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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
a collection of essays, some old, some new,
and related social issues
by Joel A. Wendt
philosopher...and occasional fool
includes the four poems called:
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)
Conduct of the Presidency - a Presidential Campaign as an Act of
the Presidency as the Art and Craft of Statesmanship (probably page 10)
remember (a poem) (page 25?)
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
the Idea of Property, and the Creation of a true
the Grandfathers - real wealth (wisdom), and the
social and political existence (civilization) (most
of the Republic (a poem)
Conceptions: fundamentals of a new
Civilization on the Brink
appreciating the patterns of social meaning hidden in the
potential and its mystery
Sings (a poem)
Future of the Republic form of Government
Future of Business Corporations - individual
and economic leadership -
of another's eyes (a poem)
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
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
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
it were), for I really only ran in a closet. My thinking
the nature of campaigns was a bit unrealistic, and I also
from people who were not equipped to truly aid in such an
obstacle I ran into, oddly
enough, was that while I wanted to run a quite different
was usual, no one wanted to believe I was serious unless I was
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
and that lack of clarity meant failure, at least in the sense
engaging the public in ways expected of presidential
The fact is, that while I might have made an excellent
I sucked at being a typical politician. I knew, of
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
I am not upset
that I failed at being a
politician - it is not something at which I would have been
have succeeded. Nor was the effort at political writing,
those years, in any sense without value, for in the act of
the hat of running for office, I did discover that how one
about such as our shared political and social life was quite
than if one is merely being a critic, a researcher or
Also over the
years, some of these essays
were rewritten, and some of the candidacy elements removed for
reasons. Even so, I do believe that it will not hurt to
record of the evolution of my political thought, since this is
done using the open source on-demand publishing resources to
at www.lulu.com. This means that no paper is wasted,
someone wants to read what is here. Its all just ones
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.
make the necessary distinction in the introduction to the
essays, so the reader may know which hat I was wearing at the
writing - a seeker of public office, or a student of the
included below were more of a
necessary expression of pain at the degeneration of the
at the lack of the pursuit of virtue by those seeking office.
Republic very much has to be infused with virtue in order to
which is why my main political pamphlet is called: Uncommon
the Degeneration, and the Redemption, of Political Life in
Is this book a
mere curiosity then?
I don't think so, but I'll leave the full judgment of
others. I have also broken the essays up with four poems
noted above), which I call the American Quartet. These
scattered throughout this book. In addition, I have made
there a few changes or additions to the older essays, as well
written material original to this book.
material should also been seen
as a many yeared background to my published essay: Uncommon
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
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
summer of 2008 on my lulu.com storefront for all my writings
The Soul of a People, the Spirit of a Nation
and the sacrifices of its
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
There is more to come, and the main result of this
political excess is neither light nor understanding of the
difficulties we face in the coming times. Neither Party
to offer, and few candidates have any real qualifications that
them rise above the field of essentially ambitious
The most honest
about the situation of
government, Ron Paul, is also (by virtue of being a
devoted to an ideology whose logical conclusions are often
Another, Dennis Kucinich, has the virtue of being right on a
number of issues, but doesn't think deeply enough.
Obama is the most likely to help the nation at least have hope
the coming times, but he also lacks the qualities of a
desperately needed. The Clintons seem on the verge of a
- Bill has gotten totally out of control, and Hillary can't
reign him in.
McCain is too
old, and not smart enough.
Romney too much the clever politician. Giuliani
no heart, and Huckabee has faith and personality without
common sense. Al Gore would be good, having actually
Statesman, but he isn't running, and there is not much chance
Democrat Party will have the courage to draft his leadership
best sense of this, he is someone who ought to be courted and
at the very least such an approach puts him outside the
vanities of the
We really need
to ask ourselves by what
rational process do these people come to seek this office, and
that process is itself (by the absence of any real stature in
these people) is now proved to be so diseased as to be
useless. What do we need in highest public office, and
how do we
find those which can be trusted to serve (the current office
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
see if these can illuminate the underlying nature of how we
in such a mess. Three words (concepts) are crucial:
and sacrifice, so let us take them up one by one.
the Soul of a
understands this idea, but it is
one that is difficult to state with precision. Every
whether the English, the Chinese, the French, and such as the
Brazilians, have a certain quality of character which they share. Americans have something
us that is more or less common to all, and when others meet
know they are meeting Americans. When I use the term Soul
I am referring to this shared character.
the term: American Character, and you'll find more than you
this subject is not new.
Where does this
character come from?
The land, the geographical places and
How about the culture? Is it TV and Movies, or is
something in the education? How about the language?
speak somewhat exactly about American English (a subject that
studied by academics). How does our shared language
character? What about our history, our past?
No doubt our
character comes from all of
the above. It is also true there are significant
differences. New Yorkers and people from Southern
quite different temperaments. Some people intentionally
stand outside these influences. Is a Native American an
in the sense described above? What about someone who is
enough, perhaps don't so
much influence American Character, but often instead try to
Westerns and war films were once thought to be
informed with representations of the American Character.
(non-Americans) try to describe what they see, such as Alexis
Tocqueville. If the subject wasn't about something real,
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.
best way to get a picture of
our Character is to notice what happens when we are all caught
some kind of national level crisis, such as the Depression or
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
our Character, if it takes the form I suspect it will - a time
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
do with that crisis, and as a result have taken us in
appear to have done more injury to our Character, rather than
called upon it.
the Spirit of
Spirit is a
different concept from Soul,
and Nation a different concept from People. Here I am
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
the people and for the people.
Interestingly, this phrase of Lincoln's puts the two
ideas into a kind of relationship context. A nation is
made up of
the people, but is not the people. It is an arrangement
agreement the people make with each other about how to be
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
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for
defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings
Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and
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
sacrifices of its Leaders
One of the
peculiarities of the modern
Presidential race is the frequency with which it is necessary
candidates to say "I". They expect to (and do) make
promises about what they will be able to accomplish once in
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
but what he or she doesn't do. We are just ending a
time in American History when the President (under the
others) reached out to increase greatly the powers of the
Branch, and moreover sought to apply that power whenever and
the decider" said President Bush.
It is true, as
understood, that: the
buck stops here. The President
pass on to others those decisions that are his or hers to
The problems come when the Executive Branch, or any
Party, begins to believe and act as if their personal wishes
of view are why they are in office.
understood, that for all our
necessary "I" oriented needs to make decisions, the essential
this new form of government - this American Experiment - was
to the People and the Nation, that is in service to the
of the American People and to the Ideal (Spirit) of its
government. As soon as a Party or members of the
any Branch) believe that they are there in those offices
they think and want is to rule, they have lost first a
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
the Degeneration, and the Redemption, of Political Life
in America. In the essays
recorded much of the thinking processes over the years that
led me to
understanding both our plight, and our potential. This
the case in history. The existence of tragic
represents the possibility of remarkable transformation.
lives are about to fall into even more dire conditions, yet at
time, it is just those conditions that can evoke in our Soul -
Character - the forces of will to renew the Republic and to
to the true National Spirit.
This essay was
written for my last (the
2004) presidential campaign. It was actually written in
It has been slightly rewritten for this book.
Re-imagining the Conduct of the Presidency
- a Presidential Campaign as an Act of Statecraft, and
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
afford the conditions of internal corruption into which the
States government has fallen. The cost, in terms of the
unnecessary pain and suffering of ordinary people everywhere,
It remains for
the People of the United
States, in cooperation with others throughout the World, to
that the 2004 Presidential Election in the United States is
business of all of us. What some like to call America
just belong to the geographic Americans. America is an
how to have a government of the People, by the People and for
People. This Ideal doesn't just belong to the citizens of the
States, although we are, in the present, its most important
The conduct of
the Presidency and of a
presidential campaign is not something done by one person,
person is fully responsible for its fundamental moral
This was the pattern and standard set by George
pattern and standard that has fallen away over the many years
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
the health of our Society. In their pursuit of winning,
politicians have sacrificed their alleged secondary goal more
by turning over the conduct of election campaigns to faceless
operatives, who are then allowed to engage in almost any
supports the primary goal - winning the election. No
the politician act as a statesman, but rather becomes a mere
of influence, selling favors and votes, patronage and access,
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)
George Will, written at the time he was still a true
the tradition of Edmund Burke, Will quoted, in the First
Chapter - The Care
of Our Time, Senator Pat Moynihan as
the Cabinet or sub-Cabinet of four Presidents. I do not
have ever heard at a Cabinet meeting a serious discussion of
ideas - one concerned with how men, rather then markets,
These are the necessary first questions of government.
Constitution of the United States is an immensely intricate
to how men will behave, given the circumstances of the time in
was written. It is not at all clear that it is working
given the circumstances of the present age. But this is
who do not understand that
at its fundamental levels our form of government is an Ideal,
have no experience with the necessary inner work required to
and practice this Ideal, - such politicians no longer serve
Republic or our People, but rather only those influences from
realms of concentrated wealth that buy their attention and
This is not to
say that everyone in
public office is a mere politician. Certainly many seek
wanting to be statesmen, and some survive the experience of
office to actually become statesmen. Unfortunately, far
have lost their way, and in the process have sold our Republic
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
seek office. Mostly I have written in these working
[campaign papers for the 2004 election, see
http://ipwebdev.com/campaign] of matters connected to the
the responsibilities of citizenship, or what is called Citizen
Governance. In this paper I am focusing more directly
those who might yearn to be statesmen need to do.
required task is the
transformation of the political campaign. No longer can
merely about winning office, or the acquisition of power.
goals will corrupt the whole process right from the very
The campaign itself needs to be conducted as the initial
statecraft - as an offering, or demonstration if you will, of
candidate's abilities as a practitioner of the art and craft
This means, at
the very least, placing
the truth ahead of all other considerations. Granted
not agree on what the truth is, but the present conventions of
politicians, and their out of control operatives, is that spin
appropriate. Yet, spin by its very nature concedes that
is not the truth, but rather the warping of facts so as to
candidate or office holder in the most agreeable light.
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
the primary process - the buying and selling of influence.
understanding of the true nature of governing has so far
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
True compromise concerns not the convenient collusion's of
rather the melding of differing Ideals and Ideas into a union
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
must at the first offering of public service conduct their
itself as an act of statecraft by grounding its use of the
gift of the
word in the truth. Someone aspiring to the office
servant needs to place ahead of their own victory in an
discovery of those truths about which this particular election
concerned. Only in this way can we transform the fallen
which passes for public debate during every four year cycle of
presidential politics, and replace that circus with a periodic
Rite of Celebration and Search for the slowly growing and
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
speaker does not in fact know they can keep. Political
are full of allegations that the candidate will accomplish
this or that
act when in office, while the truth is clearly otherwise to
wants to think about it. For example, for a presidential
candidate to promise any legislative result is to engage in a
only the Legislative Branch can make laws, and Presidents
are not able to bend the Legislative Branch to their will.
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
the public dialog. Candidates sitting around trading
made, which can't be kept, engage in fantasy, and conversation
any true meaning. This is made all the worse, as anyone
common sense knows, by the fact that the promises are
not because it is the true will of the candidate, but merely
to a set of voters whose emotional state the campaign
to ensnare. All of this kind of speech degrades the gift
word and makes of our public dialog nothing higher than the
false promises made for the advertising and selling of a
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
and a People. At the same time, the Genius of History
us in this position of preeminence for a reason.
being born just here, that can not be brought forth anywhere
else - the
forging of a People
of Peoples. That phase in the
and education of humanity, that first was carried forth among
races and cultures, is passing away, and is beginning to be
with that child-like first People and Culture that integrates
of the parts into one Whole. It is as if Life on the
engaged in a very delicate experiment - can human beings find
sense of themselves beyond the ties of blood, history, race,
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,
its root such a process has to be based upon freedom. We
being formed into a People of Peoples, but are rather being
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
For all to be possible, all must be at risk.
True Spirit (Ideal) of
America, as noted above, does not just belong to geographic
whether of the United States or North or South America.
Ideal belongs to all human beings, and all may live it.
foremost example of the living this Ideal in the Twentieth
a nameless man of Chinese descent and culture who stood in
front of a
tank in Tienanmen Square. By this act he said: "I
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
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
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
we who live in the United States are their offspring. We are
clumsy and errant adolescent child, who in our natural
egotism think we should be in charge, and that the whole world
revolve around us. In a kind of self important drunken
stumble around the house and the neighborhood, wreaking
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
of the United States owe a great deal to the rest of the
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.
States of America wasn't born
out of itself, and doesn't exist for itself. The
true of any candidate for public office. It's not about
even our People, its about us and all Peoples. And
more so, it is about our children and their children's
What sane culture can claim to be of value even to
less the rest of the world) that squanders its wealth on
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
conduct of the Office of the Presidency, that is another
There are aspects of that Office that need to be
relationship to the particulars of our current situation.
effect of the corruption of the
nature of our public life, by the overreaching of concentrated
on our constitutional processes, has been the weakening of the
Legislative and Judicial Branches of our government, with the
that the Executive Branch has become so warped that the
now, in effect, a near-King. Yet, we once fought a very
and protracted war in order to free ourselves from the
authority of a King. Tragically, we have fallen
back on old
patterns, in that the influence of the aristocracy of
wealth has been to install their own sons and daughters in
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
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
mercantile classes. We have become so used to this, that
longer really notice it.
At the same
time, to go from one
condition, that of influence peddling to a condition of truer
and political health, this cannot be done overnight, or in a
and disorderly fashion. Further, just as the People of
States of America must learn to honor their Father and Mother
lives and has lived in all the older, and more mature,
races, so also must the Citizen
Governance (see below) movement
honor that which lived in the impulses of concentrated wealth
also born of the true and the good.
Joe Kennedy, certainly a
rascal of the first order (as have and will be many in our
complex and rich history), did not just impose his children on
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
provided all the formal education money could buy. It
Kennedy's and their friends that took us through that horrible
of the Cold War where all of mankind stood on the brink of
Catastrophe (see the movie Thirteen
Days for details).
approach of the patriarch of the
Kennedy clan, we find one valid version of the Ideal standard
who are to hold highest office need to be trained and educated
As much as we would like it, we cannot go out and pick
factory worker, housewife or househusband, nurse or cab driver
elevate them to public service. Yes, to be a son or
wealth is not enough (as Bush II proves), but we do well not
out the baby with the bathwater here.
This is part of
Governance, especially in the form
work in changing the nature of the political conversation, is
important. The renewal of the Ideal that is America
needs to be
rooted in "We the
People", but at the same time we
educated and trained elite at the core of governmental
If there is a problem, it is that the same forces, that
brought about the fallen nature of our polity, have also
centers of learning, our great and small universities and
This is one of the matters pointed to by Eisenhower in
Speech (see appendix), where he also
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
What this tells
us, among other matters,
is that Education, whether for the ordinary citizen in support
ability to carry out the relevant responsibilities of Citizen
Governance, or in the preparation of those charged with the
our Society, this Education is the primary function of a
society. However, we have to deal with the
nature of our schools, which have lost hold of the goal of
educated citizenry, and have been forced (and are being
primarily provide trained workers and consumers - two very
One can be a
trained worker whether one
is a biochemist or an auto mechanic, and we certainly, as a
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
want to be, and who has been helped to unfold all the human
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
is that the most important people in any society are the
the teachers, for the children are formed into who they become
character) by these initial experiences of family and school,
and it is
the children who are the future. We can have all the
technical expertise in the world, and still have no culture whatsoever,
because we do not educate human beings, but
only train workers and consumers.
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
of concentrated wealth.
The next holder
of the Office of the
Presidency has to do everything they can to restore the true
and to contain their own shadow impulses toward seeking to
problems by the conduct of what has become essentially an
presidency. And, the Citizen
Governance movement has to stop
the Executive Branch to solve all their problems. The
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
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
idea is that of enabling and comes to us out of the profound
work of 12 Step movements. In the hard and painful
addiction, it has been discovered we do no service to a person
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
another of these new wise ideas (this is actually not so new,
be found in some of the spiritual wisdoms of the Original
the Americas in the idea of grandmotherly kindness - but that
another story). Another such idea is that of
This involves becoming so enmeshed in each other, that
end up supporting each others weakness, instead of our
What this means
is that the President
can't be the co-dependent enabler of either the weaknesses of
People or of the other two Branches, by using an excess of
powers to do something the People and their public servants
need to do
by themselves. What this means is that we need in
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
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
that in the Constitution, the Legislative Branch is written
first). But the Legislative Branch does us no good with
addiction to wealth as the only means to obtain and maintain
Both our Congresspeople and our Senators must end this
with their own importance, and learn to set that aside in
striving again to realize the Ideal that is embodied in our
Constitution. Every election, which proceeds on the
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
understanding of ends and means, so the practice of statecraft
levels of government will only be balanced and healthy when
relationship is found between these two elements of political
For the Executive Branch this means that at the center
practice must exist the
truth in all that it says to our
Anything less, anything self serving and in support of
agendas makes a lie of the process and tears down the
remaining trust of the People.
We must not
fail to notice that a
mistrust of politicians has lead to almost half - HALF! - of
refusing to practicing even their most basic right and
of the vote. We presently live in a situation of deep
despair at the core of our polity due solely to the failure to
the trust of the American People. From the Pentagon
through Watergate and Irangate,to the joke that was Clinton's
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
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
between those who still hold to the faith and want to trust,
who have been too many times burnt. The Executive (and
Legislative Branch) harms us deeply with every piece of spin
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
People, for truth leads to trust, and it is mutual trust that
together into a Whole.
This being the
case, and given that the
Media itself has been corrupted by concentrated wealth, it is
of our People that as many barriers as possible be removed
People and their public servants. In practice, this will
my campaign [now
abandoned] that nothing will be
the Press, should they seek it, except in that rare
undo harm to others would result. I certainly have no
of hiding anything concerning myself. The same rule will
practice in my administration, should the People honor me with
trust - essentially unlimited access to the People through the
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.
this is a big however),
given the nature of the imbalance between the Branches, it is
healthy to look to the Executive for that which should be
either of the other two Branches. Neither new laws nor
the role of the Executive. Moreover, given that this
didn't appear just recently, it will not be easily corrected.
need to be patient, and take small steps where those are
Radically reformations are usually destructive of more
As the Citizen
Governance movement grows into its
foundational elements will shift, and a new kind of public
come forth (since they will now find the right support).
changes at the level of who is doing the work in the three
the essential. Many believe that if we just change this
law, we will have progress, but the real curative is to change
and quality of the people doing the
work. The raising of the
quality of those people coming into public service will take
will require multiple transformations of our ways of Education
other related matters.
We need to
understand that social
problems of the systemic nature so common today cannot be
the application of this law, or that edict. We are
involved in a
work of healing whole systems, and this means advancing on
at the same time.
In a way it is
a kind of mutually
reciprocal process, whereby Citizen
Governance elevates on its own the
discourse, while this in turn enables public servants to
toward the truth in all their activity. The one slowly
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
elements in terms of our various problems with regard to the
This is just a for instance, by the way, and not meant
complete or definitive.
We can start by
illusions - the President is not the manager of the United
economy, and in fact, there is no such thing as a national or
economy. This may surprise many, but as we are
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
the trading empires, and then being more built up by the
revolution. What the Left worries about as
merely the by-product of the emergence of the World Economy in
final age of the aristocracies of concentrated wealth.
the Right worries about as the threat to the privileges and
prerogatives of private property, is only the last stage in
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
that time when all of humanity is awakening to its shared fate
inhabitants of one Earth. It is no accident that our
consciousness as a world full of companions and brothers and
emerging at the same time as the World Economy, globalization,
apparent intensification of the struggle between the so-called
with the transformation of
the gifts of the Earth, their movement to where needed, and
use - that is, production, distribution and consumption.
consequences of such activity effect us all, and imbalances
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
a result of living in the age of natural science. One of
processes of natural science, as conducted in the past (this
changing), has been the use of abstractions - of taking single
out of the context in which they are embedded, and then
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
values of local companies, profit and loss figures from these
companies, tax revenues, and so forth. From these
facts then (they are all embedded in a much larger picture
flow of capital, the changes in interest rates, and federal
tax cuts or
raises dominate the local conditions) an imaginary picture is
as if there was a local economy. In truth, we can only
of local conditions in the World Economy, in much the same way
only speak of local conditions in the Total Climate of our
Yes, it will rain here tomorrow, maybe. And maybe
some capital flowing in our local direction next year if we
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
look to Presidents for economic leadership, and conduct.
factual relationships are quite otherwise, and to the extent
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
to deal with the World Economy through international
As this particular time is during the infancy of our
understanding of the dismal science (economics), and as the
political power has been with the elites of concentrated
first efforts at managing the World Economy have been trade
mostly written with the benefit to the elites of concentrated
At the root of
these problems is a kind
of understandable mistrust. Over the years of the birth
coming into being of the World Economy, the banking and
classes have had a lot of trouble with various governmental
Since this all began as the age of Kings and Queens was
last days, these authoritative personalities made all manner
decisions that were destructive of commerce and trade.
It is no
wonder that the elites of concentrated wealth wanted little to
the interference of governments in the management of economic
Then as the
hereditary aristocracies gave
way to the emergence of democratic republics, the problems
for voters were not well educated in even the basics of
much less the intricate details of high finance. As a
dialogs between the voters and their public servants lost any
with economic reality, while at the same time the discipline
economics wandered about in a universe of abstract principles
mathematics, attempting to imitate physics, a poor choice in
events, since all economic decisions have a moral (human)
I am not going
to go into the economic
decisions of the current Bush administration, being made in
with a Congress even more in denial of the real consequences
actions, except to say that the same irresponsible patterns of
applied in the 2000 election, and the field of international
relationships prior to the war, are being carried out in the
economics. No care is being taken for our common
and all is determined by the agendas and short term political
the moment. What we have here is the very opposite of
Like much else
in human society, if we
wish to have some kind of balance and health, we must make
on multiple fronts. Economic health can't be dealt with
itself, nor is the Executive to be looked toward as the
The most that can be expected of the presidency is some
sense and guidance.
The economy is
created by activities we
do together. The President doesn't run it like some
executive, any more than does the Chairman of the Board 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
bodies, whether governmental or private. At present each
and frequently each individual within each group, goes their
frequently irrespective of their effect on the whole.
interest seems to dominate over community interest and the
What we want
and need is for self
interest to be enlightened, and for it to understand how to
itself and how to participate in the common good at the same
It is here where a true education plays its most needed
Only someone, who knows how to be free and who has begun
unfold that which is latent within themselves, will be able to
their way to enlightened self interest. This is what a true civilization does,
possesses a living and dynamic culture - it makes its greatest
investment in the education of its children, knowing full well
only this act gives birth to a healthy future.
Some of Us Remember
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
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
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
The next two parts followed in the next two issues of
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
years America indulges in what ought to be a great rite of
and re-dedication: the election of our national officers, the
and the Vice-President of the United States of America.
to wonder, as these rites climax and then pass away, whether
election campaigns have not been the scene of a great
then one of restoration. Do those who display
the Presidency, and our other major elective offices, truly
the significance and meaning of the office they seek?
offices in the United States of America are more than just a
powerful political role; they are, in truth, a sacred charge.
of our presidents, for example, have had the courage and self
to face squarely these awesome responsibilities. Teddy
called politics a "bloody
pulpit" and spoke more accurately
realized. Political office does offer the opportunity to
and harangue, to persuade, to divide, to unite, to degrade and
uplift. But there is more to this privileged duty, much
such a quality to our way of life that is rightly called the
American Spirit. There is a truth behind the words the
Soul, the American Character. These have a reality, to
idea - the American Dream - gives a bare hint. But it
has been a
long time since someone has spoken or written, with the
of feeling, of these qualities and characteristics, these
ideals; that gave light to the minds of our nation's founders,
fuel the dreams of every immigrant, and that are ultimately
strength of "We the people...".
of many assumptions to the contrary, we are not a nation whose
mastery lies in military or economic power. Our true
not born of force or mercantile skill. The roots of what
is, and what being an American demands, cannot be found in
inventiveness or in any material thing. Rather, we are a
who have fiercely insisted that certain fundamental ideals are
innate right of every human being. We have insisted and
and insisted, through much blood and many wars, that not just
and equality, but that true brotherhood is the birthright of any human born on this
want to really understand what has happened to our country, to
civilization, to our people, then that understanding can be
just this. We have lost our way. Having won once,
perhaps thrice, we relaxed, we rested on our laurels. We
the pleasures of our mutual industry - the great plenty we
each other - for the ideals that fired our birth, and which
yet been achieved. And therein lies a grave danger.
back and become inattentive, we may well lose what part of
dream that has already been won. We strive today for
jobs, more security, better health care, lower taxes, millions
lottery, our own home, our own business, a younger spouse, a
neighborhood, less fat, more morality. The list is
endless. But in striving for these things, we have
drive ourselves from the fire of will of who we truly are.
have forgotten the fundamentals out of which America came to
without which we would not have what we do have. And
this we put all at risk.
homeless our brothers or sisters, or the gays and lesbians,
immigrants, the ghetto youth, the working poor, the pregnant
fostered children? Those who claim otherwise lie, and
be ashamed to do so. It is so easy to point a finger and
this one or that one is the evil whose rot and stench disturbs
passive slumber. But these accusing fingers only reveal
prejudice of those who point. A much more real evil of
is our abandonment of the ideals which sing in the heart and
the mind when the name America is spoken rightly.
want a more effective foreign policy, and more respect on the
international scene? Then we must stand up again for our
Do we want an economy that works for the many instead of just
few? Then we must stand up again for our ideals. Do we
civility in our cities and healthy life in the countryside?
must stand up again for our ideals. Without our
engagement these ideals are empty phrases, a lonely noise lost
not meant to be easy. Every bit of human wisdom tells us
is true. But the human spirit is equal to the hardships,
human spirit overcomes the obstacles. Our way of life is
the real American dream. We have not arrived at what
capable of being. We have not achieved what it is our
our good with brotherhood).
it ought to frighten us to the core of our being, as a People,
extent to which we presently fail to understand our unmet
tasks and our
increasingly dire, yet unacknowledged, peril.
all know that this which has been written above is true. We
our hearts, for this is the very same spiritual nourishment we
when we were taught these ideals as children, in school, home,
church. This knowing is why we suffer so when the
arrive and seek to drive us apart from each other, seek to
differences and point fingers and lay blame. We know
are empty, and that they appeal not to that higher nature we
which is eternally willing to serve the ideal, but rather to
being, the self satisfied, self indulgent parts of our souls.
What good are leaders who take us on such a course, and
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
the ancient dark that lurks inside us all.
this people, will not fail because it has been ill lead, but
because its people have not the courage to realize in
the time has come to put the differences aside and rediscover
majestic powers latent in our true ideal being. We will
because we can't talk to each other about what we really care
except as that lies closest to our own selfish concerns.
cannot find within ourselves that realm of soul which cares
strangers and recognizes the truth of "whatsoever ye do unto
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
whatever rough fate that waits. Divided, events will destroy
In community, no evil can win the day. Don't we know
this when we
thy good, with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.".
politics in America is disconnected from our true ideal
roots. It's as if politicians have never actually thought
America is, or how it came into existence, or what its future
might be. We hear many cliche's, but few words are
the speaker truly feels in their heart a relationship to the
Spirit - to the ideal of brotherhood, so eloquently revealed
mood of the song: America the Beautiful.
the Founders of our Nation had no trouble seeing the hand of
events both large and small. And they felt no
calling upon His aid. The special marvel is that they
this subject - the role of God in the fortunes of a Nation and
- in a way that did not divide the world into those who are
right and those who are morally wrong. The Founder's
nature was mature, and not an adolescent ploy from which to
possession of a higher moral ground. And, we will be
if we think that the moral nature of our Founders is not
related to the
high ideals which moved them, and the very extraordinary
produced when they created our form of government.
