The Migration of People in the Past and the Present.
The Social Homunculus
26th January, 1919.
During these lectures
I have often seized the occasion to point out to you that particularly
in connection with the most important problems of life, modern men may
learn something from the trenchant, penetrating, almost flood-like events
of the present time, though this learning from events is a method practised
by few people to-day. As a rule, they think that they can learn something
from the events if they simply pass judgment on them, and then these
judgments are locked upon as experiences. This can be very satisfactory
for some people, but it does not suffice, indeed it is quite unsuited,
for what we so sorely need at present, and that is an understanding
of social life. The essential thing in such matters is to learn from
the events themselves; we must allow the events themselves to develop
our judgment, instead of pronouncing judgment over the events. Many
explanations which I have given you can show you the true methods of
spiritual science; and how spiritual science applies these methods to
external physical events — for instance, to the events in social
life. Here I think that particularly a significant event of modern times
connected with social life may teach us something. I have already drawn
attention to it, but let me open to-day's lecture by developing thoughts
relating to it.
Were we to discuss the
social question with a member of the working class now constituting
the majority of the population which counts most in the concerns of
modern life, and which has, on the other hand, obtained the inner impulse
for its views chiefly through Marxism — were we to speak with him on
the social question, we would always find that in regard to social work
and social thinking he would not attribute much importance to so-called
good will, or to ethical principles. Again and again, you would come
across the following attitude: Suppose you were to tell him that according
to your views the foundation for a solution of the social problem lies
therein that all the people who have certain leading positions,
particularly those who belong to the class of the so-called employers,
should begin to develop a feeling of social responsibility and feel that
it is absolutely necessary to create for everyone an existence in keeping
with human dignity.
To a man of the working
class you speak, for instance, of raising the moral level of the middle
classes. When you voice this view to the working man, he will at first
smile, and then he will tell you that it is very naive of you to believe
that the social question can now be solved through feeling, or an activity
engendered through feeling. A member of the greater mass of the working
population will tell you: Everything that flows out of the feeling of the
leading class of employers does not count at all. This class of employers
may think what it likes in regard to ethical or moral feelings…
but since the world is now divided into employers and employees, the
employers must necessarily be the exploiters. A working man does not even
listen to proposals that the feeling of social responsibility should be
raised, for he argues: This is quite useless, for everything depends upon
the following: The working class must become conscious of the prevailing
conditions, so that the working class itself may bring about a change
in the social conditions, a change which ends, or at least alleviates
the general misery. The essential point is not that of increasing the
sense of moral responsibility, but that the oppressed, miserable working
class should bring about, in the present struggle, a new non-capitalistic
economic order, a change in the prevailing conditions, a new economic
This means, in other words,
that no trust should be put in the power of thought; we should not believe
that a right comprehension, a right understanding of life can bring about
a change in social conditions. One might well imagine the following taking
place in one of the many “Councils” which are now being formed
in central European countries. A comic paper recently published
the picture of a man with a long body and with tiny little legs, stating
that he was the only man in Germany who did not “govern”,
for everybody else already belonged to some “Council”; but
the man with the short legs had always remained behind, so that he was
the only one in Germany ,who did not belong to a council and who did
not govern! People felt that there was a great deal of truth in this
picture. If we were to speak at one of these councils of what must now
be considered as right, through an insight into the development of humanity
and the needs of humanity, the listeners who belonged to the working
classes would answer: “What are you talking about ? You belong
to the middle class! Because you are a member of this middle class, your
thoughts are a priori influenced by the modern economic order.
If social conditions are to be improved, it is far better to incapacitate
you in one way or the other, so that you have nothing more to say in
the matter; this is better than listening to any proposals you can make
for a useful development of social conditions!
Things have already gone
too far. Because of this, it is necessary to see things clearly. Of
course, the majority of people does not wish to see things clearly to-day;
least of all those who come together in councils, for they do not in
any way desire to judge things clearly.
Every proletarian, every
member of the great mass of the working population, should be taught
to see the following, and he will do so, if we approach him at the right
moment (this is the essential point!): As a proletarian, he denies the
possibility of any social improvement in human development through the
means of thought. We may ask him how he arrived at the view that an
improvement of social life can only be brought about only through A change
in the conditions of social life. There is only one answer to this
question; which the facts themselves reveal. You see, the whole tremendous
impetus of the modern proletarian movement in social life is based upon
the idea of Karl Marx and his followers, and it is a very vigorous idea,
to be sure. The idea that thought is worthless is a marxistic
theory. Consequently this idea has produced the present socialistic
way of feeling. But this socialistic feeling, which refuses to have
anything to do with the impulse of thought, is nevertheless: based upon
the impulse of thought.
