Anthroposophy and the Twilight of Culture

A regular correspondent to this blog, Steve Hale from the USA, has forwarded to me an article which appeared in the British communist daily newspaper, the Morning Star, on December 7th 2017. The article, under the byline of one Peter Frost, highlights events at the Rudolf Steiner School, Kings Langley (RSSKL), which has been threatened with de-registration by Ofsted.

Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) is the non-ministerial government department in England which inspects and regulates schools, including independent schools. The de-registration of a school is a serious matter, because it means in effect that it is no longer lawful to run that school. RSSKL is currently appealing against the de-registration verdict of Ofsted, citing the drastic changes it has put in place to deal with the shortcomings identified by the Ofsted inspectors. The final verdict is not yet in but we shall no doubt hear before too long as to whether the school has done enough to cause Ofsted to withdraw its de-registration order.

I worked at RSSKL up until 2014 and know some of the people concerned. I don’t wish to add any comment about that school’s particular difficulties, except that I very much hope they can turn the situation around. They have strong support from their parent and pupil bodies, which should stand them in good stead if the school is able to get past this immediate crisis. But the RSSKL problems, although in an extreme form, are emblematic of the problems that many other anthroposophical institutions are experiencing nowadays. Let us quote Peter Selg here:

“…it is quite obvious that most of the anthroposophic institutions (…) including Waldorf schools and curative education homes, and also individual clinics and one anthroposophic medicine producer, are currently facing existential crises. And these crises are not primarily or exclusively financial in nature, but concern their spiritual substance and inner identity, their spirit and what they see as their task; that is, their unique contribution to our culture. Many anthroposophic institutions have hardly any anthroposophists left working in them any longer, or even people who have a real interest in anthroposophy, or who work on the basis of the anthroposophic understanding of the human being. It cannot be ignored that many places have only retained the name that bears such promise, without being able or wanting to honour the expectations associated with it – a situation that leads to the misrepresentation of facts, and in reality damages the standing of anthroposophy.” 1

To return to the Morning Star article, the author lists not only Waldorf education but all the other topics employed by critics to attack Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy. There is nothing original in what he says but I encourage you to read the article for yourself, so as to get the full flavour.

There are all sorts of comments one could make about this. Frost gets some of the details wrong, and I would bet that he has never actually read any Steiner for himself, relying instead on the extensive online criticism of Steiner and Waldorf for the main thrust of his attack. One might add that communists have never liked Steiner, right from the time when he was lecturing to the workers at the Berlin Workers’ School and refused to amend his lectures to suit the party line. Indeed, Steiner was very scathing about both Lenin and Trotsky, whom he described as “the gravediggers of modern civilisation, of whom it may be said that, if their rule continues too long, even in a few places, it will signify the death of modern civilisation and must of necessity lead to the destruction of all the attainments of modern civilisation.” 2 Steiner was of course equally scathing about the Nazis.

But in a way, all this is beside the point. The critics hurl their accusations and the anthroposophists, on the whole, do nothing about it. Thus the critics make all the running in the online debate, and so it is their views which largely influence public perceptions of Steiner, Waldorf and anthroposophy. The critics just need to say: Steiner was a racist, then add in an apparently outrageous quotation and that’s it; job done. Any anthroposophists who wish to put an alternative perspective then need to write reams of explanation and justification, setting the context and making their involved and detailed case, but they are in fact just wasting their time – the simpler one-line message of the critics is what achieves cut-through with the public, who will never have read any of Steiner before and certainly don’t intend to start reading wordy justifications from anthroposophists now. No, they’ve got the message – Steiner was a racist. If they know nothing else about Steiner, this is what they know.

But of course they actually know nothing about Steiner, or about anthroposophy, or the true nature of what it means to be a human being. Does this matter? Does it matter if the adversarial powers have it all their own way and can convince most people that physical, material existence is the only reality?

I used to think that it mattered. It used to upset me greatly that Steiner is so traduced and willfully misunderstood. It also upsets me that certain schools, through weakness and sheer mismanagement, give the critics such ammunition to attack Steiner and Waldorf. But, sadly, it is futile to look to Dornach or the national anthroposophical societies to respond, or to make any effort whatsoever to defend Steiner. I know – I’ve tried. After meetings with some members of the Vorstand and several European general secretaries, in London, Vienna and Dornach, it’s clear that nothing of substance is going to be done. (I except the British general secretary, Marjatta van Boeschoten, from this criticism, because she and I tried very hard to make the case for Dornach to create a media unit for the purpose, among other things, of presenting an alternative view to that of the critics.)

This experience with Dornach made me remember something that Steiner said, (the source of which, annoyingly, I can’t now find), ie that in his next incarnation he may find himself having to work against the Anthroposophical Society. One recognises the good things that the Society does, but defence of Steiner and anthroposophy should be part of their core purpose, and at present it doesn’t appear to be a priority.

The late Sergei Prokofieff made the point: “When anthroposophists encounter (…) these lies – many of which (…) have become common worldwide – and do not stand up against them with courage and decisiveness, then, whether they wish to or not, these anthroposophists work together with the opponents towards the destruction of anthroposophy. (…) ‘If (…) in response to the opposition nothing is done, then the mission of anthroposophy will fail’, said Rudolf Steiner. And if, especially at the Goetheanum in Dornach, not enough is done in this direction, then the process of annihilation and disintegration will be yet further accelerated.” 3

As I say, I used to think it mattered. Nowadays, I’m not only tired of the laissez-faire attitude of many anthroposophists to the critics but I’m also weary of futile arguments with Steiner’s opponents. But even so, I can’t resist one little sally: in Peter Frost’s article, he accuses Steiner of “weird ideas about almost everything (…) even the lost continent of Atlantis.”

Well, yes, Peter, I’m sure many of Steiner’s ideas do sound weird within the newsroom of the Morning Star, and also within many other contemporary citadels of culture – but that doesn’t mean that he was wrong. Steiner as an initiate and highly developed clairvoyant was able to research these matters and in a lecture given on March 7th 1909 in Munich, he spoke extensively of what he had discovered. You can read the whole lecture for yourself, but what I would like to focus on here is the comparison Steiner draws between the Atlantean catastrophe and our situation today.

When it became clear that the submergence of Atlantis was unavoidable, a person Steiner calls the Initiate of the Sun Oracle sent out a call to gather together a group of Atlanteans who would survive the cataclysm and gradually establish the post-Atlantean cultures, ie the ancient Indian, Persian, Egypto-Babylonian-Hebraic and Graeco-Roman cultures. But Steiner says that the leader assembled the most simple and despised people in Atlantis, because those who were then at the highest level of cultural life were not suitable material to be led through and beyond the great Atlantean catastrophe. And here is what is really interesting and relevant for our present-day situation:

“(…) a similar call is once again going out to humanity. To be sure, this appeal is what is appropriate for today, a time when humanity sees only what is in the physical world. (…) As with Atlantis, a catastrophe will occur, and afterwards a new culture imbued with spiritual capacities will arise, and it will be linked to what we call the idea of the universal brotherhood of humanity.

But today, as in Atlantean times, the call cannot go out to those who stand at the highest levels of cultural life because they will not understand. The Atlantean clairvoyants and magicians, who were in a way destined to die out with their culture, occupied a position similar to that of people in contemporary life who occupy the highest positions in the realms of scholarship and external industrial life – the great inventors and discoverers of our time. No matter how much the present leaders feel there is still to be done, they nevertheless occupy the same position as their Atlantean counterparts. Contemptuously they look down on those who are beginning to feel something of the spiritual life to come. (…) When leading representatives of modern culture look contemptuously down at these small circles, those who are participating diligently in the preparation of future conditions must say to themselves that the intellectual giants of today cannot be counted on to lead the way in this task. It is precisely the people who are held in contempt because they are not considered to have reached the heights of contemporary erudtion who are being assembled today, just as the leader of the Sun Oracle once gathered around him the simple people of Atlantis. These disdained people are being assembled to prepare the dawn of a new culture whereas erudition of the modern form will bring about the twilight of our culture. This is mentioned in passing to fortify those who have to endure and hold their own against the attacks of the people who consider themselves to be on the cutting edge of contemporary culture.”

And actually, I’m not surprised that so many people find all of this outlandish, bizarre and beyond anything they wish to engage with. That’s because they are so caught up in materialism, that it is impossible for them to understand how human beings can and must free themselves in future from this confinement in the corporeal. It’s because they are imprisoned within their sense-bound thinking and cannot conceive of the possibility that within themselves they possess inner organs that will at a future time perceive the psychic and spiritual within nature and within the human being. So – until you are able to wake up – mock on, good people, while unbeknown to you the shoots of the new culture are quietly sprouting all around you.


