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Field-Theoretic Sociology&

Psycho-Political Awareness


All previous concepts of socialism have rested on the notion of society as a ‘whole’ made up of individual ‘parts’ – persons. It makes no essential difference whether this whole is seen as a mere sum of its parts, as a social ‘structure’ or ‘system’, or as a collective or organic whole that it ‘more than the sum of its parts’ - uniting them like cells in a single social ‘body’. The mindset is still essentially one in which the relation of the ‘society’ to the ‘individual’ is seen as one of whole and part. The New Socialism on the other hand, is based on a field-theoretic understanding of both social and individual identity. It does not see the individual simply as a single ‘unit identity’ that forms part of larger wholes or structures composed of similar unit identities. Nor does it see the soul or psyche simply as the private property of the individual conceived as a bounded ‘unit identity’.  The New Socialism is ‘socialism with soul’, and yet it conceives ‘soul’ in a radically new way – not as part of the individual’s ‘unit identity’ but as a field dimension of individual identity. The individual is not seen simply as part of larger social whole, nor are individuals seen only as units connected organically like cells of a body, or like atoms that form part of larger molecular structures.  Instead every such larger ‘structure’ or ‘whole’, indeed the entire social world of the individual and all other individuals within it – are seen as a part of each individual, not encompassing but encompassed by their own larger field of awareness, not subsuming their identity in a larger whole but constituting their own larger field identity.

Each individual’s beliefs and feelings, dreams and mental images, emerge from and form part of their own awareness field, which in turn interacts with and co-determines the mass awareness field. This mass awareness field is not a ‘collective unconscious’ in which all individual consciousnesses and identities merge into a single melting pot. Instead it is a field of interrelatedness or ‘inter-subjectivity’ shaped neither by identity nor difference but by the countless similarities-in-difference and differences-in-similarity that constitute the very essence of relationality. Each individual’s mental interpretation and emotional response to mass events, whether experienced directly or through the mass media, influences those events through the mass awareness field. Indeed mass events themselves emerge from the mass awareness field in the same way that dream events emerge from the individual awareness field, bearing similar types of symbolic meanings and giving expression also to underlying moods or field-states of mass and individual awareness. Such political ‘moods’ or field-states of the mass awareness field are sensed as qualities of the overall social, economic or political ‘atmosphere’ or ‘climate’, changing in the manner of weather patterns.  For as Nietzsche correctly observed, individuals do not find themselves in a good or bad mood because of certain positive or negative events experienced in their everyday lives. On the contrary these events – and mass events too - emerge from underlying moods or field-states of awareness. The latter however are themselves shaped by dominant patterns of thought, and perception, action and interaction, language and behaviour. It is each individual’s identification with such field-patterns of awareness and action that both limits their own awareness and action and blocks social change, reinforcing social patterns of action within the mass awareness field.  

Individual and social change has hitherto always been seen as something only achievable through reflection – the intellectual objectification and ‘analysis’ of individual experience and social events. Reflection and analysis alone however, cannot break the individual’s identification with elements and patterns of their own experience. Only by distinguishing our awareness of all that experience, from each and every element of that experience, can we free ourselves - and help free the mass psyche - from restrictive patterns of experience, and from the restrictive patterns of thought and action that arise from them.

What the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi calls “Transcendental Consciousness” does not come about through reflection on experience – for all reflection is itself part of the flux of experiencing – emerging from and forming part of the individual awareness field. Transcendental consciousness is essentially the pure awareness of experiencing, as distinct from any ‘thing’ we experience, or any particular way we have of experiencing ourselves, other people and the social world.

From the political perspective of the Transcendental Meditation movement:

… when individuals experience transcendental consciousness, their individual consciousness becomes more coherent, contributing an influence of coherence to the collective consciousness of society, which in turn influences other members of society.
D. Orme-Johnson,  Maharishi University of Management

Many forms of collective political action are not assertions of power but a reaction to feelings of impotence, arising from the belief that as individuals we are powerless to influence mass events. From a field-theoretic perspective however, each individual’s ‘private’ inner responses to mass events exert a direct influence on mass events – reverberating within the mass awareness field. The subtlest of nuances in each individual’s private inner feelings and ‘position’ towards actual or anticipated events will affect the course of those events - even if those feelings and that position are not formulated and spelled out, and whether or not they finds expression in the public positions of political parties and spokespersons. Thus anyone who inwardly assents to an actual or possible war effectively promotes that war, even without voting for it or publicly voicing that assent. On the other hand, anyone whose is aware of even the slightest feeling inclining them to assent to an actual or possible war - or to inhumanity of any sort – can, through that very awareness – choose to actively disidentify with those inclinations and withdraw their inward assent.

… any one-sided action is always a passive reaction to a given.
Michael Kosok The Dialectics of Nature

True individual freedom and political power come from awareness and not from political, action, reaction, or analytic reflection. Truly effective action and truly deep political analysis have their source in awareness. Ultimately however, all forms of political action are always a reaction to existing patterns of action, whether in defence of, or in opposition to those patterns. Identity is a pattern of action. The struggle of progressive ‘activists’ against conservative ‘reactionaries’ is itself essentially reactionary politics in defence of identity and based on individual processes of identification. The propaganda of political parties and leaders serves the purpose of enticing the individual to identify with a particular brand of politics, and by doing so to bind their own personal sense of self with its successful propagation or defence.

The New Socialism aims at the transcendence of identity politics through the power of ‘transcendental awareness’. By this I understand each individual’s field awareness of mass events, and their awareness too of the inner politics of their own psyche - of their own inner responses to political events, and their own inner responsibility for the inner positions they adopt towards them.

© Peter Wilberg, 2004

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