From a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner October 28, 1917:
Certain people are over and over again proclaiming to the world that democracy must spread to the whole civilized world. Salvation lies in making the whole of humanity democratic; everything will have to be smashed to pieces so that democracy may spread in the world. Well, if people go on to accept ideas presented to them as they are, with wholesale acceptance of the term "democracy," for instance, their idea of democracy will be like the definition of the human being which I gave you: A human being is a creature with two legs and without feathers: a plucked cockerel. The people who are glorifying democracy today know about as much about it as someone who is shown a plucked cockerel knows about the human being. Concepts are taken for reality, and as a result illusion may take the place of reality where human life is concerned by lulling people to sleep with concepts. They believe the fruits of their endeavors will be that every individual will be able to express their will in the different democratic institutions, and they fail to see that these institutions are such that it is always just a few people who pull the wires, while the rest are pulled along. They are persuaded, however, that they are part of democracy and so they do not notice they are being pulled and that some individuals are pulling the strings. Those individuals will find it all the easier to do the pulling if the others all believe they are doing it themselves, instead of being pulled along. It is quite easy to lull people to sleep with abstract concepts and make them believe the opposite of what is really true. This gives the powers of darkness the best opportunity to do what they want. And if anyone should wake up they are simply ignored.
It is interesting to note that in 1910 someone wrote that large-scale capitalism had succeeded in making democracy into the most marvelous, flexible. and effective tool for exploiting the whole population. Financiers were usually imagined to be the enemies of democracy, the individual concerned wrote, but this was a fundamental error. On the contrary, they run democracy and encourage it, for it provides a screen behind which they can hide their method of exploitation, and they find it their best defence against any objections which the populace may raise.
For once, therefore, a man woke up and saw that what mattered was not to proclaim democracy but to see the full reality, not to follow slogans, but to see things as they are. This would be particularly important today, for people would then realize that the events which reign with such blood and terror over the whole of humanity are guided and directed from just a few centers. People will never realize this if they persist in the delusion that nation is fighting nation, and allow the European and American press to lull them to sleep over the kinds of relations that are said to exist between nations. Everything said about antagonism and opposition between nations only exists to cast a veil over the true reasons. For we shall never arrive at the real truth if we feed on words in order to explain these events, but only if we point to actual people. The problem is that this tends to be unpalatable today. And the man who woke up and wrote these statements in 1910 also presented some highly unwelcome accounts in his book. He produced a list of fifty-five individuals who are the real rulers and exploiters of France. The list can be found in Francis Delaisi's La Democratie et les Financiers, written in 1910; the same man has also written La Guerre qui vient, a book which has become famous. In his La Democratie et les Financiers you will find statements of fundamental significance. There you have someone who has woken up to reality. The book contains impulses which allow one to see through much of what we should see through today, and also to cut through much of the fog which is made to wash over human brains today. Here again, we must resolve to look to reality.
The book has, of course, been ignored. It does, however, raise issues which should be raised all over the world today, for they would teach people much about the reality which others intend to bury under all their declamations on democracy and autocracy and whatever the slogans may be. The book also gives an excellent exposition on the extremely difficult position in which members of parliament find themselves. People think they can vote according to their convictions. But you would have to know all the different threads which tie them to reality if you wanted to know why they vote for one thing and against another. Certain issues really must be raised. Delaisi does so. Thus, for example, he considers a member of parliament and asks the question: Which side should the poor man support? The people pay him three thousand francs a year and the shareholders pay him thirty thousand francs! To pose the question is to answer it. So the poor dear man gets his three-thousand-franc allowance from the people, and thirty thousand francs from the shareholders! I think you will agree it is a good piece of proof, a sign of real acumen, to say: How nice that a socialist, a man of the people like Millerand, has gained a seat in parliament! Delaisi's question goes in another direction. He asks: How far can someone like Millerand, who was earning thirty thousands francs a year for representing insurance companies, be independent?
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