Karma of Untruthfulness I
16 December 1916, Dornach
If we were not a society whose task it is to observe all things from the point of view of deeper knowledge, indeed of profound spiritual knowledge, I would obviously now bring to a close the discussions we have been having and which were requested from so many different quarters. If it were a matter of anything other than deeper knowledge, then these discussions would of course have to be suspended until such time as the results of the important events now taking place were available.
It is, I believe, without question that every soul who is earnestly and honestly concerned with the welfare of mankind is awaiting with bated breath the outcome of the next few days. The facts will show whether certain sources from what we have called the periphery, the circumference, are capable of coming to their senses sufficiently. If they are not, then the whole of mankind — in the future, too — will be expected to believe that one fights for peace by turning down and excluding the possibility of a relatively early achievement of peace. If matters go in the direction that various voices in the press seem to assume — though no serious observer would still consider such an assumption — then no one would be obliged even to pretend any longer to believe that there is one jot of sincerity in all those declamations which proclaim peace or even the rights of nations. In the near future the world will have the opportunity to decide with full consciousness whether to see the declamations of the will to peace as wrong and untruthful and yet still continue to find them significant, or whether to turn to the truth.
We, however, do stand on the foundation of deeper knowledge, and so there is no need for us to interrupt our observations. We are seeking for the truth, and truth must be found at all costs. For the truth can never be seriously harmful or work harmfully.
Today I intend to put before your soul certain matters which give us the opportunity to make our judgement justifiable in a number of directions. In no way do I want to influence anyone's standpoint, nor their judgement; for we are concerned with looking the facts of the physical plane, as well as the facts and impulses of the spiritual world, calmly in the eye. Some time ago I said that the question of necessity in world events would have to be scrutinized, even in the face of the most painful happenings. But Anthroposophy will never make us into fatalists, in the sense that we speak of necessities as a fate to which we have to resign ourselves. It is justifiable to ask: Did these painful events have to take place? But even if we feel obliged to answer in the affirmative, there is still no question of bowing down to these necessities in a fatalistic way. I should like to start by illustrating what I mean by a comparison.
Let us suppose that two people are arguing about how good the harvest will be next year in a certain area. The one says: The harvest will depend on the constraints laid down by nature. He lists all the constraints — the weather, and all the other conditions that are more or less independent of the will of man. The other, however, might object: You are right, all that exists; but what we ought to do is look at the practical question of how much of a contribution we ourselves can make. Then it is much less a matter of the weather and other things over which I have no influence; my main concern, then, is that I want to play my part in next year's harvest, so on my section of the land I will sow the best quality seed I can find. Whatever the other factors may be, it is my duty to sow the best possible seed, and I will make every effort to do so. The first man may be a fatalist; the second may not deny the reasons for the fatalism of the first, but he will do his best to sow the best quality seed. In the same way, for every person who desires to be prudent it is a matter, above all, of finding out how he can sow the best possible seed.
Of course, for the spiritual development of mankind the expression ‘to sow the proper seed’ means something vastly more complicated than is the case in the comparison I have just cited. It does not mean the application of a few abstract principles. It means taking the demands of mankind's evolution and recognizing correctly what is needed at the present moment for this evolution of mankind. For whatever next year's weather may be like and whatever other hindrances or unfavourable circumstances may apply, if the second person does not sow good seed the harvest will certainly be bad! So it is most important to recognize that at present the salvation of mankind's development demands certain conditions which, at the moment, by far the greatest portion of mankind is resisting. These are conditions which must be incorporated in human development so that a thriving and healthy development can take place in the future. And it must also be realized that man finds himself at present in a phase of development in which, within certain limits, it is up to him to cope with his mistakes.
In earlier times this was not the case. Before the fifth post-Atlantean period, before at least a large part of earthly mankind had come to the full realization of their freedom, divine spiritual powers intervened in earthly development, and it can be clearly perceived that this intervention by divine spiritual powers was sensed by human beings. Today, what matters is to show mankind how it is possible to reach certain insights and, above all, how to form a healthy judgement which coincides with the conditions demanded for man's development. The fact that there is a resistance to this judgement is one of the deeper causes of the present painful events.
Another question we shall have to consider over the next few days is why human beings did not turn to more spiritual inclinations a century ago. For had they done so today's painful situation would surely not have arisen. Let us postpone this a little longer and come to it perhaps tomorrow or the next day. Above all, let us hold to the knowledge that the painful events have come about chiefly as a result of this rejection of man's links with the spiritual world. Present events might therefore be described as a karma of materialism. But this phrase ‘karma of materialism’ must not be taken as an empty phrase; it must be understood in the right way.
Insights that are so deeply necessary have surfaced only sporadically during the years spanned by our lives — the final decades of the nineteenth and the first decades of the twentieth century. Certainly some insights — and much depends on insights — have been cast amongst mankind. Moreover, the attempt was made to cast them in such a way that a considerable number of people might have been included. But, at the moment, for reasons which will be mentioned later, people are still tremendously resistant to any kind of higher, spiritually grounded insight.
I now want to mention a book which appeared years ago. You might of course say: Many books are published, so why is this one so significant? At most, a book can only give people some theoretical instruction, and the salvation of the world is certainly not going to depend on whether they read it or not. Let me tell you that more is at stake than might be expected if certain ideas and insights are disseminated. Look in your soul once more at what I have told you during the last two or three lectures and you will be able to admit that this is so.
