Anthroposophy and the Twilight of Culture

A regular correspondent to this blog, Steve Hale from the USA, has forwarded to me an article which appeared in the British communist daily newspaper, the Morning Star, on December 7th 2017. The article, under the byline of one Peter Frost, highlights events at the Rudolf Steiner School, Kings Langley (RSSKL), which has been threatened with de-registration by Ofsted.

Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) is the non-ministerial government department in England which inspects and regulates schools, including independent schools. The de-registration of a school is a serious matter, because it means in effect that it is no longer lawful to run that school. RSSKL is currently appealing against the de-registration verdict of Ofsted, citing the drastic changes it has put in place to deal with the shortcomings identified by the Ofsted inspectors. The final verdict is not yet in but we shall no doubt hear before too long as to whether the school has done enough to cause Ofsted to withdraw its de-registration order.

I worked at RSSKL up until 2014 and know some of the people concerned. I don’t wish to add any comment about that school’s particular difficulties, except that I very much hope they can turn the situation around. They have strong support from their parent and pupil bodies, which should stand them in good stead if the school is able to get past this immediate crisis. But the RSSKL problems, although in an extreme form, are emblematic of the problems that many other anthroposophical institutions are experiencing nowadays. Let us quote Peter Selg here:

“…it is quite obvious that most of the anthroposophic institutions (…) including Waldorf schools and curative education homes, and also individual clinics and one anthroposophic medicine producer, are currently facing existential crises. And these crises are not primarily or exclusively financial in nature, but concern their spiritual substance and inner identity, their spirit and what they see as their task; that is, their unique contribution to our culture. Many anthroposophic institutions have hardly any anthroposophists left working in them any longer, or even people who have a real interest in anthroposophy, or who work on the basis of the anthroposophic understanding of the human being. It cannot be ignored that many places have only retained the name that bears such promise, without being able or wanting to honour the expectations associated with it – a situation that leads to the misrepresentation of facts, and in reality damages the standing of anthroposophy.” 1

To return to the Morning Star article, the author lists not only Waldorf education but all the other topics employed by critics to attack Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy. There is nothing original in what he says but I encourage you to read the article for yourself, so as to get the full flavour.

There are all sorts of comments one could make about this. Frost gets some of the details wrong, and I would bet that he has never actually read any Steiner for himself, relying instead on the extensive online criticism of Steiner and Waldorf for the main thrust of his attack. One might add that communists have never liked Steiner, right from the time when he was lecturing to the workers at the Berlin Workers’ School and refused to amend his lectures to suit the party line. Indeed, Steiner was very scathing about both Lenin and Trotsky, whom he described as “the gravediggers of modern civilisation, of whom it may be said that, if their rule continues too long, even in a few places, it will signify the death of modern civilisation and must of necessity lead to the destruction of all the attainments of modern civilisation.” 2 Steiner was of course equally scathing about the Nazis.

But in a way, all this is beside the point. The critics hurl their accusations and the anthroposophists, on the whole, do nothing about it. Thus the critics make all the running in the online debate, and so it is their views which largely influence public perceptions of Steiner, Waldorf and anthroposophy. The critics just need to say: Steiner was a racist, then add in an apparently outrageous quotation and that’s it; job done. Any anthroposophists who wish to put an alternative perspective then need to write reams of explanation and justification, setting the context and making their involved and detailed case, but they are in fact just wasting their time – the simpler one-line message of the critics is what achieves cut-through with the public, who will never have read any of Steiner before and certainly don’t intend to start reading wordy justifications from anthroposophists now. No, they’ve got the message – Steiner was a racist. If they know nothing else about Steiner, this is what they know.

But of course they actually know nothing about Steiner, or about anthroposophy, or the true nature of what it means to be a human being. Does this matter? Does it matter if the adversarial powers have it all their own way and can convince most people that physical, material existence is the only reality?

I used to think that it mattered. It used to upset me greatly that Steiner is so traduced and willfully misunderstood. It also upsets me that certain schools, through weakness and sheer mismanagement, give the critics such ammunition to attack Steiner and Waldorf. But, sadly, it is futile to look to Dornach or the national anthroposophical societies to respond, or to make any effort whatsoever to defend Steiner. I know – I’ve tried. After meetings with some members of the Vorstand and several European general secretaries, in London, Vienna and Dornach, it’s clear that nothing of substance is going to be done. (I except the British general secretary, Marjatta van Boeschoten, from this criticism, because she and I tried very hard to make the case for Dornach to create a media unit for the purpose, among other things, of presenting an alternative view to that of the critics.)

This experience with Dornach made me remember something that Steiner said, (the source of which, annoyingly, I can’t now find), ie that in his next incarnation he may find himself having to work against the Anthroposophical Society. One recognises the good things that the Society does, but defence of Steiner and anthroposophy should be part of their core purpose, and at present it doesn’t appear to be a priority.

The late Sergei Prokofieff made the point: “When anthroposophists encounter (…) these lies – many of which (…) have become common worldwide – and do not stand up against them with courage and decisiveness, then, whether they wish to or not, these anthroposophists work together with the opponents towards the destruction of anthroposophy. (…) ‘If (…) in response to the opposition nothing is done, then the mission of anthroposophy will fail’, said Rudolf Steiner. And if, especially at the Goetheanum in Dornach, not enough is done in this direction, then the process of annihilation and disintegration will be yet further accelerated.” 3

As I say, I used to think it mattered. Nowadays, I’m not only tired of the laissez-faire attitude of many anthroposophists to the critics but I’m also weary of futile arguments with Steiner’s opponents. But even so, I can’t resist one little sally: in Peter Frost’s article, he accuses Steiner of “weird ideas about almost everything (…) even the lost continent of Atlantis.”

