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The Social Question

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The Social Question

Schmidt Number: S-3664

On-line since: 15th November, 2017

1st Public Lecture
added to the 4 lectures on the Social Question
by Rudolf Steiner
given at Zurich, 25 February 1919


“The Social Will as the Basis Towards a New, Scientific Procedure.”

The theme for this evening's lecture has been requested as “The social will as a basis towards a new, scientific procedure.” I don't know exactly what the motives are for proposing this theme, but when the request came to me I found it extraordinarily lucky because it corresponds in tone to what I consider necessary with regard to the facts which the social movement has brought into the present, and is expressed far more clearly than what formerly had been discussed and negotiated regarding the social question in the course of the last decades.

It is possible to follow the development of the social movement over a long time, up to our present times and to notice how the social impulses in their aims tend more and more to the one or other side, having something sneaking into this social will, into the social mood of recent times which can seem like a wrapping of something from quite another time when superstitions ruled in the Middle ages. These superstitions appear now again when you engage yourself deeply in the second part of Goethe's “Faust” and come to the scene where Goethe allows his Wagner to create the Homunculus, the manikin who would like to be on the way to becoming a human being, developed out of the manikin. According to Goethe it depended on Middle Age superstitions to desire the creation of something out of mere theory, mere outer dry and sober facts assimilated in the human mind into something with being, something thought up which becomes alive. The impossibility of taking abstractions drawn from outer life and forming something alive with them, was Goethe's concern in particular. The Middle Ages don't rule our current thinking as such, but it appears to me as a metamorphosis, one could say, in all the impulses and instincts of many of our contemporaries who want to address the social will and allow some superstitions to dominate. One can observe the development of social life, how it has in the course of history up to the present resulted in thoughts developing out of certain principles, certain foundations which they want to accomplish, or, as you can hear from various opinions, they want it carried out themselves, which means, just as through abstract principles the Homunculus was formed, they can create something called a social organism.

Towards such a social organism there is a striving of, what one could call, the unconscious part of modern humanity. It is only necessary to make the following clear, in order to understand this. The social life of humanity as such is admittedly nothing new; it only appears to be different in more recent times. The social structure of a community is determined, in our more recent times, by the human instincts and human subconscious impulses. The most significant aspect of the rising forces of our more recent times is that humanity can no longer remain stuck on mere instinctive will impulses, that simply out of the nature of development it must prepare the form of the social structure out of a conscious will. If it is to be prepared through a conscious will, then the will needs a basis of thoughts which need to be developed in the right way. These thoughts towards its foundation would not be mere thoughts derived out of abstractions but out of reality; they would be thoughts which familiarise one's own will with the forces in natural events which weave within the world's own powers. To a certain extent one must be allied in one's own will with the creative powers of natural existence.

This is something which wide circles of humanity still need to learn. They must learn to think that they actually can't proceed if they think: ‘What must happen in order to withdraw from a social structure formed out of a life many experience as intolerable, is to replace it with a feasible social structure.’ — One cannot proceed this way. One can't imagine what social illnesses are, to a certain extent. One can only apply one's best aspirations by finding it out of people themselves, how they live together in the community and bring mutual harmony in their reciprocal relationships to unfold what is necessary in these alternate lives, to establish a social structure.

After long years of studying the social question it has come to me that the basic question, which is considered today as a uniform abstract formulation, should be seen in a threefold way: the first, being like a spiritual question, the second, like a question of law and the third as an economic question. What has arisen out of the modern capitalist economic life has developed from the basis of technology and this has hypnotised people's focus in recent times only on to economic life, and have quite drawn away the awareness of the social question beside the economic question to above all also a spiritual question and a question of rights.

I'm going to allow myself to deal with the spiritual question first, not from the basis as perhaps some of you may believe the consideration of spiritual life involves me in particular, but because I am of the conviction that if the Proletarian thinkers of today become unbiased toward the spiritual aspect, in search of a solution for the social question, it can make a contribution to just those realistically orientated observers of the social question, that the spiritual aspect must take a stand first of all. To do so is to develop insight into the soul of those people touched in their real nature by the modern social movement. You need to try and recognise the will impulses of what actually lives in the socialistic orientated circles. Above all, the origins of these will impulses need to be discovered.

You see, as technology and capitalism moved into our more recent human lives, humanity branched off more and more into the so-called ruling class, away from the development in the most varied areas of Proletarianism. Between the Proletarian forces of will and the non-proletarian life today lies a gap, no one can lie about it, a gap which can hardly be bridged if not at least an attempt is made, not only with antiquated thoughts and old will impulses active in the social movement, but with new thoughts and will impulses.

In the course of time a belief has developed within the Proletariat — and one can as far as relationships go, not at all see this belief as something unfounded — a belief has formed that the socially disadvantaged class can expect nothing from the present ruling class if they build on their goodwill, their ideas and so on. There has, if I may say so, developed a deep mistrust between the individual human classes. This mistrust has come out of the origins, which up to now did not play a role in human consciousness, origins which have always been available in the subconscious. As a result, at the start of our more recent times, the bourgeois working class has met with one final important trust and they, not out of their convictions but by feeling, have been tricked out of this final important trust. You see, we are talking about the Proletarian point of view today. Many, also earlier personalities who believed they could bring the Proletarian will and thinking into an expression, actually knew nothing about the origins of these thoughts and will impulses. What comes as challenges out of life itself, living in the social movement actually stands in a remarkable contrast with the challenges and social impulses which are being considered by the Proletarians themselves. If I want to briefly express what I mean, I must say: the Proletarian, the social culture has thus come about, but within the proletarian feelings, within the social culture and the life, rules the inheritance out of just those viewpoints and concepts of life which came about at decisive moments in their historic development.

