October 29, 2018

Castes: Intellectuals, Warriors, and Productives

We have described previously the three estates of society: truth, power, and production. We also give names to people of these these estates, the castes: Intellectuals, Warriors, and Productives.

Castes exist because different fundamental functions exist, and specialization is usually a good idea. In principle, anyone or any institution can be a mix of all three castes. But it is useful to analyze them separately in order to clarify our concepts. Whether the conceptual castes bear out in reality as vocational castes, and whether that does or should have anything to do with family lineages, is not a question we are addressing here.

  1. Intellectuals are tasked with finding the truth. They are the intellectual capacity of a society. In particular the truth of what order should look like, and for what ends society should be organized. They are organized typically in loose intellectual networks, not necessarily with an overall chain of command, though individual projects may be organized differently. They pass that truth, as requested and ordered, to the warriors, who constitute the action and power capacity of society. Traditionally in the West, these are lawspeakers, priests, and philosophers. In the traditional Hindu system they are called Brahmins.

  2. Warriors are tasked with the organization and use of power. They listen to the priests, whom they freely trust, in order to know their purpose, and organize power to cultivate some order upon a domain. They are necessarily arranged in some kind of chain of command, though the very top may have consensus or republican elements. They command the other caste functions insofar as those functions are wielding power that is properly a political variable. They extract taxes from and contract with the productives. Traditionally in the West they are the warriors, statesmen, nobility, conspiriacies, sometimes priests, especially the pope, sometimes judges, sometimes capitalists, sometimes media, etc. We are unfortunately usually confused about power in the West, hence having to name many different things to name one overall function. In the traditional Hindu system, they are the Kshatriya.

  3. Productives are tasked with production and management of means, and the social fabric itself. They are the social and creative capacity of society. They organize in an overlapping fabric of companies, communities, contractual relations, social networks. Their general modus operandi is non-aggressing positive-sum free exchange and collaboration, especially towards the production of wealth and social health. They operate within the boundaries of the order that the warriors create for them, and pay taxes to the warriors. They are also inside the chain of command of the warriors to the extent that their holdings and activities constitute political power and political action. In the West, they take the form of workers, farmers, craftsmen, capitalists, engineers, socialites, etc. In the Hundu system they are Vaishya.

There are too many problems with this as a separated caste system for that to be a paradigm, but the underlying functional distinctions do form a paradigm for our thought. The caste names and personifications are useful for thought.

Some interesting corner cases can help clarify.

Pontifex Maximus, the head priest of the roman pagan religion, which title the pope of the Catholic church inherited, is an interesting and disputed case. Pontifex Maximus is nominally a priest, that is an intellectual, but the role has multiple parts.

The intellectual part is that Pontifex advises the warrior-state on matters of metaphysics, value, worldview, proper order and rites, etc.

But Pontifex also commands the Church, the system of intellectuals, and has the power to impose worldly penalties. His general role towards the church would be to organize power within the church, and discipline the church politically according to the will of the state.

Pontifex Maximus has occasionally declared himself to be above the emperor or king, an easy but dangerous confusion. As such, some believe the idea that the church should submit to the state in political matters to be heresy. This has led to various problems in times past, and is itself a confusion.

So properly, Pontifex serves as an official liason between warriors and intellectuals, representing the consensus of intellectuals to the state, and imposing the political discipline of the state on the intellectuals. Pontifex should not dictate truth to the intellectuals, nor command the state. Being a politically important position, the power to appoint Pontifex naturally falls to the state, as claimed by Henry VIII, rather than the church or other organized intellectual system, as claimed by the Catholic church and modern academia, though of course as always the intellectuals should advise.

The relation of big capital to the state is another important case.

It is obvious, at least to most, that it is not the business of the state to meddle in matters of production efficiency and economic decision making. The job of the state, in economics, is to set incentives and boundaries so that the productives use the resources of the realm wisely towards holistically ordered ends, so that they do not have tragedies of the commons, so that they produce virtue and not vice, and so on. Also, to lay down a system of law, and control the use of power, so that the productives are mostly free and unmolested by predatory practices and criminality.

If the state meddles too much, by setting prices, demanding production targets, overly regulating production, the market becomes defective, and systems fail.

From this, it is common to conclude, as in the ideology of libertarianism, that the state has no business telling productives what to do.

But productives, especially big capital, wield political power, especially as they construct monopolies, engage in marketing propaganda, bribe and pressure statesmen, impose this or that moral system on their employees, refuse to deal with certain customers, and skirt around laws.

These things are all fine and good and a necessary part of business, but they are also political, and thus properly the domain of the state. If productives are wielding political power and engaging in political action, which is unavoidable, they must do so in accordance with the will of the state.

Generally, they do, because the state finds ways to influence and pressure them, even if it is not part of the official mandate of the state to do so. But if it must be done furtively without clarity, because it is not part of the official mandate, then it is done inefficiently, and badly organized.

Thus the formal relation between state and capital, warriors and productives, must include that productives listen to warriors on matters of politics, as warriors listen to productives on economic matters. And of course warriors have the power to compel productives to listen to them.

We will be referring to these kinds of ideas often.


Edited and curated by Wolf Tivy

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