Integral Society: Welfare or Warfare?

What kind of figure does “society” cut from the purview of integral consciousness? We see that society is a fourfold structure as much as the human form is fourfold, and it forgets this to its peril. Society is also an image of the human form and must be fourfold in the same way as the human form is fourfold, because it must grapple with a fourfold reality of two times (past and future) and two spaces (inner and outer). “Society”, insofar as it is healthy society, is a dynamic equilibrium or balance between these four often contradictory powers of space and time — backwards, forwards, inwards, outwards. “Coherence” is health, and health is dynamic equilibrium. “Integrity” means whole, and that means “healthy”.

Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” is also a mandala model of the social order that also allows us to interpret what is social dis-order or dis-ease, that is to say, loss of integrity, loss of coherence, which is death in social terms. And the diseases of society are fourfold: war, revolution, anarchy, decadence. They are four because they attack one or another of the space or time fronts or aspects of the social entity.

Rosenstock-Huessy's "cross of reality"

Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”

Society is, in other words, the human form writ large. And this has been represented in some “mystical” literature as the Universal Adam or the Primordial Man. For as the human form is a fourfold consciousness structure of thinking, feeling, willing, and sensing functions, so society mirrors these functions in its institutions or archetypes: Philosopher, Poet, Politician, Priest — or sciences, arts, politics, and religion — are instituted as the “guardians of the four directions”, as it were. Science or thinking faces the objective front of life; arts face the subjective front; politics faces the future, and religion interfaces with and orients towards the past. Towards world, towards soul, towards origin, and towards destiny describes the dynamic expansion (or contraction) of consciousness.

So, indeed, consciousness is the “jewel in the lotus”, multidimensional and with many facets. The ideal human being would be one in which the otherwise specialist functions of Poet, Philosopher, Politician, and Priest are realised, for these correspond to the feeling, thinking, willing, and sensing functions of consciousness. And, in fact, this is what many of the modern “democratic” revolutions aimed for. “Everyman a king”; “everyman a priest”; “everyman a philosopher” were the slogans of these revolutions because the revolutionaries believed that the individual was strong enough, or could be made strong enough, to be entrusted with these responsibilities and functions himself or herself.

The reactionaries of all ages have, contariwise, insisted that the individual was too weak to be entrusted with these specialist functions, that must remain in the hands of an elite — the aristos, the “best”, or, those whose training and refinement best suited them to the tasks of thinking, feeling, willing, or sensing. They feared that democratisation or “leveling” would be vulgarisation and debasement of these powers. And that was, in fact, Nietzsche’s objection to democracy.

The Poet, Politician, Philosopher, and Priest are deemed “guardians” because they are the front lines of defence against the social diseases of anarchy, decadence, war, or revolution (civil war). Anarchy and war are diseases of society’s space fronts (inner and outer), while decadence and revolution are diseases of society’s time fronts (future and past). Decadence attacks the future; revolution attacks the past. And these four diseases of the social body as it cuts a figure in time and space are connected with Blake’s four Zoas of the disintegrate human form who also, in their negative or disintegrate aspects, are war, revolution, anarchy, and decadence, and which are the four faces of Nihilism.

Thinking, feeling, willing, and sensing are mankind’s four defences against Nihilism, for the total victory of war, decadence, revolution or anarchy would be the death and dissolution of the social organism.

So, really… a stark and valid political choice still exists for the human, and that is between welfare and warfare, and this is the whole question of the integral and the disintegral, or of health and sickness, lie and death, eros and thanatos in social terms. Imbalances in the human form cannot help but be reflected as imbalances in society and vice versa. Whenever the diseases of war, revolution, anarchy or decadence threaten society, you can be sure there is something wrong with the function of consciousness as it pertains to thinking, willing, sensing, or feeling modalities.

This is also connected with the higher meaning of the “four riders of the apocalypse” or the four beasts that surround the throne of God in the Book of Revelation, or the Buddha’s “Guardians of the Four Directions” of the sacred vantra

Buddhist "Vantra" -- Mandala of the Integral

Buddhist “Vantra” — Mandala of the Integral

, or the Sacred Hoop.

It is not “universal reason” that counts, but this fourfold structure or mandala, as Carl Jung disclosed also, is truly a universal, for it is the shape of the human and social both. Our civilisation — “modernity” — has grotesquely over-developed the mental-rational or logico-mathematical function at the expense of other valid modalities of consciousness, and has induced an imbalance into space and time, which we then misconstrue as being “natural” when it is not. We have induced it by a highly exaggerated uni-directionality and uniformity of our conscious focus, or what Blake calls “Single Vision & Newtons sleep”.

The truth of our being is not in any one of these functions of thinking, feeling, willing, or sensing exclusively, but in the relationship between them – in the equilibrium. This is what we are calling “integral consciousness”, and is what William Blake calls “Albion” — the integral human.

So, who is a “democrat”? A democrat is, in some ways, someone who believes — perhaps against all evidence and common sense — that the individual human specimen is strong enough to freely assume the full responsibilities and powers of thinking, feeling, willing, and sensing. This is called “self-realisation”. For these are very grave duties and responsibilities. But for Nietzsche, this was the possibility of the “overman” — the transhuman.

“Individuation” is the dispersal of these faculties or powers previously specialised in certain classes to the “public-at-large”. It’s a very audacious experiment which could backfire should the individual come to feel overasked and overtasked. Truth is, that no man or woman is today being educated for handling these powers and responsibilities, and yet they are expected to wield them responsibly, which results only in stress and distress.

The final meaning of the “cross of reality”? A harmonious social order requires the harmonious development of the multidimensionality of consciousness and its various modalities. There is no other way.

One of the other things to note about the mandala model of reality is that it is a generative model of time and space. By “generative” we mean that the dimensions of space and time unfold dynamically from the centre of the mandala — otherwise called “vital centre” or “Source”, but which is Jean Gebser’s “ever-present origin”. The centre is also called “eternal present” or “Now”. This is not an “arrow of time” model. Here, time (like space) evolves or unfolds backwards and forwards from an everlasting “Now”. This “Now” is the centre of existence.


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