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Rudolf Steiner, Racism, Nazis & why Anthroposophy doesn’t grow up

August 24, 2015

Anthroposophy was developed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) in the early part of last century. It is best known for Waldorf Schools and Biodynamic farming. I studied it quite deeply for several years in my youth. I read a mountain of books, attended training courses and a national conference, and taught at their schools. (This was in the late 1980s and early 90s.) I seriously considered a career as a teacher in the Waldorf School system, and became a member of the Anthroposophical Society. I even went to their head quarters in Switzerland, a visit I still happily remember.

Goetheanum_im_Winter_von_Südwesten2The Goetheanum: designed by Rudolf Steiner

Several things troubled me however, most especially that some aspects of Anthroposophy appeared surprisingly racist. I put up with it for a while, believing that it only sounded racist because of the culture Steiner came from. My tolerance level was also raised because, as I was frequently told, the Nazis had closed the Waldorf schools. I accepted the implication that Anthroposophy must be the very antithesis of Nazism.

It is indeed true that Waldorf schools in Germany were ordered to close by Heinrich Himmler. But here’s a word of advice to Anthroposophists: if you tell people that your movement was persecuted by the Nazis, you also need to tell the rest of the story. Like the fact that Rudolf Hess supported Anthroposophy and wanted to keep the schools open. Why wasn’t I told that?

And why wasn’t I told that although Himmler didn’t like the schools, he did like Biodynamic agriculture? Even more importantly there was a Biodynamic farm at Dachau concentration camp. Weleda, (the Anthroposophical company well known today for cosmetics), provided doctors at Dachau with chemical supplies for experiments on prisoners. But I never heard anything about that when I was told about the closing of the schools.

[CORRECTION: it was SS Chief Reinhard Heydrich, not Himmler, who closed Waldorf Schools (in 1938 and 1941).]

When I was studying Anthroposophy, I bought two large books by the prominent Anthroposophist and contemporary of Steiner, Günther Wachsmuth. I referred to them regularly. One was called Reincarnation as a Phenomenon of Metamorphosis. Anything with that many syllables in such a short space, I thought, must be worth reading. Even though this was long ago, imagine how I felt recently when I found out he was a Nazi sympathizer. I am not happy about this.

I don’t think that Rudolf Steiner was especially racist by temperament. The impression I got from his writings was that he was a sincere, intelligent and generally decent fellow — just like most of the Anthroposophists I’ve known. But that is really my point. How did you guys wind up holding views that look distinctly racist? And why conceal your movement’s involvement with the Nazis, while pretending it was singled out for persecution? There would have been time for an extra sentence or two. Believe it or not you guys, people generally find the Nazis quite an interesting topic of conversation. It wasn’t me who cut the conversation short.

Had this been dealt with honestly and transparently by the Anthroposophical movement, they would not look as bad as they do to me now.

Sadly, Anthroposophy is largely based on the idea of a hierarchy of races. This is of course inherently and inevitably racist. It is the kind of ideology that has been utterly smashed to pieces by modern genetics. There may be a biological meaning for the term “race”, but there is no biological basis for constructing any kind of evolutionary racial hierarchy.

Anthroposophy, however, teaches that there is a spiritual basis for such a hierarchy. And guess which race is at the top…. And guess which spiritual movement is at the top of the top! Correct. This is where Anthroposophists get that sense of entitlement and superiority from. As they see it, anyone who finds their ideas racist doesn’t understand Anthroposophy and can safely be looked down their noses upon.

But this snootiness is unmasked as hubris as soon as the rest of the Nazi story comes out. Sure, involvement with the Nazis doesn’t automatically imply complicity, and there is no place here for guilt by mere association. But like it or not, it means that questions must be answered.

Usually their first answer is to snootily say that there are important distinctions between Steiner’s racial concepts and those of the Nazis. This site (in German) uses a typical and archetypically Anthroposophical piece of evasion:

“Steiner’s concept of race arises from a completely different motivation from that of fascism. While the National Socialist concept of race is derived from the materialistic evolutionary theory of Darwin, Steiner does not see “Root Races” as an ethnic category, rather as phases of human development over periods of thousands of years.” (My translation. See footnote *1 for original passage.)

