Karma of Untruthfulness I
9 December 1916, Dornach
Today I should like to add a few remarks to what I started to say in the last lecture. Since our friends wish it, I shall today and tomorrow endeavour to penetrate more deeply into this matter. But so that we may understand, and not misunderstand, one another when I start to illuminate the subject more from the spiritual side, as is the intention, I must first of all lay the foundation. For if we cannot take into account certain circumstances now prevailing on the physical plane and also the times during which these circumstances were being prepared, then it is not possible to enter into the more spiritual aspects. You know that it is not a question of taking sides or of sympathies or antipathies, but of displaying certain conditions and relationships which, so I have heard, some people wish to know in order to help them understand today's difficult times. So today, in so far as time allows, I shall give a few more introductory explanations.
To start with, it must become clear to us that everything that happens externally on the physical plane is dependent on the underlying spiritual forces and powers. But it is difficult to get to know precisely and concretely the manner in which these spiritual forces and powers work. For the incursions of the spiritual world into the physical plane are more obvious in some places than in others. I have often pointed out here that there are, in a certain way, lines of connection, via the most varied intermediate links, between the external world and the secret brotherhoods, and onwards from the secret brotherhoods to the spiritual world. To understand this rightly it is necessary to take into account that wherever human beings work with the help of spiritually effective forces, whether with good or evil intent, they have to reckon with long stretches of time; because of this, account must also be taken of the fact that much depends on the ability of the individual to grasp and use the conditions of the physical plane with a certain cold-blooded detachment. This is particularly required when existing spiritual streams are to be used in order to achieve something. During the course of my description you will doubtless see whether something is striven for or achieved with good or bad intent. One characteristic of those who make use of spiritual forces is that very frequently — not always but very frequently — they have reasons for not wishing to appear on the stage of the physical plane. Instead they make use of intermediaries through whom certain plans can be realized. Often these things have to be done in such a way that others do not notice what is going on. I have already pointed out a number of times that people are, in a way, inattentive; they do not like looking closely at what is going on. Many of those who work with certain occult connections in order to bring something about in the world make use of this fact. Those of us who see the world, not in the usual way but with free and open eyes, will know that there are people who can be influenced by those who want to make use of such means. Someone who is intent on influencing people, someone who, as an occultist, is not entirely scrupulous, can indeed gain power over people in this way.
Let me start right at the beginning and take an example. You will find that starting at the beginning will lead us to an understanding of more profound aspects later. In the year 1889 Count Richard von Pfeil, who had lived in St Petersburg and knew it quite well, wrote the following lines about the reigning Tsar of Russia:
‘The overall impression I gained of Tsar Alexander III confirmed what I had long suspected: that those around him were purposely keeping him in a state of deep mistrust towards Germany and that this mistrust was now so firmly rooted in him that a change could hardly be expected. He was rightly convinced of his own deep love of peace, but he also believed his counsellors and other influential people in Russia, many of whom did not desire peace nearly as strongly as did he.’
Here, in a most prominent position, you have an individual of whom it must be said: He can be influenced by those who approach him for that purpose, yet who do not want to show themselves by stepping into the foreground. What does someone do who knows about certain connections arising out of the impulses of the fifth post-Atlantean period and wants to make use of them for his own ends or those of some group? He aspires to approach such a person by awakening the impression that nothing is further from his mind than the desire to influence him, so that no one will notice that he does indeed desire to gain influence. And so he gains influence over him. All he need do is form his sentences in a certain way, use certain expressions, and other means which I shall not describe, and he succeeds in turning the other's mind in the desired direction. The world at large, being to a certain extent unobservant and therefore kindly disposed in its judgement of certain people, will simply assume: Well, he is rightly convinced of his love of peace, but he also believes all his counsellors and other influential people!
You see how easy it is in the widest context to practise something similar to what I have described in another case, that of Blavatsky. After the mahatma who is known as K.H. had had a good influence over her for a while, he was replaced, through machinations, by another who was a spy in the hands of a particular society. He had run away from certain secret brotherhoods into whose highest degrees he had been initiated, and it was thus possible for him to remain in the background as a mahatma and achieve, through Blavatsky, things that he wanted to achieve.
