The Social Question as a Question of Consciousness. Lecture 2 of 8
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, February 16, 1919:
In connection with what I said yesterday about our Appeal, I should like to emphasize again that in man's present conditions of life everything depends upon arousing, in as many people as possible, a right social understanding. You must not forget that the way the relations in life have recently developed has brought a great part of the civilized world into a state of chaos such as is only occasioned by what arises out of human souls. As the situation is at present, external means cannot greatly help mankind, whether this is in the form of laws or in the form of outward administration of the economic life. In individual States it is possible, of course, that for a time things may go on, but it would be a mistake to think conditions in these individual States can permanently remain as they are in the midst of the developing social upheavals encompassing all mankind. Help can come only when an understanding of the social relations is cultivated in men's souls.
What I have put in rather a complicated form can also be said more simply. We may say that what is now a striving for disorder will first take an orderly direction when men show themselves capable of producing order. They will be so only when they arrive at a real social understanding from which man today — of whatever party — stands very far removed. It is the most imperative task to spread this understanding. It is a fact of the utmost importance that what is agitating the souls of many millions of the proletariat is something very different from what lives in the souls of their leaders. The leaders have for the greater part inherited the bourgeois attitude to life, which they try to apply to the conditions of proletarian life adorned with a few flourishes of the agitator. This is an essential fact with which we act in accordance only when deciding to work above all for social understanding. Even when external conditions of life have to be recognized as being in still greater confusion and error than formerly, nevertheless the assumption that something can be attained by muddling through would be false. What modern man lacks is social understanding. And this lack is due to the whole of human thinking, feeling, and willing having developed in recent times without being applied to this understanding. It is remarkably limited even in the many people today whose social impulses are strong.
Do not think that this social understanding needs some specially comprehensive and far-reaching knowledge for its development. That is not of any consequence; the point is that in contemporary mankind there is lacking even the elementary basis for such an understanding. People's thoughts are very different from those needed for grasping the most primitive social questions. It is quite right today that attention should be given above all to finding a way to avoid the abstract sentimental concepts at present pacifying so many. It is widely believed that it is possible today to deal with the social problem from some kind of ethical or religious standpoint. This possibility does not exist. Today one cannot just preach religion or ethics, however excellent. This may just warm the feelings and, in an egoistic sense, have some effect. Concepts, however, must be made capable of gripping hold of the everyday affairs of human beings.
Infinitely much depends today on acquiring this understanding. I have said that men today in whom social impulses are flashing up have very often only primitive concepts. Many in leading circles as well as among the proletariat imagine that a simple reassortment of social levels can bring about real change — for example, if those who were at the top, ministers and secretaries of State, were to fall and those who were formerly proletarians were to risea: in effect, if there were a re-levelling. It would be quite a mistake to fancy that things could be changed thus. Many have this idea, however much they may protest. Befogged by the outlook of some party or another, they are unconscious of holding these views. It is a question, however, of coming quite simply to a clear understanding of the threefold social organism, often dealt with here and also in many public lectures. It is a question of every detail in social measures being so developed that they comply with the necessity inherent in the threefold order. Whether measures have to be taken to build a railway, either under a private company or the State, or a decision is to be made about the ways and means for paying an undertaking on some occasion (I am not speaking of labor-power but of undertakings), it is always a matter of carrying out the measures in the threefold direction, in accordance with the independence of the spiritual life, of the political life of rights, and of the economic life. You can of course ask how this or the other should happen. But at the stage where the matter now stands those are for the most part the wrong kind of questions. The spirit living in the threefold order can perhaps be described like this, to take an example: What is the best system of taxation? Now, today the important thing is not to think out a system of taxation but to work toward the threefold order. When this threefold membering of the social organism becomes more and more an actuality, the best system of taxation will arise through this threefold activity. It is a matter of establishing the conditions under which the best social organization can originate. Someone or other ruminating over what would be best is not of importance and is not in accordance with reality. But imagine that one of you were a genius, such a genius as has never before been seen in human evolution, and were therefore in a position to think out the best possible system of taxation. But what if you were to stand alone with your magnificently thought-out system and the others refused it, wanting perhaps something less good but anyhow not yours? You see it is not a matter of thinking out the best, but of finding what men as a whole would accept as a basis on which to do their best.
