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* * Glen Martin is trying to save the world

It’s a tall order, saving the world. But Professor Glen T. Martin of Radford is a determined man. Originally an upstate New Yorker, Martin has taught philosophy at Radford University since 1985, researching, exploring, and sharing his thoughts on the purpose of mankind. We sat down at a local restaurant to talk about it, daytime TV blaring in the background.

“I’m originally from Rochester. I did graduate work in philosophy at Hunter College in New York City, moving there in 1971. I got my PhD at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. My primary focus was the problem of nihilism, the philosophy of Nietzsche, the problem of value, what a human being is about. Nietzsche thought humans had lost their roots, their foundations and values. Religions had various ideas about nihilism, addressing it in different ways.

“I was interested in peace. The Vietnam War was going on and I resisted the war in part by filing for conscience objector status. I risked going to jail, which I would have chosen rather than going to war. In the meantime, we have all learned that our government, at the highest level, knew our effort there was futile long before we left, dooming tens of thousands of our own soldiers and millions of Vietnamese to needless deaths.

“I came to conclude that war is never a solution of our basic human problems. I became a non-violent revolutionary. All humans need to operate in fundamentally different ways than we’re now operating. Capitalism. Exploitation of the poor to the benefit of the rich. They all began to converge in my thinking. War is a manifestation of a world that has lost its way. It doesn’t base its practices on human dignity or love or brotherhood or peace.

“I wanted to be a professional philosopher. I wanted to understand the world. I had to go into teaching to achieve that.”

Martin explained that his opinions in social work were controversial, so he needed a tenured position to have the freedom of writing, working, and expression. He was offered a tenure track position at Radford University 34 years ago. He is now Professor of Philosophy.

“The word ‘radical,’” he continued, “comes from the Latin word for ‘root.’ To be radical implies looking for the root of problems rather than staying on the surface. I was concerned about war, violence, materialism and exploitation when I started at Radford. I joined the International Philosophers for Peace and the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA). I was trying to put everything together regarding the system of world empires, global exploitation, and lack of values. I came to conclude that the world needs to work together under the rule of law to solve its most pressing problems.

“I got on the board of the WCPA. They had written a Constitution for the Federation of Earth.

 “When you look at the world from space, there are no lines. Those lines are arbitrary and historically contingent; they change. There is nothing innate or natural about nation states. Those lines are sources of problems not just in the United States but everywhere. People are displaced by war and environmental disasters. In some countries, when a child is born to refugees, they get no citizenship papers, so they’re effectively non-persons. How can you have human rights and human dignity if you are an illegal person, a citizen of nowhere? The borders make it worse.

“The Earth Constitution is not trying to eliminate those lines or nation states. But it attempts to place laws of human rights and human decency on everyone. The Constitution guarantees those rights.

“Like stated in our (USA) Constitution, everyone, by virtue of being born, deserves inalienable rights. Right to speech, assembly, movement, and social and economic rights. And of course we have the right to peace, because in the absence of peace, there can be no other rights.

“We have been under the threat of nuclear holocaust since the 1950s. We face impending climate collapse. We need to be thinking differently in terms of our common humanity. We need to end the waste of $1 trillion in military spending worldwide. We’re pointing to planetary civil disaster.

“These ideas are more popular throughout the world than here in the USA. I find the most resistance here. Small, poorer, non-imperialist countries understand the industrialized world has used them as resource colonies. People here don’t see that.

“We are in a race between the totalitarianism of One World Order, of economic domination, and a world system that is democratic, a federation guaranteeing innate freedom and basic human rights to all, in harmony with nature and natural processes. Transformations of human consciousness have happened very rapidly on occasion. People are beginning to think as global citizens. We have the potential in us.

“We don’t have a lot of time.”

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