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Directives for New Life by Dane Rudhyar.


Dane Rudhyar

First Published

This long out-of-print booklet essentializes much of the material from the larger volume We Can Begin Again - Together. Written in response to the pressing needs of the emergent "counter-culture" of the 1960s-70s, this engaging short work explores the deeper side of issues dealing with individualism, group and interpersonal relationships, education, ecology, social activism and more.


Directives for New Life by Dane Rudhyar.

Chapter Five
Principles for
the Structuring of a Harmonic Society

It would be unwise, and it is impossible within the scope of this small volume, to attempt to picture even in broad outlines what might be the kind of social system that would be most likely to emerge after a profound reorganization of mankind on a global scale. For a relatively long time the process of re-structuring a society of such a scope and obvious complexity would almost inevitably know ups and downs, and perhaps crucial conflicts; unless a very large section of the coming generations spontaneously would experience such a change of consciousness that, perhaps under some quasi-divine guidance, they can readily accept as valid and necessary some basic principles of social organization, such as, for instance, is envisioned by adherents to the Bahai Faith.

There have been various books written since the European Renaissance describing social Utopias. In ancient Greece, Plato apparently attempted the same thing, though his underlying motives may not have been those long attributed to him. Ancient India had also worked out a social system of great significance in terms of her underlying worldview, a system outlined in detail in the Laws of Manu. This system was based on a complex cosmology and applied psychology, even though in its earliest phase it may have emerged as an empirical way of meeting a special multi-racial situation.

To the Western sociologist and historian thoroughly steeped in an empirical and pragmatic philosophy it seems evident that large issues dealing with social organization are met and solved by human groups in terms of the immediate needs of complex situations; or, as Marx claimed, in terms of strictly economic factors related to the ownership of means of production, it is evident that such factors do operate at the level of everyday living, but it seems naive and unintelligent to believe that they are the only ones to cause a restructuring of society. Powerful ideas and images which give to a dynamic vanguard of mankind new values to live by, a new root-feeling of the role of the individual and the group, and a yearning for new modes of relating to, both, other men and Nature in general should be seen preceding and undertoning the decisive changes produced by the socio-economic transformations of the everyday life.

One can argue endlessly on this point, and it is not unlike the old problem of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Our Western civilization and its institutions of learning are now more or less officially committed to a materialistic and empirical approach; but a rather dramatic change is now in process. Already at this time the realization that there exists a realm of structural and structuring "archetypes" — a "world of formation" as Kabbalists and occultists all over the world would say — is beginning to operate as a conditioning factor in the development of a new collective mentality. Yet the very concept of "archetype" has been interpreted in a variety of often confusing ways, partly because of either a totally transcendental, or a psychologically empirical approach.

"Principles of formation" do not exist outside of the concrete world that is real to human experience: they refer to structural patterns existing within that world. They are manifestations of a cosmic principle of order — what I have called a holistic and cyclo-cosmic principle — which is inherent in the universe and which conditions its myriad of manifestations. The whole planet, Earth, is a structured field of interdependent activities; it is an "organism" with a definite rhythm of growth. Mankind operates within this field, fulfilling a definite function in it. Man's evolution is therefore equally structured. It passes through various phases in a more or less dialectical process. I have already referred to this thesis-antithesis-synthesis sequence. It does not operate only at the socio-economical and political level studied by Karl Marx. The great historian, Arnold Toynbee, referred to it in his study of whole civilizations — their formation, growth, crises, and disintegration. He presented a still wider dialectical sequence of primitive societies, a variety of civilizations, and a still future type of all-inclusive global organization of mankind; but his conclusions as to the character of this future state have been vague and probably vitiated by his deep sense of still belonging to the Western and Christian tradition.

I feel very strongly that unless one thoroughly reassesses in terms of a wider worldview the concept of "the individual" so basic in our Western society and also those of "equality" and "freedom" — it would be difficult if not impossible to understand and evaluate the structure of a future global society. The essential problems posed by a society including all races, cultures and types of collective mentalities and innate tendencies are totally insoluble on the basis of our present-day democratic system even at its best. They could only be solved if a clear distinction is made between two equally basic levels of human operation and indeed of consciousness and thinking-feeling. One of these levels refers to the individual identity of a human person — a "spiritual" factor; the other level, to the functional character of a human being's participation in "the work of the world", i.e., in the many activities which, in a collective sense, makes human existence possible on our planet.

