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A READER'S JOURNAL
Towards Social Renewal, GA#23
Rethinking the Basis of Society
This Book, first Published in 1919, Translated by Matthew Barton
Published by Rudolf Steiner Press in 1999
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2005
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In this book first written in 1919, we find Steiner rethinking the basis of society. He advocates freedom at all levels of society, in particular, in the three components or subsystems of society that must operate autonomously: the political, the economic, and the cultural parts. This is the basis of what has been called "The Threefold Society". Steiner makes it clear that unless these three subsystems operate autonomously, all manners of mis-allocation of human and capital resources will occur with their attendant ills. Since no nationwide application of Steiner's suggestions for the three-folding of society has arisen in the intervening century, we can look around at those selfsame ills — they are with us yet today.
Human beings are still mostly treated as hourly slaves where they are paid for the time worked instead of the product created for their work. Those who are not slaves to the time-clock tend to be in the managerial arena where they control the hourly slaves. The political system mostly controls the economy. Many cultural or spiritual aspects are also under the control and funding of the political system. The political system operates coercively which means that anyone defying a man-made law is subject to fine, imprisonment, or execution. It is indeed difficult to find any genuine three-folding or separation of the three subsystems of society on a national basis in any country.
The problem can be directly attributed to the prevalence of the abstract tenets of Roman law as the basis for political systems on a global scale. While claiming to be democracies, most governments are controlled by absolute power of the bureaucracy once elected. Take taxation as one example. Taxation with representation is just as onerous as taxation without representation, often more so. For example, look at the United States: has the amount of taxation been reduced since the Boston Tea Party? Yes, that revolt began the throwing off of the British monarchical rule, but over the past 200 plus years, the burgeoning bureaucratic rule has created more oppressive taxation than that which was overthrown.
But, as Steiner carefully explains, the problem goes deeper than mere taxation. Human-made laws can also turn a free human being into an hourly slave by defining an hourly minimum wage and creating conditions under which one's production is divorced completely from one's hourly activity and one's work becomes a soul-less activity with all its attendant social discontent.
Consider these prefatory paragraphs as a mere taste of the problem to which Steiner offers his three-fold solution. Imagine a three-legged stool. It has three legs because one leg will create instability — some sports seats have been designed with one leg, but no one would imagine replacing every stool with such a device. Two legged-stool do not exist at all, so far as I know. The addition of a second leg adds no advantage. But add a third leg and suddenly the stool can stand alone — no human being leaning against it is necessary for it to remain erect and ready to provide a stable seating accommodation. I have drawn such a three-legged stool in Figure 1 in which each of the limbs or legs of the stool are labeled as Political Life, Economic Life, and Human Culture. Each limb of the stool is independent of the other in the sense that the subsystem of society it represents operates autonomously without interference or coercion from the other two subsystems. The horizontal linking legs are indicative of associations between each of the three subsystems on a volitional basis which supports the other subsystems without reducing in any way the range of intra-subsystem actions which may occur. Steiner describes the three limbs, legs, or subsystems thusly:
[page 41, 42] One of these limbs is economic life. I will start with this since it has quite clearly come to dominate all of our lives via technology and modern capitalism. This economic life must be a relatively autonomous limb within the social organism — as the nerve and sense system is relatively autonomous within the human organism. This economic life has to do with production, distribution and consumption of goods and commodities.
By "relatively autonomous" I interpret Steiner to be averring that the operations within a subsystem such as economic life operates best without interference from outside the subsystem. The units within each subsystem are free to determine the best way for each unit to operate and adjust to changes outside the subsystem by freely making changes within the subsystem — simply put: without control imposed from an outside subsystem. Like the nervous system of our body, the economic subsystem operates best if it remains autonomous within itself. Just as the nervous system is clearly dependent on cooperation with the rhythmic (respiration, circulation etal) system and the limbic (legs, arms, metabolism) system to survive, so also is the economic life subsystem dependent on the two other subsystems of the social system on to survive.
[page 42] The second limb or system of the social organism is that of civil rights, of political life as such. This encompasses what one can call the state, particularly in the sense of the legal regulation of human affairs. Whereas economic life is connected with all that we need to draw from nature and from our own production, with goods and their circulation and consumption, this second limb of the social organism can only be concerned with all aspects of the way people interact and relate to each other, which arises from purely human factors. It is essential to recognize this difference between the system of rights and legal regulation on the one hand, which is connected only with relationships between people based on human factors, and the economic system that only has to do with the production, circulation and consumption of goods. We need to develop a real sense for this distinction, so that economic life and the life of rights can really be differentiated in consequence, just as the function of the lungs and their effect on the air we breathe can be differentiated from nerve-sense processes.
Steiner likens the political life subsystem to the rhythmic system of the human body, which must remain autonomous within itself while adjusting to conditions arising in the other two subsystems it is connected to. The rights subsystem is the crucial concept that Steiner adds to our understanding of how society can best operate. Can we find anywhere in the world in all of history when a legal, political or rights system operated completely independently of the economic life of the society in which it found itself? If we could find such times in history and then were to examine the conditions of the economy, if Steiner is correct in his supposition of the salubriousness of such independence, we could expect to find a flourishing economy during such times, could we not? Think on this point as we examine the third leg of the stool of society.
[page 42] The third limb, which must be autonomous in the same way as the other two, is everything in the social organism relating to human culture, to the spirit and the life of the mind. More precisely, since the term 'culture' is somewhat vague, one could say: everything arising from the natural gifts of each human individual, all that must enter into the social organism as a result of such natural, individual talent, whether of a physical or spiritual kind.
Here we are clearly dealing with both physical and spiritual issues of the individual human being, a human being in relationship to other humans and to every manner of spiritual activity one can imagine. No abstract laws can apply to human beings because the moment one is promulgated the next human being may perform an act which appears to violate the law but which actually supports a deeper law that no one had ever considered before. The most famous example of this behavior was when Christ Jesus openly violated the laws of Moses while giving us examples of a deeper law(1).
[page 43] The first system, therefore, is connected with all that we need in order to manage our material relationship with the outer world. The second has to do with what needs to be present in the social organism as a consequence of the human interactions between people. And the third system is connected with all that must arise from each separate human individual, and has to be integrated into the social organism.
The first system is the one we encounter when we enter a market to buy food and goods to sustain our life — thus the first leg of the stool is named Market. The second system is the one we encounter when we must handle the interactions between human beings — the system of rights, regulating, and governing principles to which one has recourse when an interaction with other human beings is at issue. One seeks then that place of final refuge which was the castle of a king in ancient times, and so we may name the modern equivalent of the king's fortress, the Citadel, as the second leg of the stool of society. The third system encompasses all that can arise from an individual human being — thoughts, ideas as found in art, science, and philosophy, i.e, spiritual activity as found in art, science, worship and recreation, among other things. This third system is called the Altar and provides the third leg of the stool of society as shown in Figure 1 above.
These three names of Citadel, Market, and Altar were first coined by Spencer Heath in Baltimore in the mid-1950s in his book of that name, Citadel, Market, and Altar. Given the lack of English translations of Steiner's works at the time, it is unlikely that Heath was directly familiar with "Towards Social Renewal" or any of Steiner's concepts of a threefold society(2). And yet Heath in his book describes a "Threefold Nature" of society along the same lines as Steiner did, using analogy to the same three subsystems of the human body. In addition Heath refers to the threefold nature of energy, something Steiner never did, to my knowledge. Here are references in the Index of Heath's book which indicate Heath's use of "Threefold Nature concepts":
[page 259 of Citadel, Market, and Altar] Threefold Nature: of energy, 55, 229; of man, 55 ff, 194, 201; of society, 54-55 ff, 59-61, 201-204, 231, 242; see also Trinity.
In this next passage, note how Heath describes the limbic system (legs, arms, muscles, etc), the rhythmic system (respiration, circulation, etc) and nervous system of the threefold human being similar to the way Steiner did thirty years earlier while using slightly different names for the three divisions.
[page 57 of Citadel, Market, and Altar] The three basic structure of the individual man are: the mechanical, consisting of the skeleton, muscles, tissues, etc., the chemical including the nutritional, circulatory, reproductive and internal glandular tracts, and the quasi-electrical or neural system of energy transfers, with all its necessary structural parts.
For further comparison, here is how Heath describes the threefold social system:
[page 56 of Citadel, Market, and Altar] The social organism, like its constituent individuals, also has three great and fundamental institutions, the separate functions of which are coercion, coöperation, and consecration. Their symbols are: Citadel, Market, and Altar -- a department of physical force, a department of services measured and exchanged, and a department of the free and spontaneous life of the individuals. . . . The Citadel repels assault from without, subversion from within. The Market is an outgrowth of the Citadel; the Altar arise from the interaction of Citadel and Market. By its ministrations to basic necessities and needs, it releases free and spontaneous energies of men to the practice of the intellectual, the esthetic and creative arts — all those sports and recreations of body and mind towards which they freely incline and aspire.
