The Global Social Situation at the end of the 20th Century

Emerging of a Threefold Global Society And a Future Social Task for the Anthroposophical Movement

Jesaiah Ben-Aharon

This essay is based on the author's contribution to the book 'THE FUTURE IS NOW -- Anthroposophy at the New Millennium' (Temple Lodge Publishing, London, 1999) with minor revisions and additions by the author. It appears here by kind permission of Temple Lodge Publishing and the author. (Original text at )

"Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the earth, catching the breath, is that it is alive. The photographs show the dry, pounded surface of the moon in the foreground, dead as an old bone. Aloft, floating free beneath the moist, gleaming membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos. If you could look long enough, you would see the swirling of the great drifts of white cloud, covering and uncovering the half-hidden masses of land. If you had been looking for a very long, geologic time, you could have seen the continents themselves in motion, drifting apart on their crustal plates, held afloat by the fire beneath. It has the organized, self-contained look of a live creature, full of information, marvelously skilled in handling the sun." (Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell)

The global situation at the end of the 20th century shows clearly the results of more than hundred years of the predominance of one-sided economic development of the west\north, over basic political and civil human needs and values in the west itself and the world as a whole.

The tendency of modern economic development to predominate over other basic needs of society in inherent in its historical moment, that is, in its increasing emancipation from the physiocratic, theocratic and class binding social forces by which it was bound until the 18/19 centuries. This emancipation is, however, not incidental or wrong in itself; it is a necessary and fully justified development if looked at from the perspective of the general emancipation and individuation of human consciousness in the course of time. As such, it is a part of the driving force that leads the independent human soul towards a fuller understanding and utilization of the forces and materials of the physical world.

This development, of course, is not without its dangers. But could we ask for new major developments in human evolution and yet wish to be spared its possible aberrations and risks? -Apparently not, and in the case of maturing world economy, this is today obviously the case.

For example, the influence of global economy on the ecological planetary system is well studied:

The global output of goods and services grew from just under $5 trillion in 1950 to more than $29 trillion in 1997, an expansion of nearly sixfold. From 1990 to 1997, it grew by $5 trillion- matching the growth from the beginning of civilization to 1950...

As the economy grows, pressures on the Earth’s natural systems and resources intensify. From 1950 to 1997, the use of lumber tripled, that of paper increased sixfold, the fish catch increased nearly fivefold, grain consumption nearly tripled, fossil fuel burning nearly quadrupled, and air and water pollutants multiplied severalfold. The unfortunate reality is that the economy continues to expand, but the ecosystem on which it depends does not, creating and increasingly stressed relationship.

While economic indicators such as investment, production, and trade are consistently positive, the key environmental indicators are increasingly negative. Forests are shrinking, water tables are falling, soils are eroding, wetlands are disappearing, fisheries are collapsing, range lands are deteriorating, rivers are running dry, temperatures are rising, coral reefs are dying, and plant and animal species are disappearing.

`Growth for the sake of growth`, notes environmental writer Edward Abbey,

‘is the ideology of the cancer cell.’ Just as a continuously growing cancer eventually destroys its life-support systems by destroying its host, a continuously expanding global economy is slowly destroying its host- the Earth’s ecosystem." ( The State of the World report, 1998)

The influence of global economy on the economic global situation, especially the growing polarization in most economic parameters between poor regions, nations and populations, and the rich ones, is alarming:

"Globalization offers great opportunities- but only if it is managed more carefully and with more concern for global equity.

Proceeding at breakneck speed but without map or compass, globalization has helped reduce poverty in some of the largest and strongest economies- China, India and some of the Asian tigers. But it has also produced losers among and within countries. As trade and foreign investment have expanded, the developing world has seen a widening gap between winners and losers. Meanwhile, many industrial countries have watched unemployment soar to levels not recorded since the 1930s, and income inequality reach levels not recorded since the last century.

The ratio of global trade to GDP has been rising over the past decade, but it has been falling for 44 developing countries, with more than a billion people. The last developed countries, with 10% of the world’s people, have only 0.3% of world trade- half their share of two decades ago.

  • More than half of all developing countries have been bypassed by foreign direct investment, two-thirds of which has gone to only eight developing countries.
  • The terms of trade for the least developed countries have declined a cumulative 50% over the past 25 years.
  • Average tariffs on industrial country imports from the least developed countries are 30% higher than the global exports in industrial nations.

The bottom line for poverty and incomes: The share of the poorest 20% of the world’s people in global income now stands at a miserable 1.1%, down from 1.4% in 1991 and 2.3% in 1960. It continues to shrink. And the ratio of the income of the top 20% to that of the poorest 20% rose from 30 to 1 in 1960, to 61 to 1 in 1991- and to a startling new high of 78 to 1 in 1994." (Human Development Report, 1997; The HDPs of 1998 and 1999 show a powerful continuation of all the above trends)

One paramount cause for the almost unlimited power of global economy over environmental and social interests, lies, undoubtedly, with the increased weakening of the realm of equity: the middle sphere of the social-human element, that must have its stronghold in the equity consciousness of human beings, and implemented by the democratic institutions of the political state, that provide law and security, and guarantees human rights:

"The most disturbing aspect of this global system is that the formidable power and mobility of global corporations are undermining the effectiveness of national governments to carry out essential policies on behalf of their people. Leaders of nations-states are losing much of the control over their own territory they once had.... Tax laws intended for another age, traditional ways to control capital flows and interest rates, full employment policies, and old approaches to resource development and environmental protection are becoming obsolete, unenforceable, or irrelevant....