This decisive moment in the more recent historic development must surely allow the observer to notice that within this development, the newer scientific way of thinking has grown — I ask you to please take note, I don't say natural science but the newer scientific way of thinking — in such a way out of the old spiritual impulses, but that this scientific way of thinking no longer involves the same spiritual power which the old-world view had. The old-world view sent roots and spread into human impulses as the modern scientific way of thinking. The old-world view was capable of sending impulses into the soul, through the person's sensing and experiencing towards solving a stirring question: ‘What am I actually as a person in the world?’ — Such a power living in the soul has not come through the modern scientific way of thinking. Obviously through a historic necessity, which is no less of a historical disaster, the old-world view positioned itself at a decisive moment in a hostile opposition towards the newer scientific way of thinking instead of allowing it to flow into a fuller friendship which it should have carried into the spiritual life of the soul. So the following facts came about.

The capitalist machine of economic order tore a number of people out of the context of their lives, out of a context in which they had stood up to then which had quite a different relationship with regards to human feelings for their sense of dignity. There existed a connection between what a person was and what he did. Just think about the relationship which clearly continued in the old crafts up to the 13th Century and still continue in remnants later. Out of this relationship a large number of people were thrown at the machine of the modern economic order. Here was no kind of relationship to elements of production; here was no possibility to establish some or other process between the people and what they were actually doing. This is how it came about that this side of human beings, who didn't invent the modern machine age, could ask: ‘What am I worth as a human being? What am I really worth?’

This question is not to be answered out of a context, of life having become overpowered and worthless, but the answer is to be found within those who were not dependent on the outer context of life. Here nothing other rose out of these classes than what the machine age and the economic ordering imposed at the same historic time: the result was the modern scientific way of thinking.

The old classes didn't need to apply this scientific way of thinking to their beliefs and to their concept of life; they only needed to apply it to their theoretical principles. They instilled in life traditional impulses inherited from origins of olden times. The Proletarians were the only ones who were torn out of all they could not identify as their concept of life which was connected to the old outlook on life. They were, through their purely outward existence, predestined to take what was new and allow it to enter their soul content. So this Proletarian is, as paradoxical as it sounds, as unbelievable as many may see it, the actual, purely scientifically orientated person.

To acknowledge the entire scope of this fact one should not only think about what one has learnt about the Proletarian Movement but one needs to be transported through one's destiny by the possibility to think with the Proletarian, with the thoughts of such people who from one or the other side became the carriers of the Proletarian Movement. One could clearly sense what follows, as it spread itself from olden times into the direct social present.

Isn't it true, you could say: ‘Yet, the scientific way of thinking still has been extensively accepted in middle-class circles.’ — If you consider intelligent middle-class circles, you will think about people whose beliefs are quite scientifically orientated: yet in their feelings, in their entire life experience, they stand within relationships which are not totally determined by scientific orientation. A person can be a materialistic thinker in modern times, can call him or herself enlightened, call themselves atheists, can acknowledge it as an honest conviction, but can't renounce all the rest of their experiences out of the old connections of life which have not originated from a scientific orientation but which had emerged out of times which carried spiritual impulses — as has been sketched as a force, in the foregoing.

Purely scientific orientation itself works quite differently. I don't say, the scientist, because obviously the scientific orientation influenced quite uneducated Proletarians: but it works quite differently where it has been imposed as a view of life on to the Proletarian.

I want to clarify this by an example. For many years I shared a podium with Rosa Luxemburg who has passed away in such a tragic way. She addressed the theme of “Science and the Worker.” I need to repeatedly think how she stirred a large audience towards being aware that actually all prejudices which are in relation to human social situations are human classifications according to the old ruling classes and this is connected to representations of what old spiritual viewpoints contained. The modern Proletarian, she believed, originated not solely from angelic, divine origins but they had at one time indecently climbed around trees from animalistic origins which she had developed, on the basis that as she had followed their development, she could substantiate the conviction: a human being is the same as another human being. All previous classification was based on some or other form of prejudice. — You should not consider her formulation but what kind of force such words had on the proletarian natured soul.

Purely considering the concept, I actually meant to say: The Proletarian is completely “scientifically” orientated in his point of view in more recent times. The scientific orientation failed to fill his soul in such a way that it could answer the question: ‘What am I actually, as a human being?’

Where did the Proletarian get this point of view? What is the basis of this scientific orientation which he sometimes had to receive in such a false way? It is after all a science. He took it as the inheritance of the middle-class people. It developed out of an old viewpoint of life, from within middle-class people at the transition into the more recent machine and capitalistic age, when machines and capitalism overpowered the people.

The following which is often heard with corresponding colouring is this: within the Proletarians their spiritual life became something which can be experienced as an ideology. This is heard most often when the background of the Proletarian view of the world is dissected: art, religion, science, ethics, law and so on are ideological mirror images of the outer materialistic reality.