Clearly we can see that Heath and Steiner were describing the same insight each had about how to create a threefold society which will operate better than all the current forms of society extant today. Yet Heath provides us with something Steiner does not — a historical example of a basically free community which thrived for half a millennium. Figure 2 shows "The Basic Free Community" and is found on page 81 of Heath's book. Note the structure of the Citadel (the castle at the top with the flag on it), the Market, and the Altar, and the names of the constituent roles people played in each of the subsystems during that time.
[page 79 of Citadel, Market, and Altar] Nowhere has this transition from tribalism and mere folk organization into the free community pattern been better exemplified than in the social foundations that were laid in England by the Saxon migrants from beyond the German Sea. The basic English community pattern is diagrammatically set out in Figure 2. Here the nucleus of the societal organism is the strong man in his stronghold, like the captain of his ship and crew. Clustered around him are his paid retainers, through whom he defends his community against outside aggression and maintains internal liberty and peace in fulfillment of his covenant of quiet possession in exchange for the rent that maintains him and the services he provides. Thus, under a common defense — a com-munito — the truly societal form of life begins. Its structure is analogous to the physical atom and to the biological cell. For in each there is a central nucleus of great stability to which are gathered peripheral elements in non-collisional, reciprocal relations to it and to one another. And just as the physical or the biological structure disintegrates when these free relations are greatly impaired or destroyed, so must any societal organization cease to function and thus cease to exist when its free and reciprocal processes can no longer be performed.
Unfortunately this form of community came to a screeching halt with the Norman invasion of England in 1066 and the subsequent imposition of Norman control by coercion. The threefold nature of the society collapsed when the free relations were interfered with by the Norman overlords. Over the millennium since that invasion, we have become so inured to the Norman-type of top-down political rulership with its coercion, taxation, and tribute that few today understand the nature of the remarkably successful threefolding of feudal society in England in the five hundred years preceding the Norman invasion. It was a successful society sans coercion, taxation and war, believe it or not.
[page 79,80 of Citadel, Market, and Altar] The Western world has been so long indoctrinated with the Norman and the Classical traditions of political rulership over servile-minded and tribute-burdened populations that any suggestion of molding public institutions to the basic pattern of the proprietary or free feudal communities is almost sure to be decried as a return to slavery and to barbarism itself. Yet history affords the one striking example, already referred to, of proprietary government as contractual services springing up spontaneously out of the merely blood-bonded condition and growing through a half-millennium into a state of freedom and of cultural achievement in sharp contrast to the darkness and degradation that prevailed in its contemporary European world. The Anglo-Saxon community organization culminated in the Alfredian Renaissance. It had its seeds in the Roman evacuation, five hundred years before, to strengthen the hard-pressed legions on the frontier of the Rhine. Into this void came the seaborne Barbarians to build anew in the genius of "men who never would be slaves." For half the dark millennium, the aftermath of Rome, in almost secret isolation, they built their communities on the basis of free men receiving services from and giving services in return to land lords. Once the land was possessed, there was no more offensive war, for there was no public revenue but rent; taxation, like slavery, as an institution, was unknown. After Alfred, the Danish invaders laid taxes for eleven years which were continued until the English Edward, coming to the throne, denounced and abolished them as contrary to Anglo-Saxon custom and law. But Norman ideas and example were having their effects in the discord and divisions that laid England open to the Norman arms and victim to the Roman mode of political administration, based on the seizure of property under which Rome herself at last went down.
Rude as were the ages and harsh the times, the Saxon development of proprietary public service was a magnificent example of a society, unperverted by any ideology of public force or of imperial domination, rising through only five centuries to the premier cultural position of its time through development of the proprietary pattern in which it was born.
Unfortunately such a threefold society as existed in the so-called "dark ages" of 500 to 1066 A. D. exists nowhere today — all examples of public administration extant do so by force, not by proprietary administration, even in the so-called free nations of the world, such as the United States of America. This shows the power of precedent and the inertia to change exerted by the petty bureaucracies charged with this public administration by force.
[page 80, 82 of Citadel, Market, and Altar] The Classical precedent and practice of public administration by force is almost universally accepted. In its milder forms, it is exalted as "democratic" and "free." Where it is more drastic and complete, it is accepted as absolute and ineluctable. Even the possibility of an alternative and opposite mode of administration is widely ignored. And, beyond the basic public service that land owners everywhere unknowingly perform in their contractual distribution of sites and resources and lands, there is no present-day example, on a nationwide scale, of government as a service to the population through a proprietary administration of the community affairs.
The key to understanding where Heath is taking us is the phrase "on a nationwide scale" as we shall see. In another remarkable insight, Heath points to the proprietary administration performed in any large hotel wherever located in the world — defense, accommodations, goods, services, and utilities are provided all on a proprietary basis. Another example of a proprietary microcosm of a threefold society is aboard a cruise ship. Again, all the services of a community are found and are provided on a proprietary basis. On a community scale, I am familiar with a city of about 17,000 residents who reside in a private community of 25 square miles which contains no public property, no public roads, and no public administration, but is run by and for the residents on a proprietary basis exactly as a fine hotel or cruise ship would be run. Accommodations are first class with excellent paved roads, premiere golf courses, recreational facilities, hiking trails, lakes, picnic areas, etc, and all provided on a proprietary basis. Crime is virtually non-existent, and one can find no sign of trash or litter anywhere. The city is Hot Springs Village and is located outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
[page 82 of Citadel, Market, and Altar] In a modern hotel community, however, the pattern is plain. It is an organized community with such services in common as policing, water, drainage, heat, light and power, communications and transportation, even educational and recreational facilities such as libraries, musical and literary entertainment, swimming pools, gardens and golf courses, with courteous services by the community officers and employees. In their common participation in the community services, the inhabitants have no need or desire for common ownership or any other kind of ownership of the community or any responsibility for its proper and efficient operation — except as they may own shares or undivided interests in it. The entire community is operated for and not by its inhabitants. Other than good behavior, they have no obligation beyond making the agreed or customary payment for the services they receive. And what they pay is voluntary, very different from taxation. For it is rational and not arbitrary, and it is limited by custom and consent, by the competition of the market. A proprietary authority, unlike the political, does not have to force and rule in order to protect and serve.
Can you consider how such a proprietary system might work on a nationwide basis? There seems little doubt that it could, but consider this: if the only automobile you knew of growing up was one that was abused by an owner who didn't change the oil, or lubricate the bearings, and ran it without water in the radiator so it stalled constantly, you might prefer driving an antiquated horse-drawn carriage than a new-fangled automobile thereafter. Our newer political systems have been so abused and abusive that we prefer the ancient kind of Roman law systems exactly because they are so old and we prefer to put up with abuses we are familiar with rather than test new systems with abuses we are not familiar with. As a fellow physics major told me in 1961 when I asked what she thought about Castro possibly deposing Batista in her native country of Cuba, "The devil you know is better than the one you don't know,"
[page 82 of Citadel, Market, and Altar] The Anglo-Saxon practice of community service by proprietary instead of political administration is profound in its implications for the modem age. Its institutions were born far in advance of their time, and they were rudely perverted and torn down. But violent capture and the imposition of an entirely alien mode of administration no more disproves the essential soundness of the free feudal form than the improper or destructive use of a finely specialized machine discredits the sound principle of its operation.
We have examined pre-Norman England feudal society as one of the periods in history in which the absence of coercion and taxation led to a remarkably stable and prosperous society albeit it on a modest scale compared to what we would consider prosperous today. One other period of prosperity happened on a large scale for about a century in the 1800s in the United States of America. Greatly increased industrial output and railroads came together with the western expansion of the country to produce unparalleled prosperity arguably due to the absence of onerous taxation and regulations of the businesses in the newly opened territories. As the century neared its end the expansion was waning and coercive bureaucrats with their laws and taxation were reaching the Pacific Coast creating a dampening effect on the economy. This is admittedly a sketchy view of the matter, omitting more than it says as I am no historian(3), but merely an observer of the factors which lead to prosperity and sustain it and as such I can point to the changes in the latter 1800s and the 1900s when the sustaining of prosperity was replaced by large swings between highs of economic activity and lows of recessions and depressions. This is a periodic rise and fall of prosperity in cycles which continues today and will continue so long the post-Norman mode of regulation by law and power are deemed the highest and best way of governing a society.
