Zeon Zum Deikun is the philosopher whose ideals were promoted under the banner of Zeonism. His death was the end of his preaching, and the beginning of Zeonism as a political force in the Universal Century. But Zeon Deikun did not call his philosophy Zeonism — he called it Contolism.
One of the longest statements of Zeon Zum Deikun’s ideals is this quote from the Mobile Suit Gundam novelization, sourced from The Gundam Wikia:
The universe is a new environment, which will compel mankind to change. If the first stage in mankind’s evolution was his evolution from an ape to a human, and the second stage was was his breakthrough from feudalism to the rational science of the Renaissance, then the third will be his transformation into a new type of human, a man with profound sensitivity and insight and a far greater awareness of the vastness of time and space.
The transition to Newtypes will be a natural one. The act of walking increased man’s range of movement and helped the concept of tribe and nation-state to develop. Powered vehicles expanded man’s awareness to a global level. And now civilization is advancing into outer space. By living and working in space, man’s consciousness will will transcend the boundaries of Earth and become truly universal. The vastness of space will be “home”. And as man’s consciousness expands, he will begin to tap the unutilized portions of his cerebrum — the over half of his brain cells unused since time immemorial, the enormous untapped mental reserves given by God precisely for the new environment of space — that will act as the trigger.
O people of space! Now is the time to awaken! To realize your latent potential! We are at the dawn of a transformation of mankind. A true enlightenment of the human race. And we may finally be poised, ready to transcend what has always been thought the impossible — infinite space, and time itself. This is no idle dream. To live in a new universe, man must transcend the psychological limitations of his old environment!
It is the height of arrogance for those who remain on Earth to look up at the heavens and believe they can continue to rule over all its inhabitants. It is true that we — the space colonists — were largely shipped from Earth against our will as a population-control measure. But now we are developing a new identity and awareness. We are a new people. We live, eat, and sleep among the stars. We live in infinite space, and we will have access to infinite energy until the sun burns out fifty billion years from now. Our consciousness will expand, and infinite space will be our true home. God has given us the stars to live among.
We are the people of the universe. We have struggled to survive in a harsh environment, and new generations of colonists testify to our success. Now, when we gaze back at Earth, we see a sacred blue and green orb — the cradle of civilization and a sacred home that we must eternally preserve and protect. Our new consciousness as a people of the universe tells us that Earth was not created to be abused and polluted by a few members of an elite, privileged class. Men and women who have never been into outer space still believe Earth belongs to them and still continue rape and plunder it, but their time has passed. Earth must be preserved as the sacred homeland of all mankind. It does not belong solely to an Earthbound elite! By continuing to dream of controlling all of mankind, they forever deny mankind its true destiny.
Autonomy for the Sides, sovereignty for the colonists, does not simply mean a revolt against sovereignty on Earth. It means that every human should move into space, that the government of the Earth and the area around it should be placed in the hands of an alliance of all Sides, and that the Earth itself should be preserved and protected as the sacred birthplace of all mankind. It is easy to expand the numbers of colonies required to accomplish this.
In ancient times the Christians fought bloody battles for control over the birthplace of their religion, but there is no need for humanity to repeat this mistake over Earth.
— book #3 of the Mobile Suit Gundam novelization by Yoshiyuki Tomino
Deacon Blues of Zeonic Scanlations provides the following translation of Zeon Deikun’s speech in volume 4 of the Mobile Suit Z Gundam novels:
In response to the question of why humans have begun to explore space, it can only be said that this is the inevitable result of man’s need to stay alive. Humans started out as animals living at one with nature. It is only relatively recently in their long existence that they began to transform and dominate their surroundings through technological progress. The instincts cultivated while living at one with nature are the same ones driving them to explore space.
However, human-specific high intelligence has led to isolation from nature and has dominated and configured society as a whole. Until the end of the old century the undeveloped countries still had a social structure that was influenced by nature. As that dissipated, nature became nothing more than something to be enjoyed as a leisure activity. If you think about nature and human beings, it was a peculiar development.
What’s more, as undeveloped countries advanced, their cities all began to face the same problems of pollution, poverty and chaos that early 20th century cities faced. These problems became worldwide problems. Furthermore, as cultures become more technologically advanced, people tend to become “specialists,” as they are not forced by their environment to develop many of their innate abilities.
New types of religions form to fill in for this distortion, and people pursue enlightenment. Unlike primitive religions, which tended to encompass all of nature, these new spiritual pursuits were just another form of narrow specialization. The adverse effect of specialization wasn’t that they no longer lived in harmony with nature, it was that it encouraged the principle of individualism. Civilization up until the 19th century involved a constant battle with nature, disease, and despotism represented by royal authority. This situation forced people to have a self-cleansing nature.
That is, people were forced to find ways to evade the oppression of the planet.
They had the humility to be happy with their lives if they could only manage to avoid illness. Wars and other such man-made disasters could only be faced in the same manner that one would face the violence of nature. The best one could do was to try to survive as long as possible. However, in modern times, even the victims of a nation’s wars demand compensation. That is to say, the rights of the individual have come to be seen as equal to those of the nation as a whole. This is another form of individual specialization.
Members of a nation are not supposed to place themselves at the same level as the nation itself. Individuals who sing of their sovereignty threaten to crush the nation. If a group of such individuals attempted to manage a country, the general arbitrariness of their governance would render the endeavor hopeless. In the past, when people were involved in a showdown with nature, they didn’t live with the idea of individual sovereignty in the forefront. As the structure of society moved further away from nature, people gained more ability to influence that structure. Since then too many people have brandished their own self-consciousness.
Because of this, people have tired of other people and become obsessed with preserving their own lifestyle. They have forgotten that they originally lived together with nature. This intentional existence is what caused the destruction of the planet. Nature, which produced humans, is tremendously large. It is the instincts of those who felt that without conquering nature they would be unable to survive that led mankind to turn its eye to space exploration.
