Change in Society and Change in Consciousness

    What does it mean to say that society has changed because consciousness has evolved?  It means that societal changes have come about because of an internal change, a change in how human beings think, feel, and understand.  

    Most discussions about changes in society refer to external forces such as changes in laws, technology, forms of government, etc.  But although changes in consciousness are more subtle, they are also influential in societal change.  A good example where we have to consider both internal and external changes is the case of monarchy.  Monarchy has been eliminated from most countries in the modern West and in many of those where it still exists, it is drastically weakened.  This has come about from changes in the structure of government, but we also have to consider changes in consciousness.  

    The Mad Monarchist blog writes in the section "Legitimacy": 

    "First and foremost, it is the official position here at The Mad Monarchist that the legitimacy of the remaining monarchs of the world is not to be called into question.  Monarchies, in this day and age, are an endangered species and monarchies must remain ever vigilant to preserve those which remain.  If any were to fall they would most certainly not be replaced by another dynasty or alternative member of the Royal Familly but whould be replaced by a republic.  That cannot be allowed to happen.  Now is not the time to argue over centuries-old conflicts or obscure genealogical charts. 

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The Duke of Bavaria, for example, has no wish or desire to replace HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom even if it were possible for him to do so.  

In most cases, so much time has passed that the basis of these arguments have absolutely no meaning in the modern world.  In other words, for their arguments to even be considered, the entire mindset and way of thinking of society as a whole would have to change.  Being a reactionary sort, the Mad Monarchist believes this would be much for the better, but it is certainly not about to happen and would not be magically brought about by changing the person on the throne in London or Madrid.  In most cases there would have to be the most fundamental and far-reaching religious revival in human history for these issues to even be considered by the public of today."

    The last paragraph is crucial.  It is not just a matter of changing laws or changing rulers, but changing people's "entire mindset and way of thinking", i.e., consciousness.  Even if a monarch were able to be installed by some means they would be either a powerless figurehead or a dictator with a crown.  

    The Mad Monarchist another post, "A Monarchist Hero for Today" which provides an example of what the consciousness of people was like in the days of monarchy: 

    "Picture in your mind (I doubt it will require much imagination) this scenario which I certainly see.  You have a European country, a monarchy, which seems to be as often as not taking the side of the invaders, your monarch does not seem to be much of a monarch, inspires no one and seems more intent on simply securing a comfortable life than saving the country.  The populace is divided and many people seem to simply be looking out for their own selfish interests and not for their society, their nation, as a whole.  If you see things that I see, you might think I am talking about any number of countries today.  The Kingdom of Sweden might be a good guess.  However, I have no doubt that some of you already know that I am actually describing the Kingdom of France in or about 1429 AD.  It certainly seems highly reminiscent of the present in a number of ways, though just as certainly radically dissimiliar in more.

    France was in a state of crisis and a great and ardently monarchist, pious champion stepped forward to save it.  That person was, of course, an illiterate, teenage peasant girl from Domremy in northeastern France.  

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    All of this is clearly impressive but why does it make Joan a model hero for monarchists today?  It seems to me, there are a number of reasons.  For one, Joan revived the French national spirit, giving them back their proper sense of themselves as French, identifying with their nation and not simply their village, town or provine which might just as easily belong to the English king as the French king or the Duke of Burgundy.  She made the French proud to be French again, made them believe in their identity and purpose.  This is something, it seems to me, everyone needs more of today in practically every country.  That goes for traaditionalists, conservatives and right-wingers just as much as those of the liberal, leftist or revolutionary varieties.  The left hates their countries for what they were, which is fine as they wish to destroy them anyway.  However, the right tends to hate their countries for what they are and this is deliberate for you will hardly have much zeal to fight for the salvation of your country if you do not love it.  Joan lived in what was possibly the darkest period in the history of France, she could have easily been discourged, but she fought for the France that could be, that should be and looked beyond the divided, dispirited country that was.  

Also, very much like today, Joan had to confront traditional institutions that were less than ideal.  However, she had a quality that made her immune to the damage this could cause.  Joan of Arc possessed a type of loyalty that seems exceedingly rare in this day and age, even among many who call themselves monarchists or royalists.  