Next we will examine in detail how Steiner describes the economic life as it is mirrored in the processes of the head subsystem. This subsystem, while it is dependent upon the subsystem of respiration and circulation, cannot regulate it from the outside. Neither must the economic life regulate the processes of human labor. He makes the point that treating labor as a commodity is to mix metaphors — that human labor is a different logical type altogether — and that only the results or products of human labor are economic commodities, and thus, rightly understood, only these can come under regulation by the economic life subsystem. To treat human labor as a commodity, such as is done when one gives a worker an hourly wage, is to dehumanize the worker and bring on all sorts of ills and dissatisfaction to the worker and, through workers collectively, to society in general. [RJM: italics added to the last sentence of the next passage.]
[page 44, 45] This whole realm consists of processes which begin with man's relationship to nature, and then involves all that people need to do to transform natural products and prepare them for consumption. All these processes — and only these — compose the economic limb of a healthy social organism, occupying a position within it similar to the head system in the human organism, which determines individual gifts and capacities. Now just as this head system is dependent on the system of heart and lung, so is the economic system dependent on human labour. But the head cannot regulate the breath by itself, and neither should the forces active in economic life regulate the system of human labor.
We partake of economic life in our own interests, which have their basis in our soul and spiritual needs. How these interests can best be served within a social organism, so that the individual can satisfy his needs through this organism in the best possible way, and also take his place within the economy to greatest advantage, is a question that has to be solved practically through the actual organization of the economic system. That can only happen when interests are able to assert themselves in complete freedom, and when the will and possibility arise to do whatever is necessary to fulfil them. But the interests themselves arise outside of the economic sphere. They form as the soul and body of each human being develops. The task of economic life is to establish practical arrangements which can satisfy and fulfil such interests — arrangements which can only have to do with the production and exchange of goods — goods, that is to say, which acquire their value through human needs. A particular commodity acquires its value through the person who uses it. By acquiring value through the consumer's need of it, the commodity occupies a quite different place within the social organism than other things which human beings, as members of this organism, value.
This different place within the social organism is the rights sphere which is best addressed as part of the Citadel subsystem otherwise known as the political arena or limb of the stool of society shown in Figure 1 above.
[page 46, 47] We can only properly experience the 'rights' relationship that needs to exist between ourselves and others when we encounter this relationship in a realm quite different from the economic one. In the healthy social organism, therefore, alongside the economic system and independent from it, a separate realm must exist in which the life of rights and legal regulation between people unfolds and is catered for. But this life of rights is something intrinsic to the political realm, to government and the state. If people carry the interests which they serve in the economic realm into the legal structure and government of the state, the laws and rights which come about as a result will only express these economic interests. If, therefore, the constitutional function of the state is ruled by economic factors, it will lose the capacity to regulate the 'rights' relationships between people. Its measures and organizational forms will have to serve the need for commodities, and will thus become divorced from the impulses which should sustain rights and legal regulation.
To be healthy, then, the social organism needs a second system alongside its economic 'limb' — the autonomous political state. In the autonomous economic realm, people would create structures and arrangements which best serve the production and exchange of goods. In the political state, in contrast, structures would arise to regulate the mutual relationships between people and groups of people in a way that accords with their awareness of their political and legal rights.
One might say that we currently have an autonomous political state in the USA, but upon reflection as to the effects of monied lobbyists from the economic subsystem, one would note that the political state is not really autonomous, and neither of the other two legs of the stool is autonomous. Thus the US economy, as we all know, wobbles in the breeze like a one-legged stool, which is exactly what it resembles if you attached the bottom of the three legs of the stool together! The political bureaucracy controls the economy through tax hikes and tax cuts, through mandated regulation and controls, through wage and price controls, through every form of regulation imaginable and some unimaginable -- it has the economic life of the nation under such rigid control that the two legs have become one. Later we shall see how the third leg of the stool, the cultural subsystem, is attached to the political leg.
When the economic life encompasses more than the goods and commodities, but also human labor and legal rights, the two legs of the stool, economic and political, are tied together from the economics side. This is the consequence of wrongly treating human labor as a commodity. Another problem comes about if we treat a piece of land as a commodity. A piece of land is not a commodity because no one person created it — since it is not a commodity, it cannot be bought and sold, only the usage of the land can be(4).
Page [48, 49] When someone buys a piece of land, this must be seen as an exchange of the land against goods — which the sum of money paid represents. But the piece of land itself does not have a commodity-function in economic life. Instead it occupies a place in the social organism by virtue of the right which the purchaser has to its use. This right is something quite different from the relationship which a manufacturer has to the goods he has produced. The very nature of this latter relationship is such that it does not infringe on a quite different realm of relationship between people, such as comes about when one person has the sole right to a piece of land. The owner of this land makes other people — whom he employs to work on it, and who thereby earn their living dependent on himself. Such dependency between people does not arise as a result of producing, exchanging and consuming actual goods.
What is wrong about exchanging rights for goods is the making of rights into a commodity which can be bought and sold. When we have a social system in which this can happen, we know we live within this system as if sitting upon a wobbling, one-legged stool which cannot stand on its own and will frequently collapse, fall over, and have to be re-righted, ad infinitum.
[page 49, 50] What is wrong is when, by exchanging rights for goods, the rights themselves are made into a commodity when these rights originate within the economic sphere. This can only be prevented by having structures in the social organism whose sole aim is to create the most efficient circulation of goods; and by having other, different structures which regulate the rights, inherent in the process of exchange, of the producers, traders and purchasers. Such rights are no different from any other rights which must exist between people independently of all exchange of commodities. If I injure or help a fellow human being through the sale of goods, this belongs in the same sphere of social interaction as any other kind of help or injury which may, unrelated to an exchange of goods, occur as the result of my action or inaction.
Look back at the stool in Figure 1. Notice that even though each leg stands on its own, there are braces connecting each of the three legs with the other two legs. In the threefold society, these braces serve to ensure that any of the two legs remain autonomous and equally separated from the other two legs. Only in this way can we be sure that one branch does not interfere with the other two.
[page 50, 51] The legislative and rights basis for their activity will be provided by the rights administration sphere. If such associations can realize their economic interests through the representative and administrative channels of economic organization, they will not feel the need to spill over into the legislative or administrative management of the state (as we have seen happen in the Farmer's Union, the Industrialists' lobby, and forms of economically orientated social democracy), in order to try to gain there what they cannot gain in the purely economic realm. And when the legislative state ceases to have its finger in any economic pie, then it will create structures which arise only from the rights-awareness of the people involved in it. Even when, as will naturally happen, representatives of the rights sphere are also active in economic life, the clear division between these two spheres will prevent economic factors having any influence on the regulation of people's legal rights. It is this influence which so undermines the health of the social organism at present: the state itself administers branches of the economy, and economists draw up laws to safeguard their own interests.
At this point, it will occur to anyone even vaguely familiar with the facts of life in the nascent twenty-first century that keeping the three legs of the stool of society separate is a practical impossibility. Certainly time has proven that Steiner was unable to convince any government to even attempt three-folding or separating its economic, political, and cultural spheres of life. How can we expect any success a mere hundred years later?
This reminds me of Charles Babbage’s attempt to make a calculating machine out of brass gears and levers over a hundred years ago. How could we ever expect a machine to do billions of calculations in a single second? It is possible today because something happened during the past one hundred which made it possible. Great ideas and thoughts were applied to create the new technologies which led us to have new computers which perform at incredible speeds, one of which I am using right now as a glorified typewriter.
In the area of three-folding, there is new technology today that was unavailable during Steiner's time when the Babbage-type mechanical calculator was the fastest device around. The man who came up with the technology was an immigrant, Andrew, from Hungary. Working in Southern California in his first job as an aerospace engineer, his fondest wish was create rockets to take us to the Moon. He came up with an innovative rocket engine design and showed the plans for it to his boss. His boss showed it to his superiors and the design was adopted. Only problem was that Andrew's boss took credit for the design of the rocket engine. This act of outright theft of Andrew's idea led to his boss's being promoted and Andrew's immediately resigning his job. He decided that if humankind were ever to progress, he needed to apply his creative genius, not to solving the problems of rocket engines, but to solving the problem of how to keep people from stealing other's ideas.
If you will consider the insights that Steiner shared in light of Andrew's plight with the rocket engine, you'll see that his boss treated Andrew as an hourly slave, did he not? Andrew had created the idea while being paid by the company, therefore the idea belonged to the company, and since Andrew's boss worked for the company, he could take credit for the idea of the man who worked for him and further his own career, could he not? Have you, dear Reader, ever had someone take an idea of yours without your permission and use it? Did they give you credit for having originated the idea? Or did they, like Andrew's boss, pretend the idea was their own?
