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On the Nature of Public Life


The Soul of a People, the Spirit of a Nation,

and the Sacrifices of its Leaders.

a collection of essays, some old, some new,

on politics and related social issues

by Joel A. Wendt

social philosopher...and occasional fool

includes the four poems called:

the America Quartet

table of contents

introduction (maybe page 3)

1) The Soul of a People, the Spirit of a Nation and the sacrifices of its Leaders. (somewhere around page 5)

2) Re-imagining the Conduct of the Presidency - a Presidential Campaign as an Act of Statecraft and the Presidency as the Art and Craft of Statesmanship (probably page 10)

3) some of us remember (a poem)  (page 25?)

4) A Forgotten Resource: the American Spirit  (I'd guess page 29)

 part one: The American Will: to sacrifice for an Ideal

 part two: Economic Tyranny and the American Spirit

 part three: The Word, the Idea of Property, and the Creation of a  true American Culture

5) Song of the Grandfathers  - real wealth (wisdom), and the redemption  of social and political existence (civilization) (most likely 59)

6) the Rape of the Republic (a poem)

7) Basic Conceptions: fundamentals of a new social view

8) The Future

9) The Coming Collapse: Civilization on the Brink

10) Beyond Columbine: appreciating the patterns of social meaning hidden in the Columbine Tragedy.

11) Civil Society: its potential and its mystery

12) America Sings (a poem)

13) Citizen Governance: the Future of the Republic form of Government

14) the Future of Business Corporations - individual self-development and economic leadership -

15) the gift of another's eyes (a poem)

16) surfing the coming tsunami of history:

part one: the descent into madness - government during the end of a civilization

part two: what a sane government might look like - how the power of the presidency could be applied in the coming time of social chaos

part three: on the law and the spirit - changing fundamentals, including the U.S. Constitution


1) Eisenhower's Farewell Speech

2) the gift of the word (a poem)

3) a short bibliography


I am not sure that there is any real organic order to this collection, but rather suspect that the reader could start anywhere, jump around and skip what seems uninteresting.

That said, this collection of essays (except for those written for this book) were mostly written over the last 15 or so years, starting in the early 1990's, the first time I ran for President.  Few will know of those efforts (three failures, as it were), for I really only ran in a closet.  My thinking about the nature of campaigns was a bit unrealistic, and I also choose help from people who were not equipped to truly aid in such an endeavor.

The main obstacle I ran into, oddly enough, was that while I wanted to run a quite different campaign than was usual, no one wanted to believe I was serious unless I was acting in a typical or formulaic fashion.

That said, you could say that I didn't think very clearly about what was really involved in such an effort, and that lack of clarity meant failure, at least in the sense of engaging the public in ways expected of presidential candidates.  The fact is, that while I might have made an excellent President, I sucked at being a typical politician.  I knew, of course, that there was a difference between being a true public servant, and being a politician, but I hadn't really thought through (at that time) what it meant for my various campaigns.

I am not upset that I failed at being a politician - it is not something at which I would have been proud to have succeeded.  Nor was the effort at political writing, during those years, in any sense without value, for in the act of putting on the hat of running for office, I did discover that how one thought about such as our shared political and social life was quite different, than if one is merely being a critic, a researcher or otherwise an ordinary citizen.

Also over the years, some of these essays were rewritten, and some of the candidacy elements removed for various reasons.  Even so, I do believe that it will not hurt to make this record of the evolution of my political thought, since this is being done using the open source on-demand publishing resources to be found at www.lulu.com.  This means that no paper is wasted, unless someone wants to read what is here.  Its all just ones and zeros in a server, until someone thinks it might be of interest.

Nor are all the essays from my political campaigns - several are the results of my social research.  I'll make the necessary distinction in the introduction to the individual essays, so the reader may know which hat I was wearing at the time of writing - a seeker of public office, or a student of the social. 

The poems included below were more of a necessary expression of pain at the degeneration of the Republic, and at the lack of the pursuit of virtue by those seeking office.  Our Republic very much has to be infused with virtue in order to live, which is why my main political pamphlet is called: Uncommon Sense*: the Degeneration, and the Redemption, of Political Life in America.

Is this book a mere curiosity then?  I don't think so, but I'll leave the full judgment of that to others.  I have also broken the essays up with four poems (as noted above), which I call the American Quartet.  These are scattered throughout this book.  In addition, I have made here and there a few changes or additions to the older essays, as well as written material original to this book.

This older material should also been seen as a many yeared background to my published essay: Uncommon Sense*: the Degeneration, and the Redemption, of Political Life in America (available at www.lulu.com).  Irregular updates on my views can be found on my seldom read blog: Hermit's Weblog: everything your mother never taught you about how the world really works: http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/blog/ (which will also be available in the summer of 2008 on my lulu.com storefront for all my writings (http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=775446).


The Soul of a People, the Spirit of a Nation

and the sacrifices of its Leaders.

At the time I am writing this (late winter 2008), America has been involved in a over-lengthy and essentially pointless Presidential Campaign for at least a year.  There is more to come, and the main result of this period of political excess is neither light nor understanding of the real difficulties we face in the coming times.  Neither Party has much to offer, and few candidates have any real qualifications that make them rise above the field of essentially ambitious politicians.

The most honest about the situation of government, Ron Paul, is also (by virtue of being a Libertarian) devoted to an ideology whose logical conclusions are often inhumane.  Another, Dennis Kucinich, has the virtue of being right on a number of issues, but doesn't think deeply enough.   Barack Obama is the most likely to help the nation at least have hope during the coming times, but he also lacks the qualities of a Statesman so desperately needed.  The Clintons seem on the verge of a meltdown - Bill has gotten totally out of control, and Hillary can't seem to reign him in.

McCain is too old, and not smart enough.  Romney too much the clever politician.  Giuliani  has no heart, and Huckabee has faith and personality  without any common sense.  Al Gore would be good, having actually become a Statesman, but he isn't running, and there is not much chance the Democrat Party will have the courage to draft his leadership (in the best sense of this, he is someone who ought to be courted and won, for at the very least such an approach puts him outside the vanities of the current campaign).

We really need to ask ourselves by what rational process do these people come to seek this office, and whether that process is itself (by the absence of any real stature in any of these people) is now proved to be so diseased as to be completely useless.  What do we need in highest public office, and how do we find those which can be trusted to serve (the current office holder, Bush II never could be trusted to do anything right, and how he ends up being President is a horror story all of its own)?

In an effort to shed some light, I will try next to take some concepts from the title to this first essay, and see if these can illuminate the underlying nature of how we have gotten in such a mess.  Three words (concepts) are crucial: soul, spirit and sacrifice, so let us take them up one by one.

the Soul of a People

Everyone understands this idea, but it is one that is difficult to state with precision.  Every People, whether the English, the Chinese, the French, and such as the Brazilians, have a certain quality of character which they share.  Americans have something about us that is more or less common to all, and when others meet us, they know they are meeting Americans.  When I use the term Soul I am referring to this shared character.  Just Google the term: American Character, and you'll find more than you need, for this subject is not new.

Where does this character come from?   The land, the geographical places and environments?  How about the culture?  Is it TV and Movies, or is it something in the education?  How about the language?  We can speak somewhat exactly about American English (a subject that is studied by academics).  How does our shared language effect our character?  What about our history, our past?

No doubt our character comes from all of the above.  It is also true there are significant regional differences.  New Yorkers and people from Southern California have quite different temperaments.  Some people intentionally try to stand outside these influences.  Is a Native American an American in the sense described above?  What about someone who is Amish?

Movies, oddly enough, perhaps don't so much influence American Character, but often instead try to portray it.   Westerns and war films were once thought to be well informed with representations of the American Character.  Others (non-Americans) try to describe what they see, such as Alexis De Tocqueville.  If the subject wasn't about something real, why would so many try to define it or otherwise pin it down.

We have several songs that are poetic visions of our Character, but at the same time are a bit at odds with each other.  The Star-Spangled Banner is a quite different song from America the Beautiful.  The former is our official national anthem, but about every five years legislation is introduced seeking to make the latter the national anthem.

Probably the best way to get a picture of our Character is to notice what happens when we are all caught up in some kind of national level crisis, such as the Depression or World War Two.  Character is something that is forged by life, as much as it is a natural given.  The coming future will tell us a lot about our Character, if it takes the form I suspect it will - a time of crisis beyond that which we have ever endured before.

9/11 was a test of our Character, but somehow or another, our political leaders didn't seem to know what to do with that crisis, and as a result have taken us in directions that appear to have done more injury to our Character, rather than to have called upon it.

the Spirit of a Nation

Spirit is a different concept from Soul, and Nation a different concept from People.  Here I am trying to direct our attention toward the shared idea we have of government.  America is an experiment in a very unique and original kind of government, as Lincoln put it: a nation of the people, by the people and for the people.  Interestingly, this phrase of Lincoln's puts the two sets of ideas into a kind of relationship context.  A nation is made up of the people, but is not the people.  It is an arrangement or agreement the people make with each other about how to be governed.

What then is the Spirit of our way of being governed?  In the U. S. Constitution this is put this way in the Preamble: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Declaration of Independence says: "...governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."[emphasis added]

What is this idea?  Here is one possibility: A government of the people and by the people and for the people only has those powers temporarily granted to it by We the People.  It is a grant of power that can be withdrawn (it is not permanent).  This is a radical shift from the times of the aristocracies of blood (kings and queens).  Moreover, by the reserve clause (the 10th amendment) all powers not granted are reserved to the People, and by the 9th amendment not all our rights have been enumerated (listed) - there are understood to be others (this should be all the support Roe vs. Wade needs, but with the current Supreme Court who knows anymore).

What is the Spirit that lives behind this idea of a form of government derived from and for the People?

What I best I can say about the Soul of a People and the Spirit of a Nation I have had to express in the poetry below.

the sacrifices of its Leaders

One of the peculiarities of the modern Presidential race is the frequency with which it is necessary for the candidates to say "I".  They expect to (and do) make constant promises about what they will be able to accomplish once in office.  I will end the war, I will fix the economy, I will solve the problems of race, or immigration, or the tax code and on and on and on.

In the next essay below you will find the idea that sometimes it is not what the President does that is crucial, but what he or she doesn't do.  We are just ending a period of time in American History when the President (under the influence of others) reached out to increase greatly the powers of the executive Branch, and moreover sought to apply that power whenever and wherever possible.  "I'm the decider" said President Bush.

It is true, as President Truman understood, that: the buck stops here.  The President can't pass on to others those decisions that are his or hers to make.  The problems come when the Executive Branch, or any political Party, begins to believe and act as if their personal wishes and points of view are why they are in office.

Our Founders understood, that for all our necessary "I" oriented needs to make decisions, the essential nature of this new form of government - this American Experiment - was in service to the People and the Nation, that is in service to the soul-character of the American People and to the Ideal (Spirit) of its conception of government.  As soon as a Party or members of the government (of any Branch) believe that they are there in those offices because what they think and want is to rule, they have lost first a connection to the fundamental Spirit of this Nation, and second are no longer able to be of service to the Soul of the People.

It is because of these tragic facts of our modern history in this regard that I wrote my pamphlet: Uncommon Sense*:  the Degeneration, and the Redemption, of Political Life in America.  In the essays below is recorded much of the thinking processes over the years that led me to understanding both our plight, and our potential.  This is always the case in history.  The existence of tragic circumstances always represents the possibility of remarkable transformation.  Our lives are about to fall into even more dire conditions, yet at the same time, it is just those conditions that can evoke in our Soul - our Character - the forces of will to renew the Republic and to reconnect to the true National Spirit.


This essay was written for my last (the 2004) presidential campaign.  It was actually written in 2002.  It has been slightly rewritten for this book.

Re-imagining the Conduct of the Presidency

- a  Presidential Campaign as an Act of Statecraft, and

the Presidency as the Art and Craft of Statesmanship -

The People of the United States of America can no longer afford to have their government run by professional politicians.  The People of the World can no longer afford the conditions of internal corruption into which the United States government has fallen.  The cost, in terms of the unnecessary pain and suffering of ordinary people everywhere, is too high.

It remains for the People of the United States, in cooperation with others throughout the World, to realize that the 2004 Presidential Election in the United States is the business of all of us.  What some like to call America does not just belong to the geographic Americans.  America is an Ideal of how to have a government of the People, by the People and for the People. This Ideal doesn't just belong to the citizens of the United States, although we are, in the present, its most important stewards.

Some fundamental considerations:

The conduct of the Presidency and of a presidential campaign is not something done by one person, although one person is fully responsible for its fundamental moral character.  This was the pattern and standard set by George Washington, a pattern and standard that has fallen away over the many years since his initial gifts to our polity.

In the present, politicians have taken up, as their main tasks, getting elected and staying in power.  Secondary and subordinate to this is the care of the Republic and the health of our Society.  In their pursuit of winning, politicians have sacrificed their alleged secondary goal more and more by turning over the conduct of election campaigns to faceless political operatives, who are then allowed to engage in almost any activity that supports the primary goal - winning the election.  No longer does the politician act as a statesman, but rather becomes a mere merchant of influence, selling favors and votes, patronage and access, all the while letting slide responding to our Nation's real needs.

For anyone interested in the truth, it is unnecessary to say anything about how far from the Ideal was the conduct of the last election by the current administration.  Needless to say, their conduct in office has shown the same level of irresponsibility.

Some years ago, in a remarkable book (Statecraft as Soulcraft - what government does) by George Will, written at the time he was still a true Conservative in the tradition of Edmund Burke, Will quoted, in the First Chapter - The Care of Our Time, Senator Pat Moynihan as follows: "I have served in the Cabinet or sub-Cabinet of four Presidents.  I do not believe I have ever heard at a Cabinet meeting a serious discussion of political ideas - one concerned with how men, rather then markets, behave.  These are the necessary first questions of government.  The Constitution of the United States is an immensely intricate judgment as to how men will behave, given the circumstances of the time in which it was written.  It is not at all clear that it is working well, given the circumstances of the present age.  But this is never discussed."

Politicians, who do not understand that at its fundamental levels our form of government is an Ideal, and/or have no experience with the necessary inner work required to understand and practice this Ideal, - such politicians no longer serve the Republic or our People, but rather only those influences from the realms of concentrated wealth that buy their attention and support their election.

This is not to say that everyone in public office is a mere politician.  Certainly many seek office, wanting to be statesmen, and some survive the experience of seeking office to actually become statesmen.  Unfortunately, far too many have lost their way, and in the process have sold our Republic to the highest bidder.

In order to renew the relationship of our polity to the Living Ideal (which is its true nature), certain activities are required both by the ordinary citizen, and by those who seek office.  Mostly I have written in these working papers [campaign papers for the 2004 election, see http://ipwebdev.com/campaign] of matters connected to the renewal of the responsibilities of citizenship, or what is called Citizen Governance.  In this paper I am focusing more directly upon what those who might yearn to be statesmen need to do.

The first required task is the transformation of the political campaign.  No longer can it be merely about winning office, or the acquisition of power.  Those goals will corrupt the whole process right from the very beginning.  The campaign itself needs to be conducted as the initial act of statecraft - as an offering, or demonstration if you will, of the candidate's abilities as a practitioner of the art and craft of statesmanship.

This means, at the very least, placing the truth ahead of all other considerations.  Granted people do not agree on what the truth is, but the present conventions of politicians, and their out of control operatives, is that spin is appropriate.  Yet, spin by its very nature concedes that its goal is not the truth, but rather the warping of facts so as to place the candidate or office holder in the most agreeable light.  The gift of the word is then used to obscure and hide, rather than for enlightenment and illumination.

No one wants any longer to know what the true and the good are.  These realities are too inconvenient to the primary process - the buying and selling of influence.  Our understanding of the true nature of governing has so far degenerated, that this buying and selling itself is seen as compromise.   But compromise, in the processes of governance and statesmanship, is a much higher calling than mere influence peddling. True compromise concerns not the convenient collusion's of power, but rather the melding of differing Ideals and Ideas into a union that represents the agreeable conduct of the Whole People.

Now someone who aspires to this true art and craft of statesmanship - to an understanding of true compromise, must at the first offering of public service conduct their campaign itself as an act of statecraft by grounding its use of the gift of the word in the truth.   Someone aspiring to the office of public servant needs to place ahead of their own victory in an election, the discovery of those truths about which this particular election must be concerned.  Only in this way can we transform the fallen circus which passes for public debate during every four year cycle of presidential politics, and replace that circus with a periodic National Rite of Celebration and Search for the slowly growing and unfolding meaning and purpose of our Nation and our People.

So as to make this more concrete, it is not just spin that evades the truth, but also promises made that the speaker does not in fact know they can keep.  Political campaigns are full of allegations that the candidate will accomplish this or that act when in office, while the truth is clearly otherwise to anyone who wants to think about it.  For example, for a presidential candidate to promise any legislative result is to engage in a lie, for only the Legislative Branch can make laws, and Presidents frequently are not able to bend the Legislative Branch to their will.

Someone might say that this form of speech - the loose promise - is common today.  That it is, but its very existence as a habit of conduct diminishes the level of reality in the public dialog.  Candidates sitting around trading promises made, which can't be kept, engage in fantasy, and conversation without any true meaning.  This is made all the worse, as anyone with any common sense knows, by the fact that the promises are frequently made not because it is the true will of the candidate, but merely to appeal to a set of voters whose emotional state the campaign operatives seek to ensnare.  All of this kind of speech degrades the gift of the word and makes of our public dialog nothing higher than the typical false promises made for the advertising and selling of a useless patent medicine.

How did we get to this state?

The truth is that the United States of America is young, adolescent even.  We are immature as a Culture and a People.  At the same time, the Genius of History has placed us in this position of preeminence for a reason.  Something is being born just here, that can not be brought forth anywhere else - the forging of a People of Peoples.  That phase in the evolution and education of humanity, that first was carried forth among differing races and cultures, is passing away, and is beginning to be replaced with that child-like first People and Culture that integrates the gifts of the parts into one Whole.  It is as if Life on the Earth is engaged in a very delicate experiment - can human beings find a common sense of themselves beyond the ties of blood, history, race, culture and religion?

Such a process is awkward in the extreme.  The Genius of History doesn't do these things in that much of a straightforward and organized fashion as we might prefer, because at its root such a process has to be based upon freedom.  We are not being formed into a People of Peoples, but are rather being invited to take up such a task.  Moreover, in order for us to embrace such a task in freedom, it has to be completely possible that we will fail.  For all to be possible, all must be at risk.

Further,the True Spirit (Ideal) of America, as noted above, does not just belong to geographic Americans, whether of the United States or North or South America.  This Ideal belongs to all human beings, and all may live it.  The foremost example of the living this Ideal in the Twentieth Century was a nameless man of Chinese descent and culture who stood in front of a tank in Tienanmen Square.   By this act he said: "I offer my life on the altar of freedom and brotherhood".

Brotherhood, you might ask?  Yes, brotherhood.  To what other end is it possible to offer ones own life?  Only the community of those who survive benefit by such a sacrifice.  And the freedom part?  This offer of sacrifice can only be done morally as a free act, while elsewhere, where the sacrifice of life is compelled, it is an abomination.

How little is required then of someone seeking to be a public servant than to ask of them that they sacrifice winning in favor of the truth?

Now some may think that if the United States is being forged into a People of Peoples, what does that mean for the rest?  This is a quite legitimate question.

As was pointed toward in the beginning of this paper, the 2004 presidential election in the United States is the concern of the whole world.  In a very real sense the rest of the World's Peoples are the Father and Mother of the People of Peoples, and we who live in the United States are their offspring. We are their clumsy and errant adolescent child, who in our natural nationalistic egotism think we should be in charge, and that the whole world should revolve around us.  In a kind of self important drunken ecstasy we stumble around the house and the neighborhood, wreaking everything in sight.

I am sure this is written everywhere in the various wisdoms of the world, but in that which comes to Western Culture as the Ten Commandments, number four or five (depending upon your rite) implores: "Honor thy father and mother" ("...in order that thy days may be prolonged upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee..").

As I tried to point out in the essay America's Growing Moral Debt (see below), the People of the United States owe a great deal to the rest of the World.

A politician (afraid to lead, and only able to follow a mob) will get all pumped up screaming "you're unpatriotic!", while a true statesman will have no problem whatsoever understanding that reality is much deeper, and that compromise and brotherhood and honor are much more important than self serving pretense and vain posturing.

The United States of America wasn't born out of itself, and doesn't exist for itself.   The same is true of any candidate for public office.  It's not about me, or even our People, its about us and all Peoples.   And even more so, it is about our children and their children's children.  What sane culture can claim to be of value even to itself (much less the rest of the world) that squanders its wealth on itself, leaving its children to live among wastelands and ruins?

This is all I wanted to say about the conduct of the campaign in its Ideal sense.  As to the actual conduct of the Office of the Presidency, that is another matter.  There are aspects of that Office that need to be discussed in relationship to the particulars of our current situation.  This we consider next.

The basic effect of the corruption of the nature of our public life, by the overreaching of concentrated wealth on our constitutional processes, has been the weakening of the Legislative and Judicial Branches of our government, with the result that the Executive Branch has become so warped that the President is now, in effect, a near-King.  Yet, we once fought a very bloody and protracted war in order to free ourselves from the arbitrary authority of a King.   Tragically, we have fallen back on old patterns, in that the influence of the aristocracy of concentrated wealth has been to install their own sons and daughters in office, through the abuses of power that influence can buy.

We have had in the last Century, Roosevelt's, Rockefeller's, Kennedy's and now Bushes in the higher offices (President and Vice President, Governors, Senators and Congressmen), while all manner of Cabinet offices, heads of the CIA and diplomatic posts have been held by the elites of our banking and mercantile classes.  We have become so used to this, that we no longer really notice it.

At the same time, to go from one condition, that of influence peddling to a condition of truer social and political health, this cannot be done overnight, or in a violent and disorderly fashion.  Further, just as the People of the United States of America must learn to honor their Father and Mother as that lives and has lived in all the older, and more mature, cultures and races, so also must the Citizen Governance (see below) movement learn to honor that which lived in the impulses of concentrated wealth that was also born of the true and the good.

For example, Joe Kennedy, certainly a rascal of the first order (as have and will be many in our wonderfully complex and rich history), did not just impose his children on our society, but if we read carefully the biographies of that family we can see that he insisted they not only be trained by life, but also provided all the formal education money could buy.  It was the Kennedy's and their friends that took us through that horrible moment of the Cold War where all of mankind stood on the brink of Nuclear Catastrophe (see the movie Thirteen Days for details).

In this approach of the patriarch of the Kennedy clan, we find one valid version of the Ideal standard - those who are to hold highest office need to be trained and educated for it.  As much as we would like it, we cannot go out and pick any factory worker, housewife or househusband, nurse or cab driver and elevate them to public service.  Yes, to be a son or daughter of wealth is not enough (as Bush II proves), but we do well not to throw out the baby with the bathwater here.

This is part of why Citizen Governance, especially in the form of its work in changing the nature of the political conversation, is so important.  The renewal of the Ideal that is America needs to be rooted in "We the People", but at the same time we need an educated and trained elite at the core of governmental service.  If there is a problem, it is that the same forces, that have brought about the fallen nature of our polity, have also infected our centers of learning, our great and small universities and colleges.  This is one of the matters pointed to by Eisenhower in his Farewell Speech (see appendix), where he also spoke of the undesirable influence of the military-industrial complex.  Mostly we recall the latter, but the former - the problems he saw coming into our system of education, this part of his speech is forgotten.

What this tells us, among other matters, is that Education, whether for the ordinary citizen in support of their ability to carry out the relevant responsibilities of Citizen Governance, or in the preparation of those charged with the managing of our Society, this Education is the primary function of a healthy society.   However, we have to deal with the presently fallen nature of our schools, which have lost hold of the goal of creating an educated citizenry, and have been forced (and are being forced) to primarily provide trained workers and consumers - two very antagonistic goals.

One can be a trained worker whether one is a biochemist or an auto mechanic, and we certainly, as a society, need all these skills.  But as a modern human culture, trying to awaken to who we are in the World, we also need to be truly educated.  Someone is educated who is free to be who they want to be, and who has been helped to unfold all the human capacities natural and latent in their own inwardness.

I am not here going into how we go about doing that (this would take a book or two), I only want to point to the problem and its centrality in going into the future.  The reality is that the most important people in any society are the parents and the teachers, for the children are formed into who they become (their character) by these initial experiences of family and school, and it is the children who are the future.  We can have all the wealth and technical expertise in the world, and still have no culture whatsoever, because we do not educate human beings, but only train workers and consumers.

With this background in mind, let us now return to the problem of the imbalance among the three branches of our form of government that has come to be due to the excessive influences of concentrated wealth.

The next holder of the Office of the Presidency has to do everything they can to restore the true balance, and to contain their own shadow impulses toward seeking to solve all problems by the conduct of what has become essentially an imperial presidency.  And, the Citizen Governance movement has to stop looking to the Executive Branch to solve all their problems.  The President is not a King, but rather a Servant and perhaps a Shepherd, and as a Servant the President will not do a proper service by replacing the will of the People by his or her own vain beliefs.

We have in our young culture recently given birth to a couple of important and wise ideas.  One such idea is that of enabling and comes to us out of the profound spiritual work of 12 Step movements.  In the hard and painful school of addiction, it has been discovered we do no service to a person with such a weakness if we feel  sorry for them and try all the time to help them.  Our best service is done by what is called tough love, another of these new wise ideas (this is actually not so new, and might be found in some of the spiritual wisdoms of the Original Peoples of the Americas in the idea of grandmotherly kindness - but that is another story).  Another such idea is that of co-dependency.  This involves becoming so enmeshed in each other, that we really end up supporting each others weakness, instead of our individual strengths.

What this means is that the President can't be the co-dependent enabler of either the weaknesses of the People or of the other two Branches, by using an excess of Executive powers to do something the People and their public servants need to do by themselves.   What this means is that we need in the Executive someone with the wisdom not to do things.  There is really no other way to wean us from our current addiction to the presidency as all knowing ruler and king.

The People's will is best manifested by the Legislative Branch, who are called upon to make those laws necessary to the proper ordering of a modern human society (please note that in the Constitution, the Legislative Branch is written about first).  But the Legislative Branch does us no good with its own addiction to wealth as the only means to obtain and maintain power.  Both our Congresspeople and our Senators must end this obsession with their own importance, and learn to set that aside in favor of striving again to realize the Ideal that is embodied in our Constitution.  Every election, which proceeds on the basis that the truth can be ignored, and that the ends found in winning is more important than the honest means by which it is obtained, drags us further into rot and decay.

Just as true Citizen Governance can only be founded on a proper understanding of ends and means, so the practice of statecraft at all levels of government will only be balanced and healthy when the right relationship is found between these two elements of political process.  For the Executive Branch this means that at the center of its practice must exist the truth in all that it says to our People.  Anything less, anything self serving and in support of hidden agendas makes a lie of the process and tears down the presently fragile remaining trust of the People.

We must not fail to notice that a mistrust of politicians has lead to almost half - HALF! - of our People refusing to practicing even their most basic right and responsibility of the vote.  We presently live in a situation of deep spiritual despair at the core of our polity due solely to the failure to honor the trust of the American People.  From the Pentagon Papers, through Watergate and Irangate,to the joke that was Clinton's statement that he never slept with that woman [and now to the lies in the run up to the Iraq war], our government has done nothing but harm to the Ideal Center of our way of Life, through lie after lie after lie.

Not only has great mistrust been the fruit of these failures, but such work divides the nation deeply between those who still hold to the faith and want to trust, and those who have been too many times burnt.  The Executive (and the Legislative Branch) harms us deeply with every piece of spin and outright lie.

The only real coin of any value, passed between the citizens of a Nation and their public servants, is the truth.  With that coin in circulation, nothing is impossible to such a People, for truth leads to trust, and it is mutual trust that binds us together into a Whole.

This being the case, and given that the Media itself has been corrupted by concentrated wealth, it is the need of our People that as many barriers as possible be removed between the People and their public servants.  In practice, this will mean in my campaign [now abandoned] that nothing will be hidden from the Press, should they seek it, except in that rare circumstance where undo harm to others would result.  I certainly have no intention of hiding anything concerning myself.  The same rule will apply in practice in my administration, should the People honor me with their trust - essentially unlimited access to the People through the Media.

In fact, the whole nature of such a modern administration changes, once we admit the value of the truth as the primary Ideal element.  The object then no longer becomes serving some kind of ideology (of the Left or the Right), but of finding out what is the true need, and the best means to provide those services which government is charged to provide.

However (and this is a big however), given the nature of the imbalance between the Branches, it is no longer healthy to look to the Executive for that which should be provided by either of the other two Branches.  Neither new laws nor justice is the role of the Executive.  Moreover, given that this imbalance didn't appear just recently, it will not be easily corrected.  We need to be patient, and take small steps where those are called for.  Radically reformations are usually destructive of more than they create.

As the Citizen Governance movement grows into its own, the foundational elements will shift, and a new kind of public servant will come forth (since they will now find the right support).  These changes at the level of who is doing the work in the three Branches are the essential.  Many believe that if we just change this or that law, we will have progress, but the real curative is to change the character and quality of the people doing the work.  The raising of the quality of those people coming into public service will take time, and will require multiple transformations of our ways of Education and other related matters.

We need to understand that social problems of the systemic nature so common today cannot be corrected by the application of this law, or that edict.  We are involved in a work of healing whole systems, and this means advancing on many fronts at the same time.

In a way it is a kind of mutually reciprocal process, whereby Citizen Governance elevates on its own the level of discourse, while this in turn enables public servants to strive more toward the truth in all their activity.  The one slowly reinforces the activity of the other, each becoming stronger over time.

All of this has been fairly abstract, so in order to make it all more concrete, let me now write of these ideal elements in terms of our various problems with regard to the economy.  This is just a for instance, by the way, and not meant to be complete or definitive.

We can start by dismantling some illusions - the President is not the manager of the United States economy, and in fact, there is no such thing as a national or state economy.   This may surprise many, but as we are trading here in the coin of the truth, these things have to be said.

There is only a World Economy, which has come slowly into being over the last few hundred years, taking off with the trading empires, and then being more built up by the industrial revolution.  What the Left worries about as Globalization, is merely the by-product of the emergence of the World Economy in the final age of the aristocracies of concentrated wealth.  And, what the Right worries about as the threat to the privileges and prerogatives of private property, is only the last stage in the dying away of a false understanding of the nature of human progress.

Why is there only a World Economy?  One important clue is to notice that all this is happening in that time when all of humanity is awakening to its shared fate as the inhabitants of one Earth.  It is no accident that our consciousness as a world full of companions and brothers and sisters is emerging at the same time as the World Economy, globalization, and the apparent intensification of the struggle between the so-called rich and the poor.

Economy deals with the transformation of the gifts of the Earth, their movement to where needed, and then their use - that is, production, distribution and consumption.  The consequences of such activity effect us all, and imbalances are everywhere.

The only reason we think at all of national economies, or even local or state economies is because of a habit of thought instilled in us by the influence upon our thinking as a result of living in the age of natural science.  One of the processes of natural science, as conducted in the past (this may be changing), has been the use of abstractions - of taking single facts out of the context in which they are embedded, and then believing we can understand these single facts free of this context.

So it is possible, say for those living in New Hampshire, to gather local facts, rates of unemployment, stock values of local companies, profit and loss figures from these same companies, tax revenues, and so forth.  From these abstracted facts then (they are all embedded in a much larger picture where the flow of capital, the changes in interest rates, and federal tax cuts or raises dominate the local conditions) an imaginary picture is created as if there was a local economy.  In truth, we can only ever speak of local conditions in the World Economy, in much the same way we can only speak of local conditions in the Total Climate of our planet.  Yes, it will rain here tomorrow, maybe.  And maybe there is some capital flowing in our local direction next year if we offer property tax rebates.

What this means is that whatever our coming economic realities, the whole world is in the same fragile boat - our one planet, the Earth, and Its Children, humanity.

Yet, because we assume that the Executive Branch manages the local economic conditions in our Nation, we tend to look to Presidents for economic leadership, and conduct.  But the factual relationships are quite otherwise, and to the extent that the Executive pretends to managing the economy, they lie.

This is one of the hidden realities behind globalization - it is a necessary stage on the path to learning to deal with the World Economy through international relations.  As this particular time is during the infancy of our understanding of the dismal science (economics), and as the dominating political power has been with the elites of concentrated wealth, our first efforts at managing the World Economy have been trade agreements, mostly written with the benefit to the elites of concentrated wealth in mind.

At the root of these problems is a kind of understandable mistrust.  Over the years of the birth and coming into being of the World Economy, the banking and mercantile classes have had a lot of trouble with various governmental leaders.  Since this all began as the age of Kings and Queens was is its last days, these authoritative personalities made all manner of decisions that were destructive of commerce and trade.  It is no wonder that the elites of concentrated wealth wanted little to do with the interference of governments in the management of economic processes.

Then as the hereditary aristocracies gave way to the emergence of democratic republics, the problems continued, for voters were not well educated in even the basics of accounting, much less the intricate details of high finance.  As a result, the dialogs between the voters and their public servants lost any contact with economic reality, while at the same time the discipline of economics wandered about in a universe of abstract principles and mathematics, attempting to imitate physics, a poor choice in all events, since all economic decisions have a moral (human) component.

I am not going to go into the economic decisions of the current Bush administration, being made in conjunction with a Congress even more in denial of the real consequences of their actions, except to say that the same irresponsible patterns of behavior applied in the 2000 election, and the field of international relationships prior to the war, are being carried out in the realm of economics.   No care is being taken for our common future, and all is determined by the agendas and short term political goals of the moment.  What we have here is the very opposite of true statesmanship.

Like much else in human society, if we wish to have some kind of balance and health, we must make approaches on multiple fronts.  Economic health can't be dealt with by itself, nor is the Executive to be looked toward as the primary actor.  The most that can be expected of the presidency is some common sense and guidance.

The economy is created by activities we do together.  The President doesn't run it like some corporate executive, any more than does the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

There are a number of actors in the drama: consumers, bankers, workers, financiers, stock brokers, investors, and so forth.  Added to these are all the regulatory bodies, whether governmental or private.  At present each group, and frequently each individual within each group, goes their own way, frequently irrespective of their effect on the whole.  Self interest seems to dominate over community interest and the common good.

What we want and need is for self interest to be enlightened, and for it to understand how to satisfy itself and how to participate in the common good at the same time.  It is here where a true education plays its most needed role.  Only someone, who knows how to be free and who has begun to unfold that which is latent within themselves, will be able to find their way to enlightened self interest.  This is what a true civilization does, when it possesses a living and dynamic culture - it makes its greatest investment in the education of its children, knowing full well that only this act gives birth to a healthy future.


Some of Us Remember

best, read aloud

there's a war in Iraq / I see it on the news

images of dead and dying / pictures of exploded trucks

bombed cities / crying mothers / maimed children

I've seen it all before. / oh, the country side was different

Vietnam was jungle / not desert

water and trees, dark shaded shapes / instead of rock and sand and too much light

but the dead were the same / and the senselessness was the same

and the stupidity was the same / and the horror was the same

and the blood was the same

the young faces of the soldiers are the same / young faces made old in one night of terror / innocence lost forever / mind ripped apart and the remaining moral nature raped and lamed / even if the body comes home intact

the only difference now, is that / so many Americans don't remember

you can hear it in the political dialogs / in the speeches made by politicians / in the idiotic words spoken by news readers /

in the vapid empty entertainments on TV / and in the songs without pain

too many Americans were born / or came of age / after

after the Insanity of Vietnam /

so they don't remember / but only know as stories / they never lived

they don't see yet what we saw / for numbing endless years

the body bags, the caskets / the crying neighbors and friends

the hopelessness of a people / whose leaders had gone around the bend

and cracked open hell's gates / and let the demons loose

so many Americans don't know what / we who do remember know

Iraq hasn't gone on so far yet, / only a couple thousand dead,

while we who do remember/ remember 50,000

and endless nights of TV / a nightmare never over

never over / even when over / for hell came back

in lost limbs / and missing faces

and drug addictions / and minds lamed and broken

strange, how many of those lamed / in not so distance a past

wander our streets now / talking to themselves, and

wake screaming in the night

yes there is a monument / in DC / a long black wall of names /

but that is not the same / as memory of politicians' promises

that broken led us deeper / into hell on earth

you can hear it in the dialogs on TV now / the difference between those who remember / and those to whom Vietnam

is only a name from something / an older generation laments

and can't seem to let go

the young don't know what it cost / us as a Nation

and many think, as many did then / that we are well led

and so they buy the lies / and history begins its

repetitious and ravenous / eating of our young

and some, like me / we sleep not well, and

find ourselves looking for distraction

for ways to forget / what won't be forgotten

memories of a war that didn't die / but now comes to be reborn

yearns in fact to come again / for demons like such darkness

and love to live in hate / and arrogant ignorance

is it worse?

how can it not be, / for the sellers of war

are better at their dark arts now / the politicians better at their lies

the TV better at ignoring truth / and people better at hiding

heads in sand

we do it all better now / all of it, we can only hope

for maybe those who protest / will be better too

those who opposed will be more able to educate

those who want to stop the madness / more willing to sacrifice

maybe, / while the politicians / and the arms industry

and the idiots on the news / the talking heads who can't remember

or never saw even then / tell their lies and plead their dark dreams

as wisdom

maybe their vain foolishness / will stir us deeper inside,

those who refuse to forget / that we fought this war

before and lost / not only national pride

not only dead and lamed young / not only unity of purpose

but the very moral ground on which America once stood

maybe this is what it takes / for heads to be pulled from sand

for politicians lies to be seen through / for our true nature as Americans to rise again

maybe it is justice and karma / that once again we let ourselves be led

into folly so colossal that even the imagination / cannot contain it

maybe there is a price that has to be paid / for what we did so many years ago / or what we didn't do

maybe there is a price to be paid by those / who lied, and got their profit out of blood, / or pretended nothing was happening

maybe there is a price to be paid by those / who tried to stop the madness, but didn't really risk as much as needed risking

maybe there is a price to be paid / by those who forgot what should never have been forgotten

maybe there is a price to be paid by those / who heard the stories and have not believed them / and who swallow the same lies once again

in spite of history's lessons

but it isn't a price that should be paid by others, / is it?

politicians should pay it / arms merchants should pay it

idiots on TV should pay it / those who refuse to remember should pay it

those who didn't try hard enough to stop it / should pay it

by why should the children pay it? / why should the soldiers pay it?

why should the world pay it?

maybe that is the real legacy of Vietnam / questions / many many questions

we need to face these questions / or be haunted justly all

our days and nights / forever

haunted with good reason / by the ghosts of children

mothers / daughters / all the so-called collateral damage

and even the young soldiers

haunted we will be / justly haunted

deservedly haunted / for our sleep

for our acceptance of lies / and for our refusal to resist

haunted all  our days / until we stand / and wake up / and insist

no more vanity wars / no more claims that might makes right

no more pretense that politicians / know what they are doing

or that conviction means truth / or belief and opinion are knowledge

war is too dangerous / too permanent

to be sold / on the basis of someones belief

and conviction that they / know what to do

there needs to be evidence of competence / evidence of truthfulness

evidence of understanding / evidence of contact with reality

evidence of wisdom / evidence of morality

evidence of humanity

before the drums of wars ever / ever beat again /

for some of us remember


this essay was written in the mid 1990's, and then

placed on my website on the Internet.  Later the first part was

published in "transintelligence internationale", Feb-  Mar 1999.  The next two parts followed in the next two issues of the short-lived magazine. 

A Forgotten Resource, the American Spirit

-a story in three parts -

Everyone understands that America has a very dominant position in the modern world.  Many people see this in a negative way, as if to be dominant is some kind of flaw or wrongness.  We would be in error to think this way.   Once we understand the ordering principles active in social existence, we will come to see that in something like a nation or a People, the dark and the light always tend to balance.  Certainly there are moments when one form of being will be in control, but always the other is present and latent.    One aspect of the future is that these conditions more and more depend upon how we act.   Where once they were instinctive, today they must be more conscious.   Basically, it is up to us.

- part one -

The American Will: To Sacrifice for the Ideal

               Every four years America indulges in what ought to be a great rite of renewal and re-dedication: the election of our national officers, the President and the Vice-President of the United States of America.  We ought to wonder, as these rites climax and then pass away, whether the election campaigns have not been the scene of a great sacrilege, rather then one of restoration.  Do those who display themselves, seeking the Presidency, and our other major elective offices, truly appreciate the significance and meaning of the office they seek?  Political offices in the United States of America are more than just a very powerful political role; they are, in truth, a sacred charge.  Few of our presidents, for example, have had the courage and self honesty to face squarely these awesome responsibilities.  Teddy Roosevelt called politics a "bloody pulpit" and spoke more accurately then he realized.  Political office does offer the opportunity to preach and harangue, to persuade, to divide, to unite, to degrade and to uplift.  But there is more to this privileged duty, much more.

               There is such a quality to our way of life that is rightly called the American Spirit.  There is a truth behind the words the America Soul, the American Character.  These have a reality, to which the idea - the American Dream - gives a bare hint.  But it has been a long time since someone has spoken or written, with the necessary depth of feeling, of these qualities and characteristics, these extraordinary ideals; that gave light to the minds of our nation's founders, that fuel the dreams of every immigrant, and that are ultimately the real strength of "We the people...".

               In spite of many assumptions to the contrary, we are not a nation whose mastery lies in military or economic power.  Our true gifts are not born of force or mercantile skill.  The roots of what America is, and what being an American demands, cannot be found in might, or inventiveness or in any material thing.  Rather, we are a People who have fiercely insisted that certain fundamental ideals are the innate right of every human being.  We have insisted and insisted and insisted, through much blood and many wars, that not just liberty and equality,  but that true brotherhood is the birthright of any human born on this Earth.

               If we want to really understand what has happened to our country, to our civilization, to our people, then that understanding can be found in just this.  We have lost our way.  Having won once, twice, perhaps thrice, we relaxed, we rested on our laurels.  We mistook the pleasures of our mutual industry - the great plenty we provide for each other - for the ideals that fired our birth, and which have not yet been achieved.  And therein lies a grave danger.

               Having sat back and become inattentive, we may well lose what part of this dream that has already been won.  We strive today for what? Better jobs, more security, better health care, lower taxes, millions at the lottery, our own home, our own business, a younger spouse, a safer neighborhood, less fat, more morality.  The list is nearly endless.  But in striving for these things, we have ceased to drive ourselves from the fire of will of who we truly are.  We have forgotten the fundamentals out of which America came to be, and without which we would not have what we do have.  And forgetting this we put all at risk.

               Are the homeless our brothers or sisters, or the gays and lesbians, the new immigrants, the ghetto youth, the working poor, the pregnant teens, the fostered children?  Those who claim otherwise lie, and they should be ashamed to do so.  It is so easy to point a finger and say that this one or that one is the evil whose rot and stench disturbs our passive slumber.  But these accusing fingers only reveal the raw prejudice of those who point.  A much more real evil of our time is our abandonment of the ideals which sing in the heart and light up the mind when the name America is spoken rightly.

               Do we want a more effective foreign policy, and more respect on the international scene?  Then we must stand up again for our ideals. Do we want an economy that works for the many instead of just for the few? Then we must stand up again for our ideals.  Do we want civility in our cities and healthy life in the countryside? Then we must stand up again for our ideals.  Without our passionate engagement these ideals are empty phrases, a lonely noise lost in the coming night.

