A Very Brief History of Capitalism

Das Kapital is Karl Marx’s most thorough work on capitalism, although The Communist Manifesto is probably his most popular and widely read work. In reading Kapital, one can’t help but be impressed by the precision of Marx’s logic (the premisses upon which that logic is erected are another matter). It’s a classic work of the mental-rational consciousness structure, and it certainly left an impression on world history.

There was, nonetheless, an intriguing “mystical” side to Marx that was discovered later and assembled as The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Probably, then, Marx was still under the influence of Hegel and Hegelian “Spirit” before he “turned Hegel on his head” and adopted his method of dialectical materialism and quantification for the sake of making his Socialism “scientific”. But if Marx felt he had to make Socialism “scientific”, it was because the origins of socialism (just like all contemporary ideologies — liberalism, conservatism, anarchism, etc) lie in religion and in an interpretation of the Gospels. They were, originally, various “heretical” sects or theologies of the Protestant Reformation.

So, it’s not from classical Greece or Rome that the “heretics” derived their models of the good society, but from Mark, Matthew, Luke or John. In mythical terms, these four correspond to “The Guardians of the Four Directions”, and as such they were often represented in Christian iconography, as here in their zoomorphic forms

The Four Evangelists in The Book of Kells

The Four Evangelists in The Book of Kells

Or here in the illustration called Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”)

Agnus Dei: Christian Mandala of the Fourfold Self

Agnus Dei: Christian Mandala of the Fourfold Self

In Blake’s terms, these are the “emanations” (or avatars) of the Four Zoas, Luvah, Tharmas, Urizen, Urthona, which could be easily mapped to the Sioux Sacred Hoop as the “directions” or to Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”. The mythological consciousness structure, in other words, still works its way through us despite ourselves. That’s the meaning of Freud and Jung, in fact. We did not really “invent” the contemporary ideologies. We were, in effect, invented by them. I think it was Andrew Greeley or Joseph Campbell who once quipped that “the modern-day incarnation of Oedipus stands on a street corner waiting for the walk light to turn green” — or Electra, for that matter.

What ideologies are, are in effect the translations of symbolic forms into “ideas” or into secular terms. “Narcissism” is just a secular or “neutral” term for what was once called “idolatry”. And all the old gods reappeared as “concepts” or “principles” or “ideas”. They became idols of the mind. The Greek word “eidolon” (or plural “eidola“) which is Plato’s word for Ideas or Forms, also shares parentage rights over the word “idol” as well. In contemporary terms, “eidolon” has been defined as “an apparition or phantom” or as “the image of an ideal”, or icon. In effect, Plato merely stripped the classical gods of their own will and subjectivity and translated them into “eidola” — forms, ideas, or archetypes. But the point is (and this set the precedent for the mental-rational consciousness), their implicit geneaology remained intact. They were offspring of the mythological and the magical consciousness structure. By simply re-baptising and re-naming them, Plato preserved a certain degree of continuity with the past.

In those terms, “ideologies” are really the corpses of dead gods — or only partially “dead”. For every “-ism” is, in fact, a disguise for a god (or a Zoa).

This is also true of “capitalism”. The president of Goldman Sachs still insists that capitalism is “doing God’s work” and is not, as some have called his corporation, “a bloodsucking vampire squid”.

The history of the human race is compressed into names and words. “Capital” is an interesting one. It’s related to the word “cattle” and to “chattel” and to Latin capus (and German “kaput“, too) — the head. That is, the count of the head of cattle. Cattle were once capital (and still are, in some places), which suggests the beginning of capitalism, in its primitive form, as lying with the Agrarian Revolution and the end of the hunter-gatherer way of life. A lot of the terms used for capitalism still retain their agrarian pedigree. (“Management” originally meant “to handle horses”, and a manager (related to “manger”, of course) was a horse-handler or herdsman or shepherd. And having brought this attitude to the managing of men in a factory, you can perhaps understand the truth about the real antagonism that existed between Capital and Labour).

So, the geneaology of the word “capital” from “cattle” (head) probably referred to the number of surplus cattle you had over and above what you needed to sustain yourself or your kin. The surplus. How to you get more cattle? Well, by breeding (the interest rate, as it were) or by theft — raiding, rustling, pillage, and stealing, which is rather quicker. And capital has been accumulated by both means. Imperialism as much as innovation. “Property is theft” was Marx’s judgement of the former method. There’s a curious ambivalence in the word “private” as well, privare, which means both to steal and to liberate. It has a connection, of course, with “privateer” and “piracy”.

But you don’t have to look so far back in history to find the reason for that ambiguity of liberation and stealing. It’s in the reason for “potlach” ceremonies or “give-aways” as practiced in tribal societies still today. Someone who accumulated from shared or communal resources more than they needed — a hoarder — was, in effect, a threat to the tribe, to the “we” — a potential pirate. Such early “privatisation” threatened the “we” with dissolution and fragmentation. The “give-away” restored the membership of the “private” individual in the community. In fact, the more you gave away, the more fame and honour accrued to you. It became a matter of some pride that you had lots to give away. I’ve attended a couple of give-aways, which were once banned by the government as being “irrational” and contrary to the principles of the individualism and the pursuit of happiness and self-interest. That is, primitive “communism” clashed with “advanced capitalism”, but it was really the clash of two very different consciousness structures, at root. One which saw “private” as piracy and another which interpreted it as “liberation”. In some locations, it was even a surrogate for warfare. It was a matter of tribal pride which rival chieftain could give-away the most, sometimes leading to total impoverishment for the “victor”.

Of course, to the avaricious mind, this was totally irrational and contrary to “common sense”. And the colonial authorities banned it outright, perhaps forgetting their own spiritual authority who once declared “give away all that thou hast and follow me”.

In effect, capitalism became a religion competing with Christianity (and “winning” I might add). We might call it, to use a contemporary term, “the cult of rationalisation”, but it’s largely because the civilisation can’t reconcile its contradictions between it’s alleged spiritual authority and it’s actual practices that Christianity is on the wane. Churches are being closed everywhere. In effect, society has decided that man’s “worldly goods” are of far more value, and more tangible, than the welfare of his “soul”, which is vague unless one can turn it into capital — as “having” a soul, “possessing” a soul that has exchange value. Something you can bargain with and for. The next big step for capitalism (and probably its last most desperate act) will be buying and selling “soul” or souls much like the Church once sold “indulgences”, that got Martin Luther so riled up. And we know what the consequences of that, were.