In a lecture which I once
delivered to proletarians I explained: Those who investigate world-history
and the true forces which are active in the development of humanity,
will find that with only one exception, a truly scientific impulse has
never become a world-historical impulse. Investigate things everywhere
and try to discover the real impulses, and you find that these impulses
were never of a scientific kind; with one exception, the renewal of
the proletarian movement through Marxism. Lassalle felt this truth, when
he delivered his great incisive speech on science and the working class.
For the only political, social movement having a scientific foundation,
is the modern working class movement. It is encumbered with all the
errors and the hopelessness of modern science, just because it sprang
out of modern science. But it proceeds entirely from thought.
Imagine this colossal
contradiction which has found its place in modern life! During the past
sixty or seventy years, the idea that thought is worthless has exercised
the greatest influence of all: The course of development during the
past sixty or seventy years shows this. It is a significant lesson,
because it shows that the influence of thought is something quite different
from the content of thought. An idea, the idea of Karl Marx, exercised
a particularly strong influence. But if we examine this idea in regard
to its content, we find that the content as such is quite unimportant;
of importance are only the economic conditions. If we have the capacity
to immerse ourselves in this contradiction, in this living contradiction
of thought, we find something tremendous in it: If we can penetrate
into this contradiction, we discover in it a truth of tremendous import
for an understanding of the present time.
What must now be grasped
at all costs is the fact that the content of theories, the content of
programmes„ is really of no importance whatever, for the influence
of thought is based upon something quite different: Upon the relationship
of the corresponding thought to the state of mind of those who absorb
this idea, etc. You see, if Karl Marx had not voiced his idea from 1848
onwards up to the seventies; had he not given expression to the ideas
contained in the Communist Manifesto and developed in his system
of political economy and in his great work Capital, just at that
time, had he spoken of these things in 1800, or in 1796, his ideas would
have exercised no influence whatever, nobody would have shown any interest
Here you,have a key for
a most important fact. Imagine that Karl Marx's works had appeared,
for instance, fifty years sooner — they would have been waste
paper! But from 1848 onwards, when general conditions of the proletarians
had reached a definite stage, his works did not become waste paper,
but an international impulse, and now they continue to live in Russian
Bolshevism and in the whole central European chaos, which has already
begun and which will increase more and more, they continue to live in
the chaos which will spread over the whole world.
With this I wish to draw
your attention to the fact that far more essential than the content
of a truth is the circumstance whether it is uttered fifty years sooner
or later. The content of an idea is only significant for a definite
time and it is no mere fad on my part when I say, for instance, in regard
to Anthroposophical spiritual science, now is the time to speak of it,
now it must enter the hearts of men, for now is the right moment in
which human beings should absorb it. But something else should be borne
in mind: Marxism was kindled of its own accord; but spiritual science
is something which must be taken up by people in freedom.
If we bear in mind that
human understanding is really something which is subject to evolution,
it will be easier to understand many things which are,we can really
say, not only possible, but also necessary to understand, and which
people really do not wish to understand. In a certain connection, we
discover tremendous things if we encounter the thoughts which now exist
in the so-called spiritual life, which is, however, no real spiritual
life! Those who can understand such things, will come across plenty
We may open, for instance,
a certain number of a periodical published here in Switzerland, in which
the, author, who frequently writes for this paper, discusses a topical
problem. In the article in question he speaks of what he understands
by “the people”. He speaks of various personalities and
of their responsibility or guilt in regard to the outbreak of war; he
discusses the fact — and in many ways he is right — that
certain leading men of central Europe must be blamed for it. (I have
often explained that here it is not possible to speak of guilt) Then
he finds it necessary to explain what he really means by — “the
people”. This is how he defines “the people”; They
constitute nine tenths of civilised countries, such as Germany? Austria,
England, France, etc. and he says that the people are the sum total
of the uncultured unfree persons, who are in the widest sense dependent
on leaders, and who therefore need leadership.
Consequently we may say
that this writer defines “the people” as being the uncultured,
unfree, dependent persons, who, in the widest sense, need a leader.
