The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or Seth Jordan. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.
Jim: We’re doing something a little different today. As I talk about from time to time, I do a fair bit of prep for most of my episodes, probably 10 hours for a typical full-length one including reading a book or some scientific papers, thinking about the issues, couple hours of prep to get my show, topic notes ready, etcetera. But today we’re going to go to the other extreme. I literally don’t know who the guest is, have no idea. My trustee producer, Andrew Blevins, has run an online nominating process and then a poll, I think on the top five or six, I don’t quite remember people and I don’t know who the semifinalists are by the way. And a winner was selected and then invited to be on the show.
Jim: And when they show up here in a few minutes, that will be the first time I have any idea who they are. So it’d be very interesting to see how this goes. It’s an experiment. If it works, we’ll do some more. If it doesn’t. we’ll go, “Oh, well it was a fun experiment. Hey, there he is, whoever the hell he is.
Seth: How’s it going, Jim?
Jim: Well, I’m doing pretty well.
Jim: I’m glad you could make it for our first Who Are You Podcast. I already gave the intro, so I’m not going to bother with repeating the format here.
Seth: Got you.
Jim: So let’s start off with who is our mystery guest today?
Seth: So my name is Seth Jordan, and yeah, what to say about myself? My main work is also around large scale, I guess you could say civilizational but societal transformation, societal change, but I hadn’t heard of Game B or the whole world that you’re a part of. One of my readers had been following your work and then recommended me. My work is rooted in Rudolf Steiner’s work. Do you know who Rudolf Steiner is?
Jim: I certainly do. He was the guy with the stag bladders, I think, right?
Jim: In fact, the first time I ever heard of it, a friend of mine was a biodynamics gardener and she knew I was going hunting and said, “Could you bring me back a stag bladder if you kill a buck?” And I said, “Sure, why not?” so I did.
Jim: That was 30 something years ago.
Seth: So have you heard about the other aspects of his work? Do you know about Waldorf education and the like?
Jim: Yup. Oh, yeah, I know about Waldorf education. I know about Findhorn. So I know a little bit here and there, but I would say not an expert, haven’t read anything that he wrote.
Seth: Yeah. And have you come across his social ideas?
Seth: Okay, so his social ideas is the main thing I work with and he brought it forward at the end of the First World War, these different pictures around society and first in the … At the end of the war, the governments were trying to bring something to the table in Versailles and bring a picture of Europe, how it could rebuild after the war. And then that didn’t work. so then it was a grassroots movement for about three or four years. Steiner died in 1925. The things you just mentioned, the agricultural movement, also the Waldorf education movement all came in that kind of period. So he was a very busy individual during that period, but there was a lot of work around social reform.
Jim: So let’s start with that. What did Steiner say? What was his diagnosis first and then what was his prescription?
Seth: So his diagnosis … So I’ve been listening to your show only in the last couple weeks since I got nominated for it, but I’ve listened to a bunch of your episodes, the two episodes with Tyson Yunkaporta where I thought just really fantastic, and yeah, a bunch of them are really interesting. So just to say, I’ve been trying to grasp your picture for social change and I’ve been coming at it from the angle of complexity theory, trying to get more complexity thinking, trying to grasp that and I haven’t delved as deeply into Game B. But I think, yeah, only in the last couple days have I gone, “Okay, I just really need to get Game B.” So I think, yeah, well, just I think it’s interesting. I don’t really know that much about Game B. You don’t know much about Steiner’s social ideas.
Jim: Yeah, you don’t need to pitch this in terms of Game B. In fact, relatively few of my episodes are actually focused on Game B. It may be maybe 20%. So why don’t you just tell me about Steiner’s prescription and what he saw needed to be reformed and then what were his reforms? Let’s start from there and we’ll see where it goes.
Seth: Yeah, so the reason I bring up Game B is because one question I have is it’s the most basic question which is, how do we view society? And this picture of the difference between complicated and complex, I still don’t quite know what that difference is. I’ve looked it up in different places and it seems like maybe for some people it’s a question of scale of how many variables are in the system.
Jim: Nope, nope, nope.
Seth: Yeah, so what is … Could you tell me what the-
Jim: Here’s my definition of it, at least, which is a complicated thing, can be taken apart and put back together and it’s likely to work. You can literally take a 747 apart that and have it spread all over the tarmac, put it back together, start it up and it will go. You cannot do the same with an economy with a complex chemical system or most particularly life, right? If you take a human and break them down to their chemistry and then put them back at a bucket and shake it, you don’t have a human anymore. So yeah, the difference is the dynamics that complex systems are really defined by their dynamics, not by their parts. And when I’m trying to talk about difference between reductionism and complexity, which is related to this question, I describe reductionism as the study of the dancer and complexity as the study of the dance.
Seth: Can you say that again?
Jim: Yeah. So reductionism is the study of the dancer, right? So how fast does it move? What does it weigh? What are the musculature, etcetera? And then complexity is the study of the dance. How do these things interact and produce a pattern and what is that pattern about? So complicated think of it as could be arbitrarily complicated. It’s the complicated-est thing you could possibly imagine, but if you can take it apart and put it back together and it would still work, then it’s complicated. And even relatively simple things, if you take them apart and put it back together again and they no longer work, then they’re complex. The difference is that the dynamics are of the essence of the complex. I mean get into the science of it, it has to do with the fact that all complex things live out of equilibrium, that there’s energy, typically energy or some surrogate for energy flowing through the system and that is of the essence of the system.
Seth: All right. Well, yeah, I think there’s a lot of overlap. So I’ll give a picture of the basic approach to Steiner. And Steiner, the approach is what’s most essential. I’ll speak about the particulars, but in the same way that you’re describing the dynamics being what’s essential, that’s what Steiner’s also describing. So yeah, I guess one way I would describe it is also the difference between an operating system and an organism. We can look at society and think, “Okay, this is human made. We can make whatever we want. We can add any sort of plugins or patches. We’ve got this problem. Let’s fix it,” as opposed to working with an organism where there is a kind of equilibrium. There is a harmony of the parts, there is a relationship of the parts and there’s a lawfulness of the parts.
Seth: Yeah, that’s what Steiner’s really trying to perceive. He’s saying, “When we look at society, it’s coming to the world that’s evolved over time and there’s a lawfulness to its evolution and can we come to understand that lawfulness? And can we come to guide it, work with it?” You don’t organize it arbitrarily like you would maybe an operating system that you would just get in there and make any changes you want, but if it’s an actual living organism, a kind of plant or something along those lines, then how do you guide its life to the stage of fruitfulness that you’re looking for? That’s the basic approach which obviously in Game B, Game A terms is not particularly Game A.
Seth: So I not knowing about you and this whole world, I’ve been just … So I’ve got a background in some alternative economic, social thinking. You have Schumacher society. I’ve definitely spent time with community land trusts and alternative currencies and all of those things, but that’s the alternative to Game A that I know to, yeah, the mainstream world. And a lot of that world also isn’t thinking big-picture societal change, big-picture civilization change. So in a certain way, when I found you guys, I was like, “Oh, great. Some more people who are thinking really big.”
Jim: Yeah, that’s us. Let me speak first to this idea of harmony and noodging. How do I think about this? All right, I’m going to come at it from two directions simultaneously. The first might seem contradictory.
Seth: Sounds good.