And I kid you not. There are already schemes afoot for doing just that. It’s probably the ultimate debasement and degradation, but that’s essentially what Trout and Ries’ Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind is all about. It’s really no longer the “marketplace” where capitalism and corporations wage their competitive battles for resources and “loyalties”. It’s now “the mind”. For all intents and purposes, “market” and “mind” have become one and the same thing. You don’t “position” your brand in “the market” (where is that anyway?). You now “position” your brand in the mind, 24/7. Or you even “position” yourself as a “brand” — the “Me-Brand”.

This is called “progress”. In fact, it’s quite decadent and degenerate. We might call this invasion of the soul “psychic imperialism” or “psychic colonisation”, but in some ways it resembles the selling for profit of phoney “keys to Paradise” in the form of the Indulgences.

We have to become conscious, now, just as a matter of psychic self-defence.

 

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20 responses to “A Very Brief History of Capitalism”

  1. donsalmon says :

    This is some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen connecting politics to structures of consciousness. Do you have a “guide” of some kind anywhere on your site which would help the newcomer find the most relevant entries about this – or (as I’m guessing is the case) free-form skimming is probably the best way.

    Anybody else, any other sites you recommend along these lines? I’ve found very very few people who write about these things with any insight. The best I can find these days are people exploring the application of Ken Wilber’s “integral theory” to politics, but I find most of this writing very much stuck in conventional (and deficient) rational consciousness (though they use words like “non dual” and “spiritual” and all the rest, it all still sounds very rationalistic)

    • Scott Preston says :

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a guide to this. Probably should have been more prescient about that and developed a tag for it, but I laid out most of this in the former Dark Age Blog.

      Can’t think of any sites that pursue that. In my case, my curiousity about the “political passions” was twigged after a quick perusal of the book God’s Secretaries, about the making of the King James Bible, and how James had to mediate between the “libertines” and the “primitivists” in Biblical exegesis — early terms for “liberals” and “conservatives”. With that, I looked for precedents for socialism and anarchism in Reformation sects too, and found them earlier represented in various groups (Hutterites, “the Brethren of the Free Spirit”, Society of Friends, and so on). Each were under the spell of one or another of the four Gospels of the New Testament. And from there, it was a simple matter of “mapping” them to Blake’s Zoas and Rosenstock’s “cross of reality”, and that drew in also what I knew of “the Guardians of the Four Directions”, Jung’s four “psychological types” and the “Directions” of the Sioux Sacred Hoop. Their interrelationships formed the same recurrent pattern that followed in Rosenstock-Huessy’s four revolutions of the modern era — the Lutheran, the English, the French, and the Russian — as he described their interrelationships in Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man.

      There might be something more about this in Rosenstock’s strictly theological book The Fruit of Lips; or, Why Four Gospels, but I don’t recall. It was the very first book I read by him (for a class at Uni) and it bored me. I was very young then and didn’t have a clue what he was on about. I don’t recollect a single thing about it, in fact. I should probably return to it and see what connections he made between the Gospels and the revolutions of the Modern Era in his more sociological and historical writings for as it turns out they became rather pertinent to my work in the Aboriginal Healing Project, too — as a part of trying to explain the Eurocentric mode of perception to people who were completely oriented to reality by the Sacred Hoop.

      “The Sacred Hoop is in language”. So say my native friends/informants. That twigged me to return to Rosenstock, for quite evidently it means “grammar”, which is Rosenstock’s “grammatical method” in a nutshell. And there, too, it becomes quite easy to map the political passions to Rosenstock’s cross of reality, too, for they all attest to something essential about the “human form” in its fourfoldness.

      Blake, in fact, is all about “integral politics”, if we might call it that. He considered politics “the chief science”, and that’s reflected in his Vala, or the Four Zoas — in fact, almost everywhere in Blake. Blake is political science recast in the mode of poetry and myth. His own succinct formula for politics was this: “The Arts, and all things in common”. So, Blake’s Zoas, as much as anything, have been my guide also in re-imagining the political passions as they have precipitated out into ideology.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    Just came across this this morning while scanning the headlines

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/business/wall-streets-rap-sheet-just-got-longer-with-five-guilty-banks/articleshow/47367186.cms

    I don’t know if this ongoing saga gets the headline news it deserves, or whether or not it makes much of an impression on anyone anymore, or whether we’ve just come to accept this kind of kleptocracy because of “too big to fail” inertia and fatalism. Nice example, though, of the “era of pretense”.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Might add to that last comment — also an example of the capitulation of the State to Capital (another “capital” word — along with “captive”, too). “Too big to fail” means, essentially, that — what George Monbiot or Greg Palast refer to as “the Captive State”.

      http://www.monbiot.com/2003/10/01/captive-state-the-corporate-takeover-of-britain/

      “Symbolic shame” — I like that phrase. And a “symbolic punishment”, too. All just perception management, in other words (and an abuse of the word “symbolic” as well). In other terms, predatory Capital can operate with almost near impunity and carte blanche today. “Symbolic” shame and punishment for such rapine, and “too big to fail”, are all you pretty much need to understand about the meaning of “corporatocracy”, “plutonomy”, or “techno-corporate state”.

      Of course, we still pay lip-service to the old values — “democracy”, “liberty”, etc. But democracy, both economic and political, is essentially gonzo, kaput, the sad truth that was recognised even in the notorious “Citigroup Memos” on the new plutonomy, (publication of which have been more or less successfully suppressed)

      http://politicalgates.blogspot.ca/2011/12/citigroup-plutonomy-memos-two-bombshell.html

      So, along with “symbolic shame” and symbolic punishment, we also have symbolic liberty and symbolic votes and this goes well beyond the US or the UK. We have to get it out of our heads that this is somehow restricted to certain nationalities and jurisdictions. It’s a crisis of the Nation State and of the modern system of Nation States, ergo — the whole “Modern Era”. It’s become self-devouring. The real impotence of popular congresses, parliaments, assemblies, senates is evident everywhere — the US, Canada, UK, France. And if your representatives and ministerial authorities aren’t in the pockets of the corporations and just pimps for Capital, they are impotent to do much of anything about it. Even “opposition” becomes merely “symbolic”, too.

      Era of Pretense. All this belong to the problem of decadence as well. “End of history”

      Capital might now boast about being at “the commanding heights” and as being “masters of the universe”, but that kind of arrogance and hybris won’t last for long.

      • donsalmon says :

        Well, as you see me referring more and more to Sri Aurobindo, I hope I don’t come off too much as a cultist

        Aurobindo, writing just after WW1, presented an in-depth analysis of the whole modern idea of the “State”, predicting (I’m guessing his time frame was several centuries though he didn’t specify) the gradual dissolution of the State as the world moved more and more toward internationalism.

