Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Archangel Michael and Globalization



Despite being the most important and all encompassing topic of our time an article with the above title is unlikely to be found in any main stream publication. It is written for those who are aware that the Archangel Michaels’ current time of influence commenced in 1879 and that it will continue to beneficially influence the spiritual and physical events on earth for another two centuries. When discerning the signs of our times we encounter both a more cosmopolitan world and one where the process of individualization is increasing.

Signs of the times

“Were we required to charachterise this age of ours by any single epithet, we should be tempted to call it, not an Heroical, Devotional, Philosophic or Moral Age, but, above all others, the Mechanical Age. It is the Age of Machinery, in every outward and inward sense of that word; the age which, with its whole undivided might, forwards, teaches and practises the great art of adapting means to ends.”

These words are taken from Thomas Carlye’s “Signs of the Times” article in the Edinburgh review published in 1829. Carlyle spent his life immersed in the works of Goethe and Schiller and one has the impression that he yearned for that which originated in the Dynamical rather than the Mechanical nature of man. As he wrote the end of the age of Gabriel was near and above him a battle was raging in the heavens.

Technological and mechanical achievements have continued at a fantastic pace increasing the speed of both travel and communication to such an extent that another new word is required to characterize our present time. Globalization. We are all aware that this new word has to do with the movement of capital and labour across national frontiers, but we may well have different views as to how much globalization is a benign or malign reflection of Michaels’ cosmopolitan influences.

There can be no question that Globalization is here. Today it is not hard to imagine that a Scottish engineer is working in Beijing for a Canadian oil company who is married to a Japanese violinist tutoring some of the 40 million classical music students in China. They shop at Carrefour or Tesco buying exactly the same foods, medicines and fashion accessories that they would find in Edinburgh or Tokyo. For relaxation they have satellite television and can watch the latest DVDs as well as being able to see a Shakespearean play or a Lloyd Weber musical before going to eat in the international restaurant of their choice.

The present is always an important time and ours is one of polarities, surprises. We can watch walls are being taken down in one part of the world and walls being built in another. The healing and almost miraculous events in South Africa and Northern Ireland, when contrasted with the appalling suffering being experienced in many parts of the world, show us that there are a myriad of possibilities for the future.

City sky lines.

It is the sky line of cities which characterizes our own age and skyscrapers which characterize our modern cities. These massive buildings of moulded steel indicate that architecture has become more of a science than an art. The steel is covered with brittle refractory concrete and the parts left visible to us are mostly glass, which mirror and reflect the heavens and adjoining buildings. They house the multinational companies and those who work in them, the signs of HSBC, CITI Bank, NESTLE, TOYOTA, SIEMENS, are seen in every large city. Cathedrals have long since ceased to be the highest buildings, now insurance companies allay fears, faith is put in politicians, hope lies in lotteries, and loyalties are given to supermarkets.

The materialistic impulse has spread increasingly to the Eastern part of the world where millions of people are moving from rural areas to seek better lives in cities. Such migration is world wide and takes place primalary for economic reasons which are inextricably bound to the social life. So many people have recently moved from Mexico and Central America to find new homes in the USA that Spanish is fast becoming the second language. Europe has received immigrants from India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa and South America some of whom were desperate to escape the terrors of war and death by starvation. The experience of being uprooted from one’s home setting and detachment from blood ties is undoubtedly part of the process of achieving detachment and coming to terms with it can lead to something positive. In many parts of the world families are decreasing in size, in China the one child policy means everyone will have fewer and fewer relatives, migrating workers often leave one parent families and as a result many more people experience the sorrow of loneliness. This can be seen as part and parcel of the process of developing individual egos which in turn is the prerequisite of spiritual love.

The security of the past and of the familiar has had to be given up for the insecurity and unknown of the future. With this rapid mixing of people of different races and faith, tensions are created in communities that still value their local and national identity and it is difficult to share festivals, stories, or moral values based on religion. Many people no longer celebrate religious or seasonal festivals of any kind and the biggest event of the year is their own birthday.

