Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, December 15, 1919:
The tasks assigned to the humanity of the present and of the immediate future are great, significant, and peremptory; and it is really necessary to bring forth a strong soul courage in order to do something toward their accomplishment. Anyone who today examines these tasks closely, and tries to get a true insight into the needs of humanity, must often reflect how superficially so-called public affairs are treated. We might say that people today talk politics aimlessly. From a few emotions, from a few entirely egotistic points of view — personal or national — people form their opinions about life, whereas a real desire to gain the factual foundations for a sound judgment would be more in conformity with the seriousness of the present time. In the course of recent months, and even years, I have inquired into the most varied subjects, including the history and the demands of the times, and have given lectures here on such subjects, always with the purpose of furnishing facts which will enable people to form a judgment for themselves — not with the purpose of placing the ready-made judgment before them. The longing to know the realities of life, to know them more and more fundamentally, in order to have a true basis for judgment — that is the important thing today. I must say this especially because the various utterances and written statements which I have made regarding the so-called social question, and regarding the threefold structure of the social organism, are really taken much too lightly, as anyone can clearly see, for the questions asked about these things are concerned far too little with the actual, momentous, basic facts. It is so difficult for people of the present time to arrive at these basic facts, because they are really theoreticians in all realms of life, although they will not acknowledge it. The people who today most fancy themselves to be practical are the most decidedly theoretical, for the reason that they are usually satisfied to form a few concepts about life, and from these to insist upon judging life; whereas it is possible today only by means of a real, universal, and comprehensive penetration into life to form a relevant judgment about what is necessary. One can say that in a certain sense it is at least intellectually frivolous when, without a basis of facts, a man talks politics at random, or indulges in fanciful views about life. It makes one wish for a fundamentally serious attitude of soul toward life.
When in the present time the practical side of our spiritual scientific effort, the Threefold Social Order, is placed before the world as the other side has been, it is a fact that the whole mode of thought and conception employed in the elaboration of this Threefold Social Order is met with prejudices and misgivings. Where do these prejudices and misgivings originate? Well, a man forms concepts about truth (I am still speaking of the social life), concepts about the good, the right, the useful, and so forth, and when he has formed them, he thinks they have absolute value everywhere and always. For example, take a man of western, middle, or eastern Europe with a socialistic bias. He has quite definite socialistically-formulated ideals; but what kind of fundamental concepts underlie these ideals? His fundamental concept is that what satisfies him must satisfy everyone everywhere, and must possess absolute validity for all future time. The man of today has little feeling for the fact that every thought that is to be of value to the social life must be born out of the fundamental character of the time and the place. Therefore he does not easily come to realize how necessary it is for the Threefold Social Order to be introduced with different nuances into our present European culture, with its American appendage. If it is adopted, then the variations suited to the peoples of the different regions will come about of themselves. And besides, when the time comes, on account of the evolution of humanity, that the ideas and thoughts mentioned by me in The Threefold Commonwealth are no longer valid, others must again be found.
It is not a question of absolute thoughts, but of thoughts for the present and the immediate future of mankind. In order, however, to comprehend in its full scope how necessary is this three-membering of the social organism in an independentspiritual life, an independent rights and political life, and an independent economic life, one must examine without prejudice the way in which the interaction of the spiritual, the political, and the economic has come about in our European-American civilization. This interweaving of the threads — the spiritual threads, those of rights or government, and the economic threads — is by no means an easy matter. Our culture, our civilization, is like a ball of yarn, something wound up, in which are entangled three strands of entirely different origins. Our spiritual life is of essentially different origin from that of our rights or political life, and entirely different again from that of our economic life; and these three strands with different origins are chaotically entangled. I can naturally give only a sketchy idea to-day, because I shall briefly follow these three streams, I might say, to their source.
