Chapter Two
THE SOCIAL CYCLE


Social Psychology And Theory Of History
The Social Cycle
The Dialectics Of The Social Cycle
Synthesizing A New Vision Of History
The Role Of Moral Leaders And The State Of Permanent Social Synthesis


Section One:
Social Psychology And Theory Of History

Based upon the relationship formed by the human mind with the natural and social environment, we can identify four different social groupings or behaviors. Each group has a different relationship with its environment and therefore develops different mental tendencies. The first group (the masses) are overwhelmed by the psycho-physical waves of reality. Unable to contend with it, this group spends its energy simply trying to exist. The second group (the warriors) commands the psycho-physical reality by physical force. The third (the intellectuals) commands by psychic (mental) force and the fourth (merchants) commands by controlling the manufacture and exchange of psycho-physical objects.

In Sanskrit, these groups are called varn´as. The concept of the varn´as is a valuable model for analysis of class dynamics. This model applies more toward social analysis than for the understanding of individual psychology, where more complex laws exist. It is both fundamental as well as general, and it is important to not apply it simplistically and rigidly toward individuals.

The concept of the four varn´as leads to a new theory of social dynamics and historical analysis unique to PROUT. This theory holds that, at any given time, society will be dominated by the psychology and administration of a particular varn´a. It is further held that social change occurs in a cyclic fashion. Together these ideas are referred to as the Theory of the Social Cycle, which elaborates the transformation of society as the predominant values and power base shift from one varn´a to the next in a cyclic manner.

PROUT theory of social grouping differs from the caste system of India which, although using the same terms, locks people into a class structure by birth. In our theory, varn´a is only a psychological disposition based upon ways and means to survive and prosper in a given environment. Our theory also differs from the western grouping of social classes based upon income levels.

First we will examine the four groups in our theory, and then give a brief historical analysis from this perspective.

The first group (the masses or shúdras) displays the characteristics of the undeveloped human mind dominated by the material and social environment and by basic instincts. The shúdra mind lacks vibrancy due to its preoccupation with materiality. There is little original expression of higher ideals or culture. Of course, the shu’dra mind of the modern era is obviously more developed than the shúdra mentality of the dark ages, or of the prehistoric era. Hence, the varn´as are relative categories. Basically the shúdras are those who have few aspirations and little mental dynamism. They live according to the pressures of material conditions and the dominant trends of the collective psychology. Shúdra psychology is essentially the mass psychology. It requires the guidance and inspiration of those with more developed minds who actually define the direction and momentum of the collective psychology.

On the individual level, every mind possesses a mixture of and the potential for all the four varn´as - though one psychology tends to be dominant.

The second varn´a (warrior or ks´attriya) is constituted by those with the warrior mentality. They have a fighting spirit. They display bravery and embrace challenge and struggle. On a rudimentary level, the warrior mind seeks to establish domination or control over matter through physical valor. A warrior-dominated society may place great emphasis on social values such as honor, discipline, self-sacrifice, and responsibility or, in a negative sense, on blind adherence to authority, ruthlessness, and competition. Most societies of ancient history, certain medieval societies like the Arabic Muslim society, and various military and communist societies of the modern age are examples of warrior dominated societies.

The intellectual class (vipras) constitute the third varn´a. Those with developed intellect, who seek to influence the external or social environment by virtue of their mental faculties constitute this class. Scientific, religious and cultural achievements are the products of the intellectuals. Intellectual eras are characterized by the social and political rule of the intellectuals, ministers, or clergy (whether in a monarchy, democracy, theocracy, etc.). Here religious, cultural, and intellectual pursuits dominate the collective psychology. The Hindu and Buddhist societies of the Far East and the Catholic Church dominated Europe of the middle ages, and some of the present day fundamentalist Islamic states are essentially intellectual societies.

The fourth social class is that of the merchants (vaeshyas). This is the mercantile or entrepreneurial class that excels in the handling and accumulation of resources. Modern history, which crystallizes with the Industrial Revolution, continues to be dominated by the psychology of this class. Just as the warriors dominated ancient history, and the intellectuals dominated the middle ages, so the merchants dominate modern history.

The beginning of any age is characterized by great dynamism on all levels - politically, culturally, economically etc. as the new leadership frees the people from the oppressive institutions of the old order. The age peaks in a golden era as the new class overcomes the obstacles of the old order and solidifies its control over society. In time, however, social decline again occurs as the dominant class increases its power at the expense of meeting the basic needs of the people. Social unrest builds as the exploitation becomes more systematized.

