Freedom versus Responsibility - Evolutionary Astrology on Saturn and Jupiter
2020 is proving to be a big astrological year, with the recent cyclical rebirth of both Saturn and Jupiter with Pluto in Capricorn at the beginning of 2020, soon to be punctuated by the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius on the winter solstice in December 2020, initiating yet another major evolutionary cycle within the global collective sphere.
The Saturn-Jupiter conjunction will coincide with the US presidential election, which will decide the presidency on December 14th just a week before, marking the culmination of a cycle that began twenty years ago in Taurus.
Saturn and Jupiter have an interesting relationship; Saturn represents reality as we currently know it, and includes all existing structures e.g. political, financial and social. Jupiter on the other hand encompasses expansion, risk taking, intuition and in classical astrology leadership. Both archetypes commonly reflect the ups and downs of the financial system and changes in political climate rooted in shifts in collective philosophy and ideology.
At the heart of this planetary pair, is the evolution of our world systems, relative to collective paradigms of belief. Keynesian economics emerged during and after the Great Depression from the ideas of British economist John Keynes, published in 1936, and served as the standard economic model in developed nations from 1945-1973. In essence it generally advocated a managed market economy, predominantly private sector with active government intervention during recessions and depressions. The Keynes model saw free markets as volatile and ultimately unstable, if there were no standards and policies to mitigate the negative effects that could lead to recession. The whole paradigm changed however in the early 80’s to Neoliberalism that fervently believed in economic liberalisation in the form of privatisation, deregulation, globalisation, free trade and austerity, along with cuts in government spending in order to increase the private sector. Chief proponents of Neoliberalism, were economists such as Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and politicians and policy makers such as Margret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan. It is important to realise that almost everyone, regardless of political affiliation, now thinks from this ideological dogma; these days more than anything else, the bottom line is always the accumulation of money, propped up with the false justification, that there is a beneficial trickle down effect from the wealthy to the poor - a claim that simply hasn't been true.
The installation of Keynesian economics occurred when Jupiter was in a last-quarter square with Saturn, representing a collective crisis in consciousness, where the obvious failure that led to the great depression, stimulated a need to come up with a new answer for the world. When Neoliberalism really took off in the early 80s, it coincided with a Saturn-Jupiter conjunction in Libra in 1981, followed by a conjunction with Pluto and Saturn in Libra in 1982; an old way was concluding and Neoliberalism had been waiting patiently on the sidelines to fill the gap. In 2020 both the Saturn-Jupiter cycle and the Pluto-Saturn cycle are undergoing renewal much as they did in the early 80’s, so could this mean another shift in the predominant economic and political paradigm?
In 2008 despite all that had been said about the ‘new truth’ of Neoliberalism, it became patently clear that the idea of eternal market expansion and the ‘god-like intelligence’ conferred to the so called ‘free-market’ was false. We now know that there is no such thing as a free market, especially in a capitalist system, because the rich elites fundamentally control the market through their financial power, and it is essentially rigged. After ten years of austerity we also know that such measures don’t work, and almost everyone knows that we can’t keep printing money without serious consequences.
Jupiter = Freedom, Saturn = Responsibility
Over the last forty years, we have become a freedom-loving liberal-minded culture within the developed world, in stark contrast to the restrictive social environment of the 1940s and 1950s. Even in the 1970s when I was growing up, social values were still quite conservative: it was a taboo to live in partnerships without marriage, to divorce was seen as a failure, sexuality was restricted to heterosexuality, and any deviation warranted social rejection and ridicule. In some ways the easing of social restrictions has been a relief to the human spirit, but is there such a thing as going too far? Should there be a balance between freedom and responsibility?
Human nature is desire driven; we are desire-beings imbued with impulses to act and fulfil ourselves. A quick glance at history reveals that the issue of desire is at the heart of all our collective troubles. The story of Cain, who murders his brother Abel in the old testament, speaks to the inherent problem within human nature - just how far will we go to get what we want? The principle of marriage, the ten commandments, and the seven deadly sins are all attempts to mitigate the negative consequences of unrestrained compulsions, as are the more recent notions of human rights and animal rights. The way we conduct ourselves, and the things we aspire to, are innately linked to what we believe and what we value; our philosophical foundation literally shapes society.
So freedom on its own, is not sufficient to make a world fit for everyone; freedom must be tempered with responsibility; we should all be as free as possible while the fulfilment of personal desires should not ever violate others or undermine the commons. This idea is usually obvious to anyone with a degree of empathy, and it is what makes the message of Jesus appealing; his teaching ‘do unto others as you would have them to do unto you’, is perhaps a radical thought for his time, the idea that it is possible to create a win-win cultural paradigm that elevates desire to a whole new level. Put another way, we thrive when we cultivate a world that allows for the free expression of the individual, while at the same time taking responsibility for the whole, whether that be community, nature’s ecosystem or beyond still to the Cosmos itself.
For many, the quickest and most obvious way to freedom in the modern world is the accumulation of money, and it dominates our cultural mindset. Money gives us the freedom to do what we want, and for those at the very top of the pyramid, money is both freedom and power; the real unelected influencers over the world are the super rich, who have the power to manipulate the economy of whole nations. All along, Neoliberalism has seen Democracy as an obstacle to freedom, to be undermined at every turn, so that the rich can do almost anything that they want.