               Life is not meant to be easy.  Every bit of human wisdom tells us this is true.  But the human spirit is equal to the hardships, the human spirit overcomes the obstacles.  Our way of life is not yet the real American dream.  We have not arrived at what America is capable of being.  We have not achieved what it is our destiny to achieve (and crown our good with brotherhood).  And it ought to frighten us to the core of our being, as a People, the extent to which we presently fail to understand our unmet tasks and our increasingly dire, yet unacknowledged, peril.

               Now we all know that this which has been written above is true. We know it our hearts, for this is the very same spiritual nourishment we took in when we were taught these ideals as children, in school, home, and church.  This knowing is why we suffer so when the candidates arrive and seek to drive us apart from each other, seek to emphasize differences and point fingers and lay blame.  We know their words are empty, and that they appeal not to that higher nature we enjoy and which is eternally willing to serve the ideal, but rather to that lower being, the self satisfied, self indulgent parts of our souls.  What good are leaders who take us on such a course, and how dangerous their ways that they direct us in these troubled times not by the star of our destiny as a people, but rather by the whisperings of the ancient dark that lurks inside us all.

               This nation, this people, will not fail because it has been ill lead, but because its people have not the courage to realize in themselves when the time has come to put the differences aside and rediscover the majestic powers latent in our true ideal being.  We will fail because we can't talk to each other about what we really care about, except as that lies closest to our own selfish concerns.  If we cannot find within ourselves that realm of soul which cares for strangers and recognizes the truth of "whatsoever ye do unto the least of these my brethren, ye do so also unto me"; then we will not find what we really need for ourselves, which is company and sharing and to not stand alone against whatever rough fate that waits. Divided, events will destroy us.  In community, no evil can win the day. Don't we know this when we sing: "...and crown thy good, with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.".

               Modern presidential politics in America is disconnected from our true ideal roots. It's as if politicians have never actually thought about what America is, or how it came into existence, or what its future potential might be.  We hear many cliche's, but few words are spoken where the speaker truly feels in their heart a relationship to the American Spirit - to the ideal of brotherhood, so eloquently revealed in the mood of the song: America the Beautiful.

               Many of the Founders of our Nation had no trouble seeing the hand of God in events both large and small.  And they felt no embarrassment in calling upon His aid.  The special marvel is that they approached this subject - the role of God in the fortunes of a Nation and a People - in a way that did not divide the world into those who are morally right and those who are morally wrong.  The Founder's religious nature was mature, and not an adolescent ploy from which to posture possession of a higher moral ground.  And, we will be very foolish if we think that the moral nature of our Founders is not related to the high ideals which moved them, and the very extraordinary results they produced when they created our form of government.

               The question for us is this: If we wish to reconnect ourselves to the root ideals expressed by the words "the American Spirit", what, if any, relationship do we need to take toward our own religious and moral natures?  This is not a question we dare ask others.  This is not something we can demand of others.  This is something we have to face within ourselves, and out of those answers we individually come to, then we are able to proceed.  Let us consider this crucial matter more closely.

               There is a world of difference between proclaiming God is on our side, - that this or that war or act is morally just - and, between asking God's support in the endeavors we ourselves undertake.  In the first instance we are in denial of our real doubts, and use the assertion of God's blessing to bolster our view in the face of the criticism of others.  We are arrogant rather then humble.  In the second instance we recognize our doubts, we accept responsibility for our actions (rather then justification), and through prayer plead for the Deity's benediction.  This difference in approach is no simple matter, for whether we believe in God or not, anyone who thinks on the question knows that both, our thoughts and the success of our acts of will, depend upon our attitude, especially our moral or ethical attitude.

               Regardless of our beliefs, it is a very wise statement in the Christian Gospels: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's". "Caesar" is the equivalent of the government - the State, and if we think on it we will realize that our government is what it is out of what we "render" it, in the broadest sense of that idea.

               We also know this: that the very best of our leaders have been humble before God and never self righteous or arrogantly certain of their course.  The politician certain of his course and of God's blessing on it, is a very dangerous human being.

               A Nation, a People, is something quite different from a political party, or a point of view, or a cause, or a sitting government.  America is a Nation, and Americans are a People, and these other political fashions are just that, things which will pass away.  A Nation and a People are a living thing, and what a Nation is depends upon what its People are, and what they give out of themselves to that Nation.

               But today, all we seem to manage is to "render" a demand for our rights.  Yet, every right has a correlative duty.  If we suffer at all a mysterious loss of political will its root cause lies in this: we are a People focused only on rights and not on duties.

               At this moment in time we are a house divided against itself; and we are dangerously close to that about which Lincoln warned us in the Gettysburg Address.  All those, who have died in the cause of liberty and equality and brotherhood, may have died in vain, if we do not again find our way to common cause with each other, to a common understanding of what the American Nation is, and who the American People are, and where our own individual responsibilities lie.

               The crux of the matter is not what the politicians do, not what the presidential candidates say or promise, or what happens in Washington.  The crucial factor is how are we toward each other.  No leader makes us a People, no leader makes a Nation.  We either find that place inside ourselves - that well-spring from which Peoples and Nations are born and nourished - or we do not.  Freedom bears fruit not in the fact that we can do anything we want, but rather in the fact that if we do choose to act in the right ways and if we do choose to act together, we can then in fact take another step forward toward that yet to be realized ideal, a "...government of the People, by the People and for the People..."

               In the 1996 presidential primaries in New Hampshire, on television, some unusual campaign ads were played.  If one was not watching carefully it appeared as if a newscaster was announcing that some terrorist groups had obtained atomic weapons and were threatening to use them.  As the ads proceeded, the emphasis changed to reveal that this was only being suggested as a dire possibility, and that we, as a People, needed to recognize that future leaders of this country would have to face many terrible decisions, and we should judge the various candidates for the Presidency accordingly, as to whether they had the capacity to act wisely in the face of the rising darkness of the times.

               Everyone is aware, of course, that political leaders are now sold to their People like so much soap.  Political campaigns use highly trained advertising and publicity experts and, as well, the most modern techniques.  Ads, such as the ones described above, are normally first shown to focus groups, groups of ordinary voters, in order to test their reactions to various images and key words and phrases. For the most part, the intellectual reaction is irrelevant, and the emotional response the more significant.  Research has revealed that if our emotions can be aroused, what we think, when we take the time to reflect, is of little importance.

               One of the most powerful emotions is fear.  Advertising routinely arouses this emotion when it suggests that use of a certain product will make us more beautiful, or handsome or happier and so forth. Here our fear of not being liked or of not fitting in is aroused.  Our human social needs are thus used to manipulate us into buying certain products. For mature individuals, this deception is often seen through, but the young of our Nation lack the experiences necessary by which to make the needed discrimination.  The whole cultural environment is filled then with this message: Unless you purchase these products, you will not be an adequate or fulfilled human being. We should ask: What is "rendered" our Nation by such acts?

               There is another aspect to these facts, an aspect which is important to appreciate, but which also makes us face certain things in ourselves, things we often wish to avoid acknowledging.  Advertisers, and politicians and their campaign staffs, also do what they do, because it is their intention to give us what we want.  While they do try to manipulate desire, they also follow those desires and needs as they appear as a natural part of who we are.  Politicians go out of their way to conduct polls in order to understand what we as a People appear to want, so that the politician may then appear to offer to us that same thing.  What this all means is that what happens in a political campaign also serves the same function as a mirror does, reflecting without bias who we are and what we want.  So if we don't like what the politician is saying and doing, we need to understand that they are often simply attempting to feed back to us exactly what they think we ourselves have expressed.

               If we can step back a little, from the campaign process, from the issues, the points which seem to divide us, we might notice that the whole event is a very special ritual.  In effect, every four years, when the Presidential campaigns heat up, we practice a rite of self knowledge.  Who we think we are, as a Nation and as a People, comes to expression.  And not just in the words or ideas, but most especially in how the campaigns are conducted - in what is done, there comes to expression some element of the American Spirit.  Some questions we can then ask ourselves are: Do I like what I see?  Am I really such a creature of darkness as sometimes seems expressed, or is there somewhere a hidden light, wanting, needing to return to prominence?

               Politicians are like chameleons.  They change colors in accord with the background against which they appear.  But the sad truth is that this background is in large part a reflection of the American psyche.  Are our politics in a sorry state?  Yes, but the politician is only the mirror of something inside us as a People.  It is we who are in a sorry state. We no longer believe, we no longer have faith in our ideals or in the necessity of sacrifice in the pursuit of those ideals.  We no longer participate as a vital force in the political life of our Nation, and we are therefore, as a political body, more than we might wish or acknowledge, lost, alone, and in the dark.  And no one but we ourselves can change this dire situation or the tragedy that awaits if things remain the same. How long will it be until "We the People..." are ready to fire the light again?

               There is an art and a craft to governing a People.  Columnist George Will wrote a book, attempting to touch on this, which he called: Statecraft as Soulcraft.  In this book he quoted Daniel Monyhan as saying that he had worked for four different administrations, and never once participated in a discussion of ideas.  Now, no one of us would let an untrained surgeon operate on ourselves or one of our children, yet we routinely place the guidance of our ship of state in the hands of individuals whose only skill is getting elected; i.e. the mastery of appearing to meet our expectations of what a political leader is, but which in reality is the mastery of appearing to be like ourselves, and that most often in an unredeemed state.  If they don't make it easy on us, if they don't cater to our desires, if they don't subvert their own character in order to placate our most base needs, then they don't get elected.

               The truth is that we have been asleep and we've gotten the politics we deserve.  This statement is not made as an accusation, but rather as the base point in the acceptance of our real responsibility.  We dare not lie to ourselves about this.

               "A nation of the People, by the People, and for the People..." is not something easily attained.  We don't have it yet.  And the mystery is that the essence of this ideal is not to be won through who we elect to go to Washington.  It rests in our own hands and in our own communities, and in how we conduct ourselves toward each other.  How do we live together?  What higher or lower qualities of our nature appear just here?  Is there something we can do in our individual communities that can have an effect on politics in accord with our real needs?  Do we have more power than just the vote?  Amidst the seeming growing darkness, is there a way for the American Spirit again to shine?

               I believe this is true.  There is a possibility, there is a chance for the ordinary people, for "We the People..." to become active in a simple way and yet produce a profound effect.  To understand, how this can be, is not so simple, but yet not too complex.  Bear with me a moment longer.

               Few of us would pass a burning house by and not stop to render some help.  But suppose the burning process was happening very slowly, and that we ourselves were in the burning house.  Suppose lots of people were agitated by the heat, but not aware of the fire, and thus they ran around exclaiming, its too hot in here, and pointing fingers at others and saying, "you're too hot, get out of here, your burning me up."  Imagine it is not a house, but a civilization that is on fire, that is burning up, but yet burning so slow that no one quite yet notices in a clear way what is happening.

               Isn't this what we see on the news and hear on the talk shows. Many of us in our behaviors are "too hot", too agitated.  We demand our rights.  We sue at the drop of a hat.  We are rude and too easily angry.  We are intolerant of differences.  We are confused and uncertain in our souls. In the big cities, where human beings are most concentrated, the temperature and the confusion and agitation are even higher.

               This heating up is part of a long term process that has been going on for many years, perhaps hundreds, depending on how broad we want to make our perspective.  The traditions which normally guide behaviors in organized societies have been dying away in Western Culture for a long time.  The loss of "family values", which seems fascinating to some, is simply the modern appearance of a long term social process.  The individual has become stronger than the social forces which once defined his or her role and set the standards for behaviors in many communities.

               Blacks no longer accept their oppression, even if it was, for a time, a norm.  Women refuse to be limited by the roles implicit in their capacity to bear children.  Gays refuse any longer to hide in the "closet". Human sexuality demanded it be an acceptable topic of conversation.  The Third World threw over the colonial powers.  Ethnic groups demand to have their own governments.  Businesses see themselves as no longer tied to a Nation, and to that Nation's goals or needs, or standards of practice. Terrorists refuse to acknowledge any code of honor for a warrior at all anymore.  There are no more rules.  The individual makes up his own.  The whole world burns, and in the process most of tradition and most of civilization go up with the flames.  Yet there still is a degree of order in some places.  America is not yet Bosnia. Social chaos does not yet rule everywhere, and may yet be held back and overcome.  Americans are a People of possibilities.

               What we need to do is something that requires some degree of effort, yet at the same time has qualities of effortlessness.  It is not a question of changing who we are, but of being more deeply who and what we are by nature - by, in a sense, unleashing in a more powerful way the true American Spirit.

               If we change the background against which the politician hides himself in his chameleon-like nature, then he is forced to change.  If there comes to be more depth, more wisdom to who we are as a People, out of our own forces, then the politician must follow.  In effect we are his religion, we are his dogma, we are his god.  Where we go, he follows.  We don't need to elect a new kind of leader.  If we deepen our citizenship, the actual practices of being "We the People...", then everything else changes from necessity.  And, therein lies the real power of a free People.

               If we were to observe the political campaigns at one remove, with some objectivity, rather than as someone with a set point of view, we can come to see that the campaign is a struggle to define what is important in the moment.  One candidate makes his issue a flat tax, another fear of terrorism, a third his own record, a fourth his opponent's weakness.  To some this is seen as leadership.  Yet, as we noticed before, the reality is that the politician and his campaign experts look to us, to see in what way they can put a hook in our emotions for their own benefit.  In a sense we could say that the struggle is to see who can define the dialog during this every four-year rite of self-examination.

               In this struggle to determine the dialog, there are many players: the candidates, the political parties, the various factions of the press, the many interest groups (businesses, unions, pseudo-religious pressure groups, foreign powers and so forth).  All these bombard our consciousness, as a People, using the media, in particular television. While, at the same time, we continue our usual course, struggling to survive amidst the social chaos of modern life.

               But these simple facts hide a remarkable possibility.  If we act in a new way, a way which is yet just a deeper expression of who we are, then it is we who can determine the nature of the dialog and all the others then will have to dance to our tune.

               What confuses us in the face of this possibility, is the assumption that the most important thing that needs to happen is struggle over the issues.  About taxation, abortion, capital punishment, welfare and so forth, we all have opinions.  The result is that during this ritual of self- examination, we over-concentrate on what divides us, how we are separate and different from each other.  We see this as a rightful expression of our freedoms, which it is.  But, as we saw earlier in this essay, all rights and no duties is what is destroying our way of life.  The vital nature of our form of government has been dangerously depleted, because we no longer "render" what it needs: Our driving unity in the expression of the pursuit of the ideal.

               The dialog must change. The dialog must belong to us, to "We the People...". And the dialog must be about who we are as a Nation and as a People, who believe in, and dream, and will the becoming of a political and social environment where prejudice and enmity no longer dominate and instead exists a way of life based on tolerance, friendship and the common bond of sister and brotherhood.

- part two -

Economic Tyranny and the American Spirit

               Whatever efforts are made in America, and elsewhere, to subdue the overreaching of corporate power into the lives of ordinary people (e.g. Ronnie Dugger's Alliance impulse), nothing can be changed until those concerned find in themselves that same emotional core from which America's founders drew in order to refuse any longer to submit to the tyrannical impulses of the old aristocracies.  We need to realize that nothing will be gained without sacrifice.  All must be put at risk: the security of our homes, our families, our current freedoms, and our individual lives.

               But even that core of being, that source of courage, will be insufficient unless there is something else done, which is even more necessary.  Human societies are much more complicated then that stark analysis which places the greatest blame for our current woes on corporate overreaching.  Economics is only one aspect of civilization, and while it is currently out of control, it is not to be set within its proper limits unless other elements of civilization are brought to bear.  Thus, while we on one hand must organize, must stand up and proclaim No More!, at the same time we need to deepen our understanding of what makes a Nation, what makes a People, and what makes a civilized society.  Organize, yes. But even more crucially, think it through!

               America was founded out of a number of impulses.  The discovery of a new world was one.  The need to flee oppression, another. The colonies would have remained English, but for the fact that the English aristocracy went too far.  This is a crucial point.  Our ancestors were forced into choices.  While America is a Nation based on an Ideal, its impelling impulse was not that Ideal, but rather the overreaching of the hereditary aristocracy.  Only after it becomes necessary to resist tyranny, because that tyranny asks too much, does it then become possible to conceive a new nation, and to organize that Nation around new Ideals.

               Thus, there is this similarity between then and now; namely, that corporate overreaching has gone too far, and people are beginning to accept the need to restrain it.  But there are differences between then and now and it is these differences which are most crucial.  Economic Tyranny is a thing much different from the tyranny of the old aristocracies.  The main difference is that its power and influence is much less direct and much more hidden and invisible.  We know instinctively that concentrated wealth goes too far, but the means is not so obvious as it was with aristocratic abuses.

               One thing is the same, namely the shameless display of wealth in which the leading elites live out their excessive life styles.  But, just as in the time of the aristocracies, the true money changers hide their activities, lead less public lives and strive to remain hidden from the public eye because they instinctively realize the danger of flaunting their greed and ill-gotten fortune.  Moreover, we need to realize that merely to name the corporations, to name concentrated wealth, to point out the money changers, this is not enough.  For the true Name of these abuses is Tyranny, and more importantly the true Nature of this tyranny is Evil.

               Of the many ideas and words we can use to come to a deeper and more thorough understanding of our modern dilemmas, the word "evil" is one of the most essential, but is also one of the more dangerous. The religious in our culture mean one thing and many movie makers another.  One politician calls the Soviet Union an "evil empire" and makes demographic points but adds nothing to our understanding.  We need to use "evil" in a way that aids our understanding, and nor merely as an epithet.  This is not so difficult if we think carefully on it.

               First we look to ourselves.  We know ourselves what evil is, for we have this darkness inside us as well.  We lie easily to our bosses, our spouses, or our children when it is convenient and saves us small troubles. If given too much change, how many notice it but do not correct the situation and instead take advantage of it.  We gossip excessively, forming our own little groups and saying terrible and unjustified things about those outside our own group.  We have many impulses we cannot control, alcohol, smoking, more serious drugs.  What family does not have an addictive member, does not have divorce, does not neglect in many small ways the needs of the children and the elderly?  The list can go on and on. Evil flows into the world from human beings.  It was always this way, and will always be this way.

               Evil is also a spectrum; there are greater and lesser evils, and individuals who give themselves over more than others to such impulses. History tells us that this darkness in the soul leads to certain consequences of various kinds.  One, which is most significant for us to understand, is that certain evil impulses attract power and wealth, like flies to honey. Balzac's dictum is that behind all great wealth lies a great crime.  In a world which has great saints, great souls, so also does it have great sinners, individuals whose denial of their own humanity grants them extraordinary cleverness in the pursuit of their desires.  We sometimes make a joke of evil genius, but history has shown us many, and our modern life is full of them as well.

               Thus, we need to realize that it is not corporations per se, or even concentrations of wealth, in which economic tyranny is rooted, but rather it flows from the darkness in the souls of human beings, and this darkness becomes an organizing principle in how societies work and live, and grow and die and then become something new.

               What this means as a practical matter is that it is not adequate to the task merely to notice that corporations abuse workers, or that making money using money itself as a commodity creates nothing and merely redistributes wealth upwards, or that Central Banks exist to serve the needs of wealth and not the needs of ordinary people, or that concentrated wealth abuses and corrupts our political processes, or any of the hundreds of other unnecessary and unhealthy consequences of our current economic order.  Rather we must see that, in what has to be understood as a quite natural reality, the darkness expressed by human beings creates in its wake many consequences, only one of which is an economic hierarchy in which the top one percent uses as their servants, or their prey, the bottom ninety-nine.

               With this understanding a great deal can be accomplished.  First we give the true name to the opponent of our freedoms and this name is: the evil tyranny of concentrated wealth.  Second we give human faces to the perpetrators of this evil.  It is delusional to see Exxon as an evil entity, when it is the decision makers at the top, and the gods they worship that need to be named.  Is Bill Gates' desire to form the world according to his personal vision an act of corporate tyranny, an excessive use of financial power and privilege?  Yes!  Do we need to confront this directly and to name as false the gods he worships (personal wealth and power, the bottom line, the stockholder, the market etc.)?  Yes!  Until we give faces to these actors and names to their base impulses, we falsify our picture of the world and live amidst illusions and ghosts.

               Our next task is then to see more clearly the nature of our enslavement, and this means first to understand what a tyranny truly is.

               Fundamentally tyranny is the abuse of power.  In colonial times that power had over centuries come to reside in the hands of the hereditary aristocracies.  Nor is it the concentration of power that is the problem, for power is, like many other things, a two-edged sword.  It can be used for good, to benefit those who don't possess the power.  The evil comes, just like any other human act, from the intention that wields the power, whether it be the power of directors of large institutions to influence and corrupt governments, or the power of a parent to abuse and demean a child.

               In the case of economic tyranny we have a number of aspects and abuses.  Modern economy is not a natural order, such as, for example, a local eco-system.  Many aspects of it are created, are invented.  Banks don't have to make profits, but could be organized simply to perform the same functions but only extract from those whom the bank serves the necessary costs.  Capitol doesn't have to belong to individuals, banks or corporations.  Capitol can belong to the whole society and be administered by groups whose talent it is to carry out that administration.  The only interest capitol has to earn is its costs, which would probably need to include those losses where capitol could not be repaid.  Labor does not have to be treated as a commodity, and the well being of individuals and families made thereby dependent upon bottom line, i.e. profit motivated, thinking.  Wages can be according to real need, and thus the cost of producing products has to bear the reality of that need.  There are many options, and our problem is more that we don't give the real names to how our system works, but falsify the picture with abstractions and pseudo-scientific jargon.

               In America, for example, we have a peasant class with the greatest standard of living in history.  What does this mean?  Now a peasant class is merely that group of individuals within a society that are landless. Without access to land what can you do for yourself? You can grow no food, nor make any shelter, nor produce your own goods.  You then become dependent upon what the landowners offer to you as opportunity; and what is worse, but not so well understood, is that with this dependence and landlessness something essential in the soul dies because there is no way for it to be expressed.  When we look at the decay of the inner city, this is what we must learn to see, landlessness and dependence leading to the death of the soul.  No wonder there is so much rage which cannot express itself properly because it cannot even give name to its pain or its true enemy.

               We are also peasants in the realm of ideas.  We only have as ideas about society what we have been given, rather than what we might create for ourselves.  Here is another tyranny, one which helps hide the other. The whole language, in which human economic life and its relationships is expressed, is false.  Economics, by trying to emulate natural science and thereby mathematics, became completely divorced from reality.  It doesn't describe what goes on in the real world at all, but rather only certain lifeless and abstract relationships which equates quite falsely the production of goods with the nature of land, money and human labor.  Its like the grade school problem of multiplying apples and oranges.  Goods are nothing like land, which is nothing like money, which is nothing like labor.  None of these elements is like the other, and to draw abstract relationships between them and think that something is understood is to live in an illusion which has only served to aid and abet the evil tyranny of concentrated wealth, and to confuse us, almost completely, about how societies work, and what it means to have civilization.

               There is a darkness which lurks over our way of life, casting a shadow over how things are actually arranged and what they actually mean; a darkness that abhors the light.  And just like our Sun, which grants us illumination as well as warmth, so the goodness in human beings is capable of bringing forth into societies and civilization the illuminating light of understanding, and the warming heartfelt strength of mutual aid and community.

               Evil cannot be defeated, no more then one can repeal the law of gravity.  Human nature gives forth this darkness, but human nature also gives forth light, and before this light the dark retreats and finds its proper place in the whole balance.  Our world is out of balance, and by bringing out of ourselves greater understanding of how things work, what they mean, and how they can fit together, we create that needed illumination and cast aside the darkness which has so far lead to the current state of things.  And, by bringing out of ourselves sharing and community we bring forth the warmth which repels the cold of that darkness - the aloneness, the despair, the hopelessness, which has for far too long been the soil in which abuse of self and of other has taken root.  Drugs and child and spousal abuse will fall before no man made law.  Only the light of understanding and the warmth of community can cure these dark impulses before they wake and take possession of human beings.  These evils are merely symptoms of the greater imbalance which holds our societies in thrall and drags us unwillingly toward places no ordinary human being has any desire to go.

               The evil tyranny of concentrated wealth can be understood by this means to be a goad, a tool in the wise and self-correcting governance of the human race, which having had for a time free reign, now exhausts its welcome because its excesses have become too obvious, and we are finally fed up and will no longer tolerate them.  Isn't this in part the story history teaches us?  Don't the ordinary people live their lives quietly, minding their own business, accepting life's ordinary pains and pleasures.  Until - until something is too much and this dark excess touches that deeper realm of soul and spirit, which mostly passive and self contained does then no longer accept the pain and the loss of freedom.  And so something stirs from deep inside, something awesome in its genius and its force for goodness and moreover its willingness to sacrifice itself for something greater.

               Over two centuries ago America was born out of spirit which said No! to the tyranny of hereditary aristocracies.  The beginning of this No! was a "shot heard round the world", first fired at the Old North Bridge in Concord Massachusetts.  In the spring of 1996, at a conference on economic rights, which finished its sessions on this same ground made hallowed by the blood spilled there, there was heard not a "shot", but a "shout".

               No! it said, No! No! to the tyranny of concentrated wealth, and No! to the tyranny of abstract knowing which supports it.  And then Yes! Yes! to understanding, to illumination and to light.  And finally, Yes! to social good and to community and to warmth and human sharing.

- part three -

the Word, the Idea of Property,

and the Creation of a True American Culture

               Societies, cultures, civilizations, whatever name we wish to give to large aggregates of human communities, all have woven into them various sets of ideas, or world views, sometimes common, and in our more supposedly "modern" times, oft times fractured and chaotic.  And, these social laws, expectations of behavior, ways of seeing the world, the whole rainbow of meaning that lives in what we call culture, is first taught to our children at the same time they acquire language.

               Unfortunately we seldom think about the significance of this fact, the fact that initial meaning is born in language. Yet it is just here that so much happens whose gravity we overlook, and whose importance must be mastered if we are to even begin to take hold of those realities which underlie the symptoms of social disorder that are so apparent in the daily news.  Language, the Word, is a great gift, the gift that makes us human and which marks us as essentially different than the animal kingdom, in spite of what the Darwinists have taught.  It is here, in the introduction to culture, first begun with the acquisition of language, that property comes to be known, communicated and instilled.  There is no natural sense of ownership, it is all taught. And if it is taught, then it can be untaught.

               Yes, the child does say mine as it grabs its toy. Ownership does then appear natural.  But the child also shows no power over its bladder or its bowels in the beginning either.  Yet we do civilize our children so that their excretory functions take place appropriately and according to our cultural norms.  No less then is mine an instinct and an appetite.  It is thus immature and animal-like to claim things and territory as ones own.  The truth is that what we conceive as ownership, possessions, and property are all things whose meaning is taught, and whose instinctive roots can be cultivated and turned in other directions.

               Certainly we do not want to alter something so fundamental in our culture without a great deal of thought.  It is not being suggested here as the answer to anything, but rather as an example of a certain aspect of social and cultural reality.  We raise children into a way of seeing the world.  There is no greater power, and no deeper responsibility.  It is the main way the past has of coercing and giving order to the present, and that the present has of grasping and determining the future.  It is why Fascist governments need and use so much mind control. It is the main tyrannical process in Orwell's 1984 - the power to give certain names to aspects of reality and thereby determine how the world and self are perceived.

               In a free people, such as ourselves, where freedom of speech and thought are guaranteed, it is the primary power, a power far in excess of anything that governments or corporations may ever hope to exercise.  The proof of this is how ardently they attempt to control the meaning of things through media, and through advertising especially.

               And there is a special factor effecting this, a factor related to the particularities of the time in which we now live.  At present the general power societies exercise in determining how its children grow up to see the world is at its weakest point in perhaps thousands of years.  Recall what was suggested earlier, that tradition and its power to compel social conformance has passed away.  Individuality is in an ascendancy, for the moment; there are no more rules.  It is this truth we see active in the so-called family values crisis.  All tradition is collapsing.  In ways almost incomprehensible, all over the world the power of tradition is passing and this creates a special opportunity.  Into this vacuum new impulses can arise.  Let us take up an example - a possibility - and see where this leads us and what it can reveal about this opportunity.

               Someone loses their job, a very common experience.  This is often a tragedy in the making, in some instances whole families have ended up homeless with this as the beginning event.  For a few there will be a cushion of savings; for most - who live paycheck to paycheck - this is an immediate catastrophe.  Unemployment insurance, if applicable, may hold back the night for a while, but bankruptcy soon follows; the last desperate measure to restrain the financial hemorrhaging.  A home, if owned, will disappear.  But these obvious financial moves hardly touch the core problem, which has to do with the inner sense of well being of those affected.  The psychological toll is the most devastating cost, for it erodes just those inner resources from which any solution must be generated.  These emotional costs of the loss of work will damage the family, may lead to divorce, to drug or alcohol abuse, to violence and the whole cycle of self destruction that seems so common today.

               What a fraud then is our economic language in that it paints these things in terms of rates of joblessness and argues for or against the useless abstraction full employment as if somehow it makes any sense at all to delete from our consciousness a true awareness of the human costs.  In economics much is made of preventing waste, but the waste of lives is far more devastating to our civilization.  What kind of dark god is profit that it lets us so casually destroy human beings in its name?

               Hidden beneath these facts is an odd, yet very important social one.  For the most part, when someone loses work and begins this slide into despair (for the moment ignoring of course those who are born into this despair because they will never find work in the first place), those who lose a job take this course in a social context which leaves them alone, and which defines their problem as belonging only to them and one which they must themselves resolve.  To lose the job is solved by getting another.  But one who loses their job is expected to deal with the problem themselves.

               There are exceptions and qualifications to this observation. Unemployment insurance, food banks, welfare programs, homeless shelters, our society does struggle to hold up the fallen and wounded from our economic wars.  Even so, an idea still surrounds this whole thing, the idea that one is individually responsible.  Sometimes families help, and other times people will be members of certain groups that make a point of giving community support to the economically wounded, such as the Mormons.  But for the majority, joblessness is frightening and difficult and leaves one feeling very much alone.  Children in families going through such a crisis will not understand the emotional distance which can arise because the parent now feels less human, because very often the parent does not understand the real costs of joblessness themselves.  The reality is that the context of meaning in which we view such events is itself unhealthy.

               We go to work, we receive a paper telling us of our new status, and then we go home.  We have lost our job, and this event is cast in a certain light, has a certain social and individual meaning, and it is this understanding which effects us as much as anything.  That effort we have been expending each week, that portion of our will which is lost into the job and its natural and unnatural stresses, this no longer secures for us some sense of control over the future.  We feel as if we've gone from a state of power to a state of powerlessness.  Yet, we will not die.  Our material circumstances will change greatly, but poverty is not death.  Even so, we are somehow so diminished as to be psychologically incapacitated.  Perhaps something more is happening here, something which has so far escaped our notice and comprehension.

               Let us imagine for the moment that this same event occurs, i.e. joblessness, but that the context of meaning is different.  Let us imagine a different culture, one in which such an event has a different meaning.  This meaning I will paint by telling a story.  Story telling is one of the main powers of culture, the main way communities give meaning to the common life events that all can or will face.  Like many, I had once worried that our current culture, for what there is left of it seemed to be abandoning books and literature.  Now I have begun to realize that there is a wise ordering principle at work behind these events - especially the loss of interest in reading.  It is part of the much wider process which is destroying tradition, and in this instance it paves the way for the possibility of a return to an oral culture.  How can we go on to the new if the old does not die?

               Why tell stories? Facts, even if assembled well, tend to a picture of things as black and white and gray. Facts are usually abstractions, that is they arise by removing them from the context in which they are embedded.  Stories, being imaginative, can express qualities not capable of being captured by facts. What mere facts hide, stories can illuminate.


the War Against the Grey Men

               Like many human beings, Adam labored in the House of the Grey Men.  Each morning he awoke, and after breakfast said good-bye to his two children, and with his wife, and the others whose time of sacrifice it also was, Adam went to the station there to wait for and then to ride the Machine Beast into the bowels of the House of the Grey Men.  The lower levels of the House were a terrible place to labor.  No one was allowed to care for the work place except in the most minimal way.  Soot, oil, garbage, foul air and water, and worse yet, colorless ideas - the lower level of the House was a place of little light and much darkness.  But Adam understood; were it not for the Peace, the whole world would be like the House of the Grey Men.  The Peace had made it possible for human beings to have the Home, but only for a Price.  The Grey Men always had to have a Price.  Yet Adam and the others were glad to pay their share of the Price, for in this way they could, perhaps, keep themselves and those they loved from becoming Grey as well.  How else to save ones Soul then to pay the Price.

               As always the Labor made Adam tired.  But he knew that when he came Home the tiredness could be made to go away.  So, as he always did, Adam gave his Labor with a good heart.  In this way Adam kept the colors in his soul and his spirit alive.  On this particular day, at the end of his shift, one of the Grey Men came to Adam and told him to come into the Office.  Once there, the Grey man gave a pink envelope to Adam, and, with it, a very Grey smile.  Adam's heart lept into his throat, and he struggled to contain his excitement. It would not do to let the Grey man know what he truly felt.   Carefully Adam opened the envelope and saw the Magic Words inside: "your Fired!" it said.  As he had been taught Adam looked at his feet and slumped in his chair, even though his mind was racing with all the changes that were now possible.  After a few minutes of silence the Grey man dismissed Adam.  Carefully Adam put the pink envelope into the pocket of his work clothes and returned to his place of Labor.  It took all the discipline he could muster to keep from jumping for joy.

               Riding Home in the Beast, Adam could not contain himself. Standing next to his wife, he had her peek into his pocket.  When she saw the envelope a smile lit up her face and she leaned against his shoulder and took his hand in hers.  That night in the quiet of their apartment they and their friends had a party. Adam would now be able to stay Home all day, he had been freed of his duty to sacrifice to the House of the Grey Men, and now his Labor could be kept in the community.  Various guardians of the community came to Adam that night asking where he would like to give his Labor, while others came to his wife to help manage the change.  No longer would they live in the apartment that belonged to the Grey Men, but now they could live at Home.  As the evening wore down, one of the guardians spoke the words of the Peace makers, reminding them all of their true power in the war against the Grey Men.

               " They think they've fired me, but I am human, and this means I am free to give my own meaning to all things.  Not so, say I, that pink means to be fired, but rather to be set free.  They think they get my Labor for their Price, but I give it of myself.  Sad it is that they choose to lose their colors, but I have kept mine and with my freedom to declare what it all means, I ride the rainbow of life in the company of others, sharing the same destiny. "


               Behind this story are many ideas. For example, we currently tend to think of corporations as our enemy, as the cause of much unhappiness and tragedy in the world.  But the corporation is an illusion. There is nothing real there; it is simple the Ghost which hides the Grey Men from their responsibilities.  Our enemy is the Grey Men and their colorless souls.  This is another true name for the evil tyranny of concentrated wealth.

               The power which we possess as the potential creators of culture does not lie in the fact that we can give any name we want to anything or idea, but rather that we can seek and find the truest names, the ones that help us see through the Ghosts.  There are many Ghosts.

               Another Ghost is the idea that we have to change the corporation, that we have to somehow overcome the apparently tremendous advantage that concentrated wealth possesses.  Just in thinking this way we grant power to the Grey Men they do not in fact have.  This is a variation of a general human theme which goes like this: "...if only X (someone) would do Y (some act) then I can be Z (whatever we believe we lack because X has not acted and done Y)."  Whenever we think this way we grant extra power to X, in many cases power they only have because we have chosen to think this way.

               Whenever we discover ourselves thinking this way, we need to stop and reflect on the reality.  Do they really have this power?  Is there a way which I can act which eliminates or lessens this power?  Can I act in concert with others in some way so that we mutually diminish such power?  What can I and/or we do independent of those who I/we perceive possess such power?  What freedom do I have to no longer grant such power to another?

               Many of our economic ideas are Ghosts of the Grey Men.  We need not continue to feel bound by them.  We can recognize that they are illusions and that we need no longer fear them.  Especially if we act in concert.  We can think of this as a kind of psychological-political aikido. Aikido is a martial art in which the person being attacked is taught to move in such a way that the energy of the aggressor's attack is harmlessly dissipated, while at the same time the person being attacked maintains their center and their balance.  It is often not necessary to attack back.  The attacker moves toward you, but you are not there.

               So it can be in the War Against the Grey Men.  They look for prey and for servants, and while they get something - the free gift of our Labor - they do not get to drive the colors from our souls or the vital life from our spirits.  Why?  Because right in front of them we stole the old and dying meaning away, and made it all new and all our own.  Because we refused to fall completely into the chaos of unfettered individualism, and formed mutual aid communities instead.  And, in this way we chose to be neither Grey or animal-like, but rather to be human.

               In America, this choice has certain special aspects, even though the same choice is arising in different ways all over the world.  Socially and culturally America is unlike any other place in the world.  Here all the cultures and peoples and religions meet and mingle, or make war.  Here, in the New World, the old traditions have the least power, - much less than they exercise elsewhere.  Here the power to create new culture is the most powerful; everywhere else American culture, such as it is, is imitated.  This is why so many upholders of other traditions hate us; they see the effects, the imitation - especially among their young - and they blame America and Americans, not realizing that an extraordinary world-wide social/cultural metamorphosis is upon us.

               One of the realities of this change is that it cannot be orchestrated.  No institution, or government, or business, or religion can manufacture the new which is to come.  All such social change occurs locally, in the smallest social structures - the family, paired relationships, small groups gathered together for any and all purposes.  How do we talk to each other?  How do we treat each other?  What thoughts do we form inwardly by which we define those who we meet and by which we define the context in which such encounters arise?  What feelings, what colors of soul do we cultivate toward others, especially the unknown-stranger-other?  With what name, what significance, do we adorn the world?

               Think about how quickly a new word, such as cyberspace, or an old word with a new meaning, such as cool spoken the way the young spoke it for a while, moves through a culture. The deepest thinkers, among our scholars of sociology and language, know full well that much that we call reality is in fact solely that meaning which is given by a culture to its young through the acquisition of language.  There is no more profound revolution then a revolution of meaning, for social and cultural realities can be altered totally by such changes.

               Think about it.  Most of these changes occur chaotically and instinctively.  Some are very powerful.  Christianity, Marxism, modern materialistic science, these are all the result of processes of change in meaning.  Now just suppose we undertook to do such a thing on purpose.  Not to force a change in the organization of society itself directly, but only in what things mean, by driving our energies in a struggle to find the truest names.  There is no accident to the fact that the first thing which the God of the Old Testament gave to the human being was the power to name "the beasts of the field and the birds of the air" or that the Gospel of John begins with: "In the beginning was the Word...".

               Now when human beings, not just outwardly in speech, but more crucially, inwardly in thought, begin to take responsibility for the "naming" - for the granting of meaning - to themselves, there is no greater creative power active on the level of human social existence.  When mothers and fathers, single or otherwise, when groups or families, associated for any purpose begin to take conscious responsibility for the stories they tell about what the world means, then the most profound social/cultural power possible begins to shine its light and warmth into our lives.

               Reflect simply on gossip.  Small minded individuals gather together to demean and degrade their fellows.  In this act they stand between the thing and its meaning, between the person and how the community perceives them.  We all know the destructive power evoked in this most simple and treacherous act.  Increase the scale of this observation and we begin to understand the frightening power exercised by Media and why its numerous excesses are so destructive.  The question remains, where are we, as individuals and groups, before such acts?

               Mostly we are asleep, or afraid.  We ourselves may gossip, or merely passively observe, as long as it is someone else being betrayed. Against the institutional power of media we assume powerlessness, or perhaps much worse, that we must make some extravagant act in order to get media attention so as to get our message, our meaning, across.  If we think on it we will realize that by taking up the power of stories, of seeking for the true names, we begin what is not merely a creative act, but in fact a stark necessity of the time.  The gossips, the disinformation specialists, the liars, the truth defilers, who will oppose them if not the ordinary people in the exercise of their extraordinary freedom - their rights and responsibilities - of speech and thought?

               Imagine what will happen to corporations and governments and other groups that seek to suppress human dignity and self awareness, when the central means for effecting their treason against their fellow humans is taken from them by individuals and small groups who say No! to the tyranny of false meaning and oppose it with their own creative capacities to know and to name the truth.  The power of the Grey Men and their cold and heartless God depend upon our passivity and sleep.  If we awake, although we can not eliminate them for they do have a place in the balance, we will take our rightful place as leaders in the creation of the future.

               And in America, with its miraculous diversity of culture and social structure, the possibilities are incredible.  What stories, what true names, will be discovered in East LA or in the south side of Chicago, or in New Orleans or Miami, or Montana or...  And think again of how the world culture follows so closely what happens here in America.  It is not as if we guide - no that is not the case. Rather we break ground, and then others know it can be done; so that, for example, what was once rock and roll flowed over the world and then came back again as World Beat Music, transformed into a kaleidoscope of world culture.  America is a Dream, the Great Dream in fact.  People come here drawn by the dream they have made in their own minds of the meaning of freedom and equality and brotherhood.  Seeking they come, bringing their dream with them to add to our dreams, so that we all dream the Great Dream together. This is the true American Spirit, which is not possessed merely by Americans.  It is a universal dream.

               If we change our culture, if we change the meaning of things, then we begin the universal dissolution of the whole foundation on which the Grey Men march to power.  It is not necessary to oppose them on the political level at all; although as the culture changes political change will follow as day follows night.  Just consider that with these few words, dear reader, how many new doorways have already opened in your own mind...


               We now must draw these meditations to a close.  Our reflections on the American Spirit, and the present context in which that is active, have taken us down many roads, have shown us many stories.  At the deepest level it has been suggested that the American Spirit is a universal impulse, a seeking-dreaming not confined to one culture, race or people.  We have also discovered that ordinary people possess extraordinary power through the creation of culture, through taking responsibility for the stories, for the context of meaning in which life unfolds.  The traditions are passing away, and individuality threatens chaos.  If society has no rules, then the individual must provide his or her own.

               The texture of the current crisis of freedom involves a relationship between the power of corporations, the power of the Grey Men, and the inner well being of individuals and communities.  The cold and heartless dark god of profit is blind to human need.

               Much of the power of the Grey Men is a Ghost, an illusion woven of false economic ideas.  Shatter the illusion and shatter the power. Find the true ideas, the true names and give that dissolved power back to communities through their own created culture.

               On this foundation erect new economic organizations.  Don't attack corporations directly.  Take away their meaning and make them unnecessary.  Against such creative human forces they have no defense.  On such a path much else follows simply from the nature of the already existing social relationships.

               A new culture naturally grows new social forms, new kinds of communities, which in turn are the soil from which new political leaders are grown.  Laws are the rigidification of living social processes.  Laws are the skeleton formed from the living social body.  It isn't necessary to make new laws to undo corporations or their abuse of the political process.  New culture and new communities will automatically produce such changes in support of their newly understood needs.

               The individual human being stands in the midst of two relationships in the world.  In terms of our inner life, our soul and spirit, we live in a vertical relationship to that which we recognize as higher than ourselves.  In the horizontal we are connected to each other, we are social.  In both directions we are yet immature.  Growth, moral or vertical growth, and horizontal or social growth only occur through crisis.  This is the basic lesson of life.

               It is the sea of events, the tides of history, that impel us forward toward that we might yet become.  Knowing this we should perhaps be grateful for the Grey Men and saddened that they have lost the colors from their souls.  For without the pain they inflict we would sleep and never grow at all.  What a miracle the human spirit that it can meet such challenges and make such sacrifices as the times makes necessary.

