As readers of this blog may recall, I voted for the United Kingdom (UK) to leave the European Union (EU) in the referendum of 23rd June 2016 and set out my reasons here and here. Most anthroposophists I know took a different view and voted for the UK to remain in the EU.
Since then, it has been clear that Brexit has split the country in two, not along the traditional Conservative/Labour party lines but instead between families, communities, towns and countryside, old and young, between businesses large and small and between the home nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson have both failed to get their versions of a Withdrawal Agreement through the UK Parliament and with no other options on the table, there will now be a general election on 12th December.
It will probably be the most significant election in the lifetime of any UK citizen born since 1945. It will decide whether Brexit happens, whether Britain has the most left-wing or the most right-wing government in its history, whether the Scottish Nationalists are able to secure a second independence referendum and whether Britain’s two–party system can survive. Many people think the election result will fail to produce a clear majority for any party, an outcome which would mean that the Brexit agony is prolonged.
A former head of the UK’s secret intelligence service (MI6), Sir John Sawers, has said that the country is having “a political nervous breakdown.” Others have said that Brexit can be compared to an earthquake in which pent-up forces are suddenly released, tearing open new fault lines and energising old ones such as inequality, de-industrialisation, globalisation, imperial retreat, immigration and austerity. The divisions are deep, debate has too often descended into abuse and positions are entrenched on both sides of the argument.
Nor is this a phenomenon just confined to the UK; there is a wider fragmentation going on across the world. Europeans and Americans alike have grown disenchanted with politics as usual. In Europe, the financial crisis of 2008 and especially the refugee crisis of 2015 dealt a major blow to centrist parties that advocated open markets and open borders. Greeks resented the economic austerity measures imposed on them by the EU. Germans were not offered a vote on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow more than 1 million refugees into their country. As a result, many voters across Europe no longer view mainstream political parties as representing their interests. Far-right populist parties have been the biggest beneficiaries of this growing resentment. Today, such parties have a presence in 23 out of the 28 national parliaments of the EU.
Beyond Europe, we are seeing the unravelling of the international order and the realisation by many unscrupulous leaders that there are now few penalties for the breaching of what were hitherto regarded as international norms. Among the many unfortunate results of Donald Trump’s presidency is the undermining of NATO and the inculcation of a new sense of impunity in the leaders of countries such as Myanmar, Syria, Cameroon, Yemen, Turkey, Venezuela, Egypt, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, Nigeria, South Sudan and in many other places around the world. They have reached the conclusion that they can get away with actions that would previously have brought serious consequences upon their heads.
It is also now clear to me that the Russians under Vladimir Putin are working hard in myriad ways to break up the EU and that, for reasons about which we can only speculate, Donald Trump is working to their agenda.
In the UK, our experience since the Brexit vote has been one of national humiliation and the realisation that the British constitution is in crisis and our government has been no match for its counterparts in Europe. Alongside this, many of the institutions which we have hitherto seen as stable, are now showing signs of falling apart, including the royal family – the latest manifestation of this is the crisis over Prince Andrew and his friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein. It is entirely possible that this will lead to a drastic slimming-down of the royal family once the present 93-year old Queen has died, and perhaps there could even be some kind of a British republic in years to come. The UK itself could break up as a result of Brexit: it doesn’t take too much imagination to see Northern Ireland becoming part of a unified island of Ireland before long as a consequence of Boris Johnson’s proposed Brexit deal and the perceived betrayal of Unionist voters; and because of Brexit, Scotland is also pressing for a new referendum on independence from the rest of the UK.
But what is really going on behind all this turmoil? As an anthroposophist, I can’t avoid the thought that the kinds of division we are seeing here in the UK and around the world are precursor events for what Rudolf Steiner described in a lecture given in 1919 as the forthcoming incarnation of Ahriman. This is indicated by the finely balanced nature of the divisions, which make resolution through one side winning a clear majority very difficult to achieve, thus keeping everyone in a state of high tension and conflict for as long as possible. We see this phenomenon around the world, most obviously in the UK in Brexit but also in the USA in the chasm between Republicans and Democrats; and these divisions are happening everywhere one looks. Whatever can separate people into opposing groups, or alienate us from mutual understanding, or drive wedges between us, strengthens Ahriman’s impulse. Increasing fragmentation in society is one of the hallmarks of the operations of the adversarial powers.
In the meantime, I ask myself what Rudolf Steiner might be saying to us about Brexit, were he here to advise us. Insofar as Brexit has been inspired by populist nationalism, it is clear that Steiner would have seen it as unhelpful and retrograde. Steiner’s view on nationalism was that it was directly opposed to the Michael-impulse, which recognises that humanity is a living organism, the ‘human universal’, and which asks us to realise that we are free individual members of one body of humanity. If the Michael-impulse were to be taken up by humankind, as seems to be happening more and more, particularly with young people, then wars, economic exploitation and environmental degradation will come to be seen as anachronistic. Nothing, Rudolf Steiner states, can be really attained in our time through the forces of what he called a ‘Mars culture’, a warlike culture; and “what can make this epoch great must be brought about from the forces of the spiritual life.” 1 Steiner speaks of the fostering of nationalism as an idea implanted in human minds by Ahriman and states without ambiguity: “There is nothing more inimical to truth than nationalism.” 2 Untruth will prevail, the exact opposite of what we need today, as long as nationalism prevails.
There is an interesting paradox here that, despite the fact we are living through the most materialist epoch in human history, in which humans are cut off from a living connection to the spiritual world, it is in this fifth post-Atlantean age that we have the greatest possibility of making ourselves spiritual. We are seeing many signs of this already.
Insofar as Brexit has been inspired by popular revulsion at the lies of politicians (such as the late Edward Heath, the prime minister who in 1973 took us into what was then called the European Economic Community (EEC or Common Market) while telling us that it was simply an economic club), or the corporatist and anti-democratic structures of the EU, then Brexit could be seen as a phenomenon arising from what Steiner called the karma of untruthfulness.
My daughter asked me recently whether, if I had known back in 2016 what Brexit was going to lead to, would I still have voted the same way? My reply was that I still shared the viewpoint of statesmen such as Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Ernest Bevin and Charles de Gaulle that Britain is not a natural fit for membership of what they foresaw as the United States of Europe; and while I wished the EU well, I also couldn’t ignore its many flaws and downsides as listed in my earlier blog articles.
But my daughter’s question also made me realise that back in 2016 I had not given sufficient weight to the most important, the over-riding purpose of the EU: which, of course, is peace between the former warring nations of Europe. This aspect may have been glaringly obvious to many other people but it was not so clear to me, concentrated as I was on economic and environmental issues and the ‘democratic deficit’ in EU institutions. I now think that on balance I was wrong and that, despite all my misgivings about the EU, I should have voted to Remain – particularly given the Russian and Trump-inspired attempts to break up the EU.
I would have been able to do this with a good conscience in the 2016 referendum if the EU had shown the slightest sign that it recognised the need for fundamental reform; instead, after David Cameron’s failed round of negotiations in 2015 and early 2016, it sent him back to the UK without even a fig-leaf to cover his embarrassment. I think Steiner would also have recognised this difficult aspect of the EU, which is brought about by the tendency of the European Commission to behave as though it were a nation state in its own right – a perverse development of nationalistic thinking projected through and on behalf of all the nation states of the EU.
At Tablehurst Farm in East Sussex where I work, we have a small farm study group which has just finished reading and discussing Steiner’s lecture series, The Social Future, six lectures which he gave 100 years ago in Zurich on the theme of threefolding and social rebirth. Here is a passage from the sixth lecture, which is entitled National and International Life in the Threefold Social Organism. Steiner was speaking in 1919, in the context of the recent ending of the First World War but also in his experience of the building of the first Goetheanum in Dornach, where during the whole of the war, people of many nations had been working together without any lessening of understanding between each other despite the national tensions which were also certainly present.
“… Many people speak of the spirit today who do not know that the spirit must be interpreted. When the spirit is understood, it is found to be something which does not separate but unites men, because it can be traced back to the inmost being of man, and because one human being brings forth the same as another, and because he fully understands that other. So that when we actually spiritualise that which otherwise finds expression as individualism in the imagination of one people, the single peoples will become simply the manifold expression of that which, to spiritual perception, is one. Then, over the whole earth, people will find it possible to tolerate the different national peculiarities, because there will be no need for an abstract uniformity everywhere; the concrete one, found through spiritual perception, will find means of expression in manifold ways. By this means the many will be able to understand each other in the spiritual unity. Then, from the many kinds of understanding of the unity, they will be able to frame articles for a League of Nations, and then, out of the spiritual conditions, out of the spiritual understanding, legal statutes can arise which will unite the nations. Then in the individual peoples that will appear which is possible to every people, namely, interest in the production and consumption carried on by other peoples. Then through the spiritual life, the legal and judicial life of the peoples, one nation will really be able to develop an understanding of other nations and peoples over the whole earth. People must make up their minds to recognise the spirit in this department of life, or they will be obliged to renounce all hope of bringing about any improvement, no matter how well-intentioned their statutes may be.”
John Davy, who until his premature death from a brain tumour in 1984, was expected to succeed Francis Edmunds as director of Emerson College, wrote the following account:
“Steiner’s social thinking can be adequately grasped only in the context of his view of history, which he saw, in direct contrast to Marx, as shaped fundamentally by inner changes in human consciousness in which higher spiritual beings are actively participating. Just in this century, quite new experiences are awakening in the human soul. (Since Steiner’s time this is a good deal more apparent than it was then.) But we cannot expect to build a healthy social order except on the basis of a true and deep insight not only into the material but also into the soul and spiritual nature and needs of human beings as they are today.
These needs are characterised by a powerful tension between the search for community and the experience of individuality. Community, in the sense of material interdependence, is the basic fact of economic life and of the world economy in which it is embedded today. Yet individuality, in the sense of independence of mind and freedom of speech, is essential to every creative endeavour, to all innovation, and to the realisation of the human spirit in the arts and sciences. Without spiritual freedom, our culture will wither and die.
