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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Rudolf Steiner Speaks to the British
GA 305

Social Impulses

28 August 1922, Oxford

In thinking about the social question these days we must remember more than anything else that in the real world effects arise from causes that we do not even notice if we only look at things in a superficial way. By merely skimming the surface we only see the external aspects of reality, and not the real causes and reasons, which lie at a deeper level. That is why there have been and still are so many well-meaning Utopian ideas about how to meet the demands of social life today. At a very significant moment in history between the end of the war and the Versailles attempt at a peace settlement I endeavoured to sketch out a way of developing an organic structure for our present social organism>® in accordance with the three parts of social life that I ventured to describe in the lecture two days ago.

In that lecture I drew attention to the fact that in the course of humanity’s historical evolution three very different streams emerged from the original theocratic stream. I also showed that in our time the social organism contains the cultural-spiritual life, the politico-legal life and the economic life side by side. I stated expressly that I was not seeking to establish a theory about these three elements into which the social organism is divided. I said that looked at realistically and not theoretically this would be like someone wondering how to divide the human being into head, breast and limbs. The division of the social organism is a historical given. It exists, and there is therefore no need to puzzle out how to divide up the social organism into three parts. What we need to do is find the links that unite the three elements that exist anyway.

To consider this question as the basic question of our time we must think in ways that are entirely commensurate with reality, taking only actual facts into account. To be realistic in this way means to consider a specific point in time and a specific place. I wrote my book Towards Social Renewal at the request of friends in Stuttgart in the southern part of Germany, and this book deals with the specific period of spring 1919 and the specific place, southern Germany. I imagined that if people were to find the will to do something, then at that time and in that place this will would be such that there would be an understanding for the things suggested by this book not so much as points in a political programme but as directions of will.

The question dealt with in the book is different for the eastern part of the civilized world, for Russia and Asia; it is different for Central Europe, and different again for the western world, for England and America. You can reach this conclusion if you think realistically. I described in the lecture two days ago how the industrial world order emerged from the two earlier orders and now exists side by side with them as a separate stream. It is something that evolved chiefly under the influence of western countries. It evolved under the influence of customs, habits and the social order of the eighteenth century in western countries and adapted itself to all these things. A more concrete and precise way of describing this would be to say that during recent historical times England became the great trading nation of the world. Every third word in discussions of the proletarian question in socialist circles is ‘capital’. Under the influence of the great trading links capital has come to mean commercial capital in Western Europe.

Such things give a particular slant to situations, in this case one arising from the fact that the commercial system of recent times has evolved organically out of the habits and customs of life in western countries. What Karl Marx saw here in England was not the same as the situation he had observed in Germany. From Germany he brought with him only his ideas and dialectic, but here in England he found a social structure that was foreign to him. The way industrialism came to be structured is an evolutionary continuation, the next link in the chain of commercial development in the West. Industry evolved organically out of trade.

This was not the case in Central Europe or its representative country, Germany. Right until the middle of the nineteenth century Germany remained essentially agrarian, a country in which agriculture dominated. What modern industry there was—that third stream that came to join the other two streams—was more or less a function of the state and tended to become more and more absorbed by the state structure and integrated in it.

Make a realistic comparison between pre-war Central Europe and pre-war Western Europe. In Western Europe the economic sphere of commerce and industry managed to remain separate from the state, as did the cultural life to an even greater degree in the way it retained its independence from the other two strands.

In Central Europe there was a compact amalgam of cultural life, legal-political life and economic life. So in Germany there was a need to tease the three strands apart before they could be brought to work together in an organic way; they needed to be side by side for collaboration to be possible and so that the links between them could be established.

Here in the West the three strands sit side by side, clearly separated from one another. Even spatially the cultural life is separated off to such an extent that you can get the feeling, for example here in Oxford, that culture and learning lead a life of their own in splendid isolation from any state or economic life going on elsewhere. Consequently there is also a sense of this isolated cultural life no longer having the strength to work outwards into the other two strands. It seems to live within itself and have no organic links through which to interweave with the other two.