Do you hold that ideas exist out there in the spiritual world, so that anyone who receives the idea receives it freely and therefore cannot claim it as their own idea? This question is an urgent one for you to re-consider in light of Andrew's experience. Obviously Andrew felt that something important was taken from him, something that he worked very hard in preparing himself to be able to receive by his education, training, and aptitude. "Chance favors the prepared mind," Louis Pasteur said. Louis certainly fared better with his ideas about combating disease than Andrew did with his idea in the rocket engine episode. Louis got his name attached to every milk container in the word "pasteurized" as gratitude for his work. If someone is bitten by a suspected rabid dog today, the set of inoculations they will receive is called the "Pasteur Treatment" and it will be life-saving. This is one form of gratitude that can last forever: to have one's name attached to the results of one's work. But Andrew received no gratitude for his rocket engine idea and left the aerospace industry completely — denying them any chance to repeat the insult he felt from his boss's actions.
Take what Andrew experienced down to the factory floor where workers on an assembly line are working today. Joe comes up with a way of improving the flow of work which brings great increases in production and what happens? The money flows to the bosses of the company who get big bonuses, golden parachutes, and larger salaries. Joe, if he’s lucky, may get a pat on the back and told to get back to work. Multiply Joe’s experience by every average Jane and Joe working as an hourly worker in an enterprise and you will quickly be able to understand the living reality of the difference between the economic production of goods and the rights realm, the Market and the Citadel, the economic life and the political life. What do Jane and Joe feel when they offer ideas to improve their companies and the ideas are implemented, save money or make more money for the company, and they are merely thanked for being a “good worker” — the phrase “good worker” which means, “You earned your hourly salary, now get back to work.” Jane or Joe will feel the dehumanizing effects of hourly production — that they were being treated as machines. And they will learn from these experiences that their bosses think that when they stop working even to share an idea they are holding up their real work.
If Jane were a dressmaker working alone in her shop, and she stopped to have an idea which could improve her income, she would be rewarded directly by her idea and could hold that idea privately and prosper from it. But if she is a factory worker making a dress, she will likely be chastised for stopping her work on a dress. This is the dehumanizing effect of factory work. It is not as some would have it, a direct consequence of some evil scheme of capitalism, but rather a consequence of a lack of technology, a technology that Andrew was to apply his creative genius to creating and to devote the rest of his lifetime to sharing with others.
[page 53] If we look at the physical work which people carry out for the social organism, we can see that these ideas are rooted in real, human life. Within capitalist economics, such work has become a commodity which the employer buys from the employee. An exchange is made: money (representing goods) for work. But such an exchange is actually impossible -- it only appears to take place. In reality the employer receives goods from the employee which can only be produced through the worker's time and effort. The production of goods comes about through the collaboration of the employer and employee. The worker receives one part of the equivalent value of these goods, the employer the other. It is the product of this collaboration which enters economic circulation. For the goods to be produced, a legal relationship is necessary between worker and employer. But capitalist economics can turn this relationship into one determined by the employer's economic power over the employee.
What Andrew did was to create a technology in which the economic power would be exercised by the employer in the favor of the employee, so Jane could make more money on the factory floor if she came up with ideas that improved the production, and that money would continue to flow to her whether she continued to work for the factory or not. The money would flow to her as a result of her idea which would be considered hers and if that idea were shared with other companies who implemented it, Jane would also be compensated by those other companies. Note that, as with Pasteur, it doesn't matter which milk company makes the milk, his idea is used for sterilizing milk without changing its flavor,(5) and his name goes on the milk container.
What Steiner points out in this next passage was true in his time and remained true until the 1960s, when Andrew developed his technology some forty years after Steiner's death.
[page 53] In a healthy social organism it must be clear that work itself cannot be paid for — work cannot receive an economic value as if it were a product. Only the product itself, the result of the work, can be assigned an economic value in relation to other products. The nature and extent of the work which a person carries out in service of the social organism must be determined by his capacities and the requirements of human dignity. This can only occur if work is regulated by the political state independently of economic management.
What Andrew came up with was a way of regulating work in accordance with a person's capacity and human dignity. I will have more to say about that later.
[page 54] It is easy to see that such management of the social organism will lead to fluctuations in economic prosperity according to how much work — regulated by what is just — is done. But it is necessary for economic prosperity to be dependent in this way if the social organism is to be healthy. It is this which can prevent people being consumed by economic life to such an extent that they no longer feel that their lives have any human dignity. And it is this lack of a feeling of human dignity which actually underlies all the social upheavals of our time.
It is possible to ensure that justice does not dampen economic prosperity too severely in the same way that it is possible to improve natural conditions. One can render a poor soil more fertile by technical means. In the same way, if a general decrease in prosperity becomes too extreme, one can change the nature and extent of work. Such a change, though, should not come about through the direct influence of economic factors, but from an insight developed through a life of rights that is independent of economic life.
Perhaps we have become so inured to Roman law that we automatically understand the word "rights" as meaning what is allowed by our laws rather that which is morally correct. If we use "rights" to mean only what is allowed under the law, we have accepted that the "life of rights" can never be independent of economic life so long as there is a political system which enforces the "life of rights" rather than encourages it. It was a method of "encouraging" a proper "life of rights" on a volitional basis rather than a coercive basis that Andrew came up with as his solution to the problem he first encountered as a rocket scientist and engineer. Imagine for a moment a world in which all members of society find it to their benefit to adhere to a life of rights(6) voluntarily which gives every worker a feeling of human dignity. A world in which the individual capacities of individual people will be treasured, respected, and compensated in proportion to their contributions to the enterprise not just their hours worked. That is a world, a real possibility for the world we live in today, which Andrew has left us as his legacy.
[page 54, 55] All that composes society in terms of economic life and rights awareness is also influenced by something which comes from a third source: the individual capacities of individual people. This realm encompasses everything from the highest spiritual achievements to a person's greater or lesser physical aptitude for the work he does, which serves the social organism. What derives from this source must flow into the social organism in a quite different way from that in which goods are exchanged or political rights and justice are dispensed.
Goods are exchanged by a price per unit bought, sold, or consumed. When we talk as Steiner does above about "everything from the highest spiritual achievements" we are talking about the individual's thoughts and ideas as they come forth from the individual into the economy. To build on what Steiner points out, we cannot compensate a blacksmith for an idea the way we compensate her for a horseshoe. If we pay her ten dollars for a hand-forged horseshoe, how much do we pay her for an idea that makes every horseshoe easier to make and more effective in saving a horse's hooves from wear? Rightly understood, we cannot establish a fixed, set, or one-time price for an idea. As we shall find out later as we investigate Andrew's technology further, an idea cannot be transferred from the originator to another person under any condition, only the use of the idea. For example, consider someone attempting to buy the right to change the name "pasteurization" to "trumpitization" — it would be inconceivable because the name of the process rightly belongs to the man who created the idea of the process. Anyone can use pasteurization, but no one can change the name as it rightly and morally belongs to the man who had the original idea. It is his property and cannot be transferred from him — it belongs to him as a natural estate in perpetuity. No coercion need be applied to force people to accept the name pasteurization — it is simply agreed voluntarily by all that it is the right thing to do.
In the sciences, names of units have often been changed over time, but only from generic names to names honoring a scientist involved in the field thereby correcting an earlier misstep in the area of rights. For example the generic name centigrade was in recent decades changed to Celsius in honor of Anders Celsius, who first created the 0-100 degree scale Celsius thermometer. Two other prominent examples of this kind of transformation are hertz for cycles per second and tesla for magnetic field strength.
Given the current limited understanding of this difference between horseshoes and ideas outside the field of science, one can find ample examples of ideas being sold for fixed prices. If one investigates the results of any notable example of such a transaction, one will often find enormous societal costs resulted from the deal. I am thinking now of when George Westinghouse came to Nicola Tesla and offered him a fixed price for his idea of AC motors and generators. Tesla was touched by George's request as he had been his primary backer in the Niagara project to create the first hydroelectric power generation station for Tesla's Alternating Current electricity, so Tesla gave into the request. In exchange for the equivalent of about 100 million dollars in today's currency, Tesla gave up his original patent deal which required payment to him for every kilowatt of electric generating capacity added from then on. Tesla invested all the funds into a large laboratory in New York City which later burnt to the ground and Tesla was left penniless. The man who gave us the electricity by which I type these words and you read them, the man who demonstrated four revolutionary inventions(7) which are lost to us today because of his lack of funds to complete, this man, Nicola Tesla to whom we owe so much as a society, spent his last days feeding pigeons on a bench. Think of the societal goods that could have flowed from continuance of Tesla's work, and the societal cost of his deal with George Westinghouse will be clear. Only a society in which such deals would never be offered again is one worth living in and thus worth striving for. Only such a society would have allowed the flowering of Tesla's genius to fully unfold to the benefit of society.
