THE COMPLETE PICTURE OF SUSTAINABLE AND ACCOUNTABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Based on Rudolf Steiner’s 3-Fold Social Order and his
7 Conditions for Sustainable Human Development
(A short version of this article was published
in the Tasmanian Green Party Magazine “The Daily Planet”)
Previously published by Persephone College of Psychophonetics, Australia
A Foundation document by Yehuda Tagar (draft 1 April 2003)
Human civilization is not completely human until its structures reflect the complete reality of the human constitution: living body, living soul, individual spirit and sustainable economy’. Y.T.
"Is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork?" Stanislaw Lec (Polish poet)
In this foundation paper I wish to place in front of you the possibility of establishing the framework of a ‘4-fold Bottomline’ approach to the evaluation of the viability, sustainability and accountability of all economic and organisational activities, placing them in the context of their actual contribution to human evolution of consciousness and of culture as a whole. The validity of the ‘Triple Bottomline’ principle of sustainable development has been already established at the dawn of the 21st century: it states that an economic projects are only justified if they are responsible and accountable not only for the profitability of their financial bottom line, but also for the benefit of the environmental and social impact on the society in which they operate.
“The triple bottom line is a business concept that posits firms should commit to measuring their social and environmental impact—in addition to their financial performance—rather than solely focusing on generating profit, or the standard “bottom line.” It can be broken down into “three Ps”: profit, people, and the planet”. Kelsey Miller, Harvard Business School Online.
 Yehuda L.K. Tagar is an Israeli, Australian, South African and British psychotherapist, trainer and consultant now living in Slovakia. He is the founder of Psychophonetics, Methodical Empathy, Humanising the Workplace and Applied Psychosophy, director of Psychophonetics Institute International, co-director and dean of studies of PACE – Psychosophy Academy of Central Europe and Skola Empatie, Slovakia. He is the major teacher in the professional training in Psychophonetics-based Holistic Coaching, Counselling, Psychotherapy and Consultancy in English in Slovakia and in other countries.
 Stanisław Jerzy Lec, (6 March 1909 – 7 May 1966), born Baron Stanisław Jerzy de Tusch-Letz, was a Polish aphorist and poet. Often mentioned among the greatest writers of post-war Poland, he was one of the most influential aphorists of the 20th century
 Kelsey Miller, Harvard Business School Online. https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/what-is-the-triple-bottom-line#:~:text=The%20triple%20bottom%20line%20is,%3A%20profit%2C%20people%2C%20and%20the
My major thesis in this foundation paper is that a ‘Triple Bottomline’ and the ‘3 P’s’ are not enough to address the complexity of human beings: we are persons, individuals, striving spirits, and that human social structure and economy should reflect the needs, interests and sustainability of individuals, not only of groups. Therefore the ‘Triple Bottomline’ should expand to the ‘Quadruple Bottomline’ or the ‘4-Fold Bottomline approach, with its 4 P’s: Profit, People, Planet and Persons. Only when the 4th dimension of human reality: the individual, not just the social dimension is included in the evaluation of the sustainability of developmental projects – can this project be considered to be truly sustainable.
I wish to place this thesis in historic as well as in contemporary context and in relation to Rudolf Steiner’s social theory, and to substantiate its potential practicability on the basis of the organisational developmental work grounded in the 7 Conditions for sustainable spiritual development.
