Many people today speak of “socialization” as though it could imply a number of external institutions in the state or in the social community, through which certain requirements of modern humanity might be satisfied. To them, the right institutions do not yet exist; that is why there is general social discontent and confusion. Once these institutions are in existence, orderly social life and social cooperation among men must follow. That so many people harbor this belief more or less consciously is the reason for the development of so many harmful notions about “the social question.” There is no form one can give to external institutions by which these institutions can, of themselves, enable us to lead a socially satisfying life. Such institutions will be good in a technical sense if they enable commodities to be produced and conveyed to human use in the most efficient manner possible. However, they will be good in a social sense only if socially-minded people administer the commodities produced in the service of the community. No matter what the institutions may be, there is always some conceivable way human individuals or groups can operate them antisocially.
One should not give oneself over to the illusion that any kind of satisfying social life can be created without “socially-minded” human beings; such illusions are a hindrance to really practical social ideas. The idea of the threefold social order aims at complete freedom from such illusions; therefore it is not surprising that it is vehemently opposed by everyone still living within these illusory mists. The first of the three spheres of the threefold social order aims at a form of cooperation among men to be based entirely on free intercourse and free association between individuals. Here human individuality will not be forced into an institutional mold. How one person assists another, how one helps another advance will simply arise from what one, through his own abilities and accomplishments, is able to be for the other. It is no great wonder that presently many people are still able to imagine nothing but a state of anarchy as a result of such free human relations in the spiritual-cultural branch. Those who think so simply do not know what powers of our inmost nature are stunted when we are forced to develop according to patterns imposed by the state and the economic system. Such powers, deep within human nature, cannot be developed by institutions, but only through what one being calls forth in perfect freedom from another being. The effect of what arises in this way is not antisocial, but rather deeply social. The socially active inner person is stunted only when instincts originating in the prerogatives of the state or in economic advantage are engrained or handed down.
Through its cultural branch, the threefold social order will uncover perpetual springs of social initiative. These springs will imbue the legal relations that are regulated by the democratic state with a social spirit, and they will spread the same spirit into the conduct of economic life.
Within the economy, the forms of modern life afford no means of counteracting the antisocial tendency. For the whole community is best served when the individual is left unchecked to apply his abilities to the common good. To do this, however, it is necessary that individuals should accumulate capital, and be free to combine with others in utilizing it. The socialists have been deluded in thinking that these masses of ever-accumulating capital could in the end simply be transferred from their private owners to the cornmunity, and that thereby a socialist society would necessarily be realized. In reality, the economic productivity of capital would inevitably be lost in such a transference, for this productivity rests upon the private abilities of the individual. One must admit to oneself quite frankly that the economy will have the greatest vitality not when it is deprived of the antisocial element within its own domain, but instead when it is kept supplied from another domain — the cultural branch of the social order — with forces that will constantly correct antisocial tendencies as they arise and convert them back into social ones.
In my Toward Social Renewal I have tried to show that a truly social way of thinking will not aim at a transference of capital from the control of private persons (or groups) to the community as a whole; on the contrary, it is essential that the private individual should have means, by the use of capital, of placing his abilities, unopposed, at the service of the community. When this individual is no longer willing or able to direct his abilities to the use of capital, this use must be transferred to another person of similar abilities. It will not be transferred by state prerogative or by economic power, but by finding out, on strength of the training acquired under the free spiritual life, which person will make the most suitable successor from the social point of view.
Whoever speaks in this manner about the remedy for our social malaise sees in his mind's eye the scorn of all those today who consider themselves experts in the practicalities of life. For the moment he must endure this scorn, knowing well that the other's way of thinking is what brought about the dreadful human catastrophe of recent years. The scorn may continue awhile; then, however, even the most obstinate of such people will no longer be able to resist the hard lessons of social realities. The phrase: “Schemes such as the threefold order may be all very fine, but the people to carry them out aren't there,” will be silenced. The coiners of this phrase are certainly not “the people to do so.” Therefore, it is to be hoped they will retire and will not, with their brute force, block the way of those who are doing fruitful work and who would gladly provide a free spiritual life for the development of social impulses in men.