[page 56, 57] Only those who freely unfold and follow their spiritual impulses in this way, have the strength to give them the emphasis which they should have within the social organism. Art, science, philosophical views and everything connected with this sphere need to be independent within human society. In the realm of spirit and mind everything is interrelated, and freedom of one thing cannot flourish without the freedom of another.
Likewise the economic life must operate autonomously, free from constraints from the political sphere and the cultural life must also operate free from constraints from the political sphere. No nationwide application of such separation exists today due to the universal placing of the political sphere with powers over the other two spheres, among other things. But the benefits of such separation, if it became feasible to separate them, are clear.
[page 59] An unfettered sphere of spirit will give the worker or laborer a satisfying sense of the role his work plays within the social organism. He will come to see that the social organism could not support him if his work was not managed and organized. He will come to sense the need for cooperation between his work and the organizing, managing forces which derive from the free development of individual human capacities. The political sphere will enable him to gain rights to a share of the proceeds from the goods that he produces. And he will be glad to make a free contribution enabling the spiritual, cultural life whose activities he benefits from to exist. It will become possible for those working creatively in the sphere of spiritual and cultural life to live from the proceeds which accrue to them.
What is missing is any plan for a political sphere which will empower the rights sphere as described above. One might think that copyright and patent law provide such rights to the results of one's thoughts and ideas, but consider this: patent law requires lascivious disclosure of ideas to a world in which stealing of ideas is acceptable to the masses of people and copyright law does not protect the ideas in a work, only the particular incarnation of the idea in a particular work. And such partial protection as is available requires the use of coercive force which creates an endless string of evils once it is unleashed. The cure is often worse than the illness when coercive force is employed, whether in small matters or large ones. No one has thought to question whether a society without coercion would work, up until now. Up until our intrepid rocket scientist, Andrew. And thereupon hangs a tale.
Does Steiner deem coercion is essential to implementing his three-fold scheme for society? He never refers to the concept directly, but one can find numerous phrases which, interpreted in the current milieu of a society based on antiquated concepts and application of Roman law, can be seen as code words for coercion. I'll offer a litany of these, not a complete list, but salient ones I have extracted to make the point about how Steiner's plan for a threefold society requires the very thing that he claims cannot be present: coercion. The key words which presuppose coercion are "constitutional function", "ruled by", "regulate", "legal regulation",
[page 46, 47] If ... the constitutional function of the state is ruled by economic factors, it will lose the capacity to regulate the 'rights' relationships between people. Its measures and organizational forms will have to serve the need for commodities, and will thus become divorced from the impulses which should sustain rights and legal regulation. [Constitutional function, ruled by, regulate, legal regulation presuppose coercion.]
[page 60] Recompense for this sustaining contribution to both social realms will either come about via the free agreement of those who need this contribution, or will be regulated by rights formulated in the political sphere. [Regulated presupposes coercion.]
[page 60] The political state itself will be supported by taxation legislation. [Taxation, legislation presuppose coercion.]
[page 84] Right administration will only ensure that such transfer occurs. [Ensure presupposes coercion.]
There are many more cases where some phrase is used which presupposes coercion to implement it given the current state of society in which laws and the enforcement of them presuppose coercion is to be applied even if only as a last resort. And yet coercion at any level cannot be present in a threefold society.
Why can coercion not be present in a threefold society? Because if coercion is present, any attempt to keep separate the legs of the three-legged stool in Figure 1 above would fall short of the goal. Inevitably the use of force by the political leg would interfere with the other two legs, and we would be soon right back where we started. Only a society in which no coercion is present can strive successfully to the goal of a threefold society.
The idea that any government could be created without the use of force or coercion at any level sounds rather incredible and it seemed so to me which I was first promised that such a government was possible. After studying the matter carefully, I came to see that not only was it possible, but every other so-called government(8) which uses coercion is not worthy of the name government at all! The creator of the concepts and technology which make a true government without coercion possible is our friendly rocket scientist, Andrew.
Let us return to looking the concepts and ideas of Steiner and compare them to those of Andrew. In this next passage Steiner talks of archetypal ideas which must flow freely into social structures and if thwarted, they will cause unpredictable reactions to the deadened social structures which are blocking those ideas. As you read the passage, note how Steiner describes the way a volitional, unfettered governor or feedback mechanism would work. These archetypal ideas seem to refer to Steiner's idea of the three-folding of society so as to eliminate deadened social structures — and thereby obviate the need for opposition by alienated workers who feel oppressed by these deadened social structures.
[page 64, 65] But it is absolutely necessary for us now to see that the only way to arrive at a conclusion based on the true facts is by reaching back to the original, archetypal ideas underlying all social forms and institutions.
If the forces innate in such ideas are not able to flow continually into the social organism, then social structures assume forms which are constricting rather than life enhancing. But these archetypal ideas continue to work more or less unconsciously within our instinctive impulses, even if our conscious minds go astray from them and create deadening structures. And these archetypal ideas bring to chaotic expression their opposition to deadening social forms; they become either openly or subtly manifest in the revolutionary convulsions of the social organism. These convulsions can only be countered by structuring the social organism in such a way that it encourages and allows people to perceive any divergence from the kinds of social forms which archetypal, original ideas embody, and at the same time enables them to remedy this divergence before it has assumed dangerous proportions.
One form of such opposition he mentions next:
[page 65] One of the basic questions thrown up by contemporary criticism is how to put an end to the oppression which capitalism subjects the proletariat to. The owner or manager of capital is in a position to exploit the physical labour of other people for the purpose of producing goods.
Note that while Steiner claims in one sentence that it is capitalism that oppresses the proletariat (worker), he makes it clear that it is individuals managing the capital who actually do the oppressing, not the system of capitalism itself. What enables the oppression is the lack of three-folding which would separate the economic life from the rights life.
[page 65, 66] Entrepreneurial activity can only play a healthy role in the social organism if the forces at work in this organism allow individual human capacities to unfold in the best possible way. This can only happen if one sphere of the social organism enables those capable of it to have a free rein in exercising their initiative and making use of their capacities. At the same time, the value of these capacities must be freely recognized by other people. It is clear that the activity of a person utilizing capital within society belongs in the sphere in which mind and spirit hold sway. If the political state involves itself in this activity, its lack of relationship to people's different individual capacities will inevitably exercise a negative influence on their effectiveness. . . . Nor should the prospect of economic advantage have any influence on the exercise of individual capacities which capital allows.
All this may sound fine and good but seem unattainable — to be an illusory ideal. It is an ideal, but not one that can be made real just by talking about it for extended periods of time. I suspect that this is what has happened to Steiner's vision of the three-fold society over the past eighty years and continues today among those who claim to be anthroposophists. I have listened to their socialistic arguments and have found them full of empty rhetoric and illusory idealism, just as Steiner predicts in this next passage. It is specifically to those people I offer this work, this in-depth review of the three-fold society with strong doses of new technology created by Andrew which, in my opinion, builds the bootstrap, the humus in which the seeds of the three-fold society planted by Steiner can proceed to sprout and grow.
[page 67] This does not have to be illusory idealism. True, illusory idealism has done an enormous amount of damage in the sphere of social activism, as it has elsewhere. But the view propounded here is not based — as should by now be clear — on the crazy notion that the' spirit' can work wonders if those who think they 'have' it, talk about it until the cows come home. It is based, rather, on observation of the free meeting of people's mind and spirit, on their free collaboration and interaction. By its very nature this collaboration acquires a social form when it is allowed to develop in a truly free way.
In this next passage Steiner clearly points to the deleterious effects of both economic coercion and political coercion. He points out that the capitalist only errs when ignoring the "free sphere of mind and spirit." Though the text doesn't show the phrase "political coercion" — perhaps due to some bent of the translator — the phrase "controlled by the political state" can only refer to state coercion.
[page 68, 69] Socialist thinkers of the present promote the idea that society itself should manage the means of production. This striving is only justified to the extent that the free sphere of the mind and spirit does the managing. And this will render impossible that economic coercion which is felt to be unworthy of human dignity, which the capitalist exercises when he bases his activity upon the forces and factors of economic life. Nor will individual human capacities any longer be thwarted, as they are now when controlled by the political state.
What is required to avoid economic coercion is a voluntary or volitional act of will in the form of a contract between the capitalist and the worker which creates a share for each worker of the proceeds brought in from the worker's contribution. This points out a crucial aspect of contracts that is often overlooked in the current world today: contracts are volitional agreements between two or more parties. This voluntary aspect of contracts tends to be obscured by people who see contracts as something to be enforced by coercion, e. g., "If you don't live up to our contract, I'll sue you and make you do it." Rightly understood, the purpose of a contract to provide a written expression of the wills of the two parties at the time of the contract(9).
