Extract from “world without war” by Klaus Veltjens
Is it possible to have a world without war? I believe it is, and in this paper I am suggesting ways to find a methodology for establishing a world community where war is impossible.
For such a world to exist, it requires certain conditions to be fulfilled:
· The citizens of a democratic society will hold and adhere to liberal, tolerant and just worldviews, both comprehensive and secular;
· They will form regional societies of peoples with similarly democratic worldviews;
· They will then be able to form a Gemeinschaft of regional societies of peoples.
This essay is a discussion paper, in which I will describe the way in which those conditions can be fulfilled, starting from the bottom up. It is not a theory in philosophy but a sketch plan for the future; it is an analysis of existing philosophers and their theories, based on which I formed my own thinking. It is intended to empower individuals to have a moral and ethical influence on all human activities, whether in the family or on the world stage. It proposes that, as a result of the personal development of a set of moral and ethical norms, each person is at the core of all such actions, and through communicative action with others can build the overarching values and principles as guidelines for all life-streams.
As we are dealing with moral and ethical matters we cannot ignore religious worldviews. In fact I will discuss them as a precursor to my plan for the future, because any pluralistic society will have communities with religious worldviews that shaped their history and culture.
God was created by man as a focus for early human communities to live together for the common good, and all religions that followed originally had a similar focus. As a creation by man, god in its many forms remains man’s responsibility, and therefore must be reviewed for its suitability in a modern community, where the term modern is ongoing.
In the first part of this book I will look at how the various religions came about as the result of modifications to previous belief systems in order to adapt them to the social changes that had taken place and to the new needs of the people at the time.
Western religions have, however, lost their adaptability and failed to keep in touch with modern philosophical and scientific thinking and sociological challenges. Many adherents are abandoning their belief in search of what they believe is a more meaningful relationship with society, with nature and with their own consciousness. They find that their old god is embedded in outdated social systems, fear and ignorance. It can neither satisfy their educated and freethinking mind, nor can it easily be changed to fit modern society as a result of the rigidity and entrenched doctrine of organised western religions and worldviews. The only solution for these people appears to be in leaving their religion behind and either become completely secular thinkers, or adopt another usually eastern tradition, which allows them to develop their individual spirituality towards transcendental enlightenment. I will show how religious philosophy based in flawed metaphysics failed to establish a truthful analysis of the meaning of god and its existence. My proposal will aim at conciliation between religions, an emphasis on the separation of state and religion, and the modification of comprehensive doctrines to make them comply with the global standard for human rights.
The creation of the world and the universe has nothing to do with any god or with ethics, and I will discuss this in a brief chapter.
In the second part I shall have a brief look at the rapid social changes that occurred in Europe as a result of the industrial revolution, the age of enlightenment which brought with it the rationalisation of religion, and the troubled path for the development of democracy. This rapid change is now penetrating the developing countries and third world, who can learn from our mistakes.
In the third part of the book I will outline the plan for the future, which will bring secular and religious people to a point of consensus. I will show how individuals can acquire an internal moral strength to guide them through all forms of human activity with a co-operative spirit of true consensus that will ultimately lead to a world without war.
In order to lay out a broad plan for action and to build a foundation for it, I will show how modern philosophy has the ability to provide the basis for replacing, extending or modifying the meaning of the existing god, and to create a new entity that can satisfy the needs of a modern individual in a religious as well as a secular society. This new entity will not have power of its own to do good or evil or to create or operate this universe, as it exists only in and depends entirely on the human mind of each individual, where it does not require belief, but conviction and consensus with others to support its existence.
Existing religions, both eastern and western, are part of egocentric belief systems and serve to satisfy their adherents by providing redemption from sin and consequently give comfort, or are the medium for achieving individual enlightenment. The new meaning for ‘god’, the ‘Weltseele’ or ‘worldsoul’ as proposed by me, is a concept, which, while it remains spiritual, is extrovert and more secular. It can exist on its own in the mind of the individual, or can be seen as an extension or supplement of an albeit modernised version of an existing god, and therefore can become part of any current belief systems, and in fact can bridge them. It is the core of a methodology to achieve a world without war.
Each individual, I suggest, will develop a set of abstract moral and ethic norms, a normativity, which is an awareness of a sense of justice and the good. The shared normativity of like-minded individuals is the social normativity of a community, and it is this which I call the ‘worldsoul’. It is the responsibility of each individual to develop and maintain it in communicative action to reach consensus with others, and it assists everyone in that community to influence the ‘Lebenswelt’ or ‘life-world’ around them for the good of all.
The ‘worldspirit’ is the next step into the real life worlds. It is developed on the foundation of the irrevocable norms of the ‘worldsoul’ and represents the central values that apply in the three streams of action described in this book, namely spirituality, commerce, and government. The word ‘worldspirit’ has a new meaning from any previous uses of the word ‘Weltgeist’. However, a relationship to Plato’s ‘Anima Mundi’ in ‘Timaios’ could be possible, as it could be seen as a mover of the world’s psyche and actions simply from its origin in the individual’s normativity – or perhaps with the ‘Weltgeist’ of Hegel, which is the spirit that allows us to philosophise about history and is the driving force of history as such.
My concept of the ‘worldspirit’ is the ethic that drives the principles for spirituality, business and commerce, and is the foundation of co-operative communities that want to develop social contracts for fair and just democratic peoples, and for societies of peoples relying on humanitarian, just and liberal principles of co-operation and tolerance. This concept of the ‘worldspirit’ is flexible and will not be identical in the life streams nor indeed in the various cultures and histories of peoples in the world, and can change with the times, but will always be based and rely on the irrevocable values of the ‘worldsoul’.
The three streams of action, the cultures of commitment, will in the end come together in an embrace of commitment, when true consensus can be developed between them, and when the societies of peoples can form a worldwide democratic society of peoples, which then can develop into a ‘World Gemeinschaft‘, a social and cultural community. It should neither be a government nor a religion, but be able to influence both.
The outward drive of the individual within the community comes from the validity and rightness of the ‘social normativity’ or ‘worldsoul’ held in the mind of each individual, and is the basis of the values in the ‘Weltgeist’ or ‘worldspirit’. It is brought to fruition through ‘communicative action’ in the practical world, the ‘facticity’, to achieve planned outcomes, culminating in a world without war.