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Education as a Social Problem

Schmidt Number: S-3791

On-line since: 30th November, 2018

I

Dornach, August 9, 1919

A RECENT series of lectures and discussions with workmen and co-workers in Stuttgart has given me deep insight into what takes place in human souls at the present time, into what exists as inner tragedy in mankind's evolution. Now I am again able to spend a few days here in this place which is so closely bound up with the work we must believe will produce the force to guide the present tragedy of humanity into more hopeful channels.

At no time perhaps has there been less inclination than now to raise the soul to the spiritual worlds in true fashion, and it is especially necessary now to do so. [See Rudolf Steiner's Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment for what he means by “spiritual worlds.”] Only from these spiritual worlds can come the strength modern humanity requires if it is to go forward in its full humanness. Today there is the most widespread belief that the problems and tasks of the present can be resolved by the thoughts and impulses derived from knowledge based on the external world. How long it will take until a sufficiently large part of humanity will be convinced that real salvation is only attainable on the spiritual path, is extremely difficult to say, for the very reason that reflecting on this question is not fruitful. It is certain, however, that progress can only be made if sufficiently large numbers of people are permeated by the conviction that salvation can come only from the spiritual worlds.

What occupies people's minds today, in the widest circles, are the social problems. However, they lack the intellectual strength to earnestly study these problems, because in the present age the intellectual power of a great part of mankind is as though paralyzed. The belief prevails that the social problems can be mastered by what is called knowledge, but they can never be mastered if they are not tackled from the viewpoint of spiritual knowledge.

We have just passed through a long war. This will be followed by prolonged, perhaps very prolonged fighting by mankind in general. Many people have said that this war, which has been experienced throughout the civilized world, was the most terrible experience of its kind since the beginning of history. We cannot say that this judgment is wrong. The battle which will have to be fought by this or that means, and which will follow this war — the battle between Orient and Occident, between Asia, Europe and America — will be the greatest spiritual battle ever waged by mankind. Everything that has flowed through the Christian world into humanity as impulses and forces will pour over civilization in tremendous, elemental waves of warfare.

It is possible to state today in a simple formula the great contrast between the Orient and Occident. But this simple formula — do not take it as simple. It contains an enormous quantity of human impulses. You know that in my book The Threefold Social Order I drew attention to the fact that for extensive circles of present-day humanity spiritual life has become an “ideology”; that what constitutes men's spiritual properties — rights, customs, science, art, religion, and so on — is looked upon as merely a vapor rising from the only true reality, from the economic means of production, the economic foundation. I spoke to you about these matters when I took leave of you here several months ago.

“Ideology.” That is the answer many people give today when spiritual life is spoken of. It is all something that is mirrored in the human soul from the only reality, the economic reality; it is mere “ideology.” There is much reason to reflect on the real meaning of this word “ideology” in world culture for it means a great deal. One can connect this word with no other word more closely than with the word “maya” of oriental wisdom. “Maya” — “illusion” — properly translated into occidental language means “ideology.” Every other translation of this word is less exact. Thus, we may say: The same concept that the Oriental connects with the word maya is connected by a great part of western humanity with the word ideology. But what a tremendous difference! What does the Oriental think when he uses the word maya? He thinks that the external world is maya; everything that confronts our senses and the intellect bound up with them is maya, the great illusion, and the only reality is what arises in the soul. What a human being achieves in the sphere of soul and spirit, that constitutes reality. What arises and pours forth from man's inner life is reality. What presents itself externally to the senses is maya, illusion, ideology.

The opposite conviction, that the only reality is what presents itself to the outer senses, is spread over a great part of Western humanity. Precisely what the Oriental calls maya constitutes reality for a great part of Western mankind; and what the Oriental calls reality, that which blossoms and wells up in the soul, constitutes ideology, illusion, for a large segment of Europe and America.