By pointing out these elementary matters I simply want to draw your attention to what you must take into account if you want to form a judgement; for the world is frequently misled by the way in which history is written. The writing of history is really something very much more profound. Only at the outermost edge of physical existence, in the utmost maya, can it be said: If this or that professor is a competent historian who has mastered the historical method, he will know how to depict the right things historically. This need not be the case at all. Whether a historian knows how to depict the right things or not depends on whether his karma leads him to the possibility of discovering the right things or not. Everything depends on this. For the right things are often not expressed in what he finds when he looks here or there; they are often revealed only to one who knows how to find the right places to look. Let me say this in another way: For one who is led by his karma to see the right things at the right moment, they are revealed at the point where something significant is expressed by a single phenomenon. Often a single phenomenon expresses something that throws light on decades, illuminating like a flash of lightning what is really happening. To prepare for what will be specially important when we turn to the more spiritual aspects, I should now like to tell you a little story.
There was, in Vienna, a physician who, even in the eighties of the last century, was practising analytical psychology, psychoanalysis, though not to the exaggerated extent that has since become fashionable through the theories of Freud. He still lives there, as a matter of fact, but no longer occupies himself so much with these things. He enjoyed some outstanding successes with his psychoanalysis because he managed to draw a good deal out of people by his method of catechism. In 1886 a man came to this physician who gave the impression that he might have a great deal inside him. So he started to treat him for his nervous condition. And indeed, for a doctor who knew his job, there was a good deal to be found in this man's soul life; it was handed to him on a plate, you might say. This was a particularly interesting case. The doctor found out that his patient was involved in the most varied political factions, that he could poke his nose in everywhere and had his finger in every pie. He also discovered that he wrote articles for certain journals and that these articles had a great influence on the ruler of his country.
The patient, Voidarevich was his name, was a late descendant of a family of voivodes from Herzegovina. He said a great many things. Amongst much else he knew all about the interconnections in the net spun from Russia in the seventies in Herzegovina and Bosnia before the beginning of the Russo-Turkish war. Under normal conditions people do not usually give away such secrets; but under the hands of a psychoanalyst things come out which would otherwise remain hidden. After a number of sessions it became clear that he had also been involved when, before the declaration of war, King Milan and Nikita had resisted Turkey at the end of the seventies, and the uprisings in Bosnia and Herzegovina had been arranged. The motive for declaring war on Turkey had been given to Nikita and Milan by sources in Russia. And yet, outwardly, it was said, the people of the Balkans had been roused by the bad treatment given them by Turkey. This is not to deny that such treatment did occur. I am only relating the connections and, in this respect, we must realize that causes often lie, or are made, far longer ago than is suspected.
Something else was revealed by Voidarevich, something that prompted the doctor to seek an interview with an appropriate authority in Vienna, for even though it was only a matter of disconnected sentences, nevertheless the doctor, an intelligent man, was able to deduce a great deal. He learned from Voidarevich that the Russian ambassador was in Vienna and was on his way to St Petersburg, and not to Constantinople as the papers were saying. Further, he learned that the Russian Foreign Minister was staying at home and would not be going to a Bohemian spa as the papers were saying. These two things made a strange impression on the doctor: that the Russian ambassador in Constantinople was on his way to St Petersburg via Vienna, and that the Russian Foreign Minister was not going to a Bohemian spa but was waiting in St Petersburg to receive the ambassador, and also that the newspapers were saying something quite different. It suddenly dawned on him — it was one of those obscure intuitions that come by instinct: All this is connected with the fact that Alexander von Battenberg is to be deposed in Bulgaria. It all seemed very suspicious to the doctor, and he informed the appropriate authority. But the appropriate authority merely knew that the Russian ambassador was travelling to St Petersburg on private business, as they say; and the authority was quite satisfied with this explanation, as often happens, because such authorities, too, can be so plagued by that urge for inattentiveness about which I have spoken, that they are not in the least concerned with getting to the bottom of things. And a week later Battenberg was forced to abdicate.
