The Riddles of the World and Anthroposophy
IV. The Social Question and Theosophy
2 March 1908, Berlin
With somebody who hears the word “social question” today, the most different sensations stir according to his situation and experience and the seriousness with which he is able to take life. Thus, it must be compared with a question that should deeper occupy our time, actually, than it occupies it. Indeed, this seems to be paradoxically expressed. Those who are touched immediately by that which the word social question encloses deal indeed enough with it. However, those who are preserved even today to come into immediate contact with that which forms the basis of the social question as a cause are not still convinced thoroughly enough that every thinking human being should absolutely occupy himself with it.
Those who take each day as it comes and probably blink the requirements of the day may experience that either they themselves or their descendants have negative experiences just because of their ignorance. You hear even today when people speak of the social question in the sense that our time must find a way out from the situation in which many human beings got into because of the form of our social life: there were always rich and poor people; there was always a social question as long as humanity lives and strives. Hence, it is not surprising if in our time those want to express this more or less distinctly who are not blessed with worldly goods and want to conquer that in conflict which fortune does not give them. There were always rich and poor human beings, those who were depressed and those who were blessed more or less with possessions.
With these words, one probably wants to wipe away the peculiarity of the social question, wants to darken it. One points to the slave revolts of antiquity, to the revolts in the Middle Ages and to other events where the depressed ones tried to get their rights, and one consoles himself with such phenomena.
Today everybody should know, actually that the social question is really something new in the human life, that it is something different from similar movements in other times of the historical life. For those who look for a solution of the social question today are persons within our social order first who exist with this character and stand before us since a short time only. This depressing fact is a result of the last 120 to 130 years at most; this originated due to the present, infinitely important progress of the human civilisation. We see this progress coming up at the end of the 18th century, when those machines etcetera emerged from the heads of our inventors.
Since life flows together more and more in the industrial centres and cities, the wageworker, the proletarian appears in the modern sense of the word. One cannot separate the social question from this human class actually created due to the immense progress of civilisation. The slave of antiquity struggled, actually, only if he felt depressed in particular, and he did not have the consciousness that his life could be improved or his oppression could be reduced with any other social order. It was similar in the Middle Ages, too. However, the modern proletarian demands more and more that not this or that single matter is to be combated, but that only a thorough reform, maybe also a radical change of the conditions, can generally change his situation. This conviction has found an immense propagation, a much bigger propagation within the working class than those believe who close their eyes. It is sometimes for someone who figures the matters out quite astonishing that; nevertheless, there are always still people who do not have seriousness enough to go into these matters.
It could seem rather odd if anybody examined such a practical demand of the day, such a question of life from the point of view of spiritual science. For the most people have the idea of it that it is something impractical, the most impractical stuff of the world that it has arisen from the heads of some dreamers and deals with all kinds of matters not dealing with reality. Indeed, people hear that there is the spiritual-scientific movement, which teaches about various things and beings of a supersensible world round us and about the supersensible basis of the human being himself. Indeed, one also hears that this spiritual research speaks of many facts, for example, of the repeated lives on earth and of the great principle of the spiritual causing of our actions and destinies. One hears that it leads up to all kinds of higher worlds et cetera. Now someone can simply think, which practical and interesting facts of such a question of life like the social one can anybody recognise who occupies himself with such things!
However, life praxis has a particular explanation. We want to speak once about this subject just to show how spiritual science has a real significance only if it is able to intervene in the practical questions of life. At the same time, we ask ourselves, what have we to direct our attention upon, if there is talk of the social question? — The social question exists, the appearance can convince us of it, and this appearance convinces somebody most urgently who deals with life. We could show that with the boom of our industry — just in England — social conditions of the most dreadful kind have originated. It was for those who wanted to make industry fertile for what they called their world solely the question: how does one get labour force the cheapest? — There we see those excesses then which were often described how industry also produces strong shadow beside strong light and how the blessings of our machines, railways, and steamboats develop during the 19th century. However, we also realise that in the wake of that the human being must work, now and again for working hours, which certainly exceed all that is humanly possible. We know that in the 19th century not only adults had to work for 12, 16, 18 or even 20 hours. People who are not immediately touched know nothing about these matters. We also know that one employed children of the tenderest age in an almost unbelievable way in factories. We know how people have become blind to the impossibility of such a thing.