Anthroposophy they say, is derived from spiritual sources and is therefore qualitatively different to Nazism. Instead they blame Nazi ideology on “materialistic science”, and in particular Charles Darwin.

This is a nice deflection, but it’s factually wrong. The idea of a divinely ordained “natural” hierarchy is exactly the kind of thinking that Darwin destroyed. And eugenics is based not on natural selection, but on artificial selection, which farmers have practiced for thousands of years. Furthermore, Darwinian survival of the fittest means survival of the best adapted to a particular habitat — not the “fittest” according to some absolute standard of superiority — as it is in Nazi race theory….

……..And as it is in Anthroposophical race theory.

The critic Peter Staudenmaier points to the problem that the authors of the above quote evade. He notes a book in which “Steiner prints a diagram showing Africa on the bottom, Asia in the middle, and Europe on top… Steiner explains that the “Negro race” is tied to humanity’s childhood, “the yellow and brown races” to adolescence, and Europeans to adulthood and maturity.”

Staudenmaier continues:

Steiner then insists that this racially stratified hierarchy “is simply a universal law” and indeed a product of inescapable destiny: “The forces which determine man’s racial character follow this cosmic pattern. The American Indians died out, not because of European persecutions, but because they were destined to succumb to those forces which hastened their extinction.”

This is where the trouble really starts for Anthroposophists. We are wading into seriously racist esoteric waters here. And yes, Steiner’s ideas can be distinguished from Nazism, but not in any way that alters their inherently racist character.

The Nazis see the Aryan Race as bring permanently at the top of a racial pyramid. Steiner envisaged more of a rotational system, with certain cultures flourishing in certain epochs, and then subsiding. Currently the Arayan Race is on top, but this will change eventually.

This is indeed a less racist system than that of the Nazis. Congratulations.

Anthroposophists are happy to explain this further: individual souls are not even bound to reincarnate only into one race. Well developed souls can make the jump into an ascending race. While the more backward souls stay where they are……. In the backward races…..

Welcome back to the suspiciously racist-sounding racial hierarchy.

Steiner:

You might now be inclined to say: Is it not an extremely bitter thought that whole peoples remain immature and do not develop their capacities; that only a small group becomes capable of providing the germ for the next civilization? This thought will no longer disquiet you if you distinguish between race development and individual soul-development, for no soul is condemned to remain in one particular race.

The race may fall behind; the community of people may remain backward, but the souls progress beyond the several races…. No soul is bound to a backward body if it does not bind itself to it. (Quoted by Staudenmaier)

Anthroposophists argue that in the current epoch, humanity is developing the soul quality of the “I am”. Or rather, the Aryan Race is developing the “I am”, under the guidance of the Archangel Michael. Individual blacks might possibly have developed their “I am” as much as some whiteys, but the black race as a whole is kind of, well, you know….

….And anyway, it’s simply a fact. It can’t be racist if it’s a fact….

And that is their best shot at a defense — if Steiner’s claims are true, then Anthroposophy is not a racist ideology.

Steiner:

Those people, however, who had developed their [“I am”] too little, and who were too exposed to the influences of the sun, were like plants: they deposited too many carbonic constituents beneath their skin and became black. This is why the Negroes are black. Thus both east of Atlantis in the black population and west of Atlantis in the red population we find survivors of the kind of people who had not developed their ego-feeling in a normal way. The human beings who had developed normally lent themselves best to progress. (Quoted by Staudenmaier)

To put this more clearly: Steiner is saying that black people are not inferior because their skin is black; but rather, that they are black because they are inferior. (Update: If you doubt that people still believe this, just read through the comments section below!)

In the 1990s, those Anthroposophists who were concerned about this apparent racism were sometimes confronted by gloating traditionalists, claiming to have new proof of Steiner’s race theories. The fallen ancient Lemurian Race, known to materialistic scientists as the Australian Aborigines, have indeed become decadent, they claimed, and will soon die out. The Aborigines even say so themselves!

