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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Social Life
GA 203

Lecture II

23 January 1921, Dornach

I should like to-day to add various things to the considerations of Cosmic and human truths, which we have been studying of late, and I shall want to add several things concerning the sort of truths we discussed in the last lecture, truths connected with the development of mankind in our own age.

How, in order to amplify those things from one side, and another, it will be necessary to-day to insert here and there an observation which may strike you as being personal; but you know that I only make personal observations on the rarest occasions, and when I do, it is always, as to-day, to explain something strongly objective.

We are living at present in an epoch which demands something quite definite from human beings. It demands from everyone what must be called a decision arising from the innermost depths of human nature. It must be considered, and clearly seen that we have now really entered for the first time on the age of human freedom, and the upheavals in intellectual, moral or social spheres, are, after all, nothing but the expression of man being brought into the region of freedom through the deeper forces connected with human development. We have merely to consider the life of individual man or the life of Nations, and to look at them in a quite unprejudiced way, to see what occurs; and then we can say to ourselves that there are to-day innumerable factors, through which each single individual, or whole races, communities and Groups of mankind, are deteriorated either from without or within, factors which leave them unfree. This being carried along by the relationships and events around then, is something which fundamentally lay in the real evolution of humanity; but now man has to emerge from this stage. The future of the Earth will consist in man developing more and more what we have just characterised by saying that, to-day, for the first time, man is faced with such significant decisions.

The fact that man is thus placed before such significant decisions, my dear friends, decisions which have to be made from the innermost depths of man's heart and soul, is expressed in the external course of events. As a rule, however, the great changes which have occurred in all the spheres of political, social, Spiritual and scientific life in the course of the second half of the 19th Century, have been too little observed.

One can notice signs of this transition, both in great and in small things everywhere to-day. Let us take one instance which lies very close to us. You know that amongst the many enemies of our Anthroposophical Movement to-day, are also to be found the Clergy of this Country (Switzerland), and they show quite clearly that behind them stands the power of the Jesuits, and that power appears to have a certain validity just in Switzerland. One has merely to keep in mind what reveals itself to-day in various spheres, to see how this Jesuitical power is amalgamated, for many people, with what they call the external religious education and so on. As regards this Country it may be interesting to bring before our souls an extraordinary document which, because it is so interesting, I have had photographed. This document originated in Switzerland and was produced there in 1847. I will read it to you:—

“Dedicated to the contemporary Army and their brave leaders as a permanent monument, in memory of the 24th November 1847, when the Dominion of the Jesuits passed away from Switzerland. The Almighty has given victory to the just cause. Those days, from the 12th to the 30th November 1847 are therefore unforgettable to every Confederate soldier—those days during which in consequence of resolutions passed on the 20th July and 4th November 1847, the seven Catholic separated States—Lucerne, Uri, Schweiz, Zug, Freiburg, and the Valais, were infested with war, but because of our Army under the command of Heinrich Du-four of Geneva, they had one after another to capitulate. To these days belong some of the most note-worthy events which Swiss history offers. With a relatively slight sacrifice of dead and wounded our clever and war-experienced leader, by his strategical arrangements, was successful, after many conflicts, in freeing those people who were slaves to the tyranny and power of a hypocritical Clergy full of fanaticism; and the inhabitants blinded by their Catholicism, who as enemies faced the Confederate army including the Militia over 80,000 strong. After a few days were entirely conquered, which made it possible to dissolve that Sonderbund and to drive the Jesuits out of Switzerland”

The concluding sentence, which is especially interesting in my opinion runs: “May God's Fatherly protection rule over our Army.”

You see under whose protection at that time the expulsion of the Jesuits was undertaken, and how “God's Fatherly protection” was similarly evoked for the future, that it might always continue to rule over the Swiss people as at the time, when General du-four was successful in ridding Switzerland from the Jesuits. That occurred in 1847.