1 From the foreword to “Rudolf Steiner’s Intentions for the Anthroposophical Society” by Peter Selg, published by Steiner Books (2011). ISBN: 978-0-88010-738-9

2 from Lecture 1 of the series “The Social Future”, given in Zurich in October 1919.

 3 from page 102 of “Crisis in the Anthroposophical Society” by Sergei O. Prokofieff and Peter Selg, published by Temple Lodge (2013). ISBN: 978 1 906999 43 8


Filed under Critics, Dornach, Morning Star, RSSKL, Waldorf critics

51 responses to “Anthroposophy and the Twilight of Culture

  1. Some questions about this Jeremy.
    The article says that a decision whether to close the school or not would probably be made before Christmas (2017) Was there a decision?
    I read about this some time ago – don’t remember where – and I got the impression that the authorities were extremely strict, as though it might have been a school in the Soviet Union. Since you know, or knew the school from the inside, as it were, perhaps you could advise whether you think the authorities are justified in taking such drastic action.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Frank,
      I’m not in contact with RSSKL so my only source of information is what you can read on the school website. The only other thing I can add is that I recently met a former trustee and parent at the school, together with another parent, both of whom were very upset by what was happening. One of them said: “Thank God for Ofsted – I never thought I would find myself saying that.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Peter Le Ray


    I have observed over my life that when any people isolate themselves to form a special group they can cause suspicion to wake up in others, especially if they call themselves by some exotic name. I suggest that the word Anthroposophy or anthroposophist lays the foundation for mischief to wake up in anyone who hears the word for the first time. This separation from others can be compounded by group insiders who may seek to bolster their own sense of specialness by having a fancy title to go by. After a time, an unique insider language forms, further alienating those on the outside.

    I am deeply interested in Steiner’s offerings but will never say to someone that I am an anthroposophist. I may talk nothing but anthroposophy to someone but I strive to express it in common usage terminology. Some of the problem you refer to I suggest is caused by Anthroposophists themselves………….cheers Peter

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think your approach is sensible, Peter. As I mentioned on the home page of this blog, anthroposophy sounds cult-like in English, and I wish we could rename the Society to something like the “Rudolf Steiner Association.” The future for anthroposophy is in finding common cause with all people of goodwill and leaving all our jargon behind us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bres Bo

    An on-line defence of Rudolf Steiner is a waste of energy. It is completely pointless arguing over the internet. I have never heard of anyone being persuaded by an on-line debate – about anything – except possibly between individuals who already know each other. For us, Steiner’s ideas are the food of life; for Peter Frost, he’s a weirdo with weirdo ideas that have now had their come-uppance (at least at Kings Langley). Disembodied words will never win people over to Anthroposophy; only real encounters, and real deeds/experiences. These attacks are heart-breaking, I know Jeremy, but I’d rather engage with the stranger at my door, than my enemy across the ether.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As you say, it is a pointless waste of energy to argue with the critics – but nevertheless, I still think it is important for a pro-Steiner and pro-anthroposophy viewpoint to be put across. We won’t persuade the critics, but we may be able to help those who are new to these discussions to see that there is more than one side to the debate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, this is the point of publishing on the internet – that the truth about Anthroposophy, Steiner and Steiner enterprises is also there for people to read. By ‘the truth’ in this context I mean what Steiner actually said (whether you agree with it or not) and an accurate picture of what goes on in Steiner inspired initiatives. (In my experience this is difficult to arrive at, but the attempt should be made).
        There are ‘honourable’ critics. People who have taken the trouble to understand Steiner, or who have had negative experiences in Steiner schools or Camphill villages and who have come to the conclusion that it is a bad thing to base any kind of institution which is supposed to meet the needs of children and/or vulnerable adults on the visionary teachings of a clairvoyant. They are entitled to their point of view.


  4. You are approaching something very important here. Thanks for the words of Steiner 1909.


    • Thank you. Yes, I particularly like this sentence: “This is mentioned in passing to fortify those who have to endure and hold their own against the attacks of the people who consider themselves to be on the cutting edge of contemporary culture.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “””Steiner as an initiate and highly developed clairvoyant was able to research these matters…”””.

    I want to express some ideas about this Jeremy phrase. I beg Jeremy, allow a preamble about what I want to say before.
    I was born (this time) in South America. It has been very difficult to communicate my anthroposophical reflections to the anthroposophists of my region. I had to live supporting the weight of this contradiction. Not having real interlocutors in my own region, despite having friends who speak the same language as me, is still a little distressing to me. But now I see that it is a universal problem.
    A few years ago, I was struck by the fact that the large number of reports on the spiritual world left by Steiner has no real obstacle in language. I, for example, write and read in Spanish. I speak very little English and I write in that language in a much worse way. Definitely, one can think and speak about worlds superior to ours. In studying Steiner’s writings one concludes that any possible access to these worlds does not, in fact, require academic learning of any particular language. My anguish for making myself understood led me to consider the possibility of studying in depth the original language in which the works of R.S: the German language are printed. I said to myself: “Only in this way will I achieve a complete understanding of Anthroposophy.” I was very wrong. I already knew about the enormous distances, impossible to avoid between people who are still related by the same common language. How did I come to believe that understanding something about Anthroposophy was a matter of language? I still did not realize that the distances between human beings could grow much more and become almost insurmountable due to something we do not want to do: WE MUST DEFEAT the barriers that are not in the norms of human language but are in human beings. Perhaps, the most painful contradiction with which an individual must live is the following: not being able to be heard before those who, it is supposed, are more prepared to do so.
    I do not blame R. Steiner at all. But it is obvious, for men of high soul like him, that something like Anthroposophy must break the uniformity of the most important criteria of societies that are said to be open or closed. With Anthroposophy this is inevitable.

    I just read Jeremy’s publication. With him I have been able to verify again that the type of defense of Steiner’s work carried out for decades by many anthroposophists suffers from some things. I just want to name two. Possibly an error has to do with the insufficient propagation of anthroposophy in the languages ​​in which its defense is carried out. But I find a particular error, not necessarily related to language. It seems that since the time of Steiner, the anthroposophists got used to making such an error. Is this. The anthroposophists of almost all denominations believe that clairvoyance points to the true initiate. In the first place, this is only partially true. Secondly, there is a great difference between someone who simply “sees” paranormal phenomena (a “voyance”) and a clairvoyant.
    Let’s see on television. In Hollywood, movie stars take their problems to the scrutiny of someone famous who has, presumably, the clairvoyant faculty. Allow me to encompass this or other human abilities within the term “vidence” (word with which I replace “voyance”, of French origin, and that for the English language, I risk only representing the action of “seeing spiritually”, but not with “clarity”). No sensible anthroposophist would dare to propose those abilities as faculties under the domain of a real initiate. R. Steiner tactfully omitted to mention these things. (This is obvious to me, it was not time yet). To speak of a genuine clairvoyant must be done only when the individual is initiated. We only have to decompose the clairvoyant word and we would have, in the prefix, a clear or diaphanous spiritual vision under the domain of the initiate. (It can be confusing, I offer apologies).

    What follows is a bit more complicated to understand, but not impossible. Unlike a “voyance”, a clairvoyant (someone who “sees clearly”) can be active as an initiate during existence where he uses that faculty. Or it may not be active. There have been cases of very large initiates who, being “fallen” (asleep for initiation) use the faculty developed during initiation. This is permitted by the high gods who direct the initiation of certain souls. The works of Homer, the Greek, are an example of much of this. A faculty can stand out and that does not mean that, as initiates, they do not have other faculties acquired during other lives. The Bible can show us many cases of “awakened” initiates (who are living the initiation) and cases of “fallen” initiates provided with clairvoyance, intuition, telepathy, policivide, etc., whose names I refrain from quoting at this time.
    Now, clairvoyance and other faculties of the soul are acquired by the initiate during the conquest of the degrees in the Initiation. A faculty develops during an initiatory process. Other faculties need other different developments. Each of the faculties is necessary for the work of the initiate, therefore, its evolution can last for millennia. It is for this reason that the self-realization of the soul needs reincarnation. In some cases, so that the divine sparks embodied in human bodies comply with normal laws and serve only nature. In other cases, reincarnation serves to support the progress of the souls that play the role of guides of humanity. These souls await their liberation through gradual development and only in this way can they become Masters. Forgive my direct and unprejudiced way when mentioning these things. I think the anthroposophists have some lights about it.

