The anthropopper notes with interest that in his recent posts on this blog, he seems to have inadvertently adopted a Threefold Posting Order. The first three posts were on the topic of Angels and then the next two were about Demons. Well, here is one last post about Peter Staudenmaier to complete the threefolding aspect; after which I hope to be able to concentrate on more wholesome topics.
Gerald du Maurier’s celebrated cartoon, which appeared in Punch in November 1895, gave rise to the phrase ‘a curate’s egg’, meaning something that is mostly or partly bad, but partly good. A modern-day version of this cartoon might have the caption:
Staudenmaier: “I’m afraid I’m a bad egg, Mr Mellett.” Mellett wipes a brown substance off his nose and replies, desperate not to offend his lord and master: “Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of you are excellent!”
According to Wikipedia, “in its original context, the term ‘a curate’s egg’refers to something that is obviously and essentially bad, but is euphemistically described as nonetheless having good features credited with undue redeeming power. Its modern usage varies. Some authorities define it as something that is an indeterminate mix of good and bad and others say it implies a preponderance of bad qualities.”
Isn’t that last sentence a perfect description of Peter Staudenmaier, self-appointed scourge of Steiner and anthroposophy and intellectual guru to the Waldorf Critics’ Yahoo group?
Staudenmaier, for those who have not yet made his online acquaintance, is the professor of modern German history at Marquette University in Milwaukee. His research explores the work of Rudolf Steiner; his dissertation was “Between Occultism and Fascism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race and Nation in Germany and Italy, 1900-1945.”
Like a polecat, which despite its stink and habit of biting all and sundry indiscriminately, can nevertheless occasionally be useful for chasing rabbits out of their burrows, the egregious Staudi sometimes has a use; and even the anthropopper has expressed gratitude to him for revealing a slice of history about which the Society has, rather disgracefully in my view, kept quiet. Here, for example, is a link to a review by Staudi of a book by Ansgar Martins. This shadow side of anthroposophy really should be known by all anthroposophists. As “Wooffles” commented on my last but one post, “In the last decade or so, anthroposophists, or at least some anthroposophists, have gotten much better at engaging with historical context, and it is doubtful that this would have taken place without the persistence of not-particularly-sympathetic scholars like Staudenmaier and Zander.” That’s quite a fair point, although the phrase “not particularly sympathetic scholar” when applied to Staudi’s attitude to Steiner must qualify as understatement of the year.
But, to return to my original metaphor, a bad egg is hard to like and Staudi’s overweening arrogance and contempt for others does nothing to endear him to any readers other than the fawning sycophants and melletts on the WC Yahoo list. It’s an interesting question why, unlike say with Martins or Zander, Staudi arouses such animosity in so many people. Is it for the reason Staudi himself gives?
“Any outside scholar who studies anthroposophy encounters strong opposition from parts of the anthroposophist movement. A large part of the reason why I continued researching anthroposophy’s history had to do with this sort of opposition; I initially thought the article I was asked to write back in 1999 would be a one-time piece, and then I’d return to other topics. But the article provoked such an indignant response among anthroposophists that I went back to the sources to see if I had missed something, and the further I dug into this history the more I found. Anthroposophists routinely claim that scholars who examine their movement have distorted Steiner’s ideas and misrepresented his teachings and falsified his true message and so forth; this is a common reaction among esoteric groups, who often believe they have special access to higher forms of knowledge and react strongly against scholarly standards of critical inquiry. The same sort of opposition I face is even more intense in the case of my German colleague Helmut Zander, the foremost historian of anthroposophy. Many of Steiner’s followers simply don’t like seeing their movement and worldview subjected to external scrutiny.”
Well, that sounds reasonable enough, doesn’t it? The picture he conjures up is not implausible: anthroposophists, who may be well-meaning but unaware of some significant episodes in the history of their movement, react angrily to information which doesn’t correspond to how they feel about anthroposophy.
But unfortunately for the good professor’s chances of constructive dialogue with such anthroposophists, he doesn’t leave matters there and cannot resist being condescending, dismissive and supercilious with anyone who questions him.
Staudi was brought irresistibly to mind when I read the following passage in John Stewart Collis’ wonderful account of farming life during the 1940s, The Worm Forgives the Plough:
“There is an interesting remark which I have often heard here and elsewhere, not uncommon anywhere when some boss or foreman is mentioned. ‘The trouble is,’ they say, ‘ ‘e’s so ignorant.’ By this they do not mean that he lacks knowledge. They mean that he lacks manners. It is a significant remark. For what is manners? Manners is psychology. It is the understanding of the simple psychological needs of other people. It is homage to the strikingly simple fact that people like you to address them amiably; to show appreciation, and to say thank you at intervals. If a man does not know this and act upon it he is called ignorant by labourers under him. That is their philosophy of education.”
By this definition, Staudi is remarkably ignorant. One wouldn’t really have expected this in someone who has been an active participant in the anarchist, green and cooperative movements in the United States and Germany for many years. One would have thought that a person of those sympathies might have acquired some emotional intelligence during that time. Not so, it seems.
But Staudi is not only ignorant in the sense of being unable to resist insulting and abusing people who in other circumstances would be perfectly willing to have a civilised exchange of views with him; he is actually ignorant in an even more fundamental sense, and this is in his complete lack of understanding of Rudolf Steiner. To understand Rudolf Steiner it is not enough to have a good brain; you need to have a good heart, too, and to be able to apply the intelligence of the heart to initiatic language that is often difficult to comprehend with our everyday understanding. Where Steiner is concerned, poor Staudi has a tin ear; he is to the elucidation of Rudolf Steiner what Florence Foster Jenkins was to operatic recitals.
Someone whose scholarly work in the same subject area demonstrates understanding on every page (in shining contrast to Staudi’s effusions) is Dr Adrian Anderson of Melbourne, Australia. I thoroughly recommend Anderson’s e-booklet, Opponents and Critics: Criticisms of Steiner and anthroposophy, to anthroposophists and critics alike. It will take you about half an hour to read but it is well worth the time and effort. Dr Anderson addresses Staudi’s criticisms of Steiner and does not shrink away from the darker episodes of anthroposophical history. Some of what he writes will no doubt be difficult reading for anthroposophists, as well as for members of the Christian Community; but unlike Staudi’s tone-deaf tin ear, Dr Anderson has perfect pitch when evaluating Steiner’s use of language, and the problems that Steiner’s language can pose for anthroposophy and modern readers today.
Staudi is having none of this, of course, and gets his rebuttal in first, alerted by one of his toadies on the WC Yahoo group:
“Thanks to Eric for pointing this out… The new booklet is a standard anthroposophist apologia for Steiner’s racial teachings. It features the usual elements, including some entertaining misunderstandings of Steiner’s texts. One of the more striking examples is the booklet’s defense of Steiner’s 1923 complaint against the presence of black people in Europe, in particular his denunciation of the stationing of French colonial troops on German soil in the aftermath of World War One. Anderson thinks Steiner was actually referring to the African slave trade! It is hard to imagine a more thoroughgoing incomprehension of the passage in question.
The sections on Nazism are a good deal worse. Anderson believes that historians have recently “discovered” that “some German anthroposophists from the early 20th century were involved in Nazism” (golly, imagine that). The notion that this is some sort of discovery — or even especially remarkable — speaks volumes about the level of naivete and historical ignorance among all too many anthroposophists today.”
This is such an inadequate, not to say shameless, response to what is a substantial and considered piece of work that it almost beggars belief that Staudi can write in such misleading terms. Here we have all the standard Staudi tactics of scattering mud and abuse, misrepresentation of arguments, condescension and contemptful dismissal, which he employs to avoid engaging with the actual substance of the text written by Dr Anderson. Anderson demonstrates real understanding and insight in his essay and yet Staudi can’t bring himself to address any of it.
