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The Social Question

Schmidt Number: S-3655

On-line since: 15th November, 2017

Lecture 3
by Rudolf Steiner
given at Zurich, 10 February 1919


“Fanaticism Versus a Real Conception of Life in Social Thinking and Willing.”

During the lectures last week, I pointed out that the present social situation, particularly where restrictions and difficulties have been experienced during its development, have made an understanding between different classes of humanity today something which lie relatively far into the future. The ruling class, as it has developed during the last century, the last decades up to the present, has its particular thought habits, particular inner impulses forming a basis for its thinking and willing. One could say an abyss exists between thought habits and what I characterized last week, this having developed out of quite a specific peculiarity in thought habits of the modern Proletarians, in whom the actual origin lies in what we call the social question today.

Whoever makes the effort to penetrate the reality of life, the forces playing into communal human relationships, for them it appears far more important what happens within the awareness of people, one could call it, among those who want to consciously discuss the underlying impulses rather than see how they actually arise in consciousness. One can get various views according to middle class thinking circles. Reports on the views of proletarian personalities or proletarian rulers are available; not much of their actual view on life and their creation of criticism about social facts of the present day are to be found here, but more what lies to a certain extent behind these observations. Behind that lies far more social psychology and social soul wisdom than you actually realize, on both sides.

Whoever — I may say it about myself, by presenting these things here — whoever takes the trouble to penetrate from all sides into the thought habits of the bourgeois circle leaders on the one side and on the other the soul impulses of the up-and-coming Proletarians, know how big the cleft is between them, how difficult understanding is; this failure to understand is both a world historic and also a social fact of the present day. We can see this in Paris, in Bern. When one has an ear for such things, one could say that in both places various languages are spoken. At both places, such different languages are spoken that one could doubt that the one spoken at the one place also seems to be most remotely felt by the other, and vice versa. For this reason, it is also so difficult in the present to connect the bourgeois circles to those of the Proletarians and to those things which are the actual main driving forces related to the social question. All that has happened before in history is not quite important but among the historic events are those which point significantly to the actual effective, truly effective powers. Other phenomena which the superficial observer might value as equally important, can in true reality hardly be considered.

Whoever properly pursues the proletarian movement as it has developed over the last decades, a significant fact, one among many, will stand out, that the modern Proletarian, considered in a really, one could call it, in a scientific form which it has taken on, that the actual impulse of this modern proletariat, through their observations, know what to say about things introduced into the present where their solutions must be found just like economic- and community building in the old populace classes had been created and gradually had to disappear to make place for something new to come into existence.

A fact is presented here which has attracted some sceptics. Considering the sceptics will not be considered here, instead we will refer to the historical importance of this matter.

By exploring insightful representatives of the modern proletarian world view, perhaps particularly during the first years when this movement became known when it was examined more at that time than later, one felt more involved in these things, one felt more resigned, but the question still arose: ‘What form of community, of human community-living and human actions, what form of the social organism can actually be observed within this view of life as something which must emerge, as something which should be brought about?’ — From their point of view the proper answer would be: ‘At the moment this is of no further interest to us. Of importance to us above all is to bring a solution to the modern social order which enables it to steer itself ad absurdum. What will happen then, will reveal itself soon enough.’ — People are always preoccupied with representing their opinion; the modern proletariat must impress positions of power and control. The overpowering of the marching classes favours him so that when he has power in hand he doesn't need to think, provisionally.

That was programmatic. This is not actually properly thought through. It also invites agitation and is not thought through as a reality. Actually, for those who have a sense for evolutionary powers in history this is the question: ‘Yes, what does this modern proletarian point of view actually mean within the evolution of humanity at the present time?’ — The result is we are repeatedly distracted, as we said; the point of view takes on less importance as we are distracted about what people have to say about their feelings, how they experience their own lives, how they think about other classes in humanity. Briefly, we are distracted from the proletarian question about the status of the proletarians' lives. To a certain extent not talk nor statements but the particular kind of existence of a class of people show what is important through the way it is expressed. The answer which represents actual reality, given by the actual living proletariat today, can be formulated in the following way. It can be said: ‘This modern proletariat with their opportunities in life, with their living conditions, with the manner in which they are positioned in the modern social order and how they feel within themselves, this modern proletarian experience themselves as the criticism of modern technology, capitalism and the economic order.’ This is, in my view, extraordinarily interesting, that if you have a sense for reality based observation, that the proletariat themselves have the answer and that it does not come from some or other theoretical analysis, but out of the Proletarians themselves. It is a criticism. That the modern proletarians have become this way is provided by the criticism in a way outside of the proletariat who now take it as payment developed in the modern economic order.

