agreement and disagreement 1


From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sat Feb 21, 2004 1:16 pm
Subject: agreement and disagreement

Hello anthroposophy tomorrow list,

I've just joined your list today after following some of the exchanges for the past couple months via the public list archive. I hope that my participation here will be seen as an opportunity for discussion and debate rather than a provocation. I should be able to remain on the list for six weeks or so.

I'd like to outline what I see as some of the major areas of agreement and disagreement between myself and several of you on the topics of race and antisemitism and their relevance to Rudolf Steiner's work. In general, I think that the relationship between Steiner's racial theories, on the one hand, and other race doctrines prevalent in German-speaking Europe in the early twentieth century (including Nazi race theories and their precursors), on the other hand, is a good deal more complex than several of you seem to think. It is quite possible, indeed likely, that I have misunderstood the stance that other anthroposophy tomorrow list members have staked out on some of these questions, and I invite clarification and correction if anybody thinks that is the case. I'm going to divide my initial comments into general statements about looking at racial and ethnic doctrines in a historical context, and specific statements about Steiner's work.

General themes: I agree that the best way to understand what a historical figure believed and taught is to consult primary sources directly when possible. I agree that racist belief systems involve a hierarchical arrangement of different racial groups. I agree that racist doctrines do not invalidate their authors' other achievements. I agree that empathy, in the specific sense of trying to get inside the mental world of another person, is necessary for historical comprehension.

I disagree that contesting other people's self-conceptions involves arrogance. I disagree that adequate understanding of historical figures requires empathy in the specific sense of sympathizing with them. I disagree that external analysts should adopt the internal perspectives of the worldviews they study. I disagree that critical examination of century-old racial theories involves imposing current standards of political correctness.

Specific themes: I agree that it is important to take the wide breadth of Steiner's statements on race and ethnicity into account. I agree that Steiner combined anti-racist and racist doctrines, and philosemitic and antisemitic doctrines. I agree that in his theosophical/anthroposophical period Steiner saw his own stance as consistently anti-nationalist and did not consider himself an antisemite. I agree that Steiner recognized his own fallibility. I agree that many Jews, both in Steiner's era and today, have found Steiner's teachings appealing and valuable.

I disagree that Steiner's central emphasis on love, on the Christ impulse, and on the Universal Human neutralize the racist and judeophobic strands within his work. I disagree that Steiner's version of the Aryan myth, along with other non-Nazi versions, were not recognizably racist until after 1945. I disagree that Steiner's insistence on assimilation was incompatible with antisemitism.

Since Steiner's view on Jews have been a hot topic here lately, it might make sense for me to focus on them initially. I also think this is a good topic for discussion because it offers ample evidence of both the 'good' and 'bad' sides of Steiner's teachings, so to speak. I will very briefly explain my perspective on this question, and I invite responses.

I think that Steiner went through several phases in his assessment of Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness. My basic periodization is as follows: an early phase of cultural antisemitism during his pan-German period in the 1880's; a middle phase of individualist philosemitism around the turn of the century; and a late phase of esoteric antisemitism during his theosophical/anthroposophical period after 1902.

In the writings and lectures that I consider tendentially antisemitic, Steiner did not espouse the kind of racial antisemitism that was becoming increasingly prominent during his era; instead his stance remained emphatically assimilationist throughout his life. I do think, however, that his mature views on Jews can only be understood in conjunction with his broader racial doctrines. In Steiner's opinion, the best response to what was then known as the 'Jewish question' was for "Jewry as a people" to disappear by blending into other peoples. He viewed this disappearance of Jewishness as the solution to aggressively antisemitic agitation and hatred, as well as to the ostensibly closed and anachronistic nature of Jews themselves.

In closing, for now I would like to offer several quotes from Steiner's published works on the topic, chosen from the three phases I outlined above:

"It certainly cannot be denied that Jewry today still behaves as a closed totality, and that it has frequently intervened in the development of our current state of affairs in a way that is anything but favorable to European ideas of culture. But Jewry as such has long since outlived its time; it has no more justification within the modern life of peoples, and the fact that it continues to exist is a mistake of world history whose consequences are unavoidable. We do not mean the forms of the Jewish religion alone, but above all the spirit of Jewry, the Jewish way of thinking."

(Steiner in 1888: Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Literatur 1884-1902 p. 152)

"For me there has never been a Jewish question. My course of development was such that when part of the nationalist student movement in Austria became antisemitic, this seemed to me a mockery of all the educational achievements of modern times. I have never been able to judge people by anything other than their individual, personal character traits. Whether someone was a Jew or not was always a matter of complete indifference to me. I can say that this remains my opinion today. And I have never been able to see anything in antisemitism other than intellectual inferiority, poor ethical judgement, and lack of taste."

(Steiner in 1900: Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte 1887-1901 pp. 378-9)

"Antisemitism makes a mockery of all faith in ideas. Above all it flies in the face of the idea that humanity stands higher than any single form (people, race, nation) in which humankind appears. [. . .] Antisemitism is a danger not only for the Jews, it is a danger for non-Jews as well. It results from a mindset which does not take sound and honest judgement seriously. It promotes this sort of mindset. And those who think philosophically should not quietly stand by in the face of this. Faith in ideas will only be restored if we combat the opposing lack of such faith in all areas as energetically as possible."

(Steiner in 1901: Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte 1887-1901 pp. 412-413.)

"People who listen to the great leaders of humankind, and preserve their soul with its eternal essence, reincarnate in an advanced race; in the same way he who ignores the great teacher, who rejects the great leader of humankind, will always reincarnate in the same race, because he was only able to develop the one form. This is the deeper meaning of Ahasver, who must always reappear in the same form because he rejected the hand of the greatest leader, Christ. Thus each person has the opportunity to become caught up in the essence of one incarnation, to push away the leader of humankind, or instead to undergo the transformation into higher races, toward ever higher perfection. Races would never become decadent, never decline, if there weren't souls that are unable to move up and unwilling to move up to a higher racial form. Look at the races that have survived from earlier eras: they only exist because some souls could not climb higher."

(Steiner in 1908: Das Hereinwirken geistiger Wesenheiten in den Menschen p. 174.)

"This discussion that I have just described to you took place before the Great War of 1914 to 1918, you see. The fact that people no longer want the great universal-human principles, but prefer to segregate themselves and develop national forces, that is exactly what lead to the great war! Thus the greatest tragedy of this 20th century has come from what the Jews are also striving for. And one can say that since everything the Jews have done can now be done consciously by all people, the best thing that the Jews could do would be to disappear into the rest of humankind, to blend in with the rest of humankind, so that Jewry as a people would simply cease to exist. That is what would be ideal. This ideal is still opposed, even today, by many Jewish habits – and above all by the hatred of other people. That is what must be overcome."

(Steiner in 1924: Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturvölker p. 189)

"Today all aspects of the Jews are dominated by racial qualities. Above all they marry among themselves. They see the racial qualities, not the spiritual. And this is what must be said in reply to the question: has the Jewish people fulfilled its mission within the evolution of human knowledge? It has fulfilled it; for in earlier times one single people was needed to bring about a certain monotheism. But today spiritual insight itself is necessary. Therefore this mission has been fulfilled. And therefore this Jewish mission as such, as a Jewish mission, is no longer necessary in evolution; instead the only proper thing would be for the Jews to blend in with the other peoples and disappear into the other peoples."

(Steiner in 1924: Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturvölker p. 190)

I encourage other list members to offer their own comments on these passages and to offer alternative readings to my own. I'd rather avoid pointless wrangling over whether these quotes have been taken out of context, since many anthroposophists appear to have a very different understanding of that phrase from my own, but if anybody thinks there is anything fishy about any of the above passages, I encourage you to say so. I also encourage further quotations from Steiner related to this topic, and viewpoints on their relevance for anthroposophists today.

Peter Staudenmaier

Continued:

Crucial mistake in Steiner translation!

Translation of Steiner's 1924 stance on Zionism

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From: holderlin66
Date: Sat Feb 21, 2004 2:30 pm
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

--- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, Peter Staudenmaier wrote:

Hello anthroposophy tomorrow list,

I disagree that Steiner's central emphasis on love, on the Christ impulse, and on the Universal Human neutralize the racist and judeophobic strands within his work. I disagree that Steiner's version of the Aryan myth, along with other non-Nazi versions, were not recognizably racist until after 1945. I disagree that Steiner's insistence on assimilation was incompatible with antisemitism.

Bradford comments;

Well that is a fine list of qualifiers Mr. Staudenmaier. Pardon me if I don't stand and salute. Your entrance is strange irony and gladly welcomed. It shows some spine and courage. I'm glad you announced your likes and dislikes, your list of agreements and disagreements. Welcome to warm fellowhip, if you so desire.

Your entrance reminds me of this particular white flag code:

"Pirates of the Caribbean Script ... "I invoke the right of parley. According to the Code of the brethren, set down by the pirates Morgan and Bartholomew." Welcome aboard AT.

However, just for the record, my own record, is there something you really, really admire about Dr. Steiner? It's not that we shouldn't be picky eaters or, choose carefully what we like and dislike, it is just that I have heard so much about you that I wonder if there is something that really interests you about Spiritual Science?

There are many list members who can walk through your white flag parley of terms and agreements and disagreements, and meet you there. I would like to meet you in a fresher area of unknowns. "Is there something you really, really admire about Dr. Steiner and Spiritual Science?"

If there is nothing or something that strikes you or doesn't strike you, it is okay by me. I don't wish to put you on the defensive or have pre-erected or pre-fabricated arguments or agreements or disagreements stand between us. So far we are starting off on the right foot, as it were. Hopefully it will stay that way.

Anyways Good to meet you on the electronic fence!

Bradford

Continued in another thread

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From: golden3000997
Date: Sat Feb 21, 2004 2:38 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Dear Mr. Staudemeier,

Thank you for your clear and, to my reading, well balanced outlining of your understanding of Rudolf Steiner's thoughts. I cannot be the one to make a real contribution to the discussion, as it is not an aspect of Rudolf Steiner's work that I have spent a great deal of time thinking about or studying in a scholarly way. His work is, as you know, very extensive and I hope that one can be excused for limited experience in some areas.

But I do have two questions (multi-faceted ones) that are sincere on my part, if you would be so kind as to continue your presentation.

First, what is your personal conclusion about Rudolf Steiner and racism? Have you concluded that Rudolf Steiner in the final development was truly "racist"? What exactly is this defined as? Is the idea of the "Jewish people" assimilating into society at large a racist idea? Why? Wouldn't the ideas of separation, "purity of blood", segregation (as exemplified in the United States with "people of color" be more "racist"?

I always thought they were. It could be a deficiency in my American cultural upbringing.

Also, with the creation of Israel and the intense devotion to Jewish nationalism, do we not see just the kind of continued antipathy and violence as a result of that antipathy between "races" - specifically in the Middle East? And is this a result of "blood" or "religion" or "culture"? I don't know.

The second (multi faceted) question is: what is your expressed purpose in bringing this discussion into the arena of the appropriateness of Waldorf Education in 1. public schools and 2. society at large? While your scholarship on the issue is profound and has involved many hours of research and thought, do you think that you have presented it in a way and through a medium that would keep the discussion in an academic and objective realm? Or, do you not think that any association with the word "Nazi" may call up an emotional response in great numbers of people who do not have the time or inclination to do such scholarly work on their own?

A third question arises in me. Please forgive me if you have illucidated this elsewhere - I do not have the time to search all of the archives of the past five or more years of discussion on other forums - have you seen examples of overt or covert racism in the practice of Waldorf Education. If so, would you please discuss these examples?

In my personal experience, I have not encountered any such examples. And in my perspective, I have been supposing that the effort to get Waldorf Education accepted into the public school system was, in part, motivated by making what we think is a really good system more available to people from all walks of life so that the choice to participate could be made as individuals and not be defined by culture or what is still perceived by American society although not named so, class.

I would appreciate your honest answers. I hope that you will understand that I may not have "answers" to give to you on the question of Rudolf Steiner's relationship to ideas of race or "racism" other than my own life experiences so far. In this, I have to say that I have never connected anything that I have read by or about Rudolf Steiner with "racism" as defined by my common, everyday experience with that concept in American society since 1955 (the year I was born).

My own father (no connection with Steiner - White Anglo Saxon Protestant all the way - military/industrial complex) was horribly racist and I fought him bitterly about it. If I had ever encountered an idea or practice within Waldorf Education or Anthroposophy at large that even hinted at such an attitude, I would have turned my back on it without hesitation.

The "races" that Steiner speaks of in Occult Science, to the best of my understanding are streams of development over long "epochs" of time and, especially taking into consideration the basic tenets of reincarnation, include every one of us as individuals. I fully believe that I have been Jewish, Catholic, African or possibly a slave in the United States, maybe Moslem, (but I don't think so yet) - Ancient Persian, yes definitely. I have been male and female and have lived in times and places completely unlike the one I am in now. I also believe that I will be all of these things again and live in times and places still more unlike this one or any past ones. I believe that whereever there is "antipathy" toward any kind of person, creed or system of thought within myself, there will I be drawn primarily so that I can "live through" it from the "other"'s point of view. I believe that evolution is not racial, but individual and that all the differences that exist in the physical realm have their purpose and meaning and can only be understood as part of a "puzzle" or "tapestry" of interlocking pieces or threads. I believe that in every moment of antipathy lives a seed of love - one that will be watered and brought to blossom in a future place and time.

I cannot tell you what Rudolf Steiner "believed" in a scholarly way. I can only tell you that my beliefs have lived in me from before I came into contact with Rudolf Steiner, Anthropsophy and Waldorf Education and that if I had found in word or in experience any ideology that contradicted the teachings of my own heart, I would have rejected it and if necessary, any or all of the "teachings" of Rudolf Steiner.

Sincerely,
Christine Natale

Continued in another thread

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From: Mike Helsher
Date: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:39 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Peter:

Hello anthroposophy tomorrow list,

I've just joined your list today after following some of the exchanges for the past couple months via the public list archive. I hope that my participation here will be seen as an opportunity for discussion and debate rather than a provocation. I should be able to remain on the list for six weeks or so.


Mike:

Well hello there Peter. Welcome to the good ship anthro-pop.

How ironic that you would show up just when I was thinking of writing an open challenge for you to do so - with full blown rhetoric complete with insults, insinuation, and inuendo. But here you are.

I must say I'm impressed; you've got more balls that I thought.