We only need to point to a fact that once in a parliament one discussed whether it is not incredible that children are employed in the industry for eighteen to nineteen hours, as it was the case, and a doctor countered that this had to be that way in some cases! One asked the gentleman whether he did not regard a working time of 24 hours as something impossible. He replied, I have convinced myself by deep reasons that the commonplaces that are talked in such matters cannot always be taken seriously, and I cannot furnish particulars of any working time below 24 hours, which could be anyhow detrimental to health. — Such a thing characterises the situation more than even the fact in which humanity has been brought by that which is such a blessing for it at the same time. Who has not realised in life — if he is able to open his eyes — that now and again human beings of the tenderest age cannot learn anything if they are sent to school. All attempts and ideals to make them human beings are of no avail because they are not equipped — because of the social need — with those forces which are sufficient to a humane existence.
It is impossible to describe the social need in which humanity was often brought; I had to unroll too many pictures. However, we can no longer deny that one fact is sure: that big progress of the human mind, which has constructed the machines etcetera, which has spun round our whole earth with a matchless traffic network, this development of the human mind did not keep abreast of the reflection that is the optimal way of the human living together. Today nobody would believe that a machine constructs itself that no intelligence, no mental power must be applied to bring a machine into being and to create a traffic system. However, how many are there today who — even if they do not admit it — take the view in their innermost feeling that the human co-existence originates completely from itself that one does not need any mental strength to intervene in it as one intervenes in a factory.
Indeed, one does not need to go as far as a great naturalist of the 19th century who said, oh, humanity has made immense progress of the knowledge and understanding of the world; however, concerning morality it has not taken a step forward! — One does not need to go so far, but it is a fact which nobody can deny that only a very few human beings who are not immediately touched by the social misery feel the necessity today to deal with the social question.
However, if we look at those who deal or should deal with the social question, what about them? There a book appeared, for example, not so very long ago by the councillor Kolb: As a Worker in America (1904). The man left his office with immense unselfishness, with a real devotion for a while and went to America. He worked hard in a bicycle factory to get to know the social life. I have to say first — that nobody may reproach that I judge unfairly — that his action is an exceptionally meritorious one that one cannot appreciate it enough. However, we want to look at a single statement of this book. You read a rather typical sentence in it: “How often have I asked once seeing a healthy man begging with moral indignation: why does this beggarly fellow not work? — Now I knew it.” He adds, “In theory, one looks at it somewhat different from in practice, and one deals even with the most joyless categories of economics still quite tolerably with the study.”
One would like to say that a whole world of human sensations and human work speaks from such a sentence. We have a man before us who got the position of a councillor. He discloses that he has known life so little that he called everybody a beggarly fellow who did not work, that he had to leave his office and go far away to America to get to know the life for which he should give advice, to which his actions referred. One can study; one can advance to an excellent position and can be in need of such! One does not have eyes to see to the left and to the right; one knows nothing about life. This is possible!
If we notice such a matter, we may raise the question whether it could not be that the conditions of certain matters are bad because anybody on whom it depends disdains to get to know life. One talks about a lot of improvements, proposals, and matters that one should establish. Human beings must establish them. May there not be a little difference between things, which persons have established who understand something of life, and things, which such persons have established who admit so brilliantly that they understand nothing? What is the use of all talking if one does not see that it depends on somebody who talks about it and knows something about it? How much of that which whirrs through life may be quite empty gossip and how much could be really accomplished and come into being?
The question is probably justified. Many people think about the social question; too many, if we consider the question more seriously if we consider what is necessary to understand something useful of this question. Today there are many people who say: at the moment when the conditions become better when the conditions are changed, the life of the human beings and their situation will be better, too. — We know that above all the most comprehensive social theory in the present, socialism, also positions itself on this point of view. We know that it always stresses, do not give us all kinds of proposals how the human beings should become better how the human beings should behave! Do not give us all kinds of moral demands! What it depends on, is merely — they stress this — to improve the conditions.
Symptomatically you can face such a starry-eyed idealist who represents his social theories at different places of Germany and says repeatedly, yes, people state that the human beings had to become better first if the conditions should become better. However, he says, everything depends on the fact that humanity is transported to the right conditions. — He also tells that one limited the pubs here and there once and that then less drunkards were there, and, therefore, some people were doing better. Then he preaches to the workers that charity, mutual brotherliness is an empty phrase. Everything would depend on causing such conditions of employment and life that everybody has his sufficient existence, and then the moral condition would already become better by itself, too.