In Germany you feel that cultural life is so interwoven with the life of the state that it will need a good deal of help before being able to stand on its own feet. Here in England, on the other hand, cultural life is so independent that it takes no notice at all of the other two strands. If you think realistically about the whole social aspect today and the fundamental impulses that sustain it, you will find that such differences give the situation in each country its own quite distinct colouring.

I therefore find it quite natural that my book Towards Social Renewal, which was widely read in Germany in 1919, should now be almost, although perhaps not quite, forgotten there. The moment in time when the suggestions made in it might have been realized has now passed as far as Central Europe is concerned. It had passed as soon as the galloping inflation set in that now so completely binds the hands of the German economy.

When Towards Social Renewal was published, many people said that it was all well and good, but surely the important thing at the moment was to get that galloping inflation under control. Yet at the time the situation was relatively stable compared with the disastrous situation today. All I could say was that they would be able to find out from the book how the inflation situation might be alleviated. But they failed to see it. They could not find the place where the answer is given. They looked for obvious statements on the surface and couldn’t find the answer in the depths. People did not understand that the book itself was the answer they were looking for.

This very attitude is one of the fundamental impulses in social life today. When you try to think realistically and provide answers based on reality, people do not understand what you are saying. They counter with theories; their heads are stuffed with ‘capital’ and ‘value added’ and ‘class struggle’ and all kinds of things, including all the old prejudices. They approach matters with all their old habits of thought intact. In practical life today reality is killed stone dead by theory. This is the puzzling thing about our time. Practical people have become theoreticians with ideas in their heads like objects forged in a factory; and these theoretical ideas are what they try to use to solve all the problems of social life.

I therefore believe that Towards Social Renewal should in future be read more in the West and in Russia, for in Germany there seems to be no possibility of putting any of the suggestions it makes into practice. In the West, for instance, people will find there is much that can be learnt from the book. Without being Utopian it clearly describes how the three strands ought to run side by side and yet interweave with one another. In the West the point in time is irrelevant for here, too, there remains much to be done with regard to the proper interlinking of the three strands of cultural life, economic life and the political-legal life of the state.

Above all we shall have to learn to think in a really modern way so as to achieve the capacity to form judgements about social matters that are relevant to modern times. Please do not take this superficially. What I mean is that we need to acquire social judgements that are relevant today, and we can only do this if we look into the depths that lie beneath the surface of social phenomena. In this connection we are faced with a remarkable fact. It is impossible for an individual alone, however intelligent or idealistic or practical—and I should like to underline ‘practical’ three times!—to arrive at a social judgement at all. It is a social mystery that any social judgement reached by someone in isolation is wrong.

Look at the immensely clever judgements made when the gold standard was to be set up in Europe. Immensely clever things were said in the trade associations and parliaments—and I say this with conviction and do not mean it ironically. If you study these things you gain a profound respect for all that was said by those immensely clever individuals, from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, about the influence of the gold standard on the social structure of the world. Above all else they proved without a shadow of doubt—in the most logical manner for which we ought to have the greatest respect—that free trade would flourish once the gold standard had been introduced.

Yet the opposite happened. The gold standard even necessitated the re-establishment of tariff barriers. In other words, the cleverest individuals talked nonsense when looking towards the future. This is not meant as a reproach. It happened because even the cleverest people talk nonsense—perhaps the more so the cleverer they are—if they talk about social matters as lone individuals, if they form their judgements only on the basis of insights a single human individual can bring forward.

Today there is no point in letting ourselves be moved emotionally by social wretchedness. Individuals cannot form judgements about the connection between cause and effect in social life. We shall have to dig deeper than that. We shall have to examine the very way that humanity as a whole is structured. We must ask ourselves how a truly social judgement can be achieved.

In ancient times social judgements were formed unconsciously. We do not want to return to this way of doing things, for it belongs to the past, to the age of the theocracies. Social judgements in those times came about through groups of human beings.