But no political ideology or economic theory has as yet evolved to take account of the tectonic shift that has occurred... the nation-state everywhere faces a crisis of redefinition without a practical ideology that confronts the realities of the emerging global order.... as national economies become increasingly intertwined, nations are breaking up in many different ways, and no alternative community is yet on the horizon." (Barnet and Cavanagh, 1995)

But are Barnet and Cavanagh entirely right in assuming that "no political ideology or economic theory has as yet evolved to take account of the tectonic shift that has occurred.." and that, "no alternative community is yet of the horizon"? – Our contention is that, indeed, they are right if they refer to the fact that no new political ideology or economic theory had arisen, but are wrong if they don’t notice that an "alternative community" is, as a matter of social-historical fact, already emerging. But this only means that our political-social and economic ideologies and theories again lag behind a new and significant social evolution that is occurring in the course of the 20th century, producing new social reality.

Civil Society Comes of Age

This more recent social change is but another stage in a continuous process of social emancipation. As the new economic forces were emancipated, becoming self-conscious with the dawning of the age of imperialism, capitalism and scientific/industrial advancement, and then, since the French and American revolutions, a democratic state became the place in which human rights consciousness awakened to self-consciousness, so now a third, and new, social force begins to become conscious of itself, beyond economy and the state: this is the sector of the new civil society, in which forces of moral freedom and free responsibility for the Earth, human rights and free culture are emerging.

The decline of the state and its power to protect the environment and human rights is, in itself, not reversible. Nor should we hope that it be-not in its traditional forms. Both human rights consciousness and the economy need a fresh infusing of forces from a new source, that can only be the moral-spiritual motivation of free human souls and spirits. This means that the possibility for true social transformation lies in the spiritual revitalization of the first two social sectors by means of the new and younger forces of a third sector: the emerging global social sector of free civil initiative and action.

Only by means of free, independent moral-social responsibility and action, that strives to influence the handling of economic activity and to reawaken human-rights awareness, can a new relation be established between the equally justified needs of "capitalism" and "socialism". The middle sector, of law and human rights, which is the true domain of the democratic state, and the economic sector, that administers production, trade and consumption of goods, can be gradually regained by the whole human individuality and by the interests of society as a whole, only if mediated and permeated by the new third sector. A more mature and evolved tri-part social structure is emerging to replace the old and exhausted two-part structure that can’t account for the new dilemmas created by economic globalization, environmental, human and cultural degradation.

This is the main difference between a three-part concept of society, and the traditional, two-part social concept. However, we see that most critics of globalization, being aware of the above mentioned recent weakening of the state, if they are challenged to advance from critic to truly new and creative social alternative, come up with no other proposal but-again- stronger state intervention, more or less in the established socialistic, or social-democratic political traditions of the last hundred years.

The historical paradox is obvious. While most socially active NGOs and individuals are representatives of a newly arising "third sector" of society, that is, civil society itself, many of them are not yet self-consciously cognizant of their own new social sector. Most often then not, they still look back at the political sector, embodied in the state, as the answer to all difficulties. But we have witnessed it again and again: if those activists are eventually elected, they become part of the old two-part social structure of economy-versus-state, and more often then not, they realize that they are forced to repeat the same compromises and mistakes, having no new, creative social solutions to the same unresolved old dichotomy and struggle between "capitalism" and "socialism".

However, the third sector, or social member, is becoming increasingly influential, revealing itself through many NGOs and active individuals the world over, precisely because it represents the principle of freedom: free civil, social moral/spiritual responsibility makes itself manifest, as a new source of social initiative that must be distinguished form state/government and economy/business. The significance of this third social sector becomes also better understood by social science, that begins to recognize the existence of a third member of social life, beside the economical and political:

"We understand `civil society` as a sphere of social interaction between economy and state, composed above all of the intimate sphere..., the sphere of associations..., social movements, and forms of public communication. Modern civil society is created through forms of self-constitution and self-mobilization".( Cohen and Aarato, 1997)

This quotation reveals a growing readiness on the part of social-science to acknowledge the existing of a "threefoldness", a trilateral structure of "division of labor" within the body social. However, not only a theoretical change is in process, but a real social change is occurring, as indicated above. And the powerful impact of a more confident and self-conscious third sector, of civil society, has already made a difference in central global economic and trade policy, especially in connection with the recent negotiations about the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. So powerful, in fact, was their impact, that leading circles in the financial-political American establishment had to take their activity into account. In doing this they demonstrated their well established historical and social alertness to emerging trends in the spiritual-cultural life of modern humanity. In their study and immediate efforts for co-optation of the emerging civil society and its organizations, they were absolutely up to date with current social affairs. They understood what they called a social-political "power shift" of global proportions, far ahead of most anthroposophists and, -with the notable exception of the originators of Philippine Agenda 21 (discussed below)- of the general anthroposophical society itself.