You see, this is quite an insignificant event from a historian's point of view, but it is nevertheless an event that throws light in the deepest sense. And if it had not happened ‘by chance’ — as is so easily said — that the doctor wormed these things out of Voidarevich by psychoanalysis, it would never have come to light. The threads of karma run in remarkable ways. We know from the psychoanalysis that Voidarevich — who gave away a number of other things of a similar kind — was destined, had everything gone according to plan for the descendants of the ancient voivodes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to assume the rank of voivode himself. Because of the light that dawned on the doctor we know how the threads ran from Russia in the East to Herzegovina and Bosnia and we can eavesdrop on the origins of a story that later on played an important part in history. For Voidarevich was in the service of Russia and was a party to all this from the beginning.
So we are dealing here, not exactly with magic but with the knowledge of how to utilize the situation and conditions of the physical plane in order to achieve certain quite definite aims. Voidarevich failed to serve his purpose only because he grew nervous; a great deal had been instilled into him and it was intended that he should achieve much. You have here a striking example of how to work in the world while at the same time obliterating the tracks you intend to follow. From this you will be able to grasp that forming judgements about world events is not as easy as is usually imagined. Those who desire to work systematically behind the scenes of world history know very well how to pull such strings and they are cold-blooded enough to make use of them in a way that suits their purpose. Much can be exploited in this connection. Only a thirst for knowledge and a will to learn can lead us to see the things of the world clearly.
In order to understand what many of our friends here are striving to grasp, let us turn our attention to what exactly there is that can be utilized. We will look at the manner in which the streams of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch work through certain externally discernible endeavours and facts of the present time in a wider sense. Let us start with the Russian people in the East of Europe. I said only last Monday that all the people of Europe have taken them to their hearts. In the Russian people, together with various other Slav elements, there lives — I have spoken about this a number of times — a folk element of the future. For in the folk spirit of all that is gathered together as the Slav peoples there lives what, one day in the future, will furnish the material for the spiritual stream of the sixth post-Atlantean epoch.
In this Slav element we have first the Russian people and, in addition, all those other Slavs who, though differentiated from the Russians, nevertheless feel themselves in some degree linked as Slavs with the Russian Slavs. Out of these links arises, or arose, what is nowadays known as Pan-Slavism, a sense among all Slavs of belonging together in spirit and in soul, in political and in cultural life. In so far as such a thing lives within the folk soul it is a thoroughly honest and, also in the higher sense of human evolution, a right thing — though the word ‘pan’ is thoroughly misused these days. For one who understands the interconnections it is possible to use the phrase ‘Pan-Slavism’ for that spiritual communion which, I would like to say, quivers through all Slav souls in the way I have just described. To speak of ‘Pan-Germanism’, whether within or outside Germany, is nonsense, more than just mischief, for it is not possible to force everything into the same mould. If something does not exist, it is not possible to speak about it. It might perhaps be posed as a theory and even haunt the minds of some individuals; but it is quite different from that genuine communion which quivers in the many Slav souls, varying from one Slav people to another.
Whoever, since the nineteenth century, has concerned himself seriously with certain spiritual knowledge, knows that in the East of Europe there is a separate folk element. Spiritual scientists have always known that a folk element for the future lives in the Slavs. If certain occultists belonging to the Theosophical Society have maintained something else, for instance that this folk element for the future sixth sub-race lies with the Americans, this only goes to prove either that these people were no occultists or that they wished to bring about something other than that provided for by the facts. So we must reckon with the fact that there is in the East an element which bears a certain future within it, that emerges as though out of the blood, an element that today is still basically naive and does not know itself, yet prophetically and instinctively contains within itself something which will one day evolve from it. It is often present in dreams.
As every spiritual scientist further knows — not externally, but as a cultural fact — the Polish element comes forward in a quite particular way as the most advanced and culturally secure, because it is both political and religious; this element differs from all the other Slav elements in that it possesses a uniform, firmly-rooted spiritual and cultural life that is exceptionally vigorous and energetic. This just as a short sketch. Perhaps we will go into more detail later.