I don't have the Ammo to discuss much about racism with you. But I will try to get around to our old discussion about Empathy, as well as your personal motive and intent, and why you might feel that your personal interprataton of Steiner might not be affected by your life experience; And if it indeed is, I would like for you to tell us a little about your personal history. As you said "our ideas are always formed wthin social contexts." A history of your personal social context might enlighten me and others as to why you believe and don't believe the things that you do.

That's all the time I've got right now.

Humble apologies for ripping you up while you weren't here.

Truth and Love

Mike

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 1:58 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

At 22:16 21.02.2004, Peter S wrote:

In general, I think that the relationship between Steiner's racial theories, on the one hand, and other race doctrines prevalent in German-speaking Europe in the early twentieth century (including Nazi race theories and their precursors), on the other hand, is a good deal more complex than several of you seem to think.

Your point would be clarified considerably if you could tell us who you're referring to here and cite some examples that illustrate how the people in question express a lack of comprehension regarding the complexity of the relationship you're talking about.

I'm going to divide my initial comments into general statements about looking at racial and ethnic doctrines in a historical context, and specific statements about Steiner's work.

How would you define an "ethnic doctrine" or a "racial doctrine"?

I agree that racist doctrines do not invalidate their authors' other achievements.

If the achievements in question relate to natural-scientific research, I agree that they are not affected by the morality of doctrines adhered to. If the achievements are of an occult-spiritual and/or moral-ethical nature, I disagree however.

I disagree that contesting other people's self-conceptions involves arrogance.

Claiming insight regarding other people's perceptions of themselves requires intimate knowledge of the individuals in question. Otherwise, such claims are not only arrogant, but extremely presumptious and conceited as well.

I agree that in his theosophical/anthroposophical period Steiner saw his own stance as consistently anti-nationalist and did not consider himself an antisemite.

What do you mean by Steiner's "theosophical/anthroposophical period", and what do you call his other periods? I seem to recall a claim by you that Steiner was an atheist in the 1890's, which would make him a liar when he wrote in his autobiography thirty years later that the spiritual world had been wide open to him since childhood. Someone accustomed to communicate with the souls of the departed cannot be called an atheist. RS also made it clear that what later became Anthroposophy was evolving within him long before the turn of the century. For this reason, Steiner's "theosophical/anthroposophical period" can be said to have started with his work on Goethe in the 1880's.

I disagree that Steiner's central emphasis on love, on the Christ impulse, and on the Universal Human neutralize the racist and judeophobic strands within his work. I disagree that Steiner's version of the Aryan myth, along with other non-Nazi versions, were not recognizably racist until after 1945.

By using the expression "Aryan myth", you seem to indicate that no Aryans have ever existed. You also seem to imply that stating that Aryans have existed, and still exist, is a racist statement.

Your reference to the Christ impulse not "neutralizing" so-called "racist and judeophobic strands" indicates that you have not studied the significant historical relationship between the Christ Event and the expedience of race-mixing in human evolution. I have pointed this particular topic out in the article, "Steiner, Christ, and Racial Intermarriage", where I quote from "The Gospel of St. John And Its Relation to the Other Gospels" ("Das Johannes-Evangelium im Verhaltnis zu den drei anderen Evangelien, besonders zu dem Lukas-Evangelium", GA 112), lecture IX. It's where Steiner speaks about the wedding in Cana, where Christ performed his first 'sign':

http://www.uncletaz.com/steinchrmar.html

Says Steiner:

"Nowhere else but in Galilee could Christ have found just those people whose presence was indispensable. As I said, an influence implies not only the one who exerts it, but the others as well who are appropriately fitted to receive it. Christ's first appearance would not have been possible within the Jewish community proper, but it was possible in Galilee with its mixture of many different tribes and groups."

"Even though the old state of consciousness was gradually on the wane, still He found in Galilee a medley of peoples that stood at the beginning of the era in which blood became mixed. From all quarters tribes assembled here that had previously been governed solely by the forces of the old blood ties. They were on the point of finding the transition."

The significance of Christ's first sign, and of the RS lecture quoted here, is that Anthroposophy is a New Christ-Proclamation that seeks to lead humanity behond the old ties of blood, soil, nationality, tribe, and race. You have previously claimed that Steiner spoke in favor of glorifying "blood and soil" and race like the Nazis did, and that this was his "doctrine", but that is a lie. With the above in mind, I found a very appropriate verse in Matthew that sums up the necessity for race-mixing:

"Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. " - Matthew 9:17

I disagree that Steiner's insistence on assimilation was incompatible with antisemitism.

Steiner did not insist on assimilation; he recommended it. (Please notice the difference.) There are orthodox Jews who share your misgivings about assimilation, which has

http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2001/12/30/LatestNews/LatestNews.40814.html

"The Jerusalem Post, Sunday December 30, 2001 - Health minister compares assimilation to Holocaust - Assimilation was a greater catastrophe for the Jewish people than the Holocaust, Health Minister Nissim Dahan said this morning."

In a case like this, the concept of race is elevated above life itself. It means that Larry King, for instance, who is of Jewish heritage and is married to a Mormon girl, letting her raise their kids in the Mormon faith because he himself is an agnostic, is annihilating himself or something? And there are so many Jewish poets who have been unfaithful to their heritage - Christian mystics like Dylan and Cohen and Buddhists like the late Ginsburg. Assimilation is worse than the holocaust? Come on. Earlier assimilation could have prevented the present unsolvable crisis in the Middle East. Arab assimilation in the West today could have eliminated a lot of social ills.

Since Steiner's view on Jews have been a hot topic here lately,

Nonsense. There was just a discussion about Mel Gibson and anti-Semitism after your arrival here, because you and nobody else is endeavoring to make a "hot topic" of Steiner's view on the Jews. For further comment, see "Steiner and Antisemitism" http://southerncrossreview.org/Ebooks/ebooks.html

it might make sense for me to focus on them initially. I also think this is a good topic for discussion because it offers ample evidence of both the 'good' and 'bad' sides of Steiner's teachings, so to speak. I will very briefly explain my perspective on this question, and I invite responses.

I think that Steiner went through several phases in his assessment of Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness. My basic periodization is as follows: an early phase of cultural antisemitism during his pan-German period in the 1880's;

Here is another piece of blatant falsehood. Rudolf Steiner never had a "pan-German period." That is another lie.

a middle phase of individualist philosemitism around the turn of the century; and a late phase of esoteric antisemitism during his theosophical/anthroposophical period after 1902.

"Esoteric antisemitism"? One would have to cultivate a proper understanding of esotericism to be able to say anything about such a thing.

In the writings and lectures that I consider tendentially antisemitic, Steiner did not espouse the kind of racial antisemitism that was becoming increasingly prominent during his era; instead his stance remained emphatically assimilationist throughout his life. I do think, however, that his mature views on Jews can only be understood in conjunction with his broader racial doctrines.

As previously mentioned, Rudolf Steiner held the view that all racial ties should disappear, for the simple reason that racial ideals lead mankind into decadence. The Jews were no exception. This view is aparently what you refer to as Steiner's "broader racial doctrines."

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

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From: VALENTINA BRUNETTI
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 1:40 am
Subject: R: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Hi Bradford and all_

concerning myself: I don't wanna waste my precious time discussing with a guy like this, who, among lots of other features, is unable to distinguish not only between "antisemtism" or "judeophoby" and the objective results of a spiritual research but also about the link between individual I AM and Nation's Souls. ( Knowing myself: I'd end up throwing on him the worst of Italian or Roman slang bad words !!) Moreover he is just remembering me that "Starmann" guy who call me (1)) "antisemitic" since I have been talking about Hagana's terrorist murders between 1937 and 1948 ! PS's operation is just like the same if me or you should sign on a "Evola's" or "Guènon's" list (there are a lot on the web) trying to bother those good people via some "anthro" bla bla.-

Ad majora

Andrea the Italian

( 1) (ancient Spain's jewish ancestors). My surname "Franco" was inside the "list" of Italian Race Laws (1938)

----- Original Message -----
From: holderlin66
To: <anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, February 21, 2004 11:30 PM
Subject: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

--- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, Peter Staudenmaier wrote:

Hello anthroposophy tomorrow list,

I disagree that Steiner's central emphasis on love, on the Christ impulse, and on the Universal Human neutralize the racist and judeophobic strands within his work. I disagree that Steiner's version of the Aryan myth, along with other non-Nazi versions, were not recognizably racist until after 1945. I disagree that Steiner's insistence on assimilation was incompatible with antisemitism.

Bradford comments;

Well that is a fine list of qualifiers Mr. Staudenmaier. Pardon me if I don't stand and salute. Your entrance is strange irony and gladly welcomed. It shows some spine and courage. I'm glad you announced your likes and dislikes, your list of agreements and disagreements. Welcome to warm fellowhip, if you so desire.

Your entrance reminds me of this particular white flag code:

"Pirates of the Caribbean Script ... "I invoke the right of parley. According to the Code of the brethren, set down by the pirates Morgan and Bartholomew." Welcome aboard AT.

However, just for the record, my own record, is there something you really, really admire about Dr. Steiner? It's not that we shouldn't be picky eaters or, choose carefully what we like and dislike, it is just that I have heard so much about you that I wonder if there is something that really interests you about Spiritual Science?

There are many list members who can walk through your white flag parley of terms and agreements and disagreements, and meet you there. I would like to meet you in a fresher area of unknowns. "Is there something you really, really admire about Dr. Steiner and Spiritual Science?"

If there is nothing or something that strikes you or doesn't strike you, it is okay by me. I don't wish to put you on the defensive or have pre-erected or pre-fabricated arguments or agreements or disagreements stand between us. So far we are starting off on the right foot, as it were. Hopefully it will stay that way.

Anyways Good to meet you on the electronic fence!

Bradford

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From: VALENTINA BRUNETTI
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 2:53 am
Subject: R: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Addendum-

It seems to me pardoxical that while this guy is jumping into the list trying to bother us by the means of his twisted elucubrations we all know that the anthro-guy who probably is - as I am able to see - today's spiritually most gifted one, Mr.JB Aharon , is a jew of birth!

A.

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 2:50 am
Subject: Re: R: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

At 11:53 22.02.2004, Andrea wrote:

Addendum-

It seems to me pardoxical that while this guy is jumping into the list trying to bother us by the means of his twisted elucubrations we all know that the anthro-guy who probably is - as I am able to see - today's spiritually most gifted one, Mr.JB Aharon , is a jew of birth!

If assimilation is regarded as something anti-Semitic, all Jews who embrace religions and philosophies and worldviews that differ from Judaism, and Jews who marry non-Jews, are anti-Semites according to such a definition. It's a semantic quicksand.

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

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From: Sophia
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 2:52 am
Subject: Re: R: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Dear Andrea,

You wrote:

It seems to me pardoxical that while this guy is jumping into the list trying to bother us by the means of his twisted elucubrations

Every subscriber to this list initially jumps in, sometimes trying to "bother" the others. Everyone is welcome here, including critics. Free speech reigns and any topic goes.

Faithfully,

Sophia (moderator)
http://www.geocities.com/anarchosophia/

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From: at
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 5:53 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

I have a rather simple question, that I have been wondering about recently. Since you are researching the area, perhaps you can answer it for me.

Was there anyone at all in Austria or Germany between 1870 and 1930 who publicly held a view of the Jews that you would not consider anti-Semitic by the standards of today?

Thanks.

Daniel Hindes

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 9:42 am
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

(Since subscribing I apparently haven't received all the messages yet, including several replies to my post, from Bradford, Christine, and Mike. So I'm gonna try to paste in their messages here and then respond; my apologies if that screws up the formatting.)

Hi Bradford, thanks for your reply. You wrote:

However, just for the record, my own record, is there something you really, really admire about Dr. Steiner?

Yes, there are several things I admire about Steiner, though they aren't very closely related to the aspects of his work that my research focuses on. I respect the way he combined ideas with practical endeavors; he usually didn't just teach principles, but stressed the importance of putting them into practice in very concrete ways. I know that might sound odd, since I disagree with so many of his ideas, but I think this practical emphasis sets Steiner apart from many of the other spiritual renewers of his time. I also respect his evident indifference toward many of the more worldly temptations that so many other popular spiritual leaders succumb to; as far as I can tell, he wasn't particularly interested in financial gain, or a docile group of adoring followers, and so forth. Among the variety of "barefoot prophets" of his generation, Steiner's personal comportment was pretty honorable, in my view.

It's not that we shouldn't be picky eaters or, choose carefully what we like and dislike, it is just that I have heard so much about you that I wonder if there is something that really interests you about Spiritual Science?

The things that really interest me about anthroposophy are rather removed from the things that I admire about Steiner. I'm mostly interested in Steiner's teachings about race and ethnicity and the ways these teachings have been incorporated into the work of his students, as well as the political affiliations of the first generation of anthroposophists. I wandered into this complex of themes by way of studying the German right wing, particularly those late nineteenth and early twentieth century rightists who showed a powerful interest in environmentalist and ecological issues. Much of my work (which mostly focuses on fascists, not on anthroposophists) concentrates on the kind of left-right crossover that was so prominent within alternative spiritual and cultural currents in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland at that time. I see Steiner, along with many of the first generation of anthroposophists, as exemplary figures in this respect; to my mind, they combined more or less progressive notions with more or less reactionary notions in a highly interesting way. That is largely what has kept my attention over the several years that I've been examining the history of anthroposophy. My own politics are quite far to the left, and are strongly ecologically oriented, and I find this sort of material fascinating in its own right, as well as very relevant to current issues. I hope that gives a better sense of why I spend so much of my time on critical assessments of anthroposophy.

Peter Staudenmaier

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 9:54 am
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Hi Christine, I was glad to get such a thorough reply from you. You wrote:

First, what is your personal conclusion about Rudolf Steiner and racism? Have you concluded that Rudolf Steiner in the final development was truly "racist"?

Yes, that is part of my conclusion, though what seems important to me is not whether Steiner was racist as a person, but whether his teachings contain important racist elements. But I do, as it happens, think it legitimate to describe Steiner as a racist. I think that several of my relatives are racists (kind of like your dad, maybe), and a number of very significant philosophers whose work I treasure were racists, and one of the great composers of all time, Richard Wagner, was an ardent racist and a raving antisemite. I think it is both possible and necessary to recognize the racist facets of figures like these, without using that as an excuse to dismiss the rest of their work.

What exactly is this defined as?