But if we were to examine conscientiously the majority of those who
belong to the middle classes, or even to the higher classes, they would
also answer more or less the same, if they were asked for their opinion as
to the meaning of the expression “the people”: The uncultured,
unfree, dependent mass, needing guidance, and constituting nine tenths
of the whole of humanity.
If we now take the opposite
view, we would have to say that only one tenth of humanity is cultured,
free and independent, and that it doe's not require a leader! Those
who think that they can express an opinion as to the true significance
of “the people”, generally think that they belong to this
In the face of such a
view, which is preeminently important for the development of a social
judgment, it is above all necessary to face the question, as to whether
it is justified, in the widest sense of the word, to accept the idea
that nine tenths of the population consist of uncultured, unfree, dependent
men who need a leader! This is the question which each one of us must
face, if we wish to form an independent social judgment. Of course,
if views are to be exchanged on such questions, it is necessary to build
up that intensity of thinking which spiritual science can offer. F For
everything else which intensifies thought to-day, does not suffice;
this can be seen in the thoughtlessness which now rules the masses.
There is a saying which
I have come across again and again during the last months — I
do not know if one can call it a coincidence, for in reality no such
thing exists. I have found this saying quoted by one or other, whenever
social conditions were discussed in public. It is the following: The
stupidest calves choose their own butchers. People find it natural to
quote this saying and everyone finds an obvious meaning in it. I do
not find any meaning whatever in it, for I think that not the stupidest,
but the cleverest calves would choose their own butcher, for in that
case they would choose one who would kill them as, painlessly as possible,
whereas those who do not choose their butcher would fare worst of all.
The very opposite is true: Only the cleverest calves choose their own
Important judgments which
require changing, are accepted just as thoughtlessly as this saying.
Or when a human being surveys life, he would gladly forego the activity
of thought, he has no wish to apply power of thought!
What we need to-day is
a keener thought-activity, so that we may reach concepts which correspond
to reality. An “advanced” modern thinker — “advanced”,
in the meaning of modern academic wisdom, modern illumined thought,
modern democratic consciousness may find the idea tempting that nine
tenths of the whole of humanity constitute the uncultured, unfree dependent
people who need a leader. Nevertheless this idea is quite worthless
for the following reason: —
Let us proceed from a
historical fact which can teach us a great deal in this connection.
Christianity arose, as you know, in an unknown province of the Roman
Empire, through the Mystery of Golgotha. Within the Roman Empire of
that time, which had already absorbed the Greek civilisation, there
lived a population which really possessed a wisdom of deep significance.
The Church had to make a tremendous effort in order to eliminate every
trace of the ancient Gnosis. (I have already spoken of this) Gnostic
wisdom existed at that time. A highest wisdom existed in those days. When
Christianity first arose this highest wisdom existed within the Roman
Empire. This can in no way be denied. Yet it was impossible for this
highest wisdom to absorb the historically powerful impulse of Christianity.
The strong impulse of Christianity (I have spoken of this recently) was
absorbed by the barbarians of the North, who did not possess the wisdom
of the southern populations. When the barbarians of the North encountered
the strong wave of Christianity, then Christianity began to exercise the
influence which it had to unfold for the remainder of the fourth
post-Atlantean epoch and for the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean
epoch. New conditions have only arisen at the present time.
We should bear in mind
the fact that the strongest impulse in history could not be absorbed
by the most highly developed and abstract spirituality of a certain
epoch; this impulse could instead be absorbed by men who were apparently
retarded in their development and whose being was connected with the
more instinctive part of human nature.
The view which has just
been mentioned in regard to nine tenths of humanity, constituting the
uncultured, unfree mass in need of guidance, is not worth much more
than the fact that as far as spirituality is concerned, these nine tenths
of humanity differ from the people who believe to be the leaders. For
these so-called leading men have a degenerated intellect, a degenerated
understanding. The nine tenths of humanity constituting the so-called
uncultured, dependent people in need of guidance, still possess, as it
were, a latent kind of intelligence, which is far more able to absorb the
strong historical impulse which must now be received. This impulse is far
more powerful than the one to be found among the so-called
“intelligentsia”, among the people with a decadent
intelligence. What now separates the bearer of spiritual impulses from
the masses which are able to receive these impulses, are not the masses
themselves, not the souls of these great masses of humanity, but the
leaders, the men who have the guidance. These leading men, even the
leaders of socialistic proletarians, are completely permeated with the
decadent intellect of the “bourgeoisie”.
What is needed above
everything else is a clear admission of the fact that the true impulses
of spiritual development are accessible to the so-called uncultured,
unfree, dependent people in need of guidance; these impulses can reach
them, if we gain an insight into the characteristic form of intelligence
of these people, and of the way in which it works.
No class of humanity has
ever been so fantastic as the bourgeoisie which mocks at fantasy. Practical
life to-day is truly fantastic! The practical things in life are
“practical” only because they have been given the legal
possibility to assert themselves, to enforce themselves, whereas people
who do not have the chance to push themselves forward, cannot assert
themselves, no matter how skilful and practical they may be.
To-day we should really
learn to feel that in the great masses which are not led, but misled
by their leaders, there is something which asserts itself as a remnant
from that time which is designated — but erroneously — as
the migration of the people. At that time, certain barbarian tribes
came to the fore, as it were, and they absorbed the very impulses which
the more highly developed nations were no longer able to receive.
During the present time
we also have a migration of people; this migration, which is forcing
its way to the surface, does not start from any definite place, but
it comes from the whole sub-stratum, the proletarian sub-stratum of
humanity. This is the essential point.
It is necessary to, face
this migration of people, to meet it. Let us take the following hypothesis.
Suppose that everything which is described in history books as the
migration of people had really taken place — all these migrations
of the Goths, the Huns, and later on, of the Mongolians, the migrations of
the Vandals, the Suevi, etc. Imagine that these tribes had not encountered
the stream of Christianity, when they migrated from the East to the
South-West. Imagine that this stream of Christianity had not come; think
what a difference this would have made in the world! The whole subsequent
epoch can only be thought of, if we bear in mind the fact that these
barbarian tribes came over from the East to the South West, and that
they encountered the stream of Christianity.
Today the proletarian
element rises out of the depths. And this proletarian element must be
met with a spiritual element which comes from above! You might say that
a Spiritual-scientific influence should be exercised upon social conditions,
upon the conception of the world. Those who do not wish to believe that
a new spiritual revelation comes towards this migration of people, which
now follows a vertical, and not a horizontal direction, those who remain
by the old spiritual revelation suited to the horizontal direction,
in short, those who prefer to remain by the Roman way of propagating
Christianity and do not wish to become acquainted with the new revelation
of Christ Who passed through the Mystery of Golgotha, those people lose
a great deal; they lose as much as might have been lost in the Middle
Ages if the barbarian stream, which rolled from the East to the South
West had not encountered the spreading current of Christianity.
Also at that time, the
cultured men of Greece and of Rome stood between the current of Christianity
and the barbarian stream.
To-day all the people
who cling to old ideas, under the guidance of the so-called intelligentsia,
particularly under the guidance of modern science, which has proved
so unfruitful in the social field, to-day all these people stand between,the
spiritual stream which should flow down to the proletarian stream and
this current which flows upwards.
In such matters, we should
chiefly strive to become unprejudiced in regard to ideas enabling us
to develop a social judgment. But if we do not understand the social
organism, we cannot develop a social judgment.
Do you know what results
when a modern professor of national economy, who is a guide to others,
or when a real political leader speaks of social or of economic questions,
etc. — do you know what results in such cases in regard to the
social organism? — The social homunculus! This is a fact which
we should really try to grasp; we must bear in mind that all those who
wish to understand the social organism, without grasping the truth of
the threefold structure, give rise, within the social organism; to the
homunculus, to nothing but the homunculus! Goethe also believed that the
ordinary understanding, based upon the senses and the intellect, could not
reach the “homo”, but only the “homunculus”!
You see, in regard to
the social organism, the great majority of men is to-day absolutely
unable to think; the leading motifs for real thought are lacking.
I have already explained
to you that in the social sphere people set out from the strange and
grotesque idea that a single state or national territory is a complete
organism. Indeed, they even aim at setting up national organisms, complete
in themselves! But this is nonsense! I have already told you that if
anything on earth which is connected with social life is to be compared
with an organism, then it is only possible to look upon the whole
earth as an organism; and a single state, or national territory,
can only be a part of this organism of the earth. If we wish to apply
this idea of an organism, it can only be applied to a complete whole.