In this way, the merchant class brought great dynamism to a society suffering under a corrupt priest class and the feudal system of the Holy Roman Empire. The golden age of modern history is probably the period of Pax Americana. Now, however, the era of the merchant is beginning to exceed its welcome. As the dominant class seeks to expand its wealth and power beyond the bounds of governmental jurisdiction, they do so at the expense of greater numbers of people, the majority of whom losing purchasing capacity and many are unable to meet their basic survival needs. In this decline, the labor of the masses, the martial abilities of the warriors and the mental powers of the intellectuals become increasingly enslaved to the will of the merchants (capitalists), who have an iron control over their wages and livelihood. Political rule is also determined by "behind the curtain" capitalists who hold the true, financial power. All capitalist societies are in this condition now. This is illustrated by the absolute dependency of political leaders on “big money” in order to finance their election campaigns. Though constitutional democracy was a positive development of the merchant age, as practiced today, it is little more than a tool for control of national economies by the international financial giants.


Section Two:
The Social Cycle

The theory of social cycle holds that the natural sequence of historical eras always progresses from shúdra (laborer) society to ks´attriya (warrior), followed by vipran (intellectual) and then vaeshyan (merchant). Subsequently, a new social cycle follows. One may object that a cyclic view of history doesn't acknowledge the potential for human progress, but we are not suggesting that we are continually moving in circles, constantly retracing our steps. Rather, the true movement of the social cycle may be likened to a spiral movement; it is circular, but moving in a definite direction, making definite progress. This progress can be recognized as movement toward a greater expansion of consciousness.

Historically, the period from the evolution of human beings out of animality until the formation of stone-age societies constitutes the shúdras era. In this era, human beings were highly dependent upon the forces of nature, living almost as slaves to the material conditions. Through clashes with the hostile environment, and through inter-group conflict over scarce resources, the human mind slowly grew in complexity, capacity, and strength. Confidence, bravery, and the capacity to rule and dominate the material and social environment developed in some human beings. In the beginning this was expressed mostly through physical force, and it brought about the age of domination by people of the warrior mentality. This was the beginning of human society in a higher sense. As the clan system evolved, unity, discipline and a sense of social responsibility developed slowly, resulting in the advancement of social structure. This early period of the warrior age was led by women in their role as clan mothers. It is necessary to understand the great contribution made by women to human history since they guided human society for nearly 1 million years - from the birth of humans to approximately 10,000 years ago when patriarchy had its first expression.

In the struggle of warrior societies against the forces of nature and each other, the intellectual power of human beings developed, and the ingenuity of the emergent vipras resulted in the earliest scientific achievements, such as the making of fire, the bow and arrow, needle and thread, the plow and pottery, as well as advances in animal husbandry and agriculture, etc. As a result of this long process the vipras enjoyed higher and higher prominence in society, and became the most valued assets of the ks´attriya leaders. Warfare also became a more complex affair as tactics and strategy became as important as valor and skill. Without the contribution of greater intellect, victory in warfare became impossible.

In the second half of the first ks´attriya era, men broke with the matriarchal order and established a new system based upon male dominance. This new system was institutionalized by the establishment of marriage, private property and the creation of city states. Religion replaced Magic as the dominant social outlook and leadership passed from the tribal counsel to the warrior king. This transition paved the way for the great empires of ancient history -- the Aryans, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Egyptians, Macedonians and Romans to name a few.

Over time the intellectual ministers and priests gained increasing importance. With the vipran age, the personal authority of the warrior kings became less important as the social administration became increasingly based on scriptures and laws. Through different social, religious and scriptural injunctions, intellectuals in the roles of ministers, priests, law-givers or sages began to rule the society and shape its development.

It is in this vipran stage of the social cycle that the cultural life of society flourishes, and human beings attain new heights of awareness and mental development under the influence of benevolent vipras. Solidification of cultural, religious and governmental institutions occur within the golden age of the vipran era; and under the auspices of these institutions, science, art, and the other branches of knowledge flourished. The early Buddhist ages of India, China, and Southeast Asia all illustrate this, as do the European middle ages with their monastic centers of learning.

In time, the vipran class also becomes oppressive as its concern for the perpetuation of its own material and social privileges becomes more obsessive. To maintain their dominance, one of the most powerful tools historically resorted to by viprans is the injection of superstitions and various psychic complexes into the minds of the other classes. This includes the relegation of women into subservient roles. Male dominance rose to new heights as women were persecuted and infected with inferiority complexes. Women were barred from education in the first vipran era, both in Oriental and Occidental societies.