Because this is so the souls of these modern proletarians were particularly open to embark on an abstract teaching, one can call it a teaching on scientific stilts, a teaching permeated by an impulse as I've characterised it, which is actually an impulse out of the life of the modern proletariat: the teaching of Marxism, the teaching of Karl Marx. It is a unique example in the history of humanity that such an unused class, a class without decadence, with unused intellectuality, with so much heart and such an open soul, that such a class where there were active forces in their own life forces, that it could have accepted such a scientific theory as happened with the modern proletarians and the Marxist teaching.

One needs to study things in life in this kind of relation. One must have seen how even the most difficult, seen from other classes as respectfully difficult, this has entered into the elementary sensitive and sentient proletarian soul, how millions upon millions of the modern proletarians were gripped by an apparent theoretic teaching.

However, what lives in this theoretic teaching? Here is a strange thing — it does not live in what one could in the ordinary sense call a social ideal. What lives in it doesn't have any formulation that would resemble a future state or a future social structure, but in it exist a real criticism of the modern bourgeois social and economic order and it relates to some extent to the instinct of these Marxist teachings. This instinct can be considered as follows: If I point out to the proletarian what the criticism of the modern technical capitalistic economic order is, then I involve his very life forces, then I steer it towards this becoming his own reality. It is already in a certain sense a mirror image expressed by the direct proletarian life entering right into the Marxist teaching. Whoever believes that the Marxist teaching is dismissed by the proletarian, does not understand that the formulation, the specific point of view and thoughts on the one side, can be overcome. What remains, however, is a certain momentum of this specific impulse which is alive and that on the other side perhaps in a counter observation, is realised by those who have come out of Marxism; that in all kinds of revisionist attempts there is an evolution of the impulse in the modern proletarian introduced through Marxism. This characterization of the social facts in the present time is more important for me than going along with elementary discussions because they eventually lead towards social psychology. When a direct answer is not found — we will encounter this in the course of the lectures what possible answer could be given — then it points to the present question of viewpoints which in real life at present probably will be the first consideration. What kind of experience is had when these things are considered without bias, without prejudice? The result is an experience of a certain peculiarity of modern life. Modern life — as I have often stressed in the lectures I'm giving here in Zurich — has thought habits, has developed thought forms which prove extremely fruitful for a certain direction in science. These modern thoughts also want to penetrate the understanding and comprehensive reformation, reforming the understanding of the social life itself, the social phenomena and impulses of life. However, with this penetration one has the general feeling that humanity at present, standing within the thought forms and thought habits of today, are not able to grasp the reality of complicated phenomena in social life. To some extent their understanding is too closely meshed. They can't grasp the complicated phenomena of the social life by themselves. They remain abstract, they remain delineated and they don't allow events in the social sphere to enter into actual life itself. One could say tightly meshed thinking characterises modern humanity. This narrow thinking breaks in everywhere where one wants to enter into real life, this very thinking has infiltrated into the ambition of the modern proletarian. The result is that this kind of thinking becomes transformed into criticism and does not enable real impulses created out of human soul experiences to be established as directional forces able to lead into the future. Everywhere this thinking breaks in where there is a striving for such impulses.

This calls for something which is deeply decisive in life at present. Whoever is, in full earnestness, able to understand the need of life at present, may direct his focus from the point of view being considered here, just now within this world historic moments where there is little time for a mere theoretical trend in true discussions because the facts are urgent and burning. Just right now one sees how people are presented with these urgent and burning facts but how even in these thought images it shows that reality can't be penetrated. Many people are filled with good will but not in one of them has thinking processes grown out of these facts. It is obvious in these world historic moments that even for those who wish to penetrate earnestly into this moment in time, the rising up — often masked in a variety of forms, completely unconsciously — of this incline in people for who the true earnest direction in life, when burning and urgent questions appear, it becomes particularly disastrous: the rising up of a type of fanaticism, as I would like to call it. This fanaticism shows itself in the most varied masks in a variety of areas and this makes it so difficult to allow the present to be directed into the appropriate action. This fanaticism has been the result of the development I have indicated historically in my lectures of the previous week, which started at the turning point of the 14th, 15th and 16th Centuries. What is the essence of this fanaticism? The essence can be depicted through a certain unrealistic view of life, a view of life which omits what I called last week the thrust received from inner experiences, through a certain view of life of a soulful, thoughtful and scientific knowledge seeking inner life like searching for an island — or actually an abundance of islands — and failing to build bridges to actualities in everyday life. We find in the present time certainly many people — if I could use the expression — who inwardly find a distinguished manner of thinking, be it in a scholarly abstract way, of all kinds of ethic-religious problems in cloud cuckoo land. One can observe how people ponder about the manner and way in which people could acquire virtues, how they should relate through love with their fellow human beings, how they can become blessed. We notice how concepts of salvation, mercy and so on develop in which certain adherents of this view of life possibly only want to be in the soul spiritual heights. Simultaneously we see in those good people mentioned legally and morally, who are loving and full of goodwill the inability to establish the real bridge to outer reality, everyday circulation of capital, the cost of labour, consumption, production in relation to the circulation of goods, credit systems, banking and stock exchange systems. We see how two streams have developed side by side in the world, reflected also in thought habits: one world movement wants to remain in soul spiritual heights and does not want to build bridges between what is seen as a religious order and the management of ordinary trade. Life however is uniform. It can only unfold when the driving forces of all ethical religious aspects work from its basis into the everyday, profane situation of life, into life which appears even less distinguished. If we neglect to create these bridges we lapse, in relation to the religious and moral life, into mere fanaticism, remote from daily reality, then true everyday reality retaliates. Then people strive out of a certain religious impulse towards all possible ideals, everything which can be called “good,” but instincts which oppose daily satisfaction coming from everyday experiences of life which should arise from the national economy, these instincts are powerless in the face of insensitive people. No bridge can seemingly be built between the belief of godly grace and everyday life as it happens. Everyday life then takes revenge. Now everyday life takes on a form which has nothing to do with ethical impulses cherished in distinguished, soul spiritual heights. Revenge becomes such that the ethical religious life, while it distances itself from the everyday things, from direct practical life, that this ethical religious life actually turns surreptitiously — without one noticing it as it is masked — into an inner delusion.