Economy was supposed to be the sphere of brotherhood/ sisterhood. Of the three great ideals of the French Revolution which still form the pillars of the rhetoric, if not the actuality of the so-called ‘Free World’, Liberte’, Equalite’, Fraternite’, the third sphere is the most abused, distorted, and stood on its head. ‘Free Market’ came to symbolise the very opposite of the term freedom, as fewer and fewer ‘Royal’ plutocratic families control greater and greater shares of Earth and human resources for their own narrow interests; as the gap between rich and poor nations, communities and individuals, based on such ‘Free Market Economy’ has never been greater; as the shackles of generations of war and exploitation manipulated by the same ever more global economy prevents generation after generation of children to be brought up in the same deprivation of education, health, nutrition and vocational opportunities that sealed the fate of their parents; as the Earth dwindling resources, humanity’s capital, is being mismanaged by an overwhelming majority of governments who have sold the trust of their people to the corporations that control their decision making. There is no doubt in my mind that future generations will view this so-called ‘Free Market Economy’ and its ‘Labour Market’ inevitable component with the same collective shame is we now view the time honoured traditions of the slave trade, the women trade, fascism and apartheid.
In this paper I wish to lay a conceptual framework, based on Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy, for what could be a human modern social order, in light of which to analyse and evaluate present chronic distortions of our present social order. I will observe recent trends of new, balancing emerging social awareness as expressions of the spirit of our time and what I believe are the major preparations for that emergence. The argument will lead to a proposed new approach to the evaluation of the viability, cost and benefit of all economic activities which I term: ‘The 4-Fold Bottom Line’, and to the 7 Conditions of Spiritual Development based on Rudolf Steiner teaching as a fundamental group of standards of sustainable human activities, which could form the foundation for making the 4-Fold Bottom Line a practicable reality for organisations, work-places, business and communities.
Rudolf Steiner’s vision of the 3-Fold Social Order of humanized society
Each of the above three spheres of human civilization was always bound to become one sided without the mutual balancing effect of the two others. Only standing together, with mutual independence from each other, can these 3 pillars support the house of a community that is to be a home for balanced human development. Having lived through the horrors of, in his view, the preventable First World War, and having the insight to predict that greater horrors are in store in near future if current trends are not reviewed, the Austrian philosopher and founder of the Anthroposophical Movement, Dr Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) created his vision of what he called ‘The Three-Fold Social Order’.
He offered it as an alternative option to European policy makers at the end of the 1st World War, as they were disastrously shaping the face of the ‘New Europe’ of that time, based on another American based ‘New World Order, the Wilsonian vision that created the conditions for the Second World War. Rudolf Steiner proposed a new social contract that will based the new social order on the following three pillars:
1) Concerns cultural, spiritual, scientific, artistic, educational, judicial and health would be the domain of the Cultural Sphere of the social order. This is the sphere of Freedom, where the leading principals are freedom of thought, expression and creativity, merit, competence, expertise and the freeing of able people to serve the community according to their gifts, talents, knowledge and professional training.
2) Concerns of human, civil and community rights, the safeguarding of equality, fairness and equal opportunities to all is the concern of the Social/ Political Sphere in this proposed new order. This is the sphere of equality of all people, where the leading principals are equal political representation, freedom of organization, participatory democracy and the law as a social contract of those who are subjects to it.
3) Concerns material, the production, distribution and purchase of goods and services (other than those of the above two spheres) are to be the domain of the Economic Sphere. This is the sphere of Brotherhood/Sisterhood, where the exchange of mutual gifts and needs creates the fabric of human economy through the distribution of labour and the system that makes these exchange sustainable. The leading principal here is to be contracts, initiative, innovation, creativity and competence.
The last of the three was indeed intended to become the true ‘Free Economy’. But in the absence of any recognition of the first sphere of the future social organism, the cultural, spiritual sphere – the free economy became a caricature of freedom. Indeed it became a monster cannibalising its own very foundation. For human economy was never supposed to be a purpose of its own. The exchange of needs and provision, like the fundamental functions of the human physical organism, cannot provide a purpose out of itself. Indeed, the very notion of purpose altogether is a spiritual one. As the bodily functions are designed to serve the development of the living, conscious, free human soul in relationship to other people in a community, so is the economic sphere of activity fundamentally designed to serve the needs of the living, growing soul of the community, its culture and its awareness.