You know that socialism develops such a view extensively. This is nothing else than a result of the materialism in our time, that materialism which cannot look, like spiritual science, into the inside of the human being and cannot recognise that any social condition is created by human beings, is the result of human thoughts and feelings. Socialism, however, believes that the human being is a product of the external conditions. This belief paralyses the fruitful consideration of the social life in the highest degree. It is paralysing, and we do not want to state any theoretical proof of it, but we want to adduce a historical evidence.
If anybody was suited for a social reformer, it was Robert Owen (1771-1854) living around the turn of 18th to the 19th centuries. He had two virtues that enabled him to intervene in the social life from his point of view: a candid look for the industrial progress and for the damages, for human welfare and human luck, which this progress brings. He had a candid look and an open heart for human grief, and on the other side, he had a good will and initiative to give at least a number of human beings a worthy existence. He lived in a materialistic time at first and, therefore, he was, like so many, depending on the theory that one needed to cause suitable conditions only to develop a thoroughly moral humanity.
Therefore, he founded a little colony in America, which one could call a model in every respect if the condition had been right. He had guaranteed a humane existence by means of external facilities to the people. Among diligent and keen people, he had neglected ones whom the example of the first should inspire to become decent human beings. An exemplary economy developed that induced the idea in him to try the same in a bigger scale. Then there came the second colony, which was formed as practically and humanely as the first. However, he who had put up not only the theory that the improvement of the conditions must cause the improvement of the human destinies had to experience the disillusion which we characterise with his own words. Because the human beings were not ripe for the conditions he wrote, what does any improvement of the conditions help if not the general moral and knowledge are raised before? First, it depends on informing the human being about his inner life, above all, about his soul forces; then only one can envisage to solve the social question rather worthily.
A practitioner, no theorist judges that way, and it is typical in certain respect how little humanity learns from facts that one maintains the same theories in spite of this repeatedly. However, someone who is able to see a little deeper into the human souls knows that such an individual case is generally connected with the development of the human souls in the present. Whether the one or the other admits it or not, it is the basic conviction that everything can be done if one changes the external conditions, and finds a remedy quickly with the damages which threaten humanity. These are the basic convictions in our time. If we see, for example, repeatedly that laws are justified saying: one is not allowed to deliver the inexperienced humanity to these or those people, and then one does not notice at all that one would have another task than to make laws, that one should teach the inexperienced humanity, so that it could determine their actions itself.
One does not easily look from the conditions to the human beings. However, this is the task of spiritual science. It completely turns away from the conditions and completely to the human beings. We ask ourselves, where from do the conditions round us come? — In so far as they are not imposed by nature, they are the results of the human feeling and thinking. The conditions of today were thoughts and intentions of human beings who have lived once. The conditions are in such a way because human beings have thought them that way. If we want to improve conditions, we have to learn above all to develop better thoughts, feelings, and intentions. However, if we look around among the social theorists, even among the most radical ones, the social democrats if you like, then these theories mostly do not go beyond that which the human beings have always thought. They have originated from the same thoughts and impulses from which our conditions have arisen and have led to our situation. We must be able to have human beings who know life and know what is about the forces that work behind life.
What did Robert Owen lack? He himself had to admit: knowledge of human nature! — One never gets to know the human being if one puts up a worldview that is directed only to the external appearance. As long as the human being does not know what is hidden behind this physical corporeality and he thereby does not attain the ability to look, so to speak, behind the scenes, he is able by no means to understand something about the forces controlling life. However, this is just the task of spiritual science. One may admit that it does not fulfil its task everywhere sufficiently; one has to admit that within the circles looking for it one often plays with the highest questions of existence. That does not matter, but it matters what the spiritual investigation can mean to us. It can be not only something that teaches us that gives us dogmas, but it can be a powerful education of our innermost soul forces. This is the best that one can gain from spiritual science if we consider the spiritual-scientific worldview from the point of view how it transforms the human being. Then the picture presents itself this way.
We speak here about views that the spiritual investigation has about the various fields of life. We were able to speak about this and that of its teachings. However, we will not speak about that. Someone who familiarises himself with spiritual science will notice one thing: concerning one important point it distinguishes itself from everything that is, otherwise, theory today. This is important. In most cases, the human being soon finishes if he should develop a worldview, and he likes it very much if he can have a rounded off worldview as soon as possible. It is clear to experts of the conditions that many a materialist is a materialist only because he does not go far with his thoughts because he falls short. Materialism makes it easy for its followers, very easy. One can oversee the construction of the world from purely material facts easily and see — particularly if it is still illustrated with photos — how the human being has developed. One needs only to stare at them and can pursue the whole way of the world evolution using the usual ideas of life. It is simple to follow what the materialists say about the riddles of the world because the thoughts do not tangle up because no particular requirements are imposed.
