Full Professor of Political Geography, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.
Geopolitics as a branch of political geography is scientific in nature and, similar to other scientific disciplines, has two aspects: basic (fundamental) and applied. The basic aspect deals with the production of scientific theories, theoretical propositions and the development of geopolitical knowledge. The applied aspect deals with the production of practical theories, patterns and practical geopolitical methods to meet the needs of nations, countries and human societies. Applied knowledge of geopolitics, like applied propositions and theories of other disciplines, can be affected to some extent by worldviews, ideologies, cultures, attitudes, as well as the interests of nations, political users, and governments.
Therefore, geopolitical science and knowledge, similar to other scientific disciplines, are inherently worthwhile and useful, and must be developed to meet the needs of nations and humankind. However, geopolitical knowledge must not be abused by governments and political actors on any scale, whether global, national or local. In contrast, it must be at the service to provide the needs of the citizens, human constructs, nations and human societies. Also, governments and political actors should exercise it in the same direction.
Accordingly, the author (Dr. M. R. Hafeznia) has established and proposed a new theoretical /practical approach in the application of geopolitical science and knowledge in the political and moral life of humankind and human constructs, especially nations, under the title of "The Humanist Geopolitics". This view was published for the first time in the form of an article under the same title by the author in Geopolitics Quarterly, Volume: 3, No 4, Winter 2008, and later in the Journal of Conflicts in France, Paris in 2015. Since this geopolitical school has attracted the attention of some interested readers and has raised some questions and ambiguities for them, the author decided to formulate its principles and make them available to those interested to clarify the attitude and dimensions of this school of thought, with the hope that a step can be taken in the direction of relieving the suffering of humankind as the chosen ones by the God as creator of the universe and enhancing the living pattern of humankind and human constructs.
The principles of the school of humanist geopolitics are as follows:
1.The school of humanist geopolitics is based on the principle of fairness and opposition to avarice. According to this school, all individuals and human constructs should benefit from the resources and advantages in the geographical space of their relevant or globally-shared habitat based on the natural right that exists as a divine providence in the essence of the system of creation and the world, as well as official, national and international social contracts. Hence, this school is against avarice and violating the rights of others.
2.Humanist geopolitics puts emphasis on the originality of the peace and coexistence of nations and human constructs with each other as well as with nature and its creatures as their geographical habitat. It emphasizes peaceful relations and coexistence and cooperation between countries, nations, governments, human constructs who live in geographical spaces and emphasizes the maintenance of the dynamic balance in micro and macro geographical ecosystems for the favorable and optimal life of humankind.
3.Humanist geopolitics emphasizes that the applied aspect of geopolitical science and knowledge should be used to respect human dignity as a divine providence, to provide peace and security, human well-being, freedom of thought and expression, the right to choose personal and private lifestyle, resilient and sustainable development, provision of civil rights, equal living standards, and inclusive social and geographical justice.
4.Humanist geopolitics puts emphasis on the originality of humankind and citizens based on the natural right arising from the system of creation and the ecological relations of human constructs with their geographical habitat, and emphasizes that the rights of humankind and citizens have priority to the rights of governments, political/economic actors, and those who control power.
5.Humanist geopolitics does not support war, violence and crisis, which cause suffering for humankind, destroy human capital and life, and destroy human habitats, and it considers war inherently evil. Rather, it seeks to come up with solutions to avert war, crisis, and reduce suffering in human life in general.
6.Humanist geopolitics stands against imperialist geopolitics. Imperialist geopolitics seeks to outline and justify the expansionist and aggressive goals and actions of governments and states. In fact, the imperialist approach, which is unfortunately the dominant paradigm in the field of foreign policy and international relations of the current world, confirms, justifies and even prescribes the thought and behavior of governments and ruling powers in encroaching on the geographical spaces and habitats of other nations and human constructs and violating their natural rights. Humanist geopolitics strongly opposes such an approach and believes that the geographical territory and habitat of human constructs, including nations, should be protected from any kind of aggression.
7.According to this school, people and citizens are the philosophy and reasons for state-building and governments. Thus, humanist geopolitics considers the government, rulers and political managers of the space to be the product of the will of the people, and recognizes the citizens and the people as the main owners of the decision-making process in their geographical habitat, and the basis of political power and government.
8.Humanist geopolitics puts emphasis on the originality of the ideas and wants of the majority of the people, and believes that the government submits to the will of the majority of the people by preserving the natural rights and citizenship of all individuals and human constructs. However, the sovereignty of the victorious majority who have seized political and legislative power in the democratic process, must always respect the natural rights of the minority groups of the society, as well as minority structures and groundbreaking thinkers and refrain from exercising the legal dictatorship of the majority over the minority.