Why is this? Why is it that Staudi is so full of unremitting malevolence towards Steiner? And here I’ve recently come across an intriguing possibility: could it be that Staudi has never forgiven Steiner for criticising another Staudenmaier?
On 22nd September 1923, Steiner gave a lecture in Dornach on “The Logic and Illogic of Dreams” (GA225) and in it he referred at some length to a book called Magic as an Experimental Science by one Ludwig Staudenmaier, in which the author recounts his experiences of mediumship through channeled writing, his denial of the spirit as the source of his writing and his belief that the unconscious was responsible for it but was always lying to him. Steiner is quite amusing about what he considers to be the errors in Staudenmaier’s understanding of his experiences and the cumulative effect of these comments must have been somewhat devastating for Ludwig.
Can this have affected our present day Staudi’s attitude to Steiner? Was Ludwig related to Peter? Perhaps Turncoat Tom Mellett, Staudi’s devoted gofer, could ask on our behalf when he’s next kneeling before the Apprentice Demon.
42 responses to “Staudi: or The Curate’s Egg”
This helps me to get a better sense of where you are coming from. You are right that Anderson’s book is an important, wrenchingly honest and obviously good-faith effort to come to terms with recent historical work from an anthroposophical perspective. I didn’t agree with or possibly didn’t understand all the points he was making. But certainly simply pissing all over it does not do justice to the author and it is hard to see what, if any constructive purpose it is intended to serve.
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Your even-handed, and possibly neutralist viewpoint has been recently exalted, even with the “pissing all over it” comment about Staudi concerning Anderson’s essay. The same could be said about the Rose book, but maybe you are still reading it in order to see that it is also being pissed all over. As well, maybe you are not making the effort, but if you take the Staudi lines quoted, and then elaborate them with the Rose text you may get a different perspective. This is just a suggestion.
No matter. You are being exalted, even as we speak, along with another, who is also considered to be the only “adults” in this conversation, while the juvenile-likes of those who actually have taken on “der staudi” and his ilk, are duly put down again. Of course, we can count on our “brown-nosing” toady from Hollywood to do the lap-dog service to his current hero, Peter S. That is expected.
Well, Peter has now weighed-in on the current subject-line, and I would only offer this as a highlight of his extremely biased position, as evidenced on innumerable other occasions, by saying that he now considers the English Anglophones to be a part of the so-called “Trump faction”, whatever that means. Personally, I can’t stand Donald Trump, but according to ‘Staudi’, that makes no difference. Once a stereotype, always a stereotype, according to our dear fair herr professor.
Please enjoy the reading on this one, as it adds the political wrinkle for a laugh. Even you, Wooffles, might start to wonder about the one you would like to appraise in an unbiased fashion. As such, it is noteworthy.
thanks Jeremy, especially for the link. Many Anthros and Steinerites who have a cursory awareness of Staudi simply chose to ignore him, at least in other than a humorous vein. Unfortunately, many are unaware of his negative attitudes and read his ‘rants’ within a context of serious inquiry
This is a large problem which confronts most neophyte Anthros, not only understanding the academic contrast between objective and subjective comprehension of RS., but an even more basic ignorance of the basic themes and language of Spiritual Science.
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“It’s an interesting question why, unlike say with Martins or Zander, Staudi arouses such animosity in so many people.”
This is quite a baffling statement, considering the anthroposophical animosity and vitriol that both Martins and Zander have been subjected to for years. Sure, as with Peter, there are some anthropsophists who appreciate what they do or at least parts of it. But also lots and lots of anthroposophists who really fervently hate it — no less so than with Peter.
You may be right, I don’t spend any time monitoring responses to the writings of Martins and Zander. But my impression is that Staudi is entirely sui generis and his outstanding arrogance and contempt for others puts him in a class of his own.
of course, I don’t really agree with you; I don’t think Peter’s showing ‘outstanding arrogance and contempt for others’. I don’t believe that at all; I think (to be honest, if you forgive me) that you’re reacting emotionally, not rationally. But I can agree with you that Martins and Zander have their individual ways of dealing with anthroposophists, and those ways are different from Peter’s obviously — to a certain extent more mollifying of anthroposophical sensibilities and conciliatory (that goes at least for Zander, but then he’s not really engaged in online discussions at all, and Martins, obviously, has the support of quite a few less doctrinarian German anthroposophists). That has not helped them at all, I’m afraid, so I was truly puzzled by your notion that it would have. But I suppose that’s natural, considering you actually hadn’t followed what has been written and said. That explains a thing or two, I’m afraid.
Emotions are just as important as rationality, I think, otherwise one is just a cold, desiccated calculating machine – rather like Ahriman! The point is that, despite his ferocious intelligence, Ahriman never learns and in the end always loses; and that is because he doesn’t know how to love or to empathise or to understand ordinary human emotions. I’m suggesting that, in his writings at least, Peter S. displays similar weaknesses. You are very loyal to Peter S, always have been as far as I can tell – and perhaps that is emotionally based as well. The last two sentences in your comment above are straight from the Staudi playbook, with their hint of disparagement and dismissal. You have learnt well, but I’m not sure these lessons will benefit you in the long run. But I have high regard for you and enjoy our discussions on these pages.
All good wishes,
you’re very right that they are. But sometimes they can also obscure a person’s vision and result in a kind of black and white thinking. I shall not preach on that topic — I’m certainly not the right person to do that — but I do find it rather a pity when I think I can see these kind of processes taking place.
As for the two last sentences — well, you did say you hadn’t followed what has been taking place, and I’m afraid that does explain why you wrote what you wrote. I can’t help if saying that makes me sound like Peter. Obviously, if you hadn’t followed how Martins and Zander have been treated, you couldn’t know about it. Another example of this same thing is Christian Clement, who arouses immense animosity from anthroposophists.
You’re quite right to think that I value Peter’s work, though, and his willingness to communicate about it; I’ve learnt a lot from it. But the racial ideas of anthroposophy or the movement’s history relating to these particular ideas aren’t at all — believe it or not — my pet subject, especially not these days. I find other things far more interesting.
In my experience Alicia is well meaning but as you pointed out misses the larger point. She is quick to complain about bullying and other slights as a Waldorf student, yet joins in her adult years what can only be seen as a gang of bullies. I entered WC expecting an intellectual exchange with Peter S. and discovered a complete lack of intellectual curiosity in him. At one point he was even rebuked by Dan Dugan for being unfair and misleading in his personal attacks. I had expected a strong difference of opinion on historical analysis with his views on Steiner and some academic rigor to be present to back up his claims, yet his responses bore none of this. I grew tired of the pointless exchanges.
Alicia was quite willing to join this charade of “open dialogue”. There is nothing emotional about my reaction to this. Look at what I posted and what Peter posted and it is quite clear. Soon after I joined WC he started howling at the planets in an apparent attempt to make fun of the fact that my email address was “ancientsaturn.com”. I could care less about this stupidity, as he made a laughing stock of himself in his Monty Python act, but what a waste of everyone’s time! Did Alicia in all her “objectivity” call Peter out for being a buffoon and off-topic? No, WC loyalists live the greatest form of hypocrisy I’ve seen on the net. They call for “rational thought” and “open critique” but never shine the light on their own failings.
If Alicia was even half as objective as Dan Dugan (and I’m no fan of Dugan), then you would see her call out critics when they were off topic or misleading, or downright nasty. If you look at anthroposophical lists you will see this correcting of each other as colleagues. There is no such correcting of Peter S. by Alicia even when he is grossly in error (even as pointed out by the creator of WC).