We see how people go about out of a certain ethical religious dignity — they believe — and how they show only the best of will in relation to the community of fellow human beings, a display of the best will to do their utter best towards them, while they neglect actually doing anything, because they have acquired nothing socially in their life of feeling which relate to practical habits.

So we experience it — when I might use this expression yet again — in this world historic moment, how the social question so blatantly, so tangibly insistent, approach from all sides by fanatics who see themselves sometimes as good practical people, who claim: ‘We need people to back out of materialism, out of outer materialistic life to a certain spirituality, to a spiritual view of life.’ They do not tire from quoting or making statements about personalities who in the past — the past has to be the rule, the present has less authority — had expressed certain ideal ways towards spirituality. Yes, you can have the experience that when someone points to something as practical and necessary as daily bread, it is pointed out that the primary importance is for people to return to the spirit. This warning contains unbelievably much of what had led mankind into the present catastrophe, fanaticism, which appear behind the most varied masks today and play a role in the facts. Certainly, on the one side it is fanaticism when someone, without being cognisant of outer practical living conditions, draws up some social ideal, called Utopian, and out of this finely fits and crystallizes a prescriptive system for living in order to be happy or satisfied or something or other. Basically, even when such Utopia appears full of criticism, it neither comes down to the criticism nor to good will, but it comes down to how they place themselves in practical life. Today it does not involve people being directed to a return to the spirit but that spirit exists in those who think about the social organism today. Today the importance is on the How, the Manner and Way in which thinking is arrived at. For my sake people don't talk about spirit but about the manner and way one talks about practical life, be it spiritual. Present time will be better served this way than through fanaticism reminding people in every third sentence to return to spirituality because usually those who are addressed can't imagine this spiritually, precisely because those who make these statements can't actually use imagination with which to present spiritually. The idealist utopians who insist — and these days they are not low in numbers — on finely thought-out social ideals are not the worst, because as a rule they don't hold water. One soon finds out these things are impractical and do not originate out of circumstances in real life. Far worse are the masked fanatics in today's reality, who appear to be coming out of apparent practical life situations but these situations actually have to relation to reality but exist in lifeless abstraction. Still, we have fanaticism — one must always speak freely from the heart — we have experienced this in present events only too significantly. It is difficult to recognise it. It is difficult because we have not sharpened our gaze in this area.

Some people appear to have characteristics of fanatics — incidentally nothing at all should be said against the qualities of fanatics, they could be good people, they could be doing their duties in their field, could even be excellent people — but when the fact is stressed regarding the relationship some personalities have to fanaticism, then some people are quite astounded that these personalities can be associated with fanaticism because these fanatics appear to think with independent judgement, while these judgements are actually nothing other than wild superstition. I have for instance in the course of the last few years looked at some “life practitioners” — I say this in quotation marks — of fanaticism. With reference to this, if humanity wants to advance in knowledge it may experience some inner paradoxes. It will appear for example as a surprise, if I propose the most imminent Ludendorff, as a fanatic. The judgement of his supporters and his opponents go in quite different directions. The important thing about his personality is that with the exception of the field in which he is highly scholarly, namely strategy, he is in all the rest of his thinking adhered to abstraction, totally strange in life where his fanatical thoughts, which have no relation to reality, now take on power and result in unspeakable evil by his fanatical thoughts entering into reality. In this way, various personalities we know today and see as practical in life, could cause unending evil as typical representatives of fanaticism.