Well, yes, Peter, I’m sure many of Steiner’s ideas do sound weird within the newsroom of the Morning Star, and also within many other contemporary citadels of culture – but that doesn’t mean that he was wrong. Steiner as an initiate and highly developed clairvoyant was able to research these matters and in a lecture given on March 7th 1909 in Munich, he spoke extensively of what he had discovered. You can read the whole lecture for yourself, but what I would like to focus on here is the comparison Steiner draws between the Atlantean catastrophe and our situation today.

When it became clear that the submergence of Atlantis was unavoidable, a person Steiner calls the Initiate of the Sun Oracle sent out a call to gather together a group of Atlanteans who would survive the cataclysm and gradually establish the post-Atlantean cultures, ie the ancient Indian, Persian, Egypto-Babylonian-Hebraic and Graeco-Roman cultures. But Steiner says that the leader assembled the most simple and despised people in Atlantis, because those who were then at the highest level of cultural life were not suitable material to be led through and beyond the great Atlantean catastrophe. And here is what is really interesting and relevant for our present-day situation:

“(…) a similar call is once again going out to humanity. To be sure, this appeal is what is appropriate for today, a time when humanity sees only what is in the physical world. (…) As with Atlantis, a catastrophe will occur, and afterwards a new culture imbued with spiritual capacities will arise, and it will be linked to what we call the idea of the universal brotherhood of humanity.

But today, as in Atlantean times, the call cannot go out to those who stand at the highest levels of cultural life because they will not understand. The Atlantean clairvoyants and magicians, who were in a way destined to die out with their culture, occupied a position similar to that of people in contemporary life who occupy the highest positions in the realms of scholarship and external industrial life – the great inventors and discoverers of our time. No matter how much the present leaders feel there is still to be done, they nevertheless occupy the same position as their Atlantean counterparts. Contemptuously they look down on those who are beginning to feel something of the spiritual life to come. (…) When leading representatives of modern culture look contemptuously down at these small circles, those who are participating diligently in the preparation of future conditions must say to themselves that the intellectual giants of today cannot be counted on to lead the way in this task. It is precisely the people who are held in contempt because they are not considered to have reached the heights of contemporary erudtion who are being assembled today, just as the leader of the Sun Oracle once gathered around him the simple people of Atlantis. These disdained people are being assembled to prepare the dawn of a new culture whereas erudition of the modern form will bring about the twilight of our culture. This is mentioned in passing to fortify those who have to endure and hold their own against the attacks of the people who consider themselves to be on the cutting edge of contemporary culture.”

And actually, I’m not surprised that so many people find all of this outlandish, bizarre and beyond anything they wish to engage with. That’s because they are so caught up in materialism, that it is impossible for them to understand how human beings can and must free themselves in future from this confinement in the corporeal. It’s because they are imprisoned within their sense-bound thinking and cannot conceive of the possibility that within themselves they possess inner organs that will at a future time perceive the psychic and spiritual within nature and within the human being. So – until you are able to wake up – mock on, good people, while unbeknown to you the shoots of the new culture are quietly sprouting all around you.

 

1 From the foreword to “Rudolf Steiner’s Intentions for the Anthroposophical Society” by Peter Selg, published by Steiner Books (2011). ISBN: 978-0-88010-738-9

2 from Lecture 1 of the series “The Social Future”, given in Zurich in October 1919.

 3 from page 102 of “Crisis in the Anthroposophical Society” by Sergei O. Prokofieff and Peter Selg, published by Temple Lodge (2013). ISBN: 978 1 906999 43 8

32 Comments

Filed under Critics, Dornach, Morning Star, RSSKL, Waldorf critics

32 responses to “Anthroposophy and the Twilight of Culture

  1. Some questions about this Jeremy.
    The article says that a decision whether to close the school or not would probably be made before Christmas (2017) Was there a decision?
    I read about this some time ago – don’t remember where – and I got the impression that the authorities were extremely strict, as though it might have been a school in the Soviet Union. Since you know, or knew the school from the inside, as it were, perhaps you could advise whether you think the authorities are justified in taking such drastic action.

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    • Hello Frank,
      I’m not in contact with RSSKL so my only source of information is what you can read on the school website. The only other thing I can add is that I recently met a former trustee and parent at the school, together with another parent, both of whom were very upset by what was happening. One of them said: “Thank God for Ofsted – I never thought I would find myself saying that.”

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  2. Peter Le Ray

    Hello,

    I have observed over my life that when any people isolate themselves to form a special group they can cause suspicion to wake up in others, especially if they call themselves by some exotic name. I suggest that the word Anthroposophy or anthroposophist lays the foundation for mischief to wake up in anyone who hears the word for the first time. This separation from others can be compounded by group insiders who may seek to bolster their own sense of specialness by having a fancy title to go by. After a time, an unique insider language forms, further alienating those on the outside.

    I am deeply interested in Steiner’s offerings but will never say to someone that I am an anthroposophist. I may talk nothing but anthroposophy to someone but I strive to express it in common usage terminology. Some of the problem you refer to I suggest is caused by Anthroposophists themselves………….cheers Peter

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    • I think your approach is sensible, Peter. As I mentioned on the home page of this blog, anthroposophy sounds cult-like in English, and I wish we could rename the Society to something like the “Rudolf Steiner Association.” The future for anthroposophy is in finding common cause with all people of goodwill and leaving all our jargon behind us.

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  3. Bres Bo

    An on-line defence of Rudolf Steiner is a waste of energy. It is completely pointless arguing over the internet. I have never heard of anyone being persuaded by an on-line debate – about anything – except possibly between individuals who already know each other. For us, Steiner’s ideas are the food of life; for Peter Frost, he’s a weirdo with weirdo ideas that have now had their come-uppance (at least at Kings Langley). Disembodied words will never win people over to Anthroposophy; only real encounters, and real deeds/experiences. These attacks are heart-breaking, I know Jeremy, but I’d rather engage with the stranger at my door, than my enemy across the ether.