First, our spiritual life, as it presents itself to one who regards as real the external things, the obvious, is acquired by people through the influence of what still persists of the ancient Greek and Latin cultural life, the Greco-Latin spiritual life, as it has flowed through what later became our high schools and universities. All the rest of our so-called humanistic culture, even down to our elementary schools, is entirely dependent upon that which, as one stream let us say, flowed in first from the Greek element (Diagram 13. orange); for our spiritual life, our European spiritual life, is of Greek origin; it merely passed through the Latin as a sort of way-station. It is true that in modern times something else has mingled with the spiritual life which originated in Greece: namely, that which is derived from what we call technique in the most varied fields, which was not yet accessible to the Greek, the technique of mechanics, the technique of commerce, etc., etc. I might say that the technical colleges, the commercial schools, and so forth, have been annexed to our universities, adding a more modern element to what flows into our souls through our humanistic schools, which reach back to Greece — and by no means flows only into the souls of the so-called educated class; for the socialistic theories which haunt the heads even of the proletariat are only a derivative of that which really had its origin in the Grecian spiritual life; it has simply gone through various metamorphoses. This spiritual life reaches back, however, to a more distant origin, far back in the Orient. What we find in Plato, what we find in Heraclitus, in Pythagoras, in Empedocles, and especially in Anaxagoras, all reaches back to the Orient. What we find in Aeschylus, in Sophocles, in Euripides, in Phidias, reaches back to the Orient. The entire Greek culture goes back to the Orient, but it underwent a significant change on its way to Greece. Yonder in the Orient this spiritual life was decidedly more spiritual than it was in ancient Greece; and in the Orient it issued from what we may call the Mysteries of the Spirit — I may also say the Mysteries of Light (Drawing). The Grecian spiritual life was already filtered and diluted as compared with that from which it had its origin: namely, the spiritual life of the Orient, which depended upon quite special spiritual experiences.
Naturally, we must go back into prehistoric times, for the Mysteries of Light, or the Mysteries of the Spirit, are entirely prehistoric phenomena. If I am to represent to you the character of this spiritual life, the manner of its development, I must do so in the following way: We know, of course, that if we go very far back in human evolution, we find increasingly that human beings of ancient times had an atavistic clairvoyance, a dream-like clairvoyance, through which the mysteries of the universe were revealed to them; and we speak with entire correctness when we say that over the whole civilized Asiatic earth, in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh millennium before the Mystery of Golgotha, there dwelt people to whom spiritual truths were revealed through clairvoyance — a clairvoyance that was completely bound to nature, to the blood, and to the bodily organization. This was true of a widely dispersed population; but this atavistic clairvoyance was in a state of decline, and became more and more decadent. This “becoming decadent” of the atavistic clairvoyance is not merely a cultural-historical phenomenon, but is at the same time a phenomenon of the social life of mankind.
Why? Because from various centers of this wide-spread population, but chiefly from a point in Asia, there arose a special kind of human being, so to speak, a human being with special faculties. Besides the atavistic clairvoyance, which still remained to these people in a certain sense — for there still arose out of their inner soul-life a dream-like comprehension of the mysteries of the world — besides this they also had what we call the thinking faculty; and indeed they were the first in the evolution of humanity to have this power. They were the first to have dawning intelligence.
That was a significant social phenomenon when the people of those ancient times, who had only dream-like visions of the mysteries of the world arising within them, saw immigrants enter their territories whom they could still understand, because they also had visions, but who had besides something which they themselves lacked: the power of thought. That was a special kind of human being. The Indians regarded that caste which they designated as Brahman as the descendants of these people who combined the thinking power with atavistic clairvoyance; and when they came down from the higher-lying regions of northern Asia into the southern regions, they were called Aryans. They formed the Aryan population, and their primal characteristic is that they combined the thinking-power with — if I may now use the expression of a later time — with the plebeian faculties of atavistic clairvoyance.
And those mysteries which are called the Mysteries of the Spirit, or particularly, the mysteries of Light, were founded by those people who combined atavistic clairvoyance with the first kindling of intelligence, the inner light of man; and our spiritual culture derives from that which entered humanity at that time as an illuminating spark — it is nothing but a derivative of it.
Much has been preserved in humanity of what was revealed at that time; but we must consider that even the Greeks — just the better educated personalities among them — had seen the ancient gift of atavistic clairvoyance gradually wane and become extinguished, and the thinking-power remained to them. Among the Romans the power of thought alone remained. Among the Greeks there was still a consciousness that this faculty comes from the same source as the ancient atavistic clairvoyance; and therefore Socrates still clearly expressed something which he knew as experience when he spoke of his Daemon as inspiring his truths, which were of course merely dialectic and intellectual.