It is quite untrue to say that the family was the first kind of social order to arise, for in fact the family is a latecomer on the social scene. Primeval human beings did not ponder about what social judgement they ought to make; they accepted the Inspirations of their priests and absorbed these into their unconscious. These unconscious communal judgements only arose amongst people who belonged to a social group, whether that group was one of consanguinity or based on some other order. Social groups had a mutual understanding, not individuals—social groups of people living together. The right kind of social order arose out of the way the people in those groups lived with one another. The right social form developed out of the whole group in the spirit of human beings. This was the case with democracy also, and thus with the idea of democracy. A culmination was only reached after long periods of time. Then the individual human being appeared on the scene of world history. Such individuals stll brought with them what the groups had built up and this lived on in the form of tradition. It still helped to form the political, legal sphere of the social order. But it could not persist further and enter also into the aspect that has become mechanical and entirely detached from the human being, namely, the industrial order. What the groups originally created no longer has the power to enter into this realm.

So you see, the time has come to create something new within the commercial and economic order, something resembling those original social groups, but now in full human consciousness. These are what I termed ‘associations’ in my book Towards Social Renewal. In the associations the social judgement would not come from individuals but from all that lives in the communal life of each association of consumers, producers and traders. Then we should have new social groups in which judgements would be formed in full consciousness, judgements of a kind that individuals would be incapable of forming in isolation. However long you spend trying to work out a solution to the social question, your efforts will be fruitless. The only sensible thing to do is form social groups which can be expected to come up with partial solutions to the social question, groups in which people who form judgements in common create something that is a partial solution to the social question for a particular place at a particular time and can thus be properly integrated within humanity.

This is what is so essential for today but is so little understood. I came across it myself in connection with a particular aspect of the social question when my book The Philosophy of Freedom was published in the 1890s.

I had to touch briefly on the question of women’s emancipation which was a part of the social question at that time—30 years ago. I did not make a statement about how to solve the women’s question since what any particular individual thinks about this is irrelevant. It can be the subject of a newspaper article, or a novel perhaps, but neither of these touch on reality. What I said, therefore, was: ‘First find out what the women themselves are actually thinking about this question, then we shall gain some sort of realistic basis for action.’

Women had in fact not been genuinely asked about this at all, for the few who had spoken thus far had reached only male judgements. They had merely adopted men’s ways which had, of course, always predominated, from the lowest primary school right up to the universities. Those women did not even want to bring their social judgement to bear on social reality. They did not ask whether social life adapts to the kind of clothes you wear. Pardon me for mentioning such garments if it is not polite to do so in England, but these women simply wanted to put on trousers like men and become the same sort of doctors, lawyers, clergy and schoolteachers as men. They did not want to bring the feminine element into the social organism. Instead of taking reality for what it was, they made a theory their point of departure. But nowadays theories are the most unfruitful thing imaginable. So you have to realize that in the question of women’s emancipation, too, you must first listen to real women. It is with reality that we must concern ourselves.

It is the same with the overall social question. There is no point in answering theoretical questions such as: ‘What attitudes must employer and employee adopt? How should a factory be socially structured?’ Proper associations, groups of actual people must be established. From these the answers will come in due time. Questions must be correctly formulated and then one must wait for the answers to emerge from the groups of real people.

If we want to write books they must be books that do not give definitive answers. They must show how groups of human beings will give the answers if they have been brought together in the right way. If a book is to touch fruitfully on the social impulses of our time it must be written out of a social way of thinking and out of a social attitude.

It is extraordinarily difficult at present to talk about practical thinking. People imagine they are realists when in fact all you find everywhere is confused theories which, unfortunately, do have an effect on real life. Allow me to make a personal observation in order to clarify what I still mean to say.

I believe that what can be said today about social threefolding can certainly be found in my book Towards Social Renewal, particularly outside Germany. But when I wrote the same things down for a Swiss magazine, for a country outside Germany, practical and realistic thinking made it imperative to express the matter differently. This article has now appeared in The Hibbert Journal. I wrote it in an international way because from the outset it was intended for everyone. But this is not the way people see this now, which is why I felt I had to make this personal observation so as to ensure that what I want to say now will not be misunderstood, since these things are important for an understanding of social life at the present time.