Jim: And that is what I call the gateway drug to becoming a Game Ber is to realize that all this stuff we have were created by humans, right? I happen to be fairly obsessed about monetary systems as being very important. So I like to say, “Central banker-mediated fractional reserve banking was not brought down on Mount Sinai by Moses on stone tablets,” right? And it’s a whole series of frozen accidents, having to do with bizarre historical contingencies and the result in the system that we have. And it’s a human system and it has continued to morph and change, sometimes at microscale, sometimes at mesoscale, sometimes at major scale revisions, but they were all done by humans, often not consciously at all and certainly not thinking about the big picture.
Jim: And so since they are human institutions, we can change them, right? And that every single thing in our system, we can change, we could change, right? Now, that’s the possibly arrogant hubristic social engineering perspective that, “Yes, it is subject to change,” but then on the other end, this is where I say there’s a big, I would call generative tension in Game B, is the complexity view which is, if you study complex systems and especially evolutionary complex systems, one of the things you learn is that it’s exceedingly difficult/impossible to predict the unfolding of a complex system very far once you noodge it.
Jim: The classic example is despite all the billions of dollars’ worth of computation thrown at it, we can still barely forecast the weather out two weeks, right? Surprising in some ways, but that’s the nature of complex systems. And so if you make a change in a human system, human societal level system, which is definitely highly complex, you can’t take the economy apart and put it back together again. You can’t take everyday life apart and put it back together again. It would be something very, very different, so that since these are complex systems, any change you make, while you may be able to predict most of the short-term effects, you’re not going to be able to predict the long-term effects. So you caught in this interesting trap.
Jim: Well, you want to move the system in some ways that you think are better, right? Based on some basic principles, like for instance, Game B basic principle is a society whose number one value is short-term money on money return is not the same as a society whose number one value is self-actualization within the context of living in balance with nature, which I would describe as at least one form of the Game B prime value. So if we’re steering towards that Game B prime value, it’s a different north star that you’re heading to rather than the Game A one which is maximizing short-term money on money return.
Jim: However, again, this complexity view, which sometimes we, in a highfalutin way, call it epistemic humility, that you can’t know that much about what will happen when you make changes, means that you have to proceed in an empirical and experimental fashion, be steering towards that north star, self-actualization in balance with Mother Nature but realize that there is no utopian guide on how to get there. But what you can do is try your best, think hard about things that might noodge that system in that direction, try the experiment and then be very radically intellectually honest at evaluating the results of the experiment and did it work and not treat them … Again, so many of the great reformers of the world have fallen into the trap of treating their ideas as scripture.
Jim: In fact, I’m working on a book right now on Game B, and then in the introduction, it says, “If anybody quotes anything in this book, it’s catechism. Tell them Jim Rutt will kick their ass, right? That it’s all empirical, it’s all experimental, it’s all tentative and it’s all with epistemic humility.” So I would say that’s how I resolve this tension between, “Hey, it’s all manmade, and in theory, you could change any of it. With the reality, it’d be foolish as shit to start changing it willy-nilly and in very extreme fashions because you won’t be able to predict what’s going to happen.” And if we look at history when really extreme changes are made in short periods of time, usually the result isn’t good.
Seth: Yeah. Yeah, I’d agree with a lot of it, but maybe I would question or maybe nuance something you said, because in one of your interviews, I also remember either you saying or the person you were interviewing that the world that we’re looking to create has to be based in … It has to work with the material at hand, meaning it has to work with human beings and who human beings are. We can’t just create something that’s a fantasy. It has to work with our basic instincts, our basic drives, all of those things. So that’s what I mean by we can’t actually just create things willy-nilly in a sense because human nature is a certain way.
Seth: I was a philosophy major in college. Plato has this saying that society is the human soul writ large. And so we can see if we start with human nature, then our social forms are an expression of our nature. And so that’s where Steiner doesn’t actually, yeah, quote Plato in that way, but that’s a kind of picture of the way that I think of it. And also, can we change everything? So this is a question I want to ask. So most of what I’m thinking of, I think we can change everything at the micro level. Maybe we shouldn’t get into micro, meso, macro. But yeah, at the small scale, how we actually do things can all be different, but in terms of the big picture, in terms of the dynamics, we can’t just shift the dynamics of the social organism of society in a way that’s not in alignment with it. So I’ll give an example, yeah, unless you want to jump in.
Jim: No, no. Why don’t you give an example then I’ll hop in?
Seth: Okay, so if we think of modern-day democracies, constitutional democracies, we find these three branches of government. We find an executive, a judicial and the legislative. Some governments do it slightly differently, but these three, this picture, I think it’s what is it, like a tripartite system or I think it’s called trias, whatever, there’s some Latin term for it. Anyways, this threefold picture of government, we know and we could say, “Oh, well we can do that any way we want,” but those functions exist. So there’s the need for a legislative function to create laws, there’s a need for an executive function to enact those laws, to have a police or an army force and there’s a need for a judicial function to review the laws to actually when someone breaks the laws.
Seth: So how we organize that, how we organize government, we can do the system of checks and balances in very different ways. We can give very different powers to those different functions, but this understanding that these are three different functions and there needs to be a separation of those functions, of those powers and they need to provide checks and balances for each other, that’s, I would say, a lawfulness to the political life in its current form that, yeah, it’s hard to just knock off the table and say, “Well, those functions don’t need to exist. We don’t need …” Yeah, so I guess I put that out there as one example. What do you think Jim?
Jim: That’s a great example. I would say that the things that we call executive, legislative and judicial, at least in some sense, are of the essence of governance. But I would say this tripart system comes from the writings of Montesquieu in France in the early 18th century. It was a completely new idea at that time. And so obviously, you can govern without that idea. And in fact, in fact, many countries today do. The UK, for instance, and most parliamentary systems don’t separate the executive and the legislature. In the UK, the executive is a creature of the legislature, and at any time, the legislature can dissolve the executive and they do fairly regularly when they have a vote of no confidence.
Jim: And so I would suggest that the fact that you need something to define what the rules are, something to enforce the rules and somebody to keep an eye on the enforcers, so that they don’t violate their own rules, so in the most broad sense, I’d say true, but I’d say it’s a classic example of over reification to think that we need something called a legislature, we need something called an executive and we need something called a judiciary. As another example, let’s go back in time, right before Montesquieu was, and still was up through his life, the era of the divine right of kings where, in theory, the king could do it all, that he was the supreme judge, he was the supreme executive, and to the degree he wanted to, he was the supreme legislature.
Jim: And that form of governance is gone for a long time and there are people who advocate for the return of it. In fact, I’m having somebody on my podcast here in a few weeks is going to be advocating for a return to monarchy in America. That will be a pretty funny one. So I guess that’s my reaction that one level, but now if you think about the class of functions, yes, there’s broad class of functions, but the room to think different ways of thinking about is much larger than most people tend to think about. Most people tend to be highly channelized by what they personally have experienced. Now I’d like to address the idea of human nature and I think that is very important. And on the other hand, of course, it doesn’t keep people from doing things that violate human nature in terms of social organization.
Jim: Think of, say, Marxism-Leninism for instance, right? Seems to be a terrible fit for human nature, heck a more extreme version, Pol Pot even worse, right? And so it is possible to devise systems that seem to be in conflict with human nature. They just don’t last very long. Secondly, though, and again when we think about human nature, it’s very important to look at the anthropological record. The ways humans have self-organized and even stably for fairly long periods of time are very, very broad, right? We have 180,000 years at least of organizations as hunter-gatherer or forager bands essentially that were quite egalitarian, had no formal leadership. There were a fission-fusion model of social integration, groups spun off and came together and developed higher level organizations seasonally often and then broke back up into hunting bands.