Our American democratic society recognizes to some extent these two levels; but it does not carry this recognition to its logical and necessary consequences, because its concept of "the citizen" refers to an abstract political entity in a quantitative system of values — i.e., to the rule of the greater number of such abstract entities acting on polls and voting machines. Because it is an abstract concept it has constantly to war against the very concrete and more realistically powerful factors of social status, economic class-distinction, and even ethnic and racial collectivism. The result is a struggle, very characteristic of our Western civilization, between "spiritual" and "material" values; and, in the struggle, material values are bound to win in the type of setup within which the Industrial and the Electronic Revolutions took place. As I see it, all forms of belief in the possibility of other results simply refuse to see the facts of human existence as it operates today.

This is NOT a really pessimistic view; it is pessimistic only in terms of the capacity of our Western civilization to solve the very practical and concrete problems resulting from modern technology and what it made possible — an all-human planetary society. Technology has made such a society both possible and impossible. It has brought all men together in a state of collective thinking-feeling which makes it impossible for them to work together on the basis of our present understanding of the relationship between spiritual values and functional necessities. The problem is therefore very clear-cut. It can only be solved by a new grasp of what constitutes spiritual values, and what the harmonious functioning of all human collectivities over the entire globe requires.

The structuring concepts which I present are attempts at envisioning how mankind might operate, so that every individual person would be given an optimum chance of realizing in depth his or her individuality in conditions which would make possible a harmonious functional organization of production, distribution and consumption at all levels of human activity, mental-cultural as well as physical. The key to such a structuring is the communal group; but the group seen in a new light and with a concrete and multi-level function. Such a group-concept depends for its effectiveness on a polyvalent and non-possessive approach to interpersonal relationships. It depends on a quality of relatedness which can simply be defined as "love"; but love in a new dimension of living — a love which perhaps was known as agape in the very early Christian communities, but which might include even a broader, more conscious and more explicitly operative sense of relatedness.

The ideal of a universalistic and compassionate quality of interpersonal relationship is not new, but it could not operate on the basis of some of the Biblical statements concerning the relationship of man to the Earth and to a tribal God, or an I AM God, glorifying an absolute kind of individualism. It could not operate in a world in which aggressive Germanic races, featuring personal allegiance to a power-seeking Chief, came to dominate most of Western Europe. Therefore a complete change in the character of all types of interpersonal relationships is one of the first conditions which have to be met.

How it will be adequately met is a difficult question to answer; for we are dealing with a kind of vicious circle. This change would become a matter of tradition in a society that would be based upon it, yet such a society cannot be formed until enough human beings develop an ineradicable devotion to the ideal and the conscious determination to embody it in group-formation.

When one contrasts a spiritual realm where the identity of every individual person is a principle of fundamental validity with the everyday world-wide level functional differentiation of human activity, one comes close to the classical philosophical contrast between "being" and "doing". All men are equal in essential being, in as much as Man operates through each and all; but the capacity for functional activity differs in each person, according to a variety of factors referring to heredity, environment, and some will add "Soul past". The spiritual unit is the individual person, not as a mere abstraction (a voting citizen), a mere number in social statistics, but as an organic whole; and the atom is an organic whole. The functional unit is the group, as a social "molecule" within the vaster organism of Man, concretely active around the globe as mankind.

There must be, of course, groups of various sizes. Hierarchical values are scorned by the unsocial individualist, yet this is part of the emotional atmosphere created by any revolt against a rigid political system of hierarchization of power. Complex functional activities within an organized field inevitably imply a de facto natural hierarchization. The molecule is contained within a cell, which is contained within an organ, operating within a body which is one of myriad component wholes within the still vaster planetary, solar-systemic and galactic whole. Hierarchization applied at the wrong level — that of the individual identity of every person — is nefarious. It is a necessity at the functional level.

At this functional level, the basic unit should be the larger and partly autonomous ethnic group linked with a particular region of the Earth by a magnetic-organic and charactcrological resonance. Nothing would be so meaningless as a global society in which all cultural values would be standardized. This is one of the reasons why technological interchanges must be limited to an optimum, instead of a maximum effectiveness — at least when the new society will have begun significantly to operate; in the process of breaking down the cultural-political and racial barriers now existing on the basis of mutually repelling and blindly followed traditions, technology can well be allowed to act as the destroyer that it essentially is — for indeed modern science is a catabolic factor in that it tends to bring all values to a depersonalized and deculturalized level.

The phrase "unity in diversity" has recently been widely used; but the word, unity, is ambiguous. What is desirable and necessary in a global society is organic wholeness — a wholeness which implies a variety of interdependent organs, each working according to its own inherent and structural rhythm. Each basic region of the Earth-surface is an "organ" within the organic wholeness of the planet; likewise every human culture-born as it is of specific geographical, telluric, climatic and magnetic conditions — should be considered an organ within the organic wholeness of a planetary all-human society.