The book I mean was published in America and the author is Brooks Adams. When it appeared all those years ago it seemed to me to be one of the most important manifestations of new human insight. Even though the way it was presented to the world was spoilt by the fact that it included a foreword by ex-President Roosevelt, one of the greatest phrasemongers of today, nevertheless the ideas in this book by Brooks Adams could have brought enlightenment in the widest sense of the word. Another factor to be considered in connection with European cultural life was that the German translation of this book was brought out by a publisher of whom it was known that he serves quite particular spiritual streams, streams which are definitely hostile and detrimental, for instance to our Anthroposophical Movement. This is not what matters, however. What always matters is to have a sense for the fact that it is significant if certain ideas are presented to the world under an appropriate flag of this kind. It is quite different if a book is published by, let us say, the Cotta'sche Verlag, a distinguished publishing house which simply publishes books or, as in the case of the book in question, by a publisher who brings out books which serve the purposes of a particular society. There is a great difference between dealing simply with literature and dealing with certain definite impulses!
What is in this book by Brooks Adams? Let me first unfold only the main ideas which are brought forward, I must say, quite generally and abstractly in the most amateurish way and only in so far as their significance could be recognized in America. Yet it is important to know that a bird such as this flies up from this particular spot. Brooks Adams says in effect: There are in the world various nations who have been developing slowly for long ages. In the development of these peoples it is possible to detect both rise and fall: they are born, they pass through infancy, youth, maturity and old age, and then they perish.
This is, to start with, no profound truth but merely a framework. However, what Brooks Adams then develops in connection with the evolution of these peoples in the way of developmental laws certainly has some significance. It can be observed, he says, that in the period of their youth these peoples necessarily develop two tendencies which belong together. To enter properly into ideas such as these of Brooks Adams we must, of course, distinguish strictly between a people as such and the individual human beings; neither must we confuse the concept of a state with the concept of a people. So, Brooks Adams ascribes certain characteristics to a particular developmental period of a people and he also considers that these characteristics belong together. According to him some peoples, in the period of their youth, have the capacity for imagination, that is the capacity to form mental images which are, in the main, drawn from within. They owe their origin to the productive imagination and not to considerations such as those of what we today call science; they are drawn from the creative inner powers of the human being. This characteristic of creative imagination is, according to Brooks Adams, necessarily connected with another: these peoples are warlike. The two characteristics of creative imagination and a warlike disposition are inseparably linked in these peoples. Brooks Adams considers this to be a natural law in the spiritual life of these peoples. Peoples who are both imaginative and warlike are, as it were, a particular type.
In contrast to those peoples who belong to the imaginative and warlike type there are, says Brooks Adams, peoples who belong to another type. Here, creative imagination is no longer predominant, for it has developed into something we can call sober scientific judgement. Peoples who possess this characteristic of sober scientific judgement are not warlike by nature; they are industrial and commercial. These two characteristics — we are speaking of peoples, not individuals — belong together: the scientific and the commercial (for industry is simply a basis for commerce). Thus, there are peoples who are scientific and commercial, and peoples who are imaginative and warlike.
For the moment I do not want to criticize these ideas but merely mention that an opinion is asserting itself, though in a rather dilettante fashion, which years ago fluttered up, as it were, from American soil: Take care not to believe that the whole of mankind can be measured by the same yardstick! Do not imagine that the same ideals can be set for every nation! Note that consideration can only be given to what is founded in evolution, which means that you cannot expect a people like the Slavs, whose character is imaginative, to be unwarlike! Those of you who read Brooks Adams' book attentively, please note this latter example particularly. Judgement must be based, not on external appearances but on inner values, inner affinities.
The book is superficial if only for the reason that such knowledge, if it is expressed at all, should be expressed on the basis of spiritual insights alone. So long as there is a lack of spiritual insights, judgements about the evolution of mankind — which is of course affected by the working of spiritual powers — cannot but be one-sided. Above all, a great truth is omitted: On the physical plane we stand within the realm of maya regarding events as well as the will of human beings. As soon as maya is treated, not as maya but as reality, we must fall into error. And as soon as we fail to pay proper attention to developments within maya and to what resembles development within maya, we are already treating maya as reality.
If it were not nonsensical it would be very nice, for instance, to live in a season of permanent springtime, to be surrounded forever by blossoming, sprouting, burgeoning life. Why did the creators of the universe not arrange things so that we have sprouting, burgeoning life forever? Why do the beautiful tulips, lilies and roses have to fade and decay? The answer is quite simple: they have to fade and decay so that they can bloom again! In so far as we stand on the physical plane it must be clear to us that the one cannot be without the other — indeed, that the one is there for the sake of the other; and there is profound truth in Goethe's saying that nature created death in order to have much life. Since the physical world is maya there is no balance so long as we are in the physical world; a balancing can only come about if we can raise ourselves from the physical to the spiritual world. However, this balance is different from the balance we would expect so long as we hold the physical world to be a reality. So it is necessary to come to know the laws of maya, and to learn that within maya a balance can never be found, either by man or by any other being, if maya is not interwoven with something which lies outside maya but inside spiritual reality.
