The Social Question
Dear Reader, I wish you could experience the content of these lectures as a listener, for that was the way in which they were presented. Please imagine Rudolf Steiner speaking to you in these lectures rather than finding hiccups in some of his long sentences. Difficulties abound for a translator in finding just one pesky word to convey the richness of German composite words, but trying to offer the reader a string of alternate words which might fit, could be utterly confusing. One particular term needs some explanation.
The lectures deal with the “Proletariat.” Dictionaries translate this word as the common worker, bourgeoisie, the working class people, the labour class, the lower classes, the masses, the plebeians, and so on. The use of the word “Proletarian” started rising around 1900 and peaked around 1930 and again in 1980. I leave it up to you to make the switch in your mind, when you come across this word, to one of your choice.
The same can be done for “bourgeoisie”, a word Rudolf Steiner uses at times and which fits the same formula as above. Yet it may be extended to refer to folk, to the general public, and so on. A reference to “class” distinction is avoided.
In the second lecture Rudolf Steiner suggests that the first four lectures are taken as a unit, and not be judged as single statements. The final two lectures could likewise form a unit because they were given as Public Lectures, in other words they were not limited to members of the Anthroposophical Society. These two lectures take on quite a different tone and a brave front and it is well worth your perseverance to reach the end.
HANNA VON MALTITZ.