Let us return to what I have just described. In contrast to what I characterized just now there is the spiritual and cultural life of the British people, which is equally well-known to the spiritual scientist in its deeper significance. I mean the kind of cultural life as it appears before the world in British institutions and the life of the British people. This element is, above all, extremely political in character; its tendency is supremely political. One consequence emerging from it is the political thinking that is so much admired by the rest of the world; in a certain way the most advanced and free kind of political thinking. Wherever in the world efforts have been made to set up political institutions in which freedom can live — freedom in the sense we have come to understand it since the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century — there, ideas have been borrowed from British thinking. The French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century was more a matter of feeling, of passionate impulsiveness, but the thoughts it contained had been brought over from British thinking. The manner in which political concepts are formed, the manner in which political bodies are structured, the manner in which the will of the people is led within political organizations that are as free as possible so that it can work from all sides — all this is expressed in British political thinking in accordance with its original tendencies. That is why so many new states in the nineteenth century imitated British institutions. In many places efforts were made to take over the British way of parliamentary life and parliamentary institutions, for in this connection British thinking is the teacher of modern times.
In England during the nineteenth century, let us say up to its final decades, this political thinking came to expression in some very important politicians who modelled their thoughts in particular on this political thinking. One thing especially became obvious: The salvation of the world could be brought about by this thinking if only people would devote themselves entirely to it and allow nothing else to take effect in the arrangements of the various institutions. Therefore, politicians who may seem one-sided to some extent but who model their thoughts entirely on this political thinking and endeavour to work in accordance with it, appear as outstanding and entirely moral. Think of Cobden, Bright and others, not to speak of greater men who are always being mentioned; for in this field it is very possible to go astray as soon as a really prominent position is reached. That is why I mention those who have not gone astray in any direction but who are genuinely important in the sense I now mean. I could name many others. This phenomenon was really present there as an impulse right up to the nineties of the nineteenth century, and as such it is, in a certain way, the counter-image of what I described earlier as being borne by the Slav people. For this way of forming thoughts of a political orientation belongs in its character very much to the fifth post-Atlantean period. That is where it belongs and where it has to be developed. And those people I have mentioned have taken it up in the right way. On the one hand we have something that is made visible through good sense, intelligence and political morality, and on the other something that exists as a future folk potential deep down, not only in the soul but in the blood.
Let it be clear to us that what I am speaking about is not only my own knowledge; it was viewed in the way I have described throughout the nineteenth century by those who are concerned with such things. In those western brotherhoods I told you about there lived an exact knowledge of these things and of their connection with the stream of evolution in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch and its transition to the sixth post-Atlantean epoch. And in some individuals there was the will — we have yet to see whether for good or bad — to make use of the forces concerned. For these are indeed forces: on the one hand the talent to think in that way, and on the other a folk element for the future.
If someone wants to use these things, he can. Of course there exist not only those streams I have described but also others which flow side by side with them, and it is necessary gradually to point these out as well. There exist ways and means in the world of carrying out what I might call ‘mass hypnosis’. To bring about a suggestion on a grand scale you have to place something in the world which makes an impression. Just as it is possible to insinuate an idea into the mind of an individual in the way I have shown, so too, by using suitable means, suggestions can be made to whole groups of people, especially when one knows what actually binds these groups together. It is possible to steer a force that lives in an individual person in a particular direction. This person may then be totally convinced of his deep love of peace; and yet he does what he does because somehow or other a suggestion has been planted in him. He is quite at odds with what he does. In the same way, with the right knowledge, similar things can be done to whole groups; it is merely a matter of selecting the appropriate means. You take a force that lives but has no particular direction, such as the force living in certain Slav races, and by suggestion on a grand scale you nudge it into a definite direction.