In art, as well, the Greeks significantly represented the pre-eminence of the intelligent human being, or better, the development of the intelligent human being from the rest of humanity; for the Greeks have in their sculpture (one need only study it closely) three types differing sharply from one another. They have the Aryan type, to which the Apollo head, the Pallas Athene head, the Zeus head, the Hera head belong. Compare the ears of the Apollo with those of a Mercury head, the nose of the Apollo with that of a Mercury head, and you will see what a different type it is. The Greek wanted to show in the Mercury-type that the ancient clairvoyance, which still persisted as superstition and was a lower form of culture, had united with intelligence in the Greek civilization; that this existed at the bottom of Greek culture; and that towering above it was the Aryan whose artistic representation was the Zeus head, the Pallas Athene head, and so forth. And the very lowest races, those with dim remnants of ancient clairvoyance — who also still lived in Greece but were especially to be observed near the borders — are plastically preserved in another type, the Satyr-type, which in turn is quite different from the Mercury-type. Compare the Satyr nose with the Mercury nose, the Satyr ears with the Mercury ears, and so forth. The Greek merged in his art what he bore in his consciousness concerning his development.
What gradually filtered through Greece at that time, by means of the Mysteries of the Spirit or of the Light, and then appeared in modern times, had a certain peculiarity as spirit-culture. It was possessed of such inner impulsive force that it could at the same time, out of itself, establish the rights life of man. Therefore we have on the one hand the revelation of the gods in the Mysteries bringing the spirit to man, and on the other, the implanting of this spirit acquired from the gods into the external social organism, into the theocracies. Everything goes back to the theocracies; and these were able not only to permeate themselves with the legal system, the political system, out of the very nature of the Mysteries, but they were able also to regulate the economic life out of the spirit. The priests of the Mysteries of Light were at the same time the economic administrators of their domains; and they worked according to the rules of the Mysteries. They constructed houses, canals, bridges, looked after the cultivation of the soil, and so forth.
In primitive times civilization grew entirely out of the spiritual life, but it gradually became abstract. From being a spiritual life it became more and more a sum of ideas. Already in the Middle Ages it had become theology, that is, a sum of concepts, instead of the ancient spiritual life, or it had to be confined to the abstract, legalistic form, because there was no longer any relation to the spiritual life. When we look back at the old theocracies we find that the one who ruled received his commission from the gods in the Mysteries. The last derivative is the occidental ruler, but he no longer gives any evidence of having originated from the ruler of the theocracy, with his commission from the gods of the Mysteries. All that remains is crown and coronation robe, the outer insignia, which in later times became more like decorations. If one understands such things it may often be observed that titles go back to the time of the Mysteries; but everything is now externalized.
Scarcely less externalized is that which moves through our secondary schools and universities as spiritual culture, the final echo of the divine message of the Mysteries. The spiritual has flowed into our life, but this has now become utterly abstract, a life of mere ideas. It has become what the socialistically-orientated groups latterly call an ideology, that is, a sum of thoughts that are only thoughts. That is what our spiritual life has really become.
Under its influence the social chaos of our time has developed, because the spiritual life that is so diluted and abstract has lost all impulsive force. We have no choice but to place it again on its own foundation, for only so can it thrive. We must find the way again from the merely rational to the creative spirit, and we shall be able to do so only if we seek to develop out of the spiritual life prescribed by the State the free spiritual life, [The human being is essentially a spiritual being. When he is engaged in art, science, and religion, he is active spiritually; this activity is his spiritual life. — Editor.] which will then have the power to awake to life again. For neither a spiritual life controlled by the Church, nor one maintained and protected by the State, nor a spiritual life panting under economic burdens, can be fruitful for humanity, but only an independent spiritual life.
Indeed the time has come for us to find the courage in our souls to proclaim quite frankly before the world that the spiritual life must be placed on its own foundation. Many people are asking: Well, what are we to do? The first thing of importance is to inform people about what is needed: to get as many people as possible to comprehend the necessity, for example, of establishing the spiritual life on its own foundation; to comprehend that what the pedagogy of the 19th century has become can no longer suffice for the welfare of mankind, but that it must be built anew out of a free spiritual life. There is as yet little courage in souls to present this demand in a really radical way; and it can be thus presented only by trying to bring to as many people as possible a comprehension of these conditions. All other social work today is provisional. The most important task is this: to see that it is made possible for more and more people to gain insight into the social requirements, one of which has just been characterized. To provide enlightenment concerning these things through all the means at our disposal — that is now the matter of importance.
