(Presented at the National War College, Washington, DC, October 27, 2014)
Humanity in the 21st Century faces a conundrum. With the capacity to feed, house and clothe billions, the world is faced with seemingly unsolvable problems. War threatens to spread from countries to regions to the world. Global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction proliferate. Epidemics, from HIV/AIDs and Ebola to cancers and illnesses born from a poisoned environment, continue to spread across the planet. A vast gap in economic power and ownership widens between the rich and poor within nations, and between rich and poor nations. In a world with the potential to produce abundance for everyone, not just the few, billions are left starving, homeless, and with little hope for the future.
At this historic crossroads for world civilization, we have to ask ourselves: What are we missing? Is it time to rethink our paradigms, assumptions and systems? Are there fundamental principles that could guide us in restructuring the laws and institutions that govern our lives, to bring about peace, prosperity and a healthy environment for every person on the planet?
Our first hurdle is one of ideas. Today’s systems of capitalism and socialism, and their various permutations, share the same flaw. They all concentrate power and property in the hands of a few, whether in a private elite, or in the State and its bureaucratic elite. Even in so-called “democratic capitalist” systems, access to the ballot has no economic counterpart to empower the individual through equal access to the common good. Underlying this flaw is a moral omission: The present paradigms lack clearly defined concepts of economic justice that are universal, inclusive, and practical for guiding development in the Age of Super-Technology.
This article explores the idea of the “Just Third Way.” The Just Third Way is a new paradigm of political economy centered on justice, a universal value that is largely ignored or misunderstood in the modern world. Underlying this paradigm’s universal conception of justice is the dignity of every human person. The authors argue here that all sovereignty (power and rights) within the social order should begin with each human person, not social institutions or any elite.
In contrast to prevailing socio-economic systems, the Just Third Way defines specific and interdependent principles of economic justice and social justice. These principles are meant to guide the restructuring of laws and basic social institutions, particularly money and credit, so that power and property can be spread systematically to every human being, while creating checks-and-balances to discourage greed, corruption and abuses of power. Three interconnected principles of economic justice relate each human being to the design, operation and correction of social institutions, systems and laws. These system principles include, 1) Participative Justice (input), 2) Distributive Justice (out-take), and 3) Social Justice (feedback and correction). On the level of policy-making, they are applied within the “Four Pillars of an Economically Just Society”:
For leaders, social architects and scholars, the Just Third Way provides a macro-economic theory called “binary economics” and a micro-economic system called “Justice-Based Management,” along with proven mechanisms of corporate finance and practical strategies, for addressing today’s most deep-rooted socio-economic problems. Ultimately, the Just Third Way seeks to perfect and apply universal principles of natural law, so that economic growth and power can be sustainable, life-enhancing and just for all citizens.