DEMOCRACY IS SELF-GOVERNMENT
Harold W. Percival
FOUR CLASSES OF PERSONS
Persons group themselves in four classes or orders, no matter what form of government they may have. But the government giving the most opportunity, and under which they can most easily be distinguished, is a Democracy. The four classes are not to be rated by any ordinary or prescribed rules, such as the caste system of the Hindus; or by rank or position, or by birth, wealth, belief, or politics. Unwittingly, individuals group themselves into the four orders, by the quality and class of their individual thinking.
The one born into a class or order keeps himself in that order, or takes himself into the next order, by thinking. If one’s thinking is controlled by the circumstances or conditions in which he is, then he remains in the order in which he is born or in which he is compelled by circumstances to be. On the other hand, if his thinking is of a different order, his thinking puts him in the order to which he does belong—irrespective of his birth or station in the world.
The four classes or orders are: the laborers or body-men, the traders or desire-men, the thinkers or thinking-men; and, the knowers or knowledge-men. Each order partakes somewhat of the other three orders. This does not mean that the four orders are of four kinds of physical bodies; it means that whatever thinking is done, is done by the desire-and-feeling of Doers in the man-bodies and woman-bodies in which the Doers are; and that the kind of thinking that is done by the desire-and-feeling of the Doer in any human body keeps the Doer in the class in which it is, or takes it and its body out of where it is and places it in another order. No power can take a man out of his own order and put him into a different order. The change of order to which anyone belongs is not made from outside; the change is made from the inside of that one. Each one’s own thinking has put him in the order in which he is. Each one’s own thinking keeps him in the order into which he has put himself; and each one will put himself in one of the other orders, if he changes the kind of thinking that he does to the thinking that makes that other order. The present destiny of each one is what in the past he himself has made it by his thinking.
In every country of the world the large majority of the people are body-men, the body-laborers. A comparatively small number are the traders, the desire-men. A much smaller number are the thinkers, the thinking men. And the knowers, the knowledge-men, are few. Each individual is made up of the four orders, but in every case one of the four rules the other three. Therefore, each human is a body-man, a desire-man, a thinking-man and a knowledge-man. This is because he has a body machine to operate and work with, and he desires a great deal, and he thinks a little, and he knows less than he thinks. But the subjects about which he does think make him a body-man, or a trader, or a thought-man, or a knowledge-man. So there are four orders of human beings: the body-men, the traders, the thinkers, and the knowers; and, one’s own thinking puts that one into the order in which he belongs. The law is: You are as you have thought and felt: think and feel as you want to be; you will be as you think and feel.
If one’s thinking is concerned chiefly with bodily appetites and the pleasures of the body, with its comforts and amusements, then his body controls his thinking; and no matter what his education and position in life may be, his body-thinking puts him into and he belongs to the order of the body-men.
If one’s thinking is to satisfy his desires to get, to gain, to possess, to profit in buying, selling, money-lending, then barter and gain control his thinking; he thinks and works for gain; he values gain above comfort and other things; and, if he is born or brought up in one of the other three classes or orders, his thinking will take him out of that class and put him in the order of traders.
If one desires and thinks for the reputation and renown of his name as an explorer or discoverer or benefactor, or for distinction in the professions or arts, then his thinking is given to these subjects; he values the subject of his thinking and values a name above comforts and gain; and his thinking distinguishes and puts him in the order of the thinkers.
If one desires knowledge above all things, and especially for what he can do with it, he is not satisfied with comfort and gain and reputation and appearances; he thinks about the origins and causes and destiny of things, and about what and who he is and how he came to be. He will not be satisfied with the theories and unsatisfactory explanations of others. He wills and thinks to get knowledge so that he may make that knowledge known and of service to others. He values knowledge above bodily wants, possessions and ambitions, or glory or renown, or the pleasure of the power to think. His thinking puts him in the order of the knowers.
These four orders of man exist under every government. But the individual is limited in a monarchy or aristocracy, and is handicapped and restrained in an oligarchy or a despotism. Only in a real democracy can he have full opportunity to be what he makes himself to be. Though there have been numerous attempts at democracies, there has never been a real democracy on earth among human beings, because, instead of exercising their rights of freedom and opportunity of honest thought and freedom of speech, the people have always allowed themselves to be flattered and deceived, or bought and sold.
In the great prehistoric civilizations, as in the lesser civilizations within historic times, whenever the changing cycles of the ages and the seasons developed a democracy, the social standards were changed; but the people never have made use of the opportunity to govern themselves, as one people. They have invariably used opportunity to acquire comfort, wealth, or power; and to indulge themselves, as individuals or as parties, or groups, in what they considered to be to their self-interests or for the pleasures of life. Instead of making themselves responsible citizens individually, and electing the best and most competent men as their governors, the people have surrendered their rights as a people by allowing the demagogues to deceive and bribe them with promises or the purchase of their votes.
Instead of each of the citizens looking to the interests of all the people, the greater number of the citizens have neglected the public welfare: they have taken whatever personal advantages they could get for themselves or their party and allowed the offices of government to be taken over by political tricksters. The demagogues have degraded and disgraced such honorable terms as politics, politician, statesman, to be synonyms of reproach, fraud, plunder, thievery, personal spite, or power.
Politicians play the parts of foxes and wolves who are divided into packs. Then they fight with each other for the guardianship of their flocks of the citizen-sheep who vote them into power. Then, with their cunning and rapacity, the fox-politicians and wolf-politicians play the citizen-sheep against each other in the game of special interests as “Capital” against “Labor,” and “Labor” against “Capital.” The game is to see which side can succeed in giving the least and getting the most, and the fox-politicians and wolf-politicians take tribute from both sides.
The game continues until Capital drives Labor to the state of slavery or to revolution; or, until Labor destroys Capital and also brings about the general destruction of government and of civilization. The fox-politicians and wolf-politicians are guilty; but the really responsible and guilty ones are the citizens, “Capital” and “Labor,” who are themselves often foxes and wolves dissembling as sheep. Capital lets the politicians know how it expects to give the least to Labor and get the most, for the money contributed for Labor’s votes. And Labor tells the politicians how it wants to control or get the most from, and give the least to, Capital, in exchange for the quantity of votes Labor gives.
The party politicians fight each other for the control of Capital and Labor. Capital and Labor fight, each for control of the other. Thus the striving of each party and each side to secure its own interest, regardless of the other’s, can only result in the loss of the interests of all. That has in a way been about what has happened to the democracies of the past, by whatever terms the parties or sides were known. And that is just about what threatens to happen to what is at present called democracy.
A real Democracy will be a government made up of the ablest and most competent of the people elected by the votes of the people to administrate, legislate, and judge, and to be the statesmen and officers for the welfare and interest of all the people, just as though all were members of one large family. In a worthy family no two members are equal or the same in age and ability or inclination, nor are they the same in fitness of health and capacity for equal duties in life. No member should despise or consider any other member inferior in the sense of being ashamed of or for that other. They are as they are. Each has a definite relation to each of the other members, and all are united by definite ties of relationship as one family. The able and strong should help the deficient or weak, and these in turn should try to become efficient and strong. Each working in his own way for the good of the others will be working for the improvement of himself and of the family. So also a real democracy will be a government elected and empowered by the people to govern the people for the interest and welfare of all the people as one people.
Copyright 1980 by The Word Foundation, Inc.