To me theories as such are irrelevant, so any formulation of ideas or concepts is simply a language in which to communicate about reality. If I find the language of materialism suitable to express certain realities, then I use the language of materialism. If the idealists appear to have concepts more suitable to express some aspect of reality, then I use the language of idealism. Materialism, idealism, realism are all the same to me; I see them as languages by means of which realities can be formulated. There was a time when I used the style of Ernst Haeckel to express what I wanted to say, and this earned me the reputation of being a materialist.*> Looked at in this way my work will be found to be full of contradictions.

But such is life, especially with all the complexities modern times have brought. If we want to think in a practical way about society today we have to take into account that all today’s ‘isms’ derive from a legalistic, logical way of thinking that is no longer appropriate for our time. Naturalism, idealism, materialism or spiritualism are all equally inappropriate, as are also industrialism, communism, or socialism. They are fine when it is a matter of expressing some particular aspect, but used as theories, slogans or propaganda to stir up agitation they are all antiquated. That is why it is so difficult to choose a title. For instance I very much dislike the title I have chosen for tomorrow’s lecture because it is based on outdated slogans that have no validity today.

What we have to do now is immerse ourselves in real life. Life is not ideal, it is real and needs to be looked at from a great variety of angles. As I have said before: if you photograph a tree from one angle you get materialism; if you photograph it from another you get idealism; and from a third angle you get naturalism. Photograph social life from one angle and you get socialism, from another autocracy, and from a third communism. But none of these terms is appropriate today. We lack a reliable instinct that could help us find concepts that should be won from modern life, which is everywhere steeped in industrialism.

Only consider how intense life was in bygone ages of human history. Theocracy was once so strongly imposed on the whole of social life that even the economic aspects were derived from theocratic directives, as I pointed out the day before yesterday. However, this only went as far as agriculture. Agriculture is easily encompassed by a theocratic social order, for human hearts are glad to combine the land and the soil with theocratic ideas. Ask someone who is closely bound up with land and soil what bread means to him. He will tell you that it is a gift from God. In the very way the words are used you can see the link between food on the table and theocratic ideas in society.

After this came the social orderings that I described the day before yesterday, founded on trade and the crafts. The question of labour appeared on the scene. The other day I tried to describe the way it first arose in Roman times. It brought with it a whole new way of thinking. All the concepts we have today such as ownership, human right versus human right, acquired a legal, dialectical, logical colouring. ‘God wills it so’, was the social motto of theocratic times. ‘Human beings must come to appropriate arrangements’, was the social motto of a legal, political state.

Such things are so strong that they put a stamp on the whole way people live together. It was not merely that the wisdom about God became theology, as I pointed out the day before yesterday; things entered into life much more deeply than that. Look, for example, at the magnificent painting by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.** Here you have Christ the Judge of the World, painted in a way that befits an age that was intensely legalistic and political. A religious mystery was to be shown on that wall in a place that was at the centre of religious activity.

Do you imagine that if Christ had been painted out of the ancient eastern theocratic view he would have appeared as Michelangelo painted him? Never! He would have been depicted as one who bestows heavenly gifts of grace on human beings, reaching down with hands of benediction; he would have become the cosmic deity who, blessing, gives to human beings.

Who is Christ in Michelangelo’s painting? He is the great cosmic upholder of the law, the world judge who rewards the good and punishes the wicked. The whole painting is legalistic, steeped in the age out of which it was born. Through the medium of art it depicts the overall social impulse of the age that created it. The ancient view of the divine world, where God was God and nothing else, had changed to one in which the world was seen as a cosmic jurisprudence. In Michelangelo’s painting God is the great judge. Jurisprudence entered into the most subtle threads of thought, even those of religion. Religion became a feeling for what is just or unjust, good or bad, deserving reward or punishment. The world no longer leaned towards something to which it tended in ancient oriental times: reunification of humanity with the divine substance. The world ended as a great assize where judges decided its destiny.