9.In this view, the government always exposes itself to the peaceful and free criticism of the people, and by shaping public and formal mechanisms, it constantly measures its legitimacy and, in case of its breakdown, voluntarily relinquishes political power and leaves people free to make political decisions. In other words, political power and sovereignty are transferred peacefully through real, not fake, democracy.
10.Humanist geopolitics refrains from accepting and utilizing political and military extrajudicial and aggressive ways with dissident and protesting citizens. Also, it does not support from the military government and the use of extrajudicial (informal) security forces to control the protests of even a small number of citizens inside the country. This view basically does not consider any philosophy or necessity for establishing military government inside countries. In this regard, it emphasizes the legal role and transparent use of legal, official, judicial and police security forces.
11.In this school, the government''s relations with the nation and citizens are formed in the form of a strategy of persuasion, a mechanism for exchanging ideas and a critical and constructive dialogue, based on the good and public interest of the people.
12.Humanist geopolitics investigates and reveals the process of imagining and intellectual architecture of citizens by governments and political actors that is done through the media and with political goals and justification and legitimacy of their policies and inappropriate actions in geographical spaces and places. It also criticizes the policies of the ruling power, which, in line with its political interests and intentions, brings crisis and destruction to geographical places and spaces. In fact, humanist geopolitics criticize quasi-scientific discourses, policies, actions, propositions, and theories which are at the service of politics and politicians who cause suffering and misery for humankind and humanity by utilizing these policies.
13.Humanist geopolitics is neither for governments nor against them. Rather, it moves in the direction of the rights, interests and dignity of the majority of citizens and the public goodness and accompanies governments to the extent that their policies, programs and actions are in the direction of peace, comprehensive security, welfare, progress, comfort, freedom of thought and the right to choose the lifestyle, good and public interest of the people and citizens. Therefore, humanist geopolitics keeps away from governments if they abuse geopolitical knowledge and strategies.
14.In the school of humanist geopolitics, governments, states, representatives, and government agents have representative nature. Thus, they do not have the right to make decisions on an issue that impacts on the life and destiny of more than half (50 percent) of the people of the nation or households living in a geographical area, whether small or large. Therefore, they are obliged to make decisions and legislate on basic and common national and public affairs by referring to public votes and referendums, and based on the votes of the majority of people and citizens. For example, determining, changing and reforming the government system and the constitution, the appointment of the head of state, the heads of the three branches of government (especially the Chief Justice), the highest official of the armed forces, war and peace, conscription and obligatory military service, the enactment of strict rules, allocation and abolishment of national subsidy, capital change, adjunction and secession of country divisions, privatization of national wealth, utilization of national currency reserves, change of national currency, determination of sources of income and public and development expenses of the government, conclusion of bilateral or multilateral foreign agreements which have national and territorial obligations, imposing restrictions such as filtering of cyberspace and so on. Fortunately, electronic voting has simplified the process of referendums and direct voting of people and citizens in various aspects. Therefore, it is expected that in the future there will be no need for parliaments and legislative assemblies and people and human constructs will participate directly in the process of legislation, policy-making and election of governing bodies and managers at national and local levels.
15.Based on the principle of intellectual, scientific, technical, social, spatial and political dynamism which exists in human life, humanist geopolitics emphasizes that the lives of humankind and human constructs must be constantly evolving in the direction of evolution, renovation, progress and improvement for humans to evolve. Therefore, governments, states, political leaders and relevant international institutions must continuously review and optimize all national and global structures governing the life and work of humankind, human constructs and nations in order to respond appropriately with regard to this dynamism and provide the cultural, social, mental, intellectual, political, legal, administrative, executive context for the comprehensive development and progress of humankind. Specifically, the constitutions of countries, the structure and charter of the United Nations, and the statutes of international organizations and institutions should be reviewed, updated, and optimized over a period of 5 to 10 years.
16.From a humanist geopolitics point of view, capital and investment are important factors in scientific, spatial, social and political dynamism. However, unrestrained investment focused on the capitalist profit-seeking craze and with a customer-oriented strategy and enticement into irrational consumption is the cause of many calamities and sufferings for humanity, human constructs, the destruction of geographical ecosystems and biological foundations, as well as social, spatial and geographical injustice. Therefore, managing and directing the capital and investment process is significantly important for the people as well as organizing a balanced and resilient geographical habitat and ecosystem for human constructs in such a way that ensures fair and rational profitability for capital owners. According to this view, governments, as the institution of political management of space and on behalf of the people at local, national, regional and global scales, must curb capitalism and unrestrained investment and manage it in a way that simultaneously provides insurance of the natural interests and rights of citizens, the health and ecological balance of their geographical habitat, and coexistence with nature and other creatures.