[page 69] In the healthy social organism, the proceeds from activities carried out by means of capital and individual human capacities must, like any other activity of the mind or spirit, derive on the one hand from the doer's free initiative, and on the other from the free understanding for it which other people have, who require what he creates. Measuring the amount of proceeds for what is thus created or produced must agree with the doer's own free assessment, taking into consideration such factors as the preparations he needed to make, and his expenditure etc. His claims in this respect will only be satisfied if his efforts, and what he creates, are met with understanding and appreciation.
Arranging things like this prepares the ground for a really free contractual relationship between manager and worker. And instead of being an exchange of goods (or money) for work, this relationship is one in which the two parties, who together bring about what is produced or created, agree the share which each receives.
When Steiner sums up the situation of the worker in the current coercive social system, he echoes what Heath and Andrew have also pointed out in their works.
[page 69, 70] It is not the free unfolding of human capacities, supported by capital, which has led to human labour being forced into the role of a commodity, but rather the fettering of these capacities by the political state or economic forces. To realize this quite clearly is the first step in working towards new forms of social organization. It is a modem prejudice which says that the means for making a healthy social organism should emerge from the political state or the economy. If we continue to pursue the path which follows from this prejudice, we will create institutions which, far from leading humanity to its goal, will oppress it more and more.
In this next passage Steiner rightly points out how the unhampered access to capital can help foster the initiative of gifted people to bring products into existence and that it is to the benefit of the workers for that to be the case.
[page 74, 75] Whatever a person's circumstances and position, it is in his interest that nothing be lost which flows out of individual, human capacities and leads to the creation of goods that serve human life. But such capacities can only develop when people can unfold them through their own free initiative. Whenever this freedom is hindered, humanity is the poorer; to some extent at least, it is deprived of benefits which would otherwise have been available to it. It is capital which is the means of rendering these capacities effective in many different realms of society. It is therefore in the real interest of everyone within the social organism to ensure that all ownership of capital is managed in such a way that an individually gifted person or a group of people with particular capacities can gain access to the level of capital that their own free initiative requires. Everyone, from the creative mind to the laborer, must acknowledge that it is in his own objective interests not only for sufficient numbers of capable people or groups to have completely unhampered access to capital, but also for them to be able to use their own free initiative in obtaining it. Only they can judge how, by means of capital, their individual capacities will create goods useful to the social organism.
Steiner shows that the existence of private property is a requirement for allowing the individual to create goods that are useful to the social organism — that the lack of private property will lead to the equivalent of a paralysis in the production of goods. The seventy year experience of the people of the Soviet Union — which began after Steiner wrote these words — indicates the truth of his words. We can remember the long lines for food and clothes combined with the lack of opportunity in a nation in which private property was anathema.
[page 77] We are connected with what we produce — whether on our own or together with other people — in the same way that we are connected with the dexterity of our own limbs. Restriction of free access to the means of production is equivalent to a paralysis or restriction of our bodily movements.
Now private property is nothing other than the medium for this free access. As far as the social organism is concerned, the only significant aspect of property is that the owner has the right of free access, through his free initiative, to what he owns. There are two connected things in society which are of quite different significance for the social organism: free access to the capital base of social production; and the legal relationship with other people, which the person with free access to capital enters into as a result of these other people being precluded by his right of access from freely utilizing this capital base.
Clearly Steiner sees the need for private property and understands that hindering it is equivalent to hobbling a person's limbs. He also recognizes that in his time that private property was under attack by those wanted to eliminate all private property as was subsequently done in the Soviet Union and predicts that it will destroy itself in the process. In our time the attacks on private property have become more subtle with the coercive state taking control of private property by laws prohibiting its use by its owners. The ultimate destruction of any coercive state will proceed from any restriction it places upon the free expression of private property at any level.
[page 79, 80] At the present time, when there is widespread suspicion of all private property, there is a move afoot to introduce radical changes and transfer all private property to common ownership. But going down this road would be to hamper the vitality of the social organism. Experience would eventually lead people to another course of action; but it would be much better to arrange things now as I have suggested, so that the social organism might be nourished immediately by health-giving forces.
In this next passage Steiner explains that unless the three folds of society are kept separate society will topple and fall just as the three-legged stool in Figure 1 will if the three legs are tied together at the bottom. The unity of the stool does not arrive by tying the three legs together, it comes about as a consequence of the separation of its three legs which provides it both unity and stability. Any society today which operates based on the rule of some human made law is subject to an inherent instability because its laws are administered from above and they tie together the three legs of society into a preformed unity.
[page 86, 87] Initially, the ideas described here will be hindered from widespread acceptance by contemporary ways of thought, which will fail to get to grips with them for one of two fundamental reasons. Either people will object that separating out different strands of the unified social organism is hard to imagine, since the three branches of this organism are in reality completely entangled and interwoven; or they will say that these three 'limbs' of society are already sufficiently separate and self-determining within the present unified state, and that what I have described is therefore just an empty theory. The first objection relies on an unreal kind of thinking, which believes that people can only create a unified community if they are organized and directed from without. But in actual fact, the opposite is necessary: unity must arise as a consequence, not as a precondition. Unity only comes about as a result of different, separate activities and functions eventually flowing together into one.
In my own studies of the ideas and technology of our friend Andrew, it occurred to me that if a law exists which restricts what a business can do, there are two possible outcomes: 1) If it requires the business to do something it would not else do, the law would be harmful to the business. 2) If it requires the business to do something it was already doing, the law would be useless. Thus laws restricting business can be seen as either harmful or useless. Steiner identifies this idea of mine as the "Physiocratic Law" from one of the first schools of scientific economics in the 1800s.
[page 87] The so-called 'Physiocratic Law' held that either people make regulations about economic life that conflict with its free unfolding, in which case such measures are harmful, or their laws and regulations accord with the natural tendencies of economic life and go along with them, in which case they are superfluous.
Steiner also claims that experts have long since have rejected this belief, claiming it to be disastrous. No doubt it is disastrous when applied without suitable technology. It would be like operating a steam boiler without a governor. Sooner or later it would blow up. With the advent of suitable technology such as Andrew provides, the objections to the "Physiocratic Law" can be seen to dissolve.
Steiner is also clear that the so-called governments with their coercive laws will never be able to manage currency in a healthy and rational way so that the currency does not continually go through cycles of inflation and devaluation. A healthy and rational management of currency can only happen when it is handled by an autonomous economic organization independent of any coercive bureaucracy.
[page 96] Modern governments will never solve the question of currency satisfactorily by passing laws, but only when they renounce their control and hand it over to an autonomous economic organism to deal with.
The next aspect of Steiner's insight seems radical, but it follows rationally and logical from the premises of a three-fold society: a private court system independent of any coercive state control.
[page 99, 100] One of the ways through which a threefold structure of the social organism will be able to show that it is rooted in the very nature of human society is by the emancipation of legal proceedings from state control.
We have seen Steiner's proposals for a three-fold society and compared them to the three-folding arrangement that Spencer Heath wrote of in his book, Citadel, Market, and Altar. After publishing his book privately, Spencer Heath happened to take a course from our friend, Andrew, the rocket scientist from Hungary whose full name is Andrew Joseph Galambos. The course was V50, which is the introductory course to Andrew's Volitional Science curriculum. After one of the sessions, Heath talked to Dr. Galambos and told him that he had written a book on the ideas that were used in the course. Galambos read "Citadel, Market, and Altar" and as he explained in the taped version of the course I took, V50T, he said he found in Spencer Heath the first independent source of ideas which were consonant with his own original ideas. It was Galambos's recommendation that led me to purchase and read Heath's book. Given Galambos’s earnest desire to credit every outside source of the ideas that he incorporated into his work, it seems to me that he had never heard of Rudolf Steiner’s three-fold society concepts as such. What we have before us are two men, Heath and Steiner, whose ideas on how to build freedom in the world had intersected after Steiner’s death, and a third man, Galambos, whose ideas were developed independently and yet intersected with those of Heath and Steiner. So far as I know, Galambos never became aware of Steiner’s work during their lifetimes, except indirectly through his contact with Spencer Heath, and only after the V50 lectures were already developed and were being given publicly. Heath never referenced Steiner in his well-indexed book, so we can presume Heath did not know of Steiner's three-fold ideas till after he had completed his book in 1947.
The chore I found myself faced when reviewing Steiner's book "Towards Social Renewal" was how to bring the independent work of these three men together for the first time. For surely the work of each supports and reinforces the works of the other two and together the three of them, separate and together, can support the cause of freedom as shown in Figure 1.