There is a suggestion on a grand scale which has worked, is still working and will continue to work in a marvellous manner: the so-called ‘Testament of Peter the Great’. You know the history of Peter the Great; you know how he was at pains to introduce western life into Russia. There is no need for me to describe it since you can read it up in any encyclopaedia. I have no intention of recounting external history nor of developing sympathy in any one direction; I shall merely point in the simplest way to certain facts. Much of what is said of Peter the Great is true, but it is not true that he composed that testament. The testament is a forgery; it did not come from him but emerged at a certain point, in the way such things do emerge, out of all sorts of underground goings on. It was thrown in amongst human evolution; suddenly it was there. It has nothing to do with Peter the Great but a great deal to do with certain underground currents. It is very convincing, for it vindicates the future of Russia — I say Russia, not the Slav people — by stating that Russia must extend her boundaries over the Balkan states and Constantinople, across the Dardanelles and so forth. All this is contained in the testament of Peter the Great. It is easy to be so moved by this testament that one says: This is no bungling effort, it has been given to the world by a grand gesture of genius! I still sometimes recall the impression made by the testament of Peter the Great, during a course I had to give, when I studied it with individual students in order to demonstrate the implications of the separate paragraphs and their influence on the cultural development of Europe.
Those who desire to work in this way are always concerned, not to stimulate just one stream but to make sure that one stream is always crossed by another, so that they influence each other in some way. Not much is achieved by simply running straight ahead with a single stream. It is necessary sometimes to throw a sidelight on this stream so that certain things become confused, so that certain tracks are covered up, and other things are lost in an impenetrable thicket. This is very important. Thus it comes about that certain secret streams which have set themselves some task or other also set about achieving the exact opposite. These opposing tasks have the effect of obliterating all tracks. I could point to a place in Europe where so-called Freemasonry, so-called secret societies, had a great influence at a certain time when significant things were going on; certain people were acting under the suggestive influence of certain Masonic societies with an occult background. It was then necessary to obliterate the tracks at this point. So a certain Jesuit influence was brought to play so that the Masonic and Jesuit influences met; for there are higher instances, ‘empires’, which can quite well make use of both Masons and Jesuits in order to achieve what they want to achieve through the collaboration of the two. Do not believe that there can be no individuals who are both Jesuit and Freemason. They have progressed beyond the point of working in one direction only. They know that it is necessary to tackle situations from various sides in order to push matters in a particular direction. I say this in order to point out certain connections in an elementary way.
Peter the Great — let us return to him once more — introduced western civilization into Russia. Many genuine Slav souls bear a deep hate for all the western elements that Peter the Great brought to Russia; they have a deep antipathy against it all. This has grown particularly strong during this war, but it has always been present. On the other hand there is the testament of Peter the Great, which is not really his but which somehow made its appearance, and which is suitable for making use, by means of suggestion, not of individuals, but of whole masses of Slav connections, those masses in whom lives that antipathy towards the west that is symbolized by the name Peter the Great. So here we have two things at the same time in a way amounting, I must say, to historical genius: sympathy with the testament of Peter the Great and antipathy towards everything western. They work beautifully all muddled up together, so mingled, in fact, that their working can become extremely effective. And with this I point to another side of this stream in the East. I shall show as we continue how, after years of preparation, use can be made of such a stream from a definite moment onwards. Then there is one stream into which, as it were, two tributaries haved been made to flow. As I said at the beginning, account has been taken of long passages of time. Once a stream has been brought to the point of being effective, it can then be put to use.
Now let us prepare in yet another way. I want to show you another stream that flows along in the West beside the one that has brought into being what is hitherto the most mature political way of thinking in the fifth post-Atlantean period. This other stream has been more hidden and has only revealed its occult basis from time to time, smuggled into all kinds of public activities. With that I have to point once again to certain secret brotherhoods in the West. It is characteristic of these, more than anything else, that they have an exact knowledge of the kind of situations I have been describing and can instruct their pupils how things are going for the fifth, for the sixth post-Atlantean period, and what kind of forces are at work: for instance for the one the element of intelligence, and for the other the folk element. And they can show their pupils how such things can be used for one purpose or another.
These occult streams which live, as I have said, through the secret brotherhoods have, as one of their basic doctrines, the teaching that the English-speaking peoples are for the fifth post-Atlantean epoch what the Romans were for the fourth. This is a fundamental doctrine among these brotherhoods and they say further that, whatever happens, account must be taken first of the Latin element. This expresses itself in the various Latin cultures and peoples — I am not saying this myself but am merely repeating what has always been taught in the brotherhoods — and is destined to be submerged further and further in the materialism of science, the materialism of life and the materialism of religion. There is no need to take any trouble over these, for eventually they will disintegrate in the decadence into which they will fall. So, they say, their chief attention must be turned to ensuring that what they call the Latin race is in the process of total disintegration, that it is an element that is perishing; the task is to arrange and do everything in such a way that the Latin element will perish.