Gradually, their preoccupation with comfortable living and privilege led the vipras into greater subservience to those possessing wealth - those who had the capacity to buy their land and begin to employ them in their service. In this way, the merchant class slowly grew, infusing new dynamism into the society as it rose. At it gained power it created new social and political machinery to allow it greater freedom. The skillfulness and pragmatism of the vaeshyan class gradually overcame the quagmire of superstitions and decadent institutions constructed in the late vipran era. Proto-democratic movements which led to the House of Commons in Great Britain, the French revolution, etc. and a slow decrease in gender inequality marked the Vaeshyan era in Europe and its colonies. European (and later Japanese) imperialism, however, also traces its inception to the Vaeshyan era. Every thing a merchant sees, even a human being, gets reduced to an element for the increase of profit. This vision began to take hold over society as the trader class, initially under the patronage of the Church or rebel nations like England, utilized the martial qualities of the ksíattriya class to pirate other ships and colonize the world. The goal was simply to extract its resources, including human slaves to perform the labor of production. In this way all the industrialized nation-states of the world were built by the merchant class.

In the decline of the merchant age, the economy is pushed toward greater efficiency within the corporations in the effort toward profit maximization. Employment and purchasing power of the working people suffers. The environment is destroyed as consumerism is relentlessly perpetuated. Money becomes highly centralized and begins to circulate less in the society as purchasing capacity diminishes. Those who are intellectual or warrior minded, become reduced to the economic condition of shúdras. Under increased pressure due to market failure and increased difficulty to meet their basic necessities, the people under the leadership of these disgruntled intellectuals and warriors will eventually rise up and begin to take economic and social relations into their own hands. This initiates the end of the merchant era and the beginning of a new shudra era. Though technically speaking, a shudra society emerges in the wake of the overthrow of the vaeshyan order, this shúdra era (essentially anarchy) lasts only as long as it takes the leadership of the revolution to solidify their power. The workers' revolutions of the communist countries, beginning with Russia, represent this stage of the social cycle: vaeshyan rule ended by shúdra revolution, resulting in a new, ks´attriya dominated society. In this way, the cyclic motion of society continues, and humanity enters the second spiral of the Social Cycle.


Section Three:
The Dialectics Of The Social Cycle

The Social Cycle moves in perpetual rotation. Based on the psychological characteristics of the different classes (varn´as), we can detect distinct ages in the history of different societies. Each age is characterized by the social and administrative domination of one of the classes. The dominant class psychology determines the dominant values and social psychology of that age. As a rule, at any given time in the history of a certain society, only one class is dominant. In human history, thus far we have categorized four ages. These are the ages of the shúdra, ks´attriya, vipra and vaeshya. Taken together they constitute one complete spiral of the Social Cycle.

Within each spiral there is also a dialectical movement which accounts for the birth, maturity and death of an age, leading to the birth, maturity and death of the next age and so forth. The life span of an age, or for that matter, any social structure can be graphed accordingly:

In actuality, the social cycle does not always move smoothly forward, but rather moves in a systaltic manner. There are periods of social movement followed by periods of relative pause. When society is in a state of ultimate stagnation, having little vitality or positive momentum, it is termed "systaltic pause." It is in this state, due to great suffering on the part of the people, that new inspiration and ideas emerge, ideas which are antithetical to the stagnant existing framework. When such an "antithesis" develops sufficient strength, the existing social structure is fundamentally changed by the dynamism of the new ideas. This initial stage of change and dynamism is referred to as "manifestative motion." When a new synthesis is achieved by the strength of the manifestative movement, the state of "manifestative motionlessness" occurs. This pause is the apex of social movement, its golden era or the period of its greatest vitality. The strength of this synthesis rests upon the strength of the ideas upon which it is founded. Eventually it begins to deteriorate, however, because the dominant class is able to systematically exploit the other classes, leading to oppression and stagnation. This results in its decline. After some time, its downward motion culminates in its “systaltic motionlessness.” In this period new ideas incubate and pressure is created by the oppressed for a new order. The systaltic motionlessness of the old order is also the same period as the “retardative motionlessness” of the new order.

Thus, every age of the social cycle will begin with a formative dynamic phase, in which new vitality is infused into the social structure. Society attains a sustained peak subsequently followed by decline and staticity, usually accompanied by rampant exploitation. The antithesis of the stage of systaltic pause then emerges from a different varn´a dominating the next phase within the social cycle.