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
natures? This is not a question we dare ask others.
not something we can demand of others. This is something
to face within ourselves, and out of those answers we
to, then we are able to proceed. Let us consider this
matter more closely.
a world of difference between proclaiming God is on our side,
this or that war or act is morally just - and, between asking
support in the endeavors we ourselves undertake. In the
instance we are in denial of our real doubts, and use the
God's blessing to bolster our view in the face of the
others. We are arrogant rather then humble. In the
instance we recognize our doubts, we accept responsibility for
actions (rather then justification), and through prayer plead
Deity's benediction. This difference in approach is no
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
will, depend upon our attitude, especially our moral or
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.
know this: that the very best of our leaders have been humble
before God and never self righteous or arrogantly certain of
course. The politician certain of his course and of
blessing on it, is a very dangerous human being.
a People, is something quite different from a political party,
or a point of view, or a cause, or a sitting government.
is a Nation, and Americans are a People, and these other
fashions are just that, things which will pass away. A
a People are a living thing, and what a Nation is depends upon
People are, and what they give out of themselves to that
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
cause lies in this: we are a People focused only on rights and
moment in time we are a house divided against itself; and we
dangerously close to that about which Lincoln warned us in the
Gettysburg Address. All those, who have died in the
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
understanding of what the American Nation is, and who the
People are, and where our own individual responsibilities lie.
of the matter is not what the politicians do, not what the
presidential candidates say or promise, or what happens in
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 -
well-spring from which Peoples and Nations are born and
nourished - or
we do not. Freedom bears fruit not in the fact that we
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..."
1996 presidential primaries in New Hampshire, on television,
unusual campaign ads were played. If one was not
carefully it appeared as if a newscaster was announcing that
terrorist groups had obtained atomic weapons and were
use them. As the ads proceeded, the emphasis changed to
that this was only being suggested as a dire possibility, and
as a People, needed to recognize that future leaders of this
would have to face many terrible decisions, and we should
various candidates for the Presidency accordingly, as to
had the capacity to act wisely in the face of the rising
aware, of course, that political leaders are now sold to their
People like so much soap. Political campaigns use highly
advertising and publicity experts and, as well, the most
techniques. Ads, such as the ones described above, are
first shown to focus groups, groups of ordinary voters, in
test their reactions to various images and key words and
the most part, the intellectual reaction is irrelevant, and
emotional response the more significant. Research has
that if our emotions can be aroused, what we think, when we
time to reflect, is of little importance.
the most powerful emotions is fear. Advertising
arouses this emotion when it suggests that use of a certain
will make us more beautiful, or handsome or happier and so
our fear of not being liked or of not fitting in is aroused.
human social needs are thus used to manipulate us into buying
products. For mature individuals, this deception is often seen
but the young of our Nation lack the experiences necessary by
make the needed discrimination. The whole cultural
filled then with this message: Unless you purchase these
will not be an adequate or fulfilled human being. We should
is "rendered" our Nation by such acts?
another aspect to these facts, an aspect which is important to
appreciate, but which also makes us face certain things in
things we often wish to avoid acknowledging.
politicians and their campaign staffs, also do what they do,
is their intention to give us what we want. While they
do try to
manipulate desire, they also follow those desires and needs as
appear as a natural part of who we are. Politicians go
their way to conduct polls in order to understand what we as a
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
reflecting without bias who we are and what we want. So
don't like what the politician is saying and doing, we need to
understand that they are often simply attempting to feed back
exactly what they think we ourselves have expressed.
can step back a little, from the campaign process, from the
the points which seem to divide us, we might notice that the
event is a very special ritual. In effect, every four
the Presidential campaigns heat up, we practice a rite of self
knowledge. Who we think we are, as a Nation and as a
comes to expression. And not just in the words or ideas,
especially in how the campaigns are conducted - in what is
comes to expression some element of the American Spirit.
questions we can then ask ourselves are: Do I like what I see?
I really such a creature of darkness as sometimes seems
is there somewhere a hidden light, wanting, needing to return
like chameleons. They change colors in accord with the
background against which they appear. But the sad truth
this background is in large part a reflection of the American
Are our politics in a sorry state? Yes, but the
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
in our ideals or in the necessity of sacrifice in the pursuit
ideals. We no longer participate as a vital force in the
political life of our Nation, and we are therefore, as a
body, more than we might wish or acknowledge, lost, alone, and
dark. And no one but we ourselves can change this dire
or the tragedy that awaits if things remain the same. How long
be until "We the
People..." are ready to fire the
an art and a craft to governing a People. Columnist
Will wrote a book, attempting to touch on this, which he
as Soulcraft. In this book he
Daniel Monyhan as saying that he had worked for four different
administrations, and never once participated in a discussion
Now, no one of us would let an untrained surgeon operate
ourselves or one of our children, yet we routinely place the
of our ship of state in the hands of individuals whose only
getting elected; i.e. the mastery of appearing to meet our
of what a political leader is, but which in reality is the
appearing to be like ourselves, and that most often in an
state. If they don't make it easy on us, if they don't
our desires, if they don't subvert their own character in
placate our most base needs, then they don't get elected.
The truth is that we
been asleep and we've gotten the politics we deserve.
statement is not made as an accusation, but rather as the base
the acceptance of our real responsibility. We dare not
ourselves about this.
"A nation of the
the People, and for the People..."
something easily attained. We don't have it yet.
mystery is that the essence of this ideal is not to be won
we elect to go to Washington. It rests in our own hands
our own communities, and in how we conduct ourselves toward
How do we live together? What higher or lower
our nature appear just here? Is there something we can
do in our
individual communities that can have an effect on politics in
with our real needs? Do we have more power than just the
Amidst the seeming growing darkness, is there a way for
American Spirit again to shine?
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.
understand, how this can be, is not so simple, but yet not too
Bear with me a moment longer.
us would pass a burning house by and not stop to render some
But suppose the burning process was happening very
that we ourselves were in the burning house.
lots of people were agitated by the heat, but not aware of the
and thus they ran around exclaiming, its too hot in here, and
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
one quite yet notices in a clear way what is happening.
what we see on the news and hear on the talk shows. Many of us
our behaviors are "too hot", too agitated. We demand our
We sue at the drop of a hat. We are rude and too
angry. We are intolerant of differences. We are
and uncertain in our souls. In the big cities, where human
most concentrated, the temperature
and the confusion
and agitation are even higher.
heating up is part of a long term process that has been
for many years, perhaps hundreds, depending on how broad we
make our perspective. The traditions which normally
behaviors in organized societies have been dying away in
Culture for a long time. The loss of "family values",
fascinating to some, is simply the modern appearance of a long
social process. The individual has become stronger than
social forces which once defined his or her role and set the
for behaviors in many communities.
longer accept their oppression, even if it was, for a time, a
Women refuse to be limited by the roles implicit in
capacity to bear children. Gays refuse any longer to
hide in the
"closet". Human sexuality demanded it be an acceptable topic
conversation. The Third World threw over the colonial
Ethnic groups demand to have their own governments.
Businesses see themselves as no longer tied to a Nation,
that Nation's goals or needs, or standards of practice.
refuse to acknowledge any code of honor for a warrior at all
There are no more rules. The individual makes up
The whole world burns, and in the process most of
most of civilization go up with the flames. Yet there
still is a
degree of order in some places. America is not yet
chaos does not yet rule everywhere, and may yet be held back
overcome. Americans are a People of possibilities.
need to do is something that requires some degree of effort,
the same time has qualities of effortlessness. It is not
question of changing who we are, but of being more deeply who
we are by nature - by, in a sense, unleashing in a more
the true American Spirit.
change the background against which the politician hides
his chameleon-like nature, then he is forced to change.
comes to be more depth, more wisdom to who we are as a People,
our own forces, then the politician must follow. In
effect we are
his religion, we are his dogma, we are his god. Where we
follows. We don't need to elect a new kind of leader.
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.
were to observe the political campaigns at one remove, with
objectivity, rather than as someone with a set point of view,
come to see that the campaign is a struggle to define what is
in the moment. One candidate makes his issue a flat tax,
fear of terrorism, a third his own record, a fourth his
weakness. To some this is seen as leadership. Yet,
noticed before, the reality is that the politician and his
experts look to us, to see in what way they can put a hook in
emotions for their own benefit. In a sense we could say
struggle is to see who can define the dialog during this every
four-year rite of self-examination.
struggle to determine the dialog, there are many players: the
candidates, the political parties, the various factions of the
the many interest groups (businesses, unions, pseudo-religious
groups, foreign powers and so forth). All these bombard
consciousness, as a People, using the media, in particular
While, at the same time, we continue our usual course,
survive amidst the social chaos of modern life.
simple facts hide a remarkable possibility. If we act in
new way, a way which is yet just a deeper expression of who we
then it is we who can determine the nature of the dialog and
others then will have to dance to our tune.
us in the face of this possibility, is the assumption that the
most important thing that needs to happen is struggle over the
About taxation, abortion, capital punishment, welfare
forth, we all have opinions. The result is that during
ritual of self- examination, we over-concentrate on what
how we are separate and different from each other. We
see this as
a rightful expression of our freedoms, which it is. But,
saw earlier in this essay, all rights and no duties is what is
destroying our way of life. The vital nature of our form
government has been dangerously depleted, because we no longer
"render" what it needs: Our driving unity in the
the pursuit of the ideal.
must change. The dialog must belong to us, to "We the People...". And the dialog must be about who we are as a
and as a People, who believe in, and dream, and will the
becoming of a
political and social environment where prejudice and enmity no
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
are made in America, and elsewhere, to subdue the overreaching
of corporate power into the lives of ordinary people (e.g.
Dugger's Alliance impulse), nothing can be changed until those
concerned find in themselves that same emotional core from
America's founders drew in order to refuse any longer to
submit to the
tyrannical impulses of the old aristocracies. We need to
that nothing will be gained without sacrifice. All must
be put at
risk: the security of our homes, our families, our current
and our individual lives.
that core of being, that source of courage, will be
unless there is something else done, which is even more
Human societies are much more complicated then that
analysis which places the greatest blame for our current woes
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
brought to bear. Thus, while we on one hand must
stand up and proclaim No More!, at the same time we need to
understanding of what makes a Nation, what makes a People, and
makes a civilized society. Organize, yes. But even more
founded out of a number of impulses. The discovery of a
world was one. The need to flee oppression, another. The
would have remained English, but for the fact that the English
aristocracy went too far. This is a crucial point.
ancestors were forced into choices. While America is a
based on an Ideal, its impelling impulse was not that Ideal,
the overreaching of the hereditary aristocracy. Only
becomes necessary to resist tyranny, because that tyranny asks
much, does it then become possible to conceive a new nation,
organize that Nation around new Ideals.
is this similarity between then and now; namely, that
overreaching has gone too far, and people are beginning to
need to restrain it. But there are differences between
now and it is these differences which are most crucial.
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
We know instinctively that concentrated wealth goes too
the means is not so obvious as it was with aristocratic
is the same, namely the shameless display of wealth in which
leading elites live out their excessive life styles.
But, just as
in the time of the aristocracies, the true money changers hide
activities, lead less public lives and strive to remain hidden
public eye because they instinctively realize the danger of
their greed and ill-gotten fortune. Moreover, we need to
that merely to name the corporations, to name concentrated
point out the money changers, this is not enough. For
Name of these abuses is Tyranny, and more importantly the true
of this tyranny is Evil.
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
The religious in our culture mean one thing and many movie
another. One politician calls the Soviet Union an "evil
and makes demographic points but adds nothing to our
We need to use "evil" in a way that
understanding, and nor merely as an epithet. This is not
difficult if we think carefully on it.
look to ourselves. We know ourselves what evil is, for
this darkness inside us as well. We lie easily to our
spouses, or our children when it is convenient and saves us
troubles. If given too much change, how many notice it but do
correct the situation and instead take advantage of it.
excessively, forming our own little groups and saying terrible
unjustified things about those outside our own group. We
many impulses we cannot control, alcohol, smoking, more
What family does not have an addictive member, does not
divorce, does not neglect in many small ways the needs of the
and the elderly? The list can go on and on. Evil flows
world from human beings. It was always this way, and
be this way.
also a spectrum; there are greater and lesser evils, and
who give themselves over more than others to such impulses.
tells us that this darkness in the soul leads to certain
of various kinds. One, which is most significant for us
understand, is that certain evil impulses attract power and
like flies to honey. Balzac's dictum is that behind all great
lies a great crime. In a world which has great saints,
souls, so also does it have great sinners, individuals whose
their own humanity grants them extraordinary cleverness in the
of their desires. We sometimes make a joke of evil
history has shown us many, and our modern life is full of them
need to realize that it is not corporations per se, or even
concentrations of wealth, in which economic tyranny is rooted,
rather it flows from the darkness in the souls of human
this darkness becomes an organizing principle in how societies
live, and grow and die and then become something new.
means as a practical matter is that it is not adequate to the
merely to notice that corporations abuse workers, or that
using money itself as a commodity creates nothing and merely
redistributes wealth upwards, or that Central Banks exist to
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
be understood as a quite natural reality, the darkness
human beings creates in its wake many consequences, only one
is an economic hierarchy in which the top one percent uses as
servants, or their prey, the bottom ninety-nine.
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
human faces to the perpetrators of this evil. It is
see Exxon as an evil entity, when it is the decision makers at
and the gods they worship that need to be named. Is Bill
desire to form the world according to his personal vision an
corporate tyranny, an excessive use of financial power and
Yes! Do we need to confront this directly and to
false the gods he worships (personal wealth and power, the
the stockholder, the market etc.)? Yes! Until we
to these actors and names to their base impulses, we falsify
picture of the world and live amidst illusions and ghosts.
task is then to see more clearly the nature of our
and this means first to understand what a tyranny truly is.
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
problem, for power is, like many other things, a two-edged
It can be used for good, to benefit those who don't
power. The evil comes, just like any other human act,
intention that wields the power, whether it be the power of
of large institutions to influence and corrupt governments, or
power of a parent to abuse and demean a child.
case of economic tyranny we have a number of aspects and
Modern economy is not a natural order, such as, for
local eco-system. Many aspects of it are created, are
Banks don't have to make profits, but could be organized
to perform the same functions but only extract from those whom
serves the necessary costs. Capitol doesn't have to
individuals, banks or corporations. Capitol can belong
whole society and be administered by groups whose talent it is
out that administration. The only interest capitol has
to earn is
its costs, which would probably need to include those losses
capitol could not be repaid. Labor does not have to be
a commodity, and the well being of individuals and families
thereby dependent upon bottom line, i.e. profit motivated,
Wages can be according to real need, and thus the cost
producing products has to bear the reality of that need.
are many options, and our problem is more that we don't give
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.
also peasants in the realm of ideas. We only have as
about society what we have been given, rather than what we
for ourselves. Here is another tyranny, one which helps
other. The whole language, in which human economic life and
relationships is expressed, is false. Economics, by
emulate natural science and thereby mathematics, became
divorced from reality. It doesn't describe what goes on
real world at all, but rather only certain lifeless and
relationships which equates quite falsely the production of
the nature of land, money and human labor. Its like the
school problem of multiplying apples and oranges. Goods
nothing like land, which is nothing like money, which is
labor. None of these elements is like the other, and to
abstract relationships between them and think that something
understood is to live in an illusion which has only served to
tyranny of concentrated wealth, and
confuse us, almost completely, about how societies work, and
means to have civilization.
a darkness which lurks over our way of life, casting a shadow
how things are actually arranged and what they actually mean;
darkness that abhors the light. And just like our Sun,
grants us illumination as well as warmth, so the goodness in
beings is capable of bringing forth into societies and
illuminating light of understanding, and the warming heartfelt
of mutual aid and community.
be defeated, no more then one can repeal the law of gravity.
Human nature gives forth this darkness, but human nature
gives forth light, and before this light the dark retreats and
its proper place in the whole balance. Our world is out
balance, and by bringing out of ourselves greater
understanding of how
things work, what they mean, and how they can fit together, we
that needed illumination and cast aside the darkness which has
lead to the current state of things. And, by bringing
ourselves sharing and community we bring forth the warmth
the cold of that darkness - the aloneness, the despair, the
hopelessness, which has for far too long been the soil in
of self and of other has taken root. Drugs and child and
abuse will fall before no man made law. Only the light
understanding and the warmth of community can cure these dark
before they wake and take possession of human beings.
are merely symptoms of the greater imbalance which holds our
in thrall and drags us unwillingly toward places no ordinary
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
of the human race, which having had for a time free reign, now
its welcome because its excesses have become too obvious, and
finally fed up and will no longer tolerate them. Isn't
part the story history teaches us? Don't the ordinary
their lives quietly, minding their own business, accepting
ordinary pains and pleasures. Until - until something is
and this dark excess touches that deeper realm of soul and
which mostly passive and self contained does then no longer
pain and the loss of freedom. And so something stirs
inside, something awesome in its genius and its force for
moreover its willingness to sacrifice itself for something
centuries ago America was born out of spirit which said No! to
tyranny of hereditary aristocracies. The beginning of
was a "shot
round the world", first fired at the
North Bridge in Concord Massachusetts. In the spring of
a conference on economic rights, which finished its sessions
same ground made hallowed by the blood spilled there, there
not a "shot", but a "shout".
said, No! No! to the tyranny of concentrated wealth, and No!
tyranny of abstract knowing which supports it. And then
to understanding, to illumination and to light. And
to social good and to community and to warmth and human
- part three -
the Word, the Idea of Property,
and the Creation of a True
civilizations, whatever name we wish to give to large
aggregates of human communities, all have woven into them
of ideas, or world views, sometimes common, and in our more
"modern" times, oft times fractured and chaotic. And,
social laws, expectations of behavior, ways of seeing 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.
seldom think about the significance of this fact, the fact
initial meaning is born in language. Yet it is just here that so
happens whose gravity we overlook, and whose importance must
mastered if we are to even begin to take hold of those
underlie the symptoms of social disorder that are so apparent
daily news. Language, the Word, is a great gift, the
makes us human and which marks us as essentially different
animal kingdom, in spite of what the Darwinists have taught.
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
child does say mine as it grabs its
Ownership does then appear natural. But the child also
power over its bladder or its bowels in the beginning either.
we do civilize our children so that their excretory functions
place appropriately and according to our cultural norms.
then is mine an instinct and an appetite. It is thus
and animal-like to claim things and territory as ones own.
truth is that what we conceive as ownership, possessions, and property are all things whose
meaning is taught, and whose instinctive roots can be
turned in other directions.
do not want to alter something so fundamental in our culture
a great deal of thought. It is not being suggested here
answer to anything, but rather as an example of a certain
social and cultural reality. We raise children into a
seeing the world. There is no greater power, and no
responsibility. It is the main way the past has of
giving order to the present, and that the present has of
determining the future. It is why Fascist governments
use so much mind control. It is the main tyrannical process in
1984 - the power to give certain names to aspects of reality
thereby determine how the world and self are perceived.
free people, such as ourselves, where freedom of speech and
are guaranteed, it is the primary power, a power far in excess
anything that governments or corporations may ever hope to
The proof of this is how ardently they attempt to
meaning of things through media, and through advertising
is a special factor effecting this, a factor related to the
particularities of the time in which we now live. At
general power societies exercise in determining how its
up to see the world is at its weakest point in perhaps
years. Recall what was suggested earlier, that tradition
power to compel social conformance has passed away.
is in an ascendancy, for
the moment; there are no more rules.
is this truth we see active in the so-called family values
All tradition is collapsing. In ways almost
incomprehensible, all over the world the power of tradition is
and this creates a special opportunity. Into this vacuum
impulses can arise. Let us take up an example - a
and see where this leads us and what it can reveal about this
their job, a very common experience. This is often a
tragedy in the making, in some instances whole families have
homeless with this as the beginning event. For a few
be a cushion of savings; for most - who live paycheck to
this is an immediate catastrophe. Unemployment
applicable, may hold back the night for a while, but
follows; the last desperate measure to restrain the financial
hemorrhaging. A home, if owned, will disappear.
obvious financial moves hardly touch the core problem, which
has to do
with the inner sense of well being of those affected.
psychological toll is the most devastating cost, for it erodes
those inner resources from which any solution must be
These emotional costs of the
loss of work will
damage the family, may lead to divorce, to drug or alcohol
violence and the whole cycle of self destruction that seems so
fraud then is our economic language in that it paints these
terms of rates of joblessness and argues for or against the
employment as if somehow it makes
at all to delete from our consciousness a true awareness of
costs. In economics much is made of preventing waste,
waste of lives is far more devastating to our civilization.
kind of dark god is profit that it lets us
casually destroy human beings in its name?
these facts is an odd, yet very important social one.
the most part, when someone loses work and begins this slide
despair (for the moment ignoring of course those who are born
despair because they will never find work in the first place),
who lose a job take this course in a social context which
alone, and which defines their problem as belonging only to
one which they must themselves resolve. To lose the job
by getting another. But one who loses their job is
deal with the problem themselves.
exceptions and qualifications to this observation.
insurance, food banks, welfare programs, homeless shelters,
does struggle to hold up the fallen and wounded from our
Even so, an idea still surrounds this whole thing, the
one is individually responsible. Sometimes families
other times people will be members of certain groups that make
of giving community support to the economically wounded, such
Mormons. But for the majority, joblessness is
difficult and leaves one feeling very much alone.
families going through such a crisis will not understand the
distance which can arise because the parent now feels less
because very often the parent does not understand the real
joblessness themselves. The reality is that the context
meaning in which we view such events is itself unhealthy.
to work, we receive a paper telling us of our new status, and
we go home. We have lost our job, and this event is cast
certain light, has a certain social and individual meaning,
and it is
this understanding which effects us as much as anything. That
we have been expending each week, that portion of our will
lost into the job and its natural and unnatural stresses, this
longer secures for us some sense of control over the future.
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.
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
imagine for the moment that this same event occurs, i.e.
joblessness, but that the context of meaning is different.
imagine a different culture, one in which
event has a different meaning.
This meaning I
will paint by telling a story. Story telling is one of
powers of culture, the main way communities give meaning to
life events that all can or will face. Like many, I had
worried that our current culture, for
what there is left
of it seemed to be abandoning books and literature. Now
begun to realize that there is a wise ordering principle at
these events - especially the loss of interest in reading.
part of the much wider process which is destroying tradition,
this instance it paves the way for the possibility of a return
oral culture. How can we go on to the new if the old
does not die?
stories? Facts, even if assembled well, tend to a picture of
things as black and white and gray. Facts are usually
that is they arise by removing them from the context in which
embedded. Stories, being imaginative, can express
capable of being captured by facts. What mere facts hide,
the War Against the Grey Men
human beings, Adam labored in the House of the Grey Men.
Each morning he awoke, and after breakfast said good-bye
two children, and with his wife, and the others whose time of
it also was, Adam went to the station there to wait for and
ride the Machine Beast into the bowels of the House of the
The lower levels of the House were a terrible place to
No one was allowed to care for the work place except in
minimal way. Soot, oil, garbage, foul air and water, and
yet, colorless ideas - the lower level of the House was a
little light and much darkness. But Adam understood;
were it not
for the Peace, the whole world would be like the House of the
The Peace had made it possible for human beings to have
but only for a Price. The Grey Men always had to have a
Yet Adam and the others were glad to pay their share of
Price, for in this way they could, perhaps, keep themselves
they loved from becoming Grey as well. How else to save
then to pay the Price.
the Labor made Adam tired. But he knew that when he came
Home the tiredness could be made to go away. So, as he
did, Adam gave his Labor with a good heart. In this way
the colors in his soul and his spirit alive. On this
day, at the end of his shift, one of the Grey Men came to Adam
him to come into the Office. Once there, the Grey man
gave a pink
envelope to Adam, and, with it, a very Grey smile.
lept into his throat, and he struggled to contain his
would not do to let the Grey man know what he truly felt.
Carefully Adam opened the envelope and saw the
Fired!" it said. As he had
Adam looked at his feet and slumped in his chair, even though
was racing with all the changes that were now possible.
few minutes of silence the Grey man dismissed Adam.
Adam put the pink envelope into the pocket of his work clothes
returned to his place of Labor. It took all the
could muster to keep from jumping for joy.
in the Beast, Adam could not contain himself. Standing next to
wife, he had her peek into his pocket. When she saw the
a smile lit up her face and she leaned against his shoulder
his hand in hers. That night in the quiet of their
and their friends had a party. Adam would now be able to stay
day, he had been freed of his duty to sacrifice to the House
Grey Men, and now his Labor could be kept in the community.
Various guardians of the community came to Adam that
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
Home. As the evening wore down, one of the guardians
words of the Peace makers, reminding them all of their true
the war against the Grey Men.
they've fired me, but I am human, and this means I am free to
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
for their Price, but I give it of myself. Sad it is that
choose to lose their colors, but I have kept mine and with my
to declare what it all means, I ride the rainbow of life in
of others, sharing the same destiny. "
story are many ideas. For example, we currently tend to think
corporations as our enemy, as the cause of much unhappiness
in the world. But the corporation is an illusion. There
nothing real there; it is simple the Ghost which hides the
from their responsibilities. Our enemy is the Grey Men
colorless souls. This is another true name for the evil
of concentrated wealth.
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
but rather that we can seek and find the truest names, the
help us see through the Ghosts. There are many Ghosts.
is the idea that we have to change the corporation, that we
to somehow overcome the apparently tremendous advantage that
concentrated wealth possesses. Just in thinking this way
power to the Grey Men they do not in fact have. This is
variation of a general human theme which goes like this: "...if only X
do Y (some act) then I can be Z (whatever we believe we lack
has not acted and done Y)."
think this way we grant extra power to X, in many cases power
have because we have chosen to think this way.
discover ourselves thinking this way, we need to stop and
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
power? What can I and/or we do independent of those who
perceive possess such power? What freedom do I have to
grant such power to another?
our economic ideas are Ghosts of the Grey Men. We need
continue to feel bound by them. We can recognize that
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
person being attacked is taught to move in such a way that the
of the aggressor's attack is harmlessly dissipated, while at
time the person being attacked maintains their center and
balance. It is often not necessary to attack back.
attacker moves toward you, but you are not there.
can be in the War Against the Grey Men. They look for
for servants, and while they get something - the free gift of
- they do not get to drive the colors from our souls or the
from our spirits. Why? Because right in front of
stole the old and dying meaning away, and made it all new and
own. Because we refused to fall completely into the
unfettered individualism, and formed mutual aid communities
And, in this way we chose to be neither Grey or
rather to be human.
this choice has certain special aspects, even though the same
choice is arising in different ways all over the world.
and culturally America is unlike any other place in the world.
Here all the cultures and peoples and religions meet and
or make war. Here, in the New World, the old traditions
least power, - much less than they exercise elsewhere.
power to create new culture is the most powerful; everywhere
American culture, such as it is, is imitated. This is
why so many
upholders of other traditions hate us; they see the effects,
imitation - especially among their young - and they blame
Americans, not realizing that an extraordinary world-wide
social/cultural metamorphosis is upon us.
the realities of this change is that it cannot be
No institution, or government, or business, or religion
manufacture the new which is to come. All such social
occurs locally, in the smallest social structures - the
relationships, small groups gathered together for any and all
How do we talk to each other? How do we treat each
What thoughts do we form inwardly by which we define
those who we
meet and by which we define the context in which such
What feelings, what colors of soul do we cultivate
especially the unknown-stranger-other? With what name,
significance, do we adorn the world?
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
The deepest thinkers, among our scholars of sociology and
know full well that much that we call reality is in fact
meaning which is given by a culture to its young through the
acquisition of language. There is no more profound
then a revolution of meaning, for social and cultural
realities can be
altered totally by such changes.
it. Most of these changes occur chaotically and
instinctively. Some are very powerful.
Marxism, modern materialistic science, these are all the
processes of change in meaning. Now just suppose we
do such a thing on purpose. Not to force a change in the
organization of society itself directly, but only in what
by driving our energies in a struggle to find the truest
There is no accident to the fact that the first thing
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
John begins with: "In
the beginning was the Word...".
human beings, not just outwardly in speech, but more
inwardly in thought, begin to take responsibility for the
for the granting of meaning - to themselves, there is no
creative power active on the level of human social existence.
