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The Emancipation of the Economic Process
From the Personal Element

The Separation of the Moral-Spiritual Life From the External Realities of Existence

1st February, 1919

Socialistic thinkers believe that what they designate as the socialistic economic order is an immediate and causal continuation of what has gradually arisen within the economic order during the past centuries of human development. Those. who now adopt the proletarian socialistic conception of life, think as it were, that the capitalistic economic order must gradually, and of its own accord, pass over to the socialistic economic order, for the simple reason that the socialistic economic order is already contained within that which has developed through capitalism during the past centuries. In order to define this train of thought more precisely some people say: When any human order, or any life-structure has reached its culminating point, the summit of its development, then it already contains the seed of the following course of development.

You see, from an external aspect, from a statistical aspect as it were (and socialistic scientists above all love statistics),. there is a great deal in what I have explained to you as the socialistic order. The process can shortly be characterised as follows: In certain spheres, modern technical engineering has led over into industry a process which was formerly entrusted to the individual human being, and which could be fully surveyed by him. As a very characteristic example, it suffices to consider the modern steel industry; quite a number of manipulations had to be comprised within it. Finally, these all culminated in the production of certain goods, which could only be produced by amalgamating certain complicated processes. Great masses of capital are needed in order to run the gigantic industrial concerns which modern economic life has called into existence, great accumulations of capital, against which the economic life of earlier times appears ridiculous. This accumulation of capital enables individual owners, or group of owners of such gigantic concerns to employ a large number of workmen. Through the fact that these industrial concerns have taken on such a gigantic size, they are able to assemble and to employ a large number of workmen. Moreover, the conditions of transport have led, to the circumstance that these large concerns cannot isolate themselves, because they must reckon with competition, so that, in a certain way, they had to amalgamate, thus creating still larger groups of employers and of workmen belonging to certain definite spheres of life. Modern socialists believe that the modern socialistic idea has led to the socialisation of industry, and that the accompanying phenomena of this socialisation must necessarily continue the whole process.

The continuation of this process would be that a community of workmen is no longer brought together by individual employers, but that they are instead employed by a common body, the State, the Commune, or Syndicates. Consequently, the socialistic process which has already been called into existence by the technical economic life of modern times, can continue in a regular way.

The above idea has a tremendously suggestive influence upon the modern proletariat. If the conditions of social: life are to be understood, it is also necessary to study the soul constitution of the modern proletariat. There we find that such ideas exercise a strong, suggestive power over the minds of modern proletarians, which consists therein that workmen believe that they are completely at the mercy of their employers. They think that they can only escape from this bondage if they have a share in the activities of the employers.

It is characteristic trait of modern men (and this is due to many reasons) that they have a predilection for one-sided thoughts. Yet many conditions of the present can only be healed if modern men lose this habit of surrendering to one-sided ideas, and if they learn to consider things from all sides. If we view the development of capitalism end the technical economic life of the present merely from the aspect that it must finally culminate in the socialisation of industrial life, we simply apply modern natural-scientific ideas to economic life. I have already explained this to you yesterday, from another standpoint.

But if we merely consider things from a natural-scientific aspect, if we merely apply to them the natural-scientific forms of thought developed in modern times, certain impulses necessarily fall away, remain unnoticed. Of course, when such things are explained, many things can be misunderstood and consequently contested. But you know what methods are required, particularly from a spiritual-scientific aspect, so that it will not be difficult for you to see that the following explanations throw light upon things only from one aspect, namely from the aspect which is required in this particular case.

The purely natural-scientific aspect, which considers things only in accordance with the law of cause and effect, can be applied both to a sound and to an unsound organism. A sound organism can be studied from a physiological aspect, and by following natural science it will always be possible to ascertain the connections of cause and effect, But if this abstract connection of cause and effect is maintained, this same manner of thinking can just as well be applied to a diseased organism, it can be studied in this way from a pathological aspect. Even in a diseased organism, everything can be found to be in accordance with the law of cause and effect. But if we base a sequence of events upon this one-sided, abstract foundation, the law of cause and effect, then the impulse which must in one case be designated as impulse of health, and in the other case as the impulse of disease, necessarily falls away, remains unnoticed. It is not contained in such a manner of contemplating things. This has no serious consequences in natural science itself, and in tasks immediately connected with natural science. But if the natural-scientific way of thinking is applied to the study of social processes, it can have very serious consequences, for it is not possible to distinguish without further ado the difference between something that is sound or unsound in the course of human development. This is impossible

It must be emphasized that the way in which people now face social questions, which have become so urgent, does not enable them to distinguish whether a process is sound or unsound, whether it should be furthered of healed. Indeed, we can say that the deep tragedy of the present has befallen humanity, because people cannot see this difference, which has just now been characterised to a certain extent.