So, above all, it is always important to come to know maya as maya, to come to understand what it means when sprouting and burgeoning have to be accompanied by decay. In the case of nature it is easy to admit, since we see before our very eyes the facts we have to recognize. It will be easy to make anyone understand that in the summer and autumn of 1917 the fruits will ripen which were sown in the previous year's sowing season. If bad seeds were sown, then of course bad fruits will be harvested. So we will tend to pay attention to the quality of the seed and not allow ourselves to be so easily deceived by maya, as we are in other areas of human life where matters are rather more obscure.
Someone who points in a similar way, in connection with the life of nations, to the effect a bad sowing has on the quality of the ripening fruit, will immediately be met with prejudices. These may, for instance, be expressed as follows: I might suggest to someone that he should not be surprised at his bad harvest since his seed was poor when it was sown; he might then retort that it was his seed and that I am hurting his feelings by saying bad things about it. But I have no intention of hurting his feelings, for the poor quality of his seed might not be his fault at all. It is not a question of hurting a person's feelings but rather of stating an objective fact. It is not for me a matter of judging the connection between him and his seed-corn; that is his affair and I leave it to him entirely. But to know the objective facts it is necessary to inspect the seed-corn very closely and face up to what is really at the bottom of events. If, in doing so, we can maintain a proper objectivity, this might even be beneficial to the sower. Indeed, the benefit to him might be considerable if we succeed in making clear to him the connection between the harvest and the sowing. What I want to make clear to you is the importance of putting forward the thoughts in the right direction, and of seeking them in the right way.
After this prelude, I now want to go back some way in history. The reasons for this will soon be clear to you. I have already drawn your attention during lectures here to a king of England who played an important part for England in the realm of maya, in relation to religious development: Henry VIII. As you know, he was rather good at getting rid of his wives, of whom he had quite a number. He also had — well — let us say, the pluck to break with the Pope who did not want to dissolve one of his marriages. This refusal by the Pope gave Henry VIII the courage to bring about a new religion for the whole of England, inasmuch as it depended on him. We have spoken about this on another occasion.
During the reign of Henry VIII lived the great and eminent Thomas More. He was a man of sublime spirituality, indeed of a spirituality equal, for instance, to that of another great man, Pico della Mirandola, as well as other eminent personalities of that era. Thomas More was an enlightened spirit, even though, despite his enlightened insight, he became Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor and did not despise Henry himself. I shall prove to you in a moment that he did not despise Henry VIII. He was a spirit whose illuminated instinct enabled him to accept maya as maya. Yet, like Pico della Mirandola, he was also a pious man. He was not pious after the manner of Henry VIII, nor after the manner of the Pope; he was a sincere, earnestly pious man and from his point of view rejected all the impulses and attempts at reformation which were already beginning to flicker during his time.
In a certain respect Thomas More was a faithful son of the Catholic church; and although Henry VIII, whose Lord Chancellor he already was, would have loaded him with every honour if he had complied with his wishes, he remained disinclined to turn to a new religion simply because Henry desired to take a new wife. For this he was not only deprived of his position, he was condemned to death, and the record of the court proceedings which culminated in his condemnation is extraordinarily interesting and very characteristic of that time. The wording of the sentence which condemned Thomas More to death is quite remarkable.
Most of you know, since it has long been published in secular books, that in Freemasonry the ascent through the various degrees is connected with certain formulations which also include the manner of death awaiting those who fail to keep the secrets of a particular degree. It is stated that under certain circumstances the candidate will have to die a terrible death; for instance, in the case of one of the degrees, his body shall be cut open and his ashes strewn to the four winds of the earth. These things, as I just said, are now the subject of numerous secular writings. Now the sentence passed on Thomas More coincides exactly with the formulation in respect of a particular degree of Freemasonry: he was to be brought from life to death by a most inhuman method. Yet this alone was not enough. His body was to be divided into as many segments as there are compass points and the pieces were to be scattered in all these directions. Part of this sentence was indeed carried out in this very manner.
Consider that this event took place at the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean period. Thomas More was born in the second half of the fifteenth century and died in the first half of the sixteenth century. We may well ask whether all he did was to refuse the king the oath of supremacy — that is, refuse to recognize that the English church was independent of the Pope and commanded instead by the King of England. Is this really all he did?
Let us now turn to the most important thing he did, namely something which, even today, can have the utmost significance for anyone who looks at it squarely. Thomas More wrote the book Utopia. On the Best Form of the State and the New Island of Utopia. The main part of this book deals with the institutions of the island of Utopia, which means ‘not place’, or ‘no place’. If we take the book in the sense intended by Thomas More, we discover that Utopia means much more to him than some imaginary land in the external physical world. We should not be so foolish, however, as to assume that More wrote the book simply as an imaginary story. Thomas More cannot be counted among the Utopians. He did not want to present people with some imaginary tale; he wanted to say far more than this, in so far as this was possible in his day.
The main part of the book deals with Utopia, but it also has a very detailed introduction. This explains to us why More wrote the book. There is an important passage I want to bring to your attention, so that you can see that he did not despise Henry VIII. It begins as follows:
‘There was recently a rather serious difference of opinion between that great expert in the art of government, His Invincible Majesty, King Henry the Eighth of England, and His Serene Highness, Prince Charles of Castile. His Majesty sent me to Flanders to discuss and settle the matter.’