However, this experience that everything is like this, that spiritual life is ideological, this didn't originate from within the Proletarians, the Proletarians received it as a dowry from the bourgeoisie. This last and big belief which the Proletarians took in from the middle-class was a result of the nourishment it received, spiritual nourishment for the soul. It could well be that as it was exposed to spiritual life, as it was called out of the old relationship to the machine and introduced into the social structure, that it could only look at what had developed as knowledge about the people and the world; it could only look upon what it had received out of the bourgeoisie: through belief, dogmatically — I could call it — it acquired ideology from the bourgeoisie. It hadn't entered into the convictions but as an experience of disillusionment which it had to be if one does not look at the spiritual as something which is created out of itself, containing a higher reality, but if one looks at it is a mere ideology. Within the subconscious awareness of a large number of carriers of the social movement it wasn't known but was clearly being experienced: ‘We have met the bourgeoisie with a strong trust, we have entered into an inheritance which should have brought us the salvation of our souls and the strength to carry it though. The middle classes didn't bring this; only ideology, which has no reality and which contributes nothing towards the support of life.’

One can argue a lot whether ideology is really the basis of spiritual life, or not. It doesn't come down to that but it comes down to spiritual life being experienced by the majority as an ideology, and so the soul becomes desolate, remains empty, the centrifugal spiritual force becomes paralysed and the result is what has happened today: The stripping of the social will from belief that somehow something spiritual could have developed, somewhere rise as a centre, a real centre from which our world view or something similar can bring salvation, also in relation to the desired formation of the social movement. I would like to say: as a negative, spiritual life has been incorporated into the development of the modern Proletarian humanity above all things; as a positive, that it demands yearnings from these people. It demands soul-supporting and as an inheritance has been given the depletion of the soul.

This is something which blows and runs quietly though our entire present day social movement which can't be grasped by concepts, which in fact makes out the form of one of the branches — we got to know three — of the present day social movement. As soon as one perceives that this is so, one can correctly ask: Where has it come from and how can it be remedied? Instead of letting will be paralysed, this social will, how can it be fired up and empowered? This is a question one must ask oneself.

Now an event occurred when the spiritual life came to a decisive point which I've indicated already. The ruling class at the time was through their situation in life connected to, what we today call, the state. It has often been stressed by some individuals — I can't enter into this today due to our limited time in how true this is — it has often been stressed that modern humanity believe that what we call the state, today, has always existed in this way. That is completely untrue. What we call the state, which for example in the Hegelian world appeared as an expression of the divine itself, was basically only a product of thinking in the last four to five Centuries. The social organism of earlier times was quite different.

Just take a single fact, take the most recently appeared fact that the free schools of earlier times, which were independently built opposite the state, were filled out by state institutions, and that, to some extent, the state had become the custodian of mankind's spiritual goods. This happened due to the civil interests in the beginning of more recent times.

The state was there to let the folk grow their souls towards it; they connected all their needs to it. Out of this impulse grew a new relationship between spiritual goods and the state, made the state the custodian of the spiritual goods of mankind and demanded from those approaching the custodian that their lives be actually defined by it.

If one looks deeper into the inner weaving of the human spiritual goods then it involves not only an outer administration of the spiritual goods — the legislation regarding universities as part of the state, of schools, of folk schools becoming part of the state — but that the state is determining the content of the spiritual goods.

Certainly mathematics doesn't have a state characteristic, but other branches of our spiritual goods have their character, have sustained the unification of these spiritual goods with interests of the state in more recent times. This growing together is not without participation of becoming an ideology from the side of spiritual goods. The spiritual goods can only really protect its own true worth, which it carries within, when it can govern itself through its own forces, when out of its direct initiative can give the state what it is, when it however doesn't receive demands from the state.

Certainly there will still be many today who will see no fundamental social facts in what I've just said. They will however see that, in reality, only the ruling spirit of mankind can give laws, when this spirit is separated and stands independently from the outer state organisation. I know that kind of objections can be made against this but this is not important. What is relevant is that the spirit, in order to unfold itself properly, calls for the ability to always develop out of the direct free initiatives of the human individual.

In this way one arrives at the true form of one of the members of the modern social question, that one considers the spiritual life in the right way and see the necessity, that whatever is pushed into the structure of the state is gradually brought out again, so that it can unfold its own supporting power and then work back again, just because when it is freed, while it develops independently with the other members of the social structure, it can as a result really work on the social structure.

If one wants to talk about the practical aspects of the first member of the social question, one must say: The tendency of development for the spiritual life must be denationalized in the widest sense. If the spiritual life member should be denationalised which probably appears today as a paradox, one can speak in this way: the relationship in which a ruling individuality appears to people, who is involved in criminal or private law involving people — one can in certain psychological orientated circles still see that, but taking the thing from quite the wrong side — one so personal, the direction belongs directly to what must be considered internally as spiritual life. So I am counting all which is relevant in religious convictions, all artistic life, all which is related to private and criminal law, to move towards developing the tendency for denationalization.

Why should anyone who hears about mass regulation immediately think about violent revolution? Even in socialist circles of more recent times, people are gradually not thinking like this anymore. I also don't consider that from one day to the next, everything can be denationalized; but I think that through the social will humanity can enter into measures here and there — it must also happen here or there on a daily basis — towards a re-orientation for such a gradual detachment of the spiritual life from that of the state. You can imagine realistically what is actually meant by this.

The state we must see as something which in recent times has grown out of the ruling classes, created out of a particular soul of the middle classes becoming educated. To the state this bourgeoisie has now contributed not only spiritual life, but also what the later human development has overpowered in the social organism: namely the economic life. This economic life having been introduced into the life of the state has introduced the further nationalisation of traffic interests, post, railways and so on. This has resulted in a certain superstition towards the state, towards nationalised orientated associations. The last remainders of these beliefs are the beliefs of the socialist orientated people: that actually the salvation of a communal administration is only possible through a communal economy. Also, that is an inheritance accepted by the middle-class viewpoint and way of thinking.

Now spiritual life has been put on one side and the economy on the other side; in the middle, the state is positioned.