        You can find his analysis online, for free, searching “The Ideal of Human Unity.” It’s another one that takes – at least, for me – years to absorb.

        There’s also an interesting essay of his I only read for the first time recently, “AFter the War” (1919, I think) which sounds like a Leftist screed – I was rather surprised as he has some pretty harsh things to say about “State Socialism”. He comes out quite directly saying that capitalism was an economic and moral failure. He goes through different kinds of socialism (from totalitarian/State socialism to democratic socialism toward the more anarchist/mutualist form which seems to have been his preference). Ultimately he emphasizes over and over that it is not the system or outward institutions that are most important but rather, the transformation of consciousness that will ultimately lead to a true unity (not uniformity) of humanity.

        He uses, in his other book on social-political matters, “The Human Cycle” (formerly titled “The Psychology of Social Development”) the framework of a long-forgotten German historian, Lamprecht, and traces the “Symbolic” (close to Gebser’s magic and mythic), Conventional (somewhat like the “blue” of Spiral Dynamics), Individual (the mental/rational structure) and “Subjective.” Not enough space (or time) here to go into what he means by “Subjective” only to say he makes some very interesting distinctions as a way of helping us understand what it means and what is required to go beyond the mental rational structure (there’s a wonderful chapter on “True and False Subjectivity” and also an inspiring chapter on the “Conditions for a Spiritualized Society”)

        Maybe I’ll post a few quotes…..

        • donsalmon says :

          Ok, here, Ulrich Mohrhoff (a physicist who has developed the fairly well respected “Pondicherry interpretation” of quantum mechanics) present some excerpts from The Human Cycle” http://anti-matters.org/articles/86/public/86-79-1-PB.pdf

          Reasonandreligion
          Sri Aurobindo* The Human Cycle:
          The Psychology of Social Development 

          Originally published in the monthly review Arya between August 1916 and July 1918 under the title The Psychology of Social Development. Readers should note that the text, which was re- vised during the late 1930s and again, more lightly, in 1949, was written before gender inclu- sive language became de rigeur. Page numbers refer to The Human Cycle — The Ideal of Human Unity — War and Self-Determination (Volume 25 of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo). © Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1997. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Trust. Savitri, p. 256. Puducherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1997.

          Paperback, 280 pages Lotus Press, 1999 ISBN-10: 0914955446 ISBN-13: 978-0914955443
          A greater Mind may see a greater Truth, Or we may find when all the rest has failed Hid in ourselves the key of perfect change.
          — Sri Aurobindo1

          [T]he action of the intelligence is not only turned downward and outward upon our subjective and external life to understand it and determine the law and order of its present movement and its future potentialities. It has also an upward and inward eye and a more luminous functioning by which it accepts divinations from the hidden eternities. It is opened in this power of vision to a Truth above it from which it derives, however imperfectly and as from behind a veil, an indirect knowledge of the universal principles of our existence and its possibilities; it receives and turns what it can seize of


          196 ANTIMATTERS 2 (3) 2008

          them into intellectual forms and these provide us with large governing ideas by which our efforts can be shaped and around which they can be concentrated or massed; it defines the ideals which we seek to accomplish. It provides us with the great ideas that are forces (idées forces), ideas which in their own strength impose themselves upon our life and compel it into their moulds. Only the forms we give these ideas are intellectual; they themselves descend from a plane of truth of being where knowledge and force are one, the idea and the power of self-fulfilment in the idea are inseparable.
          Unfortunately, when translated into the forms of our intelligence which acts only by a separating and combining analysis and synthesis and into the effort of our life which advances by a sort of experimental and empirical seeking, these powers become dispa- rate and conflicting ideals which we have all the difficulty in the world to bring into any kind of satisfactory harmony. Such are the primary principles of liberty and order, good, beauty and truth, the ideal of power and the ideal of love, individualism and col- lectivism, self-denial and self-fulfilment and a hundred others. In each sphere of hu- man life, in each part of our being and our action the intellect presents us with the opposition of a number of such master ideas and such conflicting principles. It finds each to be a truth to which something essential in our being responds,— in our higher nature a law, in our lower nature an instinct. It seeks to fulfil each in turn, builds a sys- tem of action round it and goes from one to the other and back again to what it has left. Or it tries to combine them but is contented with none of the combinations it has made because none brings about their perfect reconciliation or their satisfied oneness. That indeed belongs to a larger and higher consciousness, not yet attained by mankind, where these opposites are ever harmonised and even unified because in their origin they are eternally one. (115–117)

          This truth is hidden from the rationalist because he is supported by two constant ar- ticles of faith, first that his own reason is right and the reason of others who differ from him is wrong, and secondly that whatever may be the present deficiencies of the hu- man intellect, the collective human reason will eventually arrive at purity and be able to found human thought and life securely on a clear rational basis entirely satisfying to the intelligence. His first article of faith is no doubt the common expression of our ego- ism and arrogant fallibility, but it is also something more; it expresses this truth that it is the legitimate function of the reason to justify to man his action and his hope and the faith that is in him and to give him that idea and knowledge, however restricted, and that dynamic conviction, however narrow and intolerant, which he needs in order that he may live, act and grow in the highest light available to him.

          The reason cannot grasp all truth in its embrace because truth is too infinite for it; but still it does grasp the something of it which we immediately need, and its insufficiency does not detract from the value of its work, but is rather the measure of its value. For man is not intended to grasp the whole truth of his being at once, but to move towards it through a succession of experiences and a constant, though not by any means a per- fectly continuous self-enlargement. The first business of reason then is to justify and enlighten to him his various experiences and to give him faith and conviction in holding on to his self-enlargings. It justifies to him now this, now that, the experience of the moment, the receding light of the past, the half-seen vision of the future. Its inconstan- cy, its divisibility against itself, its power of sustaining opposite views are the whole secret of its value. It would not do indeed for it to support too conflicting views in the same individual, except at moments of awakening and transition, but in the collective body of men and in the successions of Time that is its whole business. For so man moves towards the infinity of the Truth by the experience of its variety; so his reason helps him to build, change, destroy what he has built and prepare a new construction, in a word, to progress, grow, enlarge himself in his self-knowledge and world- knowledge and their works.

          ……..

