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  An American Manifesto
Wednesday August 20, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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ROAD TO THE

MIDDLE CLASS

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Bibliography

Chapter 11:
A Likely Story

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Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses. —F.S.C. Northrop

KNOWLEDGE BEGINS with a problem, with the need to make sense of the world.  In political philosophy, the problem is to imagine a political community that is both practical and just, practical enough to survive, and just enough to avoid oppression and servitude.  In Plato’s time, the problem was to imagine a just and workable government for the city-states of Hellas that could avoid the horrors of the Peloponnesian wars and its attendant follies; his Republic and Laws were his attempts to imagine that different polity.  In our time, the great problem is the culture war between the two armies that James Davison Hunter has called the orthodox and the progressive.

The developers of Spiral Dynamics have shown how to solve this great problem of the modern world, the conflict between the bourgeois ethos of law and purpose and the new ethos of the creative community, the global voluntary community of “genuine democracy” and a world without oppression and exploitation.  The solution of Clare Graves and his students and the solution of Ken Wilber prophesy a new emerging consciousness beyond the green cosmos of communitarian caring and universalism: a new yellow consciousness of synthesis, and a natural history classification of human consciousness into the four common levels of red power, blue purpose, orange creativity, and green community.  Its value for this study is that, in illuminating the problems of what comes next after socialism, it illuminates precisely the issues here chosen for analysis: how best to serve the needs of the people struggling on the road to the middle class.  It explains the remarkable fact that religious adherence in the United States has steadily increased in the last two hundred years instead of declining after the Death of God experienced by the educated classes.  It explains the extraordinary failures of the visionary socialists, why their vision for a global community of humankind freed from oppression and superstition led straight to the gulag, to the laogai, and to the Nazi death camp.  And it points the way to a new Culture of Hope imagined by Frederick Turner beyond the death spiral of postmodernism, a world in which the commercial culture of the city is the foundation of the attempt to built a universal civilization of creativity, sharing and caring.  But above all it shows that enthusiastic Christianity, the move from the spoken word to the written word in education for literacy, a voluntary culture of mutual-aid, and an move from the law of force and feud to the reciprocal trust of the rule of law, when mixed together, are precisely the nutritious and energizing ingredients to sustain the travelers on the road to the middle class.  It allows us to assert with confidence when the progressive middle class wrinkles its collective brow over the threat of “theocracy” or the superstitions of fundamentalist Christians that they are wrong.  Enthusiastic Christianity may not be the recipe for a creative, compassionate life of experiment and inquiry, but it is the right recipe for the immigrant newly arrived in the city.

We cannot know reality, Kant taught us, and must be content with a world-view.  Knowledge about the world is thus a theory, the twentieth century learned, a simplification, an attempt to view the world in the simplest, most elegant way possible, attempting to concentrate only on the primary data, and ignoring second order effects.  Every theory tries to force the appearances of the world into a likely story, a theory that explains why we are the fortuitous culmination of world history while doing as little violence to the facts as possible.  Here then is a likely story of the world, moderately Eurocentric, and illuminated by the light of Gravesian developmental psychology.

Back in the dark ages about 1000 years ago, Europe was a continent of red power and oppression.  The nature of agricultural economy demanded it.  Land was the only thing that lasted, but it was vulnerable to attack.  Peasants needed armed might to protect them from pirates, slavers, and nomads from the Asian steppe.  A military class ruled, a warrior aristocracy, to give the landsmen the protection they needed.  But the cure was sometimes worse than the disease, for the landed barons exploited the power that their military might gave them, and wasted the surplus of the peasants on wars of dynastic succession and revenge.  The feudal system was a crystallization of the power relationships that obtained in this world.  It was a status hierarchy with loyalty given to the powerful in return for the offer of protection for the weak.

With the rise of cities and towns that focused on commerce and manufacturing rather than agriculture, a new force entered the feudal realm, the bourgeoisie.  These townspeople gradually developed extended relationships of trust and reciprocity marked by formal and informal contracts.  The increasing complexity of their business affairs required extensive record keeping and provoked them into breakthroughs like double-entry bookkeeping, and the occasions when disputes arose between them stimulated a tradition of adjudications that grew into a body of precedent that we call the common law.   These purposeful townspeople yearned for a political system that reflected the reality of their lives and that championed its foundations: literacy, law, and mutual trust.  The Venetians got it a thousand years ago, in an aristocratic republic led by their merchant traders.  In the sixteenth century the Dutch and the British got it from Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Erasmus.  Thus grew the blue bourgeois consciousness of rules and purpose, and the One Way.

The movement from status to contract, with its formalization of power relationships into rules and its expansion of trust between businessmen and their customers, worked so well for the bourgeoisie that they thought that it would work just as well for the kings and princes that ruled over them.  Eventually, after a struggle, the kings came to agree with them, and grudgingly adapted their rule to the demands of the rising bourgeoisie, abandoning the polity of pure power leavened by immemorial custom.  Constitutions were written, parliaments formed, and laws passed.  The cosmos of rules and purpose seemed to be set to expand at a sensible evolutionary pace forever.

But human affairs seldom continue at a sensible evolutionary pace.  In the eighteenth century, combustible France broke the slow evolution from status to contract and precipitated the first modern revolution.  Not to be outdone, the British bourgeoisie precipitated a revolution of its own, the industrial revolution.  Investing cash from West Indian slave plantations into a revolution in textile technology and the exploitation of steam power, they rapidly developed a city-based economy that outstripped the rural agricultural economy in wealth production.  Most notably, it produced mass products for a mass market and reduced Bengali hand-loom cotton weavers to indigence. 

This revolution in wealth production had two significant effects.  It turned the sober and rule-bound blue bourgeoisie into orange world adventurers, who no longer looked upon work as a worthy vocation, but as an exciting game to be won.  The new capitalist adventurers represented a new birth of ego; they circled the world not in search of land to be conquered but markets to be won.  They also sucked millions of rural red people into the city where they were subjected to a wrenching change in their way of life.  These immigrants to the city experienced life as powerless proletari; their lives were grim and short, subject to the iron laws of the market.  Being numerous, they competed for jobs and living space; they drove wages down and rents up.  Initially, their lives were hardly less arduous than their former life on the land.


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Click for Chapter 12: The Fourth Great Awakening

 

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Your comments are welcome. Please e-mail to Christopher Chantrill at mailto:chrischantrill@gmail.com, and take the RMC test here.

 TAGS


Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


 

©2007 Christopher Chantrill