               In the mystery of time a great moment often comes, when certain opportunities arise, when certain paths can be chosen, which if not taken then, cannot be taken later.  We stand on the sword point of such a choice.  In what spirit do we approach the problem of economic tyranny and its abuses of our way of life?  Are we vengeful, angry, full of hate?  Or are we thoughtful, sober, deliberate, awake, and creative?  This is The Question.


a very long essay written around 1994-5


Song of the Grandfathers*:


- real wealth (wisdom), and the redemption

of social and political existence (civilization) -


* where the term "Grandfathers" is used in this essay, it should be assumed to include the feminine. That is, "Grandfathers" is a metaphor for "wise elders".

 - wanderings and beginnings -


I dream America,

I sing Her shadow and Her light;

I dream America,

and America dreams me.


America's original peoples are more than just the remnants of a dying culture, but they are the preservers and conservators - the stewards - of real wealth, an unappreciated richness of social wisdom.  If modern America does not come to comprehend and integrate this wisdom into its way of life, then there is no hope in the future for a human civilization.

It is not my intention to investigate this social wealth in detail, but rather to examine certain particular jewels and see where their appreciation will lead us.  Principle among these treasures lies the idea of the Grandfathers, an idea found all over the world in various forms.

The social life of the group was always dependent for its order and direction on the wise counsel of its older members.  Mostly in our literature (or films) we have portrayed this social guidance as having authoritarian and arbitrary characteristics.  Only recently (c.f. Dancing with Wolves) have there been hints of the true dimensions, the depths of individual freedom and democracy which inhabited America's tribal cultures.  The Grandfathers needed no autocratic authority, for they were in fact wise.  The respect was genuine, not artificial, and their authority was real, based on trust and practical success in life.

The Grandfathers counseled, but never compelled.  Why would they need to do otherwise?  They knew from their own lives that compulsion leads inevitably to rebellion.  What they gave came from self honesty, humility and a profound and deep religiosity.  To not listen was observably foolish. To obey was unnecessary.  Their advice was followed because it was clearly valid, and never forced or coercive.  Most often, in fact, advice was never given.  The Grandfathers merely spoke what was in their hearts, and what they would do or not do, what path they would take.  Others followed because to do so was to go with goodness and to walk in the light.

At its core the idea of the Grandfathers has a deeper and more difficult mystery.  It is an understanding of the world that conceives that the dead have not left us nor lost interest in our lives.  Rather, the most spiritually mature ancestors are actively available to provide guidance and advice, if we but prepare ourselves in the right way to receive inwardly the quiet wisdom offered.  This is an idea, by the way, not significantly different from the role the Saints are said to play in human existence according to the doctrines of Roman Catholicism.

It is to honor both the idea of the wise counsel of elders and as well the ancestral heritage that whispers quietly in the awake soul, that this essay takes its name.  To those readers who may unknowingly be confined in the conceptual straight jacket of certain odd prejudices still encrusted on the scientific world view, I counsel patience.  Scientific reason has an insufficient grasp of human nature; and without the cooperation of the Arts and Religion, science (Reason) itself cannot be a basis upon which to restore health and vitality to our civilization.  Do not make the mistake of prejudging this essay because of the implications of its unusual beginning. Our world desperately needs wisdom, from whatever sources it may be found.

It is not, by the way, my intention to draw from known Indian sources a collection of wise sayings concerning our social and political existence.  Rather my method has been to emulate their effort, to struggle inwardly toward spirit-guarded depths.  Moreover, I conceive this work as being simply the opening monologue in what I hope will evolve into a full circle of give and take.  Experience has taught me that truth is found only when the whole people in circle conversation consider a question.  One alone is a tree falling unheard in the forest.


When I was sixteen years old, I first came awake to politics.  The year was 1956 and Eisenhower and Nixon were battling Stevenson and Kefauver.  Having already acquired a romantic vision of America, through reading the many books in the Landmark juvenile American history series, I was deeply disturbed by the rhetoric of that political campaign.  It seemed empty of all the idealism I had, in my naivete, expected to find.  Since that initial experience I have painfully watched as the dialog of politics has further deteriorated.  Unwanted and increasing despair has filled my soul every four years, while I listened to the dissonance in the song of many of our leaders as they mislead our people with lies, obfuscation, and meaningless irrelevancies.

The righteous Song of the Grandfathers is not to be heard in the political campaigns.  There is no sense of the need for wisdom, no open council of elders; all is done in secret, with hidden motive and hidden purpose.  We have so far forgotten it, so far lost wisdom from its central place in the ordering of our lives, that today all we really can feel is a subtle and anguished experience of emptiness.  We feel the void, but cannot find our way to what is missing.

And not only the individual political leaders are unable to find their way to wisdom, the process itself works against wisdom's discovery.  For true wisdom lies not just in ideas but in the means as well.  It is the council of elders - the circle of wisdom-seeking speakers - that finds its way to the needed understanding.  No one alone, no President, no Pope will enable us to meet and resolve our difficulties.  It is the community of voices that must be heard, each to the other and each for all.

This essay is my response to this emptiness in our political dialog and is driven by the pain, the rage and the despair I feel as I experience our leaders' amazing lack of responsibility, and the equal frustration I feel at the tolerance of far too many of our leading citizens toward the tragic and continuing deterioration of our political and social existence.

Fortunately, I am not an academic, a politician, a newsman or even an otherwise practicing writer.  Experience has taught me that concentration in a discipline often makes for a narrowness of vision, and an inability to see beyond the limits of ones assumptions.  Thus, I believe the reader will find that, freed of the constraints of a single discipline, whatever this essay may appear to lack in scholarship or literary merit will be more than made up for in a richness of fresh ideas - a feast for the mind.  Having spent over thirty-five years in the pure (almost mathematical and musical) contemplation of political and social realities, I have been quite surprised myself to discover what could be understood once the illusions and preconceptions inherent in our current political dialog were set aside.

Sometimes I wish that I were more aggressive by nature, more inclined to forcefully sell what has taken so much pain and so many years to learn.  But like the Grandfathers, I know too well that such methods in the end bear malformed fruit, if they bear any at all.  How often have we heard that all real learning begins with the acknowledgment of ignorance; that the first task on the path to wisdom is not the acquisition of knowledge but the cultivation of humility?  Not often enough it seems, when our culture wanders socially backward, entranced with pundits, columnists, and other talking heads, whose only purpose seems to be to fill the air with random noise and the confusion of shouted opinions.  Point and counterpoint?  One might as well dig wells beside the river.

In a delightful little movie called CHAC, the leaders of a small agricultural tribal village in central America become dissatisfied with their own shaman's failure to end the drought they are experiencing. They keep giving him parts of their tribal wealth, but all he does is stay drunk and make promises (sound like any politicians we know?).  In the end the village elders call upon the services of a real wise man (a magician) who lives alone in the mountains, and whom they fear.

He agrees to make it rain, but requires of the elders (and one young man) that they all travel together first to the "mother of waters".  On their journey they stop for a night beside a lake, rich with fertile marsh land and filled with fish.  The elders can't understand why the wise man has taken them there.  Too obvious of course is the idea that the elders could simply move the village to the lake.  The wise man cannot tell them this, if they cannot see it for themselves, which they do not.  The best solution is then missed and the film ends with the rains made, but at an unnecessary and tragic cost.

If there is one characteristic of our modern way of life, it is this blindness to the obvious and the refusal to change patterns of destruction.  In the Song of the Grandfathers can be heard a vision of the means to social renewal and vitality; but who has will to hear and the courage to become?


- the one true means to all true ends -


"Respect for the word is the first commandment in the discipline by which a man can be educated to maturity - intellectual, emotional and moral. Respect for the word - to employ it with scrupulous care and an incorruptible heartfelt love of truth - is essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the human race.  To misuse the word is to show contempt for man.  It undermines the bridges and poisons the wells. It causes Man to regress down the long path of his evolution." (Dag Hammarskjold)

"Washington is a town whose only industry is the making, shaping, processing, and marketing of words.  Words to define how citizens should conduct themselves.  Words to direct and limit industry.  Words to calm friends and warn enemies.  Words to throw at one another in the halls of Congress, or in front of devouring cameras.  Words that in the end can kill, or impoverish, or imprison, or empower.  And also recycled words - on editorial pages or inside the pages of legal briefs - dissecting other words, assessing implications, making distinctions, arguing their true meaning as if the words were holy writ.  Words without poetry or music, whose mastery brings money and authority." (former Secretary of the Navy, now Senator from Virginia, James Webb, in his novel Something to Die For.)

"In the beginning was the Word..." (the Gospel of St. John, 1:1)


Set out above are some apparently different ideas about the role of the word in human existence.  They are not contrary, but represent rather a spectrum of points of view.  In the first, we are given sage advice, should we wish to evolve ourselves or our civilization.  In the second, we are shown (by one in a clear position to know) just how little this advice is acted upon in the centers of political power.  In the third, we are invited to recognize a genuine mystery, something our materialistic age has far too strong a tendency to pretend does not exist.

In what follows, an attempt is made to show how, by a common effort to engage each other via the word, our people, in fact any people, can through effort and struggle bring about a healing of our mutual social and political existence.

The goal of political life ought to be the health and vitality of society, both inwardly in the individual soul and spiritual existence and outwardly in the shared material circumstances.

Toward this goal words are a power.  But their power is not in the abstract symbolism of the letters and sounds.  No.  Words are a carrier wave for something else, for the light and the heart of the human being who uses the word.  It is human intention that fills out the word and enables it to be so ripe with meaning.  Human goodness, beauty and truth live in the words and through them bring about communication.

Words can bridge the gap from one human being to the other, light and warmth filled, sun-like in splendor.  Words mediate true brother and sisterhood, true human communion and are the only means to real human community.

Who can doubt then that we desperately need today a more mature and moral application of the power of the word in human affairs?  We have the old adage, "...that the pen is mightier then the sword." But we also live in a culture which says: "money talks" (and as well the counter-image: "talk is cheap").  The talk-dialog of recent Presidential campaigns is a debasement of the power of the word, and reveals an almost total impoverishment of ideas among our political leaders.  The disgusting, trivial and divisive themes of modern presidential politics are a thin mask covering a tragic spiritual emptiness.

These every-four-year rites ought to be a vital ritual of renewal and regeneration, but they continue to be a forum of senseless name calling and cheap and thoughtless criticism.  Clearly, in politics, the word's potential for "poetry and music" has not even begun to be realized.

There can be no question that this empty rhetoric is one cause of the apathy and social unrest in our society.  Our leaders have nothing real to say to us, nothing which touches the heart or illuminates the world.

It is my hope to fill in this void in the dialog of modern politics with something at once real, yet also imaginative - poetic and musical, perhaps even magical.  For we need more than just new ideas, new understanding, but something which stirs the will.  If we would begin the healing of those social ills whose inflamed symptoms we saw in the riots following the Rodney King verdict in Los Angles for example, then we must find a common inspiration - become moved as a community.  For it remains an essential truth that no idea that does not enter into the will can lead to change.

One voice, however, can do nothing.  As the reader will come to realize at the end of this essay, it is the dialog of the community, of "We the People...", which is both the first step and, at the same time, the desired result.  For the dialog is itself both means and end, simultaneously.  Too long now we have thought and taught that the power of the people lies in the vote.  That is not true.  The pollster, the spin doctor, and political campaign advertising director have always known that it is the content of the dialog as it evolves which is determinative.  The vote is just the exclamation point to a long, and sometimes exhausting public dialog.  For far too long the politicians and their hired help have controlled the content of this dialog.  And just that long have the processes of government been lame.  It is only when the People speak that real wisdom enters in, and the life of society evolves instead of degenerates.


- first theme -


Right at the beginning we have to admit a regrettable, but obvious, fact. There is to be no short term solution, no quick fix to these social ills.  We may, in fact, never be able to heal all of the festering disorders in the social body of humanity.  At the same time, we dare not let thoughts of impossibility or improbability deter us from striving for solutions.

The roots of these symptoms (such as the riots, past, present and future) are deep, not just in American history, but in the whole of Western culture.  As a fundamental axiom, we should recognize that these social events are always signs of the intangibles of human psychology.  This is the reason, for example, that the Great Society failed (in a sense), because it's authors did not acknowledge and did not think their way through to the real depths of the problem.  Without a true perception of how social life is shaped, out of the hidden elements of our inner life, there is no possibility of bringing health and regeneration.

At the least this means that something has been missing in the political dialog, in the words (and ideas) by which we seek to bring out of the facts some degree of understanding and insight.  The rituals of thought, in which politicians seem today to move as in a dream, live on the surface of events, never even seeking the depths, never yearning really for the meaning.  When the motive is solely the pursuit after power, what then can one expect?  Truth and meaning do not yield themselves up to opportunism and greed.

Long experience has taught me that the quality of an answer is very much dependent upon the quality of the question, and as well the question's impelling motive.  High quality questions are, therefore, difficult to discover; we must work to find them.  Mere opinion, while often necessary, is inadequate here.  In the beginning thinking must move from question to question, as if unraveling a complicated set of riddles arranged like boxes inside boxes inside boxes.  This essay follows such a path, but it may only seem like a downward spiral, as if one was diving deeper, ever deeper into an ever darkening ocean of understanding.  The truth can be found, if one has the discipline, by keeping the light of intuition cloaked until the yearning is ripe - until one is pregnant with the earnest desire to perceive and to know.  In our insanely rushing civilization, our judgments tend to be formed too fast.  Wisdom is only found with time and contemplation; it is the product of effort, of work, of craft and of art.

Several years ago, in the late 1970's, as I struggled to recover from the blows to my idealism delivered by the Nixon years, I came to a surprising, yet obvious, realization. I had been reading Robert Marcuse's One Dimensional Man.  Suddenly I understood that behind all political points of view stood an idea of human nature, always present, although often expressed in differing and subtle degrees of explicitness.  This meant, among other truths, that political disagreement most often had its roots in these different concepts of the human being.  And, as a consequence, that any fundamentally true and practical political ideas had to be based on a similarly true and practical understanding of human nature.

Along similar paths I have encountered a multitude of questions.  Some of the very best were asked by George Will in his 1982 book, Statecraft as Soulcraft, a beautiful (but ultimately futile) attempt to adorn the political dialog with the more profound ideas of Western civilization (Will is one political writer with some instinct for the "Grandfathers" of Western Civilization).  He asked: What does it mean to govern?  Does government have any responsibilities toward the inner life of its citizens?  And behind this question is: What are the fundamentals of human nature as these play themselves out in the political arena?  At this level of inquiry we can begin to have a dialog which is no longer superficial.  Here is also the answer to the question we have about why our political leaders have been unable to solve most of our social problems.  They have never wandered in serious play among these the foundational elements, and thus they build houses on sand.  Let us consider some examples.

The political conservatives and the Christian fundamentalists talk today about the destruction of the family, and look to the changes in individual morality as the cause.  Our problem is values (or the lack thereof) they say.  These thoughts remain on the surface.  The observations are correct, but they are only the perceptions of symptoms.  Even the fledgling sociologist recognizes that the industrial revolution, and the changes in work life - i.e. economic forces, have had the effect of destroying, from the outside, the traditional structures of social order in Western cultures.  The individual, the family and the community are victims, not cause. Robert Bly's Iron John , written from the special perspective usually only possessed by the poet (another ear attuned to the Grandfathers), begins to get at the depths, because of his use of the imagination - of the eye of the heart.

What has Bly noticed?  He observed the destruction of a certain natural stream of wisdom, which once had flowed from father to son as a consequence of the closeness of their lives.  Industrialization fractured this relationship and interrupted this flow.  What the father had to pass on to the son as an understanding of inner life, as an understanding of soul and spirit, and of the wisdom which makes communities possible, this became lost.  This observation of Bly's is just one instance of many similar changes, as the last few hundred years of Western culture has seen the gradual,  but unstoppable, degradation of the whole fabric of the social order.

As a consequence, the soul of the contemporary human being is lamed. Our civilization has fallen, not to invading masses bent on physical destruction and domination, but to the anti-spiritual conceptions of modern science and the anti-community effects of unrestrained greed.  As a consequence of the first, the individual is taught a world view in which the human being is a mere animal, living in an uncaring cosmos.  As a consequence of the second, he is valued only as a worker and a consumer.  Nowhere is there any larger meaning, only various sterile pleasures of the moment to be consumed over and over again.

This is what signifies the end of Western civilization.  The significance of the human being, which stood at the beginning as a rising sun in the classic Greek civilization, has faded to nothing.  The light by which the human being defined himself in a cosmos filled with Gods and the drama of Fate and Destiny, has turned to darkness.  There is no longer any profound myth to fill the imagination of the growing soul; and modern art is filled as a consequence with rage, despair and spiritual emptiness.

Are the acts of the looters in Los Angeles and elsewhere, or the 9/11 terrorists, uncivilized?  Of course, but so are the acts of those who looted our savings institutions and created the sub-prime crisis.  The crimes are parallel both in consequence and in cause.  In both the soul lacks the ability to be motivated beyond mere self interest and avarice, or to see itself as a constructive co-contributor to the greater whole.  Yet the looting of the savings and loans. the political terrorism of extremists and economic terrorism of the sub-prime crisis are far worse, for they require a sustained mood, a continuous cold and calculating attitude, which is all the more unconscionable.  The looting during riots are acts of the moment, fired by understandable anger and frustration (for the most part, not forgetting the many opportunists who took advantage of the chaos).

In both cases, however, something is missing if we do not strive for a deeper understanding of the psychological element.  Merely to see this as a problem of failed morality is to be blind to much that needs appreciation and perception.  In the absence of a concrete wisdom/knowledge of the interior spaces there is no hope of comprehension or mastery of these subterranean depths of the soul.  It is just here, in a kind of arrogant ignorance of human inner life, that our civilization rests unknowing amidst social chaos and debris.

No doubt more than symbolically, the inner city is likewise without order, without civilization.  Notice how much we yearn for something in the politician, unable to define it, but soulfully aware of the lack.  The leaders of our modern cultures have an emptiness - a strange inability to articulate what we know in our hearts is wrong.  Our communities are no longer led by real statesmen, we have no true kings or magicians seeing the whole, or thinking effectively of what our acts will mean for our children's children's children.  The great majority of politicians have skill at getting elected - at the pursuit of power, yet have little sense of the deep movements of history, and almost no capacity to inquire after the mysterious and more difficult truths.  But isn't this too a consequence of the demise of civilization.  The soul of the politician is lamed as well.

Modern Western cultures exist under the sign of death.  The wealth of meaning upon which civilization once depended has rotted away.  The labor saving machine turns out to wear a second face, for the machine, and the industrial milieu which dominates our way of life, is itself derived from knowledge based solely on the mastery of the lifeless.

Science, which promises so much, has only delivered into society's hands the means to manipulate that which is without life.  And, while it seems that the genetic revolution may make possible much, an honest appraisal of the history of science and technology reveals that each apparently life enhancing advance bears with it an equally deadly shadow side.  Without some kind of change in the civilization and culture out of which scientific knowledge becomes social fact, the genetic revolution promises both great good and great evil.

What else is industrial pollution but human evil made physically manifest?  Our knowledge of the lifeless has seduced us into accepting and tolerating a constantly accelerating devouring of the planet, and the reduction through gross dynamic processes of much that is living, into more that is toxic and anti-life.  It is not "better living through chemistry", because it is chemistry and the chemical corporations which produce products and "by-products" that never before occurred in nature.  These twice dead substances cannot be made part of the living cycle of nature.  While we made them in ignorance, to continue while knowing the realities, is to bequeath to our descendants a planet of death.

The same has occurred in culture.  Civilization has died a death, in part, from the inadvertent toxic side effects of the dawning of the age of science and technology.  Science has produced intoxicating vistas of the deep past and even deeper future.  Yet these images and ideas are empty of human meaning.  Within them the human being has no significance.  Between the "big bang" and the "heat death" of the universe, the existence of humanity is made to appear entirely irrelevant.


- interlude and confrontation -


The argument will be made that Science at least gives us the truth, but this is false when it comes to the larger questions which Science struggles to answer.  Consider this: Imagine a large room, around the outer walls of which is a single continuous blackboard. Draw a line, in chalk, horizontally all the way around the room. Now walk up to one part of the line, and erase just a finger's width. To the right of this tiny gap draw an arrow pointing right and label it "the future" (Heat death), and to the left an arrow pointing left and labeled "the past" (big bang).

Now imagine some beings living in this little gap, and savor the outrageous arrogance of their pretense that from this tiny point of view and this tiny piece of the puzzle they have the capacity to come to knowledge of the mysteries of the deep past and future - the mysteries of time and space.  That sane human beings spin such theories tells us something about human nature - something very important, but cannot in any circumstance be credited with much likelihood of successfully telling us something about either the origin or the consummation of human existence, much less the distant past and future of the Earth or the Heavens.

Most people do not realize how much speculation, and how many unprovable assumptions lie at the core of these cosmological ideas.  To imagine, that the human intellect can of itself form true pictures of the origin of the cosmos, is a vain undertaking.  Yet, these speculative ideas dominate the thinking of modern civilized human beings and have made the older, longer held, religious conceptions matters of mere belief.

But, as Bly and others can show us, it is not through mere Reason (science) that we will be able to unlock the mystery which drives from soul depths the spasm of violence and hate that put Los Angles to the torch, and threatens every similar urban concentration on the planet.  The imagination - the eye of the heart is needed as well, for we need to see into the inside of people, not just observe the surface through the spurious craft of dead mathematical statistics.  Civilization is dying, and it is this death and its significance we must fathom if we are to find our way into a human future.

And while the erosion of meaning which has resulted from the age of Science can be seen as a partial cause of the death of civilization, it is not the sole cause.  The mystery is very deep indeed.

What does this mean?  It means, at least, that unless there is a new understanding of, and some changes in, the interior (psychological) spaces of the human being, there is no hope to either redeem politics or to arrest the social decay in areas of concentrated living - the urban complexes with all their darkly rich vitality.

Society is alive.  We have to think of it as just as complexly ordered and textured as the human organism.  It has laws, vital processes, organs, conditions of disease and health, form, life and death.  How can it be otherwise, given that society's - civilization's - substance is human beings and their myriad desires and dreams, their shadow and their light.

But perhaps we should take a deep breath here, and pause and look a little more closely at the problem we have been dancing around: the limits of Reason (science) for the task of understanding society and civilization.


- resolution -

Many years ago novelist/scientist C.P.Snow warned of a dangerous development, the appearance of two cultures - a scientific culture and a literary culture - which had lost the ability to communicate with each other.  More recently Alan Bloom in his The Closing of the American Mind, decried the dominance of the sciences over the humanities in the modern university.  In truth I think neither of them went far enough.  There is, to me, a psychological discontinuity in our civilization (such as it is) unnaturally separating science, art (the humanities) and religion, into in-communicative - even war-making - camps.

Science, art and religion exist, in part, because something within the human being can only find expression in such activities.  The human being is healthiest (psychologically) when these impulses are all fully developed and work in harmony with each other.  For some this will be difficult to understand, since we do not often discuss problems such as these, except in certain limited circles.  It is not easy, therefore, to write of them for a more general audience, because we are unused to this kind of thinking.  Many may find such a discussion too metaphysical.

I take my lead here from S.T.Coleridge, and attribute the scientific impulse to the existence of Reason in the soul; to the artistic impulse, the existence of Imagination; and to the religious impulse the existence of Devotion.  I relate these three (Reason, Imagination and Devotion) to the older ideas of truth, beauty and goodness.  Reason is the path (capacity-faculty-means) to truth, Imagination the path to beauty, and Devotion the path to goodness.

If we look to an Emerson, a Teilhard de Chardin, or a Goethe, what else do we see but the natural genius of a fully developed and integrated soul life?

Nor are these ideas unknown within the scientific community, although not as consciously.  Roger Penrose writes in his recent The Emperors New Mind: "It seems clear to me that the importance of aesthetic criteria applies not only to the instantaneous judgments of inspiration, but also to the much more frequent judgments we make all the time in mathematical (or scientific work).  Rigorous argument is usually the last step!  Before that, one has to make many guesses, and for these, aesthetic convictions are enormously important..."

Or Karl Popper, in his Realism and the Aim of Science: "...I think that there is only one way to science - or to philosophy, for that matter: to meet a problem, to see its beauty and to fall in love with it;..." --- once more,  "...to meet a problem " (reason); "...to see its beauty..." (imagination); and, "...to fall in love with it;..." (devotion).



-return to theme -


Now what is the point of all this.  To me civilization is not the outside of existence, not the buildings, the land, the railroads, highways and airports, or even the electrical-technical advances.  Rather civilization is the inside, the realm of soul and spirit, of ideals and morals, of dreams and desires.

That civilization has fallen means that the wealth, the real wealth of any culture - its wisdom - no longer lives within the human soul in a vital and meaningful way.  We live in a time of social chaos; the shared cohesive inner structure that formerly ordered social existence has died away.

Once children automatically acceded to their parents wishes.  The daughter never expected to become more then what her mother was, a wife and a parent - a homemaker.  The son took up the father's craft.  The roles were defined.  The values set by tradition.

Those who argue a return to this way of social existence delude themselves; and, it is certainly not being argued here that the past was in any way better (or worse) then the present or the coming future.  We are only noting that there was order in the social life, and that this order manifested itself in the continuity of roles and values from one generation to the next (oversimplifying the situation of course).  Such structure must eventually pass away.  It is part of wisdom to know that "...this to shall pass.".  Our question is more immediate.  What do we do now that this is happening?

On a deeper level it is no wonder then that public debate is empty of meaning, because the soul (inner) life of the debaters is itself empty (without tradition or other significant socially cohesive structure).  But even this understanding is inadequate, we need to go deeper.  To say that civilization is dying is not adequate.  How is it dying?  Of what cause?  What does the future hold?

The truth would never have occurred to me were it not for certain books it has been my fortune to encounter.  From Owen Barfield (Saving the Appearances: a study in idolatry) and from Gottfried Richter (Art and Human Consciousness), I came to realize that a subtle but enormously significant change took place inwardly within Western mankind (at least) about the fifteenth century.

Prior to that time, the nature of human consciousness was such that the individual felt himself to exist within the world, as a part of it.  The world of the senses was not perceived as vividly and as concretely as we experience it today.  Barfield writes about how the Scholastics, for example, had a participatory form of consciousness.  After the change, after this form of consciousness passed away, the human being felt, for the first time, separated from nature, outside it as an observer.  For conveniences sake we can call this change as one going from "original participation" (Barfield's term) to the "onlooker separation".

Several facts serve as signs of this change.  One is the arrival of modern science itself.  This new Way (path) of thinking is dependent upon the point of view that the world of objects exists independently of our own consciousness.  If we read, carefully, the Scholastics and the early Greek philosophers we will find that they did not have such an experience of the world.  Richter's work is especially helpful, as he observes how perspective first begins to appear in medieval paintings.  There is originally no sense of space in them at all.  Then all of a sudden, everywhere, space begins to appear, gradually to be sure, but slowly and surely, until paintings acquire a quite definite sense of dimension.

Even mathematics reveals this change, for only at this time is mathematics itself concerned with perspective, and a profound change occurs in geometry as the problem of infinity leads beyond the older Euclidean geometry to the extraordinarily beautiful and symmetric projective or synthetic geometry.

The same trail of change of consciousness can be found in language (c.f. Barfield's History in English Words).  Writer Michael Dorris has also noticed this change (without really appreciating its significance) by writing in The Broken Cord of a native American language where it is not possible to say "I hit him" in it, only "we hit us".  For not only did the earlier consciousness experience itself within the sense world, but also within each other.  Our ancestors were less individuals and more the members of a group.  One was John's son, or from a place (de Chardin) before one was an individual.

A considerable portion of what we must confront in modern existence can only be understood by appreciating this change and its significance in the general social milieu.  The existence of a common experience of alienation, so often observed in the last forty or fifty years in modern culture (c.f. Reisman's classic, The Lonely Crowd), is due to this change. We have gradually become more individual, and this also means more isolated.

Moreover, the older social forms were dependent upon the instinctive sense of community that went with the prior mode of consciousness.  Such a strong sense of individuality as we now possess, and assume our natural right, would have been intolerable in an old world village.

This can be said in summation, although it must admit of being unjustifiably brief.  A general change of consciousness occurred around the fifteenth century, an evolution of consciousness.  Modern science arose from this change, as did our present sense of individuality.  A side effect of the pursuit of science has been the creation of a material world view, a view empty of the older spiritual conceptions.  For many, the human being is no longer an intentional creation of a deity, but rather an animal, whose existence is an accident in a universe ruled by chance.

The effect of all this is to erode the social order.  Marriage, family, community no longer have the meaning they once had.  Where before the individual sublimated himself to these forms, today he would destroy them rather then sacrifice his sense of his own I.  Not just the forms have become weak, but the ideal superstructure - the common world view - has itself passed away.  And this process, this death of the prior civilization - the prior common inside - has made possible the most remarkable fact of all.


- essence -


Previously the moral order came from the outside of the human being. It was a given, dependent upon the community in which one lived (not to say every one followed it, but nevertheless in the time of "original participation" one looked outside ones self for a moral compass).  But this moral order has also been destroyed.  The ability of the community to cause conformance with its principles is presently dying away.  This in turn then forms the soil for a further development in human consciousness, the appearance of an independent and free conscience.  All we have to do is to look at the abortion question and we can see the struggle between the remnant of an older authoritative moral structure and an emerging insistence upon a free conscience - upon moral freedom.

The pro-life movement (in large part) derives its social force from adherence to the idea of a set moral code, a known standard to which the individual must conform.  The pro-choice side derives its social force from an inner necessity to exercise the newly emerging sense of individual conscience.  These two then represent the clearest possible example of the clash in modern life between the psychological past and the psychological (soul-lawful) future.

The last vestiges of the older (dying) social order can be found in the idea: do the right thing; something we might have heard from the lips of Ronald or Nancy Reagan.  Here the moral judgment turns to the community for a standard.  The embryonic new social order (in the process of being born) can be found in the idea: do your own thing; a simplistic sense of the emergence of individual conscience as appeared in the turmoil of the Sixties.

With this observation we enter into a new problem.  That civilization can die is now clear.  But what happens next?  Does the Phoenix arise from the ashes?  How does this happen?  What facts can be noticed and what do they suggest about the future?

The best idea (for the purpose of perceiving the dynamics and nuances of this change) I have discovered is that which Goethe found so crucial in his biological and zoological studies: the idea of metamorphosis.  Here is the organic law - the principle of life as process - in its most evolved form.  As we noted earlier, the social order - the social organism -must have characteristics similar to the realm of the living in nature, as its substance (as it were) is made up of the psychological realities of human beings: thoughts, dreams, desires, impulses of will, emotions, character etc.  It is not the physical bodies and their properties that dominate the nature of the social order, but the inner elements.

The most fruitful example of metamorphosis which I have found is the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly.  After the caterpillar spins its cocoon, it essentially dies.  The cells lose all differentiation. There is no apparent form, no order, no organs.  All seems chaos.  When the butterfly begins to come into being, there appear shadows on the outside surface of the cell mass, and inwardly individual cells begin to again differentiate.  It is as if the chaos is being sculpted from the outside inward, while simultaneously being reorganized from the inside outward.  Somehow a higher ordering principle has taken hold of the chaos and transformed it.

It is this picture which I have found to be most useful in appreciating the ongoing transformation in civilization - in social existence - which we all are living amidst.  The change of consciousness from original participation to the onlooker separation lead to a sense of alienation from one another.  The ideas born out of the new science which sprang from this change have lamed the ability of the older religious ideas to contribute to a cohesive social organism.  The technological revolutions which followed have contributed to the destruction of family and community life.  This weakened social structure then no longer was capable of providing moral guidance, so that an independent conscience became a psychological possibility.  All this has lead in the direction of almost complete social chaos, which we observe most starkly today in the inner city.

Cultural traditions are no longer a social force.  The individual must find his own way.  And if we are awake to what this really means, we can see that only such a process - the creation of social chaos - makes possible the development of a free conscience in the individual human being. Consider, for example, the current cultural clash, appearing mostly in the economic life, between the Americans and the Japanese.  In the cultural East, the necessity of conforming to the group standard still carries great force, still has the power to bring about conformance.  For the American, whose culture at present is essentially non-culture, this is (for the most part) no longer possible.

Here then lie the seeds of the future.  Civilization, that is the past social order, was dependent upon tradition for its character, meaning, force and form.  This past has fallen away.  Where once the inner life was ordered by church, school, family and community, now it is the human being himself who must discipline and order his own soul-lawful (psychological) existence.  Whatever qualities that are to inhabit the next civilization must flow from that interaction which occurs between the individual and his conscience.  Formerly this occurred mainly between community and individual, with the individual being acted upon by community.  Now it must flow in the opposite direction.  Out of the interaction between the individual and his free conscience must flow social creative forces toward community.

This is the nature of the metamorphosis - the transformation from the dying civilization to the new one.  Goethe's aphorism is most apt; he called such a process: "dying and becoming".  The old had to pass away in order for the new to arise.  Here then is a deep mystery.  For here the changes in the inner nature of the human being and their reflection in society, begin to reveal intrinsic purpose and meaning.  Moreover, this is purpose and meaning which is not consciously engendered by mankind, but which flows from some inner wellspring of our nature.


 - full theme with modulation -


We have now traveled far down an unfamiliar path.  We have seen that social/political existence takes a certain shape from very profound, yet subtle and hidden elements of human psychology: a change in consciousness from an original state of participation within the world of nature and of men, to a state of separation, an experience of the world and of the 'other' as if we were outside it/them looking on to them.  This change brought in its wake powerful new impulses, the age of science and its raw social effect, the age of industrialization.  Between them, and aided by the growing sense of individuality, the social order once known as Western Civilization, fell into pieces and lost its power to bring about conformance - to order behavior from the outside.  Amidst the resulting social chaos, human psychology (soul-lawfulness) has been giving birth to the power of individual conscience - to a freely chosen morality.  This is in its infancy, and how this new development plays itself out will stamp the whole next phase of civilization.


- a further expression of known questions -


But, this is as deep as we dare go.  Now it becomes both prudent and necessary to consider the practical implications of this understanding for our future social and political existence.  Again, I take my start from George Will's original questions, previously noted: What does it mean to govern and what role should government play in the inner life of the individual?  And, what are the fundamentals of human nature in this context?

As Will noted in his book (Statecraft as Soulcraft), the tendency in recent years, to the extent it has actually been articulated, has been to practice governing as if individual self interest was the only motive which one could count on.  And, even this idea has disappeared into the background of another idea, namely: free market competition.  This last is the icon of our time, so revered in fact that its use is now advocated not only in the sphere of economics, but in education, culture, and government services.  We often have presidential candidates trying to tell us that only by running government as a business can our problems be solved.  This thinking is not only wrong-headed, it is dangerous as well; for it makes of governing a people an act of bottom line computation, rather then the grand and wise psychological and social art it very much needs to be.  Truly, truly Will is right: statecraft must be soulcraft.

It certainly is a truth that individual initiative is better then compulsion.  We have a healthier society if people choose to act in certain ways, rather than it being required of them.  But it is a very prejudicial view of the human being, to believe that the only motive that can be counted upon is self interest.  Few parents can fill, in even a minor way, the parental role through mere self interest.  No true teacher, nor any real clergyman is motivated by self interest.  And a genuine leader, a statesman?  One does not serve, truly serve a People, through self interest.

Recall the idea of social existence as a living organism - as something partaking of the qualities of life.  Among many other aspects, this fact requires of us that we recognize that any change must be organic as well.  We cannot just impose anything on the social chaos.  What is needed to emerge must be related to the past.  The change from community based moral standards to individual free moral deeds is a good example. Something has turned inside out, as it were.  But it is not unrelated to what has gone on before.


- intimations of the phoenix, first form -


In a certain sense we might want to think of the situation as representing a problem of political and social ecology.  We are dealing with systems, with growth and development (and therefore with the past), and with human potential (and therefore with the future).  The psychological elements we have been considering are like a soil out of which social order or disorder grows.  Even now, new growths are certain to be found amidst the social decomposition of the inner city.  Let us consider more particularly the problem of urban decay, as an example of social chaos awaiting our ecological understanding and creativity.

First we need a picture of the process of change which led to the current situation.  Four hundred years ago in Western civilization, one could find a stable community usually in the form of a village.  As we have seen, the change of consciousness and the resulting change in world-view coupled with the industrial revolution has dissolved this once cohesive social structure.  Following this initial condition, as people more and more concentrated themselves in the cities, neighborhoods arose, which retained certain social similarities to the village: common points of view and language, and large extended families.  But this social structure was only transitory as the various forces (both inner and outer) dissolved it as well.

Now we are brought to a condition of complete social chaos.  There is no community anymore; only a collection of individuals and their raw social needs.  Drugs and lawlessness grow like weeds in such a social environment.  Youth gangs, which seem so terrible, possess an odd but instinctive wisdom.  Without a community around it as a support, the family itself is unable to hold its center.  Young people are then drawn to whatever meets their social need.  This is the gang's power.  It is a naturally arising urban tribal response to the absence of civilization in the inner city.

Initially it was thought in social work circles that the gangs should be destroyed, but now there is a dawning realization that here is a valid social form, a niche in the social ecology is being filled.

We need to see past the negative media image and realize that this sub-culture is as much a product of the decayed nature of the social organism, as it is a product of the individual moral vacuum which accompanies the loss of civilization.  Many of our young people find their only meaning here; and if we are to fulfill our responsibilities toward them, we must make possible their discovery of a more socially creative meaning.  And, while what they find, they will find of their own initiative, we should never cease to try to shape the possibilities, if we are wise enough.  To me the implication of this is that social policy should support this form - the gang, but in such a way that it's further evolution (and make no mistake, it will continue to grow) will take a socially healthy course.  Consider this possibility:

As a consequence of the looting of the S & Ls, the taxpayer [not the government, which only represents - stands in for - the citizen] has become the owner of substantial quantities of urban and suburban real estate.  [Here the word reveals its misuse. We should write and speak always of the people as the owners of government land. Were our use of language more carefully poetic and musical (magical) in its articulation of certain realities, politicians and bureaucrats would be less likely to forget the obligations of trust.]

What do we do is to take some of this [property of the people - didn't our taxes pay for the bailout?] material wealth and make the gangs the stewards of it.  We don't sell it to them; rather we grant them the opportunity to make creative use of it, such that it meets their needs.  As long as their stewardship is creative and socially positive, they retain the right to determine the nature of its use.

Several returns for the whole society can flow from this.  For example, we create a social pathway toward legitimacy for something which may well be willing to give up its outlaw status, especially if such strings as must necessarily be attached do not take the form of knotted and binding vows. There must be no quid pro quo or we will destroy from the start that individual initiative we hope to see channeled into socially productive activities.  In a sense we make a very much needed act of faith.  It is this risk which makes possible the necessary transformation.  What we hope for - individual social responsibility - can't be forced.

Now we have created a place for this community to use, freely as it chooses.  Next we offer services to this community in the sense of support for education, health, and business creation.  But we do not sell these services or otherwise demand they take a certain shape.  We say to the community: "What do you need?"; and then respond to that self-defined need.

Some will, of course, find the idea of granting anything to gangs of lawless youth an abomination.  The reader needs to realize, however, that this is a worst-case example, and the underlying principles remain valid. In a sense we are taking care of a certain urban organism which has appeared spontaneously in the chaotic social decay, and feeding it, seeking what yet lies hidden in its nature by encouraging its further growth [We can do the same with self organized homeless organizations].  We can't know in advance what form it will take, weed or flower.  But we ought to know by now that attempts to kill it have only maintained its outlaw nature - efforts at elimination offer no opportunity for a positive social transformation.

It ought to be obvious that individuals in the inner cities cannot contribute to the social order if they have no real power to determine the most basic facts of their own existence.  If they have no real political power, no control over their essential needs, if they are constantly made dependent, then individual initiative is destroyed, aborted before it can be born.  It is no wonder then that human desire appears in such a social environment only in the form of drug and alcohol dependencies, casual sex. AIDS, immorality, fractured families and all the terrible realities for which some want to solely blame the individual.

It will help to use our imaginations here, not our prejudices - our prejudgments.  The gang is a viable social unit.  It exists because it fills a human need.  It individuates itself from the general social chaos, and positions itself for survival.  But the individuals within it are not purely evil, nor irredeemable.  They are quite capable, given the opportunity, of seeing that some acts are unwise, and others more life-sustaining.  At present the surrounding social organism pushes this community away, and insulates itself from this outlaw social form.  What I am suggesting is that the outside community take a different posture.  Rather then push away, we create a path, a social space into which the outlaws will want to grow, but in ways that are less harmful to the rest of us.  In this way we honor their humanity.  We give the gift of trust, which is a spiritual nutrient of extraordinary potency.

We can also recognize that this example - the gang - is the most difficult to accept because of the negative media image through which we normally behold it.  Other urban social forms are less negative in this way. Homeless organizations, for example, will also respond to receiving nurturing opportunities.  Access to property for which the only expectation for the retention of control is a stewardship expectation, offers of services to meet self-determined need, and willingness to respond to what is asked for - these foods can support the growth of viable communities in the seats of urban decay.  These growing communities, then, have the opportunity to take hold of the decay from within and transform it.

The decay in the inner city, both physical and spiritual, can only be overcome by individuals standing inside the dynamic social conditions.  No local, state or federal agency or legislature can by fiat, law or regulation do what must be done by individuals out of their free moral deeds.  This is why social policy must support these new social forms as they appear amidst the chaos and debris.

There is a tendency for social policy to try to preserve the past, for example, to try to only give support to families with blood ties.  Thus, following the Sixties, as many people tried to form non-blood social forms (whether communes or simply older fixed income people sharing the same house or apartment) the policy makers did not support these new forms of association.  Concern was for an ideology, rather than with giving support to the wise new ways people found for solving their own problems.

This is, of course, one of the principle difficulties of our time: the failure to appreciate that the past is dead, and that the future will travel new paths, break new ground.  In a sense, the intrinsic wisdom of people meeting life's problems will always outrun the ideologies of society's institutional thinking, whether church or state.

We cannot, from the outside, provide what instead must flow from the individual as an ordering principle into the social anarchy (chaos) of our areas of concentrated living.  We can only nurture and support that which is emerging.  Nor can we move into such areas of decay merely economic positives, because the decay is due to a natural weakness in the soul, inside the human being, which has accompanied the death of civilization.  Let us consider this more closely.

The human being becomes what he or she does in accord with natural talent and opportunity. Interfere with one and you inhibit the other. If upbringing and education fails to help the individual unfold natural talent, then opportunity will avail little. If society fails to create possibilities (such as through full employment), then education is of little use. And I have in mind here not just the poor urban dweller, but the many graduates of our higher institutions who are unable to find work in their chosen fields.

And while we know that lack of jobs is a problem, yet it is not the economic aspect of the job that is the core difficulty.  It is the inward personal satisfaction, the positive sense of self, of control over ones life, the sense of meaning in all its manifestations, which is missing.  Work feeds this need for meaning.  So does viable community, religion, art and the myriad other aspects which make a cohesive culture or civilization.  We must nurture all aspects of the emerging new civilization if we want social health to return to the inner city.

The faith and trust we place in the individual in these areas of decay are essential nutrients for social health.  These are like the vitamins without which the human organism cannot live.  The social organism desperately needs social policies which enable the individual to take a hold of the chaos and ruination of the urban environment and bring to it creative forces for renewal.


