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Esteemed Reader | January 2019

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Esteemed Reader of Our Magazine:

I had a rare conversation about politics with a friend. He argued that we need to support the right candidates and engage in the political to make a societal change. I opined that the system is broken and unfixable.

"Well, what do you suggest?" He asked sincerely. "What's a better system?"

I don't trust the government. Never did. Somehow it was always clear that most politicians are bought and sold, and that the few that stick their necks out to uphold real values get marginalized or assassinated. As a child, it seemed to me that the whole system is, as they say in yiddish, kaput.

For me the brokenness of the system came into sharp relief when I was 30 with the 2000 presidential election. If you recall there was a clear winner of the popular vote but the electoral race came down to one state, Florida. There was the issue of some "hanging chads" on the paper ballots making them uncountable. Rather than conducting a thorough review, the case of Bush v. Gore was brought before the supreme court, who decided in favor of one of the candidates.

I had learned in school that the three branches of government were designed to balance each other, not take sides, but in this case the branch responsible for holding a balance had become partisan. The Bush regime, a cadre of super-rich old white guys, successfully staged a coup d'etat in plain site. The result was to bend and break the system that was meant to prevent precisely such grabs for power.

That's history, but the institution of politics has continued to erode. There are too many examples to count, but an important one is the Citizens United Supreme Court case in which corporations were deemed to have the same right as people, to give unlimited funds to political candidates. Now politicians can be bought with transparent impunity.

Many are disillusioned with the US's system of government, dominated by money interests, and are drawn to opt out of the process. There's a deep and, in my opinion, justified cynicism about the whole structure of the US's "democracy" and "representative form of government." These ideals, with which children are indoctrinated in schools, have proven to be farcical and empty descriptions, so opposite to the reality as to make George Orwell's 1984 read as a realistic description of the present rather than a frightening but fantastical dystopian future.

In considering my friend's question, I recalled the model of Rudolph Steiner's Threefold Social Order. Steiner posits that there are three spheres of human community. These are comprised by the economic, political, and cultural institutions and spheres. The economic sphere includes business, commerce, and the exchange of goods and services. The political realm encompasses government together with its bureaucracy and services, as well as law and human rights. The cultural realm includes science, education, arts, religion, and media.

Steiner illustrates his image as three circles of activity, each of which is independent with the exception of small areas of overlap, and one space at its center in which all three circles overlap. In this overlap at the heart of the Venn diagram, is humanity.

This image explains so much about what goes wrong, and what could transform to make it right. For a society to be successful each realm must limit its activity to its own sphere. When one sphere unduly influences another, the whole system goes out of balance.

We see many examples of this imbalance, the major cause being the undue influence of the economic sphere over the others. The US's system and its exported "democracy" is an epidemic with business influence in inappropriate spheres. Business and money influence rules both government and all aspects of culture. Literally nothing is safe from the profit motive.

Isn't it interesting that the microcosm of the society is a human being, and it is precisely this work of balancing oneself, that is the curative to psychic malaise?

—Jason Stern

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