You can ask what will actually remain of the state? As we will soon see in what follows, the economic life couldn't tolerate being mixed into actual state life. Perhaps we can reach a clear picture of this question if we clearly envisage what the bourgeois classes found in the developing modern state. They found the stronghold of their rights in this state.

Let us now examine what the actual laws represent. I'm not thinking about criminal law or about private law as it isn't in the relation of one person to another, because I'm thinking of public law. Public law belongs, for example, to the dealings of ownership. What is property finally? Ownership is only the expression of the authorization of something which one personally and alone may possess and work on. Ownership has sprouted from a law. Everything which we see as material objects has its roots in the relationship of people to laws. Such laws have in our recent times, before the conception of our modern state, rejected the bourgeoisie earlier and everything connected to them; such laws found themselves best protected when they took on everything which referred to such laws as those from within the state itself.

So the tendency started of economic life being ever more drawn into the life of the state. The state penetrates the structure of the economic life with a number of laws. Now, these laws should in no way be taken in their future development to the state life. The social will must gradually develop towards the precise differentiation between everything comprising the life of law, what spiritual life actually is and what the economic life is.

The modern social movement makes it particularly clear that the ruling circles haven't taken anything of the life of rights from their modern state. While much has been taken out of the economic life, also out of the purely isolated economic life, and incorporated into the legal state structure, there is something which has not been incorporated into this legal structure and that is the labour of the Proletarian workers. This labour of the Proletarian workers was left within the circulation of the economic processes.

This struck most deeply into the minds of the modern Proletarians and could be made clear through Marxism and its followers — there is always the labour market just as there is a goods market. Just like goods are offered on the goods market and there is a demand for it, so you bring your labour — the only thing you own — on to the labour market, and it is only valid as goods. You are sold like goods; you stand in the more modern economic process as goods.

Through this we come to the true form of the second modern social claim. This is expressed from out of a certain subconscious sense regarding human worth; the modern Proletarian found it unbearable that his labour was bought and sold as goods on the labour market.

Certainly, the theory of the socialist thinker states: ‘It has come about through the objective laws of the economic life itself; the force of labour was placed on the market like other goods.’ This is in the awareness, perhaps even in the awareness of the Proletarians. However, in their subconscious, something else was weaving. In their subconscious the continuation of the old slavery prevailed, the old question of serfdom. In the subconscious one only saw how the entire person during the time of slavery could be bought and sold, that later somewhat less of the person was in bondage and all that was now left over was the labour of the workers. With this he allows himself to be taken completely into the economic process. This he felt was impossible, as unworthy.

From this the second social demand has come about in more recent times: disrobing labour from the characteristic of goods.

I know that still today many people think: ‘How can that be done? How else is it at all possible to organise economic life than through the remuneration of work activity, labour?’ — With this you have already bought it! However, one needs to hold something up against it, which Plato and Aristotle already took as obvious and said it was evident, that there has to be slaves. So modern thinking needs to be forgiven if it finds it necessary to carry labour to the market.

Now one can't always imagine what will perhaps be a reality in the near future. Today however we must ask: How can labour be disrobed from the character of goods? It can only happen if it is drawn up in the area of a pure legal state, such a state which eliminates it from the spiritual life on the one side, as characterized earlier, and eliminated on the other side from all that belongs to, what was characterised earlier, as the economic process. If we divide the entire social organism, or we think of it as divided into three members: into an independent spiritual life, into legal life and economic life, then we have instead of Homunculus in the area of economy a real Homo in the area of the economic life, then we have our spiritual eyes focused on the real social organism which is alive, not one made up of chemical agents.

I don't really want to enter into a game of analogy between biology and sociology — that's far from me — neither fall into the mistake of Schäffle nor Meray in his “World Mutation”; I don't want to go into all of that, it is not relevant here. What is of relevance is to see how, in a single natural human organism, three independent systems rule — I have presented this scientifically, at least as a sketch, in my last book “Riddles of the Soul” — likewise in the social organism three independently applicable systems need to be seen: the spiritual system, the judicial system — now the system of public rights, as mentioned where private and criminal law are excluded — and the actual economic system.

However, if you have between the spiritual and the economic life, the regulated state life, the regulated judicial life, then you have something which is capable of life inserted into the social organism, just as in the natural human organism you find the relatively independent systems of circulation, lung-heart system and circulation system, the heart-lung system between the head system and digestive system. Then again if it is fully developed from its own basis as merely economic — we think of a democratic administration on the basis of judicial life — if each one can equally have a say about his rights, that the only basis of ruling will be according to the relationship of one person to another, then the incorporation of labour in the economic process will be something quite different than the case is now.

You see, I'm not giving you some or other principle, or theory: this is how it must be done when the power of labour is to be disrobed from its characterisation of goods — but rather, I say to you: ‘We must place people in such a division in the social members that, through their actions, through their thoughts, through their will, a viable social organism is created.’ — I don't want to offer general remedies but I only want to say how humanity must become members of the social organism in order for their healthy social will to continuously result in making the social organism capable of life. In this way I will, in place of theoretical thinking, introduce intimately related and trustworthy thoughts. What will happen if, despite economic life, there would exist a foundation which maintains and governs itself out of its own forces, and out of this purely human foundation, employment laws can be negotiated? Then something will come about which work in a similar way into the economic process as does the natural foundation of economic processes. We very clearly see these natural foundations of the economic process when we really study the economic process. They regulate the economic process in such a way that its regulation deprives a person of what he or she can do themselves, in the economic process. Isn't it so, you only have to observe the obvious?