This view goes so far as to say: Those forces which push the Latin element down the slippery slope must be absorbed into all political impulses and also all spiritual and religious impulses. Of course nothing of this must show outwardly; but support must be given to anything that helps to free the world of the Latin element. They say that, just as at the end of the fourth post-Atlantean period everything was to be permeated with the Latin culture, so at the end of the fifth period the nature of everything must be filled with the culture that is to arise out of the English-speaking peoples. I am only speaking of the teachings of the secret brotherhoods and of what can, and indeed does, ensue from them. In addition, it has always been taught that, just as the Germanic-British element, as they call it, opposed the Latin; so will the Slav element come to oppose the English element, for that is the way of the world. Only now there is a ninety-degree change of direction. Whereas the Latin element found its impulse in the North, now the impulse strives from East to West.
We must realize that such things flow into much that is printed, much that is read by the general public, and into whatever else seeps into human social life. There are ways and means of bringing this about unnoticed, as I have described. For just imagine if this were to become known in certain quarters — it is, of course, unthinkable! It is just that things are expressed differently; it is a matter of exercising influence by means of suggestion. You can do one thing and say another, you can say something different from what you are doing, and you can often do something that seems to be the opposite of what is supposed to happen and of what you are really doing.
You may look upon what I have been sketching for you as some kind of spiritual atmosphere; indeed care is taken that it should be a kind of spiritual atmosphere. You might read something quite innocuous, but between the lines — this concept ‘between the lines’ can be something perfectly concrete — you find yourself reading something quite different as well; you learn something quite different and find you are looking at something quite different. So now people are immersed in this atmosphere and their thoughts form themselves accordingly. The thoughts of even the most intelligent people sometimes take on quite bizarre forms. Thus, in order to judge the way other people think, it is not enough to develop that naive enthusiasm of inattentive people, of which I have often spoken during these lectures; attention has to be paid to the kind of atmosphere in which people are living. This is perfectly real and is not that nebulous, abstract something which many people call the influence of the environment. Eucken, for instance, speaks of the influence of the environment without noticing that he is saying on the one hand: The environment creates the person; and on the other hand: The environment is created by people; which is equivalent to saying: I want to lift myself up by my own pigtail! The way to look at what is termed the environment in which people are immersed is to realize that this environment emerges in a definite way from certain spiritual streams. It is not the nebulous something that many people consider it to be.
Let us look at a case in point. You will have to forgive me, but I did say last Monday that I would not be able to make matters easy for you. We cannot avoid going into certain details; and you will understand the connection tomorrow. I want to read to you some passages from a letter written in the middle of April 1914 by Mitrofanoff, a history professor in St Petersburg, to a German who had been his teacher and with whom he had remained friends. Imagine this Mitrofanoff immersed in the various streams. In April 1914 he writes a letter that contains the following passages:
‘... aversion towards the Germans is felt in every soul and expressed by every mouth, and it seems to me there has rarely been such unanimity of public opinion.’
The following is a particularly interesting passage. Please pay particular attention to this passage, but not because of the name it mentions; it is possible to feel sympathy or antipathy with regard to this personality. I simply want to draw you attention to the formal content living in this passage:
‘It was perhaps Bismarck's greatest political mistake that he did not want to be more Russian than those Russian diplomats who, from weakness and lack of understanding, meanly surrendered the interests of their country during the Congress.’