In 1981 Saturn and Jupiter conjoined in Libra, and it is now evident that the birth of Neoliberalism was going to take us into the extreme and destabilise the global financial system. When Saturn and Jupiter next conjoined in 2000 in Taurus, the emphasis turned toward unbridled accumulation of wealth (via Wall St) coupled with deep survival angst due to depleting resources, leading to the 2008 financial crash. In 2020, the next conjunction will be in Aquarius, which has some exciting possibilities. Aquarius is a sign that represents humanitarian and egalitarian values, it is also characterised by an urge to liberate from the past and from obsolete patterns. Could we see the emergence of a new politics and economic vision that values equality and the welfare of the many? Will we see a return of ‘the common people’ into the arena of politics; a return to responsibility enabled by technology? For example through participatory budgeting (PB), a process of collective decision making in which public people together decide how to allocate the public budget, allowing citizens to identify, discuss, and prioritise public spending projects, giving them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent.
Perhaps there will be a reclamation of the missing and neglected two pillars of the economy: 'The commons' and 'the household', which together with 'the market' and 'the financial system', could bring significant social stability again. The idea of the commons is so sidelined today that many are not familiar with it. The term refers to the cultural and natural resources accessible to everyone, which are held in common and should not be privately owned, such as the air, water and habitable land. It also refers to natural resources that local communities manage for collective benefit and use. Since the policy of deregulation, which has essentially allowed corporations to maximise profits by allowing them to pollute and consume resources in an unsustainable manner, there has been a heart-breaking negative impact on the commons. The practise of land-ownership, which we take for granted, has led to the degradation of the commons, while most land is now owned by a minority of wealthy people. Should wealth accumulation be significantly taxed for instance? Do we need to aim for private sufficiency and public luxury? In this idea, the ownership of one home, with sufficient potential with a high standard i.e. a garden for growing and good insulation etc would not be taxed, but those owning multiple houses beyond their needs would be taxed. Private ownership would be cultivated around the value of sufficiency, while the commons would be endowed with utilities that gave everyone access to luxury lifestyle experiences.
In a similar way, by devaluing the pillar of the household, corporate interests have benefitted at the detriment of society. With both parents encouraged to work full-time, the rearing of children has suffered in powerful ways, which in turn leaves future generations with psychological challenges that weaken society. We all suffer without the benefits of an abundant home life, lacking in the emotional support-relationships that are natural to healthy community. Social fragmentation and atomisation have also been negative effects.
The world is under pressure to change; our way of life is self-terminating, and we are doomed if we insist on continuing on the path that Neoliberal thinking has put us on. The nature of Aquarius is to initiate awakening often through unexpected insight or shocks that force us to break out of limitations. The new Saturn-Jupiter cycle in Aquarius urges us to awaken and objectify the nature of our belief systems, in order to see how destructive they are, and to stimulate us to embrace a new vision for the future that is rooted in humanitarian and egalitarian values. Aquarius also gives rise to collective and revolutionary movements that contribute to changes in the way we view the world, but more than ever we need to overcome the tendency to insist that we know all the answers, and that our in-group has the only truth, with no tolerance for any other ideas.
‘Aquarian’ Memetic tribes are groups of like-minded people united with common values and perspectives, such as Social Justice Activists, Black Lives Matter, Metoo, Occupy, New Atheists, Post Rationalists, Christian Right, Trumpists, Alt-Right, Intellectual Dark Web, Modern Neo-Marxists, Classical left, Traditional Right etc. The current culture wars between memetic tribes can be overcome, if we realise that all groups have insights to offer that when put together could contribute to a more complete understanding of both pressing global issues and needed solutions. The current polarisation that has led to ‘cancel culture’, the practise of publicly shaming anyone who says something considered objectionable or offensive, to the extent of removing ‘offenders’ from their jobs, is a partial consequence of the way social media optimises information to entrap consumers in ‘echo-chambers’. Echo-chambers restrict the types of information presented to us via social media, based on algorithms that select for similarity; whatever we put our attention on generates a profile that directs our attention to similar information, based on the idea that most people want to see information they are interested in. The unfortunate consequence is that while we may have the illusion we are seeing the world accurately, we are actually in an increasingly restrictive thought-bubble that reinforces what we think, and prevents exposure to new ideas that challenge us to expand our viewpoint. And if you think that the mainstream media offers accurate information about the world, bear in mind that twitter has a powerful influence on what mainstream media publish - I refer to the recent letter of resignation of Bari Weiss from the New York Times, where she explains how twitter has become the paper's ultimate editor.
With Pluto soon to ingress into Aquarius in 2023, I suspect that there will be more shocks to come that could challenge us to realise that the post-modern viewpoint that brought valuable new awareness and appreciation of minority groups, and the relativity of truth, calling for diversity inclusion and tolerance of difference, in and of itself is not a complete answer. We may even see revolutionary changes in the way we think, but probably not without clashes between existing authority, the memetic tribes, and true egalitarian thought leaders.
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