Just take for once — I want to use radically clear examples — the fact that in certain regions, rather removed from our area, the banana is an extraordinarily important item. However, the work which involves bringing bananas to a place where they can be consumed is exceptionally little from our point of view, in comparison with products in our natural European region; bringing wheat from its point of origin right through to its point of consumption. This work which renders the bananas consumable is nothing in comparison to wheat, roughly compares it is as one to one hundred, or the relationship could be even greater than one to a hundred. So, one hundred times more effort is needed than that of bananas, to bring wheat to the point of consumption. So we can quote the biggest variables within the economic area which exist in connection with the regulation of economic life. These are not only dependent on what a person contributes: it depends on the yield of the earth, other relationships and so on; these things place themselves within the economic life as a constant factor, like people are one of the independent economic factors. This is how it can be seen from the one side.

Now consider for yourself the labour laws as quite separate on the other side from the economy, then it will, when it no longer has economic interests in the determination of working hours, in the application of labour independently contributing to an independent purely person to person interrelationship, it will create something independent of the economic life, which plays from the other side into this economic life, just like each side plays from the natural foundations of given factors.

One must orientate the formation of prices, which has actual worth in the goods market to how the natural factors work. One will in future, when the social organism should be viable, also have to address how production should take place, how the circulation of goods should take its course. When this commodity circulation does not determine remuneration, working hours and labour law, but when it is independent of commodity circulation, of the goods market, in the region of the state life, purely out of human endeavours, purely out of mere human points of view agree about the working hours, then it will be so that one commodity will cost as much as it will cost for the time needed to produce that particular work, which is however regulated through independent economic life, because economic life today for instance regulates employment so that the price of goods often has to regulate the economic process in working hours and employee-employer relationships. The opposite will appear by correctly dividing the members of the social organism.

These relationships can only be indicated today. You can see, however, that they come out of a social intention which is quite different from what has placed us into such a sad situation within world events; they come out of a social will which has not originated from some non-profitable spinning of human thoughts, spinning as one has to so that this or that is done in the right way, but they come out of thoughts which are so familiar with reality that it doesn't come to light when people in this or that relationship in this or that way become members of the social organism. Then they will, because they have become members of the social organism in a healthy way, be able to determine laws, then they will work in the right way.

One only has to have experienced how other social intentions determined relationships in real life, even in the then already conquered Austria. It was a state, but a state does not live purely as a life of laws; in a state, there lives, in quite a pronounced way, the economic life which has sprung from the interests of single human circles. Just think how the old Austrian parliament was up to the end of the nineties (1890's). Out of this parliament's representation originated relationships which played right into the catastrophe of war. This parliament consisted of the four curiae: the Chamber of Commerce, the great land owner, from the curia of the cities, markets and industrial sites and the curia of the established economic circles. These economic circles were not represented on the basis of an economic parliament but their interests determined the being of the state, therefore public laws were determined according to them. Just as it is impossible for a confessional inclined party, which the last German Reichstag was, to be created and influence institutions of the legal life of the state out of definitions, just so little is a social organism viable which is destined to determine the economic circles of the legal life. The life of rights must develop separated from that; only out of the relationship of one person to another, considered in a completely democratic manner. Then the rights life will regulate in a corresponding manner the threefold organism, with on the one side the economic life and on the other side the natural foundation of this economic life.

Within the economic life, which in turn has established representatives from the most varied fields, pure economic factors and interests would be needed. One would then have a social organism — if I might express myself according to the habits of the time — with three classes, three areas, each creating its own laws and own management. They will stand in a relationship, one could call it, as sovereign states and if they continue, they reckon with one another. That could invite complications, make the people uncomfortable; but it is the one and only way to make a healthy social organism viable in future. The economic life itself can only be determined out of its factors when only economically active interests appear from its foundation, which can only be determined through the necessary relationships between production and consumption. These relationships between production and consumption can only result in the economy from the associative basis, an associative basis as it could have been in the trade union, cooperative context. However today the trade union, cooperative context still maintains the character out of the state from which it has grown. They need to grow into the economic life, must become mere serving bodies of the economic life. Only then will the social organism develop in a healthy way.

I know that what I've been saying will appear extraordinarily radical. Whether it appears radical or not, is not important. What is important is for the social organism to be workable, that people, in their starting from the old instinctive social life moving towards the conscious social life, are permeated with impulses which come out of insight of how one needs to stand within the totality of the social organism. People today are considered uneducated if they don't know their multiplication tables; a person is considered uneducated if he does not know something he is supposed to know as education, but a person is not considered uneducated if he has no social awareness, or if his soul is within the social organism in a state of sleep. This is something which has to change fundamentally in future! It would be different if a judgement would consider that, what belongs to the most elementary schooling should include being equipped with a social will, just as much as one should be equipped with the multiplication tables. Today every person should know what three times three is. In the future, it would not appear more difficult to know the relationship between capitalism and ground rental if I want to choose something out of today's life. It should not be more difficult in future than to know that three times three is nine. However, this knowledge will become the foundation for a healthy involvement in the social organism which means a healthy social life. A healthy social life needs to be strived for.

In a healthy human consciousness, it is preparing itself, as I have said. One only has to have an inkling for what is being prepared and what strives towards revelation and form in our more recent time.

Just think back to the great ideals of the French Revolution: Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood. Whoever followed these ideas in the minds of people who have in the course of time experienced it as a destiny, knows, how often they have struggled with the logic within the contradiction which exist in Freedom on the one side, which point to personal initiatives, and Equality on the other side, which should be brought about in the centralization of the state orientated social organism. This is not possible. Yet, the solution for this confounding has emerged in our more recent time. Why capitalism today has not yet understood the concept of a threefold social organism is due to the concept of a completely centralised state.