You see here a great contrast. This makes deep inroads into men's souls; it shapes them across the earth into two quite distinct kinds of beings. If you survey what has happened in the civilized world in recent years you will say — I hope: Fundamentally speaking, everything that is said about the reasons for this world catastrophe is just skimming the surface, is merely superficial opinion. What has expressed itself in this terrible fighting has arisen with elemental power from unconscious depths. It can be clearly seen today that people participated in this fighting without knowing the reason for it. It is the expression of what this contrast, which will not be resolved for a long time, has brought to the surface as elemental forces. The anti-social element at present is so strong that it has split mankind into these two essentially different parts.

If you connect what I have just stated with other things I have explained to you, you will find that the striving of the West is for freedom. No matter whether this freedom is understood or misunderstood, the longing for freedom wells up as if from dark foundations of the human soul. Turn your gaze to the East. What is called freedom in the West has no real meaning for the East; no concepts or feelings are connected with it. We do not think about what we experience most intensely. Just consider how little attention people give to the phenomena of nature surrounding them every day. They do not think about their immediate experiences. The Oriental, in pursuing the reality natural to him, the inner reality, lives in the freedom he derives from the peculiarities of his race, his folk, and his tribe. He does not think about it. The further we look toward the West the more we become aware of the fact that freedom has been lost in the course of the historical evolution of mankind. Because the Western peoples do not have it they have to strive for it.

We could cite many more instances; in every one of them we would find this fundamental difference between West and East. There is already a first indication of what perhaps will occur in the next few years. At the moment this manifests in outer symptoms taking place in Asia and about which Europe is still silent today — silent for well-known reasons. The fact, for instance, that more than half the population of India is near starvation will bring to birth, out of the spirituality of the Indian nation, something that will be very different from what has happened in Europe. These are outer symptoms. But also, in regard to these outer symptoms mankind is divided today into two essentially different parts. For the Indian hunger signifies something totally different from what it means to the European, because the Indian has behind him a soul development throughout millennia which is quite different from that of the European. These facts have to be sharply focused by anyone who wants to comprehend the course of mankind's evolution. Today we must be clear that what is usually called the social question is something much more complicated than is ordinarily imagined. This social question is an accompanying phenomenon of the culture that arose after the middle of the fifteenth century. I have repeatedly spoken to you about this significant incision in the history of civilized mankind in the middle of the fifteenth century. Since that time natural science has gradually arisen in its modern coloring. During that period, however, industrialism also has arisen in its modern coloring. Natural science and industrialism have been poured over modern humanity and have given it its particular spiritual trend.

I have spoken to you about the special nature of this natural science and have told you that intelligent people, who today reflect on what natural science has to offer, say: What it offers is not the world, it is rather a specter of the world. Everything scientists have thought out and that has become popular education, all this — much more so than is ordinarily imagined — is belief in a spectral world; actually superstition. And along with this world of specters there exists the spiritual effect modern industrialism has had upon men.

We must give attention now to the spiritual significance of this industrialism. Consider what primarily controls it — the machine. A machine is different from everything else man makes use of in outer life. Just consider the animal. If you turn your scientific or other thoughts to an animal — I will not speak today of man in this connection — you can carry on any amount of research concerning an animal, but something always remains, something of a deep and divine essence. You cannot fathom an animal; you cannot discover its secrets. There is always something behind your thoughts about an animal that remains unknown. This is no less the case with a plant. Take even a crystal, the wonderful forms of the crystal world. You will have to say: Certainly we can grasp the external nature of the crystal world, its forms and so on, if we are trained in this respect, but much remains that man can revere and to which his ordinary, non-clairvoyant intellect does not penetrate.