Jim: So that is a way that it’s obviously congruent with human nature, although that’s extremely different than anything we see today. And [inaudible 00:19:45] existed for thousands of years. Empires have existed on various time scales, often for hundreds and thousands of years. So the things that are congruent with human nature are way bigger than we tend to think and that human nature is a hard limit to stable organization, but there’s a lot more that can be done within human nature than people like to think. And then finally, and this is really important, at any given time, there is the biological layer of human nature which is the hard constraint, but then what that really is, in terms of creating a social system, is the acculturated person at any given time, how they were raised, the things they believe, what they think is right and wrong.
Jim: And keep in mind, the Aztecs thought right included cutting the hearts out of teenagers and throwing them down the pyramid for the priests to eat. So the range of things that humans believe are right is much larger than we’re used to thinking about. And so at any given time, when we’re thinking about, and this is something we talk about lot Game B, the development of the person and the development of the institutions has to go as a seesaw. The people are how they are, right? And with the software and the hardware, if you want to think about it that way, and you can’t do much about the hardware, but you can certainly adjust the software and just something as simple as mindfulness meditation makes people less reactive and less full of anger and less triggerable by advertising all kinds of things. You get people do mindfulness meditation 20 minutes a day and that person actually changes.
Jim: The kinds of institutions you can build with these kinds of people are different. When a person has reached a level of self-awareness and mental control, the kinds of social systems that you can build for those kind of people are quite different than people who are constantly programmed by attention-hijacking dopamine interrupts. And so that’s, again part of our Game B theory is that we gradually help people modify the software in themselves. In fact, we call the bad stuff Game A malware in the same way that viruses are malwares on our computers. And that part of coming into Game B is to learn how to gradually, and it will be gradual in most cases, cast off bad software and replace it with better software.
Jim: And once you’ve done that with a sufficiently large group of people, those people can create institutions that didn’t exist before because it can be based on trust and organic humanness rather than transactions and formality. Again, one of our key Game B insights, I’ve actually been emphasizing this a lot in the last six months or so, is that starting around 1870 in the west, say the US, UK, Germany, North Western Europe, people started moving away from the mesoscale as their main source of life and stability and mesoscale meaning the face-to-face village community or in part outside of Christendom, typically an extended family based on cousin marriage.
Jim: As it turns out, if you look at the anthropological record, those units tended to be around the Dunbar number of 150 adults, plus or minus. And those were organic informal ways of being that provided a high level of security. If you lived in a medieval English village and you broke your leg farming, somebody’d take care of you. They’d stick you in somebody’s attic and they’d haul you downstairs and feed you and you would not end up homeless. And since 1870, we’ve extended the organic mesoscale for two transactional mechanisms, the market and the government. And both are formal and cold and without any human attributes and they don’t really give a fuck about you, right?
Jim: And I would say a tremendous manifestation, essentially proof that Game A is fundamentally corrupt, go visit San Francisco, one of the richest cities in the world, and find the streets are full of homeless people. The idea that there would be homeless people to my mind is prima facie evidence that Game A is essentially completely failed, and a world with a healthy mesoscale, that would never happen.
Seth: Yeah. There’s a lot. There’s a lot there. So yeah, let me go back to the first points you made and just build out the picture from there. I agree entirely with your picture of government being able to be done in different ways. There are these functions, but then obviously, in a monarchy with the divine right of kings, yeah, they’re all being collapsed into one person’s power. And the anthropology piece is a really interesting one. I haven’t spent a huge amount of time working with anthropology. I did just … Do you know Thomas Piketty’s work?
Jim: I’ve read the book on capital, his book on capital, that was really good. And he has a collaborator in California and I’ve read some of the papers they’ve written together.
Seth: Oh, yeah. Yeah, so he wrote Capital in the Twenty-First Century which was huge after, whatever, 2009, the Great Recession, but then he just wrote one called Capital and Ideology. And in there, it’s a thousand pages, it’s a tome. But in there, what he does is he goes back for the past 1,000, 2,000 years and he follows the development of all these different cultures. And he’s building off of the work of a few key anthropologists. So this guy, Georges Dumezil, this French anthropologist, and then Claude-Levi Strauss, who’s a recognizable name to me and Mircea Eliade or Mircea. I don’t know how we pronounce his name. I think he’s Hungarian or I’m getting that wrong, but anyways, Mircea Eliade and Claude Levi-Strauss, I know just from the bookshelves and I’ve read a little bit of Strauss, but anyways, why these guys are important and what Piketty is drawing from their work is that they’re all working with a picture of society and premodern societies being what they call ternary or trifunctional. And so this really dovetails into Steiner’s work really amazingly.
Seth: So I’ll put the anthropology picture on hold for one second and just bring in Steiner’s picture. So why I brought in the tripartite government picture is because we can see those functions there, but that’s just government. When we step out and go to the level of society, what are the functions there? What are the key functions in the same way we can point to the key functions in government? And obviously, there’s the political government function, but then there’s also an economic function. Yeah, there are those two branches of society. And then Steiner identifies a third branch which is culture.
Seth: And so you just talked about an acculturation, and in your interviews, you do touch on culture a fair bit, but yeah, how we think about culture, it’s not as clear as how we think about politics and economics. So it would be great just to dig into what that is, how we understand culture, but yeah, let me say a few words about it. So economics, we can just look at, “Okay, what’s the function there? The function is that we’re meeting needs. We’re producing, distributing, consuming goods and services, so that everyone’s needs can be met. I just watched this video of yours, The Game B Film. And so you’ve got these three characters which are the chief, I’m not going to get their names, but there’s these three characters, one represents the mind, one represents the heart and one represents the body.
Jim: Yup, the Sage, the Matriarch and the Chief.
Seth: Yeah, so these three … You can look at those as three aspects of the human being, which you can also just think of as thinking, feeling and willing. And I don’t know, were you guys thinking about the relationship to The Wizard of Oz in there?
Jim: I wasn’t, but again, I didn’t create it either. It was created by a particular artist. Jake Ruiz and so it’s his creation though. There was a lot of input that many, the whole editorial board of Game B thinkers, basically, they had some input to it, but it was essentially Jake’s vision. So where he got his inspiration, I don’t know.
Seth: Yeah, so Wizard of Oz, we see the same three characters. We got the Scarecrow who has no brain, no mind, we have the Tinman who has no heart and then we have the Lion who has no courage. So these three aspects of the human soul, thinking, feeling and willing, are represented outside of Dorothy or whatever the main character in the Game B Film’s called. So anyways, these three aspects of the soul, you can see the economic function as especially connected to the body, to the willing aspect of the human being. That it’s an expression. How we transform the Earth through our will is what we do in the economy.
Seth: And then in the realm of governance, it’s the realm of relationships. It’s the realm of making laws and agreements. It’s the realm of kind of interpersonal, yeah, what’s right for us as a community. And then you can see that the expression of the mind is the realm of culture, that it’s the realm of belief and art and science, the pursuit of knowledge. So it’s funny, at the end of that film, you guys say, “What’s the takeaway? It’s go back into your community, try to clarify these three soul forces in yourself, work out of them in a strong way as possible and try to encourage your community to work out of these three aspects.”
Jim: Yeah. And then very importantly, find the others, right? Because you can’t do it yourself. That’s so important, is that radical social change is a team sport and that’s indispensable.
Seth: Yeah. So yeah, Steiner’s picture is called social threefolding because it says, when he looks out in society, he perceives these three realms, the economic, the political and the cultural realm. And he says, “These are three distinctly different functions in society. One is meeting our needs, one is tending our relationships and one is developing human being.” You talked about self-actualization. That happens in the realm of education and all those things. That’s where it’s cultivated, although obviously, it also happens in our work and in our economic activity. So these three systems, in a sense, exist and then they overlap, and like the human body, everything is in everything else. So in an individual business or in an individual institution, any community, you find these three activities.
