A Call For A New Society

Mr. Bennett wrote “A Call For A New Society” in 1974. It is as true today as it was then, and even more important as the world reaches its limits in population, food supply, and global crisis. Included here selected readings from the Call, but if you would like to read the whole thing, please feel free to download a copy here.  If you have questions or would like  more information on Mr. Bennett please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Continuous Education is founded on the principle that human beings are capable of unlimited self-perfecting from birth to death and beyond. Self-perfecting is three- fold: bodily, mental and spiritual. It gives meaning to our lives as individuals; but there is also a continuous education of the human race to enable us to become truly human — which we are still pretty far from being.

Progress in self-perfecting is not automatic; it requires use of the right methods and the determination to persevere against all discouragement. Very few people can achieve it alone; and, for this reason, ‘Schools of Wisdom’ have existed from time immemorial to provide instruction and to create environments in which all can contribute to the common aim. Although such schools have always been present they are little in evidence except in times of crisis and-change, when they extend their activities to enable more people to prepare themselves for the task ahead.

We are now in such a period, and more and more people are looking for methods and guidance to help them with their own problems. They wish to be of service, but can see only too plainly that things have gone wrong for lack of ‘know-how’ and are afraid of doing harm where they mean to do good. Sensible people are acutely aware that something has gone wrong with humanity. Our present society, based on great institutions that control economic resources and political power, tends to strengthen the materialistic and egoistic sides of human nature, We need a new kind of society in which-concern for needs of others and of Nature as a whole will predominate over self-interest and fear. One obvious need for such a society is to change our eating habits so that the whole world can be kept from starvation. We need to be more self-sufficient and less dependent upon vast inhuman organizations.

All agree that the world is facing a food crisis, though few admit its true gravity. The artificial stimulation of agriculture by mechanisation and synthetic fertilisers is impoverishing the soil. There is another scarcely noticed effect: work on the land has lost its charm and become intolerably dull. There is in developed and undeveloped countries alike a flight from the land that cannot be reversed unless life on the land is made exciting and rewarding as it was in ancient times. It is useless to call for more effort to produce food and deny the producers a worth-while life. It is typical of great institutions to ignore the human factor. Unfortunately, even in small societies, concern for the general welfare is paid lip-service rather than readiness to make the sacrifices that are needed.

Unfortunately, concern for others can be translated into effective action only by those who are working for their own self-perfecting. Only people who sincerely wish to give rather than take, to overcome their own weaknesses rather than exploit the weaknesses of others, can create a society that will survive in the hard times ahead. The hard times are themselves a necessary factor in self-perfecting. This is one reason why schools of wisdom can become active when mankind is approaching a time of crisis. The task ahead is now very clear. We must demonstrate that communities engaged in food production can provide a really good way of life. This calls for a new kind of society. We believe it can be created from small beginnings.

The task is to create a community that will be able to maintain itself under difficult economic and social conditions. For this, it must produce the main necessities of life: food, shelter, clothing, recreation, and as the foundation of it all, a shared spiritual quest for self- perfecting. This announces the creation of a new society, sponsored by The Institute of Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and the Sciences Ltd. of London, England. This was incorporated in 1946 to do research into the factors that make for progress and retrogression in human individuals and societies. It has investigated most of the psychological, religious and spiritual movements of our time and also the traditional methods preserved in the Schools of Wisdom. It has, in the course of twenty-eight years, developed and tested a unique system for training men and women in the way of self-perfecting. This has been applied at the International Academy for Continuous Education established four years ago at Sherborne House in England. The success of the method has led to a demand for similar facilities in the USA.

To meet the demand, the CLAYMONT SOCIETY FOR CONTINUOUS EDUCATION is being incorporated-in the State of West Virginia. It is intended to go far beyond the basic training now available at Sherborne. The task will be to create, within-three to five years, a fully integrated society, the members of which will be committed to self-perfecting and to service to Nature and their fellow-men. To meet the needs of the present crisis in human affairs, the Claymont Society will make itself largely self-sufficient in the provision of food, shelter, clothing and other necessities of life. It will do so partly by intensive food production and partly by the adoption of a system of diet that enables the requirements of the human organism to be satisfied with the minimum consumption of foodstuffs in short supply such as animal proteins.

The chief problem in any community is to achieve unity of purpose and harmony among people of different temperament and cultural background. It is above all essential to eliminate the conflicts that come from desire for power of some and the laziness and self-indulgence of others. This can be achieved only if there is a right balance between people at different stages of self- perfecting.

The long-term aim of the Society is to demonstrate that a viable social structure can be founded upon the principle of continuous education. Claymont Court is large enough and has sufficiently varied resources to enable a model society to be established embodying all the main activities required for self-sufficiency and a harmonious and creative life.

The term ‘Fourth Way School’ was, used by Gurdjieff to distinguish the type of society we are creating at Claymont. It has also been called by Bennett in his Dramatic Universe, a ‘Psychokinetic Society’, to indicate that its members believe in human perfectibility. A school of the Fourth Way exists solely to carry out an allotted task and to train people for this purposes. The task at Claymont is to demonstrate that a predominately foodproducing society can enjoy fully satisfying conditions of life on all planes: physical, intellectual and spiritual.