Monday, June 8, 2020
The barrenness of modern thinking. What the world needs now is Anthroposophy. The Social Question as a Question of Consciousness
The Social Question as a Question of Consciousness. Lecture 3 of 8
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, February 21, 1919:
It will be apparent to you that what I have put forward here and elsewhere about the present social problems has its source in the foundations of Spiritual Science. And further, that there has been an endeavor to let flow into the Appeal that I recently read out to you the practical ideas which must arise from a deeper insight into the existing world situation. We should never tire of bringing before our souls ever and again the most important thing, and that is how ways and means may be found to call up the clearest possible understanding for what must enter into mankind, to promote deeds and actions, when there is right thinking about the essential nature of the social organism. You will have realized how radically different man's whole thinking, feeling, and willing have become since the middle of the fifteenth century, and how the whole of our history, if it is to be made fruitful for mankind, must be revised from the standpoint of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch with its fundamental change in man's attitude of soul. The characteristics of the evolution during our fifth post-Atlantean epoch have had the result that in people endowed with a certain will — be it regarded as right or wrong, good or bad — that the thinking underlying these people's will, takes on a definite form. And from this thinking that has a definite form, in essentials the whole of our social movement is built. The social movement has its foundation in those thoughts that people are able to formulate in accordance with the fundamental character of our time.
In the threefold division of which we have often spoken, and which is the subject of the Appeal, the actual political State is really but one department, one member, of the threefold organism, though most people believe it to embrace the whole social organism, confusing it indeed with the social organism. When on the one hand you understand what the threefold social organism amounts to, and on the other hand you try to grasp how in modern life there has been a one-sided tendency to centralize the social organism, to let the State swallow up everything, then putting together these two things you have something important for understanding the matter. And to understand the present social movement from a serious standpoint is today the most vital necessity for man. For a long time people will still be groping in uncertainty as to what is to happen. It cannot be otherwise. The way it must be regarded, however, the way it must be worked for, is by widening the understanding of the social organism, creating the possibility for it really to be understood. From this standpoint it is extraordinarily interesting to observe the kind of thinking of the men who, in some particular direction, are active in social matters. Things must depend more and more upon our observing the way, the form, the structure of men's thinking, and upon our paying less heed to the content. On the most various occasions we have had to emphasize that what people really think matters very much less than how they think, and how their thinking is directed. Finally, it is not of such great importance for what is penetrating and decisive in the present world movement whether anyone is a reactionary, in the original sense, or liberal, democratic, socialist, or bolshevik. What people say is not very important, but what is important is how they think, in what way their thoughts are formed. We can see today how personalities arise whose thought content and programs are thoroughly socialistic, but who in the form of their thought are not very different from those who, over a large area of the Earth, have just been overthrown.
We must therefore look deeper into what lies behind all this. For, as I recently said in Basel, as time goes on very little will depend upon the programs that go around as if they had been mummified. Much will depend upon people learning to think differently, to form their thoughts differently. Up to now there is only anthroposophical thinking that can guide men's thinking today in another direction, and for this reason it is regarded by many as something fantastic. It is, however, the people who call it so who themselves are fantastic, even if materialistically fantastic, for all the same they are theorists who cannot face reality. But what is developing will come from the way in which men think. It is just this that I want to dwell upon today.
Whoever pays heed to the ways in which the views of the proletarian movement have gradually been formed and developed up to now must see how very various these views are. One fact should be of special interest to us today – that by far the greater number among the proletariat wholeheartedly profess Marxism in either its original or its more mature form. It is very characteristic how Karl Marx, having become acquainted with French social positivism, and then, from London, having studied the world of socialism and its development, built up on these foundations his extraordinarily arresting socialist theories which have gradually caught hold of the whole proletarian world. It is actually the Marxist thought that has spread abroad and has flamed up into the conflagration of this last catastrophe, as we have it today, and as it will continue to spread. Many even among the socialists refer to Karl Marx as if they themselves were Marxists. The one maintains that his standpoint is orthodox Marxism, another says that he represents advanced Marxism, and so on, but everything goes back to Marx.
