Welcome to Philosophy 134, Social Philosophy.
This course is the continuation of Philosophy 133, which was our Introduction to Philosophy in the form of an Ethics course. You should know that this course will be a continuation of the thought that was introduced in that course, although it is not a prerequisite for this course.
Well, then, it's nice to see your happy smiling faces again. I would like to welcome the newcomers to our little venture in thought here. I'm sure they will find it an adventure that won't let them down.
I would like to get right to work.
In the latter part of the 1800's, say a period around the time of the Civil War to approximately the very earliest part of the 20th century, a revolution occurred. So far as I have been able to detect, historians haven't noticed this yet; they keep trying to play the period of time as if it were just another important period. Yet, I maintain, this period was the period of genuine revolution, the results of which we find ourselves in today.
People look today for the revolution that is about to occur, but they will continue to be perplexed and disappointed until they are able to see the period in which we now reside as one which is in the middle of a veritable earthquake that began in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
We are going to experience what looks like a revolution here in the United States soon; but when we do, we must keep it in the perspective of an understanding which dates the real cause of the shock wave back to this period of time I am trying to identify for you.
History records this period of the Civil War and Reconstruction as of minor to medium importance to anyone but the United States in the history of the Civilization of the World. Yet, I maintain, that this period of time, seen from the standpoint of fourth-dimensional consciousness, will prove to be the most significant for the world since the birth of that fellow in Palestine 2,000 years ago.
The reason history fails to credit this period of time for the momentous occasion it was is because historians view the passing of events through third-dimensional eyes, eyes that "cannot see and ears that cannot hear." And this defect, which catastrophically misleads the followers of their observations and conclusions concerning the nature of the reality of the events and the causes for them, is something that is systematically taught in our educational system with the force of gospel. (Equally boring and equally dry I might add.)
Let us review some of the events of that period, and then reflect back on what we were taught in school regarding the relative importance of these things.
Remember, it is my contention that the period we now find ourselves within is but a hundred years after the explosion of a group of events, any one of which could thoroughly change civilization as we had known it.
It is as if a bomb had gone off in this roughly sixty years of time, sending out bursting shells in all directions, as many as we could handle in sequence, to celebrate the coming of something glorious.
What we find ourselves in the middle of today is a great fireworks display, and, because we think the exploding assaults on our consciousness are the reality at hand, we are bewildered and dismayed, discouraged and depressed. But, again, that is just because we, having been educated in our schools as we have, are trained to rely only on our third-dimensional consciousness.
The material appearance is a fraud and deceit; yet it can be enjoyed as a fireworks display, just as we enjoyed it as children.
Provided we know what is going on such that we can see the fireworks display for what it is.
If we take the display of material sense for what is real we are going to look at the fireworks as if they are the reality of human life.
And in doing so we lend ourselves to hopeless confusion. And despair. And persecution.
Let me see if I can be a little bit more obscure...
Actually, I think this metaphor will mean a lot more to you at the end of this course than at the beginning. For those of you who are getting a hint of my meaning, hang on. Your time will not be wasted.
Let us turn, then, to some of the events that occurred roughly in and around the latter part of the nineteenth century.
First, you had the thought of the three demonstrable giants: Darwin, Marx, and Freud.
It is hard to conceive of what our lives would be like today without the influence of these thinkers.
Think of the impact of the effect of science upon religion that came from the work of Darwin.
Imagine the change in the structure of the world that arose because of the appeal of Marxism.
Reflect on the changes in our thinking about ourselves that has come about as a result of Freud's work.
And all of these men (coincidentally) got the seeds for their ideas within this period of time.
Guess what else happened just before the turn of the twentieth century. The telephone and the wireless. The telegraph had come in in the 1830's.
I submit to you that it is beyond imagination the effect that these instruments, and the media of communication that they led to, have had on our lives. On our very ways of conceptualizing the world.
The United States was industrialized.
That little fact alone changed the rest of the world.
The airplane and the automobile came into being.
"Came into being. "
You know, like it's out of thin air!
What the hell is going on?
Why does this black sticky ooze turn into the explosive revolution it is destined to become?
The factory system gets off the ground.
People talk about changes in life-styles today. The changes in life-styles we think are of moment today are no more than like the changing of your tie before going to work from one day to the next. Compared to what happened to rural and village life as done by the industrialized factory.