I think the most sensible definition of racist belief is something along these lines: a way of thinking that sorts human groups into racial categories, accords essential meaning to these categories, delineates specific differences between them, associates these differences with significant cultural, spiritual, or intellectual traits, and ranks the resulting constellation of categories in some hierarchical order of higher and lower.

Is the idea of the "Jewish people" assimilating into society at large a racist idea?

No, definitely not. Most German Jews during Steiner's lifetime were assimilationists. In fact the majority of them had already achieved a considerable measure of integration into "society at large". What they had not done, and what most of them quite reasonably declined to do, was abandon their Jewish identity in the process. In contrast to these pro-assimilationist Jews, assimilationist antisemites demanded a complete dissolution of Jewishness as such. I think that Steiner, in several stages of his career, fit into this latter pattern. But this sort of antisemitism was by no means racist, at least not necessarily so, and in several crucial respects it was fundamentally different from the racial versions of antisemitism that were also current at the time.

Wouldn't the ideas of separation, "purity of blood", segregation (as exemplified in the United States with "people of color" be more "racist"?

Yes, segregation and purity of "blood" generally belong to the arsenal of racial antisemites, not of assimilationist antisemites. In fact one of the best scholars on this issue, Donald Niewyk, distinguishes between "integrationist" and "segregationist" antisemites, whereas I tend to use the terms "assimilationist" and "dissimilationist". Most of the integrationist/assimilationist antisemites -- a group which included several of the most infamous and influential antisemites of the time -- were not racial antisemites, though they were typically racists in other respects.

Also, with the creation of Israel and the intense devotion to Jewish nationalism, do we not see just the kind of continued antipathy and violence as a result of that antipathy between "races" - specifically in the Middle East? And is this a result of "blood" or "religion" or "culture"? I don't know.

I think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has more to do with struggles over land and security than it does with blood, religion, or culture. But in any case, I don't see a fundamental difference, at this level, between Jewish nationalism and Ukrainian nationalism or Puerto Rican nationalism or Tibetan nationalism and so forth.

The second (multi faceted) question is: what is your expressed purpose in bringing this discussion into the arena of the appropriateness of Waldorf Education in 1. public schools and 2. society at large?

I have very little to say on that topic. I don't know enough about Waldorf education to make an interesting case either way, and I don't have strong feelings about Waldorf as such. I get the sense that Waldorf schools, especially in North America, comprise a very wide range of beliefs and practices, some of which have relatively little to do with the aspects of anthroposophy that I study. As far as the public schools part of your question goes, it seems to me that the PLANS folks have a very good point about the establishment clause, and I generally come down on the side of secularism as the safest option in a society like the contemporary US.

While your scholarship on the issue is profound and has involved many hours of research and thought, do you think that you have presented it in a way and through a medium that would keep the discussion in an academic and objective realm?

I hope not! I am very critical of the academic realm and the stultifying conception of objectivity that is so often associated with it. That is one of the main reasons I have avoided an academic career so far and remained an independent scholar (though I must confess that I am currently in the midst of throwing in that particular towel); one of my goals is to move historical discussions out of the academic realm so that non-academics can participate in them. My published work on anthroposophy is not objective in the sense I think you mean, and no competent reader could mistake it for such; I am very up front about my own skeptical stance. Much of what I write on anthroposophy is a mixture of scholarship and polemic, addressed to a non-specialist audience. It is not a neutral reflection on the pros and cons of Steiner's various doctrines.

Or, do you not think that any association with the word "Nazi" may call up an emotional response in great numbers of people who do not have the time or inclination to do such scholarly work on their own?

No, I definitely disagree with you on that point, as I tried to spell out in one of my replies to you on the waldorf critics list. I think that terms like "racist" and "Nazi" have specific meanings that can and should be used responsibly, not as terms of abuse but as analytical descriptions. I spend an enormous chunk of my time reading documents written by Nazis (actual Nazis, the kind who proudly call themselves Nazis), and I pay close attention to what distinguishes their perspectives from those of other authoritarian right-wingers. Rudolf Steiner was certainly not a Nazi, but a number of his followers were, and there was a significant strand within the Nazi movement that looked favorably on various aspects of Steiner's work. The point of exploring these historical connections is not to call up an emotional response but to prompt informed consideration of the ambiguous record of alternative spiritual movements and their wide-ranging political affiliations.

A third question arises in me. Please forgive me if you have illucidated this elsewhere - I do not have the time to search all of the archives of the past five or more years of discussion on other forums - have you seen examples of overt or covert racism in the practice of Waldorf Education. If so, would you please discuss these examples?

The most important example, in my view, is the one I mentioned to you recently on the waldorf critics list, namely the "racial ethnography" curriculum in Dutch Waldorf schools, which was not discontinued until well into the 1990's. I hope it's okay with you if I simply quote some of what I wrote on the topic last year at the openwaldorf site (where you can also find vigorous discussion of this and related themes). Very briefly: Until the mid-1990's, Dutch Waldorf schools continued to teach courses on "racial ethnography" to 7th and 8th grade pupils. These courses were based squarely on Steiner's racial theories, and their role in the Waldorf curriculum was discussed extensively in the journal of the Dutch Waldorf movement. This longstanding practice changed only after the mother of a Waldorf student went to the press with her child's class notebooks about racial characteristics. The resulting media attention spurred the Dutch Anthroposophical Society and the Waldorf federation to review the "racial ethnography" curriculum, which they eventually decided to abandon. Public schools in the Netherlands had nothing remotely similar to these courses on "racial ethnography"; the only schools where such material was taught were Waldorf schools. This incident was the origin of the much-discussed "Dutch report" on anthroposophy and race.

The "races" that Steiner speaks of in Occult Science, to the best of my understanding are streams of development over long "epochs" of time and, especially taking into consideration the basic tenets of reincarnation, include every one of us as individuals. I fully believe that I have been Jewish, Catholic, African or possibly a slave in the United States, maybe Moslem, (but I don't think so yet) - Ancient Persian, yes definitely. I have been male and female and have lived in times and places completely unlike the one I am in now. I also believe that I will be all of these things again and live in times and places still more unlike this one or any past ones. I believe that whereever there is "antipathy" toward any kind of person, creed or system of thought within myself, there will I be drawn primarily so that I can "live through" it from the "other"'s point of view. I believe that evolution is not racial, but individual and that all the differences that exist in the physical realm have their purpose and meaning and can only be understood as part of a "puzzle" or "tapestry" of interlocking pieces or threads. I believe that in every moment of antipathy lives a seed of love - one that will be watered and brought to blossom in a future place and time.

Much of what you write above sounds to me perfectly compatible with Steiner's version of reincarnation. The crucial difference is that by my reading, Steiner considered evolution to be both individual and racial. He sometimes taught that some racial forms are higher than others, and that spiritual progress is correlated to racial progress. Here is a passage that might show you what I have in mind:

"Everyone who works in this way prepares the ground for the human bodies of the future, for the bodies that souls will later need. There is a word that beautifully expresses this work toward the future, which we will understand when we clarify the difference between soul development and racial development. All of you were once Atlanteans, and these Atlantean bodies looked very different, as I have already described. The same soul that was once in an Atlantean body somewhere is now in your body. But not all bodies have been prepared, in the way yours have been, by a small number of colonists who long ago migrated from the West to the East. Those who remained behind, who bound themselves up with their race, they degenerated, while the advanced ones founded new civilizations. The last stragglers on the way to the east, the Mongols, still retain something of the culture of the Atlanteans. In the same way, the bodies of those people who do not develop themselves in a progressive fashion will continue into the next era and will constitute the Chinese of the future. There will once again be decadent peoples. After all, the souls that inhabit Chinese bodies are those that will once again have to incarnate in such races, because they had too strong an attraction to that race. The souls that are today within you will later incarnate in bodies that come from people who work in the way I have indicated, and who beget the bodies of the future, just as the first colonists from Atlantis once did. And those who cling to the ordinary, who do not want to join with the movement toward the future, they will become fused with their race. There are people who want to stick to the familiar, who want nothing to do with progress; they refuse to listen to those who lead the way beyond the race to newer and newer forms of humanity. The myths have preserved this intention in a wonderful manner. The best way they could portray this is by pointing to one of the greatest ones, who spoke the words: “Whosoever does not leave father and mother, wife and child, brother and sister, cannot be my disciple”; and by depicting, in contrast, the tragedy of the person who says, I want nothing to do with such a leader, and rejects him. How could one express this more clearly than in the image of the person who rejects the leader, and who is incapable of advancing! That is the legend of Ahasver, the Eternal Jew, who sat there and pushed away the greatest leader, Christ Jesus, who wanted nothing to do with evolution, and who therefore must remain in his race, must always reappear in his race. These are myths that have been given to humankind for its eternal memory, so that humankind knows what it is dealing with."

(Steiner, Menschheitsentwickelung und Christus-Erkenntnis pp. 186-187)

It seems to me that passages like that one (and there are lots more like that one) simultaneously represent the sort of 'tapestry' approach that you invoke, and depend on racist premises. This is one of the reasons why I say that Steiner's work contains significant racist elements, even on those occasions when Steiner looked toward a non-racial future.

Peter Staudenmaier

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:00 am
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Hi Mike, thanks for your reply. No apology necessary for ripping me up when I wasn't here; you should see what they're saying about me on anarchist lists and discussion boards these days.... the rebukes of my anthroposophist detractors are gentle in comparison. You wrote:

I don't have the Ammo to discuss much about racism with you. But I will try to get around to our old discussion about Empathy, as well as your personal motive and intent, and why you might feel that your personal interprataton of Steiner might not be affected by your life experience; And if it indeed is, I would like for you to tell us a little about your personal history. As you said "our ideas are always formed wthin social contexts." A history of your personal social context might enlighten me and others as to why you believe and don't believe the things that you do.

I was hoping we could talk about Steiner, not about me, but the empathy discussion is important, and there is no doubt that any interpretation of a complex body of ideas is bound to be affected by the life experience of the interpreter. I disagree, however, that this has much to do with motive and intent. One of the time-honored principles of both philosophical discourse and public debate is that arguments ought to be judged on their own merits, not on the basis of the character of the person who expresses them. Thus it simply shouldn't matter if I am one of Ahriman's minions or the next incarnation of Rudolf Steiner. But since it seems that this issue keeps getting in the way of substantive dialogue between critics and supporters of anthroposophy, I will try to offer a brief response to your question about why I believe the things I do.

I definitely have what you call an intellectual bias (though I'm not sure why you think this would be a hindrance to understanding Steiner, since he was an intellectual himself), and the aspects of anthroposophy that I study have little to do with Steiner as a person; I am much more interested in his ideas. It is also true that I have "atheistic leanings", as Dottie has reminded the list; I am either an atheist or an agnostic, I'm never quite sure which (believe it or not, the question isn't particularly important to me). It is not true that I am opposed to spirituality; I am a spiritual person, and keenly interested in a variety of spiritual traditions. Some time ago you mentioned my Catholic education; I went to Catholic schools for twelve years, including a Jesuit high school, and a number of my immediate family members are practicing Catholics. I don't see what that has to do with my outlook on anthroposophy, but perhaps you could explain what connection you have in mind. Tarjei's descriptions of my political beliefs are generally accurate (though he did list a number of projects, like LETS schemes, that I am quite skeptical toward; it is unclear to me where he got this list from). I live in Madison, Wisconsin, a very left-leaning city, and spend each summer at the Institute for Social Ecology in Vermont. My chief focus as a historian is the cultural and intellectual history of the German right, and that is basically the perspective from which I approach anthroposophy. I recognize that this is a very different approach from yours, and I will try to keep that in mind here.

I'd be glad to answer any more specific questions you might have, but I still think it makes more sense to focus our discussion on Steiner's writings, not on each other's personalities. In my experience, that is a much more promising way to get at the actual agreements and disagreements. Happy Sunday,

Peter Staudenmaier

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From: dottie zold
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:27 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Peter:

Happy Sunday,

Happy Sunday?, hey that's my line, you are too funny. Welcome to the list. May some new thing be learned on all sides.

Thanks for coming,

Dottie

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:58 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Tarjei, you wrote:

Your point would be clarified considerably if you could tell us who you're referring to here and cite some examples that illustrate how the people in question express a lack of comprehension regarding the complexity of the relationship you're talking about.

Sure. Daniel said a few days back: "To anyone who has done a comparative study of the two, similarities between Rosenberg and Steiner are tenuous at best. Claiming that Rudolf Steiner's teachings became official mythology of Nazi Germany is patently absurd." I think the second sentence is more or less accurate, if a bit overheated, but I disagree with the first sentence. Also, if I understood Andrea's recent post, she thinks that Evola's racial theories had nothing in common with Steiner's. I disagree with that claim as well.

Tarjei again:

How would you define an "ethnic doctrine" or a "racial doctrine"?

Doctrines about ethnicity and about race.

If the achievements in question relate to natural-scientific research, I agree that they are not affected by the morality of doctrines adhered to.

I wasn't talking about morality. I fundamentally disagree with your take on concepts like 'racism' (assuming I've understood what you're getting at); I don't think it makes sense to use these concepts primarily as moral categories; to my mind our first task is to see what they mean descriptively, and then we can move on to normative judgements.

Claiming insight regarding other people's perceptions of themselves requires intimate knowledge of the individuals in question. Otherwise, such claims are not only arrogant, but extremely presumptious and conceited as well.

I disagree entirely. Claiming insight about other people's perceptions of themselves requires paying attention to what they say.

What do you mean by Steiner's "theosophical/anthroposophical period"

The period from 1902 onward during which he publicly identified with Theosophy and anthroposophy.

I seem to recall a claim by you that Steiner was an atheist in the 1890's

Yes, in my view Steiner oscillated between atheism and a mystical re-affirmation of christianity between the mid-1890's and 1900-1901.

which would make him a liar when he wrote in his autobiography thirty years later that the spiritual world had been wide open to him since childhood.

Why would that make him a liar? Atheism means disbelief in god. It does not mean disbelief in the spiritual world. In any case, there is nothing unusual about autobiographies re-interpreting their authors' past; that's part of the point of the whole endeavor.

Someone accustomed to communicate with the souls of the departed cannot be called atheists.

Why on earth not? Atheists are people who don't believe in god, not people who don't believe in souls or in communication with the dead.

RS also made it clear that what later became Anthroposophy was evolving within him long before the turn of the century. For this reason, Steiner's "theosophical/anthroposophical period" can be said to have started with his work on Goethe in the 1880's.

You're forgetting his caustic criticisms of Theosophy in the 1890's.