Now, a statement by Karl Marx himself throws great light on certain aspects of this matter. Speaking of Marxism he once emphasized that he himself was no Marxist. Particularly in these times one should not forget this statement. For it is only by paying dire heed to such things that one notices how everything depends not on what is said but on the way in which thoughts are formed. Especially in our hard times the easy way of just building programs will never meet human needs. And there is a way, even if a long one, that leads from Marx to Lenin, who now regards himself as a true Marxist. To speak of Lenin is not to speak of a single personality but of a movement, which, if you like, is fundamentally open to criticism but from which the impulse is spreading widely. This movement, however, is also extended through certain methods considered by its adherents as actually being true Marxism. Now the problem we have here is most easily approached when in the center of our considerations we place the now prevalent one-sidedness that consists in handing over everything to the State, when in reality we have to do with a threefold organism of which the State is only one member. It is indeed interesting to follow up how Karl Marx formed his thoughts, and, quite apart from what he says with regard to their content, to look more at the thought structure. Whoever, for example, goes to his writings and reads them in the hope of finding some conception of how the social organism will be moulded, will be greatly disappointed. Statements such as those imparted by Spiritual Science about the social organism, in Karl Marx will be sought in vain. In the way he develops his thoughts there is nowhere a trace of anything of the kind. If in his writings you follow his national-economic views on the formation of the social order, you come to the conclusion that Karl Marx has thought out nothing new about the social organism. He has done no original thinking whatever about what the future of the world should be. He seeks to discover how those men thought who brought about the age of capitalism, and how the questions of wage, capital, ground-rent, and so on, were matured under the rule of capitalism. He pulls to pieces the national-economy of the capitalist rule. The most important ideas given by Karl Marx to the proletariat can already be found in Ricardo and elsewhere. Karl Marx says: In the capitalistic economic order, gradually built up in recent times, men have held the opinions from which have arisen the modern wage conditions, the modern capital conditions, the modern ground-rent conditions. And now he tries to think further. Not that he tells us what shall be put in place of this social membering that has arisen under capitalism; he only shows that under this capitalist system the proletariat necessarily developed as a special class of human beings. That is so; that is a reality. He then goes on to show whither the capitalist rule is leading. He proves that it is leading to an absurdity, that having reached its peak it is obliged to change into its opposite. Capital is increasingly gathered into the hands of the individual until it reaches what is most individual, which at the same time is the community. However Marx and Marxists strive against the recognition of the word, according to Marx capital passes over to the control of the State, so that the State becomes the one great capitalist. But this then includes in the representation of the people created by the State, all the human beings taking part in that State.
It is on this statement that the most varied socialistic ideas of recent times have been formed. Karl Marx and his friend Friedrich Engels worked for a long time limiting, modifying, elaborating the original expression of these thoughts, as must happen with men who do not remain stationary but, in observing the world, develop themselves. And because Karl Marx' thoughts appealed deeply to the souls of the proletariat there now arose on the basis of Marxism a great movement which has taken the most varied forms in the different countries. The socialism that has developed on the foundation of Marxism is of one shade in England, another in France; it finds its most definite expression in Germany, and this has passed on to Russia. But the essential question of principle, the relation of the proletariat to the State, has become more or less nebulous. Thus the people have formed a number of parties within the framework of socialism, and these parties fight each other to the knife because they regard in such different ways this recent historic development, namely, the relation of the proletariat to the State. The most varied streams play their part here, upon which today we do not wish to touch. We will merely indicate the way that leads from Karl Marx to Lenin. For Lenin claims to be the most orthodox Marxist who best understands Marx, whereas numerous other socialists calling themselves Marxists are stigmatized by Lenin as deserters and traitors, and given many other names besides. Many, because of their attitude during the so-called world war, are given the name Social Chauvinists, and so on.
As I have just said, an essential feature of Karl Marx' thought-structure is the lack of positive ideas on how the matter should develop, the lack in his thought of any solution. Marx only says: you capitalist thinkers have spoken and acted in such a way that it must bring about your undoing. Then the proletariat will be supreme. I do not know what they will do then, nor does anyone, but we shall soon see. What is certain is that you capitalist thinkers, by your own measures and by what you have made of the world, have prepared your own downfall. What will then happen if the proletariat are there, what they will do, neither I nor any of the rest of you know, but it will soon be seen.
