Episode:Civilization—Primitive Institutions (Part 5)
Enslavement was a forward step in the merciful treatment of war captives and an indispensable link in the chain of human civilization. Today, men and women are not social slaves, but they commonly allow ambition to enslave them to debt. Involuntary slavery has given way to a new and improved form of modified industrial servitude.
Keywords: Urantia, Slavery, Serfdom, Private Property, Communism
Summary by Kermit
Commentary on Review
Reviewing our discussion on “unity consciousness” or the reverence for unity, we made the point that a genuine reverence for unity is the beginning of a relationship with spirit. Avoid the error of seeing this initial reverence for unity as an end in itself. Go forward from this beginning don’t apply this awareness back to some form of exalted matter for example fire. The symbol is not the substance the riverbed is not the river. So often the feeling of reverence exacerbates the movement of awareness away from spirit back towards the material symbol. Jesus only rarely appealed to the emotions of his followers, always attempting to lift them up above the material and above the immediacy of emotions relative to material consciousness. The still small voice of spirit is difficult to discern in company with the much larger and louder voice of the feelings. It is from the higher vantage point of spirit recognition that you can rediscover appropriate feelings as a consequence of a genuine relationship with spirit. Part of this discussion also pursued the distinction between unity and unification. Unification consists in the bringing together in a harmonious arrangement, parts having the qualities of individuality and unity—a cosmic process.
We resumed our reading in section 8, Slavery as a Factor in Civilization. Hearkening back to the stages of land techniques, with respect to slavery, the gatherers and hunters did not enslave, for purely practical reasons. Initially the herders (the first capitalists) were disinclined to trust their capital (herds) to the keeping of either slaves or women. Later they did take male prisoners as compulsory farm hands giving origin to serfdom. Slavery was indispensable to early progressing civilization. It became the bridge over which society passed from chaos and indolence to order and civilized activities. Here we discussed the difference between indolence and ease seeking and leisure. One of the telltale signs of a decline of civilization is the confusion of these two forms of freedom from labor.
Slavery necessitated the development of regulative mechanisms of primitive society, the beginnings of government. So is it that with the development of the agriculture stage of land use and the beginnings of slavery, in turn leading to the beginnings regulative activities and very early governmental forms our celestial overseers would view slavery as a forward step on the path to genuine civilization, even in light of its oppressive nature. We are reminded that it is in the schools of oppression that man learned industry. Eventually, slaves shared in the benefits of the higher society they helped create. Notwithstanding these advances in cultural organization and social achievement, slavery, if maintained too long assaults society from within as the greatest of all destructive social maladies. Pause to reflect that to the spiritual consciousness, slavery is an abomination, yet in its role in promoting the forward progress of civilization it can be judged as a positive albeit temporary phase of man’s evolutionary advancement. Remember, outside of Havona that which is perfecting is good.
Mechanical invention and advancing technology render slavery obsolete. Had Adam and Eve completed their mission, Urantia would be enjoying a level of scientific and technological development that is impossible for us to imagine, and slavery would be far distant in our historical rearview mirror. Yet, today we are still enduring various forms of slavery in many areas of our world. Stop also to consider the new and improved form of economic slavery to debt that is driven by the proliferation of our desire for the luxuries of modern living. Our author admonishes us that the emancipation of large number of slaves be done gradually rather than suddenly to avoid disastrous results. These rugged truths of the revelation should give us pause to reflect on the how we might best combine spiritual idealism with material pragmatism in fostering the gradual forward progress of evolution, and be suspicious of the call to revolutionary action in the social, political, and economic management of our world. This revelation is here to spawn cosmically conscious planetary leaders.
The ideal of society is certainly universal freedom, but we are warned that idleness is not to be tolerated. All able-bodied persons should be compelled if necessary to perform at least a self-sustaining amount of work. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ approval of the Hebrew saying that states, “He who will not work shall not eat.”
The final paragraph of the section reminds us of our checkerboard history. Modern society is in reverse. In the face of the near disappearance of slavery and our freedom from dependence on domesticated animals, we must go back to the elemental storehouse of nature to rest secrets of wealth and power which should have been ours had the Adamic default not occurred.
69:9. Private Property
Primitive communism should not be confused with modern communism, though they share many of the same drawbacks, putting a premium on inactivity and idleness plus stifling industry and destroying ambition. Primitive communal life had the benefit of preventing pauperism and want, eliminating the need for begging and prostitution. Indispensable to the growth of primitive society (not civilization), communal living was an automatic social adjustment with the accrued benefits listed above. Note that primitive communism is not one of the four indispensable factors in early civilization. While the development of society is natural and automatic, civilization is not automatic, but a manifestation of personality choice.
This primitive communism gave way to the evolution of a higher social order because it ran counter to four strong human proclivities: the family, religious tendencies, desire for liberty and leisure and the urge for security and power. The passing of primitive communism helped lead to the establishment of the home through the concomitant passing of polygamy and growth of monogamy.
The final portion of this section with its several descriptions of early practices with regard to private property highlight the problem previously mentioned of man’s persistent problem of blurring the distinction between matter and spirit. Man’s early investment of material things with supermaterial qualities is illustrated here with a variety of examples. These early practices gave origin to conventions and usages as diverse as ornamental personal effects, ownership of land, family crests. In fact, all government, law, order, civil rights, social liberties, conventions, peace, and happiness as they are now enjoyed by modern peoples, have grown up around the private ownership of property.
The present social order is not necessarily right—not divine or sacred—but mankind will do well to move slowly in making changes. That which you have is vastly better than any system known to your ancestors. Make certain that when you change the social order you change for the better. Do not be persuaded to experiment with the discarded formulas of your forefathers. Go forward, not backward! Let evolution proceed! Do not take a backward step.