I get the fact that not every Waldorf student has a great experience in their school years. Not every Harvard student likes their school either. No one institution is going to meet the needs of every student. But Alicia appears to defer to Peter S. as some kind of authority figure, going well beyond her own direct experience. If she spoke out of her experience then she could shed light on where Waldorf schools could improve. Indeed when she has she has made some important points. But the blind support for Peter S. is a fallacious appeal to authority. The irony of her similar concern about Steiner is well noted.
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This is quite confused, Daniel. All sorts of unrelated stuff jumbled in together, and some of it seems quite mysterious; I’m not sure where it’s coming from or where you’re going with it. If you think I haven’t at times objected to what other critics have done or said, I’m afraid you’re plain wrong. But I’m not some kind of police constable over at WC; never been and never will be. I trust that if you find something factually wrong about Peter’s arguments, you’re perfectly able to present your own counter-arguments; that has nothing to do with me.
Of course, the conversations with you on the critics’ list were failures. I agree with that. I would not agree, however, that you were some kind of shining star setting a good example and improving the potential of the discussions to lead anywhere. That’s my impression at least. But it isn’t terribly important anyway.
Alicia, I’m not asking for you to be a constable, but acknowledge that Peter S. is not an objective researcher attempting discourse with others. You stated above, “I don’t think Peter’s showing ‘outstanding arrogance and contempt for others’. I don’t believe that at all;”. Yet you witnessed the inane way he behaved when I joined WC. If that was not ‘outstanding arrogance and contempt for others’ I would not know what else to call it.
When I returned to WC about a year later on another topic, Peter was rebuked by Dan Dugan due to his uncouth behaviour. So I’m challenging your statements about Peter S. That is not asking you to be a constable, but to be clear on your position here and now.
I am also making the point that you are part of the WC group and your image follows their actions. I stand with the criticisms of Anthroposophy, and you stand with the criticisms of WC. You support their efforts and defend them, in spite of obvious errors in judgement. If I do the same for Anthroposophy, I am called to task for my association. In your case with WC, I feel you are not so objective and open minded.
The other point I was making, although I agree it was broad in scope and may have been lost, was that if you can recall having been unfairly met as a child, then you may understand how disturbing it would be for me to attempt a fair exchange of ideas and be met with childishness, especially from WC adults!
I see how you would experience this as disconnected, but I see a link. It is all in one’s perspective. No doubt the Waldorf teachers thought you could defend yourself? I think you gained compassion for other human beings from the experiences you had in school (in spite of their apparent misdeeds). In contrast I believe that Peter S. is not a compassionate or modest person who cares for others. I would think this would matter to you.
I don’t completely understand this, I must admit. You write:
“I’m not asking for you to be a constable, but acknowledge that Peter S. is not an objective researcher attempting discourse with others.”
I don’t understand what you’re asking me to do — it seems strange to me. If you had some argument that refuted some of Peter S’s arguments, then you were free as enyone else to present it. If your argument was convincing, it’s possible that others — even me, if I were following the discussion — would acknowledge it. Unfortunately I can’t remember those old discussions to know whether anything convinced me in them. The only person I can remember over the years who put up rather good counter-arguments to Peter has been Christian Clement, and that was not on the topic of races or the movements history in that particular regard. As far as the race stuff goes, I can’t remember anything very convincing at all, I must say.
If you think someone — on WC or elsewhere — is calling you to task for your mere association with anthroposophy, that has to stand for them. I don’t. Of course, when you write something about anthroposophy, that’s something else — one can question, doubt, accept, reject that…whatever one wants. I indeed support the existence of WC as an online forum… but what other people have written there is their responsibility, not mine.
I can’t remember the childishness you’re referring to — that may be either a result of my failing memory or perhaps a difference in interpretation between us of what happened. I don’t know which. I suspect that when following the exchanges between you and Peter specifically, I was focusing more on content than on what people might be feeling, since in that particular context that is all that matters. But, as I said, I don’t know. Something else may have been taking place in those discussion were I myself was involved too.
“No doubt the Waldorf teachers thought you could defend yourself?”
No. Most defintely not. But that’s neither here nor there 😉
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Along with your insight into the gang-like bahavior on the WC list, I would have to add the interesting irony that Staudi, a champion of Democratic Education, advocates for unhindered freedom for children in their self-directed education (a noble-enough enterprise), yet hurls contempt upon adults who express their own points of view, when they differ from his. Early-childhood and Grades Waldorf education, in contrast, is based on the earned authority of the teacher, directing the education of the pupil towards beneficial experiences that will support freedom of thought in adulthood.
Greetings, Benjamin! So nice to see you pop up here on Jeremy’s blog.
I’m quite amused at your focus on irony with Peter because I cognize a far more marvelous irony with you and Peter. I will assume that you are not aware of the following chapter in Peter’s biography — that for 5 full years, long before he ever dreamed of writing that Ecofascism book in 1995, Peter was a full time teacher at a school. His grade level of teaching? Pre-school children, exactly the same age as the children in your present classroom, Benjamin. How about that! Is it irony, or is it . . . karma?
Indeed, the irony or karma is even close to being balanced as in equanimity, perhaps? I see from your biography, Benjamin, that you are in your 3rd year of teaching pre-schoolers and that before that , you taught children at the Portland WS. So your 5 years with pre-schoolers neatly matches Peter’s 5 years with hs pre-school experience.
Perhaps you could now begin to share your common insights and experiences with each other!
Now as for the contempt and disdain Peter shows through his writings on WC, I see it actually as a far-reaching issue expressed by our proverb about the “sauce for the gander being the sauce for the goose.”
I sense that Peter has carefully calibrated his own cutting sarcasm, contempt and disdain for all you Steiner Defenders to match as closely as possible the sarcasm, contempt and disdain that Rudolf Steiner himself showed to any person who dared disagree with him in public, whether they were Society members, opponents, or even famous figures, like Woodrow Wilson, e.g., who never even knew of Steiner’s existence.
And since I can read Steiner in the original German, I can also report to you that his contempt and disdain for people is far stronger and even more insulting in the German. For some reason, the English translations water down his sometimes quite “vile bile” spewed against those who dared disagree with him and his noble anthroposophical teachings
So Benjamin, it is not that Peter is necessarily “giving you a taste of your own medicine,” but rather he is giving you a “taste of Rudolf Steiner’s own medicine.”
And by doing so, Peter relentlessly forces the confrontation with Rudolf Steiner’s own personality, which, in its darker, weaker and thus, more human aspects, crippled the movement of anthroposophy as a viable social impulse after his death in 1925.
You see, Benjamin, it was about 20 years ago, long before I ever even heard of Peter S, that I stopped feeling guilty about the failure of anthroposophy in the world. I not only stopped blaming myself, but more importantly, I stopped blaming all the other followers of Rudolf Steiner, no matter what their stream or karma. I began to realize that the lion’s share of the blame had to be laid at the feet of Rudolf Steiner himself. So I simply stopped groveling to the “graven image” of Rudolf Steiner that is still widely worshipped by the members of his “personality cult” today and one side effect was a complete immunity to SDS (Staudi Derangement Syndrome.)
Now if I may commandeer a famous quote from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” Act I, scene 2, in order to assign responsibility for the failure of anthroposophy after Steiner’s death:
“The fault, dear Benjamin, lies not in the followers but in the founder himself, that we are his underlings.”
Tom Mellett: An Apology
The anthropopper is very sorry about Tom Mellett and for inflicting his monomaniacal, long-winded, bullying and bombastic comments on to readers of this blog. Turncoat Tom’s laboured and ponderous attempts at humour can’t disguise his underlying intellectual thuggery. One can only assume that his early upbringing by the Christian Brothers and then losing his faith not once but twice, first in Catholicism and then in anthroposophy, has somehow warped his development. We must just hope that he doesn’t discover that his current idol has feet of clay, otherwise we must fear for the effect on his stability.