Government and globalization

Politicians have long been subservient to financiers as Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founder of the Rothschild banking dynasty, makes clear in his own words. (1790)
“Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who makes the laws.”
Today national governments are obligated to work hand in glove with anonymous, impersonal, multinational companies who even operate transport and water distribution systems which used to be the task of public servants working for the public good. These companies are motivated by profit and, in American law, have loyalties only to their shareholders. They each employ thousands of people around the world who mine, manufacture, ship and market goods across vast distances. Globalization is here, just as the tides of the seas are here, and is growing so fast that it is difficult to imagine what the world will be like in even a few years time. It has brought prosperity to many and vast wealth to a few but the “war on poverty” has not been won by the poor.
In the past when the divide between rich and poor became intolerable a revolution would result as happened in, France, Russia and China; today worker solidarity and unionization is made virtually impossible by the great distances involved. Karl Marx reasoned that Capitalism would result in such monopolies but a middle class buffer, where people are reasonably happy with their lot, has been created so that levels of discontent are contained. More and more people are now in a position where they can own their own homes and cars even if it takes two stressed out wage earners and thirty years or more to do so. Unlike the communist system which makes no pretense about private ownership the capitalist system allows for private property to be repossessed by “enforced gifts” or death duties. Some people protest at G8 summit meetings but the formation of international trade unions and consumer associations is difficult. The present political structure is designed to benefit large corporations whose insatiable wish is to increase production which must require using more of the worlds resources and only can result in more pollution.

Nearly 100 years after Thomas Carlyes essay Rudolf Steiner gave a lecture series in Dornach (note1) also called “Signs of the Times” where he spoke of Michael’s Battle and its Reflections on Earth. The reflection at that time was a frightful murderous revolution in Eastern Europe, and a war involving much of the world; it was also the time of the construction of the first Goetheanum. Alongside lectures about the Archangel Michaels Mission he was also working on the wooden group sculpture we know as “The Representative of Mankind” depicting a human figure at the moment of temptation standing between the beings of Lucifer and Ahriman. By “making visible” these Beings in this sculpture and from the lectures he gave we gain a wealth of information not available from other sources. Though Michael is mentioned in the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran most of us would not be aware of his importance without the insights of Rudolf Steiner. Indeed few of those who use the term Zeitgeist to describe intellectual and moral activities ever conceive of the Being as real and would be unable to name him.

Those who sculpt, in what ever medium, have always been aware that all the surfaces they create are either concave or convex. By practicing the art as initiated by Steiner and the observation of nature’s forms sculptors can learn that this is not actually the case; there is also a third, “propeller” or “saddle” shape, which is neither one nor the other. This shape brings a dynamic “beyond” that which was previously possible and it provides an aid in developing the metamorphic thinking required in the Michaelic time, not only to those who sculpt but to also to people who see and touch the forms.

Rudolf Steiner characterizes to his audience quite precisely what it means to think in the sense of Michael, to have Michaelic thoughts:

“The human being is invisible, really invisible. You all as you are sitting here are invisible to physical senses. A certain number of shapes are sitting here; they have, through a certain power of attraction, collected particles of matter. These particles of matter are what we see; we merely see the mineral. The real human beings that are sitting here are invisible, are supersensible. To say this to oneself with full consciousness at every moment of waking life constitutes the Michaelic mode of thinking.”

From his lectures we learn that Lucifer and Ahriman, with Michael standing between them as the point of balance, together form a triad. The delusion of the duad, the idea of “good and evil”, still predominates in the consciousness of mankind today because they are ignorant of the truth of this triad. This is evident in the thinking of today’s political leaders who can sell the idea of a “war on evil”, (as if the devil can somehow be killed with a gun), and that it is possible and justifiable “to fight for peace” and have “moral wars”. Today’s established religious leaders, film makers and novelists still consider heaven to be the divine element, while, in truth, we have to do with the Luciferic element called heavenly, and the Ahrmanic element called infernal. The question “What is evil?” can never receive an answer that will satisfy the human soul but an understanding of the double nature of evil has been given as an invaluable aid for those who wish to try. The devils cleverest act may have been to make people think that he does not exist; any revelation of evils’ existence need not bring cause for despair.

Dr Steiner began revealing the Mysteries of Antiquity in his book Christianity as Mystical Fact and he now continues these revelations to small audiences in these lectures some ten years later. Those present were the first to witness an event which only occurs rarely in the history of humanity and at very long intervals. The audience became aware that they were no longer listening solely to “esoteric studies” but as the noise of the war guns faded, practical, almost political ideas, were being given for the reconstruction of Europe and the world’s future. The Three fold social order, something “beyond” Capitalism and Communism was explained and a course on World economics given.