If humans were to become too comfortable and forget their need for self-preservation then it would be their downfall. This insight, intuitively held by people, is correct. That is why it is called an instinct. It is that instinct put into practice that led to space exploration. After confirming their intention to explore space and gaining the ability to live there, humans found that nature had placed them in a severe environment. When forced to live in a harsh environment, no one has the free time to commit themselves to trivial theories of self-preservation.
For example, if a child is in a public park and falls into a pond with no fence, the responsibility would clearly lie with the municipality charged with maintaining the park. In space there is no time to insist on such things. Humans will find this cruel, but there is no time to listen to people chanting about the logic of their personal circumstances. At the very least, isn’t it narrow-minded to try to blame the municipality?
Space is originally nothing more and nothing less than a place for people to live. Of course it’s an environment where one must put technology to good use, but once one has command of that technology then space becomes a habitable area. If not, space would be filled with a substance that would make it uninhabitable for humans, would it not? So now, why is the environment in space more severe than it is on Earth? The intelligence that humans developed on Earth was a self-righteous intelligence. It might be better to describe it as “narrow” rather than “self-righteous.” It’s easy to believe that the area set aside to swallow that intelligence is outer space itself.
If there were an accident on a colony, although it could well be that the responsibility might lie with the Space Corporation, the first priority of the Spacenoids must be to preserve the integrity of their environment. This definition of justice is not something new. In an extremely harsh environment, before worrying about individual sovereignty, all financial and material resources must be devoted to environmental protection. It is only with a surplus that attention can be diverted to the security of the individual.
Preserving an environment capable of sustaining life is the primary concern. The idea of accommodating individual sovereignty originated in an era before scientific civilization had advanced. Nature provided a new environment for those people who were not interested in environmental pollution if it wasn’t right before their eyes and who eventually exhausted the Earth. This is why humans were once again forced to feel humble before nature, much like animals.
This is the meaning of space exploration.
After making full use of their technology, it was space that taught the animal known as “man” about humility. However, there are few who recognize this fact. Many see the movement of mankind into space as nothing more than a technological victory. That is, as to the thesis of why humans pursued space exploration, they are unable to answer.
— volume 4 of Mobile Suit Z Gundam, as translated at Zeonic Scanlations, with light edits for punctuation
Admiral Maharaja Karn, of the faction of Axis Zeon who seeks Spacenoid independence through peaceful solutions, recounts a history of Zeon Zum Deikun’s life which is more chronological and political:
Universal Century 0053. Zeon Zum Deikun takes office as the mayor of side 3’s capital. At the time I was only twenty-six. I sympathized with the Contolism he was advocating and together with Degwin Sodo Zabi, his right-hand man, centered on the politics of Side 3.
Five years had passed and Side 3 experienced a vast turning of support toward independence from the Earth Federation Government. History began as the Republic of Zeon. […]
However, around Universal Century 0067, contention between the Zeon faction and the Zabi faction appeared. Although my heart supported Prime Minister Deikun, I acted as a mediator so that their disputes didn't influence politics. […]
Universal Century 0068. Zeon Deikun passes away. As such, the Republic of Zeon faced a great period of change.
At the end of the following year, Degwin Sodo Zabi became sovereign and proclaimed the Principality of Zeon. Members of the Zeon faction were entirely exiled or removed. Although I felt dissatisfied, I thought that if I left the political arena, the confusion would grow larger, so I stayed on. Deikun’s children, Master Casval and Lady Artesia’s whereabouts were unknown. One rumor was that they fled to Earth…. I could do nothing but pray for their safety.
The flow of politics immediately shifted to a dictatorship by the Zabi family. The Principality of Zeon morphed into a military state. I never mentioned to anyone outside of my wife that I was a supporter of Zeon Deikun until the end, or that I had doubts surrounding his death. […]
Together with Lunar conglomerates, the Principality sought to secure resources at a point away from the prying eyes of the Federation Forces. Once a suitable place was found in the asteroid belt situated between Jupiter and Mars, it was christened Axis and construction of a military base began in UC 0072.
UC 0073. The Zeon forces were successful in their development of mobile suits, and rumors swirled about a war with the Federation forces. At the same time, the importance of Axis grew. […]
Led by the Zabi family, the Principality of Zeon advanced their plans for independence from the Federation government. They had reached the point where war was unavoidable.
— Char’s Deleted Affair, volume 11, pp. 4- Zeonic scanlations translation, which I think are misordered in that translation
This version of the history of Zeon Zum Deikun presents the Zabis not as advisors, but instead as political rivals of Zeon Zum Deikun within Side 3, who were agreed on many fronts, but who exploited his death to political advantage, which led to war. Zeon Zum Deikun himself was a pacifist, and popular enough to remain as prime minister until his death.
A shorter facet of Zeon Zum Deikun’s ideals can be found in the Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin OVA, when in October 0068 Zeon presented a draft script to his wife, Astraia:
Zeon Zum Deikun: This is wrong! Right now this is simply a demand for greater autonomy. That’s not what I want.
This speech is supposed to be a declaration of war to all who live in the Earth Sphere, but I just can’t find the words to express myself.
[Astraia invites him to go to bed; he vehemently refuses.]
If I am asleep, how will I be able to rouse my disciples? Astraia, I’m running out of time. They’ll drag me to Golgotha to execute me tomorrow. And when they do so, I will address the world from atop my cross! I will warn them that those sinners who incur the wrath of Gaia will soon be engulfed in hellfire and be annihilated!
— an excerpt from Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin: I: Blue Eyed Casval
Zeon Zum Deikun here seems more militant than other depictions of him.
From these quotes, a summary can be drawn: