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Hierarchy is an arrangement in which some objects are represented as being above or below others.

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Robert Fludd, De Integra Macrosmi...; Hierarchy of Angels


  • Since equality is in fact impossible, and since, despite all attempts at reducing everything to one level, the differences between one man and another cannot in practice be entirely suppressed, men have been brought, illogically enough, to invent false hierarchies, whose higher ranks claim to take the place of the only true elect; and these false hierarchies are built up exclusively on the basis of relative and contingent considerations, always of a purely material order. This is very obvious from the fact that the kind of social distinction which counts the most in the present state of things is that based on wealth, that is to say on a merely external superiority of an exclusively quantitative order, the only superiority, as a matter of fact, that is consistent with democracy, based as it is on the same point of view.
  • As is well known, the five kingdoms of nature on the evolutionary arc might be defined as follows: the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom, the human kingdom, and the spiritual kingdom. All these kingdoms embody some type of consciousness, and it is the work of the Hierarchy to develop these types to perfection through the adjustment of Karma, through the agency of force, and through the providing of right conditions.
    • Alice Bailey in Initiation, Human, and Solar, Lucis Trust, 1922, p. 20
  • This Hierarchy is composed of Those Who have triumphed over matter, and Who have achieved the goal by the very self-same steps that individuals tread today. These... have wrestled and fought for victory and mastery upon the physical plane, and struggled with the miasmas, the fogs, the dangers, the troubles, the sorrows and pains of everyday living. They have trodden every step of the path of suffering, have undergone every experience, have surmounted every difficulty, and have won out... Their apprehension of the freedom that comes through... the purificatory fires, suffices to give Them a firm hand, an ability to persist even when the form may seem to have undergone a sufficiency of suffering, and a love that triumphs over all setbacks, for it is founded on patience and experience. These Elder Brothers of humanity are characterised by a love which endures, and which acts ever for the good of the group; by a knowledge which has been gained through a millennia of lives, in which They have worked Their way from the bottom of life and of evolution well nigh to the top; by an experience which is based on time itself and a multiplicity of personality reactions and interactions; by a courage which is a result of that experience, and which, having itself been produced by ages of endeavour, failure, and renewed endeavour, and having in the long run led to triumph, can now be placed at the service of the [human] race-
    • Alice Bailey in Initiation, Human,and Solar, Lucis Trust, 1922, p. 21/5
  • You moralistic dog—admitting a hierarchy in which you are subordinate, purely that you may have subordinates; licking the boots of a superior, that you may have yours in turn licked by an underling.
  • I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.
  • Can humans exist without some people ruling and others being ruled? The founders of political science did not think so. "I put for a general inclination of mankind, a perpetual and restless desire for power after power, that ceaseth only in death," declared Thomas Hobbes. Because of this innate lust for power, Hobbes thought that life before (or after) the state was a "war of every man against every man"—"solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Was Hobbes right? Do humans have an unquenchable desire for power that, in the absence of a strong ruler, inevitably leads to a war of all against all? To judge from surviving examples of bands and villages, for the greater part of prehistory our kind got along quite well without so much as a paramount chief, let alone the all-powerful English leviathan King and Mortal God, whom Hobbes believed was needed for maintaining law and order among his fractious countrymen.
    • Anthropologist Marvin Harris, Our Kind: Who We Are, Where We Came From, Where We Are Going (1989)
  • A movement, even a radical movement, is also an institution with its own set of leaders, power dynamics and hierarchy.
    • Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz “Nine Suggestions For Radicals, or Lessons From the Gulf War” in The Issue is Power: Essays on Women, Jews, Violence and Resistance (1992)
  • Respect the principle of Hierarchy. In Brotherhoods great and small, all actions are given through the Elders. There may be teachings and inspirations, but actions originate from One Source.