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    • As you say, it is a pointless waste of energy to argue with the critics – but nevertheless, I still think it is important for a pro-Steiner and pro-anthroposophy viewpoint to be put across. We won’t persuade the critics, but we may be able to help those who are new to these discussions to see that there is more than one side to the debate.

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      • Yes, this is the point of publishing on the internet – that the truth about Anthroposophy, Steiner and Steiner enterprises is also there for people to read. By ‘the truth’ in this context I mean what Steiner actually said (whether you agree with it or not) and an accurate picture of what goes on in Steiner inspired initiatives. (In my experience this is difficult to arrive at, but the attempt should be made).
        There are ‘honourable’ critics. People who have taken the trouble to understand Steiner, or who have had negative experiences in Steiner schools or Camphill villages and who have come to the conclusion that it is a bad thing to base any kind of institution which is supposed to meet the needs of children and/or vulnerable adults on the visionary teachings of a clairvoyant. They are entitled to their point of view.

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  4. You are approaching something very important here. Thanks for the words of Steiner 1909.

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    • Thank you. Yes, I particularly like this sentence: “This is mentioned in passing to fortify those who have to endure and hold their own against the attacks of the people who consider themselves to be on the cutting edge of contemporary culture.”

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  5. “””Steiner as an initiate and highly developed clairvoyant was able to research these matters…”””.

    I want to express some ideas about this Jeremy phrase. I beg Jeremy, allow a preamble about what I want to say before.
    I was born (this time) in South America. It has been very difficult to communicate my anthroposophical reflections to the anthroposophists of my region. I had to live supporting the weight of this contradiction. Not having real interlocutors in my own region, despite having friends who speak the same language as me, is still a little distressing to me. But now I see that it is a universal problem.
    A few years ago, I was struck by the fact that the large number of reports on the spiritual world left by Steiner has no real obstacle in language. I, for example, write and read in Spanish. I speak very little English and I write in that language in a much worse way. Definitely, one can think and speak about worlds superior to ours. In studying Steiner’s writings one concludes that any possible access to these worlds does not, in fact, require academic learning of any particular language. My anguish for making myself understood led me to consider the possibility of studying in depth the original language in which the works of R.S: the German language are printed. I said to myself: “Only in this way will I achieve a complete understanding of Anthroposophy.” I was very wrong. I already knew about the enormous distances, impossible to avoid between people who are still related by the same common language. How did I come to believe that understanding something about Anthroposophy was a matter of language? I still did not realize that the distances between human beings could grow much more and become almost insurmountable due to something we do not want to do: WE MUST DEFEAT the barriers that are not in the norms of human language but are in human beings. Perhaps, the most painful contradiction with which an individual must live is the following: not being able to be heard before those who, it is supposed, are more prepared to do so.
    I do not blame R. Steiner at all. But it is obvious, for men of high soul like him, that something like Anthroposophy must break the uniformity of the most important criteria of societies that are said to be open or closed. With Anthroposophy this is inevitable.

    I just read Jeremy’s publication. With him I have been able to verify again that the type of defense of Steiner’s work carried out for decades by many anthroposophists suffers from some things. I just want to name two. Possibly an error has to do with the insufficient propagation of anthroposophy in the languages ​​in which its defense is carried out. But I find a particular error, not necessarily related to language. It seems that since the time of Steiner, the anthroposophists got used to making such an error. Is this. The anthroposophists of almost all denominations believe that clairvoyance points to the true initiate. In the first place, this is only partially true. Secondly, there is a great difference between someone who simply “sees” paranormal phenomena (a “voyance”) and a clairvoyant.
    Let’s see on television. In Hollywood, movie stars take their problems to the scrutiny of someone famous who has, presumably, the clairvoyant faculty. Allow me to encompass this or other human abilities within the term “vidence” (word with which I replace “voyance”, of French origin, and that for the English language, I risk only representing the action of “seeing spiritually”, but not with “clarity”). No sensible anthroposophist would dare to propose those abilities as faculties under the domain of a real initiate. R. Steiner tactfully omitted to mention these things. (This is obvious to me, it was not time yet). To speak of a genuine clairvoyant must be done only when the individual is initiated. We only have to decompose the clairvoyant word and we would have, in the prefix, a clear or diaphanous spiritual vision under the domain of the initiate. (It can be confusing, I offer apologies).

    What follows is a bit more complicated to understand, but not impossible. Unlike a “voyance”, a clairvoyant (someone who “sees clearly”) can be active as an initiate during existence where he uses that faculty. Or it may not be active. There have been cases of very large initiates who, being “fallen” (asleep for initiation) use the faculty developed during initiation. This is permitted by the high gods who direct the initiation of certain souls. The works of Homer, the Greek, are an example of much of this. A faculty can stand out and that does not mean that, as initiates, they do not have other faculties acquired during other lives. The Bible can show us many cases of “awakened” initiates (who are living the initiation) and cases of “fallen” initiates provided with clairvoyance, intuition, telepathy, policivide, etc., whose names I refrain from quoting at this time.
    Now, clairvoyance and other faculties of the soul are acquired by the initiate during the conquest of the degrees in the Initiation. A faculty develops during an initiatory process. Other faculties need other different developments. Each of the faculties is necessary for the work of the initiate, therefore, its evolution can last for millennia. It is for this reason that the self-realization of the soul needs reincarnation. In some cases, so that the divine sparks embodied in human bodies comply with normal laws and serve only nature. In other cases, reincarnation serves to support the progress of the souls that play the role of guides of humanity. These souls await their liberation through gradual development and only in this way can they become Masters. Forgive my direct and unprejudiced way when mentioning these things. I think the anthroposophists have some lights about it.