Some of his most objectionable comments have already been held back but this is to give notice to all concerned that this blog is not accepting any further comments from Mr. Mellett, unless or until he demonstrates that he:
• can comment without bullying or belittling other contributors
• can manage to stay on topic
• can write concisely and to the point.
I must say this is the most heart-felt and thoughtful send-off I’ve ever received from a blog moderator whenever it came time to send me into cyber exile. So I do thank you for your graciousness, Jeremy.
And on that note, may I beg your gracious indulgence once more for a “swan song?” (OK, a “turkey song?” it is Thanksgiving Day, and since I’m leaving for good, I ask you to indulge me a final meal before execu- I mean — excommunication.)
Now Jeremy, you are the latest in a long string of blog moderators on the wider Steiner Internet who has felt the need to expel me for my sociopathic — or is it psychopathic — behavior. So don’t feel guilty or alone. As a good example, Michael Eggert of the Egoisten blog in Germany has immortalized my demise from the largest Facebook Steiner group on the Internet, the one called “Anthroposophy” and moderated by the great Anthroposophist in Hawaii, Florian Sydow.
He posted on his blog a report I gave him about Florian finally kicking me out of that group. Now Florian was way too patient with me, so much so, I essentially had to intensify my intellectual thuggery to the point that I left him no choice but to excommunicate me. (Hence my comment to Michael explaining in German and English the concept of “suicide by cop.”)
Now as for your final message, I like it very much, but I would only quibble with a few words you used to describe me.
 monomania – If you mean I exhibit the variety described by idée fixe then you are right. However, monomania is but a minor sub-category of my real all-pervasive mental condition which is megalomania. (And I have the hat size to prove it: 7 & 7/8 American which qualifies me as fat-headed in any Camphill institution worldwide.)
 bombastic — totally spot on Jeremy, but I would prefer you to substitute the able though dated synonym fustian — because it is so close to Faustian and we know the being whom Faust was close to, don’t we!
 turncoat – yes, this describes well my relationship to the Anthroposophical Society and movement. However, as you can see from my photos, I live in (mostly) sunny Southern California, where there is not much need to wear coats. Thus I would prefer if you call me by the term apostate, which also suits better my Roman Catholic upbringing.
 Christian Brothers – Here I must correct your inaccurate statement. You see, Jeremy, the religious order that taught me at my Catholic high school in NYC was not the Christian Brothers (French) but rather the IRISH Christian Brothers. Big difference!!! (Google them both and find out.)
Also, I must tell you that in my 8 years of elementary school in NYC, I was guided and taught by the nuns of the Franciscan order, who instilled in me not only a love of animals but also a love of what Steiner describes as Ahriman’s realm of sub-nature – really! (One nun in particular inspired me to become a physicist, but, as usual, I digress. )
Now, one final warning note about the racist implications of your use of the word “thuggery” to describe my intellectual “modus operandi” as it were. Over here in the USA, especially since the recent racial unrest in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, the dark-skinned rioters and petty criminals were called “thugs” in the media. But this word was quickly judged as a “code word” , a socially accepted euphemism for the word that was really meant, the one beginning with the letter N and sounding like “knickers.”
So if you ever describe me as a thug, Jeremy, be assured that I will defend your characterization as not racist because, in terms of Irish progeny, with my blue eyes and dark brown hair, I am classified as “Black Irish.”
Well, Jeremy, I wish to thank you for your fine hospitality here on your Anthropopper blog. My mission here is now fulfilled and I was quite pleased to have David Clark hint strongly at that mission in his comment here about a week ago
Many thanks to Tomfortas for the usual public service broadcast.
You see, Jeremy, my mission was, from the beginning to hold up to you the mirror of Peter Staudenmaier in the hopes that one day you would come to see yourself in it. Instead you keep on seeing Peter Staudenmaier in it, a true case of mistaken identity. Here’s hoping that one day you will finally see yourself reflected in that mirror, and that will be your true initiation into true anthroposophy.
Oh, Jeremy, know thyself!
Hollywood Tom Mellett,
Hierophant to the Stars
I have tended to dismiss critics of Steiner because I have still too many unread lectures that take precedence – not to speak of keeping up with current events.
But Steiner himself did not dismiss the critiques from those who spoke without real knowledge of his teachings, nor did he mince his words – e.g.: http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA203/English/SN4386/19210208p01.html
So your entertaining ‘triptych’ has tempted me to be better informed in this regard and I will try to spare some time to find out what these people are saying – although, the few I have read over the years I have found to be a waste of time simply because their understanding of anthroposophy is so shallow. Life is too short.
As a cat lover, I am also grateful for the link to the video of Florence Foster Jenkins, of whose impressive virtuosismi I was unaware in spite of being an opera lover.
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I like this third entry in the demon trilogy of Herr Staudenmaier very much. The audacity in calling out the “fair herr professor” is utterly rejuvenating!
Two thoughts come to mind from your current essay. The first concerns the 1999 article, and how I decided to actively engage ‘der perfessor’ in August 2011, when, after hearing that he was about to become a tenured professor at Marquette, I felt I had better get my licks in before he got swamped with professorial duties in teaching classes full-time. I naturally thought that he would be moving on, as he indicated in the 1999 article, but, alas, he seems to have a specially arranged niche for continued assaults on anthroposophy. Could it be the Jesuit conspiracy, which goes back to October 1911, wherein Steiner gave the “From Jesus to Christ” lectures, which compared the Jesuits to the Rosicrucians?
The other thought concerns the use of the term, booklet, to characterize the Adrian Anderson essay, which made me think of the time back on December 10, 2013, when Alicia offered an e-book by the ‘Plymouth uni dude’ on “Transforming Criticisms of Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education”.
Click to access RR_Transforming_Criticisms.pdf
Well, this book is no booklet. Rather, it is a very well considered book, of 203 pages, written by Robert Rose, which gives a very careful and logical analysis of Rudolf Steiner’s racial theory.
Yet, our ‘Staudi’ accepted it much in the same way that he addresses Anderson, or anyone else for that matter, on the side of anthroposophy. He says:
“Thanks to Alicia for sending that. I am sorry to say the booklet is extraordinarily confused, and as uncomprehending as other anthroposophical musings on race. For a sense of the intellectual level of the discussion, here is how Rose formulates one of his basic principles:”
Any kind of careful reading will show that with ‘Staudi’, all forms of anthroposophical expertise are subject to the authority of the external view of history, as non-nuanced as that demonstrates. As well, any careful reading of the book by Robert Rose will convey a truly nuanced viewpoint.
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Aside from the insults and heavy sarcasm which obviously discourage any kind of discussion, it isn’t clear to me what your quarrel is with what Staudenmaier is saying in the link you provide. Most of his post is making the argument that Rose is putting out all sorts of claims about the history of racial thought without appearing to know much about that history. Staudenmaier doesn’t just assert this. He provides examples. If you think he is wrong, it would straightforward to explain why, and Staudenmaier in various other places has gone into more depth about why he thinks this and has provided bibliographies for anyone who wants to check and challenge his claims. I don’t see how anthroposophical expertise here is being made subject to the authority of the external view of history, as you state, because anthroposophical expertise isn’t involved.
In the rest of the post, he is challenging Rose’s claim that certain anthropsophical assumptions are non-racist. These are places where there is a fundamental gulf between Rose and Staudenmaier. If you wanted to understand that gulf in terms of Rose having an anthroposophical expertise that Staudenmaier lacks, I suppose you could. It doesn’t mean, though, that the anthroposophical assumptions and the ways that they are deployed are thereby immune from being critiqued as racist. I strongly suspect that the anthroposophical expertise on display here, such as it may be, would only make matters worse from a public relations point of view should a Steiner school administrator try to invoke it when faced with a reporter who had done his or her homework. I’m not saying that to be catty. Rather, anthroposophists can often give the impression that they aren’t aware of what a bubble they can slip into, since Steiner’s description of the world is so comprehensively and intricately interlocking (in itself, that’s something I find extraordinary about his work). The unmodulated expressions of enthusiasm with which Rose’s tract was greeted in England (at least, that is all that I heard or read) was to me a sign of that bubble.