That is how Michelangelo painted. That is how Adam Smith thought, although his ideas went in the opposite direction. Michelangelo’s painting tended towards theocracy, but in his artistic work the theocratic order slipped into a legalistic mode. Adam Smith’s thinking was entirely legalistic, as was that of Ricardo, and of Karl Marx too. They strove to impose this legalistic thinking on the new industrial order which no longer accords to human beings the position once accorded to them in earlier social structures.

In the theocratic order the human being related to the land, to the soil; he became one with the soil. With the theocratic order at his back he felt he could unite with the soil. The centre of society, its middle point, was the place where those who received Inspiration passed it on to others. Later this became the village with its surrounding land and its church. Then humanity evolved further and the town came into being. The town arose out of the legalistic social order. The polarity was no longer that of peasant and priest, but of town and country.

Everything was securely woven into legalistic categories, and even those who began to see the social organism of town and country as the state still thought in terms of legalistic categories, people like Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill,*’ right up to Karl Marx. In their thinking, abstract legalistic categories abounded, although Karl Marx did treat them critically. Whereas Adam Smith had been positive about them, Karl Marx was negative, yet he worked entirely with legalistic concepts. These legalistic concepts have now become the general currency of a humanity that is no longer linked with anything.

The peasant was linked with the soil. The trader in his commercial dealings was linked with other human beings. We no longer appreciate properly how one individual valued another when he bought something from him or sold him something he had made himself and which therefore meant something to him. The measure of such a transaction was a legalistic one. The measure that determined the just price was something that flowed from one human being to another, from town to country and vice versa. It was the reciprocity of what human beings mutually agree on.

In the time that followed this, human beings were confronted with the machine, with the world of technology. Human beings who are now immersed in the world of machines have been wrested from all earlier links. They are no longer bound to the land and the soil; they no longer live in the interplay that existed between one individual and another during the age when trade and the crafts dominated society. They are now thrown back on their own humanity.

Social structure is evolving into something immensely abstract. All an entrepreneur can do is take note of his balance sheet and the results of his enterprise, for every other factor escapes his observation. He no longer has any direct relationship with human beings, but only with what people have written in books. That is why it is so very difficult to make oneself understood by people who regard themselves as practical individuals if one bases what one says on genuine, proper thinking.

This became very obvious when we tried to found something practical that would work back into everyday life, something in which managers would not only manage in accordance with theories obtained from books but where they would use their own thinking in a concrete situation. But very little was forthcoming from those involved, the majority of whom distanced themselves by saying that theoreticians think things out in their head whereas the practical person knows what he is doing. We are the practical ones, they said. But what did they have in their heads? Nothing but a few entirely theoretical concepts on the basis of which they imagined they knew what needed doing. They were philosophers all right, philosophers with a few concepts derived from the angle of economic life, who drew themselves up to their full height and said: “Here are the theoretical concepts and here is practical reality, and if anyone has anything else to say he doesn’t know what he is talking about.’

So you see how very difficult it is to do anything based on really practical thinking, for the so-called practical people are all theoreticians, and extremely abstract theoreticians at that.

Today we are faced with human beings pure and simple, regardless of their station in life, for concepts such as ‘bourgeoisie’, ‘proletariat’, ‘the medical profession’, the ‘priesthood’ are all equally invalid now. These traditional classifications no longer lead anywhere. For if we assess things realistically—forgive me if I keep harping on the same theme, but when I met our esteemed co-chairman in the street the other day wearing his cap and gown, I was quite unable to distinguish whether he was a priest or anyone else. We fail to make distinctions because we are applying fixed concepts to real life.

It is time to get everything moving again; we must immerse ourselves in life and see what industrialism has become and how it has separated off from human beings. In earlier times every lock made by a locksmith had an element of humanity in it, just as did a Gothic cathedral. Social impulses streamed out from these things.