- rural renewal -


To these considerations we must add others.  Again we need to look to the past, to see the direction of flow of the social forces in order to come to some sense of what belongs organically to the future.  The loss of community in the urban environment and the seeds of its regeneration we have just discussed.  There is an equal effect, so obvious we almost forget it, but which cannot be overlooked if we wish to find wise ways to social health.  Urban concentrations of human beings have a counter-pole in the abandonment of rural areas.  As urban populations build up, so the rural populations decrease.  Here again the industrial revolution - mankind's fascination with the death forces - has had a toxic-like social side effect in the mechanization and the excessive use of chemicals in agriculture.  A very meaning-full way of life has been lost as the social chaos of the death of Western civilization has fallen upon us.

Again the S & L crisis provides an oddly timely opportunity.  Many small farms, marginal in an economic sense, have been abandoned.  Here again are properties which have come to belong to the people, as our taxes (and the debts we unjustly bequeath to our children) have been used to save the nation from further economic collapse.

I have no doubt that were these rural properties made available to urban dwellers, as long as support is given for the educational needs required by such a transformation of ones way of life, these could again support viable rural communities.  The tendency to transform rural areas into agri-business must be arrested, and a real agri-culture given an opportunity for rebirth.  We will gain social health, and inner strength as a People, if the exodus from rural to urban areas can be reversed.

Those who follow these matters are aware that the demands of consumers for natural foods - organic/biodynamic foods - is on the increase, as is the acreage devoted to growing these healthier foods.  Moreover, it is also well understood that the mechanizing and over use of chemicals in farming has lead to an ever increasing cycle of the application of death forces (raw chemicals as fertilizers - nitrates etc. and as well the toxics used to curb the excessive insect populations that have accompanied the over fertilization) bringing annihilation to the micro-organisms and beneficial insect life - slaying the living soil.  This as well is a unwise tendency that must be arrested.

The long term effects of agri-business (as opposed to agri-culture) on the vitality of the land are more than undesirable.  They are unconscionable given that we have alternatives.  The problem with the alternatives, however, is that they are labor intensive.  Farming, which will no longer rely on vast quantities of petro-chemicals (gas for machinery, artificial fertilizers, toxins for insect and disease control), needs a large labor pool in order to be economically viable.  For these reasons, it is clear that the healing of the land from the abuses of monoculture and agri-business goes hand in hand with the social healing that will be connected to reversing the flow of people into our large cities.

Social policy then needs to support the growth of embryonic communities (gangs, homeless organizations etc.), as well as decrease the excessive concentration by making possible a return to rural forms of living.  But such activities as these (and others like them), by themselves are insufficient.  The transformation of a dying civilization into a living one requires changes not only at the bottom of the social structure, but at the top as well.  But before we can examine that factor, we should pause and consider the significance of the suburb as well as the latest urban trend, the so-called Edge City, as described by Joel Garreau (see his book of the same name: an "edge city" is a highly developed suburban area, usually elongated in shape, which follows or attaches itself to major highway interchanges.)


- second theme -


Right at the beginning we have to distinguish social forms - that is stable sets of human relationships, from the physical environment where these relationships take place.  As previously pointed out, civilization is a psychological environment, not a physical one.

Suburbs are essentially physical forms arising from two complementary psychological impulses.  One is that of self interest.  From this arises an impulse to turn farm land, through processes of sub-division, into a commodity for purposes of making money.  This links up with a second impulse, the fleeing of the degeneration of the inner city.  Profit making always depends upon meeting a need.  The fracturing of the urban environment into a dying inner core, and only slightly more vital surrounding suburbs, is the consequence of two additional interrelated factors: one - the failure to plan the living environment of our citizens with any degree of wisdom; and two - blind economic forces, which when otherwise unrestrained go simply where the profit is, regardless of the social consequences.

Edge City is similarly generated; that is it arises from unrestrained economic forces, not from the application of human intelligence to the problems of social existence.  The developer's question is: where can I buy cheap and where can I sell high?  It is not: how may I create a physical environment which supports sane human interaction?

Now these unrestrained economic forces are again a symptom of the degeneration of civilization.  With the lessening of the community's ability to bring about conformance to a given moral standard, the individual's tendency to excess is made easier.  What "I" want, becomes far more important then what "we" need.  It is a situation out of balance, badly, perhaps even mortally, out of balance.

[Where once the Grandfathers might have been heard, the steady demise of Western Civilization has produced a situation, where not only are our Elders no longer listened to with respect, but they are presumed to be responsible for the decay and debris.  As individuals we run every which way, content in our freedoms and asleep as to the consequences.]

What is needed is leadership which sets a moral course.  We need for individuals to appear at the top of our social existence (as political leaders, as business leaders) who appreciate that unrestrained self interest is the worst kind of example.  Leaders must be disciplined, moderate, prudent, honest, etc., - that is virtuous.  Acceptance of a two million dollar speaking fee by an ex-president of this nation, excessive CEO compensation, diversion of capital resources into 60 million dollar works of art(?) - these and similar acts by our leading elites reveals that there is little, if any, sense of proportion among those who seek to rule.

The ethical behavior of those who pursue power and wealth gives evidence of a culture-wide madness.  That such has too frequently been the rule from historical times in no way changes the diagnosis, or the prognosis.  Our leaders lack the ability to recognize the fundamental hypocrisy of criticizing the "looters" in the inner city, while at the same time overlooking that most concentrated wealth results from illegal and immoral pursuits, and very seldom from the pursuit of virtue. ("Behind every great fortune, lies a great crime" - Balzac)  The more civilization is imprinted - is given form and order - by such weak moral qualities, the more degeneration and decay will arise.

And when we consider that most of these political and economic leaders have received degrees from our universities and colleges, we can now see how little 'civilization' we really have. An education, which does not result in an appreciation of the absolute necessity of the development of virtue as the fundamental prerequisite for responsible public life, is no education at all.


- principle melody -


The truth is that the social chaos of modern life is the mirror image of the moral chaos which infects our ruling elites.

We are right, however, in recognizing that this situation is not surprising, given history and human nature. Our problem is more on the order of appreciating the magnitude of the crisis, and the meaning of the problem. That a group of merchant princes groomed an actor to rise eventually to the American Presidency through an outrageous falsification and control of image-based media, shows not only a moral breakdown at the top, but also how easily we are manipulated by the clever (but grossly unwise) intelligence of unrestrained self interest. And, we participate in this defeat by the overreaching of concentrated wealth, in part, because the act of citizenship has decayed as well. The voter brings little effort to his responsibilites, and as a consequence almost no wisdom. If my thought, as a citizen, is to ask only what government can do for me, without any sense of the needs of the whole people, then my efforts only led to more disunity, and therefore more decay and chaos.

Just as with the previous transformations, the appearance of moral chaos at the top (the ruling elites) and of excessive self interested citizenship at the bottom, reveal not just a low point, but a turning point as well. Here again is something which contains the potential to undergo metamorphosis, to turn inside out and lead to a redemption rather than a further degeneration. Finding these transformative 'turning points' will not be easy, however.



- second theme with counterpoint -


The current campaigns for the Presidency exposes a very instructive foolishness. Hidden in the whole process is an idea which is false at its roots, but which we seldom acknowledge: the assumption that if we just get the right person in the White house, then it will all get better.

This general proposition contains several sub-delusions. First we act as if the President was the manager of the economy, a role presidents seem to agree to pursuing, but which in truth they are functionally incapable of sustaining. The President does not control Congress, the Federal Reserve, the CEO's of our major corporations, the labor unions, or the habits of consumers; much less the economic activities of other nations. All of the political dialog which proceeds as if the President can "heals or "set right" or "turn around" the economy is delusional to the point of a kind of generalized civic psychosis.

Whether such a proposition appears in the editorial of a major newspaper, or comes out of the mouth of a recognized economic theorist, it remains false. The President does not run the economy, although it is possible for him (and his co-opportunists) to contribute more easily to its ruin (witness the Reagan administration), than to its health.

The fact that such a proposition inhabits our political dialog does tell us something, however. It shows us a general characteristic of human psychology, which the 12-Step people call "denial". Everyone who blames the President for the economy is effectively denying their own culpability. The rise in consumer debt, with its buy now pay later, psychology, reveals a nation habituated to instant gratification. The junk bond debacle on Wall Street, as well as the S & L crisis, points toward a "anything for a buck" attitude among business people. Congress's acceptance of massive spending and its corollary, an unconscionable national debt, points to a "shove it under the carpet and forget it" mentality in the politician. The leveraged buyout orgies unveil a "lets play the game and "damn the consequences". Everywhere we turn, human excess plays into the economy, and the President is not, and cannot be made, responsible for these deeds.

Nor can the question be put: what then should the President do? For there is first a great work needed doing, which is the disentangling of the dialog from such illusions. This is a first task that our leading elites owe us. The President, the political parties, the CEO's, the labor leaders - all must own up to their individual part. Even the Press has a duty here, to disentangle  itself from the many impossible conceptions it weaves so easily into our every-four-year rite of national rhetoric.

That a President may lead the way by refusing to accept this illusory mantel (management of the economy) would certainly help. But such an act would have to be meet with equal candidness on the part of many others, including the ordinary citizen who must begin to rouse himself from an over-long civic nap.

Another sub-delusion of the same false general proposition (that our ills will be healed by changing the face in the White House) is that: the President should articulate a "national vision". While it may have been historically true that leaders could inspire a whole people, under the present psychological realities - especially the dominance of individuality over community, this is again something the man or woman in the White House cannot be expected to realize. Under the rule of today's individualism you could approach almost any aimless crowd and suggest a direction and more than half would suddenly have opposite opinions, whether they'd thought about it before or not.

This is not to say, however, that there is no higher goal which lies latent in the American Soul. Rather the President's responsibility here is not to 'invent' a goal, but rather to see into the depths of our Character, and then articulate what yet remains hidden. When this is done correctly, most of us will acknowledge it, because something has been pointed to of which we are already instinctively aware.

It is also frequently said that the American President is the leader of the free world. But this is again an essentially false proposition, and again sets before us an illusory picture of political and social realities.

For example, the excessive reliance on poll-taking as an element of policy formation, means that the politician is really a follower in a fundamental sense. The poll provides a superficial view of the mass-man, and the political leader then sets his ideological compass according to this view. Moreover, the motive for such an approach is really the pursuit of power, rather then any attempt to find some wisdom in the people according by which to guide the ship of state. For these reasons it is more accurate to say that the American President can dominate the Media in the free world to some extent; and therefore has a certain effect. As well, he or she does have a certain narrow flexibility in the course that is set in terms of policy: but under present modes of political practice, this is severely constrained by the statistical poll-driven ideological assumptions.

As a consequence, it is really pure hyperbole to suggest that he or she is the "leader" of the democratic nations. What ought to be a free and statesman like judgment is instead coerced by the will to power and its dependence upon maintaining a false ideological consistency. In these circumstances there is no room to meet the real world, as it is. Instead, the American Presidency takes a course which steers itself by political expediency - a method which can never succeed, because the real world cannot be found in either opinion polls or ideological views.

Bush's production of the international coalition for the Gulf War is a good example of this failure. And, of any event since the fall of Russian communism, this act speaks most terribly of the unfortunate power concentrated wealth has over world history at this time. Here two powers combined. Behind the scenes the elites acted so as to punish the overreaching of one who normally "played the game", but this time stepped over an invisible boundary. On the surface the President dominated the Media and created a certain false picture of the meaning of events, thus manufacturing war hysteria which then lead to the unconscionable destruction that was visited upon an essentially helpless people.

Media dared not recognize the real causes, which had little to do with ideals, and a great deal to do with raw political power. One wonders whether Media is so foolish as to believe its own editorials and headlines. Again, we are made to realize the ease with which the American Presidency can bring wreak and ruin; effects which have nothing to do with leadership, with social responsibility, with creative moral will, and much more to do with avarice, will to power and pure political egotism.

Yet, in the same way that a certain potential exists for the American President to articulate the hidden higher purposes of the American People, so the American President can be a voice for something yet unspoken in the relations of nations. But this again cannot be a personal vision; rather it must only be the result of an inner effort to perceive the deeper movements of modern history and direct our attention to the more healthy and viable pathways as these unveil themselves in the phenomena of the times.

Moreover, it may well be that such tasks as these (and others related to them), will have to first be carried outside of the office of President. The processes by which our higher leaders are brought to their responsibilities and tasks is itself flawed. A recent election clearly revealed this in the voting patterns in the primaries where it was obvious that most voters did not find any of the major candidates appealing. This was then followed by the oddly temporary appearance of a third party candidate whose instant popularity further verified this observation. The People are looking for something and not finding it. Why is this? And, what are they really looking for?



- third theme: fundamental chord -


There is, I am certain, underlying the natural pragmatism of the American, a very real and very appropriate romantic nature. We are hopeful idealists. We believe in possibilities. We believe suffering can be overcome, problems can be solved, and wrongs can be righted. It is this idealism which fuels the delusional belief just discussed: that if we just elect a saint to the White House, then all will get better. The source of this delusion is not, however, the invalidity of this idealism, but rather the unconsciousness with which this idealism is applied.

The great majority of Americans are caught up in some vision of the materialism of the age. We look for satisfaction in things, because we are not yet spiritually mature enough, as a people, to realize that it is the quality of the intangibles in life that is lacking. The absence of these intangibles (which is due in most cases to the fallen nature of our civilization) then becomes the driving itch for more and more seeking after the sterile pleasures of sensual and material pastimes.

Our material satisfactions are then tied (in our minds) to the cycles of the economy. Therefore, we seek to have our political leaders fix the economy, because we misapprehend the causes of our dissatisfaction. Yet, even this is false, witness the so-called Reagan boom. All the economic indicators were positive, but the whole decade was characterized on the level of intangibles, by greed, selfishness, and self-centeredness, with the consequence that the rot and decay in the quality of life continued. The root elements, the lack of civilization - of a wise ordering of our social existence - remain seriously diseased.

The truth is that a healthy economy is not the prelude to a healthy social order. Rather it is the reverse that is the rule. First we heal the social order, first we rediscover the role of wisdom in the ordering of existence, and then the economic problems will begin to resolve themselves for we will have by this (seeking after wisdom) finally begun the healing of the moral chaos which so distorts the distribution of material resources.

We have been holding on to certain questions: What does it mean to govern? Does government have any duties toward the inner life of the citizen? And what of human nature? What characteristics of this may we rely upon in the redemption of political existence?

I have been, up to this point, trying to dissolve the misconceptions we hold concerning social and political realities, and to substitute a few alternative pictures - idea complexes. In this process, I have suggested that we cannot look to the Presidency, the political parties, or the elites of concentrated wealth for resolution. But where then do we look? Who is to carry out the needed renewal and regeneration?

Who else but "We, the People..."



- principle formulation, rediscovering the Grandfathers -


Our system of government was founded upon the recognition that not only political power, but more crucially, political legitimacy flows from the People. We may even go further, and recognize that political and social health also can only flow from the People. The elites of themselves cannot provide it, however enlightened or unenlightened they may be.

Perhaps it will help to consider the following: Is there any reason for believing that the American democratic experiment has reached its high point? On the contrary, might it not be quite possible that the current state of affairs is only one stage of something which has yet much unrealized further potential? Is it not possible that America is yet young, and that as we mature as a People, it is the structure and character of this development-to-be that will stamp and form the next phase of civilization?

With the transition from the old to the new worlds, we mark the end of Western Civilization and the beginning of what the future may well call the American Civilization. Already English, in particular American idiomatic English, has become the international language; what some call the language of money. Television, film, rock and roll, blue jeans - the list is endless of those aspects of new world culture which are being imitated and adopted everywhere as the information age dissolves the barriers of time and geography that once separated individual cultures.

This idea is disturbing only if we focus on the present, and assume that the raw nature of our youth is all that we will have to give to the world. But just as we have noted the dying away of the old, we have to expect the birth of the new. It is not what America is now that is crucial. No. It is what America is to become.

This is the hope and the danger. The question is: what qualities yet hidden in the American Character are to emerge in the future? Will there be balance between the light and the dark? We cannot, as far as I know, overbalance in the direction of the light, but we can slide too far into the shadow. Will our citizenry remain asleep, unconscious and immobile? Will the excesses of concentrated wealth and materialism - that is real evil - become the formative core of a new civilization? The dangers and the risks are immense. The habits of the past are a great weight. Yet, it is just these facts which make for so much hope, because it is the risk and the potential loss that reveal the true, but latent, promise. We are still in the infancy of the American Dream - the child is not the mature adult.



- second and third themes in harmony -


This last idea is inadequately presented if we do not make it more concrete. Our first question will be: along what lines lies the potential for the further development of American democracy?

In answering this question, we should begin by recalling that the American form of government emerged from a situation of crisis. While our democracy (in fact republic, but that truth has been lost over the years of superficial political rhetoric) was created in the shape of a grand idea, its origin in the realm of human motive was in response to an overreaching of the English aristocracy. First came the necessity - the continuously increasing tyrannical acts of the English King; then came the idea - the how to form a government for a truly free people.

Unfortunately, this act could not be completed. Our founders were able to accomplish much; but while they could devise a means to be free of hereditary aristocracy, they could not protect us from the eventual overreaching of the successor aristocracy - the merchant princes. John Adams wrote then: "We are free today substantially, but the day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility. It will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few."

We live today in that time anticipated by Adams. We suffer the tyranny of concentrated wealth (are not our major symptoms economic -homelessness, joblessness, excessive taxes, inadequate health care?). The difference between the overreaching of the hereditary aristocracy of political power (the King) and the overreaching of the aristocracy of concentrated wealth is the difference between a direct and obvious tyranny and one that is indirect and hidden. We can see the advantages and privileges that accrue to concentrated wealth, but cannot see the means by which they have enslaved us.

Obviously, if the few have more, the many will have less. What is not understood is how the political power, that has resided in the hands of concentrated wealth for many years, has been able to form the economic order so that all advantage in economic affairs resides with those who already have. The U.S. Constitution forbids a tax on income, but we have come to have one (it required a constitutional amendment). Central Banking (the Federal Reserve System) permits the creation of wealth out of nothing, wealth which immediately then belongs to those who already have. The change from a silver or gold standard to purely paper money, backed by nothing, enhances this power many times over. All this has been accomplished consciously by the hand of concentrated wealth, for their own advantage, and through means which kept the real consequences from being understood.

The result is an economic system which claims for itself the mantle of free enterprise, but which in fact is just the opposite. This system produces an ever increasing underclass, which is forced to live on the garbage and debris of a society unable to understand the causes of such suffering. This system produces a middle class that lives from paycheck to paycheck, a delicate situation which can easily fall apart sending another family tumbling into the abyss of poverty and dependence. This system sustains a culture addicted to drugs, shopping, and political apathy. An invisible dragon sits astride a hoard of American material wealth, consciously weaving illusions about the real nature of our political and economic existence through its control of media and information.

Is there a way out?

As long as government is just reacting to various crises, then it is creating nothing. There is a grave difference between merely being able to retard the onset of chaos, and actively and intentionally founding a new civilization. And, in America, where is the root power of government? In the People.

Do we merely react? Are we just against, but never for? The chronic civic sleep of the ordinary citizen will be broken in either of two ways. One is that things become so painful, ignoring them becomes impossible. The other involves a self-generated effort. Obviously the latter is preferable. What I have come to believe is the major inhibitor, of such a self generated effort, is the absence of a common understanding, a common idea of what is really wrong and what can in fact be done, successfully, to bring health and renewal. We have the will, but we lack the common vision, and we look (out of understandable habit) to the political leaders, not realizing that the fall of civilization has incapacitated them.

Here then we have the seed thoughts for perceiving certain necessary transformative turning points.

As Western civilization was beginning to end, American democracy was born; an experiment which succeeded in setting limits to hereditary aristocracies, but which failed to protect us from the overreaching of concentrated wealth. Thus, we have before us the task demanded by the time, and which will involve the further evolution of the American experiment. We must find the means to set limits on concentrated wealth and unrestrained self interest, while not diminishing our freedoms, but in fact enhancing them.

Moreover, we must realize that these goals can only be accomplished by another further evolution, one which involves a much more conscious application of the fundamental principles of a way of governing which finds its power and legitimacy in the people themselves. The truth is that our power as a people lies not in the vote itself, but in the creation of that very thing we have been falsely yearning to find in a political leader: the articulation of a vision. We must ourselves, as a common act, create that vision. We will find our goal, not in the end result, but in the means. In the act of reaching for a community ideal, a common vision, we take hold of the fundamental powers of government, because we ourselves determine the answers to the questions: what does it mean to govern? Does government have any responsibility toward the inner life of the people?

We are that government ourselves. We are only truly self-governed when we are engaged in a dialog with each other - in the act of defining ourselves and our ideals. This is the crucible for the forging of a new civilization. Everything depends upon our learning to move out of the passivity of our individuality, and into the painful but necessary dialogs of a community. We must become whole and find that for which we will stand together, or we will not be able to overcome the excesses of the age.

But we are many: individuals, races, cultures. How do we find the whole?

As a youth, I was given the image of the melting pot. The confluence of the different races and national identities would disappear into some kind of intermingling of blood and culture. While this does appear to have happened with many of the European immigrants to America, it is clearly not so as regards the more stark differences of skin color and religion. Lately, I have heard more and more of the image of the mosaic. That America will find a way for the differences to abide with each other, in peace and mutual cooperation, resulting in some kind of marvelous, ethnically varied, work of art.

There is something here worthy of a deeper appreciation. The genius of history has set before the America-yet-to-be an extraordinary challenge. Regardless of the morality of the means, the fact is that history has moved so as to bring to our shores all the great variety of peoples from all over the world. No other nation has before it the vital necessity of finding a means for such differing peoples to live with each other.

Students of the patterns in individual biography are aware that character is most often formed by the overcoming of adversity. This is one of the mysteries of life; that our higher qualities find their formative impulse in difficulties and trials. This is no less true for nations.

If we step back from our racial troubles, and take a more objective long view, we ought to be able to see that there is to be no easy way to racial, ethnic or religious tolerance and cooperation. It has been, is, and will be a hard and stony path. Only through pain and failure and unceasing struggle will we find the answers. But just here we discover something quite remarkable.

The genius of history has writ it large and bright. It is the destiny of America to be the People of Peoples. "...and crown thy good with brotherhood..." No other People has received such a task. And, I believe, we will find that no other People has been gifted in its natural endowments with just those capacities needed to meet such a challenge.

The American Character ought not to be considered a fixed thing, something already determined. We have too much yet to experience. We are not old like the cultures of the East, much less the European cultures. In truth we do not lack culture, we merely haven't got around to creating its full flowering.

Nor are the roots of this embryonic Character to be found in the old world. Careful observation of the cultural dynamics of America will reveal that culture is destroyed here. Just as civilization must go through dying and becoming, so it is that the social chaos of our age has the effect of washing out of those who immigrate to our shores their past cultural heritage. The imported cultures must die before the indigenous one can be born.

Now this is not something best done overtly, such as by passing laws against the speaking of languages other than English. Such activity misses the whole point. What dies away dies because it is abandoned. It is only for the immigrant to decide what of the past to let go of and what to preserve. In this way a very wise pruning occurs. Each immigrating people then brings to our shores gifts of inestimable value.

In those cases where some overzealous individuals made the effort to forcefully wash away these gifts, great tragedy has resulted. It is a goodness that peoples of African origin are seeking to rediscover what was stolen. It is a goodness that so-called native Americans seek to renew what was misunderstood and unappreciated. What America is to become as the People of Peoples is to be enriched by all these gifts.

We cannot find the true American cultural past in Europe, it has been washed out along with much else that was brought to these shores from other dying civilizations. Does this mean there is no cultural precedent to the American Character?

Oddly enough, there exists a relationship between our general characteristics as Americans and the general characteristics of this land's original peoples. A wise and patient investigation of the American Character will reveal that many of its central qualities are the mirror images of the "Indian". I was aided in coming to this conclusion by an obscure pamphlet I encountered, called: American Indians and our way of life, by Sylvester M. Morey, published by the Myrin Institute of Garden City, New York.

Mr. Morey writes: that, that aspect of the American Character, which once having an idea is impatient to act upon it, has more kinship with the Indian, than with the European; that the European came here looking for individual freedom, only later aspiring toward a democratic government -democracy being an essential of Indian cultures (not so much as an idea, but more as the actual way of practice); that the kind of competition carried on in business and exemplified by team sports has its origin in the American Indian, there are no European roots to team sports; that our natural generosity is not an European trait, but one found solely among the Indian in the many traditions of the Give-away; that the many struggles for freedom of women has arisen stronger in America than in Europe, mirroring in its goal what was already achieved for women in many Indian societies; and that the impulse to form confederations owes its inspiration to the Indian.

Morely ends his dissertation with the following, from a speech given by Iroquois chief, Canassatego, on July 4th, 1744, at a meeting between many colonists and Iroguois: "We have one thing further to say, and that is We heartily recommend Union and a Good Agreement between you our brethren. Never disagree, but preserve a strict friendship for one another, and thereby you as well as we will become the stronger. Our wise Forefathers established union and Amity between the Five Nations; this has made us formidable. This has given us great weight and Authority with our Neighboring Nations. We are a Powerful confederacy, and by your observing the same Methods our wise Forefathers have taken, you will acquire fresh Strength and Power; therefore, whatever befalls you, never fall out with one another."

We are far from having achieved what was truly meant here. In our cultural youthfulness we compete excessively, especially economically. Our system of justice is again excessively adversarial. The races make war, as do the religions.

This is a core element of our weaknesses, before not only other nations and cultures, before not only the lower impulses of our natures, but most especially before the overreaching of concentrated wealth - the principal antagonist of human freedom in our time. The stakes could not be higher. For what is resolved just here, within American society, will be the model for the whole next phase of civilization.

And, finally, the resolution of this, the essential crisis of the time, will not be found in either the realm of economics, or even politics. But rather in the realm of community and individual conscience - in the realm of the human spirit.

The wise social understanding of the American Indian, while remaining the root mirror of the potential form of an American Civilization, was in its origin and application essentially instinctive and semi-conscious. Consistent with the living laws of social dynamics, it had to pass away so that it could then be rediscovered as the answering idea to the social chaos of this time, while nevertheless requiring a fully conscious implementation. We must wake up to the crisis and choose the way out, as a whole people. If we leave it to mere chance the forces of evil hidden in concentrated wealth will lead to a civilization which will be an abomination not to be contemplated.

Yet, if we look beyond the front page and the sound bite, we will find that just such a will exists in the most ordinary people. The candidacy of Ross Perot in 1992, such as it was, showed how quickly our people were willing to come together from many classes and races in order to do something about the many desperate problems we all share. The fire of will exists, as does the idea. But the idea has not yet been perceived by this will. It is complex and multifaceted and we are not finished yet in our contemplation of it.

There yet remain two core problems. How, in a practical sense, do we foster the necessary dialogue among the various ethnic, religious, and racial factions which make up the People of Peoples? And, by what means do we set the necessary limits to the overreaching of concentrated wealth?

It has been a central theme of this text that social dynamics are organic in nature. The future is not unrelated to the past, although the transformations may involve a turning inside out. Consider the following...

Original participation consciousness was a group consciousness. Thus, for example, the democracy and cooperation of the Indian was in large part possible because the individual instinctively gave over to the group a certain authority. Behavior - morals - were guided from outside the individual. We are now passing through the elimination of that way of social being, throughout the whole of Western Civilization, and, perhaps as well, the whole world (although not at the same time or rate of change). Instinctive community has/is passing away, and the individual is now on his own.

Whatever community we are to have in the future must come from the will forces of the individual, and these can only have as their moral nature that which results from the interaction between the individual and his own free conscience. What we have called the onlooker separation has an anti-community consequence and represents something that can only be overcome in its individual and social effects, through the conscious activity of the individual. A new kind and form of community participation must arise, one flowing from the free deeds of the individual, rather than the dying-away traditional standards of the older social order.

We cannot overestimate how difficult this will be. Just consider the many apartment buildings in America, which are, physically, natural communities, but which remain, socially, the last illusory refuges of individuals who hardly know each other at all. Do we take the poor, the ill, the old into our sanctuaries of individualism? No, we do not. We abandon them to institutions or to the streets. Is this morally wrong? Yes and no. In truth I believe many feel the pain and are not unwilling to offer comfort, warmth, food and companionship. But, something is still missing. As individuals we have yet to give birth to that within our natures which has the capacity to carry out such acts of grace. Something needs to happen inside us, first, or at least at the same time as we struggle to create new forms of human community.

When there was a vital community standard, one knew what to do, and what to do fitted in socially with the whole. But today, there is no standard. We are alone (almost) if we wish to act. And, alone we cannot carry that which needs to be carried. However, what is a burden to an individual can be a joy to many hands and hearts. "...united we stand, divided we fall..."

There is a necessary first step. The ultimate journey is long, and its goal may never be reached, but peace with our own conscience depends upon striving, upon the reaching for that which exceeds our grasp. In a redeemed politics and social existence (for these are inseparable), we must first learn to talk to each other. The cliche', which says never to discuss politics or religion, has lost its meaning. These passion-arousing realities can no longer be buried under the pretense of the mask - the false face we present to the social world. Just as there is a social dying and becoming active in our time, so is there the need for an individual psychological death and resurrection. There is no community becoming without an individual one as well.

Only the individual can step outside of himself, and make the necessary sacrifice of psychological comfort for the anxiety of genuine social interaction. Social and political health require that we begin to talk to each other about the ultimate questions of how it may be that vital communities can be born and nurtured to maturity. The individual, alone, cannot find his way outside of new enfolding social structures. Alone we only become inwardly onesided, excessive, crippled and lame.

First we must risk something, first we must admit chaos into our own inwardness before the new can arise. Psychological safety is psychological immobility.

Yet, this brave step can be made with greater emotional security than we might imagine, when it is done with others. We step out of ourselves, we set aside the mask, together. This again is a special trait of the American Character; for where else is there so much ferment of this type, so much group work, whether 12-Step or otherwise?

In a sense, we might see the developments in the various 12-Step groups, in the stronger religious communities, in the various spiritual and political developments from the Sixties, as a preparation, as the necessary practice needed for a new kind of social/political dialogue. All of these need to go now one step further.

A very wise man, whose work I have studied quite seriously, by the name of Valentin Tomberg, once wrote a small pamphlet about the life of spiritually striving groups: The Philosophy of Taking Counsel Together. In it was discussed the practical psychological problems of having a dialog among individuals that is able to achieve the desired community without a sacrifice of individual freedom. This is no simple accomplishment.

We have to keep in mind that we live a way of life formed by some very unfortunate consequences of a profound change in human nature. As a result, the invisible tyrannies of the economic order determine in very tragic ways the time structures of how we live day to day, and have, under the influence of the onlooker separation, accelerated enormously the rhythms of existence. We live too fast. We have had stolen from us that time we need for the contemplation of the meaning of our lives, for the consideration of the wise ordering of human existence. There are many things we would not do, and many other things we would do, were we to have the time to take counsel together.

The invisible dragon, hidden in the raging passions of unrestrained greed and materialism, must be made visible. We must have knowledge of the underlying themes of modern existence, common-communal knowledge and understanding. Moreover, this must be knowledge which is born of a community process. We need to seek it together. We need to ask ourselves: What does it mean to govern; and what is the relationship between government and the inner life of the people?

I think, as well, that it will not be necessary for all our people (in the beginning) to undertake such a task. Were only a serious small portion, perhaps less than a tenth of the eligible electorate, begin to meet and have this kind of dialogue with each other; this would have the effect of changing the whole political conversation. In the communal contemplation of what it means to be a free people in the age of technology and information, the ideal element of our way of life will be raised out of the fog of myth and cliche;. The cold and lifeless illusions of America as the number one world power will be dispelled, and a warmth and light giving dawn will occur.

I expect that such a dialog will encounter one major difficulty. There will be a desire for information and a related wish for privacy of communication. This means that such a process will bring to a head the need for a bill of information rights, a need which has been hidden just beneath the surface of events form some time now. A change in our fundamental laws will be required in order to compel an overreaching concentrated wealth to expose its web of lies, and at the same time prevent this same overreaching from further tyranny through the amassing of excessive information about the individual.

Any attempt at a real and practical dialogue can be choked to death by the withholding of information and by the use of information for the intimidation of the participants. Make no mistake. Things will be taken to the edge, and violence used. Too much is at risk.

Thus, we need in this "bill of information rights" to make a second declaration of independence - independence from the tyranny of concentrated wealth - making clear that both natural justice and reason grant to the People a right to know about that which orders and effects their lives, and a right to an inviolate personal sphere of privacy.

Then, if we can arrive on the other side of this rite of passage, if we can mature the dialog and protect its further evolution, the task of mastery of the temptations of concentrated wealth can be faced. Here again the resolution is both a simple transformation of the past, and was, as well, prefigured in that same past.

The American Experiment inherited the common law of England as regards the significance of private property. This law was largely formed by the impulses connected to the hereditary aristocracies. They mostly formed laws with themselves as the central beneficiaries. It was on this foundation that concentrated wealth has been able to achieve its (hopefully) temporary dominance of our way of life.

As the dialog matures, as we reach further into inquires seeking the fundamentals of a wise social existence, it will be necessary to call into question the future utility, for the whole people, of the idea of private property. We have the advantage, at this time, of being able to review the mistakes made by the various communistic and socialistic attempts to resolve this dilemma, as they stand before us now in the contemporary social experiments of other nations. Many, who have lived under the overt and covert tyranny of these systems, now live here. Their accumulated wisdom will be of much use in the evolution of our considerations.

Just here a marvelous mystery confronts us. For in the unappreciated wisdom of the original peoples of America can be found the seed of the resolving idea of the troublesome nature of private property. The "Indian", in the manifestations of his highest cultural achievements, did not own either the Earth of other material wealth. Rather, the relationship between the human being and the objects which were necessary for life, was as a steward. One did not own, one took care of; and not just for the self, but for all succeeding generations.

We seek to enact then, laws which neither preserve private property, or state-owned property. In such a system of laws, property is not owned at all. The whole way of thinking has as its objective the enhancement and preservation of material wealth for the benefit not just of the whole people, but for all those yet to be born. Such an approach then takes as its guiding principle not the core of our lower nature, self interest, but the essence of our higher nature, love of the other.

We erect then a civilization based upon a appreciation of the need to set limits upon the excesses of self interest, and open doors for the unfolding of our highest aspirations. Nor need we think of this as an impractical and impossible goal, merely because many will claim it to be so and will work mightily to prevent it. There is nothing here which ignores that human beings will often fail to unfold their higher natures. All we really do is to recognize that the purpose of laws in a civilization is to set some standards whose violation the community will not tolerate, and as well to make possible those developments of human nature which are yet to occur.

Again, at this crossing point the only necessary act is to undertake a dialogue which embraces these questions. It is by taking up the means of remaking civilization that we take the first step. And, as in all first steps it will be the hardest. Overcoming our natural tendencies to rest content in our individuality and to instead give over psychological forces, forces of soul and spirit, to the formation of community, is the only path on which we can raise up a new civilization amidst the chaos and debris of the older social order.

First we need to talk about it. If we can do this, everything else will follow as a natural course.

As a practical matter we need two levels of dialog. One is with our neighbors, face to face. This is the hardest act of all. The boundaries that have arisen with the formation of the cocoon of our alienation are formidable. We experience pain and vulnerability in the crossing of them. But the caterpillar of our individuality has latent within it a real butterfly. How are we to know who we might become if shed the protective covering?

Likewise with our communities. A great deal is latent, waiting only for us to take the first steps of an encounter with each other. Once we set limits to our own self interest, once we make a new social order in our immediate relations, then community will naturally arise. It is our nature to be social. The only difference between the dead past and the embryonic future is that we must consciously choose the social forms, make of them what we will out of our own free moral deeds.

As this happens a further evolution will arise. The face-to-face communities will want and need to reach beyond themselves, to form a Community of Communities. The emerging technology of interactive computers offers a special aid here, if we but tame its potential for enslaving us, rather then being our servant. Perot's electronic town hall is an intuitive reach for this latent possibility, but makes the mistake of wanting to impose this as an institution, from the outside.

Whatever use is made of the potential for an electronic commons must come from those impulses first nurtured in the face to face communities. The computer must not impose its sterile nature in between face to face human contact. Why is this?

Without expressly making it conscious, I have been all along working with that which was mentioned at the very beginning of this essay: The potential hidden in the word, hidden both in the use of language itself, and in the inner core of the human being as well. What else is the dialogue - the taking counsel together, we have been contemplating - but an awakened and fully conscious bringing of individual conscience to play in the use of the word for the development of a new sense of community.

But this taking counsel together cannot be done via an electronic medium, because the machine reduces (presses out) the human element which can only be communicated by tone of voice and gesture. The bare written word cannot carry the whole of the intended meaning, nor really represent who we are as individuals. And it is the meeting of individuals face-to face that is the central act of community building.

We must take counsel together which only really happens in the face-to-face dialogue, where individuals meet, confront and moderate the cultural, racial and ethnic differences. And what glorious differences, whose potential to enrich the unfolding of the America-yet-to-be can hardly be imagined. In support of this , we must use the word in all the ways, and more, that Dag Hammarskjold wrote so eloquently about. We must infuse our dialogue not just with truth, but with goodness and beauty as well. Or rather, we must aspire to do so, to reach for such as this, if we want to build something new out of the social chaos of the time.

For here we engage a special mystery. Latent in the word is not only the sole means for the making of the true American Dream, the making of a People of Peoples ("...and crown thy good with brotherhood..."), but for this process to also evoke the formation of a new civilization, a new Community of Communities, a transformation and evolution of the whole idea and incarnate reality of the political and economic State.

This is a staggering possibility. And who else but the American People, with all their rich diversity, is capable of leading this transformation. We need be neither number one politically, economically, or militarily. We are instead faced with a truly humbling task. We will not accomplish this by a self-inflation of our idea of who we are as a People, but rather by a sober and disciplined self examination of what history requires of us as we search for our maturity.

With this last, we encounter a final realization. True self government is not just a form or kind of order in the organization of the State, but is rather a psychological-spiritual act. We must govern our-selves. We must learn to exercise the free conscience which evolution grants to us in this time. For of what good or use are our freedoms unless they realize themselves in the striving for the highest to which we may aspire.

As individuals we then strive to master our own inner nature, a mastery formerly coerced by the outside community standard - by expectations. This striving for self-mastery is the only healthy foundation for a system of self government, because only such a personal struggle grants the individual that necessary practical understanding of human nature - of the other - required on the path to the birth of a living new civilization.



- finale -


Latent in all that has gone before has been an understanding of the correlation between individual and community development - a mutual interactive and interrelated dying and becoming. I would now like to express this relationship in its deepest form. The reader is cautioned not to make too much of the Christian element, or too little. The Song of the Grandfathers is enriched by all sources of true wisdom.


the State as a reflection of the psychological (inner) environment of the individual and the individual as a reflection of the ideal environment of the State


the wisdom hidden in the saying of Christ Jesus:"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are Gods." (Matthew 22:21)


These words were the response of Christ Jesus when the Pharisees tried to trick Him with the question of whether the Jews should pay taxes to the Roman Emperor. While this could be narrowly interpreted as just meaning that money, being a thing of Caesar already, should be given to Caesar, my personal experience is that long and thoughtful consideration of the teachings of Christ Jesus will always be rewarded with depths of understanding that cannot be discovered in any other way.

As to this particular saying, I had thought of it off and on for many years, as I continued to struggle for the right understanding of man's political existence. Just like the scientist, who after years of living with a particular riddle finds himself suddenly filled with the answer to his question, so it was only after a long preparation that it finally dawned on me what wisdom lay hidden in this simple statement.

The State (that is any type of government) has no existence but what the humans, who conceive it and act it out, make it to be. Unlike sense-perceptible objects, the State is a social form entirely, built up out of man's ideation and deeds. This principle remains the same, even though in many instances (e.g. fascism or communism) a limited number of the individuals or groups are able to form the State according to their particular individual vision and actions. The State lives (has its only being) in the minds and wills of its members.

This is a rather complicated relation involving both individual and group action. We normally put the question: What ought the State to be? Thus we have the various theories of government from Plato and Aristotle to Machivelli and More to Nozick and Rawls. The thinking which asks the question - what ought the State to be? - occasionally makes a contribution to the ideas a People hold of the nature of their government, but I am trying here to direct our attention not to our theory of government, but to the actual conceptions held by a People of what their particular State is, and how that is then reflected in the actual nature (being) of the State in fact.

These conceptions vary from person to person, and as well, change over the course of any individual life. Nor are these ideas likely to be the result of any particular political philosophic effort, but rather will tend to be the consequences of a combination of schooling, the types of groups one has associated with, and the practical experience of government acquired in the course of one's life. Thus will arise an odd mixture of cliche, prejudice and truth.

That we have names and words for these ideas (such as liberal, conservative, rightist, leftist, democrat, republican, freedom, capitalist, communism, and so forth) is also not related to the point I am trying to make. Especially today, when so few have really given any thought at all to these matters, most of us use such words with so little precision that we very often use the same word to mean quite different things, in spite of perhaps belongin to the same political party and espousing the same positions.

Nevertheless, each individual citizen will hold some idea of the State, and will act according to this idea. Some will believe in freedom, but not for certain other classes of citizens. Some will believe in law abiding-ness, but at the same time cheat on their taxes. Some will form groups to demand that laws follow their ideas of what is right. Some will court such group's favor in order to get elected, only to do something else later. Some will do nothing, convinced that government is an oppressor, best to be avoided, and certainly not relevant to the real problems of life: getting a job, raising a family, struggling in a difficult relationship, and so forth. Some will be completely lawless, believing only in their own code, or desires, acting on impulse and taking whatever they want.

Wherever a single human being stands, having some kind of idea of the State and acting out some kind of behavior in which this idea is more or less central or irrelevant, in this place the State in miniature exists. Finally then, out of the totality of these miniature States, comes into being the State as a whole, a mixture of an enormous variety of ideas and deeds, acting in a complex arrangement as the various collective associations dance together in their struggle to dominate.

The point of this is to recognize that the being of the State is created by these ideas and deeds, by what is "rendered" it by its People.

Now because certain common themes will live in the ideals and deeds of a particular People, each characteristic People has an individual historic and characteristic State. America, for example, has a kind of State which is given dominate thematic character by the ideas embodied in the Consitution, and the experiences which are derived from the land. Because we all live in the same land and because we are to a somewhat similar degree educated in the ideas of the Constitution, there tends to be a kind of order and consistency in the nature of the State throughout our history.

At the core of this process, which is a kind of psychological process, lies that element of our inner life - in our soul life - which might be called: our feeling for what is right. This feeling for what is right exists in all Peoples, but varies in its content somewhat from People to People, and time to time. We should be noticing today, for example, that in Eastern Europe, as the domination of the Marxist-Leninist "rendering" of the idea of the State recedes, that what these Peoples make most important will not be the same as what we would conceive as most significant. In fact, if we observe closely enough we will see an effort to accept the democratic ideal, but reject the materialsm, and the consumerism. While there are depths here we cannot in this place go into, the point must be understood that what a People "render" the State reflects certain cultural and ethnic characteristics of no little importance

The principle that the State is what it is through what is "rendered" it, has been known instinctively to our wiser political leaders. Our constitution begins: "We the People...". Lincoln said: "...a nation of the People, by the People, and for the People...". And Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

While this may all seem too simple, it is not, and really understanding it will make other things much clearer. For example, we have in recent years been more interested in this country in our rights as individuals, without any thought to there being any correlative duties. We don't like conscription (the draft), paying taxes, thinking much at all about government unless we can get something from it, or it is taking something from us. Yet, the two go hand in hand. There are no rights without duties. There is no State from which to receive rights without someone having "rendered" it certain duties. A great deal we take for granted was first won by blood.