We have not yet become productive with regard to the spiritual life, and we must first become productive in this field. Beginnings have been made in this direction, of which I shall speak presently — but we have not yet become productive with regard to the spiritual life; and we must become productive by making the spiritual life independent.
Everything that comes into being on earth leaves remnants behind it. The Mysteries of Light in the present-day oriental culture, the oriental spiritual life, are less diluted than in the Occident, but of course they no longer have anything like the form they had at the time I have described. Yet if we study what the Hindus, the oriental Buddhists, still have today, we shall be much more likely to perceive the echo of that from which our own spiritual life has come; only in Asia it has remained at another stage of existence. We, however, are unproductive; we are highly unproductive. When the tidings of the Mystery of Golgotha spread in the West, whence did the Greek and Latin scholars get the concepts for the understanding of it? They got them from the oriental wisdom. The West did not produce Christianity. It was taken from the Orient. And further: When in English-speaking regions the spiritual culture was felt to be very unfruitful, and people were sighing for its fructification, the Theosophists went to the subjugated Indians to seek the wellsprings for their modern Theosophy. No fruitful source existed among themselves for the means to improve their spiritual life: so they went to the Orient. In addition to this significant fact, you could find many proofs of the unfruitfulness of the spiritual life of the West; and each such proof is at the same time a proof of the necessity for making the spiritual life an independent member in the threefold social organism.
A second strand in the tangled ball is the political or rights current.
There is the crux of the cultural problem, this second current. If we look for it today in the external world, we see it when our honorable judges sit on their benches of justice with the jurors and pass judgment upon crime or offence against the law, or when the magistrates in their offices rule throughout the civilized world — to the despair of those thus ruled. All that we call jurisprudence or government, and all that results as politics from the interaction of jurisprudence and government, constitutes this current (see drawing, white). I call that (orange) the current of the spiritual life, and this (white) the current of rights, or government.
Where does this come from? As a matter of fact this too goes back to the Mystery-culture. It goes back to the Egyptian Mystery-culture, which passed through the southern European regions, then through the prosaic, unimaginative Roman life, where it united with a side branch of the oriental life, and became Roman Catholic Christianity, that is, Roman Catholic ecclesiasticism. Speaking somewhat radically, this Roman Catholic ecclesiasticism is also fundamentally a jurisprudence; for from single dogmas to that great and mighty Judgment, always represented as the Last Judgment throughout the Middle Ages, the utterly different spiritual life of the Orient, which had received the Egyptian impulse from the Mysteries of Space (see drawing), was really transformed into a society of world-magistrates with world-judgments and world-punishments, and sinners, and the good and the evil: it is a jurisprudence. That is the second element existing in our spiritual tangle which we call civilization, and it has been by no means organically combined with the other. That this is the case anyone can learn who goes to a university and hears one after the other, let us say a juridical discourse on political law, and then a theological discourse even on canonical law, if you like, for these are found side by side. Such things have shaped mankind; even in later times, when their origins have been forgotten, they are still shaping human minds. The rights life caused the later spiritual life to become abstract; but externally it influenced human customs, human habits, human systems.
What is the last social offshoot in the decadent oriental spiritual current, whose origin has been forgotten? It is feudal aristocracy. You could no longer recognize that the aristocrat had his origin in the oriental, theocratic spiritual life, for he has stripped off all that; only the social configuration remains (drawing). The journalistic intelligence often has very strange nightmarish visions. One such it had recently when it invented a curious phrase of which it was especially proud: “spiritual aristocracy” — this could be heard now and then. What is that which passed through the Roman Church system, through theocratising jurisprudence, juridical theocracy, became secularized in the civic systems of the Middle Ages, and completely secularized in modern times — what is it in its ultimate derivative? It is the bourgeoisie (drawing). And thus are these spiritual forces in their ultimate derivatives actually jumbled up among men.