Now, my dear friends, not these things alone, but many others, have undergone radical transformations in the course of the last half Century, transformations of quite a definite character. Their characteristic is that anyone who gives himself over merely to the sequence of external events, such as have transpired during this epoch, must of necessity come into confusion. The very best way to come into confusion, and to be unable to find a way out of certain knots and tangles, is just to let the external events of the last half- or two-thirds of the last Century work upon us. If a person to-day wishes to find his way aright, a certain orientation which comes entirely from within, a certain impulse, is absolutely necessary. In that chaos, which is the basis of all the confusion into which we fall if we rely solely on external things, all the best strivings of recent times have been entangled. It cannot of course be denied, that our newer age has accomplished many things in various spheres of life; especially in the sphere of technique and the science which is connected with technique, great significant progress has been made. Triumphs have been celebrated, and this praise is thoroughly justified. But if you take the best results, the best scientific and technical conquests of our civilisation, although you will find many things of use, many illuminating things, many things which bring man on materially, you will find nothing either in science or in technique or in any other sphere, or even in that sphere which has brought good to man, nothing which can shine from the outer world into man's soul so that he can get a guiding impulse from those things coming from that external world. Therefore, Spiritual Science had to come, just at this very time, because out of Spiritual Science something must come which is drawn from no external world, but simply from the Spiritual world; and which is so taken up that when it flows into the outer world it represents an impulse which has nothing to do with anything drawn from that outer world itself. It is an impulse carried into the outer world from Spiritual worlds,—and that is what is sought to be given through our Anthroposophical Spiritual Science. In this connection, we are radically misunderstood to-day, and my yesterday's remarks were a kind of explanation of this from a certain aspect. I wanted especially to show that it must not be said of our School-Impulse (which of course is born out of Spiritual Science), or of our practical undertakings, that we carry into them anything of a theoretical view of the world. I tried to show yesterday how far such a statement is from reality. But neither may one say the opposite, and this too is connected with a right understanding of our Anthroposophical Spiritual Science. One may not say the reverse, that, as people usually imagine to-day, any external activity is the result of a theory, of a programme; one must not imagine that what we accomplish—whether in the sphere of pedagogy or practical life—proceeds from any programme such as is usually imagined to-day.

A few days ago, for instance, someone said:—“Well, this peculiar idea regarding the Threefold State, would not have arisen if this Threefold idea had not sprung from Anthroposophy,” and I had to correct such an utterance radically. And here I must add a few personal things, which are meant quite objectively, and have a good deal to do with these matters. I had to say:—“It is really the case that what meets you and others to-day as the Threefold Division of the Social Organism, in so far as it was conceived by me, sprang from no abstract thought, nor from meditating on how the social life could be so arranged that something could come into it of that Utopian character one finds in many writings to-day. It did not arise in this way.” That came to me as the perception of a Spiritual stream, which flowed together naturally in life with other streams, especially with the economic stream. The economic perception arose from its own soil, on the basis of its own life.

A few years ago, I had to explain how this perception of the economic life of our recent times, of the economic necessities arose I had to object then, when I was told that the Drei-Gliederung (Three- foldness) proceeded out of Anthroposophy, just as one can take something out of a programme to-day and put it forward as an impulse. I said:—My boyhood was spent as the son of a railway official. That was in the 60's and 70's, when railways had only half evolved from their embryonic life. The great traffic only came gradually and later, but I shared in just those measures which were taken under the very first arrangements made for railways. I was thus absolutely under the impression of this life of commerce which was then arising, and it was the perception which I got from that, which of course, was later united with something else, that led to my presenting the social life as I had to do, in the sense of the three-fold Social Order.

We have to consider that in the 70's of the last Century, the essential, basic element of the newer evolution, was the transformation of traffic. International commerce developed in this epoch. I myself, in the last years of this inter-national commercial evolution, was under the daily and hourly influence of the details that developed in connection with that world-traffic, and then, in the last third of the 19th Century, or rather in the last quarter of it, came that great turnover, the great transformation, which led from world-intercourse, to world-trading, and economics.