It is true that you may say here: One must begin somewhere. The threefold State must be set up even though men appear unwilling to accept it. That is something different, for there it is not a matter of what men can wish for or not, such as a system of taxation, but of what fundamentally all men would want were they to understand it. If you find the right way you can make it intelligible to them, for subconsciously men want it to be realized during the coming decades throughout the civilized world. That is not merely thought-out, but seen to be what men are wanting. And it is not because they lack the desire that countless men reject it, but because being still full of prejudices, they work in opposition to this matter, which in future will be fully realized. The essential thing is to pay heed to what is primary. The primary is that for which, in a longer or shorter period, understanding can be awakened when once the hindrances to this understanding have been removed. Naturally there are always leading personalities who stand in the way. These personalities are not to be convinced; they must first break their heads against the obstacles they meet. And there will be many such obstacles. On this account if at first the affair does not go as one had imagined, it need not be labeled a failure. Things of this sort must be prepared for. Something must be there when what is now brought about in a mistaken way will have led to an absurd situation, when much that now appears in the world is no longer there — just as the German princes are no longer there, who in 1913 never dreamed they would have disappeared by 1919 — when what so many people now applaud is gone, then something on which they can fall back must at least be there in people's heads and hearts. Preparation must be made, the ground must be ready. When once you have penetrated long and deeply enough into this threefold membering of the spiritual life, the economic life, and the political life, then the need will arise in you to have a more fundamental understanding of all this. This understanding is absolutely essential; otherwise even when spoken with all possible goodwill, what is said will have no connection with reality. The social organism is subject to definite laws in the same way as the natural human organism. You gain nothing by acting against these laws, even on grounds of principle. You can at best lead men into a blind alley.
Now, do not say: Where is human freedom when man finds himself in a social organism with fixed laws? You might as well ask whether a man can be free when daily he has to eat. It does not make him free to refrain from eating. Things subject to certain laws — even men themselves — have nothing at all to do with the problem of freedom, just as little as our not being able to grasp the moon has to do with our freedom.
To gain a social understanding it is advisable for us to be in the position to go back to fundamentals, to primaries, rather than let our understanding remain bogged in secondaries or tertiaries, which are subsequent phenomena. We may give this example from a certain condition of life: A man needs a definite minimum, let us say in money — since we have converted our values into money — in order to support life. This subsistence minimum can be spoken of as referring to some special condition of life. But we can so speak of it that we say something apparently extremely obvious on the one hand, yet on the other, what is complete nonsense. I will try to make this clear to you by an example. Taking given conditions of life in any part of the world you may perhaps say with feeling that a manual worker needs so and so much as a subsistence minimum, otherwise he would be unable to live in the particular community. This can seem quite an obvious idea. But how is it then, in accordance with what has been assumed here, when this is not realizable within a certain social organism? The question that must first of all be answered is: What then if the realization of this is impossible?
To reflect upon the matter thus is not the primary thinking I have represented. Thought out in the abstract, the subsistence minimum demanded does not lead us to fundamentals but ties us down to what is secondary, what appears as a mere consequence. To attain social understanding we have to be in a position to enter into fundamental things. It is fundamental to cultivate a practical view as to how there can be a subsistence minimum in accordance with conditions of life in the social organism. In this case I mean by ‘practical’ such a view that would result in humanly possible social conditions and social community life. This is the primary.
And now one comes to certain conceptions very unpopular with a great part of present-day mankind, because the basic teaching that should work toward such things, and really guide them in this direction, has been neglected. Men need to realize that even to be half-educated one should not merely know that three times nine is twenty-seven; one should also know, for example, what it is that we call ground-rent. I ask you, how many people today have any clear idea of what ground-rent is? But without considering the social organism in connection with such things, no human progress can be made.
