The Civilization Genome Project

05/21/2013 09:12 am ET | Updated Jul 21, 2013

Civilization is the elevation of the human species above an animal-like existence which craves and pursues power, money, sex, domination for the sake of domination, and creature comforts. A civilized society honors virtue, wisdom, self-restraint, and a search for truth without ulterior motives. It is not preoccupied or awed by technological wizardry, scientific discoveries, limitless wealth, athletic marvels, or weapons of mass destruction. It believes it is better to suffer injustice than to practice it; better to suffer the 9/11 abominations than to equal or better the villainy.

From time immemorial, civilization has been more the exception than the rule. The majority of the species are disinterested in the question, "Between ashes to ashes and dust to dust, is there a higher purpose beyond survival for the sake of survival, carnal pleasures, or the mindless pursuit of power or other ambition that excites the passions?" But leaders of impeccable character and long-headed intelligence can inspire them to rise above their natural appetites.

Misgovernment or man's inhumanity to man are responsible for the lion's share of the world's misery index, i.e., warfare, tyranny, oppression, arbitrary imprisonment, corruption, injustice, political persecution, poverty, religious, ethnic, racial or other invidious discrimination, the subjugation of women, etc. And the absence of enlightened leadership is responsible for the lion's share of misgovernment. Accordingly, a World Leadership Institute is urgent to instruct current and future leaders in the ten cornerstone principles of government and culture that are the double helix of civilization. They are as follows:

  1. The final end of the state is to make men and women free to develop their faculties and to be morally accountable for their trajectories and destinies. Government directives that defeat or subvert that end are suspect. Paternalism--even for benevolent motives--stunts intellectual development and moral growth and robs individuals of the dignity of success or failure determined by their blood, sweat, and tears.
  2. The nation-state is an artificial creation whose exclusive purpose is to safeguard the unalienable right of citizens (acting individually or in voluntary association with others) to pursue their ambitions and to seek fulfillment free from external or domestic aggression or predation. The nation-state has no interests that transcend the individual interests of its citizens, for example, seeking world domination or accumulating wealth.
  3. The state must shoulder a heavy burden of public necessity to justify any encroachment on liberty. The individual is never obligated to justify liberty, which is presumed to be good.
  4. Due process of law is the most important check on tyranny or injustice ever conceived. It marks the first recognition by man that, "I could be wrong;" that events are multidimensional and lend themselves to multiple rational interpretations (It has been said that there are no facts, only interpretations); that an accused must be provided an opportunity to confront adverse evidence and to present favorable testimony; and, that an independent and unbiased decision-maker is imperative to avoid miscarriages of justice. Due process must be honored not as an indulgence to suspected culprits, but because of what it says about us as a people willing to incur risks of danger in order to avoid complicity in punishing, killing, or injuring the innocent.
  5. Power must be both limited and fragmented to insure that neither individuals nor factions may tyrannize or oppress. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely because of the ordinary depravity of human nature. Tyranny by the majority is still tyranny. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. Government authority must be splintered among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Transparency must be the rule and secrecy the rare exception and only when necessary to safeguard lives. The most important legislative power is oversight and informing the public. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. In possessing a monopoly of legal violence, power to conscript and tax, and arsenal of weapons, government is a vastly greater danger to the life and liberty of its citizens than any miscreant or private organization. If the need is doubtful, government power should be denied.
  6. The glory of a Republic is liberty. The glory of an Empire is domination, control, or conquest. The march of a Republic is a march of knowledge. The march of an Empire is the march of a foot soldier.
  7. Chronic or permanent wars are irreconcilable with liberty. In times of war, the laws are silent. Individual liberty is readily subordinated to anthems of national security. The executive is predisposed to exaggerate danger to justify objectless wars because in times of conflict tyrannical powers are concentrated in the President, for instance, indefinite detentions without accusation or trial, warrantless surveillance based on the president's say-so alone, or the assassination of American citizens or non-citizens based on secret, unexplained, and politically unaccountable evidence. The exclusive power of Congress to authorize the initiation of warfare must be scrupulously honored. James Madison, father of the Constitution, wrote to Thomas Jefferson: "The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature." A President who commences war without prior express authorization from Congress has committed an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor within the meaning of Article II, section 4 of the United States Constitution and should be removed from office.
  8. The sole justification of war is self-defense in response to an actual or imminent attack. All other wars constitute crimes of aggression under the international law principles established in the Nuremburg trials. Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson elaborated: "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
  9. A civilized culture pays homage to wisdom, virtue, humility and self-restraint and scorns the temptations of money, power, sex, creature comforts, or domination for the sake of domination. Civilized citizens believe it is better to be a discontented Socrates than a contented cow.
  10. The predominant source of power of influence in a civilized nation is moral suasion founded on impeccable character and wisdom among community leaders in lieu of violence, coercion, or money through which power is primarily exercised in morally corrupted nations.