Corporations became a legal concept during this period. In case you think that little social institution was something always taken for granted.
Public education got rolling over this expanse of time, so that by the 1920's we first had what we now take for granted as full high school enrollment. With the incalculable effects that mass thought structuring has had on our way of life.
Of simply massive consequence was the fact that germ theory got rolling in medicine, which was to shape our whole conception of health for the next century, and what it means to be a "healthy functioning organism."
Similarly, there were the discoveries about radium and the electron, which began the field we today call physics. Einstein's first seminal paper came out in 1905.
Radioactivity was discovered.
The absolutely phenomenal discovery that matter was a condition of energy was uncovering itself as a seed of human thought.
Where do all these things come from?
It looks to third-dimensional sense like they are coming out of thin air. That they are what we call "discoveries," things that we sort of stumble on as history "evolves."
History doesn't evolve.
It unfolds what we are ready to receive when we are ready to receive it.
But not to third-dimensional sense, which declares in its ignorant arrogant wisdom, that this kind of thing is discovered by "progressive" human thought when it has "advanced" far enough in its "intelligence." Or that the "material" conditions of history somehow "evolve" the necessities which require these "advances."
This is patent bullshit.
And it is this kind of matter-based thinking that has led us to the point of absolute bewilderment today.
If you think it is an accident that all these things happened in the same simultaneous period, (or sequentially long enough period for us to take them together in stride), you think this way because you have been taught to think this way by thought that is locked into the third dimension and will keep you there as long as you allow it to.
I say revolt.
Like Marx, I say you have nothing to lose but your chains. But the kind of chains I am talking about are diametrically opposed to the material chains he was talking about. The chains are mental, not material; and the freedom, the way out of the point of total perplexity we find ourselves in today is entirely mental.
It is simply a matter of changing our thinking from matter-based thought to spiritual; and the way out of your dilemma that has already been prepared for you will become clear to you as you do this.
It is simply a matter of changing your thought; everything else has been taken care of for you.
In fact, everything that has happened to you up to this point in time has occurred to gently and tenderly prepare your thought for the acceptance of fourth-dimensional consciousness, when you feel you are ready to turn in that direction. And accept it.
Imagine if what I am saying is true.
Some of you may wonder, knowing me as you do, why I begin this course by launching into something as patently academic as history.
I will do many unorthodox things as we proceed in our study, and these I will do to break up the hypnotism that would try to retard our growth.
For eons all of us have been in school in a virtual hypnotic stupor, lulling ourselves in the mutually reinforced lies told to us by our teachers.
I have been in school for the past thirty years of my life. Since I was five years old. Completely at the mercy of these people in front of the class who were completely at the mercy of the lies they had to accept and regurgitate in order for them to get their degrees.
Until I became one of these people in front of the class.
Until they kicked me out.
Which is what the tenure game is all about.
They keep you for up to seven years to see whether you have proven that you are one of the carriers of the lies, before they let you in as a full-fledged tenured (security-guaranteed) member of the club.
It is very hard to lie for the six-year probation period without getting caught.
I am an expert liar.
And I couldn't make it.
It was a squeaker.
I told every lie in every way, with all the finesse and stamina I could muster, for six years.
But no banana.
They caught me.
Even in the totally mesmerized hypnotically stupefied slumbering situation I was in there were a couple of boys who were still alert and who fingered me.
Ah well. So what if I have to teach my class from a basement apartment in Frazer, Montana.
I am protected by the Constitution of the United States, which is not a rinky-dink, gutless, faithless defender of freedom and truth, as intellectual institutions most certainly are: the Constitution was defended by Peter Koch's dad, who died on the Normandy Landing, and whose son I grew up with in Missoula, Montana.
And that is what we are going to talk about today.
Possibly the most important event that happened in the latter part of the 19th century was the Civil War.
Because the Civil War was the unique experience that tested and tried the American experiment in constitutional democracy.
Nothing could have put the beliefs (or what later turned out to be the knowledge) that was set down on paper by Jefferson and Madison to a crueler or more severe test than did the Civil War.
Prior to that it had been words and compromises on pieces of paper. It had to be tested with the blood of conviction for that belief to pass into understanding, understanding of just how important those ideas were, and that they would work.
The Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, with its commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, upon which the Constitution logically must rest, is not an abstract document.
The Bill of Rights, including freedom of the press, has been and is going to be tried and tested and purified until it is understood to be essential to a true and healthy democracy.