The nineteen session course I took from Galambos was my introduction to the concept that a true government could be created which applied no coercion in any of its workings. That seemed, as I said earlier, incredible to me. I was deeply skeptical at so many levels that I held out little hope that all my doubts would be replaced by confidence. The guarantee of the full return of my money seemed scant recompense to me, but it helped me to stay with the course as systematically, one by one, every one of my questions, concerns, and doubts were answered fully with many examples of how the process would work. Out of this beginning course I got a vision of a new world in which coercion would become like a bad dream from the childhood of humanity that we had outgrown.
This is not the place to give you a complete reprise of the contents of V50T, but it is possible to purchase a new book, Sic Itur Ad Astra, Volume 1, which contains the complete transcript of V50T and read it for yourself. Galambos does not talk of a three-fold society, but rather he builds the ideas, concepts, and technology without which a three-fold society will never be built on a country-wide scale in my opinion. V50T contains the basics of building freedom which will allow the three-fold components of society: the economic sphere, the rights sphere, and the cultural sphere to be completely autonomous and to meet all the goals and objectives which Steiner has laid out for us in this book.
To the extent that Steiner made suggestions which involve coercion, one can see that it was because Steiner did not have access to Galambos's ideas and concepts. Few people who have read Steiner extensively have read Heath's book or taken Galambos's courses. There have been about thirty to fifty thousand people world-wide who have taken Galambos's course by my estimate, but so far as I know I am the only one of them who has read Steiner extensively or at all.
Earlier I promised an operational definition for morality. This definition is a derivative of Andrew Galambos's lifework and I received it in the process of taking my course in V50T. After taking that course I made the somewhat audacious claim that V50T could be considered a machine that one could insert an immoral person on one end and a moral person would emerge from the other end. As if to slap me for my audacity, fate brought me a person in the form of a young inventor full of promise which I enrolled in the course. He went to the sessions and had learned hardly anything by the time he finished them. For the money on the course and the investment I made in one of his inventions I received nothing only a lesson in humility and this epigram: "There are no mistakes in life, only lessons, and some lessons are more expensive than others." I had learned that only persons of intellectual curiosity who are willing to pay for the privilege and invest their own money will learn anything from the course. This was carefully explained by Dr. Galambos during the course, but in my youthful enthusiasm I thought I knew his work better than he did.
It is simple to define a moral action: A moral action is an action taken which involves only the use of the non-procreative derivatives of one's life. What takes some training and insight is to see the excellent and comprehensive nature of this definition. First one needs to comprehend the various derivatives of one's life in these three aspects: primordial property, primary property, and secondary property. Primordial property is one's life, everything from the skin inward — one's physical life. Primary property is what derives from primordial property — one's thoughts and ideas. Secondary property brings us into the realm of things — things we acquire or create as result of some thought or idea. Each level of property by Galambos's definitions depends on the previous one in this order: primordial, primary, and secondary.
An operational definition is a definition in which one performs operations to determine whether a thing or a situation fits the definition. Try some operations to determine which kind of property these things and situations affect: killing one's baby, patenting an invention, selling a car. Clearly these are respectively: primordial, primary, and secondary property questions. To the question, "Which of these are moral?" Dr. Galambos offers a simple measuring stick. Simply ask, "Whose property is it?" If the item or situation involves any level of property which is yours, it is a moral action. A baby is a procreative derivative of your life and is therefore not your property. Killing it is immoral. Patenting an invention which uses an original idea on your part involves your primary property and patenting it would be a moral action. Selling an automobile you have previously acquired the rights to involves your secondary property and selling it would be a moral action.
What about a piece of land that you have acquired? Is it secondary property or not? Operate and find out. Is the land a derivative of your life? Unless you created the land where there was none before, it is not a derivative of your life and thus is not property. When we own land, what we actually own is the rights to the use of the land — those rights are the secondary property. Note how this is consonant with a distinction that Steiner makes in this book about land in the above passage from pages 48, 49. The pertinent sentence is: "But the piece of land itself does not have a commodity-function in economic life. Instead it occupies a place in the social organism by virtue of the right which the purchaser has to its use." The use of a piece of land is what one acquires when one buys land and that's all. One cannot do anything one wants with a piece of land because one only buys certain specified uses of the piece of land and any other use of it would be immoral by Galambos's definition and Steiner's intention.
At this point it will be instructive to take a look at the laws of your nation vis-a-vis the protection it provides for the three forms of property: primordial, primary, and secondary. The USA is the nation I'm most familiar with, so let me describe how I see the protection provided for property in this nation:
Type of Property
Protection Provided by USA
Primordial Partial protection: laws against murder, but the State creates loopholes for war, execution, and abortion among other things. Primary None. Copyright laws, e.g., only provide protection for specific embodiment of ideas and thoughts. Patent laws do not protect ideas, only the devices produced from them. Secondary Partial protection: laws against theft of secondary property, but the State creates loopholes for itself in the law for criminal prosecutions, business regulations, Imminent Domain, environmental protection, taxation, and a host of other vehicles for appropriation of secondary property from its citizens.
Notice how clearly one can judge the laws of one's own land when one applies the multi-level property definition of Dr. Galambos. Now consider his operational definition of freedom which is based on his definition of property: "Freedom is the societal condition which exists when everyone has 100% percent control over one's own property." He has provided us a masterful tool for measuring the specific quality of freedom in one's own nation. And, as Steiner points out time and again in this book, unless a society is allowed to operate in freedom, there will be no possibility of a three-fold society. The three legs of the stool of freedom will be tied together at the bottom and the stool will collapse in the first breeze.
It should be clear at this point that in a coercive state there will be incursions against property of all three kinds, but notice that while the USA provides partial protection for primordial and secondary property, it provides none at all for primary property. This is a condition that Galambos's original definition of property highlights for us, and once it is pointed out, one is able to search for and propose a solution. That proposal consumes a lot of the course V50. Let me ask you, dear Reader, how would you propose protecting primary property? If you begin by saying, "The State should . . ." then you will have missed the point. The State is already providing the maximum protection it can via patent laws and copyright laws and that is simply not enough. To obtain a patent one is required to publicly disclose how one idea for an invention operates so that another person could create the invention. The Wrights Bros did this and others such as the founder of Curtis Aircraft Co. stole the Wrights Bros idea for building an aeroplane(10) and manufactured planes using that stolen primary property. The Wrights fought in patent court for years and won, but still the use of the theft of their primary property continued. For this reason, there has never been a Wright Bros. Aircraft Co: the protection provided by the State was non-existent for the primary property of the Wrights.
Dr. Galambos gives this general definition of capitalism on page 100 of Sic Itur Ad Astra, Vol. 1: "Capitalism is that societal structure whose mechanism is capable of protecting all forms of property completely." One sees that this definition is not restricted to economic life, but includes the rights life, and the cultural life. When Steiner talks about capitalism, he does not have access to Galambos's definition, so he is restricted to making comments about capitalism solely as an economic mechanism. It is for this reason that I found it preferable to avoid mentioning Steiner's comments about capitalism — it would have taken too long for me to explain the problems in his comments, up until now. Because of the restrictions under which Steiner was operating eighty years ago, I find it better to mention the things that Steiner got right and how they coincide with Galambos's contribution to the three-fold society. The things one might quibble that Steiner got wrong will be found to be corrected when one takes into account the contributions that Galambos has provided us after Steiner's time.
Is any of this important? Ah, there's a pregnant question. What is your definition of "important"? Okay, you've thought about your definition — would you like to hear Dr. Galambos's definition of importance? Of all the people in the world, he knew more about his definitions and what they meant at all levels, so he was able to give us an operational definition of the word "importance" on page 289 of the V50T book Sic Itur Ad Astra (SIAA1): "Importance is defined as the measure of the amount of property affected." Thus he has given two questions to ask about events to get insight into issues of freedom as it affects all three folds of society:
Timing of Question
Need to Determine
Question to Ask
Before the Action Is it moral? Whose property is it? After the Action Of what importance is it? How much property of what kind was affected?
Galambos says on page 623 of SIAA1 that in his long successor course, Volitional Science V201, "I go into this in much more detail, because importance is one of the most important terms in the world."
To my mind, Steiner would have found in Galambos's definitions ways of communicating three-fold concepts that would have been clearer to everyone, and he would have seen through Galambos's work that when the primary property of the workers at the lowest levels of the production is acknowledged, respected, and valued all the way using the three avenues of credit, gratitude, and compensation, then the dissatisfaction of the proletariat towards capitalism would dissolve. This statement may be a bit much for some of you to accept, so let me explain a bit how this would work using some concepts from the V201T course I took(11).