    An initiate, said in a few words, is a sum of spiritual structures and faculties (although I have only mentioned something about the use of his psychic faculties). The initiate can fall (or “sleep”) as he incarnates in various existences and, as long as he does not recapitulate his initiations, he can appear among humanity as an artist, scholar, educator or poor and insignificant citizen … Let’s remember Rafael’s case, although He’s not the only one. The Italian painter (very familiar to all) is an inverse or three-dimensional sample of powerful clairvoyance. As an initiate, he had fallen. In that incarnation he did almost nothing to “rise up as an initiate”, but we must look and analyze the phenomenon of the paintings to understand that his clairvoyant faculty did not have a true spiritual projection towards our world. Raffaello was not a simple voyance, because in another existence he reached very high levels of initiation. But Rafael (or Il Raffaello), to understand us better, in that incarnation was NOT an initiate, in the true sense that I am describing. And so on… with some others.
    To summarize, I must say that one thing is a spiritual faculty and another is the Initiation. Not understanding this makes it very difficult for many anthroposophists to understand Rudolf Steiner as an Initiate (and present him to his adversaries), since they only understand him for his clairvoyance. A faculty does not make the initiate complete. A developed faculty can, however, serve to present some spiritual characteristic necessary for humanity. A faculty, therefore, is not an end in itself. It is only a tool for the initiation work.
    I understand that with what I have said I can complicate much more the comfortable image of many about Anthroposophy and its beloved founder. But it is only the truth, a much more complete truth! -Veglio Clavijo, Ecuador

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    • Here is a reference to Steiner (1911) on the distinction between clairvoyance (enlightenment, imagination) and initiation (inspiration), and their ‘balance’ (intuition):

      “Therefore in all esoteric training, care should be taken that initiation should be acquired in addition to clairvoyance. In proportion to the extent of his clairvoyance must a man become capable of distinguishing between the various kinds of supersensible beings and events. Etc.” GA015_c02

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      • Concise. It is the method (or pedagogy) that an initiate of importance uses when he must emit far-reaching spiritual concepts or universal validity.
        Yes, Ton. This is the unmistakable behavior of the great initiates. For the most part, they need to address ALL of humanity. They speak for their near ones and also for the distant ones. They speak for those of their time and for the people of the future. Everyone must understand him, in principle, within the limits of a certain equality.

        It is said that several people, who in past incarnations sincerely supported an initiate, obtain for himself the grace of finding him again in the future: surely this turns such people of the past into those people of the future as I mentioned. These people, who suffered with their Master, look for it and will not stop loving it in spite of death, speaking biblically, only people who listen with their hearts can be called the People Chosen by God … or by the Master, who comes being, in some way, practically the same … or almost.
        Thanks for the appointment Ton.
        V.

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  6. Howard

    Jeremy, thank you. As the fifth, post-Atlantian epoch progresses, we will increasingly witness how the conscious use of partial truths, combined with hyperbolic speaking / writing, undermines discernment. “Say to the church at Sardis, I find your deeds neither hot nor cold.”

    Indeed, it may prove far more productive to pull an akido manuever, just stepping to the side, allowing the attacker’s own momentum to trip them over their own feet. Though a clarity in epistemology itself is at risk, I trust people’s ability to see the black-and-white falsity of hyperbole. However, it is likely far harder, in calm moments alone, to consistently think clearly, to dig through to the bigger, significant ideas underlying what we do than it is to just punch back at a half-truthful, overly intellectual anthro- adversary.
    -Howard

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  7. wooffles

    A point that Jeremy raised in his post but has disappeared in the discussion is that poorly run schools provide an opening for hyperbolic criticism. I’d hazard a guess that a well-run school with broadly satisfied parents that is making serious efforts to meet the new realities of a changing world (while staying grounded in Waldorf principles, one hopes) will be largely immune to such attacks. Critics are out of anthroposophists’ control, but the way that schools are run is not, or not entirely.

    I did like that bit in the linked column about the four Steiner school teachers who checked all the boxes when asked for their race, citing reincarnation, although the specific version sounds like a Waldorf bashers’ urban legend.

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  8. Tom Mellett has been having difficulties in posting here, so has emailed me with the following comment, which I’m copying below:

    Jeremy,

    Let me start with your final sentence with emphasis on the “shoots” and “sprouting” —
    So – until you are able to wake up – mock on, good people, while unbeknown to you the shoots of the new culture are quietly sprouting all around you.
    — because they vividly express the essence of a close synchronicity that occurred when I first discovered your new blog entry Saturday afternoon. At that time, I had just “stumbled upon” (as Internet parlance has it) a new documentary movie about the history of organic farming, It is called Evolution of Organic, a film by Mark Kitchell. I copy the opening of the summary

    http://evolutionoforganic.com/new-page-1/

    It’s no accident that California, home of the world’s most industrialized agriculture, also gives rise to its opposite — organic agriculture. The ‘60s counter-culture heads back to the land. Few have any farming experience; but they experiment and learn and in time become good farmers. A metaphysical aspect emerges when Alan Chadwick, eccentric master gardener, appears at U.C. Santa Cruz as students start a garden; he teaches a generation Rudolf Steiner’s Biodynamic philosophy.

    My immediate reaction was: “I must tell Jeremy about this film!” I first heard about Alan Chadwick just 2 months after his death in 1980 when I had arrived at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, CA and Rene Querido made occasional references to a great British figure in Bio-Dynamics who had recently crossed the threshold in California.

    But it was only this past Saturday, when reading about this film, that I realized the pivotal pioneering role that Alan played in literally fructifying the American organic foods movement with Bio-Dynamics. (The film starts with interviews of Stephen Decater and Jim Nelson, two of Alan’s best protégés.)

    But wait, there’s more. Digging further, I was astounded and pleased to discover that Alan Chadwick had to be persuaded to visit Santa Cruz, CA in that fateful year of 1967 when the “Summer of Love” was happening in San Francisco. So, who was the angelic figure who worked mightily to convince the reluctant and arrogantly misanthropic Alan Chadwick that he must go to America, to the University of California at Santa Cruz and fulfill his destiny with Bio-Dynamics? She was Countess Freya von Moltke (1911-2010), widow Of Helmuth James Graf von Moltke (1907-1945) who was executed by Adolf Hitler for treason in early 1945. (And he is the grandnephew of the Helmuth von Moltke who commanded the German forces in WW I and had conversations with Rudolf Steiner).