While in Flanders as an ambassador for Henry VIII, whom he calls an enlightened and great king, he meets a man he regards as exceptionally intelligent — spiritually, exceptionally important. So he asks him: Since you know so much and can assess matters so correctly, why do you not place your insights at the disposal of some prince? For More considers that most people in the service of princes are not very inspired, and that much that is good and favourable could ensue for the world if such inspired people were to place themselves at the service of the princes. The other now replies: It would be to no avail, for were I to express my views within some ministry or other, I should render the others no cleverer; instead they would very soon throw me out. In order to stress that this man, with whom he himself cannot agree, did actually exist, Thomas More adds: I met this man in the most varied company and he told us how he had once attempted to put forward his views in another company.
This is not merely an introduction to Utopia; Thomas More means something further. We have the curious situation in which Thomas More wishes to express criticism of the England of that time, the England of the turn of the fifteenth to the sixteenth century; the Lord Chancellor wants to criticize England. It goes without saying that someone who thinks as Thomas More does would not embark on a criticism of something abstract. In speaking of England he knows that the English people are not identical with what is meant by the configuration of the English state. He knows this very well and he also knows that the state is not something abstract but that it is made by individuals, and that the English people are not included in any criticism that might be expressed about the actions of these individuals on whom all the more important aspects of the English state depend. So Thomas More seizes on the best possible starting point for a concrete discussion, for it is certainly not concrete, but mere nonsense, to say: England is like this, Germany like that, Italy like the other — and so on; to say this is to say nothing at all.
Now, within the framework of a larger company, More brings this intelligent, enlightened man into contact with someone who is an excellent lawyer, someone whom the world considers to be ‘an excellent lawyer’, and so these two — the intelligent man and the excellent lawyer in the eyes of the world — enter into a discussion of English jurisprudence. English jurisprudence was then of course not as it is today, but no matter: the fifth post-Atlantean period was just beginning. The intelligent and enlightened man thought that it was extraordinarily stupid to proceed against thieves in the way considered proper in the England of that time. This man, who has seen Utopia and later describes it, thought that the whole way in which robbery and other matters were considered was not at all clever. He thought that the deeper reasons for such behaviour should be investigated. Thus he came to reject all the views of that time concerning people's attitude to thieves. The excellent lawyer, of course, could not understand him at all. Let us now occupy ourselves a little with the arguments of the intelligent man — not those of the excellent lawyer. He says:
‘I once happened to be dining with the Cardinal when a certain English lawyer was there. I forget how the subject came up, but he was speaking with great enthusiasm about the stern measures that were then being taken against thieves. “We're hanging them all over the place,” he said, “I've seen as many as twenty on a single gallows. And that's what I find so odd. Considering how few of them get away with it, why are we still plagued with so many robbers?” “What's odd about it?” I asked — for I never hesitated to speak freely in front of the Cardinal.’
Now let us hear the intelligent man speak!
‘ “This method of dealing with thieves is both unjust and socially undesirable: As a punishment it's too severe, and as a deterrent it's quite ineffective. Petty larceny isn't bad enough to deserve the death penalty, and no penalty on earth will stop people from stealing, if it's their only way of getting food. In this respect you English, like most other nations, remind me of incompetent schoolmasters, who prefer caning their pupils to teaching them. Instead of inflicting these horrible punishments, it would be far more to the point to provide everyone with some means of livelihood, so that nobody's under the frightful necessity of becoming a thief and then a corpse.” “There's adequate provision for that already,” replied the lawyer. “There are plenty of trades open to them. There's always work on the land. They could easily earn an honest living if they wanted to, but they deliberately choose to be criminals.” “You can't get out of it like that”, I said.’
This is the intelligent man once again.
‘ “Let's ignore, for the sake of argument, the case of the disabled soldier, who has lost a limb in the service of King and Country, either at home or abroad — perhaps in that battle with the Cornish rebels, or perhaps during the fighting in France, not so long ago. When he comes home, he finds he's physically incapable of practising his former trade, and too old to learn a new one. But as I say, let's forget about him, since war is only an intermittent phenomenon. Let's stick to the type of thing that happens every day.
Well, first of all there are lots of noblemen who live like drones on the labour of other people, in other words, of their tenants, and keep bleeding them white by constantly raising their rents. For that's their only idea of practical economy — otherwise they'd soon be ruined by their extravagance. But not content with remaining idle themselves, they take round with them vast numbers of equally idle retainers, who have never been taught any method of earning a living.
The moment their master dies, or they themselves fall ill, they're promptly given the sack — for these noblemen are far more sympathetic towards idleness than illness, and their heirs often can't afford to keep up such large establishments.
Now a sacked retainer is apt to get violently hungry, if he doesn't resort to violence. For what's the alternative? He can, of course, wander around until his clothes and his body are both worn out, and he's nothing but a mass of rags and sores. But in that state no gentleman will condescend to employ him, and no farmer can risk doing so — for who could be less likely to serve a poor man faithfully, sweating away with mattock and hoe for a beggarly wage and barely adequate diet, than a man who has been brought up in the lap of luxury, and is used to swaggering about in military uniform, looking down his nose at everyone else in the neighbourhood?”
“But that's exactly the kind of person we need to encourage,” retorted the lawyer. “In wartime he forms the backbone of the army, simply because he has more spirit and self-respect than an ordinary tradesman or farm-hand.”
