Woodstock, New York March, 1997
The ghosts of ancient Rome stalk the halls and chambers of state and federal buildings everywhere. A legislative effort on behalf of cultural freedom is therefore likely to meet with frustration and grief given the present incredible lobbyist nature of this organ of government. Besides, doesn’t the proposition itself contain a contradiction? Is it reasonable to suppose that real freedom can be obtained in a sphere where regulations rule? A legislative effort on behalf of freedom is a kind of capitulation to the ‘benevolence of the despot’; at best, it is a tacit capitulation to a power that can have no healthy interest in the affairs of spirit and of culture. What usually happens is this: another ‘special interest group’ merely gains some modicum of liberty at the expense of the whole-the very opposite of legitimate democratic activity,-and becomes a prime example, similar to religion, of how culture appropriates law for its own end. What actually is wanted in this area is nothing less than an absolute liberty; certainly nothing constrained by law. The question, therefore, as to how to set a limit on state action in the realm of culture is best answered by the judiciary (that, and civil disobedience), as the judiciary always comes out of the cultural/ spiritual life itself; for the judiciary, in the threefold social sense, should never subject to either a political process nor an economic pressure. And every victory here is a victory for all.
Throughout this essay I have agitated conceptually for the de-regulation of governmental licensing laws and the simultaneous self-regulation of the various professions of medicine from within themselves. Thus, the allopathic, homeopathic, naturopathic, and anthroposophical physician (to name but a few!) would answer only to their own profession, and competency and expertise would subsequently be guaranteed by way of certification through the profession itself. Who better to qualify a practitioner than the profession? The state can hardly be in a position to judge matters religious, artistic, educational, scientific and/or medical. The state’s role in the cultural/spiritual life, if any, should be held to civil libertarian issues only. Milton Friedman, in Capitalism and Freedom, writes, “The usual arguments for licensure, and in particular the paternalistic arguments for licensure, are satisfied almost entirely by certification alone. If the argument is that we are too ignorant to judge good practitioners, all that is needed is to make the relevant information available. If, in full knowledge, we still want to go to someone who is not certified, that is our business.”7
The difference between certification and licensure is crucial. The one is a free unfolding of mutual understanding, while the other is a political/legal arrangement. The former accurately affirms a level of competency, while the latter, by restricting the whole, encourages dishonesty. (For instance, the term, ‘alternative medicine’, can only make sense under the present licensure system.) Under a self-governing cultural/ spiritual life, real relations may develop that respect human destiny issues and that allow for the affirmation and maturing of individual conscience. Non-governmental certification stays within its proper sphere, while licensure is an unhealthy abdication of medicine to the state. It is ironic that the word, license, has this dual meaning of both permission and liberty (L: licere/licentia). What kind of liberty is it, then, that must be compulsed by law?
Let me reiterate my point
A new understanding of social evolution rang out at the end of the 1800’s with the words: liberte, equalite, fraternite. The tripartite nature of the modern social-organism was for the first time clearly made conscious with these words: fraternity was to characterize the associative nature of economic activity (socialism); equality was to be the hallmark of human rights (democracy); and liberty, the sine qua non of all cultural/spiritual work. In the unitary state-structure, however, the separate and legitimate role of each becomes alloyed with and confounded by the other, rendering the whole disordered and infirmed. Therefore, as the socialorganism struggles to dis-entangle and articulate these three separate spheres of communal life, the health of this organism becomes inversely proportional to the degree of usurpation of one organ or function by another, and directly proportional to the cohesive independence of each. Today, humanity wants to see reflected in its social institutions an image of its own threefold nature. 8
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“But the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand, which perishes in the twisting; that the State must follow, and not lead the character and progress of the citizen… and they only who build on Ideas, build for eternity.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Current prophylactic law, as it is called, is a testament to the amount of fear still embedded in society; better said, to the amount of fear injected into society by the politically powerful. Power always means power over someone or something. The scepter is never brandished in vain; a show of force is calculated to deter even the most flagrant recidivist. The ‘public welfare’ seems to necessitate, from the state’s point of view, the coupling of power with fear.
Medicine, on the other hand, comes from an entirely different place in the social order. Since the Greeks, it has been identified with eros, or love, and with the general perfection of human nature. Plato and Aristotle both affirmed that the medical relationship was thus an ‘iatrification of philia’, or friendship. Later, this was further extended into Christian charity.
Love needs the condition of a complete freedom in order to unfold; power, to be continually restrained. And as Love is corrupted by power, so is freedom constricted by fear. It is only within the self-regulated cultural/spiritual life that the baneful influence of power and fear can be counteracted by the medical equation of freedom and love. To attempt to heal the sick is not a privilege -at least not a privilege the state can confer,-it is a responsibility that only the individual can enter into freely, or not at all.
Many have taken a long, hard look at the present social situation and correctly concluded: the patient is ill. Few have understood the situation from a threefold, historical perspective. Many clamor for an immediate social renewal-yet secretly believing that everything should remain the same! To say that “before this can change that must change” is an argument for the status quo that could go on forever. The entire cultural/ spiritual life of humanity has, by now, become thoroughly scleroticized by this status quo. And so we continue to tinker with funding issues, with scapegoating the ‘uninsured’, and with ‘managed care.’
The political and economic upheavals of this century certainly signal the need for a new kind of social thinking. Nothing of what served before seems adequate to the demands of modern life. It is only a social thinking that embraces what lives in the spiritual/historical depths that can breathe new life into communal intercourse as a whole, filling with a real enthusiasm the meeting of one person with another.
“Proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all the inhabitants thereof.”
-Engraved on the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, PA
1Rudolf Steiner has written extensively on the threefold nature of the human being, and its relation to the Social Question. After World War I, he wrote, The Renewal of the Social Organism and The Threefold Commonwealth, dealing with the restructuring of society along lines in keeping with historical needs.
2There is some small-talk today about “complementary medicine.” Real complementarity would make licensing laws superfluous; a mere redundancy. But perhaps it will then be claimed-by whom?-that some forms of healing are more complementary the others…..(?) On the other hand, the nominalist would probably like to license everything!
3Milton Kaufman has written a very informative book on the historic battle for medical supremacy called, Homeopathy in America: The Rise and Fall of a Medical Heresy.
4Chiropractors, against all odds, went on to establish their own set of governmental licensing laws; the osteopaths, through compromise, got absorbed into regular medicine; and the Christian Scientists claimed a religious exemption for their healings.
5The following observations were derived from conversations with Joel Kobran, editor for The Threefold Review.
6The fact that it was then two, and not one, is the first signal that homogeneity was breaking down. And with Dutch mercantilism in the 16th century, a third sphere began to open up within the social organism that was so incredibly vital and restless that it soon threatened to overtake a cultural/spiritual life still harkening back to ancient Greece, and a state too heavily saturated by Romanism.
7S. David Young has written a short, well-researched overview of the subject, The Rule of the Expert: Occupational Licensing in America, in which he contends, among other things, that licensing laws are a political process to benefit the few at the expense of the public. It should be obvious by now that the term, “medicine”, as used in this essay is a rather large rubric, including all sorts of adjunctive therapies also presently burdened by law.
8Physically, the cultural/spiritual sphere is related to the nerve/sense system, and the economy to the metabolic/limb system; spiritually, it is reversed.
Robert Stewart, RSHom(NA) CCH
Woodstock, New York March, 1997