My dear friends, those are two quite different things. It was world-commerce which first led to world-economics. World-trade is but the latest phase of the development of National economics. That which is, in its essentials, prepared in single Countries, has been spread abroad through the world-trade and been carried into other Countries. But nevertheless, there exists a certain individuality as regards the productions of each Country. All this, under the influence of the developing traffic, became different,—the world passed over from world trade to world economics. World-economics can only exist when the raw product is purchased in one Country and then sent to another where it is worked over industrially; so that not only through the trading, but through the economics itself, one Country or land became dependent on another, and thereby economics were spread over many different Countries. This spreading of trade, of commerce, this—what I must call a welding of the world into a common world- sphere in economics, came about for the most part in the last decades of the 19th Century;—and this arose perhaps in its most permeating, penetrating form, in the arrangements made in the European Textile Industries in connection with the Indian and American cotton. In the cotton industry, one could especially experience the transformation of ordinary trade into world- economics. Just at the time when it could be seen how these things were going on, I was for eight years tutor in a house dealing in cotton brought from India and America to Europe, and in this house Cotton-Agents—which means also the manufacturers of such goods,—congregated together. Those people too traded in cotton, and so at that time I was in the midst of the interests connected with these things.

I lived entirely in that centre, never having been one of those who regarded external things as trivial, considering that one should withdraw from external things into a mystic twilight, I was deeply interested, especially when despatches came, which had to be deciphered with a Code. Once there came a dispatch which included the word “wire-puller,” and one had to look up this word, which meant, “such and such a firm wants so many bales of cotton at this or that price.” With the word “wire-puller” one could draw forth things which might have a very significant business importance.

You see, during this epoch I was greatly interested in those patterns which came, samples of American and Indian cotton, cotton piled high up in the office, each with its own little specification, labels on which were written quite interesting things. While I was studying these carefully, (pardon these personal observations, but they are connected with the objective side), I also studied Goethe's “Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily,” and those two things were carried on absolutely side by side, and fundamentally it was from that which flowed to me then out of my study of the “Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily,” that twenty one years later, 3x7 years after, there flowed that which led to my first Mystery Play, “The Portal of Initiation.” I just wanted to bring forward this couple of instances—which I could multiply many times; but you see, I had to explain to that man who came to me saying that my ideas of economic life came from an abstract Anthroposophy, that it was not abstract. Anthroposophy is not abstract, although people say think so. I had to tell that man that I had taken part in the life of commerce. I even wrote hills of lading; even if in addition to the signs which I had to write on the bills of lading, I made many blots, nevertheless I wrote them. I grew up in the middle of that cotton industry and trade, and it was in connection with these things which are in connection with the whole feeling of our present time, out of my perceptions of these, then that my economic ideas arose. They are not mere theories, but are in reality drawn from life itself. I feel that one can only draw such things out of life if one has the good-will really to look at life itself. One must also, of course look at life just where many despise it, if one wishes to get at those things which can be made practical in life and prove themselves as such. Just out of what resulted from the practise of life and from being in the very midst of it, and seeing the confused tangle and knots in it, those things arose later; for among the men I met at that time were some whose destiny still caused them to find the aftereffects of the great crisis in 1873. At this time, one could clearly see their remarkable connections between the World-views and the economic life, which must now be overcome by our mode of thought. The Director of that railway on which my father worked, was at that time a man named Pontout, who was regarded as a small demi-god by the neighbourhood in which I then lived,—Frau Pontout, for what reason I do not know, was always called the Baroness; she was considered an extremely pious woman. They were both really, from a certain point of view, extremely religious people. Pontout then resigned the post of General Director of the Southern Railway and entered a great business undertaking, which stretched its tentacles from France to Serbia; and, because of his piety he was able to carry out a gigantic business in the service, not of course of a World-power, but of those powers in whose service he placed himself, whenever he took the Prayer-book in his hand. Then the whole business smashed, and there arose that famous Pontout-crash, from which at the right moment, a certain clerical community withdrew their fingers, leaving Pontout alone in it. But even at that time one could see a certain philosophy or let us say a certain order of ideas, being carried into financial undertakings; and one could very well learn from that what one ought not to do. Of course, many people could not believe that I thus learned the right way, and that this led to my thinking in a very different way of the connection between Anthroposophy and the “Kommenden Tag” and “Futurum,” than did Pontout of the connection between the Catholic Church and the Serbian bank.