Now consider a machine. It is entirely transparent to our thinking. We know how its power is produced, know the position of its pistons, the magnitude of friction. We can calculate its efficiency if we know the various factors; there is nothing behind the machine which would lead us to say that it cannot be penetrated by the ordinary, non-clairvoyant intellect. This is of great significance for the mutuality of man and machine. And when one has stood once again before many thousands of people who have to do with machines, one knows what it is that drips into these souls from the spiritually transparent machine. For the machine has nothing behind it that can only be divined, something not surveyable by man's non-clairvoyant intellect. That fact that a machine is soul-spiritually so completely transparent that its power and power-relationships lie clearly open before the human senses and intellect — this fact makes contact with machines so disastrous for mankind. That is what sucks out the human heart and soul, making man dry and inhuman.

Natural science together with the machine threatens civilized humanity with a terrible threefold destruction. Now what is this danger threatening modern man if he does not make up his mind to look to the supersensible? In regard to knowledge, that ideal presses to gain control which the scientists describe as follows: One endeavors to arrive at an astronomical way of thinking about nature; that is, thinking fashioned after the pattern of astronomy. When the modern chemist thinks about the content of a molecule he thinks of the atoms within the molecule as being in a certain force relationship. He conceives of it in the form of a small planetary and solar system. To explain the whole world astronomically becomes an ideal. And astronomy itself, what is its ideal? To conceive of the whole world-structure as a machine! Now add to this the work people do by machine!

These are the influences that have become increasingly strong since the middle of the fifteenth century and rob men of their humanness. If they were to continue thinking in the way they think about machine-like astronomy and about the industrialism in which they work, human spirits would become mechanized; human souls vegetized, sleepy; and human bodies animalized.

Look toward America, the climax of the mechanization of the human spirit! Look toward the European East, toward Russia, the wild and frightful impulses and instincts that run riot there — the animalization of the body. In the middle, in Europe, the sleepiness of the soul. Mechanization of the spirit, vegetizing of the soul, animalization of the body — this is what we have to face without deceiving ourselves.

It is characteristic of humanity's path since the middle of the fifteenth century that not only two life-elements have been lost but also a third. Today a powerful party puts forward “social democracy.” In other words, it welds together socialism and democracy although they are the opposite of each other. This party welds them together and leaves out the spirit. For socialism can only refer to economic life, democracy only to the sphere of civil rights, and individualism would refer to spiritual life. Freedom has been omitted from the phrase “social democracy,” otherwise it would have to be called “individualistic social democracy.” Then all three aspects of human concern would come to expression in such a title. But it is characteristic of the modern age that the third element has been omitted; that the spirit has really become maya, the great illusion for civilized humanity of the West, for Europe and its colonial outgrowth, America. This is what we have to bear in mind when we consider spiritual science in the sense of a great cultural question. What lives in the demands of the present cannot in reality be a subject for discussion. These are historical demands. Socialism is an historical demand. But liberalism, freedom, individualism, these also are an historical demand, although they have been little noticed by modern men. People will no longer have anything to say unless they establish the social organism in the sense of the threefold order: socialism for economic life, democracy for the life of rights, and individualism for spiritual life.

This will have to be looked upon as the real, the only salvation of mankind. But we must not delude ourselves about the fact that precisely these intensive, unyielding historical demands of the present age create other demands for one who has deeper insight into these matters. Adults will have to live in a social organism which, in regard to the economic aspect, will be social; in regard to government, democratic; and from the spiritual aspect, liberal, free. The great problem of the future will be that of education. How will we have to deal with children so that they, as adults, can grow into the social, democratic, and spiritually free areas of living in the most comprehensive way? Spiritual science has pointed to this problem of education as present-day humanity will have to understand it if it wishes to advance. Social demands will remain chaotic if it is not seen that at their base lies the most urgent problem of the present time: the problem of education. If you wish to acquaint yourselves with the broad guide-lines concerning this problem of education you only need to study my little book, Education of The Child From The Point Of View Of Spiritual Science. Here one of the most important questions of the present time has been brought to the surface, namely, the social question of education. The widest circles of modern humanity will have to learn what spiritual science has to offer in regard to the three epochs of man's youth and their development.

