Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Threefold Social Order Pt. 4-Commentary

Expand Messages
  • jschreib26
    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.
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 28, 2012
    • 0 Attachment
      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?
    • Durward Starman
      *******Welcome to our group, J (you didn t say your name). in the section of the article posted yesterday, we read: A gulf lies between these two currents
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 28, 2012
      • 0 Attachment
        *******Welcome to our group, "J" (you didn't say your name). in the section of the article posted yesterday, we read:

           "A gulf lies between these two currents of cultural life [one that enters political & economic life, and one that stands apart from it- starman]. The gulf has grown all the wider in recent years because the kind of thinking that is quite justified in natural science has become the measure of our relationship to reality as a whole. This way of thinking seeks to understand the lawfulness of phenomena that lie beyond human activity and human influence, so that the human being is a mere spectator of what he comprehends in a scheme of natural law. And although he sets these laws of nature into motion in technology, he himself does no more than allow the forces that lie outside his own being and nature to be active. The knowledge he employs in this kind of activity has a character that is quite different from his own nature. It reveals to him nothing of what lies in cosmic processes with which human nature is interwoven. For such knowledge as this he needs a world view that unites both the human world and the world outside him."


           *******What Steiner is saying is that when we look at the world and describe it as made up of natural "laws", we see only an illusion, a thought-picture of the world minus ourselves. This is what natural science gives us, as in ecology, where we see ourselves and other human beings as one "species" among others. We are not. Only human beings can think that way, of "species".  This is because we are NOT just one species among many, as our materialistic science which wishes to deny the special nature of the human being as a mere "religious prejudice" would define us, one animal among many. This results in placing a dead picture of the merely natural world above ourselves and seeing ourselves only as bodies, in other words looking only at the outer human being. 


           We only just began the part of his article where Steiner begins to go into anthroposophy, but let's introduce a little bit here. First, in addition to our bodies we also have a soul nature and a spiritual nature, and these exist independently of the body after death; in a similar way, the earth has a body but also a soul and spirit nature, not only what is visible to the physical senses. The Earth will one day come to an end as far as its physical parts are concerned (it will be "rolled up as a scroll", to quote Scripture), but it will take up its physical essence into the soul and spirit, just as we do after each lifetime. So, from a spiritual point of view the materialistic ecological viewpoint that says 'Man Is a Part of Nature' is quite incorrect, rather 'Man transcends nature', or better put, "Man is a part of the spiritual origin of the earth which transcends its physical appearance; we are a combination of the creation and a spark of the Creator, and as we attune more to the Creator we become able to transcend and dominate the creation." As simple a thing as a blush, where our emotions make our blood rush to our face, shows the beginning of power over our physical bodies such as the yogis demonstrate who can stop the heart at will and be buried alive. The Christ developed it to the point of rising from the dead. We can and do transcend that the so-called physical laws of nature, and will do so even more in the future, eventually taking up the whole of the earth into the spiritual with us. To study our bodies as they are now and declare what Mankind is capable of forever, is like studying the caterpillar and saying, "This creature will never fly."


            By synchronicity, December 29th was the death day of Malthus. All the kinds of thought-patterns that study mechanical laws and say these prove we're doomed, are just variations of Malthus. But events since his time have not turned out at all as he predicted they would, nor were the doom and gloom predictions of the late 1960s Malthusians fulfilled. 


           There is an essential contradiction in using your mind to create laws and patterns, and then saying these laws and patterns imprison all human beings. They are the creations of man, and the human being is a creature continuously evolving. They are simply, Here's how it seems to me so far.


           There is a great difference between biology/ecology, and economics. I have never known a physicist who was any good at predicting economic trends, or even understanding the market. The so-called "laws" of economics are not laws of nature, they are summaries of observations of human behavior. They might change tomorrow, and will if human behavior does. No economist claims eternal or immutable truth for them. They come from experience, not logic. So, experience shows that industrial economy performs best when its powers are concentrated, and it is only trying to force it to fit into materialistic science that makes you feel it is 'unnatural.' You could build a car entirely yourself, for instance, but it would take two years and you'd have to sell it for $100,000. There is no physical impossibility, but economically it would be unfeasible. See the difference?


          Finally, the legal State exists to adjudicate disputes between the rights of individuals. If you feel that some person, in the free exercise of his rights, has infringed upon your freedom -- -- -- such as a farmer's pesticide residues poisoning your well -- -- -- you take them to court and prove your case. If no individuals bring a court case, the state can do so in the name of the whole community. But since the state judges based on rights and laws, it would be quite unsuited to manage economic enterprises where there is no equality of ability among individuals, so it should never be in the business of taking over farms and saying how businesses should be run, because economics has nothing to do with rights. 


           Hope this helps.


        -starman



        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?


