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5632Re: Threefold Social Order Pt. 4-Commentary

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  • jschreib26
    Dec 28, 2012
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      I am a newcomer to this group and very much appreciate this study. The topic was a highlight of the recent North American Biodynamic conference in Madison, WI. Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, delivered a great keynote relating to these matters, and some wonderful discussions followed.

      One thing I have struggled with in studying Steiner's social indications is the relationship between economics and ecology. These two realms seem to both deal with the stuff of the material world. In ecology, patterns in the behavior and flow of this stuff are noted, and principles or laws are hypothesized. For instance, Malthus: "A population will grow (or decline) exponentially as long as the environment experienced by all individuals in the population remains constant." These are things that always hold true, that can't be changed. One species can't "opt out" of these "natural laws" – though we humans still seem to think that we can.

      So too are such laws put forth in economics: "People will do more of something as the cost falls, and they will do less of it as the cost rises (the law of demand)." Yet these economic principles rarely seem to reference or concern the material world – and its laws – without which there would be no economy. Without physical goods, made of physical stuff, there wouldn't be much to trade. The "natural laws" of the material world would thus seem to be relevant in some way to the economic sphere too – they are not disconnected.

      What I am unsure of is the ways these two realms differ, and the ways they are interrelated. If you conflate them and think "ecologically" about economics, Steiner's contention that "the concentration of industrial power into a few large businesses always will be found to be necessary for the most efficient use of technology" seems as "unnatural" as the idea that planting a concentrated monocrop field of corn is the best, most efficient way to grow food. Diversity exists in nature, not monocrops. The corn field is an aberration, made possible only by inputs and manipulation. It might seem efficient, but is a temporary and unsustainable efficiency.

      Further confusion results for me if I follow these thoughts out and try to relate them to the cultural and political realms. The farmer who plants that monocrop of corn should theoretically be free to do so. Except that the pesticides and fertilizers he sprays poison the groundwater, which all in the community rely upon for their livelihood. The monocrop itself reduces the diversity and resilience of the community, and the precious soil that is washed away through his production methods is lost. He has sullied a common resource, the part of the natural world common to all. "Natural Law" would soon rectify this, for he also relies on these common resources for life – he has also destroyed the basis for his own life. But by the time this happens the resource will be spoiled for all.

      So, does the Rights body, in such a situation, interject pre-emptively and say "Hey – you can't poison the water and destroy the land! These are things that are common to us all!"? Such intervention from the Rights realm is usually not welcomed in the economic realm – it's "bad for business." Yes, communal production is no good. But does the individual need to be in some way tied to the community, to the "commons?"Are guideposts or principles, based perhaps on natural laws, necessary for individual action? Who determines these?
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