In the month after the end of the First World War, Steiner gave a lecture at Dornach in which he said that “the view of spiritual science cannot be the giving of social criticism, but rather, only the pointing-out, without pessimism or optimism, of that which is” (GA 186, December 1st 1918). He was referring to the events which had led to the war, but his comment is a reminder that we should not allow the emotions engendered by overwhelming events to stop us from seeing as objectively as possible what the reality of any given situation is, and the causes which lie behind it.
Without Steiner’s peerless clairvoyance, however, we have to fall back on our own thinking and reasoning capacities; and it is difficult for most of us to avoid feelings of alarm or despondency, or to refrain from social criticism, in the face of disturbing current events.
Take, for example, the newly installed 45th President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump. There are certainly a few things about Trump and his background and business interests which are bound to upset our objectivity and sang-froid. According to Sidney Blumenthal in a recent essay in the London Review of Books, Trump’s father Fred was arrested for participating in a violent Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927. Fred also had ties to the Mob and quite openly discriminated against blacks when renting out housing. In more recent times, it seems that the Donald’s own business was dependent almost from the start on racketeers:
“There was Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family, and Paul ‘Big Paulie’ Castellano, boss of the Gambino crime family, who owned the company that provided the ready-mix cement for Trump Tower, used in place of the usual steel girders. There was John Cody, the boss of Teamsters Local 282, who controlled the cement trucks and was an associate of the Gambino family. There was Daniel Sullivan, Trump’s labour ‘consultant’, who in partnership with the Philadelphia crime boss Nicodemos ‘Nicky’ Scarfo’s financier, sold Trump a property in Atlantic City that became his casino. There was Salvatore ‘Salvie’ Testa, ‘crown prince’ of the Philadelphia Mob, who sold Trump the site on which two construction firms owned by Scarfo built the Trump Plaza and Casino. There was Felix Sater, convicted money launderer for the Russian Mafia, Trump’s partner in building the Trump SoHo hotel through the Bayrock Group LLC, which by 2007 had more than $2 billion in Trump licensed projects and by 2014 was no more. There was Tevfik Arif, another Trump partner, Bayrock’s chairman, originally from Kazakhstan. Bayrock’s equity financing came from three Kazakh billionaires known as ‘the Trio’, who were reported to be engaged in racketeering, money laundering and other crimes. And so on.
There was no art to these deals. Trump’s relationships with the Mob weren’t just about the quality of cement. In his defence it was said that doing business with the Mob was inescapable in New York, but the truth is that there were prominent developers who crusaded against the sorts of arrangement that Trump routinely made. From beginning to end, whether Cosa Nostra or the Russian Mafia, Trump has been married to the Mob.”
Now in all fairness it should be pointed out that Sidney Blumenthal is a former aide to the Clintons, so may be seen as someone with an axe to grind; but since I have not yet heard any rebuttal of the information he presents, it seems entirely possible that the President of the United States has close ties with the American Mafia (and possibly the Russian Mafia too), while his opposite number in Russia, Vladimir Putin, is head of a state run by that same Russian Mafia. (Not that such skulduggery is anything new in American politics – eg, see here for details of Joseph Kennedy’s criminal links with the Mob that ensured the election of his son John F. Kennedy as president in 1960. The USA has always been the best democracy that money can buy.)
In such an extreme situation, how can one simply point out “that which is” and not find one’s feelings pulling one away from objective observation? Several people I know have speculated as to whether Donald Trump is the incarnation of Ahriman. Personally, I don’t think this is likely – my view is that Ahriman would not choose to be incarnated in the figure of someone with a fake orange tan (one which a sudden gust of wind revealed does not even extend up to the Trump hairline), let alone someone who since his inauguration as 45th President of the USA has found himself the laughing stock of the worldwide web.
No, it seems more probable that Trump and the rest of his coven of billionaires and brigands are simply extreme examples of the corruption endemic to the American political system, although it may well be reasonable to regard them also as indicators of the impending incarnation – preparers of the way, if you like. I have written of this elsewhere, so will give here only brief quotations from Steiner:
“As truly as Lucifer walked on earth and Christ walked on earth objectively in a human being, so will Ahriman walk upon the earth with enormous power to manifest earthly intellectual capacity.” (GA 195, 25/12/1919) And again:
“…just as there was a bodily incarnation of Lucifer, and just as there was a bodily incarnation of the Christ, so will there be, before even a part of the 3rd millennium AD will have elapsed, in the West a real incarnation of Ahriman: Ahriman in the flesh.” (GA 191, 01/11/1919)
Steiner has enjoined us to be vigilant and to stay awake so as to spot what is going on. But lacking Steiner’s initiate consciousness and spiritual insight, there is a danger that the times we live in might tempt some of us to fall all too easily into paranoia and conspiracy theories. I recently found an example of this in the Russian anthroposophical writer, G A Bondarev, who in his book Events in the Ukraine and a Possible Future Scenario wrote this:
“…everywhere in the mass media – on television, in newspapers – one can see politicians and the powerful in finance, etc., making a certain gesture with their hand which means the number 666 spoken of in Revelation as the ‘number of the Beast.’ Many make this gesture in order to show that they are initiated into the secret and also to give evidence of their ‘chosenness’…Others, by showing this gesture when they appear publicly, want to call out, as it were, to the participants at certain functions: ‘What are we arguing about? Why are you disagreeing with us? This is it! This is happening!’ – or at least something of this kind. An exact interpretation is not possible, as the meaning of this gesture is kept secret.”
What Bondarev is referring to is the “A OK” gesture, in which the tip of the index finger is placed on the tip of the thumb to form an ‘O’ shape, and the remaining three fingers are splayed out. Donald Trump makes this gesture all the time when he is speaking and it is very easy to find examples of many prominent public figures doing the same. A quick search of Google Images using the term “hand gesture 666” brings up photos of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Tony Blair, Jean-Claude Juncker, Nicolas Sarkozy, Pope Jean-Paul II, Colin Powell and many other famous public figures from politics and entertainment all making this gesture – but to Bondarev and others who think like him, it therefore follows that they must all be members of the Illuminati signalling their allegiance to one another. Err… no, I really don’t think so.
But despite the occasional absurdities, Bondarev also has some interesting ideas. Referring to Steiner’s pointing-out of the years AD 666, 1332 and 1998 as having special significance, he speculates that 1998 was the year of incarnation of Ahriman:
“…the year in which the body was created into which Ahriman steals. Its creation was obviously not a simple matter – after all, Ahriman is the god of death! Rudolf Steiner also speaks of this. In a lecture of 4th November 1919, he points to that special field of technological progress in which knowledge is used of the connection of the material realm with the human spirit: ‘…through a given application of these things, certain secret societies will…prepare that through which the Ahrimanic incarnation will be able to be here on the earth in the right way.’ (GA 193)
One can assume that they were able to combine the most up-to-date technological procedures with the means of black magic in order to create a body with the capacity to bear within it for a number of years the Ahrimanic monad. (Could it be three years?) Thus, it is in no way unjustified to assume that the incarnation of Ahriman is well under way. And according to an entry in a notebook of Rudolf Steiner…Ahriman will reveal himself to the world at the age of 18. Here it is probably more correct to speak of 18 and one-third years, which corresponds to the so-called lunar node or Metonic cycle. It follows from this that humanity needs to be ready by early 2017.”
So in early 2017 I leave you with that happy thought and invite your own comments on these speculations, paranoid or otherwise.