In this book it has been pointed out that between birth and the seventh year, which is the year when the change of teeth occurs, a child is an imitative being, he does what he sees in his surroundings. If you observe him with real understanding you will find that he is an imitative being who does what the grownups do. It is of utmost importance for a child that the people in his surroundings do only what he may imitate; indeed, that they think and feel only what is wholesome for him to imitate. When a child enters physical existence he only continues the experiences he had in the spiritual world prior to conception. There we live, as human beings, within the beings of the higher hierarchies; we do what originates as impulses from the nature of the higher hierarchies. There we are imitators to a much higher degree because we are united with the beings we imitate. Then we are placed into the physical world. In it we continue our habit of being one with our surroundings. This habit then extends to being one with, imitating, the people around us who have to take care of a child's education by doing, thinking, and feeling only what he may imitate. Benefit for a child is all the greater the more he is able to live not in his own soul but in those within his environment.

In the past when man's life was more instinctive he could also rely instinctively on this imitation. This will not be the case in future. Then care will have to be taken that a child be an imitator. In education the question will have to be answered: How can we best shape the life of a child so that he may imitate his surroundings in the best possible way? What has happened in the past in regard to this imitation will have to become increasingly intensive and conscious in the future. For men will have to make clear to themselves that when children are grown to adulthood in the social organism they will have to be free human beings, and one can become free only if as a child one has been a most intensive imitator. This natural power of a child must be strongly developed precisely for the time when socialism will break in upon us. People will not become free beings, in spite of all declaiming and political wailing about freedom, if the power of imitation is not implanted in them in the age of childhood. Only if this is done will they as adults have the basis for social freedom.

From the seventh year of life until puberty, until the fourteenth and fifteenth year, there lives in a child what may be called action based on authority. When a child undertakes what he does because a revered personality in his surroundings says to him, “This is right, this should be done,” then it is the greatest blessing that could happen to him. Nothing is worse than for a child to get accustomed to making his so-called own judgments too early, prior to puberty. A feeling for authority between the ages of seven and fourteen will in future have to be developed more intensively than has been done in the past. All education in this period of life will have to be consciously directed toward awaking in a child a pure, beautiful feeling for authority; for what is to be implanted in him during these years is to form the foundation for what the adult is to experience in the social organism as the equal rights of men. Equal rights among men will not come into existence in any other way, because people will never become ripe for these equal rights if in childhood regard for authority has not been implanted in them. In the past a lesser degree of feeling for authority might have sufficed; in future it will not be so. This feeling will have to be strongly implanted in a child in order to let him mature for that which is not open to argument but arises as an historical demand.

All primary school education in our time must be organized in a way to let people attain this view of the situation. Now I ask you: How far are people today, how far is modern teacher-training from an insight into these things? How must we work if this insight is to be gained? And it must be gained, because only if this is firmly achieved can salvation come.

If today one visits those countries which have the first revolution already behind them, what does one experience in regard to their programs for so-called “consolidated schools”? What are their programs? To the person who has insight into the relationships existing in human nature, their socialistic educational programs are the most terrifying imaginable. The most awful, frightening things to be thought out and placed before mankind today are the school programs, the curricula, the organized education connected with the name Lunatscharski, the Russian Minister of Education. The educational program developed in Russia murders all true socialism. But also in other regions of Europe the educational programs are actually cancerous evils, particularly the socialist programs of education, because they proceed from the almost unbelievable principle that schools must be established after the pattern of adult life in the social organism. I have read school programs whose first principle is the abolition of head-masters; the teachers should stand in a relationship of absolute equality with the students, the entire school should be built up on comradeship. If one speaks against such a principle today, let us say in South Germany where matters have not advanced as far as other regions in this respect, then one is branded as a person who does not understand anything about social life.

Those people, however, who are in earnest in regard to the creation of a truly social organism, must above everything else be clear about the fact that such an organism can never arise with the socialistic programs for education. Because, if socialism is introduced into schools it cannot exist in life. People become mature for a socially just life together only if during their school years their life has been built upon true authority. We must realize today how far removed from any sense of reality is what people do and think.