By using the expression "Aryan myth", you seem to indicate that no Aryans have ever existed. You also seem to imply that stating that Aryans have existed, and still exist, is a racist statement.

I tried to explain this to you at considerable length last month. Maybe I could ask you to read that post again:

http://www.topica.com/lists/waldorf-critics/read/message.html?mid=1715726619

It is indeed the case that "no Aryans have ever existed" if by Aryans you mean a race that founded the civilizations of antiquity. The Aryan myth mixed up language and biology. There was never any such thing as an Aryan race. That's why it's a myth.

The significance of Christ's first sign, and of the RS lecture quoted here, is that Anthroposophy is a New Christ-Proclamation that seeks to lead humanity behond the old ties of blood, soil, nationality, tribe, and race. You have previously claimed that Steiner spoke in favor of glorifying "blood and soil" and race like the Nazis did, and that this was his "doctrine", but that is a lie.

I don't know whether this is a "lie", but it isn't my position. It sounds to me like you're getting my discussion of Steiner mixed up with my discussion of Darre.

Steiner did not insist on assimilation; he recommended it. (Please notice the difference.)

I disagree. His recommendations on this score were categorical and emphatic.

There are orthodox Jews who share your misgivings about assimilation

I do not have misgivings about assimilation as such. I do have misgivings, as everyone should, about the specific version of assimilation that Steiner propagated. What he understood by assimilation was very different from what pro-assimilationist Jews understood by it. These Jews were anything but Orthodox.

The Jerusalem Post, Sunday December 30, 2001 - Health minister compares assimilation to Holocaust - Assimilation was a greater catastrophe for the Jewish people than the Holocaust, Health Minister Nissim Dahan said this morning.

Yes, I recall that remark. I think such comparisons are foolish. I don't see what this has to do with Steiner's views, however, which were formulated and expressed before the holocaust.

Nonsense. There was just a discussion about Mel Gibson and anti-Semitism after your arrival here, because you and nobody else is endeavoring to make a "hot topic" of Steiner's view on the Jews.

Dottie devoted several posts to the topic last week.

Here is another piece of blatant falsehood. Rudolf Steiner never had a "pan-German period." That is another lie.

Steiner was actively involved in the pan-German ("deutchnational") movement in Austria in the 1880's. He wrote dozens of articles for the pan-German press and briefly edited an important pan-German journal, the Deutsche Wochenschrift. These articles can be found in two of the volumes I mentioned yesterday: Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte and Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Literatur (GA 31 and 32). Both Lindenberg's and Wehr's biographies discuss this period.

As previously mentioned, Rudolf Steiner held the view that all racial ties should disappear, for the simple reason that racial ideals lead mankind into decadence. The Jews were no exception. This view is aparently what you refer to as Steiner's "broader racial doctrines."

That's part of it. But there's a lot more to Steiner's racial theories than that. I'm not sure I understand your second sentence above. Are you saying that the mere existence of Jews depends on some sort of racial ideal? If so, which one? Do you agree with Steiner's dictum that the best thing would be for Jewry as a people to cease to exist?

Peter Staudenmaier

Continued in another thread

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:03 am
Subject: Re: R: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Hi again Tarjei, you wrote:

If assimilation is regarded as something anti-Semitic, all Jews who embrace religions and philosophies and worldviews that differ from Judaism, and Jews who marry non-Jews, are anti-Semites according to such a definition. It's a semantic quicksand.

I don't think its quicksand at all. The issue isn't really all that murky, is it? Some antisemites were assimilationists. Others weren't. This has absolutely nothing to do with whether assimilation itself is antisemitic (it isn't, obviously); it has to do with differences among antisemites in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Germany.

Peter

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:28 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Daniel, you asked:

Was there anyone at all in Austria or Germany between 1870 and 1930 who publicly held a view of the Jews that you would not consider anti-Semitic by the standards of today?

Yes, of course. A very large majority of Austrian and German Jews held entirely reasonable views on the "Jewish question" (although I disagree with any number of those views for various reasons), and with rare exceptions did not adopt antisemitic positions. But there were lots of gentiles who held perfectly sensible and non-antisemitic views as well (again, I disagree with many of them). I completely reject the argument put forth by scholars like Goldhagen that all of German and Austrian culture was permeated by aggressive antisemitism for decades before the Nazis came to power. My perspective is much closer to that of historians like Mosse, Aschheim, Greive, and so forth. I know you read German, and if you like, I could recommend some of the secondary literature, both classics and the latest research, that I think makes a valuable contribution to understanding the vexed relations between German Jews and non-Jewish Germans during that turbulent era. Or I'd be happy to tell you more about my own viewpoint and the parameters of my current research. I would be very interested to hear your own thoughts on the matter. Thanks,

Peter Staudenmaier

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From: golden3000997
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:50 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

In a message dated 2/22/2004 1:59:05 PM Eastern Standard Time, pstauden writes:

Why would that make him a liar? Atheism means disbelief in god. It does not mean disbelief in the spiritual world. In any case, there is nothing unusual about autobiographies re-interpreting their authors' past; that's part of the point of the whole endeavor.

Hello Peter,

I am fascinated with this statement here and in your own brief biography (thank you very much, by the way.)

I kind of "feel" that I understand how someone can "believe" in the existence of a spiritual world, but not in the existence of a "god" per se. Who are the philosophers or spiritual thinkers who expound on this? And more to my satisfaction, can you expound on how it works in your own life? I can more understand someone "believing" in "God" and rejecting the idea of a "spiritual world" outside of a conventional "heaven" than I can figure out how someone can "believe" in a spiritual world and the existence of souls after death without a "god". It's just something I never really thought about before. I'm going to mull it over a bit, but I really would love to know the more personal side of it.

If you wish,
Christine

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From: golden3000997
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:54 am
Subject: Re: R: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

In a message dated 2/22/2004 2:03:45 PM Eastern Standard Time, pstauden writes:

This has absolutely nothing to do with whether assimilation itself is antisemitic (it isn't, obviously)

OK, major confusion! I thought assimilation WAS antisemitic?! No? I thought that you were saying that you were basing the idea of Rudolf Steiner as a racist, or some of his ideas as containing racism on the passages about assimilation.

What is the aspect here that I am missing? Assimiliation is not antisemitic. Is it racist?

Help!
Christine

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From: at
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 12:04 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Peter,

Thanks for addressing my question. My own thoughts are unfinished at the moment. I have a number of books on the subject that I am working through, including several by Mosse, Tal's volume and a few others (including Goldhagen and Lerner, Wistrich, and Hilberg, plus some general histories of the era). Due to work and family obligations, I am not likely to get through them before the end of the summer. If you feel that my reading list is incomplete, please feel free to recommend further volumes. I would be interested in hearing some of the results of your own research, so if you feel inclined to share, I would appreciate it.

Daniel Hindes

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Staudenmaier
Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2004 2:28 PM
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Daniel, you asked:

Was there anyone at all in Austria or Germany between 1870 and 1930 who publicly held a view of the Jews that you would not consider anti-Semitic by the standards of today?

Yes, of course. A very large majority of Austrian and German Jews held entirely reasonable views on the "Jewish question" (although I disagree with any number of those views for various reasons), and with rare exceptions did not adopt antisemitic positions. But there were lots of gentiles who held perfectly sensible and non-antisemitic views as well (again, I disagree with many of them). I completely reject the argument put forth by scholars like Goldhagen that all of German and Austrian culture was permeated by aggressive antisemitism for decades before the Nazis came to power. My perspective is much closer to that of historians like Mosse, Aschheim, Greive, and so forth. I know you read German, and if you like, I could recommend some of the secondary literature, both classics and the latest research, that I think makes a valuable contribution to understanding the vexed relations between German Jews and non-Jewish Germans during that turbulent era. Or I'd be happy to tell you more about my own viewpoint and the parameters of my current research. I would be very interested to hear your own thoughts on the matter. Thanks,

Peter Staudenmaier

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From: golden3000997
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 12:10 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

In a message dated 2/22/2004 2:35:29 PM Eastern Standard Time, pstauden writes:

A very large majority of Austrian and German Jews held entirely reasonable views on the "Jewish question" (although I disagree with any number of those views for various reasons), and with rare exceptions did not adopt antisemitic positions. But there were lots of gentiles who held perfectly sensible and non-antisemitic views as well (again, I disagree with many of them).

I know you're talking to Daniel, but now I'm REALLY curious! What DO you agree with? This is exciting, because I think it is a completely different starting point.

: ) Christine

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 12:45 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Christine, you wrote:

I kind of "feel" that I understand how someone can "believe" in the existence of a spiritual world, but not in the existence of a "god" per se. Who are the philosophers or spiritual thinkers who expound on this?

Atheism is definitely not my area of expertise, but I know a couple of Buddhist atheists, to choose one example. But there are lots of other examples. Here's a quick quote from a superb study of the influence of Nietzsche, perhaps the best-known atheist of Steiner's era (interestingly, the following passage comes right after a quote from Steiner himself, the bit from the autobiography about seeing Nietzsche's soul):

"The various cults and surrogate faiths of the time were linked to a widespread perception that the age was particularly empty, materialistic, and despiritualized. Many defined their projects as directly Nietzschean in nature, responses to the famous proclamation that God was dead. These post-Christian Nietzschean faiths have been labeled "religious atheism," "secular polytheism," and "pan-cosmic religion without transcendence." However one defines them, they abounded in number and demonstrated an adaptability to a range of divergent political and cultural tendencies."
(Steve Aschheim, The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany, p. 215)

Christine again:

And more to my satisfaction, can you expound on how it works in your own life? I can more understand someone "believing" in "God" and rejecting the idea of a "spiritual world" outside of a conventional "heaven" than I can figure out how someone can "believe" in a spiritual world and the existence of souls after death without a "god".

Good point. I guess I'd say that the continuum of spiritual experience is very broad, and god need not come into the picture at all points. Maybe our conceptions of souls, afterlifes and so forth are so consistently linked to god imagery that we think the two must somehow go together. I don't see why this would necessarily have to be the case, though. From what I do understand of atheism, many atheists portray their own position as simply a lack of belief in a divinity; it doesn't have to entail any specific belief or disbelief in things like souls or communicating with the dead. There is also a rich tradition of people who go from being convinced theists to atheists and vice-versa; one of Steiner's peers in the Theosophical movement, Annie Besant, was a famous example. As far as my own life, I simply don't think about the question of god much. Most of my spiritual experiences involve things like trees, bodies of water, other people, and so forth, but not deities.

I'm going to bundle my replies to your other message into a new post. Thanks for a very interesting conversation,

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: dottie zold
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 1:07 pm
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Peter wrote:

Rudolf Steiner was certainly not a Nazi, but a number of his followers were, and there was a significant strand within the Nazi movement that looked favorably on various aspects of Steiner's work.

Hi Peter,

It seems to me the reason you hold Steiner was not a Nazi was because he had died before this group actually pulled itself together, is this correct? And is it not correct that you think Dr. Steiner layed the groundwork for what later became teh thought process within the nazi regime?

In regards to followers, as was stated before, many people harkened unto Dr. Steiners work at the time. He was definitely making himself known for his studies of the spiritual realities and their connections to man. Anybody can decide to follow you, Peter Staudenmaier, as a public speaker, or a Dr. Steiner, without you realizing specifically what their political bent is. This does not make you accountable for what they will then take from your work and decide to do at a later date, unless you engage in a teroristic type of 'go get em and make em pay' kind of way that some of the so called pro-life people do.

Do you really think that Dr. Steiner formented the idea that killing Jews was a good thing: segregating them and making them cease to exist was the way it should be? That because he said Jewry should have ceased to exist means that he was of the mind that the Jews should be killed?

In regards to the 'significant strand' within the nazi stream these people were interested not in racial themes as you claim, rather the environmental issues facing many of the farmers of the day and a people at the crossroads of themselves. The group you have specifically co-opped trying to make the nazi stain stick to Steiner is actually Ariosophy. Many of the followers you mention in your article were actually a part of this particular group who were trying to make themselves God here on Earth and fell very easy into Hitlers hands. This particular group had absolutely no understanding of the spiritual workings other than that which was twisted and corrupted and whos teachings can be found in Mein Kemph. Just about every word you have written and pinned on Dr. Steiner can be traced back to this Ariosophy.

So, looking at Ariosophy, which I believe you must have in order to come up with some of the conclusions you have, and it becomes pretty transparent once one looks at your errant conclusions regarding Dr. Steiner and Anthroposophy, I am wondering if you realize how similar your claims against Dr. Steiner are to the thinkings of that particular group?

Dottie

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 1:59 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Peter,

I wrote:

If the achievements in question relate to natural-scientific research, I agree that they are not affected by the morality of doctrines adhered to.

Peter S wrote:

I wasn't talking about morality. I fundamentally disagree with your take on concepts like 'racism' (assuming I've understood what you're getting at); I don't think it makes sense to use these concepts primarily as moral categories; to my mind our first task is to see what they mean descriptively, and then we can move on to normative judgements.

Tarjei:

In other words, racism has nothing to do with ethics and morality?

Tarjei:

I seem to recall a claim by you that Steiner was an atheist in the 1890's

Peter S:

Yes, in my view Steiner oscillated between atheism and a mystical re-affirmation of christianity between the mid-1890's and 1900-1901.

Tarjei:

which would make him a liar when he wrote in his autobiography thirty years later that the spiritual world had been wide open to him since childhood.

Peter S:

Why would that make him a liar? Atheism means disbelief in god. It does not mean disbelief in the spiritual world.

Tarjei:

That would still make him a liar, because according to his autobiography, Rudolf Steiner testifies being a Christian and suggests being a reincarnationist in Vienna in his late twenties, thus negating the preposterous theory that Christology and Theosophy was something he adopted more than a decade later:

http://wn.elib.com/Steiner/Books/GA028/TSoML/GA028_c07.html

About the two were gathered professors of the theological faculty, Catholic priests of the very finest scholarship. First among them all was the priest of the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross, Wilhelm Neumann. Müllner justly esteemed him because of his comprehensive scholarship. He said to me once, when in the absence of Neumann I was speaking with enthusiastic admiration of his broad and comprehensive scholarship: “Yes, indeed, Professor Neumann knows the whole world and three villages besides.” I liked to accompany the learned man when we went away from delle Grazie's at the same time. I had many a conversation with this “ideal” of a scientific man who was at the same time a “true son of his Church.” I would here mention only two of these. One was in regard to the person of Christ. I expressed my view to the effect that Jesus of Nazareth, by reason of supramundane influence, had received the Christ into himself, and that Christ as a spiritual Being has lived in human evolution since the Mystery of Golgotha. This conversation remained deeply imprinted in my mind; ever and again it has arisen in memory. For it was profoundly significant for me. There were really three persons engaged in that discussion: Professor Neumann and I, and a third, unseen person, the personification of Catholic dogmatic theology, visible to spiritual perception as he walked behind the professor, always beckoning with his finger threateningly, and always tapping Professor Neumann on the shoulder as a reminder whenever the subtle logic of the scholar led him too far in agreement with me. It was noteworthy how often the first clause of the latter's sentences would be reversed in the second clause. There I was face to face with the Catholic way of life in one of its best representatives. It was through him that I learned to esteem it, but also to know it through and through.