“You might as well say,” I answered,’
Now the intelligent man speaks again.
‘ “that for the purposes of war you have to encourage theft. Well, you'll certainly never run short of thieves, so long as you have people like that about. And, of course, you're perfectly right thieves do make quite efficient soldiers, and soldiers make quite enterprising thieves. The two professions have a good deal in common. However, the trouble is not confined to England, although you've got it pretty badly. It's practically a world-wide epidemic.
France, for instance, is suffering from an even more virulent form of it. There the whole country is overrun even in peacetime — if you can call it that — by mercenaries who have been brought in for much the same reasons as you gave for supporting idle retainers. You see, the experts decided, in the interests of public safety, that they must have a powerful standing army, consisting mostly of veterans — for they put so little faith in raw recruits that they deliberately start wars to give their soldiers practice, and make them cut throats just to keep their hands in, as Sallust rather nicely puts it.
So France has learnt by bitter experience how dangerous it is to keep these savage pets, but there are plenty of similar object-lessons in the history of Rome, Carthage, Syria, and many other countries. Again and again standing armies have seized some opportunity of overthrowing the government that employed them, devastating its territory, and destroying its towns. And yet it's quite unnecessary. That's obvious enough from the fact that for all their intensive military training the French can't often claim to have beaten your wartime conscripts — I won't put it more strongly than that, for fear of seeming to flatter present company.” ’
Thus says the Lord Chancellor, Thomas More. We need hardly do more than copy down what he said then about the poor people of France. You could use these words to formulate the most beautiful sentences to present to the English ministers so that they can fulminate againt ‘Prussian militarism’. But these things were said at the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean period, and possibly the juxtaposition of today's chatter with what lay at the beginning of it all might cause hurt feelings in some quarters.
You see, Thomas More lets us listen to the words of a person who endeavours to get to the bottom of things, and, moreover, in a way which could be disagreeable to some, even if matters are only touched upon quite superficially. He continues:
‘ “In any case I don't see how it can possibly be in the public interest to prepare for a war, which you needn't have unless you want to, by maintaining innumerable disturbers of the peace — when peace is so infinitely more important.
But that's not the only thing that compels people to steal. There are other factors at work which must, I think, be peculiar to your country.” ’
Thus speaks the man who has come back from Utopia.
‘ “And what are they?” asked the Cardinal.’
A new participant in the conversation.
‘ “Sheep,” I told him. “These placid creatures, which used to require so little food, have now apparently developed a raging appetite, and turned into man-eaters. Fields, houses, towns, everything goes down their throats. To put it more plainly, in those parts of the kingdom where the finest, and so the most expensive wool is produced, the nobles and gentlemen, not to mention several saintly abbots, have grown dissatisfied with the income that their predecessors got out of their estates. They're no longer content to lead lazy, comfortable lives, which do no good to society — they must actively do it harm, by enclosing all the land they can for pasture, and leaving none for cultivation. They're even tearing down houses and demolishing whole towns — except, of course, for the churches, which they preserve for use as sheepfolds. As though they didn't waste enough of your soil already on their coverts and game-preserves, these kind souls have started destroying all traces of human habitation, and turning every scrap of farmland into a wilderness. So what happens? Each greedy individual preys on his native land like a malignant growth, absorbing field after field, and enclosing thousands of acres with a single fence. Result — hundreds of farmers are evicted. They're either cheated or bullied into giving up their property, or systematically ill-treated until they're finally forced to sell. Whichever way it's done, out the poor creatures have to go, men and women, husbands and wives, widows and orphans, mothers and tiny children, together with all their employees — whose great numbers are not a sign of wealth, but simply of the fact that you can't run a farm without plenty of manpower. Out they have to go from their homes that they know so well, and they can't find anywhere else to live. Their whole stock of furniture wouldn't fetch much of a price, even if they could afford to wait for a suitable offer. But they can't, so they get very little indeed for it. By the time they've been wandering around for a bit, this little is all used up, and then what can they do but steal — and be very properly hanged?
Of course, they can always become tramps and beggars, but even then they're liable to be arrested as vagrants, and put in prison for being idle — when nobody will give them a job, however much they want one. For farm-work is what they're used to, and where there's no arable land, there's no farm-work to be done. After all, it only takes one shepherd or cowherd to graze animals over an area that would need any amount of labour to make it fit for corn production. For the same reason, corn is much dearer in many districts.
The price of wool has also risen so steeply that your poorer weavers simply can't afford to buy it, which means a lot more people thrown out of work. This is partly due to an epidemic of the rot, which destroyed vast numbers of sheep just after the conversion of arable to pasture land began. It almost looked like a judgement on the landowners for their greed — except that they ought to have caught it instead of the sheep. Not that prices would fall, however many sheep there were, for the sheep market has become, if not strictly a monopoly — for that implies only one seller — then at least an oligopoly. I mean it's almost entirely under the control of a few rich men, who don't need to sell unless they feel like it, and never do feel like it until they can get the price they want.” ’
I need read no further, but simply point out to you that in this book Thomas More, the Lord Chancellor, a man who shares the views of Pico della Mirandola, expresses bitter criticism through the mouth of a person who may indeed be fictitious and who has been in Utopia; but the criticism is levelled at something that really happened at that time. For indeed over wide areas the people who had tilled the soil with their hands were driven from their land, which was turned into grazing ground for the sheep of the landowners who sought to make profits in this way from the sale of wool.