The Power Shift

In an article by that name in the January/ February 1997 volume of Foreign Affairs, a leading, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Jessica T. Mathews, wrote that "The end of the cold war has brought…. A novel redistribution of power among states, market, and civil society". Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the driving powers of civil society, "deliver more official development assistance than the entire U.N system. In many countries they are delivering the services- in urban and rural community development, education, and health care- that faltering governments can no longer manage.. increasingly, the NGOs are able to push around even the largest governments".

Mathews points to the place and time in which she believes civil society, via its NGOs entered irrevocably the power structure of global society. This happened at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992: " …NGOs set the original goal of negotiating an agreement to control greenhouse gases long before governments were ready to do so, proposed most of its structure and content, and lobbied and mobilized public pressure to force though a pact that virtually no one else thought possible when the talks began…As a result, delegates completed the framework of a global climate accord in the blink of a diplomat’s eye- 16 months- over the oppositions of the three energy superpowers, the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. The Treaty entered into force in record time just two rears later… with potentially enormous implications for every economy".

An even more remarkably successful campaign of NOGs in the years 1996-8 led to the abolishment, at least of the original and draconian form, of the largely secret dealings of the leading world financial institutions and corporations, to achieve a Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). This great battle was taking place far away from the commercial as well a "free" media, finding only very rare and belated expressions. Only by linking to the vast Internet mobilization in which literally hundreds and thousands NGOs where actively cooperating and managing this campaign, could one gain an inkling of the enormity of the efforts, and counter efforts, being undertaken. The second major mouthpiece of the American-Anglo Establishment, Foreign Policy magazine, dedicated a special study to the new phenomena in its fall 1998 volume, under the title, "Global Impact- NGOs in the field". "Witness the ‘victory’ that NGOs recently achieved" wrote its editor, "when they stymied efforts by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group made up of the world’s 29 major industrial countries, to draft the MAI, a treaty setting common standards for the treatment of foreign investment by host countries…Hundreds of NGOs of all strips, sizes, nationalities, and interests rallied against the MAI, using one of the most important drivers of globalization, the Internet, to derail an initiative designed to facilitate another of globalization’s most powerful forces, foreign investment."

In a more positive note in International Herald Tribune, we read that "They [the NGOs] are called the third sector, alongside the state and private sector. They offer an new channel to introduce both social responsibility and a democratic approach where either government or commerce has always dominated.. they are an energetic force in the conduct of international relations and the spread of civil society across borders".

We see here that what we described above, the growing awareness of a "third perspective" on social questions, is gaining ground: "There are things that need to be done that government cannot do or will not do, and things that they should not do, but which the spontaneous but organized NGOs can achieve.. The NGOs have arise to fill this gap. They both prevent great concentration of power and encourage the focus of power on specific problems." (IHT, 16-17.1. 1999).

In her Inaugural Speech as chosen Carnegie Endowment President (Washington D.C., June 15 1997), Mathews gave concise expression to he worries that the "power shift" in global affairs might weaken the American-Anglo Establishment hold on global power structures. She remarked that it is essential to "…understand what an NOGs can don in this day and age, because that terrain, too, is shifting dramatically under our feet".

Indeed, the terrain is shifting dramatically under our feet. Could we point out to a similar awareness and readiness for action in the anthroposophical movement? The fact that we can do so is thanks to the years long efforts of Nicanor Perlas and his coworkers in the Philippine in creating Philippine Agenda 21.

What is a Threefold Society?

In order to understand and appreciate the achievement of Philippine Agenda 21, we should be aquatinted, if but shortly, with some basic ideas concerning Three-Fold (or: Three-Part) social order.

Such a society is based on the understanding that there are three basic, and different, sectors, of society: The economic, the political and the cultural-spiritual. For efficient practical handling of the three sector, and for protecting each from unjustified claims of the others, there should be a clearly defined "division of labor" between the three:

  • Economic life is the sector that deals with production, distribution and consumption of goods.
  • Political life is responsible for the law, order and security.
  • Cultural-Spiritual life for education, sciences, arts, religion.

Let us look at two of the more obvious examples in democratic societies, in which basic interests of one of the sectors is ruled by interests of another sectors: Human labor and education.

Let consider human labor. Today it is accepted as a matter of fact that labor is bought and sold as any other physical commodity. But this means that we treat a basic human element- work, where the human being spends most of his/her life- as a lifeless commodity. (it is not difficult to see that historically, our current approach to labor is a remnant of slavery; while we are no longer considering the whole human being to be a commodity, we still consider a very essential part of him to be a commodity). According to a three-part order of society, all the questions of labor are part of the sector that deals with of human rights, and therefore should be under the jurisdiction of the political sector; Labor should be considered from the point of view that asks: what can enhance the human value of working human beings? What can support their equal human right for dignified subsistence? And not as an article to be sold and bought on the market. It belongs to the sector where human rights are at home: the political sector.