Individuality and community, Steiner urged, can be lifted out of conflict only if they are recognised not as contradictions but as a creative polarity rooted in the essential nature of human beings. Each pole can bear fruit only if it has its appropriate social forms. We need forms that ensure freedom for all expression of spiritual life, and forms that promote brotherhood in economic life. But the health of this polarity depends on a full recognition for a third human need and function, the social relationships between people which concern our feeling for human rights. Here again, Steiner emphasised that we need to develop a distinct realm of social organisation to support this sphere, inspired by a concern for equality – not equality of spiritual capacity or material circumstance, but that sense of equality that awakens through recognition of the essential spiritual nature of every human being. In this lies the meaning and source of every person’s right also to freedom of spirit and to material sustenance.”
Back in 2016 when I voted in the referendum, I took the view that the EU was unlikely to change because of the need for unanimous voting of all 28 member-states before a Treaty could be amended – in such circumstances, the UK would be better off on its own where, however difficult it might be to achieve worthwhile change, it was not totally impossible. Now, when I look at the leading advocates for Brexit (people such as Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Ann Widdecombe, Iain Duncan Smith) and ask myself whether, if they are in Parliament after 12th December they are likely to advance social forms “that ensure freedom for all expression of spiritual life” or that “promote brotherhood in economic life”, then the answer is sadly all too obvious.
By contrast, the EU’s human rights policy is focused around civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. It is there in some of its Treaties and Charters, and although these are sometimes honoured more in the breach than the observance, it is clear to me that it is within the EU that Steiner’s social thinking is more likely to be realised. So I now think that I was wrong to vote Leave on June 23rd 2016 – mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
1 Rudolf Steiner, quoted in Chapter 9 of Bernard Nesfield-Cookson’s book, Michael and the Two-Horned Beast
71 responses to “Brexit and the future in the light of Rudolf Steiner’s social thinking”
It takes courage and much soul searching to change one’s mind: bravo Mr Anthropopper. May we hope than many more people-not necessarily anthroposophists-may follow suit? And be able, publicly, to say, as you do:
“I was wrong about Brexit”?
All is not lost then. It is never too late to change, even minutes before a ballot box or a referendum. And to give one’s considered reasons for it.
Pollsters will be doomed.
Perhaps, even, a renewed vision for Europe, may emerge?
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Thank you, Jeremy, I very much appreciate you sharing your change of heart on this matter.
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Whether Jeremy has a change of heart on the matter of Brexit seems superfluous. He has simply gone over the edge, and yet, with a new election on 12 December, it only seems logical that a new government will still be unable to find a solution to Brexit. And yet, former PM, Theresa May, also called for a general election, when she didn’t have to, and she used it to create a plan for the exit of Britain from the European Union. Hers was called, The Chequers Agreement, and could have made the grade easily with acceptance.
Yet, it failed, and only proved that any measure to leave the EU will fail, including all of Boris Johnson’s efforts so far. Thus, a general election becomes a vicious cycle, wherein the only hope is to conform to the dictates of the EU, which is like a big brother, and why people are so happy to see that Jeremy has seen the error of his ways in voting back in 2016 to leave the EU. Maybe he’ll get a chance to recast his vote if a new referendum comes out of this latest election.
The Chequers plan wasn’t perfect, but it was reasonable, and was a start in the direction of Brexit. I like the fact that it came from her, and how she had aligned herself with Margaret Thatcher on it. Since it failed, then the future is dim in Britain. Nothing Johnson has proposed has come close, but May put it all on the line, and, of course, to utter defeat.
So, Britain, wherever you are, may God be with you.
Hello Jeremy, It is a big person who can admit to a mistake and I admire you for that. Yes, let us hope that the social, civil and cultural rights of the EU will ultimately prevail.
You also quote Churchill in previews posts and he himself was a great social reformer in spite of being an Imperialist but he was a Liberal at heart like his dear wife ‘Clemmie.’
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A well-thought and well-written post as always.
I do wonder whether we can think adequately about all this, mentioning the divisions and so forth, and the old labels, when according to Christopher Wylie (in the very recent book “Mindf*ck” about his time with and after Cambridge Analytica) we are dealing with psychological warfare techniques honed in the third world and now used on the UK and USA.
Using vast amounts of data to discern psychological vulnerabilities, one can now target a rather small number of people to provoke paranoia and rage and insulate these people with the feeling that a discussion of issues is an attack on themselves.
In another frame of reference this would be called a “war on the Holy Spirit” — who is, of course, also named “the comforter” and “the spirit of truth” in the gospels. That was the one sin that would not be forgiven.
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Thank you so much, Jeremy, for your courage! I did not read your blog until this moment would come. It’s not so important that you move from no to yes, but the liberation of positive energy comes from transcending the fixed yes-no position.
You quote Steiner writing in hopeful wording on the emergence of the League of Nations after World War I. That institute collapsed and World War II broke out. At the end of the second world war the international community of free states referred back to the First Hague Peace Conference in 1899 – which Steiner describes in his lectures in Berlin, 1905 – and the United Nations were established with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), 1948, as its angelic message. Although human evolution has brought forwards the Earth Charter (The Hague, 2000) and the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, Bolivia, 2010) to complement the anthropocentric UDHR, these initiatives are not (yet) supported by a civil society movement which equals the power of nation-states and the corporate world. Anthroposophy, in my opinion, is meant to be one of the spiritual cores of a broad social movement which will constitute that dynamic balance between states, business and civil society to save Earth. So, let’s liberate ourselves from state and corporate driven divisions and diverging power claims (not ignoring our responsibility to make choices in daily life including political reality in which we all make mistakes), and let’s try to play a leading role in bringing the enormous diversity of civil society together globally to turn the tide. At Tablehurst Farm and Emerson College you walk your talk and that gives you the ground under your feet and strong moral charisma to share leadership in bringing diverse people-driven movements together. I am looking forwards to your conference!
Thanks for your kind words, Hans, but the conference you refer to in your last sentence (this was one I was hoping to hold at Emerson College on the theme of ‘what comes after capitalism?’) is not now going to take place for a variety of reasons. But what I am planning to do is to show a film by Shaun Chamberlin called: The Sequel: What Will Follow our Troubled Civilisation? You can read a little more about it here: https://www.flemingpolicycentre.org.uk/the-sequel-what-will-follow-our-troubled-civilisation-first-chance-to-see/
Yes, Jeremy, the conference you proposed never took place, and that is sad for the fact of what is taking place today. You had a cause and a commitment, and had followers in this endeavor. Of course, some or even most of us were anthroposophists, so you can see almost the stern warning at the threshold: “enter only with a pure heart, mind, and logic, because the odds are enormous.”
Now, of course, the term, ‘Brexit’, is an oxymoron, which someone referred recently, and that is because it simply will not happen. The only time ‘brexit’ ever occurred is when the largely British colonization of America took place beginning in 1607 under James I. Steiner referred James to the birth of the consciousness soul in the early 17th century, ref. GA185.
So, in truth, any real ‘brexit’ represents the United States of America, which broke free in the 17th century. I suppose celebrating Thanksgiving here in America is a kind of testimonial to that fact.
Yet, I am thinking of former PM, Theresa May this day because she was Home Secretary at the time of the referendum vote called by David Cameron. Now, whether he was goaded or challenged into calling for this “simple majority” special referendum vote, he thought he had the commitment from the voters to remain, or stay with the EU constituency.
Of course, he was wrong, and duly resigned, although he could have seen it as a sign of the times, and an opportunity. This was his first mistake. To be a beleaguered PM early in his second term could have made all the difference in making Brexit a viable deal. Alas, he resigns, and Theresa May comes on the spot. Now, here is where we have a story for the ages. You see, she is much stronger than he. She accepts the vote of Brexit as a resolve to be realized and proceeds to attempt to make it real based on the vote of the people.
So, can anyone find any fault with May’s Chequers Agreement, which had looked into everything reasonably possible for a departure from the European Union? I found it quite reasonable, and it should have been enacted. It wasn’t perfect, but nothing is in this day and age. I found her heart and soul at the center of it, and it would have made a new beginning. Alas, she was forced to resign in tears,
I read your well thought-out article late last night before sleeping and now the next morning after letting your words simmer in my psyche overnight I have to tell you I think you have hit the nail on the head with your central contention; namely that all the social fragmentation we are increasingly seeing in the world is the direct manifestation of the incarnation of Ahriman foreseen by Rudolf Steiner around a hundred years ago.
Sergei Prokofieff came to Peru where I live to give some lectures back in 2011 and was gracious enough to give me a private meeting at Lima’s branch of the Anthroposophical Society. We talked for almost an hour and he asserted the same main idea that you have articulated so well. Following a question of mine as to how he perceived the future, he replied to the effect that much of humanity would keep on dividing itself into ever smaller groups each struggling for dominance, while by way of a counterforce there would also be an ever growing worldwide movement for awakening to core shared human values. Before parting ways I remember him stressing the need for the continuous cultivation of love and always maintaining a sense of humour.
I appreciate your efforts in putting out well reasoned articles. Do keep them coming!
PS I briefly worked at Tablehurst Farm while attending Emerson College back in the mid-70’s. John Davy was someone I respected very much at Emerson, he was always friendly and his comments insightful.
Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure that the incarnation of Ahriman is due just yet but, rather in the way that the incarnation of Jesus was preceded for around 500 years by all kinds of what might be called precursor indications, I think that the various phenomena we are seeing now are also indications of what is heading our way. Fasten your seatbelt, it’s likely to be a rough ride!
Would that ‘our rulers’ had the honesty and wisdom you have shown, Jeremy. For the past couple of years I have waited for your further thoughts on Brexit.
I fully respected your original choice and the reasons you gave for it. They helped me try persuade Remainer friends and relations to accept that not all Leavers were small minded racist bigots.