The wrong-headed conceptions men hold today are due to confusion in this sphere. Ground-rent, which can be reckoned according to the productivity of a piece of land in a certain district, yields a certain sum for a State-bounded area. The land takes its value according to its productivity, that is, in accordance with the way or the degree in which it is put to rational use in relation to the whole economy. It is very difficult today for anyone to gain a clear concept of this simple land value, since in the modern capitalistic economic life interest on capital, or capital in any form, has confused the whole picture of ground-rent, and the true concept of its economic value for the people has been blurred by phantoms in the form of mortgage law and the system of stocks and shares. Strictly speaking, everything has been forced into conceptions that are impossible and false. Naturally a true conception of ground-rent cannot be acquired in the twinkling of an eye. But think of it simply as the economic value of the land in some territory, with regard to its productivity. Now there exists a necessary relation between this ground-rent and subsistence — what I have referred to as a subsistence minimum. There are many social reformers and social revolutionaries today who dream of the wholesale abolition of ground-rent, who believe, for example, that ground-rent will be done away with by all land being nationalized or communalized. Essentials, however, are never changed by a mere change of form. Whether a whole community owns the land or it is owned by a number of individuals makes no difference to the existence of ground-rent. It is simply obscured and takes on other forms. Ground-rent as I have defined it is always there. Take the ground-rent of a certain district and divide it up among the individual inhabitants: then you will get as quotient the only possible subsistence minimum. This is a law as definite and unalterable as a law of physics. It is a primary fact, something fundamental, that in a social organism in reality no one deserves more than is yielded by the ground-rent being divided among the total population. What can be earned further arises through coalitions and associations in which conditions are established where one individual can acquire more value than another. But not a whit more can pass into the movable property of an individual man than what I have here indicated. From this minimum, which really exists everywhere even though the real conditions are obscured, arises all economic life in so for as it applies to an individual's movable property. It must have arisen from this basic fact. Hence it is that one starts not from something secondary but from this primary fact. This primary fact may be compared to any other — for example to a primary fact also valid for the economic life, that on a certain territory there is only a certain amount of raw product. Naturally you may think it desirable to have more of this raw product and to be able just to reckon how much more might be had from this land. But the raw product does not allow of any arbitrary increase; that is a primary fact. And it is a primary fact in the same way that, in a social organism, in reality nothing more can be earned through work — however hard this work may be — than can be yielded by the quotient I mentioned. As I said, all surplus is acquired through human coalition.
The social and political administration can be in contradiction to these facts. Therefore it is necessary to bring all organizing thought into the direction that facts take. Man can find satisfaction only when these things are thoroughly understood. Then the organizing factor, the thinking that has taken on reality, is brought into line with what the nature of the social organism demands, and other thinking adjusts itself to it, so that it cannot happen that one thinking considers itself prejudiced by the other. That is what lies as a law at the basis of the true life of the social organism. Right thinking, realistic concepts on such matters, can be gained — as I showed by the example of the relation of a subsistence minimum to ground-rent — only when you make your start on the basic principles of the threefold order. For only under its influence is it possible for men to create measures by which human life in common on any given territory can be developed really productively. Life will develop most productively when it goes in a direction that accords with law and not in the opposite direction. Thus it is a matter of living in tune with the social organism.