          In the end . . . experience shows that society tends to die by its own development, a sure sign that there is some radical defect in its system, a certain proof that its idea of man and its method of development do not correspond to all the reality of the human being and to the aim of life which that reality imposes. There is then a radical defect some- where in the process of human civilisation; but where is its seat and by what issue shall we come out of the perpetual cycle of failure? Our civilised development of life ends in an exhaustion of vitality and a refusal of Nature to lend her support any further to a continued advance upon these lines; our civilised mentality, after disturbing the bal- ance of the human system to its own greater profit, finally discovers that it has ex- hausted and destroyed that which fed it and loses its power of healthy action and productiveness. It is found that civilisation has created many more problems than it can solve, has multiplied excessive needs and desires the satisfaction of which it has not sufficient vital force to sustain, has developed a jungle of claims and artificial in- stincts in the midst of which life loses its way and has no longer any sight of its aim. . . . [A] cure is aimed at by carrying artificial remedies to their acme, by more and more Science, more and more mechanical devices, a more scientific organisation of life, which means that the engine shall replace life, the arbitrary logical reason substitute itself for complex Nature and man be saved by machinery. As well say that to carry a disease to its height is the best way to its cure.

          • Scott Preston says :

            I’ll have to get to your quotes later, as I’m rushed presently and setting off to do my work. There’s lots to respond to even in the first few sentences. (Aurobindo’s collected works run to 25 volumes?!!)

            Only the forms we give these ideas are intellectual; they themselves descend from a plane of truth of being where knowledge and force are one, the idea and the power of self-fulfilment in the idea are inseparable.

            Yes, I’ve posted about this earlier, ie, about what is called here “idées forces” and their mode of manifestation or epiphanisation (which I’ve called “taking time to take place”). We’ll return to that later, but in effect, this is the function of generative grammar. When my Sioux friends speak of the ideal man or woman as one who “speaks from the centre of the voice”, this is generative grammar — speaking from the centre of Rosenstock’s Cross of Reality or the Sacred Hoop, which is equivalent to Gebser’s “ever-present origin”.

            The cross of reality is also a generative model of grammar, by which I mean that the four directions are phases in the manifestation of the “idées forces”. Rosenstock uses the example of love, for his part. So the phases in realisation or manifestation are

            Love (thou)! (imperatival form. The reality does not yet exist. Prejective phase. Dramatics)
            May I love! (optative form or phase. The subjective response or wish. Lyrical phase)
            We have loved (narrative form. The imperative is enacted or performed. Trajective phase. Historical or Epical phase)
            Love is… (definitive or indicative form. Only now can we say what “love is…” objectively. Manifest phase in which the idées forces assume the cloak of full reality.

            To become “real”, these idées forces must pass through the four phases of realisation, taking time to take place, as it were, because our cosmos is fourfold, being comprised of two times (past and future) and two spaces (inner and outer) fundamentally, as represented in the various cruciform symbols. These symbols are, in effect, maps of generation or “genesis”. Creation, in those terms, happens every day — from the Now, expanding outwards, inwards, backwards, forwards from this “vital centre”. This is the ever-present origin.

            Necessarily, then, anything we call “real” has to have these four aspects to it. And that may be the work of generations of people inspired to realise the idée force. Each generation may specialise in one aspect of its realisation, but the work is collaborative or mutual across time and space. This is the work that Gebser refers to as “presentiation” or “concretion”, but it’s Rosenstock who provides the actual model of this presentiation. The man or woman who “speaks from the centre of the voice” is the integrating factor, who speaks into all four directions of the Sacred Hoop. This is “presentiation”.

            Realisation is integralism, in other words.

          • Scott Preston says :

            Only the forms we give these ideas are intellectual; they themselves descend from a plane of truth of being where knowledge and force are one, the idea and the power of self-fulfilment in the idea are inseparable.

            This passage, and what leads up to this passage also, calls to mind Emerson’s essay “The Oversoul”, which I am sure you know. (For those that don’t, but who want to, here it is: http://www.emersoncentral.com/oversoul.htm ).

            Unfortunately, when translated into the forms of our intelligence which acts only by a separating and combining analysis and synthesis and into the effort of our life which advances by a sort of experimental and empirical seeking, these powers become dispa- rate and conflicting ideals which we have all the difficulty in the world to bring into any kind of satisfactory harmony.

            That passage belongs to the themes of Blake’s warring Zoas of the disintegrate/dissolute Universal Adam, reborn as Albion when re-integrate.This is “The Great Work”, as alchemy calls it.

            For so man moves towards the infinity of the Truth by the experience of its variety; so his reason helps him to build, change, destroy what he has built and prepare a new construction, in a word, to progress, grow, enlarge himself in his self-knowledge and world- knowledge and their works.

            This is the truth of “creative destruction” — the dance of Shiva and the generative function of nihilism. It’s not the perverted form and distorted form it has taken which is associated with neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism or capitalism, or in fact, terrorism also. It is the truth of revolution in its spiritual sense, though.

            That last passage that begins “in the end..”, this is quite good. A perfect description of our situation. And that last conclusion: does it not also call to mind, Rumi’s “the cure for the disease is in the disease”? We must pass through the crucible, in other words, however unpleasant we find it. This is the karmic law. “The sins of the fathers shall be visited down to the third and fourth generations”. That’s not understandable unless you relate it to Rosenstock’s cross of reality and the truth of the karmic law.

            And that belongs to another arcane, but significant, detail of Rosenstock’s study of the four European Revolutions. How many generations separate each of the revolutions from each other? Oddly enough, the occur every fourth generation.

            I really am enjoying reading these quotes. I’m looking forward to familiarising myself more with Mr. Mohrhoff.

            I’ll continue with the other passages anon… (must do my dishes now).

        • Scott Preston says :

          Yes, go right ahead. Don’t be reticent about posting a few quotes.

          “Anarchism”, or anarcho-socialism in some form or another, seems to be the preferred approach of those immersed in the Wisdom Tradition, or what Steiner referred to as “ethical individualism”. That would appear to be Nietzsche’s preference, too — the politics of anti-politics. This isn’t to be confused with libertarianism or anything we presently call “ideology”. It’s something more subtle and more sublime. Blake, as well. But these were mature souls who were very much in command of themselves and their faculties, and they knew that they didn’t need “masters” or rulers, nor were they willing to submit to external authorities who they considered deluded. So, it makes sense that “ethical individualism” or “mutualism” or “anarcho-socialism” would make more sense to them as a “spiritual politics”, almost instinctually.