If you take all this as I have just been picturing it, you will see the form of the thought. What is showing itself everywhere in the external world is simply being absorbed and thought-out. But when we have come to the end of the thought it nullifies itself, comes to nothing, fades away. This must come as a shock to anyone with feeling for such things. Studying Marxism one always finds that it is all the result of certain thoughts — not, however, Marx' thoughts, but the thoughts of modern times. Then one is driven into an eddying confusion of thoughts leaning to what is destructive, leading to no firm ground. It is most interesting how this thought-structure, really striking even in Marx, in Lenin comes to its highest potency, one might almost say to the point of genius. Lenin points to Marx as if to an absolute opponent of the State, as if Marx had really started out with the idea that when once the suppression of the proletariat ceased, the State, as it has developed historically, would have to come to an end. This is interesting, because it is just those who regard Lenin as opponent who would like to throw everything on to this State in its historically developed form. So that in present-day socialist circles we have this contrast: on the one hand the strict fanatic of the State, wanting everything state-controlled; on the other hand Lenin, the absolute opponent of the State, who sees salvation for mankind not in the abolition — he would consider that a Utopia — but in the gradual dying away of the State. And just by observing how Lenin thought about this, we arrive at the form of the thought living in him. Lenin thinks thus: The proletariat is the only class that can come to the top when the others have arrived at what is absurd and are ripe for their downfall. This proletarian class will bring to its highest perfection what has developed as a bourgeois State. — Please give due heed to the form of the thoughts. For example, Lenin does not say as the anarchists do: Away with the State! That would not occur to him. He is opposed to anarchism and would consider it pure madness to abolish the State. Rather would he say: Should evolution advance on the lines laid down by the bourgeoisie, then the bourgeoisie will soon come to an end. The proletariat will take over the machinery of the State, and will bring to perfection this State founded by the bourgeoisie as an instrument to suppress the proletariat; they will make of it the most perfect State. But, Lenin now asks, what are the characteristics of the most perfect State? And he thinks himself a true Marxist in saying: What will be characteristic of the perfect State when it comes into being — and it will be brought into being by the proletariat, as the logical conclusion of what has been set up by the bourgeoisie — is that it will lead to its own decay. The present State can only exist as a State created by the bourgeois class because it is imperfect; when the proletariat have brought to completion what the bourgeoisie began, then the State will have received an impulse in the right direction, that consists in its bringing about its own end.
That is the particular form of Lenin's thinking. Here you see in greater potency what is to be found already in Marx. The thought when developed comes to nothing. Lenin is, however, a very realistic thinker who, by reason of the historic course of events, has arrived at the conclusion that the State must be brought to fulfillment; so far it has not died because, not having come to full development, it has preserved its life-forces. When the proletariat have perfected it, the ground will have been prepared for its gradual disappearance.
Thus you see a conception that has been formed out of reality, and this conception has the tendency to extend its reality over a great part of eastern Europe. It is no mere conception; it passes over into reality. The proletarian says: You bourgeois have made this State arise; you have used it as an instrument for suppressing the proletariat; it is the State of a privileged class. It serves you for the suppression of the proletarian classes and owes to this its ability to live. Now the proletariat will arise, will do away with class rule and bring the State to full maturity; then the State will no longer be able to live, then it will die. — And something will arise that should arise, but as Lenin says, no one can tell what. Social ignorabimus — this is what comes of this socialism. It is very interesting; for the way of thinking that has grasped the social conception today has developed out of science, and as science from its one-sided standpoint has justly arrived at its ignorabimus ("we can know nothing"), socialistic thinking too has come to the socialistic ignorabimus. This connection should be duly recognized. Without all that is being taught at the good bourgeois universities about the scientific outlook on the world, there would be no socialism. Socialism is a child of the bourgeoisie; so too is bolshevism. There lies the deeper connection that must above all be understood.
Now that these forms of thought have been made clear, we are able to refer to important points in the kind of outlook of such a man as Lenin. He lays special weight, for example, on the fact that within the bourgeois State bureaucracy has developed — the military machine, as he calls it. This bureaucratic military machine has arisen because it is needed by the leading classes to suppress the proletarian classes. Bolshevism, the most advanced wing of socialism, is quite clear that it can only realize its aims through an armed proletariat. Without arms there would be no hope of this, as can be seen in the historic example of the French Commune, which could act only so long as those who were in power had arms. The moment they were disarmed they were powerless. That is one thing to be remembered — the organization of the proletariat as an armed force. And then what should be done with that? To some extent it is happening even now. It is supposed to teach us that many who have long been sleeping deeply should awake where social matters are concerned. And what should happen? Before all else, the State as a class government is to cease. What the bourgeoisie have founded as a class State is to be taken over by an armed labor force. Again it is interesting that in clear and plain terms those who have developed the form of modern socialistic thought, to a point amounting almost to genius, make evident what, through historical evolution, has been placed in the souls of the proletariat.