It is necessary to be quite clear about this — that you will never gain insight into the fundamentals of the Threefold Order by observing life externally, any more than observation of any number of right-angled triangles will give you the Pythagorean theorem. But once known it can be applied to any real right-angled triangle. It is the same with these fundamental laws. Once grasped correctly in accordance with reality, they can be of universal application. And in addition you have from the basis of spiritual science the opportunity to grasp the necessity of the Threefold Order. Consider what can be given through it — the life of earthly spirituality, if I may so call it, art, science, religion, and also, as already mentioned, civil and criminal law; that is one sphere. The second is the political association of men and is concerned with man's relation to his fellows. And the third is the economic life, concerned with man's relation to the lower man, what man needs in order to raise himself to his true manhood. The Threefold Order has to do with these three spheres. Man should be established in the social organism in accordance with these three members; he must be so established. For the three members have each a quite distinct origin in regard to the human being as such. All life of the spirit on Earth — and what I now say counts for our own age — is a kind of echo of what man lived through in the life before his descent through birth into physical existence. In that life the human being lived as a spiritual individual in a spiritual relation to the higher hierarchies, with those disembodied souls who were in the spiritual world and not at the time incarnated on Earth. What man develops here as spiritual life — be it in devotion to religious practice or life in a religious community, be it in activity in the arts, or as a judge passing sentence on those of his fellowmen found guilty — everything lived out in this spiritual life has its origin in the forces acquired by man when, before he entered physical existence through birth, he lived with the higher hierarchies in the spiritual worlds. Here you must distinguish between life lived in common with other men in accordance with individual destiny, and that lived with others in accordance with what I have just described. In earthly existence we come into individual relations with one or other of our fellow-men. These relations depend upon our individual karma, and either trace back to earlier lives on Earth or point to those coming later. But among these individual relations between human beings you must distinguish those, for example, that arise from belonging to a certain religious community. For in a religious community you think or feel as a number of other men do. Or suppose a book is published. Men read the book, take up thoughts from the book, and thus enter into a community. Spiritual life on Earth, whether having to do with the bringing-up of children, education, or anything else of the kind, consists in our coming into relation with people and developing a life in common with them, in order thereby oneself to make spiritual progress. All that, however, is experiencing relationships in which, before descending into spiritual life on Earth, we were in a quite different form. It has nothing to do with individual karma but with what was prepared during life in the spiritual world in the time lived through between death and a new birth. Thus, one has to seek the source of what I have called the spiritual sphere in the life passed through by man before he prepared to descend through birth into earthly existence.
Then there comes what is experienced simply by living on Earth between birth and death. We grow into this life by degrees. When as an infant we enter into this existence through birth, we still bear — if I may make a foolish comparison — much of the egg-shell of the spiritual world around us, though it is not hard. The child is very spiritual in spite of its main task being the development of its physical body. In its aura there is much of the spiritual; what it brings with it is very nearly akin to the spiritual life on Earth. Gradually, however, it enters more and more deeply into the life that belongs entirely to the time between birth and death.
Now, the sources of the life of the political state are found in this life not chiefly concerned with the spiritual. The political state has to do only with what man experiences between birth and death. Therefore nothing should be involved in it save what concerns us as beings between birth and death in our mutual relations as man to man. If the state involved itself in anything other than what concerns the public life of rights between birth and death — if it spread its wings over Church and School, for example — well, in the places where there were people with a faculty for judging such things it used to be said: “There the Prince of this world holds his unjust sway!” Nothing belongs to all that is the object of state-organization except what has to do with the life between birth and death.
The third member is the economic. This economic life, which we are obliged to lead because we eat and drink, clothe ourselves and so on, forces us as human beings to descend into the subhuman. It chains us to something beneath the level of our full humanity. By having to concern ourselves with life economically, by having to dive down into economic life, we experience something which, when observed socially, has more in it than is usually thought. In so far as we stand in the economic life we cannot live in the spiritual nor in the life of rights, but must plunge below the human level. But just by this plunging into the subhuman we take into ourselves something that thus has an opportunity to develop. Whereas in the economic life we are active and higher thoughts must be silent and even the human mutual relations play in only from another sphere, there is worked in our subconscious then what we then carry with us into the spiritual world through the gate of death. Whereas in the spiritual life on Earth we experience the echo of what we lived through before our descent to Earth, and in the life of rights of the political state we experience only what lies between birth and death, in the economic life, into which we cannot enter with our higher self, something is being prepared that is also spiritual and carried by us through the gate of death. People would like the economic life to exist only for the Earth. But this is not so. Just through our plunging down into the economic life something is prepared for us as human beings that is again connected with the supersensible world. Therefore no one should think of holding the economic life too lightly. However strange and paradoxical it may seem, this external materialistic life has a certain connection with the life after death. So that in actual fact, for anyone who knows man, the three spheres fall asunder — the purely spiritual sphere points to life before birth; the political sphere of the State points to life between birth and death; the economic life points to life after death. It is not in vain that we cultivate fraternity in the economic life. In all that we develop as brotherliness in the economic sphere lie the foundations and preliminary conditions of life after death. I am giving you only a first brief indication of how the threefold membering of the nature of the human being gives the spiritual scientist in these three distinct spheres the differentiation necessary for social life.
