Part One

(Dornach December 1, 1918)

What I have had in mind in the course of these reflections has been to cast light upon the form that social thinking should take today. I should like now to add something to what we have already discussed that may make it possible for you to lift these things to a higher level. This is really necessary just because of the special demands of the spirit of our epoch. Everything that I have presented to you and will still present, I hope you will consider, if I may repeat this request, not as a criticism of the existing conditions of the times, but simply to provide material suitable for giving direction to our judgment that may provide the foundation for a general survey of conditions characterized by the necessary insight. The spiritual-scientific point of view cannot be that of providing a social critique but solely that of calling attention to these things without pessimism or optimism. Yet this fact compels us, naturally, to use words that will be understood by some persons to be intended as criticism of one or another of the social classes. Such is not the case. When we speak here of the bourgeoisie, it is as if we were speaking of an inevitable historical phenomenon, and not for the purpose of raising any objection to what has simply been unavoidable according to certain spiritual-scientific points of view. I beg you to understand in the same way also what I shall present to you today.

Let us take as our point of departure the comprehensive motive force that underlies in powerful form the present social demands of the proletariat, just as it underlies all or many human movements. This force is more or less clearly expressed, but it is also instinctive, unconscious, confused, and unclear though nonetheless fundamental in these movements. This consists in the fact that a certain ideal exists for bringing about a social order that will be satisfying in all its aspects. If we wish to describe in a radical way what is thus basic in these things, there is reason to say that an endeavor is made to think out and to realize a social order that will bring about a paradise on earth, or at least that happy state worthy of the human being that is looked upon by the proletariat population at the present time as something to be desired. This is called the "solution of the social problem." What I have just said is inherent in the instinct behind what is called the solution of the social problem.

Now, in considering the expression "solution of the social problem," it is necessary that the spiritual scientist, who should not surrender himself to illusions in any field but should fix his attention upon realities, shall in this case also indulge in no illusions. The essential fact in this field is that those who are striving for these things do not proceed from a standpoint free of illusions, but from a point of view confronted by a great number of such illusions, especially the fundamental illusion that it is possible to solve the social problem.

The fact that in our epoch there is no consciousness of the difference between the physical plane and the spiritual world, but the physical plane is looked upon in a certain instinctive way as the only world, is connected with the other fact that it longs to create a paradise on this physical plane. Because of this conception our epoch is compelled to believe that the human being is condemned either never to achieve justice, the harmonizing of his impulses and needs, or else to find these things within the physical earthy existence.

The physical plane, however, manifests itself to one who observes the world imaginatively, and thus takes cognizance of actual reality, in such a way that he must declare there is no perfection in this world but only imperfection. Thus, it is impossible to speak at all of an absolutely complete solution of the social problem. You may endeavor in any way you please, on the basis of all the profoundest knowledge, to solve the social problem, yet it will never be solved in the sense in which many persons expect the solution in our day. But this need not lead anyone to say that if the social problem is simply not to be solved, we should permit the old nonsense to continue on its course. The truth is that the course of things resembles the action of a pendulum: the force for the upward swing is gained in the downward swing. In other words, just as the opposite force is accumulated by the downward swing and is then used in the upward swing, such is the case also in the rhythmical succession characterizing the historic life of humanity. What you may consider for a certain epoch as the most perfect social order, or even as any social order at all, wears out when you have once brought it to realization, and leads after a certain time once more to disorder. The evolutionary life is not such that it steadily ascends, but its course consists in ebb and flow; it progresses with a wave movement. The best that you may be able to establish, when once realized on the physical plane, gives rise to conditions that lead to its own destruction after the necessary length of time. The state of humanity would be entirely different if this irrevocable law in the historic course of events were adequately recognized. It would not then be supposed possible in the absolute sense of the word to establish a paradise on earth, but people would be compelled to give attention to the cyclic law of humanity's evolution. As we exclude from consideration an absolute answer to the question,"What should be the form of social life?" we shall do the right thing by asking ourselves what must be done for our epoch? What are the exact demands of the motive forces of our fifth post-Atlantean epoch? What actually demands to be made a reality? With the consciousness that what is brought to realization will inevitably be destroyed in turn in the course of the cyclic reversals, we are compelled to see clearly that we can think socially also only in this relative way when we recognize the impelling evolutionary forces of a definite epoch. It is imperatively necessary to work in harmony with reality. We are working against reality when we suppose that we shall be able to accomplish anything by means of abstract and absolute ideals.

For the spiritual scientist, therefore, who desires to fix his attention upon reality and not illusion, the question takes the limited form of what bears the impulse within it to be brought to realization within the actual situation of the immediate present?