And now still a third stream unites itself with the other two. If you would observe it today in the external world, where does this third current appear in an especially characteristic way? Well, there actually was in Central Europe a method of demonstrating to certain people where these final remnants of something originally different were to be found. It happened when the man of Central Europe sent his son to an office in London or New York to learn the methods of the economic system. In the methods of the economic life, whose roots are to be found in the popular customs of the Anglo-American world, the final consequence is to be seen of that which has been developed as outgrowths from what I might call the Mysteries of the Earth, of which, for example, the Druid Mysteries are only a special variety. In the times of the primitive European people the Mysteries of the Earth still contained a peculiar kind of wisdom-filled life. That European population, which was quite barbaric, which knew nothing regarding the revelations of oriental wisdom, or of the Mysteries of Space, or of what later became Roman Catholicism — that population which advanced to meet the spreading Christianity possessed a strange kind of life-steeped-in-wisdom, peculiar to it, which was entirely physical wisdom. Of this one can at best study only the most external usages, which are recorded in the history of this current: namely, the festivals of those people from whom have come the customs and habits of England and America. The festivals were here brought into entirely different relations from those in Egypt, where the harvest was connected with the stars. Here the harvest as such was the festive occasion; and the highest solemn festivals of the year were connected with other things than was the case in Egypt: namely, with things that belong entirely to the economic life. We have here without doubt something which goes back to the economic life.
If we wish to comprehend the whole spirit of this matter, we must say to ourselves: Over from Asia and up from the South men transplanted a spiritual life and a rights life which they had received from above and brought down to earth. Then, in the third current, an economic life sprang up which had to develop of itself and work its way up, which really was originally so completely economic in its legal customs and in its spiritual adaptations that, for example, one of the yearly festivals consisted in the celebration of the fructification of the herds as a special festival in honor of the gods; and there were similar festivals all derived from the economic aspect of life. If we go through the regions of northern Russia, middle Russia, Sweden, Norway, or into those regions which until a short time ago were parts of Germany, or to France, at least northern France, and to what is now Great Britain — if we go through these regions, we find dispersed everywhere a population which, before the spread of Christianity in ancient times, undoubtedly had a pronounced economic life. And what ancient customs can still be found, such as festivals of legal practices and festivals in honor of the gods, are an echo of this ancient economic culture.
This economic culture met what came from the other side. At first it did not succeed in developing an independent rights life and spiritual life. The primitive legal customs were discarded because Roman law flowed in, and the primitive spiritual customs were cast aside because the Greek spiritual life had entered. And so this economic life becomes sterile at first, and only gradually works its way out of this sterility; it can succeed in this, however, only by overcoming the chaotic condition created by the introduction of the spiritual life and rights life from outside. Consider the present Anglo-American spiritual life. In this you have two things very sharply differentiated from one another. First, you have everywhere in the Anglo-American spiritual life, more than anywhere else on earth, the so-called secret societies, which have considerable influence, much more than people know. They are undoubtedly the keepers — and are proud to be the keepers — of the ancient spiritual life, of the Egyptian or oriental spiritual life, which is completely diluted and evaporated into mere symbols, — symbols no longer understood but having a certain great power among those in authority. That, however, is ancient spiritual life, not spiritual life grown in its own soil. Side by side with this there is a spiritual life which does grow entirely in economic soil, but hitherto it has produced only very small blossoms, and these in abundance.
Anyone who studies such things and is able to understand them knows very well that Locke, Hume, Mill, Spencer, Darwin, and others, are nothing but these little blossoms springing from the economic life. You can get quite exactly the thoughts of a Mill or a Spencer from the economic life. Social democracy has elevated this to a theory, and considers the spiritual life as a derivative of the economic life. That is what we encounter first: everything is brought forth from the so-called practical — actually from life's routine, not from its real practice. So that going along side by side are such things as Darwinism, Spencerism, Millism, Humeism — and the diluted Mystery teachings, which are perpetuated in the various sectarian developments, such as the Theosophical Society, the Quakers, and so forth. The economic life has the will to rise, but has not yet made much progress, having produced thus far only these small blossoms. The spiritual life and the rights life are exotic plants and — I beg you to note this well — they are more and more exotic the farther we go toward the West in the European civilization.
