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Basic Issues of the Social Question

Basic Issues: Notes

On-line since: 13th July, 2002


  1. Page 21 (Preface) In Ausführung der Dreigliederung des Sozialen Organismus. These 22 essays by Rudolf Steiner, along with 44 others on the subject, are now contained in a volume entitled Aufsätze über die Dreigliederung des Sozialen Organismus (Essays on the Triformation of the Social Organism) published in 1961 by the Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach, Switzerland.

  2. Page 33 Ferdinand Lassalle. 1825-1864, founder of the Social Democratic movement in Germany. The speech referred to here was made before the Berlin criminal court ‘in defence against the charge of having publicly incited the propertyless classes to hate and contempt of the property owners’, on 16 January, 1863. Ferdinand Lassalle Gesammelte Reden und Schriften. Berlin 1919/20.

  3. Page 42 ‘For years I taught ... in a workers' educational institute’. Rudolf Steiner taught history and science subjects in the Workers' Training School in Berlin, a socialistically oriented institution, from 1899 to 1904. See chapter 28 of his autobiography. The Course of my Life. Although his courses were very popular with the worker-students, he was eventually forced to leave because his teaching methods were neither materialistic nor Marxist.

  4. Page 54 Von Seelenrätseln. Extracts from this book have been published by the Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1970, under the title The Case for Anthroposophy, selected, translated, arranged and with an introduction by Owen Barfield.

  5. Page 61 Carl Jentsch Volkswirtschaftslehre (Economics) published 1895.

  6. Page 122 Dr. Walther Rathenau. His book Nach der Flut was published in 1919. As foreign minister in Germany's post-war government, he was shot dead in the street on 24 June 1922. His books were burned by the Nazis when Hitler became chancellor.

  7. Page 129 ‘A League of Nations’ — Reference is to the organization of this name established by the victorious allies on 28 July 1919, mostly at the initiative of President Wilson. It had no sooner been created than it suffered an almost mortal blow when the United States Congress rejected it.

  8. Page 132 ‘The Austro-Hungarian state ... in need of a reorganization.’ An American journalist-historian has since seen it this way. ‘The Danube monarchy was dying of indigestion. For centuries a minority of German-Austrians had ruled over the polyglot empire of a dozen nationalities and stamped their language and culture on it. But since 1848 their hold had been weakening. The minorities could not be digested. Austria was not a melting pot. In the 1860s the Italians had broken away and in 1867 the Hungarians had won equality with the Germans under the so-called Dual Monarchy. Now, as the twentieth century began, the various Slav peoples — the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Serbs, the Croats and the others — were demanding equality and at least national autonomy. Austrian politics had become dominated by the bitter quarrel of the nationalities. But this was not all. There was social revolt too and this often transcended the racial struggle ...’ William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1960.

  9. Page 132 ‘The Serbo-Austrian conflict’ — The Austrian Grand Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo by members of a Serbian secret society. The assassination was the outward event which triggered the war.

  10. Page 134 ‘And the German Empire?’ The ‘second’ German Empire was founded on 18 January 1871 through the efforts of its chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. On that date, King Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor of Germany in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

  11. Page 135 ‘social reforms’ — During the period 1883 to 1889 Bismarck had enacted various such reforms, which went far beyond anything known at that time in other countries. They included compulsory insurance for old-age sickness, accidents and incapacity and they were operated by the state, but financed by employees and employers. Such reforms had the effect of dampening the workers' enthusiasm for extreme socialism but, at the same time, increased their faith in the state as protector.