      • jschreib26
        Thank you for the response – it is very helpful! Also, my name is Jeff. My statements were a bit rigid and materialistic, it is true. I personally feel a
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 29, 2012
        • 0 Attachment
          Thank you for the response – it is very helpful! Also, my name is Jeff.

          My statements were a bit rigid and materialistic, it is true. I personally feel a little better, however, using Ken Wilbur's notion of man transcending and "including" nature, rather than transcending and "dominating," as you say. We are BOTH, as you say, the creation AND a "spark of the Creator" – both matter and spirit, both heaven and earth.

          While I do agree that some can transcend the physical in certain ways while conscious and alive, most of us firmly include nature in the totality of our being to some degree. Perhaps it is that part – the part of us that is physical, that is in nature – that I am trying to fit into these three-fold social concepts. I am young (in my early 30s) and of a (diminishing) liberal bent, and am quite attracted to the idea of disentangling these parts of society. I think there are many like me, and not only in America – as the recent Occupy protests show. But what of the natural world? Turn individuals and business loose and they will set quickly to work dominating and destroying it with little attention paid to the ways that world seems to work best – the "natural laws" it has been observed to follow. For evidence, one has the whole history of human civilization from which to draw.

          I guess that means that I, as Steiner says (jumping ahead a bit), "lack faith in the possibility of establishing a social order based on individual wills. They have no faith in it because such a faith cannot come from a cultural life that has developed in dependence on the state and the economy. The kind of spirit that does not develop in freedom out of the life of the spirit itself but rather out of an external organization simply does not know what are the spirit's potentials."

          But is it any wonder we lack this faith in society? What are the options for young people such as me? There seems to be no way to participate in society that does not cause harm to other people or the environment. There are no jobs in the classifieds that do not participate in some form of violence or destruction, no commodity I can buy, no service I can employ. Our very society seems ordered around these things – it seems devoid of life and spirit. So, what many my age and younger seem to be doing is retracting: There is no food worth buying at the local supermarket, so we grow our own. We prefer not to wear shoddy clothes mass-produced in China, so we make our own. We try to engage in pursuits that add value to our communities, often while working other "real" jobs. If we don't know how to do these things, there's always the internet!

          This is uneconomical and anti-social. But participating in a destructive social order seems worse.
        • Durward Starman
          ******* Hi Jeff, welcome to our group again, by name this time. Subject: [steiner] Re: Threefold Social Order Pt. 4-Commentary ... I personally feel a little
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 29, 2012
          • 0 Attachment
            ******* Hi Jeff, welcome to our group again, by name this time.

            Subject: [steiner] Re: Threefold Social Order Pt. 4-Commentary
            ... I personally feel a little better, however, using Ken Wilbur's notion of man transcending and "including" nature, rather than transcending and "dominating," as you say. We are BOTH, as you say, the creation AND a "spark of the Creator" – both matter and spirit, both heaven and earth. 


            *******Whichever you prefer to use, you see the great difference between anthroposophy and the kind of thinking that deifies American Indian sayings like that 'man is just one thread of the web of nature', he is 'only a part of the earth', etc. We are far more than that--- those proverbs refer only to our bodies. As far as 'dominating' is concerned -- -- --Genesis 1:28 in the original Hebrew, in Latin and English has the Divine telling Adam to go forth and subdue the earth, meaning master the body and all earthly substances and forces.  To the neo-pagan scientific philosophy that makes Man into just a clever animal, this is abhorrent, of course; but think of it this way. No other part of any kingdom of nature is capable of the kind of power we human beings have, and we will have still more in the future; so we can't really renounce our position as the Masters over the earth. We have the power to destroy all of its life, we are developing the power to genetically manipulate all of its life, and so on---so to pretend that we have to just behave like beavers or spiders and play a small role in the household of nature is absurdly naïve. It's not going to happen. The image in the New Testament is that of Man as the "husbandman" in the Garden, responsible for maintaining and keeping healthy all the other parts of Nature, like the master of a garden. I'd say it's a role we cannot turn down. We are more than the rest of Nature, for better or worse.



            ...While I do agree that some can transcend the physical in certain ways while conscious and alive, most of us firmly include nature in the totality of our being to some degree. Perhaps it is that part – the part of us that is physical, that is in nature – that I am trying to fit into these three-fold social concepts. I am young (in my early 30s) and of a (diminishing) liberal bent, and am quite attracted to the idea of disentangling these parts of society. I think there are many like me, and not only in America – as the recent Occupy protests show. But what of the natural world? Turn individuals and business loose and they will set quickly to work dominating and destroying it with little attention paid to the ways that world seems to work best – the "natural laws" it has been observed to follow. For evidence, one has the whole history of human civilization from which to draw...