Now let us look at the problem of education. It is now run by the state. But what has the state to do with actual education? In reality, no more then the state has to do with religion! The state is the place of the political sector. Education belongs to the cultural-spiritual sector, because its business in the development of individual faculties. This should be handled by people capable of developing human faculties. As religion was separated from the state, and given over to the people actually interested in practicing it our of their freedom, so could education become a matter of freedom, of choice, and be freed from state control and given to those truly interested and capable in this field.

Now the question may arise: If the three sectors are indeed distinct and should be differentiated from each other, in what manner can they cooperate?- In order to answer this question we can continue with the example of education. While the science, art and practice of education should belong to the free cultural-spiritual sector, the right for education is a matter of the political sector. A law must recognize and guarantee this right, and the state should be responsible that this law, as any other, is really implemented. Second, education must be financed, as any activity in the free cultural-spiritual sector (the sciences, the arts, religion etc.). Financing education is not a business of the state more than education is. The state should only guarantee by law the right of every child for education, if this is considered by the representatives of this particular society to be a general human right. But financing education should be agreed upon between the cultural-spiritual sector, responsible for education, and the economic sector, in which economic gains arise as a result of production, distribution and consumption of goods. And the political sector, the state, should use the law only to mediate and facilitate the agreement between the educational and economic sectors.

Philippine Agenda 21

The following passage is taken from an interview with the economist and writer David Korten, well known author of the book, When Corporations Rule the World on September 5, 1996. The interview was held one day after the successful completion of a major national NGO Conference that Nicanor Perlas had convened with the co-sponsorship of six major NGO networks on "Civil Society: Creative Responses to the Challenge of Globalization". This passage might serve as an introduction to the civil career of Nicanor Perlas in the Philippine.

Korten: When I left the Philippine in 1992, you seemed totally focused on promoting sustainable agriculture. Your current focus on economic globalization seems quite a departure. What happened?

Perlas: It all started with my participation in a conference on biotechnology and sustainable agriculture held in Malaysia in July 1993. That is where I first learned about the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), including its provisions increasing the toxic residues allowable on food for human consumption to a level that would effectively wipe out the protections of the bans of use of toxic pesticides to which I had devoted 20 years of my life. There was also discussion of the GATT provisions on intellectual property rights that would tighten corporate control of the food system by creating farmer dependence on patented seeds.

I became so concerned that I spent much of the next year studying the agreement and exploring its various implications. Only once I had read the whole document did I begin to see its full implications. It would undermine the work of virtually every civil society group in the Philippines: The church, women, coops, fisherfolk, farmers, labor, everyone. The damage to our economy and social fabric could well be irreversible. In August 1994, I began a five month effort to convince the Philippine Senate to reject the ratification of the GATT agreement. By 1995 I found myself with a few others at the center of the GATT debate in the Philippine."

This is one aspect of the background that led to the civil struggle culminating in the above mentioned conference in 1996 on Civil Society: Creative Responses to the Challenge of Globalization. This conference actually steeled the human, civil and spiritual bonds that made Philippine Agenda 21 possible.

The great achievement in the Philippine is that for the first time in human history, a truly "three-part" social process took place concerning the most vital national interests. Such a process could take into account the whole range of social issues, in a more balanced and justified way. Normally, in present day capitalist society, economic and financial interests have the power to influence, sometimes to decides, about social-political issues (like law and human rights) as well as about cultural-spiritual issues (such as education, science, moral questions). In drafting PI 21 the Philippine society created a tree-part dialogue, in which the three basic interests of society: The economic, political and cultural, came to an overall social consensus about what are the goals of Philippine society, the values that guide it, and the basic social strategy how they should be achieved.

One possible way to approach the Philippine Agenda 21 (PA 21) is to quote some of the words spoken by the former Philippine president, Fidel. V. Ramos, in his September 26, 1996 speech in which he announced the public launching of Philippine Agenda 21 (all the quotations below are taken from the book, Philippine Agenda 21 Handbook, by Nicanor Perlas, with collaboration of Damon Lynch, Jim Sharman, and Divina Hey-Gonzales):

"In my State of the Nation address last 22nd of July 1996, I mentioned that we do not intend to ‘Grow now and clean up later’. But do not misunderstand me. Given the many demands of development, this ‘cleaning up later’ not only refers to the economy and the environment. It also means that we will clear up all other facets of Philippine life, including our policies and our culture.

When I say, we clean up in terms of our culture, we intend, for example, to grow and develop with our spirituality and sterling Filipinos values Intact. I do not want Filipinos to succumb to a materialistic consumerist lifestyle. I do not wish to see our world-renowned Filipino spirituality and social sensitivity to be sacrificed at the altar of the economic advancement (emphasis added).

Cleaning up as we grow in the realm of culture to me means to harness Filipino creativity, values, talents and skills to create a new model of development, one that is not only democratic, environmentally friendly and cost-effective, but also celebrates the vibrancy of our diverse cultures as well as respects and develops the tremendous potential that resides in every one of us. This, after all, is what being maka-Diyos, maka-tao, maka-kalikasan, and maka-bayan means in real terms.