It is a particular characteristic of spiritual science that, when we come to deal with it, we find it directly practical. It sheds light on the life around us, and at the present time we have no other possibility of getting light on the real relationships of life than by in some way accepting spiritual knowledge. Thus it is desirable that those who are interested in the Anthroposophical Movement should let the light of their understanding ray out to others; for the Anthroposophist it is relatively easier to penetrate these things with insight. He knows something of life both before and after birth, for example, from the standpoint of spiritual science, and this shows him the necessity for the threefoldness in life from this point of view. This necessity can indeed be seen today. But we shall gain a deeper, more comprehensive insight if we have the anthroposophical basis of which I have been speaking here.
In the course of the last centuries how much has been spoken in a sentimental way, when men have held forth, for instance, about universal moral teaching and the like, and religion has been kept as far as possible apart from external daily life. We are now at a point of time when we have to develop concepts that can penetrate right into daily life and do not just extend to the promise of salvation or to the demand: “Children, love one another.” They do not do it in any case when they do not have to or when other business is on hand. The concepts we develop must have sufficient driving force to enable us really to understand our present-day complicated economic life. Thus, simply through knowledge of the nature of man we are shown the necessity for the sound social organism to be threefold.
It must become clear to as many people as possible today that this is the very foundation-stone of a new structure. Just to prate about the spirit is, as I was saying yesterday, perhaps more harmful just now than the materialism which, beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century, has up to now continued to spread. For mere talk of the spirit, mere sighing after the spirit, mere worship of the spirit, no longer meet the needs of our epoch. In our epoch it is fitting that we realize the spirit, that we give the spirit the possibility of living in our midst. Today it does not suffice just to believe in the Christ; it is essential that men should now manifest the Christ in their deeds, in their work. This is the important thing. If man develops sound thinking and perceiving in this sphere, these sound thoughts and perceptions will flow into another sphere as well. Consider how a great many of the present official representatives of one or other of the Christian faiths speak today of Christ. But if asked: Why is He whom you call Christ, the Christ? they can give only a fictitious answer, what is indeed an inner lie. Many modern theologians talk of Christ, but were you to ask them: How does your concept of the Christ-being differ from your concept of the Jahve-God, the one God, weaving and creating throughout the universe? they would have no answer to give.
The great theologian Harnack, in Berlin, has written a book on The Being of Christianity. What he describes as the Being of Christianity is the Jehovah of the Old Testament, with all Jehovah's characteristics. It is inwardly a lie to describe Jehovah as Christ, And it is thus with hundreds, nay thousands, of those preaching Christianity today; they are simply preaching God in general, the God of Whom we can say Ex Deo nascimur. Christ is discovered only when one has experienced a kind of new birth. We need only be healthy human beings to have to recognize the God of Whom we say Ex Deo nascimur; for to be an atheist is in reality to be ill. But one can speak of the Christ only when in the life of soul one has experienced a kind of rebirth, in the way this happens in the present cycle of human evolution. For this, it is not enough that man is simply born as a human being.
Man as he is born today is necessarily full of prejudices; that is the nature of present-day man. And if we remain as we are born, we carry these prejudices with us through life; we live in one-sidedness. We can save ourselves only by having inner tolerance, by being able to enter into the opinions of others even when we think them wrong. If we can bring a deep understanding for the opinions of other souls even when considering them mistaken, if we can take what the other thinks and feels in the same way as we take what we think and feel ourself, if we adopt this faculty of inner tolerance, we may overcome these prejudices due to the human cycle in which we were born. We then learn to say: What you have understood in this the least of my brethren, you have understood of me. For Christ did not speak to men in this way only at the time when Christianity began, but has made good His word “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of earthly time.” He still continues to reveal Himself. Once He said: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto Me.” Today He tells men: What you understand with inward tolerance in the least of your brothers, even when he is mistaken, you have understood of Me, and I will let you overcome your prejudices when you convert those prejudices into tolerant reception of what others think and feel. — That is one thing; that, in regard to thinking, is the way to come to Christ. Then Christ can so permeate us that we not only have thoughts about Him, but Christ can live in our thoughts. This, however, is only achieved in the way I have just described.