When mothers and fathers, single or otherwise, when
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
begins to shine its light and warmth into our lives.
on gossip. Small minded individuals gather together to
demean and degrade their fellows. In this act they stand
the thing and its meaning, between the person and how the
perceives them. We all know the destructive power evoked
most simple and treacherous act. Increase the scale of
observation and we begin to understand the frightening power
by Media and why its numerous excesses are so
The question remains, where are we, as individuals and
before such acts?
are asleep, or afraid. We ourselves may gossip, or
passively observe, as long as it is someone else being
Against the institutional power of media we assume
perhaps much worse, that we must make some extravagant act in
get media attention so as to get our message, our meaning,
If we think on it we will realize that by taking up the
stories, of seeking for the true names, we begin what is not
creative act, but in fact a stark necessity of the time.
gossips, the disinformation specialists, the liars, the truth
who will oppose them if not the ordinary people in the
their extraordinary freedom - their rights and
responsibilities - of
speech and thought?
will happen to corporations and governments and other groups
seek to suppress human dignity and self awareness, when the
means for effecting their treason against their fellow humans
from them by individuals and small groups who say No! to the
false meaning and oppose it with their own creative capacities
and to name the truth. The power of the Grey Men and
and heartless God depend upon our passivity and sleep.
awake, although we can not eliminate them for they do have a
the balance, we will take our rightful place as leaders in the
of the future.
America, with its miraculous diversity of culture and social
structure, the possibilities are incredible. What
true names, will be discovered in East LA or in the south side
Chicago, or in New Orleans or Miami, or Montana or...
again of how the world culture follows so closely what happens
America. It is not as if we guide - no that is not the
Rather we break ground, and then others know it can be done;
for example, what was once rock and roll flowed over the world
came back again as World Beat Music, transformed into a
world culture. America is a Dream, the Great Dream in
People come here drawn by the dream they have made in
minds of the meaning of freedom and equality and brotherhood.
Seeking they come, bringing their dream with them to add
dreams, so that we all dream the Great Dream together. This is
American Spirit, which is not possessed merely by Americans.
is a universal dream.
change our culture, if we change the meaning of things, then
begin the universal dissolution of the whole foundation on
Grey Men march to power. It is not necessary to oppose
the political level at all; although as the culture changes
change will follow as day follows night. Just consider
these few words, dear reader, how many new doorways have
in your own mind...
must draw these meditations to a close. Our reflections
the American Spirit, and the present context in which that is
have taken us down many roads, have shown us many stories.
deepest level it has been suggested that the American Spirit
universal impulse, a seeking-dreaming not confined to one
or people. We have also discovered that ordinary people
extraordinary power through the creation of culture, through
responsibility for the stories, for
of meaning in which life unfolds.
The traditions are passing
away, and individuality threatens chaos. If society has
then the individual must provide his or her own.
of the current crisis of freedom involves a relationship
between the power of corporations, the power of the Grey Men,
inner well being of individuals and communities. The
heartless dark god of profit is blind to human need.
the power of the Grey Men is a Ghost, an illusion woven of
economic ideas. Shatter the illusion and shatter the
the true ideas, the true names and give that dissolved power
communities through their own created culture.
foundation erect new economic organizations. Don't
corporations directly. Take away their meaning and make
unnecessary. Against such creative human forces they
defense. On such a path much else follows simply from
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.
human being stands in the midst of two relationships in the
world. In terms of our inner life, our soul and spirit,
in a vertical relationship to that which we recognize as
ourselves. In the horizontal we are connected to each
are social. In both directions we are yet immature.
moral or vertical growth, and horizontal or social growth only
through crisis. This is the basic lesson of life.
the sea of events, the tides of history, that impel us forward
toward that we might yet become. Knowing this we should
be grateful for the Grey Men and saddened that they have lost
colors from their souls. For without the pain they
would sleep and never grow at all. What a miracle the
spirit that it can meet such challenges and make such
sacrifices as the
times makes necessary.
mystery of time a great moment often comes, when certain
opportunities arise, when certain paths can be chosen, which
taken then, cannot be taken later. We stand on the sword
such a choice. In what spirit do we approach the problem
economic tyranny and its abuses of our way of life? Are
vengeful, angry, full of hate? Or are we thoughtful,
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
is used in this essay, it should be assumed to include the
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.
original peoples are more than
just the remnants of a dying culture, but they are the
conservators - the
stewards - of real wealth, an
richness of social wisdom. If modern America does not
comprehend and integrate this wisdom into its way of life,
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
jewels and see where their appreciation will lead us.
among these treasures lies the idea of the Grandfathers, an idea found all over the world in various
The social life
of the group was always
dependent for its order and direction on the wise counsel of
members. Mostly in our literature (or films) we have
this social guidance as having authoritarian and arbitrary
characteristics. Only recently (c.f. Dancing
Wolves) have there been hints of the
true dimensions, the depths of individual freedom and
inhabited America's tribal cultures. The Grandfathers
autocratic authority, for they were in fact wise. The
genuine, not artificial, and their authority was real, based
and practical success in life.
Grandfathers counseled, but never
compelled. Why would they need to do otherwise?
from their own lives that compulsion leads inevitably to
What they gave came from self honesty, humility and a
and deep religiosity. To not listen was observably
obey was unnecessary. Their advice was followed because
clearly valid, and never forced or coercive. Most often,
advice was never given. The Grandfathers merely spoke
what was in
their hearts, and what they would do or not do, what path they
take. Others followed because to do so was to go with
and to walk in the light.
At its core the
idea of the Grandfathers
has a deeper and more difficult mystery. It is an
of the world that conceives that the dead have not left us nor
interest in our lives. Rather, the most spiritually
ancestors are actively available to provide guidance and
advice, if we
but prepare ourselves in the right way to receive inwardly the
wisdom offered. This is an idea, by the way, not
different from the role the Saints are said to play in human
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
quietly in the awake soul, that this essay takes its name.
those readers who may unknowingly be confined in the
straight jacket of certain odd prejudices still encrusted on
scientific world view, I counsel patience. Scientific
an insufficient grasp of human nature; and without the
the Arts and Religion, science (Reason) itself cannot be a
which to restore health and vitality to our civilization.
make the mistake of prejudging this essay because of the
of its unusual beginning. Our world desperately needs wisdom,
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
Nixon were battling Stevenson and Kefauver. Having
acquired a romantic vision of America, through reading the
in the Landmark juvenile American history series, I was deeply
disturbed by the rhetoric of that political campaign. It
empty of all the idealism I had, in my naivete, expected to
Since that initial experience I have painfully watched
dialog of politics has further deteriorated. Unwanted
increasing despair has filled my soul every four years, while
listened to the dissonance in the song of many of our leaders
mislead our people with lies, obfuscation, and meaningless
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
elders; all is done in secret, with hidden motive and hidden
We have so far forgotten it, so far lost wisdom from its
place in the ordering of our lives, that today all we really
is a subtle and anguished experience of emptiness. We
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
works against wisdom's discovery. For true wisdom lies
in ideas but in the means as well. It is the council of
the circle of wisdom-seeking speakers - that finds its way to
needed understanding. No one alone, no President, no
enable us to meet and resolve our difficulties. It is
community of voices that must be heard, each to the other and
This essay is
my response to this
emptiness in our political dialog and is driven by the pain,
and the despair I feel as I experience our leaders' amazing
responsibility, and the equal frustration I feel at the
far too many of our leading citizens toward the tragic and
deterioration of our political and social existence.
am not an academic, a
politician, a newsman or even an otherwise practicing writer.
Experience has taught me that concentration in a
makes for a narrowness of vision, and an inability to see
limits of ones assumptions. Thus, I believe the reader
that, freed of the constraints of a single discipline,
essay may appear to lack in scholarship or literary merit will
than made up for in a richness of fresh ideas - a feast for
Having spent over thirty-five years in the pure (almost
mathematical and musical) contemplation of political and
realities, I have been quite surprised myself to discover what
understood once the illusions and preconceptions inherent in
current political dialog were set aside.
wish that I were more
aggressive by nature, more inclined to forcefully sell what
so much pain and so many years to learn. But like the
Grandfathers, I know too well that such methods in the end
malformed fruit, if they bear any at all. How often have
that all real learning begins with the acknowledgment of
that the first task on the path to wisdom is not the
knowledge but the cultivation of humility? Not often
seems, when our culture wanders socially backward, entranced
pundits, columnists, and other talking heads, whose only
to be to fill the air with random noise and the confusion of
opinions. Point and counterpoint? One might as
wells beside the river.
In a delightful
little movie called CHAC,
the leaders of a small agricultural tribal village in central
become dissatisfied with their own shaman's failure to end the
they are experiencing. They keep giving him parts of their
wealth, but all he does is stay drunk and make promises (sound
politicians we know?). In the end the village elders
the services of a real wise man (a magician) who lives alone
mountains, and whom they fear.
He agrees to
make it rain, but requires
of the elders (and one young man) that they all travel
to the "mother
waters". On their journey they
a night beside a lake, rich with fertile marsh land and filled
fish. The elders can't understand why the wise man has
there. Too obvious of course is the idea that the elders
simply move the village to the lake. The wise man cannot
them this, if they cannot see it for themselves, which they do
The best solution is then missed and the film ends with
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 -
emotional and moral. Respect for the word - to employ it with
scrupulous care and an incorruptible heartfelt love of truth -
essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the
race. To misuse the word is to show contempt for man.
undermines the bridges and poisons the wells. It causes Man to
down the long path of his evolution."
"Washington is a town
whose only industry is the making,
shaping, processing, and marketing of words. Words to
citizens should conduct themselves. Words to direct and
industry. Words to calm friends and warn enemies.
throw at one another in the halls of Congress, or in front of
cameras. Words that in the end can kill, or impoverish,
imprison, or empower. And also recycled words - on
pages or inside the pages of legal briefs - dissecting other
assessing implications, making distinctions, arguing their
as if the words were holy writ. Words without poetry or
whose mastery brings money and authority."
(former Secretary of the Navy, now Senator from Virginia,
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 view. In the first, we are given sage advice, should
to evolve ourselves or our civilization. In the second,
shown (by one in a clear position to know) just how little
is acted upon in the centers of political power. In the
are invited to recognize a genuine mystery, something our
age has far too strong a tendency to pretend does not exist.
follows, an attempt is made to
show how, by a common effort to engage each other via the
people, in fact any people, can through effort and struggle
a healing of our mutual social and political existence.
The goal of
political life ought to be the health and vitality of society,
inwardly in the individual soul and spiritual existence and
in the shared material circumstances.
goal words are a power.
But their power is not in the abstract symbolism of the
and sounds. No. Words are a carrier wave for
else, for the light and the heart of the human being who uses
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.
bridge the gap from one human
being to the other, light and warmth filled, sun-like in
Words mediate true brother and sisterhood, true human
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
in human affairs? We have the old adage, "...that the pen is
then the sword." But we also live in
culture which says: "money talks" (and as
is cheap"). The talk-dialog of
Presidential campaigns is a debasement of the power of the
reveals an almost total impoverishment of ideas among our
leaders. The disgusting, trivial and divisive themes of
presidential politics are a thin mask covering a tragic
every-four-year rites ought to be a
vital ritual of renewal and regeneration, but they continue to
forum of senseless name calling and cheap and thoughtless
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
Our leaders have nothing real to say to us, nothing
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
imaginative - poetic and musical, perhaps even magical.
need more than just new ideas, new understanding, but
stirs the will. If we would begin the healing of those
ills whose inflamed symptoms we saw in the riots following the
King verdict in Los Angles for example, then we must find a
inspiration - become moved as a community. For it
essential truth that no idea that does not enter into the will
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
history, but in the whole of Western culture. As a
axiom, we should recognize that these social events are always
the intangibles of human psychology. This is the reason,
example, that the Great Society failed (in a sense), because
authors did not acknowledge and did not think their way
through to the
real depths of the problem. Without a true perception of
social life is shaped, out of the hidden elements of our inner
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
which we seek to bring out of the facts some degree of
and insight. The rituals of thought, in which
today to move as in a dream, live on the surface of events,
seeking the depths, never yearning really for the meaning.
the motive is solely the pursuit after power, what then can
Truth and meaning do not yield themselves up to
has taught me that the
quality of an answer is very much dependent upon the quality
question, and as well the question's impelling motive.
quality questions are, therefore, difficult to discover; we
to find them. Mere opinion, while often necessary, is
here. In the beginning thinking must move from question
question, as if unraveling a complicated set of riddles
boxes inside boxes inside boxes. This essay follows such
but it may only seem like a downward spiral, as if one was
deeper, ever deeper into an ever darkening ocean of
The truth can be found, if one has the discipline, by
light of intuition cloaked until the yearning is ripe - until
pregnant with the earnest desire to perceive and to know.
insanely rushing civilization, our judgments tend to be formed
fast. Wisdom is only found with time and contemplation;
it is the
product of effort, of work, of craft and of art.
ago, in the late 1970's, as
I struggled to recover from the blows to my idealism delivered
Nixon years, I came to a surprising, yet obvious, realization.
been reading Robert Marcuse's One
Man. Suddenly I understood
that behind all political points of view stood an idea of
always present, although often expressed in differing and
degrees of explicitness. This meant, among other truths,
political disagreement most often had its roots in these
concepts of the human being. And, as a consequence, that
fundamentally true and practical political ideas had to be
based on a
similarly true and practical understanding of human nature.
paths I have encountered a
multitude of questions. Some of the very best were asked
George Will in his 1982 book, Statecraft
Soulcraft, a beautiful (but
futile) attempt to adorn the political dialog with the more
ideas of Western civilization (Will is one political writer
instinct for the "Grandfathers" of
Western Civilization). He asked: What does it
mean to govern? Does government have any
the inner life of its citizens? And behind this question
are the fundamentals of human nature as these play themselves
the political arena? At this level of inquiry we can
have a dialog which is no longer superficial. Here is
answer to the question we have about why our political leaders
been unable to solve most of our social problems. They
wandered in serious play among these the foundational
thus they build houses on sand. Let us consider some
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
flowed from father to son as a consequence of the closeness of
lives. Industrialization fractured this relationship and
interrupted this flow. What the father had to pass on to
as an understanding of inner life, as an understanding of soul
spirit, and of the wisdom which makes communities possible,
lost. This observation of Bly's is just one instance of
similar changes, as the last few hundred years of Western
seen the gradual, but unstoppable, degradation of the
fabric of the social order.
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
effects of unrestrained greed. As a consequence of the
individual is taught a world view in which the human being is
animal, living in an uncaring cosmos. As a consequence
second, he is valued only as a worker and a consumer.
there any larger meaning, only various sterile pleasures of
to be consumed over and over again.
This is what
signifies the end of Western
civilization. The significance of the human being, which
the beginning as a rising sun in the classic Greek
faded to nothing. The light by which the human being
himself in a cosmos filled with Gods and the drama of Fate and
has turned to darkness. There is no longer any profound
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?
course, but so are the acts of those who looted our savings
institutions and created the sub-prime crisis. The
parallel both in consequence and in cause. In both the
the ability to be motivated beyond mere self interest and
to see itself as a constructive co-contributor to the greater
Yet the looting of the savings and loans. the political
of extremists and economic terrorism of the sub-prime crisis
worse, for they require a sustained mood, a continuous cold
calculating attitude, which is all the more unconscionable.
looting during riots are acts of the moment, fired by
anger and frustration (for the most part, not forgetting the
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
to define it, but soulfully aware of the lack. The
leaders of our
modern cultures have an emptiness - a strange inability to
what we know in our hearts is wrong. Our communities are
longer led by real statesmen, we have no true kings or
the whole, or thinking effectively of what our acts will mean
children's children's children. The great majority of
have skill at getting elected - at the pursuit of power, yet
little sense of the deep movements of history, and almost no
to inquire after the mysterious and more difficult truths.
isn't this too a consequence of the demise of civilization.
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.
promises so much, has only
delivered into society's hands the means to manipulate that
without life. And, while it seems that the genetic
make possible much, an honest appraisal of the history of
technology reveals that each apparently life enhancing advance
with it an equally deadly shadow side. Without some kind
change in the civilization and culture out of which
scientific knowledge becomes social fact, the genetic
promises both great good and great evil.
What else is
industrial pollution but
human evil made physically manifest? Our knowledge of
lifeless has seduced us into accepting and tolerating a
accelerating devouring of the planet, and the reduction
dynamic processes of much that is living, into more that is
anti-life. It is not "better living through chemistry",
because it is chemistry and the chemical corporations which
products and "by-products" that never
before occurred in nature. These twice
dead substances cannot be made part of the living cycle of
While we made them in ignorance, to continue while
realities, is to bequeath to our descendants a planet of
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 -
will be made that Science at
least gives us the truth, but this is false when it comes to
questions which Science struggles to answer. Consider
Imagine a large room, around the outer walls of which is a
continuous blackboard. Draw a line, in chalk, horizontally all
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
right and label it "the future" (Heat
to the left an arrow pointing left and labeled "the past" (big bang).
some beings living in this
little gap, and savor the outrageous arrogance of their
from this tiny point of view and this tiny piece of the puzzle
have the capacity to come to knowledge of the mysteries of the
past and future - the mysteries of time and space. That
human beings spin such theories tells us something about human
something very important, but cannot in any circumstance be
with much likelihood of successfully telling us something
the origin or the consummation of human existence, much less
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
these cosmological ideas. To imagine, that the human
can of itself form true pictures of the origin of the cosmos,
is a vain
undertaking. Yet, these speculative ideas dominate the
of modern civilized human beings and have made the older,
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
mystery which drives from soul depths the spasm of violence
that put Los Angles to the torch, and threatens every similar
concentration on the planet. The imagination - the eye
heart is needed as well, for we need to see into the inside of
not just observe the surface through the spurious craft of
mathematical statistics. Civilization is dying, and it
death and its significance we must fathom if we are to find
into a human future.
And while the erosion of meaning which has resulted from the age of Science can
as a partial cause of the death of civilization, it is not the
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
in, the interior (psychological) spaces of the human being,
there is no
hope to either redeem politics or to arrest the social decay
of concentrated living - the urban complexes with all their
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
C.P.Snow warned of a dangerous development, the appearance of
cultures - a scientific culture and a literary culture - which
the ability to communicate with each other. More
Bloom in his The
Closing of the American Mind,
dominance of the sciences over the humanities in the modern
In truth I think neither of them went far enough.
to me, a psychological discontinuity in our civilization (such as it is) unnaturally separating science,
humanities) and religion, into in-communicative - even
and religion exist, in part,
because something within the human being can only find
such activities. The human being is healthiest
when these impulses are all fully developed and work in
each other. For some this will be difficult to
we do not often discuss problems such as these, except in
limited circles. It is not easy, therefore, to write of
a more general audience, because we are unused to this kind of
thinking. Many may find such a discussion too
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
(Reason, Imagination and Devotion) to the older ideas of
and goodness. Reason is the path
truth, Imagination the path to beauty, and Devotion the path
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
writes in his recent The
Emperors New Mind: "It seems clear to me
importance of aesthetic criteria applies not only to the
judgments of inspiration, but also to the much more frequent
we make all the time in mathematical (or scientific work).
Rigorous argument is usually the last step! Before
one has to make many guesses, and for these, aesthetic
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
advances. Rather civilization is the inside, the realm of soul and spirit, of ideals and
dreams and desires.
civilization has fallen means that
the wealth, the real wealth of any culture - its wisdom - no
lives within the human soul in a vital and meaningful way.
live in a time of social chaos; the shared cohesive inner
that formerly ordered social existence has died away.
automatically acceded to
their parents wishes. The daughter never expected to
then what her mother was, a wife and a parent - a homemaker.
son took up the father's craft. The roles were defined.
values set by tradition.
Those who argue
a return to this way of
social existence delude themselves; and, it is certainly not
argued here that the past was in any way better (or worse)
present or the coming future. We are only noting that
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
eventually pass away. It is part of wisdom to know that
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
of the debaters is itself empty (without tradition or other
socially cohesive structure). But even this
inadequate, we need to go deeper. To say that
dying is not adequate. How is it dying? Of what
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
the world, as a part of it. The world of the senses was
perceived as vividly and as concretely as we experience it
Barfield writes about how the Scholastics, for example,
had a participatory form of consciousness. After the change,
this form of consciousness passed away, the human being felt,
first time, separated from nature, outside it as an observer.
conveniences sake we can call this change as one going from "original
participation" (Barfield's term) to
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.
mathematics reveals this change, for
only at this time is mathematics itself concerned with
a profound change occurs in geometry as the problem of
beyond the older Euclidean geometry to the extraordinarily
and symmetric projective or synthetic geometry.
The same trail
of change of consciousness
can be found in language (c.f. Barfield's History
English Words). Writer Michael
has also noticed this change (without really appreciating its
significance) by writing in The Broken
Cord of a native American language
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
Our ancestors were less individuals and more the members
group. One was John's son, or from a place (de Chardin)
one was an individual.
portion of what we must
confront in modern existence can only be understood by
this change and its significance in the general social milieu.
The existence of a common experience of alienation, so
observed in the last forty or fifty years in modern culture
Reisman's classic, The Lonely
Crowd), is due to this change. We
gradually become more individual, and this also means more
older social forms were
dependent upon the instinctive sense of community that went
prior mode of consciousness. Such a strong sense of
as we now possess, and assume our natural right, would have
intolerable in an old
This can be
said in summation, although
it must admit of being unjustifiably brief. A general
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
science has been the creation of a material world view, a view
the older spiritual conceptions. For many, the human
being is no
longer an intentional creation of a deity, but rather an
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.
movement (in large part)
derives its social force from adherence to the idea of a set
code, a known standard to which the individual must conform.
pro-choice side derives its social force from an inner
exercise the newly emerging sense of individual conscience.
two then represent the clearest possible example of the clash
life between the psychological past and the psychological
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
or Nancy Reagan. Here the moral judgment turns to the
for a standard. The embryonic new social order (in the
being born) can be found in the idea: do your own thing; a simplistic sense of the emergence of
conscience as appeared in the turmoil of the Sixties.
observation we enter into a new
problem. That civilization can die is now clear.
happens next? Does the Phoenix arise from the ashes?
does this happen? What facts can be noticed and what do
suggest about the future?
The best idea
(for the purpose of
perceiving the dynamics and nuances of this change) I have
is that which Goethe found so crucial in his biological and
studies: the idea of metamorphosis.
the organic law - the principle of life as process - in its
evolved form. As we noted earlier, the social order -
organism -must have characteristics similar to the realm of
in nature, as its substance (as it were) is made up of the
psychological realities of human beings: thoughts, dreams,
impulses of will, emotions, character etc. It is not the
bodies and their properties that dominate the nature of the
order, but the inner elements.
fruitful example of
metamorphosis which I have found is the transformation from
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.
the butterfly begins to come into being, there appear shadows
outside surface of the cell mass, and inwardly individual
to again differentiate. It is as if the chaos is being
from the outside inward, while simultaneously being
the inside outward. Somehow a higher ordering principle
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
The change of consciousness from original participation
onlooker separation lead to a sense of alienation from one
The ideas born out of the new science which sprang from
change have lamed the ability of the older religious ideas to
contribute to a cohesive social organism. The
revolutions which followed have contributed to the destruction
family and community life. This weakened social
structure then no
longer was capable of providing moral guidance, so that an
conscience became a psychological possibility. All this
in the direction of almost complete social chaos, which we
starkly today in the inner city.
traditions are no longer a
social force. The individual must find his own way.
we are awake to what this really means, we can see that only
process - the creation of social chaos - makes possible the
of a free conscience in the individual human being. Consider,
example, the current cultural clash, appearing mostly in the
life, between the Americans and the Japanese. In the
East, the necessity of conforming to the group standard still
great force, still has the power to bring about conformance.
the American, whose culture at present is essentially
is (for the most part) no longer possible.
Here then lie
the seeds of the future.
Civilization, that is the past social order, was
tradition for its character, meaning, force and form.
has fallen away. Where once the inner life was ordered
school, family and community, now it is the human being
must discipline and order his own soul-lawful (psychological)
existence. Whatever qualities that are to inhabit the
civilization must flow from that interaction which occurs
individual and his conscience. Formerly this occurred
between community and individual, with the individual being
by community. Now it must flow in the opposite
Out of the interaction between the individual and his
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
practical implications of this understanding for our future
political existence. Again, I take my start from George
original questions, previously noted: What does it mean to
what role should government play in the inner life of the
And, what are the fundamentals of human nature in this
As Will noted
in his book (Statecraft
as Soulcraft), the tendency in
to the extent it has actually been articulated, has been to
governing as if individual self interest was the only motive
could count on. And, even this idea has disappeared into
background of another idea, namely: free market competition.
last is the icon of our time, so revered in fact that its use
advocated not only in the sphere of economics, but in
culture, and government services. We often have
candidates trying to tell us that only by running government
business can our problems be solved. This thinking is
wrong-headed, it is dangerous as well; for it makes of
people an act of bottom line computation, rather then the
wise psychological and social art it very much needs to be.
Truly, truly Will is right: statecraft must be
It certainly is
a truth that individual
initiative is better then compulsion. We have a
if people choose to act in certain ways, rather than it being
of them. But it is a very prejudicial view of the human
believe that the only motive that can be counted upon is self
Few parents can fill, in even a minor way, the parental
through mere self interest. No true teacher, nor any
clergyman is motivated by self interest. And a genuine
statesman? One does not serve, truly serve a People,
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
ecology. We are dealing with systems, with growth and
(and therefore with the past), and with human potential (and
with the future). The psychological elements we have
considering are like a soil out of which social order or
grows. Even now, new growths are certain to be found
social decomposition of the inner city. Let us consider
particularly the problem of urban decay, as an example of
awaiting our ecological understanding and creativity.
First we need a
picture of the process of
change which led to the current situation. Four hundred
in Western civilization, one could find a stable community
the form of a village. As we have seen, the change of
consciousness and the resulting change in world-view coupled
industrial revolution has dissolved this once cohesive social
structure. Following this initial condition, as people
more concentrated themselves in the cities, neighborhoods
retained certain social similarities to the village: common
view and language, and large extended families. But this
structure was only transitory as the various forces (both
outer) dissolved it as well.
Now we are
brought to a condition of
complete social chaos. There is no community anymore;
collection of individuals and their raw social needs.
lawlessness grow like weeds in such a social environment.
gangs, which seem so terrible, possess an odd but instinctive
Without a community around it as a support, the family
unable to hold its center. Young people are then drawn
whatever meets their social need. This is the gang's
It is a naturally arising urban tribal response to the
civilization in the inner city.
was thought in social work
circles that the gangs should be destroyed, but now there is a
realization that here is a valid social form, a niche in the
ecology is being filled.
We need to see
past the negative media
image and realize that this sub-culture is as much a product
decayed nature of the social organism, as it is a product of
individual moral vacuum which accompanies the loss of
Many of our young people find their only meaning here;
and if we
are to fulfill our responsibilities toward them, we must make
their discovery of a more socially creative meaning.
what they find, they will find of their own initiative, we
cease to try to shape the possibilities, if we are wise
To me the implication of this is that social policy
support this form - the gang, but in such a way that it's
evolution (and make no mistake, it will continue to grow) will
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
material wealth and make the gangs the stewards of it.
sell it to them; rather we grant them the opportunity to make
use of it, such that it meets their needs. As long as
stewardship is creative and socially positive, they retain the
determine the nature of its use.
for the whole society can
flow from this. For example, we create a social pathway
legitimacy for something which may well be willing to give up
outlaw status, especially if such strings as must necessarily
attached do not take the form of knotted and binding vows.
be no quid pro quo or we will destroy from the start that
initiative we hope to see channeled into socially productive
activities. In a sense we make a very much needed act of
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
this community in the sense of support for education, health,
business creation. But we do not sell these services or
demand they take a certain shape. We say to the
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.
reader needs to realize, however, that this is a worst-case
and the underlying principles remain valid. In a sense we are
care of a certain urban organism which has appeared
the chaotic social decay, and feeding it, seeking what yet
in its nature by encouraging its further growth [We can do the
with self organized homeless organizations]. We can't
advance what form it will take, weed or flower. But we
know by now that attempts to kill it have only maintained its
nature - efforts at elimination offer no opportunity for a
It ought to be
obvious that individuals
in the inner cities cannot contribute to the social order if
no real power to determine the most basic facts of their own
If they have no real political power, no control over
essential needs, if they are constantly made dependent, then
initiative is destroyed, aborted before it can be born.