  3. donsalmon says :

    Continued excerpts from “The Human Cycle”

    6 Freedomandthespiritualaimofsociety
    It is a spiritual, an inner freedom that can alone create a perfect human order. It is a spiritual, a greater than the rational enlightenment that can alone illumine the vital nature of man and impose harmony on its self-seekings, antagonisms and discords. A deeper brotherhood, a yet unfound law of love is the only sure foundation possible for a perfect social evolution, no other can replace it. But this brotherhood and love will not proceed by the vital instincts or the reason where they can be met, baffled or def- lected by opposite reasonings and other discordant instincts. Nor will it found itself in the natural heart of man where there are plenty of other passions to combat it. It is in the soul that it must find its roots; the love which is founded upon a deeper truth of our being, the brotherhood or, let us say,— for this is another feeling than any vital or men- tal sense of brotherhood, a calmer more durable motive-force,— the spiritual comrade- ship which is the expression of an inner realisation of oneness. For so only can egoism disappear and the true individualism of the unique godhead in each man found itself on the true communism of the equal godhead in the race; for the Spirit, the inmost self, the universal Godhead in every being is that whose very nature of diverse oneness it is to realise the perfection of its individual life and nature in the existence of all, in the universal life and nature.

    This is a solution to which it may be objected that it puts off the consummation of a better human society to a far-off date in the future evolution of the race. For it means that no machinery invented by the reason can perfect either the individual or the col- lective man; an inner change is needed in human nature, a change too difficult to be ever effected except by the few. This is not certain; but in any case, if this is not the solution, then there is no solution, if this is not the way, then there is no way for the human kind. Then the terrestrial evolution must pass beyond man as it has passed beyond the animal and a greater race must come that will be capable of the spiritual change, a form of life must be born that is nearer to the divine. After all there is no log- ical necessity for the conclusion that the change cannot begin at all because its perfec- tion is not immediately possible. A decisive turn of mankind to the spiritual ideal, the beginning of a constant ascent and guidance towards the heights may not be altogether impossible, even if the summits are attainable at first only by the pioneer few and far- off to the tread of the race. And that beginning may mean the descent of an influence that will alter at once the whole life of mankind in its orientation and enlarge for ever, as did the development of his reason and more than any development of the reason, its potentialities and all its structure. (220–221)

    The true and full spiritual aim in society will regard man not as a mind, a life and a body, but as a soul incarnated for a divine fulfilment upon earth, not only in heavens beyond, which after all it need not have left if it had no divine business here in the world of physical, vital and mental nature. It will therefore regard the life, mind and body neither as ends in themselves, sufficient for their own satisfaction, nor as mortal members full of disease which have only to be dropped off for the rescued spirit to flee away into its own pure regions, but as first instruments of the soul, the yet imperfect instruments of an unseized diviner purpose. It will believe in their destiny and help them to believe in themselves, but for that very reason in their highest and not only in their lowest or lower possibilities. Their destiny will be, in its view, to spiritualise themselves so as to grow into visible members of the spirit, lucid means of its manife- station, themselves spiritual, illumined, more and more conscious and perfect. For, ac- cepting the truth of man’s soul as a thing entirely divine in its essence, it will accept also the possibility of his whole being becoming divine in spite of Nature’s first patent contradictions of this possibility, her darkened denials of this ultimate certitude, and even with these as a necessary earthly starting-point. And as it will regard man the in- dividual, it will regard too man the collectivity as a soul-form of the Infinite, a collec- tive soul myriadly embodied upon earth for a divine fulfilment in its manifold relations and its multitudinous activities. Therefore it will hold sacred all the different parts of man’s life which correspond to the parts of his being, all his physical, vital, dynamic, emotional, aesthetic, ethical, intellectual, psychic evolution, and see in them instru- ments for a growth towards a diviner living. It will regard every human society, nation, people or other organic aggregate from the same standpoint, sub-souls, as it were, means of a complex manifestation and self-fulfilment of the Spirit, the divine Reality, the conscious Infinite in man upon earth. . . .

    But it will not seek to enforce even this one uplifting dogma by any external compul- sion upon the lower members of man’s natural being; for that is nigraha, a repressive contraction of the nature which may lead to an apparent suppression of the evil, but not to a real and healthy growth of the good; it will rather hold up this creed and ideal as a light and inspiration to all his members to grow into the godhead from within themselves, to become freely divine. Neither in the individual nor in the society will it seek to imprison, wall in, repress, impoverish, but to let in the widest air and the high- est light. A large liberty will be the law of a spiritual society and the increase of free- dom a sign of the growth of human society towards the possibility of true spiritualisation. To spiritualise in this sense a society of slaves, slaves of power, slaves of authority, slaves of custom, slaves of dogma, slaves of all sorts of imposed laws which they live under rather than live by them, slaves internally of their own weak- ness, ignorance and passions from whose worst effect they seek or need to be protected by another and external slavery, can never be a successful endeavour. They must shake off their fetters first in order to be fit for a higher freedom. Not that man has not to wear many a yoke in his progress upward; but only the yoke which he accepts because it represents, the more perfectly the better, the highest inner law of his nature and its aspiration, will be entirely helpful to him. The rest buy their good results at a heavy cost and may retard as much as or even more than they accelerate his progress.

    The spiritual aim will recognise that man as he grows in his being must have as much free space as possible for all its members to grow in their own strength, to find out themselves and their potentialities. In their freedom they will err, because experience comes through many errors, but each has in itself a divine principle and they will find it out, disengage its presence, significance and law as their experience of themselves deepens and increases. Thus true spirituality will not lay a yoke upon science and phi- losophy or compel them to square their conclusions with any statement of dogmatic religious or even of assured spiritual truth, as some of the old religions attempted, vainly, ignorantly, with an unspiritual obstinacy and arrogance. Each part of man’s be- ing has its own dharma which it must follow and will follow in the end, put on it what fetters you please. The dharma of science, thought and philosophy is to seek for truth by the intellect dispassionately, without prepossession and prejudgment, with no other first propositions than the law of thought and observation itself imposes. Science and philosophy are not bound to square their observations and conclusions with any cur- rent ideas of religious dogma or ethical rule or aesthetic prejudice. In the end, if left free in their action, they will find the unity of Truth with Good and Beauty and God and give these a greater meaning than any dogmatic religion or any formal ethics or any narrower aesthetic idea can give us. But meanwhile they must be left free even to deny God and good and beauty if they will, if their sincere observation of things so points them. For all these rejections must come round in the end of their circling and return to a larger truth of the things they refuse. Often we find atheism both in individual and society a necessary passage to deeper religious and spiritual truth: one has sometimes to deny God in order to find him; the finding is inevitable at the end of all earnest scep- ticism and denial. . . .
    Thus spirituality will respect the freedom of the lower members, but it will not leave them to themselves; it will present to them the truth of the spirit in themselves, trans- lated into their own fields of action, presented in a light which illumines all their activ- ities and shows them the highest law of their own freedom. It will … for instance,— pursue the sceptical mind into its own affirmations and denials and show it there the Divine. If it cannot do that, it is proved that it is itself unenlightened or deficient, be- cause one-sided, in its light. It will not try to slay the vitality in man by denying life, but will rather reveal to life the divine in itself as the principle of its own transforma- tion. If it cannot do that, it is because it has itself not yet wholly fathomed the meaning of the creation and the secret of the Avatar. (227–230)

    • Scott Preston says :

      For so only can egoism disappear and the true individualism of the unique godhead in each man found itself on the true communism of the equal godhead in the race; for the Spirit, the inmost self, the universal Godhead in every being is that whose very nature of diverse oneness it is to realise the perfection of its individual life and nature in the existence of all, in the universal life and nature.