In the nineties of the nineteenth century fanatics appeared as if in an epidemic; coming from America they flooded Europe in the then so-called “Society for Ethic Culture.” Here was an attempt at something having nothing to do with life, which could only come out of an abstract sensing of a certain ethic impulse and be propagated as ethical culture. If someone who was asked to do this, pointed out that such things harboured fanaticism, such things imprisoned and limited thought and thus made it impossible to discover the actual truth, they were either not understood or misunderstood or ridiculed.

This fanaticism should contrast itself with real truthful thinking which I believe has been represented through many years in the true spiritual scientific point of view. What actually is this spiritual scientific world view?

Essentially the spiritual scientific world view means it is not defined as a mere mirror image of observation of outer sensory reality but that it addresses spirit as coming from a real super-sensory experienced world, as real as what our eyes can see, ears can hear or touched by our hands. This viewpoint is less concerned with singular theories uttered about the actual spiritual world but rather far more involves everything experienced as knowledge coming out of the spiritual knowledge of the world and takes on an inner soul understanding into itself, an inner state in life through which the human being feels enlivened by soul spiritual beings in a real spiritual world. It is not dependant on what is said about the spiritual world but comes down to how people feel while in this spiritual world. It may already be that some or other super-sensible belief exists. This belief however, can just as easily steer towards fanaticism, like with those who strive towards goodwill. It comes down to this feeling: through the way one thinks, the way one experiences it, is within thinking, it flashes like lightening through one's own soul as the vital active spirit is experienced flashing through the soul.

This living, active spirit is in us. It is there like things outside are in space and events outside happen in time. When you take this expression in order to really spiritually acknowledge it not merely by thinking about it but living into it, then out of this spiritual acknowledgement an inner impulse arises, which is an incentive to make spirit something real out of itself, in the world; an incentive to experience the spirit as a reality and to make it a reality in quite a different way than what it can be as a mere mirror image of ideas and concepts which deals with the spiritual. There is a big difference whether one says: I think about the spirit, I believe in the spirit — or whether one says: Within me thinks the spirit, I experience the spirit within me. — The concept of ordinary faith actually loses its meaning through this experience. Coming out of this experience a soul-spiritual power will enter into the evolution of mankind. This soul-spiritual power which should enter into humanity's experiences is of a far greater importance than can be imagined, because it is the healing medicine for the laming type of ideology characterised here last week, which the proletariat inherited as a depressing element from the bourgeoisie.

This is what lives as the first true form of the social question in reality, if one penetrates this question in order to understand it in depth, that the development of modern spiritual life since the turn of this newer time during the 14th Century gradually became so blunt, weakened and paralysed that people didn't know any more that within them the spirit is alive as something real, full of life, but that they believe they only have ideas and mirror images containing some or other reality. These images they have in the world and which exist in the modern proletarian view of life is such that they say: ‘The only thing that exists in the spiritual realm is ideology. Reality only exists in economy, in financial processes, in class conflicts — this is where reality exists.’ However, something steams up in the human soul, it takes on the form of images of revelation, images which express science, morality, religion, art. This gives a superstructure based on a solid, real foundation. If one also can't admit to sociology living as an ideology in this superstructure being able to work back into the economic life, then it remains an ideology. No healing element comes out of this ideology if real spiritual participation, like spiritual science wanting to enter into modern humanity, is not engaged through spiritual experiences. Healing the damage in this ideology is only possible through real deepening in the real spirit and its manifestations, through deepening the real supersensible world. Everything which worked as spiritual life within the modern proletarians and was introduced as culture appeared as mere ideology and because ideology was seen as nothing, the soul was unable to experience a certain impetus, a certain momentum within consciousness which can be sensed in the higher sense, and souls were left dissatisfied and empty. Out of this soul emptiness developed the hopeless mood of the proletarian world view, where one part of it grew into a member of the real social question. As long as people will not realize that the tendency towards ideology needs to be healed and therefore are unable to introduce any positive impulses into the modern proletarian souls, so long will mere criticism remain in the modern proletarian regarding the developing capitalism, economic order and their world view.

This will not be accomplished without the will to enter a real practical view of life, a view of life which is not made up of theories or mere religious ideas, but with someone who wants to live, who wants to be creative, with a will to create individual impulses in life. For this some things are necessary and this scares today's individuals away as if it is something quite radical. What is intended here is far less radical than what comes out of life, provoked by modern instincts confronting people when they are too comfortable to turn towards what is necessary.

What I have been aiming at from a certain angle involves one member of the social organism which needs to develop out of modern living conditions as one of the three members, just as I have been sketching here last week, Wednesday. On that occasion, I dealt with the misfortune, in a certain sense, of modern humanity, when it is not examined — and it is so indeed, it is not being examined — that what should consist in a threefold way and that the three individual members work together in a lively way, has been turned through their power into chaos and a random organism which they want to continue to make so.