Those who wish to establish
political economy upon the foundation of one single nation, resemble
someone who seeks to establish the anatomy of the whole human being
by studying only the hand, or a leg, or the stomach. This should be borne
in mind, for it is far more important than people generally believe.
The threefold structure
which I have explained to you, does not give any abstract resume and
none of the recapitulations to which people are accustomed to—day,
but it places itself livingly within the economic structure, within
the social structure.
Those who only study the
anatomy of the stomach, cannot understand the anatomy of the head or
of the throat. But those who study the anatomy of the whole human being,
are also able to form a right idea of the stomach, of the head, or of
Those who know the inner
life — conditions of the social organism (and this knowledge can
only proceed from the above-mentioned threefold structure) are indeed
able to identify themselves with the real conditions, and they are able
to have an insight into them, whether they have to judge the social
conditions in Russia, England, Germany, or in any other country.
To-day we come across
the strange and distressing circumstance that people speak of the different
nations as if they were separate countries, and they believe that social
reforms, etc. can be brought about in single, separate regions. This
constitutes one of the fundamental errors of our time and it may lead
to the greatest mischief in practical life.
It can only cause harm
to believe that it is possible to do something within a certain limited
territory, without taking into consideration that from a social standpoint
the earth is an organism which is complete in itself, ever since the
middle of the nineteenth century. It is absolutely necessary to reckon
with reality, otherwise we cannot progress in any way.
You will see from this
that the essential thing is to acquire an unprejudiced attitude, for
such an unprejudiced attitude alone enables us to develop judgments
out of the things themselves. For we can only judge things rightly,
if we have no prejudices.
When social conditions
are discussed in the way in which we discuss them here; you will hear
over and over again that it is hardly conceivable not to separate economic
values from human labour. That this is possible, can't be grasped least
of all by the learned political economists of to-day.
If these men were willing
to learn something from history, they would say to themselves: Plato
and Aristotle were as yet unable to think that slaves are not connected
with economic values. Plato and Aristotle still considered the existence
of a fairly large slave population as an economic necessity. But to-day
no sensible person looks upon the existence of a slave population as
an economic necessity, in the meaning of ancient Greece and Rome. Yet
people still consider that human labour should be a merchandise, that
it should be treated as goods.
You see, when we strive
after the gradual realisation of the above-mentioned threefold structure
(it can only be realised little by little; we do not aim at sudden reforms
or revolutions, but merely indicate a new direction; single measures
in keeping with this new direction can be introduced, indeed, everything
which calls for reform to-day can be in all details in such a way as
to follow these guiding lines, this new direction; this can be done
if one does not stupidly adhere to programmes, but to real life and
if one moves, in the direction of real facts. This is the essential
point) — we divide into three the parts which have merged together
during the last phase of human development, thus producing a diseased
social organism — indeed, the last catastrophe (the first world
war) has clearly revealed this diseased condition. A sound course of
development, in keeping with reality, can be reached if we strive to
separate into three parts that which has melted together into a whole.
This will lead of its own
accord to the separation of human labour from economic values. Even as the
slave has ceased to be merchandise, so human labour will cease to be
merchandise. But this will not be brought about by laws forbidding
that “human labour should be merchandise”, but by keeping
asunder the spiritual; the economic and the state
concerns. This alone will separate goods representing an economic
value, or merchandise as such, from that which has now become crystallised
within the merchandise, the human labour employed in it.
In this connection it is
really terrible to come across the mistaken and confused thoughts of people
who have something to say, or wish to have a say, in the reorganisation,
in the necessary reorganisation of social conditions. Let me give you
You have the great mass
of the so-called Marxists; these men have a clear idea of the fact that
human labour is stored in goods which we purchase, in any merchandise
which we purchase; human labour has produced this merchandise. In paying
for the goods, I must also pay for the human labour contained in it.
This is of course the case under modern conditions, but it is essential
to separate human labour from the true goods, to separate it not only
in thoughts, but in the real process. But this entails that
we should really develop clear thoughts in regard to these matters.
Now it is easy to argue
that manufactured goods do not contain human labour as an economic value.
A non-Marxist, for instance, would say: It is not right to state that
in political economy human labour and manufactured goods have been fused.