Seth: So coming back to the anthropological picture, these anthropologists looked back into early periods and they kept on finding this pattern of what they called trifunctionalism which is that they found they called it a sacral function, so a sacred function. You always have a clergy or a priestly class. There’s some class of people that are tending the spiritual educational human growth poll. And then there’s this protective function, which they called the martial. So there’s the sacral, the martial and the economic. And the martial is the protective, “How are we going to battle against other clans, all of those things, other tribes? How are we going to protect our people and then the economic?”
Seth: And then those three functions, you can find them … You find a class system or caste system in India with whatever five casts or thousands of casts, but those three functions still exist within thecastet system. You’ve got the priestly cast at the top, then you’ve got the governing nobility warrior function, the second cast and then the other ones below that are all doing economic functions. So yeah, and going back into the middle ages, you have the three estates, but you have the clergy, the nobility who are the soldiers, the knights and then the peasants who are attending the Earth.
Seth: So I’m not reading anthropology, so I didn’t know any of those pictures and I picked up Thomas Piketty’s book, I don’t know, six months ago, eight months ago and I just said like, “Holy shit,” it just dovetails perfectly into Steiner’s pictures which is, after the French Revolution, basically all of those classes got thrown up into the air and it was just like, “Okay, money is king now. Let’s just go after that. There’s not going to be a rigid caste system anymore,” but those three functions still exist. And so how do we work with those functions today? How do we encourage self-actualization in every human being, them developing their capacities and gifts so they can give those to society? How do we do the governance function?
Seth: Today we talked it has to be a democracy. People want to self-govern. And then how do we do the economic function? What’s the best way to empower these functions so they perform the best, the most efficiently, they produce the best results for us? So yeah, maybe just to say what Steiner describes which is he describes autonomy between these three functions. So instead of a state that runs everything and is in charge of everything and is in charge of the schools and also oversees business to some extent and is a kind of nation state which says, “Our state is the most important and we’re going to make economy as strong as possible and make our schools as strong as possible, but they’re in charge,” instead Steiner, this is a pretty radical picture, he says, “These three should actually be separate. The economy should be based on economic activity and economic leaders should be running it. The government in an area should describe what the laws are,” and those are the laws that obviously business people have to abide by.
Seth: If we say everyone needs to have a living wage or a dignified living, then how does the economy actually work with that? And then the cultural realm would actually … Yeah, you just had Greg Lukianoff. Is that his name, the FIRE Guy?
Jim: Lukianoff, yeah.
Seth: Yeah, so this picture of free speech is so important, it’s just being chipped away in our time, but what Steiner’s describing is actually free culture. In the same way that we had the separation of church and state, we would have the separation of all of culture and state. And so not just higher education, but all of education, the teachers would be working out of their own inspiration and able to teach what they want as opposed to having Republicans or Democrats come in and say, “You have to teach critical race theory.” You can’t teach critical race theory. Just let the teachers teach. And also yeah, in terms of medicine and things like that, medical freedom, in terms of …
Seth: There’s even wilder aspects to this, but yeah, maybe I’ll hold off. The separation of nation and state is maybe the wildest picture, but yeah, just really allowing people to pursue their own actualization in the realms of art, culture, science according to their own conscience, according to their own inspiration, as opposed to being directed. Also, the funding stream obviously has a huge impact on whether or not people can develop the capacities they want to develop and bring the gifts they want to bring.
Jim: Absolutely. Let me think about this a second. Yeah, so let me ask you a question. It’s an interesting idea. I’ll dig in to Steiner only to understand this idea of the three being radically separate. So let’s think about Game A where, at least to a degree, the economy is separate from the government and from culture, but the economy has gotten really, really good by hiring lots of PhD psychologists. I wrote a paper once called Reclaiming Our Cognitive Sovereignty, arguing, “We should give up our smartphones and here’s how to do it.” And at the time, there were 700 ads on Facebook for job, help wanted in the company Facebook that had the word psychology in them, right?
Jim: So the Game A economic machinery has become psychologically extremely astute and has learned how to program us probably in the most extreme form on social media where since you’re not paying for it, you are the product in some sense, throws computers more powerful than the ones that beat Kasparov at chess in mining our behaviors and having access to literally billions of people’s behaviors and being able to manipulate us to make us more valuable to advertisers. And then prior to that, the age of television was able to program us to believe that if you had a Corvette, you were more likely to get laid, right? If you bought Budweiser, you’re going to play beach volleyball with good-looking chicks in their bikinis, right?
Jim: And that was a cruder level but still quite psychologically astute and goes back to Bernays, Freud’s son-in-law, who was the inventor of modern propaganda and advertising and PR and everything else. Bernays is very an overlooked figure in the history of the evolution of Game A. And so in those sense, even if the economy is separate, by its nature, it is, I would say, corrupting, but to be more objective, we could say a massively changing culture and so I’m not at all clear that there’s a clean separation between the two and I would suggest that the Game B approach is maybe the opposite. I’ve never really thought about it this way, so I might be speaking too soon, but I’m going to say maybe the opposite which is that we should organize very locally for most things the so-called Proto-B level, 150 adults plus or minus, maybe it’s 300. There’s some internal discussion, 150, 300 in that range.
Jim: And one thing about Game B, since there is no catechism, there’s lots of differences of opinion about things and I’m just giving you my point of view and some other people, is that we think that maybe these are holistic but local, so that any given community makes its own complex system that combines those elements but not necessarily at all in a cleanly separated way. We might make sure that the economics don’t program our children to want lots of shiny objects. We want to make sure that our children don’t get smart phones when they’re seven years old, etcetera and we make that as a holistic cultural determination that’s local and that the different Proto-Bs may well come to different decisions.
Jim: And I give you two examples in contemporary history of communities that work that way. One are the Mennonites and the Amish. They’re not at all monocultural like people sometimes think they are. Every group, every parish, they call it, is about 25 families, 30, 40, 50 in that range, make their own determinations about technology. You know that most of the Amish don’t drive, a few do. Some Mennonites don’t drive, most do, but some of them have very interesting strange rules like they can only drive black cars, for instance. Some of them will allow electricity in the barn for the milking machines for their cattle, a lot of the Mennonites particularly are dairy farmers but not in the house.
Jim: The Amish typically will not allow a telephone in the house but allow a telephone in the barn. So in case you have to call the vet for a sick animal, you have a telephone available. So anyway, these are highly nuanced discerning and local decisions about holistic culture. And I would say that would be my Game B response to this which is the three elements certainly exist, and while it may actually be a smart way to think about it at the nation state level or the highest level, if as it is in Game B where most of the cultural plumbing exists at the hyperlocal level, it may not be the right way to think about it. In fact, the reason we’ve chosen that is history has shown that’s a level where humans can manage themselves with relatively minimal bureaucracy.
Jim: And yes, there are cultural norms and those are either explicit or not, but communities of 150 were able to manage themselves for a very long time without formal rigid, role-based leaders, I mean position-based leaders, I should say. And we make the distinction between position-based leadership and role-based leadership just as the foragers did. If they had the fight the group next door, somebody emerged as the war leader. And as soon as the war was over, they were no longer the war leader. A woman might have been the expert at tuber hunting, right? Finding underground roots that were good and she would lead the tuber hunting parties until some young person rose up and became the better tuber finder and then that person became the leader of the tuber hunt.