My father, an immigrant from Germany, was opposed to entry into the EEC in the 70s both on the ‘anthroposophical’ grounds expressed in Jeremy’s original essay and also because it had been so hard to get out of Germany and get British Citizenship.
Britain has become an unfunny joke for our Continental neighbours making it embarrassing to admit to being British.
Thanks for your comment – yes, Britain may well be a bit of a laughing stock at the moment, but I’m not sure it’s going to last; here, for example, is something brought through by a highly-evolved clairvoyant friend of mine, Annie Davison: “Brexit has truly turned not only Britain but also Europe and the wider world upside down, and we suggest that this event is part of a complete shake up of world energy. What’s more, we suggest that England is now in a position to open up a ‘window of opportunity’ towards loving kindness, and that England does, in fact, become the energetic holder of loving kindness.” There is a link to her website here: http://guidelines.uk.com/monthly-update/
Hello to everyone from Greece!
Dear Jeremy, I’d like to add to your well balanced article only this:
Thank you very much for the link. And thank you Ahriman for making it possible for me to read this important text.
You are welcome, John.
You are right, Ahriman can be very helpful when we find Christ.
Ahriman will not be pleased that his name has been brought into the discussion. Thank you for doing so. Ahriman gives us so many wonderful things that ‘make life easier’ ,easier to slip into ways that suit HIM.
R.S. was concerned by the way ‘the electrical world’ was expanding 100 years ago. And I LOVE the internet that allows me to read this blog as well as accessing ‘all the knowledge in the world’.( including Steiner’s lectures), exploring the world with Google Earth (saves a lot of travelling.) It is all too easy to forget to say:”Thank You Ahriman”,which would, no doubt, annoy him.
John Beck mentioned the Cambridge Analytica scandal- made possible by the Ahrimanic world wide web.
There is a scene in one of RS Mystery Dramas (??? which one- help) Where Ahriman is watching ‘Scientists’ doing something. The devilish assistants ask if they should give the scientists some help. Ahriman says that is not necessary, they will just destroy themselves.
The current social and political polarisation boosted by internet and instant communication seems a good example. Ahriman sneaked in the electricity and humans did the rest.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal broke after it was revealed to have supplied some of the data used in the Brexit campaign that upset the Remain camp’s attempts to buy the referendum.
The canny campaign run by Brexit was super-slim and highly targeted – and effective. This in comparison to the lumpen splurdge of the Remain campaign, which cost them upwards of 15x the cost.
They did have the power to ensure that Cambridge Analytica was put on the rack for doing something that was completely legal and above board… their problem was that the Remain didn’t like what they did. And in the world of Conservative politics, that kind of antipathy counts for a lot.
I spoke of the disastrous nature of the way the Conservatives have handled Brexit in a previous comment. Suffice it to say that in the press, which is pro-Conservative, it is difficult to see the wood for the trees, so to speak.
What is clear is that any sensible political party would not have wasted nigh on three years in trying to get EU leaders to change Barnier’s mind and Article 50… and all because the Conservative Party is riven with indecision over its policies towards Brexit.
Imagine now that Mrs May could have trusted her cabinet ministers with the work they should have done in order to achieve an orderly, sensible Brexit – and on time?
It’s an intersting article, but I think you make some very questionalble comments about world politics. First, you say that a most unfortunate result of Trump’s presidency is the undemining of NATO. Is it ? Reagan and
Gorbachev had agreed that NATO would not try to expand its influence
eastwards, but now it is trying push right up against Russia’s borders. Then
you say that there is a new sense of impunity in leaders of certain countries-you mention Venezuela,, Russia, China and Iran amongst others,
and you say that their leaders can get away with actions that would previously have brought serious consequences upon their heads, Sorry,
but this is nonsense, Venezuela was subject to a failed coup by the USA,
Russia and Iran have been subjected to harsh sanctions, as though sanctions themselves were not serious consequences. The US has been trying to cripple China’s economy without success. Steiner’s work is a hundred years old now, and he did not live in a time of the New World Order which is being actively pushed by the UN. Today’s resurgence of nationalism is a response to this. Steiner might have been thinking of Hitler’s nationalism. Steiner rightly talked of the battles between Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman, but it is Christian Russia, with Putin at the helm, which is leading the fight against the Luciferic New World Order.. This implies a certain nationalism, yes, but there is no alternative nowadays, and, if alive now,
I think Steiner would have supported Russia..If not, he surely would have contradicted himself.
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It’s good to keep in mind both the “Anglo-American world empire” that Steiner talked about, and that empire’s opposition to the East-Slavic role he reported in carrying the next great cultural epoch.
Things get very mixed here. The domestic USA struggles toward individual freedom, with increasing challenges of oligarchy and technocracy (or oligarchic technocracy); the international USA remains largely in the grip of economic world empire (which does not want to be seen as such).
Of course Putin is the most successful single oligarch on the planet today; so is opposing him the same as opposing Russia’s future? Might one oppose him on behalf of a different kind of Russian polity and culture emerging?
And is Russia the sole heart of the future East Slavic entity–or might that be Ukraine, which was the birthplace (Kievan Rus’) of East Slavic nationhood?
“Steiner would have supported Russia” — but Putin?
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John, you may well be right that it is unwise of Nato and Europe to have provoked Russia over Ukraine – it seems likely that this is one of the main causes of Russia’s various strategies to undermine Europe, including the Syrian refugee crisis. I find it difficult, however, to equate the Capo di tutti Capi, Vladimir Putin, with the leadership of a Christian nation.
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Putin may not be leader of a christian nation (whatever that is), but the Russian people may be carrying christianity deep in their hearts, and maybe they are less shadowed by materialism then people in the west. (I cannot comment on China).
Russia is clearly a gangster state. It may also be true that the ‘capo di tutti capi’ is the right person in the right place at the right time.
When Steiner speaks of Zarathustra he comments how during that soul’s leadership of the great Persian civilisation Zarathustra had to work in ways that we would today find difficult to accept.
When I look at Putin I feel I see a more authentic human being (this does not mean I approve of his actions), whereas when I look at Trump he is more like a vacant space in which evil (demonic) impulses come to expression. There is a lack of humanity in Trump which is more disturbing than the despotic behaviours of Putin.
I think I know what you mean about Trump – there’s an automaton-mode of talk that many politicians slip into, usually when they are using words to deflect or achieve an end result, and eventually lose even the pretense of speaking truth, and he seems like a very extreme case; it’s his default type of consciousness. Very much as if animated by other forces, as you say.
But it’s hard to look at the Orthodox Church (in this case) or the Russian people lend support to Putin – if they see forces antithetical to their Christianity and support him as a bulwark to this, but in so doing introduce into themselves other different but equally anti-Christian forces, surely they’ve set a rot to work within themselves where their faith will eventually no longer be able to root or find a home.
Not unique to Russia, of course.
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(reply to John, in case this comment appears in the wrong spot as happened earlier)
Thank you for mentioning that about Venezuela – absolutely shameful how the international community acted in compliance with Trump. The country has been put under what is effectively a siege by the US.
However, with regard to China, his motives may be questionable but I cannot regard anything that isolates this regime other than favourably – one million put in concentration camps for ‘re-education’, credible reports of forced organ donations, torture, rapes… for those outside allocation of actual government agents in their homes, forced marriages, destruction of cultural artefacts, entire vernacular communities and places of worship bulldozed, forced marriages – ethnocide, in fact.
That’s before we even begin to look at the orwellian nightmare in the country at large (‘social credit’…)
Why any nation on earth is even trading with these monsters – the CCP – I don’t know.
When you say, “Reagan and Gorbachev had agreed that NATO would not try to expand its influence eastwards” this was more than just an agreement; it was a treaty they signed.
Treaties, as you know, are where both parties make that treaty law in their own country.
Naturally, with the US being the power that it is, and thus can do what it likes when it likes because nobody can stop them, they decided to break their treaty obligations. This was partly to annoy their allies in Europe, who stick to their agreements because it is their best defence against their closest ally, the US.
In fact, it is this which has been a boon to Russia, in that it has abided by its trade and treaty obligations to the letter. (Unless you believe the tripe in the US/UK media, that is – but then, would the British reader beleieve the truth about Russia??) Whatever else, the European leaders DO believe Russia, despite all the media says. Twenty five years of abiding by their treaty obligations makes Russia the enemy everybody wants on their borders. Imagine the US abiding by its agreements? Just yesterday they did what they do best and threatened France with 100% import duties if they did not behave…
‘Then through the spiritual life, the legal and judicial life of the peoples, one nation will really be able to develop an understanding of other nations and peoples over the whole earth.’
He mentions ‘nations’ here – do you distinguish between Nations and nationalism ? I certainly do.
Nations are organic growths, cultural cognates of ecosystems, and spiritual in their nature. Recognising & loving one – without a ‘selfism’ swollen to encompass a larger collectivity – leads inevitably to recognising and loving all others.
We should be harmonising what is different, not obliterating difference, which is what the EU without any shadow of a doubt and despite the lipservice they pay in the cultural sphere is doing. If it is imagined that it was set up to bring an end to conflict this can only be accepted by the rational intellect if you accept that any centralising empire that supsumes it’s fellows is similarly laudable. There are many other kinds of conquests than the kind that use bloodshed and military duress.
The populations of the Earth are in an engineered flux. When Europe no longer exists (the meaning of the name will be changed), if anything exists elsewhere on the earth of spiritualiy and culture they will be targetted next. I love the people and nations of Africa & Asia as much as my ‘own’. They are my neighnpbours and relations. I cherish our distinctions
What we are in fact seeing, and what I think Steiner saw too, in his uniquely oblique and, I believe, fitful and partial insights (perhaps as spoke about in Dornach on 20th October ’23), is the preparation of much of world for a dehumanised future. Nature will be managed as a food producing and climactic machine. Nature for it’s own sake will be seen as redundant. The type of totalitarianism that we can see in China towards the Uighurs (that featured last night on the bbc) is an extreme version of what I see all around us today. The only thing I can see in opposition is the petrified tyrannous racial nationalism in India, Russia and sporadic yet increasing manifestations in the west, which are so far along the opposite track from the globalist/collectivist-type phenomonen that they meet it at the other end – they are obverse faces of the same thing.