            *******I would say that is only human history as you have perhaps heard it recited by people in places like Madison, Wisconsin, for sure, but it is often only a one-sided telling of history. Anti-business liberals use environmentalism to beat business-people over their heads; as the Germans said about the Green Party, "Das grüner Baum hat rote Wurzeln" ---"The Green tree has Red roots!" If you live in a large city here in the US it's very easy to make people think that the whole world is being destroyed, because large cities are so filthy -- -- -- while enormous parts of America and the world are actually untouched and unspoiled, and staying that way. Liberals from New York and California have only a nightmarish, false picture of the environment, and of daily real life--- every businessman doesn't really wake up in the morning thinking how he can ruin the earth further, and profit can be made from many things that benefit all parties in the transaction, not merely squeeze it out  parasitically.


                In Norway, they have beautiful fjords and make a lot of money from tourism, while at the same time they discovered oil in the North Sea in the 1970s and make far more money pumping oil and selling it to the world. But they have never had a single oil spill, and their oil business center, Stavanger, has no trace of environmental damage even though the oil is pumped about 100 miles offshore. Business and the environment are not mutually excludable opposites. We here in the US are reaching a position of energy independence which was long regarded as impossible due to the new science of hydraulic fracturing, for instance, and despite the hysterical fear of this new technology, I don't know of one single proven case of environmental harm from it, just as I don't know of one single proven case of harm from the genetic modification of plants and animals (a "Genie" of technology which can't be put back in the bottle anyway, in spite of all the people screaming about Monsanto), and in fact is already responsible for replacing the American chestnut trees wiped out by blight in the 20th century.


                Just as we were reading here about the great difference between the economic sphere and the political state, lots of times people in government (or thinking about going into government, usually in order to make everything "fair"meaning to establish tyrannies over the economic sphere) have no experience with real business and only stereotypes of businessmen. Look at how many years they demonized Bill Gates and look at how much good he is doing with his foundation now. We have a situation here in Virginia, where the government is slowly putting all "watermen" out of business, acting as if they would take the last crab from the Chesapeake Bay, not caring what happened to it in the future--- whereas the watermen are most of all interested in keeping the Bay healthy for the future, but are automatically treated as enemies. James Michener in his book "Hawaii" describes, in an episode based on a real event, how the pineapple growers found their crops decreasing, and the scientist they hired discovered they were depleting the soil of a particular element, so they banded together to treat the soil like a bank, where they had to make sure they didn't take too much out of it so it would stay healthy into the future. It's often only a prejudice of liberals that people acting freely don't take care of the natural environment but have to be forced to by the saintly hand of government. Actually, if you look where the government took over all business, like in the Soviet Union, you find far more environmental damage was done.





               ...I guess that means that I, as Steiner says (jumping ahead a bit), "lack faith in the possibility of establishing a social order based on individual wills. They have no faith in it because such a faith cannot come from a cultural life that has developed in dependence on the state and the economy. The kind of spirit that does not develop in freedom out of the life of the spirit itself but rather out of an external organization simply does not know what are the spirit's potentials."
            But is it any wonder we lack this faith in society? What are the options for young people such as me? There seems to be no way to participate in society that does not cause harm to other people or the environment. There are no jobs in the classifieds that do not participate in some form of violence or destruction, no commodity I can buy, no service I can employ. Our very society seems ordered around these things – it seems devoid of life and spirit. So, what many my age and younger seem to be doing is retracting: There is no food worth buying at the local supermarket, so we grow our own. We prefer not to wear shoddy clothes mass-produced in China, so we make our own. We try to engage in pursuits that add value to our communities, often while working other "real" jobs. If we don't know how to do these things, there's always the internet!
            This is uneconomical and anti-social. But participating in a destructive social order seems worse. 


              *******I don't know how you can look at your life (here in the United States, I assume) and say there is nothing that you could choose to do that doesn't cause harm to other people or the environment. We "baby boomers" are reaching retirement age, and there's tremendous opportunities going to people's homes and helping care for them so that they don't have to go into nursing homes; if people don't want to buy mass-produced cheap shoes, you can start your own business custom-making shoes for people and find lots of them willing to pay a lot more for a good product.  I know some people doing those things and I don't see any violence or destruction in their lives, and you don't have to see it in yours. What do you do for a living now? What Steiner was saying is that you have to look within and find what your individual spirit motivates you to do, and thank God we have the freedom to do such things here. Forget about the government and what businesses already exist that you could get a job with, and think about starting something new. New enterprises are begun every day. But even if you have to work for others for the moment, I don't see how filling book orders for Amazon.com (or the Anthroposophic Press, for that matter) is being evil or doing something devoid of life and spirit. If growing food attracts you, there are biodynamic farms; I ran a food co-op for years. Perhaps this Holy Night study might give you some fresh ideas for what you want to do in the world. 