The matter is not so easy with spiritual science. It does not make it easy for the human being, because it starts from the real and the true requirement that the secrets of the world are deep and that you must dig up deeply into the basis of the things if you want to understand the world. What spiritual science teaches about the development of the universe and the human being gets the thoughts in manifold tangles. That forces the human being sometimes to deal with details and, on the other side, he is led to the greatest perspectives. However, that has a certain result, and about this result, I want to speak openly. It trains and prepares thinking there where we face this complex human life in the single case to understand this life. Someone will say, the worlds that spiritual science describes have made me quite dizzy.
Is this a bad sign of spiritual science? It would be better if this approach did not make the human being dizzy, but strengthened him, and then he would be ready to understand life with strong soul forces. However, the practical ideas about the world and life are such ones: if a human being thinks about the riddles of the world in short thoughts, he also thinks about the social order in short thoughts. Thus, we see that that which famous people think about social questions is a rather precise picture of that which is offered to us as a materialist worldview unable to penetrate into the depths of life. Besides, everybody has the uncertain feeling that that which causes difficulty for him is a fantastic, dreamlike stuff, and that spiritual science would have to be a fantastic, dreamlike, at least rather idealistic stuff, in any case, unsuitable for practical purposes in life. Indeed, Fichte (Johann Gottlieb F., 1762-1814, philosopher) said more than hundred years ago to his Jena students: those practical people to whom comprehensive ideas always seem impractical because ideas and ideals are not always applicable in life prove only that in the plan of creation one did not count on them. May a benevolent providence give them sunshine, food, and clever thoughts! — Fichte also spoke about the incapability of some people to imagine the spiritual aspect of the ego: “One could most people convince to regard themselves as pieces of lava on the moon than as egos.” However, it is a necessity of life to imagine the ego.
If we consider life and the social question from this point of view, we must say that we consider spiritual science as the great school of life. It makes it impossible that one goes through life, receives a certain position, even becomes a councillor and becomes a life coach, and has to go far, far away to get to know life once during a vacation in order to be convinced of the fact that not everybody who does not work is a beggarly fellow. Such a thing becomes impossible by spiritual science.
Hence, we do not speak only about a spiritual point of view, about any spiritual-scientific views concerning socialism, but we talk about something else. We consider spiritual science as a real thing, not only as a sum of dogmas, but as something that gives knowledge and wisdom, which flows directly in the immediate life at every moment and opens our eyes, so that we cope with this life. Thus, spiritual science is the general basis of any judgment whether we judge in the field of the social life or that of education.
Our judgment becomes sounder because it arises from the true human nature, if we start from spiritual-scientific points of view. We say that someone himself, who is infiltrated with that which spiritual science is able to give, gets to a correct judgment. Anybody may ask, how does a follower of spiritual science think in which way this or that parliamentarian has to judge about a question if he has judged wrongly according to his view? — This is no correct question from the spiritual point of view, but one has to say, it does not concern of saying how this or that should think, but one is convinced that he has — if he is filled with basic truth — a clear judgment on every post. We do not dictate his judgment to him, but he finds the correct judgment. In this respect, spiritual science is the most liberal life principle that can be there. It is not dogmatic, but it gives the human being the possibility to have his own, sound free judgment always and everywhere.
Conditions — we have started from it — are often regarded as that which can change the human being, and one thinks in the abstract how conditions can be changed. Spiritual science is solely concerned with the real human soul, with the relations from human being to human being. It is quite impossible today to go into single concrete matters of the social question. However, I want to point to this or that to find the components that show us the way where we are in life to intervene correctly. For it is our task to intervene. If we want to find the components, we ask ourselves, which is, actually, the basic fact, the basic phenomenon on which all misery, all social grief may generally depend in the world? — Spiritual science can show us this basic fact, putting us before a fact that most people do not understand and acknowledge today. This fact is connected with a basic phenomenon of any development. I would like to say, speaking dryly, it shows us by deeper views on life that poverty, grief and misery not only — and least of all if one finds the underlying cause of the things — depend on external conditions, but on a certain soul constitution and in the connection with it on its external effects.
