Prout: Part 8 - The Social Cycle

"Progress can be recognized as the movement toward a greater expansion of consciousness."
The Social Cycle

The theory of the social cycle holds that the natural sequence of historical eras always progresses from shúdra (labourer) society to Kshatriya (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. Instead, 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 the movement toward a greater expansion of consciousness.

Shudra Era: 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 material conditions.

Ksattryan Era: The human mind slowly grew in complexity, capacity, and strength through clashes with the hostile environment and inter-group conflict over scarce resources. It resulted in the development of confidence, bravery, and the ability of some human beings to rule and dominate the material and social environment. In the beginning, this was expressed chiefly through physical force, and it brought about the age of domination by people of the warrior mentality. It was the beginning of human society in a higher sense. 

Matriarchy: As the clan system evolved, unity, discipline, and a sense of social responsibility developed slowly, resulting in the advancement of social structure. Women led the early period of the warrior age 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.

Patriarchy: In the second half of the first ks'attriya era, men broke the matriarchal order and established a new system based on 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 council 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.

Vipran Era: In the struggle of warrior societies against the forces of nature and each other, the intellectual power of human beings developed. 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 plough and pottery, advances in animal farming 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 crucial as valour and skill. Without the contribution of greater intellect, victory in warfare became impossible.

Law Givers: Over time the intellectual ministers and priests gained increasing importance. With the vibrant 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. 

Knowledge Elitism: In this vipran stage of the social cycle, 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 occurred within the golden age of the vipran era. 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 centres of learning. 

Psychic Complexes: In time, the vipran class also becomes oppressive as its concern for perpetuating its material, and social privileges become more obsessive. One of the most potent tools historically resorted to by viprans is the injection of superstitions and various psychic complexes into the minds of the other classes to maintain their dominance. It 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.

Vaeshyan Pragmatism: Gradually, their preoccupation with comfortable living and privilege led the vipras into greater subservience to those possessing wealth - those who could 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 gradual 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. 

Mercantilism: Everything a merchant sees, even a human being, gets reduced to an element to increase 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 colonized the world. The goal was to extract its resources, including human slaves, to perform the labour of production. In this way, all the industrialized nation-states of the world were built by the merchant class.

Profit Maximitis: In the decline of the merchant age, the economy is pushed toward greater efficiency within the corporations toward profit maximization. As a result, the 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 society as purchasing capacity diminishes. 

Shudra Revolution: Those who are intellectual or warrior minded become reduced to the economic condition of shúdras, called vikshubda shudras. 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 and begin to take economic and social relations into their own hands. It initiates the end of the merchant era and the beginning of a new shudra era. 

"..the cyclic motion of society continues, and humanity enters the second spiral of the SocialCycle."
Return of The Ksattriya: 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 revolution's leadership 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.

 The Dialectics Of The Social Cycle

"The dominant class psychology determines the dominant values and social psychology of that age." 

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 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. It accounts for the birth, maturity and death of an age, leading to the birth, maturity and death of the following 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." Due to great suffering on the part of the people, it is in this state that new inspiration and ideas emerge, 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 because the dominant class can systematically exploit the other classes, leading to oppression and stagnation. Thus, it results in its decline. Finally, 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. Thus, every age of the social cycle will begin with a formative dynamic phase, in which new vitality is infused into the social structure. Then, society attains a sustained peak, 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.

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

"The trough and crest of the collective flow are 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 increases."                                                                                                 

Individual and Social Transformation: A society is a composite of individual human beings. The totality of various individual flows of movement constitutes the collective social movement. The collective flow influences each individual flow. Individuals can't move exclusively according to their inherent momentum. In some instances, the individual strives to maintain adjustment with the collective flow, and, in other instances, they strive to move faster or slower than it. Society slows the individual momentum by its rules, regulations, mores, and a host of other roadblocks.

The trough and crest of the collective flow are 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 increases.


(Extract updated from New York Writers Group Publication)

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