When we lament today the sorry condition of our political life we need to reflect that its initial being was created out of the passionate deeds of our ancestors, whose sacrifice left behind a kind of political wealth upon which we lived until, as today, we begin to exhaust it by taking without giving (all rights and no duties). The sorry condition of our modern political life is due to the gradual depletion of its being through the absence of sufficient "rendering" to keep it vital and alive.

This being has a quite definite qualitative nature; that is, it is not so much what it is because so many people give it so many hours, or years (quantities of time), but because of the ideal and moral element of what they "render". It is the higher or lower qualities of our human nature which become aspects of the being of the State. When a voter votes only his prejudices, not having troubled himself to really understand the needs of the whole People, and when the politician encourages through advertising and speeches the People's expression of their baser instincts, then the being of the State can only reflect such qualities. When the corporations and unions lobby only so that their self interest is gratified, then the being of the State reveals no higher qualities. Did the rich get richer and the poor get poorer under recent administrations? Without a doubt, but what else did the most powerful elites "render"? The phrase of the computer programmers is quite apt: "garbage in, garbage out".

This brings us, of course, to the other pole of Christ Jesus' saying, because the crux of the problem is the need for the State to receive something from the higher elements of our nature. What then does it mean to "render unto God" and how do the two statements relate to each other as a whole?

While the being of the State can be seen to be dependent in its nature for what is "rendered" it, this cannot be said to be true of the being of God. It is not the being of God which becomes what is rendered it, but the being of man. The human being who "renders unto God the things that are Gods" is himself transformed by the act of devotion. Those who would doubt such a proposition simply have to look closely at history. The Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, these and many more political figures, whose stature and importance to the being of our Government is unquestionable, have been able to contribute what they have in large part because of the moral nature of their character. Just as the State becomes what is rendered it. so we humans become according to whether we act so as to unfold our individual higher nature.

No one doubts today the validity of making an effort to maintain, care for and develop the physical body. Yet, the development of virtue is as much ignored as physical well being is advocated. No amount of physical fitness, however, will change the character of what is rendered the State. Only moral development, only transformation of the soul and spiritual nature of the human being can enhance the qualitative characteristics of what is rendered the State.

The statement we have been examining, the wisdom out of the Gospels of Christ Jesus, has two meanings, dependent upon which principle we emphasize. These meanings are not contradictory, but rather are complimentary. One: The State is what it is out of what is rendered it in their ideation and their deeds by its People...and...the qualitative nature of what is rendered, is higher or lower according to the development of virture as that has proceeded in the individual. Simultaneously (Two): Only through devotion to God does the human being develop in himself those characteristics which flow from such an act...and...as a devote of God, one needs to recognize one yet remains a member of a society, which will only have as necessary characteristics what one gives to it.

As a last point we must again notice that Christ Jesus says to render unto Caesar and unto God. Man must direct his activity both toward heaven and toward earth, in order to unfold his essential being, his "I"ness. Both the State and man need to become. It is a reciprocal relationship. If the State does not become, then man's potential development is limited. If man does not become then his capacity to render unto the State, and the being of the State, is likewise limited.

Now there is a difference, subtle and not insignificant, whether or not one approaches self development through devotion to God. At the same time freedom of conscience is especially important here. One must choose for oneself both whether to pursue self development, and the manner and nature of that pursuit. The future evolution of the individual and of society will take its dominant characteristics from that choice.

Just here, however, a few practical words must be said about what a free conscience really is. It is not license to do what ever we choose. The human conscience is not unlike a sense organ, only in this case instead of perceiving the outer world, conscience is the awareness of an inner moral world. What we experience as the quiet pricks of conscience, the still small voice, are the expressions of the higher human nature in our ordinary discursive inner dialogue. This organ of moral understanding can only develop if exercised. If it is not developed, we enter then upon a path away from the human, and toward the mere animal, driven by raw desires and appetites. Even so, no one but ourselves may judge whether we act out of conscience or not.



- a last, lingering, note -


What then do we seek? Do we want a civilization dominated by self interest, and driven by fear of the other? Do we want an America known for its materialism and is racism? Will we leave to the power seeking politician the determination of the content of the political dialogue? Or will we really be free? Not just free to buy and sell, but free, as well, to become? For there is no true self government, in a political sense, if there is not an equal proportion of self governing by the individual, of himself, in a moral sense.

Fundamentally, just like an individual, our real measure as a People will not be seen in what we have achieved, but rather in that ideal for which we have reached, and whose character only we ourselves may legitimately judge.

And then, finally, we will in this way truly become: "...a government of the People, by the People, and for the People..."

This then is the "Song of the Grandfathers", heard in the dialogs, in the seeking for wisdom, in the inner listening, in the quite voice of conscience...


We dream America

We sing Her shadow and Her light

We dream America

And America dreams us.




the Rape of the Republic

(best read aloud)

It began in the womb for she was magnificent even then

a star brought to earth to shine brightly into human hearts

but there were those who could not bear this light

and had their own darker visions

so that even before She was born our Republic

she was plundered, scarred, violated,

such that what was born

was born lamed, not whole, but only a part of the original magnificence

Yet, She lived and began her work of holding dear

on the earth that version that could be seen

of truth, goodness and beauty in answer to the question:

How shall human beings govern themselves?

before Her birth there were Kings and Queens, tyrants mostly

abusers of human dignity despisers of freedom

But human beings could not any longer tolerate the disdain of aristocrats

and so through bloody revolution deposed the arrogant and powerful

or so it seemed for a time

great words poured forth from equally great minds

who held in their hearts (at least most of them)

Her truth our Republic

at conception these were the words in which She first was seen and felt

self evident truths, unalienable rights, just powers, consent of the governed

the tyranny of blood and inheritance was pushed away

and human beings stood up and declared their inviolate divinity

such power, such light what could stand in the way

of such goodness and beauty that holds each individual human

divine by self evident truths unalienable rights

and declares that the only just powers

come from the consent of the governed

but even there the rape began, just a little pinch or two

in places sacred in ideas sublime

a minor argument about just what unalienable rights

would be enumerated and while the ideal won

namely: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

another darker idea had been urged, and thought by some

to be important a right to property.

so even though the words were clear and property not mentioned when

our ancestors declared our truth in certain hearts this darkness lived,

festered and grew.

so that when the birth came out of minds holding to this ancient darkness,

the Republic was born lamed

and our true divinity not able to fully appear

for property was there in that Constitution

how else could it be, given that most of those who

wrote down the words had property themselves

and owed to others , who likewise owned property, allegiance

so She was given a fated body lamed in nature, bound in spirit

and the truth of the Republic its cosmic star-like presence

was not able to fully shine forth in our lives

why was property a flaw some will ask

and the answer is simple for if we are, in the Republic,

declaiming rights unalienable for all then property as an idea

means exclusion some will have and others will not

or property has no meaning

thus it came to be this lamed and scarred Republic

laid open now to exclusive rights of property

that only some would have when the very idea of the Republic

was rights for all

What had in the declaration been just a thought held back

was now embodied, fixed defined

so the Republic grew, and open now to exclusive rights the power

of property and money grew, and a new aristocracy of wealth

replaced the one of blood and being more clever

than kings and queens who flaunted their powers

the rich ones hid and from behind the scenes acquired their rule

and thus we find ourselves in this time and place

looking upon a raped and bloody Dame our Republic,

held in chains, blindfolded unable to move anymore

unless in whipped obedience to Party hacks and their owners

so we suffer, not quite knowing what went wrong

only seeing that when unalienable rights include the right of exclusive

property our Republic cannot work,

and so we too become owned wage slaves

creating the wealth but not owning the wealth

not even really owning ourselves for even our education makes of

us good workers and consumers servants at the table at which wealth eats

while we have scraps and sleep with dogs

invisible our chains, for wealth is clever beyond our senses

and has by granting credit chained us with debt

binding us to jobs and work while it sits calmly

engorged on a feast we are forced to provide

but clever is not wise and even wealth and property can error

and error they have, slothful in their sated repose

they took and took and took too much,

so that now we notice what has been done

although we still are not quite yet ready to see the full truth

and see Her chained there raped and beaten our Republic.

She waits for us, for She is something we drew down

from heaven, and heaven is a part of Her

She waits for us to wake and see

to wake and see to wake and see Her bloodied form

and see the hidden light within

for waiting She has been because not all those who wrote

Her words not all those who were forced to give

way to property and exclusion failed to leave a path

a hidden yet obvious path for just our time

when wake we must and see Her, see Her truly

See She still has power still has magic still can be whole

If we just honor Her and see Her and set Her free.

Beaten, raped She still is divine and still wants to serve us

if we can but learn to know Her in those most intimate ways

as did those who first wrote Her words.

For the wisest ones, our Founders, first speakers of Her words

kept Her true nature intact, for Her words begin and end

with that which saves the day

We the People rings out the words, do ordain and establish sings the chorus

We the People do ordain and establish

and there it is, what property couldn't hide forever,

that the Republic is what WE say it is, not what they say it is.

Oh they tried.  They tired to bind us to their lamed and broken version,

but their ambition and greed has undone them

they have gone too far taken too much and

now they wake us up and we see Her

clearly not the lamed and broken Dame,

the chained and raped Woman our dear Republic,

but we see Her true, as she was meant to be

and we also see that She has kept faith with us, while we slept

for the very words with which Her broken form

began...we the people do ordain and establish

and the words with which She ended in that lamed version with

powers not delegated are reserved to the people.

that raped form those who loved their exclusive rights of

property gave to us, still was true, for property was held in between our powers of ordination and establishment

and that which is not delegated we retain.

Government still only has that which we consent for it to have

and if we choose to take from our legal framework that

diseased exclusive right of property, then we are free to do so,

and nothing nothing can stop us.

So we can unchain Her unbind Her

heal Her and so unchained, unbound and healed,

She will give us all, as it was meant to be when first She fell to earth.

in words written in blood and carved from the stone of wisdom

She fell and wants to fall again,

if we but wake up and see Her chained there

waiting for us to make new words

words unbloodied this time we hope words free of exclusive rights

words now truly self evident unalienable rooted in the

power of our consent

so She calls to us give me a new body now

free of chains and violation free of exclusive rights free of rights not for all

so She calls to us seeking our new words

carved from a new stone of wisdom a living stone

a philosophic stone a heart stone.

so She calls, softly in a near whisper... now... now... now


Basic Conceptions:

- fundamentals of a new social view -

It is possible to see the social world as a living organism.   But to do this requires of our capacity of thinking that it overcome not only a certain amount of inertia, but also that we let go of - that we sacrifice - most of our  previously held conceptions.    The mental past that we carry around with us can too frequently be like a dark cloud, masking the reality.  Yet this same dark cloud is also like a rich loamy soil, full of life and seeds and future potential.   The process of letting go of the mental past does not destroy these seeds but rather creates just that environment in which they can grow and mature.

Let us begin first with a diagram - something at once simple, yet based upon a quite real and extraordinary complexity:

upward into Being

the ideal

downward into living incarnation


upward toward rigidity

an ideology

downward toward disorder

       Social Form arises from a combination of ideology and the ideal as that is lived out through the individual human being in his collective social structures - family, clubs, churches, communities, nation states, peoples and so forth.   Both the ideal and the ideological are necessary.  For example, ideology is at its most ideal when embodied in the Law, while the ideal is most ideological in codes of moral conduct (such as the Ten Commandments).

       Too much ideology makes social form excessively rigid and leads to too much order.   This then leads to the paralysis and eventual death of the living element of the social form within the social organism that is its living environment.  The rise and fall of Russian Communism is an example of this type of excess.   Too much of the ideal keeps the social form from being fully incarnated, a fate that befalls all utopian social schemes.

       With these simple ideas in mind, please now consider the Nature of the State in the light of a certain bit of wisdom.   The following is from Part I of the essay: Waking the Sleeping Giant: the mission of Anthroposophy in America, the totality of which can be found elsewhere on these pages:

       "the State as a creation of the psychological (inner) environment of the individual, and the individual as a reflection of the ideal environment of the State; or, the wisdom hidden in the saying of Christ Jesus: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are Gods." (Matthew 22:21)

       "These words were the response of Christ Jesus when the Pharisees tried to trick Him with the question of whether the Jews should pay taxes to the Roman Emperor. While this could be narrowly interpreted as just meaning that money, being a thing of Caesar already, should be given to Caesar, my personal experience is that long and thoughtful consideration of the teachings of Christ Jesus will always be rewarded with depths of understanding that cannot be discovered in any other way.

       "As to this particular saying, I had thought of it off and on for many years, as I continued to struggle for the right understanding of man's social and political existence. Just like the scientist, who after years of living with a particular riddle finds himself suddenly filled with the answer to his question, so it was only after a long preparation that it finally dawned on me what wisdom lay hidden in this simple statement.

       "The State (that is any type of government) has no existence but what the humans, who conceive it and act it out, make it to be.  Unlike sense perceptible objects, the State is a social form entirely, built up out of man's ideation and deeds. This principle remains the same, even though in many instances (e.g. fascism or communism) a limited number of individuals or groups are able to form the State according to their particular individual vision and actions. From this point of view, the being of the State, in such instances, includes oppressors and the oppressed, each a component of the totality. The State lives (has its only being) in the minds and wills of its members.

       "The point of view being expressed here is in a very narrow sense value neutral.  We may justifiably find certain forms of government to be egregious and unconscionable, but our sense of justice does not change the fact that the being of the State, even a totalitarian state, is the summation of the deeds and ideas of its members.

       "This is a rather complicated relation involving both individual and group action. We normally put the question: What ought the State to be? Thus we have the various theories of government from Plato and Aristotle to Machivelli and More to Nozick and Rawls. The thinking which asks the question, what ought the State to be, occasionally makes a contribution to the ideas a People hold of the nature of government, but I am trying here to direct our attention not to our theory of government, but to the actual conceptions held by a People of what their particular State is, and how that is then reflected in the actual nature (being) of the State in fact.

       "These conceptions vary from person to person, and as well change over the course of any individual life. Nor are these ideas likely to be the result of any particular political philosophic effort, but rather will tend to be the consequences of a combination of schooling, the types of groups one has associated with, and the practical experience of government acquired in the course of one's life. Thus will arise an odd mixture of cliche, prejudice and truth.

       "That we have names and words for these ideas (such as liberal, conservative, rightist, leftist, democrat, republican, freedom, capitalist, communism, and so forth) is also not related to the point I am trying to make. Especially today, when so few have really given any thought at all to these matters, most of us use such words with so little precision that we very often use the same word to mean quite different things, in spite of perhaps belonging to the same political party and espousing the same positions.

       "Nevertheless, each individual citizen will hold some idea of the State, and will act according to this idea. Some will believe in freedom, but not for certain other classes of citizens. Some will believe in law abiding-ness, but at the same time cheat on their taxes. Some will form groups to demand that laws follow their ideas of what is right. Some will court such group's favor in order to get elected, only to do something else later. Some will do nothing, convinced that government is an oppressor, best to be avoided, and certainly not relevant to the real problems of life: getting a job, raising a family, struggling in a difficult relationship, and so forth. Some will be completely lawless, believing only in their own code, or desires, acting on impulse and taking whatever they want.

       "Wherever a single human being stands, having some kind of idea of the State and acting out some kind of behavior in which this idea is more or less central or irrelevant, in this place the State in miniature exists. Finally then, out of the totality of these miniature 'States' comes into being the State as a whole, a mixture of an enormous variety of ideas and deeds, acting in a complex arrangement as the various collective associations dance together in their struggle to dominate.

       "The point of this is to recognize that the being of the State is created by these ideas and deeds, by what is "rendered" it by its People.

       "Now because certain common themes will live in the ideas and deeds of a particular People, each characteristic People has an individual historic and characteristic State. America, for example, has a kind of State which is given dominate thematic character by the ideas embodied in the Consitution, and the experiences which are derived from the land. Because we all live in the same land and because we are to a somewhat similar degree educated in the ideas of the Constitution, there tends to be a kind of order and consistency in the nature of the State throughout our history.

       "The State, as a social form, is not unlike a wave form created in a stream by the existence of a rock just beneath the surface. As the water flows past the rock a wave form rises up, and remains present. Even though water continually flows through it, the general "shape" of the form remains. If we now turn our imaginations to the creation of a social form, in this case the State, the flowing water is the People moving through time, who come into being, live out their lives, and pass away. The rock is the reality of the spirit, which in this instance is active in the commonly held ideas related to the Constitution, and the characteristics induced in the soul by the common experience of the land. The social form - the State - arises out of the interaction between the two - the lives of the People and the presence of the relevant spiritual and soul elements, and maintains a certain continuous nature and quality, just as the wave form in the flowing stream remains the same, although the water itself (the People) continually moves through it.

       "At the core of this process, which is a kind of psychological process, lies that element of our inner life - in our soul life - which might be called our feeling for what is right. This feeling for what is right exists in all Peoples, but varies in its content somewhat from People to People, and time to time. We should be noticing today, for example, that in Eastern Europe, as the domination of the Marxist-Leninist "rendering" of the idea of the State recedes, that what these Peoples make most important will not be the same as what we would conceive as most significant. In fact, if we observe closely enough we will see a struggle to accept the democratic ideal, but reject the materialsm, and the consumerism. While there are depths here we cannot in this place go into, the point must be understood that what a People "render" the State reflects certain cultural and ethnic characteristics of no little importance

       "The principle, that the State is what it is through what is "rendered" it, has been known intuitively to our wiser political leaders. Our constitution begins: "We the People...". Lincoln said: "...a nation of the People, by the People, and for the People...". And Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

       "While this may all seem too simple, it is not, and really understanding it will make other things much clearer later on. For example, we have in recent years been more interested in this country in our rights as individuals, without any thought to there being any correlative duties. We don't like conscription (the draft), paying taxes, thinking much at all about government unless we can get something from it, or it is taking something from us. Yet, the two go hand in hand. There are no rights without duties. There is no State from which to receive rights without someone having "rendered" it certain duties. A great deal we take for granted was first won by blood.

       "When we lament today the sorry condition of our political life we need to reflect that its initial being was created out of the passsionate deeds of our ancestors, whose sacrifice left behind a kind of political wealth upon which we live; until, as today, we begin to exhaust it by taking without giving (all rights and no duties). The sorry condition of our modern political life is due to the gradual depletion of its being through the absence of sufficient "rendering" to keep it vital and alive.

       "This being has a quite definite qualitative nature; that is, it is not so much what it is because so many people give it so many hours, or years (quantities of time), but because of the ideal and moral element of what they "render". It is the higher or lower qualities of our human nature which become aspects of the being of the State. When a voter votes only his prejudices, not having troubled himself to really understand the needs of the whole People, and when the politician encourages through advertising and speeches the People's expression of their baser instincts, then the being of the State can only reflect such qualities. When the corporations and unions lobby only so that their self interest is gratified, then the being of the State reveals no higher qualities. Did the rich get richer and the poor get poorer under recent administrations? Without a doubt, but what else did the most powerful elites "render"? The phrase of the computer programmers is quite apt: "garbage in, garbage out".

       "This brings us, of course, to the other pole of Christ Jesus' saying, because the crux of the problem is the need for the State to receive into its being the higher elements of our nature. What then does it mean to "render unto God" and how do the two statements relate to each other as a whole?

       "While the being of the State can be seen to be dependent in its nature for what is "rendered" it, this cannot be said to be true of the being of God. It is not the being of God which becomes what is rendered it, but the being of man. The human being who "renders unto God the things that are Gods" is himself transformed by the act of devotion. Those who would doubt such a proposition simply have to look closely at history. The Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, these and many more political figures, whose stature and importance to the being of our Government is unquestionable, have been able to contribute what they have in large part because of the moral nature of their character. Just as the State becomes what is rendered it. so we humans become according to whether we act so as to unfold our individual higher nature.

       "No one doubts today the validity of making an effort to maintain, care for and develop the physical body. Yet, the development of virtue is as much ignored as physical well being is advocated. No amount of physical fitness, however, will change the character of what is rendered the State. Only moral development, only transformation of the soul and spiritual nature of the human being can enhance the qualitative characteristics of what is rendered the State.

       "The statement we have been examining, the wisdom out of the Gospels of Christ Jesus, has two meanings, dependent upon which principle we emphasize. These meanings are not contradictory, but rather are complimentary. One: The State is what it is out of what is rendered it in their ideation and their deeds by its People...and...the qualitative nature of what is rendered, is higher or lower according to the development of virture as that has proceeded in the individual.

       "Simultaneously (Two): Only through devotion to God does the human being develop in himself those characteristics which flow from such an act...and...as a devote of God, one needs to recognize one yet remains a member of human society, which will only have as necessary characteristics what one gives to it.

       "As a last point we must again notice that Christ Jesus says to render unto Caesar and unto God. Man must direct his activity both toward heaven and toward earth, in order to unfold his essential being, his "I"ness. Both the State and man need to become. It is a reciprocal relationship. If the State does not become, then man's potential development is limited. If man does not become then his capacity to render unto the State, and the being of the State, is likewise limited. "

       Hopefully the above will help fill in, in more detail, the basic conception of how the ideal and ideological, as they live in individual human beings, become rendered into social form.   All social form arises in the same way, whether it is a family, some kind of small organization, or some larger social form such as the State.

       Now our participation in many of these forms is very often dependent upon tradition.   Traditions already exist when we are born into them, and we are certainly trained by our families and our eduction on how to play our role in their life and continuance.   Moreover, these traditions are often rooted in the best wisdom of the past.   They are not arbitrary or capricious, but rather are frequently quite purposeful and wise.

       Just consider marriage.   This is an aspect of a social form we call the family.   It has a quite definite legal (ideological) component, supported by the State; and it also has a quite ideal form as concieved by our religious traditions.   Each member of the basic partnership brings an individual understanding of their role in the whole.   Not only this, but the surrounding social environment, also influences this totality.   All small social forms are embedded in larger social structures, which can, or can not, nourish them and keep them vital and alive.   For example, a marriage, embedded in a large family structure, may suffer ultimate failure if the surrounding family members treat one of the partners in certain negative ways.

       We should also distinguish between a type of social form, such as marriage, family or State, and a particular marriage, family or State.   The type may continue from age to age (there have been families and marriages for millennia), but in particular times the individual expression of a type of form may be more difficult to maintain in particular instances.   In our time, for example, marriages and families have a great deal of difficulty holding themselves together.

       Here is what I wrote in another essay: Beyond Columbine...:

       "Imagine, if you will, the panorama of recent human history as having an outward visible structure, and an inward invisible structure.  We know the outer elements in the many stories we have concerning persons and events as this history has unfolded itself over the last and most recent millennia.  If you will, however, picture behind these stories something else happening, something that leaves its traces in the outer stories, but is of a nature not visible to the mind in the same way as the events.

       "Consider that human inner life is not fixed, immobile, or forever known and formed.  Rather, it too, like the biological organism, evolves.  The inner organism changes as does the outer visible organism.

       "In order to discuss this we need some terms.  These terms can be fairly arbitrary if we wish - they could even be nonsense words.  Yet, we do have certain historically used terms that will not only serve, but whose use it will help us to resurrect  - in this case the terms soul and spirit.  In the age of science these have come to be seen as metaphors, but not as realities.  For our purposes, let us consider them as possible realities, whose character and nature will enable us to do that act we so much desire - namely to reinsert wisdom into our social existence.

       "To make these matters most concrete to the individual reader, let us consider that soul is what we call conscious and unconscious experience, whether it be the experience of the senses, of thoughts, of feelings, impulses of will and all the other aspects of inner life our language and culture recognizes.  Spirit, on the other hand, is not experience but that which experiences.  Soul is the unseen content known to the knower and actor - the human spirit.  I don't know your experience, but I do know experience and I do know myself as a self.  I interpret the world (usually, if I am not a sociopath or other seriously ill individual) as containing other individuals of like nature - who also have a self and experience.

       "In order to understand the social context of the Columbine tragedy, it is necessary to appreciate how soul and spirit are currently evolving over time.  It is this invisible order which helps us appreciate the need for the return of wisdom to our social life.  This understanding of the evolution of consciousness need not be theoretical, because, as mentioned previously, these changes have left their traces all over our outer history.

       "A particular change occurred in this invisible organization around the 14th century.  Prior to that time the soul was more dominant than the spirit in the dynamics of the inner life of the individual.  Experience was more determinative of self, than self was determinative of experience.  Among the Scholastics of the 12th Century, we find the word participation in frequent use.  The soul felt embedded in the world, not separate from it as we do today.  Thus we have people with the names, John's son, or Telliard de Chardin, that is of a certain place.  We were part of the community and of nature, and much less individuals.

       "Other facts point toward these prior conditions.  In a book by the writer Michael Dorris, The Broken Cord, he writes of an American Indian language in which it is impossible to say "I hit you", but only "we hit us".  The ideal of ancient Taoism, so often repeated in the television series Kung Fu, is: "Be at one with nature", for it is the recollection of the taoist experience that self and experience - self consciousness and consciousness - (spirit and soul) was in a state of integration with outer nature.

       "Yet, this was not a stable and fixed condition, but rather one which changed.  Spirit became stronger, more individual, and began to determine soul, rather than be its semi-prisoner.  As a consequence soul itself emerged more from the surrounding environment, both social and physical.  This also brought historical changes in its wake, changes we can observe.

       "For example, science arises from this change, for now it is possible, nay mandatory, for the self (spirit) to see the world as over there, and no longer something of which one is a part.  This leads to a kind of onlooker consciousness, or what some have called the onlooker separation.  It is as onlookers, rather than as participants, that we begin to develop modern natural science.

       "A rather remarkable fact arises at this time.  For the first time in the history of art, paintings begin to exhibit space.  Prior to this time there was no perspective in  paintings, then everywhere, slowly to be sure, space arises as the change of consciousness that is everywhere occurring takes place.  There are many other changes, far to many to list in this short article.  The reader who wants to go more deeply into this is invited to direct their attention to: Art and Human Consciousness by Gotfried Richter; and, Saving the Appearances: a study in idolatry by Owen Barfield.

       "It is the changes in this inner landscape of the soul and spiritual life of humanity that has lead to most of the current social conditions.  This is a complicated relationship, and I will only sketch out those matters connected to events about which we tend to have common knowledge.

       "The increase in the powers of individuality, of a more dominate inner spirit nature, begins to affect the course of social life from within.  Sons and daughters slowly lose interest in following in the footsteps of their parents, until in our time it is a social given that the children will take their own paths.

       "The view of the world that flows from the onlooker separation results in a science which proceeds to see the world as an object, empty of consciousness and being.  All the old ideas of Nature, as a place of spiritual workings, die, to be replaced by pictures of natural events as predictable clockworks.  Demeter and Persephone disappear, and laws of gravity and particle interactions replace this old view.  The social structures, once held together by these common religious impulses and understandings, begin to fail.

       "Science brings forth great powers over the material world.  From the technological implications, the industrial revolution arises, which also has a social effect.  Villages and farms no longer contain the greater concentration of people, as cities and industrial concerns now draw the majority of the labor pool to their environs.  The father (see Robert Bly's Iron John) and then finally, in our time, the mother, are pulled by the operation of economic necessities from the home.  Children raise themselves now in the industrial West.

       "Language itself undergoes many changes.  The idea of evil comes less to the fore, and individual characteristics become more the product of bio-chemical and electrical properties of the brain.  The individual grows stronger, and the ability of community to restrain it through social pressure lessens.  At the same time we are given a picture of a mechanical human being, who is more a product of his genetic heritage and less a product of his own freedom and responsibility.  In the psycho-babel of modern life, we become victims of our undisciplined inner life, not the participants in an inner battle between good and evil.  We know a great deal about the material dynamics of brain neurophysiology and almost nothing about how to have inner discipline in a practical sense.

       "In outer social life this loss is named "the family values crisis" and becomes a political issue, rather than an issue of possible human knowledge and wise understanding.  Science having become disconnected from Art and Religion lacks the resources to appreciate what is happening.

       "Yet, the evolution of consciousness is not ended, but is rather a constant ongoing process of growth and/or possible decay.  The diminution of the power of the community to determine individual moral behavior becomes an alchemical social crucible for another development.   This development is one of a free moral conscience being born within the self-conscious spirit.

       "The phrase, "do the right thing" begins to be replaced with the phrase "do your own thing".  A great debate over the right to life and freedom of choice arises within political life around the legal abortion question.

       "In one place, a man writes a book called The Philosophy of Freedom, bringing out in full consciousness these delicate inner issues.  In another place, two drunks found a movement called Alcoholics Anonymous, in which the same problems are approached in terms of terrible real life experience.  In a third place, a young man starts a change among the ordinary Christians, with his "what would jesus do" movement.  Self determined moral freedom, as distinct from acquiescence to community standards, tries to emerge everywhere in the twentieth century, from its beginning to its end."


Hopefully the reader can now see that social form arises from two interacting processes.  One process is somewhat vertical in nature, being a kind of interaction between what the individual renders within his own inner life, and how that activity becomes an aspect of the social present.  Two kinds of "rendering" are involved, the one proceeding from a self determined ideal / moral sense, and the other an outside influence created by the totality of individual renderings.  This totality we call the community, and it as well influences the individual within it, while the individual also influences the community.  Both processes are active, and in various circumstances, quite different results will arise.

There is a secondary influence, in that in addition to the somewhat vertical relationship, with its lemniscate like movement, there is a horizontal gesture arising from changes over time.  The community is not one fixed thing, but changes in all manner of ways, while the individual is also not of one fixed nature, but also evolves as time passes.  The lemniscate movement travels through time, taking one shape at one time, and another later.

Elsewhere on these pages we will look at these same phenomena from other points of view.


The Future

Without doubt, the future is unknown.   It may be unknowable, although there are many who seek to penetrate the mists in which the future is hidden.   Some claim to be seers - to know through spiritual experience some content of this dark realm.   Others think that there might be some kind of science, such as statistics, which would allow for predictability.   Not a few find in various prophecies some indication of what lies yet unknown.  It certainly is very human to want to know the future.

In our time there are a lot of very specific attempts to see into the future in these various ways.  I will add my own voice to these attempts and the reader will have to decide whether there is anything of value here.

My own method bears some resemblance to those who look to science.   Thus, it might appear that I have attempted to extend ongoing tendencies, in the existing social and political realities, on into the future.   Yet, this is not quite correct.  What I did was try to understand the social present, and in the process of that search discovered various kinds of long term dynamic processes active in social life, which would seem to effect the shape of the future.   My method of research was largely based upon the scientific work of J.W. Goethe , and is in some circles called Goetheanism .

Goetheanism, as I have used it, involves the use of the picture creating capacity of the mind - the imagination.  All thinkers use this capacity, but only a very few have yet realized its fullest potentials.   Discursive thinking and analytic thought can, to a certain extent, come to an appreciation of those aspects of reality which they mirror - namely the most material aspects.   But the imagination has more kinship with the life processes of reality, as well as with the hidden spiritual aspects.   Just as discursive thinking is the mirror of the mechanical/material, so the imagination is the mirror of the life sphere, for the mind is not separate from the world, but rather its counterpart.   Each aspect of the world has a corresponding and analogous quality in the mind.

But the application of Goethean principles to social scientific studies raises certain problems.   Goethe applied his method to sense perceptible forms, such as the world of plants, wherein he recreated in his imagination (by what he called exact sensorial phantasy) the changes in the form of the plant over time.   Through this process he obtained his results.  His discovery was that the inwardness of the plants would appear in the imagination, if the imagination faithfully recreated their appearances.  In a like fashion I have attempted to create in the imagination an exact picture of the dynamics of our social existence.  The results of this work appear on this website.

But social forms don't exist to the senses.  I don't see, with the physical eyes, such things as family, communities, the State, or other kinds of social order.  I only see them with the thinking.   So in my work I had to be mindful of the fact that I was engaged in two kinds of acts: one, wherein I created in the imagination the specific form, and the second, where I recreated the changes in this form over time.  In addition, a lot of care had to be taken so as not to introduce my own subjectivities - my sympathies and antipathies - into this process.  So I found it a difficult struggle to manage to maintain a similar kind of exactness to that which Goethe was able to find in his sense observations.   In aid of this struggle the work of Rudolf Steiner was very helpful, in particular his book: "A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception".

As a general statement I have written of the method I used as: "Listening to the World Song ".  It was my intuition from the beginning that social realities were a kind of "speech", and that all one really needed to do was to bring them alive in the thinking with as much objectivity as possible.   These "facts" would then speak, and all that was required of the cognitive capacity was to be able to inwardly behold, as images, social reality.

Let us begin to test my methods by becoming aware of certain very simple observations.

We live, in the industrial West, in a time when there has arisen the term "nuclear family".   A modern family frequently consists of only one parent and child.  Moreover, this small social form will often be separated from other aspects of "family", such as the parent's siblings, parents and so forth.   Even more intact families, where both parents are present in the home, the other relations - grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins etc. - these will live in quite separate geographical locations and often there will be little social intercourse.

If we step back in time, say to the turn of the Century (from the 19th to the 20th), we will find quite large family organisms living in the same neighborhood.   There will be many "relatives", sets of grandparents, a dozen sets of parents, and many many children.   Moreover, this family organism will be embedded (usually) in a micro-culture, a neighborhood of same or similar people in the sense of language, ethnic origin, and religion.

If we go back even further, perhaps three or four hundred years, we find the family organism just as large, but usually embedded in a village environment, which might have a single isolated cultural milieu.   Whereas, in the turn of the Century neighborhood, we will find other cultural systems existing side by side and quite busy influencing each other, in the village everything was quite singular  This requires, for our social observations, that we not isolate the family from the community, and that we have to include in our pictures the various changes over time in community as well.

In this way we become conscious of something at once very obvious, but nevertheless quite extraordinary.   For centuries now a certain kind of order in the social world has been slowly dissolving.   Well, perhaps not so obvious, but many have mentioned it (see, for example, Robert Bly's books: Iron John ; and, the Sibling Society .

The fact is that over time it appears that the family organism, as a social form, has become smaller and smaller.  It is as if it is somehow flying apart, so that it is not surprising that the metaphor "nuclear" (as in small, charged and potentially explosive) is applied.

But this kind of observation is only of the outside of social phenomena.   Families and communities are made up of individuals, and each individual is a node of consciousness.  Thus, the psychological changes - the inner environments - becomes relevant.   That is they are part of the whole.   We can't just picture the changes in the outer social form, but must include the changes in the inwardness of the individuals.

I was greatly helped in this part of the effort, by the work of Owen Barfield .   His investigations of the phenomena of language changes over time gives us the best evidence of the changes taking place in the inwardness of the individual over the same time period.  The name generally given to this phenomena is "the evolution of consciousness".   Readers, who want to know more of this, need to take up a serious study of his work, including but not limited to: Saving the Appearances - a study in Idolatry; Speakers Meaning; History in English Words; and, Poetic Diction.

Barfield, and others (see Gotfried Richter's Art and Human Consciousness ; as well as Ernst Lehrs' Man or Matter , have identified as an aspect of this process of inward evolution a particularly significant change as having begun around the 15th Century.  This change has been called a change from "original participation" to the "onlooker separation".   Whereas before this change the individual felt him or herself more as a part of either nature, community or others, following this change the individual experienced him/her self as separate.   Where once one might be called John's son, or de Chardin, that is identified with a specific town or family, now more and more individuals sought their own identity.   Once upon a time the son and daughter assumed certain well defined roles for their future - namely following in the footsteps of the parent, while today it would be considered a egregious breach of inner freedom to expect a child to be a clone of the parent.

We can now bring these two streams of change into relationship with each other: one in the nature of the social form and the other in the nature of the individual within that form.  Holding both picture streams in mind leads to a clear perception of their mutual reciprocal interdependence.   The slow development of greater individuality becomes a force from inside the family and the community, tending to dissolve these forms.  The individuality needs these forms to cease inhibiting its growth.  But this is not all that has happened in the past which effects the shape of the social present.

Families and communities, and the individual members, are all embeded in culture.  It is culture as well which has undergone all manner of change over the same time period.

The "onlooker separation" gives rise to natural science, for now the knowledge seeker has a clear experience of nature as being "over there", and that he or she is inside, "over here" - there is a distinct outside and inside, and the two seem quite separate (see also Coleridge's remarks about "outness", as discussed in Barfield's What Coleridge Thought).   Science, in turn, creates two powerful trends.  One trend we see in what has been called the industrial revolution, and which involves our discovery, through science, of vast powers hidden in nature.  The other trend is the change in world view - the paradigm change - which replaces for many the previously held religious beliefs with a scientific materialism.

The industrial revolution effects the social quite directly, first by driving the father from the home and into the factory, and second by coagulating people near urban centers and their industrial concerns and away from viliages, the more rural ways of life.   This same process of challenge to the existing social forms of family and community has continued, until today the mother as well has been taken from the central axis of the family and into the work force.

This, of course, was an outer change in social form.  But the second trend spawned by natural science has more effected the inner environment.

Scientific materialism has produced a new idea of the nature of the human being, and of the universe in which we find ourselves.  It very much seems likely to be a temporary view, but it nonetheless dominates the image of self that many people have, as well as our sense of larger meaning.

It also is possible to see these changes as being very undesirable, and many do just that, yearning for a return to some prior imagined time.  But if we seek an objective social knowledge, then we cannot indulge our antipathies, and must learn to see these processes and changes as whole in themselves.

It is possible to go into more detail, and there is some justification for this.  For example, the individual biography must be acknowledged.  While we can see great trends in the social world, in the world cognized by the discipline of history, it remains a fact that this is experienced individually.   The fact that there are apparently great innovators in history (Jefferson, Newton, Goethe, Gandhi etc.) needs not to cause us to overlook the existence of each individual life.  These individual lives are not irrelevancies, even though some students of history tend to see the individual as a passive canvass upon which the great and the mighty paint their deeds.  For our purposes it will do to see the deeds of the significant as a kind of social radiating force - effects pass outward into the social organism from these deeds.

Let us make here a hypothesis.   Let us imagine that it is not just the great and the mighty who are essential in the vast streams of history, but also the individuals.   Let us imagine that history exists, not for itself, but for them.  History, in this sense then, is a created context with a distinct purpose for the individual lives which are lived in each particular age.  The great and the mighty are called to perform a service to this context, but they are not the deeper cause of it.

How could we know if this is true?

We should begin by calling to mind a particular biography, of which the best is probably our own.   We can examine this biography and find therein any number of elements that are common to all biographies: life and death, inner and outer growth, moments of moral crisis, times of remorse and guilt - almost endless is what happens within the experientially rich environment of an individual biography.

In our particular time there is a very significant common aspect to human biographies - one which is quite consistent with the various dynamic processes we have already been observing.   One of the effects of the changes in family and community life, and in culture in general (this is more true in the industrial West, but is also emerging in the Third World), is the lessening of the coercive effect upon the individual of the family's and community's moral standards.   As we have more and more emerged into the change of consciousness that began in the 15th Century, there has been an increasing loss of the ability of traditional ways to determine individual moral behavior.

This has not gone unnoticed.  For example, in the cultural milieux of America there has emerged a particular form of television drama.   It is best exemplified by the work of David Kelley, the quite prolific writer of most of the scripts for several television series: L. A. Law; Picket Fences; Ally McBeal and The Practice.  In one of the episodes for Picket Fences, at the end, a lead character summarizes the situation, where he says in a few sentences: No one knows what is right to do anymore, we are all on our own.

We live in a age of moral ambiguity, which places us in life situations that compel our making individual choices, free of the older paternal security of an outside source of moral teaching.  Moreover, this same age has been growing its own ways of being self aware of this very phenomena.  For example, in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the basic idea of the What Would Jesus Do movement, and in Rudolf Steiner's book The Philosophy of Freedom, we find practical cognitions of this problem and how the individual can relate to it.   The same underlying source, which creates for each individual in this age the possibility of moral freedom, arranges for the needed idea of it to be present for our support and edification.

We could say this then about our age - it is a womb for the development of individual moral freedon through processes of alchemical social crisis.

So we look at the world, at its surfaces, and see AIDS spreading all over the third world, we see individuals and groups trying to dominate the world economy, we see cultural decay in many of the arts, and we can have an almost endless list of terrors and horrors that brings deep pain of heart when we have to observe them.  Yet, all of this is necessary for moral crisis to arise in individual biographies, without which the possibility of moral freedom cannot appear.

With these ideas in mind, let us add to our considerations:  the future

As we have noted, the above situation really only is fully developed in the industrial West.   Now so as to appreciate this condition, let me summarize it a bit.

We have observed the increasing disolving of the family and the community, from that cultural and moral cohesion they once enjoyed.  Eventually we get the so-called nuclear family, the family values crisis, and other phenomena connected to what is essentially an end to Western Civilization.

Whoops, did he really say that!?!

If we consider that "civilization" is the inside of something, rather than the outside, we will realize that the moral and value systems which engendered what we tend to call Western Civilization have been falling apart for some time.   In fact, there must be birth and life and death to such complex social form structures as what we call "civilization".   Our studies of history make clear the endings and beginnings of many of these complex organisms of social existence.

In fact, with the discovery of the New World a certain watershed was reached as regards the life processes of Western Civilization.  What had been for centuries written into the cultures of various nations and peoples of the Old World now had a geographic gap to bridge, which it could not really do, for the Americas are not by nature a place hospitable to these last remains of quite old traditions.  We could study Europe endlessly, and never really have a clue to what is to be born over time culturally in the Americas (for example, if we look just at the phenomena emerging in the present from America, we can see clearly quite unusual forces are at work).

But I am not here going to attempt to unfold these possibilities, for that would take us quite far afield.  Rather the point of this is to realize that Western Civilization (the inward elements) has fallen, and its collapse outwardly in its institutions and infrastructures is bound to follow.   Yeats had it quite right at the beginning of the 20th Century when he wrote: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

Let me go into this a bit more, so there is no confusion.  Just as there is a physical community, there is also the possibility of a community of ideas and values.   It is this inner community which has been shattered through the social forces unleashed by scientific materialism.   Everyone wants to go their own way, and this is true even in governments and boards of corporations.   The individuals responsible for managing our most essential institutions can't find any longer a community of values by which they can form a cohesive and cooperative path into the future.

Now it may appear that they do find such views, but if you listen closely to the language used in the Babylon of current political and economic discourse, you will see that only in the most superficial way is there any consensus.   Within these superficial ideas one will find the flawed imaginations of the present (what are essentially political and economic myths).   These flawed imaginations do not accord with social reality, and actions based upon them are thus doomed to failure.   The managers don't understand the world they live in except in cliches and myths, and so the structures they try to create in response are castles built upon sand (for details on this see The Coming Collapse: Civilization at the Brink , these pages).

This vision is a bit dark, for it only sees the end of Western Civilization.  But endings are really only transition points - social form (the life sphere of the social organism) also can undergo metamorphosis.  We are not falling off a cliff into an abyss (although individually and inwardly we do face a spiritual crisis which is like standing at the edge of an abyss - see: The Abyss of Aloneness , these pages).  Instead we face social transformation.   In an age which is hallmarked by the need for individual biographies to face intimate moral crisis sufficient to create the possibility of a kind of inner awakening (Rudolf Steiner calls this the Consciousness Soul age, and the Hopi Indians of America's Southwest call it the Age of Purification ), we should expect nothing on the macro social level but a mirror image of this individual crisis.  What first appears most clearly in the industrial West, must go onward to encompass the whole world, and the whole world will burn from this.