Thomas More found it necessary to draw attention to the fact that people exist who drive the rural population from the soil they have tilled in order to turn it over to sheep. Those who are able to link effects with causes in an objective way can pursue, on the physical plane, how the structure of the English state today is intimately bound up with what happened all that time ago and was criticized in this way by Thomas More. And if one pursues the matter with the means of the spirit, which also exist, then one discovers that the English people cannot be held responsible for a great deal for which the England of politics must be held responsible. Moreover, those who are responsible for the England of politics are the heirs — in certain cases, even the actual descendants — of those who are criticized here by Thomas More. There is an unbroken evolution which can be traced back to that point. If we take such things into account we shall discover and know that in speeches such as that of Rosebery, which I quoted to you the other day, can be heard the voices of those who long ago made profits from the sale of wool in the manner described. Everywhere the objective connections must be sought. Above all one must be entitled not to be misunderstood in every possible way.
What does it mean when one is reproached and told to be more tactful because, otherwise, the English will think this or that? This is not at all what matters. What is important is that there are certain things in our life today which can be traced back to certain origins, and these origins must be sought in the proper places. There is no cause for anyone, merely because he is English, to rush to defend the impulses of the descendants of those who long ago drove the peasants from house and home, land and soil, in order to keep flocks of sheep instead of retaining arable land. It is necessary to become familiar with the laws of cause and effect, and not babble about one nation or another being to blame for this or that.
Now that I have endeavoured to demonstrate to you a characteristic link between something in the present and something in the past, let me turn to yet another point, in order once again to make a connection. I shall present you with a number of external facts which shall serve the purpose of giving you a foundation on which to build judgements.
A survey of present-day Europe, with the exception of the eastern part which is inhabited by the Slavs, reveals that for the most part it has emerged from what was the kingdom of Charlemagne in the eighth and ninth centuries. I am not concerned at the moment with Charlemagne himself, nor with the fact that there is much argument about him today. This argument about Charlemagne really has as little point as the argument of three sons about their father. If three sons quarrel amongst each other, the reason is frequently that they are all quite right to call a certain person their father. Indeed, three people would often not quarrel amongst each other were it not for the fact that they do all share the same father; and the object of their quarrel as likely as not is their inheritance!
Out of the realm of Charlemagne have come, in the main, three component parts: a western part which, after various vicissitudes, became the France of today; an eastern part which, in the main, has become today's Germany and Austria, with the exception of the Slav and Magyar regions; and a middle part which has become essentially the Italy of today. Strictly speaking, all three are equally justified in tracing themselves back to Charlemagne. Sometimes people even have strange feelings which determine whether they want to be traced back to Charlemagne or not. For instance, when you consider how many Saxons were slaughtered by Charlemagne, it is not surprising if some people attach no particular importance to being traced back to him. So, these three regions emerged from the kingdom of Charlemagne. In order to understand much of what is going on today we need to take into account that throughout the Middle Ages there existed, between the middle and the western region, certain links which were of an ideal nature, links which today no longer exist at all in such areas, apart from some empty phrases which cannot be taken seriously. For the Holy Roman Empire was to a large extent founded on ideals. If you do not wish to believe other sources which speak of these ideals, then read Dante's De Monarchia, or investigate what else Dante thought about these things. Consider, for instance, that it was Dante who reproached Rudolf of Habsburg for taking too little care of Italy, ‘the most beautiful garden in the Empire!’ Dante was, at least during that part of his life that matters most, an ardent adherent of that ideal community which had come into being and was called Germany-Italy.
Then in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries we see that the Venetian Republic began to rebel against what came down from the North. First of all Venice devoured the patriarchate of Aquileia, but the main concern of the Venetians was to gain a foothold on the Adriatic and settle along the coast there. Venice was very successful and we can see how what came from the North was indeed pushed back, particularly by the influence of the Venetian Republic. Then comes the era known as the Renaissance, which flourished in Italy and elswhere, particularly under the influence of the blossoming of the free cities. But this was followed by the Counter-Reformation and the politics emanating from the Pope and Spain, and we see that not until the eighteenth century can Italy begin to think of recovering from centuries of pain and suffering. Since you can read it up in any history book, there is no need for me to describe how the moment at last arrived when Italy found her unity, to the approval of the whole world. Those of us who are familiar with these things know that in German regions just as much enthusiasm was expressed for the unification of Italy as elsewhere.
We might ask how the modern unification of Italy came about. We should look upon the case of Italy as a particularly important example of how unified states come into being. But we must also come to understand the connections between the events in Serbia and Italy which I told you about last week. These are connections which are immensely important for an understanding of the situation today. But first one must consider for a moment how the state of Italy came into being, a state which can surely be recognized ungrudgingly.
We need go back only as far as the Battle of Solferino in which France fought alongside Italy, and where the first step was taken towards the subsequent creation of the modern state of Italy. We are in the fifties of the nineteenth century. How did it come about — for there was a great deal at stake at that time — that the first step on the path towards modern Italy could be taken at Solferino by Italy and France? Read your history books and you will find they fully bear out what I am saying: It came about solely because Prussia and Austria — Austria could only lose — could not reach any agreement!