For all Steiner’s sensitivy to ‘jesuitism’, he remained – or seemed to me, I’m not certain – peculiarly numb to the collectivist elitism of the masonic groups which he for instance lectured and had some form of relations with (and it their descendants or bodies modelled or adapted from the same templates that we’re dealing with today): pyramidal power structures predicated on the enlistment subjugation and spiritual arrest of the greater body of people (cultures, ideas, nations, spiritual impulses…) at the bottom of the pile. He (Steiner) while I believe was certianly a good man did not have unalloyed perception & was capable of great error (Reuss…).
I don’t think Steiner’s words on these matters can be taken uncritically or mechanically applied to events today – there could be a specific relevance to the competitive and poisonous nationalism of blood and border exclusivity at play in the late 19th/early 20th c, for instance.
The problem with Brexit is its stupid name, for starters.
And then, and primarily, it is rejection and not an affirmation – I stated earlier here that Sovereigny means, or should mean the devolution of responsibility and freedom from above to everything that is below, much as is seen in little in the growth from childhood to adulthood, or any other of countless instances at levels parochial or cosmic. Leaving the european union should be an affirmation of sovereignty, and this by it’s very nature means the affirmation of sovereignty itself for our neighbours, fellow nations and peoples. Once this is a heart-knowledge all the ills that can come from imperialism, colonialism, migration imbalance (migration – ‘im’ or ’em’ – properly is a communion, a respiration between peoples as sybiosis – it is never an evil when it is balanced with full respect for sovereignty of both parties – which does, despite the insanity that is prevalent on the matter today – entail not obliterating through force of numbers the destination country).
I’m not British. I welcomed your vote and hoped it would be the beginning of a transformation across not just Europe but the world, an affirmation against the malign forces that have twisted global community into globalism. Despite the tarnish that it has undergone in the last three years, there is still hope – but it is not enough for the people of the nations of Britain to just push through the technical achievement of leaving the e.u., there has to be a choosing ‘of’ something positive, not just a rejection of what is ill that creates a vacuum that can be filled by same or worse negative forces.
There are great aspects to part of what has been achieved under the era of the e.u. (which is going to end – this cannot be doubted and I think this is referred to here in the second part of your piece), grounds for a real future to be built. But these have been despite not because of the collective mono-ism of the e.u.
As much as defenders of the e.u. deny that this mono-ism is at its heart and despite all the shallow espousals of culture and tradition, the very reason d’etre of the institution leads inevitable into it. It is its very structure.
It’s not so much that the devil is in the detail, as Ahriman is in the architecture.
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Sorry, Jeremy (& please excuse the rushed effort in my last comment, unfinished sentences, spellings & so on), one thing you said hits the nail on the head –
” this difficult aspect of the EU, which is brought about by the tendency of the European Commission to behave as though it were a nation state in its own right – a perverse development of nationalistic thinking projected through and on behalf of all the nation states of the EU.”
That’s the whole point – you are surely aware that it not just a ‘tendency’ on the part of the commission ? There are dozens of pronouncements from all of the e.u.-iterations, from its inception to the present, that declare what you descibe as a tendency to be its prime aim. Which is why ‘reform’ isn’t possible, only the extrication of the positives of harmony and co-operation that have been achieved (albeit as mere side-effects or enticements) so that something new can be built.
Hello Luke, The democratic deficit in the EU is by no means insoluble – it just takes creative thought and political will. Here are some excellent suggestions from Ferdinand Mount in an article which appeared in the London Review of Books on 21st March 2019:
“For years, critics have pointed out the ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU. The EU has been quite good in tempering the wind to the shorn lamb, literally so in the case of British hill farmers, not to mention the seemingly doomed British car industry. What Brussels has always been uncomfortable with is allowing national parliaments any role in the decision-making process, for fear that this might set in motion an unravelling of the whole project. The Treaty of Lisbon (2009) offered some modest adjustment, in the shape of the ‘yellow card’ procedure, which allows national parliaments to object to a draft European law, but only on the grounds of subsidiarity, i.e. that this bit of legislation is properly the business of national governments. Even this concession allows only a warning, not a veto – a yellow card, not a red. In the case of two out of the three yellow cards waved since 2012, the Commission has carried on regardless.
Instead, voters are offered the European Parliament as a substitute. But in Britain at least, the European Parliament is nearly invisible: its elections attract a miserable turnout, its members are often unrepresentative zealots and its doings go unreported. It’s not difficult to think of plausible reforms. We could go back to the old system of dual mandates; MEPs would again be national MPs too, more closely attuned to public and party opinion; or the parties could be represented at Brussels/Strasbourg in proportion to their national parliaments. Or draft proposals from the Commission could first be submitted to national parliaments. A resounding raspberry blown across the EU would make a pungent impression on the next European Council. Or the Commission could set up citizens’ assemblies across the EU to explore local preferences on upcoming issues. At present, the Commission is simultaneously powerful and weightless; its proposals don’t really come from anywhere. There are plenty of other possibilities. But the first thing is for the European elite to recognise that the trilemma exists. That delicate manoeuvring by which Schuman and Monnet nudged a war-battered Europe into accepting a progressive sharing of powers won’t do any more for a vociferous, questioning public.”
Democracy is never complete, but always work in progress, and I hope that the EU will learn the lesson from Brexit and recognise that reform is needed.
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Hi & thanks, Jeremy
– I agree, and decades of co-operation has given ample soil to work from and grow something.
But what can we do when the commission, council of europe and the other principal architects and rein-holders have openly (amazingly) stated that the people cannot be trusted with decision making ? That the e.u. is designed to do away with nation-states ? (I’m not wedded to the idea of nation-states at all, in fact, I think they are abstractions that have sprung-off from community-cultural expression, but necessary as vehicles to mediate our lives. I do believe they will/would naturally fall away in time – the e.u. seems to seek to take this abstraction a degree further and try to make a frozen permanence of it. It’s hard to explain – in the same way ‘money’ should exist to merely mediate transaction but has been abstracted into stand-alone ‘wealth’ [or ‘illth’, as Ruskin called it], the state should merely be the medium to tranlate infra- &inter-national/cultural deeds and expression, but the e.u. has made a self-existing idol of it. This, I feel, is the reason for our intuitive uneasiness at the ‘super-state’, that I think you have maybe also felt.)
As you said earlier, we were all lied to about this – we were told it was something else entirely. It was entirley unmandated. This is closed-room governance by an initiatory group who have fixed aims that for them over-rule and supercede literally everything else.
It would require the identification, removal of power and containment of this inner society to make something of the situation. We’re all aware of the end-game in sight – it is something almost every citizen in every european country over thirty would have rejected outright earlier in their lives. Fear of some of the alternatives (which are not themselves inevitable), apathy, general surrender to the slipstream and the pressure (not to be underestimated) of conforming with the prevailing social/political forces, etc. have led a lot of people into varying degrees of compliance-to-support.
But is it really desirable to surrender ourselves to a supra-governance by Technocracy. Even using the words looks like the sign of someone unhinged having a rant, but the commission themselves have used them to descibe their aims.
It seems to me like a dereliction of our duty to accede to this.
The generation-spanning aims of the core-society in the ‘project’ are impervious to suggestion of any alteration to the design. It is something they believe pre-eminent and to supercede individual and collective will.
And this is just what has been achieved or revealed so far. What is the end-game ? Do we want it ?
We could, as a first step, try making cross-national co-operatives of our own that exist outside and contra- to the e.u., european and global movements of real freedom and amity. The whole thing is exhausting and terrifying, but if we honestly look at the momentum and trajectory of the ‘project’ we can pretty well ascertain where it’s headed, and very, very few of us want it, now, in honesty, whatever surrender to it we may make in the future, echoing the ones we’ve already made.
As for the U.K. election – non-choices in most respects, despite the smattering of decent people there may be in the various parties (the line dividing good and evil seems to cut across and perpendicular to that between ‘left’ & ‘right’). And in an important way I think the motivation behind one’s stance either for or against leaving the e.u. transcends the particular choice.
You are at the forefront of something very difficult which we’re all experiencing. All we can try to do is keep our hearts clean and try for what we believe to be the proper path. I’m clogging up your page with too-long comments, God bless.
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Luke’s comments are really invaluable.
Friends, please, take also in your considerations the following article:
As Anthropos and Greek, I co-sign the major part of it!
Thanks to Luke for mentioning the Council of Europe which gets far less publicity than the EU but has still done some significant positive work for European Society. It was set up in 1949 essentially to
– to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;
– to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity
– to find common solutions to the challenges facing European society: such as discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, bioethics and cloning, terrorism, trafficking in human beings, organized crime and corruption, cybercrime, violence against children;
You can find out more about it here:
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Fantastic achievements. All of which can be achieved without abolishing local sovereign democracy. Pax Romana etc.
I assume you actually read what I wrote and weren’t attributing the first three ‘challenges’ to me.
After a re-read, that last sentence was a groundless remark, which I take back & apologise for.
Thank you, Rambler, very interesting perspective! I found a related article with must read information http://theconversation.com/uk-human-rights-act-is-at-risk-of-repeal-heres-why-it-should-be-protected-111368
By the way, the “League of Nations” Steiner mentions in his lecture, Zurich, 1919, quoted by Jeremy, may refer to “a” League. The actual League of Nations was established in 1920 rooted in the ideas of President Woodrow Wilson. Steiner objected self-determination of nation-states as the core principle of international collaboration. Like more spiritual leaders of his age he pleaded for global citizenship. That’s still not the way the UN is organised; therefor the call for a bicameral UN, with a more direct representation of the people, citizens or civil society in a parallel body to the General Assembly. A short-cut would be to change the mandate of the still existing Trusteeship Council towards an “Earth Trusteeship Council”.