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She never faltered in her own loyalty, she fought the battles that made it possible for the king to do what he needed to do and she urged him toward the proper course of action but her loyalty did not depend on the King acting as she saw fit or of him reciprocating her commitment. "   

    Another example comes from Andrew Lang's writes in his book The Story of Joan of Arc

    "The Dauphin had no money to pay his troops, but men-at-arms came in, hundreds of them, saying that they would fight for the love of the Maid and of chivalry.  Not doubt they would have been very glad to crown her, in place of the stupid Dauphin, but the French law did not allow it; and Joan wanted nothing for herself, only to make France free, and go back to her mother, as she said."

    In other words, people in those days really believed in idea of legitimacy through descent; the idea that she could have started a revolution and become a queen would have been unthinkable to Joan of Arc.  Furthermore, the underlying motivation of the citizens of monarchies was strong enough that willingly risked their lives for their king.   

    All of this has changed drastically in the present time.  But, examining this change this through the perspective of the evolution of consciousness helps us to understand it better.  Things have changed not just because of revolutions or propaganda, but because people's underlying way of thinking has evolved.  A modern person cannot make themself think like someone from the 1400s.  

    This change in consciousness does not mean that monarchy can never come again, just that the old form of monarchy is no longer possible.  It may well be that if the world survives, then some new type of monarchy based on a different form of consciousness will arise.  In fact, something like this has already happened.  The form of government of the early United States, though inspired by the Roman Republic and Athenian democracy, was not an exact continuation of either of them but a new thing because (in addition to the geographic differences and other external circumstances) the consciousness of an 18th century American was very different from that of either an ancient Roman or Athenian.

    Monarchy is one example, but there are many others which show that we should take into account the development in consciousness as well as external factors when trying to understand changes in society.  

4 comments:

  1. Yes indeed. But I have found that - such is our modern aversion to this explanation - people tend to explain the evolution of consciousness in terms of its being a response to societal changes (whether due to natural selection, or to psychological responses). For this reason it seems clearer to refer to the development, or developmental-evolution, of consciousness.

    Yet, even here, I think it is necessary to state what *drives* this development - and Steiner and Barfield almost never state this. They talk as if the evolution of consciousness Just Happens.

    But for both of them the drive to change consciousness is divine; it is God's plan. Man's consciousness develops through history because that is the way God wants it. If this had been stated explicitly and upfront, I would have understood the evolution of consciousness idea much more rapidly than I actually did (it took me several years).

    wrt monarchy. I have thought a lot about the situation in Britain, and concluded that the Queen has had no significant positive influence At All. The monarchy has been hollowed-out and replaced; it has become, like many/ most other institutions in 2021, a 'skin suit' for something other and opposed.

    The Monarchy is - here and now- an Ahrimanic evil. It will probably be destroyed to make things even worse - by Sorathic evil; but the actually-existing monarchy ought not to be defended, merely because it is a lesser evil. Defending evil is a Very slippery slope.

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    1. As an American, it may be that my observations on the matter of Britain's monarchy are misperceived, but I do think that as far as the Queen having "no significant positive influence" (which I agree with)....

      ....it seems to me that even if The Royal Family had done nothing more than provide a public example of high moral standards, it would have been enough.

      I mean, if the Queen had insisted that Prince Charles 'figure out' how to be a good (faithful, supportive) husband to Princess Diana -
      - and if Prince Andrew had been required to marry someone of a higher moral 'type' than Sarah Ferguson (and also remained faithful) -

      - I think even just those examples might have been a positive influence on British society..

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    2. "Yet, even here, I think it is necessary to state what *drives* this development - and Steiner and Barfield almost never state this. They talk as if the evolution of consciousness Just Happens.

      But for both of them the drive to change consciousness is divine; it is God's plan."

      I agree. If development of consciousness is viewed as part of a Divine plan, rather than random then that justifies why we should work with the evolution of consciousness, rather than against it.

      "but the actually-existing monarchy ought not to be defended, merely because it is a lesser evil."

      Yes, I believe you are right about that. The ideal of supporting the rightful king regardless was mostly good in the past, but we have no moved past the time when that is right.

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  2. It is a sad song we all want to sing. Yet, we need leaders. And that is not a failing to admit that we need 'them'.

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Change in Society and Change in Consciousness

     What does it mean to say that society has changed because consciousness has evolved?  It means that societal changes have come about be...