The Three Worlds
of human experience
According to Michael McConkey, who runs the “Circulation of Elites” Substack, there are two modern world views. The left world view, he writes, has a space bias, "focused on administration, centralized control, and commerce," hence Spatial. The right world view has a time bias, "focused on organic community, concrete institutions, and tradition." Hence Temporal.
I felt uneasy with this analysis, but couldn't immediately say why. So I converted his idea into Abstract World and Life World. Abstract World is McConkey’s world of “administration, centralized control, and commerce.” Life World comes from Lebenswelt in Husserl, Heidegger, and Habermas.
But then it came to me in the middle of the night. Modern humans do not live in Two Worlds, but Three Worlds. It just makes sense.
There is Life World, the Lebenswelt of informal social interaction, face-to-face between humans, and powered partly by their rational consciousness but mostly by their unconsciousness with its DNA-coded behaviors and its unconscious archetypes. Life World includes sex, love, family, food, work, neighborhood, the raising of children, the care of the aged, and the pre-institutional religion and myths of the shaman and the soothsayer and the wise old woman.
There is Market World, the half-human half-abstract world of making and buying and selling and borrowing and lending and investing that humans have learned in the city as their world expands beyond the face-to-face world of the tribe and the village. Used to be that people trusted people that were known or related to them. Now people trust people that demonstrate trustworthiness. For some people Market World is a perversion of the natural and informal community of Life World, but I say it is not. I say that it is a miraculous adaptation by humans to a social world that extends beyond the age-old local community and establishes trust protocols beyond face to face transactions.
Question: does marriage belong in Life World or Market World? And whatabout religion? I say that religion, provided it is decentralized and not interested in power, belongs in Market World.
Finally, there is War World, the world of politics, of government, of battles, of institutionalized religion, of administration, of regulation, of censorship, of socialism. I say that it is a vicious extension of the need to defend the border from enemies and the city from street thugs. Thus, it is not based on trust but on domination. This applies to all governments, and many centralized churches that have built large bureaucracies and/or allied themselves to government as a state church. Many big corporations belong to War World if they are big enough to wield political power and attract the interest of politicians and government. Assertion: LGBT and feminism and non-binary genderology belongs to War World.
Behold, I will tell you a mystery. The two horrors of the modern age, antisemitism and communism, are both fear-based reactions against the recent emergence of the strange and frightening Market World.
In Eastern Europe in the last three centuries the ordinary people lived in the country. The cities were dominated by Germans and Jews. You can guess what the country people thought about that, especially as they started to migrate to the cities and discovered that the Germans and Jews were much more experienced and competent at city life than they were.
I think of communism as a similar reaction to the market economy by the educated class. In his Political Order trilogy Francis Fukuyama observes that egalitarian societies only existed in pre-state societies, when the tribal chief did not have the power to enforce his will with an army or a bureaucracy. So the dream of modern thinkers, from Rousseau onwards, of a return to equality is a fantasy: unless they are willing to abolish the state. And, of course, we now know, thanks to the experiments of social scientists Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, that socialism cannot work, not without an all-powerful state in which equality is a sick joke in which the state’s functionaries enforce a universal poverty.
Now the question that immediately arises is the old one of “fences make good neighbors.” What should the Boundaries be between the Three Worlds? And how should the Rules in each World be established and agreed to and amended in the light of experience?
That is a good question, and will be the subject of the next exciting episode.
And another question: what is the relationship between this Three Worlds and my Three Peoples notion. Good point: we shall see.