Anyhow, reform and spiritualization of international institutions, including the EU, is of course constantly needed. The more that is an inclusive process, so UK also a driving force in it, the more appropriate our institutions will be to tackle climate emergency, growing inequality and loss of cultural integrity. And I learned that Russia and Turkey are also member states of the Council of Europe.
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”Steiner objected self-determination of nation-states as the core principle of international collaboration. Like more spiritual leaders of his age he pleaded for global citizenship.”
Hi – this is something I’ve had a problem with; what was the basis of Steiner’s repudiation of the idea of self-determination ?
The only thing I’ve read is some pieces where he alleges hypocrisy on the part of those (Wilson & others) who called for it, saying that the smaller nations would merely fall under the ambit (in a negative sense) of their larger neighbours.
He was probably (almost certainly) right about that, but did he provide anywhere else a more sufficient explanation of his reasons for opposing what is to most people (or was until recently) a self-evident truth ?
Actually, can I modify my question ?
Your actual words referred to Steiner objecting to nation states as ‘the basis’ of international co-operation.
That makes a bit more sense and is certainly more defensible – the individual rights and freedoms of everyone (sovereignties) are certainly the basis of the only rational way that an international community can be built – the nation-state is a tool of a particular localised community of people with an sypathetic ecology of shared similarites and differences, but by itself is an abstraction and their can be no ‘community of nation states’ any more than there can be a community of robots or of toasters.
The nation-state, properly, is a mechanism existing at the apex of an upside-down triangle (I mean, what is on top is of most importance- the free individuals, the pooling of affinities is expressed in a hierarchy that is of less importance than it’s members.)
Thus, the parallel communion between any two or more individuals regardless of their creed, ethnicity or language matters more than the interactions of nations. This enlarged is the world’s community.
It is a continuum along the horizontal. Along the wider breadth, where the ‘triangles’ meet and overlap.
But – the collective affinities within nations do really exist, and are the expression of spirit – language, music, culture, history, and relation (a thing related to but other than ‘race’ because it is not closed, cannot be ‘diluted’ because it rejects an a-priori of fixed definition present in that kind of thinking as abhorrent.) This creates expressions of groups of individuals, which have come to various kinds of expression, one of which is the nation-state (distinct from the ‘nation’, a little like how we can regard the people of the Americas as the collection of ‘first nations’)
The danger has always been the inversion of this process – the ‘tool’ subjugates the ‘nation’, the minority in the narrower part of the triangle identify with the abstraction, and see the collectively free individuals as abstractions. This can happen in any colective grouping or interest, not solely ‘states’. In the case of nation states, the tendency is ideally counter-acted by affirming community, self-sacrifice etc., expressed latterly through collective action via democracy . The widening recognition of the sovereignty of others strengthens ideas of fellowship along the ‘wider-breadth’ – global community, without impinging on collective expressions of sovereignties other than our own.
So, did Steiner mean that the nation state should be abolished ?
Did he or can anyone explain why a collective State assembled could either (a) hope to in practical terms express and protect the diverse elements of component parts from which it is so far removed, (mass-merging destroys all particulars), & (b) avoid the negative tendency already present in nation-states or other institutions to the kind of inversion into abstraction I’ve tried to descibe ?
A collective institution at the ‘hierarchical’ level (above nations) can certainly – should certainly – exist. But only if it does not at the same time try to exist ‘above’ in the other, proper sense – interposed between individual’s (all of us as people) sovereignties and the ‘collective’ exprssions we inherit and achieve, or worst of all, try to set it’s own ‘sovereignty’ above that of the free human being.
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As I understand him, Steiner’s objection to nationalism was that it joins an ethnic-linguistic group with state power. In tune with that, Steiner objected to the “self-determination of nations” because he thought it would exacerbate the very problem — ethnic conflict — that had led to the First World War. Steiner objected to nationalism because he did not want to see Austria-Hungary broken up into a dozen different ethnically based nations. He wanted instead for Austria-Hungary to remain whole but be federalized, threefolded, and democratized. For example, he wanted Slav parents to have the right to choose schools that would teach their children in their own languages. Austria-Hungary required Slavs and other ethnic groups to educate their children in German or Hungarian. That was one factor that perpetuated ethnic tension. Steiner wanted parents to have self-determination and to freely pick schools and churches. Steiner said the self-determination of the individual, individual freedom in cultural questions, was what was needed and what would permit many different ethnic groups to live together in harmony. The First World War had been based in significant part on ethnic conflict between the Austro-Hungarian empire and Slavs both within and bordering that empire. To break up the Austro-Hungarian empire into the dozen or so ethnic groups of which it was composed would only magnify the problem rather than solve it, because each resulting little nation would still have minority ethnic groups within it. Different ethnic groups lived together throughout Austria-Hungary, so no neat divisions of territory were possible. Partly because of that, Steiner wanted to separate culture (education, science, art, religion — but also ethnic and linguistic culture) from state power. He thought the Austro-Hungarian state could thereby become an example of many different ethnic groups and cultures living together creatively and peacefully. He thought it was the ugliest and most repulsive sort of barbarism to reduce individuals to their ethnicity.
None of this necessarily means Brexit is bad. The situation today is very different from what it was in 1919. Although multiculturalism is a wonderful thing, it can be disastrous if it goes so far as to admit large numbers from a culture that tends to destroy multiculturalism and to impose an authoritarian monoculture. Has that been slowly creeping up on Europe? Many Muslims of course are good and tolerant and completely innocent people, but Islam itself as evinced in its core texts (Qur’an, Hadith, Sira) is I think a totalitarian system that has destroyed many cultures in the past and imposed an authoritarian monocultural ethos that over time inexorably and brutally pushes out everything else. A “reformation” — meaning a return to the purity of the core texts — won’t help, it will only give you the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia, or something like the Islamic State. One may reasonably hope that all those who worry about the growth of Islam are wrong to worry so much, or if they are not wrong, that immigration from Muslim lands will be greatly reduced. One does not want to see the liberal Western values of European civilization getting crushed within a couple of generations due to the vast demographic changes developing in Europe due to the influx of huge numbers of Muslims. Perhaps it would be good to have a moratorium — not on Muslim immigration — but on immigration from any nations that do not protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Such a policy would limit immigration not just Islamic nations but also from China and perhaps even from parts of Europe. There could of course be exceptions for oppressed minorities who support freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and exceptions perhaps for some scientists. Such an immigration policy might not only help secure Europe’s liberal traditions but might also place salutary pressure on authoritarian nations to start protecting freedom of speech and freedom of religion. (I wonder if a comment such as this in the UK can get a Brit in legal or other trouble. I am a US citizen, however, so if such limits on thought and discussion exist in the UK, they in any case do not apply to me. If they do apply to this blog, and my post is censored by the blogs’ administrator/creator, I hope that will in some way be indicated here, perhaps by a note indicating that the thoughts and concerns I expressed might perhaps be reasonable, but expressing them is legally risky under British law, so the blog felt obliged not to publish them.)
Steiner’s “three-membered social organism” argues that cultural, political, and economic matters need to be organized in different ways, each being open to all individuals. The economic is about human needs and should involve all of us on an altruistic basis, sisterhood, brotherhood. The political involves rights and security and should be worked out on the basis of equality of all persons. The cultural is about the development of individuals and should be libertarian in the sense of Emerson’s “self-reliance.” These do not fit together under the roof of the unitary state.
Theory apart, the target of geopolitical machinations to which Wilson was a witting or unwitting party was the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. To put it esoterically, an archangel leads a language group, and a nation that brings together multiple such groups reaches higher, into the realm of the directions of human development. If you look at cultural developments in the decades before 1914, Austria-Hungary was a fantastic source of new developments.
The Austrian archduke and heir apparent who was assassinated at Sarajevo in 1914 was an advocate of a triple monarchy: Austrian (Germanic), Hungarian, and Slavic. Austria-Hungary included large western and southern Slavic groups. There was significant ethnic mingling.
Yet the American professor-president Wilson put forward the slogan “national self-determination of peoples.” This only applied in Europe, of course, and selectively there. Czechoslovakia was the poster child for this, and had wonderful spokesmen. But the country that was created had large German groups on the west which opened the door to Hitler’s aggression, and after 1989 it became clear that Czechs and Slovaks didn’t really feel like one country.
In a unitary state the political dominance brings cultural dominance and economic advantage–and so leads to endless grievances. If culture is free across borders, and economics is maintained for everyone’s benefit and globally connected, then rights and security agreements can be made and enforced fairly and without wars.
Thanks for the interesting answer.
‘To put it esoterically, an archangel leads a language group, and a nation that brings together multiple such groups reaches higher, into the realm of the directions of human development. ‘
I don’t think it’s polite to come to an anthroposophical arena as an outsider to criticise it but this is something that rings false – if it’s the ‘technical’ nation, it is the apparatus of State. This in itself has no inner existence it is only a conduit. It is a membrane within which there is an affiliation of peoples from which and into which there is intercourse between similar bodies. It also has a defined existence, demarcated by the affiliation(s) – language, culture and so on. If the membrane – a non-rigid border, a liminal transition-line between differing conditions and qualities – ceases to exist, the ‘body’, ‘organ’, both the dry, practical husk of the apparatus of State and the living interior from which it sprung will be fundamentally altered, it will either quickly form a composite with other ‘organs’ (where there will be both losses and gains) or if the outer elements and substantially greater than itself, it will cease to exist – the qualities and particulars won’t survive.
To some extent this process is inevitable, there are smaller and larger instances of it occurring in many spheres. But, if we value the great variety of qualities that exist in mankind recognition of these distinct spheres needs to be maintained.