It was all in written in a book by an American woman who said she had been contacted by the surviving members of the last tribe of True Aborigines. They know that their time on earth has passed, and they are pleased that they fulfilled their spiritual role. They have chosen to die out through voluntary celibacy. Soon there will be no True Aborigines left, as the urbanized tribes have become decadent and lost their racial purity.

This book, Marlo Morgan’s Mutant Message Down Under, is still referred to today by many Anthroposophists, especially in Germany. But the only thing the book is good for is detecting closet racists. Its author never met any lost tribe, and was never even in the desert. In fact she was working in a pharmacy in Brisbane at the time her story supposedly took place. The only Aborigines she met were the ones who confronted her after her book was published, demanding she withdraw the book and admit the hoax.

Australian Aborigines have survived more than 200 years of genocide. International support is a vital part of their continued survival, and Marlo Morgan has cashed in on the world wide respect and interest they have earned. But according to Marlo Morgan, they are not true Aborigines. And according to Anthroposophy, their time has passed and their extinction is inevitable.

And according to me, if you still believe any of that, you make me sick.

And you’re fucking wrong.

Ultimately, Anthroposophy hits the same wall that any religious ideology hits. There is no evidence whatsoever for any of its supernatural claims. (And sorry, but studiously interpreting everything according to Anthroposophical concepts doesn’t count as evidence.) The fact that these claims are based on an outdated racist ideology akin to Nazism just makes it hit that wall a bit harder.

There is an interesting exchange of articles between the afore mentioned Peter Staudenmaier and Anthroposophist Peter Waage. (See footnote *2 for links.) Waage confronts some issues that Anthroposophists usually sidestep, and he makes an interesting concession. Referring to a list of Steiner’s most embarrassingly racist statements (like how pregnant women shouldn’t read books by negroes or they’ll have mulatto kids), he admits that Steiner said some things that are so ridiculous that they “smell more like beer joints than spiritual insight.”

This is the kind of admission I would like to see more often from Anthroposophists. 

Waage continues:

Staudenmaier writes, “Today anthroposophists often try to excuse or explain away such hair-raising statements by claiming that Steiner was only a product of his time.” He [Staudenmaier] doesn’t find this very convincing, among other things because Steiner claimed a unique degree of spiritual clairvoyance. With the substantial reservations I have made plain in this article, I must say that I am in agreement with Staudenmaier here. Although it only concerns an infinitesimal portion of his works, and although Steiner cannot be called a racist, such utterances about people with a different complexion cannot possibly be synchronized with the intention of possessing the degree of spirituality and insight that Steiner is doing. [emphasis added]

This is a welcome exception to the rule of snootiness and denial. But it appears near the end of an article that is otherwise typically snooty and denially.

Furthermore, Waage uses this concession to disguise his evasion of a more important point. These weren’t just racist outbursts in a beer hall that got picked up by a stray stenographer. And they don’t merely concern an “infinitesimal portion” of his ideas. They came straight out of the foundational concepts of Anthroposophy. Excising them from the canon is not like removing a wart. It’s more like smashing down one of the central pillars.

Waage does not explore what led Steiner to make such “errors”. Nor does he admit that they follow just as logically from the fundamental concepts of Anthroposophy as anything else he said.

A final ploy is to argue that the movement has done good work against racism. Waldorf Schools in South Africa apparently opposed Apartheid. Waage argues that:

it is the Waldorf schools with blacks and whites in the same classroom during the apartheid years that represent the anthroposophical movement; not the anthroposophists who happened to sympathize with Nazism – nor Nazis with anthroposophical sympathies.

This is all praiseworthy, but it doesn’t deal with the problem of racist ideology. It just shows that some schools are smart enough to ignore Steiner’s basic teachings

Waage also ignores them, but he goes further. He tips a whole bucket of whitewash on the issue — anthroposophists who happened to sympathize with Nazism”???? As if it’s the merest coincidence!

To quote Steiner:

If one national civilization spreads more readily, and has greater spiritual fertility than another, then it is quite right that it should spread.

…Again, this by itself is not Nazism, nor anything close to it. But it makes it quite easy to see why a significant number of leading Anthroposophistshappened to sympathize with Nazism.”