Staudenmaier never took the time to read the book, but made his comments from whatever cursory look he made of it. That is why he called it a ‘booklet’; it was only worth taking a few minutes to thumb through it and conveniently extract passages that served his own thesis of Steiner racism.
Thus, Staudi’s extracts appear impressive to anyone not familiar with the book, and its careful emphasis of Steiner’s racial theory. Prior to reading the book when it appeared, I had made many vigorous attempts to convey this theory in detail to Staudenmaier. As a theory of evolutionary race-formation it is entirely without racist character when one understands its full import within the overall scheme of spiritual evolution. Of course, when spiritual evolution is rejected out of hand by Staudenmaier, and we mean Rudolf Steiner’s version of it, then there is little to nothing that any well-considered depiction of it will satisfy.
I carefully read the book when it was made available, and then took opportunity to defend it by corroborating its analysis with further efforts concerning evolutionary race formation. When this is made the focus, then charges of racism against Steiner are rendered ineffective. When Spiritual Science is rejected outright by the ‘critics’, then anything can be turned against Steiner and Anthroposophy. Racism is merely a subject close to our historian’s thesis of modern Germany.
Hello Jeremy my father in law had a large old book titled 100 Years of Punch Jokes, published around 1960s or so. It had that cartoon in it and I have often thought it described many situations extremely well. No doubt you know it became a saying in general use, ‘like the curates egg’. Nice to find someone who remembers it.
Well done on giving Staudi back what he dishes out. And a dead man is not so capable at refuting criticism so you are doing a good job on Dr S’s behalf.
All strength to your pen or in this case your mouse. The day the mouse roared!
best wishes Ian
Ian Trousdell Director Foundation for Water http://www.foundationforwater.org
Charity 1133741 in England and Wales Forest Row, Sussex, RH185JX, UK Office phone +44 (0)1342 827965 Mobile +44 (0)7425 699295 Skype: ian.trousdell
Foundation for Water UK Bank: HSBC 402009 41548743
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It is with meek and proper servility that I have dutifully reported to my Master Staudi, the tidings of your 3rd blog post about him. As usual, his reply will be forthcoming soon, and I shall slavishly post it here.
BTW, Jeremy, because of your own keen interest in Bio-Dynamics, I took the liberty of asking my Master Staudi for permission to send you samples of that brown substance I daily wipe off my nose for your use in your next compost pile as a new B-D prep.
Recall that in the Agriculture course of 1924 in Koberwitz, Rudolf Steiner calls that brown substance “verfrühte Gehirnabscheidung” which translates as “premature brain deposit” (PBD).
My Master has given permission and I would be willing to send you at least a week’s supply of my collected PBD cache in a Hermetically-sealed envelope that will pass through customs in the UK.
I would then advise you to cultivate a special B-D garden with my Master’s PBD forces because they may actually serve to counteract that heavy karma incurred when Heinrich Himmler so lovingly oversaw the cultivation of the Bio-Dynamic Plantation at Dachau Concentration Camp from 1941 on.
After all, one of your fans here noted the homeopathic way you are counteracting my Master’s academic and intellectual perfidy on this blog. I then hit upon the idea of sending you his own PBD so you could actually counteract his malevolence with your Bio-Dynamics, thus waging a two front war against him and his own anarchical agricultural movement of Eco-Communism.
Jeremy has completed his trilogy of denigrating blog posts about you, this 3rd one being called
STAUDI: OR THE CURATE’S EGG
He even casts me into the very same role that his American ex-patriate namesake, Frank Thomas Smith, did 7 to 8 years ago on WC here, namely, as your ass-kissing, brown-nosing toady.
What I find rather comical is that he uses this 3rd posting primarily to walk back his original positive comments about your revealing the dark aspects of anthroposophy’s history. That’s the whole rationale of the “Curate’s Egg, ” to minimize and even somehow eliminate anything positive he might have said about you before.
There are 16 comments so far, and I urge you to read them because, besides the usual gang of juvenile counter-polemicists, like Daniel Perez, Steve Hale, Jeremy himself and a few of Jeremy’s fans, there are actually two “adults in the room” now, namely Wooffles and Alicia.
My Master didn’t waste any time responding to your Curate’s Egg post. (As soon as I post that reply here, I need to go out to the Sporting goods store and buy a new set of knee pads for my . . . uh, . . evening devotional “obsequies,” as it were. I assume you do want fresh PBD for your compost, Jeremy, so I shall be extra-devotional in the next few days.)
PETER QUOTING TOM: “There are 16 comments so far, and I urge you to read them because, besides the usual gang of juvenile counter-polemicists, like Daniel Perez, Steve Hale, Jeremy himself and a few of Jeremy’s fans, there are actually two “adults in the room” now, namely Wooffles and Alicia.”
PETER: Thanks, I followed most of it over the past few days. It’s the standard reaction from uncomprehending anthroposophists, agitated by history. Helmut Zander and Christian Clement face this sort of thing all the time. There are any number of anthroposophists who are willing and able to engage in critical public discussion about their worldview and their movement. The Donald Trump faction of anthroposophy is not among them, of course, but that shouldn’t distract us from making the effort when possible.
There are a couple of larger dynamics worth reflecting on. One has to do with the severe limitations on almost any attempt at dialogue in anglophone anthroposophical contexts. The general state of knowledge among so many English-speaking anthroposophists is simply dismal, whether regarding Steiner’s biography or his teachings or the evolution of the movement he founded. That alone makes it difficult for a meaningful exchange to get off the ground.
Another has to do with the longstanding tradition of anti-intellectualism within anthroposophy, and in particular the strenuous resistance to viewing Steiner as a historical figure and viewing the anthroposophist movement as a historical phenomenon. This prevents indignant anthroposophists from making even minimal sense not just of my work but the work of Zander and other scholars as well. Even Christian’s openly sympathetic work provokes the same overwrought reactions. Thankfully, there are other anthroposophists whose viewpoint is not so hopelessly myopic. But even they aren’t likely to have much luck trying to talk to the Donald Trump faction.
To put it as charitably as possible, anybody who gets critique mixed up with hatred is going to have a very hard time understanding what I write. But it’s all the harder for the Holocaust deniers and antisemites and conspiracy enthusiasts within anthroposophy, for those who defend anthroposophist racism and make excuses for anthroposophist Nazis and keep their heads firmly in the sand rather than learning about their own movement.
My contempt for those sorts of anthroposophists seems to have confused them. Since I don’t disguise my disdain for readers like Steve Hale, Daniel Perez, David Clark, and Jeremy Smith, they think I must hold the same scorn toward Steiner himself and toward anthroposophy as a whole. It is an elementary error, but one that outraged Steiner fans make again and again.
But there are lots of other anthroposophists to talk to, and lots of other aspects of anthroposophy worth talking about. I once again encourage Steiner’s admirers to take advantage of those opportunities. Greetings to all,
I don’t see how you and Staudenmaier read Jeremy’s post simply as critics-of-the-critics business as usual.
He approvingly links to a review by Staudenmaier of a book that discusses historical anthroposophy’s tangled links to anti-Semitism and the Nazis and makes reference to a Jew’s account of what he experienced first-hand as Steiner’s obtuseness to anti-Semitism in the anthroposophical movement. The fact that the commentators are maintaining radio silence about this review is not for lack of trying on Jeremy’s part.
Anderson’s e-booklet which he also urged people to read, has a lot of unconventional merits. It includes an unflinching discussion of the superstar Christian Community priest Friedrich Benesch’s Nazi past, the best one in English that I’ve seen. Perhaps if enough people read the booklet anthroposophical publishers will come under pressure to mention that past as they continue to promote his books.
