Monday, June 15, 2009

Why politics should be eliminated

I am taking my point of departure from a key segment of an article written by Jerry M. Schwartz for the Rudolf Steiner Institute: "Re-Imagining Capitalism: Surviving the Current Economic Tsunami -- Social, Cultural and Ecological Renewal":

"When any one of the three aspects of our societal body—economic, political, or cultural/spiritual—dominates the others, history has made clear that great harm is done to the human community. When the political life is dominant, tyranny and totalitarianism result—e.g., North Korea, China, Russia; when the spiritual/cultural life dominates ideological fanaticism reigns—e.g., theocratic states like Iran, or Afghanistan under the Taliban; when the economic life dominates, the forces of commoditization and consumption are given free reign over all aspects of our lives, justifying the practice of greed and self-interest as a moral imperative for economic health. The terrible irony playing itself out before us is that we are all witness to the breakdown or loss of trust in the essential economic exchanges at the heart of free-market capitalistic system."

This may require a little backgound explanation. After the first world war, when Germany was in chaos and social and political confusion, Rudolf Steiner was approached and asked to offer a solution to the social question. He proposed "The Threefold Commonwealth," based upon the slogan from the French Revolution: Liberty, equality, fraternity. The threefolding of the social order should be based upon these three principles in the proper manner. First off, the cultural, spiritual, intellectual sphere should be based upon liberty. This includes education, the arts, literature, research, religion etc. Secondly, the legal sphere should be based upon equality: The law, the courts -- all of this should belong to the principle of equality, because everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Thirdly, the economic sphere should be based upon fraternity, and the tranfers of funds between the different spheres should be mediated through various "associations."

I won't try to go into details on this, because there are buddies of mine who have spent many years studying this topic, and many alternative banks have arisen throughout the world based upon these ideas, although Rudolf Steiner also proposed a radically different type of currency, money, for the future. That's a chapter all by itself, too much to get into here.

That's why I'm keping this very, very simple by sticking with the basics as outlined above, which should make it clear why the social orders produced by the political systems we have seen during the past hundred years have been, and are still, pathologically imbalanced. All of them, without exception. Communism imposed equality, or at least the alleged idea of equality, upon all three spheres: Cultural-spiritual, political, and economic, suppressing fraternity and liberty. In the Western Capitalism, liberty has intruded hard into the economic sphere, where fraternity should reign, and to a certain extent also into the political sphere, the rights-sphere, where equality should hold sway, allowing all kinds of privileges to the wealthy at the expense of the poor and letting the rich own or control the courts and the police.

In his article (linked up above), Jerry M. Schwartz approaches this outline from a slightly different angle, leading to the same conclusion: When dominant representatives of the spiritual-cultural sphere, in this case religious fundamentalist fanatics, gain total control of this sphere and extend this dominance to political and economic spheres as well, then liberty and fraternity are crushed, and equality as well. It's the tyranny of a sectarian elite: Iran. And in Russia and China we see what happens when the political sphere is held captive by a one party system extending its control over the spiritual-cultural sphere (religion, education, artistic expression, the media etc.) and also the economic sphere. Thirdly, when the market forces of the economic sphere are also allowed to control, or exercise strong influence over, politics, law enforcement, education, media, theater, arts, literature and so on, the social order becomes a social-darwinistic type of survival of the wealthiest.

The solution to all this is not, in my opinion, a socialist state imposing all kinds of controls and regulations. Yet, these are the remedies being implemented in the West against the excessive dominance of the economic sphere, which not only corrupts justice (through bribery, lawsuits, fines, the bail bond system, the expense of legal assistance etc.) and culture (by marketing bad taste through commercialization and turning artistic endeavors and innovation into a circus of public contests), but also runs out of control through corporate crime, mischief, dumping of toxic waste, legal embezzlement and legal robbery and u name it.

But states, governments, at least as we know them and as we have experienced them from time immemorial, have to go, they need to be dismantled, which means in the initial stage, severely reduced. And the only way this can be achieved is through a radical shift in human consciousness in the most profound sense of that word.

The idea of the Threefolding is most profound, because it is also related to the evolution of consciousness and the metamosphosis of the human organism, which may be divided into three systems of organic activity: (a) the nervous system, including the senses; (b) the metabolic system, in connection with the limb-system; and (c) the rhythmic system, i. e., blood circulation and breathing.

