Thursday, 16 September 2021

Towards Triopoly

 "Let us have the candour to acknowledge that what we call the 'economy' or the 'free market' is less and less distinguishable from warfare. Though its political means are milder (so far) than those of communism, this newly internationalised capitalism may prove even more destructive of human cultures and communities, of freedom, and of nature. Its tendency is just as much toward total dominance and control." Wendell Berry

In 1920 Rudolf Steiner's Die Kernpunkte der Socialen Frage was translated into English and published by George, Allen & Unwin under the title The Threefold Social Order. Subsequently published by several publishers, and under differing titles, the book was widely read, discussed and quoted in the wide variety of social reform circles that existed throughout the English-speaking world in the interwar years.

Throughout his works Steiner insists that man is a spiritual being, not in any vague or mystical sense but in an exact scientific sense. This being the case, a social system which fails to offer scope for the free activity of man’s spiritual nature cannot but descend into chaos. The spiritual is not something private, to be set aside from the mainstream currents of the life of society, reserved to a 'spare time' activity. Rather it is of central importance within all aspects of human social interaction. In the absence of an understanding of the spiritual nature of humanity, attempts to reform the political and economic institutions of society must flounder because they will inevitably fail to meet human needs. It is absolutely essential to liberate science, religion and art, i.e., education in all its forms, from dependence upon the corporate political economy.

Steiner's explanation of the interlocking elements of society is highly discussable. Ideally, each element operates to complement the others, so that they form a coherent whole. The three spheres can be summed up as Liberty (in the cultural sphere), Equality (in the rights sphere) and Fraternity (in the economic sphere).

l. A cultural/spiritual or educational system covering ‘all that of necessity proceeds from the individual and must of necessity find its way from the human personality into the structure of the body social’.

2. A political or equity system dealing with ‘all that is made necessary in social life by the relations between man and man’.

3. An economic system having to do with ‘everything which is requisite for man’s regulation of his material relations with the external world’.

Steiner looked to a future in which the three spheres, though forming the one body of the social order as a whole, would work freely and independently. He saw that the social order was being run as a monopoly. Since he wrote, a century ago, the economic aspect of life has, to a great extent, overspread all aspects of social interaction:

"It [the economy] has outgrown both political and cultural life. It now acted like a suggestion on the thoughts, feelings and passions of men. Thus it becomes ever more evident that the manner in which the business of a nation is carried on determines, in reality, the cultural and political life of the people. It becomes more evident that the commercial and industrial magnates, by their position alone, have acquired the monopoly of culture."

The present social chaos is a direct result of the failure of the schools of economic and political science to break free of the world of monopoly culture, finance and practice.

NOTE: For documentation see Understanding the Financial System, Frances Hutchnison 2010. Free download and hard copy available from

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