There has always been in Central Europe something — I might say like a resistance, a struggling against the Greek spiritual life on the one hand and against the Roman Catholic rights life on the other. An opposition has always been there. An illustration of it is the Central European philosophy, of which really nothing is known in England. Actually, Hegel cannot be translated into the English language; it is impossible. Hence, nothing is known of him in England, where German philosophy is called Germanism, by which is meant something an intelligent person cannot be bothered with. In just this German philosophy, however — with the exception of one incident, namely, when Kant was completely ruined by Hume, and there divas brought into German philosophy that abominable Kant-Hume element, which has really caused such devastation in the heads of Central European humanity — with the exception of this incident, we have later, after all, the second blossoming of this struggle in Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel; and we already have the search for a free spiritual life in Goethe, who would have nothing to do with the final echo of the Roman Catholic jurisprudence in what is called the law of nature. Just feel the legal element in the shabby robes and the strange caps which the judges still have from ancient times, and feel it likewise in the science of nature, the law of nature — the legal element is still there! The expression “law of nature” has no sense in connection, for example, with the Goethean science of nature, which deals only with the primordial phenomenon, the primordial fact.
There for the first time is radical protest made; but naturally it remained only a beginning. That was the first advance toward the free spiritual life: the Goethean science of nature; and in Central Europe there already exists the first impulse even toward the independent rights life, or political life. Read such a work as that of Wilhelm van Humboldt, who was even Prussian minister of public instruction — read The Sphere and Duties of Government, [Translated by Joseph Coulthard, London, 1845.] and you will see the first beginning toward the construction of an independent rights life, or political life, of the independence of the true political realm. It is true it has never gone beyond beginnings, and these are found as far back as the first half of the 19th century, even at the end of the 18th century. It must be borne in mind, however, that there are nevertheless in Central Europe important impulses in this very direction, impulses which can be carried on, which must not be left unconsidered, and which may flow into the impulse of the Threefold Social Organism.
In his first book Nietzsche wrote that passage that I have quoted in my book on Nietzsche [“Extirpation des deutschen Geistes zu Gunsten des deutschen Reiches,” Extirpation of the German Spirit in favor of the German Empire — quoted in Friedrich Nietzsche, ein Kampfer gegen seine Zeit (not translated).] in the very first pages, a premonition of something tragic in the German spiritual life. Nietzsche tried at that time in the foreword to his work, The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, to characterize the events of 1870–71, the founding of the German Empire. Since then this strangulation of the German spirit has been thoroughly accomplished; and when in the last five or six years three-fourths of the world fell upon this former Germany (I do not wish to speak about the causes or the guilty, but only to sketch the configuration, the world situation), it was really then already the corpse of the German spiritual life. But when anyone speaks as I did yesterday, characterizing the facts without prejudice, no one should infer that there is not still in this German spiritual life much that must come forth, that must be considered, that intends to be considered, in spite of the future gypsy-like condition. For what was the real cause of the ruin of the German people? This question must also be answered without prejudice. They were ruined because they too wanted to share in materialism, and they have no talent for materialism. The others have good talents for it. The Germans have in general that quality which Herman Grimm characterized excellently when he said: The Germans as a rule retreat when it would be beneficial for them to go boldly forward, and they storm ahead with terrific energy when it would be better for them to hold back. That is a very good description of an inner quality of character of this German people; for the Germans have had propulsive force throughout the centuries, but not the ability to sustain this force. Goethe was able to present the primordial phenomenon, but he could not reach the beginnings of spiritual science. He could develop a spirituality, as, for example, in his Faust, or in his Wilhelm Meister, which could have revolutionized the world if the right means had been found; but the outer personality of this gifted man achieved nothing more than that in Weimar he put on fat and had a double chin, became a stout privy counselor, who was also uncommonly industrious as minister, but still was obliged at times to wink at certain things, especially in political life.
The world ought to understand that such phenomena as Goethe and Humboldt represent everywhere beginnings, and that it would really be a loss to the world and not a profit, to fail to take into account what lives in the German evolution in an unfinished state, but to which must come forth. For after all, the Germans do not have the predisposition which the others have in such remarkable degree the farther we go toward the West: namely, to rise on all occasions to ultimate abstractions. What the Germans have in their spiritual life is called “abstractions” only by those who are unable to experience it; and because they themselves have squeezed out the life, they believe others lack it too. The Germans have not the talent for pressing on to ultimate abstractions. This was shown in their political life, in their most unfortunate political life! If the Germans had had from the beginning the great talent for monarchy which the French have preserved so brilliantly to this day, they would never have become the victims of “Wilhelmism”; they would neither have countenanced this strange caricature of a monarch, nor have needed him. It is true that the French call themselves republicans, but they have among them a secret monarch who firmly holds together the structure of the state, who keeps a terribly tight rein on the people's minds; for in reality the spirit of Louis XIV is everywhere present. Naturally, only a decadent form remains, but it is there. There is no doubt that a secret monarch is there among the French people; for it is really shown in every one of their cultural manifestations. And the talent for abstraction demonstrated in Woodrow Wilson is the ultimate talent for abstraction in the political field. Those fourteen points of the world's schoolmaster, which in every word bear the stamp of the impractical and unachievable, could only originate in a mind wholly formed for the abstract, with no discernment whatever for true realities.