After puberty, between the fourteenth and twenty-first years, not only the life of sexual love develops in man; this develops merely as a special manifestation of universal human love. This power of universal human love should be specially fostered when children leave the primary school and go to trade schools or other institutions. For the configuration of economic life, which is a demand of history, will never be warmed through as it should be by brotherly love — that is, universal human love — if this is not developed during the years between fourteen and twenty-one.

Brotherliness, fraternity, in economic life as it has to be striven for in future, can only arise in human souls if education after the fifteenth year works consciously toward universal human love. That is, if all concepts regarding the world and education itself are based on human love, love toward the outer world.

Upon this threefold educational basis must be erected what is to flourish for mankind's future. If we do not know that the physical body must become an imitator in the right way we shall merely implant animal instincts in this body. If we are not aware that between the seventh and fourteenth year the ether body passes through a special development that must be based on authority, there will develop in man merely a universal, cultural drowsiness, and the force needed for the rights organism will not be present. If from the fifteenth year onward we do not infuse all education in a sensible way with the power of love that is bound to the astral body, men will never be able to develop their astral bodies into independent beings. These things intertwine. Therefore, I must say:

Proper imitation develops freedom;

Authority develops the rights life;

Brotherliness, love, develops the economic life.

But turned about it is also true. When love is not developed in the right way, freedom is lacking; and when imitation is not developed in the right way, animal instincts grow rampant.

Thus, in dealing with this problem you see that spiritual science is the proper basis for what must become the content of culture precisely because of the great historical demands that arise today for mankind. Without this content of culture, which can flow only from spiritual science, we cannot make any progress. That is to say, the questions confronting us must be brought into a spiritual atmosphere; this, as a conviction, must enter human souls. I should like to emphasize once more that the length of time it will take for such a conviction to take root may be debated, but in any case, what people unconsciously strive for can in no way be reached unless this conviction lays hold of them. I believe you can see from this the connection between what has been carried on in various fields through our spiritual science and what arises from the distress of the age as the great historical necessities for mankind in the present and immediate future. This was the reason for my statement that spiritual science must be considered in its relationship to the great historical tasks of the present. Of course, people are far, far from judging matters in the way I have characterized. There must first arise in them a tension of dissatisfaction, so that out of the very opposite, purely materialistic striving there may arise the striving for spirituality. Otherwise, how are people to tackle the problem that has led them to use the expressions maya, and ideology, so adversely?

What has resulted from this? You will realize that the impulses behind Oriental and Occidental thinking are very different; but the peculiar thing is that they have produced the same feeling throughout both. This soul orientation has to be considered. That the people of the East described the outer world as maya is of ancient origin. This mystical concept of the world had its great significance then, but it is not significant at present. Because in a sense it has become outmoded the Orient has been overtaken by a certain passive surrender to it; by a false fatalism which, through the Turkish element, has influenced Europe in the crudest manner. Fatalism, an attitude of let-happen-what-may, signifies the passivity of the human will.

In the most precise way the Occidental concept of ideology arose in the same sphere of fatalism through Marx and Engels. This concept is the modern socialistic doctrine that everything of a soul-spirit nature originates in the one and only reality, the economic process, and so is maya, ideology.

How did this doctrine arise? By bringing something fatalistic into the world. Up to the catastrophe of the World War what then was the outer expression of the socialistic doctrine? It was: Capital accumulates, concentrates; bigger and bigger groups of capitalists arise, trusts, monopolies, etc. The economic process of increased concentration of capitalistic groups will run its course quite by itself until the moment arrives when, of itself, the control of capital passes to the proletariat. Nothing has to be done to bring it about, it is an objective, purely economic process. Fatalism.