The practitioner who regards himself as much cleverer thinks that this is ridiculous. However, one can only stress that it is the most practical in life. It is the sentence of which you persuade yourselves more and more that need, misery and grief are nothing else than the results of egoism. Like a physical law we have to understand this sentence, not in such a way that possibly with a single human being need and grief happen if he is always selfish, but that this grief is connected with this egoism — maybe at another place. Like cause and effect, egoism is connected with the need and grief. Egoism leads to the struggle of existence in the human life, in the social human order. The struggle for existence is the real starting point of need and grief, if they are social. Because of our modern way of thinking there is a conviction to which appears absurd what I have just stated. Why? Because one is persuaded today that a big part, by far the biggest part of the human life must be built on egoism. Indeed, with words and theories, one does not want to admit it, but in practice, one will soon admit it. One admits it in the following way. One says, it is quite natural that the human being is paid for his job that he receives the yield of his work personally — and, nevertheless, that is nothing but the implementation of egoism in the economic life. Egoism controls us as soon as we live by the principle: we have to be paid personally; one has to pay to me what I work. — Truth is a long way from this thought so that it seems quite senseless. Who wants to convince himself of the truth about egoism has to go more intimately into various universal principles. He would have to abandon himself thoughtfully to the question whether the work that is paid personally is really life-sustaining, whether it depends on this work? — It is curious to put this question. However, not sooner than one thinks about it, one is able to inform about the social question.
Imagine — this is a paradoxical comparison — a man transported to an island. He has only to supply himself. You say, he must work! — However, he must not only work, this is not the point, but something must be added to his work. If the work is only work, it can eventually be useless for his life. Think once that the man on the island would do nothing but to throw stones during fourteen days. This would be a strenuous work, and according to usual human concepts, he could earn quite a lot of wage. Nevertheless, this work is not at all connected with life. Work is life-sustaining and has value only if anything else is added. If this work consists of the cultivation of the soil and one receives the products of the earth, then work has something to do with life. We see even with lower beings that work is separated from production. Thus, we see a possibility to get to the tremendously important sentence that work as such has no meaning for life, but only that work which is guided wisely. What is to be produced using human wisdom serves the human being. The modern social thinking offends against this sentence because it does not understand in the least.
It does not depend on the fact that anybody invents beautiful abstract theories, but the real progress depends on the fact that every single human being learns to think socially. Modern thinking is often antisocial. It is antisocial, for example, if anybody is on Sunday afternoon outdoors and says, animated by occasion: I write twenty postcards. It is correct and socially intended to know and to feel that these twenty cards cause so many postmen climbing so and so many stairs. It is social thinking to know that any action, which one does, has an effect in life. Now, however, somebody comes and says that he thinks socially inasmuch as he understands that more postmen must be employed and get their bread because of this card writing. — This is, as if one thinks of anything that one wants to build in order to employ unemployed workers. However, it does not depend on job creation, but that the work of the human beings is used solely to create valuable goods.
If one thinks that through to the last consequences, it does no longer seem so strange if the ancient sentence of spiritual science is pronounced which sounds today as incomprehensible as possible: in a social living together, the impulse of working must never be in the own personality of the human being, but only in the dedication to the community. This is also often emphasised, but it is never understood in such a way that misery and need originate from the fact that the single human being wants to have paid what he has worked for. However, it is true that real social progress is only possible if I do that which I work for in the service of the community, and if the community gives me what I need, if, with other words, what I work for does not serve me. The social progress depends solely on the recognition of this sentence that someone does not want to get the yield of his work as a personal remuneration. Somebody leads an enterprise to quite different purposes who knows that he should have nothing for himself from that which he works for, but that he owes work to the social community, and that, vice versa, he should claim nothing for himself, but limits his existence to that which the social community gives him. As absurd this is for many people today, as true it is. The opposite fact influences our life today: by the claim of the worker to get the full yield of his work more and more. As long as the thinking moves in this direction, one comes into worse and worse situations.
This antisocial thinking tempts to shift all concepts. Think once how within the widespread socialism one speaks of exploiters and exploited. Who is the exploiter, and who is the exploited from the view of clear thinking? Let us look at a worker who produces a garment for starvation wages. Who is his exploiter? Perhaps, the man who buys the garment and pays a very low price for it. Does only the rich man buy this garment? Does the same worker who complains about exploitation not buy this cheap garment? Does he not require today, within the social order, that it should be as cheap as possible? You see the working woman who works with bloody fingers during the week can wear the dress for a cheap price on Sunday because the human labour of another person is exploited!
