Saturday, October 29, 2011

Toward Social Renewal

Rudolf Steiner:
"The ‘social question’ is not something which has suddenly appeared at this stage of human evolution and which can be resolved by a few individuals or by some parliamentary body, and stay resolved. It is an integral part of modern civilization which has come to stay, and as such will have to be resolved anew for each moment in the world's historical development. Humanity has now entered into a phase in which social institutions constantly produce anti-social tendencies. These tendencies must be overcome each time. Just as a satiated organism experiences hunger again after a period of time, so the social organism passes from order to disorder. A food which permanently stills hunger does not exist; neither does a universal social panacea. Nevertheless, men can enter into communities in which they would be able to continuously direct their activities in a social direction. One such community is the self-governing spiritual branch of the social organism.
Observation of the contemporary world indicates that the spiritual life requires free self-administration, while the economy requires associative work. The modern economic process consists of the production, circulation and consumption of commodities. Human needs are satisfied by means of this process and human beings are directly involved in it, each having his own part-interest, each participating to the extent he is able. What each individual really needs can only be known by himself, what he should contribute he can determine through his insight into the situation as a whole. It was not always so, and it is not yet the case the world over; but it is essentially true as far as the civilized inhabitants of the earth are concerned.
Economic activity has expanded in the course of human evolution. Town economies developed from closed household economies and in turn grew into national economies. Today we stand before a global economy. Undoubtedly the new contains much of the old, just as the old showed indications of what was to come. Nevertheless, human destiny is conditioned by the fact that this process, in most fields of economic endeavour, has already been accomplished. Any attempt to organize economic forces into an abstract world community is erroneous. In the course of evolution private economic enterprise has, to a large extent, become state economic enterprise. But the political states are not merely the products of economic forces, and the attempt to transform them into economic communities is the cause of the social chaos of modern times. Economic life is striving to structure itself according to its own nature, independent of political institutionalization and mentality. It can only do this if associations, comprised of consumers, distributors, and producers, are established according to purely economic criteria. Actual conditions would determine the scope of these associations. If they are too small they would be too costly; if they are too large they would become economically unmanageable. Practical necessity would indicate how inter-associational relations should develop. There is no need to fear that individual mobility would be inhibited due to the existence of associations. He who requires mobility would experience flexibility in passing from one association to another, as long as economic interest and not political organization determines the move. It is possible to foresee processes within such associations which are comparable to currency in circulation."

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