The great majority of human beings, today and most likely for a long time to come, are basically "culture men." They are attached by invisible threads to their birth-place, to the ancestral land. This may not be obvious in the United States; but it is so throughout the so-called Third World and still in Russia, and to a large extent in Western Europe. There is nothing wrong in such a feeling of rootedness in a particular Earth-region. Human beings need roots, until they reach the completely mature stage of seed-man.

Another illustration may clarify even better what I mean. In the human body, there are myriads of static cells which constitute the substance of the different organs; but there are also cells which are involved in the circulatory systems of the body — the blood and lymph cells particularly. They are functional units in the dynamic body-processes.

One should certainly not carry this analogy too far, but it is quite obvious that even today there are individual persons who are involved in a constant circulation of goods, ideas, news; and some of them at least have lost a feeling of attachment to their homeland. They are, we say, citizens of the world. Some of them are totally dedicated to the work of the United Nations, above and beyond their sense of allegiance to their natal country. Obviously if mankind is to function as an at least loosely integrated global organism, many more such world-men will be needed. They will operate in an unceasing circulatory state — mobile, dynamic, dealing with integrative processes. World-men versus Culture-men means also "universalists" versus "particularists." This very significant contrast, in practical terms, refers to two operational "levels. The future planetary society must not only account for both types of activity, but develop the men operating at both levels according to their innate capacities and feeling-responses as individual persons.

It would be senseless to attempt at this time to determine the processes or methods which should best be used for the selection of individuals best fitted by temperament and intellectual abilities to fulfill each of these two basic functions. It should be a self-selection, yet each regional group or smaller community would naturally have something to do with the process. The various tests used today in schools and business organizations in the selection of curriculum and of personnel would obviously be quite inadequate in dealing with such a basic situation; and there need not be any rigidity or irreversibility in the selective process. Neither should there be the anarchy of the rugged individualism approach to social functioning; for in so far as world-organization is concerned, the functional unit would be the group, and within the group each individual would find his or her own particular field of operation according to his or her own individual nature — but also according to the exigencies of the group-structure considered in relation to the situation which it occupies, together with other groups, in the larger whole.

What is involved in the process is evidently a problem of organization and what we today call management. The essential point is that management should exclude politics; and by politics I mean a jockeying for power over other human beings. In the evolutionary Age of Scarcity the problem of getting sufficient power for the necessities of life and for a personal surplus insuring security and relaxed enjoyment of interpersonal relationship and culture was a difficult one to solve; thus a constant struggle for a good part of the inadequately available power was inevitable. The value of technology is that it promises when properly used an adequate supply of power and useable materials; it therefore should make this struggle to gain adequate amounts of energy and goods unnecessary and obsolete.

There would still remain the human tendency, so much in evidence today, to want power over other human beings, i.e. the feeling of mastery which feeds the craving of the individual ego for expansion and domination. Everything in our competitive and aggressive Western society tends to increase and glamorize this craving; for it is nearly always included in the ideal of "success" and stimulated by the glorification of ambition. The development of group-consciousness and of a social functionalism which demands harmony and total cooperation is ultimately the only, or nearly the only way of eradicating this yearning for personal power, power over other human beings; and all educational processes should operate toward this basic aim.

It obviously will not be easy to balance, on the one hand the natural desire of the individual for self-expression and expansion, and on the other the group-need for harmony in cooperative functioning. The harmonizing of the mentality and the managerial activities of the "world men," in charge of the global integration and distribution of the resources of the Earth, with the regional and ethnic needs and feelings of the vast number of "culture men" — this too will involve many problems. When two potentially opposite types of drives are constantly interacting and interdependent, tensions inevitably can be expected. A third factor is therefore required, whose function is to harmonize the opposites. A third basic type of individual persons should therefore be allowed and urged to develop, the "harmonizer" who is, ideally at least, the man of wisdom.

A threefold concept of social organization has been embodied in the American Constitution and it operates in our parliamentary democracy in terms of a "division of power" between the Executive (with all its present-day agencies), the Legislative and the Judiciary. But this threefold pattern refers essentially to the political sphere, the sphere of power. The really decisive factors in American society operate at the level of business and interests — including national interests in a chaotic and jungle-like international sphere. This refers to the functional level, but function is thought of in terms of an anarchistic market economy in which the operation of the whole is subjected to the passions and ego-whims of individuals, and to emotional mass-reactions largely manipulated by special interests and the media they control.