Jim: So that’s what we call role-based leadership, but we tend to have the more formal position-based leadership, “You are the CEO. Therefore, you have these powers. You are the CFO. You have these powers.” We still don’t see that as probably how Game B works. So I guess that’s my response is that’s an interesting idea. I’m going to learn more about it. I’ll have to go read Rudolf Steiner or people who write about Steiner and maybe it makes sense one thinking about organizing a nation state, but I think it’s antithesical, antithetical, whatever word, antithetical, yeah, to how you would organize organically at the face-to-face mesoscale.
Seth: Yeah, so let me respond to that. The problem with … I’m writing an article right now called working with social threefolding because Steiner’s work is so broad and he’s speaking into a context a hundred years ago that it can be hard to know where to enter his work. He’s got one basic book. If you wanted to pick up a book, his basic book, Towards Social Renewal, is a great place to start, but the first chapter, for instance, is about the plight of the proletariat in whatever 19th, 20th century Europe. So if people don’t know about what the workers were going through at that time period, it can feel a little bit like, “What am I reading here?” But anyways, that’s not to discourage anybody from reading Steiner. It’s brilliant stuff.
Seth: But yeah, to respond to what you’re pointing to, so the Amish for one and this picture of Facebook for the other, I think we’re in complete agreement actually, I think, but we’ll have to pull it apart a little bit. So Facebook hits you with advertisements. They want you to think certain things. Business, for the last, what, 100, 200 years, has just dominated the other two spheres. So obviously in politics, in terms of lobbyists and the like, it’s just taken over politics, but also culture, it’s dominated culture and it appropriates culture. It says, “Look at this artist or this musician or this sports star represents our brand.” So it just constantly is stealing culture in a way.
Seth: And I just don’t know why anybody at any level would say, “Oh, yeah. No, I prefer to have Facebook tell me what to think and give me advertisements of what they think is cool and stuff like that.” Why would you want business to play that role in your life? If we could devise, if we could design a system, wouldn’t you just say, “Business doesn’t actually know how science should be pursued, how art should be pursued, how education should be pursued. It doesn’t know any of these things, so it shouldn’t weigh in on any of these things”? And that’s just a principle. If there were individuals in a community who said like, “No, we want our business leaders to tell us what to teach or what to draw,” then go for it.
Seth: But it’s recognizing the principal that it doesn’t actually make sense to come from them because of the source that they’re working out of. It also doesn’t make sense for politicians to tell a teacher what their curriculum should be because of the source of what they’re working out of. They’re concerned about human rights. They’re concerned about what’s applicable across the board equally for every single person. They’re not really actually qualified to say like whether or not this teacher should teach the Renaissance or the reformation. They’re not qualified to say what a teacher should teach or what a child needs and what kind of education a child needs because every individual needs very different things. So it should be between the parent and the teacher figuring out like what’s best for this child. Politicians don’t really have much role there.
Seth: So anyways, whether or not we’re talking about at the local community level, whether or not we’re talking about at the nation state level, these principles, it’s a question of, how do we see the role of government? How do we see the role of business? How do we see the role of … There are no major cultural institutions in the same way. The church used to just dominate, but now we have universities that have split off from the church. We have hospitals, we have other cultural institutions doing their own thing, but they don’t have the same kind of power. They don’t have the same kind of consolidation of power that government and business do.
Seth: But coming to the Amish, the Amish are a great example. I don’t know that much about them, but I have friends who live in Amish country that I go visit regularly and I’m thinking about writing an article, so I’m starting to do a little bit of research. But the Amish, they recognized quite early, if we do public schools, which is a nice way of saying, if we do government schools, then our culture’s going to be destroyed. What’s the phrase, Tyson pointed to this phrase that’s behind public education? I don’t remember the exact phrasing, but it’s basically the idea is like, “Let’s make one people. Let’s get everybody on the same page. Let’s erase cultural difference.”
Seth: And that’s been the kind of project of American public education. And if you are one of those cultures, if you’re Hispanic or indigenous or whatever you are or Amish, you want to maintain your own culture, it’s not a good place to do so, to send your kids to public schools and then have them come back and be like, “Oh, yeah, we’re going to be able to maintain a cohesive, powerful cultural impulse.” And the Amish, they do have a cohesive culture. It’s amazing living in the United States where everybody is just everything and then the Amish are the Amish.
Jim: And there’s other ones too. The ultra-Orthodox Jews have done something-
Seth: Yeah, Hasidics are also, yeah.
Jim: And then there are some ones up in Northern North Dakota, Hutterites another. They are radically communal family level communism essentially and religious crackpots of prodigious proportions. But again, they have chosen to insulate themselves from these other things and at the cost. It seems true to the Amish. By the way, the Rutts originally were Mennonites as it turned out long time ago, but they had the-
Seth: No longer.
Jim: They drifted away from Lancaster County, PA around 1800 and gradually drifted to the north and the east and intermarried with the other folks and put all that behind it. But anyway, all three of those groups have considerably lower incomes than average Americans, considerably lower educational levels, certainly Amish do, eighth grades. They’ve grudgingly agreed to send their kids to the government school until eighth grade and not thereafter and many of them now are homeschooling here in rural Virginia where I live. We have a lot of Mennonites and I would say the majority of them are now homeschooling for that reason. But again in Game B land, the way we honor that is through the localism and the higher level concept of coherent pluralism, coherence meaning there’s a few things we all agree to like living for self-actualization in balance with Mother Nature and not exceeding the caring capacity of the Earth, but other than that, there is lots of ways to skin that cat.
Jim: And if you want to do it in an Amish kind of way, that’s cool. If you want to do it in a bizarre California sex cult kind of way, well, I suppose that’s cool too. I wouldn’t bet on that one working, but maybe you can make it work, whatever, right? And so we can almost think of ourselves as encouraging the proliferation of Amish and Hasidic and Hutterite and getting formal and into complexity thinking. We call it a high dimensional search in design space for how to live in these mesoscale communities. And there are probably multiple answers that will work and that is so different than Game A, which as you say, as you point out, the state school wants to crush everybody down to fit one cookie cutter, by the way, to prepare them to be consumer of shiny objects.
Jim: And of course, the United States is far from the worst of those, because at least, we have community control of schools at the county level, a place like France where famously it’s May 5th at 2:30 PM, every student in every school in France, every fifth grader is in the same page of the same math book, getting exactly the same lesson. France is probably the most extreme, Japan isn’t far behind, but this is a manifestation in general of late stage Game A which is to squash differences, homogenize everything and essentially to turn everybody into nice, docile, domesticated consumers.
Seth: Yeah, the picture you’re describing of there are these kind of outlier communities, what it reminds me of is that is the reality. It’s amazing that the Amish, yeah, have survived and these other communities have survived. They have obviously strong religious spiritual impulses, but it’s like thinking about the separation of church and state and now any church can exist within certain limits, but what if we had a state church that was all powerful like some countries. England has a state church, other countries do, but what if it just dominated the religious landscape and had a huge amount of funding from the government, and yeah, how would other churches look in comparison?
Seth: So we don’t have a level playing field. The government just runs government schools and then also other communities haven’t even had a chance. What would it mean if indigenous communities in the United States had said, “I want to start my own school. This community needs to have its own school teaching indigenous spiritual beliefs, indigenous values,” and if there was actually, just imagine a voucher system where every child was given the same amount from the government and then anyone who wanted to start a school within the safety of the law, the law still obviously applies there, could and the only thing that would keep it going is whether or not parents actually wanted to send their children to that school, so if things were really in the hands of parents and teachers.