    An initiate, said in a few words, is a sum of spiritual structures and faculties (although I have only mentioned something about the use of his psychic faculties). The initiate can fall (or “sleep”) as he incarnates in various existences and, as long as he does not recapitulate his initiations, he can appear among humanity as an artist, scholar, educator or poor and insignificant citizen … Let’s remember Rafael’s case, although He’s not the only one. The Italian painter (very familiar to all) is an inverse or three-dimensional sample of powerful clairvoyance. As an initiate, he had fallen. In that incarnation he did almost nothing to “rise up as an initiate”, but we must look and analyze the phenomenon of the paintings to understand that his clairvoyant faculty did not have a true spiritual projection towards our world. Raffaello was not a simple voyance, because in another existence he reached very high levels of initiation. But Rafael (or Il Raffaello), to understand us better, in that incarnation was NOT an initiate, in the true sense that I am describing. And so on… with some others.
    To summarize, I must say that one thing is a spiritual faculty and another is the Initiation. Not understanding this makes it very difficult for many anthroposophists to understand Rudolf Steiner as an Initiate (and present him to his adversaries), since they only understand him for his clairvoyance. A faculty does not make the initiate complete. A developed faculty can, however, serve to present some spiritual characteristic necessary for humanity. A faculty, therefore, is not an end in itself. It is only a tool for the initiation work.
    I understand that with what I have said I can complicate much more the comfortable image of many about Anthroposophy and its beloved founder. But it is only the truth, a much more complete truth! -Veglio Clavijo, Ecuador

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here is a reference to Steiner (1911) on the distinction between clairvoyance (enlightenment, imagination) and initiation (inspiration), and their ‘balance’ (intuition):

      “Therefore in all esoteric training, care should be taken that initiation should be acquired in addition to clairvoyance. In proportion to the extent of his clairvoyance must a man become capable of distinguishing between the various kinds of supersensible beings and events. Etc.” GA015_c02

      Liked by 1 person

      • Concise. It is the method (or pedagogy) that an initiate of importance uses when he must emit far-reaching spiritual concepts or universal validity.
        Yes, Ton. This is the unmistakable behavior of the great initiates. For the most part, they need to address ALL of humanity. They speak for their near ones and also for the distant ones. They speak for those of their time and for the people of the future. Everyone must understand him, in principle, within the limits of a certain equality.

        It is said that several people, who in past incarnations sincerely supported an initiate, obtain for himself the grace of finding him again in the future: surely this turns such people of the past into those people of the future as I mentioned. These people, who suffered with their Master, look for it and will not stop loving it in spite of death, speaking biblically, only people who listen with their hearts can be called the People Chosen by God … or by the Master, who comes being, in some way, practically the same … or almost.
        Thanks for the appointment Ton.


  6. Howard

    Jeremy, thank you. As the fifth, post-Atlantian epoch progresses, we will increasingly witness how the conscious use of partial truths, combined with hyperbolic speaking / writing, undermines discernment. “Say to the church at Sardis, I find your deeds neither hot nor cold.”

    Indeed, it may prove far more productive to pull an akido manuever, just stepping to the side, allowing the attacker’s own momentum to trip them over their own feet. Though a clarity in epistemology itself is at risk, I trust people’s ability to see the black-and-white falsity of hyperbole. However, it is likely far harder, in calm moments alone, to consistently think clearly, to dig through to the bigger, significant ideas underlying what we do than it is to just punch back at a half-truthful, overly intellectual anthro- adversary.


  7. wooffles

    A point that Jeremy raised in his post but has disappeared in the discussion is that poorly run schools provide an opening for hyperbolic criticism. I’d hazard a guess that a well-run school with broadly satisfied parents that is making serious efforts to meet the new realities of a changing world (while staying grounded in Waldorf principles, one hopes) will be largely immune to such attacks. Critics are out of anthroposophists’ control, but the way that schools are run is not, or not entirely.

    I did like that bit in the linked column about the four Steiner school teachers who checked all the boxes when asked for their race, citing reincarnation, although the specific version sounds like a Waldorf bashers’ urban legend.


  8. Tom Mellett has been having difficulties in posting here, so has emailed me with the following comment, which I’m copying below:


    Let me start with your final sentence with emphasis on the “shoots” and “sprouting” —
    So – until you are able to wake up – mock on, good people, while unbeknown to you the shoots of the new culture are quietly sprouting all around you.
    — because they vividly express the essence of a close synchronicity that occurred when I first discovered your new blog entry Saturday afternoon. At that time, I had just “stumbled upon” (as Internet parlance has it) a new documentary movie about the history of organic farming, It is called Evolution of Organic, a film by Mark Kitchell. I copy the opening of the summary

    It’s no accident that California, home of the world’s most industrialized agriculture, also gives rise to its opposite — organic agriculture. The ‘60s counter-culture heads back to the land. Few have any farming experience; but they experiment and learn and in time become good farmers. A metaphysical aspect emerges when Alan Chadwick, eccentric master gardener, appears at U.C. Santa Cruz as students start a garden; he teaches a generation Rudolf Steiner’s Biodynamic philosophy.

    My immediate reaction was: “I must tell Jeremy about this film!” I first heard about Alan Chadwick just 2 months after his death in 1980 when I had arrived at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, CA and Rene Querido made occasional references to a great British figure in Bio-Dynamics who had recently crossed the threshold in California.

    But it was only this past Saturday, when reading about this film, that I realized the pivotal pioneering role that Alan played in literally fructifying the American organic foods movement with Bio-Dynamics. (The film starts with interviews of Stephen Decater and Jim Nelson, two of Alan’s best protégés.)

    But wait, there’s more. Digging further, I was astounded and pleased to discover that Alan Chadwick had to be persuaded to visit Santa Cruz, CA in that fateful year of 1967 when the “Summer of Love” was happening in San Francisco. So, who was the angelic figure who worked mightily to convince the reluctant and arrogantly misanthropic Alan Chadwick that he must go to America, to the University of California at Santa Cruz and fulfill his destiny with Bio-Dynamics? She was Countess Freya von Moltke (1911-2010), widow Of Helmuth James Graf von Moltke (1907-1945) who was executed by Adolf Hitler for treason in early 1945. (And he is the grandnephew of the Helmuth von Moltke who commanded the German forces in WW I and had conversations with Rudolf Steiner).

    So right about this point in my research, I planned to email you with this news when suddenly I hear the notification ding on my iPad telling me that there is a new posting up on Anthropopper. I rush “across the cyber-pond.” as it were, and there I read your new material and note your melancholia about the present situation in Anthroposophy in the world today. Now perhaps my news will not cheer you up, but maybe it will.

    What you wrote at the end about shoots and sprouts of culture, specifically and literally in Bio-Dynamics has some of its roots in the outbreak of WW I in 1914 if we trace back the karmic lineage of Alan Chadwick’s fateful meeting with Countess Freya von Moltke in South Africa in 1952.

    I mean, if we got through World War I, and we did, surely we will all get through this present situation. So buck up Jeremy and let a smile be your umbrella! Melancholia steeped in self-pity does not suit you at all with your normally ebullient upbeat sanguine nature. Leave that dark Ahrimanic broody stuff to the darker-dispositioned, more melancholic phlegmatics like me.


    Tom Mellett
    Los Angeles, CA


  9. Frost’s article summarises alleged anthroposophical racism and antisemitism in eight paragraphs, and ‘biodynamism’ in five. Indeed, Steiner used vast stereotyping of ethnic groups (CW 105, 107, 121, 349), which was already criticised in his time. This was repeated in the mystical fundamentalism of anthroposophists in our time and in its internal anthroposophical criticism (e.g. Rose, Sonnenberg).

    However, Steiner’s basic human evolutionary scheme comprised three M’s: Monogenism, Migration, Mixture, as opposed to polygenism, hierarchy and regionalisation (CW 11, 13, 54, 121, 100, 107, 349). The biological evolution theory he adopted was Neo-Lamarckism (Haeckel) and Mutualism (Kropotkin), not Neo-Darwinism (Weismann, CW 11, 30, 121).

    Rather, hierarchism is to be found between Steiner’s Atlantean (archaic) and post-Atlantean (modern) ‘root races’ (i.e. human evolutionary era’s), not between migrated Atlantean (Ice-age) races. Even Post-Atlantean (neolithic) Europe was described by Steiner as a retarded, backward migration culture (CW 13, 105, 113, 117, 121), before Europe’s ‘Jupiter people’ adopted the high forehead and accompanying intellect, developed by an alleged original Celtic culture of mentioned normal ‘Sun people’ (Manu, Scythianos, Hibernia). See also Prokofieff (google _y3nDzXvcB8C).