The new Dictatorship of the Economic Sphere - From Two-fold distortion to One-Fold distortion
The greatest tragedy of the western style post-war social order, dominated as it has been by the unfettered materialism of the American based multinational corporations, is the absence of recognition for the Cultural Sphere, the sphere of human freedom, as equal in important to the two other spheres: the economic and the political. In the absence of the secure space for the Cultural Sphere of human society all human concerns continuously swing between the one sided domination of the political or the economic spheres of activity, what became known as the Right versus Left leaning regimes, small-government versus big-government regimes, etc. The bulk of post war superpowers history of the 20’s Century was dominated by these swings, like a house standing on two, rather than three pillars.
At the close of the 20th Century and pronouncedly at the dawn of the 21st Century the situation is progressively becoming worst: the economic sphere which for a century was sharing power with the political one, is taking over completely. No longer swinging between political and business concerns, the political system itself everywhere is progressively rightful context of coming under the domination of the economical, financial sphere of interest, concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. We are becoming progressively a dictatorship of the dominating economic consortiums of this world, with a shrinking space left for any other consideration.
A major example of this distortion is the domination of the mess media by the powers who dominate the economic/financial resources of humanity. Here is an institution which by its very nature should belong to the cultural, intellectual, free sphere of activity, scrutinising and providing a mirror to all other sectors of society – dominated by one sphere of human activity, at the expense of all others. No wonder that the combination of the domination of the media by the economic sphere renders the power of an independent, equality based political/representative sphere into its opposite. As could be observed with helpless disbelief by millions of free thinking people the world over during the period leading to the War on Iraq, the majority of governments found themselves exposed in what some have known for a while: the governments of the leading democracies of the world do not represent the interests of their electing public; they represent the interests of the economic powers who dictate their agenda, using the rhetoric of democratic representation to cover the nakedness of their privatisation to the American based multinational corporations.
The Environmental and Civil Society Movements - new social awareness of the 21st Century
There is a wave of awareness regarding this distortion, al be it in its infancy. Unfettered materialism has blinded people’s free thinking with its greed-based temptation of ever-growing riches and comfort for far too long. Gradually people are waking from the dream of that false promise to realise that most of us have been ripped off by forces who claim more and more power from communities everywhere, with less and less social accountability for the use of that power. As nine million people world-wide expressed their objection to the lies dominating the rhetoric which justified this new colonial was against Iraq, the undercurrent of unease about the domination of the narrow based interest of the distorted economic sphere started to resume a face and a beginning of a language. The long road for balancing the huge social distortion has began. It still lacks a coherent language, philosophy, ideology, articulation and an effective distribution of a growing body of opinion and thoughts. It still hardly knows itself, but it is emerging.
Two major development in social awareness heralded the emerging of the awareness towards balancing the distorted economic dominated social order. The first one came through the environmental movement which came to prominence in the 80’s of the 20th Century, through the growing power of the Green movement, fist in central Europe and later world-wide. Here is a concern that cannot be possibly well served by narrow economic or political interests on their own. Here is a thinking typical of the balancing act of the future 3-fold social order. It significant to notice that only when it started to influence the political system itself through the balance of power impact of a few well organised green parties in some democracies – the political elite had to realise that the old left-right humdrum is not
fulfilling people’s political aspirations anymore. Here was a higher awareness of a common social responsibility finding its voice, challenging business as usual. A huge balancing act started to take place on this front.
A second wave of awareness came to a head in the World Economic Forum in Seattle Washington State in 1999, when people from around the world, voicing their alarmed concerns for environmental, human rights and social justice issues trampled over by the elite-global-economic interest of the few – caused the gathering of the captains of that type of economy to stop their proceedings for a moment. The notion of a global social power which is not narrow politically based or narrow economically based came into being: the new Civil Society Movement. The real new world order is finding its voice, and gradually its language.