Because the individual biographies require it.   The need for moral crisis is a great hunger in the inwardness of individuals.   They are drawn to it like a moth to a flame, for in it they sense the latent image of their own yearnings for freedom.   Each "I am" wants complete antonomy, particularly in the inner realms - in the realms of moral freedon and of self created world view.  We want no one to tell us what to think, or what is right to do.

To have a more concrete picture, think about it this way.   The AIDS crisis,  for example, does not arise because some madman has attempted to destroy the world by passing out some kind of biological weapon (although such may accompany the actual collapse of civilization), it arises because of millions of individual moral decisions.   The acts of individuals in this sense are a kind of "suctional", or scuptural, social force, drawing the stream of events into a certain kind of order through their massive common nature.   Rather than the great and mighty just radiating effects on the passive canvass of the masses, it is the needs of the individual biographies, through taking common form, that pulls the world into various kinds of crisis,  toward which, in response, might well appear those few great souls we hope will guide us through the burning social fires of purification (see Strange Fire: the Death, and the Resurrection, of Modern Civilization , these pages)

As we can imagine, the more this develops the more we enter into a condition of a kind of social chaos.  Modern individuality seeks to completely overcome any aspect of social form which would inhibit this development.  The two are absolutely necessary for each other.  Rampaging individuality has to have the weakest form of surrounding community.  The less cohesive the community, the greater potential field of action for the unfolding of the individual "I am".

There are, of course, contrary impulses and we should acknowledge them.   Some people have not the inner strength to pursue such a goal.  Whether through fear, or through a need to be a part of something else, they will then not heed the call of their own "I am".  Some others will see themselves as guardians of traditional ways, and in their own individual form of moral crisis, choose to interfere in the choices of others.  Many others, of course, faced with moral choice will choose the Dark, rather than the Light.  The varieties of possibilities are nearly as endless as are the number of individuals participating in this Age.

We need then to be inwardly prepared for outer events to get much worse.   At the same time we need to have what is essentially a social aesthetic.   Just as the catastrophic aspects of Nature rise to the heights of the most dramatic beauty, so life on the Earth was very well characterized by the Bard, when he wrote: "All the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players."  What in human history that is great drama has its origin in the thoughts of an equally great dramatist.  So we play our parts, and with grace and effort we might also discover how to have a say as to the staging and nature of the next act - the form and qualities of the new civilization.

The burning fire of the death of one civilization is the fiery womb for the embryonic phoenix of the next one.   But given the nature of what has brought about the end of the old - that is the appearance of the striving for inner autonomy - there certainly must be an opportunity for this to become a creative power giving new form to what emerges.  The danger is to be so involved in issues of survival, that the organizing of new social forms is left to old powers and their habitual patterns of thought.

The fundamental issue is one already well understood - how to have communities in which our hard earned personal inner autonomy can be maintained.  Clearly this must be possible, but how to do this will mean drawing something further out the mystery of our own "I am".

This is then one of the challenges we face - a very creative challenge.   Since we can see the coming of a certain intensity of social chaos, this does not mean we have to be passive in the face of it.  What the future really is, is not the shape of the trials by which one age is ending.  Rather, the real future is something we create out of the new capacities gifted to us by this Strange Fire of the Age of Purification.

So, the future, as always, lies in choice - to stand by passively wringing our hands at the terrible conditions of the world, or to take what this rite of passage has created within us, and use this new moral strength to forge a more human civilization.

Of course, if we wish to act, we must act not just as individuals, but as communities.   Various possibilities along these lines will be found on this website, especially in: Civil Society: its potential and its mystery , but also in The Plan .


The Coming Collapse:

- civilization on the brink -

This is something we know instinctively is happening.

We can't help but notice the odd kinds of decay everywhere.   Somehow things keep getting worse instead of getting better.   If we have some understanding of complex systems, we know that when certain kinds of basic changes in the totality are about to occur, the whole system begins to oscillate in a rather wild fashion.   This goes on until some kind of crisis point, after which the whole finds a new equilibrium.   In a sense, the principles of order that previously gave our civilization its cohesion have become exhausted.   They can no longer provide stability.    Something new must now be called forth.  Will it be based in the darkness of our lower impulses, or arise in light of our highest hopes.  In such

circumstances we approach a great battle.   What will happen is not fixed, although one can say that we do live in interesting times.


It might seem like this is predicting the future.   It is not.   It might seem like this is about paranoid conspiracies, or efforts by elite groups to control the future.   It is not.   It even might seem to be about some kind of religious fantasy.   But again, it is not.

It is about rather predictable things though.  About systems failures.   About structures that reach the end of their life.    About people not understanding what they  are doing, and the inevitable consequences of arrogance and stupidity.  It is about very natural and expectable  happenings in the life cycle of a civilization, and about how people react, or don't, in a crisis.

Let's consider a very concrete example.

For a long time now, human beings have been trying to discover the secrets of living organisms.   Whole departments of universities are devoted to these studies - zoology, botany, micro-biology to name but a few.   With the discovery of DNA in the middle of the 20th Century, it was assumed that a giant stride forward had been made.  In fact, many think that we have found, in DNA (and related work) the fundamentals of all life.

Based upon this work, human beings have begun to attempt to engineer living organisms.   DNA has been altered in plants and animals, sometimes for pure research, but most often in the search for profit.  Huge corporations have spent billions trying to find profitable ways of applying this kind of understanding of life processes.   Patents have been applied for and received, and the new (altered DNA) organisms have been sold widely as products, especially in agriculture.

We now have out in Nature organisms that have been lifted out of the web of life, altered in a laboratory, and then returned and set free in the womb of these very complicated and delicate ecology's.   Does anyone really think we have a mature enough understanding to act in this way?

Clearly we have not.   For the fact is that already we have had altered plant organisms acting in the environment in unpredicted ways.  In spite of the assurances of leading scientists, working for these corporations, our knowledge is clearly limited, and unwanted consequences are already occuring.   Here is a link to an article on problems with altered corn.  And, here is a link to Barry Commoner's Harper's Article: Unraveling the DNA Myth - The Spurious Foundation of Genetic Engineering.

This is a situation which will only get worse.

Basically we have profit driven organizations seeking to apply deep alterations of the natural environment at the same time as they believe in an illusion.   They think they understand the natural world, but do not.   What is worse is that they have every reason for appreciating the limits of their knowledge, but greed exceeds caution.   Here is the testimony of a leading scientist on the scientific background for the corn situation:


Arlington, Virginia November 28, 2000  JOHN HAGELIN, Ph.D. Director, Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy

"I speak to you as a scientist who is striving to ensure that  our best scientific knowledge be applied for the solution--and prevention--of society's problems. I am a nuclear physicist  who has published extensively in superstring theory and, during the last three elections, I have been the Presidential candidate of the Natural Law Party.

"I want to address an issue much deeper than whether the CRY9C protein in StarLink corn is likely to be allergenic. I want to address the assumptions that underlie the entire agricultural bioengineering enterprise. I am deeply concerned that life scientists are implementing bioengineering technologies without adequately understanding the lessons we have learned from the physical sciences. One of the key revelations of modern physics is that phenomena unfold in a far less linear and predictable fashion than eighteenth and nineteenth century thinkers assumed.  Today we know that there are inherent limitations on our ability to make precise predictions about the behavior of a system, especially for microscopic systems and nonlinear systems of great complexity.

"Numerous eminent molecular biologists recognize that DNA is a complex nonlinear system and that splicing foreign genes into the DNA of a food-yielding organism can cause unpredictable side effects that could harm the health of the human consumer.  Yet, the genetic engineering of our food--and the widespread presence of genetically altered foods in American supermarkets--is based on the premise that the effects of gene-splicing are so predictable that all bio-engineered foods can be presumed safe unless proven otherwise. This refusal to recognize the risks of unintended and essentially unpredictable negative side effects is just plain bad science. It is astounding that so many biologists are attempting to impose a paradigm of precise, linear, billiard-ball predictably onto the behavior of DNA, when physics has long since dislodged such a paradigm from the microscopic realm and molecular biological research increasingly confirms its inapplicability to the dynamics of genomes.

"Moreover, the premise of predictability is not just scientifically unsound; it is morally irresponsible. The safety of our food is being put at risk in a cavalier, if not callous, fashion, not only in disregard of scientific knowledge, but in disregard of recent technological history.

"Here, too, lessons should have been learned from the physical sciences. Time and again, the overhasty application of nuclear technologies led to numerous health and environmental disasters.  For example, in the early days of nuclear technology, the rush to commercialize led to the sale of radium tipped wands designed to remove facial hair. Nine months later the cancers came.  Similarly, the failure to comprehend the full range of risks and to proceed with prudence has led to many disasters in the nuclear power industry.

"In the case of genetic engineering, even greater caution is called for: a nuclear disaster only lasts 10,000 years, whereas  gene pollution is forever--self-perpetuating and irreversible.

"The irresponsible behavior that permitted the marketing of bio-engineered foods has not been limited to the scientific  community, but includes the executive branch of the federal government. The FDA's internal records reveal that its own experts clearly recognized the potential for gene-splicing to induce production of unpredicted toxins and carcinogens in the resultant food. These same records reveal that these warnings were covered up by FDA political appointees operating under a White House directive to promote the bio-tech industry.  It is unconscionable that the FDA claimed itself unaware of any information showing that bio-engineered foods differ from others, when its own files are filled with such information from its scientific staff. And it is unconscionable that it permits such novel foods to be marketed based on the claim they are recognized as safe by an overwhelming consensus within the scientific community, when it knows such a consensus does not exist.

"The StarLink fiasco further demonstrates the shoddiness of the government's regulation, since the system failed to keep even an unapproved bio-engineered crop out of our food. Indeed, the contamination was discovered not by the government, but by public interest groups. The FDA had no clue and had taken no measures to monitor. This incident also demonstrates how difficult it will be to remove a bio-engineered product from our food supply if it is eventually found to be harmful and, therefore, how important it is to prevent the introduction of new ones and to phase out those currently in use.

"It is high time that science and the truth be respected, and that the false pretenses enabling the commercialization of bio-engineered foods be acknowledged and abolished. I call upon the members of this panel to uphold sound science so that you can hold your own heads up as the facts about the hazards of bio-engineered food become increasingly well known.  I call upon you not only to resist the pressures to approve the pesticidal protein in StarLink Corn; I call upon you to honestly acknowledge the inherent risks of genetic engineering and to affirm that, due to these risks, neither StarLink nor any other bioengineered food can be presumed safe at the present stage of our knowledge." (end of quote)

For a deeper understanding of these issues go to: http://www.southerncrossreview.org/19/gmcrops.htm

Let us return to the initial question, which concerns the collapse of our present civilization.

In the above example, we have looked at a situation where those who understand our limits of knowledge are being ignored by those who prefer their own profits and powers over the risks to the rest of us.   This is essentially a moral failure, or better yet a moral weakness in the fundamental structures of our society.  This problem of moral weakness in the social order has been discussed in detail in the essay Basic Conceptions: fundamentals of a new social view .

In this case we have not just a simple moral failure, of the kind that happens all the time in the relations of individuals to each other, but rather a fundamental structural dissonance at macro levels of the social organism.   The food supply of our civilization has become dominated by agribusiness, which continues to demonstrate that it is incapable of acting for the benefit of the whole.   While Civil Society (in its present configuration) opposes this, it currently lacks the capacity to heal the dissonance.

Now it is not the thesis of this essay to suggest that this macro dissonance is going to be the cause of a fall of our civilization.  The point is otherwise.

This particular dissonance is an example of a certain type of flaw or disharmony in the social organism.  These kinds flaws involve a gap between our knowledge and the nature of reality.  We believe we know something, but the reality is different.   Our ignorance means we will error in our acts.   In a civilization, this type of gap occurs at multiple levels, and the more fundamental the functional level at which the gap exists, the worse the consequence when reality refuses to conform to our ignorance.

If one looks around at the current phenomena of our civilization, a number of such fundamental functional dissonances can be seen to exist.  Moreover, they frequently interact and often are interdependent.   A collapse of one system, may weaken, or even bring about the collapse of others.

Before taking this any further, let's take a look at some other forms of dissonance in our current civilization.

While this next is also connected to science, it does not take the form of a gap between knowledge and reality.   It does concern something we all know about, which we recognize as the creation and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Now there is a level where this involves a gap between knowledge and reality, namely in that we created these weapons telling ourselves that it would be possible to contain or control their use.   This is a kind of psychological illusion - this belief that we can somehow keep these weapons from being used.   History certainly does not support such a view, and the fact that their use is to many "unthinkable", we know that they will be used.   The atomic bomb has been used in Japan, and bacteriological weapons were used in Iraq and Iran.  The real foolishness is to not expect them to be used.   In fact, if there is a serious environmental collapse, or an economic collapse, the likelihood of the use of weapons of mass destruction (now that so many nations - and even some individuals or small groups - have them) increases.

Of course, there are efforts (at the time of this writing, March 7th, 2003, the potential war of the USA against Iraq over its weapons of mass destruction looms, and North Korea threatens nuclear attack against the USA), by various governments to solve these problems, the fact remains that their use is much more likely then their not being used.

Weapons are really made to be used, and why anyone is surprise when they are used is certainly beyond reason.  Genetic research has weapons implications, as does the emerging research into nanotechnology. Cyber-warfare is certainly being planned, if not covertly active in the present.  Everywhere there are belligerents, and those seeking to dominate.  We can expect that these weapons will be used.

Especially delicate our are economic relations.   We are all aware now that the dot.com revolution turned out to be just another stock bubble (a lot of hot air and no real wealth being generated).  It also has come to the fore that Corporate managers have taken to all manner of interesting ways to falsify their balance sheets in order to inflate the value of stock (and thus line their own pockets selling inflated stock before the truth catches up to them).  Everywhere in the financial world, choices are being made on the basis of short term gains, with little thought to the long range consequences.

As it says in the index page of this website: "Civilization burns".  In almost every field of endeavor, where there has arise large institutional social forms, basic flaws are emerging, and in what we have depended upon for social coherence is now showing all manner of "cracks".

It is not a question of if the collapse comes, but only of when and how bad does it get.

Civilizations fall for reasons, and ours includes as a basic element of its collapse, the excesses of individuals in pursuit of their own pleasures and vices.  In a sense we suffer from too much individuality, and not enough community.  This is probably why cancer is a disease common to this time, for cancer involves a part of the whole taking a course of growth all on its own.   In our civilization, all manner of individuals and groups want something for themselves, and the rest be damned.  Their selfishness is like a cancerous growth in the body of the community.

Elsewhere (The Future), it is discussed how the slow collapse of social form within Western Civilization has led to a change of consciousness, in particular the possibility of a new level of individual moral freedom.  The point here is to recognize that, while the coming collapse is clearly a tragedy of the first order, it is also a necessary step in those organic and spiritual/moral processes by which one form of civilization passes away so that another, new and more developed, form may arise.

There is within the essence of the human being that which is eternal.  It is from this source that morality and Civil Society arise.  It is from this source that Art enters the world.  The world's various religions are patterns woven in the texture of history revealing the spirit hidden within.  Even in our own consciousness, in the very act of thinking, our own eternal spirit engages in a dialog with the Eternal Spirit of the Universe.

The Burning Fire of the Day of Purification, which is the name the Hopi Prophecy gives to this time of ending and beginnings, shows in all its details that the coming collapse has purpose and meaning, and that we are being invited to cross through this Rite of Passage, hand in hand, on the threshold of a dream.  The age which gave birth to all manner of excesses of individualism is dying, and we now stand together at the Dawn of a New Age, where cooperation and community hold the true and only keys to survival.


Beyond Columbine:

- appreciating the patterns of social meaning

hidden in the Columbine tragedy -

Here we examine the unseen patterns in the social context  in which all the participants  in this tragedy found themselves embeded, yet did not recognize or understand.   While the social organism has many properties of a macro nature, most of us live our lives in much smaller contexts.   Just as it is possible to find ways to bring social health to our large social organizations, so is it possible (in fact quite necessary for the health of the whole) to bring social health to our local communities.   For it is just here that the sources of darkness in the soul are best comprehended and healed.

On April 20, 1999, two young men ages 17 and 18, named Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold, entered their high school in Littleton Colorado in the United States of America, carrying several guns, pipe bombs and propane bombs.  They had apparently hoped to kill hundreds of students, and destroy the large and complex school building itself.  They succeeded in killing 14 students (including themselves), 1 teacher, and caused relatively small amounts of physical damage (fortunately the propane bombs did not work - had they worked, huge explosive fire bombs would have gone off in a lunch room filled with four to five hundred young people - so perhaps we can see a miracle as well as a tragedy).  Another 20 plus students were injured, some permanently.

About five days after this event, while I was watching an analysis of these two young men on CNN, with my 16 year old son, he said: "That could have been me", revealing his identification with the two young men.   As we explored this over the next few days it became apparent that my son was just one of thousands of high school students, who saw Harris and Klebold as victims of a social climate of hate directed by the so-called jocks and the popular toward the individual or unusual.  Moreover, these young people were clear that they felt that their parents and teachers were responsible for this diseased social milieux that was so painful to so many.  The internet played a crucial role in this last element, in that without it, these thousands of young people would not have known of their common feelings.

Clearly this was an event that had social meaning far beyond its surface nature.  Even today, as I write these words almost 18 months after this tragedy, one can find millions of words and hundreds of web sites (if not thousands) on the Internet, devoted to aspects of this event.  In the essay below I hope to add another dimension to the struggle to understand.

I have often thought of certain kinds of tragic and violent human events as not unlike, in certain characteristics, natural events, such as sudden lightning storms or tornadoes.  I don't mean to suggest that this is so from their inside, but rather in how we can relate to them.  For we do have to make some kind of relationship, to find for ourselves some kind of personal sense-meaning.

I have in mind these natural events, because for those of us who experience these matters at a distance, such tragic human events are not within our will powers to either determine the causes or ameliorate the effects.  We are too far removed.

Sometimes I form a picture of a kind of psychic storm, crashing and thundering across a given inner social landscape, easily as powerful and dynamic as a sense perceptible thunder storm and the following flash flood that destroys lives and property before one has time to really draw a breath.   What is interesting in all this, is that both with the physical cataclysmic nature event, and the social cataclysmic event - people not only want some way to predict these events, they believe such prediction might be possible.  One of the deep questions asked about Columbine, is how could the parents, teachers and law enforcement officials not see what was coming?

I believe the existence of this question is probably the most crucial fact to emerge from this tragedy.  Let me make this as clear as possible - the existence of this question itself is an essential fact of the event.  People believe that someone could or should have seen this coming.  People believe that what was going on within the inner life of these young men was not so mysterious as to be beyond human knowledge and cognition.  Yet, the fact was that in spite of many indications (a violence promising web site, known criminal activity, etc.) no one anticipated what came to be.

I would like us now to begin to slowly step back from the immediate events themselves.  My own considerations of these problems have lead me to understand that the answer to this so poignant question is to be found more in the social context, than in the immediate particular facts.  The failure to anticipate what these young men were contemplating is a phenomena reflecting something of the nature of modern social communities - for this event was not alone, but rather was a member of a whole class of similar violent events that have been happening in communities all over America.  Moreover, these violent events have been endemic in minority communities for more years then it is they have been happening in white communities.  Guns have been coming to schools for decades now, and being used there.  It is only in the last decade that this crossed over into white communities and thus became, in this still racist society, a media event as well.

At the same time as we recognize this, let us keep in mind that the central question from the standpoint of this essay, concerns why the community is unable to perceive and deal with this excess among the young.  We are looking at the community, not the individuals who violate its norms.

One of the facts, about human psychology that we know, is that very often, in the absence of its idea, phenomena will arise that cannot be perceived because we have no word or concept for it.  For example, if we take a young child and show them a field of flowers, they will only see (as parts of the whole experience) those differences and distinctions for which we have given them words.  Oh, they might see that something brown is in the center of something yellow, and that the shapes of some parts is more like leaves, while others look more like little bulbs.  But they won't "see" what these parts mean in terms of the whole and what their function is.

In a like fashion, Western Culture has many ideas about human inner life - about motives and complexes and passions and flaws - but not everyone knows all these ideas (many of which conflict with each other), and most ordinary communities know very little.  In fact, most communities have social rules which suggest that ones inner life is a matter of utmost privacy, so that even though many gossip, few have real knowledge of what we all seek to maintain as our own very personal and secret inner territory.  We may see the consequences of the psychic storms crashing through a family, but we really don't know the true texture and structure of what is going on inside the soul landscape of the individual members.

This does not mean we are totally ignorant, however, for many of us know to some degree our own inner environment, and will usually be able to at least project, an approximation of what is happening inside another person, from out of our own experiences.

Let us now review some of the above with a bit of a different idea.  We could ask the question if whether what we know, in any of the above instances, is either the truth or reality.  Does Western Culture know the truth of human inner life?  Do communities possess such knowledge?  What about individuals?

With these questions I mean to wonder whether we, as a slowly more self knowing species, know all that there is to know about human inner life, or human nature, either in general or in specific individual instances.  Are we not like that child in a field of flowers, knowing some things about what we see when we survey the inner landscape of our families and communities, but not nearly knowing all that we might?  Does the language we use, whether inherited from the so-called professionals or not, really enable us to see the hidden psychic storm clouds gathering inside another person's mind?  In fact, does not the existence of the Columbine tragedy, and its relatives, suggest rather starkly the truth that we exist in a condition of almost complete ignorance?

Many would not like this conclusion.  Practitioners, of much of scienc
e, and much of those disciplines which wish they were science (psychiatry and psychology), believe they know a great deal about mind, emotions, brain chemistry, emotional evolution, cognition and so forth.  Who could argue with this assertion?  The whole weight of knowledge of Western Culture descends on the side of this idea in such a way as to suggest that we know a great deal and are close to knowing all (genetic manipulation of states of consciousness).

Well, yes, of course, who could doubt the power of science to know and determine the truth?

Yet, we still have wars, child abuse, race crimes - an almost endless list of social horrors.  Science can make a claim for understanding the world of matter with some degree of success, for we live surrounded by the resulting technological achievements.  At the same time, a claim of success in matters of understanding the inner life of human beings will not stand this test of practical success.  Science, and its acolytes, may claim to know, but in practice they have little to offer.

Something is missing from their world view.

What science is blind to is clear, for almost everywhere this question spills out, the same dynamics arise.  For all of human history, and pre-history, human beings have had a spiritual view of themselves and of the nature of life and existence.  That is, up until the arrival of science.  Science has unfolding its powers of knowledge in such a way that it has pushed back a spiritual view of the human being, and frequently denigrated such a view.  A revisiting of the various old and ongoing debates is unnecessary, as this essay is simply going to proceed on the basis of what happens to our practical understanding of individual, family and community life if we just re-include the spiritual.

What science has pushed away, and systematically left out, we will reinsert and see if something practical results.  The test is not to be found in arguments and learned papers, but rather in how we conduct our social existence.  If knowledge of the spiritual allows our social life to improve, what more do we need to know?

Eric Harris and Dyland Llebold were young men, members of families, parts of a community and students at a respected local high school.  Yet, they felt invisible, unknowns in the social circles in which they found themselves - unrecognized differentiated flowers in a field of apparent sameness.  This they decided to change, in the most horrible fashion we could imagine.

Why didn't the community see them?

Perhaps the community itself was ill served by the larger surrounding cultural influences.  Perhaps the absence of the spiritual in the understanding of the world means not just different names for the phenomena of human inner life, but more crucially the absence of something else, something which we might call wisdom.  The psychiatrists and psychologists and teachers and law enforcement professionals were all experts, but is expertise the same as wisdom?  Is it possible the community had knowledge, but lacked wise understanding.

How could communities arise in this time of great scientific knowledge and expertise, and lose the capacity for the wise understanding of its members?  Is it a basic flaw, or something in the natural order of social existence?

I would now like to sketch out certain facts that can be seen when someone includes the spiritual in their examination of social conditions.  In this process we will create some new terms for the dynamics of social life, some new names for the parts of the whole of the field of flowers of our common community life.

Imagine, if you will, the panorama of recent human history as having an outward visible structure, and an inward invisible structure.  We know the outer elements in the many stories we have concerning persons and events as this history has unfolded itself over the last and most recent millennia.  If you will, however, picture behind these stories something else happening, something that leaves its traces in the outer stories, but is of a nature not visible to the mind in the same way as the events.

Consider that human inner life is not fixed, immobile, or forever known and formed.  Rather, it too, like the biological organism, evolves.  The inner organism changes as does the outer visible organism.

In order to discuss this we need some terms.  These terms can be fairly arbitrary if we wish - they could even be nonsense words.  Yet, we do have certain historically used terms that will not only serve, but whose use it will help us to resurrect - in this case the terms soul and spirit.  In the age of science these have come to be seen as metaphors, but not as realities.  For our purposes, let us consider them as possible realities, whose character and nature will enable us to do that act we so much desire - namely to reinsert wisdom into our social existence.

To make these matters most concrete to the individual reader, let us consider that soul is what we call conscious and unconscious experience, whether it be the experience of the senses, of thoughts, of feelings, impulses of will and all the other aspects of inner life our language and culture recognizes.  Spirit, on the other hand, is not experience but that which experiences.  Soul is the unseen content known to the knower and actor - the human spirit.  I don't know your experience, but I do know experience and I do know myself as a self.  I interpret the world (usually, if I am not a sociopath or other seriously ill individual) as containing other individuals of like nature - who also have a self and experience.

In order to understand the social context of the Columbine tragedy, it is necessary to appreciate how soul and spirit are currently evolving over time.  It is this invisible order which helps us appreciate the need for the return of wisdom to our social life.  This understanding of the evolution of consciousness need not be theoretical, because, as mentioned previously, these changes have left their traces all over our outer history.

A particular change occurred in this invisible organization around the 14th century.  Prior to that time the soul was more dominant than the spirit in the dynamics of the inner life of the individual.  Experience was more determinative of self, than self was determinative of experience.  Among the Scholastics of the 12th Century, we find the word participation in frequent use.  The soul felt embedded in the world, not separate from it as we do today.  Thus we have people with the names, John's son, or Telliard de Chardin, that is of a certain place.  We were part of the community and of nature, and much less individuals.

Other facts point toward these prior conditions.  In a book by the writer Michael Dorris, The Broken Cord, he writes of an American Indian language in which it is impossible to say "I hit you", but only "we hit us".  The ideal of ancient Taoism, so often repeated in the television series Kung Fu, is: "Be at one with nature", for it is the recollection of the taoist experience that self and experience - self consciousness and consciousness - (spirit and soul) was in a state of integration with outer nature.

Yet, this was not a stable and fixed condition, but rather one which changed.  Spirit became stronger, more individual, and began to determine soul, rather than be its semi prisoner.  As a consequence soul itself emerged more from the surrounding environment, both social and physical.  This also brought historical changes in its wake, changes we can observe.

For example, science arises from this change, for now it is possible, nay mandatory, for the self (spirit) to see the world as over there, and no longer something of which one is a part.  This leads to a kind of onlooker consciousness, or what some have called the onlooker separation.  It is as onlookers, rather than as participants, that we begin to develop modern natural science.

A rather remarkable fact arises at this time.  For the first time in the history of art, paintings begin to exhibit space.  Prior to this time there was no perspective in  paintings, then everywhere, slowly to be sure, space arises as the change of consciousness that is everywhere occurring takes place.  There are many other changes, far to many to list in this short article.  The reader who wants to go more deeply into this is invited to direct their attention to: Art and Human Consciousness by Gotfried Richter; and, Saving the Appearances: a study in idolatry by Owen Barfield.

It is the changes in this inner landscape of the soul and spiritual life of humanity that has lead to most of the current social conditions.  This is a complicated relationship, and I will only sketch out those matters connected to events about which we tend to have common knowledge.

The increase in the powers of individuality, of a more dominate inner spirit nature, begins to affect the course of social life from within.  Sons and daughters slowly lose interest in following in the footsteps of their parents, until in our time it is a social given that the children will take their own paths.

The view of the world that flows from the onlooker separation results in a science which proceeds to see the world as an object, empty of consciousness and being.  All the old ideas of Nature, as a place of spiritual workings, die, to be replaced by pictures of natural events as predictable clockworks.  Demeter and Persephone disappear, and laws of gravity and particle interactions replace this old view.  The social structures, once held together by these common religious impulses and understandings, begins to fail.

Science brings forth great powers over the material world.  From the technological implications, the industrial revolution arises, which also has a social effect.  Villages and farms no longer contain the greater concentration of people, as cities and industrial concerns now draw the majority of the labor pool to their environs.  The father (see Robert Bly's Iron John) and then finally, in our time, the mother, are pulled by the operation of economic necessities from the home.  Children raise themselves now in the industrial West.

Language itself undergoes many changes.  The idea of evil comes less to the fore, and individual characteristics become more the product of bio-chemical and electrical properties of the brain.  The individual grows stronger, and the ability of community to restrain it through social pressure lessens.  At the same time we are given a picture of a mechanical human being, who is more a product of his genetic heritage and less a product of his own freedom and responsibility.  In the psycho-babel of modern life, we become victims of our untrainable inner life, not the participants in an inner battle between good and evil.  We know a great deal about the material dynamics of brain neurophysiology and almost nothing about how to have inner discipline in a practical sense.

In outer social life this loss is named "the family values crisis" and becomes a political issue, rather than an issue of possible human knowledge and wise understanding.  Science having become disconnected from Art and Religion lacks the resources to appreciate what is happening.

Yet, the evolution of consciousness is not ended, but is rather a constant ongoing process of growth and/or possible decay.  The diminution of the power of the community to determine individual moral behavior becomes an alchemical social crucible for another development.  A free moral conscience is born within the self-conscious spirit.

The phrase, "do the right thing" begins to be replaced with the phrase "do your own thing".  A great debate over the right to life and freedom of choice arises within political life around the legal abortion question.

In one place, a man writes a book called The Philosophy of Freedom, bringing out in full consciousness these delicate inner issues.  In another place, two drunks found a movement called Alcoholics Anonymous, in which the same problems are approached in terms of terrible real life experience.  In a third place, a young man starts a change among the ordinary Christians, with his "what would Jesus do" movement.  Self determined moral freedom, as distinct from acquiescence to community standards, tries to emerge everywhere in the twentieth century, from its beginning to its end.

And at Columbine High School, in April of 1999, two every angry young men scream with the most horrible violence imaginable - "we too are free spirits!", to a community blinded by expertise and lamed by the absence of wisdom.

Harris and Klebold, besides the obvious, share much kinship with the canaries coal miners used to carry into the mines.  The dangerous mine gases would kill or cause unconsciousness in the canaries, providing, sometimes, sufficient warning for the miners to escape.  Harris and Klebold are our "sensitives" to invisible changes in soul and spirit not yet recognized consciously in our communities and social life.  They knew they had more value than that which was reflected back to them by their social environment.  But, the same lame and retarded social structure could also not give them what they needed to understand about themselves. They looked inside at the dark, and when it looked back at them they were undone.

There was a time in Europe, and certainly it is part of the spiritual wisdom of the original peoples of the Americas, that the shadow or double or doppleganger of the human being was recognized as real.  Knowledge of evil was not wished away by thought structures that made of soul a determined mechanism and of spirit a helpless victim in the face of genetically fixed characteristics.

To speak of soul and spirit is merely to point in the direction of a whole field of human knowledge desperately needed in our time for the healing and future meaning of our common social life.  How much further tragedy will it take to wake human societies up from the dreams and sleep concerning the failure of scientific materialism to render practical aid to the understanding of social existence?  Columbine speaks to us in the strongest social language possible.  What comes next if we remain locked in the illusory trap of expertise and the resulting absence of wisdom?

Let us consider this last point more closely as we drawn near the end of this essay.

Expertise places knowledge outside the individual, and only within the realm of someone trained.  But a community is a whole, and at its core are fathers and mothers (hopefully), sisters and brothers, grandmothers and grandfathers, and all manner of little children.  If I say to a mother and a father that they should deny their own instincts because we live in an age of knowledge and education and training - i.e. if we say constantly, as we do today, that who you are as a person is only a relatively empty mechanical organism that has to be trained in order to know, how is a father or a mother to appreciate what might be latent in them as self knowing beings of soul and spirit.  Our education turns off as much as it teaches.  Our idol is the Einstein, the great intellect, and not the wise old woman and man, the grandfathers and grandmothers of American Indian cultural traditions.  Is not this same problem more and more true all over the world?

One of America's great wise men, Emerson, wrote: "In self trust all virtues are comprehended".

Over the last couple hundred years, humanity has quite systematically begun the destruction of most of its traditional social structures.  One could lament this, but only if one isn't paying attention.  What is new cannot emerge in the face of a coherent old.  Tradition always carries the danger of keeping the new and coming essential from entering in.  The evolution of consciousness has brought about a new condition in the inner life - soul and spirit have been strongly reconfigured and the resulting social consequences have yet to be cognized, appreciated and taken account of.

One might wonder at this point - shouldn't the next matter be an exposition of how communities should move forward in the light of the realities and new conditions.  Yet it is precisely this attitude that is of the old.  One is just substituting more expertise and placing it upon the basis of some kind of superior spiritual knowledge.  On the contrary, wisdom arises within the given social context itself, out of that context, and not through the imagined illumination from other outside sources.

A community, such as Columbine, doesn't need outside help, but rather it needs trust and encouragement to discover what is true for it.  It is only from within a given social situation that real wisdom arises, because wisdom comes from the reflection on life of those living it.  Wisdom is almost the opposite of expertise - the latter being something one goes away to learn.  Wisdom is inherent in life, a natural endowment.  We grow it out of ourselves, not from a book or a teacher, however enlightened.

In a sense, in these last days of Western Civilization, we are all trapped in the ideas of a most powerful recent past - the ideas and ideals of natural science, with its anti spiritual materialist orientation.  This relatively new tradition has overpowered most of the best of the old.  But in fostering the ideal of expertise, it makes impossible wise social existence.  Wise social existence needs thinking which is free of any tradition at all, whether it is apparently modern, such as Steiner's anthroposophy, fairly young such as natural science, or much older.

Let us come at this once again, in the context of a certain question.  We could ask: Does knowledge of the kind needed exist - that is knowledge that would have lead to understanding and appreciating these young men before they fell into the black hole of soul/spiritual ignorance?

It is not enough merely to have stated in this essay that if wisdom was returned to our communities, much would be different.  We live in an age of very concrete knowledge of all kinds.  Science, even though oriented materialistically, is not, in its own nature, in error.  Science puts forward a very basic view as regards the search for truth.  It asks this: If one wishes to assert the truth of a thing, then it is necessary to show how that truth was obtained, and in such a way that others may discover it as well.

Any new wisdom should be able to pass this test.

If we reflect, in a concrete way, upon the family and community life of these young men, we have to ask: What was the nature of conversation and discourse on human inner life?  Did mom and dad and teacher sit besides their young charges and discuss with them their own (the parent's and teacher's) reflection on the shadow side of the soul, or how this can be mastered by the conscious elevation of the spirit?

Sadly, we know no such discussion took place.  There is no language of spiritual wisdom alive in Western Culture.  There are certain traditions, often jealous of each other and their own prerogatives, but no outer common seeking.  On the contrary, the tradition of scientific discourse relegates such conversation to only places outside the school, and then only as belief systems, not as a discussion of realities.  With the rise of the idea of the family values crisis some attempts to bring alive moral discussion has occurred, but this has looked at the human being as if morality and character were something one poured into an empty soul, rather than being a feature native to the human spirit, which it could manifest if it was truly educated in the broadest sense of that term.

Let us be frank about something else.  There is to be no mac-wisdom, a fast food spiritual enlightenment that will sweep through modern culture and reform and deepen our social life.   There are far too many obstacles.

Science, for example, looks at the question of consciousness and precedes to examine it as if there were no deep spiritual traditions, with thousands of years a practical maturity already existing.  Science still looks at human inner life through the dark lens of its own assumptions concerning the absence of spirit and consciousness in the universe.

Besides these limitations of science, there is also the prejudices created by the needs of the huge business and financial organizations that dominate modern life.  In the light of their current habits and practices, workers and consumers that were self aware of their true spiritual worth would not necessarily be desirable.

There is an enormous structural inertia to the kind of social changed needed to bring wise understanding alive in our communities.  In fact, the re-awakening of wisdom in our communities would be a revolution that would stand the current social milieu on its head.  Yet, at the same time, the evolution of consciousness, with its emergence of the community and family dominating individuality and the birth of the free moral conscience, is a social force that cannot be stopped by any such inertial social resistance.

But, exactly this is the danger, and one of the deep lessons of Columbine.  If wisdom is not returned to our communities, by the conscious reflection of its members upon the deeper aspects of existence, then this power of the "I too am" can only continue to express itself violently and in other terrible and unwanted socially dysfunctional ways.  The psychic storm clouds gather everywhere, and as long as humanity remains ignorant of the true dimensions and dynamics of the inner landscape, then more and worse tragedies will occur.  It is really a matter of choice.  Do we return the seeking of soul and spirit to its true centrality in social existence, or do we deny it and suffer the consequences?


Civil Society:

- its potential and its mystery -

While the social body itself is  life-filled in its nature (organic), it is moved, just as our human bodies are moved, by the higher (and lower) principles of soul and spirit active within it.    Thus, the emergence, out of the general conditions of modern civilization of Civil Society, is the result of moral/spiritual impulses arising in human hearts.

These have reached a critical mass, in part as a response to the excesses and extremes of our lower nature that have to date seemed to dominate the formation of the global economy.   Even so, there is much more here than meets the eye.


It might help to look at the social world without coloring it with our values, with our likes and dislikes.  We do have this habit of mind that evalutes people, events, history - everything we might call the social world, the world of human beings and their associations and activities.  Now even though we evaluate this shared social existence, we don't evaluate Nature in this way.  Nature we accept as a given, transformable yes, but not evil.  A great storm that floods and kills millions in Bangledesh is thought to be an act of chance (or god), and the poor who live on these flood plains often considered fools.

But a war we lay at the feet of human hearts.  Crime is the fault of criminals (or poverty if we are knee-jerk liberals).  Depending on our upbringing and many other factors, we all have our likes and dislikes, our loves and hates, and our assumptions about who is bad and who is good and who should be punished and who should be forgiven.

What is especially odd, if we bother to think about it, is that each individual has a different set of such values, and while we tend to join various communities with those who share ours, the fact is that many of the value systems consider the same social phenomena, but do not agree on their rightness or wrongness.  If we follow this out to its real logical conclusion, we will see that the social world, in itself, is not the values, but rather the values arise because of our individual relationship to the world.  Let's restate this, as it is central to the theme.

The social world, in itself, does not have the values by which we color it.   In fact, if we just think about how frequently others misjudge us, and how often we become aware of how others' interpretations of who we are is wrong, then we can see that this is true everywhere.  The valuations come from inside us, but are not implicitly on the object (person, community, race, religion) that is being judged.

Now if we remove these colors, these personal values, from how we see the world, how will it look?

Perhaps, if we can learn to do this with the right warmth of heart, we will see that the World is a great and wondrous Play, unfolding in Theme a grand Mystery.

This is not to belittle, by the way, our own vision of the Good, the truth we hold dear when we look at the world and find it wanting, or full, as the case may be.   It is possible, and this I say from experience, to hold both views without contradiction.  In the one view, the one free of our personal sympathies and antipathies, we see a thousand miracles pregnant with life and surging human passion.  This view of the social world shows something apparently unbound, seemingly unfinished, and largely unknown in its most intimate depths.  The other view, the one colored by our values, tells us more about ourselves than about the world.  Think about it, for here is one of the miracles.

Perhaps we pick up the newspaper.  We read of the acts of politicians, criminals, terrorists, businessmen, armed youth in our schools, an endless collection of matters sometimes too terrible to contemplate, served up to us by educated men and women in the name of our right to know the gory details of the darkness in human souls.  Small wonder we are appalled, and spend our days in contemplation of how screwed up the world is and how, if just this or that was done in accord with our personal understanding, then the world would be better, be more light filled, and humane.

Or we go to work, and our bosses make unreasonable demands, while co-workers gossip, and our best friend sneaks out to have an affair with our spouse.   And then we get home, and the house needs cleaning but we are tired until mom calls and says she is coming over and out of guilt we rush about, meanwhile parking the children in front of the TV to watch a video with too much violence.

For truth to tell, we can turn our value seeing eye upon ourselves, and find that we too are wanting, weak, empty of high purpose, and not at all what we planned to be in our dreamy youth.

The Plains Indians of North America called this aspect of the world, the mirror.   The world, when we start to awake to its real nature serves to reflect back to us something of our own.  We value the world, we color it according to our likes and dislikes, our hopes and dreams, our vision of the Good.   That we do so is in no way a wrongness.

What a wonderful thing that we care, for in the heart is the seat of why we value.  We yearn for justice, for wrongs to be righted, for children to be perfect, for love for ourselves and all we know.   It is the heart which feels pain at failure, especially our own.   Sure we may feel guilt, but even more we feel loss, a small kind of death at the difference between what we really are and what we wish we could be.

Let us consider this some more, for it is central to approaching the Mystery of Civil Society.

One way we can see all this is to notice that the social world has an inside and an outside.  The inside seems intimate to us as individuals.  It is a psychological milieu, quite personal in its texture.  In fact so much so that we consider it the most private realm at all, one we have trouble even sharing with our closest friends and companions.

The outside would be the behaviors we observe in others.   Like the inside, this outside is incredibly rich and complex, although in thinking about the behaviors of others we often reduce our understanding of them to the most simple terms.  We see someone act in a way we do not like, and easily it comes to our mind an idea of their motives and reasons.  Yet, this is so odd, for at the same time we know in ourselves that our own behaviors are not at all based on simple motives and reasons.   In fact, we know that often we ourselves are unsure as to why we do what we do, even though we know more about our own inner realm than any other person possible can.

Now it is not the purpose of this essay to investigate this most intimate matter of our inner lives in great detail.  Those aspects I have placed under the section Mysteries of the Mind.  Rather what I want us to do here is sum up these facts, to make wholes out of them for the purpose of a better understanding of the social world.

To make this more concrete, let's consider some examples, both on a micro-level (intimate and personal) and a macro-level (large movements of communities of people).

We have a co-worker.  They are overweight.  We, on the other hand, eat right and work out.  We see this person everyday and there arises in us a reaction to this person, to their shape and form and to their habits of eating (we see them in the lunch room five days a week).  This reaction is not really thought out.  It is just there in our consciousness.   We have a value of a certain kind of health discipline, and someone not demonstrating that value is judged.  Not only that, but we might think to ourselves that this person has no will power, and that if they would just exercise their will, then they too could be healthy and fit.

The fact is, of course, that we walk through the social world constantly evaluating the behaviors of others of our acquaintance, and supposing we have insight into the whys and wherefores behind those behaviors.  It is also a fact that many of us, when they face this process of judging and evaluation directly (moving it from the semi-conscious realms into the conscious realms of our inwardness), exercise a deeper inner behavior.   We notice we have been judging and we alter that view and become more charitable.

On the macro-level, consider the Middle East, the nation of Israel and the Palestinians.  These are large congregations of individuals and we will often have discussions and thoughts where we conceptualize communities of individuals in generalizations.  We might think that Israelis do this and Palestinians do that.  Like the individuals of our acquaintance, we judge and evaluate - we "see" - the world of macro-social events in the light of our likes and dislikes.

Now everyone does this.  Everyone shines the light of their values, their likes and dislikes, upon the world.  Moreover, we tend to form associations in accord with finding others of similar points of view.  We might join a church, a political party, a protest movement - the list is endless of communities of common interest that arise because of shared values and world view.