    • What will always prove useful in considering these several citations is that Rudolf Steiner’s intent in describing the various sub-races of Atlantis was to indicate evolutionary race formation in the constituent varieties necessary for a further migration and amalgamation as cultural entities. Then, by adding the necessary blood-mixing over the several generations since the fall of Atlantis, we have the mixed-race genetics and demographics we see today. That is why Christ chose to sit and break bread with the mixed-blood mongrels of Galilee. He saw what makes the universal human right here with the Galileans, as opposed to those up in Judea who held to the single-blood concept.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liliana

        Hi Steve, re. the last sentence in your post, Steiner gave some details in this regard in a lecture dated 22-1-1921 – GA 203 : ….In those times when fewer earthly incarnations lay behind the earthly soul, then, because of his fewer earthly incarnations on Earth, a man was born into a quite definite Group, and in that one definite Group alone could he develop socially. A man who, for instance, belonged to a certain caste in Old India, belonged to it because of what his soul had gone through in the Spiritual world; and, because of the small number of his incarnations, if he had been transferred to another caste he would have caused his soul to degenerate. It was not only the blood-inheritance which lay at the basis of the caste system, but something which I must call Spiritual pre-determination. Man has long grown out of that…..
        Today human beings are instructed by the Gods in their pre-natal existence, and the stamp of a definite Group is no longer impressed upon them. The last relic of this still lingers in physical heredity. In a sense, one might say that to belong with one’s consciousness to a Nationality is a piece of inherited sin and is something which should no longer play a part in the soul of man.
        On the other hand, there is the fact, which does play a definite role in our modem epoch, that man, as he grows up, grows away from all the Group-forms…..
        …..Also what it means that man was formerly determined by the will of the Gods into Castes, Classes, Peoples, Tribes, etc. That disappeared after the turning-point in time [Golgotha] which lies behind us.


  10. I have always found that those that rail the hardest against higher ideas are those who cannot handle higher truths. I for one find no purpose in standing in defense of the truths I have learned over the years, in particular that all cultures, all religions, all truth from all sources find their fulfillment in the Christ – Jesus of Nazareth.

    What I find is the best defense is in most cases – silence. Following one of the precepts found in Steiner’s teachings: “Never talk without cause — be gladly silent.”

    When I was finding my way through the maze of higher spiritual learning, I ran from those who wanted to share with me “the Good News”. I found my way to where I am now without “help” from anyone who “knew better” or “knew THE truth”. I credit my progress not on my own prowess but rather on my deep seeded “need” to know. I believe this is the only way anyone can really “have eyes to see and ears to hear” the many intertwined “little truths” that lead to “The Truth”.

    Time and time again I have witnessed those who tout themselves as superior fall by their own weight. Unfortunately, they can prove to be destructive to others along the way until they do. In this instance, what I believe we must do is grasp the “bigger” picture of what we believe, especially with the knowledge Rudolf Steiner has brought to light.

    Edgar Cayce (the sleeping prophet) described Jesus as “the pattern”, describing Him as “the awareness within each soul, imprinted in pattern on the mind and waiting to be awakened by the will, of the soul’s oneness with God”. I believe, anyway, that if we simply follow this pattern, in light of all that both Cayce and Steiner have revealed for us, those that would scorn and ridicule us and our beliefs will either be “infected” by our standing firm, or will fall away. In other words, they do not matter.

    Apologies for droning on. There is so much to say here. It is comfort enough for this poor soul to have found a forum like this to share among like minded people. I’ll leave you with a bit more of Cayce. Cheers!

    Q. What is the meaning and significance of the words Jesus and Christ…?

    A. Just as indicated. Jesus is the man — the activity, the mind, the relationships that He bore to others. Yea, He was mindful of friends, He was sociable, He was loving, He was kind, He was gentle. He grew faint, He grew weak — and yet gained that strength that He has promised, in becoming the Christ, by fulfilling and overcoming the world! Ye are made strong — in body, in mind, in soul and purpose — by that power in Christ. The power, then, is in the Christ. The pattern is in Jesus.
    — Edgar Cayce reading 2533-7


    • Liliana

      Thank you, Kenneth. Paraphrasing Steiner, he once said that unless one felt a hunger for knowledge as one does for food one would soon turn away from Anthroposophy. It’s much easier to follow the “the Good News Messengers” who make no demands to the mind.


      • Thank you both Liliana and Kathy.

        In the “reverse direction”, I have found, try as I might, to help others to see that much of their “physical” struggles are actually stemming from either a suppressed spiritual life or, worse, outright rejection of any sort of spiritual connection in their life is fruitless and often has the reverse effect of what is intended. Much like my running from those whose intent, I am sure, was sincere and from the heart.

        In my own life, the examples I live with are my own two daughters. One has her own ideas and any conception of things spiritual must come from her own imaginings. She rejects anything Christian and so “throws the baby out with the bathwater”, refusing to recognize Christ at all.

        My other daughter is, to put it simply and somewhat painfully, ahrimanic in her life choices. She does not necessarily reject anything outright (though in one slip some time ago she used the phrase “Christ crap” in conversation) but is very hyper focused on the material. Actually, both daughters are pretty focused on the material. And even the most simple spiritual principles are too much for them to wrestle with.

        I pray for both regularly and (hopefully) model Jesus in every way I can. What builds upon the pain I feel is my two granddaughters by the second daughter mentioned and the “one on the way” with the first.

        When I met my first granddaughter for the first time at about 6 months, I took her alone away from others and prayed I think deeper than I ever had before over her for her protection etc. Since that time she has had a special connection to me (she is now 4). I will meet my second granddaughter in a couple of weeks and will do the same. I am so thankful I am where I am in my spiritual life. Perhaps in time, before I move on my way, something wonderful will happen in all their lives.

        Prayer is really all we have to help others – until the Light shines within them and they begin to seek on their own and ask questions.


        • Liliana

          I feel for you Kenneth. It is very painful to see those close to us entangled in a daily life that would be so much richer if only they would let the spirit in, even if only through a crack in their convictions, a tiny doubt that what they consider reality is really all there is.
          In our times the human soul is under attack like never before. I’m reminded so often of that wonderful yet frightening poem by Yeats ‘The Second Coming’. He was so prophetic.

          But then there is this other wonderful meditation to give us hope:
          Let us eradicate from our soul
          All fear and terror of what comes toward us out of life.
          We must think only that whatever comes is given to us
          By a world direction full of purpose.
          This is part of what we must learn in this age –
          To live out of pure trust;
          Trust in the ever-present help of the Spiritual World.
          Truly, nothing else will do
          If our courage is not to fail us.
          Let us discipline our will
          To awaken this trust within ourselves
          Every morning and every evening.
          R.S. 27-11-1910


  11. Kathy

    Ditto, Kenneth!


  12. In response to those who claim Steiner was a racist, it can be useful if they read through the many Steiner statements against racism:


  13. The article in the communist newspaper presents a caricature of Steiner’s views.

    Here is part of the overall picture the communist article fails to see:

    1. Probably less than one-quarter of one percent of Steiner’s 350 volumes of lectures and writings says anything whatsoever about race.

    2. In those 350 volumes, Steiner was recorded as putting out a few scattered sentences that seem to be or are to some extent racist. But whenever Steiner speaks systematically about race, he makes clear that the character of the individual is much more important than race. See, for many examples from throughout his life,

    He even denies there is any real scientific content to the very concept of “race.” See the lectures in The Universal Human (SteinerBooks): there Steiner holds that demonic forces seek to make different human groups look upon one another as different species and that Christ came in significant part to overcome that demonic attempt and unite all humanity as one.

    3. Steiner spoke before the Nazi Holocaust and the martyrdom of Martin Luther King had taken place. Because of those events and many others, today people are quite understandably very uncomfortable recognizing ANY difference among races. Steiner’s approach, in a very different historical context, was to acknowledge differences but to insist they were unimportant compared with the character of the individual. At one point, for example, Steiner says that this is so obvious it is ‘stupid” to have to mention it:
    In 1897:
    “Value should be attached solely to the mutual exchange between individuals. It is irrelevant whether someone is a Jew or a German … This is so obvious that one feels stupid even putting it into words. So how stupid must one be to assert the opposite!” — Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte 1887-1901 (Collected essays) (GA 31), Dornach 1989, September 1897. (Quoted here: .)

    The communist newspaper refers to another Steiner statement about the Jews to make Steiner look as though he would have supported genocide against them, but the statement in question meant something else entirely: its underlying sentiment was against ANY kind of ethnic nationalism, including the German kind. It was not its intent to single out Jewry for any special ethnic criticism. Furthermore, anyone who knows Steiner’s works and context knows that that statement held precisely zero implication of any kind of violence whatsoever, because Steiner would absolutely have opposed that, though the communist writer was either too negligent or too much of a liar to trouble to find that out or convey it to his readers, and is content to make Steiner look genocidal by a quote out of context. Any fair and thorough appraisal of Steiner will recognize his rejection of ethnic nationalism and his belief in the individual. Steiner’s whole view of how Austria-Hungary and Central Europe should have been structured after World War I is just one of many proofs of Steiner’s disgust with any policy of dividing people by ethnicity.

    It is ironic that a communist writer should tar Steiner with malign influence, when “actually existing” communism in the twentieth century was responsible for well over a hundred million victims of democide (murder by government) just in the PRC and the Soviet Union.