If we consider the development of humanity during the past three or four centuries, if we study above all the development of what has been designated as capitalism, another standpoint must be borne in mind, as well as the one that smaller industrial concerns were swallowed up by the gigantic industries of modern times, etc. We must, for example, face this question, which is a decisive on: What position does the capitalistic production take up within the social process of humanity as a whole?

Things can only be judged in the right way if we compare the modern capitalistic production to the craftsmanship of past times, and if we make this comparison from a certain definite standpoint. The artisan of olden times produced his goods and delivered them to the consumer, and the money which he thus earned enabled him to live, provided the foundation for his existence.

If we study the life of such a craftsman and the industrial process of the past, if we go back to about 1300 B.C., we shall find that people were paid for the goods which they had made, or else they exchanged them for other goods. The articles which they manufactured, provided the foundation of their existence.

In a certain sense, this economic life was a restricted one, but it was closely linked up with the individual human being., Lad every form of production was therefore linked up with personal skill, personal diligence, and the personal ambition to do something as well as possible, and so forth. Significant moral impulses were connected with economic life in those days of simple craftsmanship.

During the past three to four centuries all this changed. After a period of transition, which went from the 15th century to about the 16th/17th century, a complete change took place during the past three to four centuries. For, what may be designated as the capitalistic production, as capitalistic industry, only developed during the past three to four centuries.

If we wish to understand that which really lies at the foundation of the social question, if we do not only base ourselves upon that which people think, the following characteristic must be borne in mind: For a capitalist, in so far as he is a member of the capitalistic economic order, the essential point is not that of providing for his own existence, of forming a life foundation through his capital, but the essential point is for him that of increasing his capital, of seeing to it that it grows. This increase in capital constitutes the profit. Consequently, the aim of the capitalistic economic order is not that of earning money enabling the capitalists to meet their cost of living, but its aim is that of making profits, of increasing the capital. This is its characteristic trait, and this gives capital, as such, a high degree of independence.

When the process of production or the industrial process grows in the course of the years through the accumulation of capital, when this industrial process grows and forms the incentive of accumulating capital, then the chief element in this economic process really becomes separated from the individual human being from every personal element. If we wish to understand the social question, we must bear in mind above all the following standpoint: that the economic process becomes emancipated from the personal element, from the individual human being.

Unfortunately to-day only a small minority belonging to the cultivated classes really feels inclined to deal with such things; for if people were to occupy themselves with such matters they would see that the human being has, as it were, become separated from everything which constitutes the economic process. Tell me, where can we find to-day genuine pleasure in the production of goods, and with the exception of a few restricted circles, where do people find true enjoyment in the production of goods? The decisive element of past economic orders, that, for instance, a man felt the keenest pleasure in every key made by his own hands, and that he saw a point of honour in making it as perfect as possible — this belongs to the past. The human beings have become separated, as it were, from the economic process as such. Only in the artistic field or in that which is related to the sphere of art, we may still come across that element which once permeated craftsmanship.

Even in spiritual life, we cannot say that man is still connected with what he brings forth. Think of all the professors who are active in his or in that field; and ask yourselves whether they are really humanly connected with what they produce!

But these are facts which are intimately connected with the capitalistic economic order, which extends its influence over everything. The concluding remarks of yesterday's lecture will have shown this to you.

The fundamental character of the capitalistic economic order reveals that in regard to his personal aspirations, man is; as it were, cut off from the economic process which has become more and more objectivated, This has brought about a far-reaching result, which influences the whole socialistic conception of today, for it has given rise to the belief that it is necessary to establish this unnatural separation within the economic order of the present time, so that the human being himself is cut off from that which interests him. Where do we find people to-day who think that it is necessary to re-establish the connection between the human being and that which he produces?