Seth: So it creates a very different imagination. It’s obviously something that could be possible. It might actually happen because the school system is just collapsing from all the COVID stuff and just, I don’t know, the articles in the podcast I listen to on it are just like, “It’s a dire situation.” So who actually feels inspired to teach is a bit of a question, but maybe I’ll just bring up this other picture because it touches on it. So Woodrow Wilson at the end of World War I really brought this picture of the nation state and obviously that it existed beforehand, but it was a way of breaking up, especially Austria and other countries because Austria had 13 different nations within it, it had all these different groups and so they said, “Every nation should have its own state.”
Seth: And that seems like a really beautiful principle. You’re like, “Oh, yeah. Why should the Serbs not have their own Serbian country? Why should the Hungarians not have their own Hungarian country? Like everybody, why should the Slavs …” So that seems to make sense, but the problem with it is that, in every one of those countries, there are other nations, there are other minority groups. So all of a sudden, you’ve broken apart Austria into 13 different countries and we’ve said, “No, this is Serbia. This is where the Serbs live. So if you’re a Serb living in whatever, like Hungary, come over here because this is where you’ll be able to actualize as a citizen.”
Seth: But that means everybody’s got to move and that just doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen that everybody stays within the bounds of their own little nation state. This is how we can also see Israel. Israel just passed a nation state law where they said, “Jews are the only ones who can self-determine, and so yeah, Palestinians can’t and Arabs can’t.” And then everybody was outraged by this, but this is the idea of the nation state, is that a certain national ethnic group will be able to dominate and create a state that everybody else has to obey. It wouldn’t make much sense if, in Serbia, well actually in Bosnia right now, there’s Serbs in Bosnia who are trying to break off, but if they became the main culture, the main ethnicity, if they took over the government and made it into a Serbian, if it had Serbian values, as opposed to Bosnian values, it doesn’t make any sense to bring our cultural or religious or spiritual values into the government.
Seth: The government should just be the people making rules and laws between each other, regardless of what cultural beliefs a person has, what religious beliefs a person has. So this is one of most radical ideas out of Steiner’s work, is that we should separate all nations and states. But that’s implicit in what I said before. We’re separating culture. We should separate culture in state and economy because they’re all working out of different impulses. They all have different functions. And so to have, yeah, businesses telling people or schools telling people what to think doesn’t particularly make sense. Yeah, that’s a lot of big pictures, but-
Jim: Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah, the nation state is a late invention, right?
Jim: Because if you think earlier, think of the Greek city states, they were all national Greeks, right? They all spoke Greek. Usually, language is the determiner, and yet, they were independent politics. So you could have sovereignty below the nation state level, and then as you point out, for a long time, there were multinational empires. Before World War I, the Russians was a multinational empire, the Turks were, the Ottomans, Austria, Hungary, the British obviously. Even the Italians to a degree had some colonies and the French had some colonies and such that were multinational. And it was the post-World War I ethos of, “You speak the same language, you should have your state,” right?
Jim: As you point out, there’s always the issue of minorities and it’s quite interesting that the nation state vector still is quite strong. Recently Czech and the Slavs separated, the five nations in Yugoslavia, even though they’re all Slavs, there are different style of Slavs and they all split up. Belgium could easily split into the Dutch speaking and the French speaking. They’re on the verge of it all the time. So that force is still pretty strong in nature. And again, to your point about resident minorities, where it’s worked the best frankly is where ethnic cleansing has occurred. The Turks and the Greeks were all interwoven with a lot of Greeks living on the Aegean coast of Turkey, Turks living in the Macedonian region, Thessalonica, etcetera.
Jim: And after the very brutal wars in the early 1920s, there was a movement of millions of people between the two and so now there are essentially no Turks in Greece and no Greeks in Turkey and essentially worked. And of course, after World War II, all the Germans who had been historically scattered all over Eastern Europe as far as the Volga river in Russia, the so-called Volga Germans, were all driven out and driven back to Germany and Germany is now a pretty homogeneous German-speaking country, so ethnic cleansing does work. If you’re going to have nationalism, you probably ought to have ethnic cleansing also as horrible as that is.
Jim: But yeah, you could put that back into a Game B state, but we think the states, to the degree, they need to exist. It shouldn’t be very powerful or even very relevant, right? Because if most of your life is about your face-to-face community and the communities have direct relationships with other communities and then they have business ventures that exist across multiple communities and may be owned by the communities in part or owned collectively by a group of communities, then the power of the state becomes much less. And it may well not matter at all that people speak the same language if they happen to be in the same wrapper. And maybe we will see a return to states at a larger level.
Jim: One of the arguments for that make the states relatively weak but relatively bigger, so they can deal with the few things that state level entities should deal with like the environment, right? If you’re going to deal with the environment, bigger is probably better because a lot of issues span large amounts of geography, things like climate change, water pollution, etcetera, air pollution. But if that’s all they dealt with and most things were taking care of locally or in collective action of multiple localities, it may make sense to have a bigger but weaker kind of nation or state. It may not even be a nation state to your point that may be that this relatively new invention, this obsession with nation states since 1918 may turn out not to be relevant so long as autonomy is mostly pushed down to the local.
Seth: Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely not implicit in the idea of a state. There’s no reason … So you mentioned Belgium, Belgium is a multinational state or a plurinational state. Switzerland also has four different national cultures. So there are some countries that do it differently, but really, in those multinational states, they’re saying, “These three languages, these three cultures are the most important,” and of course, there are other cultures there. Of course, there are people coming up from Africa or Turkey or there’s people coming from everywhere in all of those places.
Seth: So the idea of this state which is the fundamental principle of it is just equality and how do we create laws that apply equally to everybody and are what our community consider right, it doesn’t really matter how the community is constitute. It doesn’t matter who’s there. It doesn’t matter what their ethnic culture is or what their religious culture is. Everybody should come together. I bring it up because the function will always be there. So yeah, whether or not we think of it as a large state, even if it’s just a small community, a small community living off the grid for instance, 20 families or something, still they need to figure out how to govern themselves, still they need to figure out what kind of agreements they’re going to make between each other.
Seth: And that activity … So one of the things that’s really beautiful from Steiner’s work is he recognized that in these three realms of culture, politics and the economy, we cultivate different aspects of the human being. So in the government, we have the possibility of cultivating the experience of equality, but we actually have to participate in government in order to do it. So we talked about all being equals, but we don’t actually have much of a relationship to that. We go to vote every few years, but if I was at Occupy Wall Street and every night there was a general assembly and every night everybody was engaged in the decision-making process, and for all of those people, it was just a wild experience. It was an incredibly empowering experience of engagement in self-governance.
Seth: One time, I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t get out of doing jury duty and I was forced to work, to act in a jury and that was also just really mind blowing for me to actually be a voice amongst a jury of my peers about this person’s fate in the community. What we say, it actually matters. It’s actually existential. We’re actually participating in this kind of self-governance function. And Steiner just points to the fact that democracy needs to make that a reality. We should be actually participating, and in so doing, it’s the place where we can come across the table from people who are culturally very different than us. We don’t need to make everybody culturally the same. If we had a really radically participatory governance function, then we could sit across the table with people who wear very different clothing, speak very different languages, live across the train tracks, have very different economic positions.
Seth: That experience is actually really important for human beings at this point. That’s why we’ve fought for democracy. That’s why we fought for self-governance, so we can actually do it. And then yeah, in the other realms, in the realm of culture, that’s where individuals can actually just become themselves. And so that makes … If you’re meant to become a musician or whatever, that’s where it makes sense to work with your own people, to go to your own church, to go to your own school, to work on your own things in order to get really good at it, in order to be able to bring those capacities, develop those capacities, they’re very specific, they’re very specific to you, and then bring them into the world.