Our explanations of yesterday also were intended to be considered from this point of view. You interpret me quite wrongly if you suppose that I mean an absolute paradise will be brought about through the fact, let us say, that what is produced by labor will be separated from labor. On the contrary, I consider this, on the basis of the profound laws of the evolution of humanity, only as something that must necessarily occur at the present time. What is anchored in all the instincts of man, toward which the proletariat conception of life especially is striving, even if they sometimes push things to the extreme of such demands as those I enumerated to you yesterday as the demands of bolshevism -- behind what people have in their consciousness there lies, of course, what they instinctively will to bring to realization. Anyone who directs his effort toward reality does not pay attention to programs proposed to him, not even that of the Russian Soviet Republic, but he endeavors to see what is still in instinctive form today behind these things that people express outwardly with stammering tongues. This is what really matters. Otherwise, if we do not view the matter thus, we shall never deal with these things in the right way. What men are instinctively striving for is absolutely inherent in the fundamental character of our fifth post-Atlantean epoch, which is essentially different from the fourth epoch, the Greco-Latin, and likewise from the preceding third, the Egypto-Chaldean. Men of today, in their social relationships -- not as individuals, but in social group relationships -- must will something absolutely definite.

Instinctively they do actually will this. They will today what could not have been willed in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, or even up to the fifteenth century of our Christian era. They will today an existence worthy of the human being, that is, the fulfillment as a reflection in the social order of what they vaguely sense in this epoch as the ideal for humanity. Men will today instinctively that what the human being is in himself shall be reflected in the social structure.

During the third post-Atlantean epoch, the Egypto-Chaldean, this was different, and different likewise still earlier during the second epoch. In the second epoch, the ancient Persian, the human being was still entirely in his inner nature; man was then still a being of wholly inner nature. He did not then demand instinctively to find duplicated in the external world what he possessed inwardly as his needs. He did not need a social structure that would enable him to recognize in external things what he possessed inwardly as impulse, instincts and needs. Then came the third post-Atlantean epoch, the Egypto-Chaldean, and the human being demanded that the part of his being that was connected with his head should appear to him in the mirror of external social reality. So we observe that, from the third post-Atlantean epoch on, from the Egypto-Chaldean epoch, the endeavor was made to achieve a theocratic social arrangement in which everything pertaining to theocratic social institutions was in some way permeated by religion. The rest remained still instinctive. What was connected with the second man, the breast and breathing man, and what was connected with the metabolic man, remained instinctive. The human being did not yet think at all of seeing these reflected in the mirror of the external order. In the ancient Persian epoch there was also only an instinctive religion, guided by those initiated in Zarathustrianism. But everything that the human being developed was still inward and instinctive. He did not yet feel any need to seek things in external reflection in the social structure. He began during the period that ended approximately with the founding of the ancient Roman kingdom, the actual year was 747 B.C., to demand that what could live as though in his head should be found again in the social order.

Then came the epoch that began in the eighth century, 747 B.C., and ended in the fifteenth century A.D., the Greco-Latin epoch. Man then demanded that two members of his being, the head man and the rhythmic, breathing, breast man should be reflected externally in the social structure. What constituted the ancient theocratic order, but now only in an echo, had to be reflected. As a matter of fact, the real theocratic institutions bear a close resemblance to the third post-Atlantean epoch and this includes even the institutions of the Catholic Church. This continued, and something new was added to it that was derived especially from the Greco-Latin epoch. The external institutions of the res publica, those institutions that have to do with the administration of the external life so far as justice and injustice and such things come into consideration were added. Man now demanded as regards two members of his being that he should not only bear these within himself but should see them reflected externally as in a mirror.

For instance, you do not understand Greek culture if you do not know that the situation was such that the merely metabolic life, which is expressed externally in the economic structure, still remained instinctive, inner and without the need of external reflection. The tendency to demand an external reflection for this appeared first in the fifteenth century of the Christian era. If you study history in its reality, not in the form of legends fabricated within our so-called science of history, you will find confirmed even externally what I have told you on the basis of occult knowledge about the Greek slave class and slavery, without whose existence the Greek culture we so greatly admire would be unthinkable. This can be conceived as existing in the social structure only when we know that this whole fourth post-Atlantean epoch was dominated by the striving for an external system of institutions in the field of law and religion, but not yet for any other than an instinctive economic order.

It is our own epoch, the time that begins in the fifteenth century of the Christian era, in which the demand was first made to see the whole three-membered human being as a picture also in his external social structure.

