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The Social Future

Schmidt Number: S-3891

On-line since: 30th November, 2004



IN the second of this series of lectures I have sketched for you the method of constructing the spiritual, the political, and the economic life. I have then endeavored in the succeeding lectures to describe in detail these three members of the body social and disentangle what has heretofore been considered a strict unity. (a) All that related to law, politics, and affairs of state should be administered in a democratic parliament. (b) Everything relating to the spiritual and intellectual department of life should be detached from the political or equity state, and the spiritual organization should be independently administered in freedom. (c) The economic organization, separated from the political and legal body, should form its own administration, instead of its own conditions and necessities, founded upon expert knowledge and technical capacity and skill.

Now the objection is always raised that such an arrangement of the social organism denies the necessity of building up social lilac as a unity. For every single institution, every separate work which can be achieved by the individual within the social organism, should endeavor to attain to such a unity; and this unity would be broken up, it is said, if any attempt were made to split the social organism into three parts.

This objection is quite reasonable and comprehensible, judged by the habits of thought of the present day. But, as we all see today it can by no means be justified. Yet it is comprehensible, because in the first place we need only glance at economic life itself in order to see how to the smallest details spiritual, political, and purely economic affairs overlap. In view of this state of things it may well he asked: How could a splitting-up, a dismemberment, bring about any improvement? Let us begin by taking the problem of the origin of merchandise, of actual commodities. We shall find that the value of a commodity, of merchandise, is already possessed of a threefold nature, in that the commodity is produced, distributed, and consumed within the social organism; yet this value gives the appearance of a unity bound to the commodity, as we shall see.

What determines the value of a commodity which can satisfy our requirements? In the first place we must have some personal need for the commodity in question. But let us examine how the need is determined. To begin with, it has, of course, to do with our bodily nature. For the bodily nature determines the value of the various material commodities. But even material goods are variously valued, according to the kind of education and requirements of the individual person. Hut where spiritual and intellectual products are concerned — and these are often inseparable from the sphere of the material, physical goods — we shall find that the method of valuing any commodity whatever is absolutely determined by the whole make-up of the human being, and the amount and kind of work he is willing to