Types of Social Movement: Within this general pattern there are all sorts of small changes and fluctuations, (theses and antitheses), which do not substantially alter the basic social and political fabric. There are also periods of more substantial change which can be referred to as social evolution or counter evolution. Evolution refers to dynamic periods of progressive social change (forward motion in the social cycle), while counter evolution refers to the opposite - times of regressive backlash (regressive movement in the social cycle). The equal rights movement or the women’s movement in the United States illustrates normal social evolution. An example of counter evolution is perhaps the cultural revolution of Maoist China, in which the budding vipran class (the "petty bourgeois") was rooted out by the dominant ks´attriya class, temporarily thwarting the transition to the vipran era.

There are also periods of dramatic change characterized by the application of tremendous force; these are referred to as revolution (when the social cycle moves forward) and counter revolution (when such changes revert the social cycle to the rule of a previous varn´a). The communist workers' revolutions are examples of revolution, as they caused the exploitative vaeshyan governments to give way to shúdra revolution. The efforts by the CIA to prevent self-reliance movements in Mexico and South America represent examples of counter-revolution.

Counter evolution and counter revolution can only be short lived; the natural movement of the social cycle cannot be checked indefinitely. This theory holds that the forward motion of the social cycle is inevitable. Counter motions are always regressive, as they revert society to a stage of the social cycle which had already reached the point of stagnation or degeneration.

The Mutual Influence of Civilizations: Human society is comprised of so many factions, nations, and states - so many past and present civilizations. These civilizations and sub-civilizations may at times be in different stages of development, and their mutual contact affects the movement of their social cycles. For instance, many societies which were still in predominantly vipran eras rapidly moved into vaeshyan eras under the influence of colonialism (such as in India). This type of mutual influence makes analysis of the social cycle more complex. Nowadays especially, with the rapid growth of international exchange and communication, the mutual influences have become extremely complicated. Most of the nations of the world have been heavily affected by the vaeshyan age of the West, beginning with the advent of colonialism and culminating in the present multinational market economy. Even the communist and the former communist nations have been heavily effected. Because of the globalization of the West's vaeshyan age, the next ks´attriyan age, while breaking away from the global economy through decentralized power struggles, will most likely retain momentum toward a global human culture.

Bloodless Revolution: In PROUT theory, the structural death of a social system need not mean the death of human beings per se. It is theoretically possible to have a bloodless revolution in which an entire new system rises from the fall of the old system. This could happen if, in the process of assimilation there is the possibility of vibrational adjustment. That is, if the ruling class of the old system is willing to relinquish sufficient control of wealth and power in order to meet the requirements of the new age. In this case, and to whatever extent this is possible, the individual and collective structures have a greater chance of acquiring more inherent vitality.

The Role of Individuals in Social Transformation: A society is a composite of individual human beings. The totality of various individual flows of movement constitutes the collective social movement. Each individual flow is influenced by the collective flow. It is impossible for individuals to move exclusively according to their individual inherent momentum. In some instances, the individual strives to maintain adjustment with the collective flow and, in other instances, he or she strives to move faster or slower than it. Society slows the individual momentum by virture of its rules, regulations, mores, and a host of other road blocks.

The trough and crest of the collective flow is shorter than the trough and crest of the individual's flow. And this shortness of the collective wave-length in relation to the wave-length of the individual sets the stage for evolution or revolution as the number of individual's who want social change increase.


Section Four:
Synthesizing A New Vision Of History

While the Theory of the Social Cycle shows great promise in articulating the movement of human society, it is still undeveloped and requires much research to add details to the structure. Social phenomena and historical trends are very diverse and complex in their expression. Art, politics, economics, religion, philosophy, science, technology, music, dress, and customs all must be integrated into a holistic vision and understood as an expression of the prevalent socio-psychology.

It is a complicated process especially when there is not always consonance in these different fields of human endeavor. Usually a new social psychology will appear first in the subtler fields of art, culture or science while in the fields of economics and politics an older psychology may linger on, dominating the social structure until the transformation is complete. Hence, in transitional periods it is not an easy task to assure whether a certain time is dominated by the former social psychology or already by the new social psychology. The expression of a certain social psychology (varn´a) may also be quite different in the beginning of its age, during its youth, at the time of maturity, and in its old age or period of degeneration.