First Galambos needed to provide a method of government, a completely non-coercive mechanism to replace the so-called governments which are extant in the world today. The method he provides is similar to one suggested by Spencer Heath in his book, "Citadel, Market, and Altar." But before I describe that method of government, let's look at the innovative way Galambos suggests for protecting primary property. As you recall, primary property is given no protection is currently in the USA or any other country. I do not ask you to take this statement on my word or Galambos's word, simply apply his definitions to your own country and you will know whether the statement is true or not.
To protect primary property, one's thoughts and ideas, Galambos suggests a proprietary clearinghouse for primary property. One submits their original thoughts and ideas to the clearing house where it is recorded as to the date submitted and held in trust. This mechanism will provide a way of answering the question, "Whose property is it?" as applied to thoughts and ideas. One should not let the simplicity of this suggestion disguise its importance. Nor should one let one’s thoughts about how employees of the clearinghouse might steal the ideas they are trusted with dissuade anyone about its efficacy. Mechanisms for dampening such attempts will ensure the trust that one will be able to place in the clearinghouse. We place trust in equivalent proprietary organizations today — Consumer's Union and Underwriters Laboratories are two that come to mind.
To protect the other two forms of property, he also suggests proprietary organizations. These organizations, rightly understood, will operate volitionally according to the definition of freedom or they will lose all their customers and go out of business. Once enough people understand the implications and applications of these innovative definitions of property, freedom, capitalism, morality, and importance(12), no business will be able to retain customers if they operate immorally. These proprietary businesses which will provide all the functions currently performed by the coercive State will learn in no uncertain terms the morality of profit and the profitability of morality.
That halcyon day will come when governments will consist of proprietary organizations operating in freedom so that the three folds of society: the economic sphere, the rights sphere, and the cultural sphere are guaranteed autonomy. We may not see it for some years yet, but it will come for the very reason that Victor Hugo said, "There is no army which can stop an idea whose time has come." Hugo spoke in warlike terms because in his time, freedom seemed to be something that one had to fight for. The American Revolution, French Revolution, so many revolutions were fought in the name of freedom, and yet the citizens who risked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor left to their descendants a political structure that became as coercive and oppressive over time as the one they fought to overthrow.
"Freedom," Dr. Galambos said, "cannot be fought for, it can only be built." If you fight against some form of tyranny, you end up with another form of tyranny — it is for that reason that real peace will only come when we stop fighting tyranny and begin building freedom. We may need a huge army to fight a tyranny with all the forces of oppression it has on its side, but building freedom is a job anyone of us can begin doing today. Freedom, rightly understood, can only be built one person at a time, and once built, it can never be destroyed(13).
Spencer Heath is reported to have said, though I have been unable to locate a reference in his book to this concept, "Coercion in a political system acts as friction does in a physical system: it wastes energy." You and I, dear Reader, live in a coercive political system today and if you wish to build freedom where you live, I can give you a few hints as how to go about it.
First, acknowledge the truth of Heath's statement and recognize that you will be required to waste energy every time you deal with a coercive organization, and then do your best to minimize the amount of interaction you have with any coercive organization. Notice that you give energy to those you support and to those you resist. Withdraw whatever support you are currently giving to coercive organizations and more importantly withdraw whatever resistance you are giving likewise. When these coercive organization are left without supporters and resisters, they will necessarily wither and die away like a plant from which nutrients and light are withdrawn.
Naturally, one would be foolhardy to withdraw support from an organization which will force you to support it at the point of a gun, so one would be wise to provide only the level of support which is exacted from you coercively, knowing full well that all coercion ultimately requires the backing of deadly force.
Likewise it would be foolhardy to withdraw support from a coercive organization if one were not convinced that a volitional alternate to coercion were not only possible, but imminently preferable from every aspect of morality, property, and freedom. How does one become convinced of this? Study Andrew's books and learn about the technology he developed in V201T or Sic Itur Ad Astra, Vol 2, as soon as it appears.Then and only then will you have the means to understand how to go about building freedom one person at a time. Then and only then will you be able to sing,
"Let the building of freedom begin and let it begin with me."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ footnotes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Footnote 1. Three examples: Jesus was accused of healing on the Sabbath, of permitting his disciples to gather grain to eat on the Sabbath, and of blaspheming by claiming to be equal to God.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2. Given the thirty or so years passage of time between Steiner's and Heath's book, it is possible that Heath encountered the idea of three-folding second hand, but his progressive development of his analysis of society first from energy concepts of physics, secondly, from human physiology, and thirdly from human society indicates to me he developed these concepts all of a piece from his own resources. I did receive in 2001 a personal communication from Heath's grandson, Spencer H. MacCallum, in which he indicated that he and his grandfather attended in 1950s in Greenwich Village, New York, discussion groups on Steiner's ideas and The Threefold Commonwealth, which would have been after the book was completed in 1947.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. It is possible, however, for me to point to several historians who can provide evidence to support a claim of the dampening effects of coercion on prosperity using data that has been either ignored or skewed by other historians of economic conditions of the USA and England. Read Capitalism and the Historians by F. A. Hayek with essays by historians: T. S. Ashton, L. M. Hacker, W. H. Hutt, and B. de Jouvenel.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Footnote 4. This problem is eliminated as soon as one adopts Dr. Galambos's definition of property as "one's life and all non-procreative derivatives of one's life." Land, since it is rarely a derivative of a person's life, is not to be considered as property. Clearly Dr. Steiner saw the necessity to avoid treating land as property as well.Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
Footnote 5. I am just barely old enough to recall the 1940s before pasteurization made its way into rural areas of Louisiana. My grandparents, Clairville and Nora, bought raw milk and boiled it on the stove to sterilize it — and that drastically changed the taste of the milk when drunk cold. I hated the taste of the milk and only drank it reluctantly.Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
Footnote 6. A life of rights can be defined as that which is morally correct. A clear definition of what constitutes a moral action is needed if one is to adhere to a life of rights. What is required is an operational definition for moral actions so that everyone can judge for oneself whether some contemplated action is moral or order before performing it.Return to text directly before Footnote 6.
Footnote 7. Three of the inventions I recall are: wireless transmission of electricity, cold light filling a room, artificial ball lightning. Tesla also invented the flourescent bulbs we use yet today, and demonstrated remote control of a submarine, wireless telegraphy, and the first x-ray image of a hand, among many other things. He wanted to transmit electricity free of charge to everyone via the air. His entire documented works and equipment at his death were confiscated and stored away in some obscure federal warehouse.Return to text directly before Footnote 7.
Footnote 8. A true governor is a device or mechanism designed to maintain watch over a system so that it operates smoothly and does not, for example, run amuck or blow up. A simple example is the governor on a steam engine consisting of rotating balls which speed up as steam pressure increase, as they speed up they fly further upward and this pushes down on the feed to the steam engine to reduce the steam pressure which ensures the boiler will not blow up. A so-called government lacks a true governor and often runs out of control.Return to text directly before Footnote 8.
Footnote 9. The technology for replacing all coercive contracts with volitional contracts is another product of the creative mind of our friend, Andrew.Return to text directly before Footnote 9.
Footnote 10. Aeroplane is not a typo. It is the name that the Wright Bros gave to their invention. To call it an "airplane" is to interfere with the primary property of the Wright Bros, and to exacerbate the interference done by those who stole the ideas for making a flying heavier-than-air machine from the Wrights. To appreciate the importance of this interference, one needs to fully assimilate the material of V50 or Sic Itur Ad Astra 1.Return to text directly before Footnote 10.
Footnote 11. Volitional Science V201T is the taped version of the successor course to V50T. While V50T was 3 hours a session for 19 sessions, V201T was 4 hours a session for 52 sessions. Plans are in the works to publish V201T as Volume 2 of "Sic Itur Ad Astra" in the coming years. Much of my in-depth knowledge of how Galambos's technology would work to create a non-coercive society which would make three-fold society possible came from this course and I will be solely dependent on my memory of this course that I took over 20 years ago until the book is available.Return to text directly before Footnote 11.
Footnote 12. One might think that it would require over 75% of the people to understand these principles in order for the "Natural Society" of Dr. Galambos to arise in a given country, but consider this: "What percentage of people understand how a PC, a TV, or a DVD player operates?" Enough people need to understand the technology to produce these devices and then people will buy them and utilize them in their world. People learn from what other people do, and they will quickly mimic the actions of others who are prospering by acting moral to others by careful application of Dr. Galambos's principles and technology. My estimate is that about 5% of the people will suffice as a critical mass to create a fast-paced changeover to the Natural Society which Steiner envisioned in his three-fold society.Return to text directly before Footnote 12.
Footnote 13. Robert Axelrod in his book Evolution of Cooperation proves this anisotropy of freedom: once built it cannot be destroyed. He proves it by computer simulation of the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma and the proof is quite compelling.Return to text directly before Footnote 13.
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