These things are all taken from life, my dear friends, and the fact that one can read them from life, that we do not approach life with theoretical dogmas, is just what should come from Anthroposophy, if it be rightly understood. Anthroposophy is distinguished, or should make itself distinct from other World-views, in that it can be selfless; that means that it does not trumpet its dogmas abroad, but simply provides an introduction, by which one can learn to know life itself in all its fullness and breadth. Only in this way can Anthroposophy satisfy the most weighty and important demands and necessities of man's present evolution.

I told you that anyone able to look with open eyes at what happens could see confusion everywhere, that even in what was good there was confusion, and that a person could not help going astray if he simply swam on in what the external world offered. Into that an impulse had to flow from spirit-lands, an impulse which coming from quite a different source, was called upon to give a direction which could not be got from the external world, even though there may be good in it. It is just that which Anthroposophy should bring to expression; just consider what an impulse lies in this age, where in external events everywhere whether in scientific or any other branch of cultural life, or in outer life, these insoluble-knots were being formed. It was just then, that coming out of Spiritual depths, something had to find its way into the world which could give it the right direction.

You must consider how, on the other hand, something else came to humanity. That is the following:—Whenever a person gives himself up to the stream of those insoluble knots, he is tempted not to care to seek for guidance for his own soul, but to give himself over to the confusion of external life, and is then only carried along by the river of confusing external events. I could see to my great sorrow, that human beings under this influence, become less and less independent. On the one hand, they were driven to form an independent judgment of things, but their independent judgment could only form that which then forced itself out of that sphere of chaotic external events, urging them into paths unknown to them. These people wanted to be free, they wanted to be independent, for the demand for freedom lives in the subconscious nature of man. People imagine they are free, but all the time, because freedom means a strong shaking up in one's inner soul, and because they did not want to be shaken up, they gave themselves over to that stream which runs its course in the way I have described. In this way, they come under Ahrimanic influence, which strives for the Spiritual with all kinds of beautiful and well-chosen words which have their roots simply in personal egotism, and a longing to allow this personal egoism to carry them into the social life around them.

It is one of the most important characteristics of the age, that human beings are full of this egotism, so that when they speak of social demands they really mean; how can their egoism best be carried along by social life? They speak of the demands of social life, but all the time they mean egoistic life; they want a social life of such a kind that Egoism can thrive best in it.

Of course, the Three-fold Social-Order could not speak in this way, it cannot speak of a Paradise! It must leave that to the Lenins and Trotzkis etc. The Three-fold-Order can only speak of what is organically possible in the social body, of that which is capable of life, of that which can fulfill itself. To that we must attain; for if we simply picture and strive for illusion we shall certainly not get very far.

We must accustom ourselves, my dear friends, not to consider life from any abstract principle, but to live our life, regarding the details of life with full consciousness, whether they belong apparently to Spiritual or material things. A great transformation has taken place, in that the economic life of the whole world has become a single body, but humanity is not able to understand it, could not bear it. It has been proclaimed, but not inwardly understood. Many things have appeared concerning “World Economics,” but they are all mere phrases, for this perception of the whole economic life as one body has not been inwardly digested. And so it has come about that humanity has been driven into a World-trade, but it has not understood how to adapt life to it, and so has now come to live in such a World where barriers on barriers have been set up to preserve all sorts of impossible national commerces, hemmed in by all kinds of customs, duties, passports and other limitations, by which they hope to preserve in a most terrible way, something for which the time is long past.