      Perfect. That’s the exact thing to which Blake subscribed also. “The Arts and all things in common”. That is the balance of the personal-individual and the collective, and one might also say that Steiner’s “ethical individualism” corresponds to Mohrhoff’s interpretation of the situation, also. There is, in effect, a “political manifesto” of sorts contained in Mohrhoff’s words here.

      if this is not the way, then there is no way for the human kind. Then the terrestrial evolution must pass beyond man as it has passed beyond the animal and a greater race must come that will be capable of the spiritual change, a form of life must be born that is nearer to the divine.

      .

      That’s Nietzsche’s “transhuman” in effect. Also what I’ve come to call “shedding the human form” in other posts. Could go on about that… but, onwards and upwards…

  4. donsalmon says :

    Human Cycle, continued:

    What then will be that state of society, what that readiness of the common mind of man which will be most favourable to this change, so that even if it cannot at once ef- fectuate itself, it may at least make for its ways a more decisive preparation than has been hitherto possible? For that seems the most important element, since it is that, it is the unpreparedness, the unfitness of the society or of the common mind of man which is always the chief stumbling-block. It is the readiness of this common mind which is of the first importance; for even if the condition of society and the principle and rule that govern society are opposed to the spiritual change, even if these belong almost wholly to the vital, to the external, the economic, the mechanical order, as is certainly the way at present with human masses, yet if the common human mind has begun to admit the ideas proper to the higher order that is in the end to be, and the heart of man has be- gun to be stirred by aspirations born of these ideas, then there is a hope of some ad- vance in the not distant future.
    And here the first essential sign must be the growth of the subjective idea of life,— the idea of the soul, the inner being, its powers, its possibilities, its growth, its expression and the creation of a true, beautiful and helpful environment for it as the one thing of first and last importance. The signals must be there that are precursors of a subjective age in humanity’s thought and social endeavour…. There will be new unexpected de- partures of science or at least of research,— since to such a turn in its most fruitful seekings the orthodox still deny the name of science. Discoveries will be made that thin the walls between soul and matter; attempts there will be to extend exact knowledge into the psychological and psychic realms with a realisation of the truth that these have laws of their own which are other than the physical, but not the less laws because they escape the external senses and are infinitely plastic and subtle. (248–249)

    9 Theaimsofaspiritualizedsociety

    [A] society which was even initially spiritualised would make the revealing and finding of the divine Self in man the supreme, even the guiding aim of all its activities, its edu- cation, its knowledge, its science, its ethics, its art, its economical and political struc- ture…. It would embrace all knowledge in its scope, but would make the whole trend and aim and the permeating spirit not mere worldly efficiency, though that efficiency would not be neglected, but this self-developing and self-finding and all else as its pow- ers. It would pursue the physical and psychic sciences not in order merely to know the world and Nature in her processes and to use them for material human ends, but still more to know through and in and under and over all things the Divine in the world and the ways of the Spirit in its masks and behind them. It would make it the aim of ethics not to establish a rule of action whether supplementary to the social law or partially corrective of it, the social law that is after all only the rule, often clumsy and ignorant, of the biped pack, the human herd, but to develop the divine nature in the human be- ing. It would make it the aim of Art not merely to present images of the subjective and objective world, but to see them with the significant and creative vision that goes be- hind their appearances and to reveal the Truth and Beauty of which things visible to us and invisible are the forms, the masks or the symbols and significant figures.
    A spiritualised society would treat in its sociology the individual, from the saint to the criminal, not as units of a social problem to be passed through some skilfully devised machinery and either flattened into the social mould or crushed out of it, but as souls suffering and entangled in a net and to be rescued, souls growing and to be encouraged to grow, souls grown and from whom help and power can be drawn by the lesser spirits who are not yet adult.
    The aim of its economics would be not to create a huge engine of production, whether of the competitive or the cooperative kind, but to give to men — not only to some but to all men each in his highest possible measure — the joy of work according to their own nature and free leisure to grow inwardly, as well as a simply rich and beautiful life for all…. It would regard the peoples as group-souls, the Divinity concealed and to be self-discovered in its human collectivities, group-souls meant like the individual to grow according to their own nature and by that growth to help each other, to help the whole race in the one common work of humanity. And that work would be to find the divine Self in the individual and the collectivity and to realise spiritually, mentally, vi- tally, materially its greatest, largest, richest and deepest possibilities in the inner life of all and their outer action and nature.

    For it is into the Divine within them that men and mankind have to grow; it is not an external idea or rule that has to be imposed on them from without. Therefore the law of a growing inner freedom is that which will be most honoured in the spiritual age of mankind. True it is that so long as man has not come within measurable distance of self-knowledge and has not set his face towards it, he cannot escape from the law of external compulsion and all his efforts to do so must be vain. He is and always must be, so long as that lasts, the slave of others, the slave of his family, his caste, his clan, his Church, his society, his nation; and he cannot but be that and they too cannot help throwing their crude and mechanical compulsion on him, because he and they are the slaves of their own ego, of their own lower nature. We must feel and obey the compul- sion of the Spirit if we would establish our inner right to escape other compulsion: we must make our lower nature the willing slave, the conscious and illumined instrument or the ennobled but still self-subjected portion, consort or partner of the divine Being within us, for it is that subjection which is the condition of our freedom, since spiritual freedom is not the egoistic assertion of our separate mind and life but obedience to the Divine Truth in ourself and our members and in all around us.