Another time we discussed the question of repeated earth lives. The professor then listened to me, spoke of all sorts of literature in which something on this subject could be found; he often nodded his head lightly, but had no inclination to enter into the merits of a question which seemed to him very fanciful. So this conversation also became of great import to me. The uncomfortableness with which Neumann felt the answers he did not utter in response to my statements was deeply impressed upon my memory.

- Mein Lebensgang, Chapter VII (GA 28)

No atheist would express his view "to the effect that Jesus of Nazareth, by reason of supramundane influence, had received the Christ into himself, and that Christ as a spiritual Being has lived in human evolution since the Mystery of Golgotha." That's belief in God.

Peter S:

In any case, there is nothing unusual about autobiographies re-interpreting their authors' past; that's part of the point of the whole endeavor.

Tarjei:

In this case, the historical revision you wish to make is making a liar RS, unless he was too feeble-minded to remember his early years when he wrote his autobiography. There is nothing to indicate the latter.

Tarjei:

Someone accustomed to communicate with the souls of the departed cannot be called atheists.

Peter S:

Why on earth not? Atheists are people who don't believe in god, not people who don't believe in souls or in communication with the dead.

Tarjei:

The suggestion that RS was ever an atheist is absurd. Higher beings (gods) are part and parcel of the spiritual world and were never hidden from his spiritual vision. No semantic drivel can make an atheist of Steiner at any time in his life.

Tarjei:

RS also made it clear that what later became Anthroposophy was evolving within him long before the turn of the century. For this reason, Steiner's "theosophical/anthroposophical period" can be said to have started with his work on Goethe in the 1880's.

Peter S:

You're forgetting his caustic criticisms of Theosophy in the 1890's.

Tarjei:

Steiner was opposed to the approach to the spiritual being practiced in the Theosophical Society from the beginning. what he taught as "Theosophy" was radically different from Blavatsky's tradition. Steiner chose the natural-scientific discipline of Darwin as his epistemological point of departure, which differed radically from the crystal balls and seances of the Theosophists.

Tarjei:

By using the expression "Aryan myth", you seem to indicate that no Aryans have ever existed. You also seem to imply that stating that Aryans have existed, and still exist, is a racist statement.

Peter S:

I tried to explain this to you at considerable length last month.

Tarjei:

You express the same stigmatizing bias there when you write:

[PS]

"Moreover, the concept of an "Aryan race", in the form which it typically took within European culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was inescapably racist. It posited a superior Aryan stock who colonized the ancient world and founded the great civilizations of antiquity."

Rudolf Steiner did not claim that the Aryans had founded the great civilizations of antiquity. There are many, many pre-historic civilizations. It was the Ariosophists and the Nazis who concocted the notion - or the myth (in the derogatory-illusory sense of the word) - that the Aryans had founded all ancient civilizations. It looks as if you are deliberately blending occult history based upon spiritual science with the German nationalist idea of a master race in order to stigmatize Anthroposophy in this manner.

Peter S:

It is indeed the case that "no Aryans have ever existed" if by Aryans you mean a race that founded the civilizations of antiquity.

Tarjei:

By Aryans is meant the Indo-European peoples who migrated between Asia and Europe. There have been many civilizations in pre-historical times. They were not founded by one group. RS also talked about the Aryan epoch in the early years when he used traditional theosophical terminology, when he actually meant the fifth post-atlantean epoch. In the spiritual science of seership as practiced by RS a century ago, the relationships of races, epochs, cultures and civilizations were very complex, and a sincere effort to understand what was communicated from those quarters is needed to make sense of it.

Peter S:

The Aryan myth mixed up language and biology. There was never any such thing as an Aryan race. That's why it's a myth.

Tarjei:

Subjective personal opinion on your part.

Tarjei:

The significance of Christ's first sign, and of the RS lecture quoted here, is that Anthroposophy is a New Christ-Proclamation that seeks to lead humanity behond the old ties of blood, soil, nationality, tribe, and race. You have previously claimed that Steiner spoke in favor of glorifying "blood and soil" and race like the Nazis did, and that this was his "doctrine", but that is a lie.

Peter S:

I don't know whether this is a "lie", but it isn't my position. It sounds to me like you're getting my discussion of Steiner mixed up with my discussion of Darre.

Tarjei:

Darre wrote a book with that title, I seem to recall, but you keep bringing up Darre and his book, racism, Nazi war criminals, Ariosophy, and so on and so on, and sticking it on Rudolf Steiner and his movement, plus Waldorf.

Tarjei:

Nonsense. There was just a discussion about Mel Gibson and anti-Semitism after your arrival here, because you and nobody else is endeavoring to make a "hot topic" of Steiner's view on the Jews.

Peter S:

Dottie devoted several posts to the topic last week.

Tarjei:

They were about you and your cohorts at PLANS-WC. Accusing RS of anti-Semitism is either plain ignorant or deliberately malicious. Beating on that drum year after year against obvious better knowledge is reminiscent of a hate group.

Tarjei:

Here is another piece of blatant falsehood. Rudolf Steiner never had a "pan-German period." That is another lie.

Peter S:

Steiner was actively involved in the pan-German ("deutchnational") movement in Austria in the 1880's. He wrote dozens of articles for the pan-German press and briefly edited an important pan-German journal, the Deutsche Wochenschrift. These articles can be found in two of the volumes I mentioned yesterday: Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte and Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Literatur (GA 31 and 32). Both Lindenberg's and Wehr's biographies discuss this period.

Tarjei:

That's right, it's in GA 31. My mistake; I should have been more precise. What I was getting at, was that Steiner had no link to the nationalistic movement that later evolved into Nazism after the first world war, although you seem to have made efforts to establish such a link.

Tarjei:

As previously mentioned, Rudolf Steiner held the view that all racial ties should disappear, for the simple reason that racial ideals lead mankind into decadence. The Jews were no exception. This view is aparently what you refer to as Steiner's "broader racial doctrines."

Peter S:

That's part of it. But there's a lot more to Steiner's racial theories than that.

Tarjei:

Not what the future is concerned. In the future, human races will no longer be linked to physical heredity but to soul-content, to spirituality or absence of such.

Peter S:

I'm not sure I understand your second sentence above. Are you saying that the mere existence of Jews depends on some sort of racial ideal?

Tarjei:

No, I'm not saying that. But the effort to preserve forever any race of the present, whether it's Jews, Blacks, "Caucasians", Indians, Asians or whatever - that is an effort based upon racial ideology. Resisting integration and assimilation and evolution at all costs forever leads to ethnic-cultural isolationism, nationalism, ethnic strife, etc. It wasn't necessarily like that in the past, but that's how it is today. And Rudolf Steiner knew it and saw the problems coming.

Peter S:

If so, which one? Do you agree with Steiner's dictum that the best thing would be for Jewry as a people to cease to exist?

Tarjei:

I do not agree with any dictum regardless of whom it comes from. But I do hold the view that human races, i.e. ethnic groups sharing distinct physiological characteristics and so on derived from heredity, are in the process of disappearing and that we're only seeing the faint beginning of this now. Today, you can be black, have a French name, and live in Mexico as a citizen of Finland. In the future, the present-day human races will have ceased to exist. That does not mean that human individuals will have ceased to exist, or that humanity will have ceased to evolve through ever-changing social forms and cultures. I believe that answers part of your question above. Larry King, who was born Jewish, has not ceased to exist. His kids, who are raised Mormon, are not ceasing to exist. The Hebrew legacy will not cease to exist, although the traditional practice of old time religions like Judaism, Islam, and orthodox Christianity will fade away in due time. Our existence and our future do not depend upon such things.

I also believe that the views Rudolf Steiner's held a century ago regarding race, nationality, assimilation, Jewry, etc. were healthy, although impatient in some respects. He wanted to see culture transform itself through a new spiritual awakening under the regency of St. Michael. He saw a special need for Jews to assimilate because of the social problems that were present in Europe in connection with the so-called "Jewish question." And although Steiner did not foresee the holocaust in Europe against the Jews specifically, he may have had forebodings, especially when he mentioned the year 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power, as the rise of the apocalyptic Beast. This is what he said in one of his very last lectures before his fatal illness put an end to it all, in September 1924:

[RS]

"In 1933, dear friends, there would be a possibility for the earth and everything living on it to perish if there did not exist also that other wise arrangement that cannot be calculated. Once comets have taken on other forms calculations can no longer be accurate. What needs to be said in the sense meant by the apocalyptist is: Before the Etheric Christ can be comprehended by human beings in the right way, humanity must first cope with encountering the Beast who will rise up in 1933. This is what the apocalyptic language tells us. Here a view of spirit unites with a view of nature. What is there in the cosmos becomes clear to us in its fundamental spiritual character."

- "The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest" (Lecture 16, Dornach 20 Sept 1924, GA 346 )

Cheers,

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 3:24 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

Thanks for addressing my question. My own thoughts are unfinished at the moment. I have a number of books on the subject that I am working through, including several by Mosse, Tal's volume and a few others (including Goldhagen and Lerner, Wistrich, and Hilberg, plus some general histories of the era). Due to work and family obligations, I am not likely to get through them before the end of the summer. If you feel that my reading list is incomplete, please feel free to recommend further volumes.

Sounds like a great reading list. Tal's book in particular is excellent. I have some differences with Wistrich (as a colleague once put it, "Wistrich finds an antisemite under every rock"); he sometimes comes close to adopting the position you thought I espoused. My own analysis of German antisemitism is not as sweeping as his. But his book on Viennese Jewry (The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph, Oxford 1989) is superb; I recommend consulting it when reading Steiner's early writings about Austrian Jews, to contrast Steiner's claims about the nature of "Jewry as such" with detailed description of actual Jewish life in Vienna at the time.

I would be interested in hearing some of the results of your own research, so if you feel inclined to share, I would appreciate it.

I will try to say more about my research once I catch up here. Thanks,

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: Mike Helsher
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 4:26 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

[Peter S]

I was hoping we could talk about Steiner, not about me, but the empathy discussion is important, and there is no doubt that any interpretation of a complex body of ideas is bound to be affected by the life experience of the interpreter.

Thank you for acknowledging that

I disagree, however, that this has much to do with motive and intent. One of the time-honored principles of both philosophical discourse and public debate is that arguments ought to be judged on their own merits, not on the basis of the character of the person who expresses them.

I'd be ok with that if the arguments were presented anonymously, or maybe even created in a committee.

But you write that Anthroposophy is "racist to the core" and you sign your name to it. Call me naive, but I have a hard time separating a persons psychological make- up (which stems from their biography) from the ideas that they put forth.

Personally I feel that completely discarding or separating a persons motive and intent, from the foundations upon which their ideas are built, leaves out an important element of our shared humanity.

Might be great if we were talking about computers or bicycles; but when were talking about people, especially highly influential people like RS who expounded ideas in so many different areas of the human experience, and people like myself who have found much hope in his writings, personal motive and intent is important.

And how do we separate the idea of "Empathy" from our personal motive and intent?

Thus it simply shouldn't matter if I am one of Ahriman's minions or the next incarnation of Rudolf Steiner.

That's a bit of a red-herring, don't you think. I'm more interested in who you are as an individual, not in labeling you as such.

But since it seems that this issue keeps getting in the way of substantive dialogue between critics and supporters of anthroposophy, I will try to offer a brief response to your question about why I believe the things I do.

Thank you. You might find that your difficulty with "talking to Anthroposophists" would be quite lessened in the future, if expounded upon these ideas more frequently

It is not true that I am opposed to spirituality; I am a spiritual person, and keenly interested in a variety of spiritual traditions.

That is truly good to hear. Thank you for sharing that.

Some time ago you mentioned my Catholic education; I went to Catholic schools for twelve years, including a Jesuit high school, and a number of my immediate family members are practicing Catholics. I don't see what that has to do with my outlook on anthroposophy, but perhaps you could explain what connection you have in mind.

Dear God. I'd have to write a book on this one. Catholicism and the corporate-media; hard to deny the subtle effects that these institutions have on us all. I did the Alter-boy thing, communion, confirmation... I wound up burning my catholic Bible in my early twenties; it was quite satisfying to watch it roast. Maybe your immune but I am still effected.

There is hope though. I just watched the movie "Dogma" again just last night.

<snip> My chief focus as a historian is the cultural and intellectual history of the German right, and that is basically the perspective from which I approach anthroposophy. I recognize that this is a very different approach from yours, and I will try to keep that in mind here.

Thanks, I'll try to do the same.

Truth and Love

Mike

...................................................................................................................................

From: dottie zold
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 5:06 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Tarjei:

which would make him a liar when he wrote in his autobiography thirty years later that the spiritual world had been wide open to him since childhood.

Peter S:

Why would that make him a liar? Atheism means disbelief in god. It does not mean disbelief in the spiritual world.

Tarjei:

That would still make him a liar, because according to his autobiography, Rudolf Steiner testifies being a Christian and suggests being a reincarnationist in Vienna in his late twenties, thus negating the preposterous theory that Christology and Theosophy was something he adopted more than a decade later:

Hi Tarjei and Peter,

I remember this conversation happening on the critics list and I recall you, Peter, saying that Dr. Steiner changed his tune to be politically correct; in other words he lied.

Dottie

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 5:42 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Hi Dottie, you wrote:

It seems to me the reason you hold Steiner was not a Nazi was because he had died before this group actually pulled itself together, is this correct?

Well, that's certainly part of it; Steiner died in 1925 and the Nazis came to power in 1933. But the Nazi party did exist, in small and localized form, during the last several years of Steiner's life. There is no evidence that Steiner had the slightest sympathy for the party, and some anecdotal evidence that he strongly disliked them.

