Class society, continuing

Saturday, May 5, 2007, continuing

(10:45 a.m.) You may have heard – what will seem ridiculous to you – of Elizabethan society, for instance, in which someone wearing a ruff wider that allowed for that station in life might have it publicly (and humiliatingly) clipped for him. A class-based society is firmly bounded and does not allow people to move upward very easily, and certainly not at their will, to the extent that it can help it. In a society – a feudal society, say – based upon hereditary casts, there is a security as well as a lack of opportunity.

Indeed, for one and all there is a security partially based on that lack of opportunity.

This is hard for your age to understand, thinking as it does that it is the last word in progress. What age ever thinks differently? Even if it looks backward to a past that was undoubtedly greater – as the medieval world looked back on the Roman Empire, say – still it says, “but we are better, in that we –” and then it fills in the blanks as best it can.

Your idea of your society, and how that society would look to the proverbial outside observer, the man from Mars, are two very different things. In fact one could argue the law of compensation: That which you have the least, you imagine that you have the most. That which in practice you value least, in theory you value most.

Respect for law? Respect for life? Equality under the law? Opportunity for all? Wealth, education, security, name it. The more you are told (and are led to tell yourself) that you have, in fact the less you really have in substance.

Who is cutting the ruff of instant millionaires building their monuments to themselves? What gangster fails to get power and even prestige once he is successful enough? What does it take to put $1 million in jail, much less the electric chair? How representative is a government that cannot be influenced saved by fear or money? What equality of opportunity in a land where even free public education no longer exists except as a sort of Potemkin village?

You know all this. Is it the fault of a few crooked politicians? Of a political party? Of the selfishness of a social category? Or is it something far more fundamental?

A society that measures prestige and worth by one means – money – is going to have a very unstable and self-destructive pyramid.

You may go to Plato, whose descending scale you disliked but can now see was based on observation and not merely on aristocratic prejudice.

Monarchy.

Aristocracy.

Democracy.

Plutocracy.

Dictatorship and back to monarchy.

You are well into the stage of plutocracy. What can money not buy in your society? We refer here not merely to America, which is the world’s mirror, but every country on earth to greater or lesser degree, modified by local circumstances. What can money not buy?

But there have been societies in which money could not buy intellectual prestige, or social preferment, or the ability to change rank. You may not like such societies – think of the minor German principalities of the 1600s, say – and you would not fit into them, but they had what you think you want – restraints on the power of money to buy whatever it wants.

Let us say it plainly. Political reform, economic reform, is not the path to any utopia. The reason it is utopia is because it does not exist and it cannot exist – it should not (we would add) exist.

Look again at Plato’s succession of states of social organization. Even if you could force society to stay at any one of these levels, which level is perfect? Which does not have – must have – the defects of its qualities?

Look not to political or economic remedies for your salvation!

Do you want to curtail wealth, or at least the stupidest, crudest flaunting of wealth? You can do it only by exerting social controls either personal (as in tribes) or impersonal (as in caste societies). Are you willing to pay the price, and assuming that you are, are you able to bring this is into being? Or is it a tilting at windmills that distracts you from your real work?

Certainly we do not meet to imply that it is no one’s task to work to change the world’s political and economic structures. We ask only that you ask yourself, is it your work. Is it your work, or do you have other tasks that you are better fitted for? You will do what they are because their allure for you will be unmatched by any other.

A final word on the subject. If you will look at communist societies you will see an attempt to impersonally control society so that wealth is not to determine. It your day such an attempt had to degenerate into ruthless social control based upon police. The reason why had nothing to do with external hostile powers, or “a few bad apples” seizing control of the People’s State – it had to do with the attempt by a few to overcome the weight of the entire world’s movement. Try to set up a monarchy in an age of democracy, or a plutocracy in an age of aristocracy, etc. Some things cannot be done. You might as well try to move the orbit of the Earth. Any results you produce will be twisted by their conflict with the invisible laws governing the times. Hegel was not mistaken, nor was he lost in abstraction.

 

12 thoughts on “Class society, continuing

  1. What a cliffhanger to leave us hanging with: “Hegel was not mistaken, nor was he lost in abstraction.” Hegel! The most “dense” philosophical writing you could imagine. It takes real dedication to read.

    What specific part of Hegel’s writing do you/they refer to?
    (Sorry, I never go to his social philosophy)

    His “dialectic” is one of the most unique approaches, restated as “thesis, antithesis, synthesis, repeat at next higher level… ” Sort of what you are doing with TGU: individual vs community, synthesis; next level… Hmmm

    1. Yes, I think Hegel’s approach expresses well what Rita told me long ago, that sometimes to understand A you have to understand B, but to understand B you have to understand A. This forces us to approach things by increments, continually going back over what we thought we knew, reexamining it in the light of our new standing-point. That’s a rough paraphrase of Hegel’s approach, I think, only he was applying it at another level.

  2. Exactly! After I sent in the reply, I got the A and B part as well. Also: as below, so above ( Hegel’s dialectic moves upward, too). I find it interesting, though, that they pick up on Hegel here in the social context: mind expressing itself through history.