In Anderson’s discussion of Steiner himself and race, he doesn’t try to explain away any of the difficulties that Steiner’s statements create today. Rather, he lays out clearly what those difficulties are and he has no time for all the usual ways by which anthroposophists argue that Steiner was not a racist. I was particularly impressed/relieved that he understood that invoking incarnations through various races and Steiner’s distinguishing between the general characteristics of peoples and individuals would not make Steiner free of racism as far as anyone who has not taken on Steiner all the way would be concerned (pp. 5, 7). The steep uphill challenge in communicating with everyone else that faces anthroposophists who won’t allow for cultural influences in what Steiner presented as purely clairvoyant can’t be laid out more clearly than this. That’s infinitely preferable to Rose’s efforts to explain the challenge away. Anderson does insist that hostile critics distort Steiner’s ideas on race; so does Staudenmaier in the linked review.
Many thanks to Tomfortas for the usual public service broadcast.
Travelling today around the English East Midlands, I saw people on their high horses taking risks with other road users..
Oops! There goes another one! He didn’t even wave … Huh!
It is important to read Staudenmaier’s latest screed with the necessary detachment in order to see how he consistently denounces certain anthroposophists, who actually attempt to converse with him, while he believes that there are anthroposophists “out there” worth talking with, whoever they may be. His specific disdain for the likes of those he has named is baffling. Why should he disdain anyone? As an objective scholar, it should be his greatest desire to gather as much from the anthroposophical perspective as possible. Yet, as he clearly now indicates, we are the so-called “trump faction”, which is another example of his unremitting prejudice against anthroposophists.
This is what makes it difficult to make headway with this professor. His routine argument is that anthroposophists, “don’t known their history”, when he knows full well that the very anthroposophists he disdains have been listening to his findings for years! They don’t object to it, and find it enlightening to know about the post-steiner era, wherein the Hitler Reich involved a number of initiatives first developed by Rudolf Steiner.
But herein is where the dividing line must be drawn, and conveyed any number of times by this writer. Rudolf Steiner, in no way, is guilty, or even remotely complicit, with what occurred after his death. This is most important. Whatever occurred after March 30, 1925, is a matter of historical account as much as that which preceded it. This fact, wherein a definite dividing line exists, has been conveyed time and again to our professor and his audience.
So, in taking the Anderson essay, which acknowledges racist history in the post-steiner era, and we could certainly add Werner Georg Haverbeck, and Ursula Haverbeck to this account, what is the issue? What is the issue with the book by Robert Rose? They are both fundamentally dealing with the work of Rudolf Steiner; his philosophy, ideology, and vision, as well as its aftermath. Rose’ work is philosophical in nature, and a masterpiece for those that can get through it. Personally, I work along these lines. Anderson’s essay is worth its considered opinion, and noteworthy for the history that many know about, but get little recognition for knowing.
You see, once an “anthro” has it in his blood, he looks to hear all arguments, and suffers all findings, and then finds out that he is useless and trivial to those that analyze and write that history. These are the scholars today.
For the specifics of why Rose may not be a philosophical masterpiece, read Staudenmaier. I was emailed it enthusiastically and my response was substantially the same as what I subsequently discovered his to be, only his was more detailed and historically informed, understandably so.
You gave two reasons for not engaging with his critique. The first was that he called it a booklet. The second was that you had tried to explain to Staudenmaier unsuccessfully that “as a theory of evolutionary race-formation [Steiner’s conception] is entirely without racist character when one understands its full import within the overall scheme of spiritual evolution.”
Perhaps it is on p. 4 that Anderson most cogently explains why Steiner’s scheme of spiritual evolution is going to appear to have a racist element to anyone who does not already believe that it came entirely out of initiatory clairvoyance unaffected by history and culture. But his entire discussion of Steiner is useful in that respect.
My hope is that reading Anderson will help you to see that if someone does not already share your conviction about Steiner, you are not going to sound convincing to them. The fault lies neither in you or them.
Once you get that, you might also understand why such a person is not going to be as quick as you seem to be in assuming that what Steiner taught has no relevance at all to positions that some of his followers took in the Nazi period.
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I entirely understand the criticisms, and where they come from, and why. That has never been a problem to me. My position has always been to offer what anthroposophy has to say, which over time has been useful in correcting many errors, false beliefs, and assumptions about Steiner, the roots of its history and development, and yes, maybe especially the evolutionary race-formation doctrine of Spiritual Science.
Thus, where anthroposophy is coming from is where I am coming from. I know the arguments, and how Steiner’s race theory, amongst many other findings of occult research, might appear to the uninitiated. Staudenmaier has been countered on many items of knowledge and factual evidence for which I simply do not have the time to review. That is why I offer you to look for yourself at the WC archives where I have posted several thousand messages over the last four years in defending Steiner, his unique clairvoyant faculty, and justification of the correctness of Steiner’s findings based on keen study over the past thirty years, as well as further research and corroborations of my own.
So, indeed, what may have been overlooked in Steiner’s time in describing the evolution of the several sub-races, and lack of criticism from his many opponents on the subject, has become a major item of concern and re-consideration today, and that has a lot to do with the events of the post-steiner era. Some of Steiner’s followers unfortunately took a warped and wrong view of race into their political affiliations and activities, and that has never been contested by me. I am willing to take an unflinching view of it all.
What you are responding to is the typical ‘Staudi’ propaganda, wherein we are all racist, anti-Semitic, Nazi supporters, conspiracists, by the simple virtue of being anthroposophists. At least I speak for myself that I am. Staudi likes to defame as many as he can, even without actually checking.
Rather to my delight, the image of Staudi as the curate’s egg, with a preponderance of bad over good qualities, has been fully borne out in these recent exchanges. We have seen the bad Staudi on full display, courtesy of Turncoat Tom Mellett, who has kindly posted here his master’s intemperate comments from the WC Yahoo Group pages. Staudi is clearly rattled – he likes to dish it out but he can’t take it, so it seems.
It is quite remarkable, for example, how Staudi continues to fail to engage with Dr Adrian Anderson’s e-booklet, which offers a serious and substantial examination of Staudi’s critique of Steiner and anthroposoophy. Instead and as usual, he prefers to insult a few individuals who have called him out on his thoroughly dishonest and evasive response. Does he really think that by scattering dust and dung in all directions, people will fail to notice how hollow and inadequate this makes him appear?
But the anthropopper is nothing if not fair and balanced and wishes to highlight something that Staudi wrote in the book review that I linked to in this post. Speaking of the need for anthroposophists to learn more about some difficult areas in their history, he writes the following:
“There is no reason for anthroposophists to despair in the face of this task. Honest engagement with the past can be a boon to alternative spiritual movements, and anthroposophy is no exception. If it helps devotees of Steiner grapple with the topic, they can think of it as something Steiner himself would have encouraged. At its emergence a century ago, anthroposophy represented the flowering of German aspirations for an occult enlightenment. Its latter-day adherents do not need to abandon these hopes for a better world and enhanced consciousness and a different mode of life. Their dreams of more lucid understanding, of changed human relationships, of a new approach to nature, of a world freed of spiritual narrowness are all eminently worth seeking and striving toward.”
Is it entirely naïve of me to think that there is the glimmer of a possibility here for more constructive engagement and fewer insults from the good professor? Probably; but hope springs eternal in the anthropopper’s breast.
I reread the first section of Anderson again yesterday, because I wasn’t entirely happy with how I was making sense of it. In the meantime, Staudenmaier has reposted something he wrote on Anderson in which he explains why he doesn’t think much of Anderson’s abilities as a historian and calls his booklet “a standard anthroposophist apologia for Steiner’s racial teachings.”
