Britain is in a constitutional, political, economic,cultural and environmental crisis-triggered by Brexit, by global warming, by living beyond its means, by the loss of trust in government over the 2003 Iraq war lies, by rising poverty and inequality. We see the erosion of public services such as providing affordable social housing, and the privatisation of public services such as education and the national health service. We see government and business leaders pushing ‘the market’ as a magic silver bullet solution, amidst ‘market’ and ‘government’ failure’. And sometime soon there may be another unforseen financial crisis.
Behind these phenomena we see the rule of the rich, or plutocracy. For example, according to Oxfam, just 62 people own over half the world’s wealth. Many members of the plutocracy may also be kleptocrats, wanting to own more and more, not to invest in the productive economy or to give their wealth away for the common good, for the arts, education or the environment. You can also see the rule of the corporations, the corporatocracy, and the bankocracy who with the plutocrats have largely captured our government through campaign donations, through relentless lobbying for tax breaks and favourable regulations, through the revolving doors between corporations and government, and the capture of the media, education and of culture which ‘delivers’ people’s minds by ‘manufacturing consent.’
One way to destabilise the powerful partnership between government and the corporations is to assert the countervailing cultural and normative power of civil society and cultural organisations-a whole rainbow of free standing churches, associations, unions, social movements, charities, communities, educational, health, environmental, media, arts and science organisations, NGO’s, families, communities, voluntary organisations.
When government and business are confronted by civil society, it upsets the cosy business/government marriage with a three way dynamic, where the boundaries between the business/economic, the government/political and the civil society/cultural sectors need respecting. Hence Thomas Jefferson once saying that, ‘There needs to be a wall(ie boundary) between politics and religion’. Hence President Eisenhower wanting to reassert democratic control in 1959 by unpicking ‘the military, industrial, government complex ‘which had blurred the boundaries between government and business.
Just as the US founding fathers wrote a Constitution that was based on the threefold separation of powers between the legislature, the judiciary and the executive or government, so Rudolf Steiner proposed in 1917 that society was not ‘unform’ in texture, but emerged from the interaction of three distinct countervailing social powers, each with their own dynamic narrative and unique contribution. These are the economy, the state or politics, and culture. So Steiner thought that running government as a business, or running a school or family as a business was a bad idea. Equally running a business like church, or government like a school or cultural organosationwas not a good idea.
So social threefolding can help unpick the muddles we now see….by helping undertstand healthy boundaries and fences, how to build healthy partnerships betwen the three sectors to solve ‘wicked’ issues like global warming, how to get ‘the market’ out of government and ‘things money just cant buy’, and how to free politics from business and plutocratic capture using campaign funding and overwhelming lobbying..and more… (We have the best democracy money can buy’….)
Here is an article which develops social threefolding further….