I will note another parallel — to Social Darwinism. This is a kind of  “survival of the spiritually fittest” through “spiritual selection” where victory demonstrates greater “spiritual fertility” — just as in Social Darwinism only with even less evidence and a bit crazier. The victor’s crimes are excused of course, not as nature’s law but as Spirit’s law: the “backward races” would have died out anyway.

Wanna know what I think?

I think it is indeed possible to be spiritually backward and have an under-developed soul. And just like the racist in the pub, it’s unlikely that those afflicted will realize it.

Posted by Yakaru

Footnotes
*1 original passage:
“Der Rassenbegriff Steiners ist nach Ansicht seiner Vertreter gegenüber dem des faschistischen Rassismus grundlegend anders motiviert. Während der Rassenbegriff des Nationalsozialismus aus der materialistischen Evolutionstheorie Darwins abgeleitet ist, verstehe Steiner die “Wurzelrassen” nicht als ethnische Zuordnung, sondern als in große Zeitepochen von mehreren tausend Jahren einzuordnende menschliche Entwicklungsstadien.”

*2 Exchange of articles:
Anthroposophy and Ecofascism, by Peter Staudenmaier (revised 2008)
Humanism and Polemical Populism, by Peter Norman Waage
Anthroposophy and its Defenders, by Peter Staudenmaier and Peter Zegers

*Regarding genetics and racism, see this negative review of a book proposing a genetic basis for cultural differences (already linked in the text above).

*Update: As mentioned in the comments — another relevant article (includes more quotes from Steiner and various attempts at retractions from schools):
The Myth of the Top of the Tree Evolving Along Hierarchical Races

*Update: A commenter provided a link to a news article in German about BD Agriculture in Dachau Concentration Camp, and kindly translated the opening paragraphs.

*Another Update, 21.7.17 — I have added a correction to the text, noting that it was not Himmler who “closed the schools” as I clumsily stated, but rather a subordinate of his in the SS, Reinhard Heydrich. As well as correcting me on this, commenter Tom Mellet also provided some important details that I would have included in the text, had I known of them earlier:

There were nine Waldorf schools in Germany in 1933, with several thousands pupils. The only Waldorf schools that were actually closed by the Nazi authorities were the Stuttgart school in 1938 and the Dresden school in 1941. The remaining schools closed between 1938 and 1941 for a variety of reasons, in some cases including harassment and obstruction by some Nazi officials. A faction of the Nazis was flatly opposed to anthroposophy and Waldorf all along, and this faction eventually won the upper hand in mid-1941.

— Dr Staudenmaier

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59 comments

  1. Very interesting article. Thanks for writing it.

    Coincidentally enough, we ourselves published an article on Steiner and his ideas on race practically at the same time as yours: http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/Race.html


  2. Thanks!
    I’ve added a footnote with a link to your article.

    The statements from the various schools reflects my own experience too. They refuse to admit that Steiner was factually wrong and talking rubbish, merely that the statements were “unfortunate”. The more I read of this, the more I suspect that their refusal to deal honestly with this issue is itself a product of an implicit belief in their own superiority — as reflected, perhaps, in the incidents described here–
    http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/NZ-TRWS.html


  3. Yes the incidents at Te Ra were horrendous, especially when all these parents wanted were simple answers to their questions. It happened to us too – and was the reason we started The Steinermentary Project in the first place. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t part of a group. It was just us two with three little children, but we suffered the same vilification, ostracisation, and smears in the local area. All from a “kinder, gentler” community…

    Our personal story is chronicled here: http://www.titirangisteinermessenger.com


  4. I did some teaching in a couple of Steiner schools in Australia, mostly filling in short term. One parent was pleased when she saw me stopping kids from bullying her son. She said that whenever she had complained to the previous teacher he had said her son “should toughen up”.

    Having read your story and some of the testimonials, I suppose that won’t surprise you to hear that. Being pushed and repeatedly held under water? Being left unsupervised in the bush with a known bully and threatened with an axe??? And then expelled for complaining?

    I am glad you stood up to these people and glad that Human Rights Commission stepped in.