I realize that this seems all to obvious, but it is in our clear thinking about the obvious that it is possible to find our way to the deepest social truths.

Let's step back a bit from these facts and try to have a more global view.

Imagine we are seeing the world from space.  We see before us a big physical place, upon which very large numbers of human beings live.  These individual human beings are also parts of various kinds of groups - some in accord with matters of language, culture, religion, race and shared values and interests.  Many individuals act toward each other with violence, as do many groups.  We could observe from space, over long periods of time, all sorts of behaviors and movements of associations and communities.  This is the outer social world, a world of moving and changing social forms.

Now imagine we can see into the inside of these human beings.  Here lies a whole other world - one of desires, and the most complex kinds of motives, thoughts and judgments.  No one would question that there is a relationship between these two worlds, the outer world of social form and the inner world of invisible psychological dynamics.

Among the elements of this invisible inner world are a wide variety of views as to what it all means.  We have religions and sciences, mysteries and theories.  Then, among all this vast collection of points of view, there might even be some elements of truth.  But the fact that there are all these points of view, which frequently do not agree with each other, this I want us to include in our global picture.  For consider, these views themselves have changed over time, and give no evidence of coming to final rest, in spite of what ultimate truth any current view might claim for itself.  These views of what it all means are just one more aspect of the inner invisible dynamics of the social world.

I urge the reader now to read my essay The Future , if that has not yet been read.  If it has been read, then it might be well to call to mind the pictures contained therein concerning the changes over time of the outer elements (social form) of the social world, and the corresponding inner elements (evolution of consciousness).   Basically as we go forward from this point I want us to remain simply within the most obvious social facts, as we have come to know them in their dynamic movement and complexity.

Clearly what we know of as "civilization" is undergoing dramatic changes in the present.  The social world, of outer form and behavior and inner dynamic psychology, is not static, but rather full of change.  Moreover, these changes give evidence of much order.  Chance hardly seems a word to describe what is actually observed.  But the ultimate conclusion to such a question I will leave with the reader, for there is no place here for a debate on causality.  The existence of order is obvious, its source a bit more mysterious.

Let us now turn to Civil Society, the true theme of this essay.

First, we need to accept that the existence of this social phenomena (civil society) is a matter of debate for many.  To some it does not exist, or if it does it really is only something already described in the social and political sciences.  The fact is this term is just a pair of words, whose meaning we are free to determine.  So for the purposes of this essay, I will use Civil Society to mean a very particular thing, which is only partially grasped by noticing certain outer social form manifestations (for example, the loose collective activity of many NGOs - non-governmental organizations).

As expressed in the essay The Future, our time is an age of individual moral choice.  It is as if a fundamental human power was coming awake, a power in times past more imposed by some authority upon individuals.   In ages past we had commandments, religious, moral systems and teachings, everything but a recognition of the primacy of individual conscience.  But today this is not longer true.  Out of our own striving for selfness has emerged a demand for a free and individual rendering of what it means to do the Good.

Directed by our sense of what is wrong in the world, and in response to our personal values - our likes and dislikes, we form associations to accomplish the Good.  Whether it is a Green Peace or Amnesty International or the Alliance for Democracy - the names make little difference, in each case human beings join into communities to act upon the world out of impulses of the heart.   And, behind these impulses lives our individual moral authority.

Now this in itself would seem nothing new.  But in our time other events have occurred, which have made the context, in which this emerging moral freedom arose, have a special flavor.  One of these events is the globalization of the economy.  The second is the arrival of the Internet.  It is no accident that these elements have come to be at the same time in human history.

Globalization is a natural result of economic forces, which have to grow and combine until a certain limit is reached.  If we really understand "economia" [c.f. Barbara Gardiner's: Aesthetics of Economics and the Scottish Masonic Tradition ], we will realize that a true economy can only include the whole - the world.  Partial (national and regional) economies were only stages of growth, before the true natural scale was reached.  It would be more accurate to see what we have in the past seen as local or national economies to be local conditions in the Global Economy, much the same way we understand our local weather as aspects of the Nature of Climate of the whole world.

As many believe, the global economy is not dominated by moral ideals flowing from our individual sense of the Good.  Rather it is driven largely by fears, mostly fears of death.  Those individuals, who dominate the global economy through their connections to the tyranny of concentrated wealth (the successor to the older aristocracies), have other gods than the Good.  They serve themselves and as a consequence the values driving the global economy have brought it about the globalization has arrived with few truly human ideals at its center.

In earlier times, the suffering produced by the social domination of the selfish was only known locally.  But with the arrival of the Internet and modern media, our awareness of these tragic elements of human existence became more common.  The result of this non-accidental confluence of events (emerging moral individuality, economic globalization and wide spread information access) was the creation of a moral social organ within the world community - Civil Society.  This organ is young, and only somewhat self aware, but it is nevertheless a seed with remarkable potential.

But to really appreciate this we have to expand our understanding of the world social organism, so that we can see the real relationships between it and Civil Society.  To do this we have to become familiar with an Idea, in this case it is called: the threefold social organism .  First introduced by the philosopher and seer Rudolf Steiner, this idea is essential to our understanding of modern social conditions.

In general on this website, I have been trying to point out that the social body of humanity has qualities of an organic nature.  These are not the only qualities, but this organic aspect cannot be denied, given that the social organism is made up entirely of living beings.   There is nothing theoretical or abstract about this situation.  It is a quite simple and observable fact.

This social organism can appear to our seeing-thinking if we take proper care to observe how organization appears in our social arrangements.  This organizational aspect can be seen in certain functional relationships, which are essentially polaric in nature.  This fact requires that we first understand the idea of polarity, which is something quite different from the idea of mere opposites.

In the pure mathematics of projective geometry , the idea of polarity comes to full expression in the various relationships of point, line and plane.  In this sense, point and plane are the twin poles, while the line is the middle or mediating element.

In the human form, the head organization is one pole, while the limb organization is the other.  For those unfamiliar with this way of thinking, this will appear quite strange.  However, if you follow this out carefully enough, the true nature of what is being discussed can be apprehended.  The head is soft inwardly, while the bony part is on the outside.  The limbs, on the other hand (pole), have the bony parts on the inside, while the soft parts are on the surface.  It is this relationship between the two that unveils the polaric aspect.  In polaric systems, one pole is related to the other almost as if they were inside-out versions of each other.  In the human form, the middle (the trunk organization) is upwardly bony on the outside (rib cage and sternum), while as we descend in the form, the lower trunk is all soft, with the lowest parts of the spine being on the inside.  This polaric relationship of the human form is true in all details, and a deep and wonderful discussion of it can be found in the book Man and Mammals, by Wolfgang Schad.

Moreover, while the form is polaric, this is due to the non-physical inwardness also being polaric.  That is, the head carries out certain functions (form follows function) of a sensing and contemplative nature, for which it needs to be at rest, while the limbs propel us through space according to our spirit and soul's will and direction.  I have here, of necessity, only been able to hint at the details, the full expression of which would take us too far afield.

[In the following I am going to be referring to certain "ideals".  To understand the importance of this, there is a detailed consideration in the essay: Basic Conceptions: fundamentals of a new social view .]

What Rudolf Steiner pointed out, in his book Towards Social Renewal, is that human activities can basically all be described in such a way that it is clear that a certain kind of form or organization arises in the social order, from the inside out - form follows function.  For example, inwardly we have certain impulses of freedom, and these efforts to express this ideal appear most dominantly in what Steiner called the Cultural Sphere, in which he included science, art, religion and education.  Thus, in the main, the impulse to freedom is most realized in Cultural Life.

At the opposite pole, is the ideal of brotherhood.  Freedom is very much an individual expression - we do it out of ourselves.  But the ideal of brotherhood requires that we join together.  It is the Earth we share together, and thus, at the root of Economic Life is the ideal of brotherhood.   In the present, of course, we do much in our social life that deconstructs this naturally appearing order.  For example, many assert freedom in the realm of Economics, they want wealth only for themselves or their associates.  Yet, there is only one Earth, and only so much wealth, and the ideal which seeks to emerge in Economic Life remains brotherhood - the sharing of what is available among all.

In between these two poles, the individual pole of the ideal of freedom and its polaric counterpart, the sharing pole of the ideal of brotherhood, lies a middle realm.  This is the Political-legal Sphere, or the Rights Life.  Its ideal is equity, or equality.  In law we balance the apparent competition between the impulses to freedom and the necessity of brotherhood.  Through political processes we determine what rules apply to all - or, how we are equal to each other and in what circumstances.

This then is how the threefold social organism tries to appear in human societies.  Profound Ideals seek to emerge, through human activity.  This functional process then forms our social order.  We should keep in mind, however, that this process of the forming of the threefold social organism is something that is occurring over vast periods of historical time.  It develops according to rules, and depends upon our slow maturation as human beings.  As we mature, more and more the social organism will acquire this form. Globalization and Civil Society are interim phenomena appearing in the history of the development of this threefold organism - natural stages in long term processes, whose eventual full realization will require our conscious participation.

Let me give a very brief sketch.  The older social structures, such as the ancient Egyptian, were theocratic in nature.  The kings were also priests.  Even in modern times, remnants of this way have continued, for example, up until the Chinese invaded Tibet, it was a functioning theocracy.  In this sense, something out of Cultural existence dominated societies.  Yet, this form of social organization was incomplete.  It only really was valid for the particular stage of the evolution of consciousness applicable to that time.  Today, a theocracy is a dam to the real needs of any people (witness Islamic Fundamentalism).

The theocratic approach to social organization eventually gives way to some kind of idea of the political State.  With the early Greeks and Romans, we have the emergence of the first iteration of the Political-legal life in the formation of the State and the recognition of the Citizen.  So, now (or then actually) we have a Cultural Life and a Rights Life simultaneously.  The threefolding process is still immature, while yet being appropriate for humanity's inner condition.

Now we come to more modern times.  Human individuality is flowering.  The Economic Life has reached a kind of youthful climax with Globalization.  The Rights Life has matured, and in the latent ideal of citizen governance a seed planted at America's founding begins to grow into the light.  In the Cultural Life, human freedom in the realm of science, art, religion (as in choice thereof) and education (think about the real issues underlying current struggles) is exhibiting tremendous power.

More and more we are determined to think what we want to think (our society, family, education, religion, science be damned), especially about the moral, the nature of the good, and what is right to do in any circumstances of life.

If I may make a personal note, my life spans an interesting period of time, having begun in 1940.  As a youth I was taught to do what was expected, something that was thrown over in a quite revolutionary way in the 1960's.  This insistence on freedom of moral choice has since matured (although between the generations there is a lot of misunderstanding).  Even so, out of this emerging moral freedom is forming a new social power in the form of Civil Society.    That which lives in the moral center of individuals is slowly finding various forms of community, and these communities themselves are gathering together in the secure knowledge of their common moral strength.   At the time of this writing (early March, 2003) this community opposes the efforts of the sitting government of the United States (the 2nd Bush Administration) to start a war against Iraq.  A new power awakes in the world, refusing any long to let elites of wealth or blood maintain their historical dominance and self serving rule.

If we step back a little from this situation, we can come to see the World itself threefolding, with a global economy on the one hand, an emerging cultural-spiritual force in the moral  power of Civil Society on the other, while in between, whether in the United Nations, or the International Court in the Hague, a mediating world life of Rights also surges forth from the inwardness of many human beings.

We need to look at this again.

Less than a hundred years ago, when the various European nations that brought us World War I were busy doing what nations do when they get ready to kill a lot of people, the ordinary people of the world basically had to stand by, passive guests to the machinations of powerful elites.  That is no longer the case.

Now the ordinary people of the world are beginning to know and experience their moral power as a group.  They no longer stand by passively, nor do they accept their own government's choices. Everywhere, people resist the excesses of those obsessed with power, and it is now clear that sitting governments are near the end time of that mischief they can cause the ordinary and once powerless gentle folk to whom this planet really belongs.

Where once, ages ago, hierarchical castes ruled the ordinary human being, such as the Pharaohs of Egypt or the Caesars of Rome, this time has passed.  A new ordering principle awakes in the world, rising from inside the individual human being as a heart directed moral impulse, forming from there into communities of action, determined to impose its collective will on world social order.

This will can not be expected to achieve all that it might wish to overnight.  But no one - no one - should any longer fail to see its active presence in the unfolding of the future.


America sings

written September 26th 2004

an army marches toward me now hungry to destroy

it seeks to devour ideas this army it wants to eat reason like a tide of locusts on a field of ripe wheat

nothing of the truth is to stand in its ravenous way, and

at its head, is a man, who in his vanity and ambition

believes his own righteousness, a terrible hubris that cannot but try to

kill: reason, truth, and ideas

so falseness is pasted everywhere, for no lie is too much for this army

no truth too precious not to be murdered

its just politics, says the chief apologist we are right to assert our beliefs

say the masses following blindly

truth is not relevant, says the watching media, we should know, we have had no use for the truth for years

so the army marches towards me, a hideous mouth filled with teeth

and the blood of children

who and what am I, that I might, or might not, fear this army?

who could possible be afraid of that which tries to eat ideas,

to devour reason, to bury truth

are ideas and reason not real, but rather just vain dreams, and wishes, something that should fall before beliefs?

Should not those who wish, get to assert their opinions over truth,

if it suits their purposes?

who is concerned about what an idea feels, or what the truth cares about anyway.

these are just passing fancies, while beliefs are holy and sacred.

Or so some say, who don't bother to think at all.

I will tell you now my most secret name,

for I am an idea and only that

America is my name, and I am more real than

this army or its vain head can imagine

I am more powerful too.


Because I cannot be killed, tho' armies rush and gnash their teeth

I am immune to violence, and not only that, to seek my

death is to grant me even greater life.

To push me down is to raise me up to hide me is to expose me

to lie about me is to unveil me

for I am everything the lie is not everything the hate is not

everything the unreasoning is not

so, if you want to know me then just listen to the politicians

and think of that they do not say

for there I am, hidden in plain sight, just beyond the limits of

the lie, for not only can I not be killed, not only am I inviolate,

I am immortal

I am spirit, I am divine for true ideas live outside

of time, and space and the vain posturing of politicians

I am America, and these dark ones cannot have their way with me.

Do you have the courage to face me do you have the courage to face the truth do you have the courage to look at reason square in the face and test your beliefs against my being and nature?

Listen then, if you dare, listen to the truth, to pure reason

and see if all your politics has even one ounce of reality

America is not any political party

neither the Democrats, or the Republicans

or the Greens nor do any of the ambitious ones

running for president own me, or even know me

Many take my name in vain, America this and America that

but each such statement is a lie meant only to serve the speakers


America, I am, but I am not a sitting government

or a Nation or even a People

Although any can, if they would, pledge their allegiance

to my reality

I am not a war on terror or a war in Iraq

although I can be a soldier dying

I am not an arms manufacturing business

or a pharmaceutical company although I can be the one who

cleans the toilets there

I have no need for wealth or for power

I have no need to announce my presence, for when I

am truly there, anyone with eyes will see me

I am invisible to that which is not like me

and visible to all who know me in their hearts

I am not patriotic, although any true patriot will love me

You see me first as a dream a dream of freedom from oppression

a dream of fair pay for reasonable work a dream of quiet streets where children play

I live in the imagination of people everywhere, who know that their

dignity and their humanity is ignored in that dark place

where they are yet forced to live.

I even live in the land that is named after me, although

still more in dreams than in the realm of social justice

That land, named after me has forgotten me more than any

other place now.

Covered me over, buried me in a coffin of lies,

yet, even tho' buried I am everywhere yearned for

So strongly that I am kept alive outside the continent on which I first

touched earth,

but in that land, even I would be glad to call home,

the politicians seek my death while the wealthy fight over

my spoils

Do you seek the good? Then you seek me.

Do you run from hate? Then you run to me.

Do you know your brothers and sisters all over the world

then you know me.

Do you worry now, do you cry inside

fearful of the dark ones who seek to rule?

Then come to me, and lean on me,

for there is no burden I cannot bear that you can feel

You need not believe in me by the way,

for I am your own heart set free

and when you dance and sing and share and love

and seek peace, not war, I am there with you and in you.

Are you angry against the dark ones?

Do you wish their defeat, their end, their demise?

Please no, for by such thoughts you separate yourself from me

I mean no harm and need to defeat no one.

Yes, the dark ones, and their masses of unreasoning believers

spread all the worst of lies but think how they are driven

not by reason but by fear.

It is fear from which they need release.

And while they thrash about in fear, and push and shove

the piles of lies that seek to hide me,

you fear not, for even though ages pass, I still will come to all

and while many are too filled with fear, too filled with hate

too filled with belief at the expense of reason

you need not fall into their dark dreams

Do not let them drag you down into their lost land,

but kept your own council, keep your own ideas,

keep me near your heart, and seek those like yourself.

Where you have the company of like minded, there I live,

and you will have me, whatever the fear mongers claim or insist

the true, the good, the beautiful

are such a light that no dark can hide or cover over

Be what is in your heart, and in any circumstance

then I will live in you

You are my true home, the only place an idea can really live.

Invite me in, I have been waiting for you for a very long time.


Citizen Governance

- the future of the Republic form of government -

The United States of America is the first Nation where a certain fundamentally human impulse toward true freedom emerged on the Stage of History.  Long in preparation, this impulse was/is connected to the gradual appreciation of the individual of his/her fundamental personal sovereignty - our individual free power of choice.  It is only out of the choices of the I am , or the spirit , of the individual human being, that governments obtain their just powers.  From the authoring of the U.S. Constitution forward, governments were to be seen as only having those powers granted to them by the community of sovereign individual human spirits, which constituted a particular Nation or People.

If we can appreciate how long it took for this principle to emerge onto the Stage of History, then it is possible to also appreciate how it is that this principle will require considerable time to grow into maturity.  The appearance of this principle, in its present restatement as part of this presidential campaign, is simply one among many other iterations of the reappearance of this impulse in modern times.   It is not new, nor is my articulation of it the only possible one.

The Declaration of Independence, states among its very first principles: " .., Governments are instituted among Men, deriving the just powers from the consent of the governed ,.. "

and the U.S. Constitution begins: " We the People ... ".

The central act is the uniting of the individual sovereign power of free choice into a community, a Nation and a People, from which then the siting government receives its powers.

However, against this striving out of the hearts and minds of individual sovereign spirits was arrayed the vast weight of the Past.  Having its own momentum, the Past did not easily step aside for the birth of this just power with its fundamental right of Consent.  Men and women were too used to the old ways, where power lived in the aristocracies of blood and inheritance.  Thus, even though a fundamental shift had occurred at the level of our understanding, the outer forms of social relations were slow to evolve.  The aristocracies of blood became replaced with aristocracies of wealth.

Such is the condition of the world today.  Oligarchies of wealth constitute the most typical form of rule over various peoples all over the world.  It some cases it is fairly obvious, and in others, such as apparent democracies, the ruling elites have worked at keeping their activity hidden.

One of the most interesting aspects of this situation is that a core element of the reasoning of concentrated wealth, in support of its point of view, has considerable validity.  This is the view that the average citizen lacks the understanding and capacity to participate in macro decisions - the kind of decisions that determine the stability of markets, and the free flow of trade upon which the modern world has become dependent.  According to this reasoning, only the financially astute know what is needed to know in order to maintain an economic environment in which wealth can continue to be generated.  This apparent truth then justifies all manner of manipulations of the inner workings of various governments.

On the surface then, it appears that the world is locked into a what is essentially a class struggle, between the rich and the poor, over the determination of the social rules of modern and future societies.  In fact, is there any reason to expect the aristocracies of concentrated wealth to abandon their positions of power and privilege without a very great battle?

Here then is the moral riddle at the heart of the modern age.  If citizen governance is to emerge into the light of world affairs in a responsible manner, will it take a course that violently destroys  the Past, or will it find some other path through this Rite of Passage that the Hopi Prophecies call: The Day of Purification.  And, in parallel, will the existing powers hold so strongly to their position and privilege such that all their considerable forces are spent trying to hold down the emergence of this sovereign individual community impulse.

If such a War ensues, then the Republic that the founders of the United States of America created will dissolve into chaos, to be replaced by either anarchy on the one hand, or some form of dictatorship (fascist or otherwise) on the other.

If we wish to avoid Battle, then the issues come down to this: By what means will we proceed ?

If the nature of our choices involves the assumption of a proper end goal - a certain right way the future needs to turn out - then we will automatically pursue a course of conflict, for the very fact of our individual sovereign natures assumes that we each will have a different end in mind.  On the other hand, if we choose to place the emphasis on how we go about stepping into the future, the basic form of the Republic that was bequeathed to us remains the most viable, healthy and just way .

To help understand this, we should notice that citizen governance is young.  It has so far rested mostly in an ideal form, as the main principle of the form of government of the United States.   Our present time offers us the opportunity to take this ideal further into reality - further into incarnation.

There are two ways that I recommend.  Both are essential, and one can participate in either or both as one wishes.

One is for ordinary citizens to run for office.  Such activity was certainly in the minds of our founders, and it is much needed in the present, for the class of professional politicians has, in the main, lost its way.  I have chosen this path myself.

The second means is the formation of conversation groups, or what I have elsewhere called: renewal groups.  I have used the term renewal to emphasize the fact that this idea is not new, and was central from the very beginning of our Republic.  But it has fallen into a condition of sleep and disuse, so that if we are to return it to is pivotal place within our form of government, then we must - out of ourselves - call it forth in conversation with each other.

Conversation is the crucial aspect - the essence.  We have tended to think, having lost a true understanding of the nature of the Republic form of government, that the power of the people resided in the vote - that is that we were some form of democracy (which we are not).  More essential than the vote is our mutual spiritual work at expressing, out of our own insight, what we consider to be the nature of the good as that applies to the form and order of society.  It is our individual sovereign moral will, conveyed in the form of ideals from one to the other, that is the essential act of citizen governance.  Out of these heart-felt conversations then emerges that vision of the future toward which we then direct our elected representatives to strive to achieve.

Those, who also take the other path - that of seeking to represent us, very much need our guidance.  They (and hopefully I) work for you (us).   But the eternal truths to which we form allegiance, these are to be discovered in the renewal groups.  At present, the situation is almost the opposite.  The powers of concentrated wealth, and their political allies, work very hard at forming public opinion.  What we think is not so important as what we can be made to think.  Knowledge of true facts is routinely withheld.  What is provided is warped into that meaning most convenient to the speakers.  A representative form of government (our Republic) cannot thrive when all that the People are provided is a sea of lies and half-truths.

At the same time, this apparent abuse of power, by the wealthy elites and their servants, cannot (yet) imprison our hearts and minds.  Having free speech, and the gift of the word , we have the capacity to meet with each other and consider the fundamental and essential questions facing our society.  In this process of asking ourselves questions, and listening to each other offer responses, we begin that work - that means -  whose pathway offers us the most sane passage through the historic crises of the moment.

For the truth is this.   Our fundamental sovereignty as individuals is a reflection of our divine nature.   In this age of materialism, where we have unnaturally separated matter and spirit, we have also lost confidence in the moral.  Today people are content to limit their acts to what is legal, which my law professors described as the lower limit of the expectations that can be placed on human behavior.  To do only what is legal is to do the least socially acceptable act.

No society has life and vitality if its members not only expect of themselves the least, but even worse, intentionally pass downward through that boundary for reasons of personal greed (witness the massive failures now apparent in our business communities).   The renewal of the Republic can only come out of moral deeds, deeds of conscience - deeds first born in acts of individual conscience, which are then merged through conversation in to a community of ideals.

At the same time such deeds need to proceed in moderation.  Individuals, meeting in renewal groups and learning to express their hearts to each other in mutual tolerance, while considering the fundamental goals and purposes of human society, perform a sacred art.  This art of conversation then spreads from one to the other, eventually merging with other conversations  in a vast cooperative act of public ideal self examination.  Where we have been asleep, now we are awake, and our considerations become the light by which our public servants can then do those appointed tasks that we so much need for them to do.

It will not be easy.  To rise from a public expectation of behavior directed toward the merely legal to an understanding of individual moral insight will be no simply matter.  This is hard work, for not only do we have a political Past, but we also have a religious Past, and a scientific Past.  The vast weight of these ideas can be a terrible prison for the future.  Yet, if we take the time to live with trust in each other's hearts, then the mutual work of the sacred art of conversation will lead us to just that community of ideals we need to light the way.

We need have no end in mind at all.  The means - the conversation arising out of our understanding of the principle of citizen governance - will ensure that we travel the roads of life in all the mutual faith and company that we need.


the Future of Business Corporations

- individual self-development and economic leadership -

In my writing on politics, in relationship to economic matters, I have often referred to what I call the Lords of Finance.  This concept concerns the fact that in spite of the hopes of America's Founders, that a viable constitutional democratic republic would be our form of government, the holders of concentrated wealth chose to go their own way, and to create what is essentially a hidden oligarchy of power behind the scenes of an illusion of electoral freedom.  Americans vote, but the money power is so pervasive that government clearly supports the needs of financial institutions and business corporations over the real needs of the ordinary people of this country.

For example, those, who follow intimately the reality behind the so-called sub-prime crisis, are well aware that every move made by the Federal Reserve Board and every move made by the Bush II administration has been directed at saving the financial resources of the banking industry, without out any real consideration of the ordinary people who are losing their homes, and jobs. 

I wrote about this problem extensively in my small book: Uncommon Sense*: the Degeneration, and the Redemption, of Political Life in America.  I wrote there (and elsewhere) that the arrival of this hidden oligarchy of money power was expectable, and that what has happened is that the American Experiment has merely substituted an aristocracy of wealth for the previous aristocracy of blood, thus: the Lords of Finance.

A kind of class warfare has been in place for some time now, with the Lords of Finance ruling our political life in such a way that ordinary people have essentially become, in the economic life, the equivalent of serfs and peasants.  Yes, we (ordinary people) have the apparent highest standard of living (in a material sense) of any serfs and peasants before in history, but the fact is that we are essentially powerless (under present conditions), and have little real access to the ownership of land (what we would need in order to feed ourselves, for example).  This absence of power over life and work, connected to having no real ownership of land, is what has characterized serfs and peasants throughout history.  That American common speech calls us wage slaves is a apt perception of this stark condition.

What is most tragic about all this is that the gross hubris of the elites of wealth is so huge that they have put the whole economy of the world at risk.  The extremely fragile nature of the interlocking dependencies of speculative financial instruments, and the whole way money as created out of nothing but the debt obligations of the wage slaves, suckered into believing they get to own land, when in fact with the foreclosure industry now in full operation, once again (as in the Great Depression), should the economy recover, the Lords of Finance will claim to own everything.

There is more evidence that this is a condition intentionally fostered from the higher circles in the Lords, than there is evidence it is simply a by-product of blind economic forces (the myth we are taught).  We are, by the intentional efforts of the Lords, not a nation of the people, by the people and for the people, but a nation of workers (serfs) and consumers (peasants) serving the grossly extravagant hungers and appetites of a small group of families and individuals, who with callous indifference to our real needs, have subverted our democratic republic for their personal benefit.

In Uncommon Sense and elsewhere, I have written of what the ordinary citizen can do to heal this cancer that has spread itself throughout the body social.  This essay is written for the Lords, and for their more immediate servants within the large business corporations that today have forced their way to almost complete freedom (via trade agreements) from any future restraint by the various Nation States of the Earth.  They place themselves outside the internal laws of Nation States, by creating in these trade agreements a supposedly superior to any Nation State international legal system (designed of course entirely for their own benefit).

At the same time, the basic assumption of this essay is that not everyone, who works in our corporations and financial institutions, is as immoral and indifferent to human suffering as is sometimes assumed.  The question taken up here then is what can individuals do, who believe the business corporation, as a social form, has continued value for a more human future, and who work in or lead such institutions, and would like to further human civilization.

individualism and corporate culture in the fields of high finance

There are no doubt all manner of fine books and academic papers analyzing this subject, so I will try to add some dimensions grounded in a somewhat more organic view.  Please note that I described this section as concerning corporate culture in finance, for not all corporate culture is the same, and while some of the same problems exist everywhere, it is in finance where these kinds of problems are more acute.  Other corporations in other fields (dot.coms for example) show a more modern and responsible tendency, but at the same time a number of the observations to be noted below apply across the board.

Corporate culture is hierarchical.  This is a given.  Certain elements of power and decision making move downward from the apex of what is essentially a pyramidal social organism.  The whole is given direction from the top and moves (as much as is possible) as a single organism.

This organism exists within the wider social body, and is to varying degrees, restrained and given order by the nature of this wider social environment.  For example, legal requirements (of dubious value for the future, see the essay below: law and the spirit) of due diligence and the like force the corporation to make choices more favorable to shareholders than to workers and consumers.  

In addition, corporate leadership (as a consequence) is forced to pay an excessive amount of attention to the value of their stock in the various markets.  This would not be too much of a problem were stock values based on rational decision making, but stock markets are essentially gambling institutions, and the movement of the values of stocks is determined by a psychology of risk taking often itself driven by fear and other strong emotions.  For example, the stock markets during the current (at the time of this writing) challenges posed by the sub-prime mortgage crisis (which is really a crisis generated by excesses of greed among very large financial institutions) are today what is superficially called:  excessively volatile (that is, essentially irrational). 

The buying and selling in stock markets (including those markets specializing on highly abstract derivative debt instruments) today seems constantly on the verge of outright panic.  Basically traders are making bets on the movement of the values of stocks over the course of time intervals as little as a few minutes.  While the whole thing is often called investing (which is really only true of new stocks, the trading in already issued shares from moment to moment (3 billion plus shares a day on the New York Stock Exchange alone), does not always create capital directly for those companies, and is really just a set of bets that will have to be covered by the so-called investor, whether the stock goes up or down.

This means that leaders of corporations are making decisions in an environment where the principle measure of the quality of their leadership is driven by the choices of others (the gamblers), and has no real relationship with the actual economic viability of any particular corporation.  This has actually always been the case with stock companies, whose shares are publicly traded in markets, - just that this time (the sub-prime crisis), where the whole system is under a great deal of stress, its systemic flaws become more apparent.

The deeper we go into such matters, we find that the way that economics is discussed in general, and taught in schools, as well as practiced in life, - all these places where we come upon economic ideas, we find ourselves living amidst myths and illusions.  A main one is that capitalism (as presently practiced) is itself a viable social economic form.  We come to the root of this when we encounter the idea of the free market.  Free market capitalism is in reality what we usually know as an oxymoron - a statement so untrue on its face that one wonders how rational and sane people could actually utter such a term.

Markets, similar to all gambling institutions, operate on the basis of rules, and are run not for the benefit of those who gamble in such markets, but for the house (the financial institutions and brokerage houses that take the fees and loan the money which the buyers of stocks need in order to participate in the so-called market).  A few of the rules come from government, which under recent Republican leadership has failed miserably to actually engage in rule making - given the ideological / theological principle (myth) applied here, which is: all regulation hurts the imaginary free aspect of these markets.

The result has been that there is no rule of law in higher end economic decision making (no regulation, no criminal prosecution with any meaning).  The resulting economic anarchy then becomes an environment which can only breed lawless self-advancement at serious costs to the whole.  Individuals and certain companies make a great deal of money, while the economy and the ordinary people at the bottom suffer all the real negative consequences (millions are losing their homes to foreclosure, recession if not depression is coming, and the social consequences may turn out to be quite horrible - the Western democracies are on the verge of becoming third-worlded - that is losing their first world status for ordinary people, while the elites use their illegally acquired wealth to separate themselves out into private enclaves.  See the movie Children of Men for a well-grounded artistic vision of this much too potential future).

All of this is mostly a direct consequence of the rule of the Lords of Finance, who corrupted the political life of the Western Democracies in order to have a system of banking and finance rules most favorable to this small elite; and at a terrible price for workers and consumers in the first and third worlds as well as resulting in quite near-sighted and irrational approaches to the care of the natural world upon whose fertility, riches  and generosity we all depend.

If we want to step behind the curtain of these social processes, and seek to understand how they came about, how in the so-called Age of Science, so much irrationality could come to rule our economic life, it becomes possible to find one more or less common element as the root cause: education.  Our business and political leaders, most having been trained (as against educated) in our current universities and colleges, are ill prepared to understand present day social, economic and political realities.   Flawed economic myths are taught, which can only be overcome by individuals who would rather know the true nature of economic life, than the vain system of thought wrapped up in what is essentially a religion (a system of economic beliefs to which one must adhere in order to advance).

In point of fact, it is one of the principle ways the Lords of Finance (the hidden aristocracy of wealth) engage in social control.  By determining the underlying principles of our school systems (through their hidden influence on the power of the State), the Lords ensure that education is not about developing latent human potential (its true purpose), but about training the next generation of compliant workers and consumers (serfs and peasants).

Human beings can, however, actually be educated to enlightened self interest (see the essay above on the Re-imagination of the Presidency), rather than a self interest that sees itself at necessary odds with other human beings (social Darwinism).  At the same time, we cannot expect the system - corporate culture - itself to change in the typical fashion.  Certainly we cannot expect change to come from the top down, for the pyramidal principle itself is a flawed social understanding.  Not even our great Universities clearly recognize the problem, and corporate culture already only willingly promotes within its ranks those who demonstrate the same callous indifference modeled at the top.  

Corporations are lead by example, and the dominant winning examples are essentially all predatory.  In a way, corporate culture is (like prison cultures) a social design that produces a kind of unnatural survival of the fittest, in the raw sense that those who succeed are those most willing to climb the ladder of success on the backs of those below.  A real education, would help the educated to understand that the pyramidal principle (dominion over), which is an outcome of a long term social process in Western Civilization that is essentially patriarchal, is no longer workable.  It has outlived its utility (except for the winning elites).

From out of the social below - the social commons - another principle is rising - a circle principle (communion with) rather than a pyramidal principle.  The patriarchal principle of dominion over is slowly being replaced in the social commons with a matriarchal principle of communion with (for the underlying spiritual background here, read my book the Way of the Fool).  Competition has proven it is no longer socially viable (or responsible), and is being replaced, out of the wisdom of ordinary people, with cooperation.

As the reader might expect, to penetrate with our individual thinking to a real understanding of this in practice, would require an intentional re-education or self-education.  Because many of the problems are systemic, some of this new education would have to be society wide, a project under current educational thinking that would be impossible to achieve.  For example, even if we found corporate leaders, who became more self-enlightened through self-education, they are still under the pressure of due diligence and other current rules required to place the benefit of the shareholder over and above the benefit to the consumer and the worker.

Where this takes us, unfortunately, is the need to recognize a coming time of great tragedy.

The formerly workable patriarchal principle of dominion over, having outlived its social utility, cannot continue without causing further illness to the body social.  If our education has been a little bit adequate, we are aware that civilizations fail, especially when the flaws within are so systemic as to be irreparable.  The current crisis in finance markets, coupled with the environmental difficulties and the endless warmongering of the leaders of many Nation States, shows us that fracture points are everywhere.  People in positions of leadership and power don't know (are not properly educated) in how to handle these kinds of crises.  Their collective hubris is leading toward the ruination of us all.

At the same time, what some see as the failure of civilizations is really something more (again a decent self-education would enable the reader to see this).  A more accurate term is: metamorphosis.  Western Civilization is undergoing a process of metamorphosis - it is a dying into a new becoming.  If we can recognize this principle in action, we can then also recognize how to ride the wave (as it were) in a sane and healthy fashion by understanding that the transformation is at its roots one from dominion over to communion with.

As our social (institutional) forms fail (and many of these will be corporate as well as governmental and religious), individuals will have opportunities to participate in the metamorphosis, rather than oppose it.  Those who do oppose it will only increase the stress on the intricately interwoven systems, causing in the wake of their opposition greater social harm.  Those who seek cooperation instead of increased competition, will find that, in community with others, chances of survival increase, and a flexible social form (such as a business entity that sets aside a pyramidal form for a circle form) will be able to constantly adapt to the changing conditions.

The end result of the tragic aspects of this metamorphosis is difficult to predict (there are positive aspects as well).  Certainly there will be many who will seek to ride it out at the top, and use the advantages already gained through money and power to lord it over those below.  We could end up with (after an indeterminate time of considerable social chaos) a new static social equilibrium that is basically one of the end of Nation States and the coming into being of what are essentially feudal-like corporate entities, with their own private armies.  The world would then be re-tribalized, and dominated by rigidly ordered corporate pyramidal social forms (some of which will continue to hide behind a Nation State - whether of a democratic or theocratic - structure).

This social condition of re-tribalized corporate feudalism is not, however, necessary.  Enlightened self-interest may realize that the health of the whole contributes to the health of the part.  It isn't necessary to compete endlessly as the descent into and through social chaos moves toward an ascent into new social form (metamorphosis).  In fact, the Lords of Finance could make a compromise with the social commons - the pyramidal form and the circle form do not have to compete, and a kind of peace could reign.

Yet, in order for this to happen, the truth has to be able to step out from behind the curtain - the Lords need to admit to their hidden rule, and offer the application of their elite powers to the health of the social commons.  There is no reason a bargain can't be struck, in which the Lords maintain certain elements of their wants and hungers, that could be freely given to them from out of the wisdom of the social commons.

The original Constitution was a compromise between competing interests.  If the Lords will admit to themselves that they need the social commons to be healthy in order for their lives as elites to have the qualities they want, the hidden oligarchy could step out from behind the curtain and seek an open agreement with ordinary people.   The world of finance is in fact a world requiring all manner of expertise, and a world-wide economy needs this expertise in order to be orderly and healthy.  The Lords can provide this by rediscovering the moral aspects once called noblesse oblige (the idea that with power and privilege comes social responsibility).

This is one of the possibilities inherent in a new education that leads and builds a lifetimes interest in self-education.  At the present, however, the rule of elites is causing so much harm that the social commons is more and more forced into violence (terrorism for starters) in order to simply not be crushed under the power wheels of the engines of commerce (think oil and the middle-east as an example). 

Since we cannot reasonably expect the pyramidal corporate structures, or the Lords themselves, to be so enlightened as to cease their efforts at rigid social control, it remains then for individuals within these social forms to take up their own self-education; and, by this means become a source within that advocates the true good for the social whole.  This self-education impulse could include a look at my book: the Way of the Fool: the conscious development of our human character and the future* of Christianity - both to be born out of the natural union of Faith and Gnosis.  Or not.

self-education by new corporate leaders

People will continue to be drawn into the economic life, for there is much opportunity for creativity there.  The entrepreneur (one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise) is one of the principle creative actors in modern civilization, even when civilization is engaged in the dying into a new becoming.  If we look at the social commons we can see all kinds of creative activity there, and the whole of the dot.com revolution is really an example of such creativity, for how many of these huge business began in someones garage.  Opportunity is everywhere, and the business risk taker is really a principle source of what is new in the world.

Dot.com businesses, for example, have frequently created working conditions in which instead of the great temple of a corporate glass and steel skyscraper, one finds the physical work environment thought of as a campus.  The dot.com temple is modeled on the university, not the feudal castle.

Whether one is creating a small business, or anything larger, it is the individual who has the idea, sees the need, and tries to fill it.  It is only the old style structures that have adopted the policy of taking their waste products and selling us junk through advertising that makes us ashamed of our human nature.  As we go through the crucible of social metamorphosis, the most creative opportunities will be for those who see a need and fill it.  Many such examples abound today, whether it is micro financing in the third world, or small useful products in the first.

The dying civilization and its patriarchal approach of dominion over are no longer viable, except that they more and more maintain themselves through the application of force (thus the tendency to end up with a new feudalism).  The healthy new business models are healthy precisely to the extent that they abandon the old, and seek for something never seen before.

In this the last section of this essay in this little book, I merely want to offer some help to those who would consider it possible to advance their opportunities for success by recognizing that part of what they can do is change themselves.  They recognize that not only can they be creative in their operational business modes, but they can be creative in what they take into themselves as influences.  If fact, if we observe the details, we see that this is already instinctively happening.  Cultural influences have been changing strongly since the 1960's and it is people born into these new influences that are the most creative.

What books are read?  What movies seen?  What plays?  What music heard?  What poems?

The mind is a garden that can be cultivated accidentally, or with purpose.  Our current universities, with their MBA programs whose trainees are not really educated, and certainly not helped to understand how to be moral in the amoral world of corporate finance,  are also part of the dying of civilization.   These universities are no longer vital, and without a capacity to provide proper inner development for the individual personality, whose strengths of character are so vitally needed in today's world of moral confusion and ambiguity, the former great universities bear a considerable responsibility for a large part of what has happened in the Western Democracies, for it is the graduates of such places (Yale, Harvard, the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics) that have lead us right into the descent into social chaos.

The Founders of the American Experiment knew well that without an enlightened public and public servants, there was no chance the Republic could be maintained, and all the folly we now experience comes from this fall from grace of our once great universities.  We live in the results of what Alan Bloom, in his The Closing of the American Mind, predicted, as did President Eisenhower in his Farewell Address (see appendix below) - a time in which we no longer have truly educated individuals in places of social responsibility

Since the educational institutions have failed, it becomes only the individual who can through self-education overcome what our culture and society has not been able to provide.  We can cultivate our own minds, and if the reader of any of my works has found there something of value, it must be noted that all that I am able to think is in large part due to my having in my early thirties (around 1972-3) recognized that my education, including Law School, had not prepared me for the world in which I found myself - I simply could not understand it out of what I had been taught.

Thus began a long journey, whose details are unimportant, but the best that I can offer to the reader here is to simply list (in no particular order) a number of the books I have read over the last 30 years that have cultivated the garden of my mind and enabled me to learn how to think the way that I do today.  If my thinking seems at all admirable to the reader, then these books are the best stimulation I can offer.  I will also include movies and music.

No one, by the way, is being asked to duplicate my reading list.  On the contrary, if you find just one book of interest, that would be a  considerable benefit.   Each of us, in fact, has to make our own choices here.  There will also be a number of comments as seemed interesting to me, and hopefully interesting to the reader...

I have also tried to give some organization to this list, and a few explanatory comments as seem worthwhile.  For the fun of it, I have given the beginning of this organization an old form, now mostly forgotten, but well worth being reborn in a new form: the Seven Liberal Arts, or the Quadrivium and the Trivium.  In the old system these were: the Quadrivium: Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy; and the Trivium: Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric.  All the same, into this form I will be putting books few in our aged universities have ever heard of.  The beginning form is old, the content is new (for the most part), and other matters besides these traditional themes will be added.

Please keep in mind we are not merely engaged in adding various groups of facts to our minds, but of stretching them - causing them to become more elastic, and to the degree possible: more self-aware.  It is knowledge of the own mind that is crucial.   By challenging it with situations in which it needs to make an effort, we do the same as we to today when we join a health club and exercise our bodies.  Only in this instance, we exercise our minds - our individually unique soul and spirit capacities.


Arithmetic: obviously anyone in school these days is confronted with demands for the study of algebra, and if they are to go into any higher level science or engineering, calculus, differential equations is so forth.  Here I am going to suggest the reader actually go backward and try to get their hands on something from the 18th Century: Thomas Taylor's remarkable The Theoretic Arithmetic of the Pythagoreans. ($10 and up on Amazon.com).  When you are done playing with this book you will never look at the natural number system in the same way again.

Geometry: Here is a great difficulty, for most of the best books are out of print.  Normally one thinks of the geometry of Euclid, but in this instance the newest and the best is the study of Projective Geometry.  George Adams Physical and Ethereal Spaces has only one copy on Amazon at $75.  Olive Whicher's Projective Geometry: Creative Polarities in Space and Time is out of print, but one might be able to borrow a copy from any institution connected to Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy (libraries, Waldorf Schools etc), for these places often will have copies of these books.  The importance of Whicher's book is significant and its being out of print a major tragedy, for it offers us the study of this profound and new geometry through drawing, and the use of our imagination (no need for proofs and analytic thinking).  To give a hint, there is a major flaw in astronomical theory in the development of the idea of parallax, which in using the rules of the old Euclidean geometry instead of the rules of the new projective geometry, this present day astronomical theory has given us a completely illusory view of Cosmic Space.