The Orient arrived at fatalism: the Occident proceeds from fatalism, the majority of the people supporting it. Most of the people are fatalistic. To submit to what the world process is to bring has become the principle of the Orient. It is also the principle of the Occident. For the Orient, however, it is submission to something spiritual; for the Occident it is submission to the material, economic process. In both cases human evolution is seen in a one-sided way. But if we survey evolution as it is today, resulting from former conditions, we find in it a spiritual element that has become ideology, as I have described. This spiritual element is based on Greek culture. The deepest impulse of our souls has a Greek character. Therefore, we have the classical school (Gymnasium), which is an imitation of the Greek soul structure in education. In Greece this soul structure was natural to the growing child up to puberty, for the great mass of the people were the poor people, the slaves, the helots, who were excluded from such education. The conquerors were of different blood. They were the bearers of spiritual life, justifiably so. You can see this expressed in Greek sculpture. Look at a Mercury head (I have often mentioned this) with the special position of the ears, nose, and eyes. In this head the Greeks pointed to that part of the population they had conquered and to whose care they left the outer life of trade, the economy. The spirit had been bestowed by cosmic powers upon the Aryan, characterized by the head of Zeus, of Hera, of Athene.

Do not believe that the Greek soul structure comes only to expression in the general soul constitution. It also expresses itself in the formation of word and sentence in the Greek language. This rests upon an aristocratic soul structure. We have this still in our spiritual life. When the middle of the fifteenth century approached, we did not experience a renewal of spiritual life but only a Renaissance or a Reformation, a refurbishing of the old.

We educate our youth in the classical schools estranged from life. It was self-evident for the Greeks to educate their youth as we do in our Gymnasium, because that was their life. They educated their children and their youth in accordance with their life; we educate youth in our classical schools according to Greek life. For that reason our spiritual life has become world-estranged and is considered to be ideology. Its thoughts are too short-sighted to take hold of life, and, above everything else, to intervene actively in life through deeds.

Beside this element of spiritual education there lives in us a strange education in the field of law. It can be shown in all spheres of life that the middle of the fifteenth century constitutes a mighty incision in humanity's evolution. Grain is expensive today, and everything produced from grain is expensive. It is excessively expensive! If one investigates when it was excessively cheap in European countries one comes to the ninth and tenth centuries. At that time, it was just as much too cheap as today it is too expensive. But in the middle of the fifteenth century it had a normal price.

It is interesting to see how, right down to the price of grain, the fifteenth century shows this great incision in history. At that time when the price of grain was fair over a great part of Europe, the ancient serfdom gradually ceased to exist. But then, in order to destroy this beginning of freedom, Roman law started to become dominant. Today, in the sphere of politics, of rights, we are permeated by Roman law, just as we are permeated in the sphere of spiritual life by the spirit and soul structure of the Greeks. In the sphere of rights, we have been unable to produce anything but a renaissance of Roman law. So, in our social organism we have the Greek spiritual structure and the Roman State structure.

Economic life cannot be shaped as a renaissance. Of course, it is possible to live according to Roman law, and we can educate our children according to the spiritual structure of the Greeks; but we cannot eat what the Greeks ate because this would not satisfy our hunger. Economic life must arise as a part of the present time. Thus, we have the European life of economics as the third element. Since these three areas of living are chaotically intermingled, it is necessary that we bring order into them. This can only be done through the threefold social organism.

In a most one-sided manner people like Marx and Engels have realized that, for they recognized that it will no longer do to govern with a spiritual life that originates in ancient Greece; nor will it do to live with a government that has been derived from Roman law. Nothing remains but economic life, they said, so they concentrated exclusively upon that. Engels said: In future only commodities and the processes of production must be administered and directed; human beings must no longer be governed. This is just as one-sided as it is correct; correct, but terribly one-sided.