  5. Thanks, and yet you wouldn’t believe the number of people who have said that our kids’ expulsions had nothing to do with Steiner’s pedagogy and belief in karma, but everything to do with us, the kids’ parents and our behaviour.


  6. I taught in a lot of schools, but it’s only in Steiner schools that I’ve seen or heard of bullying being treated, essentially, as part of the curriculum. Sticks and stones will stimulate the development of the etheric body…

    I don’t know why they deny it or think the accusation is outlandish. They happily admit to believing that deadly childhood illnesses are a great thing for the soul’s development.


  7. An excellent piece. Steiner advocates seem to have no desire to accept that their philosophy is fundamentally racist and have no open and rational system capable of modernizing their dogma. Once one knows about their core beliefs, it’s impossible to feel completely safe in their company – not that one thinks they might use violence but that they will be secretly assessing one’s worth compared to the Aryan ideal or even making such assessments subconsciously.


  8. “I don’t know why they deny it or think the accusation is outlandish. They happily admit to believing that deadly childhood illnesses are a great thing for the soul’s development.”

    In our experience they’re not open about that either, officially claiming it’s up to the individual family’s choice. We had to do some digging ourselves to find the reasons behind it all:

    http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/Vaccination.html

    But there are a lot of anti-vax people out there so attracting them makes good business sense. But it’s doubtful those very same families would be open to having the staff let their kids be bullied because they were seen to have been bullies in a former life.

    Oh and those blaming us for our kids’ expulsion and smearing us to all and sundry wasn’t done solely by Steiner advocates. It’s all too easy to attack the victims or the parents of victims who advocate for them, isn’t it.


  9. @Nick Nakorn,
    Yes– it’s fundamentally disrespectful to assume that autistic people “withdrew from life” before they were born, and all the other entirely bogus ways of categorizing human beings. I notice your site that you’ve been energetically (um, wrong word I guess!) opposing Steinerist nonsense in the media. I realize I should have used the term “systemic racism”.

    @Steinermentary,
    I’ve only experienced Steiner schools as a teacher from the inside, and also from a very anti-vax comminity in Australia (which coincidentally also leads the country in measles and chicken pox), so I probably overestimate their general openness/pride about that. I was always aware, however, of the duplicitous way the philosophy was presented to the public — always justified with teh idea that the public “isn’t ready” to hear the higher truths.

    They also claim that they don’t teach anthroposophy to the kids, but what they fail to realise is that the entire Steiner curriculum is based on the assumption that anthroposophy is factually true. So they teach about various historical epochs with the assumption that children recapitulate the “evolution of consciousness” in their individual growth — which (as you know, of course), rests squarely on racist beliefs.

    As a teacher and (currently) social worker, I am well aware of how frequently parents get upset over minor problems and want someone to blame for their major problems… But I am stunned that anyone would read your case and *not* realise that drowning and axe-wielding are indeed legitimate causes for concern! Some people just have trips with authority, and for some reason, authority is something Steinerists are surprisingly good at playing at!


  10. Stunned you may be, as we were, but how about this: once we settled with the school through human rights, and the school finally admitted that our child’s accounts of bullying were honest (ie that the attacks as described by her took place), they then published on their website an “open letter” going against everything they signed in the human rights settlement, and once again, casting doubt on our daughter’s accounts of the horrendous bullying she endured, claiming that there was no evidence for any of it.

    The people who attacked us and said what happened at the school was all our fault, then said that that “open letter” was the “truth” as opposed to what the school agreed to sign through human rights, and further “evidence” to keep attacking us.


  11. Hitler’s own disdaining remarks regarding Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophists appeared as early as 1921. [See Note 1] By spring of 1933, articles criticizing the movement began appearing more frequently in National Socialist newspapers. By summer of that year, Steiner’s books were banned from public libraries in Bavaria, and study groups and branches of the Anthroposophical Society, along with other cultural organizations, were ordered to submit to National Socialistic leadership. — YOUR PROPAGANDA ANT WORKING ON ME YOU DAFTY- Regards from Scotland but your spouting mince !!


  12. Go back and read the post you idiot – I already noted Nazi opposition and the closing of the schools. If you wish to comment again please say something relevant to the points I raised.

