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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Social Question
GA 328

We present a First Edition, never before translated into English, series of six lectures. Rudolf Steiner gave these lectures early in the year of 1919 at Zurich, Switzerland. Here Steiner proffers ideas to solve the social problems and necessities required by life, by studying the life sciences and social life, and the living conditions of the present-day humans. He expresses how the social will should be the basis of a new scientific order, and what the role of the modern worker should be.

The artwork on the cover is that of the translator, Hanna von Maltitz. This book as well as a number of other new translations may be purchased through Anthroposphical Publications

Translator's Note
I.The True Form of the Social Question February 03, 1919
The actual form of the social question understood out of life's necessities at present, on the basis of scientific spiritual research unannounced in the social needs of the present. Regarding the origin of the proletarian movement. The problem with cause and effect. The proletarian class distinction in relation to human consciousness. The ideological character of science, art and religion for the proletariat. Contradictions in the proletarian movement. Towards a Threefold Social Order.
II.A comparison between the attempts at solving the social question based on life's realities and the necessity for a scientific spiritual concept of life as a social organism. February 05, 1919
A comparison between the attempts at solving the social question based on life's realities and the necessity for a scientific spiritual concept of life as a social organism. Criticism of analogy. Structural features of the Threefold Social organism. Inherent laws in spiritual, legal and economic life. Arguments against the centralisation of social functional areas. The meaning of freedom, equality and brotherhood for the social organism. Perspectives for social reform.
III.Fanaticism versus a real conception of life in social thinking and willing. February 10, 1919
Extremism vs a real view of life in social thinking and willing. The being and meaning of the proletarian view of life during the evolution of mankind. The meaning of a spiritual scientific world view for the establishment of a social reality. Social utopia and fanaticism. Criticism for state monopoly in spiritual and cultural life. Regarding the value of human labour — criticism of Karl Marx.
IV.The evolution of social thinking and willing and life's circumstances for current humanity. February 12, 1919
The development of social thinking and will and life's circumstances for present humanity and their influences of individual behaviour. Two streams in social thinking and social feeling. Illusion of cause-and-effect running in a straight line in social developments. Instinctive feelings and modern individual consciousness. Regarding national economic thoughts of physiocrats (value based on land and labour). The relationship between legal and economic life. The tasks of legality. Thoughts towards the main social law. Private right and criminal law as components of spiritual life. Present day question from the point of view of Threefoldness.
V.The social will as the basis towards a new, scientific procedure. February 25, 1919
Public lecture on social will as forming the basis of a new scientific order. Regarding superstitious abstraction from which something lively can be formed. Community building. The question of human dignity in modern thinking. Spirituality regarded as an ideology, a mirror of materialistic reality. Denationalization as a guiding force of social change. Regarding the nature of human labour and the necessity of revealing its character. Schooling pupils in social will. Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. Social need and social reality.
VI.What significance does work have for the modern Proletarian? March 08, 1919
The meaning of modern civilization for evolution. The split brought about through modernism. Results of education for the Proletariat. Human dignity in the workplace. Capitalism. Labour sold as Goods. The function of the state from the perspective of the ruling classes. The State as a Cooperative. The definition of human labour in a healthy social organism. Science and the working classes. The economic vs legal state. The state's dominance over cultural and economic life. The principle of association as a basis for a contemporary economic system. Money. The necessity for a Threefold Social Organism. Closing words after the discussion. Being one with the common workers.