All that we experience today is nothing but this result of the misunderstanding of what has arisen because the last third of the 19th and the first two decades of the 20th Century, presented a state of chaos, of the confusing tangles to which one ought not to give oneself up externally, for that is also something which shows itself in the inimical attacks made now on Anthroposophy. These attacks which appear to-day, (both extensively and intensively) are now assuming the most incredible dimensions; and we may say, if we take these things externally, that we can see in the very way these attacks are expressing themselves, the spirit by which they are inspired. For instance, the following has been said of “Steiner's Goetheanum in Dornach”—“We should like anyone who wants to form his own judgment of Dr Steiner's views, to visit that Temple, that image of his spirit, and to see it with their own eyes. For what does this man take himself and others, for whom he chooses to pour the hallucinations, the feverish dream of his brain into concrete, to carve them in wood, and in glass, and to have them painted on the wall?”

Finally, my dear friends, another very extraordinary party has joined the various people, the Chauvinists the extreme Socialists, and especially the leaders of Socialism, and so on. They are not of recent date, one heard of their activities in 1912, 1913, They add quite extraordinary sentences to what I have just read to you:—Somebody writes: “these are only tiny samples of attacks, appearing at present under the Uranus-influence.”

You see that mockery is not lacking, especially shown in the indignation of an opponent filled with hate, from which I will quote. The odd people who now are uniting with those others, are especially Astrologers; and behind these lies a special ruthlessness, (of which many of them are unconscious,) because in this astrology there is something attractive, and one can do much with such things. Some of these are very extraordinary if one brings them into connection. For instance, here is another attack which contains these words:—

“We hold it very necessary to keep an open eye on Rudolf Steiner, that man who supports himself on Judaism, on the most distorted Communistic and idealistic ideas, and who wanted to become the Minister for Culture in Wurttemberg during the revolution.”

Here you see, a man is speaking of my relationship with the Jews and Communists. Let us quote another attack, from the other side. It is good to compare these things, because in the comparison many details come to light. “None of the former religious founders, such as Christ and Buddha, none of the wise men and prophets” (I do not think that I have ever in the remotest degree taken upon myself such a title but the opponents do, as it seems here) “have ever paid such heed to the external; to earthly treasures, palaces, temples. On the contrary, they remained without much property, they instructed human beings without reward, they led them higher Spiritually, and taught them to pray in their own quiet chambers. They perieated and spread their Spiritual ideas and wise teachings without needing the material help of rich financiers.”

Here you see, on the one hand, my relationship with the Catholics and Jesuits; and on the other, with rich financiers. Only one thing is lacking, and that is my relationship with prominent generals. But my dear friends, I know that no one can take it amiss if I emphasise quite especially,—it must be emphasised once, for this must be said—I say it quite expressly, it must be sooner or later investigated whether I have used anybody, whether Communists, financiers or generals, for my own purpose; for I could have dispensed with those people. It must be ascertained whether I came to them or they to me; that is something which must be kept in mind, my dear friends, for a great deal depends on it.

There is another point; when on the one hand we must meet with the statement that “he can only support himself on the basis of the Communists” and so on, and on the other it is asserted that the wise men of old managed to spread their Spiritual teachings without the material help of rich financiers, one can say that rounds very much like the calumnies which appeared in 1909, when it was said that I was an especially dangerous 'Freemason.' That assertion came from the side of the Jesuits; but from the other side the Calumny arose, that I was myself a Jesuit! You see how well these people know me! One ought to reflect whether perhaps, that which it is most necessary of all to keep in mind, whether in the Jew or Communist, or even in the rich financier, “Man” himself has not been overlooked; for to-day it is a question of man and what must be sought in the human in every form; for in the last resort, my dear friends, neither the old party-strata, e.g. Communists “nor the old racial connections such as the Jews, nor even the old ranks of financial advisers signify a great deal to-day, because to-day we must with all our power enter into what is universally human.”