Non-Marxists, who consider things from another angle, say that in the
capitalistic economic structure manufactured goods exist in order to
save labour. In fact, there are some goods with a certain purchasing
power, which can save labour. Let us suppose, for instance, that you are
a painter and that you have painted a picture which is worth £500.00
and that under present conditions you can actually sell this picture
for £500.00. This sum enables you to employ so and so many people
to work for you. Because you possess an object of value in this picture,
you can make so and so many people work for you. Suppose that you do
not sell the picture, and that you would have to do the work which others
would have done for you, if you had sold your picture for £500!
In that case, you would hare to make your own shoes, your own clothes,
and even weave the material for your clothes, etc. But first of all,
you would have to get the raw material ,for your work, and so forth,
for the economic process is an extremely complicated one.
economists think that it is not at all a question of labour being stored
in goods, but a question of being able to save labour through goods which
can be sold. According to these economists, the economic value of a
merchandise is therefore based upon the fact of how much labour can be
saved through it, and not upon the quantity of labour which was needed
to produce it.
We therefore have two
sides to-day; one declares that the economic value consists in the amount
of labour which has been put into the goods. Take the case of the picture;
there, the work put into it can really not be compared with the work which
has been saved through the fact that the picture was sold in accordance
with the value which it possesses in the economic structure, in the
circulation of goods. Under given circumstances, a gifted painter may
produce a picture ready for sale in about a month's time — is it not
so? His “labour” is, in that case, what he
“crystallizes” into the picture in one month's time. This is,
however, far less important than the work which he thus saves for himself.
He becomes a capitalist through the fact that he saves labour; a
capitalistic economic structure arises through the very fact that he can
now employ so and so many people to work for him, by saving work through
the sale of his picture.
Here you have two opposed
definitions. One definition is that the economic value of a merchandise
or of goods consists in the labour employed for the production of these
goods. The other definition is that the economic value of goods consists
in the labour saved through having these goods. These two definitions
are diametrically opposed; they are opposed in regard to their real
significance. For it would be an entirely different matter if the goods
were really valued according to the labour employed for their
production, or according to the labour saved through having them.
But in the process of
economic circulation goods are valued neither in the one nor in the
other way. Let me elaborate my example: Bear in mind the following:
Suppose that the picture of which I have spoken, valued at £500
in accordance with prevailing ideas, still hangs in the painter's studio.
He sells it, and it now hangs in the drawing room of Herr Mendelssohn,
who is not a painter. There it hangs, and only a few people see it.
Now, if you wish to define the economic value of the picture, you will
say that it consists in the amount of labour, employed to paint it.
Yet this definition does not hold good, either in regard to the painter
— let us say, Lenbach — or in regard to the buyer, Herr
Mendelssohn. As far as they are concerned, the economic value of the
picture is not based upon this fact. For Lenbach, or any other modern
painter, the immediate value of the picture of course consists in the
work which he saves through it; yet this is not true, as far as Herr
Mendelssohn is concerned, for he does not save any work through it.
The definition of labour saved may therefore be applied, from an economic
aspect, to the painter who has produced the picture; you may apply this
definition to him, if you think in a one-sided manner. But from the
aspect of the person who buys the picture and hangs it up in his drawing
room, the above definition no longer holds good; the political-economic
definition of the picture's value cannot be applied, if we bear in mind
You see, what is so
important to bear in mind is the fact that to-day people are so easily
inclined to define things; when they think to have discovered something in
the existing conditions, they immediately look out for a definition. Under
such circumstances it is not at surprising that one side should have
one view and one side another. It is natural that someone who draws
the economic definition of a picture from Lenbach's studio, has quite
a different opinion from someone who draws the economic definition of
the picture from the drawing room of Herr Mendelssohn. This of course
gives rise to disputes.
This is the character
of every dispute which now exists in social spheres; differences arise
because people do not go back to the original impulses. This calls for
sense of reality, which can only be acquired through a spiritual-scientific
To-day you may come across
hundreds of definitions in the political-economic sphere, but they will
only make your heart ache, because they are so very unreal. These
definitions fall far short of the reality, though it is possible to
“prove” them over and over again, for they always fit into
a certain sphere. If you only consider the aspect of the spiritual worker,
you may say that the economic value of something consists in the amount of
labour saved. But if you only bear in mind the aspect of the proletarian
workman, you may say that the economic value of something consists in the
labour employed for its production.