We do not find them anywhere. On the contrary, people think that the economic process should be distanced as far as possible from man, should be separated from the human being. What is the result of this? All that is connected with the human personality; the needs of the human being as such, have to satisfied in other spheres. This is the consequence of that prejudice which is designated as the socialistic ideal.

Let us now consider what this socialistic ideal really means to-day among large circles:

There are four points which recapitulate everything that constitutes the socialistic ideal, as far as the structure of the social organism of humanity is concerned. In the first place, the socialistic ideal aims at appropriating all industrial concerns for the community, no matter whether this community is the State, the Commune, or a Syndicate. In other words, industrial concerns or means of production which are private property are to be eliminated, so that these concerns are run by a community.

The second aim of the socialistic ideal is that production be regulated according to the requirement, or the demand, that is to say, production should no longer be regulated by the free market, where offer and demand hold sway, but when there is a demand for some article in this or in that direction, a corresponding branch of production should be opened, with the provision that the State, the Commune or a Syndicate determine, as it were, that this article is needed and that the community accordingly opens an industrial concern for the production of this article.

The third point is the democratic regulation of the conditions of work and pay.

The fourth point is that profits belong to the community.

This constitutes more or less the four points of the socialistic ideal, which we have now set before you.

You see, millions and millions of people see in these four points the aim of their ambitions. In view of these facts, it is absolutely necessary to ask ourselves: How can we make people realise that these four so-called ideals are absolutely impossible within a real human community?

If thirty years ago there had been as much zeal for social questions as is the case to-day in countries where the old governments have been chased away (a genuine interest in social questions has not yet awakened in countries where. the old governments still exist);we might even say, if thirty years ago people had shown the same interest for social problems which they show for them to-day, matters might have taken another course of development, a better course of development. But unless people are near to drowning, no genuine interest can be awakened to-day for social questions. What the leading men of the so-called intelligent bourgeoisie have missed in this direction, during the past two or three decades, is immense. And they continue in this direction, they go on ignoring this, but in another sphere.

What is needed to-day, above everything else, is that people should realise that not only the individual human organism, but also the social organism, must now be understood in a spiritual-scientific manner. Meaningless abstractions must be abandoned. For a connection can be found with deeper human interests, with deeper human impulses, and these are beginning to work in the present epoch of human development.

The sleepiness of modern humanity is immense, and an awakening is urgently needed. Where spiritual science is at all noticed to-day, we frequently hoar the strange view that people who believe, do not need spiritual science, that it is not needed by those who are Christians in the good old meaning. We also hear the argument that faith is simple and spiritual science complicated, so why should simple faith be replaced by something so complicated. Yet this comfortable adherence to faith, this truly nefarious simple faith, the comfortable argument, “We don't need to think of such things, we don't, need' to investigate truth, for we have it through faith”, this is, in a deeper sense, responsible for the catastrophic events of the present. Again and again it must be emphasized that this easy way of thinking is the cause of the present catastrophe!

Great would be the misfortune if not enough people could be found whose hearts and minds are inclined to devote themselves to the investigation of truth, in earnest fruitful, inner thought-activity!

The time of mere belief in the spiritual world is past; it is no longer possible, at present, to be bone-lazy and to believe that we shall be saved by spiritual powers about whom we do not concern ourselves, confiding in the fact that they will do their best to save us: The essential point for the progress of human development is that we should not content ourselves with mere belief in God and in divine beings, but that we should allow God and the divine beings to be active within us, so that the forces of the spiritual world flow into our own deeds, into everything which we do in everyday life. From morning to night, our actions should be done in such a way that a divine-spiritual power is contained in them. This spiritual power will only permeate our actions if it is contained, above all, in. our thoughts. The task of modern humanity is to take in God's essence not only as a content of faith, but as an active force. We should not only think of God, but we should think in such a way that God lives in our thoughts. This is the essential point! If we surrender to such an ideal, we shall surely develop the required interest in things for which the great majority of modern men unfortunately has shown no interest whatever during the past decades.