What happened subsequently is owed to the fact that Italy had in Camillo Cavour a truly great statesman, in whose soul the idea flourished that, from this starting point, something could arise in Italy which would lead to a rebirth of the ancient Roman greatness. But matters took a different turn. Something similar, though perhaps with a very different nuance, occurred; something similar to what we saw in connection with Michael Obrenovich, Prince of Serbia, when he sacrificed his earlier idealistic views to the demands of state necessity. In a similar way the great soul of Camillo Cavour bowed before karmic necessity and made the transition from the ideal to external realism.
I can only give you an outline of these things. Italy proceeded from stage to stage. In the summer of 1871 Victor Emmanuel was able to enter Rome. How had this become possible? It was made possible by Germany's victories over France! From the statesman Francesco Crispi stem the words: Italy went to Rome thanks to the German victories, after France had taken the first initiative at Solferino. But the fact that Rome became the capital of the kingdom of Italy is due to the German victories over France.
Now a remarkable relationship develops between Italy and France. It is interesting to note how to the extent that Italy was able to consolidate her unity, she became at once an opponent and an ally of France. Another factor is that Italy's statesmen set great store by the fact that her state structure was pieced together from the outside and also that she owed to Germany the final great push towards unity. These statesmen also saw that to join forces with France in the way which would have been possible at that time could not be fruitful for her. This stream, however, was in opposition to another, which gained in force from the year 1876 onwards: that of the francophile democratic left-wing party. So now this new state vacillated between an attraction to France which was, I might say, more on the feeling level, and a more practical attraction to Central Europe. The remarkable thing was that in everything that came about at that time it always turned out that the deciding factor was the practical tendency of Central Europe.
A new turn of events came about when France took over Tunisia. It had always been taken for granted that Tunisia would fall to Italy. But now France proceeded to spread herself there. So the practical tendency in Italy began to gain the upper hand, the tendency which leaned towards Central Europe. It is interesting, for instance, that at the Berlin Congress the Italian delegate asked Bismarck, who was quite calmly suggesting that France should spread over into Africa, whether he was really intent on setting Italy and France at each other's throats. Certainly for the Italian statesmen of that time this meant that Italy must turn towards Germany. And since Bismarck had spoken the famous words: ‘The path to Germany lies via Vienna’, Italy had to turn towards Austria too. So the ancient feud, which Austria had taken on as what I would call her tragic destiny, had to be shelved. For everything the Venetian Republic had done meant, basically, that those elements which tended towards Germany had been pushed out of Italy. So Austria had to take on the role of bearing the stream which came down from the North.
As a result of France's actions in North Africa, the francophile stream in Italy had to retreat, and so the connection with Central Europe came to be taken for granted at that time. I am giving you only a sketchy outline of these things since it is, after all, not my task to teach you politics. But it is necessary to know certain things about which, unfortunately, far too little is known these days. Italy joined Central Europe in 1882 in what came to be known as the Triple Alliance. Certain people will always misjudge this Triple Alliance because they cannot accustom themselves to using the valid terms. There really are people who blame the painful events of the present war on the Triple Alliance instead of the so-called Triple Entente, which included the Entente Cordiale. You see, people do not always use the proper terms. Normally you can ask about something which is intended to lead to a particular goal whether it is really getting there and how long it remains valid. Now, it was always said by those who were a party to the Triple Alliance that its purpose was to preserve peace. And it did indeed serve this purpose for many decades; that is, for decades it served the purpose for which its participants said it was intended.
Then came the Triple Entente of which it was also said that its purpose was to preserve peace. Yet within less than a decade peace had disappeared! Anything else in the world would be judged on what it achieves. Yet precisely in this matter people do not condescend to form an objective judgement. Only five years later that secret matter was contrived which gives us the possibility of studying more closely the alchemy of those bullets which were used for the assassination at Sarajevo! The assassination of June 1914 could not possibly fail! For if those bullets had missed their target, others would have succeeded! Every precaution had been taken to ensure that if one attempt failed, the next would succeed. It was better thought out, indeed planned on a larger scale, than any other assassination in the whole of history.
In order to study what our friends have asked us to bring up here, we shall have to discover the alchemy of those bullets. I shall return to this later. For after only five years something had been mingled with the interrelationships of the Triple Entente, something which brought it about that there was a link between every event that took place in Italy and every event that took place in the Balkan countries. The aim was to let nothing happen in the Balkans without a corresponding event in Italy. The passions of the people were to be swayed in such a way that no action could be taken one-sidedly, either in the one country or the other; the people's feelings and thoughts were always to run parallel. For decades there was this intimate connection between the various impulses in the Apennine and the Balkan peninsulas. Sometimes a case of this kind stands out in an extraordinarily symbolic way. It is ‘a beauty’ in the way it conforms exactly to the theory, just as a doctor might find a serious case ‘a beauty’ if it gives him an opportunity of performing a particularly good operation — which does not mean in any way that it is something beautiful in itself.