    • Thank you, Edward. This is an outstanding post, and almost makes me want to write a torrent, but I won’t. What you write here is important, and often used by ‘yours truly’ to set the perspective on Rudolf Steiner’s overall work of presenting spiritual science. You said:

      “1. Probably less than one-quarter of one percent of Steiner’s 350 volumes of lectures and writings says anything whatsoever about race.”

      This is, indeed, very true. Rudolf Steiner conveyed races only in relation to their seminal sub-racial configurations that occurred in the 4th main epoch. This is best expressed in his lecture-course on “The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls”, GA121. Even here, with this very title, he is pointing toward the eventual cultures that would arise out of the necessary migration of these sub-races.

      The problem that seems to occur for those that criticize this course, and I would more than suggest that Peter Frost of the Morning Star is one of those that googles on Steiner’s racism, and gets some of the smattering of this criticism, is that we have a very detailed description of how the various cultures that represent the several folk souls first had to form as the sub-races in the Altantean period of earth development. Steiner proceeds in an admirable fashion by necessarily describing how when the Universal Human is to be divided into the various sub-races, that abnormal spiritual of form are used to make the various distinctions, which involve bringing in the planets and their respective qualities. Critics with some know-how consider this very prejudicial.

      Then, on an easier and more popular note, we have the findings of the Dutch Anthroposophical Society a few years ago, which charged Steiner with, what…, some 16 specific charges of racist remarks that would be found so by today’s standards? Well, this certainly can easily be found in any casual search on Google about Dr. Steiner.

      Sorry for the small torrent, but it could have been much larger. This blog provides a nice outlet, and I hope that Jeremy keeps up his focus.

      Kind regards,



    • Isn’t Frost at least right concerning Steiner’s stereotyping of diverse ethnic groups and their offspring in our days (CW 101, 105, 121 etc.), or Steiner’s stigmatisation of Jews (CW 353: the spirit of Jewry, the Jewish way of thinking, the intrinsic character of Judaism, Jewish habits and customs, their own particular faculties, the characteristics of the Jews, the typical Jewish style), which has been preserved and transplanted into the present?

      Not to speak of the alleged superiority of Christianity over monotheistic Judaism and polytheistic paganism, or of the original Celts over Europeans.


      • Thank you Steve and Ton, for the helpful replies.

        I’ll respond to Steve first.

        I find the Mission of the Folk Souls problematic, of course. A couple of sentences in that book trouble me, and really I should go back and reread the relevant lecture to clarify to myself what I really think about those sentences. This issue still has some unresolved elements for me, despite the confidence with which I wrote my 7:00 pm comment above.

        Yes, I have heard of the Dutch Anthroposophical Society’s exhaustive inventory of race-related remarks in Steiner’s work, and the resulting findings. I was glad to hear such an inventory was made and assessed. I wonder if their inventory has been translated into English. I’d guess it is available in German. I’d like to see the overview.

        Over decades I have read well over a hundred volumes of Steiner, some of them by chewing (really, interrogating) each sentence exhaustively so that I might digest every last micron of value and set aside the inessential. Extensive reading of Steiner is the basis for my assessment in the 7:00 pm comment above.

        To Ton,
        There is some truth in what you say, as to stereotyping, but I believe this has to be taken in the context of the countervailing factors I list in my 7:00 pm comment, or one gets a false picture of Steiner. Things can be quoted in isolation to make his views look horrific and utterly different from what they really are.

        I’m thankful that you provided the link to Steiner’s discussion of Jews and the Jewish outlook. I consider myself “half-Jewish” because my father comes from a Jewish background, and Jews are the people to whom I feel instinctively the warmest ties. In some ways I am culturally very much a Jew, I suppose. Some of what Steiner says about the Jewish mind I see in myself — or at least myself before I had studied anthroposophy intensively for over a decade (that was the period when I read over a hundred volumes by Steiner), by which time a profound transformation had been wrought. Steiner remains my most valued spiritual, aesthetic, intellectual, and moral teacher.

        In reading what you linked to, Ton, I see nothing offensive in what Steiner said, provided one reads everything he said in that talk. He might or might not be wrong on some points, but that is a different question.

        I’ll give examples of what I think makes the talk you linked to inoffensive.

        In that talk

        1. Steiner notes that Jews are prevalent in the medical profession above what would be expected by their proportion of the population of the nations in which they live, and he says that he would be absolutely against using the law to prevent Jews from being prevalent in the medical profession. Based on that and on much else, we can conclude that he had the same attitude about Jews becoming painters, or musicians, or entering any other field. He expresses himself viscerally against the state setting up ethnic restrictions.

        2. His criticisms of Judaism are not based on any alleged unchangeable, biological, racial characteristics; he criticizes some cultural characteristics, and those criticisms are balanced by praise of other cultural characteristics, and by criticism of his own European culture.

        3. He speaks of feeling heartbroken to read of Jews in the Middle Ages being kept in ghettoes, not being permitted to go out of them; it seems to me there is a subtext to this statement: Steiner is indicating to his audience, lest they misunderstand his criticisms, that nothing he is saying should be construed as support for any kind of segregation of Jews from others or for hating them.

        4. Steiner’s criticism of Jewish culture is that it has an aspect of ethnic nationalism (which was a necessity for the unique spiritual role the Jews had to play in the evolution of mankind, he says, but is no longer helpful). Steiner says that people need to transcend racial invidiousness and ethnic nationalism and come to the universal human where all peoples intermix.

        5. Because of his opposition to ethnic nationalism, Steiner was against Zionism. But now that the Holocaust has happened, and Israel is an accomplished fact, it is, I would say, wrong and even absurd to think that Steiner would today single out Israel for dissolution any more than any other nation with its own language, culture, and ethnic composition. He would have urged that all nations move away from ethnic or other nationalisms, to the extent they can do so without falling into something worse. Indeed, after criticizing Zionism, he goes on in that talk to criticize Europe, saying that similar nationalist tendencies led to World War I. Having studied Steiner’s social threefolding efforts, I have learned that Steiner wanted to bring federalism, democracy, and threefolding to bear in order to make Austria-Hungary into a truly multicultural society after World War I. That was part of why he at times expressed almost hostile animus against Woodrow Wilson and his “self-determination of nations”. Steiner considered ethnic invidiousness repulsive, barbaric, decadent. His strength of feeling in this direction has been too little noted.

        6. Steiner points to the blood libel against Jews and calls it ‘superstitious’.

        The foregoing points make it clear that Steiner held a view that was virtually the opposite of the one Nazis adhered to. And yet how often we have seen a certain sentence maliciously quoted out of context to make it appear that Steiner supported genocide!

        In short, the Steiner talk you linked to focuses on culture, not race, except to reject race and ethnicity as any basis for law or for the organization of states. Provided one rejects ethnic nationalism and any kind of totalitarianism (both of which Steiner frequently rejected), there is nothing wrong with criticizing the beliefs, ideas and practices of peoples. In any case, Steiner cares little about alleged biological, racial characteristics.

        Perhaps one could criticize Steiner for not realizing fully enough what could result from the fact that many of those who would read his statements would not be mature enough to avoid parroting parts out of context. So much easier to repeat statements than it is to penetrate the network of relations between statements.

        Perhaps one could criticize him for not anticipating (or did he?) how his statements on this subject, ripped from their context, would appear a century after his death when the world had become a global village, Europe had been traumatized by the Nazis and the death camps, and the U.S. had been shocked to its core by having to face up to its inhumanity and cruelty to the descendants of slaves. But a teacher cannot, or cannot always, speak to all ages at once. Specific circumstances must often be addressed.

        As far as I can see, if one reads Steiner with care, there is little in his works, when it comes to racism, to be offended by. What there is that is racially offensive, if anything, should simply be rejected. Steiner was one of the greatest men who ever lived, but that does not make him infallible. Unfortunately, even Steiner’s friends don’t always read him with care, and his enemies, who read him with hatred, zero in on a statement that, in isolation, can be made to look genocidal, though he was viscerally opposed to racial obsessions and pathologies. What motives do people have for misrepresenting Steiner?

        Sometimes it is just an honest error due to lack of sufficient knowledge. Others misrepresent Steiner due to a hatred of anthroposophy because it rejects materialistic reductionism and critiques the reductionist aspect of current science. Still others hate anthroposophy because of the partly justified feeling that Waldorf schools that have become state schools merge the spiritual/religious/cultural with state power. (In fact, all state schooling commits that sin, which is why Steiner wanted to separate school and state.) Still other people, who come from a different spiritual or religious background than anthroposophy, may hate it simply because it is a strong spiritual force that differs from what they are attached to.

        I again provide a link to the many anti-racist statements Steiner made throughout his life:


      • “Isn’t Frost at least right concerning Steiner’s stereotyping of diverse ethnic groups and their offspring in our days (CW 101, 105, 121 etc.)”