    So right about this point in my research, I planned to email you with this news when suddenly I hear the notification ding on my iPad telling me that there is a new posting up on Anthropopper. I rush “across the cyber-pond.” as it were, and there I read your new material and note your melancholia about the present situation in Anthroposophy in the world today. Now perhaps my news will not cheer you up, but maybe it will.

    What you wrote at the end about shoots and sprouts of culture, specifically and literally in Bio-Dynamics has some of its roots in the outbreak of WW I in 1914 if we trace back the karmic lineage of Alan Chadwick’s fateful meeting with Countess Freya von Moltke in South Africa in 1952.

    I mean, if we got through World War I, and we did, surely we will all get through this present situation. So buck up Jeremy and let a smile be your umbrella! Melancholia steeped in self-pity does not suit you at all with your normally ebullient upbeat sanguine nature. Leave that dark Ahrimanic broody stuff to the darker-dispositioned, more melancholic phlegmatics like me.

    Cheerio!

    Tom Mellett
    Los Angeles, CA

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  9. Frost’s article summarises alleged anthroposophical racism and antisemitism in eight paragraphs, and ‘biodynamism’ in five. Indeed, Steiner used vast stereotyping of ethnic groups (CW 105, 107, 121, 349), which was already criticised in his time. This was repeated in the mystical fundamentalism of anthroposophists in our time and in its internal anthroposophical criticism (e.g. Rose, Sonnenberg).

    However, Steiner’s basic human evolutionary scheme comprised three M’s: Monogenism, Migration, Mixture, as opposed to polygenism, hierarchy and regionalisation (CW 11, 13, 54, 121, 100, 107, 349). The biological evolution theory he adopted was Neo-Lamarckism (Haeckel) and Mutualism (Kropotkin), not Neo-Darwinism (Weismann, CW 11, 30, 121).

    Rather, hierarchism is to be found between Steiner’s Atlantean (archaic) and post-Atlantean (modern) ‘root races’ (i.e. human evolutionary era’s), not between migrated Atlantean (Ice-age) races. Even Post-Atlantean (neolithic) Europe was described by Steiner as a retarded, backward migration culture (CW 13, 105, 113, 117, 121), before Europe’s ‘Jupiter people’ adopted the high forehead and accompanying intellect, developed by an alleged original Celtic culture of mentioned normal ‘Sun people’ (Manu, Scythianos, Hibernia). See also Prokofieff (google _y3nDzXvcB8C).

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    • What will always prove useful in considering these several citations is that Rudolf Steiner’s intent in describing the various sub-races of Atlantis was to indicate evolutionary race formation in the constituent varieties necessary for a further migration and amalgamation as cultural entities. Then, by adding the necessary blood-mixing over the several generations since the fall of Atlantis, we have the mixed-race genetics and demographics we see today. That is why Christ chose to sit and break bread with the mixed-blood mongrels of Galilee. He saw what makes the universal human right here with the Galileans, as opposed to those up in Judea who held to the single-blood concept.

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      • Liliana

        Hi Steve, re. the last sentence in your post, Steiner gave some details in this regard in a lecture dated 22-1-1921 – GA 203 : ….In those times when fewer earthly incarnations lay behind the earthly soul, then, because of his fewer earthly incarnations on Earth, a man was born into a quite definite Group, and in that one definite Group alone could he develop socially. A man who, for instance, belonged to a certain caste in Old India, belonged to it because of what his soul had gone through in the Spiritual world; and, because of the small number of his incarnations, if he had been transferred to another caste he would have caused his soul to degenerate. It was not only the blood-inheritance which lay at the basis of the caste system, but something which I must call Spiritual pre-determination. Man has long grown out of that…..
        Today human beings are instructed by the Gods in their pre-natal existence, and the stamp of a definite Group is no longer impressed upon them. The last relic of this still lingers in physical heredity. In a sense, one might say that to belong with one’s consciousness to a Nationality is a piece of inherited sin and is something which should no longer play a part in the soul of man.
        On the other hand, there is the fact, which does play a definite role in our modem epoch, that man, as he grows up, grows away from all the Group-forms…..
        …..Also what it means that man was formerly determined by the will of the Gods into Castes, Classes, Peoples, Tribes, etc. That disappeared after the turning-point in time [Golgotha] which lies behind us.

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  10. I have always found that those that rail the hardest against higher ideas are those who cannot handle higher truths. I for one find no purpose in standing in defense of the truths I have learned over the years, in particular that all cultures, all religions, all truth from all sources find their fulfillment in the Christ – Jesus of Nazareth.

    What I find is the best defense is in most cases – silence. Following one of the precepts found in Steiner’s teachings: “Never talk without cause — be gladly silent.”

    When I was finding my way through the maze of higher spiritual learning, I ran from those who wanted to share with me “the Good News”. I found my way to where I am now without “help” from anyone who “knew better” or “knew THE truth”. I credit my progress not on my own prowess but rather on my deep seeded “need” to know. I believe this is the only way anyone can really “have eyes to see and ears to hear” the many intertwined “little truths” that lead to “The Truth”.

    Time and time again I have witnessed those who tout themselves as superior fall by their own weight. Unfortunately, they can prove to be destructive to others along the way until they do. In this instance, what I believe we must do is grasp the “bigger” picture of what we believe, especially with the knowledge Rudolf Steiner has brought to light.

    Edgar Cayce (the sleeping prophet) described Jesus as “the pattern”, describing Him as “the awareness within each soul, imprinted in pattern on the mind and waiting to be awakened by the will, of the soul’s oneness with God”. I believe, anyway, that if we simply follow this pattern, in light of all that both Cayce and Steiner have revealed for us, those that would scorn and ridicule us and our beliefs will either be “infected” by our standing firm, or will fall away. In other words, they do not matter.

