The Lewinsky Affair
Can such Tragedies be Avoided?
(A short treatise on Reinventing the Government)
by B.H. McCausland
On the one hand the Lewinsky affair was an expensive comic opera replete with sex, lies, videotapes (and audio tapes, too), shady characters of every stripe, posing, posturing and preening in front of the cameras, and thinly disguised power playing of the most ambitious and dangerous kind.
On the other, it raised some extremely serious questions about whether or not the very foundations of our traditional government are strong enough to support another such crisis. We’ll look at the dangers, as well as a proposed solution, a little later, but first, to keep things in perspective, a few words about the lighter side.
Presided over by the Supreme Court Chief Justice who sounded as though he had been voice-coached by that slow-talking master of monotonous monologue, Ben Stein, and whose magisterial robes were inspired by a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the final episode of the drama featured a cast of well-tailored lawyers and politicians who, the more they tried to sound serious, the more they showed their shallowness. There was hardly one original thought in the entire crowd! Both sides wrapped themselves in a flag of brighter colors and a Constitution of more sacred import than the other side, hiding behind such pontifications as ‘my distinguished colleague from across the aisle’, and ‘my good friend from the other side’ while wielding political knives of the sharpest steel.
The Republicans found themselves stuck to a sTARr Baby whose gooey mass trapped them ever tighter the more they tried to extricate themselves from it, while the Democrats were in the improbable position of defending a man whose actions they abhorred. In years gone by it was only royalty who could afford to hire court jesters and clowns.
Today, the tv viewer is king.
But how could this expensive and dangerous theater of the absurd have been avoided in the first place? Is there a way for the government to structure itself so that such tragicomic disasters cannot occur again?
Yes, there is a way. But before such a system can be implemented it must be understood. To do this we must stand back and look at human society in a broad, general perspective. We must look until we actually see with our mind’s eye the importance of a properly ordered society. A society which, in reality, is comprised of three major arenas of human endeavor.
The Magic of the Threefold Social Order
In the final analysis it was the threefolding of the government which saved the day. The legislative, executive and judiciary branches were set up in such a way that each has equal powers in its own area. One branch cannot lord it over another without an overwhelming mandate from the people. The one possible exception to this balance of powers was exemplified by the unbridled clout of the so-called Office of the Independent Council, although the OIC statute will quite likely be abolished by June of this year (1999) because of public reaction to a perceived misuse of power by the OIC in its handling of the Clinton scandal.
But there is a much larger threefolding which must be implemented if future such catastrophes are to be averted. It is the threefolding of society itself. There are three areas of the social organism which can and must be seen as equally important, that must be kept separate and in balance, and each of which requires autonomy within its own realm. These three separate areas are the cultural, the human rights, and the economic spheres of human activity. There already seems to be a muddled, semi-conscious awareness of this need, but it must be brought up into the light of full consciousness before it can be meaningfully implemented. Eisenhower, in his Farewell Address, was partly aware of it when he warned of the dangers of what he called the industrial-military complex. He saw great danger in the economic sphere meddling in the political, or rights sphere. On the other hand, it was the people themselves who seemed to sense the dangers of the political or human rights sphere insinuating itself into the cultural sphere during the growing tensions of the Lewinsky affair. The more the government probed into the personal life of the President, revealing lurid details of a private, consensual act between two adults, however indefensible, the more Clinton’s popularity soared! This to the great puzzlement of those who had arrogated to themselves the responsibility of investigating and punishing such acts. The general public seemed to sense that the government had no right mucking about in such affairs. Another example of awareness of the need for such separation is the almost axiomatic call from certain quarters for a separation of church and state. But such a separation is only a beginning. In order to clarify these three arenas of activity we will examine each in turn.
The Cultural Sphere — Keyword: Freedom
All that buoys us up, gives us purpose, direction and entertainment could, broadly speaking, be considered as belonging to the cultural sphere. Included in this are all the arts, religion, sports, education and other cultural activities. True, if I owned a sports team or ran a church I would be concerned with its economic survival, but the organization’s main raison d’être would be a cultural one. Provided I don’t interfere in any way with the rights of others I should have complete freedom to worship as I please, to have whatever works of art I choose on my walls, and to send my children to the school of my choice. The state’s function in this regard (the rights sphere) would be to protect my right to have my child educated, but it would not and could not interfere in any way with the syllabus or curriculum of such a school. Such activities would lie solely within the provenance of the experts in the cultural sphere itself. Witness the horrid results of Hitler’s attempts at propaganda art during WW II, or of Soviet and Chinese state controlled ‘art’ which tortures and stretches the meaning of the word beyond recognition.