Truth is hated and feared by those in hypnotic slumbers. Freedom, which academicians delight in forcing you to memorize as one of the ideals of democracy, is normally perceived to be the most threatening terror in the night by those who tend to gravitate toward the academic profession.
That is why they lay so much stress on tenure.
Tenure, for those of you who are pursuing honest lines of work and haven't become acquainted with this particularly insidious concept (which makes featherbedding look downright reasonable) is an institution that originated from a fairly reasonable idea.
You have to protect academic freedom.
So what the awarding of tenure does, in the sixth year, after a probation period, is guarantee a teacher that he cannot be fired except for "gross incompetence" or "moral turpitude," either of which is damn near impossible to prove.
Which means that our school systems have filled up with bumbling, cowardly fools. Because the way the system works, as I hope to show you when we get to the section of the course on education, the idiots are let in, and gravitate to the top, and those who stimulate original creative thought and drive on the part of their students are quickly weeded out.
Does this sound vaguely reminiscent of other institutional hierarchies that you may be familiar with?
Well it is. And my criticisms of education I focus on, not to single it out for special treatment so much as to criticize an example of American culture which I happen to know, and by analogy you can take what is of value in my remarks and apply it to the professional hypnotic marble games you are caught up in. Because I am not after the educational marble game nearly so much as I am after the kind of thinking, indigenous to American culture, that plunges us each into thoroughly nightmarish marble games that lead to despair after despair.
I have found the pearl of great price, the key to the understanding that unlocks the nature of the marble game. And I am going to share this with you to the best of my ability.
And I know that it will take nothing less than the Constitution of the United States, with all the blood that has been shed for it, to protect the voice of truth once it starts poking its head up out of the seas of hypnotic slumber, as the revolution in thought that is about to begin in this country starts to make itself known.
Peter Koch was a guy I grew up with in grade school. He lived down the block from me.
He was short and small, at least in grade school. He was one of the guys I used to smoke cigarettes with in the garage on the way to school in the seventh grade. He was also the guy I most often went on raft trips with, down the rivers, fishing for trout. (I never will forgive him for ultimately catching the biggest fish.)
We called him "Crotch," when we didn't call him "Runtledge," because his middle name was Rutledge. Peter Rutledge Koch. These were the names we called him when we didn't call him "Ed," because he talked all the time. He had a mouth like the grill of an Edsel.
Kids are known for their love of charity.
But Koch was distinguished in our neighborhood as being the guy who didn't have a dad. Every month we were told, his mother received money from the U. S. government to pay for the fact that his old man was in the wrong place at the wrong time in a landing craft off the beach of Normandy.
A few months after Peter was born.
I am of the generation in American life known as the "War Babies."
I mention this because I think the location in time gives one's slant on what is happening in the world an understandable focus.
For example, the Cold War meant something different to me than it did to my parents.
And to the kids coming out of college right now it meant nothing at all.
These are the unimportant things.
What is important is the focus that is interesting to us all.
When I was in graduate school, at Washington University in about 1968, the Vietnam War protest was at its height.
I don't know about you but for me the turning point in the war was when I saw the huge double-engine helicopters lifting nets filled with bodies off the ground.
Then I knew something was wrong, and it was time for me to get off my ass and make a gesture to that effect. So I went down to a church in the heart of St. Louis where Washington University is located, and proceeded to get myself photographed by the FBI for sitting in this church and listening to these guys denounce the United States as if the fact that we were a fascist dictatorship were a foregone conclusion.
In fact my closest friend in the Philosophy Department at that time was a leader of the peace movement in that city, and had organized this meeting.
Well, I would come back to my Department and listen to the opposite extreme from what I had seen on TV. We had guys in that Department who were so adamant about the evils of the warmongering United States that you literally held your peace for fear of starting a fist-fight.
I remember just one time I dared to take one of these turkeys on in just the mildest possible difference of opinion. I stopped him in the middle of his wholesale condemnation of the United States and everything it stood for and asked him about something that had always bothered me from the beginning of the protest movement. I said, "Well, what about the guy who died alone in the night in a foxhole in Germany? "
It was like lighting a match in a room full of gas.
He exploded. He simply exploded. Into incoherent rage.
The point I am trying to get to here is that this guy in my Department, my friend who organized the peace demonstration, the guy flying the helicopter, and Peter Koch's dad--all of us--share the same basic values.