It is no
wonder then that human desire appears in such a social
in the form of drug and alcohol dependencies, casual sex.
immorality, fractured families and all the terrible realities
some want to solely blame the individual.
It will help to
use our imaginations
here, not our prejudices - our prejudgments. The gang is
social unit. It exists because it fills a human need.
individuates itself from the general social chaos, and
for survival. But the individuals within it are not
nor irredeemable. They are quite capable, given the
of seeing that some acts are unwise, and others more
At present the surrounding social organism pushes this
away, and insulates itself from this outlaw social form.
am suggesting is that the outside community take a different
Rather then push away, we create a path, a social space
which the outlaws will want to grow, but in ways that are less
to the rest of us. In this way we honor their humanity.
give the gift of trust, which is a spiritual nutrient of
We can also
recognize that this example -
the gang - is the most difficult to accept because of the
media image through which we normally behold it. Other
social forms are less negative in this way. Homeless
example, will also respond to receiving nurturing
Access to property for which the only expectation for
retention of control is a stewardship expectation, offers of
to meet self-determined need, and willingness to respond to
asked for - these foods can support the growth of viable
the seats of urban decay. These growing communities,
the opportunity to take hold of the decay from within and
The decay in
the inner city, both
physical and spiritual, can only be overcome by individuals
inside the dynamic social conditions. No local, state or
agency or legislature can by fiat, law or regulation do what
done by individuals out of their free moral deeds. This
social policy must support these new social forms as they
the chaos and debris.
There is a
tendency for social policy to
try to preserve the past, for example, to try to only give
families with blood ties. Thus, following the Sixties,
people tried to form non-blood social forms (whether communes
older fixed income people sharing the same house or apartment)
policy makers did not support these new forms of association.
Concern was for an ideology, rather than with giving
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
dead, and that the future will travel new paths, break new
In a sense, the intrinsic wisdom of people meeting
problems will always outrun the ideologies of society's
thinking, whether church or state.
We cannot, from
the outside, provide what
instead must flow from the individual as an ordering principle
social anarchy (chaos) of our areas of concentrated living.
can only nurture and support that which is emerging. Nor
move into such areas of decay merely economic positives,
decay is due to a natural weakness in the soul, inside the
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
and you inhibit the other. If upbringing and education fails
the individual unfold natural talent, then opportunity will
little. If society fails to create possibilities (such as
employment), then education is of little use. And I have in
not just the poor urban dweller, but the many graduates of our
institutions who are unable to find work in their chosen
And while we
know that lack of jobs is a
problem, yet it is not the economic aspect of the job that is
difficulty. It is the inward personal satisfaction, the
sense of self, of control over ones life, the sense of meaning
its manifestations, which is missing. Work feeds this
meaning. So does viable community, religion, art and the
other aspects which make a cohesive culture or civilization.
must nurture all aspects of the emerging new civilization if
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 -
considerations we must add
others. Again we need to look to the past, to see the
of flow of the social forces in order to come to some sense of
belongs organically to the future. The loss of community
urban environment and the seeds of its regeneration we have
discussed. There is an equal effect, so obvious we
it, but which cannot be overlooked if we wish to find wise
social health. Urban concentrations of human beings have
counter-pole in the abandonment of rural areas. As urban
populations build up, so the rural populations decrease.
again the industrial revolution - mankind's fascination with
forces - has had a toxic-like social side effect in the
and the excessive use of chemicals in agriculture. A very meaning-full way of life has been
the social chaos of the death of Western civilization has
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
given for the educational needs required by such a
ones way of life, these could again support viable rural
The tendency to transform rural areas into agri-business
arrested, and a real agri-culture given an opportunity for
We will gain social health, and inner strength as a
the exodus from rural to urban areas can be reversed.
follow these matters are aware
that the demands of consumers for natural foods -
foods - is on the increase, as is the acreage devoted to
healthier foods. Moreover, it is also well understood
mechanizing and over use of chemicals in farming has lead to
increasing cycle of the application of death forces (raw
fertilizers - nitrates etc. and as well the toxics used to
excessive insect populations that have accompanied the over
fertilization) bringing annihilation to the micro-organisms
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
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
vast quantities of petro-chemicals (gas for machinery,
fertilizers, toxins for insect and disease control), needs a
labor pool in order to be economically viable. For these
it is clear that the healing of the land from the abuses of
and agri-business goes hand in hand with the social healing
be connected to reversing the flow of people into our large
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
from the physical environment where these relationships take
As previously pointed out, civilization is a
environment, not a physical one.
essentially physical forms
arising from two complementary psychological impulses.
that of self interest. From this arises an impulse to
land, through processes of sub-division, into a commodity for
of making money. This links up with a second impulse,
of the degeneration of the inner city. Profit making
depends upon meeting a need. The fracturing of the urban
environment into a dying inner core, and only slightly more
surrounding suburbs, is the consequence of two additional
factors: one - the failure to plan the living environment of
citizens with any degree of wisdom; and two - blind economic
which when otherwise unrestrained go simply where the profit
regardless of the social consequences.
Edge City is
similarly generated; that is
it arises from unrestrained economic forces, not from the
of human intelligence to the problems of social existence.
developer's question is: where can I buy cheap and where can I
high? It is not: how may I create a physical environment
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
situation, where not only are our Elders no longer listened to
respect, but they are presumed to be responsible for the decay
debris. As individuals we run every which way, content
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)
appreciate that unrestrained self interest is the worst kind
example. Leaders must be disciplined, moderate, prudent,
etc., - that is virtuous. Acceptance of a two million
speaking fee by an ex-president of this nation, excessive CEO
compensation, diversion of capital resources into 60 million
works of art(?) - these and similar acts by our leading elites
that there is little, if any, sense of proportion among those
behavior of those who pursue
power and wealth gives evidence of a culture-wide madness.
such has too frequently been the rule from historical times in
changes the diagnosis, or the prognosis. Our leaders
ability to recognize the fundamental hypocrisy of criticizing
"looters" in the inner city, while at the same time
most concentrated wealth results from illegal and immoral
very seldom from the pursuit of virtue. ("Behind every great
lies a great crime" - Balzac)
civilization is imprinted - is given form and order - by such
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
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
crisis, and the meaning of the problem. That a group of
princes groomed an actor to rise eventually to the American
through an outrageous falsification and control of image-based
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
overreaching of concentrated wealth, in part, because the act
citizenship has decayed as well. The voter brings little
effort to his
responsibilites, and as a consequence almost no wisdom. If my
as a citizen, is to ask only what government can do for me,
sense of the needs of the whole people, then my efforts only
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 -
campaigns for the Presidency
exposes a very instructive foolishness. Hidden in the whole
an idea which is false at its roots, but which we seldom
the assumption that if we just get the right person in the
then it will all get better.
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
truth they are functionally incapable of sustaining. The
not control Congress, the Federal Reserve, the CEO's of our
corporations, the labor unions, or the habits of consumers;
the economic activities of other nations. All of the political
which proceeds as if the President can "heals or "set right"
around" the economy is delusional to the point of a kind of
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
run the economy, although it is possible for him (and his
co-opportunists) to contribute more easily to its ruin
Reagan administration), than to its health.
The fact that
such a proposition inhabits
our political dialog does tell us something, however. It shows
general characteristic of human psychology, which the 12-Step
call "denial". Everyone who blames the President for the
effectively denying their own culpability. The rise in
with its buy now pay later, psychology, reveals a nation
instant gratification. The junk bond debacle on Wall Street,
as well as
the S & L crisis, points toward a "anything for a buck"
among business people. Congress's acceptance of massive
its corollary, an unconscionable national debt, points to a
under the carpet and forget it" mentality in the politician.
leveraged buyout orgies unveil a "lets play the game and "damn
consequences". Everywhere we turn, human excess plays into the
and the President is not, and cannot be made, responsible for
Nor can the
question be put: what then
should the President do? For there is first a great work
which is the disentangling of the dialog from such illusions.
This is a
first task that our leading elites owe us. The President, the
parties, the CEO's, the labor leaders - all must own up to
individual part. Even the Press has a duty here, to
itself from the many impossible conceptions it weaves so
into our every-four-year rite of national rhetoric.
President may lead the way by
refusing to accept this illusory mantel (management of the
would certainly help. But such an act would have to be meet
candidness on the part of many others, including the ordinary
who must begin to rouse himself from an over-long civic nap.
sub-delusion of the same false
general proposition (that our ills will be healed by changing
in the White House) is that: the President should articulate a
"national vision". While it may have been historically true
leaders could inspire a whole people, under the present
realities - especially the dominance of individuality over
this is again something the man or woman in the White House
expected to realize. Under the rule of today's individualism
approach almost any aimless crowd and suggest a direction and
half would suddenly have opposite opinions, whether they'd
about it before or not.
This is not to
say, however, that there
is no higher goal which lies latent in the American Soul.
President's responsibility here is not to 'invent' a goal, but
to see into the depths of our Character, and then articulate
remains hidden. When this is done correctly, most of us will
acknowledge it, because something has been pointed to of which
already instinctively aware.
It is also
frequently said that the
American President is the leader of the free world. But this
an essentially false proposition, and again sets before us an
picture of political and social realities.
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
provides a superficial view of the mass-man, and the political
then sets his ideological compass according to this view.
motive for such an approach is really the pursuit of power,
any attempt to find some wisdom in the people according by
guide the ship of state. For these reasons it is more accurate
that the American President can dominate the Media in the free
some extent; and therefore has a certain effect. As well, he
does have a certain narrow flexibility in the course that is
terms of policy: but under present modes of political
practice, this is
severely constrained by the statistical poll-driven
consequence, it is really pure
hyperbole to suggest that he or she is the "leader" of the
nations. What ought to be a free and statesman like judgment
coerced by the will to power and its dependence upon
false ideological consistency. In these circumstances there is
to meet the real world, as it is. Instead, the American
takes a course which steers itself by political expediency - a
which can never succeed, because the real world cannot be
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
believe its own editorials and headlines. Again, we are made
the ease with which the American Presidency can bring wreak
effects which have nothing to do with leadership, with social
responsibility, with creative moral will, and much more to do
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
higher purposes of the American People, so the American
be a voice for something yet unspoken in the relations of
this again cannot be a personal vision; rather it must only be
result of an inner effort to perceive the deeper movements of
history and direct our attention to the more healthy and
pathways as these unveil themselves in the phenomena of the
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
romantic nature. We are hopeful idealists. We believe in
We believe suffering can be overcome, problems can be solved,
wrongs can be righted. It is this idealism which fuels the
belief just discussed: that if we just elect a saint to the
House, then all will get better. The source of this delusion
however, the invalidity of this idealism, but rather the
unconsciousness with which this idealism is applied.
majority of Americans are
caught up in some vision of the materialism of the age. We
satisfaction in things, because we are not yet spiritually
enough, as a people, to realize that it is the quality of the
intangibles in life that is lacking. The absence of these
(which is due in most cases to the fallen nature of our
then becomes the driving itch for more and more seeking after
sterile pleasures of sensual and material pastimes.
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
causes of our dissatisfaction. Yet, even this is false,
so-called Reagan boom. All the economic indicators were
the whole decade was characterized on the level of
greed, selfishness, and self-centeredness, with the
the rot and decay in the quality of life continued. The root
the lack of civilization - of a wise ordering of our social
remain seriously diseased.
The truth is
that a healthy economy is
not the prelude to a healthy social order. Rather it is the
that is the rule. First we heal the social order, first we
the role of wisdom in the ordering of existence, and then the
problems will begin to resolve themselves for we will have by
(seeking after wisdom) finally begun the healing of the moral
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
toward the inner life of the citizen? And what of human
characteristics of this may we rely upon in the redemption of
I have been, up
to this point, trying to
dissolve the misconceptions we hold concerning social and
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
for resolution. But where then do we look? Who is to carry out
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
political legitimacy flows from the People. We may even go
recognize that political and social health also can only flow
People. The elites of themselves cannot provide it, however
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
might it not be quite possible that the current state of
only one stage of something which has yet much unrealized
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
transition from the old to the
new worlds, we mark the end of Western Civilization and the
of what the future may well call the American Civilization.
English, in particular American idiomatic English, has become
international language; what some call the language of money.
Television, film, rock and roll, blue jeans - the list is
those aspects of new world culture which are being imitated
everywhere as the information age dissolves the barriers of
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
we will have to give to the world. But just as we have noted
away of the old, we have to expect the birth of the new. It is
America is now that is crucial. No. It is what America is to
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
what lines lies the potential for the further development of
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,
truth has been lost over the years of superficial political
was created in the shape of a grand idea, its origin in the
human motive was in response to an overreaching of the English
aristocracy. First came the necessity - the continuously
tyrannical acts of the English King; then came the idea - the
form a government for a truly free people.
this act could not be
completed. Our founders were able to accomplish much; but
could devise a means to be free of hereditary aristocracy,
not protect us from the eventual overreaching of the successor
aristocracy - the merchant princes. John Adams wrote then: "We
today substantially, but the day will come when our Republic
will be an
impossibility. It will be an impossibility because wealth will
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
symptoms economic -homelessness, joblessness, excessive taxes,
inadequate health care?). The difference between the
the hereditary aristocracy of political power (the King) and
overreaching of the aristocracy of concentrated wealth is the
difference between a direct and obvious tyranny and one that
indirect and hidden. We can see the advantages and privileges
accrue to concentrated wealth, but cannot see the means by
have enslaved us.
the few have more, the many
will have less. What is not understood is how the political
has resided in the hands of concentrated wealth for many
been able to form the economic order so that all advantage in
affairs resides with those who already have. The U.S.
forbids a tax on income, but we have come to have one (it
constitutional amendment). Central Banking (the Federal
permits the creation of wealth out of nothing, wealth which
then belongs to those who already have. The change from a
gold standard to purely paper money, backed by nothing,
power many times over. All this has been accomplished
the hand of concentrated wealth, for their own advantage, and
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
just the opposite. This system produces an ever increasing
which is forced to live on the garbage and debris of a society
to understand the causes of such suffering. This system
middle class that lives from paycheck to paycheck, a delicate
which can easily fall apart sending another family tumbling
abyss of poverty and dependence. This system sustains a
addicted to drugs, shopping, and political apathy. An
sits astride a hoard of American material wealth, consciously
illusions about the real nature of our political and economic
through its control of media and information.
Is there a way
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
actively and intentionally founding a new civilization. And,
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.
civilization was beginning to
end, American democracy was born; an experiment which
setting limits to hereditary aristocracies, but which failed
us from the overreaching of concentrated wealth. Thus, we have
us the task demanded by the time, and which will involve the
evolution of the American experiment. We must find the means
limits on concentrated wealth and unrestrained self interest,
diminishing our freedoms, but in fact enhancing them.
must realize that these
goals can only be accomplished by another further evolution,
involves a much more conscious application of the fundamental
principles of a way of governing which finds its power and
in the people themselves. The truth is that our power as a
not in the vote itself, but in the creation of that very thing
been falsely yearning to find in a political leader: the
of a vision. We must ourselves, as a common act, create that
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
answers to the questions: what does it mean to govern? Does
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
identities would disappear into some kind of intermingling of
culture. While this does appear to have happened with many of
European immigrants to America, it is clearly not so as
more stark differences of skin color and religion. Lately, I
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
cooperation, resulting in some kind of marvelous, ethnically
work of art.
something here worthy of a
deeper appreciation. The genius of history has set before the
America-yet-to-be an extraordinary challenge. Regardless of
morality of the means, the fact is that history has moved so
bring to our shores all the great variety of peoples from all
world. No other nation has before it the vital necessity of
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;
higher qualities find their formative impulse in difficulties
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
there is to be no easy way to racial, ethnic or religious
cooperation. It has been, is, and will be a hard and stony
through pain and failure and unceasing struggle will we find
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.
Character ought not to be
considered a fixed thing, something already determined. We
much yet to experience. We are not old like the cultures of
much less the European cultures. In truth we do not lack
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
cultural dynamics of America will reveal that culture is
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
who immigrate to our shores their past cultural heritage. The
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
other than English. Such activity misses the whole point. What
away dies because it is abandoned. It is only for the
decide what of the past to let go of and what to preserve. In
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
tragedy has resulted. It is a goodness that peoples of African
are seeking to rediscover what was stolen. It is a goodness
so-called native Americans seek to renew what was
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?
there exists a relationship
between our general characteristics as Americans and the
characteristics of this land's original peoples. A wise and
investigation of the American Character will reveal that many
central qualities are the mirror images of the "Indian". I was
coming to this conclusion by an obscure pamphlet I
American Indians and our way of life, by Sylvester M. Morey,
by the Myrin Institute of Garden City, New York.
writes: that, that aspect of
the American Character, which once having an idea is impatient
upon it, has more kinship with the Indian, than with the
the European came here looking for individual freedom, only
aspiring toward a democratic government -democracy being an
of Indian cultures (not so much as an idea, but more as the
of practice); that the kind of competition carried on in
exemplified by team sports has its origin in the American
are no European roots to team sports; that our natural
not an European trait, but one found solely among the Indian
many traditions of the Give-away; that the many struggles for
of women has arisen stronger in America than in Europe,
its goal what was already achieved for women in many Indian
and that the impulse to form confederations owes its
inspiration to the
Morely ends his
dissertation with the
following, from a speech given by Iroquois chief, Canassatego,
4th, 1744, at a meeting between many colonists and Iroguois:
one thing further to say, and that is We heartily recommend
Union and a
Good Agreement between you our brethren. Never disagree, but
strict friendship for one another, and thereby you as well as
become the stronger. Our wise Forefathers established union
between the Five Nations; this has made us formidable. This
us great weight and Authority with our Neighboring Nations. We
Powerful confederacy, and by your observing the same Methods
Forefathers have taken, you will acquire fresh Strength and
therefore, whatever befalls you, never fall out with one
We are far from
having achieved what was
truly meant here. In our cultural youthfulness we compete
especially economically. Our system of justice is again
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
impulses of our natures, but most especially before the
concentrated wealth - the principal antagonist of human
freedom in our
time. The stakes could not be higher. For what is resolved
within American society, will be the model for the whole next
the resolution of this, the
essential crisis of the time, will not be found in either the
economics, or even politics. But rather in the realm of
individual conscience - in the realm of the human spirit.
The wise social
understanding of the
American Indian, while remaining the root mirror of the
of an American Civilization, was in its origin and application
essentially instinctive and semi-conscious. Consistent with
laws of social dynamics, it had to pass away so that it could
rediscovered as the answering idea to the social chaos of this
while nevertheless requiring a fully conscious implementation.
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
wealth will lead to a civilization which will be an
abomination not to
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.
remain two core problems. How,
in a practical sense, do we foster the necessary dialogue
various ethnic, religious, and racial factions which make up
of Peoples? And, by what means do we set the necessary limits
overreaching of concentrated wealth?
It has been a
central theme of this text
that social dynamics are organic in nature. The future is not
to the past, although the transformations may involve a
out. Consider the following...
participation consciousness was
a group consciousness. Thus, for example, the democracy and
of the Indian was in large part possible because the
instinctively gave over to the group a certain authority.
morals - were guided from outside the individual. We are now
through the elimination of that way of social being,
whole of Western Civilization, and, perhaps as well, the whole
(although not at the same time or rate of change). Instinctive
community has/is passing away, and the individual is now on
community we are to have in the
future must come from the will forces of the individual, and
only have as their moral nature that which results from the
between the individual and his own free conscience. What we
the onlooker separation has an anti-community consequence and
represents something that can only be overcome in its
social effects, through the conscious activity of the
individual. A new
kind and form of community participation must arise, one
the free deeds of the individual, rather than the dying-away
traditional standards of the older social order.
overestimate how difficult this
will be. Just consider the many apartment buildings in
are, physically, natural communities, but which remain,
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
feel the pain and are not unwilling to offer comfort, warmth,
companionship. But, something is still missing. As individuals
yet to give birth to that within our natures which has the
carry out such acts of grace. Something needs to happen inside
first, or at least at the same time as we struggle to create
of human community.
When there was
a vital community
standard, one knew what to do, and what to do fitted in
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
However, what is a burden to an individual can be a joy to
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,
with our own conscience depends upon striving, upon the
that which exceeds our grasp. In a redeemed politics and
existence (for these are inseparable), we must first learn to
each other. The cliche', which says never to discuss politics
religion, has lost its meaning. These passion-arousing
realities can no
longer be buried under the pretense of the mask - the false
present to the social world. Just as there is a social dying
becoming active in our time, so is there the need for an
psychological death and resurrection. There is no community
without an individual one as well.
individual can step outside of
himself, and make the necessary sacrifice of psychological
the anxiety of genuine social interaction. Social and
require that we begin to talk to each other about the ultimate
questions of how it may be that vital communities can be born
nurtured to maturity. The individual, alone, cannot find his
outside of new enfolding social structures. Alone we only
inwardly onesided, excessive, crippled and lame.
First we must
risk something, first we
must admit chaos into our own inwardness before the new can
Psychological safety is psychological immobility.
Yet, this brave
step can be made with
greater emotional security than we might imagine, when it is
others. We step out of ourselves, we set aside the mask,
again is a special trait of the American Character; for where
there so much ferment of this type, so much group work,
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
small pamphlet about the life of spiritually striving groups:
Philosophy of Taking Counsel Together. In it was discussed the
practical psychological problems of having a dialog among
that is able to achieve the desired community without a
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
change in human nature. As a result, the invisible tyrannies
economic order determine in very tragic ways the time
structures of how
we live day to day, and have, under the influence of the
separation, accelerated enormously the rhythms of existence.
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
do, and many other things we would do, were we to have the
time to take
dragon, hidden in the
raging passions of unrestrained greed and materialism, must be
visible. We must have knowledge of the underlying themes of
existence, common-communal knowledge and understanding.
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
what is the relationship between government and the inner life
I think, as
well, that it will not be
necessary for all our people (in the beginning) to undertake
task. Were only a serious small portion, perhaps less than a
the eligible electorate, begin to meet and have this kind of
with each other; this would have the effect of changing the
political conversation. In the communal contemplation of what
to be a free people in the age of technology and information,
element of our way of life will be raised out of the fog of
cliche;. The cold and lifeless illusions of America as the
world power will be dispelled, and a warmth and light giving
I expect that
such a dialog will
encounter one major difficulty. There will be a desire for
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
a need which has been hidden just beneath the surface of
some time now. A change in our fundamental laws will be
order to compel an overreaching concentrated wealth to expose
of lies, and at the same time prevent this same overreaching
further tyranny through the amassing of excessive information
Any attempt at
a real and practical
dialogue can be choked to death by the withholding of
by the use of information for the intimidation of the
Make no mistake. Things will be taken to the edge, and
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
further evolution, the task of mastery of the temptations of
concentrated wealth can be faced. Here again the resolution is
simple transformation of the past, and was, as well,
prefigured in that
Experiment inherited the
common law of England as regards the significance of private
This law was largely formed by the impulses connected to the
aristocracies. They mostly formed laws with themselves as the
beneficiaries. It was on this foundation that concentrated
been able to achieve its (hopefully) temporary dominance of
our way of
As the dialog
matures, as we reach
further into inquires seeking the fundamentals of a wise
existence, it will be necessary to call into question the
utility, for the whole people, of the idea of private
property. We have
the advantage, at this time, of being able to review the
by the various communistic and socialistic attempts to resolve
dilemma, as they stand before us now in the contemporary
experiments of other nations. Many, who have lived under the
covert tyranny of these systems, now live here. Their
wisdom will be of much use in the evolution of our
Just here a
marvelous mystery confronts
us. For in the unappreciated wisdom of the original peoples of
can be found the seed of the resolving idea of the troublesome
of private property. The "Indian", in the manifestations of
cultural achievements, did not own either the Earth of other
wealth. Rather, the relationship between the human being and
objects which were necessary for life, was as a steward. One
own, one took care of; and not just for the self, but for all
We seek to
enact then, laws which neither
preserve private property, or state-owned property. In such a
laws, property is not owned at all. The whole way of thinking
its objective the enhancement and preservation of material
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
of our lower nature, self interest, but the essence of our
nature, love of the other.
We erect then a
civilization based upon a
appreciation of the need to set limits upon the excesses of
interest, and open doors for the unfolding of our highest
Nor need we think of this as an impractical and impossible
because many will claim it to be so and will work mightily to
it. There is nothing here which ignores that human beings will
fail to unfold their higher natures. All we really do is to
that the purpose of laws in a civilization is to set some
whose violation the community will not tolerate, and as well
possible those developments of human nature which are yet to
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
act of all. The boundaries that have arisen with the formation
cocoon of our alienation are formidable. We experience pain
vulnerability in the crossing of them. But the caterpillar of
individuality has latent within it a real butterfly. How are
we to know
who we might become if shed the protective covering?
our communities. A great
deal is latent, waiting only for us to take the first steps of
encounter with each other. Once we set limits to our own self
once we make a new social order in our immediate relations,
community will naturally arise. It is our nature to be social.
difference between the dead past and the embryonic future is
must consciously choose the social forms, make of them what we
of our own free moral deeds.
As this happens
a further evolution will
arise. The face-to-face communities will want and need to
themselves, to form a Community of Communities. The emerging
of interactive computers offers a special aid here, if we but
potential for enslaving us, rather then being our servant.
electronic town hall is an intuitive reach for this latent
but makes the mistake of wanting to impose this as an
Whatever use is
made of the potential for
an electronic commons must come from those impulses first
the face to face communities. The computer must not impose its
nature in between face to face human contact. Why is this?
expressly making it conscious, I
have been all along working with that which was mentioned at
beginning of this essay: The potential hidden in the word,
in the use of language itself, and in the inner core of the
as well. What else is the dialogue - the taking counsel
have been contemplating - but an awakened and fully conscious
of individual conscience to play in the use of the word for
development of a new sense of community.
But this taking
counsel together cannot
be done via an electronic medium, because the machine reduces
out) the human element which can only be communicated by tone
and gesture. The bare written word cannot carry the whole of
intended meaning, nor really represent who we are as
it is the meeting of individuals face-to face that is the
of community building.
We must take
counsel together which only
really happens in the face-to-face dialogue, where individuals
confront and moderate the cultural, racial and ethnic
what glorious differences, whose potential to enrich the
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
wrote so eloquently about. We must infuse our dialogue not
truth, but with goodness and beauty as well. Or rather, we
to do so, to reach for such as this, if we want to build
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
true American Dream, the making of a People of Peoples
thy good with brotherhood..."), but for this process to also
formation of a new civilization, a new Community of
transformation and evolution of the whole idea and incarnate
the political and economic State.
This is a
staggering possibility. And who
else but the American People, with all their rich diversity,
of leading this transformation. We need be neither number one
politically, economically, or militarily. We are instead faced
truly humbling task. We will not accomplish this by a
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
search for our maturity.
With this last,
we encounter a final
realization. True self government is not just a form or kind
in the organization of the State, but is rather a
psychological-spiritual act. We must govern our-selves. We
to exercise the free conscience which evolution grants to us
time. For of what good or use are our freedoms unless they
themselves in the striving for the highest to which we may
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)
were the response of Christ
Jesus when the Pharisees tried to trick Him with the question
whether the Jews should pay taxes to the Roman Emperor. While
could be narrowly interpreted as just meaning that money,
being a thing
of Caesar already, should be given to Caesar, my personal
that long and thoughtful consideration of the teachings of
will always be rewarded with depths of understanding that
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
the right understanding of man's political existence. Just
scientist, who after years of living with a particular riddle
himself suddenly filled with the answer to his question, so it
after a long preparation that it finally dawned on me what
hidden in this simple statement.
The State (that
is any type of
government) has no existence but what the humans, who conceive
act it out, make it to be. Unlike sense-perceptible objects,
is a social form entirely, built up out of man's ideation and
This principle remains the same, even though in many instances
fascism or communism) a limited number of the individuals or
able to form the State according to their particular
and actions. The State lives (has its only being) in the minds
wills of its members.