What a marvellous expectation! This man reproaches Bismarck for not having been more Russian than the Russian statesmen who attended the Berlin Congress! That is why it is necessary to hate the compatriots of Bismarck! Whatever you may think of it, this sentence is certainly most original. And because the good professor of St Petersburg indulges in thoughts of this kind, he can also write the following:
‘As a reaction’ — against the Triple Alliance that had come about in Central Europe — ‘the Double Alliance was formed, which meant that Russia was associated with a vengeful France instead of the Triple Alliance.’ ... ‘For Russia the Balkan question is no guerre de luxe, no adventurous dream of the slavophiles. Its solution is without doubt an economic and political necessity. The Russian budget is based on export; if her balance of payments becomes negative the Russian treasury will be bankrupt, because it will be incapable of paying the interest on its enormous foreign debts. And two thirds of these exports pass through the southern ports and the two Turkish straits. If these outlets are blocked Russian trade will falter, and the economic consequences of such a blockade would be incalculable. The last Italo-Turkish war showed this clearly. Only possession of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles can bring to an end this insufferable situation, since the existence of a world power such as Russia cannot be allowed to depend on chance and the arbitrary acts of others. On the other hand Russia cannot possibly behave with total indifference towards the fate of the southern Slavs of the Balkan peninsula. First of all, the little Balkan states provide rear cover for the two straits and, secondly, over the course of the centuries far too much Russian blood and Russian gold have been expended on the Balkan heroes for the whole thing to be dropped now: Such an act would constitute moral and political suicide for any Russian government.’
Connect this, please, with the various remarks I have made about the Slav Welfare Committee. Too much Russian gold has been expended! Mitrofanoff continues:
‘One must, of course, not exaggerate the significance of Pan-Slavism and its ideals, but it does exist and it is doubtless quite vigorous; the demonstrations by the slavophiles in 1913 on the streets of so many Russian towns, in which even elements of the opposition participated, provide a clear demonstration of this.’
This letter of April 1914 then gives the following summary:
‘Once more: The urge to go south is a historical, political and economic necessity and whatever foreign power opposes this urge is eo ipso an enemy power. For some time the Triple Alliance has been single-mindedly set upon this course towards war. In Austria the urge to go south is also seen as a historical necessity, and the Austrians are just as right from their point of view as are the Russians from theirs. During the first half of the nineteenth century there were three directions in which the mighty Habsburg monarchy could expand: towards Italy, towards Germany and towards the Balkan peninsula. Since 1866 only the latter remains; Bismarck once again, this time perhaps unintentionally, caused Austria and Russia to face one another for a decisive battle, and by entering into the Triple Entente he placed the might of the German Empire at the disposal of Austria. Austria of course took advantage of this: everywhere and at every opportunity, if it was a matter of the Balkans, Russia found Austria standing in her way. The annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which made a deep impression in Russia, constituted not more than a page in the thick volume of Russian-Austrian enmity. Indignation was so great and danger was approaching so obviously that even the peace-loving Russian Government, despite its shattered finances, was prepared to go to war.’
He means in 1908.
‘But the “Nibelung” by the Spree threateningly shook his armoured fist and Russia, not sure of her allies, was forced to yield. In the year 1913 the realization of the Slavo-Russian ideal at last seemed almost within reach. The Turks were hit on the head, the victorious southern Slavs pressed forward to Salonika and Constantinople; one small push and the matter was settled.’
This letter is really interesting for it points to a number of remarkable matters. For instance the writer gets all excited about the following:
‘The workshops of Essen sent their cannon to the Turkish artillery; they were not up to the standard of the Creuzot guns, but nevertheless were very well made. And most important of all, German instructors drilled the Ottoman field army ... It has now become clear to the Russians’ — April 1914 — ‘that if everything remains as it is at present, the road to Constantinople lies through Berlin. Vienna is merely a secondary question.’
April 1914! A number of other things are said which demonstrate clearly that in this head there is a dream of what is to happen soon. Whether the head in question imagined that the time was so close is another question; but this head, together with its body and limbs, of course, now set out to visit its teacher in Berlin. They spoke about many things together and I intend to tell you about a number of these. The professor of history said:
‘If you do not leave Constantinople to us, war will be inevitable.’
He repeated over and over again: It goes without saying that the Germans will remain God's choice of teacher for the Russian people, and that we only have to keep the peace — that the Germans only have to keep the peace — in order to conquer by means of spiritual, inner superiority. But do not believe that you can conquer us. On my estate at Saratov I own a house in which my ancestors have lived for centuries; but I would set it on fire with my own hands before allowing German soldiers to be quartered there. We could get on rather well together if we were to share Austria between us, so that German-Austria became part of the German Empire while the other part of Austria was taken over by Russia!