I have now given you
another example from the field of political economy? In this field,
we have — in regard to the theory of money — the so-called
nominalists and the metallists. On the subject of money, they have the
most terrible disputes, for the latter look upon money as goods, and
attribute to it the value which it has as gold or silver; the former
only consider money as a symbol for an existing value. The nominalists,
on the one hand, and the metallists, on the other, wage a war to the
knife on this subject of money; they try to define it and they quarrel
But these people have
no idea whatever of reality. As far as money is concerned, nominalism
is right at a time when the production of goods is very weak; nominalism
is justified when there is a crisis. But metellism is right, when there
is superfluity. From the aspect of reality, both are right
— at one time this, and at the other time that direction. You
see, if we take ideas in the one-sided manner in which people generally
take them, we can never apply them to a totality in a healthy way. When
we regard a totality, a whole, it is essential to collect all
the facts; we should not apply one-sided definitions, and we should
develop a feeling which shows us where we can take hold of
the facts, throwing light upon reality.
Now the following question
might be raised: Where does the economic value arise? It does not arise
where human labour accumulates, or becomes crystallised in the goods;
it does not arise where labour can be saved through goods; the economic
value does not arise in any of these fields. The economic value is a
condition of tension.
If here, at this point,
you have an electric conductor (a drawing is made), discharging electricity,
and if the electric current is intercepted here at this point, we have
a tension between the two, between the discharging apparatus and the
apparatus which collects the discharge. There is no discharge if the
tension is too weak, for a discharge can only take place if the tension
is strong enough.
Similarly, the economic
value must be sought within a kind of tension, and we can describe this
economic value by saying: On the one hand, we have the goods, the wares;
then we must consider their different qualities and also the place where
they can be consumed. We therefore have, on the one hand, the goods.
On the other hand, we have the human requirements, and this
is the same as the artificial or natural interest which people have
in the goods. We have therefore, on the other hand, the goods in
a certain place at a certain time. This tension, and nothing
else, gives rise to the true economic value.
The true economic value
does not contain the idea of human labour. Within the social organism,
labour should be associated with the circulation of goods in quite a
different way. The peculiar tension, which resembles the tension existing
between an electric accumulator and an electric receiver, is that which
produces the true economic value. This tension arises through the existence
of definitely qualified goods at a definite place and time and the demand
for these goods. This alone determines the real economic value.
Lenbach's efforts in
producing a picture within a certain time, through his gift as a painter,
and the labour which he could save for himself, through this picture as
an object of value, can only determine the picture's value as Lenbach's
private property. This applies to every other kind of labour in regard
to goods. All this does not determine the economic value.
The economic value at
any given moment is determined, on the one hand, by the demand, or the
requirement, and on the other hand, by the definite, qualified goods
which exist at a given time. This constitutes the true economic value
of a merchandise, and this value can always be applied.
But this leads us away
from the mere political-economic organism, and leads us instead into
the social three partition. For, on the one hand, we have the goods,
the wares, leading us into the economic sphere, which can, however,
never come into being through the mere circulation of goods, but which
depends upon the soil and ground, upon other foundations of Nature This
foundation of Nature must exist. It cannot be saddled on to the state.
It must exist, on the one side.
On the other side, we
have the demand, the requirement. This leads us into the spiritual sphere;
it leads us into the spiritual world of man, for consider how different
are the demands of uncivilised barbarians and of civilised men!
Here we have two entirely
different elements which penetrate into the political-economic life.
The essential point which must be borne in mind, the chief thing which
we must consider, is that there are other elements which penetrate into
the political-economic life.
The social organism thus
resembles the human organism which consists, on the one hand, of the
chest and of the head into the head penetrates the spiritual
world. On the other hand, it consists of that part of the body which
takes in nourishment, and the physical world penetrates into
this part. But also the social organism is threefold, for on the one
hand, we find that it is influenced by all that which gives rise to
demands, to requirements, which must never be produced by the economic
process itself; and on the other hand, it is influenced by that which
Nature produces. This leads us to a threefold structure, for
in the middle lies that which unites these two spheres.
In order to perceive the
immense fruitfulness, the social fruitfulness of the above thought,
it suffices to consider the following fact: — According to the
explanations given above, an isolated process, an economic process,
should never give rise to demands, but demands should instead come from
outside, through some other cultural process, through an ethical process,
or something similar.