  12. Page 135 ‘the decisive events in Berlin’. The memoirs of General Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the German General Staff at the outbreak of the war, were ready for publication in May 1919. Von Moltke describes the German Government's attitude at that time, especially on 31 July and 1 August 1914: ‘The atmosphere grew steadily more tense and I was completely alone.’ Then he was told by the Kaiser, ‘So now you can do whatever you want.’ Rudolf Steiner wrote in a commentary: ‘So there it was: the Chief of the General Staff stood completely alone. Due to the fact that German policy had reached the zero-point, Europe's destiny on 31 July and 1 August rested in the hands of a man who was obliged to do his military duty.’ (Vorbemerkungen zu Die Schuld am Krieg, Betrachtungen und Erinnerungen des Generalstabschefs H. von Moltke.) Aufsätze über die Dreigliederung des Sozialen Organismus. This ‘military duty’ involved implementing the German army's predetermined war-plan, prepared by von Moltke's predecessor General Schlieffen, which provided for the domination of France before invading Russia. France was to be attacked through Belgium and Holland. Von Moltke modified the plan to the extent that Holland was omitted. His memoirs were suppressed in 1919, but Rudolf Steiner, who was personally acquainted with him, was familiar with their contents. In an interview which appeared in the French newspaper Le Matin in October 1921, Steiner said that the memoirs should have been published in 1919, but they were suppressed because of fear on the part of the authorities. ‘Why this fear? These memoirs are in no way an accusation against the imperial government. Something else is involved, which is perhaps even worse: that this imperial government found itself in a state of complete confusion and under an incredibly frivolous and ignorant leadership.’ Jules Sauerman's interview with Dr. Rudolf Steiner on the unpublished memoirs of the late Chief of the German General Staff von Moltke. ibid.

  13. Page 137 ‘The author ... attempted to make known ...’ Steiner wrote memoranda directed to leading government circles in Germany and Austria which contained his ideas concerning the way these countries could act in a manner which would have been beneficial to themselves and the world. Count Otto Lerchenfeld brought a memorandum to the German state secretary Kuhlman among others, and Count Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz to his brother, Austria's chief cabinet officer. The memoranda were not published during Steiner's lifetime. They are included in Aufsätze über die Dreigliederung des Sozialen Organismus.

  14. Page 137 ‘Brest-Litovsk’. On 15 December 1917, the peace treaty between Germany and Russia was signed at Brest-Litovsk. The conditions imposed by Germany were extremely hard (very comparable to those imposed on her by the allies a year later). As a result of this accord, Germany was free to concentrate her troops in the west. In Russia, only two months after the revolution, the new communist government led by Lenin was anxious to consolidate its power at home without having to continue the inherited war. The suspicion also exists that Lenin had secretly agreed to make peace with Germany while he was still in exile in Switzerland, in return for his famous trip from Zürich to Russia through Germany in a sealed railway carriage in order to take command of the revolution.

  15. Page 139 President Wilson's ‘fourteen points’ constituted the ideological basis for the principle of ‘self-determination of peoples’, which was to underlie the political restructuring of Europe after the war. This principle presupposes that ethnic groups (peoples, nations) are perfectly separable and definable, like so many individual pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. If each governs itself through its own national state, then the cause of political morality is served. In fact, Europe was and is a quilt of nations with many overlapping ethnic ‘grey’ regions. The effect of self-determination or the ‘nationalities principle’ is the disenfranchisement of many smaller or larger minorities with the resultant bitterness and frustration. The course of history since this principle was put into effect in Europe and elsewhere would seem to support such criticism. Winston Churchill wrote the following about the carving up of the Austro-Hungarian empire: ‘The second cardinal tragedy was the complete break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire ... There is not one of these peoples or provinces that constituted the Empire of the Hapsburgs to whom gaining their independence has not brought the tortures which ancient poets and theologians had reserved for the damned.’ The Second World War, Vol. 1, Chap. I, The Gathering Storm. According to the idea of the ‘social triformation’, or ‘threefold society’, the nationalities (ethnic) problem can only be solved by liberating ‘national’ life from the power of the political state. In other words, the creation of a free cultural-spiritual sector.

  16. Page 141 To the German People and the Civilized World. This appeal was counter-signed by a number of personages from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Probably the only one immediately recognizable in the English-speaking world of today is Hermann Hesse. It was printed and distributed by committees in these and other European countries.

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