But it would seem, my dear friends, that those who are in Spiritual relation with all kinds of movements except with that which is really able to bring a Spiritual impulse into the present confused state of human evolution, are quite specially filled with Ahrimanic influence, so we may calmly listen to what they say, which runs as follows:

“The starry influence of 1921 will bring on Dr. Rudolf Steiner, as on all other men with similar horoscopes either psychic upheavals, or shatterings! will lead to a deepening of Spiritual effort; or, if the astral influences are not appreciated Spiritually, thy will bring about severe material losses, harm or bodily diseases. And many another person born in February in such critical years may also be even in personal danger, which, of course is clearly visible if one looks into each particular horoscope.”

Now my dear friends, it is not in the least necessary that such things should be said of the Uranus and Saturn-influences;—that it is necessary to master the life of Self, and so on. I have tried to describe to you, for instance, from what depths the Threefold Order of the Social Organism of the “Portal of Initiation” came about, and I myself can remain quite unmoved as regards what comes from the Uranus and Saturn-influences. These are not the things that worry me. The things that worry me are of quite a different nature, and as long as such things as the following play a part, there is good cause for anxiety; although the things connected with it must be seen in quite a different light.

A certain enemy filled with hatred is here quoted as having said the following:—“Spiritual flashes of light, like lightning-flashes are darting towards that wooden mousetrap, such flashes are plentiful; and it will need a certain cleverness and cunning on the part of Steiner, so to work that one day a real flash of light does not strike that Dornach magnificence, and bring it to an untimely end.” Now my dear friends, you see, there is something clearly indicated here, which people want to see occurring on the top of the Dornach Hill, and they could then search for the reason of such threats, in the fact of Uranus being near the Sun. You see, not only are these attacks very numerous, but they are filled with a striking intensity; and above all my dear friends, as far as I am concerned, I must say that where such Uranus influences express themselves, they show that they come from no good side, for in their way of appearing they show whose Spiritual child they really are.

On the other hand, we must be quite clear that if we look beyond the Spiritual flames of fire of which it is said that enough exist already, and turn to the physical flames, then, my dear friends, a waking-anxiety is necessary on the part of those who cling, perhaps with a certain love, to what has come to expression here, and all that is connected with it. It is really necessary to feel anxiety about this, in order to preserve that work which is really carried out here with sacrifice. For, those people who look at this work filled with hate, with a will tending to such a ruthless deed, are to-day sufficiently numerous.

You might say I ought not to read out such things to you; but, my dear friends there can be no question as to that, for these things are well-known amongst other peoples in the world, they take care of that. But that such things should be known to you who feel perhaps differently, at least most of you, the fact that you must be told about such things, I take on myself. For, through that custom which has been widely prevalent in this room, these things might be concealed from you. Unfortunately, many things have thus been concealed. And so a certain wakefulness must flash in on our friends, as to those who are filled with hatred for our Anthroposophical Spiritual Science.

It was not simply by way of a joke yesterday that I said:—“Our enemies are in many respects very different people”;—they will yet show themselves quite different people unless we make an effort to be awake, and guardians of that which has been accomplished, with so much sacrifice and such hard work; because if, as is the case at present, where evil is, there ever so many are awake, it should also be possible that where what we regard as good exists, there also we should be awake. You see, my dear friends it will be ever more important to be true Watchers of that Spiritual treasure of which we must say again to-day in a certain connection, that it is not brought into the world through any subjective idea, but from the observation of life itself; out of the perception of those demands which are taken from the most important human things of our age, and which will become more and more important as we advance into the near future. I want you to pay attention to those people whose Will it is, to destroy what is necessary for man-kind. That Will for destruction is very, very strong in many to-day. May you yourselves then be strong, for that which lies in this Spiritual Movement, and which has brought this Goetheanum into expression has not arisen out of the chaos around us. It is an impulse which has been brought into the chaos. That Bau, whenever one comes near it, will make us feel that it gives strength, and life. Be you therefore true Watchers of what you have apparently chosen as your very own, when you joined this Anthroposophical Spiritual Movement.