We must, therefore, study the three-membered human being today since, for the first time, he develops a threefold instinct to have in the external structure, in the community structure, what I have mentioned to you, that is, firstly, a spiritual sphere, which has its own administration and its own structure, secondly, a sphere of administration, of security and order -- a political sphere -- that is likewise self-sufficing, and, thirdly, an economic sphere, because our epoch demands for the first time this economic sphere in external organization. The demand to see the human being brought to realization and pictured in the social structure arises as an instinct in our epoch. This is the deeper reason why it is no longer a mere economic instinct that is at work. The economic class that has just been created, the proletariat, strives toward the goal of setting up the economic structure externally just as consciously as the fourth post-Atlantean epoch set up the administrative structure of the system of laws, and the third post-Atlantean epoch, the Egypto-Chaldean, the theocratic structure.

This is the inner reason. Only by giving attention to this inner reason can you judge rightly the conditions of the present time, and you will then understand why I had to present to you this threefold social order a week ago. It has certainly not been invented as programs are invented today by innumerable societies, but it is asserted on the basis of those forces that can be observed if we enter into the reality of evolution. We must come to the point, for time is pressing in that direction, when the impelling evolutionary forces within the development of humanity shall really be understood concretely and objectively. Time is pressing in that direction. People still struggle against this. It is really astonishing even if we observe those who make the furthest advance. A short time ago a book was published entitled Letters of a Lady to Walther Rathenau Concerning the Transcendence of Coming Events. All sorts of things are, of course, discussed in this book. For example:

It is the intention of this pamphlet to publish the essential intuitional contents of epistolary writings. Personal communications have been excluded since they have no immediate relationship to this. The result is the elimination of the fragmentary letter form, and thus also the constant repetition of the customary salutations and conclusions. A lady endowed as a seeress communicates here to the author of the book, Of Things To Come, her unusual experience and knowledge in regard to the new soul of the time and the new birth of the world. The powers of the future struggling today for a higher form of life manifest themselves here in an individual human destiny as the experienced reality of the new soul powers.

It is strange that many things are here spoken of, but one observes something curious. The lady discovers that man can develop higher spiritual faculties and that genuine realities can be perceived only by means of these. The book really comes to an end with this. Its last chapter is entitled, Cosmic Conclusions Regarding the World Soul and the Human Soul. But the book proceeds no further than to the insight that a person can possess higher faculties and not to the point of telling what he actually perceives by means of these higher faculties. It is as if one should say to a person, "You have eyes," but then not bring him to the point of seeing anything of reality with them. A strange attitude is taken by certain persons with reference to spiritual science. They actually shrink back in terror even if we merely begin to speak of what can be seen. One should like to say to an author such as this lady, "You admit that higher faculties may evolve in the human being. Spiritual science exists in order to report what one sees precisely in connection with important matters if these higher faculties are evolved." But people shrink back from this and do not want to listen.

You see how urgently the time impels us to reach the point where spiritual science wills to arrive, and how meanwhile there are jumbled together in people those things of which I spoke in the latest issue of the magazine, "Das Reich," edited by Alexander von Bernus, in my article entitled Luciferic and Ahrimanic Elements In Our Contemporary History, in the Life of Man. This is all in such a tangled mass in the human soul that even those who admit that it is possible to see a spiritual reality as a genuine reality that can be beheld regard as a fantastic person anyone who speaks concretely of such a spiritual reality.

I have referred to this lady simply because she is not a unique phenomenon. What appears in her appears in many individuals. It is actually a characteristic of the time that even though people feel impelled to look beyond the ordinary external reality, they still withdraw and refrain from doing so. In this book for example, attention is called to a certain relationship between human beings and cosmic forces. But one should not try, let us say, to explain to these people the content of my book, An Outline of Occult Science, in which these relationships are expounded. They then shrink back. But we do not gain an insight into social matters, which must be considered as I have told you, if we simply admit that it is possible to see and do not consider what can be seen. It is of enormous importance to realize this. Otherwise, we shall always make the mistake already pointed out in the first sentences I uttered today of making an absolute principle out of something that is valid concretely for the individual single case -- so that the question is asked, for example, in regard to the social problem, "How must human institutions be set up throughout the world?" But this question is really not presented to us. Human beings in various parts of the earth differ from one another, and in the future this differentiation will increase. Utterly unreal thoughts are expressed by one, therefore, who supposes that it is possible to proceed socially in the same way in Russia, China, South America, Germany or France. Such a one expresses absolute thoughts where individual and relative thoughts alone correspond with reality. It is extremely important that this fact be clearly seen.

Lecture 3 Part Two

The Challenge of the Times