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Threefold Social Order- Have you heard of it? Could it Work?


yehbut_nobut

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
523
Rudolf Steiner put forward ideas for a re-ordering of society in the years following first world war. I've been wondering if anyone had heard of them, and what your thoughts on them might be.
(I've posted this in economy, because that's where the biggest element of these ideas seem to lie, but if mods feel it should be changed please feel free)

For those that haven't heard of this before, I''ll try to summarise;
Steiner's world view is based on spiritual insights, and founded on the idea that human beings use three main capacities to interact with the world: Thinking, Feeling, and Doing (also called "Willing"). He suggested that on a wider level, society should be organised on a threefold level which reflects this human element. The three corresponding social spheres are Politics , Economy and Culture, and the call for "Liberty, equality Fraternity" was, he posited, an expression of this.

The cultural realm encompases Education, the Arts, and Religion, which should all be Free- (ie unforced choice). It relates to human feeling life.
The political realm relates to to the human thinking capacity, and covers everything to do with rights and responsibilities, where equality (of all) should be the rule.
The economic sphere relates to human action, to will, and is covers all personal and business transactions, where - and this is the hardest to grasp- Fraternity is the guiding principle - think of both parties asking "how can a transaction be of the most mutual benefit?"
He put forward when any of these three areas are working outside their natural boundaries, problems will arise.

from wikipedia
Separation between the state and cultural life
Examples: A government should not be able to control culture; i.e., how people think, learn, or worship. A particular religion or ideology should not control the levers of the State. Steiner held that pluralism and freedom were the ideal for education and cultural life.

Separation between the economy and cultural life
Examples: The fact that churches, temples and mosques do not make the ability to enter and participate depend on the ability to pay, and that libraries and some museums are open to all free of charge, is in tune with Steiner’s notion of a separation between cultural and economic life. In a similar spirit, Steiner held that all families, not just rich ones, should have freedom of choice in education and access to independent, non-government schools for their children. Other examples: A corporation should not be able to control the cultural sphere by using economic power to bribe schools into accepting ‘educational’ programs larded with advertising, or by paying scientists to produce research results favorable to the business’s economic interests.

Separation between the state and the economy (stakeholder economics)
Examples: A rich man should be prevented from buying politicians and laws. A politician shouldn’t be able to parlay his political position into riches earned by doing favors for businessmen. Slavery is unjust, because it takes something political, a person’s inalienable rights, and absorbs them into the economic process of buying and selling. Steiner said, "In the old days, there were slaves. The entire man was sold as commodity... Today, capitalism is the power through which still a remnant of the human being—his labor power—is stamped with the character of a commodity."[5] Steiner also advocated more cooperatively organized forms of capitalism (what might today be called stakeholder capitalism) precisely because conventional shareholder capitalism tends to absorb the State and human rights into the economic process and transform them into mere commodities.
What I find interesting that the concept of Money in this philosophy. Money ultimately represents something non-physical - ie work done by another person. This work comes from them having been able to unfolded their (non-physical) human capacities - having learned to become a baker, an architect, a financial planner etc.

Money itself can be further be seen to have three functions; Again from wiki;

Spending money. This is the kind of money is used to purchase goods. Spending money is earned by doing services for society and can be exchanged for services or consumables in society. Spending money should not be confused with 'giving money'. Spending money is what drives the economic realm of society and acts as an indicator of demands in products.

Lending money. This money is used to fund economic ventures. It is money that individuals or businesses have earned and are not using for exchange into consumables and therefore can be used to drive new ventures. Lending money should only be used for economic ventures; it should not be used in the cultural realm.

Giving money. This is the money that should be given to the cultural realm (education, religion, research etc) by the economic realm (businesses) without any strings attached. Giving money is the profit a business, i.e. when all the workers have been paid, the lending money has been paid back and interest has been paid what is left over, the profit, should go into the cultural sphere. In the current capitalist system this money goes to shareholders. According to social threefolding this leads to an unhealthy social organism. In business profits are made through creativity and inspiration. People get creativity and inspiration from the cultural realm it therefore makes sense to plough the profit back into the cultural realm of society. Taxes are the current form of forced giving money, according to social threefolding for a healthy social organism giving money should be donated in freedom to the cultural sphere.
Could such a system work? Any thoughts?
 

farnaby

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Joined
May 15, 2006
Messages
1,966
Thinking without feeling or doing is what a computer does. Doing without thinking or feeling is what a robot does. Feeling without thinking or doing is what my wife does. Are you telling me that a computer, a robot and my wife would create a "natuarlly balanced" society? The consequences are too monstrous to contemplate...
 

yehbut_nobut

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
523
farnaby said:
Thinking without feeling or doing is what a computer does. Doing without thinking or feeling is what a robot does. Feeling without thinking or doing is what my wife does. Are you telling me that a computer, a robot and my wife would create a "natuarlly balanced" society? The consequences are too monstrous to contemplate...
Those are very good analogies, but I'm not sure how your conclusion is based on the ideas given. I don't think the aim is to have one faculty without any input from the other two, but rather to have each one most active in the space most relevant to it.