Nowadays nothing human emanates from the articles made by factory workers in a factory or from the hideousness of a department store put up by an architect; indeed you could say that the department store style of architecture is very suited to our time for this very reason.

Spirituality used to radiate from the land and the soil in a way that made human beings say: “The bread given to us by the soil is a gift from God.’ In fact theocracy did not only grow downwards from heaven to earth; it also grew upwards from the soil with every stalk of wheat. Such a thing lived in human souls. In later times, when human beings gave to others what they had acquired or achieved, this engendered human interrelationships founded on trade and commerce.

To form a human relationship with a machine, however, is impossible. A machine is cold, it has a cold existence. So we fail to achieve social judgements and opinions because we cannot understand how to find a content for the human being elsewhere, a content that cannot emanate from a machine in the way it once emanated from the land and the soil. Stalks of wheat that were a gift from God grew up out of the soil; interpersonal relationships came from trade and commerce, giving people a sense of needing to behave decently to others. But no gift of God comes forth from a machine; and behaving decently to a machine is rather a futile undertaking. Therefore an age that is immersed in industry needs a human content that is not derived from this earth, a content that comes from the spiritual world to fill human souls.

So long as the earth gave spirituality to human beings there was no need to strive for a free unfolding of the human spirit. Equally, so long as there was still a strong warmth of feeling amongst human beings there was no need to strive for a free unfolding of the human spirit. But now that nature, which gives gifts from God, has largely been transformed into means of production created abstractly by human beings as a kind of second realm of nature, we need to add to the means of production the world of free spiritual unfolding that will give us an inner content.

With this content one can approach those with whom one wants to form associations. I have been gathering new experiences in Dornach where, as you know, a small army of workers is busy. These workers want more than work; they want something human as well. So the idea arose to give them something human. But what they were given were talks on all kinds of economic subjects, touching on capitalism, socialism, the bourgeoisie, communism and so forth. People assumed that these subjects would interest the workers, and most of all it was the workers’ leaders themselves who thought that these were the kind of subjects that would interest them. In the end I had to take the matter in hand myself, and I too began by talking about economic subjects. But now I do not choose the subject myself, but let the gathering choose it at the beginning of the session. So one day a man got up, pulled a copy of our magazine Die Drei out of his pocket and said he wanted to know what it was like when the earth was still a moon, in other words when it was in an entirely different phase of evolution. Since then I have spoken about the nature of the human being, about how human beings are embedded in the cosmos, in ways that are fully understood by all those men. So-called proletarians find it perfectly normal to hear about the influence of the signs of the zodiac.

If we want to join together with other people in associations we first have to find a way of ascertaining what qualities of soul and spirit those others have in them and what is in ourselves, too. We must bridge the chasms that have opened between us. This is the first challenge.

Hence the social question in its most profound sense is first of all a cultural question: How can we spread a homogeneous spirit of culture amongst our fellow human beings? Then we shall be able to come together in associations in the economic sphere. Such associations will be able to formulate the question in a realistic way and—partially, I have to say—find some solutions to it.

As yet we are still thinking in the old forms of thought. We think legalistically but not yet economically for—strange though it may seem—to think economically means to think in freedom. In an age when a second kingdom of nature has appeared in the means of production, in an age when the spirit has departed entirely from the means of production, we need a spirituality that is not drawn from nature in the way it was drawn during the time of the theocracies from what lived more physically in human beings; we need a spirituality that is freely achieved and that has its own content.

I am aware that people think this sounds extremely Utopian, but in fact it is extremely practical. However many social communities you found, however many trade unions or co-operatives, if you stick with concepts and ways of thinking that have crept into our time from the Middle Ages you will not succeed in bringing even a little movement into the social question, let alone finding partial solutions. The social question is a global question today.