This is a
rather complicated relation
involving both individual and group action. We normally put
question: What ought the State to be? Thus we have the various
of government from Plato and Aristotle to Machivelli and More
and Rawls. The thinking which asks the question - what ought
to be? - occasionally makes a contribution to the ideas a
of the nature of their government, but I am trying here to
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
conceptions vary from person to
person, and as well, change over the course of any individual
are these ideas likely to be the result of any particular
philosophic effort, but rather will tend to be the
consequences of a
combination of schooling, the types of groups one has
and the practical experience of government acquired in the
one's life. Thus will arise an odd mixture of cliche,
That we have
names and words for these
ideas (such as liberal, conservative, rightist, leftist,
republican, freedom, capitalist, communism, and so forth) is
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
such words with so little precision that we very often use the
word to mean quite different things, in spite of perhaps
the same political party and espousing the same positions.
each individual citizen
will hold some idea of the State, and will act according to
Some will believe in freedom, but not for certain other
citizens. Some will believe in law abiding-ness, but at the
cheat on their taxes. Some will form groups to demand that
their ideas of what is right. Some will court such group's
order to get elected, only to do something else later. Some
nothing, convinced that government is an oppressor, best to be
and certainly not relevant to the real problems of life:
getting a job,
raising a family, struggling in a difficult relationship, and
Some will be completely lawless, believing only in their own
desires, acting on impulse and taking whatever they want.
single human being stands,
having some kind of idea of the State and acting out some kind
behavior in which this idea is more or less central or
this place the State in miniature exists. Finally then, out of
totality of these miniature States, comes into being the State
whole, a mixture of an enormous variety of ideas and deeds,
acting in a
complex arrangement as the various collective associations
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
"rendered" it by its People.
certain common themes will
live in the ideals and deeds of a particular People, each
characteristic People has an individual historic and
State. America, for example, has a kind of State which is
dominate thematic character by the ideas embodied in the
and the experiences which are derived from the land. Because
live in the same land and because we are to a somewhat similar
educated in the ideas of the Constitution, there tends to be a
order and consistency in the nature of the State throughout
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
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
noticing today, for example, that in Eastern Europe, as the
of the Marxist-Leninist "rendering" of the idea of the State
that what these Peoples make most important will not be the
what we would conceive as most significant. In fact, if we
closely enough we will see an effort to accept the democratic
but reject the materialsm, and the consumerism. While there
here we cannot in this place go into, the point must be
what a People "render" the State reflects certain cultural and
characteristics of no little importance
that the State is what it
is through what is "rendered" it, has been known instinctively
wiser political leaders. Our constitution begins: "We the
Lincoln said: "...a nation of the People, by the People, and
People...". And Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can
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
For example, we have in recent years been more interested in
country in our rights as individuals, without any thought to
being any correlative duties. We don't like conscription (the
paying taxes, thinking much at all about government unless we
something from it, or it is taking something from us. Yet, the
hand in hand. There are no rights without duties. There is no
from which to receive rights without someone having "rendered"
certain duties. A great deal we take for granted was first won
When we lament
today the sorry condition
of our political life we need to reflect that its initial
created out of the passionate deeds of our ancestors, whose
left behind a kind of political wealth upon which we lived
today, we begin to exhaust it by taking without giving (all
no duties). The sorry condition of our modern political life
is due to
the gradual depletion of its being through the absence of
"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
many people give it so many hours, or years (quantities of
because of the ideal and moral element of what they "render".
It is the
higher or lower qualities of our human nature which become
the being of the State. When a voter votes only his
having troubled himself to really understand the needs of the
People, and when the politician encourages through advertising
speeches the People's expression of their baser instincts,
being of the State can only reflect such qualities. When the
corporations and unions lobby only so that their self interest
gratified, then the being of the State reveals no higher
the rich get richer and the poor get poorer under recent
administrations? Without a doubt, but what else did the most
elites "render"? The phrase of the computer programmers is
"garbage in, garbage out".
This brings us,
of course, to the other
pole of Christ Jesus' saying, because the crux of the problem
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
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
said to be true of the being of God. It is not the being of
becomes what is rendered it, but the being of man. The human
"renders unto God the things that are Gods" is himself
the act of devotion. Those who would doubt such a proposition
have to look closely at history. The Founding Fathers, Abraham
these and many more political figures, whose stature and
the being of our Government is unquestionable, have been able
contribute what they have in large part because of the moral
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
Yet, the development of virtue is as much ignored as physical
being is advocated. No amount of physical fitness, however,
the character of what is rendered the State. Only moral
only transformation of the soul and spiritual nature of the
can enhance the qualitative characteristics of what is
we have been examining, the
wisdom out of the Gospels of Christ Jesus, has two meanings,
upon which principle we emphasize. These meanings are not
contradictory, but rather are complimentary. One: The State is
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
lower according to the development of virture as that has
the individual. Simultaneously (Two): Only through devotion to
the human being develop in himself those characteristics which
from such an act...and...as a devote of God, one needs to
yet remains a member of a society, which will only have as
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
his activity both toward heaven and toward earth, in order to
his essential being, his "I"ness. Both the State and man need
become. It is a reciprocal relationship. If the State does not
then man's potential development is limited. If man does not
then his capacity to render unto the State, and the being of
is likewise limited.
Now there is a
difference, subtle and not
insignificant, whether or not one approaches self development
devotion to God. At the same time freedom of conscience is
important here. One must choose for oneself both whether to
development, and the manner and nature of that pursuit. The
evolution of the individual and of society will take its
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
other? Do we want an America known for its materialism and is
Will we leave to the power seeking politician the
determination of the
content of the political dialogue? Or will we really be free?
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
a moral sense.
just like an individual,
our real measure as a People will not be seen in what we have
but rather in that ideal for which we have reached, and whose
only we ourselves may legitimately judge.
finally, we will in this way
truly become: "...a government of the People, by 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
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
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
of thinking that it overcome not only a certain amount of
also that we let go of - that we sacrifice - most of our
previously held conceptions. The
that we carry around with us can too frequently be like a dark
masking the reality. Yet this same dark cloud is also
a rich loamy soil, full of life and seeds and future
The process of letting go of the mental past does
destroy these seeds but rather creates just that environment
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
upward toward rigidity
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
much order. This then leads to the paralysis and
death of the living element of the social form within the
organism that is its living environment. The rise and
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
mind, please now consider the Nature of the State in the light
certain bit of wisdom. The following is from Part
I of the
essay: Waking the Sleeping Giant: the mission
in America, the totality of which
found elsewhere on these pages:
"the State as a
the psychological (inner) environment of the individual, and
individual as a reflection of the ideal environment of the
the wisdom hidden in the saying of Christ Jesus: "Render
Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things
Gods." (Matthew 22:21)
"These words were
response of Christ Jesus when the Pharisees tried to trick Him
question of whether the Jews should pay taxes to the Roman
While this could be narrowly interpreted as just meaning that
being a thing of Caesar already, should be given to Caesar, my
experience is that long and thoughtful consideration of the
of Christ Jesus will always be rewarded with depths of
that cannot be discovered in any other way.
"As to this
saying, I had thought of it off and on for many years, as I
to struggle for the right understanding of man's social and
existence. Just like the scientist, who after years of living
particular riddle finds himself suddenly filled with the
answer to his
question, so it was only after a long preparation that it
dawned on me what wisdom lay hidden in this simple statement.
"The State (that is
of government) has no existence but what the humans, who
and act it out, make it to be. Unlike sense perceptible
the State is a social form entirely, built up out of man's
deeds. This principle remains the same, even though in many
(e.g. fascism or communism) a limited number of individuals or
are able to form the State according to their particular
vision and actions. From this point of view, the being of the
such instances, includes oppressors and the oppressed, each a
of the totality. The State lives (has its only being) in the
wills of its members.
"The point of view
expressed here is in a very narrow sense value neutral.
justifiably find certain forms of government to be egregious
unconscionable, but our sense of justice does not change the
the being of the State, even a totalitarian state, is the
the deeds and ideas of its members.
"This is a rather
relation involving both individual and group action. We
the question: What ought the State to be? Thus we have the
theories of government from Plato and Aristotle to Machivelli
to Nozick and Rawls. The thinking which asks the question,
the State to be, occasionally makes a contribution to the
People hold of the nature of government, but I am trying here
our attention not to our theory of government, but to the
conceptions held by a People of what their particular State
is, and how
that is then reflected in the actual nature (being) of the
person to person, and as well change over the course of any
life. Nor are these ideas likely to be the result of any
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
the course of one's life. Thus will arise an odd mixture of
prejudice and truth.
"That we have names
for these ideas (such as liberal, conservative, rightist,
democrat, republican, freedom, capitalist, communism, and so
also not related to the point I am trying to make. Especially
when so few have really given any thought at all to these
of us use such words with so little precision that we very
the same word to mean quite different things, in spite of
belonging to the same political party and espousing the same
individual citizen will hold some idea of the State, and will
according to this idea. Some will believe in freedom, but not
certain other classes of citizens. Some will believe in law
abiding-ness, but at the same time cheat on their taxes. Some
groups to demand that laws follow their ideas of what is
will court such group's favor in order to get elected, only to
something else later. Some will do nothing, convinced that
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
believing only in their own code, or desires, acting on
taking whatever they want.
"Wherever a single
being stands, having some kind of idea of the State and acting
kind of behavior in which this idea is more or less central or
irrelevant, in this place the State in miniature exists.
out of the totality of these miniature 'States' comes into
State as a whole, a mixture of an enormous variety of ideas
acting in a complex arrangement as the various collective
dance together in their struggle to dominate.
"The point of this
recognize that the being of the State is created by these
deeds, by what is "rendered" it by its People.
"Now because certain
themes will live in the ideas and deeds of a particular
characteristic People has an individual historic and
State. America, for example, has a kind of State which is
dominate thematic character by the ideas embodied in the
and the experiences which are derived from the land. Because
live in the same land and because we are to a somewhat similar
educated in the ideas of the Constitution, there tends to be a
order and consistency in the nature of the State throughout
"The State, as a
is not unlike a wave form created in a stream by the existence
rock just beneath the surface. As the water flows past the
rock a wave
form rises up, and remains present. Even though water
through it, the general "shape" of the form remains. If we now
imaginations to the creation of a social form, in this case
the flowing water is the People moving through time, who come
being, live out their lives, and pass away. The rock is the
the spirit, which in this instance is active in the commonly
related to the Constitution, and the characteristics induced
soul by the common experience of the land. The social form -
- arises out of the interaction between the two - the lives of
People and the presence of the relevant spiritual and soul
and maintains a certain continuous nature and quality, just as
form in the flowing stream remains the same, although the
(the People) continually moves through it.
"At the core of this
which is a kind of psychological process, lies that element of
inner life - in our soul life - which might be called our
what is right. This feeling for what is right exists in all
but varies in its content somewhat from People to People, and
time. We should be noticing today, for example, that in
as the domination of the Marxist-Leninist "rendering" of the
the State recedes, that what these Peoples make most important
be the same as what we would conceive as most significant. In
we observe closely enough we will see a struggle to accept the
democratic ideal, but reject the materialsm, and the
there are depths here we cannot in this place go into, the
be understood that what a People "render" the State reflects
cultural and ethnic characteristics of no little importance
"The principle, that
State is what it is through what is "rendered" it, has been
intuitively to our wiser political leaders. Our constitution
"We the People...". Lincoln said: "...a nation of the People,
People, and for the People...". And Kennedy said: "Ask not
country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
"While this may all
simple, it is not, and really understanding it will make other
much clearer later on. For example, we have in recent years
interested in this country in our rights as individuals,
thought to there being any correlative duties. We don't like
conscription (the draft), paying taxes, thinking much at all
government unless we can get something from it, or it is
something from us. Yet, the two go hand in hand. There are no
without duties. There is no State from which to receive rights
someone having "rendered" it certain duties. A great deal we
granted was first won by blood.
"When we lament
sorry condition of our political life we need to reflect that
initial being was created out of the passsionate deeds of our
ancestors, whose sacrifice left behind a kind of political
which we live; until, as today, we begin to exhaust it by
without giving (all rights and no duties). The sorry condition
modern political life is due to the gradual depletion of its
through the absence of sufficient "rendering" to keep it vital
"This being has a
definite qualitative nature; that is, it is not so much what
because so many people give it so many hours, or years
time), but because of the ideal and moral element of what they
"render". It is the higher or lower qualities of our human
become aspects of the being of the State. When a voter votes
prejudices, not having troubled himself to really understand
of the whole People, and when the politician encourages
advertising and speeches the People's expression of their
instincts, then the being of the State can only reflect such
When the corporations and unions lobby only so that their self
is gratified, then the being of the State reveals no higher
Did the rich get richer and the poor get poorer under recent
administrations? Without a doubt, but what else did the most
elites "render"? The phrase of the computer programmers is
"garbage in, garbage out".
"This brings us, of
to the other pole of Christ Jesus' saying, because the crux of
problem is the need for the State to receive into its being
elements of our nature. What then does it mean to "render unto
how do the two statements relate to each other as a whole?
"While the being of
can be seen to be dependent in its nature for what is
this cannot be said to be true of the being of God. It is not
of God which becomes what is rendered it, but the being of
human being who "renders unto God the things that are Gods" is
transformed by the act of devotion. Those who would doubt such
proposition simply have to look closely at history. The
Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, these and many more political
stature and importance to the being of our Government is
unquestionable, have been able to contribute what they have in
part because of the moral nature of their character. Just as
becomes what is rendered it. so we humans become according to
we act so as to unfold our individual higher nature.
"No one doubts today
validity of making an effort to maintain, care for and develop
physical body. Yet, the development of virtue is as much
physical well being is advocated. No amount of physical
however, will change the character of what is rendered the
moral development, only transformation of the soul and
of the human being can enhance the qualitative characteristics
is rendered the State.
"The statement we
examining, the wisdom out of the Gospels of Christ Jesus, has
meanings, dependent upon which principle we emphasize. These
are not contradictory, but rather are complimentary. One: The
what it is out of what is rendered it in their ideation and
by its People...and...the qualitative nature of what is
higher or lower according to the development of virture as
proceeded in the individual.
through devotion to God does the human being develop in
characteristics which flow from such an act...and...as a
devote of God,
one needs to recognize one yet remains a member of human
will only have as necessary characteristics what one gives to
"As a last point we
again notice that Christ Jesus says to render unto Caesar and
Man must direct his activity both toward heaven and toward
order to unfold his essential being, his "I"ness. Both the
man need to become. It is a reciprocal relationship. If the
not become, then man's potential development is limited. If
not become then his capacity to render unto the State, and the
the State, is likewise limited. "
Hopefully the above
fill in, in more detail, the basic conception of how the ideal
ideological, as they live in individual human beings, become
into social form. All social form arises in the
whether it is a family, some kind of small organization, or
social form such as the State.
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
our role in their life and continuance. Moreover,
traditions are often rooted in the best wisdom of the past.
They are not arbitrary or capricious, but rather
frequently quite purposeful and wise.
This is an aspect of a social form we call the
It has a quite definite legal (ideological)
supported by the State; and it also has a quite ideal form as
by our religious traditions. Each member of the
partnership brings an individual understanding of their role
whole. Not only this, but the surrounding social
environment, also influences this totality. All
social forms are embedded in larger social structures, which
can not, nourish them and keep them vital and alive.
example, a marriage, embedded in a large family structure, may
ultimate failure if the surrounding family members treat one
partners in certain negative ways.
We should also
between a type of social form, such as marriage, family or
State, and a
particular marriage, family or State. The type may
from age to age (there have been families and marriages for
but in particular times the individual expression of a type of
be more difficult to maintain in particular instances.
our time, for example, marriages and families have a great
difficulty holding themselves together.
Here is what I wrote
another essay: Beyond Columbine...:
"Imagine, if you
panorama of recent human history as having an outward visible
structure, and an inward invisible structure. We know
elements in the many stories we have concerning persons and
this history has unfolded itself over the last and most recent
millennia. If you will, however, picture behind these
something else happening, something that leaves its traces in
stories, but is of a nature not visible to the mind in the
same way as
"Consider that human
life is not fixed, immobile, or forever known and formed.
it too, like the biological organism, evolves. The inner
changes as does the outer visible organism.
"In order to discuss
need some terms. These terms can be fairly arbitrary if
we wish -
they could even be nonsense words. Yet, we do have
historically used terms that will not only serve, but whose
use it will
help us to resurrect - in this case the terms soul and
In the age of science these have come to be seen as
but not as realities. For our purposes, let us consider
possible realities, whose character and nature will enable us
that act we so much desire - namely to reinsert wisdom into
"To make these
concrete to the individual reader, let us consider that soul
is what we
call conscious and unconscious experience, whether it be the
of the senses, of thoughts, of feelings, impulses of will and
other aspects of inner life our language and culture
Spirit, on the other hand, is not experience but that
experiences. Soul is the unseen content known to the
actor - the human spirit. I don't know your experience,
but I do
know experience and I do know myself as a self. I
world (usually, if I am not a sociopath or other seriously ill
individual) as containing other individuals of like nature -
have a self and experience.
"In order to
social context of the Columbine tragedy, it is necessary to
how soul and spirit are currently evolving over time. It
invisible order which helps us appreciate the need for the
wisdom to our social life. This understanding of the
consciousness need not be theoretical, because, as mentioned
previously, these changes have left their traces all over our
"A particular change
in this invisible organization around the 14th century.
that time the soul was more dominant than the spirit in the
the inner life of the individual. Experience was more
determinative of self, than self was determinative of
Among the Scholastics of the 12th Century, we find the
participation in frequent use. The soul felt embedded in
world, not separate from it as we do today. Thus we have
with the names, John's son, or Telliard de Chardin, that is of
certain place. We were part of the community and of
much less individuals.
"Other facts point
these prior conditions. In a book by the writer Michael
The Broken Cord, he writes of an American Indian language in
is impossible to say "I hit you", but only "we hit us".
of ancient Taoism, so often repeated in the television series
is: "Be at one with nature", for it is the recollection of the
experience that self and experience - self consciousness and
consciousness - (spirit and soul) was in a state of
"Yet, this was not a
and fixed condition, but rather one which changed.
stronger, more individual, and began to determine soul, rather
its semi-prisoner. As a consequence soul itself emerged
the surrounding environment, both social and physical.
brought historical changes in its wake, changes we can
from this change, for now it is possible, nay mandatory, for
(spirit) to see the world as over there, and no longer
which one is a part. This leads to a kind of onlooker
consciousness, or what some have called the onlooker
It is as onlookers, rather than as participants, that we
develop modern natural science.
"A rather remarkable
arises at this time. For the first time in the history
paintings begin to exhibit space. Prior to this time
there was no
perspective in paintings, then everywhere, slowly to be
space arises as the change of consciousness that is everywhere
occurring takes place. There are many other changes, far
to list in this short article. The reader who wants to
deeply into this is invited to direct their attention to: Art
Consciousness by Gotfried Richter; and, Saving the
Appearances: a study
in idolatry by Owen Barfield.
"It is the changes
inner landscape of the soul and spiritual life of humanity
lead to most of the current social conditions. This is a
complicated relationship, and I will only sketch out those
connected to events about which we tend to have common
"The increase in the
of individuality, of a more dominate inner spirit nature,
affect the course of social life from within. Sons and
slowly lose interest in following in the footsteps of their
until in our time it is a social given that the children will
their own paths.
"The view of the
flows from the onlooker separation results in a science which
to see the world as an object, empty of consciousness and
All the old ideas of Nature, as a place of spiritual
die, to be replaced by pictures of natural events as
clockworks. Demeter and Persephone disappear, and laws
and particle interactions replace this old view. The
structures, once held together by these common religious
understandings, begin to fail.
powers over the material world. From the technological
implications, the industrial revolution arises, which also has
effect. Villages and farms no longer contain the greater
concentration of people, as cities and industrial concerns now
majority of the labor pool to their environs. The father
Robert Bly's Iron John) and then finally, in our time, the
pulled by the operation of economic necessities from the home.
Children raise themselves now in the industrial West.
many changes. The idea of evil comes less to the fore,
individual characteristics become more the product of
electrical properties of the brain. The individual grows
stronger, and the ability of community to restrain it through
pressure lessens. At the same time we are given a
picture of a
mechanical human being, who is more a product of his genetic
and less a product of his own freedom and responsibility.
psycho-babel of modern life, we become victims of our
inner life, not the participants in an inner battle between
evil. We know a great deal about the material dynamics
neurophysiology and almost nothing about how to have inner
in a practical sense.
"In outer social
loss is named "the family values crisis" and becomes a
rather than an issue of possible human knowledge and wise
understanding. Science having become disconnected from
Religion lacks the resources to appreciate what is happening.
"Yet, the evolution
consciousness is not ended, but is rather a constant ongoing
growth and/or possible decay. The diminution of the
power of the
community to determine individual moral behavior becomes an
social crucible for another development. This
is one of a free moral conscience being born within the
"The phrase, "do the
thing" begins to be replaced with the phrase "do your own
A great debate over the right to life and freedom of
arises within political life around the legal abortion
"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."
reader can now see that
social form arises from two interacting processes. One
somewhat vertical in nature, being a kind of interaction
the individual renders within his own inner life, and how that
becomes an aspect of the social present. Two kinds of
are involved, the one proceeding from a self determined ideal
sense, and the other an outside influence created by the
individual renderings. This totality we call the
it as well influences the individual within it, while the
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
like movement, there is a horizontal gesture arising from
time. The community is not one fixed thing, but changes
manner of ways, while the individual is also not of one fixed
but also evolves as time passes. The lemniscate movement
through time, taking one shape at one time, and another later.
these pages we will look at
these same phenomena from other points of view.
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
will add my own voice to these attempts and the reader will
decide whether there is anything of value here.
My own method
bears some resemblance to
those who look to science. Thus, it might appear
have attempted to extend ongoing tendencies, in the existing
political realities, on into the future. Yet, this
quite correct. What I did was try to understand the
present, and in the process of that search discovered various
long term dynamic processes active in social life, which would
effect the shape of the future. My method of
largely based upon the scientific work of J.W. Goethe , and is
circles called Goetheanism .
I have used it, involves
the use of the picture creating capacity of the mind - the
All thinkers use this capacity, but only a very few have
realized its fullest potentials. Discursive
analytic thought can, to a certain extent, come to an
those aspects of reality which they mirror - namely the most
aspects. But the imagination has more kinship with
processes of reality, as well as with the hidden spiritual
Just as discursive thinking is the mirror of the
mechanical/material, so the imagination is the mirror of the
sphere, for the mind is not separate from the world, but
counterpart. Each aspect of the world has a
and analogous quality in the mind.
application of Goethean
principles to social scientific studies raises certain
Goethe applied his method to sense perceptible
as the world of plants, wherein he recreated in his
what he called exact sensorial phantasy) the changes in the
form of the
plant over time. Through this process he obtained
results. His discovery was that the inwardness of the
would appear in the imagination, if the imagination faithfully
recreated their appearances. In a like fashion I have
to create in the imagination an exact picture of the dynamics
social existence. The results of this work appear on
forms don't exist to the
senses. I don't see, with the physical eyes, such things
family, communities, the State, or other kinds of social
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:
wherein I created in the imagination the specific form, and
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
subjectivities - my sympathies and antipathies - into this
So I found it a difficult struggle to manage to maintain
similar kind of exactness to that which Goethe was able to
find in his
sense observations. In aid of this struggle the
Rudolf Steiner was very helpful, in particular his book: "A
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
intuition from the beginning that social realities were a kind
"speech", and that all one really needed to do was to bring
in the thinking with as much objectivity as possible.
"facts" would then speak, and all that was required of the
capacity was to be able to inwardly behold, as images, social
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".
modern family frequently consists of only one parent and
Moreover, this small social form will often be separated
other aspects of "family", such as the parent's siblings,
so forth. Even more intact families, where both
present in the home, the other relations - grandparents,
aunts, cousins etc. - these will live in quite separate
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
family organisms living in the same neighborhood.
will be many "relatives", sets of grandparents, a dozen sets
parents, and many many children. Moreover, this
organism will be embedded (usually) in a micro-culture, a
of same or similar people in the sense of language, ethnic
If we go back
even further, perhaps three
or four hundred years, we find the family organism just as
usually embedded in a village environment, which might have a
isolated cultural milieu. Whereas, in the turn of
Century neighborhood, we will find other cultural systems
by side and quite busy influencing each other, in the village
everything was quite singular This requires, for our
observations, that we not isolate the family from the
that we have to include in our pictures the various changes
in community as well.
In this way we
become conscious of
something at once very obvious, but nevertheless quite
For centuries now a certain kind of order in the
world has been slowly dissolving. Well, perhaps
obvious, but many have mentioned it (see, for example, Robert
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
smaller. It is as if it is somehow flying apart, so that
not surprising that the metaphor "nuclear" (as in small,
potentially explosive) is applied.
But this kind
of observation is only of
the outside of social phenomena. Families and
are made up of individuals, and each individual is a node of
consciousness. Thus, the psychological changes - the
environments - becomes relevant. That is they are
the whole. We can't just picture the changes in
social form, but must include the changes in the inwardness of
I was greatly
helped in this part of the
effort, by the work of Owen Barfield . His
of the phenomena of language changes over time gives us the
evidence of the changes taking place in the inwardness of the
individual over the same time period. The name generally
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:
Appearances - a study in Idolatry; Speakers Meaning; History
Words; and, Poetic Diction.
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
evolution a particularly significant change as having begun
15th Century. This change has been called a change from
participation" to the "onlooker separation".
this change the individual felt him or herself more as a part
nature, community or others, following this change the
experienced him/her self as separate. Where once
be called John's son, or de Chardin, that is identified with a
town or family, now more and more individuals sought their own
identity. Once upon a time the son and daughter
certain well defined roles for their future - namely following
footsteps of the parent, while today it would be considered a
breach of inner freedom to expect a child to be a clone of the
We can now
bring these two streams of
change into relationship with each other: one in the nature of
social form and the other in the nature of the individual
form. Holding both picture streams in mind leads to a
perception of their mutual reciprocal interdependence.
slow development of greater individuality becomes a force from
the family and the community, tending to dissolve these forms.
The individuality needs these forms to cease inhibiting
growth. But this is not all that has happened in the
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.
separation" gives rise to
natural science, for now the knowledge seeker has a clear
nature as being "over there", and that he or she is inside,
- there is a distinct outside and inside, and the two seem
separate (see also Coleridge's remarks about "outness", as
Barfield's What Coleridge Thought). Science, in
creates two powerful trends. One trend we see in what
called the industrial revolution, and which involves our
through science, of vast powers hidden in nature. The
is the change in world view - the paradigm change - which
many the previously held religious beliefs with a scientific
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.
materialism has produced a new
idea of the nature of the human being, and of the universe in
find ourselves. It very much seems likely to be a
but it nonetheless dominates the image of self that many
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
to some prior imagined time. But if we seek an objective
knowledge, then we cannot indulge our antipathies, and must
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,
individual biography must be acknowledged. While we can
trends in the social world, in the world cognized by the
history, it remains a fact that this is experienced
The fact that there are apparently great
history (Jefferson, Newton, Goethe, Gandhi etc.) needs not to
to overlook the existence of each individual life. These
individual lives are not irrelevancies, even though some
history tend to see the individual as a passive canvass upon
great and the mighty paint their deeds. For our purposes
do to see the deeds of the significant as a kind of social
force - effects pass outward into the social organism from
Let us make
here a hypothesis.