Freedom has to be the guiding principle in the cultural realm, else there would be no culture. Of course, it goes without saying; my freedom cannot and should not in any way impinge on yours. This leads us to . . .
The Rights Sphere — Keyword: Equality
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .." This statement, from the Declaration of Independence, sounds absurd when taken out of context. There is no way that two human beings could be seen as having the same potential, equal capacities or aspirations. But it answers this objection with: ". . . that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." There we have it! In a perfect society we are born, mandated by our Creator, to have equal rights. This is the true role of the government, to protect and assure the rights of its citizens. In this well ordered society the poorest of the poor would have the same rights as the senator, the doctor, or the business tycoon. What happens, then, when the rich have the capacity to make generous contributions to the campaign funds of certain members of Congress while the poor do not? It becomes self-evident, doesn’t it? As the Declaration implies, it would be a clear violation of the rights of the poor! Thus the need for stringent campaign finance reform and policing. Given the not-too-hidden strings usually attached to such major contributions it becomes clear that without such reform the rights if the citizen are no longer equal. It is precisely in this area, the confounding of the rights sphere with the economic, that most of today’s ills find their origin. Let’s take a look, then, at the third. . .
The Economic Sphere — Keyword: Brother-Sister-hood
It may be necessary to coin a word, siblinghood, to put a politically-correct stamp on this concept. At any rate, the economic sphere is concerned with working, not with the spiritual-cultural world, nor the world of other human beings as in the rights sphere, but rather with Nature. In the economic sphere we extract, transform, circulate and consume the gifts of Mother Nature. We must be responsible brothers and sisters in her bountiful realm because she can be a severe task-master if we disobey her rules. Here we work in associations formed by the cooperative efforts of both manufacturer and consumer. The rules of the game here are quite different from those of the rights or cultural spheres. Here we have tangible evidence of our productivity, but this must be tempered with a keen awareness and sensitivity to the long-range effects of our work on nature’s delicate infrastructures, of which we must see ourselves as a sometimes heavy-handed player. As brothers and sisters, we learn to teach each other, and learn from each other, how best to co-operate in Mother Nature’s realm.
Separate but Equal
So there we have it: freedom, equality and brotherhood, the famous Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité! of the French Revolution, yet now each applied to its proper sphere of human activity.
The main point of this short essay is that these three spheres must be seen as separate yet equal. Each is equally necessary to a healthy society yet each has totally different energy patterns that pertain only to it. Each has its own laws of existence, its own objectives. Yet when allowed to commingle, when one intrudes in another through a lack of awareness of their distinctness, or through lack of discernment in our thinking, then catastrophe is sure to result.
During the thirteen months of the public phase of the Lewinsky affair it was the general public who, perhaps only semi-consciously, seemed to become increasingly aware that the government had no proper business probing into the private activities of any of its citizens, including citizen Clinton. Even though they strongly disapproved of his actions in this matter they nevertheless supported him against a very well organized team of prosecutors. Paradoxically, the stronger the attack the greater his support, even approaching three-fourths of the population approving of his job performance. Hence the sTARr Baby allusion earlier. Let’s face it, politicians denigrate the polls only in direct proportion to their being damaged by them! So a very strong argument could be made that, even though only grasped sub-consciously, the Threefold Social Order saved the day and prevented the removal from office of the President, as well as all the deep, bitter recriminations, and possibly worse, that would surely follow such a drastic act. For in a properly threefolded society it would have been only his wife and daughter whose rights were infringed upon. And it would have been up to them if they chose to do so to bring the appropriate civil action against him. To put it another way: In a properly threefolded society the Lewinsky affair would never have risen to a federal case of impeachment because the government would never have inquired in the first place about the private life of one of its citizens. The task of the government in such a case would be only to protect the rights of those who were injured, in this case the First Lady and their daughter, and possibly Monica’s father. It therefore seems to me that a high priority should be placed on our studying in much greater depth than we have up until now the advantages, indeed, the necessity, of understanding fully and implementing a threefolding of our social structure.
The need for a conscious threefolding of society was first proposed by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner shortly after the First World War. He thought that if enough people ‘got it’, if they could grok his ideas in time, then the terrible tragedy of the Second World War would be averted. Who knows? Perhaps this is so. But true or not, it is becoming increasingly clear that slowly, inexorably, an awareness of the need for a general threefolding is arising in our feeling lives. Our task today, it seems to me, is to raise this awareness into the light of full consciousness, up into our thinking lives. Only then, when its importance is fully grasped, can a real threefolding of society be properly implemented. Then such matters as the Lewinsky affair, with all its attendant trauma and expense — as well as potential disaster — would never have risen to such potentially catastrophic heights in the first place.