Lenin shows, for example, that instead of officials and a military hierarchy there would have to be a kind of managing body composed only of elected members. He further shows that in the present condition of things all the education needed for this State management would be what is given in ordinary schools. Lenin himself uses a remarkable expression which says much. He says that what today is called the State should be transformed into a great factory with public bookkeeping. To bring that about, to control it and so on, all that is needed would be the four rules of arithmetic, learnt at any ordinary school.
One should not just make fun of these things but see clearly how such an outlook is nothing but the final consequence of bourgeois evolution. Just as the modern social structure is given up entirely to economics, we have to own that capitalists, those who direct capital, mostly have no more in their heads than what Lenin asks of the modern overseer of labor.
Had there been men to whom the proletarian, as he has recently evolved, could have looked, in whose special capabilities he could have believed, and to whom he could have looked up as to certain justified authority, everything would have taken a different form. But there is no one of the kind to whom he can turn. He can look only to those who, when all is said and done, are no different in spiritual qualities from himself, but have only been before him in acquiring capital. He finds no difference between himself and those who are directing. That becomes evident in Lenin's words in a very theoretical form.
In Lenin's radical formulas it can be seen how things have gone. And this exclamation will undoubtedly be on the tip of your tongues: Yes, but such dreadful things come to light in all this, it is all horrible! — Nevertheless it is our duty to look squarely at the matter and to make a real effort to enter into men's thoughts. When what is happening here or there in the ranks of the more advanced socialists is reported, one may often meet with bourgeois indignation, which in many cases becomes bourgeois cowardice. For the urge to understand is not yet very great.
Now in any case the following must be understood: namely, what is in part already happening and what is still to happen. Lenin, who regards himself as a true Marxist, indicates how already through Marx a definite outlook on the recent and future evolution of the social ordering has been brought about. These people think that actually the new social formation must be accomplished in two phases. The first phase is when the proletariat take over the bourgeois State, which Lenin considers must, when matured, die a natural death. The proletariat will step in and bring to its end what, out of their own outlooks and impulses, they will have been able to make of the bourgeois State. According to Marx himself, it cannot at present lead to any desirable conditions. And in the sense of both Leninism and Marxism where will this first social stage lead? If we express it in a simple fashion, but as the people themselves would express it, it leads to this: that no man can eat who does not work, that everyone has special work to do and by virtue of this work has a claim to the articles essential to support life. The people are, however, quite clear that no possible equality between men would be promoted in this way, but that inequality would continue. Neither would a man receives thus the proceeds of his labor. Both Marx and Lenin have emphasized this. All that is necessary for schooling, for public services, and so on, must be withheld by the community, that is, by the State — or whatever we shall call what remains of the middle-class ordering of the world. According to this kind of socialism, Lasalle's old ideas of a right to the full proceeds from labor will naturally have to go by the board. No equality results from this either, for conditions bring it about that even those who do the same work have different claims to make on life. This socialism naturally accepts that, but again inequality is immediately created. In short, these socialists take the view that in the first phase the socialist order simply continues the bourgeois order, only this bourgeois order is run by the proletariat. How outspokenly Lenin expresses himself about it is of great interest. For example, in a passage of his work State and Revolution he says: Something like a bourgeois order, a bourgeois State, will arise, but without the bourgeoisie.
From these words of Lenin's, that a bourgeois State will be there without the bourgeoisie, you can see what I am always emphasizing and what I regard as particularly important: that is, that those who today are thinking on socialistic lines are only taking over the heritage of the bourgeoisie. Their thoughts are bourgeois thoughts. A man who has such a genius for putting his thoughts into form as Lenin says that the next phase will be a bourgeois State without the bourgeoisie, who will be either exterminated or made into a caste of servers. This will never bring equality, for it only means the proletariat coming to the fore and being elected instead of being nominated and decorated by something in the nature of a monarchy. The proletariat will govern and at the same time pass laws. It is still, however, the bourgeois State, but with no bourgeoisie.