               The main thing I think I want to say is that life is not a "zero-sum" game; to prosper, you don't have to impoverish another person, nor does someone else have to fail for you to succeed. That kind of thinking is the product of the so-called scientific mentality Steiner described, which is materialistic, and therefore unable to understand economics. Economic values are not like physical objects, where there's only a finite amount of them and all that can be done is distribute them fairly or unfairly; people starting new ventures create new values, or rather give new values to things which had little or none before, so that the "pie" can always grow larger and therefore each person's share as well. Creation is not over and done with, and all that can be done is to distribute a static amount that already exists, but rather Man is a net producer of values, not merely a consumer. The scientific socialists in academia portray their thought-picture of nothing but a material world and its gradual death, but this is a hallucination caused by their inability to see the soul and spirit worlds within physical reality. Their gods are Darwin and Malthus, while ours is the one who overcame Death.


            -starman


          • juancompostella
            Hi Jeff, In full consideration of your thoughts below, it would be well-worth reading these three lectures from December 1920: The Bridge Between Universal
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 29, 2012
            • 0 Attachment

              Hi Jeff,

              In full consideration of your thoughts below, it would be well-worth reading these three lectures from December 1920:

              The Bridge Between Universal Spirituality and the Physical Constitution of Man

              http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA202/English/AP1958/Bridge_index.html

              I. Soul-and-Spirit in Man's Physical Constitution

              The physical organism of man is considered today to consist of more or less solid-fluid substances; but as well as his solid, physical body, man has within him as definite organisms, a fluid body, an air-body and a warmth-body. — The connections of these organisms with the members of man's whole being and with the different Ethers. — Thought and Tone; Ego and circulating Blood. — Man in the sleeping state. — Man's relation to the universal Spirituality. — Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition. — The circumscribed view of the human organism prevailing today is unable to build any bridge between the physical body and the soul-and-spirit.

              Herein, it will be conveyed very effectively that man can only be free if something more than nature necessity predicts his everyday, and rather deterministic activities.  The Physical Body bears this in its activities, which are tied to the earth and the metabolic process that goes on therein.

              But, as well, we have a higher calling, which is evident by these excellent discourses on the 'Threefold Social Order', being conveyed within these 12 Holy Nights as something rather unusual, brave, and yet, very timely considering the present situation, especially (it seems) here in our district, i.e., America.

              Greetings to you, and Starman for the excellent work in these rather dark physical days, yet illuminated very well by the moral element inherent in what it truly takes to be free.   Regards for the further commentaries to come.

              Juan

               

               

              --- In steiner@yahoogroups.com, "jschreib26" wrote:

              > Thank you for the response – it is very helpful! Also, my name is Jeff.
              >
              > My statements were a bit rigid and materialistic, it is true. I personally feel a little better, however, using Ken Wilbur's notion of man transcending and "including" nature, rather than transcending and "dominating," as you say. We are BOTH, as you say, the creation AND a "spark of the Creator" – both matter and spirit, both heaven and earth.
              >
              > While I do agree that some can transcend the physical in certain ways while conscious and alive, most of us firmly include nature in the totality of our being to some degree. Perhaps it is that part – the part of us that is physical, that is in nature – that I am trying to fit into these three-fold social concepts. I am young (in my early 30s) and of a (diminishing) liberal bent, and am quite attracted to the idea of disentangling these parts of society. I think there are many like me, and not only in America – as the recent Occupy protests show. But what of the natural world? Turn individuals and business loose and they will set quickly to work dominating and destroying it with little attention paid to the ways that world seems to work best – the "natural laws" it has been observed to follow. For evidence, one has the whole history of human civilization from which to draw.
              >
              > I guess that means that I, as Steiner says (jumping ahead a bit), "lack faith in the possibility of establishing a social order based on individual wills. They have no faith in it because such a faith cannot come from a cultural life that has developed in dependence on the state and the economy. The kind of spirit that does not develop in freedom out of the life of the spirit itself but rather out of an external organization simply does not know what are the spirit's potentials."
              >
              > But is it any wonder we lack this faith in society? What are the options for young people such as me? There seems to be no way to participate in society that does not cause harm to other people or the environment. There are no jobs in the classifieds that do not participate in some form of violence or destruction, no commodity I can buy, no service I can employ. Our very society seems ordered around these things – it seems devoid of life and spirit. So, what many my age and younger seem to be doing is retracting: There is no food worth buying at the local supermarket, so we grow our own. We prefer not to wear shoddy clothes mass-produced in China, so we make our own. We try to engage in pursuits that add value to our communities, often while working other "real" jobs. If we don't know how to do these things, there's always the internet!
              >
              > This is uneconomical and anti-social. But participating in a destructive social order seems worse.
              >

            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.