    Apologies for droning on. There is so much to say here. It is comfort enough for this poor soul to have found a forum like this to share among like minded people. I’ll leave you with a bit more of Cayce. Cheers!

    Q. What is the meaning and significance of the words Jesus and Christ…?

    A. Just as indicated. Jesus is the man — the activity, the mind, the relationships that He bore to others. Yea, He was mindful of friends, He was sociable, He was loving, He was kind, He was gentle. He grew faint, He grew weak — and yet gained that strength that He has promised, in becoming the Christ, by fulfilling and overcoming the world! Ye are made strong — in body, in mind, in soul and purpose — by that power in Christ. The power, then, is in the Christ. The pattern is in Jesus.
    — Edgar Cayce reading 2533-7

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    • Liliana

      Thank you, Kenneth. Paraphrasing Steiner, he once said that unless one felt a hunger for knowledge as one does for food one would soon turn away from Anthroposophy. It’s much easier to follow the “the Good News Messengers” who make no demands to the mind.

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      • Thank you both Liliana and Kathy.

        In the “reverse direction”, I have found, try as I might, to help others to see that much of their “physical” struggles are actually stemming from either a suppressed spiritual life or, worse, outright rejection of any sort of spiritual connection in their life is fruitless and often has the reverse effect of what is intended. Much like my running from those whose intent, I am sure, was sincere and from the heart.

        In my own life, the examples I live with are my own two daughters. One has her own ideas and any conception of things spiritual must come from her own imaginings. She rejects anything Christian and so “throws the baby out with the bathwater”, refusing to recognize Christ at all.

        My other daughter is, to put it simply and somewhat painfully, ahrimanic in her life choices. She does not necessarily reject anything outright (though in one slip some time ago she used the phrase “Christ crap” in conversation) but is very hyper focused on the material. Actually, both daughters are pretty focused on the material. And even the most simple spiritual principles are too much for them to wrestle with.

        I pray for both regularly and (hopefully) model Jesus in every way I can. What builds upon the pain I feel is my two granddaughters by the second daughter mentioned and the “one on the way” with the first.

        When I met my first granddaughter for the first time at about 6 months, I took her alone away from others and prayed I think deeper than I ever had before over her for her protection etc. Since that time she has had a special connection to me (she is now 4). I will meet my second granddaughter in a couple of weeks and will do the same. I am so thankful I am where I am in my spiritual life. Perhaps in time, before I move on my way, something wonderful will happen in all their lives.

        Prayer is really all we have to help others – until the Light shines within them and they begin to seek on their own and ask questions.

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      • Liliana

        I feel for you Kenneth. It is very painful to see those close to us entangled in a daily life that would be so much richer if only they would let the spirit in, even if only through a crack in their convictions, a tiny doubt that what they consider reality is really all there is.
        In our times the human soul is under attack like never before. I’m reminded so often of that wonderful yet frightening poem by Yeats ‘The Second Coming’. He was so prophetic.
        https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/second-coming

        But then there is this other wonderful meditation to give us hope:
        Let us eradicate from our soul
        All fear and terror of what comes toward us out of life.
        We must think only that whatever comes is given to us
        By a world direction full of purpose.
        This is part of what we must learn in this age –
        To live out of pure trust;
        Trust in the ever-present help of the Spiritual World.
        Truly, nothing else will do
        If our courage is not to fail us.
        Let us discipline our will
        To awaken this trust within ourselves
        Every morning and every evening.
        R.S. 27-11-1910

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  11. Kathy

    Ditto, Kenneth!

    Like

  12. In response to those who claim Steiner was a racist, it can be useful if they read through the many Steiner statements against racism:
    http://waldorfanswers.org/AAnthroposophicalAntiracismRoots.htm

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  13. The article in the communist newspaper presents a caricature of Steiner’s views.

    Here is part of the overall picture the communist article fails to see:

    1. Probably less than one-quarter of one percent of Steiner’s 350 volumes of lectures and writings says anything whatsoever about race.

    2. In those 350 volumes, Steiner was recorded as putting out a few scattered sentences that seem to be or are to some extent racist. But whenever Steiner speaks systematically about race, he makes clear that the character of the individual is much more important than race. See, for many examples from throughout his life, http://waldorfanswers.org/AAnthroposophicalAntiracismRoots.htm

    He even denies there is any real scientific content to the very concept of “race.” See the lectures in The Universal Human (SteinerBooks): there Steiner holds that demonic forces seek to make different human groups look upon one another as different species and that Christ came in significant part to overcome that demonic attempt and unite all humanity as one.

    3. Steiner spoke before the Nazi Holocaust and the martyrdom of Martin Luther King had taken place. Because of those events and many others, today people are quite understandably very uncomfortable recognizing ANY difference among races. Steiner’s approach, in a very different historical context, was to acknowledge differences but to insist they were unimportant compared with the character of the individual. At one point, for example, Steiner says that this is so obvious it is ‘stupid” to have to mention it:
    In 1897:
    “Value should be attached solely to the mutual exchange between individuals. It is irrelevant whether someone is a Jew or a German … This is so obvious that one feels stupid even putting it into words. So how stupid must one be to assert the opposite!” — Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte 1887-1901 (Collected essays) (GA 31), Dornach 1989, September 1897. (Quoted here: http://waldorfanswers.org/AAnthroposophicalAntiracismRoots.htm .)

    The communist newspaper refers to another Steiner statement about the Jews to make Steiner look as though he would have supported genocide against them, but the statement in question meant something else entirely: its underlying sentiment was against ANY kind of ethnic nationalism, including the German kind. It was not its intent to single out Jewry for any special ethnic criticism. Furthermore, anyone who knows Steiner’s works and context knows that that statement held precisely zero implication of any kind of violence whatsoever, because Steiner would absolutely have opposed that, though the communist writer was either too negligent or too much of a liar to trouble to find that out or convey it to his readers, and is content to make Steiner look genocidal by a quote out of context. Any fair and thorough appraisal of Steiner will recognize his rejection of ethnic nationalism and his belief in the individual. Steiner’s whole view of how Austria-Hungary and Central Europe should have been structured after World War I is just one of many proofs of Steiner’s disgust with any policy of dividing people by ethnicity.