Our historical records are also lopsided, eulogizing the ruling personalities - kings, ministers, and political leaders - giving little attention to the way of life as experienced by the so-called common people. The internal dynamics of the ruling class itself may also be poorly or only partially understood so far. Hence, further historical research must be undertaken with the specific aim of elucidating the social cycle.

Notwithstanding the complications involved in historical analysis, the value of the social cycle is illustrated by its predictive ability. The rise of student and intellectual dissident movements in China and the former USSR, not to mention the various uprisings in the former communist Eastern European nations illustrates the tendency for the warrior (ks´attriya) era to move toward an intellectual (vipran) one. Counter evolutionary measures were enacted by the ks´attriya regimes, but as predicted by Proutist dialectics, these could not last indefinitely.

Another important point to recognize is that the Western nations should expect to reach the point of revolution eventually, ending the era of multinational corporate capitalism. In some less developed nations, this has already occurred and it is starting to occur elsewhere. The Zapatista rebellion of Mexico, a ks´attriya led shúdra (peasant) revolution, is an example in point. Though temporarily checked by the strength of the capitalist (vaeshyan) status quo, it can be expected to surface again in strength. The revolts against vaeshyan dominance occur first in the less developed countries due to greater exploitation and greater disparities in wealth. It is also important to realize that these revolutions and changes may not always be socialist or communist - a different ideology could also serve this purpose. The social cycle must move forward: proletariat (shúdra) revolution is indeed inevitable, but communism as envisioned by Marx is not inevitable, and for practical purposes it has already lost its dynamism and appeal.


Section Five:
The Role Of Moral Leaders And The State Of Permanent Social Synthesis

We have seen that, in the flow of history, different classes of the human society become dominant and that their leadership changes from a progressive phase into an exploitative phase. This is due to the limited interests of the leadership, whose vision is constrained by the parameters of a specific social psychology. It is due to this limitation that the movement of the social cycle is not smooth; there is revolution and counter-revolution - a stop and go movement which greatly retards the synthetic movement of the whole society and often brings it to the brink of disaster. Is society doomed to continue the internal contradiction of opposing class interests? Is the cycle of progress, exploitation revolution and subsequent human suffering inevitable?

PROUT philosophy envisions the establishment of a quasi-permanent social synthesis under the guidance of spiritual-intellectual leaders called sadvipras (literally, spiritual-minded intellectuals). Sadvipras are those who by virtue of their physical, mental, and spiritual efforts have developed the positive qualities of all classes combined. Guided by a universal ideology and spiritual practices, they have the courage to fight injustice and exploitation. Sadvipras are those whose every action is devoted to self-realization and the betterment of society. By personal example, they are able to inspire and lead the society forward in a synthetic and progressive way. Mr. P. R. Sarkar, the original propounder of PROUT, defined sadvipras as "those who are deeply spiritual, who love human beings above everything else and who are absolutely selfless." He said that they "think of themselves as the genuine servant of mankind."

If there is a conscious effort among members of society to collectively work for social progress (as defined by the six factors previously discussed) we will begin to produce more people of this quality.

While the rotation of the social cycle is inevitable, the influence of socio-spiritual visionaries who have outstepped the interests of a single social class, can smooth its progress and limit the extent of exploitation and the periods of turmoil. Sadvipras are envisioned as capable of applying sufficient momentum and force to the social cycle so as to accelerate the times of transition from the period of one varn´a to the next. They are able to accelerate the social cycle as soon as the signs of social decay or exploitation are evident, enacting the transition to the next age in a positive manner. In the philosophical sense, they exist in the nucleus or controlling point of the social cycle, apart from, yet influencing the circular progression of the socio-psychological structure.

In the absence of a well coordinated and organized group of sadvipras, the movement of the social cycle has been uncontrolled. From the spiritual perspective, human society is still in an immature stage. When human beings can consciously control the progressive movement of society through the changing ages of different social psychologies, this will be the beginning of a mature human society. It may resemble what Marx and Engels called human history departing from the "kingdom of necessity" into the "kingdom of freedom." This is not a static vision of an ideal state of society, rather it seeks to harness the dynamic motion of the social cycle for a progressive and ever benign society. An understanding of the complete framework of the Progressive Utilization Theory is necessary to better understand the implications of this social vision. It is important to remember that a spiritual vision of the universe is inherent in PROUT philosophy. PROUT is essentially a framework for harnessing the individual and collective potential on all levels - physical, psychic, and spiritual - and synthesizing them into a progressive and dynamic society.

Further Reading:

Human Society Part II. The entirety of this book is devoted to a discussion of social dynamics and the social cycle.

 

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