very large measure of autonomy, and then gradually taper like a pyramid through the District and State (or Province) levels, up to the Central Government. The franchise for the Councils at these higher levels was to be based on increasingly higher qualifications of service, experience, education, etc.

Her scheme, if it had been backed up by the other political leaders of the time, particularly by the Congress party, would have been acceptable to the people of India as a whole. The principle of a reasonable qualification for the vote and for membership of the Councils would have been firmly established. But her pleadings went in vain. Mr. Gandhi stood for mass suffrage, and that decided the question.

Mr. Jai Prakash Narain also envisages a strong and practically self-sufficient village base to consist of Village Councils, village meaning also a town, ward or borough, but indirect elections from these Councils to District Councils, from the latter to State or Provincial Legislatures, and from these to the Parliament of all India.

Mr. Jai Prakash Narains is as yet a lonely voice in the wilderness of the present political conditions in India. The description of them as a wilderness may seem an exaggeration but when one looks at the various sectional interests which are so clamant and the variety of councils on different matters to which it utterance is given, one cannot but feel the truth of Dr. Besants description of democracy in its present form as government by multi-headed ignorance.” (N. Sri Ram. On the Watch Tower, p. 86; emphasis added)


Participatory Democracy (or Democracy of the Future), in the Vision of Professor C.B. Macpherson

“Let me turn finally to the question of how a participatory democracy might be run if we did achieve the prerequisites. How participatory could it be, given that at any level beyond the neighborhood it would have to be an indirect or representative system rather than face-do-face direct democracy?

If one looks at the question first in general terms, setting aside for the present both the weight of tradition and the actual circumstances that might prevail in any country when the prerequisites had been sufficiently met, the simplest model that could properly be called a participatory democracy would be a pyramidal system with direct democracy at the base and delegate democracy at every level above that. Thus one would start with direct democracy at the neighborhood (…) – actual face-to-face discussion and decision by consensus or majority, and election of delegates who would make up a council at the next more inclusive level, say a city borough or a ward or township. (…)

So it would go on up to the top level, which would be a national council for matters of national concern, and local and regional councils for matters of less than national concern. At whatever level beyond the smallest primary one the final decisions on different matters were made, the issues would certainly have to be formulated by a committee of the council. (…)

This may seem a far cry from democratic control. But I think it is the best we can do. What is needed at every stage, to make the system democratic, is that the decision-makers and issue-formulators elected from below be held responsible to those below subject to re-election or even recall. (pp. 108-109) (…)

To sum up the discussion so far of the process of a pyramidal councils system as a model of participatory democracy, we may say that in the measure that the prerequisite conditions for transition to a participatory system had been achieved in any Western country, the most obvious impediments to a pyramidal councils scheme being genuinely democratic would not be present, and, therefore, a pyramidal system might work. (…)

It is much more likely that any such move will be made under the leadership of a popular front or a coalition of social-democratic and socialist parties. (…) The real question then is, whether there is some way of combining a pyramidal council structure with a competitive party system.

The combination of pyramidal direct/indirect democratic machinery with a continuing party system seems essential. Nothing but a pyramidal system will incorporate any direct democracy into a nation-wide structure of government, and some significant amount of direct democracy is required for anything that can be called participatory democracy. At the same time, competitive political parties must be assumed to be in existence, parties whose claims cannot, consistently with anything that could be called liberal democracy, be overridden.

Not only is the combination of pyramid and parties probably unavoidable: it may be positively desirable. (pp. 111-112) (…)

One question remains: can this model of participatory democracy be called a model of liberal democracy? I think it can. It is clearly not dictatorial or totalitarian. The guarantee of this is not the existence of alternative parties (…). The guarantee is rather in the presumption that no version of the model of participatory democracy could come into existence or remain in existence without a strong and widespread sense of the value of that liberal-democratic ethical principle (which is the heart of its main models): – the equal right of every man and woman to the full development and use of his or her capabilities. (…)

As long as there remained a strong sense of the high value of the equal right of self-development, the model of participatory democracy would be in the best tradition of liberal democracy. (C.B. Macpherson. The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, pp. 108-115)