Would a healthy society not have a balance of thinking feeling and willing, rather than a dominance of one to the exlcusion of the other two, as you suppose?
 

Geekzilla

Active member
Joined
Nov 1, 2007
Messages
234
yehbut_nobut said:
Rudolf Steiner put forward ideas for a re-ordering of society in the years following first world war. I've been wondering if anyone had heard of them, and what your thoughts on them might be.
(I've posted this in economy, because that's where the biggest element of these ideas seem to lie, but if mods feel it should be changed please feel free)
Frankly, some of those comments are something that are common to a lot of political views (e.g. a rich person not being able to buy political influence), so Steiner doesn't seem special in that regard. Other comments in it seem rather vague and wooly.

However, it might be of interest to know where Rudolf Steiner was coming from politically:
http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/Anthroposophy-and-Ecofasc.htm
A few lines:
Anthroposophists consider this threefold structure to be “naturally ordained.” Its central axiom is that the modern integration of politics, economy and culture into an ostensibly democratic framework must falter because, according to Steiner, neither the economy nor cultural life can or should be structured democratically.

Another link:
http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/anthroposophy_criticism.htm

It's important to know where Steiner is coming from before reading anything of his school of thought.
 

The Collective.

Active member
Joined
Apr 21, 2007
Messages
159
farnaby said:
Thinking without feeling or doing is what a computer does. Doing without thinking or feeling is what a robot does. Feeling without thinking or doing is what my wife does. Are you telling me that a computer, a robot and my wife would create a "natuarlly balanced" society? The consequences are too monstrous to contemplate...

Loving that quote so much.
 

AAA

Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Messages
36
Sounds like a cross between fascism and libertarianism ie shite

Say no to Ron Paul nutters.
 

yehbut_nobut

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
523
Geekzilla said:
yehbut_nobut said:
Rudolf Steiner put forward ideas for a re-ordering of society in the years following first world war. I've been wondering if anyone had heard of them, and what your thoughts on them might be.
(I've posted this in economy, because that's where the biggest element of these ideas seem to lie, but if mods feel it should be changed please feel free)
Frankly, some of those comments are something that are common to a lot of political views (e.g. a rich person not being able to buy political influence), so Steiner doesn't seem special in that regard. Other comments in it seem rather vague and wooly.

However, it might be of interest to know where Rudolf Steiner was coming from politically:
http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/Anthroposophy-and-Ecofasc.htm
A few lines:
Anthroposophists consider this threefold structure to be “naturally ordained.” Its central axiom is that the modern integration of politics, economy and culture into an ostensibly democratic framework must falter because, according to Steiner, neither the economy nor cultural life can or should be structured democratically.

Another link:
http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/anthroposophy_criticism.htm

It's important to know where Steiner is coming from before reading anything of his school of thought.
That's Very true. It's also important to know where "waldorfcritics" are coming from, too. I understand their main backer is a christian fundamentalist who objects to anything that might contradict a strictly literal interpretation of the bible.
 

Grailknight

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2008
Messages
12
This is an old post but I think that what is proposed by yehbut_nobut should seriously be considered especially at this time of economic crisis. Globally all governments are trying to fix an economic system that has been shown to be deeply flawed. It was based purely on greed and the accumulation of capital. We now have a wonderful opportunity to change things and make it a better more equitable World. I laud the ideas of Liberty in culture, equality in politics and co-operation in economics.
 

Ramon Mercadar

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
15,207
Why are Steiner schools so controversial?J

Watch Chris Cook's film from last week on Steiner schools

My first encounter with Steiner education was some years ago.

And, as is the norm, it took the form of muddling them up with Montessori schools.

However, last week, Newsnight ran a report on the 30 or so private Steiner schools that showed how different they are from anything else.

The schools are known for being playful and hippyish.

But we revealed the contents of two memos from the Department for Education (DfE) on complaints about bullying in the private Steiner schools - also known as Waldorf schools or Steiner Waldorf schools - and concerns about racism.

BBC News - Why are Steiner schools so controversial?
 
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