There are two aspects of Free Masonry that are often confused as the same thing. They are not the same thing. The most apparent aspect of Free Masonry is the administrative body that “governs” a group of lodges. The second aspect, which is the most important, is the initiatic experience in the fraternity. The administrative aspect of a group of lodges cannot provide the initiatic aspect. These two aspects of Free Masonry can be mutually exclusive.
The administrative aspect of Free Masonry serves several valuable purposes. A grand lodge can facilitate communications between the various lodges. This is a very important purpose for a grand lodge. A grand lodge can also serve to arbitrate disputes between lodges. The grand lodge also exists to maintain the rules agreed upon by the Brethren within their lodges. Finally, the grand lodge exists to act as a “spokesman” for the organization of lodges so that they may more efficiently interact with other groups of lodges.
In all Masonic grand jurisdictions around the world there are only two models of government that are used. One model is the “power model” in which sovereignty is conferred upon the grand jurisdiction and the lodges have agreed to follow the lead of the sovereign body. There is a delicate balance in this model that must be maintained to ensure the health and viability of the organization. The balance that must be struck is that the grand jurisdiction must balance its supreme authority with the service that it owes to its lodges. The flaw in this system resides in the aristocratic fallacy. Masons laboring under this type of system must be very vigilant as to whom they elect to serve in the grand officer positions. The Masons laboring under this type of system need a mechanism in place to assure that they are able to insure that they are getting the proper leadership. A Grand Master under this system presides as the sole leader. He often has a retinue of staff that assists as advisors.
The second model of the administrative aspect of Free Masonry is the “liberty model.” Under this model of government sovereignty resides in the lodges of this group. The grand jurisdiction has no powers not specifically granted to them by the lodges. Of course this system can turn into a power model system if the lodges are not consistent in maintaining their sovereignty. This particular model also has a delicate balance that must be maintained. The balance is that of lodges having to exercise their sovereignty at all times. The flaw in this system resides in the democratic fallacy. Masons laboring under this system must be very vigilant in exercising and maintaining their sovereignty. They must also participate in their organization in an active manner. In order to do this the Brethren laboring under this system must be educated on how to proceed within their governmental system. Absolute transparency in government is required for this system to operate correctly.
If we take the power model as the thesis and the liberty model as the anti-thesis there is an apparent synthesis. Is there a way in which we can balance sovereignty at the highest levels with the inalienable rights of the Brethren at the lodge level? I am unconvinced at this point as to the viability of a synthesis between the power model and the liberty model. Further research and social experimentation is required.
Travel well Brothers