We all, one and all, have seen the truth in the American values, and we all, one and all, are willing to put something on the line for it.
You may ask me what all this has to do with the tail end of the 19th century and I will answer as follows:
A symbol and an attitude began to crop up then. It was the beginning of the "walk softly and carry a big stick" shift in American pursuit, as symbolized by Teddy Roosevelt. Or so it is held in thought by Americans today.
Which ultimately led to the slogans "My country right or wrong," and "America love it or leave it." Which we all grew to know and love during the Vietnam War.
The reason this was important was because it marked the shift, a point where American thought slipped, away from the Republicanism of Lincoln, and toward the Republicanism of the Nazi Party.
The right wing has some very good things about it in this country, but it has slipped into the fatal hypnotic dream that it is America that made America great, not the ideas and the ideals of the Jeffersons, the Franklins, and the Adamss. Once you make the fatal shift in focus from seeing that it was the love of truth, freedom, and mankind, and the courage and the willingness to do what you have to do to follow these guiding lights, rather than the effect of following these guiding lights--the greatness of the United States as we know it today--you catapult into the bureaucratic nightmare we have today.
Bureaucracies are built on distrust.
It's as simple as that.
When you have people who get along you have no need of bureaucracies.
You have no need of law for that matter.
The law is needed when and only when the breakdown in trust and affection begin.
Trust and affection are present when and only when there is a knowledge that the goals are shared and worked for together.
All that has to be proven, therefore, is that the goals are already shared, and worked for together, for there to be a restoration of trust and affection.
Which means that all that has to be seen is that the only thing that is blocking our vision that this is already going on is the hypnotic morass of what I call "marble games" that we let come into our lives and seduce us into thinking it is real.
All we have to do, therefore, is willingly search in our hearts for the clear blue sky, and we shall soon enough be able to spot a cloud for what it is.
That quest, that yearning in the heart for blue sky, which requires only a willingness on our part to stop taking the clouds as the reality, is always, unconditionally, answered.
Just let go of your belief that the clouds are the reality. (Which reminds me of the Paul Simon song "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover.")
"And get yourself free."
Little did we know that it was clouds that we loved, and were clinging to, that caused us all the trouble. But, that is the way with clouds: as long as you believe in them they are going to give you a rough time, until they shake you off.
Isn't that nice.
It's a hell of a lot better than if we were allowed to believe that clouds are the reality, and to find peace and comfort and love in them.
Now that would be awful. And cruel. And merciless. And wrathful. And unforgiving.
Here in Frazer there is a wonderful little lake nearby, just about twice the size of Walden's Pond, (I think). A few hundred yards from my house.
Last Fall I used to go over there--absolutely nobody else around (the Indians think I'm a little nuts for walking around looking at the countryside all the time)--and lie down on the bank, and look up through the cottonwood trees, colored and rustling in the wind, and watch the sky form a cloud.
We get big pillaring thunderheads around here, on the plains.
You can lie there in the gentle wind and just watch the sky form a cloud. Literally out of pure thin air.
It would be awful if there were just pure blue sky all the time.
When you spot marble games for what they are, you love to attack them. At least I do. I can't help myself. I think that's why I became a teacher. I think that's why most people become teachers. When you see ignorance killing people you care about, you can't help but feel a desire to kill the ignorance and save the people.
One of the rules of this game, however, is that you never ever attack people. You attack ignorance. If you attack people you are mistaking effect for cause. And the whole thing backfires on you.
People are never bad; they are only the victims of ignorance. You attack the ignorance and free the people. (It may look like you are attacking the people, given what you say and do, but you never attack people. Because people never do but what is right, given how they see it.)
This is what the man was doing 2,000 years ago, when he was leading us by showing us an example of how to do it.
When he attacked a "devil," he was after ignorance, a hypnotic dream the guy was caught up in. He was never after the guy.
Well, I'm after lots of hypnotic dreams that I see all kinds of people locked up in.
As you listen to me talk, as these ideas pass through your head, see whether there isn't a healing effect once in a while on you.
If there is, I claim it's because I am appealing to an entirely different sense than what we normally are talking to--the spiritual, or what I call the fourth-dimensional sense. I claim that this is exactly what Jesus and his early followers did when they did their magnificent healing work in the early days of Christianity.
