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5644Threefold Social Order-Pt. 7-Commentary

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  • Durward Starman
    Dec 30, 2012
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      *******Steiner goes on about how the individual must freely find the Spirit within himself, and how when men do, the spiritual-cultural sphere becomes something quite different from what it is when overshadowed by the economic and political spheres....


          "If the life of culture is a free one, evolved only from those impulses that reside within itself, then legal institutions will thrive to the degree that people are educated intelligently in the ordering of their legal relations and rights; the basis of this intelligence must be a living experience of the spirit. Then economic life will be fruitful as well to the degree that cultivation of the spirit has developed new capacities within us."

      *******Because the men WITHIN legal institutions and economic endeavors will be different than otherwise. External changes can't have anything near that kind of effect. The government official or the business manager is but a role the human being plays: he must be conscious of himself as a human being outside of that mere persona.

          "Every institution that has arisen within communal life had its origin in the will that shaped it; the life of the spirit has contributed to its growth. Only when life becomes complicated, as it has under modern technical methods of production, does the will that dwells in thought lose touch with social reality. The latter then pursues its own course mechanically. We withdraw in spirit, and seek in some remote corner the spiritual substance needed to satisfy our souls.

           It is this mechanical course of events, over which the individual will had no control, that gave rise to conditions which the modern social movement aims at changing. It is because the spirit that is at work within the legal sphere and the economy is no longer one through which the individual spiritual life can flow, that the individual sees himself in a social order which gives him, as an individual, no legal or economic scope for self-development."

      *******So people trying to be free spirits either withdraw into private worlds, indifferent to world events, or seek to "rage against the machine." Their fellow human beings in government or business are seen as zombies, mechanically following orders rather than being human--- or as computer programs, as in The Matrix. (No wonder the popularity of zombies lately!)

           "People who do not see through this will always object to viewing the social organism as consisting of three systems, each requiring its own distinct basis — cultural life, political institutions, and the economy. They will protest that such a differentiation will destroy the necessary unity of communal life. To this one must reply that right now this unity is destroying itself in the effort to maintain itself intact. Legal institutions based upon economic power actually work to undermine that economic power, because it is felt by those economically inferior to be a foreign body within the social organism. And when the spirit that reigns within legal and economic life tries to regulate the activity of the organism as a whole, it condemns the living spirit (which works its way up from the depths of each individual soul) to powerlessness in the face of practical life."

      *******No one respects governments that are perceived as mere handmaidens to the rich, so gradually all obedience to the society's laws becomes grudging or non-existent--- as in the avalanche of drug use, illegitimacy, etc.,  the past half-century. 

         And free individuals feel as if society is being run by an alien, inhuman force, like the Big Computer in TRON or Godard's ALPHAVILLE or a thousand other science-fiction films and TV shows portraying some non-human thing that's somehow gained power and seeks to crush all free, self-aware individuals--- the mob or its leaders in Ayn Rand's books, aliens secretly running everything in John Carpenter's THEY LIVE, and so on. We see instantly in the light of Steiner's ideas the source of all this alienation: money interests rule the State, and then the State pretends it has the right to rule everything. 


          "If, however, the legal system grows up on independent ground out of the consciousness of rights, and if the will of the individual dwelling in the spirit is developed in a free cultural life, then the legal system, strength of spirit and economic activity work together as a unity. They will be able to do so when they can develop, each according to its own proper nature, in distinct fields of life. It is just in separation that they will turn to unity; when an artificial unity is imposed, they become estranged."

      *******Suppose you're an artist and you want prints of your paintings made and sold; you go to a lawyer to copyright them and a business to make good copies under license. You expect the lawyer to know the law, whether the commodity is Coca-Cola or the Mona Lisa, and you expect the printing business to accept the license the lawyer drew up and make the best reproductions possible for the cost. 

         Today, instead, the lawyer may tell you he actually owns your art or a high percentage of it because of this or that law, or the printer may say he can only make lousy copies for some reason, or he won't at all because he's afraid of lawsuits, so he'll only do it with the lawyer as a partner and you'll only get whatever percentage they give you. Then imagine in addition that instead of some degree of off-hours admiration for your artwork from the lawyer or the businessman, both instead start telling you what kind of art you should be doing both in terms of the content and the techniques used, even though neither has ever picked up a brush.

         I think that's what Steiner is describing.



      To Be Continued....

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