During unsound times,
demands arise through purely economic processes, and people who cannot
think soundly rejoice over this. During the time which led to our present
social catastrophe, during the time in which the social cancerous growth,
the present social cancer, gradually began to develop, people tried
in every way to produce demands for goods through processes
which did not come from the social structure itself, but which entered
it from outside, which came from some other cultural task of humanity,
from social processes which were called into being artificially. You
could, for instance, read over and over again the following advertisement:
“Cook good soups with Maggi!” — Well, the demand
for “Maggi” would certainly not have arisen, had it not
Advertising has come
out of the purely economic sphere. It does not give rise to real demands.
To produce demands in such a way as to arouse an artificial interest in
certain goods, is unsound and a source of illness to the social organism.
It is just the same as if a physician were to induce a boy to learn
more diligently by giving him a stimulating powder, so that his stomach
makes him more diligent, instead of his being stimulated to study by
This social bungling, these
social tricks, which arise by saddling everything on to a so-called
“monon”, on to a social homunculus, have led to the
catastrophes of the present time. For the social organism itself,
should never produce, on the one hand, demands, and on the other goods.
The goods must be supplied to the social organism by the foundation of
Nature. And the course of human development itself, must supply to the
social organism the demands for goods.
A social problem should
never become, for instance, a problem of population, for this
would imply a misunderstanding of the connections which exist between
the human being and political economy. This would mean that in our time
we do not know the difference between a pig and a human being, as I
explained to you yesterday, at the end of my lecture, and it would lead
to our making a social problem out of the problem of population.
should never determine whether an increase in the population is
desirable, or whether it is to kept upon a certain level; other reasons, of
an ethical, spiritual kind, should be called in for this. When considering
such a problem, we should particularly bear in mind that if a considerable
increase in population is obtained through artificial means, we force
the souls who would only have incarnated after four or five centuries,
to come down prematurely, and consequently, in a deteriorated condition.
Under certain conditions, an increase in the population implies a coercion
for souls who are thus forced to incarnate in a physical body under
unfavourable conditions. This would give rise to moral corruption.
The problem of increase,
stability, or decrease in the population, should never be a
political-economic problem, but a moral-ethical one in short, a problem
connected with a spiritual conception of the world with a
spiritual conception of life.
All these things can only
follow a sound course of development if they are grasped in a
spiritual-scientific manner. You will therefore recognise the necessity
of giving a spiritual-scientific foundation to all the thoughts which are
connected with social problems.
If you really wish to study the horrible things which are now said and
written in connection with the social problem you would see that the
unfruitfulness contained in all these calls for the application of that
sharp, clear way of thinking which these questions entail.
Even as the blind follower's
of Plato and of Aristotle had to come to the point of saying: “Man,
as a slave, cannot be considered as goods”, so the followers of
modern humanity must learn to say: “In no case can human labour
be considered as goods”, for other impulses, not the value of
products, should induce men to serve and to work for their fellows.
The economic value of
goods produced by labour should never be fixed in accordance with the
labour accumulated within the goods, nor by the labour saved through
the goods, but only in accordance with the justified tension which exists
between the goods and human demands. Neither the labour accumulated
in the goods, nor the labour saved through them, constitutes the decisive
factor, for our labour does not place us within an economic process,
we do not work in order to save labour, but we produce goods in order
that there may be a certain tension between
the goods produced and the corresponding demand .
The corresponding demand
may determine that goods which entailed a great amount of work must,
under certain conditions, be sold cheaply — and, within a sound
economic process, the demand may determine that a product involving
little work obtains a higher price. Consequently the work involved can
never be the decisive factor.
This is evident from the
explanations given above. Those who have an insight into such things,
consequently recognise the radical necessity of not seeking the impulses
which give rise to human labour in the economic value of goods, but
on quite a different direction, which is determined by the above-mentioned
state of tension.
Only those who have an
insight into such things can arrive at a decision in connection with
the two important social problems which face us at the present time:
compulsory labour, which is the aim of the Bolshevists, and
the right to work, or any other name which we may give to it.
Those who do not penetrate to the depths indicated to-day, will always
talk in a confused way, no matter whether they speak officially, of
compulsory labour, or the right to work, or whether they simply follow
certain aims. Only those who penetrate to the depths of reality have
a right to speak of such questions. Indeed, it is a serious matter to-day
to acquire the right to have a say in such things.
In my next lecture I shall
continue to speak on this subject.