Music: I am really going to mess with people's minds here and recommend a science fiction novel: The Memory of Whiteness by Kim Stanley Robinson*.  The point here is to read something that inspires us to take an interest in music theory, for the Universe (and even our selves and our social life) is organized on such musical principles as the ten forms of change: retrogradation, inversion, retrograde inversion, augmentation, dimunition, inclusion, textural, partition, interversion and exclusion.

[*a music leads the mind through the starry night; and the brain must expand to contain the flight; like a tree growing branches at the speed of light."]

Astronomy: No one, who has seen the night sky far away from city lights (and even today atmospheric pollution has made this worse), comes away unimpressed.  Actually the development of astronomy fell into disarray when certain themes of Kepler were lost to modern understanding.  Kepler's Third Law, in particular, where Kepler was convinced that he now understood the ancients concepts of the Music of the Spheres, is more significant than most imagine.  Two books can help here: The Harmony of the Spheres - a source book of the Pythagorean Tradition in Music, edited by Joscelyn Godwin.  Here we come upon the synthesis of musical, arithmetical, geometric and astronomical ideas, for none of the Seven Liberal Arts stands alone.  In addition, something very modern: Weather and Cosmos, by Dennis Klocek.  Klocek is the foremost predictor of weather phenomena alive today (see his: doc.weather.com), and the key for him was found by rediscovering certain aspects of the thinking of Johannes Kepler forgotten in the rush to (as Kepler himself put it) thrown the baby out with the bathwater of the astronomical ideas of the ancients.

Grammar: Almost anything by Owen Barfield: Speakers Meaning; History in English Words; Saving the Appearances: a study in Idolatry etc.  None of this is strictly about grammar per se, but we really need to begin to rediscover the latent potentials in language, for language can do so much more that sell and persuade. 

Logic: For many reason is the jewel in the life of the mind.  Unfortunately, the effort to make everything so formal, and also to study the mind from the outside instead of the inside (as do the spiritual savants of the East) has blinded most Western thinkers to the real nature of what makes reason so powerful and profound.  So then the reader is invited to take up epistemology, or the study of how we know what we know.  From many years experience (35 now), I can state unequivocally that these two books by Rudolf Steiner lead the reader to the deepest understanding of the nature of their own mind possible today in the West, through the scientific practice of introspection: A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception; and, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (always in print).  Want to really understand reason?  Then study what is right in front of you in your own mind.

Rhetoric: This subject is only mastered in one way.  By the actual practice of writing and speaking.  It is more something we learn by doing that almost all the above subjects.  The legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury is said to have, in his youth, written 10,000 words a day.  As a result, when he finally found his distinctive voice (his individual art of Rhetoric) all those pages of material become treasures that could be polished and published.  I'm not saying the reader should do this much writing and speaking, but nothing can substitute for practice.

beyond then the Quadrivium and Trivium there exists:

the development of a moral life: as this is rather personal, I suggest for the Christian: The Unvarnished New Testament, by Andy Gaus.  Over the centuries, the dogmas and theological views of all kinds of late comers has come to inhabit most of the versions of the New Testament provided to us by the various sects, churches and rites.  There is a great deal of power in how the New Testament was actually first written down, and Gaus has given us a direct translation from the original Greek into idiomatic English without adding any doctrinal interpretations.   I also must, with some degree of modesty, offer my the Way of the Fool: the conscious development of our human character, and the future of Christianity - both to be born out of the natural union of Faith and Gnosis.

and last...

understanding the times we live in and the potentials for the future: this book you now hold in your hands, of course, as well as my Uncommon Sense.  In addition: America's Global Responsibility: individuation, initiation and threefolding by Jesaiah Ben-Aharon; and, Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest.

I've also produced something of a bibliography for the appendix, which is simply a bare unorganized list of books I've read that helped me think about politics and social life, many of them novels.


a gift from another's eyes written, September 11th, 2004

he stood beside me, silent yet loudly proclaiming his truth

he grabbed my soul and offered his eyes, his dead ghostly eyes

some would say

but seeing out of them I could not say ghost or dead, but only

flaming living spirit!

I could not look away and we became one, and so I had to speak

to witness what we saw, or if you will, what he showed me.

first a high tower view and a desk full of papers

needing attention, and work

inside him a pain, a fight at breakfast the partner edgy, the children afraid

the marriage in jeopardy.

mind floating, he/we can't concentrate, something is not right, an hint of anxiety as if all stood balanced on the abyss

then the building shudders, a deep moaning cry, and while sounds of

explosions echo away into screams of fright

we run now, this way and that up and down

looking to escape the danger and the rumors

there is no hiding place, only the rock

panic now, smoke filling lungs, flames licking at windows,

sirens rising from below and panic wins

A chair through a window, which shouldn't break, but does

Insane now, we fly...out with no wings

tumbling over and over free somehow of most of fear,

except the dread of waiting for the pain of impact!

Finally it comes, and just as quickly passes,

and so we descend this ghost and I

our eyes united, our souls one

descend into the earth as if having jumped into a swimming pool

floating falling, gliding down and down a sense of maybe drowning in concrete and dirt, but then a hand

luminous, gentle, we are gripped taken hold of and lifted.

rising now, up through earth and then out

into sky and light seeing flame and smoke

but not alone

there are others with us, souls, spirits, what is in a name?

the luminous hand lets go, and we float now have the sense of a lifetime's companion protector, teacher, for whom the naked

words guardian angel hardly touch its meaning

then we watch as others are drawn up from falling or other forms of

life's end until first one and then the other

tower falls, and as each lets go, there is a tone, a deep bell

that rings through everything

finally, the smoke clears, and we can see that we are many now

thousands easily we circle round and above

the place of doom and the grief below rises through us

and we can not but breathe it in

for air is not our sustenance anymore, just feelings, raw sometimes and light filled when others below pray, and we breathe it in and witness.  

we circle round some more, for this is our first new task

to witness and bear within the grief of that which

we have left behind

eventually, one by one we are drawn higher, and he who has given me his

eyes, turns, and sees his grandmother who holds him, and us, close at first

drawn higher we are, the many witnesses, knowing just our

witnessing itself is sacrifice received into the Heart and Root of all the World

sacrifice received, a date and time and place made sacred

but even as we left this hallowed place, following

the grandmother's kindness, we could see behind us

a darkness forming, for already some hearts, cold and wrong

made ready to steal what they could of this sacrifice

made by both the still living. and the newly gone

a theft more terrible then the doom of

falling towers themselves so like a child needing comfort, we two

turned away from this flooding darkness seeking the grandmother

to rest there in such embrace as never before needed, or felt.

touched this way we travel through

a quick remembering of life, and sensing shame at those all

too frequent dark deeds,

she leads us on, and takes us to a school wherein we will

live how it felt to others to know us.

the girl we teased for a torn dress, whose soul we scarred with shame

the boy we tripped whose nose was broken in the fall

and whose father beat him later for a coward he was not

the teacher who lost her job and later killed herself for the

lie we told about the touch that never happened

all this and more we lived inside what they felt,

and the years passed, while the earth below

continued its ravages of light  and pain

yes there was light, even in our story...

the child we loved and held when sick, walking the night away

the friend we stayed with when the drink was too much

and life more than they could bear

the year we volunteered at the shelter

we knew it all, our deeds of dark and light, and how they felt to


early once, in this long school of others feelings,

there came a break and grandmother took us from

this labor for a time

down to earth again, to a place of strangeness

a people not like what we had been

A small room, a woman rocking a child and crooning a wordless

tune, yet something more she felt than love

fear it was, a nameless dread too soon to be fulfilled

as the night exploded with light and sound

and the ground shuddered until after a moments pause

a great stone fell from the sky

thrown by a bomb made in America, the stone hurled

up and up and then fell through the roof, crushing mother

and daughter, and for the little girl a lingering death

innocence shattered and life ended in enduring only pain

but then we saw the angels come and drawing them up they too

stood around, in groups with varied faces, foreign and domestic

in the nearby invisible realm of true light they too witnessed for a time, until we watched the older relatives take them up, and on to that school of

mirrors of life felt and not seen

But his grandmother was not through, and she pulled us down, down and down beneath the earth, and we knew we followed

where Christ had once gone, on a Saturday, straight to Hell!

Down she took us, this wise elder woman, down and down

through realms of bestial screams and inhuman cries

places so dark and mean that mere words cannot find names

until a realm is seen, somehow on the other side

of Hell there is a place of Light

How could this be we think, but pulled ever on by elder

wisdom we come to a place so gentle and kind of feeling

so safe, so much like home remembered

and then we see them, there in the Root of the World,

sitting in a circle, individual and joined at the same time

names fly through our mind Demeter, Diana, Persephone,

Sophia and the Holy Mother

What Mystery! that on the other side of Hell

lives the deeps of the Divine Feminine, the realm of the true

Dark, the Dark in which the Light Itself was born

Then we saw it falling from above, a constant endless rain of evil deeds,

of pain and hate and violence and more

a rain of poison, and theft of innocence and all the most

terrible of human actions falling like darkest, vilest

blood, on the circle there - the circle of deepest Holy Dark

into them it streamed, this evil dark substance unredeemed

where breasts had once given milk it entered in

where the womb had once given birth, it entered in

streaming hate and crime, moving into the Holy Mother through

all Her wounds that should but bear the most wondrous gifts

But that was not the end of it, for once inside such a power

eyes could not bear took hold, and rendered

all this hate and evil Impotent! Powerless! Undone!

through the wounds of giving went the evil, and inside

it lost its nature, for there a great and holy power transformed

our darkest acts, until

from out the eyes and mouth of Feminine Mystery

came tears and words of love golden, light filled, rising

not falling, back through the realms of Hell came tears

and words of love

all to soon now, before we could contemplate this miracle

divine, his grandmother took us back and up

to a new place of vision, outside the earth, as if

on the moon, yet closer, and so we saw

the earth naked in its spiritual truth

there before our gaze we saw the man on the cross, His image

fading out to earth and then fading back in again

in the ever pulsing Heart of the World, first the one image - just the earth,

then the other - the man on the cross

but even that was not fixed, for the man on the cross

shifted as well, sometimes sitting on a rock, holding children in his lap

or blessing a woman or becoming a dove

or sitting at the feet of the highest

but as we watched we saw more...more evil, more hate, more crime, more

theft of innocence for not all evil fell downward through Hell

toward the Holy Mother, resting in the Root of the World

not all for evil's hunger could not rest

in just one place, but sought to despoil all that lived

or loved the Light

so an equal portion rose up and out especially that most terrible

of lies, hypocrisy - to say one thing and do another

here too, in the Heart of the World, the wounds were

entrance points, and evil flowed into Him as well

five wounds two on hands two on feet

and one opposite the heart itself

but there too, within Him, it was made impotent, unbound,

and healed, so that now from a second place

tears and words of love fell inward from without

fell from how He surrounded and held the world to his bosom,

falling slowly toward the earth tears and words of love

falling inward, from the surrounding Heart of the World

meeting that which was falling upward from

the Root of the World

meeting each other, these tears and words of love,

mingling, touching, mixing, changing into a fine mist

invisible to the eye but everywhere,

an atmosphere of healing feeling breathed in by human hearts,

wherever and whenever they opened to each other

human open hearts breathing in the mist

of tears and words of love the Mother and the Son

having redeemed evil and changed it into love

sustenance, nourishment, a Eucharist of being.

enters open human hearts and graces them,

granting courage, wisdom, and even more love

it was too much to see such Holy Craft and Art

And while I did not want to leave his eyes which saw so much,

and witnessed such as could not be imagined

yet leave I had to, and so the grandmother returned him

him she sent back to school and me she sent down

down once more into substance and matter,

to my keyboard so as to record and witness

what was seen and felt, this day of September the 11th, 2004


Surfing the Coming Tsunami of History

part one

the descent into madness 

- government during the end of a civilization -

A lot of people look at the Bush II administration and see culpable and intentional mismanagement leading to gross and destructive failures, which is to a degree accurate.  Karl Rove's contribution is deeply clever (callus and indifferent logic), but without any heart.  The actual appreciation of the nature of government, and the wise exercise of its powers, is something that neither Bush II or Dick Chaney had any real abilities to discern.

As a social phenomena, this administration is a disaster for the reasons outlined above.  Most of the power players, including many Congressional Republicans and Democrats, as well as various bureaucrats, simply lacked any developed capacities from their education and upbringing that made them capable of handling the power they held or even of understanding their opportunities and real powers.

Any careful and thoughtful examination of political speech, and various kinds of elaborated government policies, reveals a complete absence of rational coherence.  Many personalities involved in government do not even really follow their stated ideologies, but rather are (in varying degrees) basically addicted to power, the ultimate addiction.  The kinds of excesses and depravities known to have unfolded during the last years of the Roman Empire are everywhere today in Washington D.C. (albeit modern in taste, not ancient).  At the same time, this moral swamp (inhabiting a land area that was originally a real swamp, which is why the relevant States gave it away), is able to hide its excesses from the lame powers of a press that is more interested in its own celebrity, than in actually playing a role in our polity.  Without real investigative journalism, but instead a kind of commerce driven infotainment, rational discourse on public issues simply does not arise.

Everyone has opinions of course, but given how weakly educated (see the above essay on real education) many are, as a consequence of the failure of all of our schools of higher education, unable to display any ability to think with penetrating care through the illusions of the times.  Yes, it is true that certain academics (such as  Noam Chomsky) do engage in penetrating analysis of flawed government policies.  At the same time, even such as these have been unable to come to a sufficient understanding of how the world actually works, so as to lead us to the knowledge we require to heal the situation.

They understand, to a degree, that something is wrong, but they have missed out on appreciating what is right.  The world is a delicate balance of powers that are more psychological-emotional then logical - more of psyche and spirit than grounded rational thought.  This is why I characterized our current state of governance as a descent into madness.

We suffer an essentially psychic disturbance that is profoundly spiritual in its nature, and until we understand that dimension of political and social reality, we cannot take hold of the real levers by which to move our civilization through this process of metamorphosis with an appropriate wisdom.  (Again, see my book the Way of the Fool).

For example, no modern political speech, of whatever party or persuasion, would pass muster in a court of law, where rules of evidence, and the ability to cross-examine and otherwise test the credibility of the speaker are in play.  Political speech is irrational speech, and sometimes acutely so. 

The recent demands of Sam Harris, in his book the End of Faith, that religion needs to be rationally tested, could also be applied to the religion that is politics and the religion that is economics.  Our political leaders and our business leaders, believe several dozen irrational things all before breakfast (as the cliche goes).  Even Harris's book fails the same test of reason he tries to apply to religious thought.

In the previous essay I pointed to two books required by a modern self-educated mind, that really wants to know true reason as an experience (A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception; and, The Philosophy of Freedom - both by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925).

One way to appreciate this, something in part recognized by Harris in his book on religious Faith, is that if we lay along side each other the various views of politicians, and business leaders (and leading economists) we find that they are universally in fundamental disagreement.  While those who pursue the dismal science (economics), do at least act as if they seek the truth, politicians show no evidence whatsoever of wanting or needing  the truth.  Karl Rove has clearly stated for example, that an empire can create the truth by its actions.  But even he, if he had to present his ideas in a court of law, would be unable to prove the rationality of the views he holds, and acts upon. 

This is not to say our courts of law are free from the ongoing degeneration of civilization, but the rules of evidence do provide a kind of test that would work soundly to help us through certain otherwise insane political and economic dialogs.  Only when the courts undertake the strange ritual of so-called "expert testimony" do they wander into the nether world of irrationality, for clearly when two entirely conflicting views are presented, one (at least, it could be both) has to be false.  If the person who is in error is an expert, then by what standard was the other expert thought to be his equal.  Anyone who follows the Law and Order television series has seen this strange rite of competing experts, which in the end oddly enough gives over to the common sense of the jury a determination of which imaginary expert makes a more persuasive case.

Now if we step back from this situation a bit, and make it a part of the phenomena that we need to understand, this situation of poor education and near rabid irrationality (opinion and belief seek to trump the search for truth on all levels), then we can begin to discover that the underlying reality of human affairs - (if we wish to understand it even in a rational fashion) - this effort to discover this reality has to include in its point of view just why it is that what we call irrationality, and what others call evil, exist at all.

Harris and others seem to think that rationality is superior to all other forms of human expression (although his own political ideas fail miserably at the bar of rational thought).  This approach wants to pretend the irrational and the immoral have no part to play in human affairs, and that science's rationality will save us all.  Now that's an irrational thought!

In the end we have to come up with a view of the world that takes account of that which is not rational, which includes a great deal of what we call religious ideas and the expressions in art.  Once we can appreciate that the descent into madness that characterizes the nature of government, in this time of social metamorphosis,  is rooted in some kind of real aspect of human nature, we end up with a whole other level of questions.

Harris and those like him, would exclude from consideration, with the wave of a vain assumption, all that is irrational simple because it is (in their view) irrational.  In a very real sense this approach says that what is phenomena in the social (irrationality and evil) can be dismissed from having any meaning.  Once we've put these real social events in the black hole of meaninglessness, then all we have to deal with is our personal gods of rationality, and the rest are lessor beings (those who hold what we deem to be irrational thoughts), while we are superior and ought to rule.

This picture at this point then is crucial.  The decision making processes of modern political leaders and economic thinkers, as well as many many others, does not arise solely from human reason.  Our collapsing civilization is descending into a quite definite state of social madness, at the top as much as at the bottom.  The main proof of this is that there is no universal coherence of thought.  Not even science (which likes to pretend that it does) possesses this coherence, and certainly neither politics, or religion or art (for that matter) do either.

People swim in a sea of beliefs and opinions, and we are in a time where the conflicts between the differences lead more and more to impassioned conflict, many times violent and destructive.  We try to appear reasonable in many circumstances, but since there is no common result of our individual application of reason, we have to consider that something else is going on - if we wish to understand the world in which we live.

Given this situation (and leaving the debate is to why and what from my point of view to what is written in my book the Way of the Fool), the next step arises in the following essay, and is quite justified in the mind of the reader:  Wendt, if you are right in insisting government in this time is inherently irrational, what do you think would be....


part two

what a sane government might look like 

- how the power of the presidency could be applied

in the coming time of social chaos -

In a certain sense this material below would have to be considered a kind of fantasy.  But, let's face it, most political promises are already a kind of fantasy, so in imagining something different coming out of the Executive Branch we haven't really gone outside ordinary political speech at all.

Just to be clear on this, consider a presidential candidate that promises a certain governmental action that would naturally require the passage of legislation.  Why any sane person would think this a promise that could be keep is beyond me.  The process by which a presidential intention becomes legislative action is difficult, and a simple check of history shows how infrequently such promises are kept.  Granted the Bush II administration was able to work in such a way that the Republican legislative majority acted with considerable unity and in coordination with the White House, really only proves the case.

Most of what was done was not only not promised by Bush and Chaney during the campaigns, but in many cases what they promised was the opposite of what they did.  If we want to reason about this in terms of causal relationships - i.e. seeking a kind of why, we end up with something that was really a kind of collective psychology of a small group of men, who found themselves in seats of power, yet who also had no self-understanding.

The Neo-cons (small group of men) created a collective world view, one in which they hungered to be able to act upon the world out of this somewhat demented set of policy conceptions (America as Empire).  Their fantasies, worked out in elaborate think-tank papers, became at an odd historical moment capable of being acted upon.  These policies where argued about for many years before they were applied, and the method by which these people came to power is itself a remarkable subject for investigation, for if we examine it carefully, they were hardly in control of events at all.  Certainly they tried, especially under the influence of Karl Rove, to rise to power by intention, but the collective madness of the times played a much greater role than any political skill.

For example, the real dominant power as to much of what government does is to be found in the banking industry.  These folks work at being nameless for the most part, and have successfully (up to this point) hidden from the general public the nature of their influence.  A additional lot of what is possible influence comes from the historical relationships between the Defense Department, and the major industrial corporations that supply armaments.   The reaching into Republican politics of the Christian Right is another excess, which coming from an entirely different section of our society, also can't be causally related to the rest.

Because of the influence of corporations (not just armaments makers), the legislative branch is filled with individuals who owe their continued election to their willingness to sell their favors to the highest bidder.  Thus we have the Abramoff and other similar scandals, which give evidence of multiple kinds of corruption everywhere.

If we just step back, and don't look at things as having a kind of simple explanation (Bush did it, Rove did it, whatever), then we see there is a kind of collective political madness, rooted in greed and the love of power, which eventually so possesses the holders of power in Washington that a kind of crisis arises - the whole explodes into a kind of weird excess that pours its own irrationality all over the world.

In my book Uncommon Sense, I describe the degeneration of the nature of the Republic - of the American Experiment - as a natural social-political process, that has also turned a kind of corner, if we are paying attention.  The very fact, for example, of the present day financial crisis involves the beginning of a kind of collective waking up from a very bad political nightmare.  Now this waking up is not over.  We will (as near as I can anticipate) have to endure additional kinds of very serious troubles, because (if we look at history, for example)  we will suffer much more before we find a way to action (just like our Founders had to endure serious privations and abuses of power by the English Crown before they acted, and then even after they started to act they had 10 years of conflict).  Only out of such a process is a next step in the American Experiment to become possible.

What this means for this essay (and this book) is that the below imagination of a more sane executive branch hopes to serve just how we consider what might be done that makes this next phase of the Republic find its right shape and healthy foundation.  Hopefully this little story will show that there are wise alternatives to what politicians currently promise, such that we, as Citizens, began to alter not just our expectations of electoral processes and candidate selection, but more crucially our own political behavior.  Americans really get the kind of government they seek, and if they continue to remain asleep little will change.

Yes, I know, everyone has a better idea.  But what I am advocating is that this fact of everyone having a different better idea suggests that something else is going on, that is not being taken account of.  The Christian Right thinks its smarter than the Liberal Left.  The rational scientist thinks he is wiser than the career politician.  The gossip mongering reporter thinks the public's right to know includes all manner of private (as against public) facts.  Glance across the spectrum of magazines, newspapers, blogs and whatnot, you will find a colossal absence of fundamental agreement on any basic facts.

Everyone insists they are right, and few of them bother to notice that this claim by everyone to be right is itself the most significant fact of all!

If we are going to understand human social-political life at all, we have to find a way to take account of such basic realities, and to find processes by which the whole (to a degree) can find enough consensus to move forward for the benefit of all, even though disagreement is everywhere.

The Founders of the American Experiment understood this, and the Constitution was meant to accommodate this problem.  Yet, what we live in today is a struggle by one or another point of view to dominate the others, often through extreme variations of lying and cheating, if not outright violence.  If a president were to try to heal such a situation, what could he or she do?

Its actually very simple to state: Get the combatants to sit at the same table.  The president, instead of leading his own group to its dominance (an excess with terrible consequences that we have just all witnessed), takes us all toward mutual comprehension and understanding.  The president is no longer partisan, but a true statesman.

What could this look like?

Here is how I would do it.  The assumption here is that I have been elected, so that now the problem is what to do, not how to go about getting in a place of being able to do something.  As explained elsewhere in my political writings (Citizen Governance, for example), the core gesture is to focus on the means not the end.  A true statesman will follow the same peaceful means, recognizing that it is how we travel that is crucial, not that we arrive at a certain place by any cost.  It is the mode of travel, and its nature that is crucial.

I actually wrote a blog entry to Al Gore, suggesting that he stood in such a place (had such an opportunity), so lets start with that before proceeding to how to act in office:

"Dear Al, or how to win the election without getting trapped in any of the old political BS.

"Dear American Statesman, Mr. Al Gore,

"I know you would like to be president, and a lot of us would like that too. I also know that campaign politics is not any longer to your taste, and that all your so-called political advisers will probably want to talk you into the same methods of political campaigning everyone else is doing. We all (even the advisers) know this is stupid, but no one seems to have a better idea - except me and I am giving it to you for free. Be grateful - you'll never get better free advice anywhere (you could of course pay me, I need the money, but I'm also not going to hold my breath).

"Your present stature (well earned) is as a Statesman. Don't give it up to become just another ambitious politician. It is possible to conduct an election campaign as an act of service and stay away from all the self-serving BS so common to everyone else.

"The first act (very crucial) is to throw out the ambition. Don't run for president in order to win! Don't do it! This is the big mistake that everyone else is making and you can avoid it if you try. Why?

"As soon as we inwardly form the desire to win, we start to make compromises, and it is as someone not making compromises that makes us a Statesman. Of course, some will say you have to have money to win and so forth, or even to campaign, and that is all true in the old way, but the new kind of service-directed campaign I have in mind here is not going to require much wealth at all. In fact, you'll succeed even if you don't get elected (which I suspect you will anyway, but cheaters are out there so who can say for sure), and you'll be such a good example that this very act of yours will change political life everywhere entirely. You'll set an example so high that others will look like fools not to copy it, and before the election even, you'll find them running around trying to do it like you are doing it.

"Lets start by remembering the stupid way politicians now campaign. They raise a lot of money and travel around trying to get voters to vote for them in primary elections so as to get the nomination. Have to get on ballots advisers say. Have to raise millions advisers say. Have to run lots of TV ads, have huge state by state staffs, and at the same time run around giving speech after speech after speech (often the same damn one all the time, which has to be boring and not very good for your mind). In my method you don't have to do any of this.

"You also don't have to court the media, for the very same process that will make the other candidates look like fools, will make the media look like fools. You see, there is this very strange fact (true in the present, and could be an opportunity lost if not acted upon). The American People are fed up with business as usual. Neither Congress or the President now gets even 30% in the polls. People are screaming for something different, and you have achieved the status of Statesman, and they love you for it. So the big danger for you is to come down from that status and becoming again a mere politician. Don't do it!

"Plus, this process of campaigning (I know this is a big build up, but I'll deliver) will fold over into an entirely new way as to how to conduct yourself in office. That's right! You campaign the same basic way you operate as president, the one seamlessly blending into the other, all the while never leaving the status of being a Statesman.

"The question to ask yourself is what do people want. What do the voters (and non-voters - don't leave them out) want? They want to be heard! It is the most simple need in the world, to have leaders who come to them and just listen. How strange (not!). The Press will go nuts, saying where is your position on the issues, why don't you have big policy papers, why aren't you telling everyone what to do (so as soon as your back is turned we can criticize you for your ideas).

"But you aren't being a politician anymore, you are being a Statesman!

"Now lets do a basic run through of the fundamental idea. Imagine...

"Iowa. Al Gore's buses come to town, after a little advance work. There's a community hall set up, with certain technical functions (you bring them), which include some good lighting, some comfortable chairs around a big circular table, and some digital cameras (sort of YouTube stuff). You sit at the table, dressed casually (you aren't meeting bigwigs, just working people and farmers, school teachers and parents - all the really important people in our society). [Someone in the Press might make fun of King Al and the Knights of the Round Table - let them, and ask them if they know a better way for people to speak from their hearts to someone who might be THEIR president. And, ask them why they (the Press) think they know better than the ordinary people in America. You see, the Press isn't liked either, and you'll only gain stature and interest by being equally critical of the Press when you see all this stuff from the point of view of the guy having to make 14 ends meet in a economy that is getting queerer by the minute.]

"You see the way this is going to work is that the Press will first criticize and act all snotty. Then after a while they'll realize that folks are paying attention to you, perhaps more attention to you than to them. As this unfolds, the actual political conversation is going to change. Lets return to our picture... A local store or whatever has been paid to provide some refreshments of a local variety - stuff the people at the table will enjoy. You are going to sit and break bread with the people you are going to serve, and find out about their needs and listen to their voices. You do get to ask a question or two, but not in order to represent your views. Rather your role is to bring your experience in government to the situation, and to help the people talking find good questions. They might want Washington to do a certain thing, and you are going to be very honest with them about how difficult that is. They might then say what do we do to fix that, and you ask them why they keep voting for the same people all the time. Not hard questions meant to make them feel bad, but honest questions, neighbor to neighbor about what to do about the bad dog down the block who is making everyone's life miserable.

"They will ask you questions. The first rule is tell the truth, even if it means confessing to having done less than your best in the past. All of these people know about failure and mistakes - they live life in the real world, not in the fantasy America that exists in the language of most political speech.

"The point is not to always have glib and easy answers. There aren't any easy answers! Just shared problems and maybe good hearted intentions to work together. Someone might say to you, that you are just going to be another politician regardless of this "listening" meetings you are having, and you say that you hope not, but they could be right. In point of fact, they will say a lot of stuff that might be painful to hear and the best response will be agreement.

"They are going to ask you about money, your money. You should ask yourself first. How did you get so rich? What are you doing with it? Why are you charging so much money to do speeches? You need to recognize that in the present time, as the middle class is disappearing and more people are falling downward economically, that an excessive display of wealth is getting to be just as egregious in the eyes of ordinary people as the thoughtless displays of wealth of the aristocrats in pre-revolutionary France.

"People will tolerate it if they believe you understand how insane this all is, and how America needs to change course economically as well as politically. Think of this work as a kind of steam valve - letting people talk about difficult questions, perhaps presently unsolvable questions - lets the pressure off a bit. They not only get heard, they get a release.

"Now expand the above imaginative scenario a thousand-fold. Instead of giving speeches you go around listening to people. Then, to top it off, you get them to sign releases so that their thoughts and ideas get on the Internet. You also make CDs of each event, and distribute them locally for free. Everyone you talk to gets one, and all their neighbors. In the beginning it will all seem strange, but as you do it there will be a kind of informational wave front running out ahead of you. People coming to events like this will after a time have already looked at other people's stuff. Maybe your advance people can make prior conversations available in the upcoming communities. Instead of dividing the country up with hard and fast positions, you are actually enabling the country to talk to itself! Getting the picture yet?

"Some questions might need some experts to ponder. So for every 10 meetings with ordinary people, you do one with experts from a specific field that has come under question by the people to which you have been listening. You put the questions to the experts, and these are people you can make sweat. Don't let them dodge into cliches and other usual BS. Invite folks across a spectrum of point of view in that field, but stay away from the usual talking heads on TV. People are tired of yelling and screaming. They want to see intelligent discourse. That too goes on the Internet and on ahead via CDs.

"CDs should also go backward. After talking to farmers in the center of the Country you take their questions to the so-called experts (actually a lot of farmers know a great deal more than the experts). So you loop around again, visit some of the same folks, making sure that they've had a chance to see how the dialog went onward after it came by them the first time. Maybe you put some ordinary folk in with the so-called experts. You invite competing candidates to sit down with ordinary people and talk to them. Everyone gets included!

"This then is your work as a Statesman. You facilitate a huge national conversation, one that gets taken into the deepest questions (the content of many of the great speeches you gave the last few years about the real nature of government, our constitution and the troubles that face us). I guarantee you'll blow minds everywhere, and even if not elected, you will change the face of American politics forever. Plus, if you do get elected, you will not be carrying into office the baggage of a lot of self-serving semi-honest useless positions on the issues. You'll find yourself free in a way you never felt before, and if in office you then get to...

"Continue to do the same thing!!! Imagine...

"A government cable channel, where you and every Secretary and Under-Secretary of a department has to sit at a round table with citizens discussing with them their needs, and listening to their concerns. The variations on this theme are considerable and will lead to huge transparency. The corporate folks will go nuts, because their whole power base is rooted in secrecy. Think what it will do to the Legislative Branch, and maybe the Judicial Branch as well. They will be under tremendous pressure to institute similar kinds of relationships to the People for whom they work. Such dialogs don't have to always generate answers, but its well past time the folks in government that work for the People had to actually sit down with those People in a public (cable) forum and answer questions.

"Of course, you could get shot on the way to doing this, but as John Perkins, the author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, is going around saying: Isn't it time we all took the same risks and pledges as our founders, when they signed the Declaration of Independence, with its last line: "And for support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.""

That's the basic idea I gave away to Al Gore in my blog of June 26th 2007.  You saw above the transition, to being actually in office, but next I'll try to put some more flesh on that aspect of this idea.

A true statesman, instead of insisting his point of view is right, understands that all points of view have to be heard, and in a forum where they also have to justify themselves.  Anyone can offer an opinion on any subject.  Explaining to others why its such a good idea is, however, a great deal harder.

So here's what my day and week would look like if I was president.

Many meetings around a round table with others of differing points of view (including experts and ordinary people) about subjects of mutual concern, all done in a format that is cable, Internet, and CD (or DVD) ready.

I ask them questions, keep them focused, call bullshit bullshit when its spoken.  I don't pretend to have the answers.  I don't pretend to even have the best questions.  What I do have is a wise process by which public (transparent) conversation about what government is about and what it should do is out there for everyone to participate in.

In essence, what the Founders discussed among themselves, and wrote about in the various Federalist and anti-Federalist papers, leaves the realm of elites, and enters the realm of the ordinary common sense wisdom of ordinary people.  What the Press and the politicians have failed to do for years, gets done right out there where everyone can see it.

As president I wouldn't be the star, I'd be the mediator, with the People being the stars.  Of course, the facts of the nature of government will for a long time require the executive branch to make crucial decisions (the buck does stop there).  But if the ongoing dialogs are healthy and vital, and free of spin, lies, secrets, etc., then when the executive has to act the basis for that action will have been collectively debated, and the People will understand it, for they will have been a major factor in the conversation leading to the decision.

You see, in the present, its easy to give a public announcement and say the most illogical ill-informed crap, and nobody really questions what is said.  In this new kind of government, where the basic task of the statesman-leader is to foster dialog, the whole quality of the public discourse will be lifted.  It will become impossible for any loud and angry minority to proclaim it knows better than anyone else what should be done, because someone from their point of view will have had to present and justify that view before the conscience of the People's Round Table.

Of course there are all kinds of questions as to the details, but I think the reader should by now understand and appreciate the wisdom of the basic idea, which then leads us to one of the main consequences of public dialog - laws and legislation, so naturally we now go on to...

part three

on the law and the spirit

We all understand we are a nation of laws, but few of us actually step back from that and ask why we need to have laws in the first place.  How do you have real freedom and laws?  What social value does the existence of law serve?  Do we have good laws today, or has something gone wrong there too, as appears to have gone wrong just about everywhere else?

We have a cliche about the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.  Above, in discussing irrationality we noticed that it is everywhere, and that sometimes we can only look at social phenomena and recognize that somewhere inside them is something that has to be called madness or evil or both.

In my book the Way of the Fool, I provide an elaborate discussion of the relationship between the truly spiritual and our social existence.  Here I am going to address these questions from a quite different direction.

We have thoughts, feelings (emotions) and actions.  The U.S. Constitution is an action, from one point of view, but is also a very profound idea from another.  Our Founders felt their freedom being compromised by the English Aristocracy, and after many years of abuse finally said: no more!

I am going to suggest something, but not insist it is the only way to look at things social and political.  Hopefully it will be useful.

Our Founders had a lot of wisdom, not all wisdom to be sure, but they were careful thinkers and had basically good hearts.  They didn't agree on everything, but in creating the U.S. Constitution they did something never before done in history, which I (and others) have been calling: the American Experiment.

They saw that there seemed to be three natural divisions of process in government.  The making of laws they put first, that is the Legislative Branch (Article I, comprised of ten Sections) is elaborated first in the Constitution, a fact that ought not to be ignored.  Then they elaborated the powers of the Executive Branch (Article II, comprised of 4 Sections), before finally setting out the powers of the Judicial Branch (Article III, comprised of 3 Sections).

With intention they divided up the various powers that they understood government needed to have, but clearly they also tried to give the most power to the Legislative Branch, not the Executive or the Judicial.  Everyone who wants to actually be a citizen and vote in our constitutional Republic ought to consider it their primary duty to be familiar with this document.  All the political wisdom of Western Civilization was translated into a seed form in this very precise, elegant and short work on practical political philosophy.

We could say that a description of the spirit of the laws of the United States of America is expressed in these Ideas.  When this document is joined to the Declaration of Independence, and also to Thomas Paine's remarkable Common Sense, we will understand the spirit out of which our way of life was born.

Everyone, I believe, who is not entirely asleep, realizes that we have lost a connection to this spirit of the law.  A modern legislator, in justifying his 1000 page legal mumbo-jumbo allowing pharmaceutical companies to basically regulate themselves, will hardly try to connect his proposed letter of the law to this spirit.  Rather he simply exercises a power, granted him by the People under the Constitution, which he (the legislator) no longer appreciates is a grant of power.  Such legislators act is if the power was theirs to use in any arbitrary way they desire, and the spirit of the Constitution be damned.

One of the important ideas, which was assumed by the Founders, and exposed to modern minds in the recent HBO series on John Adams, is the idea of the rule of law.  The Constitution is in fact an agreement, a social contract, in which the Citizen, via his representatives in Congress, agrees to abide by this concept of the rule of law.  No longer is the arbitrary power of an hereditary aristocrat to rule, but the law, the social contract is to rule.

So far then we have brought forward three important concepts: spirit, grant and rule.  Spirit is the idea of the law, a grant is the process by which the law is generated, and the rule is the law itself to which we, out of our freedom, choose to submit.  One is a kind of thought, the other comes from a kind of feeling, and the third is an action, or act of will.

Unfortunately, in this time of great madness, few in government or banking and finance (as well as a lot of other places) any more believe we are a nation of laws, but rather that we are just a collection of competing Darwinian animals, justified in any excess in their hunger for domination.

As Richard Dreyfuss pointed out about a year ago on Bill Mahre's show on HBO, no one anymore is taught basic Civics, and without that there is no way to understand why our nation was meant to be the way that it was meant to be, or why we are presently in so much danger.  The richest and most powerful long ago stopped following the rule of law, and since then only have sought the application of such rules when it was for their benefit alone.  The social contract was broken and the Republic - the American Experiment - died with it.

A tragedy?  Sure.  A historical necessity?  Probably?  A solvable problem?  You bet your sweet ass!

In spite of all the aspects of the Experiment that failed to live, some very important parts did not quite die.  The basic skeleton was there, in the words of the Constitution.  Government acted through somewhat well defined channels.  The river of the application of power was directed though a maze of rules that made the death of the Republic take a very long time.  It is only now, where our civil liberties (the Bill of Rights) is under a conscious attack, that the final battle comes to its climax.

We can still talk to each other and still assemble (gather in groups).  Thus we have free speech and times of conversation.  A great deal can happen if we take hold of those rights and apply them to a conscious process of reeducating ourselves in the fundamental questions.  What is the spirit of a law?  Why do we have a nation of laws?  How do laws arise?  Are they a temporary grant of power from the people to others?

You see, one of the ways we are defeated is by being told to think of certain things as "issues".  From that point of view we lie to ourselves about a more fundamental question, which is whether the system is working at all anymore.  So people argue over policy and clean air acts and green house gasses, and never bother to figure out that the reason there is so much insanity in the world is that we have lost the connection to the fundamentals - to an appreciating that the rule of law is a social contract, for example.

Its not whether the policies of the Bush II administration are insane and ought to be something else, but whether or not anyone in Washington anymore follows the rule of law, believes in its spirit, or understands that this social contract is something to which we consent (or not, out of our freedom), and by which we grant limited power to others in order to make government run in a practical fashion (reread the preamble to the Constitution here: We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.)

Once we start to have that discussion, then what to do to fix things will come to us far more easily than it does when we focus on the illusory realm of "issues".  "Issues" are the symptoms of the failure of the social contract, and what we need and want to do is to renew that contract, from the ground up.  To do that we need a long and thoughtful discussion to be going on, at the same time we fight all the other battles for survival the next years are going to place in front of us.

People really need to have faith in their government, especially if they recognize that they, themselves, are that government*.  The more faith the People of the United States of America have in each other, and the less faith they have in politicians, financiers and talking news heads on TV, the better off all of us are going to be.

*a government of the People, by the People, and for the People



Eisenhower's Farewell Speech

From the Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035- 1040

My fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.


We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.


Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.


A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present

   * and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.


Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.


Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.


So -- in this my last good night to you as your President -- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.


the gift of the word

Speech, / Words, letters, sounds, / heard by both the inner ear and the outer.  

Letters, sounds, words, / linked invisibly to ideas and thoughts.

Ideas, thoughts, letters, sounds, words, / a woven tapestry of meaning,

carried by Speech, / sometimes with grace, / but most often just carelessly.

Meaning, / a weaving of thoughts, sounds, words, letters and ideas,

spoken into the air and left there, / abandoned.

Words, spoken and heard. / Meaning intended. / But what is heard?

That which is heard is also intended. / Two intentions, two purposes, two meanings.

How difficult then communication, / suffering as it does the contrary pulls of multiple intentions, purposes and meanings.

I speak, you listen. / I mean, you grasp. / Somewhere in this delicate dance of words, sounds, letters, thoughts, ideas and purposes; / understanding is sought after.

Perhaps. / Sometimes.

Voice. / Speech reveals the unspoken. / Anger, fear, pride, arrogance, true humility.

The ear of the heart hears what is hidden in voice.

Posture, gesture. / Speech is more than sound. / The eye hears things the ear cannot, just as the ear sees things the eye cannot.

One mind. / Two minds. / Speech a bridge of woven light between two minds, and sometimes, although rarely, / between two hearts.

Speech, rich and full of flavor, / a light bridge, / joining two separate beings.

Speech denatured, / No sound, no gesture, no posture, no voice.

Speech reduced to lines of dark on light. / Written. / A treasure map in code spilled across a page.

Words, letters, ideas, thoughts, sounds, / reduced to marks upon a parchment. / Speech dying.

Yet, / even in death, murdered by pen or pencil mark, / some essence of Speech still.

Meaning embalmed. Understanding buried. / Until read.

Reading. / Words, sounds, letters, thoughts, ideas, meaning, purposes, intentions,

Speech resurrected in the silence of another mind.

Speech. / Light bridge dying into print, / reborn when read in the inner quiet of another soul.

Speech, / The Spoken Word. / Writing, / The Word entombed. / Writing read, / The Word resurrected.

That this is so, / that human beings live in such an exalted state having Speech, this is Grace.

The spoken word, the written word. / Things so ordinary, so taken for granted, so pregnant with possibility.

The emptiness between two souls is always / chaste, virgin, pure, / waiting for Grace, for the bridge of light, / for Speech.


Speech was written on Epiphany, Jan. 6, 1997, in the evening,

in about a third of an hour.



- it doesn't include everything by any means,

particularly the obvious (such as Common Sense)

which should not have to be mentioned in any event -

1) the six Dune novels by Frank Herbert - an extraordinary imaginative discourse on religion, politics and social existence.

2) the novel The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin - on social life, language, freedom and politics.

3) Rudolf Steiner's books on his idea of the Threefold Social Order: The Threefold Social Order; The Social Future; and World Economy.

4) George Will's Statecraft as Soulcraft: what government does.

5) Barbara Gardiner's Aesthetics of Economics and the Scottish Masonic Tradition.

6) Neal Stephenson's novels, collectively called the Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver; the Confusion; and, the System of the World - the history of how we got here in imaginative glory.

7) The film by the Wachowski Brothers of Matrix fame: V for Vendetta. (contains my favorite quote: people shouldn't fear their government, the government should fear the people.)

8) America's Global Responsibility: individuation, initiation, and threefolding, by Jesaiah Ben-Aharon.

9) Blessed Unrest: how the largest movement in the world came into being and why no one saw it coming, by Paul Hawken.