Let us imagine that it is not just the great and
who are essential in the vast streams of history, but also the
individuals. Let us imagine that history exists,
itself, but for them. History, in this sense then, is a
context with a distinct purpose for the individual lives which
lived in each particular age. The great and the mighty
to perform a service to this context, but they are not the
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
of elements that are common to all biographies: life and
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.
particular time there is a very
significant common aspect to human biographies - one which is
consistent with the various dynamic processes we have already
observing. One of the effects of the changes in
community life, and in culture in general (this is more true
industrial West, but is also emerging in the Third World), is
lessening of the coercive effect upon the individual of the
and community's moral standards. As we have more
emerged into the change of consciousness that began in the
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
particular form of television drama. It is best
by the work of David Kelley, the quite prolific writer of most
scripts for several television series: L. A. Law; Picket
McBeal and The Practice. In one of the episodes for
Fences, at the end, a lead character summarizes the situation,
says in a few sentences: No one knows what is right to do
are all on our own.
We live in a
age of moral ambiguity,
which places us in life situations that compel our making
choices, free of the older paternal security of an outside
moral teaching. Moreover, this same age has been growing
ways of being self aware of this very phenomena. For
the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the basic idea of the
Would Jesus Do movement, and in Rudolf Steiner's book The
Freedom, we find practical cognitions of this problem and how
individual can relate to it. The same underlying
which creates for each individual in this age the possibility
freedom, arranges for the needed idea of it to be present for
support and edification.
We could say
this then about our age - it
is a womb for the development of individual moral freedon
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
groups trying to dominate the world economy, we see cultural
many of the arts, and we can have an almost endless list of
horrors that brings deep pain of heart when we have to observe
Yet, all of this is necessary for moral crisis to arise
individual biographies, without which the possibility of moral
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.
so as to appreciate this condition, let me summarize it a bit.
observed the increasing disolving
of the family and the community, from that cultural and moral
they once enjoyed. Eventually we get the so-called
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
moral and value systems which engendered what we tend to call
Civilization have been falling apart for some time.
fact, there must be birth and life and death to such complex
form structures as what we call "civilization".
of history make clear the endings and beginnings of many of
complex organisms of social existence.
In fact, with
the discovery of the New
World a certain watershed was reached as regards the life
Western Civilization. What had been for centuries
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
Americas are not by nature a place hospitable to these last
quite old traditions. We could study Europe endlessly,
really have a clue to what is to be born over time culturally
Americas (for example, if we look just at the phenomena
emerging in the
present from America, we can see clearly quite unusual forces
But I am not
here going to attempt to
unfold these possibilities, for that would take us quite far
Rather the point of this is to realize that Western
(the inward elements) has fallen, and its collapse outwardly
institutions and infrastructures is bound to follow.
had it quite right at the beginning of the 20th Century when
"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; The ceremony of
is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst are
Let me go into
this a bit more, so there
is no confusion. Just as there is a physical community,
also the possibility of a community of ideas and values.
is this inner community which has been shattered through the
forces unleashed by scientific materialism.
to go their own way, and this is true even in governments and
corporations. The individuals responsible for
most essential institutions can't find any longer a community
by which they can form a cohesive and cooperative path into
Now it may
appear that they do find such
views, but if you listen closely to the language used in the
current political and economic discourse, you will see that
only in the
most superficial way is there any consensus.
superficial ideas one will find the flawed imaginations of the
(what are essentially political and economic myths).
flawed imaginations do not accord with social reality, and
based upon them are thus doomed to failure. The
don't understand the world they live in except in cliches and
and so the structures they try to create in response are
upon sand (for details on this see The Coming Collapse:
the Brink , these pages).
This vision is
a bit dark, for it only
sees the end of Western Civilization. But endings are
transition points - social form (the life sphere of the social
organism) also can undergo metamorphosis. We are not
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
transformation. In an age which is hallmarked by
for individual biographies to face intimate moral crisis
create the possibility of a kind of inner awakening (Rudolf
calls this the Consciousness Soul age, and the Hopi Indians of
America's Southwest call it the Age of Purification ), we
nothing on the macro social level but a mirror image of this
crisis. What first appears most clearly in the
must go onward to encompass the whole world, and the whole
burn from this.
require it. The need for moral crisis is a great
the inwardness of individuals. They are drawn to
it like a
moth to a flame, for in it they sense the latent image of
yearnings for freedom. Each "I am" wants complete
particularly in the inner realms - in the realms of moral
of self created world view. We want no one to tell us
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
social form which would inhibit this development. The
absolutely necessary for each other. Rampaging
to have the weakest form of surrounding community. The
cohesive the community, the greater potential field of action
unfolding of the individual "I am".
There are, of
course, contrary impulses
and we should acknowledge them. Some people have
inner strength to pursue such a goal. Whether through
through a need to be a part of something else, they will then
the call of their own "I am". Some others will see
guardians of traditional ways, and in their own individual
moral crisis, choose to interfere in the choices of others.
others, of course, faced with moral choice will choose the
than the Light. The varieties of possibilities are
endless as are the number of individuals participating in this
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
catastrophic aspects of Nature rise to the heights of the most
beauty, so life on the Earth was very well characterized by
when he wrote: "All the world is a stage and all the men and
merely players." What in human history that is great
its origin in the thoughts of an equally great dramatist.
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
qualities of the new civilization.
fire of the death of one
civilization is the fiery womb for the embryonic phoenix of
one. But given the nature of what has brought
about the end
of the old - that is the appearance of the striving for inner
- there certainly must be an opportunity for this to become a
power giving new form to what emerges. The danger is to
involved in issues of survival, that the organizing of new
is left to old powers and their habitual patterns of thought.
issue is one already well
understood - how to have communities in which our hard earned
inner autonomy can be maintained. Clearly this must be
but how to do this will mean drawing something further out the
of our own "I am".
This is then
one of the challenges we
face - a very creative challenge. Since we can see
coming of a certain intensity of social chaos, this does not
have to be passive in the face of it. What the future
is not the shape of the trials by which one age is ending.
Rather, the real future is something we create out of
capacities gifted to us by this Strange Fire of the Age of
So, the future,
as always, lies in choice
- to stand by passively wringing our hands at the terrible
of the world, or to take what this rite of passage has created
us, and use this new moral strength to forge a more human
Of course, if
we wish to act, we must act
not just as individuals, but as communities.
possibilities along these lines will be found on this website,
especially in: Civil Society: its potential and its mystery ,
in The Plan .
The Coming Collapse:
civilization on the brink -
something we know instinctively
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
about paranoid conspiracies, or efforts by elite groups to
future. It is not. It even might seem
about some kind of religious fantasy. But again,
it is not.
It is about
rather predictable things
though. About systems failures. About
reach the end of their life. About people
understanding what they are doing, and the inevitable
consequences of arrogance and stupidity. It is about
and expectable happenings in the life cycle of a
and about how people react, or don't, in a crisis.
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
studies - zoology, botany, micro-biology to name but a few.
With the discovery of DNA in the middle of the
Century, it was assumed that a giant stride forward had been
In fact, many think that we have found, in DNA (and
the fundamentals of all life.
Based upon this
work, human beings have
begun to attempt to engineer living organisms. DNA
altered in plants and animals, sometimes for pure research,
often in the search for profit. Huge corporations have
billions trying to find profitable ways of applying this kind
understanding of life processes. Patents have been
for and received, and the new (altered DNA) organisms have
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
then returned and set free in the womb of these very
delicate ecology's. Does anyone really think we
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
leading scientists, working for these corporations, our
clearly limited, and unwanted consequences are already
Here is a link to an article on problems with
And, here is a link to Barry Commoner's Harper's
Unraveling the DNA Myth - The Spurious Foundation of Genetic
This is a
situation which will only get
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
What is worse is that they have every reason for
appreciating the limits of their knowledge, but greed exceeds
Here is the testimony of a leading scientist on
scientific background for the corn situation:
THE FIFRA SCIENTIFIC
ADVISORY PANEL OPEN MEETING ON STARLINK CORN
Virginia November 28, 2000
JOHN HAGELIN, Ph.D. Director, Institute of Science,
and Public Policy
"I speak to you
as a scientist who is
striving to ensure that our best scientific knowledge be
for the solution--and prevention--of society's problems. I am
physicist who has published extensively in superstring
and, during the last three elections, I have been the
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
allergenic. I want to address the assumptions that underlie
agricultural bioengineering enterprise. I am deeply concerned
scientists are implementing bioengineering technologies
adequately understanding the lessons we have learned from the
sciences. One of the key revelations of modern physics is that
phenomena unfold in a far less linear and predictable fashion
eighteenth and nineteenth century thinkers assumed.
Today we know
that there are inherent limitations on our ability to make
predictions about the behavior of a system, especially for
systems and nonlinear systems of great complexity.
eminent molecular biologists
recognize that DNA is a complex nonlinear system and that
foreign genes into the DNA of a food-yielding organism can
unpredictable side effects that could harm the health of the
consumer. Yet, the genetic engineering of our food--and
widespread presence of genetically altered foods in American
supermarkets--is based on the premise that the effects of
are so predictable that all bio-engineered foods can be
unless proven otherwise. This refusal to recognize the risks
unintended and essentially unpredictable negative side effects
plain bad science. It is astounding that so many biologists
attempting to impose a paradigm of precise, linear,
predictably onto the behavior of DNA, when physics has long
dislodged such a paradigm from the microscopic realm and
biological research increasingly confirms its inapplicability
dynamics of genomes.
premise of predictability
is not just scientifically unsound; it is morally
safety of our food is being put at risk in a cavalier, if not
fashion, not only in disregard of scientific knowledge, but in
disregard of recent technological history.
lessons should have been
learned from the physical sciences. Time and again, the
application of nuclear technologies led to numerous health and
environmental disasters. For example, in the early days
nuclear technology, the rush to commercialize led to the sale
tipped wands designed to remove facial hair. Nine months later
cancers came. Similarly, the failure to comprehend the
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
years, whereas gene pollution is
irresponsible behavior that
permitted the marketing of bio-engineered foods has not been
the scientific community, but includes the executive
the federal government. The FDA's internal records reveal that
experts clearly recognized the potential for gene-splicing to
production of unpredicted toxins and carcinogens in the
These same records reveal that these warnings were covered up
political appointees operating under a White House directive
the bio-tech industry. It is unconscionable that the FDA
itself unaware of any information showing that bio-engineered
differ from others, when its own files are filled with such
from its scientific staff. And it is unconscionable that it
such novel foods to be marketed based on the claim they are
as safe by an overwhelming consensus within the scientific
when it knows such a consensus does not exist.
fiasco further demonstrates
the shoddiness of the government's regulation, since the
to keep even an unapproved bio-engineered crop out of our
the contamination was discovered not by the government, but by
interest groups. The FDA had no clue and had taken no measures
monitor. This incident also demonstrates how difficult it will
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
"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
science so that you can hold your own heads up as the facts
hazards of bio-engineered food become increasingly well known.
call upon you not only to resist the pressures to approve the
pesticidal protein in StarLink Corn; I call upon you to
acknowledge the inherent risks of genetic engineering and to
that, due to these risks, neither StarLink nor any other
food can be presumed safe at the present stage of our
For a deeper
understanding of these
issues go to:
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
ignored by those who prefer their own profits and powers over
to the rest of us. This is essentially a moral
better yet a moral weakness in the fundamental structures of
society. This problem of moral weakness in the social
been discussed in detail in the essay Basic Conceptions:
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
of individuals to each other, but rather a fundamental
dissonance at macro levels of the social organism.
supply of our civilization has become dominated by
continues to demonstrate that it is incapable of acting for
of the whole. While Civil Society (in its present
configuration) opposes this, it currently lacks the capacity
Now it is not
the thesis of this essay to
suggest that this macro dissonance is going to be the cause of
of our civilization. The point is otherwise.
dissonance is an example
of a certain type of flaw or disharmony in the social
These kinds flaws involve a gap between our knowledge
nature of reality. We believe we know something, but the
is different. Our ignorance means we will error in
acts. In a civilization, this type of gap occurs
multiple levels, and the more fundamental the functional level
the gap exists, the worse the consequence when reality refuses
conform to our ignorance.
If one looks
around at the current
phenomena of our civilization, a number of such fundamental
dissonances can be seen to exist. Moreover, they
interact and often are interdependent. A collapse
system, may weaken, or even bring about the collapse of
this any further, let's
take a look at some other forms of dissonance in our current
While this next
is also connected to
science, it does not take the form of a gap between knowledge
reality. It does concern something we all know
we recognize as the creation and proliferation of weapons of
Now there is a
level where this involves
a gap between knowledge and reality, namely in that we created
weapons telling ourselves that it would be possible to contain
control their use. This is a kind of psychological
- this belief that we can somehow keep these weapons from
History certainly does not support such a view,
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
foolishness is to not expect them to be used. In
there is a serious environmental collapse, or an economic
likelihood of the use of weapons of mass destruction (now that
nations - and even some individuals or small groups - have
there are efforts (at the time
of this writing, March 7th, 2003, the potential war of the USA
Iraq over its weapons of mass destruction looms, and North
threatens nuclear attack against the USA), by various
solve these problems, the fact remains that their use is much
likely then their not being used.
really made to be used, and
why anyone is surprise when they are used is certainly beyond
Genetic research has weapons implications, as does the
research into nanotechnology. Cyber-warfare is certainly being
if not covertly active in the present. Everywhere there
belligerents, and those seeking to dominate. We can
these weapons will be used.
delicate our are economic
relations. We are all aware now that the dot.com
turned out to be just another stock bubble (a lot of hot air
real wealth being generated). It also has come to the
Corporate managers have taken to all manner of interesting
falsify their balance sheets in order to inflate the value of
(and thus line their own pockets selling inflated stock before
truth catches up to them). Everywhere in the financial
choices are being made on the basis of short term gains, with
thought to the long range consequences.
As it says in
the index page of this
website: "Civilization burns". In almost every field of
where there has arise large institutional social forms, basic
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.
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.
sense we suffer from too much individuality, and not enough
This is probably why cancer is a disease common to this
cancer involves a part of the whole taking a course of growth
its own. In our civilization, all manner of
groups want something for themselves, and the rest be damned.
Their selfishness is like a cancerous growth in the body
Future), it is discussed
how the slow collapse of social form within Western
led to a change of consciousness, in particular the
possibility of a
new level of individual moral freedom. The point here is
recognize that, while the coming collapse is clearly a tragedy
first order, it is also a necessary step in those organic and
spiritual/moral processes by which one form of civilization
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
and Civil Society arise. It is from this source that Art
the world. The world's various religions are patterns
the texture of history revealing the spirit hidden within.
in our own consciousness, in the very act of thinking, our own
spirit engages in a dialog with the Eternal Spirit of the
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
collapse has purpose and meaning, and that we are being
cross through this Rite of Passage, hand in hand, on the
threshold of a
dream. The age which gave birth to all manner 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
- 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
tragedy found themselves embeded, yet did not recognize or
While the social organism has many properties of a
nature, most of us live our lives in much smaller contexts.
Just as it is possible to find ways to bring
to our large social organizations, so is it possible (in fact
necessary for the health of the whole) to bring social health
local communities. For it is just here that the
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
in Littleton Colorado in the United States of America,
guns, pipe bombs and propane bombs. They had apparently
kill hundreds of students, and destroy the large and complex
building itself. They succeeded in killing 14 students
themselves), 1 teacher, and caused relatively small amounts of
damage (fortunately the propane bombs did not work - had they
huge explosive fire bombs would have gone off in a lunch room
with four to five hundred young people - so perhaps we can see
miracle as well as a tragedy). Another 20 plus students
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
over the next few days it became apparent that my son was just
thousands of high school students, who saw Harris and Klebold
victims of a social climate of hate directed by the so-called
the popular toward the individual or unusual. Moreover,
young people were clear that they felt that their parents and
were responsible for this diseased social milieux that was so
to so many. The internet played a crucial role in this
element, in that without it, these thousands of young people
have known of their common feelings.
was an event that had social
meaning far beyond its surface nature. Even today, as I
these words almost 18 months after this tragedy, one can find
of words and hundreds of web sites (if not thousands) on the
devoted to aspects of this event. In the essay below I
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
tornadoes. I don't mean to suggest that this is so from
inside, but rather in how we can relate to them. For we
to make some kind of relationship, to find for ourselves some
I have in mind
these natural events,
because for those of us who experience these matters at a
such tragic human events are not within our will powers to
determine the causes or ameliorate the effects. We are
form a picture of a kind of
psychic storm, crashing and thundering across a given inner
landscape, easily as powerful and dynamic as a sense
thunder storm and the following flash flood that destroys
property before one has time to really draw a breath.
is interesting in all this, is that both with the physical
nature event, and the social cataclysmic event - people not
some way to predict these events, they believe such prediction
possible. One of the deep questions asked about
Columbine, is how
could the parents, teachers and law enforcement officials not
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
question itself is an essential fact of the event.
that someone could or should have seen this coming.
believe that what was going on within the inner life of these
was not so mysterious as to be beyond human knowledge and
Yet, the fact was that in spite of many indications (a
promising web site, known criminal activity, etc.) no one
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
answer to this so poignant question is to be found more in the
context, than in the immediate particular facts. The
anticipate what these young men were contemplating is a
reflecting something of the nature of modern social
communities - for
this event was not alone, but rather was a member of a whole
similar violent events that have been happening in communities
America. Moreover, these violent events have been
minority communities for more years then it is they have been
in white communities. Guns have been coming to schools
decades now, and being used there. It is only in the
that this crossed over into white communities and thus became,
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
this essay, concerns why the community is unable to perceive
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,
will arise that cannot be perceived because we have no word or
for it. For example, if we take a young child and show
field of flowers, they will only see (as parts of the whole
those differences and distinctions for which we have given
Oh, they might see that something brown is in the center
something yellow, and that the shapes of some parts is more
leaves, while others look more like little bulbs. But
"see" what these parts mean in terms of the whole and what
In a like
fashion, Western Culture has
many ideas about human inner life - about motives and
passions and flaws - but not everyone knows all these ideas
which conflict with each other), and most ordinary communities
very little. In fact, most communities have social rules
suggest that ones inner life is a matter of utmost privacy, so
even though many gossip, few have real knowledge of what we
all seek to
maintain as our own very personal and secret inner territory.
may see the consequences of the psychic storms crashing
family, but we really don't know the true texture and
structure of what
is going on inside the soul landscape of the individual
This does not
mean we are totally
ignorant, however, for many of us know to some degree our own
environment, and will usually be able to at least project, an
approximation of what is happening inside another person, from
our own experiences.
Let us now
review some of the above with
a bit of a different idea. We could ask the question if
what we know, in any of the above instances, is either the
reality. Does Western Culture know the truth of human
Do communities possess such knowledge? What about
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.
can make a claim for understanding the world of matter with
of success, for we live surrounded by the resulting
achievements. At the same time, a claim of success in
understanding the inner life of human beings will not stand
of practical success. Science, and its acolytes, may
know, but in practice they have little to offer.
missing from their world
What science is
blind to is clear, for
almost everywhere this question spills out, the same dynamics
For all of human history, and pre-history, human beings
a spiritual view of themselves and of the nature of life and
That is, up until the arrival of science. Science
unfolding its powers of knowledge in such a way that it has
a spiritual view of the human being, and frequently denigrated
view. A revisiting of the various old and ongoing
unnecessary, as this essay is simply going to proceed on the
what happens to our practical understanding of individual,
community life if we just re-include the spiritual.
has pushed away, and
systematically left out, we will reinsert and see if something
practical results. The test is not to be found in
learned papers, but rather in how we conduct our social
If knowledge of the spiritual allows our social life to
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
respected local high school. Yet, they felt invisible,
in the social circles in which they found themselves -
differentiated flowers in a field of apparent sameness.
decided to change, in the most horrible fashion we could
Why didn't the
community see them?
community itself was ill
served by the larger surrounding cultural influences.
absence of the spiritual in the understanding of the world
just different names for the phenomena of human inner life,
crucially the absence of something else, something which we
wisdom. The psychiatrists and psychologists and teachers
enforcement professionals were all experts, but is expertise
as wisdom? Is it possible the community had knowledge,
communities arise in this time
of great scientific knowledge and expertise, and lose the
the wise understanding of its members? Is it a basic
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
examination of social conditions. In this process we
some new terms for the dynamics of social life, some new names
parts of the whole of the field of flowers of our common
Imagine, if you
will, the panorama of
recent human history as having an outward visible structure,
inward invisible structure. We know the outer elements
many stories we have concerning persons and events as this
unfolded itself over the last and most recent millennia.
will, however, picture behind these stories something else
something that leaves its traces in the outer stories, but is
nature not visible to the mind in the same way as the events.
human inner life is not
fixed, immobile, or forever known and formed. Rather, it
like the biological organism, evolves. The inner
as does the outer visible organism.
In order to
discuss this we need some
terms. These terms can be fairly arbitrary if we wish -
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.
the age of science these have come to be seen as metaphors,
but not as
realities. For our purposes, let us consider them as
realities, whose character and nature will enable us to do
that act we
so much desire - namely to reinsert wisdom into our social
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
spirit are currently evolving over time. It is this
order which helps us appreciate the need for the return of
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
change occurred in this
invisible organization around the 14th century. Prior to
time the soul was more dominant than the spirit in the
dynamics of the
inner life of the individual. Experience was more
of self, than self was determinative of experience.
Scholastics of the 12th Century, we find the word
frequent use. The soul felt embedded in the world, not
from it as we do today. Thus we have people with the
John's son, or Telliard de Chardin, that is of a certain
We were part of the community and of nature, and much
point toward these prior
conditions. In a book by the writer Michael Dorris, The
Cord, he writes of an American Indian language in which it is
impossible to say "I hit you", but only "we hit us". The
ancient Taoism, so often repeated in the television series
Kung Fu, is:
"Be at one with nature", for it is the recollection of the
experience that self and experience - self consciousness and
consciousness - (spirit and soul) was in a state of
Yet, this was
not a stable and fixed
condition, but rather one which changed. Spirit became
more individual, and began to determine soul, rather than be
prisoner. As a consequence soul itself emerged more from
surrounding environment, both social and physical. This
brought historical changes in its wake, changes we can
science arises from this
change, for now it is possible, nay mandatory, for the self
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
some have called the onlooker separation. It is as
rather than as participants, that we begin to develop modern
remarkable fact arises at this
time. For the first time in the history of art,
to exhibit space. Prior to this time there was no
paintings, then everywhere, slowly to be sure, space
the change of consciousness that is everywhere occurring takes
There are many other changes, far to many to list in
article. The reader who wants to go more deeply into
invited to direct their attention to: Art and Human
Gotfried Richter; and, Saving the Appearances: a study in
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
and I will only sketch out those matters connected to events
which we tend to have common knowledge.
The increase in
the powers of
individuality, of a more dominate inner spirit nature, begins
the course of social life from within. Sons and
lose interest in following in the footsteps of their parents,
our time it is a social given that the children will take
The view of the
world that flows from the
onlooker separation results in a science which proceeds to see
world as an object, empty of consciousness and being.
All the old
ideas of Nature, as a place of spiritual workings, die, to be
by pictures of natural events as predictable clockworks.
and Persephone disappear, and laws of gravity and particle
replace this old view. The social structures, once held
by these common religious impulses and understandings, begins
forth great powers over
the material world. From the technological implications,
industrial revolution arises, which also has a social effect.
Villages and farms no longer contain the greater
people, as cities and industrial concerns now draw the
majority of the
labor pool to their environs. The father (see Robert
John) and then finally, in our time, the mother, are pulled by
operation of economic necessities from the home.
themselves now in the industrial West.
undergoes many changes.
The idea of evil comes less to the fore, and individual
characteristics become more the product of bio-chemical and
properties of the brain. The individual grows stronger,
ability of community to restrain it through social pressure
At the same time we are given a picture of a mechanical
being, who is more a product of his genetic heritage and less
of his own freedom and responsibility. In the
modern life, we become victims of our untrainable inner life,
participants in an inner battle between good and evil.
We know a
great deal about the material dynamics of brain
almost nothing about how to have inner discipline in a
In outer social
life this loss is named
"the family values crisis" and becomes a political issue,
an issue of possible human knowledge and wise understanding.
Science having become disconnected from Art and Religion
the resources to appreciate what is happening.
evolution of consciousness is
not ended, but is rather a constant ongoing process of growth
possible decay. The diminution of the power of the
determine individual moral behavior becomes an alchemical
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
debate over the right to life and freedom of choice arises
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
delicate inner issues. In another place, two drunks
movement called Alcoholics Anonymous, in which the same
approached in terms of terrible real life experience. In
place, a young man starts a change among the ordinary
his "what would Jesus do" movement. Self determined
freedom, as distinct from acquiescence to community standards,
emerge everywhere in the twentieth century, from its beginning
Columbine High School, in April of
1999, two every angry young men scream with the most horrible
imaginable - "we too are free spirits!", to a community
expertise and lamed by the absence of wisdom.
Klebold, besides the obvious,
share much kinship with the canaries coal miners used to carry
mines. The dangerous mine gases would kill or cause
unconsciousness in the canaries, providing, sometimes,
warning for the miners to escape. Harris and Klebold are
"sensitives" to invisible changes in soul and spirit not yet
consciously in our communities and social life. They
had more value than that which was reflected back to them by
social environment. But, the same lame and retarded
structure could also not give them what they needed to
themselves. They looked inside at the dark, and when it looked
them they were undone.
There was a
time in Europe, and certainly
it is part of the spiritual wisdom of the original peoples of
Americas, that the shadow or double or doppleganger of the
was recognized as real. Knowledge of evil was not wished
thought structures that made of soul a determined mechanism
spirit a helpless victim in the face of genetically fixed
To speak of
soul and spirit is merely to
point in the direction of a whole field of human knowledge
needed in our time for the healing and future meaning of our
social life. How much further tragedy will it take to
societies up from the dreams and sleep concerning the failure
scientific materialism to render practical aid to the
social existence? Columbine speaks to us in the
language possible. What comes next if we remain locked
illusory trap of expertise and the resulting absence of
Let us consider
this last point more
closely as we drawn near the end of this essay.
places knowledge outside the
individual, and only within the realm of someone trained.
community is a whole, and at its core are fathers and mothers
(hopefully), sisters and brothers, grandmothers and
all manner of little children. If I say to a mother and
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
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
knowing beings of soul and spirit. Our education turns
much as it teaches. Our idol is the Einstein, the great
intellect, and not the wise old woman and man, the
grandmothers of American Indian cultural traditions. Is
same problem more and more true all over the world?
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
of a coherent old. Tradition always carries the danger
the new and coming essential from entering in. The
consciousness has brought about a new condition in the inner
soul and spirit have been strongly reconfigured and the
social consequences have yet to be cognized, appreciated and
wonder at this point -
shouldn't the next matter be an exposition of how communities
move forward in the light of the realities and new conditions.
Yet it is precisely this attitude that is of the old.
is just substituting more expertise and placing it upon the
some kind of superior spiritual knowledge. On the
wisdom arises within the given social context itself, out of
context, and not through the imagined illumination from other
such as Columbine, doesn't
need outside help, but rather it needs trust and encouragement
discover what is true for it. It is only from within a
social situation that real wisdom arises, because wisdom comes
reflection on life of those living it. Wisdom is almost
opposite of expertise - the latter being something one goes
learn. Wisdom is inherent in life, a natural endowment.
grow it out of ourselves, not from a book or a teacher,
In a sense, in
these last days of Western
Civilization, we are all trapped in the ideas of a most
past - the ideas and ideals of natural science, with its anti
materialist orientation. This relatively new tradition
overpowered most of the best of the old. But in
ideal of expertise, it makes impossible wise social existence.
Wise social existence needs thinking which is free of
tradition at all, whether it is apparently modern, such as
anthroposophy, fairly young such as natural science, or much
Let us come at
this once again, in the
context of a certain question. We could ask: Does
the kind needed exist - that is knowledge that would have lead
understanding and appreciating these young men before they
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,
be different. We live in an age of very concrete
knowledge of all
kinds. Science, even though oriented materialistically,
in its own nature, in error. Science puts forward a very
view as regards the search for truth. It asks this: If
to assert the truth of a thing, then it is necessary to show
truth was obtained, and in such a way that others may discover
Any new wisdom
should be able to pass
If we reflect,
in a concrete way, upon
the family and community life of these young men, we have to
was the nature of conversation and discourse on human inner
Did mom and dad and teacher sit besides their young
discuss with them their own (the parent's and teacher's)
the shadow side of the soul, or how this can be mastered by
conscious elevation of the spirit?