Now to not make myself misunderstood, I'm mentioning almost in parenthesis, my intention is not to advocate a complete reversal to be accomplished in a day. I'm giving indications in a certain direction towards which single questions may be orientated, questions about the state, spiritual life and economic life and how these meet in people's lives. There is no need to believe in things right away, as I present them; what we call ‘the state’ today can be made into something quite different tomorrow. People only need the will forces to relate to these things, to actualize the Christian “change your way,” which means, the details, the individual measures presented need to be entered into if one wants to get their meaning, in order to orientate their configuration in a certain direction.

Thus, I have set out what people want to muddle together into a uniformed state just like one would try to do with the human organism — and make a Homunculus as a result — botched together to centralize the three systems in chaos so that the attempt at consolidating everything into a combined state enterprise forces the three living members apart rather than allowing a healthy social organism to develop. In one independent member within the social organism, all that relates to spiritual culture must develop; as a second independent member in the social organism everything related in the narrower sense to the political state life, not consolidated but in a lively exchange with spiritual life, need develop; and as a third independent member the economic organism. A spiritual organism, state organism, economic organism — of this people should be saying: in the next ten to twenty years evolutionary forces of humanity will be striving towards this. Whoever opposes this development is opposing the possibilities for progress in modern humanity.

The first point I want to touch on is from this view I'm considering today comprises the following: the life of so-called spiritual culture, all inclusive of what could be termed school and educational impulses, all that could be included in religious life, all that is artistic, literary and also all that relates to private and criminal law. These things I will still characterise more precisely. Everything decided in life regarding spiritual culture, positioned on a communal but independent basis, must be placed alongside the rest of the social organism. It must be placed by itself, it must be placed on such a basis that one can say: the vital element of this member of the social organism must have its centre in the free unfolding of the physical and spiritual arrangement of the human being. Everything needs to be based on this sphere of the individuality. Everything flowing into this must come from the centre of the human individuality and the physical and spiritual faculties must have free evolutionary possibilities but must however be withheld from influencing the remaining cultural life in some or other damaging or limiting or unreasonable way.

In this particular sphere, something can be achieved. I would like to offer a grotesque example. Please excuse me if this example appears grotesque but it will conceivably illustrate what I want to say. Let us take some or other young student, in other words a person budding within spiritual development, who has to deliver his doctorate. He obtains advice from authoritative personalities to edit some theme which has hardy or never been done before — let's take for example, dealing with the swear words of an old Roman writer. Such things really exist as those who are implicated with it, already know. Now the young man works for a whole year with these swear words of some ancient writer. Today one says: ‘This is scientifically important.’ — Well yes, from the side of this observation which exists in certain areas, it is certainly important, but now something else comes into consideration. It is the positioning of such a thing in the totality of the social organism. One needs to look away from the fact that it may well be interesting to write about swear words of some old writer. I know a dissertation where a young man was terribly plagued by the subject of parenthesis used by an old Greek writer.

I don't have anything that can be said against a pure scientific viewpoint presenting these things. Philistine details will not be made relevant here. However, in relation to it finding its position within the social organism the following is valid: the young man needs true diligence for possibly a year and so he needs to eat, drink and clothe himself. In order to do so he needs some income, capital. What does it mean to say: ‘He consumes a certain amount of capital?’ It means nothing other in the real life than: Many, many people must work for him.

What he eats, drinks, where he finds clothing, engages a whole army of people during these years. A small army is involved in his food, drink and clothing and this comes into consideration in relation to the social effects of the case. Today one mostly has the view that things can simply be taken thus, without a social understanding, out of a certain inclination to purely place these interests scientifically in the world. Our life in the present demands however that every branch in its relationship, in its vital connection to all the other of life's branches should be conceived with social understanding, with a feeling for the social aspect.

As I said, I've asked you to excuse me with this grotesque example; it could have been less grotesque but I chose this one in order to show you how necessary it is to develop a feeling for the social sphere, how spiritual life, the entire activity of the spiritual life need to stand within the social organism, in order to be justified in the general interest of humanity. The general interest of humanity may be asked whether the determination of swear words of some ancient writer has such worth that it requires a small army or workers to be appointed for an entire year. The question can of course be made less grotesque by working around it from other sides. One could then realize that spiritual culture can also include, for instance, the experience belonging to technical ideas and work in a lively way in other structures, in the rule of law for instance, because these things have a relative independence in life. Against this works centralization which steers everything into chaos.