And is it not correct that you think Dr. Steiner layed the groundwork for what later became teh thought process within the nazi regime?

No, that it is not correct. Steiner's influence was restricted to a subset of the Nazis, mostly the group that I study, the so-called 'green wing'. He certainly did not lay the groundwork for the thought process of the entire Nazi regime.

In regards to followers, as was stated before, many people harkened unto Dr. Steiners work at the time. He was definitely making himself known for his studies of the spiritual realities and their connections to man. Anybody can decide to follow you, Peter Staudenmaier, as a public speaker, or a Dr. Steiner, without you realizing specifically what their political bent is. This does not make you accountable for what they will then take from your work and decide to do at a later date

Quite so. I hold Steiner accountable for his own actions (namely preaching a number of doctrines that I consider pernicious), not for the actions of his followers.

Do you really think that Dr. Steiner formented the idea that killing Jews was a good thing

No, I definitely do not think that. Steiner's antisemitism, in my view, was assimilationist, not at all murderous. He never wanted Jews to be killed, he wanted them to be absorbed into German and Christian society such that their Jewishness itself would disappear.

segregating them and making them cease to exist was the way it should be?

No, just the opposite: integrating them and making them cease to exist as Jews.

That because he said Jewry should have ceased to exist means that he was of the mind that the Jews should be killed?

No, not at all. What he meant by saying the Jewry should cease to exist is that Jews should stop being Jews, not that they should stop living.

In regards to the 'significant strand' within the nazi stream these people were interested not in racial themes as you claim, rather the environmental issues facing many of the farmers of the day and a people at the crossroads of themselves.

No, the 'green wing' was very intensely interested in racial themes; in fact one of their most prominent representatives, Walther Darre, was a major Nazi race theorist.

The group you have specifically co-opped trying to make the nazi stain stick to Steiner is actually Ariosophy.

No, it isn't. I wrote you a very long post on this very topic several years ago, just before you left the waldorf critics list, and you never responded. I think you are confused about who the Ariosophists were and what connections they had to the Nazis.

Many of the followers you mention in your article were actually a part of this particular group

Which article? My article on anthroposophy and ecofascism doesn't mention the ariosophists at all.

So, looking at Ariosophy, which I believe you must have in order to come up with some of the conclusions you have, and it becomes pretty transparent once one looks at your errant conclusions regarding Dr. Steiner and Anthroposophy, I am wondering if you realize how similar your claims against Dr. Steiner are to the thinkings of that particular group?

My arguments about Steiner are obviously the opposite of the arguments some Ariosophists made against him. They thought his teachings weren't racist enough. I think his teachings are too racist. But there were a number of anthroposophists who were also ariosophists and who mixed the two together in their publications. I'd be happy to provide you with details. But first, could you explain who you think the ariosophists were, and maybe give a name or two so I know who you're talking about? Thanks very much,

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: dottie zold
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 6:46 pm
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Peter:

Quite so. I hold Steiner accountable for his own actions (namely preaching a number of doctrines that I consider pernicious), not for the actions of his followers.

Hi Peter,

No disrespect intended but you speak with a forked tongue. Seriously. It must be so inbred you do not realize one can see right through it. And truly I really don't mean to disrespect you by saying forked tongue. Are you aware of how circulous your argument is in a decieving manner? Do you really not know it? Or are you that blinded by what you believe to be true, that you do not see how you back track on all you say, that a thing never has a conclusion and one can not pin down exactly what you are trying to say? It's like dodging a thing here and then dodging a thing there, I mean it must be mind tiring to keep it going on day in and day out unless it comes to the point of automatum and the mind just keeps repeating what it has committed to.

Peter:

No, I definitely do not think that. Steiner's antisemitism, in my view, was assimilationist, not at all murderous. He never wanted Jews to be killed, he wanted them to be absorbed into German and Christian society such that their Jewishness itself would disappear.

Dottie

And where do you find this written? It again must be your interpretation of a thing again as the Steiner I read and study is open to all peoples of all racists being whom they are. Now he may have remarked on this or that but not that he was trying to assimilate any one group into another group. Nor did I ever get he wanted the Jews of his particular time to integrate into anything. The comments he made was the failure of the Jews to recognize or sense into the Christ experience and that it would be best if they let go of their nationalistic/religious blood ties. And the reference time he was speaking of was back in past history not current history, and was pertaining to the fact that they did indeed bear the Christ as a people and needed to move on with evolutionary phase of being towards this understanding.

I have never heard of such a remark. Can you share it with us if you have it?

Peter:

No, not at all. What he meant by saying the Jewry should cease to exist is that Jews should stop being Jews, not that they should stop living.

Dottie

What I get from his work is that Dr. Steiner holds it to not be in balance if any one group turns into a nationalistic group that excludes everyone else. That the world would hope to move into a place where we all could get along and not be so divided according to religion or race.

Peter:

No, the 'green wing' was very intensely interested in racial themes; in fact one of their most prominent representatives, Walther Darre, was a major Nazi race theorist.

Dottie

When you say Green Wing are you speaking of a Green Wing within the Anthroposophical group? I think not, I am sure, but I just want to be clear. Or are you speaking of the Green Party of the Germans?

Dottie:

The group you have specifically co-opped trying to make the nazi stain stick to Steiner is actually Ariosophy.

Peter:

No, it isn't. I wrote you a very long post on this very topic several years ago, just before you left the waldorf critics list, and you never responded.

Dottie

Well I got kicked off by Gary for saying as nice as I possibly could that you were lying. I mean I tried the word 'fib' and a few other niceties but your misinterpretations of Steiners work just got to be so blatant I didn't know whatelse to call it other than a lie. And I did try to be nice about it.

Peter

I think you are confused about who the Ariosophists were and what connections they had to the Nazis.

Dottie

No, I am not confused as to who the Ariosophists were. I know quite well, and in fact, it is you who led me there. You had come up with a few high flying people in the Nazi regime, long after Dr. Steiner had made the transition, and said they were students of Steiners. So, I went checking out these names and came to Ariosophy and I found three of your main characters listed as Ariosophists. And that is when I realized you were mixing and matching ideologies to make your story work. It is pretty apparent when looking at what they believe and what you try to pin on Dr. Steiner. There really is no way around it.

Dottie:

Many of the followers you mention in your article were actually a part of this particular group

Peter:

Which article? My article on anthroposophy and ecofascism doesn't mention the ariosophists at all.

Dottie

Yes, you are right they are not in your article rather they were brought up by you on the critics list. I remember hearing you speak of Dr. Steiner and the Nazis and I decided I had to read your article to see what you were talking about. And the article felt so mismatched that I had to do a study of sorts to check out the details. And your details were so twisted within the framework of Steiners work that one could not possibly hold this to be a valid paper by the references you left for us to check. It all looked good on the surface, but then when I went to check the references it was impossible to verify, as it was mostly your personal perception of his writings versus a hard core, detailed, reference list that actually showed a thing to be true or false, according to what you had written.

Peter:

My arguments about Steiner are obviously the opposite of the arguments some Ariosophists made against him. They thought his teachings weren't racist enough.

Dottie

Excuse me? Who are the Ariosophists that declared his teachings were not racist enough? Are you speaking of the ones who became Nazi followers and actually were involved in the anihilation of millions of Jews? I would like to see a name and a reference for such a comment. It is rare that anyone even knows who these Ariosophists are let alone having a quote where one says Dr. Steiner wasn't racist enough. Uh oh.

Peter:

But there were a number of anthroposophists who were also ariosophists and who mixed the two together in their publications. I'd be happy to provide you with details.

Dottie

Please do, and with references, English preferably. As I see it you have mingled a few names from the Ariosophists and claimed them to be Steiner followers as well. And again these early groups of people who were attracted to Dr. Steiner that later turned out to be Nazis were originally pulled towards Dr. Steiners farming techniques. And once again any group can take whatever appeals to them from a speaker and it does not make the speaker culpable for their actions. And for that we only have to look at Jesus the Christ to see what has happened with many of his followers and how they anihated thousands who did not agree with their doctrine. This had nothing to do with Christ, although I know you disagree with me on this, and everything to do with a mans personal interpretation of a thing.

Peter:

But first, could you explain who you think the ariosophists were, and maybe give a name or two so I know who you're talking about? Thanks very much,

Dottie

Peter I have no time to play games with you. We have had this conversation over at the critics and it was quite clear you have co-opped this group and pinned their thinkings on to Dr. Steiner. And you know as well as I do that their thinkings were a direct correlation to Hitlers and had absolutely nothing in common with Dr. Steiners. I mean you have studied this unless you are having selective memory at this point in time. You may draw the conclusion that they are very close in nature and that is because you have no interest in knowing of Dr. Steiners spiritual understandings for if you did you would see easily. But because you are committed to your personal outlook, and that is all fine and good, you can't see past your nose on this one.

Dottie

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 6:48 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Tarjei, you wrote:

In other words, racism has nothing to do with ethics and morality?

Not until we enter into a discussion of ethics. It's important to distinguish between empirical and normative senses of the same term, don't you think?

That would still make him a liar, because according to his autobiography, Rudolf Steiner testifies being a Christian

In the late 1890's? (A side note to Daniel: Steiner did not live in Austria in the late 1890's.)

and suggests being a reincarnationist in Vienna in his late twenties

Yes, that's the 1880's, a decade earlier.

thus negating the preposterous theory that Christology and Theosophy was something he adopted more than a decade later

All you need to do to disabuse yourself of this notion is read his 1897 critique of Theosohy.

Mein Lebensgang, Chapter VII (GA 28)

What you just quoted was written in 1924 and apparently refers to 1887. What would this have to do with his stance in 1898?

No atheist would express his view "to the effect that Jesus of Nazareth, by reason of supramundane influence, had received the Christ into himself, and that Christ as a spiritual Being has lived in human evolution since the Mystery of Golgotha." That's belief in God.

Indeed. Nobody disputes that Steiner believed in god when those words were penned.

In this case, the historical revision you wish to make is making a liar RS, unless he was too feeble-minded to remember his early years when he wrote his autobiography.

That's silly. This is exactly what autobiographies are for: you get to re-interpret your own life in whatever way you see fit. It isn't "lying" (though that certainly happens in autobiographies too).

The suggestion that RS was ever an atheist is absurd. Higher beings (gods) are part and parcel of the spiritual world and were never hidden from his spiritual vision.

I disagree that gods are part and parcel of the spiritual world. They are only part and parcel of some versions of the spiritual world, certainly not all. In any case, if you'd like to persuade me that Steiner was indeed a theist in the latter half of the last decade of the 19th century, I will gladly consider any writings from that period.

Steiner was opposed to the approach to the spiritual being practiced in the Theosophical Society from the beginning. what he taught as "Theosophy" was radically different from Blavatsky's tradition.

I disagree with the first sentence, and with the modifier "radically" in the second sentence. Steiner frequently emphasized the continuities between his own system and Blavatsky's, even in the midst of the organizational break from mainstream Theosophy. Here, for example, is Steiner in May 1912: "I am not speaking against Madame Blavatsky but in complete harmony with her when I say the one thing I wish for is that our Western conception of the world shall come to its own in this Theosophical movement." (Rudolf Steiner, Spiritualism, Madame Blavatsky, and Theosophy, Anthroposophic Press 2001, p. 130)

It was the Ariosophists and the Nazis who concocted the notion - or the myth (in the derogatory-illusory sense of the word) - that the Aryans had founded all ancient civilizations.

That is not what List or Lanz, the two leading ariosophists, taught, and I don't know of any Nazi race theorist who made this claim either. The notion that the Aryan race had founded many of the main ancient civilizations long predates both ariosophy and Nazism. I once again recommend you peek inside a book about the history of the Aryan myth. Poliakov would be a good place to start.

It looks as if you are deliberately blending occult history based upon spiritual science with the German nationalist idea of a master race in order to stigmatize Anthroposophy in this manner.

I'm not sure why it looks that way to you. There are a number of studies that address this very issue, from Webb to Strohm to Wegener; perhaps you could find a moment to consult one of them?

RS also talked about the Aryan epoch in the early years when he used traditional theosophical terminology, when he actually meant the fifth post-atlantean epoch.

No, the fifth post-Atlantean epoch is merely one of seven sub-components of the Aryan era, according to Steiner. The Aryan era is the one that follows the Atlantean era, which in turn followed the Lemurian era. He says we are currently in the fifth epoch of the Aryan era.

Subjective personal opinion on your part.

No, the fact that the Aryan myth was based on a conflation of language and race can easily be verified by anybody who takes a moment to check out the historical literature on the matter. Since you evidently believe that there is or was such a thing as an "Aryan race", Tarjei, could you perhaps explain just which peoples belong or belonged to it?

Darre wrote a book with that title, I seem to recall, but you keep bringing up Darre and his book, racism, Nazi war criminals, Ariosophy, and so on and so on, and sticking it on Rudolf Steiner and his movement, plus Waldorf.

Darre did write a book whose title contained that phrase, and he was the foremost Nazi popularizer of the "blood and soil" slogan. I bring him up because he admired Steiner and adopted biodynamic practices when he was the Nazis' minister of agriculture. I have yet to mention Nazi war criminals in this discussion, and it was you and Dottie who just brought up ariosophy, not me. Do you think these topics are irrelevant in some way?

Accusing RS of anti-Semitism is either plain ignorant or deliberately malicious.

Why don't we figure out which one it is? We could determine if I'm ignorant or if I'm malicious by discussing my arguments about Steiner's views on Jews. What do you say?

That's right, it's in GA 31. My mistake; I should have been more precise. What I was getting at, was that Steiner had no link to the nationalistic movement that later evolved into Nazism after the first world war, although you seem to have made efforts to establish such a link.

Those links were ideological, in my view, not organizational. They are thus of a very different nature from Steiner's earlier involvement in the Austrian pan-German movement.

No, I'm not saying that. But the effort to preserve forever any race of the present, whether it's Jews, Blacks, "Caucasians", Indians, Asians or whatever - that is an effort based upon racial ideology. Resisting integration and assimilation and evolution at all costs forever leads to ethnic-cultural isolationism, nationalism, ethnic strife, etc. It wasn't necessarily like that in the past, but that's how it is today. And Rudolf Steiner knew it and saw the problems coming.

I think you have misunderstood Steiner's writings and lectures about Jews. In any case, Jews aren't a race, and in Steiner's day they weren't resisting integration, assimilation, and evolution (whatever that might mean).