    But we have, even so, to remark that God respects the freedom of the natural members of our being and that he gives them room to grow in their own nature so that by natu- ral growth and not by self-extinction they may find the Divine in themselves. The sub- jection which they finally accept, complete and absolute, must be a willing subjection of recognition and aspiration to their own source of light and power and their highest being. Therefore even in the unregenerated state we find that the healthiest, the tru- est, the most living growth and action is that which arises in the largest possible free- dom and that all excess of compulsion is either the law of a gradual atrophy or a tyranny varied or cured by outbreaks of rabid disorder. (256–258)

    10 The coming of a spiritual age

    [T]he coming of a spiritual age must be preceded by the appearance of an increasing number of individuals who are no longer satisfied with the normal intellectual, vital and physical existence of man, but perceive that a greater evolution is the real goal of humanity and attempt to effect it in themselves, to lead others to it and to make it the recognised goal of the race. In proportion as they succeed and to the degree to which they carry this evolution, the yet unrealised potentiality which they represent will be- come an actual possibility of the future.

    A great access of spirituality in the past has ordinarily had for its result the coming of a new religion of a special type and its endeavour to impose itself upon mankind as a new universal order. This, however, was always not only a premature but a wrong crys- tallisation which prevented rather than helped any deep and serious achievement. The aim of a spiritual age of mankind must indeed be one with the essential aim of subjec- tive religions, a new birth, a new consciousness, an upward evolution of the human being, a descent of the spirit into our members, a spiritual reorganisation of our life; but if it limits itself by the old familiar apparatus and the imperfect means of a religious movement, it is likely to register another failure. . . .

    The ambition of a particular religious belief and form to universalise and impose itself is contrary to the variety of human nature and to at least one essential character of the Spirit. For the nature of the Spirit is a spacious inner freedom and a large unity into which each man must be allowed to grow according to his own nature…. Therefore while many new spiritual waves with their strong special motives and disciplines must necessarily be the forerunners of a spiritual age, yet their claims must be subordinated in the general mind of the race and of its spiritual leaders to the recognition that all motives and disciplines are valid and yet none entirely valid since they are means and not the one thing to be done. The one thing essential must take precedence, the con- version of the whole life of the human being to the lead of the spirit. The ascent of man into heaven is not the key, but rather his ascent here into the spirit and the descent also of the spirit into his normal humanity and the transformation of this earthly na- ture….

    Therefore the individuals who will most help the future of humanity in the new age will be those who will recognise a spiritual evolution as the destiny and therefore the great need of the human being. Even as the animal man has been largely converted in- to a mentalised and at the top a highly mentalised humanity, so too now or in the fu- ture an evolution or conversion — it does not greatly matter which figure we use or what theory we adopt to support it — of the present type of humanity into a spiritua- lised humanity is the need of the race and surely the intention of Nature; that evolu- tion or conversion will be their ideal and endeavour. They will be comparatively indifferent to particular belief and form and leave men to resort to the beliefs and forms to which they are naturally drawn. They will only hold as essential the faith in this spiritual conversion, the attempt to live it out and whatever knowledge — the form of opinion into which it is thrown does not so much matter — can be converted into this living. They will especially not make the mistake of thinking that this change can be effected by machinery and outward institutions; they will know and never forget that it has to be lived out by each man inwardly or it can never be made a reality for thekind….

    Failures must be originally numerous in everything great and difficult, but the time comes when the experience of past failures can be profitably used and the gate that so long resisted opens. In this as in all great human aspirations and endeavours, an a pri- ori declaration of impossibility is a sign of ignorance and weakness, and the motto of the aspirant’s endeavour must be the solvitur ambulando of the discoverer. For by the doing the difficulty will be solved. A true beginning has to be made; the rest is a work for Time in its sudden achievements or its long patient labour.

    The thing to be done is as large as human life, and therefore the individuals who lead the way will take all human life for their province. These pioneers will consider noth- ing as alien to them, nothing as outside their scope. For every part of human life has to be taken up by the spiritual,— not only the intellectual, the aesthetic, the ethical, but the dynamic, the vital, the physical. . . . In each power of our nature they will seek for its own proper means of conversion; knowing that the Divine is concealed in all, they will hold that all can be made the spirit’s means of self-finding and all can be converted into its instruments of divine living. And they will see that the great necessity is the conver- sion of the normal into the spiritual mind and the opening of that mind again into its own higher reaches and more and more integral movement. For before the decisive change can be made, the stumbling intellectual reason has to be converted into the precise and luminous intuitive, until that again can rise into higher ranges to overmind and supermind or gnosis. The uncertain and stumbling mental will has to rise towards the sure intuitive and into a higher divine and gnostic will, the psychic sweetness, fire and light of the soul behind the heart, . . . has to alchemise our crude emotions and the hard egoisms and clamant desires of our vital nature. All our other members have to pass through a similar conversion under the compelling force and light from above. . . .
    This endeavour will be a supreme and difficult labour even for the individual, but much more for the race. It may well be that, once started, it may not advance rapidly even to its first decisive stage; it may be that it will take long centuries of effort to come into some kind of permanent birth. But that is not altogether inevitable, for the principle of such changes in Nature seems to be a long obscure preparation followed by a swift ga- thering up and precipitation of the elements into the new birth, a rapid conversion, a transformation that in its luminous moment figures like a miracle. Even when the first decisive change is reached, it is certain that all humanity will not be able to rise to that level. There cannot fail to be a division into those who are able to live on the spiritual level and those who are only able to live in the light that descends from it into the mental level. And below these too there might still be a great mass influenced from above but not yet ready for the light. But even that would be a transformation and a beginning far beyond anything yet attained. This hierarchy would not mean as in our present vital living an egoistic domination of the undeveloped by the more developed, but a guidance of the younger by the elder brothers of the race and a constant working to lift them up to a greater spiritual level and wider horizons. And for the leaders too this ascent to the first spiritual levels would not be the end of the divine march, a cul- mination that left nothing more to be achieved on earth. For there would be still yet higher levels within the supramental realm, as the old Vedic poets knew when they spoke of the spiritual life as a constant ascent. . . .