The larger the macro-unit, the less appropriate it is as a vehicle for the local – governance must always be bottom-up, which is whay there should always be a ‘thinning’ of competences the further up we move in the taxonomy of institutions towards the global (but at the same time these are strengthened by conforming to verities that exist at the small and individual – rights-based recognition of the sovereign freedom, well-being, etc of individuals).
‘In a unitary state the political dominance brings cultural dominance and economic advantage–and so leads to endless grievances.’
– This remains the case if the unitary state is not defined by a particular culture. There is also ‘neuter’-form of imperialism or dominance.
The world is composed of masses of free people whose hands hold and feet touch on the common ground of community on earth.
The ‘superstate’ subverts this by inverting the star-shape into an pentagram form with the head at the nether.
If there’s an apparent confusion in these descriptions, and in our feelings towards the e.u. (and the complex of networks of which it is a part) it’s because it resembles (as a mirror of) how things should be, but with all the relations reversed, ascending where they should be descending, and vice versa.
‘Our aim is the absorption of [the human] will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. […]
all the talk about His [God’s] love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propoganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want […] creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to him but still distinct.
Lewis was so brilliant. The passage you quote is wonderful.
More than his essays, I love his fiction. Not only Narnia and the sci-fi Trilogy, but also The Pilgrim’s Regress, and The Great Divorce, and The Dark Tower. Screwtape and also Till We Have Faces are my least favorite novels of his. Screwtape is sort of a hybrid between fiction and essay. Till We Have Faces, as I recall it, is far less visual and concrete than his other novels. I found it hard to know what is transpiring in that book’s story.
it is very hard to understand your super abstract way of reasoning. And I have no context, I don’t know who you are, what you do, where you live, what you pursue in life … it is very hard to “picture” what you say as a reality.
Nation-states are based on political power, economic self-interest and the privilege of violence. The spirits of peoples don’t fit well in that and if they do, in a process of political self-determination because there is no other path for emancipation, they tend to become malicious. Indeed nation-states construct stories, feelings, loyalties etc. similar to those of the spirits of peoples.
But self-determination along peoples’ lines, rooted in blood relationships, is also something of the past. What we can (or learn) is co-create intentional communities and networks, social enterprises, but now along inherent patterns of eco-systems, which of course are overlapping. So, no strict borders, but self-restraint. What is also new in our era is that we need real global governance in the face of climate emergency. That does not mean that I want “to get rid of” the nation-state, but the existing ones, including their inter-governmental structures (like Europe and the UN) have to follow new patterns and serve eco-systems rather than violence protected economic self-interest. In a universal perspective as you say, if I am not wrong. The question is whether Brexit or Remain, whatever will result from the elections, will contribute to this “new world order” or undermine it (like most present day nation-states do).
What puzzles me is why in England the Green Party is so small. Because that would be the liberating impulse for a real radical middle way as an alternative to the conservative and old-fashioned socialist dual streams. Look at the collaboration between New Zealand, Iceland and Scotland.
While I would have much more confidence in a coalition of a strong Green Party with the socialists than with the conservatives/neo-liberals. However, we do not need in the first place nationalization, though some public services can be managed in that way. We need indeed transformation to an economic system, based on the spirit of “the commons”. Or sister- and brotherhood guiding the economic dynamics. As in the classic threefold Steiner vision.
Maybe inadequacy of expression rather than abstractness was the problem?
‘self-determination along peoples’ lines, rooted in blood relationships, is also something of the past.’
– it’s not principally ‘blood relationships’, it’s common culture, language, music and so on – these things aren’t locked to ‘outsiders’, often someone can feel a real deep affinity with spheres outside the one he was born into, but they generally fall along geographic and inherited (remembering we can be ‘heirs’ outside of blood relationships) lines. If these lines are ignored, as practically becomes the case in globalist and (current) e.u. systems, all these qualities are destroyed.
It can’t be doubted that at the higher levels of the e.u. this is not only realised but desired. They openly state their desire to do away with the nation state.
Sometimes they say one thing and do another, such as the Council of Europe’s various directives on the protection of heritage and landscape and so on, counteracted by the CAP.
I hold out no hope for the e.u. in so far as it was shaped by these upper echelons and as long as they direct it. Every positive in it can be taken from the ‘ever-closer union’/superstate agenda and made into something truly good, and widened beyond just europe, but not while the machine is engineered as it is.
‘existing ones, including their inter-governmental structures (like Europe and the UN) have to follow new patterns and serve eco-systems rather than violence protected economic self-interest. ‘
– I agree entirely.
‘The question is whether Brexit or Remain, whatever will result from the elections, will contribute to this “new world order” or undermine it (like most present day nation-states do).’
– indeed, though there is no reason for nation states to undermine international harmony and mutual well-being. I think we can only recognise and value what is ‘other’ and different while fully remaining ‘ourselves’. We probably don’t have the exact same things in mind when we’re talking about nations, nation-states, etc.
It’s worth noting, too, that some very undesirable things usually go under the ‘new world order’ moniker. I presume you mean something else.
The Green Party, which I once supported, has changed a lot lately (the past fifteen years) and seems to have adopted the Neoliberal economic model of ever-increasing production for ever-increasing consumption by an ever-increasing population, thinking that moves to ‘sustainability’ will somehow facilitate this perpetual increase. Former members of the party have spoken about shifts in emphasis, new careerists entering the party and so on, but even back in the 80s there were some worrying individuals in some of the european Green movements (https://www.neweurope.eu/article/green-party-candidate-embroiled-paedophilia-scandal/) I don’t think, especially in the light of recent events, that you need to be conspiratorially-minded to see a deep connection with this heinous transgression and the deeper currents that seek to do away with all form that express themselves in the economic sphere in neoliberalism.
One reason for the (relatively) small support for the Green Party is the ‘divide & conquer’ political situation (like the U.S.) – the (de facto) bi-partisan situation cuts across right and wrong and affilliates voters on either side not just with the particular good which they hold dear from personal sympathy, but with evils grafted on to their ‘side’ – we fail to recognise or make excuses for our own when the evils on the other side seem so much worse . Polarisation forces most voters into one or other of the greater factions with little room for nuance.
‘We need indeed transformation to an economic system, based on the spirit of “the commons”. ‘
True and beautifully put.
It is always refreshing to find Midnight Rambler’s clear and factual reminders of the good actually achieved by enlightened and honourable governance. I am referring to the implementation of legislation and cooperation by the EU in every area that Midnight lists as being a significant concern of The Council of Europe. If the United Kingdom leaves the EU what will happen to all those important synergies developed over more than more than half a century?
I hope that anyone who is still minded to vote for leaving the EU, either by voting for Boris, or by voting to leave in a second referendum (if there is one), will be mindful of the threat to our environment, to our economy and to our general well-being when they vote.
I have never felt that Steiner was at all supportive of democracy. It seems to me that all the institutions he founded were forms of oligarchy. Certainly they all seem to repudiate voting as a way of arriving at a decision. And he queered the pitch by creating at least one secret group within the anthroposophical movement which may have its own agenda. We had the discussion on this blog before about The Circle (Jugend Jreis).
Hi Tom, you wrote:
“I have never felt that Steiner was at all supportive of democracy. It seems to me that all the institutions he founded were forms of oligarchy. Certainly they all seem to repudiate voting as a way of arriving at a decision. And he queered the pitch by creating at least one secret group within the anthroposophical movement which may have its own agenda. We had the discussion on this blog before about The Circle (Jugend Jreis).”
I don’t know that he specifically created that group in order for it to have a kind of “secret agenda”, but I do remember the conversation. Oh, for the much simpler days when we could discuss pure esotericism from an anthroposophical perspective. What Steiner was after, while fully aware of democratic aims, was a more global form of “cosmopolitan internationalism”, which included embracing his realist-idealism for the forming of a new pedagogy in education. This was his school at Stuttgart. I don’t think he ever repudiated the vote in the general sense of governance, but his several years of conducting important faculty meetings at the Waldorf School in Stuttgart, c. 1919 – 1924, demonstrated that he clearly knew how to solve problems by listening to all sides, and then making the final decision. Now, that is what a leader does, and especially one with a deep vision. Why wait for a vote?
Which is how the e.u. runs. In our republics we have as the foundation that the people are sovereign, the various e.u. treaties have when faced with this obstacle appended clauses and amendments stating that ‘no law [in the national Constitution] shall contravene those of the european union’.
Which removes democracy at its root.
I’ve never quite understood where the actual powers and mandate of governance would be vested in Steiner’s threefolding, but it’s become apparent why the the e.u. is so popular among (some) anthroposophists.
A ‘dictatorship by initiates’, no thanks.
To put it politely.
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In all his writings about the threefoldment of the social order, Steiner was utterly clear in explaining that in the realm of the state, democracy must rule. A few quotations:
The “rights state, with its legislature and administration, will be built up on those human impulses which nowadays go by the name “democratic.””
“The democratic foundation of the rights state being concerned with what touches all men equally, there will be a watch kept to see that property rights do not in the course of time become property wrongs.”
— Above, from R. Steiner’s main book on social questions, in the translation titled The Threefold Social Order.
Below, quotes very clearly supporting democracy in Steiner’s lecture series The Social Future:
“that idea [the threefold social order] embodies the determination to do full justice to those demands which have shown themselves in the unfolding of history. Those demands, three in number, have come to be regarded as party cries, but if we look for their true meaning we shall find that there is an authentic historical impulse contained in them. These three demands contain the impulse of liberty in human life, the impulse towards DEMOCRACY, and the impulse towards a social form of community.
But if these three demands are taken seriously they cannot be mixed up together under a single administration, because the one must always interfere with the other. If the cry for DEMOCRACY has any real meaning at all, everyone must acknowledge that it can only flourish in a representative body or parliament, where every single man and woman of full age, being placed on an equality with his fellows, with every other adult in the DEMOCRATIC State, can make decisions from his own judgment.