Spiritual life must exist in a relative independent way, must not submit only to one's inner freedom but must stand within the social organism of one's spiritual life in order to position itself completely free of competition, resting on no state monopoly. That which is justified as a spiritual life — what this means for single individuals — is another thing. We are talking here about the social organism. Spiritual life is to be completely free of competition, completely free to meet singular needs of the community as they may reveal themselves. Someone might create poems, as many as he wants; may find friends for these poems, as many as he likes; what validates spiritual life is only what he, as a single individual, shares with other people. This is however only presented on a healthy basis when everything considered as spiritual life, everything from school to university life, everything from educational to artistic life need to be disrobed of any state monopolising characteristics and be contained by itself as independent — but as we said, not from one day to the next. Direction is thus indicated for people placed on their own — this is how the bridge can be created towards something different. Due to a request, I have been occupied for some years during the nineties with my book “The Philosophy of Freedom” (later translation: ‘The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity’) which has just been newly reprinted, perhaps in a favourable time, to show that a true experience of freedom cannot be said to be anything other than the actual play of the spiritual life into the human soul.

At that time, I called it the enactment of intuition in the human soul, the play of something totally spiritual. This real spiritual element must be born in the human soul in the light of freedom — free from competition — then it will live in a right way in the social organism. It may not — and this is important — be placed under some or other regulatory law of some or other branch of the social organism. It must be able to reveal itself in full freedom, as a result of general needs.

I know — and I will present this again in the following lectures — that many people think that if schools would be a free choice then we will be surrounded by illiterate people. I would like to show this will not be the case. Of importance today for me is to point out how, out of the inner nature of the thing, the necessity for a free spiritual life will be shown in the social organism. There are states where natural science, like nearly everywhere, is the monopoly; their enterprise is monopolised through the state which proclaims a law: ‘Science and its education is free.’ This however remains merely a phrase and will remain only a phrase if spiritual life does not persist in being held by itself. Not only may spiritual life, in relation to its activity in personalities, in relation to what is publicly said or dare not be said, depending on another member of the social organism when these other members instruct schools and universities, when I only mention it; not only, as said, the outer operation, the appointment of personalities, the limitations which may not be mentioned, become determined as a result, but that it also determines the inner content of spiritual life itself. Our whole scientific life has characteristics of political life, since in the more modern time the spheres of political life have spread over spiritual life. Spiritual life may however not be the affair of some or other member of the social organism; it can only uphold its self-contained content when this develops freely out of the human individuality.

Spiritual life stands opposite pure economic life just like the digestive system stands opposite the head system in the natural human organism. Economics has its own laws. The character of modern economic life has been identified through the proletarian science in an experiential, vital manner, not as a theoretical science preached from the rostrum but in order for it to become clear how proletarian science, just like economic life, relates to humanity in general.

Now one could refer once again to a certain point. I have mentioned this point in previous lectures. What is striking in economic life today, or with reference to the proletarian scientific consideration of economic life, is, and also in relation to it, the proletariat has been taken over by the inheritance from other classes. Whether it is through modern technology, whether through modern capitalism — as explored in previous weeks here — the human focus is as if hypnotized on economic life as the actual and only reality which can be linked to, in the social organism. People believe, when one talks about human evolution that only economic life needs to be referred to. We have seen how this economic life has become quite committed, how through economic life a particular active impulse in the bright light of the sun of human experience has moved the modern Proletariat's feeling of becoming human — this must be considered precisely, against economic life. The result of this is Karl Marx's inflaming of millions upon millions of Proletarians that people believed he primarily, in clear language, pointed out to the Proletarians the worth of humanity in his entire statement: he, Karl Marx, first pointed out to the Proletariat that labour equals goods, labour could circulate as goods on the market and stand under the law of supply and demand.

Karl Marx used various erroneous ways to point out basic facts. That he referred to the innermost nerve of the modern social question anyhow, made his merits appear sufficient in the feelings of proletarian souls. Also here social psychology has a far more reality based meaning than theories, observations and discussions which are linked to some scientific and social life impulses. Out of this a vital question arises. How could the experience of human worth be conquered? That human labour is dealt with like goods? — This is what Marx had to say next. As we said, in many ways there are errors but this is not relevant now when an erroneous fact became so powerful in millions of human souls that it became a social fact. This is what Karl Marx said and this is how they understood the modern Proletariat. This understanding, while it has altered in some relationships, still work today, work particularly strongly in feelings. This is what he said: ‘Within the economic organism goods are brought to the market and sold. There are owners of goods, prospective owners and buyers of goods. Between these exists the circulation of goods. The modern Proletarian has nothing other than his own labour. For each unit of goods, a certain production cost is necessary. The production of this or that product, until it is consumed, has this or that value. The modern Proletarian only has the power of his body, the only power he possesses is that of labour. In order to determine the production cost of labour all his needs to be included: his acquisition of nourishment, clothing and so on, and so the spent labour becomes replaced in turn. That is the production cost of his labour.’ — Now, Karl Marx said, and in his inner being this also means the modern proletariat: ‘Naturally the employer gives the employee no more than the so-called wages, without compulsion, for the work as the production cost for his labour. If however, the job continues for five hours and all the production costs are covered, the modern entrepreneur is not satisfied. He demands longer working hours. So the worker labours for free because he only earns as much as his “goods” — his labour — amounts to. What work he does additionally is added value. This is what he brings to the altar — if one could call it an altar — of capitalism, which collects as capital but actually originates from his labour, and as a result, because he is only paid the production costs, he is forced to offer his wares on the labour market, according to economic relationships, with all he has: his goods called “labour.”’