Sadly, we know
no such discussion took
place. There is no language of spiritual wisdom alive in
Culture. There are certain traditions, often jealous of
other and their own prerogatives, but no outer common seeking.
the contrary, the tradition of scientific discourse relegates
conversation to only places outside the school, and then only
systems, not as a discussion of realities. With the rise
idea of the family values crisis some attempts to bring alive
discussion has occurred, but this has looked at the human
being as if
morality and character were something one poured into an empty
rather than being a feature native to the human spirit, which
manifest if it was truly educated in the broadest sense of
Let us be frank
about something else.
There is to be no mac-wisdom, a fast food spiritual
that will sweep through modern culture and reform and deepen
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.
limitations of science,
there is also the prejudices created by the needs of the huge
and financial organizations that dominate modern life.
light of their current habits and practices, workers and
were self aware of their true spiritual worth would not
There is an
enormous structural inertia
to the kind of social changed needed to bring wise
in our communities. In fact, the re-awakening of wisdom
communities would be a revolution that would stand the current
milieu on its head. Yet, at the same time, the evolution
consciousness, with its emergence of the community and family
dominating individuality and the birth of the free moral
a social force that cannot be stopped by any such inertial
this is the danger, and one
of the deep lessons of Columbine. If wisdom is not
our communities, by the conscious reflection of its members
deeper aspects of existence, then this power of the "I too am"
continue to express itself violently and in other terrible and
socially dysfunctional ways. The psychic storm clouds
everywhere, and as long as humanity remains ignorant of the
dimensions and dynamics of the inner landscape, then more and
tragedies will occur. It is really a matter of choice.
we return the seeking of soul and spirit to its true
social existence, or do we deny it and suffer the
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.
reached a critical mass, in
part as a response to the excesses and extremes of our lower
that have to date seemed to dominate the formation of the
economy. Even so, there is much more here than
It might help
to look at the social world
without coloring it with our values, with our likes and
We do have this habit of mind that evalutes people,
history - everything we might call the social world, the world
beings and their associations and activities. Now even
evaluate this shared social existence, we don't evaluate
Nature in this
way. Nature we accept as a given, transformable yes, but
evil. A great storm that floods and kills millions in
is thought to be an act of chance (or god), and the poor who
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
knee-jerk liberals). Depending on our upbringing and
factors, we all have our likes and dislikes, our loves and
our assumptions about who is bad and who is good and who
punished and who should be forgiven.
especially odd, if we bother to
think about it, is that each individual has a different set of
values, and while we tend to join various communities with
share ours, the fact is that many of the value systems
same social phenomena, but do not agree on their rightness or
wrongness. If we follow this out to its real logical
we will see that the social world, in itself, is not the
rather the values arise because of our individual relationship
world. Let's restate this, as it is central to the
world, in itself, does not
have the values by which we color it. In fact, if
think about how frequently others misjudge us, and how often
aware of how others' interpretations of who we are is wrong,
can see that this is true everywhere. The valuations
inside us, but are not implicitly on the object (person,
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
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
world and find it wanting, or full, as the case may be.
is possible, and this I say from experience, to hold both
contradiction. In the one view, the one free of our
sympathies and antipathies, we see a thousand miracles
life and surging human passion. This view of the social
shows something apparently unbound, seemingly unfinished, and
unknown in its most intimate depths. The other view, the
colored by our values, tells us more about ourselves than
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,
businessmen, armed youth in our schools, an endless collection
matters sometimes too terrible to contemplate, served up to us
educated men and women in the name of our right to know the
details of the darkness in human souls. Small wonder we
appalled, and spend our days in contemplation of how screwed
world is and how, if just this or that was done in accord with
personal understanding, then the world would be better, be
filled, and humane.
Or we go to
work, and our bosses make
unreasonable demands, while co-workers gossip, and our best
sneaks out to have an affair with our spouse. And
get home, and the house needs cleaning but we are tired until
and says she is coming over and out of guilt we rush about,
parking the children in front of the TV to watch a video with
For truth to
tell, we can turn our value
seeing eye upon ourselves, and find that we too are wanting,
empty of high purpose, and not at all what we planned to be in
Indians of North America
called this aspect of the world, the mirror. The
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
to our likes and dislikes, our hopes and dreams, our vision of
Good. That we do so is in no way a wrongness.
wonderful thing that we care, for
in the heart is the seat of why we value. We yearn for
for wrongs to be righted, for children to be perfect, for love
ourselves and all we know. It is the heart which
at failure, especially our own. Sure we may feel
even more we feel loss, a small kind of death at the
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
seems intimate to us as individuals. It is a
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
sharing with our closest friends and companions.
would be the behaviors we
observe in others. Like the inside, this outside
incredibly rich and complex, although in thinking about the
of others we often reduce our understanding of them to the
terms. We see someone act in a way we do not like, and
comes to our mind an idea of their motives and reasons.
is so odd, for at the same time we know in ourselves that our
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
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
detail. Those aspects I have placed under the section
of the Mind. Rather what I want us to do here is sum up
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
We see this person everyday and there arises in us a
this person, to their shape and form and to their habits of
see them in the lunch room five days a week). This
not really thought out. It is just there in our
We have a value of a certain kind of health
someone not demonstrating that value is judged. Not only
but we might think to ourselves that this person has no will
that if they would just exercise their will, then they too
healthy and fit.
The fact is, of
course, that we walk
through the social world constantly evaluating the behaviors
of our acquaintance, and supposing we have insight into the
wherefores behind those behaviors. It is also a fact
that many of
us, when they face this process of judging and evaluation
(moving it from the semi-conscious realms into the conscious
our inwardness), exercise a deeper inner behavior.
notice we have been judging and we alter that view and become
macro-level, consider the Middle
East, the nation of Israel and the Palestinians. These
congregations of individuals and we will often have
thoughts where we conceptualize communities of individuals in
generalizations. We might think that Israelis do this
Palestinians do that. Like the individuals of our
we judge and evaluate - we "see" - the world of macro-social
the light of our likes and dislikes.
does this. Everyone
shines the light of their values, their likes and dislikes,
world. Moreover, we tend to form associations in accord
finding others of similar points of view. We might join
a political party, a protest movement - the list is endless of
communities of common interest that arise because of shared
I realize that
this seems all to obvious,
but it is in our clear thinking about the obvious that it is
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
large numbers of human beings live. These individual
are also parts of various kinds of groups - some in accord
of language, culture, religion, race and shared values and
Many individuals act toward each other with violence, as
groups. We could observe from space, over long periods
all sorts of behaviors and movements of associations and
This is the outer social world, a world of moving and
Now imagine we
can see into the inside of
these human beings. Here lies a whole other world - one
desires, and the most complex kinds of motives, thoughts and
No one would question that there is a relationship
two worlds, the outer world of social form and the inner world
invisible psychological dynamics.
elements of this invisible
inner world are a wide variety of views as to what it all
We have religions and sciences, mysteries and theories.
Then, among all this vast collection of points of view,
might even be some elements of truth. But the fact that
all these points of view, which frequently do not agree with
other, this I want us to include in our global picture.
consider, these views themselves have changed over time, and
evidence of coming to final rest, in spite of what ultimate
current view might claim for itself. These views of what
means are just one more aspect of the inner invisible dynamics
I urge the
reader now to read my essay
The Future , if that has not yet been read. If it has
then it might be well to call to mind the pictures contained
concerning the changes over time of the outer elements (social
the social world, and the corresponding inner elements
consciousness). Basically as we go forward from
I want us to remain simply within the most obvious social
facts, as we
have come to know them in their dynamic movement and
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
debate for many. To some it does not exist, or if it
really is only something already described in the social and
sciences. The fact is this term is just a pair of words,
meaning we are free to determine. So for the purposes of
essay, I will use Civil Society to mean a very particular
is only partially grasped by noticing certain outer social
manifestations (for example, the loose collective activity of
- 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
imposed by some authority upon individuals. In
ages past we
had commandments, religious, moral systems and teachings,
but a recognition of the primacy of individual conscience.
today this is not longer true. Out of our own striving
selfness has emerged a demand for a free and individual
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
dislikes, we form associations to accomplish the Good.
is a Green Peace or Amnesty International or the Alliance for
- the names make little difference, in each case human beings
communities to act upon the world out of impulses of the
And, behind these impulses lives our individual
Now this in
itself would seem nothing
new. But in our time other events have occurred, which
the context, in which this emerging moral freedom arose, have
flavor. One of these events is the globalization of the
The second is the arrival of the Internet. It is
accident that these elements have come to be at the same time
is a natural result of
economic forces, which have to grow and combine until a
is reached. If we really understand "economia" [c.f.
Gardiner's: Aesthetics of Economics and the Scottish Masonic
], we will realize that a true economy can only include the
whole - the
world. Partial (national and regional) economies were
of growth, before the true natural scale was reached. It
more accurate to see what we have in the past seen as local or
economies to be local conditions in the Global Economy, much
way we understand our local weather as aspects of the Nature
of the whole world.
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
death. Those individuals, who dominate the global
their connections to the tyranny of concentrated wealth (the
to the older aristocracies), have other gods than the Good.
serve themselves and as a consequence the values driving the
economy have brought it about the globalization has arrived
truly human ideals at its center.
times, the suffering produced
by the social domination of the selfish was only known
But with the arrival of the Internet and modern media,
awareness of these tragic elements of human existence became
common. The result of this non-accidental confluence of
(emerging moral individuality, economic globalization and wide
information access) was the creation of a moral social organ
world community - Civil Society. This organ is young,
somewhat self aware, but it is nevertheless a seed with
But to really
appreciate this we have to
expand our understanding of the world social organism, so that
see the real relationships between it and Civil Society.
this we have to become familiar with an Idea, in this case it
called: the threefold social organism . First introduced
philosopher and seer Rudolf Steiner, this idea is essential to
understanding of modern social conditions.
In general on
this website, I have been
trying to point out that the social body of humanity has
an organic nature. These are not the only qualities, but
organic aspect cannot be denied, given that the social
organism is made
up entirely of living beings. There is nothing
or abstract about this situation. It is a quite simple
organism can appear to our
seeing-thinking if we take proper care to observe how
appears in our social arrangements. This organizational
can be seen in certain functional relationships, which are
polaric in nature. This fact requires that we first
the idea of polarity, which is something quite different from
of mere opposites.
In the pure
mathematics of projective
geometry , the idea of polarity comes to full expression in
relationships of point, line and plane. In this sense,
plane are the twin poles, while the line is the middle or
In the human
form, the head organization
is one pole, while the limb organization is the other.
unfamiliar with this way of thinking, this will appear quite
However, if you follow this out carefully enough, the
of what is being discussed can be apprehended. The head
inwardly, while the bony part is on the outside. The
the other hand (pole), have the bony parts on the inside,
soft parts are on the surface. It is this relationship
the two that unveils the polaric aspect. In polaric
pole is related to the other almost as if they were inside-out
of each other. In the human form, the middle (the trunk
organization) is upwardly bony on the outside (rib cage and
while as we descend in the form, the lower trunk is all soft,
lowest parts of the spine being on the inside. This
relationship of the human form is true in all details, and a
wonderful discussion of it can be found in the book Man and
the form is polaric, this
is due to the non-physical inwardness also being polaric.
is, the head carries out certain functions (form follows
function) of a
sensing and contemplative nature, for which it needs to be at
while the limbs propel us through space according to our
soul's will and direction. I have here, of necessity,
able to hint at the details, the full expression of which
would take us
too far afield.
following I am going to be
referring to certain "ideals". To understand the
this, there is a detailed consideration in the essay: Basic
Conceptions: fundamentals of a new social view .]
Steiner pointed out, in his
book Towards Social Renewal, is that human activities can
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
of freedom, and these efforts to express this ideal appear
dominantly in what Steiner called the Cultural Sphere, in
included science, art, religion and education. Thus, in
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
that we join together. It is the Earth we share
thus, at the root of Economic Life is the ideal of
In the present, of course, we do much in our
that deconstructs this naturally appearing order. For
many assert freedom in the realm of Economics, they want
for themselves or their associates. Yet, there is only
and only so much wealth, and the ideal which seeks to emerge
Economic Life remains brotherhood - the sharing of what is
these two poles, the
individual pole of the ideal of freedom and its polaric
the sharing pole of the ideal of brotherhood, lies a middle
This is the Political-legal Sphere, or the Rights Life.
ideal is equity, or equality. In law we balance the
competition between the impulses to freedom and the necessity
brotherhood. Through political processes we determine
apply to all - or, how we are equal to each other and in what
This then is
how the threefold social
organism tries to appear in human societies. Profound
to emerge, through human activity. This functional
forms our social order. We should keep in mind, however,
this process of the forming of the threefold social organism
something that is occurring over vast periods of historical
It develops according to rules, and depends upon our
maturation as human beings. As we mature, more and more
social organism will acquire this form. Globalization and
are interim phenomena appearing in the history of the
this threefold organism - natural stages in long term
eventual full realization will require our conscious
Let me give a
very brief sketch.
The older social structures, such as the ancient
theocratic in nature. The kings were also priests.
modern times, remnants of this way have continued, for
until the Chinese invaded Tibet, it was a functioning
In this sense, something out of Cultural existence
societies. Yet, this form of social organization was
It only really was valid for the particular stage of the
evolution of consciousness applicable to that time.
theocracy is a dam to the real needs of any people (witness
approach to social
organization eventually gives way to some kind of idea of the
State. With the early Greeks and Romans, we have the
the first iteration of the Political-legal life in the
formation of the
State and the recognition of the Citizen. So, now (or
actually) we have a Cultural Life and a Rights Life
The threefolding process is still immature, while yet
appropriate for humanity's inner condition.
Now we come to
more modern times.
Human individuality is flowering. The Economic
reached a kind of youthful climax with Globalization.
Life has matured, and in the latent ideal of citizen
governance a seed
planted at America's founding begins to grow into the light.
the Cultural Life, human freedom in the realm of science, art,
(as in choice thereof) and education (think about the real
underlying current struggles) is exhibiting tremendous power.
More and more
we are determined to think
what we want to think (our society, family, education,
science be damned), especially about the moral, the nature of
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.
youth I was taught to do what was expected, something that was
over in a quite revolutionary way in the 1960's. This
on freedom of moral choice has since matured (although between
generations there is a lot of misunderstanding). Even
so, out of
this emerging moral freedom is forming a new social power in
of Civil Society. That which lives in the
center of individuals is slowly finding various forms of
these communities themselves are gathering together in the
knowledge of their common moral strength. At the
this writing (early March, 2003) this community opposes the
the sitting government of the United States (the 2nd Bush
Administration) to start a war against Iraq. A new power
in the world, refusing any long to let elites of wealth or
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,
global economy on the one hand, an emerging cultural-spiritual
the moral power of Civil Society on the other, while in
whether in the United Nations, or the International Court in
a mediating world life of Rights also surges forth from the
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
what nations do when they get ready to kill a lot of people,
ordinary people of the world basically had to stand by,
to the machinations of powerful elites. That is no
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
government's choices. Everywhere, people resist the excesses
obsessed with power, and it is now clear that sitting
near the end time of that mischief they can cause the ordinary
powerless gentle folk to whom this planet really belongs.
ages ago, hierarchical castes
ruled the ordinary human being, such as the Pharaohs of Egypt
Caesars of Rome, this time has passed. A new ordering
awakes in the world, rising from inside the individual human
being as a
heart directed moral impulse, forming from there into
action, determined to impose its collective will on world
This will can
not be expected to achieve
all that it might wish to overnight. But no one - no one
any longer fail to see its active presence in the unfolding of
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
but in that land, even I would be glad to call home,
the politicians seek my death while the wealthy fight over
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.
- the future
of the Republic form of government -
States of America is the first
Nation where a certain fundamentally human impulse toward true
emerged on the Stage of History. Long in preparation,
impulse was/is connected to the gradual appreciation of the
of his/her fundamental personal sovereignty - our individual
of choice. It is only out of the choices of the I am ,
spirit , of the individual human being, that governments
just powers. From the authoring of the U.S. Constitution
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
to also appreciate how it is that this principle will require
considerable time to grow into maturity. The appearance
principle, in its present restatement as part of this
campaign, is simply one among many other iterations of the
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
and a People, from which then the siting government receives
against this striving out of the
hearts and minds of individual sovereign spirits was arrayed
weight of the Past. Having its own momentum, the Past
easily step aside for the birth of this just power with its
right of Consent. Men and women were too used to the old
where power lived in the aristocracies of blood and
Thus, even though a fundamental shift had occurred at
of our understanding, the outer forms of social relations were
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
over various peoples all over the world. It some cases
fairly obvious, and in others, such as apparent democracies,
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
wealth, in support of its point of view, has considerable
This is the view that the average citizen lacks the
and capacity to participate in macro decisions - the kind of
that determine the stability of markets, and the free flow of
upon which the modern world has become dependent.
this reasoning, only the financially astute know what is
needed to know
in order to maintain an economic environment in which wealth
continue to be generated. This apparent truth then
manner of manipulations of the inner workings of various
On the surface
then, it appears that the
world is locked into a what is essentially a class struggle,
the rich and the poor, over the determination of the social
modern and future societies. In fact, is there any
expect the aristocracies of concentrated wealth to abandon
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
the light of world affairs in a responsible manner, will it
course that violently destroys the Past, or will it find
other path through this Rite of Passage that the Hopi
The Day of Purification. And, in parallel, will the
powers hold so strongly to their position and privilege such
their considerable forces are spent trying to hold down the
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
into chaos, to be replaced by either anarchy on the one hand,
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
to turn out - then we will automatically pursue a course of
for the very fact of our individual sovereign natures assumes
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
future, the basic form of the Republic that was bequeathed to
remains the most viable, healthy and just way .
understand this, we should notice
that citizen governance is young. It has so far rested
an ideal form, as the main principle of the form of government
United States. Our present time offers us the
to take this ideal further into reality - further into
There are two
ways that I recommend.
Both are essential, and one can participate in either or
One is for
ordinary citizens to run for
office. Such activity was certainly in the minds of our
and it is much needed in the present, for the class of
politicians has, in the main, lost its way. I have
means is the formation of
conversation groups, or what I have elsewhere called: renewal
I have used the term renewal to emphasize the fact that
is not new, and was central from the very beginning of our
But it has fallen into a condition of sleep and disuse,
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.
the crucial aspect - the
essence. We have tended to think, having lost a true
understanding of the nature of the Republic form of
the power of the people resided in the vote - that is that we
form of democracy (which we are not). More essential
vote is our mutual spiritual work at expressing, out of our
insight, what we consider to be the nature of the good as that
to the form and order of society. It is our individual
moral will, conveyed in the form of ideals from one to the
is the essential act of citizen governance. Out of these
heart-felt conversations then emerges that vision of the
which we then direct our elected representatives to strive to
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).
eternal truths to which we form allegiance, these are to be
in the renewal groups. At present, the situation is
opposite. The powers of concentrated wealth, and their
allies, work very hard at forming public opinion. What
is not so important as what we can be made to think.
true facts is routinely withheld. What is provided is
that meaning most convenient to the speakers. A
form of government (our Republic) cannot thrive when all that
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)
our hearts and minds. Having free speech, and the gift
word , we have the capacity to meet with each other and
fundamental and essential questions facing our society.
process of asking ourselves questions, and listening to each
offer responses, we begin that work - that means - whose
offers us the most sane passage through the historic crises of
For the truth
is this. Our
fundamental sovereignty as individuals is a reflection of our
nature. In this age of materialism, where we have
unnaturally separated matter and spirit, we have also lost
in the moral. Today people are content to limit their
what is legal, which my law professors described as the lower
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
intentionally pass downward through that boundary for reasons
personal greed (witness the massive failures now apparent in
business communities). The renewal of the Republic
come out of moral deeds, deeds of conscience - deeds first
born in acts
of individual conscience, which are then merged through
to a community of ideals.
At the same
time such deeds need to
proceed in moderation. Individuals, meeting in renewal
learning to express their hearts to each other in mutual
while considering the fundamental goals and purposes of human
perform a sacred art. This art of conversation then
one to the other, eventually merging with other conversations
a vast cooperative act of public ideal self examination.
have been asleep, now we are awake, and our considerations
light by which our public servants can then do those appointed
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
This is hard work, for not only do we have a political
we also have a religious Past, and a scientific Past.
weight of these ideas can be a terrible prison for the future.
Yet, if we take the time to live with trust in each
hearts, then the mutual work of the sacred art of conversation
lead us to just that community of ideals we need to light the
We need have no
end in mind at all.
The means - the conversation arising out of our
the principle of citizen governance - will ensure that we
roads of life in all the mutual faith and company that we
the Future of Business Corporations
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
concentrated wealth chose to go their own way, and to create
essentially a hidden oligarchy of power behind the scenes of
illusion of electoral freedom. Americans vote, but the
power is so pervasive that government clearly supports the
financial institutions and business corporations over the real
the ordinary people of this country.
those, who follow intimately
the reality behind the so-called sub-prime crisis, are well
every move made by the Federal Reserve Board and every move
made by the
Bush II administration has been directed at saving the
resources of the banking industry, without out any real
of the ordinary people who are losing their homes, and
I wrote about
this problem extensively in
my small book: Uncommon
Sense*: the Degeneration, and the Redemption, of Political
America. I wrote there (and
that the arrival of this hidden oligarchy of money power was
expectable, and that what has happened is that the American
has merely substituted an aristocracy of wealth for the
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
become, in the economic life, the equivalent of serfs and
Yes, we (ordinary people) have the apparent highest
living (in a material sense) of any serfs and peasants before
history, but the fact is that we are essentially powerless
present conditions), and have little real access to the
land (what we would need in order to feed ourselves, for
This absence of power over life and work, connected to
real ownership of land, is what has characterized serfs and
throughout history. That American common speech calls us
slaves is a apt perception of this
What is most
tragic about all this is
that the gross hubris of the elites of wealth is so huge that
put the whole economy of the world at risk. The
nature of the interlocking dependencies of speculative
instruments, and the whole way money as created out of nothing
debt obligations of the wage slaves, suckered
believing they get to own land, when in fact with the
industry now in full operation, once again (as in the Great
Depression), should the economy recover, the Lords of Finance
claim to own everything.
There is more
evidence that this is a
condition intentionally fostered from the higher circles in
than there is evidence it is simply a by-product of blind
forces (the myth we are taught). We are, by the
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
serving the grossly extravagant hungers and appetites of a
of families and individuals, who with callous indifference to
needs, have subverted our democratic republic for their
Sense and elsewhere, I have written
the ordinary citizen can do to heal this cancer that has
throughout the body social. This essay is written for the
for their more immediate servants
large business corporations that today have forced their way
complete freedom (via trade agreements) from any future
the various Nation States of the Earth. They place
outside the internal laws of Nation States, by creating in
agreements a supposedly superior to any Nation State
legal system (designed of course entirely for their own
At the same
time, the basic assumption of
this essay is that not everyone, who works in our corporations
financial institutions, is as immoral and indifferent to human
suffering as is sometimes assumed. The question taken up
then is what can individuals do, who believe the business
as a social form, has continued value for a more human future,
work in or lead such institutions, and would like to further
individualism and corporate
culture in the fields of high
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.
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
these kinds of problems are more acute. Other
other fields (dot.coms for example) show a more modern and
tendency, but at the same time a number of the observations to
below apply across the board.
culture is hierarchical.
This is a given. Certain elements of power and
making move downward from the apex of what is essentially a
social organism. The whole is given direction from the
moves (as much as is possible) as a single organism.
exists within the wider
social body, and is to varying degrees, restrained and given
the nature of this wider social environment. For
requirements (of dubious value for the future, see the essay
below: law and
the spirit) of due diligence and the
force the corporation to make choices more favorable to
than to workers and consumers.
corporate leadership (as a
consequence) is forced to pay an excessive amount of attention
value of their stock in the various markets. This would
too much of a problem were stock values based on rational
making, but stock markets are essentially gambling
the movement of the values of stocks is determined by a
risk taking often itself driven by fear and other strong
For example, the stock markets during the current (at
the time of
this writing) challenges posed by the sub-prime mortgage
is really a crisis generated by excesses of greed among very
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
debt instruments) today seems constantly on the verge of
panic. Basically traders are making bets on the movement
values of stocks over the course of time intervals as little
as a few
minutes. While the whole thing is often called investing
is really only true of new stocks, the trading in already
from moment to moment (3 billion plus shares a day on the New
Stock Exchange alone), does not always create capital directly
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
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
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)
a viable social economic form. We come to the root of
we encounter the idea of the free market.
capitalism is in reality what we usually know as an oxymoron -
statement so untrue on its face that one wonders how rational
people could actually utter such a term.
similar to all gambling
institutions, operate on the basis of rules, and are run not
benefit of those who gamble in such markets, but for the house
financial institutions and brokerage houses that take the fees
the money which the buyers of stocks need in order to
the so-called market). A few of
the rules come from government, which
under recent Republican leadership has failed miserably to
engage in rule making - given the ideological / theological
(myth) applied here, which is: all
the imaginary free aspect of
The result has
been that there is no rule
of law in higher end economic decision making (no regulation,
criminal prosecution with any meaning). The resulting
anarchy then becomes an environment which can only breed
self-advancement at serious costs to the whole.
certain companies make a great deal of money, while the
economy and the
ordinary people at the bottom suffer all the real negative
(millions are losing their homes to foreclosure, recession if
depression is coming, and the social consequences may turn out
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
separate themselves out into private enclaves. See the
of Men for a well-grounded artistic
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
have a system of banking and finance rules most favorable to
elite; and at a terrible price for workers and consumers in
and third worlds as well as resulting in quite near-sighted
irrational approaches to the care of the natural world upon
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
in the so-called Age of Science, so much irrationality could
rule our economic life, it becomes possible to find one more
common element as the root cause: education. Our business and political leaders, most
been trained (as
against educated) in our current
universities and colleges, are ill prepared to understand
social, economic and political realities. Flawed economic myths are taught, which can only
overcome by individuals who would rather know the true nature
economic life, than the vain system of thought wrapped up in
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
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
developing latent human potential (its true purpose), but
training the next generation of compliant workers and
can, however, actually be educated to enlightened
self interest (see the essay above
Re-imagination of the Presidency), rather than a self interest
sees itself at necessary odds with other human beings (social
Darwinism). At the same time, we cannot expect the
corporate culture - itself to change in the typical fashion.
Certainly we cannot expect change to come from the top
the pyramidal principle itself is a flawed social
Not even our great Universities clearly recognize the
and corporate culture already only willingly promotes within
those who demonstrate the same callous indifference modeled at
are lead by example, and the
dominant winning examples are essentially all predatory.
way, corporate culture is (like prison cultures) a social
produces a kind of unnatural survival of the fittest, in the
that those who succeed are those most willing to climb the
success on the backs of those below. A real education, would help the educated to understand that the
pyramidal principle (dominion over), which
outcome of a long term social process in Western Civilization
essentially patriarchal, is no longer workable. It has
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
practice, would require an intentional re-education or
Because many of the problems are systemic, some of this
education would have to be society wide, a project under
educational thinking that would be impossible to achieve.
example, even if we found corporate leaders, who became more
self-enlightened through self-education, they are still under
pressure of due diligence and other current rules required to
benefit of the shareholder over and above the benefit to the
and the worker.
takes us, unfortunately, is
the need to recognize a coming time of great tragedy.
principle of dominion over, having outlived its social
continue without causing further illness to the body social.
our education has been a little bit adequate, we are aware
civilizations fail, especially when the flaws within are so
to be irreparable. The current crisis in finance
with the environmental difficulties and the endless
warmongering of the
leaders of many Nation States, shows us that fracture points
everywhere. People in positions of leadership and power
know (are not properly educated) in how to handle these kinds
crises. Their collective hubris is leading toward the
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
religious), individuals will have opportunities to participate
metamorphosis, rather than oppose it. Those who do
oppose it will
only increase the stress on the intricately interwoven
in the wake of their opposition greater social harm.
seek cooperation instead of increased competition, will find
community with others, chances of survival increase, and a
social form (such as a business entity that sets aside a
for a circle form) will be able to constantly adapt to the
The end result
of the tragic aspects of
this metamorphosis is difficult to predict (there are positive
as well). Certainly there will be many who will seek to
out at the top, and use the advantages already gained through
power to lord it over those below. We could end up with
indeterminate time of considerable social chaos) a new static
equilibrium that is basically one of the end of Nation States
coming into being of what are essentially feudal-like
entities, with their own private armies. The world would
re-tribalized, and dominated by rigidly ordered corporate
social forms (some of which will continue to hide behind a
- whether of a democratic or theocratic - structure).
condition of re-tribalized
corporate feudalism is not, however, necessary.
self-interest may realize that the health of the whole
the health of the part. It isn't necessary to compete
as the descent into and through social chaos moves toward an
into new social form (metamorphosis). In fact, the Lords
Finance could make a compromise with the social commons - the
form and the circle form do not have to compete, and a kind of
Yet, in order
for this to happen, the
truth has to be able to step out from behind the curtain - the
need to admit to their hidden rule, and offer the application
elite powers to the health of the social commons. There
reason a bargain can't be struck, in which the Lords maintain
elements of their wants and hungers, that could be freely
given to them
from out of the wisdom of the social commons.