That has nothing to do with wealth or poverty in front of the clear thinking, but solely with our idea of human relations in the world. Anybody could easily say, if you demand that the existence of the human being should be independent of his performance, then an official complies with the ideal most nicely. The modern official is independent. The measure of his existence is not depending on the product, which he produces, but from that which one regards as necessary to his existence. — Indeed, but such an objection has a very big mistake. It depends on the fact that everybody is able to respect this principle and to implement it in life freely. It does not matter that this principle is carried out by general power. This principle has to penetrate every single human life to make the personally acquired independent from that which one works for the community. How does it assert itself?
There is only one possibility to assert itself, which will seem rather impractical to the so-called practitioner. There must be reasons why the human being works; nevertheless, namely rather diligently and devotedly if no longer the self-interest is the impulse of his work. Somebody does not create anything real concerning the social life in truth, who takes out a patent of any achievement and shows this way that he regards the self-interest as significant in life. However, somebody works really for life who is led by his forces to right achievements merely by love, by love to the whole humanity, which he gives his work with pleasure and willing. Thus, the impulse of work must be in anything else than in remuneration. This is the solution of the social question: separation of remuneration from work. For this is a worldview which aims at the spirit to wake such impulses in the human being that he does no longer say: if my income is secure, I can be lazy. — A spiritual worldview can only achieve that he does not say this. Any materialism solely leads to its opposite in the long run.
Anyone may now say: this is a nice little test of the social question; this is rather cute! Have we not always preached this, the one may say, that the human beings are selfish, and that one must count on their egoism? Now there comes the spiritual worldview and says that this can change. — Indeed, one has always preached that this could not be different and one was very proud of it and said, someone is a true practitioner who counts on the human egoism. — Indeed, but here the thinking of the people does not turn the tables. For those who blame everything for conditions, for facilities must admit that at least — because just the conditions were in such a way as they have developed up to now — that also this desire and impulse came into the human being. However, there the thinking becomes too short. For, otherwise, they would have to say, yes, quite different surroundings are created at any rate, if the idea becomes established that it is indecent to found everything on personal self-interest. Materialism becomes inconsistent there even compared with its own requirements.
We must understand that the impulses of spiritual science could never be given to the human development up to now. In this respect, it is a new spiritual movement, and it will have the strength to work on the innermost soul because it penetrates into the innermost world. Only a worldview that penetrates the core and fetches truth there can show us the true face of the world. It is never right that we can become bad by true knowledge if we see the true face of the world. Nevertheless, it is true that the bad in the human being can come only from mistake and error. Hence, spiritual science bases because of its knowledge of the human nature on the fact that it will achieve that with which just the noble Owen deceived himself so much.
He says, it is necessary that the human beings are enlightened first so that moral is improved. — Spiritual science, however, says, it is not sufficient to emphasise this principle, but the means must be given by which the soul can be improved. If a spiritual worldview improves and strengthens the souls, the conditions and external relations will follow because they are always reflections of that which the human beings think. The human beings are not determined by conditions, but the human beings make these conditions, as far as the conditions are social. If the human being suffers from conditions, he suffers in truth from that which his fellow men bring on him. Any misery that has come with the industrial development came only from the fact that the human beings did not bother to apply the same strength of mind, which they had applied to the beneficial external progress, to the improvement of the destinies of those persons who are needed for the transformation of this progress.
Whatever you have studied in the external life, study the laws of the human living together equally busily! If, however, human beings live together, not only bodies, but also souls, minds live together. Hence, only spiritual science can be the basis of any social worldview. Thus, we see that, indeed, the deepening of the mind can enable us to assist from our low posts within our sphere in the big social progress. For this progress is not achieved by an abstract rule, but it is a sum of that which the single soul does. Only a worldview like spiritual science approaches the single soul in such a way that it really raises this soul above it. If our social misery has its reason in the personal self-interest, in the position in our social orders, then only a worldview can help which raises the ego out of the personal self-interest. As peculiar as it appears, food originates not only from our work; food originates also from the spiritual-scientific deepening instead of need, grief, and misery. Spiritual science is a means to give the human being food and prosperity, in the true sense of the word.
Thus, it is really justified, even concerning our changed conditions, what Goethe said about the real liberation from all obstacles and misfortune of life. Goethe says in the poem The Secrets: “From the power that ties all beings that human being frees himself who overcomes himself.”
That sentence that Goethe said about the single human being also applies to humanity in as much as this human being is a social being: those human beings who overcome themselves free the world from the power that ties all beings.