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In the News (from RollingStone): “There’s a lot of talk of Karl Marx in the air these days … But few people actually understand Marx’s trenchant critique of capitalism. Most people are vaguely aware of the radical economist’s prediction that capitalism would inevitably be replaced by communism, but they often misunderstand why he believed this to be true. …
“Here are five facts of life in 2014 that Marx’s analysis of capitalism correctly predicted more than a century ago:
1. The Great Recession (Capitalism’s Chaotic Nature)
The inherently chaotic, crisis-prone nature of capitalism was a key part of Marx’s writings. He argued that the relentless drive for profits would lead companies to mechanize their workplaces, producing more and more goods while squeezing workers’ wages until they could no longer purchase the products they created. Sure enough, modern historical events from the Great Depression to the dot-com bubble can be traced back to what Marx termed ‘fictitious capital’ – financial instruments like stocks and credit-default swaps. We produce and produce until there is simply no one left to purchase our goods, no new markets, no new debts. The cycle is still playing out before our eyes: Broadly speaking, it’s what made the housing market crash in 2008. Decades of deepening inequality reduced incomes, which led more and more Americans to take on debt. When there were no subprime borrows left to scheme, the whole façade fell apart, just as Marx knew it would.
2. The iPhone 5S (Imaginary Appetites). Marx warned that capitalism’s tendency to concentrate high value on essentially arbitrary products would, over time, lead to what he called ‘a contriving and ever-calculating subservience to inhuman, sophisticated, unnatural and imaginary appetites.’ It’s a harsh but accurate way of describing contemporary America, where we enjoy incredible luxury and yet are driven by a constant need for more and more stuff to buy… While Chinese families fall sick with cancer from our e-waste, megacorporations are creating entire advertising campaigns around the idea that we should destroy perfectly good products for no reason.
3. The IMF (The Globalization of Capitalism). Marx’s ideas about overproduction led him to predict what is now called globalization – the spread of capitalism across the planet in search of new markets. ‘The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe,’ he wrote. ‘It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.’ While this may seem like an obvious point now, Marx wrote those words in 1848, when globalization was over a century away. And he wasn’t just right about what ended up happening in the late 20th century – he was right about why it happened: The relentless search for new markets and cheap labor, as well as the incessant demand for more natural resources, are beasts that demand constant feeding.
4. Walmart (Monopoly). The classical theory of economics assumed that competition was natural and therefore self-sustaining. Marx, however, argued that market power would actually be centralized in large monopoly firms as businesses increasingly preyed upon each other… Politicians give lip service to what minimal small-business lobby remains and prosecute the most violent of antitrust abuses – but for the most part, we know big business is here to stay.
5. Low Wages, Big Profits (The Reserve Army of Industrial Labor). Marx believed that wages would be held down by a ‘reserve army of labor,’ which he explained simply using classical economic techniques: Capitalists wish to pay as little as possible for labor, and this is easiest to do when there are too many workers floating around. Thus, after a recession, using a Marxist analysis, we would predict that high unemployment would keep wages stagnant as profits soared, because workers are too scared of unemployment to quit their terrible, exploitative jobs.
In Conclusion: Marx was wrong about many things. Most of his writing focuses on a critique of capitalism rather than a proposal of what to replace it with. But his work still shapes our world in a positive way as well. When he argued for a progressive income tax in the Communist Manifesto, no country had one. Now, there is scarcely a country without a progressive income tax, and it’s one small way that the U.S. tries to fight income inequality. Marx’s moral critique of capitalism and his keen insights into its inner workings and historical context are still worth paying attention to. As Robert L. Heilbroner writes, ‘We turn to Marx, therefore, not because he is infallible, but because he is inescapable.’”
My Comment: Baal HaSulam’s opinion is that, tracing the mechanism of natural development, Marx noted only the results of the positive and negative forces, i.e., creation and destruction that are produced in society.
Accordingly, he planned his tactics and did not pay attention to the causal factors that lead to such consequences. It’s like a doctor who does not pay attention to the root of the disease and treats the patient based just on its external manifestations (modern medicine operates on the same principle).
In the News (from Nature): “A manuscript that lay unnoticed by scientists for decades has revealed that Albert Einstein once dabbled with an alternative to what we now know as the Big Bang theory, proposing instead that the Universe expanded steadily and eternally. The recently uncovered work [It had been stored in plain sight at the Albert Einstein Archives in Jerusalem] written in 1931, is reminiscent of a theory championed by British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle nearly 20 years later. Einstein soon abandoned the idea, but the manuscript reveals his continued hesitance to accept that the Universe was created during a single explosive event. …
“The manuscript was probably ‘a rough draft commenced with excitement over a neat idea and soon abandoned as the author realized he was fooling himself,’ says cosmologist James Peebles of Princeton University in New Jersey. There seems to be no record of Einstein ever mentioning these calculations again.
“But the fact that Einstein experimented with the steady-state concept demonstrates his continued resistance to the idea of a Big Bang, which he at first found ‘abominable,’ even though other theoreticians had shown it to be a natural consequence of his general theory of relativity.”
