2012-01-12 A proposal for global governance from the V century BC

Submitted by Manuel Herranz

ImageImage credit www.whiteflag.info

Since the beginning of history it has been registered that leaders should not share information with the people, as much in the West, where we can mention documents of the old Roman empire, as in the East, the old Chinese empire, as also in every civilization, without communication between them.

In this regard we can refer to the Prince, by Machiavelli, as paradigmatic treaties in the West, but this idea is more and better exposed than in anyone else in the Art of War, by Sunzi, written 500 years BC, with utmost influence in Eastern cultures, equally in government, philosophy and thought.

Indeed, the leader cannot share information with the people, and the simplest cause of it could just be that he has to care about spies; just think about our current leaders talking on TV about their thoughts regarding other states (For instance, recently about NATO attack on Libya where they proceeded unexpectedly and very fast, or about their thinking regarding Iran, so that the common people have to just make conjectures about what might be going on).

But the Art of War goes much beyond this simple thought; it exposes how people have to be not just ignorant, but also deceived, as this is the way for the people to not question by means of thinking of alternatives and opposing the leader's intentions, aims, objectives and, finally, and much more important; this is the way to make the people obey.

The Art of War, whose first line states that war is the task of the state, is about deception, as it says a couple of lines down below, but, despite of all we tend to think or are told to think, not so much about deception of the enemy, as you can reach and influence him on a very limited basis and only occasionally, deception goes mainly from the leader to his own people – war is very serious, it is absolute - the leader has to persuade people to hand over to him their lives!! And this can be achieved through an ideology; through a religion telling you that you go to heaven if you die fighting for the cause, etc. or usually putting the people under such precarious circumstances that they do not have other options but to obey in order to survive. Sunzi specifically says that the best way to persuade your army to fight fiercely is to put at your people's backs a river they cannot cross. Lets see what he more says:

“Put them in a spot where they have no place to go and they will die before flying…..”

The good leader “keeps the soldiers unaware, make them ignorant. He changes his actions and revises his plans, so that people will not recognize them. He changes his abode and goes by a circuitous route, so that his people cannot anticipate him.”

“When a leader establishes a goal with the troops, he is like one who climbs up to a high place and then tosses away the ladder. When a leader enters deeply into enemy territory with the troops, he brings out their potential. He has then burn the boats and destroy the pots, drives them like sheep, none knowing where they are going.

“To assemble armies and put them into dangerous situations is the business of the generals ... patterns of human feelings and conditions –these must be examined….” (The Art of War by Sunzi. Chapter 11. Nine grounds)

I am not accusing our state or our leaders of this, they are all just as innocent as we are, I just want to show you human tragedy and I truly believe that our time has come when we have to be mature enough as to face the truth of reality. In this regard, we can currently see that our leaders talk and deal about economy and take decisions on market´s reactions, but this is also because markets are forces out of common sense control, that cannot be put under the objectivity, or common sense, of human aims, so that it allows the politicians to take the measures they need with justification; and the measures are basically always to bring people to those precarious conditions where they can be easily manipulated.

In the face of this situation, historical left wing parties opposed force with force, without considering common sense or human aims, and they created other rationalities, such as dialectic, which included in it a negative side ... and our current ideology is based on History delivering step by step human freedom, though it is wrong and it has been proved wrong all the way, but it will always justify the current leader as he is right one on the liberating path of History, especially as he is empowered to teach about the past.

In my opinion, however, we are in a new position due to the worldwide spreading of information through new technologies and it is time to look for real alternatives in our way to exercise politics, and this is first of all applying for the first time to worldwide common sense. In fact, old politics about “struggling”, “disobeying” the state usually is dealt by the state opposing other sides inside which “not disobey” instead of getting itself directly involved with those who have ever pretended to challenge him and it has brought to many to desperation.

Globalization plus modern communication tools, as the most specific character of our time, should give us a way, for the first time, to actually expose our objectives instead of counteract irrationality, opacity, manipulation with the same art as in the past.

Now I want to continue with my reflection on the old Chinese philosophy; as a result of the teachings of the Art of War, some answers turned up, first of all Taoism; this philosophy assumed or understood then that every society is abominable and treacherous and the intelligent one has to avoid it, going back to nature or hiding himself inside it by means of not denoting any desire nor signifying himself in it as to let other people know about his intentions –same as the leader of the Art of War but applied in an individualist bases.