You can with the greatest human ingenuity, applying the deepest national economic knowledge, discuss what can be done in the social organism that the worker should not carry his labour to the market as goods, that he can rid the world of this last result of slavery and you will, even by employing the greatest intelligence, the most profound national economic knowledge regarding many human lives, arrive at no solution. You will find no outcome to this question because the imminent sense of this question can't be discussed, can't be answered theoretically, but can only be answered through life itself, through creating something in life which strips away the characteristic of goods from labour.

If I might offer a comparison I would like to point to this little man in Goethe's Faust which Wagner produces as a test tube baby: Homunculus. It is made out of what human thoughts can imagine are ingredients from nature, but he does not become a person but remains a little manikin, a Homunculus. In the same way, you may combine something out of ingredients of understanding or out of national economic created ingredients — and your result will be a social Homunculus! Just as we need certain conditions in order to create a living human being, so in the same way, conditions need to be created towards a vital social organism which works progressively in life, not through theories, not through arguments. Human labour needs to be separated from the mere circulation of goods and may not be realized as such.

This will not be accomplished in any other way, if you look into it, in order for a social organism to be lively; it must have independent members, with the spiritual member beside the legal-state member, in a narrower sense the political-state member, and relatively independent beside that, the economic organism which lives under its own laws. Just as little as the stomach can breathe or direct the heartbeat, so little can the economic organism develop law out of its own forces. Economics will never develop its own laws when it works only from its own actual basis. Out of this actual basis the social organism will only be driven from production and commerce to consumption.

Just like the circulation of goods stand opposite nature itself, this foundation of all production, all consumption, all human events and so on, of profession and trade, so must on the other side stand in opposition, not determined by the economic organisation but that the economy determines, the existence of politics in the state's laws. This must be independent of the economic organism just like the lung-heart system is relatively independent of the head and nerve system.

Just because they work independently yet together, they have the right relationship in life. Only by the lungs and heart being isolated from the stomach, do they function relatively independently in the correct way together.

Only by there being in the lively social organism an independent member which does not determine on some or other economic grounds that labour becomes goods, but allows, out of the vitality of life for labour to be positioned in the social structure so that it becomes a right in the social structure, only through this, on the other side, can the economic life be allowed to be determined through the life or rights, the political life of the state in a narrower sense, as is determined by the natural foundation of economic life. Only then, when these three members exists side by side, when you have an independent spiritual member, an independent legal system member or actually state life plus an independent economic life and these members work in relative independence with one another, when each of these members out of its own foundation finds its representatives, its administrative body, we can say, its kingdom, its federal day, its ministry, and the single members are as sovereign among one another like single states who only trade through delegations, only then does the social organism really becomes healthy. Then the foundation of interest develops in the area of economics which is the only impulse crucial to the economic life. Then the question can be raised from life according to events taking place in other members of the social organism, in the legal organism: if out of the impulses of the legal body limitations are placed on human labour which from then on does not have the character of goods but the characteristics of rights, when labour flows into a specific economic branch where it does not pay, then this economic branch in relation to non-payment need be looked at, like when through a too expensive raw material it is not paid. This means that human labour becomes the dominant element in relation to economic life, not dominated, not enslaved. This is not accomplished by making certain laws but by creating a living body which must simply be something different than human impulses in a separated body, continuing from epoch to epoch snatching labour from the character of goods, because this character of goods must be torn out otherwise it will ever and again be absorbed because the economic body has the tendency to always suck up the capacity for work and make it goods only. The state body must be ever awake and remove the labour force from the stamp of goods.