    It is ironic that a communist writer should tar Steiner with malign influence, when “actually existing” communism in the twentieth century was responsible for well over a hundred million victims of democide (murder by government) just in the PRC and the Soviet Union.

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    • Thank you, Edward. This is an outstanding post, and almost makes me want to write a torrent, but I won’t. What you write here is important, and often used by ‘yours truly’ to set the perspective on Rudolf Steiner’s overall work of presenting spiritual science. You said:

      “1. Probably less than one-quarter of one percent of Steiner’s 350 volumes of lectures and writings says anything whatsoever about race.”

      This is, indeed, very true. Rudolf Steiner conveyed races only in relation to their seminal sub-racial configurations that occurred in the 4th main epoch. This is best expressed in his lecture-course on “The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls”, GA121. Even here, with this very title, he is pointing toward the eventual cultures that would arise out of the necessary migration of these sub-races.

      The problem that seems to occur for those that criticize this course, and I would more than suggest that Peter Frost of the Morning Star is one of those that googles on Steiner’s racism, and gets some of the smattering of this criticism, is that we have a very detailed description of how the various cultures that represent the several folk souls first had to form as the sub-races in the Altantean period of earth development. Steiner proceeds in an admirable fashion by necessarily describing how when the Universal Human is to be divided into the various sub-races, that abnormal spiritual of form are used to make the various distinctions, which involve bringing in the planets and their respective qualities. Critics with some know-how consider this very prejudicial.

      Then, on an easier and more popular note, we have the findings of the Dutch Anthroposophical Society a few years ago, which charged Steiner with, what…, some 16 specific charges of racist remarks that would be found so by today’s standards? Well, this certainly can easily be found in any casual search on Google about Dr. Steiner.

      Sorry for the small torrent, but it could have been much larger. This blog provides a nice outlet, and I hope that Jeremy keeps up his focus.

      Kind regards,

      Steve

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    • Isn’t Frost at least right concerning Steiner’s stereotyping of diverse ethnic groups and their offspring in our days (CW 101, 105, 121 etc.), or Steiner’s stigmatisation of Jews (CW 353: the spirit of Jewry, the Jewish way of thinking, the intrinsic character of Judaism, Jewish habits and customs, their own particular faculties, the characteristics of the Jews, the typical Jewish style), which has been preserved and transplanted into the present?

      Not to speak of the alleged superiority of Christianity over monotheistic Judaism and polytheistic paganism, or of the original Celts over Europeans.

      http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA/GA0353/19240508p01.html
      http://www.waldorfanswers.org/RSAgainstAnti-Semitism.htm

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      • Thank you Steve and Ton, for the helpful replies.

        I’ll respond to Steve first.

        I find the Mission of the Folk Souls problematic, of course. A couple of sentences in that book trouble me, and really I should go back and reread the relevant lecture to clarify to myself what I really think about those sentences. This issue still has some unresolved elements for me, despite the confidence with which I wrote my 7:00 pm comment above.

        Yes, I have heard of the Dutch Anthroposophical Society’s exhaustive inventory of race-related remarks in Steiner’s work, and the resulting findings. I was glad to hear such an inventory was made and assessed. I wonder if their inventory has been translated into English. I’d guess it is available in German. I’d like to see the overview.

        Over decades I have read well over a hundred volumes of Steiner, some of them by chewing (really, interrogating) each sentence exhaustively so that I might digest every last micron of value and set aside the inessential. Extensive reading of Steiner is the basis for my assessment in the 7:00 pm comment above.

        To Ton,
        There is some truth in what you say, as to stereotyping, but I believe this has to be taken in the context of the countervailing factors I list in my 7:00 pm comment, or one gets a false picture of Steiner. Things can be quoted in isolation to make his views look horrific and utterly different from what they really are.

        I’m thankful that you provided the link to Steiner’s discussion of Jews and the Jewish outlook. I consider myself “half-Jewish” because my father comes from a Jewish background, and Jews are the people to whom I feel instinctively the warmest ties. In some ways I am culturally very much a Jew, I suppose. Some of what Steiner says about the Jewish mind I see in myself — or at least myself before I had studied anthroposophy intensively for over a decade (that was the period when I read over a hundred volumes by Steiner), by which time a profound transformation had been wrought. Steiner remains my most valued spiritual, aesthetic, intellectual, and moral teacher.

        In reading what you linked to, Ton, I see nothing offensive in what Steiner said, provided one reads everything he said in that talk. He might or might not be wrong on some points, but that is a different question.

        I’ll give examples of what I think makes the talk you linked to inoffensive.

        In that talk

        1. Steiner notes that Jews are prevalent in the medical profession above what would be expected by their proportion of the population of the nations in which they live, and he says that he would be absolutely against using the law to prevent Jews from being prevalent in the medical profession. Based on that and on much else, we can conclude that he had the same attitude about Jews becoming painters, or musicians, or entering any other field. He expresses himself viscerally against the state setting up ethnic restrictions.

        2. His criticisms of Judaism are not based on any alleged unchangeable, biological, racial characteristics; he criticizes some cultural characteristics, and those criticisms are balanced by praise of other cultural characteristics, and by criticism of his own European culture.

        3. He speaks of feeling heartbroken to read of Jews in the Middle Ages being kept in ghettoes, not being permitted to go out of them; it seems to me there is a subtext to this statement: Steiner is indicating to his audience, lest they misunderstand his criticisms, that nothing he is saying should be construed as support for any kind of segregation of Jews from others or for hating them.