If you grasp the idea which already today appear in this intention which is expressed in the ideals of Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood, then it is easy to understand that it is being considered from the point of view of the threefold organised social organism. Its first member would be the spiritual life. It should be completely permeated with the idea, the principle, of freedom. Here everything should be based on the free initiatives of people and it can be so, would be most fruitful, if it is stated this way. With reference to the constitutional state, in relation to what is between the spiritual and the economic life regulated by the being of the state, the actual political system exists, which has to permeate everything regarding the equality of relationships between people. With reference to the economic life, the one and only thing which is valid is Brotherhood, social community living the outer and inner life of one person through the other.

In the economic life within the social organism, interest is the ruling factor. This interest however brings quite a specific characteristic into the economic member. Why is it apparent that basically everything comes out of economic life? It all comes down to economic life, that in the best, most appropriate manner, the economic life shows it can also be consumed. I'm talking about consumption in the narrower sense where the spiritual is excluded. Consumption can refer for instance to labour, human labour. This is felt by the modern person: becoming a mere element of consumption in terms of his labour. He even has to, like he earns interest through his labour, through spiritual production, also inherit interests through his rest, through his calm capacity for the spiritual. The human being becomes consumed in the economic life. He has to pull himself continuously out of the economic life by the other two members of the healthy social organism, if he doesn't want to be completely consumed within the economic life.

The social question is not the same in modern life as when it originated and perhaps could be solved, and was actually solved. No, the social question exists as something which has entered modern life and can no longer be avoided in the future of humanity. There will always be a social question in the future. However, this social question will not for once, not through this or that measure, be solved, but could be regulated, through the continuous intentions of people which means that those who use people in the economic process, should be regulated from the political standpoint and forever balance out the consumption with spiritual production, through the independent spiritual organism.

Whoever has seen over the last decades how the social question has developed — and it has relatively not been all that long ago that the social question has taken on its present form — whoever has observed in intimate detail how the social question has developed out of its origins, could in relation to the social intentions/will and its focus for the future form of human life, arrive at thoughts which could be characterised in the following way.

Many people, even enlightened people, don't see the social question as something existentialistic. In my youth, I became acquainted with an Austrian minister who officiated over the Bohemian-German border and made the most grotesque declaration: “The social question stops at Bodenbach.” I remember very clearly how a large group of the first social democratic miners marched past my parents' house, heading for their gathering. I noticed how the social will had come about, not as thoughts about a social movement but through the communal life of the social movement. I had to say to myself, much has to be done and many mistakes have to be made! Even with socialistically orientated thoughts of more recent times, these mistakes were quite numerous. It appears that exactly in this area people's minds developed in such a way that they didn't experience this. The mistakes became terribly widespread.

Out of such a spirit of observation I have endeavoured to speak to you tonight about the social will. You have invited me as member of a community who studies what the social intention of humanity's healing should bring in future.

Those older people, like me for example, who speak to people who through the decades can look back, know about all that had to be gone through to get to the present moment. Then again you find some things that need to be gone through, in addition also the conviction that the mistake was not fruitless, that even today when the facts are expressed often in a frightening way, people manage to be strong enough to find the way out of what the biggest part of today's humanity has experienced as unbearable.

It is in this sense that I ask you to accept what I have allowed myself to speak about this evening. The facts speak clearly in some areas. The facts also clearly say: the more people, who are still young, can now take up a true, viable social intention, the more will the human social organism be viable and efficient. Whoever wishes to speak the word, let him do so. Doctor Boos, who has given a lecture about a week ago, announced that he was willing to have discussions.

A speaker says something (stenographic details incomplete).

Dr Steiner: What you have claimed has taken on a form as a result of you not considering what must come to the fore through the relatively independent formation, on the one hand of the constitutional state and on the other, the economic life. The labour organisations which are partly production companies or consumer companies, or even could have connections between both, are only involved with economic factors which take place within the economic life itself.

The regulation of labour law is preferred by a relatively independent state. Here nothing is decided other than on a democratic basis, I call it, as relevant to the relationship of one person to another. This is why I mention this regarding the basis of the purely democratic state, that a link exists between both factors, on this basis people stand equally before the law. As a result, the mere wishes of single economic organisations will come to an end because they must balance out the democratic legal life with the interests of other circles.

So, this is just what should be processed, a remedy should be considered towards anything damaging, which would certainly develop if for instance the working hours are fixed within the organisation of the economic life. Economic organisations should only be involved with the economy itself: in other words, the regulation in the sense of labour laws. By contrast, the fixing of working hours, only underlying the state corporation, involves the relation of one person to another.

We must not forget what a great change can develop between one person and another with one-sided interests grinding it down. Self-evidently, nothing can be totally perfect in the world, but one-sided interests will be grinded down in the democratic state structure which has its basis of equality between people.

Just consider for instance what happens when a certain economic organisation is interested in a project of short duration — they will have to be comfortable with balancing this with the interests of the individuals who would suffer during this short working time. If one doesn't consider some or other subconscious force then it would — just like in a natural organism it would always in an approximately natural way result in how many men and how many women there are, which obviously is no strict natural law nor will it become one — it would also prevent something unhealthy being created when in the right way the single factors of the social organism cooperate and not develop individual small interests, which are most harmful to others.