This by no means produces an ideal condition. If anyone asks what these people will have made of the ordering of human society, Lenin will simply answer: we have promised you nothing more than a first phase, in which we shall carry to its final conclusion what you founded as a bourgeois State; but it is we who now run it, we as proletarians. Formerly you did it, now it is for us to do. We, however, shall run this bourgeois State that you have made without the bourgeoisie. Everyone will earn according to his labor, but inequality will still remain.
Lenin says that the bourgeois State without the bourgeoisie will lead to the dying-out of the State. It will be completely extinct when the community has once realized the ordering considered as the ideal, and when an end will have been made of the narrow concept of justice held by the middle-class, where, with the hard-heartedness of a Shylock, account is taken as to whether one man has worked a half-hour less or been paid more than another. This narrow outlook will be overcome only at the end of the first phase. Until then the Shylock attitude of the bourgeoisie State will persist and naturally become intensified. Thus it will prevail during the first phase of socialists.
Here you have all that these people promise to begin with: What you made for your caste, we will use for the proletariat. It is nonsense to speak of democracy, for democracy would lead merely to the suppression of the minority. The proletariat will do the same as you have done. But by doing so it will bring to an end everything to which you gave a semblance of life. Then only can the second phase come.
Karl Marx already alluded to this second phase; Lenin has done so also but in a remarkable way. I consider it most important to bear this in mind. Marx in the person of Lenin says: We will drive the bourgeois order to its logical conclusion, then what is now the State will die out and the people will have become used to no longer needing a constitutional State, or any form of State; it will just cease. Everything the State has to do will have ceased to be necessary. The age will then be past in which wages are paid in accordance with the principle that whoever does not work may not eat. That is just the first phase of socialism. The time will then come when everyone will be able to live according to his capacities and his needs, and not according to the work he does. That will be the higher stage, to which everything now striven for is merely a preparation. When it is no longer asked exactly how long a man has worked, the time will have come when the value of spiritual work and the work of the artist will be rightly assessed; each man will find his right place in the social order: that is, in accordance with Nature, each out of his own capacities will not only be able but also willing to work. For through the civilizing influence of the first phase, men will have become accustomed to regard work not as a mere necessity but as something they feel the urge to do. Thus everyone will receive his livelihood according to his needs. The middle-class ordering of rights in the spirit of Shylock will no longer be needed, nor the question whether a half hour more or less has been worked; it will be seen that whoever has a certain piece of work to do may perhaps need to work two whole hours less. In short, everyone will work according to his capacities and be maintained according to his needs. That is the higher order. The intermediate stages needed at present — because the bourgeois State, in order to perish, must go on developing — lead to conditions in which people on the one hand say: Ignorabimus, we do not know, and on the other hand affirm that these conditions would bring about a second, higher, stage of socialism.
What Lenin says about this higher phase of socialism is most interesting. He calls it ignorance to maintain the possibility of people, as they are today, being able to realize a social order in which everyone could live according to his capacities and needs. For it does not occur to anyone who is a socialist to promise that the more highly developed phase of communism is bound to come about. Those times foreseen by the great socialists presuppose a productivity and a race of men far removed from those of today, far removed from present-day man, who is calmly capable of stealing underclothing and who cries for the moon. This is extraordinarily significant. We have a first phase: socialism with present-day man, and the logical end of the bourgeois world-order, of the State that dies by reason of its inherent qualities. We have a higher phase with people who will have become quite different from what they are today, in effect a new race.
You see here the ideal in abstraction. First the bourgeois order will come to an end by developing into what is absurd. The State will thus be brought to an end, and through this process a new human race will be bred, the members of which will be accustomed to work according to their capacities and live according to their needs. Then it will be impossible for anyone to steal because, just as today the respectable rebel when some lady is insulted, then, the respectable will rebel of themselves. No military or bureaucratic caste will be needed to interfere, and so on and so forth. And upon what is this belief based? On the superstitious belief in the economic order! Capitalism, for its part, has produced an economic order with only an ideology and no spiritual life as counterbalance. This state of things the socialists want to carry to extremes. Away with everything except the economic life! Then they think this will produce a different race of men.
It is most important to be alive to this superstition where the economic life is concerned. For today, in accordance with all this, a tremendous number of people imagine that when the economic life, in their sense, will have been set up, then not only will a desirable social order arise, but even a new human race will be bred — a race fitted for this desirable social order.