On rereading, however, I no longer think that the first section, the one that deals with Steiner and racism, is at all an apologia, but just the opposite. It rejects Steiner’s racism. In the first part of the section Anderson explains how Steiner’s ideas can’t be associated with hate-filled or rigidly hierarchical racism, but that people today who do not accept initiatory clairvoyance will find them racist nonetheless. I thought that this was the extent of what he was arguing and that he had no disagreement with those passages and concepts in themselves, mainly because he was presenting them so sympathetically. That’s why I didn’t read what follows as closely as I should have.
On p.7, he drastically shifts direction. He speaks of the necessity to disown Steiner’s ideas about the races and regrets that they were ever published: “Such views of Steiner’s as we have discussed here, cause wide offence. Consequently, teachers and others who work with anthroposophical ideas, need to realize that such ideas have to be disowned. They are not put forward by responsible anthroposophists, as they are offensive to contemporary ethics in today’s global village, and should not have been published.”
On the botton of p.7, he does what he calls his “summing up” of this section, and he returns more sweepingly to the need to disown that part of Steiner’s teachings: “Steiner teachers and others have to make it clear that they do not themselves harbour or advocate racism, and the worldview upon which their work is based, does not include those parts of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings which people understand to be racist. They reject any passages in Steiner’s works which we define today as racist.”
That sounds pretty emphatic. Steiner’s ideas on the races were not as bad as critics present them, but nonetheless the parts of Steiner’s teaching and his passages that are racist have to be rejected.
Do you, or anyone else here, read it differently?
Of course Dr Anderson’s booklet is not a “standard anthroposophist apologia for Steiner’s racial teachings” as alleged by Staudi. On the contrary, it is a really hard-hitting challenge to anthroposophists to face up to some difficult realities. I imagine, however, it will have been challenging for Peter Staudenmaier to get past the second paragraph on the first page of Dr Anderson’s e-booklet, which draws attention to Staudi’s Jesuit school and university background, and then to his habit of literally making up offensive statements – so perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised.
For anthroposophists to take Staudi more seriously as a commentator on Steiner, it would be necessary for Staudi to disown a great deal of his early work and then to seek to demonstrate some empathetic understanding of Steiner as a very unusual man both in his own time and in ours. It might help if he were to say, as Anderson does, that by today’s definitions of racism, Steiner made some racist statements – but that Steiner could never be accused of having discriminated against any person on the basis of their race, religion or the colour of their skin. As Anderson says: “Anyone who can discern the spiritual integrity of Steiner, as evidenced in his teachings on ethics and spirituality, is aware that he was certainly not a person who harbours dislike, and encourages hostility of, people based on their racial characteristics….But this argument is of little weight with those who cannot, or do not want to, see the integrity of Steiner.”
And really, that’s the nub of it. Staudi, even if he wanted to adopt a more nuanced approach, cannot now draw back from his earlier statements, because he’s got too much invested in them – there are people all over the internet who quote Staudi as an apparently respectable academic to back up their false understanding of Steiner and who perpetuate Staudi’s libels of Steiner as a racist, anti-Semite and proto-Nazi. Staudi is now the prisoner of his past and will have to live with the consequences for his academic reputation.
He knows this, of course, which is why he won’t engage with anyone who points out where he’s going wrong, but instead insults and abuses those who try to put forward an alternative point of view.
I agree with your interpretation of what Anderson is saying on page 7 – and I agree with Anderson that it is necessary for anthroposophists to disown Steiner’s apparent views about the races. I regret that Steiner emerged from Blavatsky and theosophy and used some terms and concepts that are so offensive today, and thus made it so easy for his modern-day critics to paint such a false picture of him. And I think that more and more Steiner schools and institutions are making it very clear that they also reject utterly any suggestion that Steiner’s racial teachings play any part in today’s Waldorf education. Take, for example, this statement from the Steiner Waldorf Schools’ Fellowship in the UK:
“Although Steiner’s ideas are based on a profound respect for the equality, individuality and shared humanity of all people, regardless of race or ethnic origin, his works do contain a number of statements on race that are inappropriate in a modern context. They do not inform the education in any way: they influence neither content nor methodology.
Research conducted in Germany (download the pdf paper on the ECSWE website here) shows that Steiner education is successful in producing young people who are generally more tolerant and less xenophobic than their peers educated in other school systems.
Steiner Education is opposed to all forms of discrimination against any person or group of people on the grounds of race, gender, faith, disability, age and sexual orientation and is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and reflecting the diversity of the children, staff and parents served by Steiner schools. The education thrives on every continent, in every culture and within a wide range of ethnic contexts. “
Anderson finishes his e-booklet with a comment that is an implied rebuke to Staudi and those who follow more or less blindly in his wake. Referring to Nazi criminals such as Hitler and Benesch, he says:
“The correct attitude to Hitler in the light of anthroposophy is that he was a demoniac, and that some form of counterfeit folk-spirit, namely an ahrimanic entity, was using him. Benesch was a criminal, a fanatical devotee of the ahrimanic influence that swept over Germany in those decades. It is through Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy that a most valuable understanding of how to spiritually oppose the evil is offered – to those with discernment.”
To those with discernment – indeed.
I’m new to this blog commenting business, so I can’t tell if this will land above or below your reply to me. In any case, thanks so much for your thoughtful answer. I joined this conversation in part to try to understand how Staudenmaier looked from your perspective. I understand it better now, which I really appreciate. One way to think about Waldorf Critics and critical academic scrutiny of anthropsophy in general is that they are putting pressure on anthroposophists to do work that they shouldn’t have needed pressure to do.
You shouldn’t feel that you should persuade me about Steiner education; it’s a wonderful and important impulse, however much the execution might not always be ideal.
You cited the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship statement about racism. My problem with that and similar statements is that I never know exactly what they are saying. Too many times I’ve seen the rejection of racism demonstrated by rejecting an isolated statement that all but the most fanatically besotted Steinerite would immediately understand does not fly. In other words, I’m not sure if there is any sort of collective understanding in how a statement like that moves from generalities to specifics. What particularly impressed me about Anderson is that he laid out a very ambitious agenda for what that movement might entail and used the term “teaching” along with “statement” while doing so.
That clarified the kinds of questions that would emerge when such movement takes place. What are the teachings that need to be collectively disowned and rejected (to use Anderson’s verbs)? What does it even mean to disown and reject them? If those teachings are rejected and disowned, what kinds of responsibilities does that create when it comes to republishing Steiner’s works or teaching them in training courses? Maybe some such discussion is already taking place. I’ll be keen to see its fruits.
I accept your decision to reject my previous comment for its being off topic and too prolix.
However, I am re-posting it on WC because the bulk of it reviews the history of your own Steiner-Internet presence on WC since 2009 when the Prolix Perfesser first informed us all of your existence — and since 2010 on the Ethereal Kiosk.
I now submit to Anthropopper a more germane (though not German!) comment about the dilemma you face , given your candid assertion about Steiner’s racial statements.
To cut to the chase, or eschew prolixity here, I was trying to confront Jeremy with the dilemma posed by his statement:
I agree with Anderson that it is necessary for anthroposophists to disown Steiner’s apparent views about the races.
The dilemma is this: either
(a) disown Steiner’s statements on race
(b) own Steiner’s statements on race
Following path (a) sets up a “domino effect.” If you disown Steiner’s statements on race — which derive from the same clairvoyant results he used for everything else that is happily “owned” — like B-D, Waldorf, eurythmy, medicine, etc., — then maybe his clairvoyance is also mistaken in all those other “daughter movements,” and they need to be disowned as well.
Choosing path (b) signifies that if Steiner’s clairvoyant knowledge is valid in all these other fields, then they must be also be equally valid in the sphere of his teachings about the races.