This is not the place to retell the most dramatic, courageous, and indeed, in the truest sense of this formulation, groundbreaking process, by means of which a strongly united front of the Philippine NOGs, expressing a vital and popular civil society, succeeded, under the leadership of Nicanor Perlas and his collaborators, to actually bring a reluctant Government and resisting business community, to agree upon and then draft together the PA 21. But this highest policy document of the Philippine Government, signed and approved by Presidential decree, is not only about a threefold-social- order concept, but have arisen though an intense threefold social process, in which, for the first time in human history, representative of the "third sector", civil society, achieved an equal social standing, siting at the table of negotiation with the Government (Polity) and business (the economic sector), and bringing about a threefold reality already in the negotiation process.

In the words of President Ramos:

"Economic growth, unleashed by capitalism, has also been accompanied by other forms, less desirable forms, of growth. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reminds us that, if we are not careful, economic growth can lead to jobless, ruthless, voiceless, rootless, and futureless growth…

The growing awareness that economic growth is a means, not an end in itself, has influenced most of the countries of the world today to pine for ‘another development’, one that retains the useful features of capitalism without falling prey to its excesses (emphasis added).

Philippine Agenda 21 envisions a better quality of life for all through the development of a just, moral, creative, diverse yet cohesive society characterized by appropriate productivity, participatory and democratic processes, and living in harmony within the limits of the carrying capacity of nature and the integrity of creation."

President Ramos on a number of occasions made it clear that Philippine Agenda 21 is the highest document amount the different policy frameworks and social plans. In Memorandum Order 399 he directs that,

"All government agencies, departments and instrumentalities.. to adopt and translate the principles and action agenda contained in the Philippine Agenda 21 in their respective work plans, programs and projects and report of their progress and impacts…"

Most important is also the Presidential declaration given on the eve of the international setting of the APEC Leaders Meeting, in his speech, entitled, APEC, Civil Society and Sustainable Development, Ramos assured an international civil society delegation that, "PA 21 governs the Philippine Individual Action Plan for Trade and Investment Liberalization and Facilitation in APEC."

Finally, in a his speech, PA 21: Towards Sustainable Development, the President says the following, that, for anthroposophically orientated people, must be especially important to hear, listen and understand:

"… Philippine Agenda 21 in one of the most consultative policy documents produced in the history of our nation… This is a document that the future leadership of our country must take to heart as expressing a basic describe and deep mandate for sustainable development among the vast majority of Filipinos." (emphasis added. As these lines are written, the work in the Philippine continues. Further developments in the acceptance and adaptation process of PA 21 inspired ideas and initiatives are occurring in different areas of Philippine government and society under the presidency of Estrada, and first practical steps are now underway to create a practical model of threefold society in a chosen rural locality; for details contact the CADI organizations. See details in Notes below).

Manila Conference October 1998

As illustration in the Manila Conference catalogue show, "today 358 billionaires enjoy an income level equivalent to what 2,4 billions (2 400 000 000) of the most poor people of the world have". And further: "Of the largest 100 economies of the world, 51 are Transnational Companies, TNCs. These TNCs are economically larger, in terms of turn over, than over 140 countries of the world." And it is described that a couple of hundreds of TNCs in different ways are controlling 70 - 80% of world trade.

TNCs like Monsanto, specializing on genetically manipulated plants, are developing heavy attempts to take over the control over agriculture, for example, through seeds producing good harvests but without fertility and which will force farmers to buy new seeds before sowing. These TNCs are striving for control over the food production and maintenance in the world.

TNCs are more and more governing national states: The MAI, the Multilateral Agreement on Investments was designed to transfer the decision power from national states to international business life, which in last hand means to the TNCs in the interest of the Western Brotherhoods and their outlets in the American-Anglo Establishment.

With such concerns in mind and heart, engaged anthroposophists met together at Tagaytay City, in the neighborhood of Manila city, in October 1998, for a conference, Shaping the Future: Globalization, Anthroposophy, and the Threefold Social Order, organized and carried though by the dedicated and inspiring friends of the Anthroposophical Group in the Philippine, supported by the National Anthroposophical Societies of the Asian-Pacific region (that includes Australia, Canada, Hawaii, India, New-Zealand, Taiwan, China, Thailand Vietnam, and USA). The proceedings of this conference, with all related materials, shall be published later, and then an objective assessment, worthy of the true spiritual and social significance of the event, would be attempted. For the time being, only preliminary elements shall be presented bellow, in order to invite the readers for further discussion and participation in the ongoing international continuation of this important social anthroposophical impulse. In accordance with the evolving, life giving and inspiring powers that lead the true Michael Movement and school, a future plan concerning its development is currently in work, leading to two conference, in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000, an in South Africa in 20001 (see details below).

Since in our text above we have covered already much of the social world situation, in which the motivation for PA 21 and the conference is to be found, especially pertinent for anthroposophists at the end of the century could be the remarks concerning the state of the anthroposophical society itself when studies from this point of view. The invitation to the conference reads in this respect as follows:

"Wither the global anthroposophical society in the age of elite globalization?- The global anthroposophical movement should be, theoretically, in the best position to facilitate a global appreciation and implementation of threefolding world-wide. After all Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, gave the first comprehensive articulation of the threefold social order. But what in the current situation?