Now, according to the idea of the threefold membering of the social body, there is a great region of life — that of law and equity, the State and politics — in which every adult has the right, out of his own DEMOCRATIC consciousness, to make himself heard. But if DEMOCRACY is a reality, and all political life is to be entirely DEMOCRATIZED, it is impossible either to include, on the one hand, the cultural life or, on the other, the economic life in the DEMOCRATIC sphere of administration. In the DEMOCRATIC ADMINISTRATION A PARLIAMENT IS ABSOLUTELY IN ITS PLACE, but questions belonging to the department of spiritual life, including education and teaching, can never be properly decided in such a DEMOCRATIC parliament.” [Emphases added] So Steiner said cultural life was not subject to voting — but only because cultural life is a matter of individual freedom.
In Lecture 3 of the Social Future there are so many statements by Steiner connecting threefolding with democracy in the state, so I will not quote them all. Just this:
“In the Threefold Social Organism there is (a) the independent economic organization described yesterday; (b) the democratic political foundation which I have sketched today, and which I will develop more fully in my fifth lecture in regard to its interplay with the other members of the organism. But there is also (c) the independent cultural life…”
The notion that Steiner did not support democracy has been promulgated occasionally due to misunderstandings. One even finds one of his main biographers saying something silly and misleading on the subject.
Steiner did not think people should vote about what religions shall be practiced, what scientific theory is correct, what pedagogical method is right. He did not think that every business management decision should be determined by votes. All of that was for individuals to decide for themselves. If he criticized Wilson’s democracy boosterism, that was not a criticism of democracy itself, but of the linking of democracy with “the self-determination of nations”, which Steiner saw would set up nations with ethnic boundaries and thereby bring disaster. Steiner’s rare criticisms of democracy should be taken more or less in the sense of that apocryphal statement attributed to Churchill: “democracy is the worst form of government — except for all the others.”
And consider this quote from the Ph.D thesis of perhaps the top authority on the threefolding movement of 1919, Albert Schmelzer:
“The initiators of the popular movement had conceived the League [for threefolding] as a loose, decentralized, unbureaucratic coalition. The members were not bound by a sharply defined programme. Accordingly, THE VARIOUS MEETINGS AND CONVERSATIONS WERE STRUCTURED IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE DIVERSITY OF VIEWS COULD BE EXPRESSED. STEINER USUALLY GAVE A BRIEF INTRODUCTION, AND THEN DISCUSSION OPENED. HERE HE PLACED GREAT VALUE ON DEMOCRATIC PROCEDURES: ROTATION OF CHAIRPERSONS, ADHERENCE TO THE AGENDA, PROPER FACILITATION OF THE DISCUSSION, AND DECISION-MAKING BY VOTE. THE COLLABORATORS HAD THE FEELING THAT STEINER WANTED TO EDUCATE THEM ‘TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE AND INDEPENDENT JUDGEMENT’. HANS KUHN REMARKED THAT STEINER DID NOT INHIBIT FREE INITIATIVE, ‘NOT EVEN WHEN HE SAW THAT BLUNDERS WERE LOOMING’.” [page 196 of the English translation: The Threefolding Movement of 1919: A History]
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Thank You, Eduardo,
I find your comments very helpful.
Luke, of course I use “new world order” in its generic sense and not to point at any conspiraacy theory. Even, I have to admit, that I try to remain immune for representations of Ahriman as a being de-linked from humanity. We need a new world order as we are in the situation without precedent that we have to govern Earth as a whole in the face of climate emergency.
One aspect of the genius of threefolding is that it allows us to distinguish different modes of decision making in various realms. One person-one vote in the political sphere; a market based on brother- and sisterhood (mindful or compassionate market) in the ideal economic world; and an intrigueing contrast between anarchy and wisdom driven consensus building from the cultural sphere. Democracy is not limited to politics and equality for the law but embraces the entire dynamics of the three realms. That’s why political decision making is not enough to match global governance challenges induced by climate emergency. Tjis is equally true at the local level. The (lost) capacity of consensus building as mastered by Steiner and all spiritual leaders (who sometimes manifest as business people or politicians) in public bodies can not function without voting procedures, but they add a dimension to it that cannot be missed in order to be effective and positive in light of the common good. Purely spiritual organisations (I know none) maybe can do with guidance of enlightened leaders only. But they cannot work in reality without enlivening critical sense of all who participate or go down the drain.
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‘wisdom driven consensus building from the cultural sphere…’, sounds good Hans.
What happens when it cannot be achieved? When, for example, maybe 30% of the group cannot accept what 70% of the group ware wanting to do?
Doesn’t it depend on the group? Some groups choose to work as much as possible by consensus, but if that fails, take a vote. Other groups would not struggle as hard for consensus and would simply vote on issues. In some cultural organizations, a cultural leader’s creative activity is so exceptional and beloved that people understandably let him or her guide much of what goes on. There need not be one rule for how a cultural organization functions, need there? There need not, because people are free to leave cultural organizations. If they don’t like the leader or functioning of the cultural organization, they can abandon that organization. Culture is the realm of freedom.
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In principle the majority gives in to the minority if there are good reasons for sustained objection. But what “good reasons” are has to be judged in every specific context. If a (rich) majority rejects taxing of wealth the reason is self interest in contradiction to the common good. But if a majority is against GMO because it proposes the precautionary principle, that is agood reason to respect the minority. In a democratic reality decision making will always be a mixture of voting and consensus building. The democratic dynamics faces its major obstacles in hierarchy determined by money-and bureacratic/military driven self-interest. These powers are good in manipulating voting structures as well as (pseudo) consensus towards oligarchy or dictatorship.
In Thailand where I live the military have manipulated democracy in favour of their continued power position. And they cleverly disguise their dictatorship as “consensus building”. Contemporary spiritual leadership will be transparent about the decision making mix and the reason why it is applied in a specific situation.
In addition to my previous quick reaction to Tom’s question: the wisdom of the consensus building archetypical leader is rooted in her/his integrity to find common ground, or at least agree to disagree in a timepath which allows a real conversation. While
majority driven democratic voting is characterised by
competition and persuasion to join the other camp. Without consensus building quality democratic debate, which in itself is healthy, tends to become a rigid division between camps with traitors who jump camps. In Thailand these opportunistic politicians are called “cobras”.
While a change of opinion and adjustment of decision in the context of consensus building towards serving the purest understanding of what the common good demands in a specific situation – like Jeremy did regarding Brexit – is respected as an act of nobility, irrespective which direction it goes.
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Re: majorities minorities
Perhaps the work of wiser powers is assisting us in the balancing of need-to-act with stronger-together. In the realm of consciousness differences are valuable. As our egoity matures, we can become a planetary field of differentiated perspectives made available to each other. The seduction of “social media” is perhaps that it looks like something we are trying to build, but thrust on us rather abruptly.
JS Mill praised Coleridge (who pointed to Leibnitz as the source) for the thought that in disputes the desirable effort is to ground the viewpoints in actual experience. And Mill went on to observe that taking from opposing sides the elements of actual experience and combining them would result in something better than either.
Excuse me, but Rudolf Steiner spoke from the ground of spiritual science, and wherein there was no compromise at all. Thus, as Tom Shea expresses in his dilemma wherein 30 percent cannot follow the leadership of the whole, which has now been reduced to 70 percent, and Hans still believes that a kind of consensus-building can be achieved somehow, it is imperative to see that those that do not agree must leave. This is the simple answer. It was applied at the Christmas Conference of 2002 for those that understand these matters. In other words, you are either in or you are out.
In today’s world, this is impossible because so little wants to understand in order to make the difference. Now, back when Brexit won the vote in June 2016, just look at the challenge it meant, and immediately with the ideas concerning simplification, communal-enterprise, and making Brexit a realization in the short-term. Of course, EU had the time-table, and rationale for leaving, and eventually everybody came to realize where the albatross exists. This leaves much time to change an originally good idea, not to mention that we are all three years older now, and for some of us expounders, that means a lot. We tend to see where compromise just might have to be the justice in a world system where Ahriman still rules. Yet, why is that? Why does the slave-master to materialism still rule the earth when spiritual science has existed as a cultural imperative for over a hundred years now? Obviously, it must because we are still so few in number. Isn’t that amazing that history can be so slow to catch on to what people perceive everyday in truth and freedom?
My way or the highway, eh? Well, when it comes to a cultural organization, that’s often how it should be and is. But in government, the name of the game should be and often is democracy, compromise, and limited powers.
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Fintan O’Toole on the rebirth of English nationalism at the end of the 20th century:
“Though Wales did vote narrowly for Brexit, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted heavily against it. It was the rich southeast of England and the old working class of the midlands and north that drove Leave to victory, the rebirth of Englishness as a political force.
This shift was 20 years in the making, a reaction to two big events at the end of the 20th century. One was the Belfast Agreement of 1998, which made Northern Ireland’s membership in the U.K. an open question. The other was the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, giving Scots considerable powers over their own affairs.”
Fintan O’Toole is a highly biased journalist – a very ‘establishment’ figure, whatever the biggest ‘establishment’ happens to be, and is very much recognised as such in Ireland where he isn’t taken seriously – hence his increasing activity in the british press and panel shows. An extremely undemocratic individual when the vote doesn’t go his way (the people are misinformed/stupid/manipulated – never any objective engagement).
We can have differining views on things, certainly, but always be mindful of those with an agenda not spelled out in their ‘journalism’, perhaps even more so when it seems to chime with someone’s own position.
As for Northern Ireland, the vote was the way it was as the demographic has been shifting to an irish nationalist majority – their will to allign with the south added to whatever ‘remain’ sentiment existed in the soft-unionist community gave the result it did; but in the republic there is virtually no support for the e.u. – this isn’t opinion, this is ‘on-the-ground’ fact we live and see daily – but only for the common market. A referendum tomorrow to exit political union but keep the latter would be a landslide. Pro-european, anti e.u. best sums it up.