The far reaching consequences of Steiners’ revelations given nearly 100 years ago, which will lead to the formation of Associations and a Threefold Social Order, have yet to gain public acceptance. He gave the examples of Goethe and Milton to show that even their great literary works spoke of divine-spiritual forces above and diabolical forces below with a no real comprehension of a threefold structure. One has the impression that having mentioned this to a small group he thought that the whole world would soon become conscious of the enormity of what he was saying but RS was very well aware of the power of evil. On one occasion he asked a group of young people to write down their vision of what the world would be like in 50 years time. Aware of his ideas for a three fold social order, agriculture, education, medicine, architecture, etc. they gave their impressions for a very wonderful world unfolding. “There is one thing you have forgotten”, said RS, “the power of evil.” (anecdotal)

World Economy

Rudolf Steiner was keen for us to realize that “National” economics and “World” economics are two very different things saying that, “We shall have to pass into a real world-economy and a corresponding Economic Science or we shall create an economically impossible state of affairs over the Earth. Such a condition of affairs can only continue in being for a time through one part of the Earth stealing advantages at the expense of another by means of differences in currency or the rates of exchange. This is precisely what is happening in economic life at the present moment. (note 2)

And it still is happening! The IMF (note 3) has difficulty intervening where countries unfairly manipulate currency values and advances in computer technology have complicated world trading systems to such an extent that they are (almost) beyond human understanding and control. When Europeans can fly to shop more cheaply in the USA for products manufactured in China it is easy to see that something is amiss and many countries are now considering reintroducing protectionist policies.

The “World Economy” lectures given by Rudolf Steiner are somewhat easier to study now than when first given as we can see the dreadful consequences of what happens when the ideas are not inaugurated; the “class” wars of Bolshevism, a world economic recession, the “race” war of National Socialism, the “ideological” wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. It is the economist’s task and great responsibility to heal the relationships between producers, suppliers and consumers; we live on the planet of love where greed and competitiveness are very much out of place. The field of economics is that of brotherhood and of solidarity where each works for others to the best of her ability. This “in reality” is what already happens but in the area of Will many of us are still asleep and tend to be unconscious of our actions. The dairy farmer milking a herd of cows can not possibly be producing all the milk for himself even if he “thinks” he does. Fortunately peoples’ hearts are still in the right place and can relate to such ideas as “Small is Beautiful” and “Think global, act local” but governments are reluctant to support such initiatives.

In our “buyer-beware” world just about everyone seems to have something to sell. “Invasions” are being carried out both by individuals and nations whether it be for a product, an idea, a cause, a drug or even a body part. In this age of marketing a persuasive salesmanship mentality is rampant and we are being conditioned to present, advertise, cajole, and spin rather than in helping people with their needs. Politicians take great care with their images and presentations, the cleverest minds are involved with the advertising of products, not only selling them but making people “need” them in the first place. Such coldness is not the real nature of the consciousness soul but its shadow side which will eventually be filled with the warmth and love of Michael who indicates his path so that we may be free to travel it. The great respecters of freedom do not overwhelm and coerce but appeal to the free decision of the human will.

Thomas Carlyle ended his essay with these words;

To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself.

Rudolf Steiner ended his lecture series by saying;

Many people ask “What shall I do?” It is so obvious what one should do! One should open one’s eyes! Ones spiritual eyes to be sure. If one opens one’s eyes, the Will will follow. The Will depends on our life situation. It is not always possible in one’s particular circumstances, according to one’s karma, to do the right thing; but one must try to open one’s eyes spiritually………………………As I have stated, it is not possible to enter into concrete details. Each one of you can do that for himself.


Note 1. “Signs of the Times” Munich 1918 and lecture series “The Mission of the Archangel Michael”, Dornach 1919

Note 2. Extracted from World Economy lectures 1922

Note 3 The International Monetary Fund was created in July 1944, at the end of the Second World War, 45 nations gathered at the Bretton Woods conference in New Hampshire to establish the Fund, alongside the World Bank, to manage the postwar international economy and avoid repetition of disastrous prewar policies that led to the Great Depression. The IMF’s main task is to foster the stability of the world economy and the international financial system It advises nations on policies, offers technical assistance, polices exchange rates and makes emergency loans to crisis-hit countries. The IMF, with 185 member countries, remains one of the largest official holders of gold in the world, not only for prudential reasons, but also to meet unforeseen contingencies.