Problematic lack of awareness and isolation- Unfortunately, the vast majority of anthroposophists are barely aware of the reality of elite globalization. And to accentuate this lack of awareness, scholars and actors outside Anthroposophy not only have more understanding of the external aspects of threefolding and its necessity. They are also doing more to make threefolding, especially through the liberation of civil society, the key actor in culture, into a global reality.

Because of this lack of awareness, there are little, if any, creative and concerted global strategies to address the problem of elite globalization. Furthermore, anthroposophists are missing out on the opportunity to form strategic alliances with friends outside the movement, and absolute necessity given the sophisticated networking and strategic mergers being rapidly built up by the spiritual powers and institutions behind elite globalization.

Thus the global anthroposophical movement stands at the end of the century: an important agent for utilizing globalization as a stepping stone for building a Michaelic civilization but isolated and bordering on ineffectively.

In contrast, the proponents of elite globalization are alive, healthy and very active. In addition, they are continuously scheming of ways to magnify and project their power and control through various forms of alliances and networks.

Anthroposophists are in a key position to provide this stimulus. The different anthroposophical institutions can create the necessary cultural resurgence to transform the forces of elite globalization...

The Need- there is therefore a need for the global anthroposophical movement to take stock of itself in the light of these urgent planetary developments. Then is has to explore ways by which it can develop a global vision of responding to the challenges of elite globalization and create operational strategies to turn this vision into reality."

This bring us to the next step, the continuation of this struggle to awaken anthroposophical awareness among our own circles in order to link with all those active and creative "Michaelites" working in the world of emerging global civil society. However, in order to, and parallel with, the expansion of awareness and action horizontally, to the world social periphery, we need to deepen our roots in the center of the living, presently flowing Michael Inspiration, and learn to create the forms of social-esoteric work, of modern freedom in spiritual life, and of community of free striving human souls and spirits. The Gothenburg (Sweden 1999/2000) and Cape Town (S. Africa, January – February 2001) conferences would like to facilitate a first, humble, but also courageous opportunity in this direction.

Future Social Task for the Anthroposophical Movement

The fact that an anthroposophist, Nicanor Perlas, played the key role in conceiving, and now practically implementing, PA 21, should merit anthroposophical attention. Can we learn something humanly universal from his experience? Certainly, the social-political process that brought PA 21 into existence is unique and can’t be generalized. It has evolved as part of concrete, wholly specific social, cultural and political situation in the Philippine. This situation is nationally and locally determined. But it is not the specific external forms that the threefold social impulse assumed in the Philippine that we should strive to imitate. It is the inner essence of the spiritual-anthroposophical process that can be of great value for all of us. I mean specifically the sure intuitive grasp of the moral intuition as the substance of the idea "threefold social order", its imaginative, living and creative adaptation to the national folk spirit faculties and talents, and the practical, moral-technical skills used in its social and political implementation. These processes are universally and humanly significant. They can serve as an inspiring, strengthening example, to those anthroposophists that are striving, in wholly different conditions, to realize the threefold social order.

But are we truly striving to make threefoldness real in the wider social world? And are we really striving to create such a living social body for anthroposophical institutions and organizations? Only to the extent that we do so, can we be justified in our feeling that we are working in accordance with the spiritual goals of the Michael Age. As Rudolf Steiner emphasized often, the Michael inspiration can work only where spiritually courageous people work. And where it works as a living power, the idea of threefold social order is living and active in a natural, not theoretical, way. Because where the Time Spirit, Michael, is truly active, and the human "social soul" is co-creating with this activity, then a "social body" must come about as naturally as any human body develops to receive an incarnating human soul and spirit. In order to be active on the earth, the Michael impulse should find a suitable social body. And this can only be a threefold social body, be it in human society as a whole, or in individual organizations and institutions. The body social must be threefold in order to enable a living spirit to incarnate and live healthily therein. Threefold social order is the social body of Michael.

Future Tasks of a Timely Anthroposophical Society and The High School for Spiritual Science

As preparation for The Gothenburg Conference December 29th 1999- January 3rd 2000, and the Cape Town Conference, January-February 2001

With the preparations now underway for a continuation of the Manila Conference in Gothenburg Northern Conference and South Africa Southern Conference in Cape Town, both supported, as was the Manila conference, by diverse national anthroposophical societies, it seems plausible to assume that some intimations of the global change have recently begun to be registered also inside the Anthroposophical society, to begin with at the periphery. We believe that we have a chance to begin an essential exploration of anthroposophical fundamental questions and issues that might prove to be- provided it becomes a sincere and prolonged effort- a valuable contribution to the Michael movement in the future.