17.Humanist geopolitics puts emphasis on the originality of private property as a natural right of citizens, as well as small individual economic activities and corporate-economic activities based on extensive citizens’ participation in the field of ownership and the pattern of economic activity in society. Hence, humanist geopolitics rejects the capitalist, socialist, communist, and dictatorial patterns of property and economics, which are exaggerated and associated with economic-social inequality on the one hand, and instrumentalization and deprivation of human freedom on the other hand. In this school, both economic state-centrism and economic capitalism are rejected. In the proposed model, the role of government is limited to strategic management of the economy, consulting, training, guidance, promotion of knowledge and techniques of modern economic enterprise management, and regulation of economic processes focusing on the economic role of citizens in all economic sectors. The main goals of this model are: creating full employment, balanced distribution of wealth in society and geographical spaces, creating a dialogic environment of healthy cooperation and competition, emphasizing the originality of the role of people and citizens in the economy, developing national participation in activities and economic dynamism, processing spatial economic advantages in different regions of the country, role-playing of national economy in the international economy, shrinkage of organizational structure of governments and reduction in national costs, meaningful and rational participation of citizens in financing government through the tax system, increasing the level of freedom of thought and economic action of citizens, the flourishing of the talents of economic activists in society and so on.
18.Humanist geopolitics considers detention as a fundamental principle and necessity for the development of peace, coexistence and security in the relations of countries, nations and human constructs. Accordingly, it emphasizes dialogue strategy, constructive engagement, and diplomacy for detention, and recommends it to governments and leaders of countries, nations, and human constructs.
19.Humanist geopolitics does not support militarism policy in relations between countries and nations, and believes in the philosophy of deterrence and national security by military forces. This approach believes that the existence and strength of military forces in countries is a necessity and considers its existence as a prerequisite for peace and deterrence of aggression and war. But it strongly opposes the policies and actions of governments and states in using military force as a tool against other nations and countries. Accordingly, it opposes the presence and use of the military forces of countries outside their geographical territory, except in the form of the UN peacekeeping forces.
20.With regard to the growing trend of interdependencies of geographical places and spaces, as well as the development of global networks and world functional systems on a global scale, humanist geopolitics believes in the integration of political management of the global space on Earth and beyond. Accordingly, it recommends the dissolution of the current United Nations, which is not a well-functioning body anymore, and instead proposes the establishment of a model of international participation management based on global democracy. The empirical example of this model is the European Parliament, which has been operationalized on a regional scale.
21.Humanist geopolitics opposes any kind of agonizing dictatorship for protecting the rights and interests of the people and citizens and believes in the realization of the following items: the right to freedom of thought and expression to the extent that it does not violate the rights of other citizens, the absolute right to choose lifestyle and private and personal life pattern, the right to have shared social services, the right to satisfy basic material and spiritual needs, the right to ask and receive persuasive answers from rulers and politicians, the right to life and financial security, the obedience of government and political managers of space to the people and citizens, balanced spatial / geographical distribution of political and economic power, political and executive decentralization, simplifying and minimizing government agencies and administrative, legal, political and executive processes. Therefore, it has a hatred of any kind of traditional and modern dictatorships, including organizational and administrative, political, legal, cultural, individual, group, majority, minority, ideological, elite, charismatic, technical, electronic, digital dictatorships and others that cause mental and physical harassment for people and citizens.
22.Humanist geopolitics opposes the continuation of structures, values, traditions and mental/ historical beliefs and social and cultural patterns that have a conservative aspect and restrict the freedom, progress and development of human thought and lifestyle and cause suffering and destruction for human constructs and geographical habitats. This school believes that it is the duty of the scientific and social elites to optimize or remove the above-mentioned structures and patterns from the text of social thought with free thinking, courage and initiative, and pave the way for the freedom of thought and living patterns and continuation of the inherent process of progress and evolution of human life.
23.The school of humanist geopolitics seems to be apparently idealistic. However, according to human experiences, ideals grow in the context of time and gradually in the heart of society and are manifested in the form of common thoughts and values and the general will of the people and citizens and become a reality. There are several examples of the applied aspect of the humanist geopolitics in the world today, which can be developed and strengthened within the framework of this school. For instance, international partnership conventions, regional cooperation, international organizations, fair international agreements on the exploitation of water resources and biological foundations, the formation of the European Union and the European Parliament, regional and international conferences to overcome political and geopolitical crises, governance model and political management of space in some countries such as Switzerland , Germany, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore etc., and humanist thoughts and actions of some leaders and political actors in the world.
24.The humanist geopolitics is a basic need for humankind and human constructs, including nations in the world today and in the future. It is an approach to save people who are tired from the crises, failures, sufferings, miseries, inequalities, injustice, demagoguery, lies, destruction and oppression which have been perverting the course of politics, economics and ideology for humankind. Also, is an approach to restrict the thinking and actions of governments and political actors for creating a model of life that is suitable for the dignity of humankind, which is a gift of God bestows upon them.