    And if you are going to insult me, at least learn how to use an apostrophe.


  13. Hmmmm…. I thought the ultimate aim was to overcome rascism and also and be aware we are all in this boat together. It is early days for Anthroposophy to manifest in it’s true endeavour. Greetings!


  14. @annonaeo
    I’m sorry, I have no idea what you are doing with that comment. You link your name to an anthroposophical website with no posts at all, and leave a comment that sounds like it was intended to mean something.

    I will note you down as an arrogant anthroposophist who wants to announce their superiority and is not troubled by accusations of racism.

    You’ve had well over 100 years to “manifest your true endeavour”, and you’re still clinging on to eighteenth century racist dogma.


  15. Hi Yakaru,

    I came across your blog after a Steiner Facebook article where FB recommends related sites. I’m glad to see it but I’m puzzled why you haven’t updated all your Staudenmaier stuff. His Ecofascism article is 16 years old now and in 2010 he got his PhD at Cornell with a dissertation on Anthroposophy during the Nazi time. He’s given me permission to send it out as a PDF for free to anyone who asks for it.

    Send me your email address if you’re interested.

    I have more Steiner race goodies for you.

    Best regards,

    Tom Mellett
    Los Angeles, CA


  16. Hello Yakaru,

    I translated the opening paragraphs of a feature article that appeared in Frankfurt’s main newspaper, the FAZ, almost 3 years ago. The photograph shows the ruins of a greenhouse that used to be part of the thriving Bio-Dynamic Plantation at Dachau Concentration Camp that was created and supervised by an ardent Nazi follower of B-D practices, Heinrich Himmler.

    http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/menschen-wirtschaft/ernaehrung-im-nationalsozialismus-heil-kraeuter-12561165.html

    Nazi Nutrition: “HEIL, HERBS!”

    By Jan Grossarth
    
Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung
 (FAZ)
    September 13, 2013

    translated by Tom Mellett

    80 years ago, the Nazi regime created the Reichsnährstand (RNS) = The Reich Food Estate. Here the farmer became esoteric and whole-grain bread became a political issue — and German careers took their course.
    ———–

    “Heinrich Himmler liked to visit the Dachau plantation and made sure everything was going well there. He would ask his SS brothers if ‘alles war in Ordnung’ in the bio-dynamic herb garden. And everything was always in the very best of order: There were gladiolas, thyme and savory sprouting in long lines facing the sun. The bio-dynamic herb garden was located right outside the Dachau concentration camp.

    Many hundreds of prisoners, who were herded there every morning as slave labor, would bring in wheelbarrows filled with bags of organic medicinal herbs into the field — and later wheel back the emaciated corpses of prisoners who did not survive the workday.

    Today the plantation is in disrepair. The glass panes of the greenhouses are broken, irrigation pipes are rusted through, and the herb beds are now overgrown. This locale north of Munich is a macabre relic of Nazi nutrition policy. Cow horns were ground up here, moon phases were studied, and the SS leader Heinrich Himmler himself was devoted to esotericism and to Steiner’s agriculture with all its unconventional recipes.

    From this SS-owned plantation, black pepper would be shipped to the Eastern Front while other herbs were used for human experiments with homeopathic medicines. Merck, the pharmaceutical company, ordered rose-hips, and the citizens of Dachau shopped at the farm store. Here the co-existence of genocide and unprecedented state health care was simply taken for granted. 

    It is a baffling relic. Himmler’s greenhouses leave as many questions as shards of glass: Why were the Nazis occupied, not only — as is widely known — with hallucinated enemies, weapons and contours of the cranium, but also with basil? Why was it so important to them what people ate? — [Just like today, Nazi] food was regional, organic, seasonal, unprocessed, rich in vitamins and low in meat, produced by rural farms, free from pesticides, whatever anyone could wish for. . . . ” 

    ————-
    PHOTO CAPTION: Grass grows over the plantation in Dachau, where the Nazi dictatorship had cultivated medicinal herbs.
    ===================


  17. Black people hold a lesser
    Intellectual development. And Aryana have seemed to developed further understanding of the I AM.
    This says a great deal about the spirits and highers are working with us, we must endeavour to steer mankind towards the Christ I Am


  18. Hi Tom,
    I’d be very interested in new work from Dr Staudenmaier. (My email is yakaru @gmail.com)

    Thanks for linking to and even translating part of that utterly horrifying article. I will write some more on this soon. I am really quite shocked by all this.