    • Maitreya, Leaves of Morya’s Garden, Book One, The Call (1924) 395
  • Some may be unable to reconcile the idea of equality with that of Hierarchy. Equality lies in the potentiality of spirit that all possess. Hierarchy is based on the uniqueness of one's accumulated experience. Therefore it is just to say that a complex of knowledge will be the gate of Hierarchy. Mark the expression "complex," because narrow specialization cannot define the breadth of a Hierarch. Striving for knowledge, gain the realization of the Teacher. Truly, reverence for the Teacher is the panacea, even for physical ailments. There is greater difficulty when one's centers are open, for each breath of the old world brings illness and only the breeze of true evolution can restore health. Therefore do not wrap yourself in the old world; attract the young ones to the joy of the New World. In all there is joyous, yet stern goal-fitness.
  • How can one come close to the Source? How will the higher understanding be affirmed? Only by the law of Hierarchy. The Guiding Hand is the Uplifting Hand. The Indicating Hand is the Hand revealing the path to the Highest Law. Thus is created the great step of the law of Hierarchy. Truly!
    • Morya, Agni Yoga (1929) 654.
  • How do people understand the law of Hierarchy? How do they fulfill its laws in life? How do they intensify the best striving in themselves? Truly the law of Hierarchy is mistakenly understood as an individual’s right; it is forgotten that a Hierarch is a Link in a Chain, and One who fulfills the Will of an even Higher One. Only by knowing this is it possible to properly respond to the higher mission. Only thus can one validate the Trust and build the fiery accumulations in the Chalice.
    • Morya, Agni Yoga (1929) 655.
  • It has taken since time immemorial for us to organize ourselves, biologically and socially, into the functional hierarchies that both specify our perceptions and actions, and define our interactions with the natural and social world. Profound gratitude for that gift is the only proper response.
  • Hierarchy has had six thousand years of trial. It will never succeed for long in any form.
  • Verily, the immutable cosmic law of Hierarchy is so much ignored at the present time. But humanity must once more recognize this law. The principle of Hierarchy is a leading law, verily the giver of Life. Therefore, we must imbue our consciousness with understanding of this law if we wish to grow and to contribute our share to the General Good.
  • I continue to write about Hierarchy, as this concept, which embraces the complete foundation of life, the evolution of spirit and all constructiveness, is not yet correctly understood. We must hasten to comprehend it, as we have little time because the severest Armageddon is raging. Only by accepting with all our heart the great principle of Hierarchy can we broaden our consciousness, which is so necessary for success.
  • You say, "I know that the spiritual leadership is essential, but I also know that the pyramid must be built from the bottom. . . . The foundation of the pyramid should be built upon the sound principles of a renewed democracy, and people should be brought up on this... Only in this way will the nations that are prepared be able to react to the spiritual leadership. Only if there is a foundation can there be a summit of synthesis to the pyramid."... I do not quite follow you. You seem to affirm the Hierarchic leadership, but at the same time you think that first of all the foundation of the understanding of this leadership must be laid, and that only then, after this, can the Hierarchic structure or leadership be accepted. But how can people build the foundation and continue with the construction if a certain guidance will not be given them? Each building is erected according to the plan of an architect, and the plain workers lay the stones of the foundation, without knowing the whole plan of the architect. Verily, many workers participate in this task, from the lowest to the highest, but they all fulfil the plan of the creator. Without the Hierarchic Principle the "earth dwellers," as you call them, will verily build, again and again, not a pyramid of synthesis but rather a Tower of Babel. Does not our disintegrating modern civilization exemplify with amazing clarity this eternally living symbol? (8 March 1935)
  • Our poor humanity, with its one-sided preoccupation with materialism (the church, too, serves materialistic bases and demands) needs more than ever before the realization of the Higher World and the leading concept of the Guru-Hierarch. Humanity's disease is chaotic thinking and lack of self-discipline. The slaves of yesterday revolt primarily against the leading concept, against discipline, and against cooperation. Only a king of the spirit realizes the significance of Hierarchy, for, in order to rule, one must first learn to obey. The principle of the leading concept must be affirmed in the consciousness of humanity if it wishes to progress. But, of course, all fanaticism is frightful, since it is the offspring of ignorance and ends in zealotry. It is actually the antipode of true devotion and reverence.