The hidden role of the Spiritual Sphere in current social developments
It could be observed, in light of the notion of the above outlined 3-fold social order, that the Environmental movement is focused primarily on the sustainable usage of the Earth resources, namely the broad common interest of the true Economic Sphere, threatened by the imbalanced domination of narrow economy of the elite, while the second wave of new social awareness, the new Civil Society, is focusing primarily on the threatened interest of the true Social, or Rights Sphere, threatened by the same one sided force. The question could be asked: where is the new expression of the repressed Cultural/Spiritual Sphere in modern time?
The simple answer is that the expression of the most repressed sphere of human activity, the one rendered most disempowered during the 20th Century, has not yet found its true voice, language and movement. But a deeper observation can reveal its working behind the public scene.
In both cases of the above mentioned expressions of the new gathering forces, the new social movement came into being out of the free thinking of individuals who managed to overcome the dominant Opinion-Shaping’ of the modern mess media, dominated systematically by the multinational corporation who lead the above distortion. Free thinking of individuals, critically reviewing the dominant paradigm of their time, making use of the freedom they still have, managed to galvanise global support for a new approach to sustainable human development, free of the domination of the narrow economic interest of the powers of our time and of the mess media that they own and control.
Early preparations for the current emergent of new social consciousness
Just in passing, two earlier social movement, one more lowed than the other, which in my view, have prepared the ground for both the environmental and the civil society movements could be acknowledged here, without any attempt to do them justice. The first one is the women liberation movement of the 20th Century, gathering momentum in various forms right throughout that century with huge public achievements. This movement in its maturity brought to the forefront more than equality between men and women, but in its deep form a feminine, caring, nurturing approach to the study of societies, human services, evolution, arts and culture in general. I see the environmental movement as directly related to this more feminine approach to social thinking.
The second, less public undercurrent movement of renewing society during the last century is the personal development movement, arising out of existentialism, making its mark through the emergent Third Force in modern psychology, humanistic and later Transpersonal psychology, emerging through the personal growth and the personal development movement world wide, expressing itself through a huge expansion of non-denominational spirituality, both East and Western in origin. It expressed itself through a new sector of adult education, especially from the 70’s, whose focus was not professional or vocational in purpose, but personal development as such, manifesting human potential. It expressed itself through a new appreciation of the spiritual treasures of the oppressed indigenous people everywhere whose values and contribution have been trashed and put down for most of the 19th and 20th Centuries. It expressed itself through the growing claim that science itself can be broader than the limited, reductionist, mechanical approach to the understanding of nature. It expressed itself through the revival of lost traditions of natural health care, natural whole food, of education that is freer of the traditional western values based ethno-centristic domination, freedom of religion and of spiritual expression. All these are symptoms of the same hidden, relatively repressed sphere of human activity: the free cultural/spiritual sphere, still in its infancy, still operating under the powerful domination of the two other spheres: the political sphere, primarily in the East, and the economic sphere, primarily in the West.
The Triple Bottom Line
One of the most evolved expression of the balancing new awareness of the social order is the growing notion of the 3-Fold Bottom Line. Very simplistically put, it is the assertion that the evaluation of the viability of economic projects and activities on the basis of the financial bottom line only is a distortion of the reality and of the true value and viability of these projects and activities. This approach claims that the validity of all economic activities must take into account in the ‘Broad Balance Sheet’ the environmental and the social costs and benefit, for a true picture of the values of these activities. It claims that all economic activities have a lasting effect on the long-term Capital Investment’ of natural and human resources, and that a success of any project must be measured in light of the overall profit and cost it had created to the natural and the social environment in which it has taken place, not just in light of its impact on the financial investment that directly enabled it, measured by a financial balance sheet of profit and loss. Hence the notion of the ‘Triple-Bottom Line’, as opposed to the ‘Single’ or financial bottom line. According to this approach every human activity must be expected to be accountable to the parameters of success and failure based on these three bottom lines of evaluation, the financial, the environmental, and the social.
