The facts of Brazilian political life, as well as that of other countries in the world, leave little doubt that there is something very wrong in the form of political organization in these countries.
The many episodes of corruption of different types that affected a large number of politicians in the highest positions of the nations, in addition, of course, to the persistence or even the aggravation of the terrible economic, social and environmental problems (unemployment, crime, violence, exhaustion of natural resources, increasing environmental imbalances and pollution, etc.), make up a disheartening picture that requires a deeper explanation, as well as the search for an effective solution.
Corruption cases involving political leaders at the highest level are by no means typical only of peripheral countries. They have occurred in large numbers also in the wealthiest nations, such as the United States, Japan, Germany, Italy and other European countries. This fact demonstrates that there is also something very wrong in the political organization of these countries, which are often pointed out as examples for the other countries.
But what makes more dramatic this fact in the case of peripheral countries is the situation of severe poverty and helplessness in which a large part of the population of these countries is found – a situation that in itself requires in the direction of political affairs a great efficiency and ethical probity (integrity, honesty, righteousness of character, etc.) to be overcome. Therefore, these common defects in the political systems, both of economically hegemonic and peripheral nations, become intolerable within the socioeconomic reality of peripheral nations.
Throughout this text we will try to demonstrate that the dominant political systems today are structurally incompetent and that, therefore, it is not surprising that so many problems occur. In other words, we will try to demonstrate that both the political systems called Liberal democracies (such as the one today used in Brazil), and the Marxist-inspired systems (which until recently prevailed in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and which still predominate in countries like China, North Korea or Cuba), have very serious flaws, which are directly related to the present serious world situation.
This to speak only of the dominant systems from the second half of the 20th century, for the examples of Italian Fascism and German National Socialism (Nazism), which were important in the first half of the 20th century, are even worse than those mentioned above, due, among other things, to the intensification of nationalism and racism.
The Necessity of a New Vision and a New Political System
Francis Bacon, the great English sage of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, who is considered to be one of the greatest among the pioneers of the scientific method – a method that has become centrally important in the cultural and economic development of nations in the last centuries – wrote in his Novum Organum: Instauratio Magna (New Instrument: The Great Renovation), 1620. [Note: Organum: set of principles for use in philosophical and scientific research; the set of works by Aristotle on logic and the art of philosophizing]:
“It would be madness and inconsistency to suppose that things which have never yet been performed can be performed without employing some hitherto untried means.” (Book I, VI)
This quote by Francis Bacon is perfectly applicable to the central argument of the present work, which concerns the imperative need to develop a new perspective in terms of social philosophy (with a new vision concerning the world and the human being) and a new ethics logically derived from this vision, as well as new social-political systems also derived from this new vision. This is because this book aims to contribute to the realization of something that until now has not been done, which is to overcome the situation of terrible severe poverty, both economic, political, environmental and moral, in which a large part of humanity is found, especially (from the economical point of view) that part who lives in peripheral countries, in which 2/3 of the world population lives.
In summary, this text states, above all, that this situation in poor countries cannot be overcome “without employing some hitherto untried means”, especially as regards the development of a new ethics and a new political system, both based on true metaphysical principles.
In this sense, we need to clearly perceive the fact that political systems (including today’s dominant ones) are based on basic ideas about the human beings. That is, it is not possible to defend theses such as those presented here without taking into account certain philosophical and metaphysical ideas (which are beyond merely physical existence, that is, ethical-moral and psycho-spiritual), especially in relation to nature and capabilities of human beings.
Professor C.B. Macpherson of the University of Toronto in Canada – in his well-known work The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy – refers as follows to the importance of these assumptions about human beings when considering political systems:
“To show that a model of a political system or society, existing or not yet existing, but desired, is feasible, that is, so that it can be expected to work well for the long term, some assumptions about human beings must be admitted. , for which and with which one will have to rely. What kind of political conduct are they capable of? This is, of course, a fundamental issue. A political system that would require, for example, that citizens have more rationality or more political zeal than they ostensibly have now, and more than one might expect in any social circumstance, would not deserve much defense.” (p. 12, emphasis added)
Therefore, when we criticize the current political systems as being wrong and incompetent to generate a just social order and, therefore, as being at the base of the situation of severe poverty in which a large part of the world population is, as well as when proposing new rules for the political organization of societies, especially for those in peripheral countries, we cannot fail to criticize the current assumptions about the nature and capabilities of human beings.