So what has come to join the kind of thinking that judges the social organism in terms of legalistic, dialectic and habitual morality? Charity has appeared on the scene, wonderful, heart-warming human compassion. Now that the social question has become a burning question all over the world we see collecting tins for the East appearing everywhere in Western Europe. It is wonderful that people collect and I do not wish to decry it in the least. In fact the more we are in a position to contribute to these collections the more we ought to do so. Nevertheless, what happens in consequence of these collections belongs to the past and not the future. All this compassion and charity arises out of a kind of thinking appropriate for the Middle Ages.

I see two pictures in my mind’s eye. On the one hand there is the medieval cathedral in which the prelates stored their gorgeous vestments while they sat together in their houses doing something that was remarkably revealed a few months ago by a Swiss newspaper when it published the menu of the Christmas feast enjoyed by those prelates in a Swiss cathedral. You would be astonished at the number of pigs consumed by those prelates at Christmas time. Around these cathedrals, on the other hand, armies of paupers were encamped to whom alms were distributed. This was how things were done in the Middle Ages; there was no other way. It was the obvious thing to do at that time. Whether we now think it good or bad is irrelevant, for in those times it was taken for granted.

So is it not the same thing to see the misery in Russia on the one hand—the paupers encamped around the cathedrals—while on the other hand people set about collecting alms for them? Such collections are good and praiseworthy. But they fail entirely even to touch the social question, let alone partially solve it. We should not forget that because of the uselessness of our social thinking voices are everywhere becoming audible that do not say: ‘We are grateful for the alms given to us.” What those voices say is: ‘It is an absolute disgrace that we are given alms, for it shows that there are still people in the world who are in a position to give alms; there ought to be no such people any longer!’

This is what we should wholeheartedly endorse as the fundamental impulse of the social organism in our time, which is actually already a global organism, although it is still only perceived nationally. What people everywhere ought to realize today is that above all else we need something that can bridge the chasms that exist in the social order.

Why do we talk so much about the social question nowadays? It is because we have become antisocial through and through. As a rule people theorize most about things that are lacking in their feelings and instincts but not about things that genuinely exist in their feelings and instincts. If genuine social sensitivity existed amongst human beings there would be hardly any social theories or social unrest. People theorize about things when they lack a sense for them. Theories are always about things that are unreal. But what we have to do today is search out what is there in real life, something that is much harder to do than theorize. Human beings will not make progress unless they can find their way properly into real life, for it is the theorizing spirit that has chopped up our world and brought our civilization to the brink of chaos. The only thing that can lead us forward is a full awareness of real life.

I cannot help repeating yet again that this is what we should be feeling in the depths of our hearts to be the fundamental impulse of today’s social question. Once we have understood how human beings can once again find one another we shall be able to tackle the social question along the right lines.

What have the upper classes done in this field? They have stuck their noses into proletarian misery and shaped it into works of art. At least you got some kind of a clear impression of a theocratic god when Michelangelo painted Christ as the judge of the world. What Christ will look like in a depiction that fits in with today’s industrial social order is what we are trying to work on in Dornach now.*® So far there is little understanding of these things because we do not know how to relate the spiritual world to the cold world of machines. Unlike the days when a legalistic or a theocratic way of thinking could be modelled on reality, we have so far not yet discovered a way of thinking that can relate to and enter fully into a reality that has grown cold. So the upper classes stuck their noses into the misery of the poor and made it into what present-day poets, sculptors and painters have created out of it: art with a social conscience. The result is a dreadful sentimentality because people are not yet filled with any truly spiritual freedom that can stand side by side with today’s human reality. We have yet to find the strength with which to work out of industrialism, but now enriched by a free spirituality, a strength like that possessed by people of earlier times when they were able to shape agriculture through theocracy, and trade and commerce through jurisprudence. We must achieve a social way of thinking, social understanding and concepts that cannot be achieved unless abstractions such as ‘capital’ and ‘value added’ are thrown overboard. But social concepts can only come about if we bring the revealing warmth of spirituality to the cold world of the machine. Although they may not be aware of it, the very people who now lead their lives surrounded by machines are the ones who long for genuine spirituality so as to escape from the grip of outdated materialism with which they are otherwise forced to fill their hearts.