This conceptual development, progressively taking roots in the political thinking of scholars and policy makers in evolving societies, is by itself a sign of our time, a fruit of the free thinking of those who have established within themselves a freedom from the domination of both the political and the economical spheres. This is a fruit of the Spiritual Sphere of activity as such.
But because of the chronic neglect of the Cultural/ Spiritual Sphere of human activities and the total lack of recognition for it in 20th Century thinking – it could only influence events from behind the scene, indirectly, with no real power in the round tables of the day. Strategic planners, policy makers and social academics, researchers and advisors –all passed it by and ignored the interests of spiritual cultural/sphere in their deliberations, as they were shaping our social homes. It was never properly represented. It remained a private affair in the life of individuals. The cultural spiritual dimension of human affairs was allowed to become a social formative force in western democracies during the 20th Century.
The weakness of the spiritual sphere resulted in its inability to become a formative force in the shaping of the modern working place. The most tragic outcome of this neglect is that the modern workplace does not see it as its task to be a major opportunity for the personal/ spiritual development of individuals. Our modern economy totally excludes, both in theory and in practice the spiritual economy of the individual human being as an evolving being. As a result people are forced to evolve mostly in spite, rather than because of the range, the type quality of the economic and vocational activities available to them in what passes for modern economies.
The neglect of the Spiritual Sphere in the social structure inevitably leads to the neglect of the spiritual sphere in the life of individuals.
Spiritual/ cultural development of individuals should have been the main game of modern civilization, not something taking place in the left-over time and energy when all “serious” activities have made their claim on human time, energy and attention.
It is at this point that I wish to put forward the notion of the ‘4-Fold Bottom line’, which, in my view, complement and complete the framework for the new evaluation of all economic activities in the economy of brotherhood/ sisterhood, in light of the 3-Fold Social Order, based on Rudolf Steiner vision of the future, humanized society of our time.
The 4 Bottom Lines of economic activity
The fundamental idea of the 4-Fold Bottom line is the following:
In light of Anthroposophy, the human being, from a certain point of view, comprises 4 dimensions of being, levels of existence, component of an integral system: The Physical Body, The Life-Body, The Soul-Body, and the I. All aspects of human function are based on one combination or other of these 4 principal human sheaths. More details on this outlook are to be found aplenty in all Anthroposophical literature.
Based on these 4 levels of existence, every human activity is originated from and is impactful on all these 4 levels of a person’s life and also of the life of the community collectively. These 4 dimensions of existence are therefore to be seen both as the resource for all human activities, including the economical, and the levels effected by these activity, beneficially or otherwise. The sustainability of each activity or project therefore must be evaluated in light of their effect on all 4. Let us define them:
1. The 1st bottom line: Physical level – impact on financial resources: return on investment, profit or loss
2. The 2nd bottom line: Environmental/ Life Forces level – impact on the environment: level of renewability of resources used in the process, pollution/contamination of natural resources, waste management, etc.
3. The 3rd bottom line: social level – impact on the social capital of the community in which the activity is taking place, level of contribution to local, social and economic services, proportion of profit re-invested in the community, value added to local properties and quality of life.
4. The 4th bottom line: spiritual/ personal developmental level – impact on the personal and spiritual development of the individuals involved.
Only when on all 4 scores an economic project or activity is successful, profitable and sustainable – should this activity or project be regarded as viable.
The 4th Bottom line
Millions of men and women give the bulk of their energy, creativity, precious allotted time on Earth, intelligence, attention, thoughts, will and hopefully a fair amount of emotionality to their work. For some this is business, investment, economy, production, an abstract GDP. But for most working people this is their life. If the main game of it all was the physical existence, then the financial remuneration for their labour would be the only concern in monitoring the value of human work. This is the single bottom line approach. But if the main game in human life is unfolding human potential, personal, human, moral, social, cultural and spiritual development – then work, which take the bulk of time and energy of working people, must be also one of the main opportunities for them to pursue the main endeavours of their human development.