        I’d be interested in seeing some examples of ethnic stereotyping from these courses, since both 105 and 121 are largely about race development and the early civilizations after the deluge. 101 is about Occult Signs and Symbols. Very curious on this.

        Of course, 353 has been adequately defended elsewhere, but any reading of it easily defends itself. It is NOT antisemitic, but rather extols the Hebrews and Judaism. Waldorf Answers is pretty thorough on this.


      • You don’t have to agree with everything Frost writes, to see ethnic stereotyping in Steiner’s descriptions. I mean, ‘An Indian is in such close touch with nature …’ (CW 100) is stigmatising American Indians as a group (citing Samuel Cobb). Or the ‘tendencies towards certain passionate and sensuous instincts’ among Malays is stereotyping a whole group (CW 105).

        And e.g. ‘the Jews are a tenacious people’ (CW 353) is an anti-Judaist cliché, ascribing a negatively stereotyped quality to a whole group, although the Jewish people is not a unity .
        Frost quotes Steiner (1888) on ‘Jewry as such’. Later, Steiner (1924, CW 353) referred to the obsolete collective ’Jewish way of thinking’ as an abstract monotheism, in anti-Judaist contrast to a developed Christianity.

        Apologetic here are Anderson, Leist/Ravagli/Bader 2002 and Mays/Nordwall 2004,

        Click to access Opponents_Critics_of_Steiner.pdf

        Click to access RS-AntiSemitism.pdf

        Critical are Staudenmaier 2005 (and Stegemann and Sonnenberg in German)


      • “You don’t have to agree with everything Frost writes, to see ethnic stereotyping in Steiner’s descriptions. I mean, ‘An Indian is in such close touch with nature …’ (CW 100) is stigmatising American Indians as a group (citing Samuel Cobb). Or the ‘tendencies towards certain passionate and sensuous instincts’ among Malays is stereotyping a whole group (CW 105).”

        One doesn’t have to agree with anything Frost writes, but to see ethnic stereotyping when we are actually dealing with distinguishing features and characteristics warrants a closer look at these lectures. I won’t cite from them, but the reference to the Indians is in the second paragraph here, and is quite descriptive without any apparent stigmatization.

        In this lecture, the reference to the Malays is placed in context as descriptive features and charcteristics in relation to another sub-race, i.e, the Mongols. All it takes is a little study to see that the subject is evolutionary race formation and development from a spiritual-scientific standpoint.


      • My point is, Indians, Malays or Europeans aren’t homogeneous groups. Alleged ‘distinguishing features and characteristics’ are prejudices. They were mixed populations, with certainty in the 19th century (the quoted Samuel Cobb allegedly was a ‘half-blood’ chief). At the most, the characteristics might be working on a continuous scale with overlapping (planetary) spheres of influence.


      • Since links to Staudenmaier’s writings have been posted, these critiques should perhaps be available as well:

        In minute 28 of this audiofile, Staudenmaier says he is “a big fan of making copious use of insinuation and innuendo in polemical contexts”:

        [audio src="" /]

        Here are six critiques of Staudenmaier, who seems to employ disinformation techniques:

        Click to access Anthroposophy%20and%20Ecofascism.pdf


  14. Conclusions of the Dutch Commission on “Anthroposophy and the Question of Race” (2000)

    Frankfurt Memorandum (2008):

    Click to access memorandum_english.pdf


  15. There seem to be two extremes today in evaluating groups. One extreme is to speak as though a group were perfectly homogeneous. The other extreme is to deny that a group has any unifying characteristics whatsoever. The first extreme tends to be racist. The second extreme tends to be a sort of postmodern, deconstructionist refusal to recognize any kind of definite unity in anything whatsoever. (In some ways, deconstruction is a brilliant though ultimately wrong French elaboration of Kant’s false view of the intellect as having tremendous, purely subjective powers to construct the perceived world.) As to the first extreme of claiming perfect homogeneity in groups, a perhaps justified hysteria exists about the evil of racism (after all, look at the absolute horrors to which it led in Europe, the US, and many other places.) This perhaps justified hysteria leads people however to the opposite extreme, where they argue that different groups are in reality strictly speaking not “groups” at all: such “groups” include so much multiplicity that to propose any kind of generalization about them, even a highly qualified generalization, is to offer nothing more than a benighted prejudice or stereotype.

    Did Steiner stereotype? Among other things, to stereotype means to generalize in a fixed way that does not acknowledge that many individuals have transcended the alleged generalization and, what’s more, that every individual has the potential to transcend it. So from that point of view I don’t think Steiner stereotyped.

    I also note that few seem to mind if we generalize about, say, the French or the Germans, unless the generalizations are too negative or we pretend that individuals cannot transcend ethnicity, or we argue that the state should become involved in making such generalizations and restricting group rights on that basis. But Steiner in his work repeatedly emphasized the power of the individual vis-à-vis ethnicity and collective and forcefully rejected the idea of the state or legislation getting involved in making ethnic distinctions:

    “Now it would be natural if the number of Jewish doctors in the different countries of Europe were proportional to the population. I am not for one moment saying — I beg you not to misunderstand me — that this should be adjusted by law. It would *never* occur to me to say such a thing. But in the natural course one would expect to find Jewish doctors in proportion to the number of Jews. This is certainly not the case. In most countries a relatively far greater number of Jews become doctors.” — Star Wisdom, Moon Religion, Sun Religion,

    That rejection of state involvement in the question is a key part of this discussion and is consistent with Steiner’s statements throughout his life. The rejection is key because it means he expects and desires that his statements should be nothing more than one contribution to society’s ongoing free dialogue about all things, where every view is subject to eternal critique and further qualification, and where those who are the subject of a generalization can freely challenge it.

    Another example, this one from 1900:
    “I have never been able to see anti-Semitism as anything except a view that indicates in those who hold it an inferiority of spirit, a lack of ability to make ethical judgments and a tastelessness … that is an insult to any normal way of thinking.”
    — Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte 1887-1901 (Collected essays) (GA 31), Dornach 1989, 1 September 1900.

    Here Steiner makes one of the main points I am trying to make:
    “Other qualities which … have to be combated [on the path of spiritual development] are … the making of distinctions in human beings according to the outward characteristics of rank, sex, race, and so forth. In our time it is difficult for people to understand how the combating of such qualities can have anything to do with the heightening of the faculty of cognition. But every spiritual scientist knows that much more depends upon such matters than upon the increase of intelligence and employment of artificial exercises. Especially can misunderstanding arise if we believe that we must become foolhardy in order to be fearless; that we must close our eyes to the differences between people, because we must combat the prejudices of rank, race, and so forth. Rather is it true that a correct estimate of all things is to be attained only when we are no longer entangled in prejudice. Even in the ordinary sense it is true that the fear of some phenomenon prevents us from estimating it rightly; that a racial prejudice prevents us from seeing into a man’s soul. It is this ordinary sense that the student must develop in all its delicacy and subtlety.”
    – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds And Its Attainment (GA 10), written in 1904. Chapter: Some Practical Aspects.

    In the above quote we see that Steiner feels it necessary to balance two competing values – recognizing differences, yet not indulging in racial prejudices that “prevent us from seeing into a man’s soul.” Today, though, we feel we must be silent about differences, and perhaps we are right, because even with the best of intentions, giving any focus at all to differences between ethnic groups is used by true racists, fascists, and totalitarians. The result, though, is that we often participate in the fiction that groups have no distinctive characteristics, and that any notice of such distinctions is necessarily fascist, racist, stereotyping, etc. A generalization about a group can be mistaken, or insufficiently qualified, without being racist or a rigid stereotype.

    True, even benign generalizations that acknowledge the greater importance of individual characteristics can become dangerous when proposed about groups that are hated or scapegoated. But I don’t see any stigmatization of the Jews in Steiner’s work. To describe someone as tenacious is no insult or stigma, and his description of the Jews as tenacious simply states a historical fact, surely (no, not about all Jews, but Steiner did not mean all Jews, as any thorough evaluation of his work I think makes absolutely undeniable. The point he was making is one that has often been made by people praising the Jews or by writers interpreting the Jews as the chosen people: they have survived longer than just about any other group, despite tremendous obstacles, much hatred toward them, and terrific violence against them. Surviving so long requires remarkable tenacity. Steiner argues that such ethnic solidarity, though once a divine Jewish destiny, is no longer a good idea, but he directs this criticism not just toward Jews but also toward any and every other European nationalism.

    Perhaps one can charge Steiner with being too incautious in not announcing, even more frequently than he did announce, that he considered the individual far more important than any group patterns. Since he does not try at every point to defend himself against misunderstanding, but often counts on the good will and intelligence of his readers, it can be easy to cherry-pick his statements and rip them out of context so that he sounds like an ethnic stereotyper according to the definition I gave in the second paragraph of this comment.