The evolution of spiritual consciousness is in the process of separating the forces of thinking, feeling, and willing from one another to the point where these are experienced much more independently than what is the case today on the average.

Some people seem to have wondered what Rudolf Steiner meant when he said, "Politics must be eliminated altogether from our Society," and frankly I don't know; I haven't even found the context yet! I shared the statement on my status simply because I liked it, because I think it hits the nail on the head. Public debates about very important topics like education, economics, jurisprudence etc. are totally corrupted and rendered worthless because of political party affiliations and agendas. Politicians are the worst offenders, and the closer they are to election or re-election time, the worse they get, even to the point of total intellectual dishonesty. It's a disgrace and an insult to the intelligence of their audiences and readers.

Wouldn't it be an improvement if ministers/secretaries of finance, economy, education and so on were experts in their respective fields while completely independent and free from any political party affiliation?

Rudolf Steiner also said that the parliamentary party system ought to have outlived its role in the 19th century -- I'll see what source material I can dig up later -- so it's about time we begin to challenge it in 2009!

Benjamin Tucker was one of Rudolf Steiner's contemporaries and also his collaborator and ally in the 1890's. Steiner hailed Tucker as the greatest champion of freedom in their time. And yet, they were two very different types of thinkers, which their respective autobiographies should make clear to everyone. I've always loved Benjamin Tucker's polemical arguments against the state. I'll close this Note with some very powerful words of his from 128 years ago (1881):

[Liberty, August 6, 1881.]

"LIBERTY enters the field of journalism to speak for herself because she finds no one willing to speak for her. She hears no voice that always champions her; she knows no pen that always writes in her defence; she sees no hand that is always lifted to avenge her wrongs or vindicate her rights. Many claim to speak in her name, but few really understand her. Still fewer have the courage and the opportunity to consistently fight for her. Her battle, then, is her own, to wage and win. She accepts it fearlessly and with a determined spirit.

"Her foe, Authority, takes many shapes, but, broadly speaking, her enemies divide themselves into three classes: first, those who abhor her both as a means and as an end of progress, opposing her openly, avowedly, sincerely, consistently, universally; second, those who profess to believe in her as a means of progress, but who accept her only so far as they think she will subserve their own selfish interests, denying her and her blessings to the rest of the world; third, those who distrust her as a means of progress, believing in her only as an end to be obtained by first trampling upon, violating, and outraging her. These three phases of opposition to Liberty are met in almost every sphere of thought and human activity. Good representatives of the first are seen in the Catholic Church and the Russian autocracy; of the second, in the Protestant Church and the Manchester school of politics and political economy; of the third, in the atheism of Gambetta and the socialism of the socialism of Karl Marx.

"Through these forms of authority another line of demarcation runs transversely, separating the divine from the human; or, better still, the religious from the secular. Liberty’s victory over the former is well-nigh achieved. Last century Voltaire brought the authority of the supernatural into disrepute. The Church has been declining ever since. Her teeth are drawn, and though she seems still to show here and there vigorous signs of life, she does so in the violence of the death-agony upon her, and soon her power will be felt no more. It is human authority that hereafter is to be dreaded, and the State, its organ, that in the future is to be feared. Those who have lost their faith in gods only to put it in governments; those who have ceased to be Church-worshippers only to become State-worshippers; those who have abandoned pope for king or czar, and priest for president or parliament, – have indeed changed their battle-ground, but none the less are foes of Liberty still. The Church has become an object of derision; the State must be made equally so. The State is said by some to be a “necessary evil”; it must be made unnecessary. This century’s battle, then, is with the State: the State, that debases man; the State, that prostitutes woman; the State, that corrupts children; the State, that trammels love; the State that stifles thought; the State, that monopolizes land; the State, that limits credit; the State, that restricts exchange; the State, that gives idle capital the power of increase, and through interest, rent, profit, and taxes, robs industrious labor of its products.

"How the State does these things, and how it can be prevented from doing them, Liberty proposes to show in more detail hereafter in the prosecution of her purpose. Enough to say now that monopoly and privilege must be destroyed, opportunity afforded, and competition encouraged. This is Liberty’s work, and “Down with Authority” her war-cry."

This is what the first issue of Liberty looked like:



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