In such an unintegrated system, laws and police-force are indispensable so as to establish a maximum of order and cohesion. But laws do not produce harmony, they produce complexes, criminals, and prisons; for any external "don't" invites challenge and coercive patterns — and a lawyer class prostituting human intelligence in complex and clever attempts to circumvent laws or impress juries by emotional dramatizations. Any society in which the individual and the State apparatus face each other without intermediary and defy each other breeds violence and sooner or later anarchy. The Supreme Court and much more the Department of Justice are parts of the political machinery and the jockeying for power. The qualifications for being a judge are mainly legal and deeply involved in politics and in economic class distinction. And the function of the Supreme Court is only meant in fact to check the danger of too radical innovations or misuse of power with reference to a sacrosanct Constitution, which no longer deals with functional realities of present-day mankind.

The above-mentioned "harmonizers" would symbolize the wholeness of mankind, or of any lesser social organism. They would be operating at every level of group-organization wherever needed to arbitrate conflicts, or more accurately, to harmonize differences. They would have "authority" as representatives of the wholeness of any whole. They would not operate with the hollow pomposity of a Court room, but where the action is, where men function. In a sense at least they would be more like European village-priests than modern judges; but priests committed to no particular religious institution — unless human beings in the future still require the binding patterns of a new world-religion. The harmonizer would act by his or her presence reminding any group — especially, above the level of small communes, at the regional level — that they are functional units, molecules and cells within the organic wholeness of planetary Man.

These harmonizers would particularly deal with the tensions arising from differences of points of view and temperaments between culture-men, close to the land and its ethnic overtones, and world-men whose minds operate primarily in terms of global management and of a balance of production, distribution and consumers requirements. Some planet-wide police force would probably be necessary, depending on the general state of human development and the tone of the relationship between larger regions; but most individual problems and individual refusals to accept communally established functional regulations would be dealt with within the small groups or communes, that is, at the very place and time they arise. There is nothing more absurd than our modern Court trials in the atmosphere of big cities and under the pressures of special interests or media-fed mass emotions, perhaps two years after a law has been broken and the offender has languished in jail, or been given a peculiar kind of "freedom" if able to raise enough money.

Any functional "misdemeanor" in a group should be dealt with immediately within the group or, if it involves inter-group conflicts, within a larger regional whole. A "crime" would simply be an "inorganic act" — a disturbance in the flow of the collective life of the group. Its psychological or collective causes would be discussed and, if necessary, in the presence of a harmonizer. The offender might require psychological treatments or a period of rest and re-education; or it might have been the very atmosphere and "tone" of the community which should have to be improved and revitalized. The concept of punishment will become totally obsolete, and the sense of guilt should be repolarized into a feeling of wasted time and ineffectual effort, whether it be in terms of the individuals growth or of his participation in communal activity.

The establishment of regional boundaries is likely in many cases to cause at first serious problems. Basically it should take place according to "geomorphic" functional realities. Continents and their interior structures should remain the basic factor, but what their shapes will be, one or two centuries from today, is unpredictable in spite of all scientific theories and various prophecies of great telluric changes. It would be futile to even consider the matter; but it is conceivable that rather vast migrations of population may have to take place in order to re-establish a close correlation between racial-ethnical collectivities and the land to which they are related by a kind of vibratory bio-psychic attunement. The idea of a "melting pot" of races may be most valuable in a time of crucial transition — that is, during the 18th, 19th, 20th, and probably 21st centuries. A new genetic human type may thus be produced; but this is, I believe, only an ideal of crisis. The fundamental situation is one in which human collectivities and Earth-regions exist in a kind of fruitful symbiosis which establishes a definite variety of cultural experiences and products.

The culture-man type is responsible, by individual temperament and functional destiny, for such relatively independent and creativity-enhancing cultural wholes. World-men would interrelate and integrate the products of these various regional cultures for the sake of mankind as a whole; but no attempt to produce an "international style" should be promoted, just because monotony is not harmony — and regimentation by fashion can be as severe and senseless as regimentation by Army-regulations.

Humanity is an organic structure interpenetrating at every point the organism of the whole Earth, in a sense as nerve-fibers interpenetrate all organs of the body. Man's function is to bring to a conscious state the variety of conditions which he is able to experience in, or beyond, the biosphere. The organization of a planetary society able to harmonize all types and temperaments of human beings should therefore follow rather closely the indications which the continents, the ocean and the atmosphere (and other spheres) of the Earth would give us if we were not so proud, and in our pride and vacuous intellectualizations so deaf to the vast harmonies, not only of this planet, but of the entire universe.

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1971 by Dane Rudhyar
All Rights Reserved.

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