All this is the modern form of superstition, which is unable to accept the standpoint that behind all external economic and materialistic actuality there lies the spiritual with its impulses. And men must receive this as something spiritual. What I have been referring to is a misunderstanding of the spiritual. If mankind is to be healed, this is possible only by spiritual means, by men receiving into themselves spiritual impulses as spiritual knowledge — as social thinking and social feeling established on the foundations of Spiritual Science. The new man will never be brought forth through economic evolution, but entirely from within outwards. For that, the spiritual life must be free and independent. A spiritual life as developed during recent centuries, formerly chained to the financial State as now to the economic, will never be able really to create the new man.
For this reason, on the one hand freedom in the life of spirit must be striven for by giving this spiritual life its own department. On the other hand there must be an effort to guide the economic life purely as such, so that the State, which has to do only with the relation of man to man, should not be concerned with economy. For the economic life will use up anything that presses into its sphere. In so far as man stands within the economic life he too will be used, and he must continually be rescuing himself from this fate. He will be able to do so when he sets up an appropriate relation between man and man, and that is brought about in a rightly organized State. Unbiased observation of things as they are today enables us to say that what is fundamental in the impulses developed by the modern social movement is that these impulses are full of a thinking that leads to nothing. Just picture this to yourselves! Anyone properly applying this kind of thought would argue in the following way: I want to think out the most perfect form of modern educational method. I come to see that human beings must be so instructed that they absorb as much as possible of the principle of death, so that when they come to maturity they may begin at once to die. That thought if really grasped would nullify itself. But take Lenin's thoughts about the State: as soon as it is matured it prepares to die. Thus you see that modern thinking can arrive at nothing productive, nothing fruitful, nothing for the spiritual life. For the spiritual life has become a mere ideology, only surrounded by thoughts, or natural laws which are themselves just thoughts, and because of this, because the spiritual life is at the mercy of the economic life or of the political life, it has become unfruitful. This has been made particularly evident by the war catastrophe. Just consider how much depended upon this spiritual life. And everywhere on Earth, in the most dreadful way, its fetters have been shown.
And now consider the sphere of the life of the State. The socialists, thinking to their logical conclusion the half-thoughts of the middle-class, think out a State with the peculiar characteristic of bringing about its own death. And in the sphere of economic life everyone indulges in the worn-out superstition that this economic life — that in reality consumes life, for which reason the other two departments are necessary to help the economy too to keep its place — that this economic life will bring forth a new human race.
In no sphere has modern thinking succeeded in arriving at anything capable of producing conditions for a prosperous life. But what is sought on the grounds of Spiritual Science in this domain is to shape conditions worthy of life out of those deserving death. Then, however, it will not be enough — as many hope and as here and there it has already been done — that those who were formerly the underlings should now be supreme, and those formerly supreme the underlings. Those now underlings, when at the top thought in reactionary terms, bourgeois terms; those now supreme think socialistically. But the form of the thoughts is fundamentally the same. For it is not a question of what one thinks but of how one thinks. Once this is understood it gives the initial impulse toward understanding the threefold nature of the social organism, which enters right into reality and has to do with all that must develop as a healthy social organism. The most important thing for these times must be produced out of anthroposophical knowledge, and we must guard ourselves from misunderstanding this most deeply serious and significant side of our Anthroposophical Movement. But we do misunderstand it when we allow ourselves, especially in this sphere of Anthroposophy, to be carried away by any kind of sectarianism. Everyone should take counsel with himself concerning the question: How much sectarianism is there still in me? For the modern human Movement must aim at driving out everything sectarian, at not being sectarian, at not being abstract but interested in humanity, at not having a narrow but a broad outlook. In so far as, from a certain side, our Movement has grown out of the Theosophical Movement, it retains the seeds of sectarianism. These seeds must be crushed. What is sectarian must be cast out. Above everything there is need for wide horizons and an unprejudiced contemplation of reality.