Other response was given by Confucianism; if Taoism is the doctrine of the people, Confucianism is the doctrine of the leaders and their deal was; yes, war as violence is unavoidable, but we can, at least finish with hot war with a “natural” way of ‘structural violence’ by restoring the old Chinese unity, what they thought it was the whole civilization, under the Son of Heaven. Confucius did not pretend to have his own philosophy, he said he was a compiler of old wisdom and exposed the principle of common sense; “put yourself in place of the other”, but then he based society in inequality, hierarchy, putting it nicely copying from the family model and where putting yourself in place of other means acknowledging each other in their respective place in the pyramidal order.

The last relevant Chinese school was the Legist school which applied the Art of War teachings, as we have seen above, on the Qin state government and it became so ruthless and strong that this state conquered the others and unified China again. Later Confucianism was established as official doctrine of the two millennia Chinese empire.

We have to look, however, finally to another school, called Mohism, based on Mozi (Master Mo) teachings, actually the most popular and developed Chinese school but later prohibited and neglected by the empire. This school stuck firmly to the common sense principle set up by Confucius and tried to apply it to politics, but considering people as equals. This school doctrine is usually known as “the policy of universal love”, which is nowadays rather translated as “the policy of inclusive care” and also the “school of common cooperation for common benefit”. It is also considered a “utilitarian” school. Here I will introduce you some details of this doctrine:

First of all, given our general condition of deception caused by the war, this is their way of considering things: “if a blind person says that white is the brightest and black is darkest, nobody would deny it, but if we put in front of him a number of black and white objects and ask them to choose he will not be able to, therefore we do not need to see what people say but what people do”.

Then he goes: “if somebody kills one person in one place he can be condemned to death, but if he kills ten people far away he will be honored for this. This is as if somebody sees something dark and calls it black but if he sees it black, he calls it white”.

He also says that: “In the families, the father, the son, the old and the young all kept rancor against each other. They all had different feelings they could not harmonize, to the point of wasting energy instead of helping each other, hiding beneficial techniques instead of teaching them, and letting surplus rot instead of sharing it. In the whole world reined disorder and savagism.” “The world was in disorder because the people lacked leaders able to unify morality in the world, so that the most valuable, wise and intelligent was selected, established as Son of Heaven to unify world morality”.

“Whoever criticizes, opposes other, has to have an alternative to offer. To criticize and to oppose without an alternative is like intending to stop a flood with water or to put down a fire with fire. It will not have any effect. No doubt this is the reason why Mozi would always tell us: partiality must be substituted by universality.”

Yes, this is the point: partiality must be substituted by universality for common sense to be admitted, we have to understand that sentence as in time, on our time. Mohism would not be able to achieve their goals in their time, they were outlaws and formed militias for defending the weak people and the weak states from the stronger, as the time for the implementation of their doctrine hadn´t come then, and war among Chinese states continued. However, they kept researching till the end. In this regard, late mohism applied their research method from other topics also to ethics; they would start with an “a priori”, what is already known to all, and then some definitions. This in ethics:

“Benefit is what one is pleased to have obtained”
“Harm is what one refuses to obtain”

As we can see they are different, “to look for what is desired is not a benefit” however, “to look what is not desired is harm”; it is enough to calculate it for it to be harm, this is to say, a threat is harm.
Now we see again why Mohism is called “doctrine of universal love” or “inclusive care”, from a realistic or objective point of view and not from a subjective, sentimental or abstract view. Love is defined as “to desire benefit for the others and refuse to harm others”. But they say, this love is an especial one: If you love horses you can benefit from them by riding some of them, so this is the way you love them, but this love cannot be the love to people. Indeed, you can benefit from people by being served by them too, this is to say, you can cooperate with some and live well, and in this way it is enough for you to love some people, but if you consider that people suffer harm just by calculating harm you know you will need to love all or you will not achieve anything just by pretending not harming some. This is not enough for preventing an all-out war or total war. This is how the meaning of loving one single person is not different from loving all people because we are all interrelated and only in this way you actually care about anyone.

And the conclusion of it I make is the actual reduction of benefit and harm as the same being: It finds its expression with disarmament. Because it means avoiding harm but at the same time transforming arms, resources, into benefit, plowshares, it means transforming distinction into assimilation, cooperation of minds, sharing resources, this is; not harming people and benefiting people results; it cannot be but the same.

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