If you feel some lightening of your load as you follow this thought, if you find yourself freed of some ailment or problem that you might have felt coming into this course I claim it is because I am attacking the hypnotic ignorant dreams that we all get taught in this culture these days. Dreams that I am so thoroughly familiar with because I am so thoroughly a product of this culture.
I think you should know that as I give these lectures I normally have very little precise idea of what I am going to say.
I know in a general way what is in my head. But I don't know what or how I am going to say to you each day as I say it.
This has the effect of making my lectures seem a little scattered, on the surface. But, you should know that the real intent of what I am saying is lurking beneath the surface. And I never finish until and unless I see that that deeply intuitive thought has been expressed.
Needless to say, as I developed this technique over the past seven years of teaching in a small liberal arts college, it played hell with the evaluations of my work and the course evaluations.
People seemed to love my courses, but when put to explain why, the stuff that came out about what I said in class made it sound most unacedemic indeed.
Which it wasn't.
But enough of that.
Let us return to the nineteenth century and resume our inquiry into why it was the most important time since the birth of Christ, the opinion of academic historians notwithstanding.
This was the period where the population explosion began to take off.
The steam engine began what we now call modern technology.
Laissez-faire capitalism got wheeling.
The unions became a thing.
Liberalism, as a reaction against the inhumanity of social conditions, became a political force.
The black man began a worldwide revolution in which he was no longer going to be referred to as "nigger," "coon," or "colored."
Women became full-fledged human beings, with the first felt strides of women's suffrage.
Mental health became a working viable concept, expressing a total change in attitude about those who were crippled or injured in their heads.
The West was won, not that that was in itself distinctive. But it did in the process coin a concept for us--the notion of a "pioneer"--a notion which was to extend into every field of endeavor.
Immigration into the United States crescendoed into the explosion that made us the melting pot we were to become.
Social Science, for all the woes that little enterprise has caused our self-concept, became a thriving little business.
Pragmatism, transcendentalism, behaviorism, existentialism, and, most importantly, logical positivism got their start, which were destined to become the dominant intellectual thought of the 20th century, governing the direction of pure and applied science, with its devastating consequences on man's concept of himself.
But perhaps the most important turn of events was the rise and fall of Victorian Morality. It was during this period of time that the sickness of this kind of morality turned against itself and sowed the seeds of its own decay and destruction. Which wasn't to come until the twentieth century.
One of the standards of excellence in the country is Playboy Magazine. I have looked at it periodically since the early sixties.
I can remember going into barber shops as a little kid in the early 50's and seeing Esquire Magazine lying around with some pictures of some (almost) bare bosom. I was so enthralled, so profoundly hypnotically mesmerized, that I wouldn't even pick it up for fear that someone would spot me.
From this noble start in lechery I found myself in the local neighborhood grocery store (much later in life) shoplifting Photography magazines. Not because I didn't want to pay for them, but because I didn't want people to know I was interested in such things. (I might have been in the sixth grade by now.)
I would take the magazines and cut out some of the tastier choicer photographs, because I didn't dare bring the whole magazine home. Where would I hide it?
Then I would take a safety pin and a long piece of string, go to the heat register in my room (I lived on the second floor), and then with a flashlight lower those pictures clipped with the pin down that register all the way to the bottom. Maybe twenty feet down.
There they couldn't be found.
Sometimes I would, shaking in my tracks, drop the string. And the whole mess would fall to the bottom. Then I would have to get one of my dad's fishing lures, one with treble hooks, and lower it down to snag the string, that had the safety pin tied to it. With the pictures fastened on to it.
Playboy Magazine over the years, I think, has accurately reflected the morality we have grown up with.
I don't think I need say any more on the topic.
Most of the changes that occurred in Western life in the latter part of the 19th century were of a material sort.
The harnessing and really the discovery of electricity in particular.
These material developments were important, not so much because in and of themselves they changed our lives and our way of thinking about things, which they obviously did, but because they posed the greatest possible assault on our spiritual development.
This was far, far more important than any material benefit or implication for our lives.
Yet, actually, the period ultimately will be seen not as an assault on our spirituality but as a boost, a terrific life-giving impetus, by way of a challenge, as it always comes, for us to see something that we had become civilized enough to see.
We were ready for the second coming of Christ, or "the divine Comforter," as Jesus promised; and this came during this period along with all these other things, buried as it were, and historians to this day havent recognized it yet.