The chief point is to find the possibility to make people understand that a change is needed in the field of thought. The whole way of thinking must be transformed. It is high time for this. The intellectuals have neglected to work in this direction, and as a result, the most repulsive instincts of humanity are now awakening in the whole civilised world, at least in a great part of the civilised world. The most repulsive human instincts are waking up! Do you think that it will be easy to drive away these instincts, when they have reached a certain climax, a certain culminating point ? A long, longtime will elapse before they die of their own accord. These instincts in humanity can only be controlled or subdued through the influence of good teachings or by good example, for a certain length of time. This beast in man breaks through, because the nobler human instincts have been neglected. Here we have come to a point which 'renders it necessary that we should speak of the moral aspect of the social problem of the present time.

I have already explained to you that the increase of capital, the growth of capital, which I designated as characteristic trait of the capitalistic economic order, because it does not strive after achievements, but after gain and profit:, separates the human being from that which he produces. This separation of the human being from that which he produces, is an essential characteristic of the whole course of development of modern humanity.

In the surrounding world, we generally find that one phenomenon does not appear without another, and that different phenomena are connected in different ways. You cannot walk over a soft ground without impressing your footmarks upon it. This is an example which can be applied everywhere, in order to show that in the world of reality one thing is always connected with another. The m0dern world has been driven in the direction of capitalism and increase of capital. And this development of capitalism is on the other hand connected with the lack of interest which modern men have for the deepest impulses of the human soul. This lack interest in the deeper things of life characterizes modern humanity.

We have oh the one hand the emancipation of the human personality from .the economic process, and on the other hand the fact that the human personality which has thus been separated from the economic process has become withered and dry; the most intimate qualities of man's soul-spiritual being have grown dry and withered. Both these things are connected. Both factors have given rise to that terrible activity which exists in a modern metropolis, where capitalism has set up its thrones. We have there, on the one hand, the influence exercised by capitalism, and on the other, the lack of interest in the most intimate questions concerning man's innermost being.

In the external phenomena these things are to a great extent hidden and they only become manifest to a closer observation. Of course you may say: There are many people who are not involved in the modern capitalistic process. To be sure, there are but a few who are directly involved in it, but indirectly, the whole of modern humanity, particularly civilised modern humanity, is involved in the capitalistic process, through the fact that the existence of many people depends upon the capitalistic economic order. An artist who would, in the past, have worked for a prince or for the Pope, must now work for the capitalist. If you follow the threads which lead, as in the case of art, from different spheres of life into capitalism, you will see that capitalism stretches out its tentacles in every direction, particularly in the direction of spiritual life.

Of course, these things contain many unconscious elements, which do not immediately manifest themselves if we merely look upon the surface of life. Let me now characterize to some extent an unconscious or subconscious process, for the objectivation of the process of production and its emancipation from human aspirations, must in a certain way be explained and justified. People. always need justification for their actions, and when they wish to justify themselves, they do not bother about investigating the truth, for their chief aim is to justify themselves.

Let us take tin example. The Entente “won” the war — this victory had to be justified. Consequently the things which were said about the Entente were not said because they were true, but because the victory had to be. justified. It is the same in the case of individual men. Do most people care at all for a real investigation of truth? No, their chief interest is to justify the things which they do. And this is the aim of capitalism: it seeks above all to justify its existence. But it can only justify it by turning its attention to the most material economic process in its mirrored reflexion, the increase of capital. If the capitalistic economic order is to justify its existence in the physical world, it must, however, do away with every soul-spiritual interest. Soul-spiritual things must be reserved to a special sphere. Let clergymen preach as they like of things connected with faith — I may believe and others may believe, or I may not believe and others may not believe — clergymen talk of things pertaining to quite another world. But in the real world in which we live, things do not take their course in accordance with the sermons of clergymen; they follow the capitalistic course of development.

Extreme capitalism thus has on the one hand this terribly abstract moral-spiritual life, which seeks to separate itself entirely from all the external realities of existence. There is, however, another attitude in modern life which has exercised just as evil an influence: as materialistic capitalism, namely that attitude which induces people to say: “What do I care about Ahriman! Let Ahriman be Ahriman; I devote myself to the impulses of my innermost soul, I surrender to the spiritual world. I seek the spiritual world within my own being; my chief interest is the soul and its concerns. What do I care for Ahrimanic things, such as credit, money, income and property! What do I care for the difference between profit and assets, etc! I care for the things which concern my soul!” But even as man unites within himself body, soul and spirit, which are linked together during the life between birth and death, at the impulses which we may find through our soul's innermost structure are connected, in external physical life, with the impulses contained in the external economic order. Those who are merely devout, even devout in spiritual science, are just as much responsible for the catastrophes of the present time as the capitalists with their materialistic attitude and mentality; they are just as guilty as the capitalists, through the fact that they enclose spiritual-scientific truths within their own abstract limits and are not willing to permeate everyday reality with penetrating thoughts.