And secondly, in regard to the will. In youth the human being is sometimes idealistic. This is an inherent idealism and we have it simply by being born as human beings. Today, in this era, this idealism belonging to mankind is not enough. We now need a quite different kind — an idealism to which we educate ourselves; we do not have it simply by becoming human beings, but by making an effort. It is this kind of idealism we need. We need the idealism we have ourselves acquired. It then becomes the idealism that will not vanish with youth: it will keep us young and idealistic throughout our life. If through training we make an idealism our own, then, on the basis not of logical law but of the law of reality, we bring to bear the driving force to place ourselves actively into the social organism in accordance with the very purport of this organism, instead of acting egoistically as an individual man. No one today who does not train himself to this self-acquired idealism will gain a true social understanding. The Ex Deo nascimur is innate. The way to Christ is found on the one hand through supersensible thought, on the other hand through the will. It comes through the thought by our being convinced beforehand that nowadays we are born as men full of prejudice and must overcame our prejudice by tolerantly listening to the opinions of others, thus gaining right judgment. Where the way of the will is concerned, this will only be fired socially in the right way today when we have this self-acquired idealism, the idealism we drive into ourselves through our own activity. That is rebirth. And what we have found when we as men have gained it for ourselves leads us to the Christ. Not the God of Whom we say Ex Deo nascimur may we describe as Christ, for that is inwardly untrue. That God was known in the Old Testament. When we as men shall have transformed ourselves in life in the two directions mentioned, we shall clearly see the distinction between the God Who is pure Father and the God Who will then speak to us. For this God is the Christ.
Modern theology actually speaks very little about this Christ. This Christ must enter men as a social impulse. What many people say today of Christ is intrinsically untrue. Now, such things are not to be looked into as people today subtly present them, taking them logically, point by point. As I once told you recently, there is an understanding in accordance with reality different from one that is merely external and logical. But when man has developed in himself what I have called a rebirth, then human thinking will be brought near Christ, and we shall learn to think and feel as we must think and feel if, for the benefit and salvation of man, we are to place ourselves into human society. We shall also learn to think and feel rightly in other matters by thinking and feeling rightly on these fundamental things. From this, however, the spiritual life of modern mankind has traveled terribly far. And the reason is that this spiritual life has been absorbed by the political State. Man's spiritual life must be freed from the political State to become fruitful and full of impulse for human evolution. Otherwise all thinking will be dislocated, and from this dislocation false realities will be created.
I have already referred to Wilson's definition of freedom. For anyone who has some understanding of philosophy it is not very important how a statesman of the day defines freedom. It is important, however, as symptom of what lives in a man when he has thoughts about freedom. Now, Wilson says: We call free what adapts itself to certain conditions so that it can still move freely. Thus we say when in a machine the piston can move freely, when it does not knock against anything but can move without impediment — we say the piston runs free. Or a ship moves forward freely which is so built that it runs before the wind. If it runs against the wind, it is hampered and not free. So man is free when he fits in with the conditions of the social mechanism. There, then, one can only speak of the social mechanism.
It is not very important that thoughts such as these live in a head and are realized; the importance lies in what is realized being experienced in such thoughts. Then one knows whether this is sound, or the opposite of sound. The thinking is quite dislocated; and why? Now you need only reflect on the following with the experience you have gained from spiritual science: when you fit into the external conditions of your life, when your life is running according to this adapting oneself to conditions without impediment, then you are free, free as a ship is free when running with the wind. But man does not stand thus in the whole world. For if indeed the ship running before the wind does run freely, it must, however, sometimes also be able to stop. And that is just what is very important for man — that he can sometimes turn round and take his stand against the wind, so that he not only fits in with circumstances but can also adapt himself to what is within him. One cannot think of anything more foolish, more absurd, than Wilson's definition of freedom, for it is opposed to human nature and is the very reverse of what lies at the basis of true freedom. If we compare a man with a ship running freely before the wind, we must also compare him with a ship that, having run in a certain direction and not needing to go further, can turn to face the wind. For if a man has to proceed only in accordance with external conditions, he is naturally free in them but not in himself. We have completely lost sight of the human being today in our observation of the world and of life. He has dropped out of our considerations concerning life and the world. But he must once more be given a place in the world.