Everywhere in life it appears that this muddling along — if I may use this trivial expression — makes the three social spheres a disaster. The social catastrophe which has taken place in the last four and a half years only needs to be considered. You can study the actual events. It is a lovely study for instance in the area in Austria which appears to have fallen apart into atoms: How has the inner structure actually held up, how has it wanted to hold since more than half a century? Here we have the so-called empire state. In this empire state a certain representation of nations exist, only in certain layers. This representation collapsed — not recently but where events prepared it, in the second half of the 19th Century — into four councils, the council of large landowners, of rural communities, of cities and markets and industrial areas, chambers of commerce; in other words, the rural communities, the cities, the industrial areas and the chambers of commerce. You see nothing about basic economic impulses existing in this representation. This representation was the representation of the state. This representation had laws. It only came from there because people were powerless under the influence of modern developments, as I've indicated under our consideration today, to penetrate economic life itself with their own organisation because their thoughts were too tightly meshed, too limiting because they could not plunge into them. People took the economic life as a frame for the rising state and bungled economic and state life with one another. Before people will not see that this bungling of innumerable causes has led to our present catastrophe, the sooner they will not go to ruin but towards a true cure.

Today I could once again only give a few indications. The day after tomorrow I will allow myself to expand the remarks. I want to still make another observation. Even in relation to the mighty world politics can what I said be substantiated, if you only want to go into the substrate of life. Whoever studies the Genesis of this terrible war, which is no war in the old sense but various ingredients of human catastrophes cooked up together which have not appeared at its end but entered at its crisis, whoever studies the Genesis of this catastrophe will find for instance that the importance of the starting point was totally directed towards the preparation and the expansion of modern economic life in a specific way and that this modern economic life, as a result, cannot be understood as being separated in the right way from a naturally and really vitally formed social organism, or in an organism found all over the world, because this economic life has been connected with the bare seven state laws which should have remained independent. As a result, essential economic factors and economic elements were there and they served the state power forces during the last decades, the economic powers which work in disharmony against one another. Were they held to develop merely on the foundation of their economic life and on the foundation of their common consensus it would never have led to this catastrophe. Towards this catastrophe they approached as purely economic forces while these economic forces had to serve as a false political entity of political powers of state whose armies were sent into the fields on their behalf.

These things need to be examined in a relevant way, not only theoretically. Some people do this of course. Still, one needs to know how to lift the actual impulse of the real social question, urgent and burning, into the light in a relative way into the present, in order to discover the real symptoms. Then you exit fanaticism as a mere warning and discover the reality within it, which makes it possible to allow the three members of the social organism to work together. What no discussion, no national economic judgement is able to do for economic and political life to exist side by side and so solve the labour force question, could continue to get rid of the most essential and difficult points in the modern proletarian's experience in the right way.

Now, the day after tomorrow I will continue with these observations, entering into detail in some of them which must remain as questions today, which will then be cleared up in a proper way. I just want to point out one thing. It has been and will be for a long time still, the comfortable thinking habits of people to find it radical, perhaps too academic in some or other way, what in truth is not some abstract idealism, but is actually everyday practical life. Some will say: ‘Indeed, here comes a spiritual scientist who wants to by means of an imminent question, through a world historically important question, involve the social question.’ Precisely not for something extraordinary for me or for the representatives of some conviction is what I'm validating here, so to say, but in relation to such people who take these things as impractical, a lost cause, while they don't look over the possibilities, can't envisage the perspectives. For these people, not for me, I would like to use a comparison at the closing today.

I would like to refer to some poor chap, Stephenson, who was condemned to sit at a ‘Newcomenschen’ steam engine (by Thomas Newcomen) and open and close the taps alternately, allowing steam out the one side and the entry of condensation water on the other. Now this little chap noticed up above, a balance swinging up and down and he thought: How would it be if I tied one tap to the other tap with a string, to the balance? Then at one moment the one tap will be opened and the other closed, and the next instance the one will close and the other open. The balance will do my work for me, I can only sit and look — so the little chap thought. And he actually did this. Now something could well happen as it is with many such things, when something quite new enters into life, for some quite clever person to then exclaim: ‘You stupid young man, you must do as you are supposed to do! What kind of string have you tied to the balance? Remove it quickly or otherwise I'll tie you to it!’

It didn't happen quite like this but it is one the most important discoveries if the modern time, the automatic control of the steam engine which sprung out of the experience of this little chap. To have developed more insight towards only the self-control of a social organism which leads toward a vital interactive cooperation of the three members — its self-manipulation of spiritual members, legal-political member, economic member — to be more raised than this, spiritual science has no claim. It depends on whether all the clever people will say of this spiritual science: ‘You stupid young man! Do your duty’ or if you will look into what is actually happening. This must often be done if one is to be involved in all humility and without insolence. The belief in fanatics who label themselves as practical might soon give way to knowledge that the real practical people can be notorious idealists who could enter into the realities of life, that it could be them who may research the real evolutionary conditions of mankind and only through knowledge and the evolutionary process modern humanity could find the way which could lead to the solution of the social question — we will speak about this next time — that it is even possible in real life at all. Not via the route of presumptions by which many practitioners lay the law today, but probably the real-life practitioners, the clever idealists who can really penetrate the realities of life, have to prove it.




Last Modified: 02-Aug-2018
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