  • The French want no-one to be their superior. The English want inferiors. The Frenchman constantly raises his eyes above him with anxiety. The Englishman lowers his beneath him with satisfaction.
  • In the Western tradition there is a recognized hierarchy of beings, with, of course, the human being on top—the pinnacle of evolution, the darling of Creation—and the plants at the bottom. But in Native ways of knowing, human people are often referred to as “the younger brothers of Creation.” We say that humans have the least experience with how to live and thus the most to learn—we must look to our teachers among the other species for guidance.

See also

Social and political philosophy
Ideologies Anarchism ⦿ Aristocratic Radicalism (NietzscheBrandes...) ⦿ Autarchism ⦿ Ba'athism (• Aflaqal-AssadHussein) ⦿ Communism ⦿ (Neo-)Confucianism ⦿ Conservatism ⦿ Constitutionalism ⦿ Dark Enlightenment ⦿ Environmentalism ⦿ Fascism (• Islamo-Eco-Francoism...) vs. Nazism ⦿ Feminism (• Anarcha-RadicalGender-criticalSecond-wave...) ⦿ Formalism/(Neo-)cameralism ⦿ Freudo-Marxism ⦿ Gaddafism/Third International Theory ⦿ Legalism ⦿ Leninism/Vanguardism ⦿ Juche (• Kim Il-sungKim Jong IlKim Jong Un...) ⦿ Liberalism ⦿ Libertarianism/Laissez-faire Capitalism ⦿ Maoism ⦿ Marxism ⦿ Mohism ⦿ Republicanism ⦿ Social democracy ⦿ Socialism ⦿ Stalinism ⦿ Straussianism ⦿ Syndicalism ⦿ Xi Jinping thought ⦿ New Monasticism (• MacIntyreDreher...)
Modalities Absolutism vs. Social constructionism/Relativism ⦿ Autarky/Autonomy vs. Heteronomy ⦿ Authoritarianism/Totalitarianism ⦿ Colonialism vs. Imperialism ⦿ Communitarianism vs. Liberalism ⦿ Elitism vs. Populism/Majoritarianism/Egalitarianism ⦿ Individualism vs. Collectivism ⦿ Nationalism vs. Cosmopolitanism ⦿ Particularism vs. Universalism ⦿ Modernism/Progressivism vs. Postmodernism ⦿ Reactionism/Traditionalism vs. Futurism/Transhumanism
Concepts Alienation ⦿ Anarcho-tyranny ⦿ Anomie ⦿ Authority ⦿ Conquest's Laws of Politics ⦿ Duty ⦿ Eugenics ⦿ Elite ⦿ Elite theory ⦿ Emancipation ⦿ Equality ⦿ Freedom ⦿ Government ⦿ Hegemony ⦿ Hierarchy ⦿ Iron law of oligarchy ⦿ Justice ⦿ Law ⦿ Monopoly ⦿ Natural law ⦿ Noblesse oblige ⦿ Norms ⦿ Obedience ⦿ Peace ⦿ Pluralism ⦿ Polyarchy ⦿ Power ⦿ Propaganda ⦿ Property ⦿ Revolt ⦿ Rebellion ⦿ Revolution ⦿ Rights ⦿ Ruling class ⦿ Social contract ⦿ Social inequality ⦿ Society ⦿ State ⦿ Tocqueville effect ⦿ Totalitarian democracy ⦿ War ⦿ Utopia
Government Aristocracy ⦿ Autocracy ⦿ Bureaucracy ⦿ Dictatorship ⦿ Democracy ⦿ Meritocracy ⦿ Monarchy ⦿ Ochlocracy ⦿ Oligarchy ⦿ Plutocracy ⦿ Technocracy ⦿ Theocracy ⦿ Tyranny
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