Or “You cannot eat your B-D racial cake and have it, too!”
Your comment has raised an interesting issue, which is: why do some people apparently feel the need for Steiner to have been right 100% of the time? For I have met people like this, but I didn’t expect you to be one of them.
As you know, my view of Steiner is that he was one of the truly great initiates; I also think that he was a human being, and therefore by definition, fallible; and he was also a man of his time, with some of the attitudes of his time. So Steiner, like all of us, is a paradox; and as he himself always insisted, we should never take anything he said on trust, but always, always, use our own judgement and check within ourselves whether what he said feels right.
This is what I do, and this is what I hope other people will do. Friedrich Rittelmeyer’s book, “Rudolf Steiner Enters My Life”, is a fascinating account by the founder and first leader of the Christian Community of his personal experience of Rudolf Steiner. In it, Rittelmeyer describes how, with great caution, he took ten years to investigate and scrutinise Steiner’s body of thought, before coming to his final conviction of the unparalleled greatness of Steiner’s spirit.This is just the process that Steiner advises all of us to adopt where he is concerned.
My own conviction is that Steiner was wrong in some of his racial theories and I have no hesitation in saying so. Does this invalidate other areas of his work? Apply your own judgement, check your intuition, and then decide. My feeling is that Steiner would be grateful for those who follow on from him and can correct any mistakes he may have made.
However, Tom, if you’re looking for an infallible guru, then perhaps you’ve been able to find one in Peter Staudenmaier.
“He who does not encounter my world of ideas with an open mind will discover contradiction upon contradiction in it.”
Mysticism at the Dawn of the Modern Age – Preface to the first edition, 1901.
Thanks for explaining the “academic scrutiny of anthroposophy” ambition. I also appreciate your comments on the assumed lobbying mission of the Waldorf Critics circle. All quite noble in intention perhaps, but I suggest that such endeavours are rather discursive and “third person” in character.
In my experience over the years, the “second person” and hermeneutic character of anthroposophical endeavour have been highly significant and remain personally valuable. As a post-professional researcher using my initiative to pursue economic matters, I do not therefore feel under pressure either academically or from critics.
It may be helpful to explain my view from long experience that these persistent interventions may best be understood as what I understand those in intelligence circles call “noise”.
Alguien habla español, por favor?
At times I speak Spanish, yes, when I am in the right context and have a conversation partner. Of course, as you may expect this enlivening experience is “off-line” by definition.
The central problem for us here is that such blogs as this use a text format as a vehicle for exchanges and lexical comprehension of the text is therefore the crucial point at issue.
Understanding the spoken word is a fundamentally different matter, requiring skills of listening to another person, appreciation of gesture and instantaneous interpretation for example, that are not required in the simpler task of textual appreciation.
Jeremy, Stephen, Tomfortas, son maestros de la elocuencia. Solo puedo responder que conozco mi idioma y al mismo tiempo las limitaciones del ser human para comunicarse cuando el “ego” y no la verdad quiere ser el protagonista. Creo que la Antroposofía debe buscarse en el corazón, como toda doctrina genuinamente espiritual, y una “apreciación meramente textual” de la riqueza espiritual del alma y la naturaleza, es inútil. No pretendo engañar a nadie sobre una convicción que poseo. Todos los que aman y odian la Antroposofía lo hacen desde su corazón. Si. Considero que el Evangelio dice la verdad cuando enseña que “de lo que hay en el corazón, habla la boca”. Saludos.
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I anticipated the dilemma you are proposing and its two possible solutions, but when the real issue is faced, then the charge of racism is alleviated. Thus, the dilemma is solved by simply looking at the facts.
Steiner was never influenced by any root race terminology coming from Blavatsky. From the very outset of his 1900 period, his was a clairvoyant research with little regard for the work of mediums and atavists, like HPB. This could prove to be very important as it can be shown that with the book, “Cosmic Memory”, in 1904, and even an earlier version from 1903, “Atlantis and Lemuria”, that Steiner resorted to the akashic records for his findings, and where he first describes the sub-races of Atlantis.
When studied in relation to that epoch in which the several sub-races formed, and especially centered around the fifth sub-race, the Primal Semites, it can easily be shown how the ancient world is correctly said to be of semitic origin. We all trace back to the Semites. Once the migrations began, the various races formed into their robust characteristics, and then cultures with civilizing tendencies, including amalgamation of the races, such as exists today; a truly cosmopolitan setting for universal-humanity. Steiner’s so-called “racism” was strictly descriptive of his findings.
From Rudolf Steiner’s autobiography:
“In Lucifer-Gnosis I was able for the first time to publish what became the foundation of anthroposophic work. There first appeared what I had to say about the strivings that the human mind must make in order to attain to its own perceptual grasp upon spiritual knowledge. Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment came out in serial form from number to number. In the same way was the basis laid for anthroposophic cosmology in serial articles entitled, From the Akashic Records.
It was from what was thus given, and not from anything borrowed from the Theosophical Movement, that the Anthroposophical Movement had its growth. If I gave any attention to the teachings carried on in the Society when I composed my own writings on spiritual knowledge, it was only for the purpose of correcting by a contrasting statement one thing or another in those teachings which I considered erroneous.”
The Story of My Life, Chapter XXXII
Based on this, path (b) is the correct choice, or better yet, a path (c), which designates, “not guilty on all charges”. Clairvoyance is the victor.
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Many thanks for those reflections. Having cultivated listening in the realm of the social, my biography and experience have been quite different. My main point as an experienced reader over many years was not that textual comprehension is in some way inferior. Instead, I was noting that shared recourse to the spoken word is quite different, touching the human soul in quite enlivening and unpredictable ways. Of course, I was not suggesting that texts had somehow become obsolete. In my experience, they form an important part of our heritage.
Thinking about blogs for a moment. For me, these are a very specialised and problematic form of text that is composed and transmitted with information and communications technologies. What can we do with these? Where do they come from? What do they signify?
In this blog, I’m bringing forth what I have experienced as a reality, namely that reading and speech are distinctive ways of renewing the character of texts.
It irks me a great deal to read utterly ridiculous nonsense about Rudolf Steiner having an offensive personality, which betrayed his own movement. What could be further from the truth than this hyperbolic comment from a sincerely confused infidel who now has crossed the Rubicon to the side of the enemy? Tom wrote:
“And since I can read Steiner in the original German, I can also report to you that his contempt and disdain for people is far stronger and even more insulting in the German. For some reason, the English translations water down his sometimes quite “vile bile” spewed against those who dared disagree with him and his noble anthroposophical teachings So Benjamin, it is not that Peter is necessarily “giving you a taste of your own medicine,” but rather he is giving you a “taste of Rudolf Steiner’s own medicine.” And by doing so, Peter relentlessly forces the confrontation with Rudolf Steiner’s own personality, which, in its darker, weaker and thus, more human aspects, crippled the movement of anthroposophy as a viable social impulse after his death in 1925. You see, Benjamin, it was about 20 years ago, long before I ever even heard of Peter S, that I stopped feeling guilty about the failure of anthroposophy in the world. I not only stopped blaming myself, but more importantly, I stopped blaming all the other followers of Rudolf Steiner, no matter what their stream or karma. I began to realize that the lion’s share of the blame had to be laid at the feet of Rudolf Steiner himself. So I simply stopped groveling to the “graven image” of Rudolf Steiner that is still widely worshipped by the members of his “personality cult” today and one side effect was a complete immunity to SDS (Staudi Derangement Syndrome.)”
I personally told Tom that his input would be welcome if he could stand to be fair and balanced, less vitriolic, and lay off the newbies, like Benjamin, who are only trying to make a small remark from a humble position, and not in need of any undue influence. I doubt that anyone else here needs to hear it, as well. Just another tin ear, drowning out the volumes of symphony.