purpose of this translation, a free rendering, is to make
available to the American reader the essence of a book
that describes a sound social order and the means by which it
can be achieved. It is as timely today as when it was published
in 1919 in German. The original English translation is now out
of print. The problems of society have intensified but their
basic pattern has, as Rudolf Steiner predicted, remained the
Considering that the work was not something intellectually
thought out but arrived at by a penetrating study of what still
works in the inner depths of society and of the men striving
for social change, its continuing validity is perhaps not
surprising. Steiner, of course, was addressing himself to
European social thinkers, always more interested in an
“ideological” approach than the American, who is
primarily a doer. Even European socialists have come to think
far less in terms of ideologies today than used to be the case.
In Germany there has been a departure from the principle of
nationalization of industry, and this is true to a large
extent in Great Britain also.
might say that ideologies have, everywhere, given way to
pragmatism. If Steiner were to write this book today he would
describe economic conditions as they have developed after
World War II, and still come to the same basic conclusions. In
close contact with many of the men involved, he was in a
position that made possible both external study of the
social phenomena and a penetration into the realities behind
them. For the latter he could use the methods of approach
presented in his philosophical world conception.
effort here has been, besides omitting topical material no
longer of such immediate interest, to break up the original
lengthy sentence structure that is appropriate in the German
language. Dr. Steiner himself said that if he had been writing
this book for England and America he would have written
it quite differently. For students of history interested in
details concerning the break-up of the German and Austrian
Empires, important background facts related to that time
are available in the original German work, Die
Kernpunkte der socialen Frage. For this and other
omissions from the text, the undersigned takes full
Special thanks are due to Lisa D. Monges, who corrected certain
errors in the original English translation, and to S. J.
Kingsley, E. Hinternhoff and H. Mehrtens, for their editorial
help with the entire text or portions of it.
Frederick C. Heckel
Spring Valley, N. Y.