This future movement has a twofold gesture that should be practiced simultaneously: With the one hand it must gather into it as much as possible from the achievements of anthroposophists over the course of the 20th century, and with the other hand it must open the future horizon in order to support the instreaming new Michaelic inspiration. The ability to do so depends on finding those anthroposophists that carry within them the fruits of the century's work, and are truly seeking and open for the future impulse coming from the same sources out of which the anthroposophical work started at the beginning of the century. This means that they can consciously understand that everything achieved in this century was due to the original impulse given by Rudolf Steiner himself in the course of his earthly life, and that we must be aspiring today for an honest renewal of a direct connection with the spiritual worlds, out of which the same inspiration and guidance is seeking us already for a long time. Are we to have the courage to be available to this Michaelic guiding power, or shall we continue to block its way to us by ever again quoting and repeating what this source gave almost a whole century ago? Are we interested in exploring what is really meant by Freedom of the Spirit, a community of free human spirits and souls? Are we really ready to understand that Michael and his true pupils can only work with people aspiring and practicing free spiritual and social activity?

However, what most anthroposophists seem to be unaware of is a central spiritual-scientific fact of evolution, that must be applied also to the anthroposophical society and the practical movements springing out of Anthroposophy. We must see that this "horizontal" spiritual transmitting of what Rudolf Steiner gave physically is bound to become weaker from one generation to another, and that this is occurring notwithstanding the question of the significance of any individual contribution offered along the way. This is so because of the operation of an important spiritual law that governs the natural spiritual decline in the vitality and fertility of any spiritual inheritance in the physical world.This law works in such a way that a spiritual impulse on the physical plancan only maintain its- already declining- inner vitality only in the course of three generations. After three times 33- a century- the physical ability to transmit a spiritual impulse ceases entirely. Then any spiritual movement stands at a crossroads: It has only two possibilities before it. Either it becomes purely traditional, carrying forward things past in an old and hence increasingly irrelevant form, or is able to breakthrough to the at present living supersensible sources out of which its inspiration came in the first place.

Until now in human history, no spiritual movement that created for itself a physical-social form of organization, succeeded in this. Every such movement has chosen to remain bound to the physical-organized body and use the teachings to keep the dead body in a semblance of life and thus be entirely separated from its founding spirit, which obviously continues to develop, creating for itself new forms of manifestation on the physical plan. Will the anthroposophical society be the first to break this tradition of all traditions?-Eventually, perhaps already in the course the present Michael Age, but if not, then in the course of the present fifth cultural epoch, a spiritual society on the earth will achieve this goal. But is it the present society that shall be able to achieve it, or one of its future manifestations in the coming century or centuries? This is precisely the question that must increasingly engage the attention and true heart forces of anthroposophists.

The physically transmitted life of Anthroposophy, and its carrier, the anthroposophical society and High School, has been- since1998- entering into those decisive years, that will either enable it to break through increasingly once more to the truly presently living spirit reality of the Michael School and movement, or become purely a transmitter of outdated traditional contents and forms. In the course of 1998 it was made clear to me that this opportunity exists now. Since then it has been possible to take a new courageous step- if we truly dare to take it.

We would like to ask the reader to take the following as it is meant: as a factual statement based on concrete experience, which shows that the anthroposophical esoteric content, if it is truly lived as reality, e.g., if it actually leads the way to the higher worlds, brings one to the time-place in which Rudolf Steiner and the anthroposophical work was striving to enter rightly into world evolution: 1922/3/4/5. This place of time, this very specifics ought -for entrance (and not, of course, the eternally relevant content of the first Class) is wholly past. Its place was taken by subsequent esoteric and exoteric history.

The complex, and multi-layered historical events, extending throughout the whole century, have never yet become "anthroposophical history" on the earth, among us. We have not taken the reality of the 20th century into our common esoteric and exoteric practice. Working with the first class today, even with the outmost subjective seriousness, is like standing on the cliff of the abyss- not today's abyss, but as it was in the early 20th's- without entering the real place of the real event.

What actually happens if man enters this abyss, crosses its threshold, and arrives at the other side, I have tried to portray in my two books, The New Supersensible Experience, and The Spiritual Event of the 20th Century: One meets the Higher Guardian of the Threshold, the Christ, in His Etheric from, and is guided into the inner supersensible activity of the true, currently living Michael School. For now, suffice it to say that the actual, real, not learned or abstract, abyss situation, the crossing of the threshold of the 20th century and the meeting with the Christ on the other shore, are yet to become the central work situation of true esoteric anthroposophical work in beginning of the next century.

This means that first this future esoteric anthroposophical work, be centered around a shared study of the experience of the modern Damascus event. A communal, social study of the spiritual scientific knowledge process of the second coming, individualized though many human beings in the course of this century, is essential to the formation of a new schooling in the secrets of the living Michael School and its esoteric content.

Secondly, the work of the supersensible Michaelic School itself, with its spiritual guidance, carrying and ever-again continually transforming the good and bad work done on the earth in the course of the 20th century, is centered on brining each anthroposophists to a spiritual maturity as a freely active participant, in accordance with the spirit of modern times. As my own experience showed me, the new Michaelic impulse, beginning in 1998, already preparing for great waves and upheavals in the first decade of the 21st century, is looking for people, be they anthroposophists already, or many of those that belong to the movement and seek this new guidance.