    Would not a real stereotyper tend to support laws restricting particular ethnicities? Not emphatically reject such laws, as Steiner always rejected them?

    But perhaps one can also charge Steiner with being too incautious in choosing at times to generalize about groups. To focus any attention on differences among groups might tend to strengthen ethnic nationalism rather than advance Steiner’s goal of getting beyond ethnic nationalism.

    He certainly was sometimes quite cautious about such things, for example when he decided “General Anthroposophical Society” was a better name than “International Anthroposophical Society,” insofar as the word “international” could suggest a meeting of nations and thus could give energy to nationalism. Similarly, Steiner at some fairly early point regretted adopting the old theosophical terminology of “races and sub-races” (from Blavatsky?) and started referring mainly to cultural epochs instead. Thus he substituted spiritual categories for more physical ones. In the series of lectures titled The Universal Human, he also argues, as I recall, that the very concept of race has no real scientific content, that it is becoming more and more outmoded and must be abandoned. So my feeling is that talk of “races” and “sub-races” generally does not serve anthroposophy and is more or less obsolete.

    Ton, thank you for posting those links in your 10:16 am comment. I will have to take a good look at them. Though I disagree with your view on this for the reasons stated, perhaps my position is not adequate, so I expect to keep reviewing the question.

    Once again, since I think it cannot ever be posted often enough, I provide this link to some of Steiner’s many anti-racist statements throughout his life:


    • Edward wrote:
      “So my feeling is that talk of “races” and “sub-races” generally does not serve anthroposophy and is more or less obsolete.”

      There was a time in the ancient past when the various races first formed, each bearing certain distinctive and differentiating features and characteristics. This is what Rudolf Steiner felt compelled to describe in some of these early lecture-courses. And without this preliminary work involving race formation on an evolutionary scale, the subsequent descriptions of soul development of the races in becoming cultural entities would be lacking. Of course, integration of the various cultures has been going on now for a few thousands years, and the earth is largely a heterogeneous mixture of peoples. This is what makes for the Universal Human; the universality of blood. It is said that this is why Christ made Capernaum in Galilee His home base. From endogamy to exogamy was prevalent in this district.

      Here is book that came out about four years ago. I enjoyed reading it.

      Click to access RR_Transforming_Criticisms.pdf


    • Steiner often used this romantic 19th century stereotype of the North American Indian (noble savage) and their memories of nature. But even Neanderthals (‘Atlanteans’, CW 97) seem to have produced abstract cave paintings from their memories now.

      Tenacity and stubbornness (Exodus) were part of the traditional churchly Christian anti-Judaism, which Steiner – as an individualistic anarchist – rejected too. But abstract, monotheistic thinking Jewish doctors and musicians (CW 353) were wide-spread anti-Semitic stereotypes he also used.

      From an anthropological point of view, the exact boundaries of Steiner’s 5 (or 7) ethnic divisions were arbitrary, not scientific. Just as their stereotyped features are not normative for an ethnic group as a whole, because humanity was united in Atlantean times.

      Steiner (1909): “Though remnants of ancient Atlantean differences, of ancient Atlantean group-soulness, still exist and the division into races is still in effect, what is being prepared for the sixth epoch is precisely the stripping away of race.”


      • Ton, I’d be grateful if you could point me to a source that confirms that “tenacity” was a churchly anti-Semitic stereotype. I just did a search on google and found, as I expected, one Jewish media source after another proudly pointing to Jewish “tenacity” — for one thing, as the reason for their survival through the course of history.

        Tenacity is a good quality if applied to a good cause. Surely Steiner was one of the most tenacious men who ever lived? How can his claims of Jewish tenacity stigmatize, especially when Jews themselves trumpet the quality with pride? You may of course somehow be right, Ton, and I may be wrong, but with a quick search I have not yet been able to find evidence for your claim that “tenacity” was a widespread churchly stigma/stereotype attached to Jews.

        If you could also point out to me where people have stigmatized the Jews for commonly being doctors, I’d be thankful for enlightenment there. It seems ironic to “stigmatize” a group for producing lots of doctors, since doctors practice one of the most highly honored professions. If Steiner had said that Jews were often conniving money-lenders, or manipulative lawyers, I could better understand charges of stigmatization and stereotype. But did the Church really look down upon Jews for often becoming doctors? Can you show me a source?

        You also say Steiner stereotypes Jews as being monotheists. But Jews, at least if they are religious Jews, are monotheists. How is that stereotyping?

        Anyway, can you back up the claim that the “tenacious Jew” and the “Jewish doctor” were used as stereotypes by the Church or by anyone else with offensive intent toward the Jews? I don’t doubt that the Church sometimes stereotyped Jews, but my question is about these specific claims of stigmatizing: Jewish tenacity and Jewish doctors.


      • Edward, a positive or negative quality can be ascribed, or generalised, to a whole group. Tenacity was seen as a positive group quality by the rabbi’s, stubbornness the negative counterpart. Stegemann only mentions ‘blindness, stubbornness, infatuation’ as anti-Semitic churchly stereotypes. Steiner likewise described the getto’s and declared on Jewish tenacity: ‘the Jews themselves have done a great deal to cause this state of affairs’ (CW 353).

        In connection with Jewish medicine, abstract monotheism (in contrast to Trinitarian thinking and polytheism) is a negative anti-Judaic stereotype (CW 353).


      • Ton, I have to apologize for being argumentative. If you don’t respond, i won’t take it as surrender, but as indicating you have a life! Anyway, my life is getting neglected here lately, so after this, I’ll stop.

        You wrote

        “Edward, a positive or negative quality can be ascribed, or generalised, to a whole group. Tenacity was seen as a positive group quality by the rabbi’s, stubbornness the negative counterpart. Stegemann only mentions ‘blindness, stubbornness, infatuation’ as anti-Semitic churchly stereotypes.”

        So your position now seems to show that Steiner was sympathetic to the rabbis’ own characterization of themselves. How then is Steiner stereotyping if he addresses the Jews as so many of them proudly address themselves (as the google search showed)? If he calls them by the respectful name they wish to call themselves, is that stereotyping, or the opposite?

        What’s more, after all you have said, you are now very surprisingly saying “The rabbis saw tenacity as a positive group quality”. So you are now speaking of “rabbis” in general! By your own definition, you are now stereotyping “rabbis”, are you not? Doesn’t this show that when you forbid all generalizations about groups, even generalizations that are carefully qualified and limited, you end up tying yourself in contradictions?

        The question about “tenacity” may depend on the German word Steiner used. Is it really a coincidence if Steiner used the very word the “rabbis” and Jewish writers often choose? If not a coincidence, does Steiner’s choice to follow the “rabbis'” locution not show his concern to be kind and respectful? I suspect Steiner’s gentleness and care is lurking behind the word choice.

        You also say,

        “Steiner likewise described the getto’s and declared on Jewish tenacity: ‘the Jews themselves have done a great deal to cause this state of affairs’ (CW 353).”

        When you make a statement like that torn out of its context, Steiner and anthroposophy are injured, I believe, because the misimpression thus created keeps people from anthroposophy. People who see a sentence like that and do not know its context or anthroposophy go off and may never have anything to do with anthroposophy again, except perhaps to slander it to others who know nothing about it. So I will add the essential context back in: that Steiner says in the same talk that his heart broke to read of how Jews were locked in ghettoes; that he makes clear in that talk and elsewhere repeatedly that he is emphatically against any laws making ethnic restrictions. All he is saying is that the Jews, by tending to separate themselves from others, played a role in the tendency of others to segregate them. To say the Jews played a role is not the same as saying that the societies that enforced segregation on Jews were justified. Steiner obviously thought that segregation or any other restrictions were NOT justified and profoundly WRONG.

        If you say are sure Steiner is dealing in stereotypes, may I ask what is your own position on the facts? Do you say the Jews, by tending to segregate themselves in the medieval period, played no role at all in the tendency of others to segregate them? If you make that point with facts, then of course facts should be considered. But to cry “stereotype” seems essentially like ad hominem, not an argument on the merits. Perhaps you offered an argument and I was too stupid to see it. Or perhaps you didn’t offer an argument on this question because the relevant argument and facts are so self-evident that there should be no need to state them except to an admittedly often doltish person like me. So I confess an ignorance of too much history. Did the Jews not in some ways segregate themselves? However understandable their ethnic solidarity was, would it not tend to provoke (without justifying!) some suspicion and hostility? Or did the Jewish people, as you at times seem to think, have no general characteristics whatsoever? Were they an entirely heterogeneous group of individuals who shared scriptures but shared little or no commonality in interpreting them? But then why do you say the “rabbis” spoke positively of the Jews as tenacious? Why is that generalization allowed, but no others? I know you did not mean all rabbis, but neither did Steiner refer to all Jews.