The foundation of my way of thinking differs from many other social thinking patterns due to the latter being more abstract. Logically the one can easily be derived from the other; results flow from one logic into another. Crucial to such questions is only actual life experience. Obviously I can't prove logically — no one can — that a discrepancy of interests may enter into such a future organism, but accept that when the forces within their own circles, which are appropriate to them, can develop, then it will be a humane development. I mean, if you consider what I have wanted to present, the fixing of working time out of the purely economic process in the legal circle of the state, then this damage will be able to develop in practical areas. This is what I wanted to add.

Another speaker says something (stenographic details incomplete).

Dr Steiner: I would like to comment on the honourable previous speaker's words as follows. Understandably with every lecture it is not possible to say everything one wants to in a single lecture, and I don't know which omissions our previous honourable speaker's conclusion has been drawn from in my lecture where I gave no opinion regarding the modern worker psyche, that I don't want to take the modern labour movement into account, and so on. Every person does it in his own way. I have for many years, for example, been a teacher in the various fields of a workers' educational school and have given rise to speech exercises in political organisations. I am entitled to be aware of a large number of workers who present their speeches today, speeches they have learnt to give as a result of my speech exercises. During these speech exercises all possible kinds of questions were discussed, questions which actually were not far from the most intimate particulars of the workers' psyche. So I don't know — I had naturally no reason to place this particular practical side of my social activities and intentions out in the open, but I can't quite rightly understand out of which omissions my talk should come from what went before, that I should be so far removed from the practical labour movement.

Certainly it is obvious that within the modern social movement the worker himself should be considered. Just contemplate by yourselves, what I have been stressing the entire evening regarding how things can actually appear within the Proletarians. I have spoken about the Proletariat as such; you would have noticed if you were listening attentively, how my belief has woven my lecture into a practical presentation as to what lives in a practical way in the proletarian labour force of today.

Regarding the accusation that I have perhaps been too one-sided in my presentation of what seems to me the fundamental meaningful fact, that the middle-class thinking methods will be conquered by the labour force, particularly by the leaders of the working class, this declaration which I have done and which I have drawn from single instances has made it clear from one side, really more accurate through the study of the workers' psyche and the entire modern labour movement.

I would like to add an example which I would like to draw your attention to. A Russian author who I know personally has recently pointed out to me in an unusual way how a philosophy adhered to by younger people in Zurich has played a big role: the Avenarius philosophy which for their part has certainly grown out of the middle-class substrate. I can hardly imagine that Avenarius considered how his philosophy would play such a role in the Russian labour movement as it is playing today. As far as I know it is strongly represented, right in Zurich, by Adler who translated the natural scientific derived philosophical conviction of Mach. Both these philosophic directions are to some extent the official philosophies of Bolshevism, of the most radical socialism. The Russian author Berdjajev said in a lecture — it is contained in the translation of a very interesting book about “Russia's political soul” — in this lecture Berdjajev has in a very clear manner worked out the political soul.

So you can give a multitude of examples; I could give you numerous examples which are similar to those which I took from the address of the deceased Rosa Luxemburg, which would prove to you that the last important heirloom, deeply interwoven with the workers movement and the middle-class life, is the scientifically orientated method of thinking. The possibility to make spiritual life into an ideology is of middle-class origin. The middle-class, if such a categorization may be made, firstly took scientifically orientated methods of thinking in the region of natural knowledge, and made it into an ideology. They did not transfer it within their class over on to scientifically orientated thinking. This latter consequence only then attracted the proletarian thinking. Certainly, proletarian thinking also drew other consequences but these consequences were drawn out of the basis which today is clearly recognisable as rooted within the middle-class' scientific method of imagination, which now created something further. The importance of this should not be misunderstood.

That which dwelled within the totality, which has developed a deep interest for the participation of the modern worker psyche in the modern labour movement, waited, I want to say, with a certain concern on the one side, but also with a certain inner satisfaction on the other side for the moment when it would appear within the modern socialist movement. What now lies in the subconscious will one day be noticed, brought into awareness and it will be said: ‘Aha, this we had in our soul's higher thinking’ — if I might use this expression — ‘in our soul's higher thinking, and it must come to the fore. We have the desire for our human dignity to be scientifically orientated; this is what the middle-class line of inheritance of science has now made possible. We must look for a spiritual life elsewhere.’

I believe in any case that when this moment arrives, when the entire, full longing surfaces out of a specific side of modern people only, namely the proletarian people — if it has not come into full expression in modern times — when this longing in the modern Proletariat has reached its complete education of the scientific way of thinking in their world view, with the power of old religions, when this has happened that it no longer depends on them being goods, drawn as the consequence out of the middle-class thinking methods, then one will be able to argue that the fruitful organization of social will has arrived.

To mere socialism and in its relation to what the previous honourable speaker offered, regarding the philosophy of Bergson, I believe one should not make such dogmatic statements. Understandably I don't want to discuss such philosophic questions today. The previous speaker said that Bergson was a typical representative of the bourgeois thinking methods. If this is so then socialism would have developed out of Bergson's philosophy, derived directly out of bourgeois foundations! Today one can for instance refer to Bergson's philosophy as containing many “Schopenhauer-isms” and that Bergson was much more influenced by Schopenhauer than any of you can imagine.

Now, should one want to discuss such a thing in detail, then one has to be able to argue extensively. I can't do this today but I only mention this to you because there are within the proletarian world sensitive thinkers, for instance, Mehring, Franz Mehring, who is really in many ways similar to Bergson; he characterised Schopenhauer as the representative of the most bourgeois philistinism in philosophy!

