More about Nationalism and Racism


From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Thu Apr 8, 2004 10:30 am
Subject: More about nationalism and racism

Here is more on the same subject, from a lecture held by Rudolf Steiner in Oslo in November 1921 (reference below):

In a man who has brought through death no idealistic thoughts or feelings, no human love or true piety, something of the soul-and-spirit has perished as a result of the antipathy and chilling reception meted out by the higher world. A man who now again approaches the realm of the Archangels in the right way has received into him the power to work effectively in his subsequent life on Earth, to make proper use of his body; a man who has not brought such experiences with him will be imbued by the Angels with a longing for earthly life which remains more unconscious. A very great deal depends upon this. Upon it depends to what people, to what language - mother-tongue - the man descends in his forthcoming earthly existence. This urge towards a particular people, a particular mother-tongue may have been implanted in him deeply and inwardly or more superficially. So that on his descent a man is either permeated with deep and inward love for what will become his mother-tongue, or he enters more automatically into what he will have to express later on through his organs of speech.

It makes a great difference in which of these two ways a man has been destined for the language that will be his in the coming earthly life. He who before his earthly life, during his second passage through the realm of the Angels, can be permeated with a really inward love for his mother-tongue, assimilates it as though it were part of his very being. He becomes one with it. This love is absolutely natural to him; it is a love born of the soul; he grows into his language and race as into a natural home. If however a man has grown into it the other way during the descent to his next earthly life, he will arrive on the Earth loving his language merely out of instinct and lower impulses. Lacking the true, inward love for his language and his people, he will be prone to an aggressive patriotism connected with his bodily existence. It makes a great difference whether we grow into race and language with the tranquil, pure love of one who unites himself inwardly with his folk and language, or whether we grow into them more automatically, and out of passions and instincts express love for our folk and our language. The former conditions never come to expression in chauvinism or a superficial and aggressive form of patriotism. A true and inward love for race and language expresses itself naturally, and is thoroughly consistent with real and universal human love. Feeling for internationalism or cosmopolitanism is never stultified by this inner love for a language and people. When, however, a man grows into his language more automatically, when through his instincts and impulses he develops an over-fervid, organic, animal-like love for language and people, false nationalism and chauvinism arise, with their external emphasis upon race and nationality.

At the present time especially, it is necessary to study from the standpoint of life between death and a new birth what we encounter in the outer world in our life between birth and death. For the way we come down into race and language through the stream of heredity, through birth, depends upon how we encounter, for the second time, the realm of the Archangels.

Those who try to understand life to-day from the spiritual vantage-point, know that the experience arising in the period between death and a new birth when man comes for the second time into the realm of the Angels, is very important. All over the Earth to-day the peoples are adopting a false attitude to nationality, race and language, and much of what has arisen in the catastrophe of the second decade of the twentieth century in the evolution of the Western people, is only explicable when studied from such points of view. He who studies life to-day in the light of anthroposophical Spiritual Science must assume that in former earthly lives many men became more and more deeply entangled in materialism. You all know that, normally, the period between death and a new birth is lengthy. But especially in the present phase of evolution, there are many men whose life between their last death and their present birth was only short, and in their former earthly life they had little human love or idealism. Already in the former earthly life their interests were merely utilitarian. And as a result, in their second contact with the realm of the Angels between death and a new birth, the seeds were laid for all that arises to-day in such an evil form in the life of the West.

We shall have realised that man can only be understood as a spatial being when it is known that his form and structure derive from the realm of the fixed stars and his life-stages from the planetary spheres. As a spatial being, man draws the forces that are active in him, not only from the Earth but from the whole Cosmos. Now just as it is necessary to go beyond what is earthly in order to understand man as a spatial being, so it is necessary to go beyond life between birth and death in order to understand social life, racial life on the Earth.

When we carefully observe the life of to-day we find that although men claim their right to freedom so vociferously, they are, in reality, inwardly unfree. There is no truly free life in the activities which nowadays manifest such obvious forces of decline; instincts and lower impulses are the cause of the misery in social life. And when this is perceived we are called upon to understand it.

Just as a second meeting with the Archangels takes place, so when man once again approaches earthly life, he enters into a more intimate union with his Angel. But at first he is somewhat withdrawn from the realm of the Angels. As long as he is in the realm of the Archangels, his Angel too is more strongly bound with this realm. Man lives as it were among the higher Hierarchies and as he draws near to a new birth he is entrusted more and more to the realm of the Angels who then lead him through the world of the Elements, through fire, air, water and earth, to the stream of heredity. His Angel, leads him to physical existence on Earth. His Angel can make him into a man who is in a position to act freely, out of the depths of his soul-and-spirit, if all the conditions described have been fulfilled by the achievements of a former earthly life.

But, the Angel is not able to lead a man to a truly free life, if he has had to be united automatically with his language and his race. In such a case the individual life also becomes unfree. This lack of freedom shows itself in the following way. Instead of forming free concepts, such a man merely thinks words. He becomes unfree because all his thinking is absorbed in words. This is a fundamental characteristic of modern men.

Earthly life in its historical development, especially in its present state, cannot be understood unless we also turn with the eyes of soul, to the life which runs its course between death and a new birth, to the world of soul-and-spirit.

- Cosmic Forces in Man, II. The Soul Life of Man, Oslo, November 27th, 1921 ( GA 209)

"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." - Matthew 11:15

Link to the complete lecture:



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