There is a passage from E.F. Schumacher, in his work Small Is Beautiful, which was a great best-seller years ago, in which he affirms this logical connection between adherence to false ideas and the resulting disastrous social conditions. Let us see this important quotation:
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)
The central argument of this text is related exactly to this: that the physical and moral severe poverty – to which the majority of the world population is subjected – is linked to the mistakes of the dominant political systems, which, in turn, are derived from mistaken metaphysical assumptions and mistaken ethical principles, especially with regard to the essential nature and capabilities of human beings.
There is another passage, in the same quoted work by E.F. Schumacher, which in our view situates and synthesizes very well the core of the metaphysical and ethical mistakes of the current time, from which the current rules of the political systems are derived:
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)
Throughout the work, we will try to show that this insufficiency in the perception of “differences in levels”, in fact, is at the core of the main mistakes of the present socio-political currents of thought, that is, Liberalism and Marxism.
The struggle between these two currents – and the political and economic systems derived from them – centrally marked the second half of the 20th century, with the process of the “Cold War”. Nowadays, however, already at the beginning of the 21st century, the so-called Liberal democracy has reached an overwhelming hegemony, especially after the changes that occurred in the former Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe.
Thus, in agreement with E.F. Schumacher’s criticism, and perhaps complementing the view exposed in the previous quotes, the world view that guides the development of this work considers that the fundamental errors of both Liberalism and Marxism lie precisely in the failure of an appropriate metaphysical, philosophical and scientific perception, both in relation to the aspect of unity and the aspect of diversity inherent to the human being. From these intellectual failures, as we will try to demonstrate, unfair and incompetent political systems result, which are at the immediate origin of the great world problems.
In the social philosophy of Humanitarianism, we seek, naturally, to remedy these flaws. In this sense, it is appropriate to present in this introduction a synthesis of the foundational principles of Humanitarianism:
As a doctrine or as a social-political philosophy, Humanitarianism is based on only five large 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 decisive importance for the welfare of humanity. These five principles are:
1 – All human beings constitute a BROTHERHOOD.
2 – All human beings have the same essential origin and nature and, therefore, EQUAL VALUE.
3 – Despite their essential unity and equality, human beings have DIFFERENTIATED CAPABILITIES.
4 – In view of these principles, the norm that should preside over justice and possible harmony between human beings is that of EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES for the development of their differentiated individual capabilities.
5 – The ethical principle of ELITE’S RESPONSIBILITY, on which the advent of new social institutions also depends.
As we can see, when well understood, the Law of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity is at the core of Humanitarianism. This is because it encompasses, in fact, the other four principles presented above. These additional principles are important because they specify the foundational aspects of the great Universal Brotherhood Law when applied to humanity (in fact, its axiom – Unity in Diversity – applies to the entire manifested universe). Therefore, the sole objective of Humanitarianism, as a social movement, is the dissemination and practical application of the Law of the Brotherhood of all human beings, as long as it is properly understood.
In the following chapters, we will examine, albeit synthetically, what are the general assumptions about human beings within Liberalism and Marxism, as well as their consequent models of social-political organization.
We will try, in short, to show how these two currents, although under different theoretical premisses, tend to level human beings within egalitarian standards regarding the cognitive capabilities of human beings, what affects disastrously their political systems derived therefrom.
Liberalism based on the conception of the human being as an essentially selfish agent, although with very similar cognitive capabilities; and Marxism based on a materialistic and historicist conception of the human being, in which the cognitive capabilities would also be very similar, provided that the material environment was good and fair for all.
The simultaneous existence of a essential unity and a great diversity of capabilities has not been perceived as being the basic characteristics of humanity. And this marked failure in our times is related to the great predominance of Liberalism and Marxism, with their mistaken and leveling basic concepts.
For this reason, it is necessary to start with a presentation on these two aspects, of human unity and diversity, so that we can have a clearer picture of the concept of human being that is being used to criticize the premises of Liberalism and the Marxism.
Later on, then, we will present and criticize the theoretical premisses and the political and models of both Liberalism and Marxism. Then, we will try to show through a quick analysis of some of the most serious problems in Brazil, how these problems are, in fact, related to the failures of the current political system.
We believe that, by analogy, the main elements of this analysis can be applied to other countries, especially to the poor and peripheral countries.
Finally, we will suggest an alternative political model derived from the vision presented here about essential equality and the diversity of human manifested capabilities.