There are two things which the cultural history of civilization will doubtless find it difficult to understand. One I have often characterized in the words of Herman Grimm — the Kant-Laplace theory, in which many people still believe. Herman Grimm said so finely in his Goethe: People will some day have difficulty in comprehending that malady now called science, which makes its appearance in the Kant-Laplace theory, according to which all that we have around us today arose through agglomeration, out of a universal world-mist; and this is supposed to continue until the whole thing falls back again into the sun. A putrid bone around which a hungry dog circles is a more appetizing morsel than these fanciful ideas, this fantastic concept of world-evolution. So thinks Herman Grimm. Naturally, there will some day be great difficulty in explaining this Kant-Laplace theory from the standpoint of the scientific insanity of the 19th and 20th centuries!
The second thing will be the explanation of the unbelievable fact that there ever could be a large number of people to take seriously the humbug of the fourteen points of Woodrow Wilson — in an age that is socially so serious.
If we study the things that stand side by side in the world we find in what a peculiar way the economic life, the political rights life, and the spiritual life are entangled. If we do not wish to perish because of the extreme degeneration which has come into the spiritual life and the rights life, we must turn to the Threefold Social Order, which from independent roots will build an economic life now struggling to emerge, but unable to do so unless a rights life and a spiritual life, developed in freedom, come to meet it. These things have their deep roots in the whole of humanity's evolution and in human social life; and these roots must be sought. People must now be made to realize that way down at the bottom, on the ground I might say, crawls the economic life, managed by Anglo-American habits of thought; and that it will be able to climb up only when it works in harmony with the whole world, with that for which others also are qualified, for which others also are gifted. Otherwise the gaining of world dominion will become a fatality for it.
If the world continues in the course it has been taking under the influence of the degenerating spiritual life derived from the Orient, then this spiritual life, although at one end it was the most sublime truth, will at the other rush into the most fearful lies. Nietzsche was impelled to describe how even the Greeks had to guard themselves from the lies of life through their art. And in reality art is the divine child which keeps men from being swallowed up in lies. If this first branch of civilization is pursued only one-sidedly, then this stream empties into lies. In the last five or six years more lies have been told among civilized humanity than in any other period of world history; in public life the truth has scarcely been spoken at all; hardly a word that has passed through the world was true. While this stream empties into lies (see drawing), the middle stream empties into self-seeking; and an economic life like the Anglo-American, which should end in world-dominion — if the effort is not made to bring about its permeation by the independent spiritual life and the independent political life, it will flow into the third of the abysses of human life, into the third of these three. The first abyss is lies, the degeneration of humanity through Ahriman; the second is self-seeking, the degeneration of humanity through Lucifer; the third is, in the physical realm, illness and death; in the cultural realm, the illness and death of culture.
The Anglo-American world may gain world dominion; but without the Threefold Social Order it will, through this dominion, pour out cultural death and cultural illness over the whole earth; for these are just as much a gift of the Azuras as lies are a gift of Ahriman, and self-seeking, of Lucifer. So the third, a worthy companion of the other two, is a gift of the Azuric powers!
We must get the enthusiasm from these things which will fire us now really to seek ways of enlightening as many people as possible. Today the mission of those with insight is the enlightenment of humanity. We must do as much as possible to oppose to that foolishness which fancies itself to be wisdom, and which thinks it has made such marvellous progress — to oppose to that foolishness what we can gain from the practical aspect of anthroposophically-orientated spiritual science.
My dear friends, if I have been able to arouse in you in some measure the feeling that these things must be taken with profound seriousness, then I have attained a part of what I should very much like to have attained through these words.
When we meet again in a week or two, we shall speak further of similar things. Today I wished only to call forth in you a feeling that at the present time the really most important work is to enlighten people in the widest circles.
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