The village with its church was joined by the country with its town. These were social structures that could be encompassed by social ideas. The factory is no longer part of the town; it is a new social structure. It is removed from the universal order like a kind of solitary demon. The factory has no spiritual content. So we need to bring spirituality to it from the other side. That is why today’s social question is first and foremost a spiritual question. We must find ways of doing better than merely sticking our noses into proletarian misery. We must find a spirituality that comes quite naturally from our own heart but also from the hearts of those, however lowly, with whom we speak. Just as the sun shines on all of us, so does genuine spirituality shine on every human being regardless of position or class and without concern for any kind of social or class struggle. We have reached a momentous point in world history, for the demand now is that all human beings should be able to step on to the stage of history as individuals.

In earlier times society consisted of ranks and classes. Today and in the future we shall be concerned with the human being, with the individual who gives birth to a new world. This is what we must help to bring about, not by perpetuating old ways or muddling along as before, but by going down into the profound depths of the human being in order to find there, spiritually, the widest spaces of the universe. This will be a sure way of making a contribution to solving the social question.

This is what I was aiming for in my book Towards Social Renewal, because now is the time when people can surely be expected to understand such things not merely theoretically with their heads, but with their hearts and with their will. Those who see Towards Social Renewal as an intellectual book will not understand it. Only those will understand it who see it as a book of the will, a book of the heart spoken out of life itself and out of what must be accepted as the most important social impulses of the present time that can be found everywhere beneath the surface of existence. Tomorrow I shall round off what I wanted to say about the social question.

Closing Remarks

On Founding an Association for Further Work along the Lines of these Lectures

Ladies and gentlemen, from the way I have been presenting these lectures you will have gathered how much importance I attach to the sum-total of impulses amongst which a particular education method is only, you might say, a partial expression—a partial expression of what, in my opinion, ought to come about at the present moment in human evolution through a deeper understanding of life, an understanding of life founded on reality. Having noted the fundamental tone I believe I have managed to sustain during these lectures, you will believe me when I thank you most warmly—not so much in my own name as in the name of this matter as a whole for which, as you know, I would like to pledge my whole existence—when I thank you most warmly for your decision to take the matter in hand for this part of the world.

We can only hope that in the association you intend to create as the result of intentions that have ripened here there will be a number of persons who will have the strength to carry what you hope will arise out of the meetings we have had today.

For matters of this kind, ladies and gentlemen, it is important that there should be persons capable of carrying the impulse. The anthroposophical movement, as we call it, can only make progress in the world if it is carried by individual human beings. Of course there have to be associations or societies, but the most important thing is that personalities emerge from such societies who with their own individual strength can carry whatever it is that comes to be regarded as important.

If we consider the very important position in which the population of this country, in particular, finds itself in the present historical situation, and if we take seriously the responsibility arising out of this position, we have to say that something exceptionally important could arise out of the decision you have taken today. The number of those who say that the world needs a push towards the spirit is small as yet. On the degree to which this small number becomes an ever-growing crowd will depend whether world evolution can make any progress at all through new impulses.

As I said in the lecture this morning, the old impulses have more or less come to a standstill. We still use the old words; numbers and strong parties talk in old-fashioned terms. Let us endeavour to talk in new-fashioned terms, and let us strive to take these things into the real world. But do not let us become over-enthusiastic about our intention of bringing spiritual values into evolution. Let us not get over-excited! ‘Bringing spiritual values into reality’ can become a slogan just like any other.

The most important thing is that with our whole heart, in the fullness of our being, we can stand for what can be guided, thought and willed from real life, through real life and for real life. It is this that is essential.

Perhaps your association will initially bring to fruition things that can and, I believe, must be directed towards education. Whatever the case may be, something extraordinarily positive, something connected with the evolution of humanity in our present age, will come from your decisions.

I wanted to say these few words of warmest gratitude to you for attaching your hearts to what has been expressed in these lectures in the form of ideas, something with serious intent that needs to be elicited from human evolution by human beings with true feelings in order to become an impulse for evolution on into the future.