Economic life must rest on its own basis. Within the economic member of the social organism only goods — commodities — must be managed and the processes of production directed. This must become independent. But if one eliminates from the social organism the life of rights and the spiritual life in their old form, one must establish them in a new form. That is to say, alongside economic life, which manages goods and directs the processes of production, we need the democratic life of the state, which is based on the equality of men. We need not a mere renaissance of Roman law but a new birth of the life of the state on the basis of the equality of men. We need no mere renaissance of spiritual life as it existed at the beginning of the modern era. We need a new form, a new creation of spiritual life. We must become conscious of the fact that we are really confronted now with the task of creating spiritual life anew.

What has been stated by the demand for the threefold order of the social organism is connected with that which in the deepest sense lives in the development of modern humanity. This idea is not the result of a brainstorm, it is something born of the deepest needs of our age, something that corresponds in the highest degree to our present time. There are many people who say they do not understand this, that it is very difficult. In Germany, when people said over and over that these things are difficult to understand, I said to them that I certainly do make a distinction between these ideas and what one has become accustomed to understand during the last four or five years. There one thought it easy to understand things I could not understand — so I said — things that merely had to be commanded to be understood. The Supreme Headquarters or another place of authority commanded that matters had to be understood, then they certainly were crammed into one's head. They were understood because one was commanded to understand. What is of importance now is to understand something out of one's free human soul. To that end it is necessary for people to wake up. For this, however, there is very little inclination, yet events will depend upon it. Difficulties do not arise from a subject being incomprehensible, but from a lack of will. It is courage that is lacking, courage to look into this reality. It is self-evident that what must speak in a new tone to humanity must be formulated in sentences different from those which men have been accustomed to thus far. For we have been taken hold of by three things that are different from what this threefold order of the social organism requires.

In this threefold order a renewal of spiritual life is demanded in a way that lets people feel a vital connection of their soul with objective spiritual life. They do not now have this connection. When people speak today they speak in hollow phrases. They do this because they have no relationship to what these hollow phrases are supposed to express. Men have lost their connection with the life of the spirit, therefore their words have become empty talk.

Much has been said about rights in recent years, about the establishment of rights among civilized mankind. The events of the present time demonstrate sufficiently how far removed from reality men are today in regard to human rights. They have not fought for rights, only for power, but they have talked about rights.

Now how is it with economic life? There have been no thoughts that would have encompassed economic life, therefore events have taken place of themselves. The characteristic factor in economic life has been continuous production, as I described it in Vienna in the spring of 1914 when I called this continuous producing of goods a social cancer. Commodities were produced and thrown on the market at random; the whole economic process was to take place of itself, not thoughtfully directed. A chaotic economic life without direction; a life of rights become a mere striving for power; a spiritual life degraded to hollow phrases: this is the threefold character of social life we have had and of which we must rid ourselves. We can only get rid of it if we know how to take seriously what is meant by the threefold order of the social organism.

But this can only be understood if we relate it back to anthroposophically oriented spiritual science. People were annoyed when in a public lecture some weeks ago I made a statement which, however, is a fundamental truth. I said: The leading circles of the present time must no longer rely on their brain, which has become decadent. They must rise to a comprehension that does not need the brain, but the ether body. For the thoughts that must be laid hold of in our spiritual science do not need the brain. The leading circles, the middle class of today, the bourgeoisie, just because of their physiological development, must submit to the development of spiritual knowledge that can be fostered even with decadent brains.

The proletariat, the working class, strives upward. It still has unused brains. The lemon hasn't yet been completely squeezed dry; something of an atavistic character still comes out of the brain. Therefore, the proletariat still understands what is said in the sense of the new order of things. The situation today is such that the entire proletariat would be receptive to these things, but not their leaders, for they have become bourgeois. They have become greater philistines than the real philistines. They have taken over philistinism and have developed it into a high culture. But on the other hand there exists a terrible penchant for obedience. This obedience will first have to be broken, otherwise there will be no salvation here either.