But I do hold the view that human races, i.e. ethnic groups sharing distinct physiological characteristics and so on derived from heredity, are in the process of disappearing and that we're only seeing the faint beginning of this now.

Could be. But Steiner didn't say that Germans should disappear, he said that Jews should disappear, not in the future, but now.

He saw a special need for Jews to assimilate because of the social problems that were present in Europe in connection with the so-called "Jewish question."

Yes, that is what we've been discussing. Why do you suppose that Steiner believed in the disappearance of Jewishness as a sensible response to the "Jewish question"? And why are you so insistent that his emphasis on this "special need for Jews to assimilate" couldn't possibly have had anything to do with the antisemitic ideologies of the time?

Peter Staudenmaier

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 7:26 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Hi Mike, thanks for the reply. You wrote:

Call me naive, but I have a hard time separating a persons psychological make- up (which stems from their biography) from the ideas that they put forth.

I agree that this can be hard to do sometimes, but I really do think it's important that we try to separate them for purposes of public discussion. Otherwise it becomes much harder for people to take a critical look at the ideas they put forward.

Personally I feel that completely discarding or separating a persons motive and intent, from the foundations upon which their ideas are built, leaves out an important element of our shared humanity.

I suppose it could if done too ineptly, but what I'm really recommending is more of a bracketing out of things like motive and intent when what you're really trying to get at is another person's ideas.

Might be great if we were talking about computers or bicycles; but when were talking about people, especially highly influential people like RS who expounded ideas in so many different areas of the human experience, and people like myself who have found much hope in his writings, personal motive and intent is important.

Important for what? I think it completely depends on what we're talking about and in what sort of context. I'd like to quote a few lines from a very influential essay on the historical study of antisemitism, Shulamith Volkov's 1978 article "Antisemitism as a Cultural Code". There she inquires: "How did antisemitism come to play so central a role in the culture of Imperial Germany? What was the process by which it was transferred into a symbol, a short-hand label for an entire set of ideas and attitudes having little if anything to do with direct affection or dislike of Jews? [...] For the study of these men, on both the personal and the social level, sidestepping the question of motives and concentrating on the dynamics of the social and cultural processes involved may prove more relevant and perhaps more fruitful." I think this is often correct.

That's a bit of a red-herring, don't you think. I'm more interested in who you are as an individual, not in labeling you as such.

Sorry, I didn't mean it that way. I was trying to find an extreme example to underline the point. I am not saying there is something wrong with being interested in who other people are as individuals (in fact I think there is something very right about this); what I'm saying is that it shouldn't affect how you assess the arguments that those individuals put forward.

Thank you. You might find that your difficulty with "talking to Anthroposophists" would be quite lessened in the future, if expounded upon these ideas more frequently.

I hope that's not true, but you might well be right.

Dear God. I'd have to write a book on this one. Catholicism and the corporate-media; hard to deny the subtle effects that these institutions have on us all. I did the Alter-boy thing, communion, confirmation... I wound up burning my catholic Bible in my early twenties; it was quite satisfying to watch it roast. Maybe your immune but I am still effected.

I am definitely not immune! Still recovering, all these years later. Your experinece sounds similar to mine. I guess what I was getting at is that I don't see how a Catholic background would get in the way of understanding a historical figure like Steiner, who was himself raised Catholic.

Thanks for your thoughts,

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 7:38 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Dottie, you wrote:

I remember this conversation happening on the critics list and I recall you, Peter, saying that Dr. Steiner changed his tune to be politically correct; in other words he lied.

No, that isn't at all what I said. Steiner didn't care about what we now call 'political correctness' (add that to the list of things I admire about him). I do not think that he lied on this topic. I can't even recall him saying much about in the autobiography. In any case, changing your tune and lying are entirely different things. What I claimed is that Steiner very much changed his tune on a number of issues in the course of the 1890's (I agree with Daniel that anti-clericalism was among these issues), including his views on god. I still don't understand why that sounds so implausible; this is the period when his chief indentifications were with figures like Nietzsche, Haeckel, and Stirner. According to one part of the encyclopedia article Daniel forwarded, a person has to reject spirituality as such in order to count as an atheist (though by my reading the article contradicts itself several times on exactly this point); that is not the sense of 'atheist' that I had in mind. I think of atheism as meaning disbelief in god, nothing more, nothing less.

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:04 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Peter:

In the late 1890's? (A side note to Daniel: Steiner did not live in Austria in the late 1890's.)

I am aware of that. He lived in Weimar until 1896 and then in Berlin. However, he maintained close contacts to many friends in and around Vienna, and followed developments in the cultural life closely, so developments in Austria in the 1890's were arguably influential on his intellectual development.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: dottie zold
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:16 pm
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Peter:

No, that isn't at all what I said. Steiner didn't care about what we now call 'political correctness' (add that to the list of things I admire about him). I do not think that he lied on this topic.

Dear Peter,

What is your definition of a lie? Really now. If one changes his tune years later and writes a thing that he knows did not apply to his early years what would you call this? Straight up Peter. Just shoot straight. It's called a lie. We discussed this on the critics and you said he basically omitted this for a reason. This is called a lie.

Peter:

In any case, changing your tune and lying are entirely different things.

Dottie

Not when you are reporting on your life. It's called embelleshing, in other words, lying.

Peter:

What I claimed is that Steiner very much changed his tune on a number of issues in the course of the 1890's (I agree with Daniel that anti-clericalism was among these issues), including his views on god. I still don't understand why that sounds so implausible; this is the period when his chief indentifications were with figures like Nietzsche, Haeckel, and Stirner.

Dottie

I so do not understand why you insist on seeing something that does not exist. I mean one year he is this, and the next year, because he does not speak on it, he is that. I mean you have him flip flopping all over the place as if he was a fickle man dropping things at the change of the Wind. Can you not understand that there was a basic understanding of the spiritual worlds, boom. And that from there he went onwards and brought in other learnings that were added on to his person through his studies, another boom. Is this so hard to understand or are you so committed to your personal perception of a thing that you refuse to see what is right in front of your nose? Truly Peter, do you really think it would bother Steiner students if they thought he went through an evolutionary phase of not believing in God? Who would care? You have these students as babies who are afraid to see some truth, that would not make a difference in their respect for him as a teacher because they have seen first hand what his teachings have meant for their lives.

Just because a man reads various scholars, irregardless of the point if their views match up, does not mean his grounded self has changed in any way shape or form. His childhood experiences, and many of them of a spiritual nature, rooted him in an understanding of the spiritual nature of man. This did not change because he read Haeckle, Neitzche or whomever else may have had a different opinion than he, regarding the spiritual nature of man. What is so amazing about Dr. Steiner is that he shares how great it is to read others even if you disagree with their findings. He propelled people forward to an understanding that even in the disagreement there is something to be learned and that the soul grows stronger by being willing to look at all sides of a picture and leaving ones mind open to all possibilities irregardless how impossible they may seem.

Peter:

I think of atheism as meaning disbelief in god, nothing more, nothing less.

Dottie

Okay, and what is God to you? What is your definition of God? What is it that makes you run away from people who speak of God in our lives? Do you percieve they are speaking of a God that they see as a power over you or over others? What is God to you?

I personally have wondered about a specific Being called God myself. But that does not mean there is a lack of believing in God, it actually is the understanding of what God is that matters. The definition other men put on God has no relation to how I perceive what God is or is not. And I must think Dr. Steiner is of a similar thought. So, to question the clerical understanding of God does not mean one does not believe in God, it would matter how one would define God in their own sense.

Dottie

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:33 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Peter,

I wrote:

In other words, racism has nothing to do with ethics and morality?

Peter S, you wrote:

Not until we enter into a discussion of ethics. It's important to distinguish between empirical and normative senses of the same term, don't you think?

Tarjei:

I think it's important to keep the moral aspect of racism up front, especially when you throw the word around almost every time you mention Steiner, causing readers to form moral judgements because of it.

Tarjei:

That would still make him a liar, because according to his autobiography, Rudolf Steiner testifies being a Christian

Peter S:

In the late 1890's?

Tarjei:

In the late 1880's. Chapter 7 of the autobiography, where the excerpt is taken from, covers "1886-1889 - Vienna."

Tarjei:

thus negating the preposterous theory that Christology and Theosophy was something he adopted more than a decade later

Peter S:

All you need to do to disabuse yourself of this notion is read his 1897 critique of Theosohy.

Tarjei:

RS explained that he observed strict silence about his spiritual-religious conceptions until 1899, when he got a green light from higher powers to speak about these matters.

About 1894 and the PoF, Steiner tells us in his autobiography, Chapter XVII (1892-1894 - Weimar):

[RS]

The knowledge man receives from outside through sense observation I presented in my book as the human soul's inner anthroposophical experience of the spirit. That I did not, as yet, use the term "Anthroposophy" was due top the fact that my first inclination was always to formulate ideas rather than a terminology. Now I stood before the task of formulating ideas that would present the human soul's experience of the spiritual world itself.

Tarjei:

Here is another quote from a few years later in the 1890's, taken from chapter XXIV (1897-1899 - Berlin):

[RS]

Soon I had to ask myself whether I could justify to myself and to the spiritual world, my work among this group of people. For though many of the persons concerned were my friends and very dear to me they, too, belonged - so far as my inner experience of the spirit was concerned - among those who made me ask: "Must I remain silent?"

Tarjei:

It is impossible to define a person whose inner life corresponds with this description, an atheist, unless one insists upon playing some absurd semantic, intellectually dishonest game of sorts. This same type of game is played with the word "anti-Semitic" which is stretched semantically to absurd limits when it is made the consequence of pro-assimilation.

Peter S:

Indeed. Nobody disputes that Steiner believed in god when those words were penned.

Tarjei:

Nice try, but you cannot dodge this one, Peter. What RS wrote in 1924 was that he believed in God in the late 1880's, before he was 30. In the passage I quoted, RS did not describe his beliefs of later years (which you are trying to suggest), but of his younger formative years.

Tarjei:

The suggestion that RS was ever an atheist is absurd. Higher beings (gods) are part and parcel of the spiritual world and were never hidden from his spiritual vision."

Peter S:

I disagree that gods are part and parcel of the spiritual world. They are only part and parcel of some versions of the spiritual world, certainly not all.

Tarjei:

That's worth a Quote of the Day. Your word-game makes absolutely no sense. If you had read Steiner carefully, you would have discovered that he used the word "God" on very rare occasions, but "the spiritual world" was often a euphemism for God when he spoke.

Peter S:

In any case, if you'd like to persuade me that Steiner was indeed a theist in the latter half of the last decade of the 19th century, I will gladly consider any writings from that period.

Tarjei:

So if he said and wrote later that he was a theist at that time but kept it strictly to himself, you don't believe him? Do you think he was self-deluded about it?

Tarjei:

Steiner was opposed to the approach to the spiritual being practiced in the Theosophical Society from the beginning. what he taught as "Theosophy" was radically different from Blavatsky's tradition.

Peter S:

I disagree with the first sentence, and with the modifier "radically" in the second sentence. Steiner frequently emphasized the continuities between his own system and Blavatsky's, even in the midst of the organizational break from mainstream Theosophy. Here, for example, is Steiner in May 1912: "I am not speaking against Madame Blavatsky but in complete harmony with her when I say the one thing I wish for is that our Western conception of the world shall come to its own in this Theosophical movement." (Rudolf Steiner, Spiritualism, Madame Blavatsky, and Theosophy, Anthroposophic Press 2001, p. 130)

Tarjei:

There was correspondence within cosmology and theology to a certain extent, but if you don't recognize that the methods of HPB and RS were radically different and that RS develped a thoroughly disciplined epistemology and spiritual science that was unthinkable for the Besant and the traditional theosophists, you haven't made a close enough study of them.

Tarjei:

It was the Ariosophists and the Nazis who concocted the notion - or the myth (in the derogatory-illusory sense of the word) - that the Aryans had founded all ancient civilizations."

Peter S:

That is not what List or Lanz, the two leading ariosophists, taught, and I don't know of any Nazi race theorist who made this claim

Tarjei:

'To Gobineau, "History... shows us that all civilization flows from the white race, that none can exist without the co-operation of this race," and that to the ordinary white race, the Aryan race is what the white man is to the black.' [Pennick]

Tarjei:

It looks as if you are deliberately blending occult history based upon spiritual science with the German nationalist idea of a master race in order to stigmatize Anthroposophy in this manner.

Peter S:

I'm not sure why it looks that way to you. There are a number of studies that address this very issue, from Webb to Strohm to Wegener; perhaps you could find a moment to consult one of them?

Tarjei:

I have read Webb (The Occult Establishment). He made no attempt to stigmatize Anthroposophy in that manner, although his ultra-rationalist view lead him to speculate that all spiritual people were perhaps schizophrenic.

Peter S:

No, the fact that the Aryan myth was based on a conflation of language and race can easily be verified by anybody who takes a moment to check out the historical literature on the matter. Since you evidently believe that there is or was such a thing as an "Aryan race", Tarjei, could you perhaps explain just which peoples belong or belonged to it?

Tarjei:

I already said that: The Indo-European peoples who migrated between Europe and Asia. You may say that these migrations never took place, that these people didn't exist, or that they were called something else, but that's your personal opinion, not an objective conclusive fact.

Tarjei:

Accusing RS of anti-Semitism is either plain ignorant or deliberately malicious.

Peter S:

Why don't we figure out which one it is? We could determine if I'm ignorant or if I'm malicious by discussing my arguments about Steiner's views on Jews. What do you say?

Tarjei:

You're malicious, consciously or subconsciously, because you obviously know better.

Peter S:

Those links were ideological, in my view, not organizational.

Tarjei:

Steiner had ideological links to Nazism? You know better than that, unless you've actually made yourself believe that crap, which would be beneath your intelligence.

Peter S:

I think you have misunderstood Steiner's writings and lectures about Jews.

Tarjei:

It's ironic that someone who believes Steiner was an atheist and a Nazi ideologue thinks it's the others who misunderstand him.

Peter S:

In any case, Jews aren't a race, and in Steiner's day they weren't resisting integration, assimilation, and evolution (whatever that might mean).

Tarjei:

If Jews aren't a race, why do you keep talking about Steiner's "racism" in connection with Jews? Why do you insist that Anthroposophy is "racist to the core" on the basis of Steiner's alleged anti-Semitism if Jews are not a race?

Peter S:

Why do you suppose that Steiner believed in the disappearance of Jewishness as a sensible response to the "Jewish question"? And why are you so insistent that his emphasis on this "special need for Jews to assimilate" couldn't possibly have had anything to do with the antisemitic ideologies of the time?