This is in June 1914! We could show in a number of ways how thought forms come into being in a particular environment. Quite a bit has taken place recently that could astonish us. Where social forms are more autocratic, things that happen tend to emanate from single sources, whereas in other situations they arise more out of popular streams. Never generalize, for in one place it is like this and in another like that. We could ask, for instance: What is the basis for this peculiar, puzzling behaviour by a country like Romania? I am not speaking of the incident that gave the final push but of the stream out of which it arose. But I do not want to give what is nowadays usually called a ‘historical’ explanation, for the type of history that has been coming into being since the nineteenth century and has now entered the twentieth is not worth a snap of the fingers. A true science of history has to proceed symptomatically; it has to show the different situations which are suddenly illuminated as if by lightning. I should like to point out one such lightning illumination.
Those who are knowledgeable in the field know that much that has gone on in Romania recently has been puzzling. This is connected with the fact that in the whole of the East a certain circumstance has been reckoned with that has dominated very many people like a suggestive idea. I do not want to characterize this by means of impressions; instead I shall merely tell you certain remarks made — I do not want to be vague — by the Minister for Interior Affairs, Take Ionescu, in 1913 to a certain Mr Redlich. He said, almost word for word, that in his opinion the monarchy of Austria-Hungary would not exist beyond the death of Franz Josef, and he would surely die soon. It would then be a matter of dividing this monarchy into its constituent parts. This was a firmly-rooted opinion and, in accordance with it, people's thoughts tended to go in one particular direction. It was another of those widespread, suggestive ideas.An article written by a Russian asks what Russia can still expect from France and sets forth reasons why Russia can no longer expect much from France with regard to her own plans, and why Russia must become the victim of France if things do not change. This article was written by Prince Kotshubey and published in the 26 June 1914 issue of the Paris journal Correspondent. I have not chosen an article at random but selected one by a well-known writer who is thoroughly versed in whatever lives in his environment. The author asks whether it would have been better for Russia not to rely any longer on her alliance with France but instead to join forces with Germany once again. Prince Kotshubey discusses this possibility. But, he says, it would not be feasible to carry it out because of the Franco-Russian alliance which forces Russia to be the permanent enemy of Germany, her powerful western neighbour. So, in this head, the situation is reflected in a way that makes Russia an opponent of Germany as a result of pressure from the alliance with France, which in turn provides her with two alternatives: either to cancel the alliance with France in favour of closer relations with Germany, or drop her plans for expansion eastwards into Asia. He then goes on to say:
‘But whatever surprises may be in store for us in the future, one thing is certain, and that is that the Triple Entente would only constitute a true political alliance if France were to enforce a three-year military service and if England were to introduce general conscription.’
June 1914! This is how that prince sees the Triple Entente that had gradually come about; for he thought that the alliance with France was no longer sufficient. The French would have to be quite strong, yet this was not enough; England must also introduce general conscription!
You see, the thought is so comprehensive that there was no time to realize it before the outbreak of war; but general conscription was introduced in England anyway. To understand the real situation in the world it is not enough to single out one thing or another arbitrarily; it is necessary to develop the will to look at those things that really matter. One person can say something far more important than a hundred others who chatter away like the blind talking of colours, repeating what they hear, and whose words have no effectiveness.
I have attempted, on the one hand, to show you how definite environments come into being and, on the other hand, to give you a few examples which show how people are immersed in these environments, and how it is necessary to get to know the environment if one wants to understand the thoughts that are expressed in one place or another. It is necessary, at least once, to thoroughly absorb the demand that is made of life as it is developing today: to develop, not the enthusiasm of inattentiveness but the enthusiasm of attentiveness.
We shall speak more about such things tomorrow, and thence endeavour to penetrate more deeply into our subject. We need these details in order to do this. It would be more comfortable to skim over the surface, but those who do not know at least a few actual cases cannot put the right questions to the spiritual world.