You see, matters are more complicated in the present age than we ordinarily imagine, and only the science of initiation can lead to a real taking hold of the social problems of our time. There are three concepts you may also find in my book, The Threefold Social Order, which I have written not only for anthroposophists but for the general public. You will find three important concepts in present-day social life: (1) the concept of commodity, the product, the goods in economic life; (2) the concept of labor; (3) the concept of capital. The social thinking of the present adheres to these three concepts.

How much has been proclaimed in social science in order to comprehend these three concepts! Whoever knows what has arisen in the second half of the nineteenth century on the subject of a scientific national economy, trying to penetrate these concepts of commodity, labor, and capital, knows the impossible science the economists have achieved. It is totally inadequate. I have recently quoted a neat example of this. The famous Professor Lujo Brentano, the luminary of national economic science in middle Europe at the present time, has recently written an article entitled, The Entrepreneur, in which he develops three marks of distinction for the enterpriser. I shall only mention the third one, the use of the means of production at one's own risk. The enterpriser is the owner of the means of production and undertakes production for the market at his own risk. Now, Brentano so formulates his concept in that article that he is able to designate a further enterpriser beside the manufacturer and industrialist, namely, the modern laborer. The workman is an enterpriser because he has the means of production, that is, his own labor-force, and this he offers on the market at his own risk. Mr. Brentano's concept of the enterpriser is crystal clear as it includes the laborer among the enterprisers. This shows how clever modern economic science is! It is ridiculous. But people are not willing to ridicule such matters because the universities still take the leading positions in spiritual life. Yet this is what universities produce in the field of national economy. People do not have the courage to confess that what is produced in this field is ridiculous. Matters are really dreadful.

Our attention, however, must be focused upon such things, therefore we must ask: Why is it that precisely in regard to social concepts, which at present become burning questions of the day, all science is inadequate? It would give me great satisfaction if I could speak to you more in detail about this question during my present stay here. Today I shall only give a short report.

Although the concept “commodity” is merely economic it can never be formulated with ordinary science. You will not arrive at the concept of “commodity” if you do not base it upon imaginative knowledge. You cannot grasp “labor” in the social, economic life if you do not base it upon inspired Knowledge. And you cannot define “capital” if you do not base it upon intuitive knowledge.


The concept of commodity demands imagination;

The concept of labor demands inspiration;

The concept of capital demands intuition. [Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment.]


If you do not form these concepts in this manner only confusion results.

You can see in detail why such confusion must result. Why does Brentano define the concept of “capital,” which coincides with the concept “enterpriser,” in a way to designate the laborer a capitalist? Because he is a very clever man of the present day but has no idea that, in order to gain a real concept of capital, intuitive knowledge is needed!

In a certain roundabout way, the Bible points to this when it speaks of capitalism as “mammonism.” It connects capital with a certain kind of spirituality, but spirituality can only be recognized by intuition. If we wish to recognize the spirituality active in capitalism — mammonism — we need intuition. We find this already in the Bible. But today we need a world conception that raises this to the modern level.

These matters, which today may still be considered queer, must be penetrated by expert knowledge. Real, expert knowledge in this sphere will result in the demand for a penetration of social concepts by genuine, true, spiritual science. This forces itself today upon the unbiased observer of life. If you were present, you will remember the memorable question that was asked at the end of my lecture at the Bernoullianum in Basel, delivered before my journey. In the following discussion a man asked: “How can it be brought about that Lenin become the ruler of the world?” For, in that man's opinion there is no hope unless Lenin rules the world.

Just consider the confusion! Those men who today behave most radically are the most reactionary. They want socialism. Above everything else one ought to begin by socializing rulership, but they start their socialism with the universal economic monarchy of Lenin! Not even a beginning is made to socialize the relationships of rulership. This is how grotesque things are today. The real situation should be kept in mind if someone says to you that Lenin ought to become world ruler. Those who believe they have the most enlightened concepts have the most perverted ones, and clarity in this sphere cannot be attained if there is no will to seek this clarity in the science of the spirit.




Last Modified: 02-Dec-2018
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