    And doesn’t Hegel maybe also apply to your recent article about sleep? “Sleep is the re-syncing of various versions of your life”… How does it get synced? Is Hegel’s dialectic at play here, too? Views and Counter Views balancing each other out, forming a synthesis, until the next sleep cycle.

    Frank, I think, maybe you should ask TGU directly about Hegel? Is there more here, besides what you and I see already ( A and B, below/above)? How does his dialectic applies to us/TGU? And does it, eventually, lead to the absolute?

    And, here is the big one: how do we go from Hegel’s pure idealism to matter? (oooh!)

    All fascinating questions. Come on, TGU, you left the door wide open, all but inviting us to go through 🙂 I’m willing to follow the white rabbit.

    But please don’t make me reread the phenomenology again, I may as well read Finnegans Wake (since we are talking about sleep and dreamlike reality)

  3. I believe TGU’s main thrust here is in the sentence “We ask only that you ask yourself, is it your work.”
    Seems they’ve been pretty clear about having little to no interest in our cultures and societies, except to the extent they affect us individually.

    “it is utopia because it does not exist and it cannot exist – it should not exist.”
    “Look not to political or economic remedies for your salvation!”
    My guidance echoes TGU: ‘salvation’ is in the expanded awareness brought by conscious closeness/connection with my All-D ‘parts.’

    However, in the midst of all the things that are ‘wrong’ (that we don’t like), it sure would be refreshing to have TGU talk about how things might go ‘right.’ Anyone else up for a pep talk?!
    Jim

    1. Jim, and Hanns, earlier, I’m getting a little worried that, instead of providing a good example, I am providing an excuse. Why ask me? Ask yourselves and share with the rest of us, and probably it will spark something. But to rely on me, or on anybody, for information that you can get more directly, is almost ridiculous. I realize, the question is, CAN you get it more directly. I guarantee that if you don’t try, you can’t! But neither of us knows what will happen as you do try. I’d kind of like to know.

      (I am planning on dying, you know. Where will you be then? Talking to your guys, asking them to ask me questions?)

      1. Trust me, Frank, I continually ask myself. You have no idea. And I use a similar process as you do. Only with me, insight often comes in flashes… so often I do have the answers already when I ask.

        The reason I then ask here is to move THIS discussion along, but without guiding. TGU answers (like on guidance and choice) came out very similar to my thinking, but added to it invaluably. Because, you see, the value you bring to all of this is what I call your process of “authentic discovery.” I talked of it before in another comment.

        Surely, your own inner knowledge is a gift. I have it, too, to some extend. and I try to use it. But the value is in the dialogue. Not just between you and TGU, but their answers with me ( and all other readers), which allow for new insights and new questions, and we with you/TGU through our comments. It moves it all along. (It is Hegel’s dialecitc! )

        But your greatest gift is not just your inner knowing, but being able to put it all in easy to understand and follow language (compare yours to Roberts). That is the editor in you. I am working on that for myself. I am learning in many ways from you, you have no idea. And I am working on myself. As we all are.

        So please don’t misunderstand my asking. Through it, I am trying to help bring out more insights, which often I see already, but cannot express as clearly yet as you do in that dialogue with TGU. I hope it is helpful to all, for that is my wish and intention.

        I still think Hegel would be an interesting side trip 🙂

        1. I hope my comment didn’t come off as grouchy or unwilling. Here’s my suggestion, when questions arise, pursue them with your guys, share the results with us, and ask if any of us have things to add (or dissent from). In other words, we can talk to our own guys afterwards rather than before. That way, we still get a collaborative effort, but the person with the question asks his own guidance first. I think there would be value in that. Have you talked to Herr Professor Hegel yet? You at least speak the same language!

    1. Excellent. I hope others will try the experiment too. When you get to wondering something, there’s a reason why you’re wondering. Who better to explore it at that time and place than you yourself?

  4. Happened to come across this from Rita yesterday (part of sorting for my move), though I don’t have a specific citation for it. I was reading it in May of 2016, if that helps.
    “You were thought together out of 3D and non-3D. You form a seeming unit, you are reacted to by others, which interaction affects both you and them. You in turn create children of your body, children of your mind and spirit and these creations interact with the world in their turn. It is to bring you to a sense of yourself as flow . . . you are process, created and creating . . . It means that nothing is anything in particular without context.”
    This is part of why I want to stay as first-person as possible. Frank is invaluable to me as a spark and/or reminder for that.
    I think for years I went from external connection to external connection to external connection. I still throw Seth in now and then, but I’m trying hard to be my own best connection. I’ve appreciated your putting it back on us, Frank. Thanks as always.

    1. “… for years I went from external connection to external connection to external connection. I still throw Seth in now and then, but I’m trying hard to be my own best connection.”
      Yes, that’s the idea. Glad it came across.

      1. I think the Rita quote works even better for today’s posting on revisiting our lives and creating context.

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