        To anyone reading this, I’ll say again, to avoid misunderstanding, that I love the Jewish heart and mind, so far as I know it, and that half my family are Jews, and I am half Jewish. I also love the heart and mind of Steiner and anthroposophy.

        You also say, Ton

        “In connection with Jewish medicine, abstract monotheism (in contrast to Trinitarian thinking and polytheism) is a negative anti-Judaic stereotype (CW 353).”

        Perhaps we’ll just have to agree to disagree, for now. “Abstract monotheism” is not a stereotype, not unless Steiner charges every Jew with believing in abstract monotheism. Is that your claim about Steiner? All Steiner means is that abstract monotheism is the main trend within Judaism historically. That is a theological claim and to call it a stereotype, if you don’t back up that label with evidence, is not an argument, but surely just name-calling?

        To defeat Steiner’s claim, one might instead try to find evidence of how, say, a substantial number of Jewish doctors and the medicine of that time were not abstract in the sense Steiner meant (tending to quantitative reduction, in other words), or evidence showing how Jewish doctors were often influenced by, say, image-thinking of some sort or by some sort of polytheistic paradigm in their thinking or dreams or research. Or maybe you know other facts that defeat Steiner’s claim. Since you perhaps think it self-evident that what Steiner said is a stereotype, it should be easy for you to come up with counter-evidence to his “stereotype.” Unless, that is, you think no counter-evidence is needed, and you believe that groups have no particular tendencies and that to characterize them in any way, however qualified, is therefore wrong and impossible. Can you enlighten me as to how abstract monotheism — and I use that phrase neutrally, without negative or positive intent — is not the main trend within Jewish religion, and not a powerful force within Western medicine? My understanding is that “monotheistic abstraction” would tend to seek to reduce everything to one thing — this flows together with modern science’s reduction of everything to quantity. The qualitative becomes in a way secondary or unreal, an epiphenomenon.

        Or would you say it is a stereotype if I say that anthroposophists, in general, believe in individual freedom? That we think the world is filled with spiritual beings? That we are generally not as good at producing businesspersons as we are at producing artists, teachers, scientists? That, compared to the population as a whole, we are more often from the upper middle class and upper class economically? That we are often a bit unworldly and “Luciferic” in the sense Steiner criticized? That we have relatively more graduate degrees than the population in general?


      • A stereotype is ‘a preconceived notion, especially about a group of people’.

        Steiner (CW 353): ‘… in earlier times the existence of a people who brought a certain form of monotheism into being was a necessity. To-day, however, what is required is spiritual knowledge. The mission of the Jewish people has been fulfilled.‘
        This requirement seems to be supersessionism, also called replacement theology or fulfillment theology.

        ‘Abstract monotheism’: here Sonnenberg (2009) cites the anti-Semitic ‘Handbook of the Jewish Question’ by Theodor Fritsch on the ‘mechanical’ way of thinking of Jewish doctors.


  16. Tom Mellett

    In evaluating all of Rudolf Steiner’s racial statements and so assiduously defending him against all possible charges of racism, perhaps we are only seeing the racial glass as half empty and never as half full. Instead of being so reactively pessimistic about the critics who attack Steiner for racism why not be proactively optimistic and accentuate the positive qualities of his racial teachings, which arise out of the same clairvoyant faculties as do his other teachings about Biodynamics, for example?

    Let me start by quoting two very positive racial statements of Steiner from his lecture on color and the human races given March 2, 1923, GA 349. (I give my translation since the RS Press in the UK still censors this entire lecture from its volume called “From Limestone to Lucifer”)

    The first I take from late in the lecture and this sentence stands as a kind of motto for the positive aspects of Steiner’s racial teachings.

    ”The white race is the race of the future, the one that creates out of the spirit.”

    „Die weiße Rasse ist die zukünftige, ist die am Geiste schaffende Rasse.“


    Then I quote from the very beginning of the lecture as he introduces the subject of color and the human races to the workmen at the Goetheanum.

    “As for Europeans, to which group we belong, we can say that we represent the white race. Now, it’s also obvious to you that Europeans are not completely healthy, if they are “cheesy [pale] white,” but they are healthy when they show a fresher, more natural color, which they produce on the inside, and which shows itself outwardly as white. [cf. the peach-blossom color described in Steiner’s color theory.]

    But now, in addition to this European skin color, we also have four other major skin colors. And we want to investigate that today a little bit, because, in reality, we may only understand all of history and the entire [past] social life, as well as today’s social life, if we can really delve into the racial characteristics of human beings.

    And only then will we be able understand everything spiritual in the true sense of that word, if we occupy ourselves first and foremost with how this spiritual essence in human beings functions precisely through skin color itself.”

    So may I start by simply repeating the last statement as a question:

    Just how does the spiritual essence in human beings function precisely through skin color itself?

    And when that skin color is white — whether käseweiß (cheesy white = pale) or healthy peach-blossom color — what can we say about that “spiritual essence,” especially as it relates to the present day social life?


    • Tom Mellett

      Actually, let me better organize a series of questions raised by the passage I quoted:

      [1] Just how does the spiritual essence in human beings function precisely through skin color itself?

      [2] And when that skin color is white — whether käseweiß (cheesy white=pale) or healthy peach-blossom color — what can we say about that “spiritual essence,” especially as it relates to the social life?

      [3] If the white race is the race of the future, when is that future?

      [4] How does the white race create out of the spirit? (Or out of the intellect since Geist can be translated equally as mind as well as spirit?)

      [5] Does question 4 imply that other races create out of the soul and the body, and not so much out of the spirit or the intellect?


    • I combine Steiner’s expressions ‘through skin color itself’ and ‘shows itself outwardly’. Consequently, ‘this spiritual essence’ would be ‘our blood’. Later on in the lecture Steiner said: ‘inwardly the white is colored through our blood’ i.e. the ego-organisation (the future creative spirit).

      In contrast, in this Steiner reading, skin colors would be related to (present day) social life; not to this spiritual essence and the future social life. All human beings can express their ego-organisation through their skin.


      • Tom Mellett

        Thank you, Ton! (But first, for future clarity in distinguishing Ton from Tom, may I now translate your full name into English and christen you as “Tony Supernal of the Netherlands” and call you Tony for short?)

        Also, thank you for providing the RS Archive link to that bowdlerized lecture which James Stewart allowed to appear in the Steiner E-lib in 2016. Kudos to him and also to Roger Rawlings who published online in 2011 his own translation of what I designated to him as the FCL = Forbidden Colored Lecture.

        Yes, it makes sense that the creative spirit is the ego in the blood and this actually reminds me of a passage in the Light Course where the peach-blossom color arises through light shining through a dynamic alternation of black and white. Back in 1999 I had attended the RS Summer Institute in Maine and took Nick Thomas’ course in Projective Geometry. We briefly tried to make sense of this indication and the best we came up with was a kind of lattice structure, actually two lattices being moved quickly back and forth, but all we could generate were Moire patterns. At the moment I can’t recall where in the Light Course it was, but it may shed light (pun intended) on our discussion here.


      • Tom, I would prefer the self-contradictory ‘ethereal Ton’ (in German: Tonn).
        According to Steiner, the disappeared healthy-white, ancient Celts constituted ‘the fundamental basis of other European civilisations’(GA0113/19090827). ‘An average Central European’ would be flesh-colored (GA0181/19180409) i.e. not like the retarded cheese-white Europeans .
        Only owing to their mixture with the ancient Celts, the post-glacial European population seemed to be ‘the future one’, and was able to migrate to ‘different parts of the earth’ (India, America) and mix with the original population.


  17. A useful quote at this point:
    Steiner in 1919:
    “… as regards … what is independent of our bodily makeup we are all individually made; each one of us is his or her own self, an individual. With the exception of the far less important differences that show up as racial or national differences … but which are (if you have a sense for this you cannot help noticing it) mere trifles by comparison with differences in individual gifts and skills: with the exception of these we are all equal as human beings … as regards our external, physical humanity. We are equal as human beings, here in the physical world, specifically in that we all have the same human form and all manifest a human countenance. The fact that we all bear a human countenance and encounter one another as external, physical human beings… this makes us equal on this footing. We differ from one another in our individual gifts which, however, belong to our inner nature.”
    Education as a Force for Social Change (in GA 192), Hudson 1997, lecture of 23 April 1919.


  18. John Anthony

    I wonder if I am the only person who looks at past posts. The initial thoughts from Jeremy are well presented and clearly arouse strong response with some other users.
    For a long time I have been impressed by the extensive and forceful anti Steiner movement. Someone somewhere sees this’ little club or weirdos’ with their daft beliefes as very dangerous to their own programme for humanity. This powerful opposition has been going on for over a century!
    As for defending Steiner my hero is ‘Uncle Taz’ who for years tried to counter Waldorf Critics in USA.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s