And as for Scotland – what would the result of an independence vote be if the same palaver of a hard border was rolled out as was done in Ireland ? (a reignition of the ‘troubles’ was a total fabrication ). Presumably, though, it wouldn’t as there was never a need for one – there was absolutley no mention of the good friday agreement or a possible hard border in ireland during the entire british referendum campaign – rather a strange oversight….
But if there were to be financial implications, who knows what way it would tend.
Ultimately, the Scottish people would have more democratic control over their own country within the UK plus their current devolved parliament than they would hold as a minor e.u. province in circa ten or twenty years of increasing power centralising into the european commission.
There are greater strategic/military issues involved, too, than is being owned up to at present by the SNP.
While I’d very much welcome a move towards increased Scottish sovereigny, they should be wary of a frying-pan & fire scenario.
What O’Toole (O’Foole as he is affectionately known at home) failed at the time to mention (but which he knew – everyone knew it but there was a de-facto ban on admitting it in the political & media arenas) was that Jean Claude Trichet ordered the Irish government to guarantee all debts and (formerly) unguaranteed bondholder investments in Irish banks – he threatened to ‘set off an economic bomb’ in Ireland if the government didn’t comply (it was not solely but mainly Anglo Irish bank – a bank’s and investors vehicle into Ireland’s property bubble that he sought to protect. It was entirely a tumor in the Irish financial system and could have been lanced with little loss to the country’s economy, but Deutchebank, Societe General et al would have stood to have made large losses).
The liabilities forced Ireland into a deep recession ,( which has only been staved off in more recent years by unsustainable economic trickery – ponzi-growth, but it’s a total house of cards still.)
Green Party leader Eamonn Ryan was the first to admit the government of which he had been a part of was ordered to make the guarantee by the e.u. & ecb but it took a couple of years before the persistance of a handful of decent journalists forced this fact fully into the open, by which time the former government had collapsed after over half a million people took to the streets of the country demanding their exit (multiply this figure by seventeen to gauge the size of this mobilisation relative to that of the uk’s population).
What other things happened at the time ? Well, a french naval vessel sailed into the Irish sea within about twenty or thirty miles of wicklow & dublin during the ‘threat’ period to make the eu’s presence felt – this was covered fairly extensively on national radio and television but whitewashed out of existence in the printed media – the government made embarrassed noises in radio interviews of there being nothing unusual in the manouevres (it was in fact totally contrary to protocols in these matters) but were forced to admit they had no prior knowledge of the vessels intent to enter Irish waters.
So much for ‘e.u. is a vehicle for peace’ arguments.
Anything else to add ? Ireland’s liabilities from the guarantee meant it couldn’t borrow from the markets, so received loans from the uk, imf, & ecb. – the first on the lowest terms, the imf’s reasonable, but the e.c.b.’s have been widely recognised as extortionate. All the more disgusting considering the ecb only wrote the money into existence when it was borrowed.
Iceland, who had in the years running up to these events, been courted for future membership of the e.u. fairly quickly suspended the intent, one politician giving as the reason on irish tv as ‘we have watched how they have treated you’.
The uk need to forget about the e.u. now, and concentrate on their own government to keep them in check – ensure all the good of e.u. environmental standards, worker’s rights, etc, are maintained….or surpassed. We all – not just the british – need to grow up and stop projecting saviour archtypes on to the most undeserving of individuals and institutions, and begin exercising our collective & individual, God-given sovereign responsibilities.
Luke, and what about England? Doesn’t the quote and article reflect O’Toole’s opinion on English nationalism and sovereignty in the first place? A new people’s party (‘the Party of the people’) is born, and it‘s English. Russia’s Putin and America’s Trump, in that order, are its authoritarian godfathers in a multipolar world.
Self governance has always been taken for granted – the e.u. is snuck in dishonestly without telling the people of england and ireland (at least ) that the aim was to do away with national independence, the people – rightly – resist this, and suddenly all this is regarded as neo-fascist and in league with trump/putin ?? Sorry, but this is totally disingenuous and utter revisionism. The point about o’toole is that were he to come out with the same bluff at home in ireland (that anyone who wants the country to remain sovereign and out of a federal europe is on a slide towards nazism) he’d be laughed out of the place.
All this is like telling you that your parents, grandparents…even yourself up to recently was part of the far right but didn’t know it. This is total nonsense – nobody believes it except those with minds utterly shapeless, impressionable and pliable…. but then, we are living in a world where five-year olds are being chemically primed for sex-changes, so anything goes with some people.
One of the things that people are likely to disagree about is exactly what count as ‘good’ reasons’ which Hans mentioned as a situation in which a majority should give way to a minority.
I am always suspicious when Steiner uses the word ‘healthy’ to show his approval of something, and here is Hans using it, “Without consensus building quality democratic debate, which in itself is healthy, tends to……”.
What is the criteria of ‘health’ here?
Tom, of course I don’t have all the answers; and consensus building can fail like any system can. In the example Stephen gives where “people have to go” consensus building fails. In tradional communities this was no option unless dissidents shut themselves out in monkhood or witchhood;or become refugees.
In democracy people have plenty of opportunities to switch and join new majorities or minorities. Or regress from international alliances into national sovereignty; sometimes progress towards new pioneering groups. Membership of an esoteric society can be escapism from a non-agreeable majority instead of the initiation of a new future which needs engagement with the whole by definition in order to be effective. That’s a choice. Projecting Ahriman as something out there instead of understanding him as our own nature is also a form of escapism which turns us into losers.
But we are now all part of an Earth system which we cannot escape. And we are all responsible for climate emergency (of which Greta rightly says it is more than about “environment”).
Once you get positively aware of this situation, there is no other option than consensus (of course in a mix with other decision making modes), unless you are willing and able to suppress, marginalize, chase into refuge those who do not agree.
Disagreements about what “the common good”, “health” and “good reasons” usually arise because we did not take time and care for creating a safe and enabling environment required for good conversations in which we can try to evoke spiritual evidence rather than external “criteria”. I would say “health” and “happiness” are not primarily determined by “feeling well” but by having energy to be meaningful in various perspectives. That translates into joy (as well as into “healthy” fear, anger and critique).
‘…Or regress from international alliances into national sovereignty;’
– international alliance is to be welcomed, but giving up what you describe as a ‘regress…into national sovereigny’ in order to be governed by the ‘enlightened’ committee of the european commission (or any other self-styled ‘initiate’ grouping) is a surrender & abdication of one’s will.
Is the distinction here genuinely not seen or is it being deliberately denied?
Here is a speech from a very great individual, I will excerpt the first portion of it because expressed in it is a spirit pertinent to some of what I have tried to relate, better far than I have managed.
For those who read the full address made by Mr. Nelson Mandela at the Irish Dáil, in July 1990, they will find articulated both the particular difficulties of his country at the time and a picture of the possibilities he was striving after.
I don’t mean to try to coerce the intent of this speech to purposes other than its own, but I think the picture of the possible world it contains is one most of us would like to see, where differences remain but are harmonised rather than levelled out or maladjusted in unequal favour, and the expression of choice and determination is maintained for the individual, group & nation, without being subverted or co-opted by other, dominative forces.
& I’ll leave it at that, thanks to those who’ve addressed some of the points I’ve tried to make.
(The full speech has relevance for areas outside and greater than this particular discussion, but is well worth a read for those who are interested)
‘A Cheann Comhairle, a Thaoisigh, Deputies and Senators, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen: I must first apologise because I have over the last day or two developed a heavy cold, but the stirring reception we have received both from the Government and the people of Ireland has warmed my heart and every vessel in my body. It is with a feeling of great privilege that we stand here today to address this House.
We know that the invitation you extended to us to speak from this podium is one that is rarely extended to a visitor, even one who comes to you as the guest of the head of Government. I thank you most sincerely for the honour you have bestowed on me individually, on our organisation, the African National Congress, as well as the struggling people of South Africa.
We recognise in the possibility you have thus given us the reaffirmation by the Members of this House and the great Irish people whom you represent, of your complete rejection of the apartheid crime against humanity, your support for our endeavours to transform South Africa into a united, democratic, non-racial and nonsexist country, your love and respect for our movement and the millions of people it represents. We know that the joy with which you have received us and the respect for our dignity you have demonstrated, come almost as second nature to a people who were themselves victims of colonial rule for centuries.
We know that your desire that the disenfranchised of our country should be heard in this House and throughout Ireland derives from your determination, born of your experience, that our people should, like yourselves, be free to govern themselves and to determine their destiny. The warm feeling that envelops us as we stand here is therefore but the affinity which belongs to peoples who have suffered in common and who are tied together by unbreakable bonds of friendship and solidarity.
The very fact that there is today an independent Irish State, however long it took to realise the noble goals of the Irish people by bringing it into being, confirms that we too shall become a free people; we too shall have a country which will, as the great Irish patriots said in the proclamation of 1916, cherish all the children of the nation equally.
The outstanding Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, has written that too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart. He spoke thus because he could feel within himself the pain of the suffering that Irish men and women of conscience had had to endure in centuries of struggle against an unrelenting tyranny. But then he also spoke of love, of the love of those whose warm hearts the oppressors sought to turn to stone, the love of their country and people, and, in the end the love of humanity itself.’
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Whether you like it or not, Luke, we need global governance to tackle climate change (and the economic system driven by narrow minded self interest by which it is caused). At the other hand we need sovereignty of people, rooted in deepening consciousness, as well as local governance and sufficiency. Nation-states should function as mediating force between the local and the global, for which souvereingty is not the primary requirement. Yes, this asks for a new era of “enlightenment” – guided by a dynamic mix of mindful democracy, consensus building and “commoning” – and indeed false claims of enlightened leadership are a major obstacle.
So it was deliberate.
Thank you Luke for this beautiful and moving text of Nelson Mandela!
I don’t want to undervalue the meaning of his words at that moment in history in any way.
But I hear a similar yearning for liberation, be it from a 16 years old soul, in the simple words of Greta Thunberg, now concerning Mother Earth.
Thanks Hans, best wishes & Happy Christmas
and a Happy New Year!