Seth: And just to say, Steiner says, “In the economy is where we can really actually develop the experience of solidarity. We can develop the experience of fraternity between people.” And so yeah, if it’s not a dog-eat-dog capitalist system, so he just points to the fact that the modern economy, based on division of labor, that that sounds terrible in a lot of ways. It leads to specialization people. They’re no longer creating the whole product. They don’t have a connection to the whole thing that they used to … They used to know the customer coming in the door and then they would measure the feet and make a whole pair of shoes by themselves. And there was a certain meaningfulness in that work.
Seth: And now you work in a sneaker factory. You don’t know who you’re selling it to. You’re just sewing in the tongue to that sneaker over and over and over again and there’s no meaning to the work. And so that’s the downfall of the division of labor, but Steiner points to the fact that in every step of the division of labor, if you’re living off the grid by yourself and then somebody moves in next door and you start trading things, all of a sudden it starts leading to interest in the other person, “Oh, you don’t have a vegetable garden. Let me exchange some of my vegetables for your wood.” So in the division of labor, built into it is the human being is forced to become more and more selfless, “The work is less and less for myself. I’m not just producing everything for myself anymore. I’m producing everything for everybody else.”
Seth: And the problem is that we’re working against that by having people work for a wage, and yeah, work for their own interest. That’s the way that capitalism has hijacked the system. And what if we took away that motivation which I know is a big part of Game B and a lot of the discussions you have, what if we try to make it so it wasn’t just everybody was working for their own self-interest but was excited about self-actualizing, bringing their gifts into the world and was actually working for others? How do we actually do that? And you’ve talked about universal basic income. Obviously, that’s a picture there, if people just have the income they need, then they’d start working the work that they found inspiring.
Seth: But Steiner’s picture is that to actually transcend the motivation of self-interest, we have to replace it. That’s an engine that runs our society, our economy. We need to replace it with something else and we can replace it with actual interest in other people. So if we have an actual participatory governance system and we actually have an educational system where we’re learning about, we’re learning about how society actually works and we’re getting fuller pictures, then that knowledge and that experience of other people will replace pure motivation for self-interested motivation. It’s a big task, obviously, but it’s an actual roadmap forward. How do we replace these things? We replace these things, not by just cutting off self-interest, but by, yeah, bringing in something else that can replace self-interest.
Jim: Yup. I think, yeah, the game anecdote, terminology we’re just starting just starting to develop, it’s new, is moving from me to we.
Jim: Move the focus. And again, this goes all the way back to our earliest discussions about human nature. I think we’re skeptical that it’s easy to do that in New York City where you’re mixed up with a random number of people with radically different agendas and perspectives, but in a community of people who have chosen to club together as a community and have reasonably similar values, even though they may look very different, but they have chosen their local operating system together, either they’ve either created it or … Because again, think about Game B in a hundred years, there’ll be hundreds of thousands of these small communities and people will …
Jim: Just the way the Amish kids go out into the world when they’re 17 to see if they might want to become bloody capitalists instead, 97% percent of them come back to the Amish community, I would expect Game B youth to run around and try out various communities and find the one that fits for them. But each one will be quite different and they won’t actually have to be the same, but I … Oh, yeah, God, that’s what I was getting at. Sorry drifted there a little bit, brain fart, sorry. We’ll get back to human nature. And if we look at the history of human nature, we’re somewhat skeptical that this me to we can happen in a strong form in large groups and that the we is really the forager band of 150 people.
Jim: That’s what we were evolved to care about, and yes, we do need … And it is important, if we’re going to save the Earth from melting down, we do need to develop a sense of we about the whole global community, but realistically, what we are engineered to be a part of is the forager band, 150 at the max adults, and so that’s, again, why we have chosen this mechanism for how to build from the bottom up. And what happens above that we’re a little bit less clear about. What kind of self-organization will occur amongst these elements? Will it create a state? It has to create something to manage the large scale commons, but is it the state as we know it today? Not sure.
Seth: Can I poke at the 150?
Seth: I wonder what your experience is because I don’t have a relationship to 250 people. My relationships, as they’ve evolved, it starts off in the family. I know those relationships quite strongly. And then the actual village in town where I grew up, I didn’t really know that many of those people. That’s just not how things are designed anymore. Designed? I don’t know, that’s just not how things go anymore. So I knew some of them. I spent plenty of time in town and I knew the woman who ran the local bakery because I’d go in there and get my donuts and whatever it was. I would know some people in some shops, but I guess I just wonder …
Seth: Yeah, as I said earlier, I got my start in a sense with the local economy stuff, local currencies and yeah, how do we work with land in different way under community umbrella, but obviously, yes, we’ve come from that background where there were tribes or clans or whatever of a certain size and scale, but I don’t really feel that so ingrained in me. What I feel more is like, “How do I develop the capacities to actually take an interest in people?” That’s just not easy for me. I had my friends in college and that was a big group and I still keep in touch with some of them, but I don’t know. At a certain point, that natural friendly way of just doing things, how do I do it consciously now out of my own capacity? How do I actually build community as an adult?
Seth: And just to say, it’s a really interesting example of business just dominating culture is I’m staying with friends in Boston right now. Do you know about B Corps?
Jim: Oh, yeah.
Seth: Yeah, so one of my friends works, yeah, for the B Corps in Boston, whatever their organization is here that they’re doing, but anyways, they’re not here and I was looking through their books and one of them is called The Culture Map. And it says, “Breaking through the invisible boundaries of global business.” So any time I see a book on culture, I’m like, “Great. What’s the story with this book? Is it going to give me an insight into the nature of culture?” And it’s hilarious because this book goes into like, “Okay, different cultures are different from each other and we need to understand that in order to be able to do business together. We need to be able to understand these cultural differences.”
Seth: But why I have to find that book written from a business perspective and I can’t just find that book written from a cultural perspective, we should know about different cultures, how different people, what it’s like to grow up within Japan or Nigeria or wherever it is. What are the different inner states? What’s the different consciousness? What’s the way of relating to the world, that generic conditioning puts on a person? It’s not who that individual is at their heart. Every individual is more than just their generic conditioning, but that generic conditioning is pretty interesting and it’s pretty useful to know in order to be able to take an interest in people.
Seth: And so yeah, I point to it because it’s ridiculous and it comes back to the point that you made, but also just what is the activity that we need to foster in ourselves so that we can actually take an interest in not just the people in our neighborhood, not just the people in our town who think like us, who are part of our Amish community or whatever community, but how do we learn to eventually take an interest in all of these other groups in their specificity, in their vibrant cultural reality, as opposed to just like, “Oh yeah, I like everybody”?
Jim: And you may not like everybody and that might be okay, right?
Seth: Yeah, for sure.
Jim: As I said, we envision Proto-B as being quite diverse, radically diverse in fact. And some of them, any given person may say, “Ooh, I don’t really like organizing a community as a sex cult with a supreme leader,” right? But under Game B philosophy, so long as they were living within balance with human nature and their purpose was some form of self-actualization, they could call themselves Game B. And it’s like, “Ooh, we don’t really like that, right? And they may not like us. Oh, yeah. We’re very egalitarian. We make all of our decisions by consensus, etcetera.” Goddamn fucking hippies, right? And it’s okay for them to have that view, so long as we have protocols that allow us to interoperate with each other, trade protocols, multiple currencies probably for different purposes, etcetera.