Tarjei:

There is an urgent need for all peoples in the world to assimilate. Your notion that Steiner was anti-Semitic is a pink elephant; calling a pro-assimilation stance anti-Semitism is playing abstract games with words, and you know it.

Cheers,

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

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From: dottie zold
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Subject: Re: agreement and disagreement

Peter:

what I'm saying is that it shouldn't affect how you assess the arguments that those individuals put forward.

Dear Peter,

It does effect how one assesses the argument. It does matter whether the person writing of a particular study has a bias towards it in any kind of manner. One would have to bear this in mind when reading an article whose facts do not seem to add up to what one has read and studied elsewhere. That is not to say it could not be true, rather that it does have to be taken into consideration. Any good student wanting to learn about a particular subject should know of the intellectual/political/religious and personal biases of the person they are reading or the teacher who is teaching a certain subject in college. I find it extremely important.

The problem with your article is that you have an apparent bias. There is nothing any of us can do about this. It is there and it must be taken into consideration when your interpretations of Steiners work seems to veer so far from what we experience that one would have to ask 'what is up with this fellas paper? How can he come to this particular conclusion when everything I have ever contemplated/interpreted within says different.

Gotta Run,

Dottie

If you did not have this bias

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:22 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Hi Dottie, you wrote:

Are you aware of how circulous your argument is in a decieving manner?

No, I am not aware of that. Could you explain why you think my argument is circular and deceptive?

And where do you find this written? It again must be your interpretation of a thing again as the Steiner I read and study is open to all peoples of all racists being whom they are.

Yes, what I wrote to you is indeed my interpretation, based on the writings by Steiner that I quoted yesterday, as well as on the work of several of Steiner's students, such as Ludwig Thieben. I urge you to offer your own interpretation of Steiner's repeated assertion that Jewry as a people ought to disappear.

Now he may have remarked on this or that but not that he was trying to assimilate any one group into another group.

What do you think he meant, then?

Nor did I ever get he wanted the Jews of his particular time to integrate into anything.

Here is what Steiner said in his 1924 lecture on "The Essence of Jewry":

"the best thing that the Jews could do would be to disappear into the rest of humankind, to blend in with the rest of humankind, so that Jewry as a people would simply cease to exist."

"the only proper thing would be for the Jews to blend in with the other peoples and disappear into the other peoples."

Those are the same words I quoted yesterday. What do you make of them?

The comments he made was the failure of the Jews to recognize or sense into the Christ experience and that it would be best if they let go of their nationalistic/religious blood ties.

Yes, he also said that on occasion. The problem is that the Jews weren't holding on to their nationalistic/religious blood ties. They simply declined to abandon their identity as the price for full citizenship.

And the reference time he was speaking of was back in past history not current history

That isn't true. As you can see above, Steiner's statements are in the present tense, not the past tense.

and was pertaining to the fact that they did indeed bear the Christ as a people and needed to move on with evolutionary phase of being towards this understanding.

Yes, that was another important element in his teachings about Jews, quite convergent with the one you and I are discussing.

I have never heard of such a remark. Can you share it with us if you have it?

I've done so twice now. Perhaps you could comment on these remarks by Steiner.

What I get from his work is that Dr. Steiner holds it to not be in balance if any one group turns into a nationalistic group that excludes everyone else.

Sure. But German Jews at the time were not at all a nationalistic group that excluded everyone else.

That the world would hope to move into a place where we all could get along and not be so divided according to religion or race.

But surely you can see that it was not the Jews who were preventing this.

When you say Green Wing are you speaking of a Green Wing within the Anthroposophical group?

No. I am speaking of the so-called 'green wing' of the Nazi party.

Or are you speaking of the Green Party of the Germans?

No. I am speaking of the so-called 'green wing' of the Nazi party.

I am not confused as to who the Ariosophists were.

Could you maybe name someone who you think was an ariosophist? Just one? Pretty please? That would make it considerably clearer who you mean.

You had come up with a few high flying people in the Nazi regime, long after Dr. Steiner had made the transition, and said they were students of Steiners.

Sort of. I wouldn't necessarily call Darre a "student of Steiner", though I do think Hess and Seifert fit this description.

So, I went checking out these names and came to Ariosophy and I found three of your main characters listed as Ariosophists.

Dottie, none of the Nazis I discuss in my article on anthroposophy and the 'green wing' were ariosophists. Not Hess, not Darre, not Ohlendorf, not Seifert. Who are you talking about?

And your details were so twisted within the framework of Steiners work that one could not possibly hold this to be a valid paper by the references you left for us to check.

Could you give an example?

Excuse me? Who are the Ariosophists that declared his teachings were not racist enough?

Lanz von Liebenfels, who coined the term 'ariosophy', dismissed "Steiner, the representative of German Theosophy" in part because of his "primitive" conception of race. (Lanz quoted in Hermann Wilhelm, Dichter Denker Fememörder, Berlin 1989, p. 37)

Are you speaking of the ones who became Nazi followers and actually were involved in the anihilation of millions of Jews?

I don't know of any ariosophists who were directly involved in the holocaust. Who do you have in mind here?

Please do, and with references, English preferably.

Okay, let's start with the English language sources. Perhaps you've heard of Max Seiling, a prominent early anthroposophist who later became a bitter enemy of Steiner. In 1913 Seiling published a booklet in English under the title "Theosophy and Christianity", dedicated to explicating Steiner's work. Steiner wrote a substantial and warmly positive Afterword to the book. Seiling's book praises the work of Guido List, alongside Lanz the leading ariosophist of the day; Seiling calls List a "highly esteemed investigator of Aryanism" (p. 13).

If that text proves too difficult to track down (there is a copy in the New York Public Library, if you're ever out on the east coast), you might consult the best single scholarly source on ariosophy, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's book "The Occult Roots of Nazism". On p. 101 of that book you will find a brief discussion of the work of Harald Grävell, who for a time sought a sort of synthesis of Theosophy, anthroposophy, and ariosophy. Perhaps the most important figure in this regard was Karl Heise, but his work is only available in German, so we'll hold off on that for now.

As I see it you have mingled a few names from the Ariosophists and claimed them to be Steiner followers as well.

Some of them were. Along with Seiling, Grävell, and Heise, there's also Gregor Schwartz-Bostunitsch.

And again these early groups of people who were attracted to Dr. Steiner that later turned out to be Nazis were originally pulled towards Dr. Steiners farming techniques.

I think you have that backwards, but I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say. Some Nazis, like Darre, were indeed drawn toward Steiner's farming techniques, and attempted to implement these techniques on a large scale during the Third Reich. But Darre wasn't an ariosophist.

And once again any group can take whatever appeals to them from a speaker and it does not make the speaker culpable for their actions.

That's true.

Peter:

But first, could you explain who you think the ariosophists were, and maybe give a name or two so I know who you're talking about? Thanks very much,

Dottie

Peter I have no time to play games with you.

I'm not playing games, Dottie. It's a simple and honest question. I have no idea who you mean when you talk about ariosophists, and I won't know until you tell me. What is preventing you from doing so?

"We have had this conversation over at the critics and it was quite clear you have co-opped this group and pinned their thinkings on to Dr. Steiner."

Perhaps the reason this seems clear to you is that you think some of the Nazis I discuss in my article on anthroposophy and ecofascism were ariosophists. If so, I think you are mistaken. A very easy way to find out would be for you to simply state clearly who you think these ariosophists were.

And you know as well as I do that their thinkings were a direct correlation to Hitlers

It is true that there was some ariosophical influence on Hitler, but I'm not sure I agree with the "direct correlation" part.

and had absolutely nothing in common with Dr. Steiners.

I disagree with that claim. I think there were several important commonalities between ariosophy and Steiner's doctrines. It remains unclear to me why you find this idea absurd.

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:42 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Hi again Dottie,

What is your definition of a lie?

A statement that is false, and which the speaker believes to be false, and which the speaker presents as if it were true in a deliberate attempt to deceive, and which reasonable listeners could be expected to take as true.

If one changes his tune years later and writes a thing that he knows did not apply to his early years what would you call this?

That depends entirely on the context. If the person believes what they are saying, they are not lying.

We discussed this on the critics and you said he basically omitted this for a reason.

For what reason? I do not think that Steiner lied in his autobiography about his views on god in the late 1890's.

Not when you are reporting on your life. It's called embelleshing, in other words, lying.

It sounds to me like you have a naive conception of autobiography as a genre. In any case, I definitely do not share your understanding of "lying" in this instance, hence it makes little sense to attribute this belief to me.

I mean you have him flip flopping all over the place as if he was a fickle man dropping things at the change of the Wind.

Not exactly, but he did change his mind a lot (a fine thing, in my view). Steiner himself was aware of this aspect of his personality; he once choose the word "changeability" to describe himself on a sort of personality quiz (sorry, don't have the reference at hand).

Can you not understand that there was a basic understanding of the spiritual worlds, boom.

Sure. What I can't understand is why you think this entails belief in god.

Truly Peter, do you really think it would bother Steiner students if they thought he went through an evolutionary phase of not believing in God?

I haven't the faintest idea. Why would this matter?

What is it that makes you run away from people who speak of God in our lives?

I don't run away from such people, they are my closest friends. I fail to see what this has to do with Rudolf Steiner.

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:25 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] agreement and disagreement

Hi Tarjei, you wrote:

I think it's important to keep the moral aspect of racism up front, especially when you throw the word around almost every time you mention Steiner, causing readers to form moral judgements because of it.

Then we disagree. I think moral judgements are distinct from descriptive claims.

In the late 1880's. Chapter 7 of the autobiography, where the excerpt is taken from, covers "1886-1889 - Vienna."

But that's not the time period you and I were talking about. I do not believe that Steiner was an atheist in the 1880's.

RS explained that he observed strict silence about his spiritual-religious conceptions until 1899

He may have later claimed this, but the claim is inaccurate, unless you mean that his caustic 1897 critique of Theosophy does not count as an expression of his own spiritual-religious conceptions.

This same type of game is played with the word "anti-Semitic" which is stretched semantically to absurd limits when it is made the consequence of pro-assimilation.

But that isn't the game I'm playing, as you can see from the last day's worth of posts on the topic. I do not believe that antisemitism is the consequence of pro-assimilationism.

Nice try, but you cannot dodge this one, Peter. What RS wrote in 1924 was that he believed in God in the late 1880's

Indeed. I said nothing about his beliefs regarding god in the late 1880's. My claim was about his beliefs regarding god in the late 1890's.

Peter S:

I disagree that gods are part and parcel of the spiritual world. They are only part and parcel of some versions of the spiritual world, certainly not all.

Tarjei:

That's worth a Quote of the Day. Your word-game makes absolutely no sense.

Perhaps you think this makes no sense because you really do believe that spirituality as such requires belief in god. If that is the case, I think you have an impoverished conception of spirituality.

So if he said and wrote later that he was a theist at that time but kept it strictly to himself, you don't believe him?

That depends. Where does he say that he was a theist in the late 1890's? (By the way, I don't even necessarily dispute this -- I can't recall coming across any later mention of it one way or the other -- but what I originally said is that Steiner at this time wavered between atheism and re-affirmation of mystical christian belief.)

Peter S:

That is not what List or Lanz, the two leading ariosophists, taught, and I don't know of any Nazi race theorist who made this claim

Tarjei:

'To Gobineau, "History... shows us that all civilization flows from the white race, that none can exist without the co-operation of this race," and that to the ordinary white race, the Aryan race is what the white man is to the black.' [Pennick]

Uh, Tarjei? Do you know when Gobineau lived, and where? He wasn't an ariosophist, and he wasn't a Nazi. He died in 1882, when ariosophy was still a glimmer in Guido List's eye (and when Lanz von Liebenfels, who coined the term 'ariosophy', was ten years old), and half a century before the Nazis came to power.

I have read Webb (The Occult Establishment). He made no attempt to stigmatize Anthroposophy in that manner

Webb's book explores the interplay between anthroposophy and the völkisch movement in detail (pp. 285-290) and discusses several areas of overlap between Theosophy, anthroposophy, and the esoteric wing of the Nazis, including race theory, the Atlantis myth, and the Aryan myth (pp. 312-333).

I already said that: The Indo-European peoples who migrated between Europe and Asia. You may say that these migrations never took place, that these people didn't exist, or that they were called something else, but that's your personal opinion, not an objective conclusive fact.

Sorry, Tarjei, this is a very well studied topic. These peoples did not belong to an "Aryan race". I recommend, once again, the fine epilogue on the Aryan myth in J.P. Mallory's 1989 book In Search of the Indo-Europeans.

Steiner had ideological links to Nazism?

Yes, of course. That's largely what my first article on anthroposophy was about.

It's ironic that someone who believes Steiner was an atheist and a Nazi ideologue thinks it's the others who misunderstand him.

I don't see why that would be ironic, but in any case, I do not believe that Steiner was a Nazi ideologue. Gobineau, to choose your own example, had multiple ideological links to Nazism, yet was obviously not a Nazi ideologue.

If Jews aren't a race, why do you keep talking about Steiner's "racism" in connection with Jews?

Because Steiner thought they were a race.

Why do you insist that Anthroposophy is "racist to the core" on the basis of Steiner's alleged anti-Semitism if Jews are not a race?

I don't argue that anthroposophy is racist on the basis of Steiner's antisemitic beliefs. I argue this on the basis of his stated views on race, particularly his claims about blacks, Asians, indigenous peoples, and so forth.

There is an urgent need for all peoples in the world to assimilate.

Into what?

Your notion that Steiner was anti-Semitic is a pink elephant; calling a pro-assimilation stance anti-Semitism is playing abstract games with words, and you know it.

I don't, as it happens, know that, but it does seem to me that you are still having an unusually difficult time understanding my argument about Steiner's views on Jews. There were lots of pro-assimilationist antisemites in Steiner's day. If you are unaware of that fact, you would do well to familiarize yourself with the history of antisemitism. As for Steiner's own views, why don't we discuss those? Then you can show everybody here how wrong I am. Tell me what you think of Steiner's assertion that the very existence of Jewry as such is a mistake of world history. I will gladly entertain an explanation of why this statement was not antisemitic. Thanks in advance,

Peter

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:28 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: agreement and disagreement

Hi Dottie,

The problem with your article is that you have an apparent bias.

Why would that be a problem? You would prefer that I kept my bias unapparent?

Peter

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