Tuesday, January 21, 2020

In Defence of Civilisation - Response to Bruce Charlton

by Amo Boden

Bruce Charlton has made a prediction regarding the future of civilisation.
In it he argues that due to the evolution of consciousness, political systems will not survive - "at least nothing on the scale of any current nations".  He then goes on to say that "the experiment of human civilisation will come to an end."

While I think Charlton's prediction is almost certainly true for our current political system, I object to what seems to me his assumption that bureaucratic political systems as such are the defining feature of all civilisations in general.

In fact, I would go as far as to suggest that bureaucratic political systems increase in proportion to the deterioration of civilisation. 

Defining civilisation in terms of abstract political systems also blocks any understanding as to how the organising principals behind civilisation have shifted as a result of the evolution of consciousness.

For the great civilisations of the past were not "experiments" invented in the minds of social theorists - they were the expression of a divine order that people experienced within consciousness. People participated in civilisation according to principals that were immediately real to them - not abstract. The Ancient Greeks philosophised about politics and society in the sense that they wanted to fully comprehend the divine order behind these outer phenomena. They were not social reformers, setting out to plan, abstractly, a utopian society along utilitarian lines like we moderns do.

For this reason it would also be meaningless to suggest that ancient civilisations were "authoritarian". They only appear that way to our modern way of thinking. Once one accounts for the evolution of consciousness it becomes necessary to attribute the god-like leaders of past civilisations as an expression of that reality.

The general trend of the evolution of consciousness in terms of the organisation of civilisation has been a shift from universal Spirit to particular Spirit. Whereas before the ordering principals giving expression to civilisation originated in the consciousness of a divine world order (universal) - from now on and into the future this organising principal springs from the consciousness that each individual can establish for him/herself moral intuitions that are intuited directly from real personal situations (particular).

This is a reflection of the Christ principal expressing itself in how society organises itself. In Christ, God became a man. The Universal became a particular.

The civilisations of the future will be at least as magnificent and splendid as any great civilisation of the past. Only they will be the fruit, not of the Gods and God-like leaders, but of each individual's loving participation. 

It might seem wildly idealistic to believe that great civilisations could be left up to individuals to organise by themselves, and that in reality we will always require some impersonal system to keep everyone in check.

But this attitude can be abandoned when the Christ event is properly understood - for it has always been consciousness behind the expression of civilisation - and therefore, to the extent that human beings are conscious today, they are fit for the task.This is not to say that impersonal systems have never played a role in any civilisation - only that such systems do not produce civilised human beings, but rather presupose them.

As soon as we see the total bankruptcy of these systems at giving life to any civilisation, past, present or future - and as soon as we see that the wish to rely on such systems now is just a puerile and hopeless attempt at avoiding our responcibility - we will allow ourselves and others the dignity in realising what we are here for.

Charlton asks us to trust in God. On account of the evolution of consciousness I must add - trust in the human being.

This post is inspired by Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom


  1. I think I agree with what you say.

    I think you are saying that we cannot (from here, at this stage of development of consciousness) describe the nature of a future society - and that it therefore might be 'A Civilisation' - but one built on different 'bottom-up' principles.

    I agree, it might be. I don't think we can know this. On the other hand, we can't assume that civilisation Will survive either. Therefore, we should try not to worry about the future of this mortal world! And think/ behave well in the present, having faith.

    1. Many thanks for your response. I agree with you too, worrying about the future of this mortal world is misguided - even idolatrous. I believe civilisation exists to reflect and serve consciousness, not the other way round. What form future civilisations take is completely up to consciousness to decide. Some will be more perfect than others, but none will ever be perfect.

      Responding to your post has been a very good excersise for me - it lead me to discover that these "bottom-up principals" are in fact behind all civilisation - only in the past it wasn't strictly speaking "bottom-up" because the nature of consciousness was the reverse to how it is now - meaning the birth of something universal (civilisation) out of something particular (an individual's mind) was not possible until the mystery of Golgotha.
      I also realised that because civilisation depends on consciousness, it is fragile against all the many things that dull consciousness, and so far from guaranteed.

    2. "fragile against all the many things that dull consciousness" - That's a good point, that I haven't seen before. But worse than dulling (from an external cause) would be something like the 'evasion of consciousness', which I what I feel is happening with mass/ social media and by the dishonest way that people evade the obligation to think consecutively and respond to reasonable questions.

    3. Oh yes, the media is the treadmill for the mind. It feels like you're going somewhere but in reality you're just walking the path being fed to you.

  2. BTW - You might want to correct Breif to Brief Outlines?

    Also - are you Amo or Ama - I thought it was the latter, but here you use the former?


    1. It's officially Amo now ... its an alias.

      Many thanks for the "Brief" typo...

  3. You cover a lot of ground here. I like the comment about the past only appearing authoritarian, experience was more collective then, consciousness was more external, which is why for me pretty much all period dramas fail for me. I have recently watched a few episodes of AD Kingdom and Empire and it feels like these are modern human beings being depicted as in the past, that is of course what it is, but almost no one is even trying to solve that issue creatively.

    "As soon as we see the total bankruptcy of these systems at giving life to any civilisation..."

    This looks like the core of what you're saying, this is an intense reflection, I think what you're saying is that systems and objects are the evidence of civilisation they are artefacts they are not the thing in itself which exists in consciousness the awareness and ability to live in this realisation is the mark of coming civilisation. Is that a fair summary?

    1. That's a beautifully put summary, yes - with emphasis that the consciousness to civilise is now very different from that of the past, relying on individual will whereas befre the will to civilise was boren from awareness of the universal divine order, independent of the individual's will - but nevertheless still originating in consciousness, as opposed to being forced onto people by good-like dictators.
      This same will to civilise that originated as divine order now originates from within each individual's moral imagination.


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