My Comment: Although in my lectures I constantly mention the Big Bang as a starting point of the beginning of our world, all that we study is viewed only in relation to man, an observer, who, in this case, feels and perceives what is felt “in himself,” in his properties, and therefore it is necessary to speak not about the world around us and its changes, but about the change of our “perception within ourselves” and its changes, as new Reshimot are manifested in us. See the perception of reality in “The Introduction to The Book of Zohar“.
Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 69: When one increases one’s toil in the internality of the Torah and its secrets, to that extent, one makes a virtue of the internality of the world—which are Israel —soar high above the externality of the world, which are the nations of the world. And all the nations will acknowledge and recognize Israel’s merit over them.
In the end, if we explain our message to the world together with the developmental process, then everything will proceed softly, nicely, and smoothly.
But if we don’t become a “conduit” for the influence of the Light that Reforms, then this Light will influence and awaken the desires to receive in the usual way. Then the nations of the world will not feel the power of good, bestowal, and understanding; they will not feel the goal from us. Instead, to the degree that the desire to receive increases in them, rioting and clashes will begin between them, after that it will be directed at the people of Israel in particular.
In this manner, we stand at a crossroads: Either we succeed in conveying to the world the line of connection with the Light, or as usual, the Light will act on the ego of each and every person, and then everyone will really begin to go crazy, will want to kill, “eat” each other, until it happens actively…
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/2/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam
Answer: In the workshop, together with the friends, we clarify in our mind and heart our deficiencies and our vessels. We awaken and activate them, so we have to discuss, feel, and turn them around in different directions. So the workshop is good and beneficial for our inner work. During the half-hour workshop, a person has many thoughts and he delves into himself trying things one way or another, knowing and not knowing. A workshop is the preparation of our vessel, our desire, as if we dig into ourselves, clarifying what we have inside, what happens to us in there.
But while reading The Book of Zohar, we have to feel a deficiency, on the one hand, and wholeness on the other hand. During this time we are in the source of the Light of Infinity, and through our connection with it, we have to feel that we are whole. But at the same time, we have to feel a deficiency because we haven’t managed to use the Infinite Light correctly. This means that we should feel these two things at the same time.
In order to discover all the Light of The Zohar, we have to go through all the phases: Ibur (conception), Yenika (suckling), Mochin (maturity), and the whole ladder of spiritual levels; only then will we be able to understand what The Zohar says. The authors of The Zohar attained all the 125 levels and it is from this height that they wrote The Book. They didn’t write it from the first, second, third, fiftieth, or seventieth level while they were advancing towards the 125th level. First they attained all the 125 levels, and only then did they write everything from this height.
Even when they write about levels that are lower than the 125th level, they look at them and write about them from the height of the 125th level. It is like a schoolteacher who teaches a first grader what 1+1+ 2 is. There is a great difference between the way he understands this and the way he explains it to his student. First, they ascended to the 125th level and then they wrote about the lower levels.
So even while reading articles that refer to the impure forces (Klipot) or the lowest level, we still receive the Light of Infinity through them. This is actually the height from which they wrote The Book of Zohar. So it doesn’t matter if we study a short passage on a lower level.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/25/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam
Answer: First we have to organize a group and to see that we have created a certain system in it. Then we begin to learn how to come out of the group to the public. In the group we are connected according to an internal idea, by our desire to discover the Creator. We learn this system from Kabbalah books and discover what deficiencies we should have, what exactly we will feel when we discover the Creator, the upper force, and what we will see and understand.
We learn what the revelation of the Creator means; what the Light of NRNHY and the vessels of Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut are; what the levels of the upper and lower are; and the phases of Ibur (conception), Yenika (suckling) and Mochin (mind) are. Thus we prepare ourselves for the revelation, receive the knowledge of how to draw the Light that Reforms, and also develop our feelings in order to yearn for the Light that Reforms, for correction. This is how we work in the group.
But if we want to expand our deficiency because we see that it’s not enough, we can’t remain inside the group only. We can study and “stew” this way among us for another ten or twenty years and nothing will change. This is the reason that the Creator opens up the external vessels for us and so we go out to them. We begin to study the method of integral education, workshops, games, roundtables, etc., and then we go out to the public.
By working with the public, we actually fulfill the spiritual system that connects the three levels: the lower, the upper and the upper upper, and then we understand better what we do. We incorporate in the desires of the public and want to succeed. Thus, we feel additional sorrow because we want to bestow upon people and to make them feel better. We feel we are interested in them since we invest our powers in them.
In addition to that, the Creator has arranged different reasons for us to go out to the public. No matter if it’s for corporeal or spiritual reasons, He somehow shows us that we need the public and that it’s our shield and our path to the future. Kabbalists advise us and life also shows us that we have to engage in dissemination. So we should constantly yearn for the expansion of our deficiencies, both in the group and with the public, to deepen them and to clarify what form they should have, and thus we can advance.