One can have different views about these things and I don't believe one should be dogmatic about it. One can have the view that Bergson is an advanced philosopher who has irrational elements within his philosophy. However, one could ask what an irrational element has to do with the social question. A Proletarian can be just as irrational as a middle-class person. I don't quite understand what this whole irrational element has to do with it. Here one already has to draw a dogmatic precondition: Bergson is the absolute example of a modern philosopher; if the Proletarians really want to think, they must become Bergsonians, not so? This involves the whole issue.

Undoubtedly there are tendencies which appear in the most varied areas of life, tendencies which focus themselves in the direction I have characterised. It would really be sad to order human life, if it is always going so straight, to go over, I would say, and always evolve it in the opposite direction from the straight one! Not so, this can't of course be the case. I would even say in the area of the judiciary, certain things are fuelled by quite psychologically orientated people. Such innumerable examples can of course be cited but it is also a secondary derivation if one doesn't really validate it but merely offers a favourite opinion. Certainly one may sympathise with things which have been said about impulses that have principles according to historic periods; but without going into the latter further — if one wants to go into all these things I will have to keep you here for a very long time — so without further examination into references I want to say the following: very many people are inwardly obstinate when one mentions threefoldness, which I spoke about today. They say three different branches which are directed and guided by different principles are not possible.

However, I haven't spoken about three different members which are directed by three different principles, but about a threefold social organism! Just consider that this threefold social organism in our time must gradually find its whole way of thinking in a corresponding way, like for instance the ancient subdivisions which you find with Plato and which were then justified. Someone once said to me after my lecture: “So we have once again a reference to Plato: the nutritionists/guardians, the fighters/auxiliaries and the producers/labourers/educational state.” Actually, what I have said is the opposite of divisions into nutrition, defence and educational states because people are not divided into classes but divisions are sought for in the social organism. We human beings will simply not be divided up! It can well be that the same person who is active in the spiritual member, is active in the judicial and even the economic member. The human being is as a result emancipated from such one-sidedness in some or other member of the social organism. It is therefore not important that people should be divided into such independent classes when a healthy social organism is developed, but that the social organism orders itself according to its own laws. That is the radical difference. Earlier, people were divided. Now, according to the way of thinking relevant to our time, the social organism will be divided by itself so that people can look at their life situation according to their needs, their relationships and abilities and how to be active in one or the other division. For instance, it will be quite possible that in future an economically active person may at the same time be a deputy in the field of the purely political state. He will then obviously make his economic interests effective in a different way as he would in relation to the field of the constitutional state. The three divisions provide the demarcation of their territories. Everything doesn't get confused and allow them to get mixed up.

It is better if the things are separated. There are of course the same human systems which are differentiated into the one or the other branch. Just as in the natural human organisation — above all I don't want to play the game of analogy but still need to mention this — there are three centralized parts: the nerve-sense system, lung-breathing system and the digestive system, there are three members in the social organism. This is something which doesn't yet belong to ordinary thinking habits, which I believe however, will be able to find its way into thinking habits and that people would not take it less thoroughly, I think, than when they only grapple with their own favourite opinion.

Dr Roman Boos: May I be permitted to refer to a question addressed to the speaker in relation to the field of criminal law? Now, when there was talk about the freedom of judges, was there also a breach against the statement that no punishment without law will be made — it seems to me this is what is meant, that criminal law as such should not be given out of free spiritual life but out of the political member, that the question possibly contains a misunderstanding with Dr Weiβ who stated that an offence is made against the principle that no punishment could be given if no specific law has not been broken. May I ask you to say more about this?

Dr Steiner: Isn't it true that in this question you obviously touch on the system of public law with the system of practical jurisdiction? What I stressed is the separating of practical judging. For this reason, I used the expression “judging,” expressly the practical judging from the general public legal life, which I thought should be central in healthy social organisms whose public political life should see to it, that a specific law will determine a procedure. That judging can't be done in the most arbitrary way is quite self-evident. However, I haven't considered such things which are abstract and in their abstraction, they are more or less obvious. Today I have also not spoken about the scope of the law but about the social organism and about the social will. Now I ask you with reference to this theme, to consider the following.

You see, I have nearly spent as much of my life in Austria as in Germany. I could get thoroughly acquainted with the Austrian life; you may believe me that it is not an impulsive assertion if I say that much of what has taken place in the so-called state recently is connected to events which during the (eighteen) seventies and eighties had resulted from deep incongruities. Don't forget that in such a state as Austria, in other fields it isn't as radically characterised, but is present in some or other form as well — particularly because in Austria the various language regions are mixed and overlap and you can for instance have the experience that a German, when he is by chance involved in some or other circuit court officiated by a Czech judge who can't speak German, is convicted by a Czech in a language he fails to understand. He doesn't know what he is convicted of and what has happened to him; all he notices is that he is led away. Just so is the reverse case when a German judge who can't speak Czech, judges a Czech who can't understand German. What I am indicating is the individual arrangement, the free formation of relationships of the judgement to the judge.

So, a state like Austria could expect great success from this. Thus, this impulse resulted in always, over the next maybe five or ten years — relationships shifted continuously — for the convicted being able to choose their judges freely.

(Gap in stenographic record)

This is not simply an object of the spiritual life, but it is foremost an object in the life of the judicial state; in that only one law is focused on, which had originated from a deed and secondly became a law of the state, already concerned with its competence; in each case it will obviously show the concerned result.

However, another question is this: when you look at things more closely you will see that all the solutions to these cases are very consequential. Today I could only give you the initial conditions; I need not talk the entire night but need to continue tomorrow again.




Last Modified: 16-Aug-2019
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