I said recently that those who cut out coupons must clearly realize that in the cut-out coupons there lies the labor power of men, and that in so far as human labor power is enslaved by the capitalist economic order, the cutter of coupons is taking part in this enslavement. The answer to this should not be “How shocking”, or anything of that kind, for “How shocking” is dreadfully theoretical and something that can easily land one in modern sectarian tendencies. I have often put this in another way: people hear of Lucifer and Ahriman and say to themselves: keep well out of the way; have nothing to do with Lucifer and Ahriman; I'll stand fast by God: — To deal with the matter in this abstract manner is to be only the more deeply drawn into the toils of Lucifer and Ahriman. We must have the sincerity and honesty to acknowledge that we are part of the present social process, from which we do not escape by deceiving ourselves. We should instead do our utmost to make it more healthy. At the present stage of mankind's development, the individual cannot help all this; but he can play his part in cooperating with his unfortunate fellowmen. Today it is not a matter of saying: be a good fellow, nor of sitting down to send out thoughts of universal love, and so on. The important thing is that being within this social process, we should come to an understanding with ourselves, and develop the capacity of even being bad with the bad — not that it is a good thing to be bad, but because a social order that is due to be overthrown forces the individual to live thus. We should not wish to live in the illusion that we are good and splendid, priding ourselves that we are better than others, but we should recognize that we are part of the social order and not be deceived about it. The less we give way to illusion, the greater will be the impulse to work for what will lead to the salvation of the social organism, to strive to acquire capacities, and to awaken from the deep sleep of present-day humanity. Nothing can help here save the possible recourse to the energetic and penetrating thinking given by Spiritual Science, which may be contrasted with the feeble, lazy, and half-hearted thinking of present-day official science.
This makes me think of how, eighteen or nineteen years ago, speaking at the Working Men's Club at Berlin, I said that science today is a bourgeois science and that it must evolve by freeing thinking, freeing knowledge, from the bourgeois element. The leaders of the proletariat today do not understand this, being convinced the bourgeois science they have adopted is something absolute — that what is true is true. Socialists do not consider how it all is connected with bourgeois development. They talk of the impulses, the emotions, of the proletariat, but their thinking is entirely bourgeois. Certainly many of you will say at this point: All the same, what is true is true! Indeed a certain amount of the truths, let us say, of chemistry, physics, mathematics is of course true and these truths cannot be true either in a bourgeois sense or a proletarian sense. The theorem of Pythagoras is most certainly not true in a bourgeois sense or in a proletarian sense, but simply true. This however is not the point: the point is that the truths enclose a certain field; if one remains in this field what is contained within it can certainly be truths, but they are truths that are useful, convenient, and suitable just for middle-class circles, whereas outside are many other truths which can also be known but remain unnoticed by the bourgeoisie. Thus, the point is not that the truths of chemistry and mathematics are true but that there exist besides other truths able to throw on the former the right light, and then a quite different shade of meaning is revealed. Then knowledge is given a wider scientific horizon than is possible for the bourgeoisie to give. It is not whether these matters are true or not, but how much truth man wants. And the whole affair is colored by the quality of the truth. Certainly the professors of chemistry at the universities will not be able to make any remarkable sudden transitions, for in the laboratory it is he who has the knowledge about things and he knows that he is the last to do the thinking: that is done by the method. But as soon as this same thinking passes over into history, or into the history of literature, into all that men rescue from the economic life and bring into a sphere worthy of human beings, it immediately becomes free. History as we now have it is nothing but a middle-class fiction, as are philosophy and the other sciences. People, however, have no idea of this and accept it all as objective knowledge.
A healthy life can only take root when scientific research is given back its autonomy, in short, when the threefold order of which I have so often spoken is established.
I have here to add a small correction. Recently, in drawing your attention to the German Committee formed for our Appeal, I mentioned that Dr. Boos, Herr Molt, and Herr Kühn had formed it. I have been notified that in Stuttgart our friend Dr. Unger is working with it in an essential way. This ought not to be forgotten.
Today I have been trying to throw light for you on things of contemporary history. I have it very much at heart that our friends should try to go more deeply into the social problem from the standpoint of Spiritual Science. You have the basis for an understanding of this social problem, and this understanding is what is of most importance. Whoever looks into present-day history will not imagine that we can hope for success in the Appeal, and all connected with it, in the course of a few days. The lectures given in Zurich, extended and supplemented by certain definite questions, will shortly appear in book-form, so that the details of what is in the Appeal can be had in a few concise sentences. [The Threefold Commonwealth]
The next thing will be for the movements today devouring the social organism to be brought to the point of absurdity. These must first develop, however, into complete helplessness and calamity. But, at the right time, something must be ready which can be grasped when what is old has reached this point. Therefore it is so infinitely important that when once these impulses are taken to your hearts they should not be allowed to cool, but that each of you should help, as far as he is able, to bring about what must of necessity happen.