From the Preparation to the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/25/14
Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 65: You already know that there is an inverse relation between Lights and vessels: in the Kelim, the Higher ones grow first (see Item 62), which is why the first were more complete in the practical part than the last. But with the Lights, where the lower ones enter first, the last are more complete than the first.
Question: What is the meaning of the “practical part”? Does it refer to practical Mitzvot (commandments)?
Answer: These are Mitzvot that we fulfill between us on a physical level because our intentions are not yet sufficiently revealed. We don’t have a desire that is deep enough yet.
The same thing is also typical of the evolution of humanity. With time we gradually advance from physical work to mental work, to more delicate areas, whether it’s precise mechanics, nanotechnology, biology, etc.
This is already the work of the heavy vessels, those that have a great Aviut (thickness) of the desire. When you resist it, there is a whole variety of Lights that match the current depths of your ego. You begin to work with the Lights, with the intentions, with the delicate but strong vessels, like with a laser beam instead of manual instruments. Even the thought itself becomes a means that allows us to change the world, and we are already close to it.
Before, when we had a small desire we couldn’t penetrate the inner part of the world and discover all its components. Without a great evil inclination we couldn’t divide, classify, and organize it
There is the practical work and there is the work in our intention: the former is always in GE, while the latter is in AHP. As long as the vessels are pure, on the Aviut level of the root phase, phase one and two, there is an advantage to the actions. In other words, the intention in this state is called an action. It says: “Do everything that is in your power.”
This action isn’t performed manually, but the intention is small. In the meantime it isn’t supported by the great thickness of the desire and isn’t established on top of the resistance. I don’t establish an opposite intention to what is revealed inside me yet.
On the other hand, the real intention rides on top of the strongest desire on the third and fourth level of Aviut. This is where the real ego is concealed, against which I must work. It’s no small thing anymore. When a small child obeys his mother even when he doesn’t want to, it’s one thing, but if you ask a 15-year-old boy who already feels mature enough and overcomes the strongest inner resistance to do so, it’s a totally different thing. This is the difference between an action and an intention, and this has to do with both the Mitzvot of do and don’t do.
Question: So what, in this sense, are the physical actions that we perform in the group: duties, etc.?
Answer: These actions are also considered according to the intention. It says that Mitzvot don’t need an intention, which means the right intention of in order to bestow. But still everything is considered according to the intention, even if it’s egoistic for the time being but goal oriented.
“I want to reach the Creator.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know, to be good.”
“But to be good is in order to bestow.”
“So I want to act in order to bestow!”
The truth is that I have no idea what bestowal is and I only say that I want it, but it’s enough in order to be part of the correction.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/27/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam
The inverse value of Lights and vessels is a law that operates and exists since the beginning of the world to its end. It stems from the fact that the greater the vessel, the desire, and the coarser it is, the greater the Light that will be discovered by it. In other words, the Light is revealed in the pure part by the coarse part.
The pure and transparent part from which the vessels begin to grow is called Keter. The coarse part of the vessel is called Malchut, and so Malchut determines the size of the Light that will be in Keter. This law is identical in all the ten Sefirot of everything: of a small cell, some part of the world, or all of reality.
There are actually two laws in the law of the inverse value of Lights and vessels:
It turns out that I have a coarse part of the vessel by which I draw and discover the Lights, and there is a pure part of the vessel by which I feel all these Lights. This leads to many different outcomes in this world which totally confuse us.
In order to reach something high in art, for example, people need to devote a lot while being very tough, coarse, physical people. Looking from the side, it seems that they float in some upper spheres, but in fact they are quite “heavy” people.
“He that is greater than his friend, his desire is greater.” This stems from the inverse value of Lights and vessels, even here in the corporeal world. In order to attain something sublime and pure you have to go through everything in life, and only then will you be able to create some high work of art. You have to be greatly “soiled” and as a result you can reach the top.
So when become acquainted with pure characters we discover something totally different, since they contain everything. Thus, purity and Aviut (coarseness) are connected because the relation between something from something and something from nothing is inverse. On the one hand, something from something has to present itself, and on the other hand, something from nothing has to reveal its essence and the opposite pole that it lacks. This is how we attain spirituality.
We keep on advancing, get more soiled, fall into the mud, all generations roll into an abyss, and this is actually what prepares us for the very pure attainment. According to something from nothing, I discover the Light according to the Aviut of my desire, and according to something from something, I discover the Light according to the level of my purity. Therefore there are two parts in my desire: the thick part that draws the Light and the pure part that receives the Light.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/27/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam
Answer: The group must learn the method of correction on the spiritual path from the teacher, but realize it in itself. The connection between the friends has to provide everyone with such a power, with such a foundation, that they will also be ready to hold themselves in their place without the teacher. They need the teacher only to be able to advance constantly in the right direction.
But on the level that has already been attained, the group has to be already be in such mutual connection that it creates a stable base so that they don’t need anyone. In the connection between them, they discover the Creator, and in this way they advance.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/27/14, Topic of Lesson: “Teacher”