Both are as essential for the coming esoteric work, and in the Gothenburg conference we would strive to begin humbly with its very first preliminary steps.

As the preparations for the coming Gothenburg Conference progressed, it became increasingly obvious that, if we want to remain true, and deepen, the esoteric roots of current spiritual-social activity within the social world of today and tomorrow, we have to transform the ways of working together. If the fiery "spark" ignited in the East, in the Philippine and elsewhere, is to be shaped into new social-esoteric, truly Michaelic forms, that shall be relevant also to northern and middle

European anthroposophical work in the future, a courageous, indeed adventurous, spirit will be required.

The Northern Gothenburg conference and the southern Cape Town Conference are planed to complement each other. The first strives to emphasize more the search for new approaches to the esoteric, "vertical" work needed in order to support the "horizontal", global economic, social and civil engagement. The second will explore the horizontal dimensions of globalization, and the spiritual-moral qualities that emerge in global civil society everywhere. It will bring to light the immerse magnitude of the positive, upbuilding forces active in human society today, especially since the 60’, and shall strive to link them to the deeper vertical spirit-roots of the living Michael School.


The Southern Conference: The Re-Christianisation of the World and the Development of Brotherhood / Sisterhood – Ubuntu (Cape-Town, January - February, 2001).

In the Southern Conference we will be meeting features from a lost humanity, before modern materialistic consciousness, and seeds for the 6th post-Atlantean epoch, in the UBUNTU, the true African philosophy. Ubuntu treats all human beings with deep respect, granting them their human dignity. It overcomes tribalism and nationalism by promoting universal brotherhood of humanity. Ubuntu is humanism.

The Dutch General Secretary Willem Zeylmans van Emmichoven had a spiritual experience a few days before he died in Cape Town 1961. He was given a vision in which he saw the "World Cross", described by Plato, in the sky above South Africa. The great foot of the Cross rested upon Table Mountain. He felt that this meant that the Re-Christianisation of humanity would have African soul qualities, as expressed in Ubuntu, as a decisive point of departure.

Nelson Mandela is an image for this. After spending 27 years in jail, he forgives his enemies and demonstrates "Servant Leadership" in a way that has become inspirational for many. Forgiveness and Servant Leadership are the two main ingredients for a true Brother/Sisterhood to develop. Humanity now has to rise to the two great examples that we have received—Nelson Mandela’s Servant Leadership and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Southern Conference will work with these Ubuntu qualities.

How can we realize the present Social Intentions of Michael?

Jesaiah Ben Aharon describes in his book "The Spiritual Event of the 20th Century", how the true Michaelic stream from the Michaelic School was split into two separate groups, a small group consisting of Anthroposophists and a significant group to be found in all kinds of organizations in the Civil Society Movement. These, however, lack Spiritual Science to elaborate their Michaelic impulses, which drastically has decreased the efficiency of the work with these impulses.

The most important task for the Global Anthroposophical Movement in the age of Elite Globalization is therefore to unite with the participants of the spiritual Michael School, to develop a living spirituality within a creative context.


Nicanor Perlas is President of the Center for Alternative Development Initiatives, CADI and head of the Anthroposophical Group in the Philippines. He is the author of

7 books and numerous articles and has served as plenary speaker and resource person at many international conferences in Europe, Latin America, North America and Asia. He has recently awarded the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) Global. 500 Award for Sustainable Agriculture and The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award. He was one of the technical writers of the Philippine Agenda 21, PA21, which has had a decisive influence on the development on this area. In 1997 over 80 countries adopted the PA21-way of involving Civil Society, Business life and Government into programs for sustainable development. The UN Commission on Sustainable Development started in 1998 to implement a PA21 innovation, the involvement of the three actors in society - Civil Society in culture, Government in polity, Business and Labor in economy - in creating sustainable development and programs.

Address: Anthroposophical Group in the Philippine
110 Scout Rallos St.
Timog, Quezon City
1103, Philippine
Tel: +63(2)-928-3986
Tele/Fax: +63(2)-928-7608

Jesaiah Ben-Aharon

Jesaiah Ben-Aharon is the author of two original anthroposophical research works concerning the modern Christ experience and the supersensible events behind 20th century external history: The New Experience of the Supersensible, and The Spiritual Event of the 20th Century (Temple Lodge Publication, London, translations into German, Dutch and French).

Ben-Aharon did his Ph.D. on the Phenomenology of Edmund Husserl, and teaches Phenomenology, Epistemology, Goetheanism and Rudolf Steiner, Philosophy of Freedom, in Haifa University, Israel.

Since the Manila conference (October 1998) he collaborates with Nicanor Perlas and a growing group of socially active anthroposophists from around the world, in furthering the cause of an esoteric deepening of anthroposophy and its world-wide engagement in cultural, social and economic challenges of the times.

Ben-Aharon is the founder of the intentional anthroposophical community in Harduf, Israel, where he lived and worked since 1980. He currently lives in the US and works in America, Europe, Asia and Israel.

Address (for 1999-2000)

172 Spring St.
Saratoga Springs, NY, 12866
Tel: 518-587-4425


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