Constitution was a
compromise between competing interests. If the Lords
to themselves that they need the social commons to be healthy
for their lives as elites to have the qualities they want, the
oligarchy could step out from behind the curtain and seek an
agreement with ordinary people. The world of
finance is in
fact a world requiring all manner of expertise, and a
economy needs this expertise in order to be orderly and
The Lords can provide this by rediscovering the moral
once called noblesse
oblige (the idea that with power
privilege comes social responsibility).
This is one of
the possibilities inherent
in a new education that leads and builds a lifetimes interest
self-education. At the present, however, the rule of
causing so much harm that the social commons is more and more
into violence (terrorism for starters) in order to simply not
crushed under the power wheels of the engines of commerce
and the middle-east as an example).
Since we cannot
reasonably expect the
pyramidal corporate structures, or the Lords themselves, to be
enlightened as to cease their efforts at rigid social control,
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
This self-education impulse could include a look at my
book: the Way of
the Fool: the conscious
our human character and the future* of Christianity - both to
out of the natural union of Faith and Gnosis. Or not.
self-education by new
continue to be drawn into the
economic life, for there is much opportunity for creativity
The entrepreneur (one who
organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a
business or enterprise) is one of the principle creative
modern civilization, even when civilization is engaged in the
into a new becoming. If we look at the social commons we
all kinds of creative activity there, and the whole of the
revolution is really an example of such creativity, for how
these huge business began in someones garage.
everywhere, and the business risk taker is really a principle
what is new in the world.
businesses, for example, have
frequently created working conditions in which instead of the
temple of a corporate glass and steel skyscraper, one finds
physical work environment thought of as a campus. The dot.com temple is modeled on the university,
Whether one is
creating a small business,
or anything larger, it is the individual who has the idea,
need, and tries to fill it. It is only the old style
that have adopted the policy of taking their waste products
us junk through advertising that makes us ashamed of our human
As we go through the crucible of social metamorphosis,
creative opportunities will be for those who see a need and
Many such examples abound today, whether it is micro
the third world, or small useful products in the first.
civilization and its
patriarchal approach of dominion over
are no longer
viable, except that they more and more maintain themselves
application of force (thus the tendency to end up with a new
feudalism). The healthy new business models are healthy
to the extent that they abandon the old, and seek for
In this the
last section of this essay in
this little book, I merely want to offer some help to those
consider it possible to advance their opportunities for
recognizing that part of what they can do is change
They recognize that not only can they be creative in
operational business modes, but they can be creative in what
into themselves as influences. If fact, if we observe
details, we see that this is already instinctively happening.
Cultural influences have been changing strongly since
and it is people born into these new influences that are the
What books are
read? What movies
seen? What plays? What music heard? What
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
in the amoral world of corporate finance, are also part
dying of civilization. These universities are no
vital, and without a capacity to provide proper inner
the individual personality, whose strengths of character are
needed in today's world of moral confusion and ambiguity, the
great universities bear a considerable responsibility for a
of what has happened in the Western Democracies, for it is the
graduates of such places (Yale, Harvard, the Sorbonne and the
School of Economics) that have lead us right into the descent
The Founders of
the American Experiment
knew well that without an enlightened public and public
was no chance the Republic could be maintained, and all the
now experience comes from this fall from grace of our once
universities. We live in the results of what Alan Bloom,
in his The
Closing of the American Mind,
did President Eisenhower in his Farewell Address (see appendix
a time in which we no longer have truly educated individuals
of social responsibility
educational institutions have
failed, it becomes only the individual who can through
overcome what our culture and society has not been able to
We can cultivate our own minds, and if the reader of any
works has found there something of value, it must be noted
that I am able to think is in large part due to my having in
thirties (around 1972-3) recognized that my education,
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
over the last 30 years that have cultivated the garden of my
enabled me to learn how to think the way that I do today.
thinking seems at all admirable to the reader, then these
books are the
best stimulation I can offer. I will also include movies
No one, by the
way, is being asked to
duplicate my reading list. On the contrary, if you find
book of interest, that would be a considerable benefit.
Each of us, in fact, has to make our own choices
There will also be a number of comments as seemed
me, and hopefully interesting to the reader...
I have also
tried to give some
organization to this list, and a few explanatory comments as
worthwhile. For the fun of it, I have given the
beginning of this
organization an old form, now mostly forgotten, but well worth
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:
Logic and Rhetoric. All the same, into this form I will
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
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
algebra, and if they are to go into any higher level science
engineering, calculus, differential equations is so forth.
am going to suggest the reader actually go backward and try to
their hands on something from the 18th Century: Thomas
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
in the same way again.
Geometry: Here is a great
difficulty, for most of the best books are out of print.
one thinks of the geometry of Euclid, but in this instance the
and the best is the study of Projective Geometry. George
and Ethereal Spaces has only one
Amazon at $75. Olive Whicher's Projective
Creative Polarities in Space and Time is out of print, but one might be able to borrow
from any institution connected to Rudolf Steiner and
(libraries, Waldorf Schools etc), for these places often will
copies of these books. The importance of Whicher's book
significant and its being out of print a major tragedy, for it
us the study of this profound and new geometry through
drawing, and the
use of our imagination (no need for proofs and analytic
To give a hint, there is a major flaw in astronomical
the development of the idea of parallax, which in using the
the old Euclidean geometry instead of the rules of the new
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
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
Actually the development of astronomy fell into disarray
certain themes of Kepler were lost to modern understanding.
Kepler's Third Law, in particular, where Kepler was
that he now understood the ancients concepts of the Music of
Spheres, is more significant than most imagine. Two
help here: The Harmony of the Spheres - a source book of
Pythagorean Tradition in Music,
Joscelyn Godwin. Here we come upon the synthesis of
arithmetical, geometric and astronomical ideas, for none of
Liberal Arts stands alone. In addition, something very
and Cosmos, by Dennis Klocek.
the foremost predictor of weather phenomena alive today (see
doc.weather.com), and the key for him was found by
certain aspects of the thinking of Johannes Kepler forgotten
rush to (as Kepler himself put it) thrown the baby out with
bathwater of the astronomical ideas of the ancients.
Grammar: Almost anything by
Owen Barfield: Speakers
English Words; Saving
Appearances: a study in Idolatry
None of this is strictly about grammar per se, but we
to begin to rediscover the latent potentials in language, for
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,
to study the mind from the outside instead of the inside (as
spiritual savants of the East) has blinded most Western
thinkers to the
real nature of what makes reason so
profound. So then the reader is invited to take up
or the study of how we know what we know. From many
experience (35 now), I can state unequivocally that these two
Rudolf Steiner lead the reader to the deepest understanding of
nature of their own mind possible today in the West, through
scientific practice of introspection:
of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception; and, The
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
print). Want to really understand reason? Then study what is right in front of you
Rhetoric: This subject is only
mastered in one way. By the actual practice of writing
speaking. It is more something we learn by doing that
the above subjects. The legendary science fiction writer
Bradbury is said to have, in his youth, written 10,000 words a
As a result, when he finally found his distinctive voice
individual art of Rhetoric) all those pages of material become
treasures that could be polished and published. I'm not
the reader should do this much writing and speaking, but
substitute for practice.
beyond then the
Quadrivium and Trivium
the development of a moral
life: as this is rather personal, I
suggest for the Christian: The
Unvarnished New Testament, by Andy
Over the centuries, the dogmas and theological views of
of late comers has come to inhabit most of the versions of the
Testament provided to us by the various sects, churches and
There is a great deal of power in how the New Testament
actually first written down, and Gaus has given us a direct
from the original Greek into idiomatic English without adding
doctrinal interpretations. I also must, with some
modesty, offer my the Way of
the Fool: the conscious
our human character, and the future of Christianity - both to
out of the natural union of Faith and Gnosis.
understanding the times we
live in and the potentials for
the future: this book you now hold
hands, of course, as well as my Uncommon
Sense. In addition: America's
Responsibility: individuation, initiation and threefolding by Jesaiah Ben-Aharon; and, Paul Hawken's Blessed
produced something of a
bibliography for the appendix, which is simply a bare
of books I've read that helped me think about politics and
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
the descent into madness
during the end of a civilization -
A lot of people
look at the Bush II
administration and see culpable and intentional mismanagement
to gross and destructive failures, which is to a degree
Karl Rove's contribution is deeply clever (callus and
logic), but without any heart. The actual appreciation
nature of government, and the wise exercise of its powers, is
that neither Bush II or Dick Chaney had any real abilities to
As a social
administration is a disaster for the reasons outlined above.
of the power players, including many Congressional Republicans
Democrats, as well as various bureaucrats, simply lacked any
capacities from their education and upbringing that made them
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
reveals a complete absence of rational coherence. Many
personalities involved in government do not even really follow
stated ideologies, but rather are (in varying degrees)
addicted to power, the ultimate addiction. The kinds of
and depravities known to have unfolded during the last years
Roman Empire are everywhere today in Washington D.C. (albeit
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
the lame powers of a press that is more interested in its own
celebrity, than in actually playing a role in our polity.
real investigative journalism, but instead a kind of commerce
infotainment, rational discourse on public issues simply does
opinions of course, but
given how weakly educated (see the above essay on real
are, as a consequence of the failure of all of our schools of
education, unable to display any ability to think with
through the illusions of the times. Yes, it is true that
academics (such as Noam Chomsky) do engage in
analysis of flawed government policies. At the same
such as these have been unable to come to a sufficient
how the world actually works, so as to lead us to the
require to heal the situation.
understand, to a degree, that
something is wrong, but they have missed out on appreciating
right. The world is a delicate balance of powers that
psychological-emotional then logical - more of psyche and
grounded rational thought. This is why I characterized
current state of governance as a descent into madness.
We suffer an
disturbance that is profoundly spiritual in its nature, and
understand that dimension of political and social reality, we
take hold of the real levers by which to move our civilization
this process of metamorphosis with an appropriate wisdom.
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
where rules of evidence, and the ability to cross-examine and
test the credibility of the speaker are in play.
is irrational speech, and sometimes acutely so.
demands of Sam Harris, in his
book the End of Faith, that religion
needs to be rationally tested, could also be applied to the
that is politics and the religion that is economics. Our
political leaders and our business leaders, believe several
irrational things all before breakfast (as the cliche goes).
Harris's book fails the same test of reason he tries to apply
In the previous
essay I pointed to two
books required by a modern self-educated mind, that really
reason as an experience (A
of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception; and, The
Philosophy of Freedom - both by
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,
business leaders (and leading economists) we find that they
universally in fundamental disagreement. While those who
the dismal science (economics), do at least act as if they
truth, politicians show no evidence whatsoever of wanting or
the truth. Karl Rove has clearly stated for
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
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
evidence do provide a kind of test that would work soundly to
through certain otherwise insane political and economic
Only when the courts undertake the strange ritual of
"expert testimony" do they wander into the nether world of
irrationality, for clearly when two entirely conflicting views
presented, one (at least, it could be both) has to be false.
the person who is in error is an expert, then by what standard
other expert thought to be his equal. Anyone who follows
and Order television series has seen this strange rite of
experts, which in the end oddly enough gives over to the
of the jury a determination of which imaginary expert makes a
Now if we step
back from this situation a
bit, and make it a part of the phenomena that we need to
this situation of poor education and near rabid irrationality
and belief seek to trump the search for truth on all levels),
can begin to discover that the underlying reality of human
(if we wish to understand it even in a rational fashion) -
to discover this reality has to include in its point of view
it is that what we call irrationality, and what others call
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
thought). This approach wants to pretend the irrational
immoral have no part to play in human affairs, and that
rationality will save us all. Now that's an irrational
In the end we
have to come up with a view
of the world that takes account of that which is not rational,
includes a great deal of what we call religious ideas and the
expressions in art. Once we can appreciate that the
madness that characterizes the nature of government, in this
social metamorphosis, is rooted in some kind of real
human nature, we end up with a whole other level of questions.
those like him, would exclude
from consideration, with the wave of a vain assumption, all
irrational simple because it is (in their view) irrational.
very real sense this approach says that what is phenomena in
(irrationality and evil) can be dismissed from having any
Once we've put these real social events in the black
meaninglessness, then all we have to deal with is our personal
rationality, and the rest are lessor beings (those who hold
deem to be irrational thoughts), while we are superior and
This picture at
this point then is
crucial. The decision making processes of modern
leaders and economic thinkers, as well as many many others,
arise solely from human reason. Our collapsing
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
pretend that it does) possesses this coherence, and certainly
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
violent and destructive. We try to appear reasonable in
circumstances, but since there is no common result of our
application of reason, we have to consider that something else
on - if we wish to understand the world in which we live.
situation (and leaving the
debate is to why and what from my point of view to what is
my book the Way of the Fool), the next
step arises in the following essay, and is quite justified in
of the reader: Wendt, if you are right in insisting
this time is inherently irrational, what do you think would
what a sane government might look like
- how the power of the presidency could be applied
coming time of social chaos -
In a certain
sense this material below
would have to be considered a kind of fantasy. But,
it, most political promises are already a kind of fantasy, so
imagining something different coming out of the Executive
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
would naturally require the passage of legislation. Why
person would think this a promise that could be keep is beyond
The process by which a presidential intention becomes
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
legislative majority acted with considerable unity and in
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
what they promised was the opposite of what they did. If
to reason about this in terms of causal relationships - i.e.
kind of why, we end up with something that was really a kind
collective psychology of a small group of men, who found
seats of power, yet who also had no self-understanding.
(small group of men) created
a collective world view, one in which they hungered to be able
upon the world out of this somewhat demented set of policy
(America as Empire). Their fantasies, worked out in
think-tank papers, became at an odd historical moment capable
acted upon. These policies where argued about for many
before they were applied, and the method by which these people
power is itself a remarkable subject for investigation, for if
examine it carefully, they were hardly in control of events at
Certainly they tried, especially under the influence of
Rove, to rise to power by intention, but the collective
madness of the
times played a much greater role than any political skill.
the real dominant power as
to much of what government does is to be found in the banking
These folks work at being nameless for the most part,
successfully (up to this point) hidden from the general public
nature of their influence. A additional lot of what is
influence comes from the historical relationships between the
Department, and the major industrial corporations that supply
armaments. The reaching into Republican politics
Christian Right is another excess, which coming from an
different section of our society, also can't be causally
related to the
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
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
of the present day financial crisis involves the beginning of
a kind of
collective waking up from a very bad political nightmare.
this waking up is not over. We will (as near as I can
have to endure additional kinds of very serious troubles,
we look at history, for example) we will suffer much
we find a way to action (just like our Founders had to endure
privations and abuses of power by the English Crown before
and then even after they started to act they had 10 years of
Only out of such a process is a next step in the
Experiment to become possible.
What this means
for this essay (and this
book) is that the below imagination of a more sane executive
hopes to serve just how we consider what might be done that
next phase of the Republic find its right shape and healthy
Hopefully this little story will show that there are
alternatives to what politicians currently promise, such that
Citizens, began to alter not just our expectations of
processes and candidate selection, but more crucially our own
behavior. Americans really get the kind of government
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
different better idea suggests that something else is going
on, that is
not being taken account of. The Christian Right thinks
smarter than the Liberal Left. The rational scientist
is wiser than the career politician. The gossip
reporter thinks the public's right to know includes all manner
private (as against public) facts. Glance across the
magazines, newspapers, blogs and whatnot, you will find a
absence of fundamental agreement on any basic facts.
insists they are right, and few
of them bother to notice that this claim by everyone to be
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
such basic realities, and to find processes by which the whole
degree) can find enough consensus to move forward for the
all, even though disagreement is everywhere.
The Founders of
the American Experiment
understood this, and the Constitution was meant to accommodate
problem. Yet, what we live in today is a struggle by one
another point of view to dominate the others, often through
variations of lying and cheating, if not outright violence.
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
Here is how I
would do it. The
assumption here is that I have been elected, so that now the
what to do, not how to go about getting in a place of being
able to do
something. As explained elsewhere in my political
(Citizen Governance, for example), the core gesture is to
focus on the
means not the end. A true statesman will follow the same
means, recognizing that it is how we travel that is crucial,
we arrive at a certain place by any cost. It is the mode
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.
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
is not any longer to your taste, and that all your so-called
advisers will probably want to talk you into the same methods
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 -
never get better free advice anywhere (you could of course pay
need the money, but I'm also not going to hold my breath).
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
"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
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
compromises that makes us a Statesman. Of course, some will
have to have money to win and so forth, or even to campaign,
is all true in the old way, but the new kind of
campaign I have in mind here is not going to require much
all. In fact, you'll succeed even if you don't get elected
suspect you will anyway, but cheaters are out there so who can
sure), and you'll be such a good example that this very act of
will change political life everywhere entirely. You'll set an
so high that others will look like fools not to copy it, and
election even, you'll find them running around trying to do it
are doing it.
"Lets start by
remembering the stupid way
politicians now campaign. They raise a lot of money and travel
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
millions advisers say. Have to run lots of TV ads, have huge
state staffs, and at the same time run around giving speech
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
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
fools, will make the media look like fools. You see, there is
strange fact (true in the present, and could be an opportunity
not acted upon). The American People are fed up with business
Neither Congress or the President now gets even 30% in the
People are screaming for something different, and you have
status of Statesman, and they love you for it. So the big
you is to come down from that status and becoming again a mere
politician. Don't do it!
process of campaigning (I
know this is a big build up, but I'll deliver) will fold over
entirely new way as to how to conduct yourself in office.
You campaign the same basic way you operate as president, the
seamlessly blending into the other, all the while never
status of being a Statesman.
to ask yourself is what do
people want. What do the voters (and non-voters - don't leave
want? They want to be heard! It is the most simple need in the
to have leaders who come to them and just listen. How strange
The Press will go nuts, saying where is your position on the
why don't you have big policy papers, why aren't you telling
what to do (so as soon as your back is turned we can criticize
"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...
Gore's buses come to town,
after a little advance work. There's a community hall set up,
certain technical functions (you bring them), which include
lighting, some comfortable chairs around a big circular table,
digital cameras (sort of YouTube stuff). You sit at the table,
casually (you aren't meeting bigwigs, just working people and
school teachers and parents - all the really important people
society). [Someone in the Press might make fun of King Al and
Knights of the Round Table - let them, and ask them if they
better way for people to speak from their hearts to someone
be THEIR president. And, ask them why they (the Press) think
better than the ordinary people in America. You see, the Press
liked either, and you'll only gain stature and interest by
equally critical of the Press when you see all this stuff from
point of view of the guy having to make 14 ends meet in a
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
while they'll realize that folks are paying attention to you,
more attention to you than to them. As this unfolds, the
political conversation is going to change. Lets return to our
picture... A local store or whatever has been paid to provide
refreshments of a local variety - stuff the people at the
enjoy. You are going to sit and break bread with the people
going to serve, and find out about their needs and listen to
voices. You do get to ask a question or two, but not in order
represent your views. Rather your role is to bring your
government to the situation, and to help the people talking
questions. They might want Washington to do a certain thing,
are going to be very honest with them about how difficult that
might then say what do we do to fix that, and you ask them why
keep voting for the same people all the time. Not hard
to make them feel bad, but honest questions, neighbor to
what to do about the bad dog down the block who is making
"They will ask
you questions. The first
rule is tell the truth, even if it means confessing to having
than your best in the past. All of these people know about
mistakes - they live life in the real world, not in the
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
maybe good hearted intentions to work together. Someone might
you, that you are just going to be another politician
this "listening" meetings you are having, and you say that you
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
"They are going
to ask you about money,
your money. You should ask yourself first. How did you get so
What are you doing with it? Why are you charging so much money
speeches? You need to recognize that in the present time, as
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
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
scenario a thousand-fold. Instead of giving speeches you go
listening to people. Then, to top it off, you get them to sign
so that their thoughts and ideas get on the Internet. You also
of each event, and distribute them locally for free. Everyone
to gets one, and all their neighbors. In the beginning it will
strange, but as you do it there will be a kind of
front running out ahead of you. People coming to events like
after a time have already looked at other people's stuff.
advance people can make prior conversations available in the
communities. Instead of dividing the country up with hard and
positions, you are actually enabling the country to talk to
Getting the picture yet?
might need some experts
to ponder. So for every 10 meetings with ordinary people, you
with experts from a specific field that has come under
question by the
people to which you have been listening. You put the questions
experts, and these are people you can make sweat. Don't let
into cliches and other usual BS. Invite folks across a
point of view in that field, but stay away from the usual
on TV. People are tired of yelling and screaming. They want to
intelligent discourse. That too goes on the Internet and on
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
great deal more than the experts). So you loop around again,
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
some ordinary folk in with the so-called experts. You invite
candidates to sit down with ordinary people and talk to them.
"This then is
your work as a Statesman.
You facilitate a huge national conversation, one that gets
the deepest questions (the content of many of the great
gave the last few years about the real nature of government,
constitution and the troubles that face us). I guarantee
minds everywhere, and even if not elected, you will change the
American politics forever. Plus, if you do get elected, you
will not be
carrying into office the baggage of a lot of self-serving
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!!!
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,
listening to their concerns. The variations on this theme are
considerable and will lead to huge transparency. The corporate
will go nuts, because their whole power base is rooted in
Think what it will do to the Legislative Branch, and maybe the
Branch as well. They will be under tremendous pressure to
similar kinds of relationships to the People for whom they
dialogs don't have to always generate answers, but its well
the folks in government that work for the People had to
down with those People in a public (cable) forum and answer
"Of course, you
could get shot on the way
to doing this, but as John Perkins, the author of Confessions
an Economic Hit Man, is going around
saying: Isn't it time we all took the same risks and pledges
founders, when they signed the Declaration of Independence,
last line: "And
for support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the
of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our
Fortunes and our sacred Honor.""
basic idea I gave away to Al
Gore in my blog of June 26th 2007. You saw above the
to being actually in office, but next I'll try to put some
on that aspect of this idea.
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
Anyone can offer an opinion on any subject.
others why its such a good idea is, however, a great deal
So here's what
my day and week would look
like if I was president.
around a round table with
others of differing points of view (including experts and
people) about subjects of mutual concern, all done in a format
cable, Internet, and CD (or DVD) ready.
I ask them
questions, keep them focused,
call bullshit bullshit when its spoken. I don't pretend
the answers. I don't pretend to even have the best
What I do have is a wise process by which public
conversation about what government is about and what it should
out there for everyone to participate in.
what the Founders discussed
among themselves, and wrote about in the various Federalist
anti-Federalist papers, leaves the realm of elites, and enters
realm of the ordinary common sense wisdom of ordinary people.
What the Press and the politicians have failed to do for
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
nobody really questions what is said. In this new kind
government, where the basic task of the statesman-leader is to
dialog, the whole quality of the public discourse will be
It will become impossible for any loud and angry
proclaim it knows better than anyone else what should be done,
someone from their point of view will have had to present and
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
understand and appreciate the wisdom of the basic idea, which
leads us to one of the main consequences of public dialog -
legislation, so naturally we now go on to...
on the law and the spirit
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
serve? Do we have good laws today, or has something gone
there too, as appears to have gone wrong just about everywhere
We have a
cliche about the difference
between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.
in discussing irrationality we noticed that it is everywhere,
sometimes we can only look at social phenomena and recognize
somewhere inside them is something that has to be called
evil or both.
In my book the
the Fool, I provide an elaborate
of the relationship between the truly spiritual and our social
existence. Here I am going to address these questions
quite different direction.
thoughts, feelings (emotions) and
actions. The U.S. Constitution is an action, from one
view, but is also a very profound idea from another. Our
felt their freedom being compromised by the English
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
Hopefully it will be useful.
had a lot of wisdom, not all
wisdom to be sure, but they were careful thinkers and had
good hearts. They didn't agree on everything, but in
U.S. Constitution they did something never before done in
which I (and others) have been calling: the American
They saw that
there seemed to be three
natural divisions of process in government. The making
they put first, that is the Legislative Branch (Article I,
ten Sections) is elaborated first in the Constitution, a fact
ought not to be ignored. Then they elaborated the powers
Executive Branch (Article II, comprised of 4 Sections), before
setting out the powers of the Judicial Branch (Article III,
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
of Independence, and also to Thomas Paine's remarkable Common
will understand the spirit out of which our
life was born.
believe, who is not entirely
asleep, realizes that we have lost a connection to this spirit
law. A modern legislator, in justifying his 1000 page
mumbo-jumbo allowing pharmaceutical companies to basically
themselves, will hardly try to connect his proposed letter of
to this spirit. Rather he simply exercises a power,
by the People under the Constitution, which he (the
longer appreciates is a grant of
legislators act is if the power was theirs to use in any
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
series on John Adams, is the idea of the rule
of law. The Constitution is in fact an agreement, a
contract, in which the Citizen, via his representatives in
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.
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
we are just a collection of competing Darwinian animals,
any excess in their hunger for domination.
Dreyfuss pointed out about a
year ago on Bill Mahre's show on HBO, no one anymore is taught
Civics, and without that there is no way to understand why our
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
ago stopped following the rule of law, and since then only
the application of such rules when it was for their benefit
The social contract was broken and the Republic - the
Experiment - died with it.
Sure. A historical
necessity? Probably? A solvable problem? You
In spite of all
the aspects of the
Experiment that failed to live, some very important parts did
die. The basic skeleton was there, in the words of the
Constitution. Government acted through somewhat well
channels. The river of the application of power was
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
We can still
talk to each other and still
assemble (gather in groups). Thus we have free speech
of conversation. A great deal can happen if we take hold
rights and apply them to a conscious process of reeducating
in the fundamental questions. What is the spirit of a
Why do we have a nation of laws? How do laws
Are they a temporary grant of power from the people to
You see, one of
the ways we are defeated
is by being told to think of certain things as "issues".
that point of view we lie to ourselves about a more
question, which is whether the system is working at all
So people argue over policy and clean air acts and green
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
fundamentals - to an appreciating that the rule of law is a
contract, for example.
Its not whether
the policies of the Bush
II administration are insane and ought to be something else,
whether or not anyone in Washington anymore follows the rule
of law, believes in its spirit, or
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
fashion (reread the preamble to the Constitution here: We the People of the
States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish
insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense,
the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution
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
does when we focus on the illusory realm of "issues".
are the symptoms of the failure of the social contract, and
need and want to do is to renew that contract, from the ground
To do that we need a long and thoughtful discussion to
on, at the same time we fight all the other battles for
next years are going to place in front of us.
need to have faith in their
government, especially if they recognize that they,
that government*. The more faith the People of the
of America have in each other, and the less faith they have in
politicians, financiers and talking news heads on TV, the
all of us are going to be.
*a government of the
People, by the People, and for the
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
human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall
enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may
spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will
its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to
of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty,
ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that,
goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a
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)
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.
largest movement in the world came into being and why no one
coming, by Paul Hawken.