Jim: And so I think that, well, at least it’s my own personal view, put it that way, that respecting everybody’s culture is fairly unrealistic and that being chauvinistic for your own culture is probably part of human nature, but knowing how to operate with those other cultures and honor their autonomy, that’s the key. And this is what’s so breaking down in our society today. The fucking wokies are a perfect example of this. They do not want anybody to think or even speak slightly differently than their little rule book and they’re trying to force everybody into this ultra, ultra, ultra-conformity and I’d say that’s the exact opposite of what we’re trying to get at Game B where people could be quite different and I could disagree or I wouldn’t say disagree, I’d say that I think the way I would phrase it, that’s not how I want to live, right? And I live the way I want to live and I’ve chosen to live where I live with the people that have the local social operating system of this sort.
Jim: And it’s quite different from this one over here, but it’s not to say that they shouldn’t live the way they want to live and that we should then have a protocol or a method of interoperating, cooperating together on broader ventures and it’s not our job to critique how they choose to live, even though we would not choose to do so. Of course, that’s very similar to the amazing move that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison made when they wrote one of the most amazing documents of The Enlightenment which is the 1785 Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, because again, as you pointed out, historically, states funded religions or there were state religions of one sort or another and that was essentially the model of the world.
Jim: People like John Locke, a pre-Enlightenment figure, he advocated for freedom of religion, but if you read careful, he basically said, “Freedom of various forms of Protestantism.” He still said, “Goddamn Catholics can’t be trusted. They shouldn’t be allowed to participate.” But Jefferson and Madison, they were Hindus, Muslims, atheists, true mutual toleration. I don’t expect a Hindu to approve of Islam for instance, right? But if you live in an Enlightenment society, you acknowledge that your beliefs, your consciousness is your own business and it’s not my job to tell you can’t be a Muslim just because I’m a Hindu and vice versa. And I see that if we can get that kind of mutual tolerance of how we organize our local societies, we’d be a hell lot better off, and again, that’s another, I think, an important part of how Game B can achieve this coherent pluralism.
Jim: A good example is drugs. I could imagine Proto-Bs that say, “No drugs at all, period. Death penalty, right?” Social death penalty, meaning you’re expelled, right? I could see the other ones would say, “Drugs are mandatory, right? You must trip on acid at least once every 90 days, right?” as a social norm, at least probably not actually a law. But there’s an example of how you could have radically different perspectives on something and both could be Game B and they’re coherent at the level of the community, but they’re plural at the level of multiple communities. And I would say it’s as big a psychological move as going from a state religion to freedom of religion in the Jefferson, Madison case.
Jim: Well, we’re getting up here on our time. We got seven minutes to go. If we go a little over, that’s all right, but so if you have any final things you want to bring forth about Steiner and your work or point the things, organizations, books, let’s head towards the round up here.
Seth: Yeah, the things I would point people to will only take me 30 seconds. So I don’t know if I need to spend too much time on that. Can I ask with what you just shared though the picture of, did you just describe, I think at the end, I didn’t quite get it down, but a coherence at the level of culture in an individual community but then a pluralism in different communities?
Jim: Yeah. Yeah, and a limited coherence across all the communities, the core coherence, right? Live in balance with Mother Nature, develop self-actualization, whatever that means to you, right? So that’s the inner core and then each local community, much higher levels of coherence about all kinds of things, right? And so you have a thin bar across all the communities that’s coherent and then much stronger coherence about a higher dimension, number, longer list of dimensions within each community. But each one makes its own decision on what its coherence looks like.
Seth: Yeah. Maybe just to say in response to it, yeah, what’s interesting about the separation of church and state, as you described it which is a great picture, is that it is a kind of core coherence at the whole level of the United States which is a huge country. And what it allows for is a mobility of cultural coherence at the local level. So people don’t have to stay where they are with the people who think like them. They can move anywhere because there is a freedom, autonomy that you described, yeah, at the core, the thin strata that you’ve described at, yeah, the top of the whole thing. And that is all these things are just, I don’t know, they’re mind-boggling questions for me, obviously, they’re very big pictures, but I definitely understand the desire and … There is a coherence at the local level like, “Oh, yeah. We can figure out how to do things together here,” although that’s even difficult. It’s hard to …
Seth: You described, I watched something that you were describing with the first five meetings of the Game Bers, and then by the fifth one, everybody was having a hard time with each other. And it’s the reality. You’re never going to find a community where you all just agree. So yeah, how do we structure community where it’s all right to disagree? There are certain things that we agree on that are this core coherence, certain laws, certain agreements and one of those being like, “Everybody can pursue the religious or spiritual or cultural development that they want. They can identify however they want to identify and they don’t have to take some sort of script from somebody else that says like, “No, you have to think this way.”
Seth: So anyways, yeah, these are big questions. I’m definitely still wrestling with them. I guess the only place I would shout out is I write. So I used to do a bunch of different types of work. I’ve been working with these ideas for the last 15 years or so, but there’s no school that you can go to learn about them. So I’ve been just really working with them on my own. There’s different institutions, especially financial and economic institutions, a lot of people who are interested in social threefolding, these ideas, Steiner’s social ideas. They go into organizational development or business consulting or whatever because that’s how you can make money and apply them in some way.
Seth: But people who are actually just interested in the big picture and how do we actually bring about civilizational societal change, there’s just not much of an income in there. So for a bunch of years, I just worked on it in the ways that I worked on it but did other jobs and now I’ve started just putting all my energy towards this. So now I … I wrote a course. If anybody’s interested, I wrote a course called Transforming Society. It’s 12 lessons. It’s a distance learning course. People correspond with me. I was asked to do it and that was part of why I really changed direction in my life because I just realized I had to give everything to this if I was going to write this course.
Seth: And the last year I started writing publicly on Substack. The Substack is called The Whole Social, thewholesocial.substack.com. And I try to look at current events through the lens of threefolding. I try to take up the war in Ukraine or critical race theory, any of these things and try to analyze it from a, “Let the phenomena itself speak,” but then just bring the big pictures to it and see how the big pictures look in the light of this issue. I was trying to put something up before this interview because I want to just have an essay on threefolding itself, so that if people are interested more in threefolding, they can go there and find that. And so I’m working on that. It should be up in a day or two. Maybe by the time this comes out, it’ll already be up, but yeah.
Jim: Yeah. We have this on a fast track, so if you get it to us as soon as you get it, we’ll put it on the episode site. It sounds like another Substack I have to subscribe too because I-
Seth: Yeah, there’s a lot of them out there.
Jim: I think last I looked, I’m paying for 18 of them, goddammit and I pruned five that I hadn’t really read recently, but I got room to add another one back. So Transforming Society, how do people find that course?
Seth: Yeah, that’s the organization that asked me to do it. It is called EduCareDo. So that’s E-D-U-C-A-R-E-D-O, EduCareDo. It’s pointing to this threefoldness in the human being, educating, caring and doing. So I think it’s educaredo.com/transformingsociety. But yeah, the Substack people should check out, and if you guys just link to the Substack in your notes, that’s great. I’ll get that essay up there and people can find it.
Jim: Yeah, we will. In fact, that’s the way our show works is most of the things that our producers can find that are referenced in the show, we’ll put links to them on the episode page at jimruttshow.com. Well, I’d like to very much thank Seth Jordan for being the experimental guinea pig on the, Who Are You version of The Jim Rutt Show. This was actually a pretty good conversation considering I wasn’t prepared at all. Fortunately, it was on a topic that I knew a fair bit about.
Seth: Yeah. Super interesting. Thanks so much for having me, Jim. It was great to meet you.
Jim: Yeah, this was wonderful. Thanks again.