This fact has again and again induced me to tell you that the Anthroposophical spiritual movement should not be regarded as something which gives you the opportunity to listen to Sunday afternoon sermons, which caress the soul because they speak of an everlasting life, and so forth, but the Anthroposophical movement should be taken as a path which enables us to cope in a real, concrete way with the modern problems of life, the burning problems of the present. One of the first requirements is this: to understand from where we must set out, and that everything will be of no use whatever unless people find access to a really unprejudiced way of thinking.

Now, at the conclusion of my lecture, let me express something which I shall explain further to-morrow, from a practical. social aspect. What I shall tell you now, is apparently far away from socialistic thoughts, from thoughts concerning the socialistic question, but to-morrow you will see that apparently distant connections: are in reality closely related, so that we shall be able to throw light on the four points which I have designated as the parts of the socialistic ideal. People frequently say that opinions differ, that there are different convictions in life, for one believes this and the other that… Does it not seem as if one person may cherish this thought, and the other that idea, and that the ideas of both can be justified? Apparently it is so, but in reality this is not the case at all. Taking into consideration the circumstance that in a higher meaning every characterization of something is, as it were, a photograph from one aspect only, so that things can be viewed from many sides — by taking for granted that this must be considered, we nevertheless find that in the innermost-depth of their being all men have the same view concerning one and the same thing. We cannot find two people in the world (as stated, the above condition must be taken for granted) who do not have the same opinion. But why do they speak of different opinions? Because egoistic prejudices insert themselves between truth and that which people gather from their inner being; emotions and egoistic prejudices distort things and turn them into caricatures. People only differ in regard to their emotions, but not in regard to concepts and ideas. If a real concept has once been gained, we cannot think of it differently from others, who have also gained access to this concept. It is the greatest soul-frivolity to think that we are entitled to have subjective opinions. We do not have the right to cherish subjective opinions, but as human beings it is our duty to go beyond our subjective views to objective truths! In order to have a clear outlook in this point it is necessary to bear in mind all the sources of error which result from human emotions. A man may believe that he is fully convinced of something. Yet the reason why he believes that he is fully convinced of something may frequently be the fact that he is too lazy to penetrate into the idea. Indeed, my dear friends, it is necessary to indicate this inner moral side of human nature, if we wish to indicate that which the present time really needs

The present time is, above all, filled with pride and with emotions, even in regard to what is designated as objective science and it is not at all inclined to discover the judgment contained in, real ideas, in real concepts. But what will be our goal, if the burning social riddles which now confront us, are to be solved emotionally, out of human emotions?

You know that there are imaginations, inspirations and intuitions In reality, everything connected with economic, economic-juridical questions, should be grasped through imaginations, it is contained in imaginations. In the case of most people, these imaginations can only well up from unconscious depths, in the form of vague notions. But these are better than the constructed ideas which now come to the fore so eloquently and play a certain role. Everything contained what we may call spiritual life, the spiritual life which we have characterised as a part of the future social structure, is based upon inspirations. And ever thing which may exist apart from the human being, which must indeed be separated from him, that wherein all human beings must be equal, equal — so to speak — before the law — all that can only be based upon intuitions. This constitutes as it were the foundation of the political organism.

Imagination: Economic organism.

Inspiration; Spiritual organism.

Intuition: Political organism.

This is how inspiration, intuition and imagination must work together in order to shape the conditions of life. And we should bear in mind that this is so. For then we shall realise that in reality the social questions which do not only confront us to-day, but which burn like fire, can only be solved with the aid of spiritual-scientific methods. The essential point is that we should discard carelessness and laziness of thought, and really set out in the direction of that which connects the human soul with reality. This alone can lead as to the goal which we must reach in the present time. To-morrow we shall characterize and discuss the four parts of the so-called socialistic ideal from this standpoint.

Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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