The 4th bottom line in monitoring the value of any economic activity is: to what extent does the activity in question provide for the workers who carry it the opportunity for unfolding their human potential in terms of personal growth, on-going learning path, spiritual and social development. It is a call for accountability of workplaces to their obligation to honour their responsibility in claiming the bulk of people life forces, time, intelligence, spirituality and energy – by giving them in return an opportunity to grow as human being while they carry the objectives of the operation they serve.
In many workplaces professional, and progressively personal development requirements are expected of workers in order to serve the interest of the workplace. This is to say: workers are expected to change in order that the organisation can grow and prosper. The 4th Bottom Line approach is the reverse of this expectation: it expects workplaces to change in order that the people working in them can grow and prosper as people. To do so may cost the workplaces something. But then, to pay workers salary also costs the workplaces something, and so would the care for the environmental and the social obligations of responsible workplaces. To do things well costs, but it also pays. It makes the whole activity sustainable, ethical, accountable, and profitable in the highest sense of the term.
Increasing number of organisations and corporations take pride in claiming that they behave responsibly (on a voluntarily basis only at this point) in terms of their environmental and social responsibility. A lot of it is PR rhetoric, but some of it is real. Legislation, in most cases following public perception trends rather than leading it, gradually establish social consensus about these responsibilities, often only in order to be regressed by the next election through a different set of politicians. But when the standard of the 4-Fold Bottom Line will be adopted by an organisation, this organisation will be able to take pride in making the following claim: “through working for us you will be given a high quality opportunity to grow as a human being, and a social being, as a spiritual being, not only in as much as these serve the purposes of our organisation, for in as much as these serve the highest purpose of unfolding your human potential for its own sake. Such is our obligation to our workers”. This is to be the head-hunting language of the future.
Monitoring the 4th bottom line – the 7 Conditions for sustainable personal and spiritual development
For all the above to become a practicable approach to evaluating workplace structures, procedures and practices – some solid parameters for the evaluation the 4th Bottom Line of an economic or human service activities are required, just as they are required in regards to the environmental and the social bottom lines.
It is at this point that I wish to introduce the 7 Conditions for Spiritual Development, articulated by Rudolf Steiner in his foundation book ‘Knowledge of the higher Worlds’, a manual for sustainable unfolding of human potential. Steiner presented these conditions as a modern day articulation of principal for leadership training or initiation in the ancient mystery centres of both East and West. The commitment to the 7 conditions for the aspirant of spiritual development is proposed by Steiner as the conscious shift from conventional life into life as a path of spiritual development.
I have worked with these 7 conditions for over 30 years, primarily for my own development. In time this work gave rise to the creation of Psychophonetics, a method of awakening to the reality of human experience, of transforming and healing it, and of manifesting the deeper human resources for creation. The training in the 7 Conditions form the bulk of the 4 term of the first year of the Advanced Diploma of Psychophonetics at Persephone College internationally. They form the threshold to the would be practitioner of this modality between personal development and healing as such and the vocational path of the counsellor.
In recent years I have been adopting them into a broad framework for organisational consultation. I here propose the 7 conditions for spiritual development as the parameters for the evaluation of the 4th Bottom Line of all economic and organisational activities. They are very practicable. Following is a short description of the 7 Conditions applied to organisational development, as an articulation of my training and consultation work at Persephone College:
In conclusion: I believe that the above standards of sustainable organisational development provide a solid and a methodical form of evaluation of the 4th Bottom Line of monitoring the broad profitability, sustainability and accountability of progressive organisations and workplaces, choosing to adopt the 4-Fold bottom Line approach. They who will adopt the above conditions as an organisational-human contract for the conduct of their operation - will be well ahead in the process of re-humanising the modern workplace for the future of humanity. In them human beings will be assured of acting as free carriers of human development as a whole, rather than as cogs in a machine. I have no doubt that such workplaces will benefit from this upgrade in the long term on all 4 levels of the bottom line.
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