        4. Steiner’s criticism of Jewish culture is that it has an aspect of ethnic nationalism (which was a necessity for the unique spiritual role the Jews had to play in the evolution of mankind, he says, but is no longer helpful). Steiner says that people need to transcend racial invidiousness and ethnic nationalism and come to the universal human where all peoples intermix.

        5. Because of his opposition to ethnic nationalism, Steiner was against Zionism. But now that the Holocaust has happened, and Israel is an accomplished fact, it is, I would say, wrong and even absurd to think that Steiner would today single out Israel for dissolution any more than any other nation with its own language, culture, and ethnic composition. He would have urged that all nations move away from ethnic or other nationalisms, to the extent they can do so without falling into something worse. Indeed, after criticizing Zionism, he goes on in that talk to criticize Europe, saying that similar nationalist tendencies led to World War I. Having studied Steiner’s social threefolding efforts, I have learned that Steiner wanted to bring federalism, democracy, and threefolding to bear in order to make Austria-Hungary into a truly multicultural society after World War I. That was part of why he at times expressed almost hostile animus against Woodrow Wilson and his “self-determination of nations”. Steiner considered ethnic invidiousness repulsive, barbaric, decadent. His strength of feeling in this direction has been too little noted.

        6. Steiner points to the blood libel against Jews and calls it ‘superstitious’.

        The foregoing points make it clear that Steiner held a view that was virtually the opposite of the one Nazis adhered to. And yet how often we have seen a certain sentence maliciously quoted out of context to make it appear that Steiner supported genocide!

        In short, the Steiner talk you linked to focuses on culture, not race, except to reject race and ethnicity as any basis for law or for the organization of states. Provided one rejects ethnic nationalism and any kind of totalitarianism (both of which Steiner frequently rejected), there is nothing wrong with criticizing the beliefs, ideas and practices of peoples. In any case, Steiner cares little about alleged biological, racial characteristics.

        Perhaps one could criticize Steiner for not realizing fully enough what could result from the fact that many of those who would read his statements would not be mature enough to avoid parroting parts out of context. So much easier to repeat statements than it is to penetrate the network of relations between statements.

        Perhaps one could criticize him for not anticipating (or did he?) how his statements on this subject, ripped from their context, would appear a century after his death when the world had become a global village, Europe had been traumatized by the Nazis and the death camps, and the U.S. had been shocked to its core by having to face up to its inhumanity and cruelty to the descendants of slaves. But a teacher cannot, or cannot always, speak to all ages at once. Specific circumstances must often be addressed.

        As far as I can see, if one reads Steiner with care, there is little in his works, when it comes to racism, to be offended by. What there is that is racially offensive, if anything, should simply be rejected. Steiner was one of the greatest men who ever lived, but that does not make him infallible. Unfortunately, even Steiner’s friends don’t always read him with care, and his enemies, who read him with hatred, zero in on a statement that, in isolation, can be made to look genocidal, though he was viscerally opposed to racial obsessions and pathologies. What motives do people have for misrepresenting Steiner?

        Sometimes it is just an honest error due to lack of sufficient knowledge. Others misrepresent Steiner due to a hatred of anthroposophy because it rejects materialistic reductionism and critiques the reductionist aspect of current science. Still others hate anthroposophy because of the partly justified feeling that Waldorf schools that have become state schools merge the spiritual/religious/cultural with state power. (In fact, all state schooling commits that sin, which is why Steiner wanted to separate school and state.) Still other people, who come from a different spiritual or religious background than anthroposophy, may hate it simply because it is a strong spiritual force that differs from what they are attached to.

        I again provide a link to the many anti-racist statements Steiner made throughout his life:
        http://www.waldorfanswers.org/RSAgainstAnti-Semitism.htm

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      • “Isn’t Frost at least right concerning Steiner’s stereotyping of diverse ethnic groups and their offspring in our days (CW 101, 105, 121 etc.)”

        I’d be interested in seeing some examples of ethnic stereotyping from these courses, since both 105 and 121 are largely about race development and the early civilizations after the deluge. 101 is about Occult Signs and Symbols. Very curious on this.

        Of course, 353 has been adequately defended elsewhere, but any reading of it easily defends itself. It is NOT antisemitic, but rather extols the Hebrews and Judaism. Waldorf Answers is pretty thorough on this.

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      • You don’t have to agree with everything Frost writes, to see ethnic stereotyping in Steiner’s descriptions. I mean, ‘An Indian is in such close touch with nature …’ (CW 100) is stigmatising American Indians as a group (citing Samuel Cobb). Or the ‘tendencies towards certain passionate and sensuous instincts’ among Malays is stereotyping a whole group (CW 105).

        And e.g. ‘the Jews are a tenacious people’ (CW 353) is an anti-Judaist cliché, ascribing a negatively stereotyped quality to a whole group, although the Jewish people is not a unity .
        Frost quotes Steiner (1888) on ‘Jewry as such’. Later, Steiner (1924, CW 353) referred to the obsolete collective ’Jewish way of thinking’ as an abstract monotheism, in anti-Judaist contrast to a developed Christianity.

        Apologetic here are Anderson, Leist/Ravagli/Bader 2002 and Mays/Nordwall 2004,
        http://www.rudolfsteinerstudies.com/free-ebooks/Opponents_Critics_of_Steiner.pdf
        http://www.defendingsteiner.com/allegations/RS-AntiSemitism.pdf
        http://www.waldorfanswers.org/AAntisemitismMyth.htm

        Critical are Staudenmaier 2005 (and Stegemann and Sonnenberg in German)
        http://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1080&context=hist_fac
        http://www.akdh.ch/ps/ps_60Ref-Stegemann.html
        http://www.hagalil.com/antisemitismus/deutschland/steiner-2.htm

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  14. Conclusions of the Dutch Commission on “Anthroposophy and the Question of Race” (2000)
    http://uncletaz.com/steinerrace.html

    Frankfurt Memorandum (2008):
    http://southerncrossreview.org/64/memorandum_english.pdf

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