On a visit to Italy we once called in Rome on a most charming, delightful and friendly gentleman who has since died. He conducted us into his sitting room where we found in a very prominent position the portraits, personally autographed, of Draga Masin and Alexander Obrenovich. This friendly gentleman was not only a famous professor; he was the organizer of the so-called Latin League, which was concerned with the separation of South Tyrol and Trieste from Austria in favour of Italy. Of course I do not want to draw any great conclusions from such an insignificant experience. But it is significant symbolically that somebody who organizes the Latin League — I am not judging or criticizing, merely reporting — and, in connection with this Latin League, causes the students of Innsbruck university to riot, should have in his sitting room, visible to all comers, the autographed portraits of Alexander Obrenovich and Draga Masin. Since the secret threads which link Rome and Belgrade were well known to me at the time, this experience did make an impression on me as being symptomatic in a certain way. Karma does, after all, lead us to whatever is important for us in the world, and if we are capable of seeing and understanding things in the proper way, then we realize that karma has brought us to a point where there is something to be ‘sniffed out’ in the furtherance of our knowledge.
Things now developed in such a way that in 1888, a year in which war could have broken out just as it did in 1914, the crisis was averted because Crispi remained loyal to the Triple Alliance. He remained loyal to the Triple Alliance because France was proceeding to spread herself in North Africa. France embarked at that time on a political tactic aimed at Italy, who was starting to turn away from her. The French themselves said this tactic was intended to bring about the ‘re-conquering of Italy by means of hunger’, that is, a kind of trade war was attempted against Italy, and this trade war certainly played an important role at that time. The consequence was that Italy's practical links with Central Europe were increasingly strengthened. It is perhaps just as well if I give you the opinion of a Frenchman on this, rather than that of a German. He said that modern Italy was economically a German colony.
It has often been stressed, not only by Germans but by others as well, that Italy was saved by her close economic ties with Germany from the danger of being conquered by France through hunger — not a nice prospect. All this contributed to the peaceful settlement of the crisis at the end of the eighties. It is most interesting to study this crisis in all its details. It reveals something quite special to someone who is inclined to take account of interconnections and not be deceived. I did the following: I called to mind the events of 1888 and superimposed on them the date 1914. The events are absolutely identical! Just as in 1914 the incitements in the press were started in Petersburg and then taken up in Germany, so it was in 1888. As then, so also in 1914, a conflict was to be brought about between Germany and Austria. In short, every detail is the same. It is interesting that I have read aloud to various people a speech made in 1888 in which I replaced the date 1888 by 1914. Everybody believed that the speech was made in 1914!
When such things are possible we are not inclined to speak of coincidences. We have to understand that there are driving forces and that these driving forces work in a systematic way. In 1888 the matter was averted in the manner I have described. Then the situation became more complicated. The complication arose particularly because the connection of the Apennine peninsula to Central Europe took on a most peculiar character as far as Italy was concerned. It is psychologically interesting to study these things. It really came to a point where Italy, political Italy, had to be treated like some hysterical ladies are treated. The most unbelievable things developed, particularly because the opinion grew and was propagated in Europe that Austria must break up. I am not criticizing, only reporting.
You may gain an impression of how this opinion was propagated in Europe by reading the publications of Loiseaux, Chéradame and others, all of which treat of the assumption that Austria will be divided up in the near future. Now these judgements of Loiseaux and Chéradame and the others were thrown onto what was smouldering away down in the South. Under these circumstances it was definitely not easy to carry on what is usually known as politics. For instance, Oberdank was much celebrated in Italy. He had attempted to assassinate Emperor Franz Josef. In Vienna, on the other hand, a picture in an exhibition had to be renamed for the visit of the Duke of the Abruzzi. Its title was The Naval Battle of Lissa. This battle had been won by Austria, and so as not to offend the Duke of the Abruzzi the picture had to be renamed Naval Battle. This is just one example among many. I am not criticizing, but I do wonder about the question of give and take. Would anyone in Italy have condescended to be so considerate as to omit the name of a sea battle Italy had won? In Vienna they were. Whether it is right or wrong, it does raise the question of give and take. I mention this in order to characterize the different moods somewhat. For it is these moods which matter when streams such as that of the ‘Grand Orient de France’ come into play and when occult impulses of this kind start to take a hold.
Certain things of which people have taken no note so far will have to become things of which they take a great deal of note in the future, for it is not the case that the ‘Massonieri’, as also other secret brotherhoods, do not notice what is there; rather they set themselves the task of making use of those forces which are indeed there. They know where the forces are of which they must make use. So if on the Apennine peninsula there exists a certain stream, and if on the Balkan peninsula there exists another stream, then suitable use must be made of these two streams so that, at the right moment — that is, the right moment from the point of view of these people — one thing or another can be set in motion.
Let this be a preparation for the alchemical discussion I mentioned, which will take us further along our path. Please note that, in order to meet the wishes of our friends, I cannot but mention a certain amount of what is going on at the present time. What I have to say has to be linked to certain things which do exist, even if not everybody agrees that these should be brought out into the open. I am convinced that one of the chief causes for the painful events going on in the world today is the attitude that a blind eye can be turned to certain matters while others are discussed on the basis of an entirely false premise. Even in the face of large-scale matters of this kind, each individual should start from a foundation of self-knowledge. And a portion of self-knowledge is involved if we recognize that to claim no interest in these things and to want only to hear of occult matters is, in a small way, no different from all that adds up to the events we are experiencing today. For spiritual things are not only those which have to do with higher worlds. These, to start with, are of course occult for everybody. But much of what takes place on the physical plane is also occult for many people. We can only hope that much of what is occult and hidden on this plane may be revealed! For one of the causes of today's misery is that so much remains occult for so many people, who nevertheless persist in forming judgements.