This has its exceedingly serious side; here it is seen only as a symptom, but it has a most serious side. For today the human being is placed into the social organism in such a way that really he is only running with the wind, and the capitalist ordering of the economy has particularly destined the proletariat only to run with the wind, never to be able, as a rest, to stop and face the wind. In a public lecture in Basel I said that within the capitalist economic system the capitalist uses only the labor of the workers; in a healthy social organism the capitalist must use the workers' leisure also. Abstract capitalistic capital needs only labor-power. Capital that, under the threefold order, will give back to men their purely human driving force will also use the leisure of the workers, the leisure indeed of all mankind. For that, capital must be placed into the social organism; it will know how it is to be sustained by the social organism and how it must, in return, sustain the organism.
It is a question of the proletariat being able to save their labor-power so as to be capable of taking part in the spiritual life; and it is a question of the will being there to allow the worker sufficient leisure, to leave him sufficient labor-power, that of himself he can join in this spiritual life. The bourgeois economic order has allowed a deep cleft gradually to arise. What it produces spiritually is valid only for this bourgeois order and is out of touch with proletarian life.
Capitalism has brought things to the point where only labor-power is considered, and not the leisure of the proletariat. Today these matters still seem abstract. It should be so no longer, for upon understanding these things rightly depends the sound human evolution both of the present and the future.
Now I have once again given a few indications as to the relation to social life of some of the fundamental tenets of Anthroposophy. It would be very desirable if such a spiritual movement as ours should, as a little social organism in itself, cease this unhealthy separation — developed to man's hurt by appalling bourgeois concepts — of the economic life from the spiritual, and should seek health by permeating the concepts of practical life with the concepts of spiritual science. The social organism must so organize its different members that there will no longer be men who cut out coupons and in this coupon-cutting become nothing less than slave-drivers, since for the coupons they cut off, a number of people, with whom they have no connection, have to perform hard work. Afterwards the coupon-cutters go to church and pray God to be saved, or they go to a meeting and talk theoretically about all sorts of beautiful things — but they have no conception of the foolishness of living such an abstract spiritual life that they can seek, on the one hand, a connection with a God, and on the other hand share in slave ownership and the exploitation of labor by this coupon-cutting. They separate these things in a way that is not salutary by not attempting to discover the salutary. This is what is in question, what has been neglected and what must be changed: this separation between the religion and ethics that float in a cloud-cuckoo-land, and the external life thoughtlessly pursued in the form given it today by an unsound social organism. Above all it must be recognized that the misfortunes of the present day have come about through this separation by the bourgeoisie of the abstract from the concrete. If efforts are made to drive out all that shows itself in an unsound and sectarian form, it is in just such a movement as ours that there can be a first setting-up of a kind of small social organism that is sound. In our Anthroposophical Movement there is nothing from which we have had to suffer more than the repeated appearance of a tendency toward sectarianism. Without noticing it people strive toward some kind of separation. But Anthroposophy must be the reverse of sectarian. It will then meet the subconscious and unconscious contemporary demands, which truly do not run to creating sects, but cultivate something that develops out of the whole man for all men, and out of all men for the whole man.
Just consider how you, in your own souls, can get away from sectarianism. In countless souls today sectarianism lives like something atavistic, an unhealthy inheritance, because the will does not exist to carry the true life of the spirit into the conditions of external life. Only through such sectarian sentimentality could it happen that the Appeal of which I spoke yesterday should meet with the reproach that it was just from this direction that mention of the spiritual had been expected! But I have never been able to refer to the spiritual in the sense of these enthusiasts. When, in the beginning of the nineties, there spread in America the Adler-Unold Ethical Movement, I opposed it with all my might, because a movement for ethical culture was to be founded based on nothing, and connected with nothing in life but a desire to give out ethical maxims. The understanding of life, life in its fundamentals, is what contemporary men need, not the fashioning of phrases as to how things should be done. In regard to the social organism, the threefold order is above all something to be studied fundamentally, investigated and given consideration, something to be taken deeply to heart, so that it may be mastered in the same way as the multiplication table is mastered.
Post a Comment