    But once the foundation has been secured, the rest develops by a progressive self- unfolding and the soul is sure of its way. . . . This at least is the highest hope, the possi- ble destiny that opens out before the human view, and it is a possibility which the progress of the human mind seems on the way to redevelop. If the light that is being born increases, if the number of individuals who seek to realise the possibility in them- selves and in the world grows large and they get nearer the right way, then the Spirit who is here in man, now a concealed divinity, a developing light and power, will des- cend more fully as the Avatar of a yet unseen and unguessed Godhead from above into the soul of mankind and into the great individualities in whom the light and power are the strongest. There will then be fulfilled the change that will prepare the transition of human life from its present limits into those larger and purer horizons; the earthly evolution will have taken its grand impetus upward and accomplished the revealing step in a divine progression of which the birth of thinking and aspiring man from the animal nature was only an obscure preparation and a far-off promise. (263–269)

    • Scott Preston says :

      The aim of a spiritual age of mankind must indeed be one with the essential aim of subjec- tive religions, a new birth, a new consciousness, an upward evolution of the human being, a descent of the spirit into our members, a spiritual reorganisation of our life;

      A nice statement about what I’ve been referring to as coincidentia oppositorum (or conjunctio oppositorum. That descent of the spirit being simultaneously an uplifting of the human (Nietzsche would call that “ennoblement” or “the aristocratic”) — that’s Blake’s “Marriage of Heaven and Hell” in a nutshell, and Steiner’s sculpture called “The Representative of Man”. Do you know it? here’s a picture of it

      http://www.uncletaz.com/christ.html

      You see the “representative of man” in the act of drawing down the heavens with his left arm while raising hell upwards with his right. This is Steiner’s way of representing the conjunctio, or Blake’s “marriage of heaven and hell”.

      All these passages from Mohrhoff are very rich stuff. That deserves a place on my bookshelf.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Oh… that’s not Mohrhoff. Those passages are Aurobindo’s. Where does Mohrhoff fit into all this? I see he has a book on Quantum Mechanics, though (very expensive one, too).

        Aurobindo has been called “the Eastern Nietzsche”, as you probably know. He has a better understanding of Nietzsche than most “Nietzscheans” (from whom, God preserve us and Nietzsche too). Gebser was also very much involved in Nietzsche studies for a while. I’ve just begun reading Carl Jung’s seminars on Nietzsche (specifically, on his Zarathustra character). But I don’t know how much more I can learn from Nietzsche. Maybe I’ve already picked all his best fruit, and it might be time to find another tree (or branch).

        • donsalmon says :

          Yes, sorry, I didn’t make clear it was Mohrhoff quoting Aurobindo. Somewhere on line (sorry, don’t have the URL here) Mohrhoff has posted a free book of his ideas on quantum physics. Hard reading – you can go (in all your spare time:>)) to http://www.ipi.org.in where there’s a nice article – “The Cookie Cutter Paradigm” which is a very good brief summary of Mohrhoff’s view.

          Yes, Aurobindo was quite the literary prodigy. some friends tested him once, after seeing him go through 50 pages in a half hour. They opened the book at random, read a line, and he proceeded to recite, without error, the next page.

          He taught himself Italian to read Dante in the original, German to read Goethe, and Sanskrit to read the Indian classics. He also won the highest marks in Greek and Latin at Cambridge (in the 1890s) for the next hundred years. he was careful, though, to distinguish his “superman” idea from that of Nietzsche. At some point I may have some time to get some letters where Aurobindo talks about this distinction.

          Got to get back to composing now!

  5. abdulmonem says :

    Feeling the divine force is the interlude for spiritual growth, the constant ascend. It is not thinking but tasting, that is why the Sufis emphasize the taste not the thought, that is becoming the thought,that is the unification of the known, the knower and the knowledge. We are living in the deluge of intuitive flashes in this time of disclosure in accordance with the universal program of truth epiphany.

  6. LittleBigMan says :

    A wonderfully enlightening essay. Thank you for such great work!

    It seems to me that from the old gods to ideologies and capitalism, mankind has entangled himself in a web of self-deception. Old gods were supposed to save those who prayed to them and laid sacrificial offerings at their feet. And capitalism is supposed to do the same thing through helping the free market participants to get rich.

    I think capitalism’s [Profit = Revenue – Cost] model is rapidly becoming extinct, since the costs, in terms of lives and quality of life, are so skyrocketing that they are rapidly outpacing increasingly uncertain revenue streams.

    When costs pass revenue for good, the participation in corporations will begin to fall just as the decline in participation in the churches. That might actually help attendance at churches.

    Capitalism’s single vision – that is the profit motive – is the seed of its own destruction.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes. The notion of “democratic capitalism” or that liberal democracy is synonymous with capitalism was only relatively true for a very short period of time in history — when the populations were largely agrarian and landholding families. Land, as productive property, was your capital. This helps explain why so many words we associate with capitalism are agrarian — “capital” itself with “cattle”, “management” with livestock-handling, “branding”, of course, and so on. Same is true of the word “manufacture”, which literally means “made by hand”. we should actually call it robofacture or technofacture, really as it’s no longer manufacture in the sense of craftsmanship (or very rarely is it still so).

      The persistence of this idea that capitalism is synonymous with democracy is either a) propaganda or b) a throw-back to an earlier time. (It was sometimes known also as “bourgeois democracy” (ie, “burgess” is the English form of “bourgeois” or German “Bürger”, connected with “burgh” or “borough”). This whole “freeman on the land” thing today (which is associated with survivalism now or extreme individualism) is primitive capitalism, which really meant a “freeman with land”, rather more than “on the land”, and so they have this primitive notion that they can declare their houses or yards “sovereign states’. “Freeman on the land” sounds very enticing or appealing, but it’s actually very primitive and fractious. It’s what we call very “bourgeois”.

      When relatively independent landholders became rather scarce, the narrative of capitalism changed. Then your “labour” or your skill is your “capital” (now it is your “intellect” — the “head” again — that is your capital, or even just your body, which has become a site for “branding”, and some people actually sell off bits of their bodies for corporate logos, which is the process called “alienation”, as a man once sold his “hands” — the “farm hands”, “hands on deck” and so on. Very strange expressions, for you had capital as the “head” and labour as “the hands” and the corporation (corpus) as the “body”. The modern corporation is the image of a man, of a human body, and is even now legally protected as an “immortal person”. That understanding of “immortal person” was previously only true of the State and the Church — the State as “Leviathan” and the Church as the unitary body of Christ or as the bride of Christ. The Protestant Reformation, with its sectarianism, was therefore thought of as the dis-integration of this body and the dismemberment of God. That’s actually a good way to think of “dis-integration” generally — dismemberment of a god.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        It’s both enlightening and fascinating to see you apply “the grammatical method” to trace and reveal the roots of capitalism in agrarian society.

        Coincidentally, I have been reading and trying to finish Henry Thoreau’s Walden which, with its anti consumerist culture and free-spirited personality, ought to give any capitalist plenty of reasons not to like him very much.

        “……for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” – Walden by Henry Thoreau, p. 78-79 from the chapter entitled “Where I lived and What I live for.”

        What a spirit!

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