  19. @Rooshic,
    I assume you are not a Poe, and *not* being ironic with that incoherent attempt at commenting. Irony is way beyond the capacities of literal-minded religious fanatics like you.

    I thought briefly about deleting your comment because it’s against my comment policy to allow racist insults, but instead I will leave it up — that’s a much more effective way of demonstrating the semi-literate absurdity of white supremacism.

    At least you won’t be bothering womankind with your incoherent ranting.


  20. So true what you say. Steiner schools claim not to be religious but they are fundamentalist in their beliefs.


  21. Just came upon this rather accidentally but really appreciate your posting it, and documenting your positions. I didn’t send my kids to Waldorf, much of it seemed wonderful, but somehow, just a little too wonderful. I didn’t investigate it fully, but somehow the material you’ve posted confirms my concerns. I know great folks whose kids are in Waldorf — hopefully they can candidly and courageously throw out that which is rotten and retain that which is good.


  22. Thanks for your comment!

    There is plenty that is praiseworthy among Steiner’s ideas and his followers could have contributed something to educational practice, in my opinion. But they make the same mistakes that all literal-minded religious believers make — refuse to accept the possibility that their holy man was not divinely inspired and that the obvious mistakes he made were indeed mistakes; which in turn leads to the bigger problem of those who think they have inside information to the workings of the universe getting bloated egos and becoming authoritarian.

    The pattern of authoritarian teachers bullying parents has the same origin as their failure to deal with their own racism. As always, literalism leads directly to authoritarianism.


  23. What is believed in such worldviews is that there are “greater forces” at work in the world, creating wars, migrations, mass rapes, disease, drought, etc. for the purpose of “purifying the souls of humanity” (as in Job’s “testing by God”) and, in doing so, “evolving and engineering humanity.” Such a “divine plan” is hidden, unknown to humans for the most part, especially to “materialistic science.” Mistakes are made by the human personalities and their interpretation or understanding or application of the “information” they possess. Are races meant to come and go? Do cultures serve a divine but temporary function and purpose? If plants and animals rule and become extinct, are there purposeful reasons for this? Why not people? Though it might be said that it is not ours to judge (since we have very insufficient knowledge to do so–except for the love and connection we have in our hearts). Perhaps the latter is something carried by humanity to heal all wounds caused by the seeming divinities.


  24. Using Job from the Old testament as a example, is one I understand, but where lies something all together different spirits from Yahweh, these spirts causing such Mayhem and terror you speak of, will bring about a positive and self development out of this.
    Maybe the Sirians needed to go to Europe to develop in a way that they could NOT develop in there Homeland, Just as when Germany meet Roman, such great developments are meet with Struggle.
    Or perhaps the great war against all will only be worse with the fact that there are Ahrimanic MUSLIMS in Europe, As the Ahrimanic thinking muslim stream is alive in Britain and Europe, even here in Scotland we have a small amount of Rude Musims who have a Ahrimanic hate towards Christians . The backwards thinking of the negitive Ahriman Muslim man is to hold mankind to Materalism.
    We all know from RS ISLAM Is materialist and Ahrimanic in its force. so having so much Muslims about will help when the time comes when Ahriman is incarnated, falling in the time with the war against all agains all, which has to be Religous Driven, the War of all against must be Religious Driven, No hate passion will come from someone who is not fanatic like many Muslims. This wil push Christians to see there calling and fight for Christ.


  25. Joseph Leone, you write:
    “Though it might be said that it is not ours to judge (since we have very insufficient knowledge to do so–except for the love and connection we have in our hearts).”

    Please read the article properly before commenting. You assert that I have insufficient knowledge to raise the criticisms i make in the article. But you don’t bother to explain what you think is missing from my critique. Instead you babble on with irrelevant and weak-willed spiritualistic assertions.

    Rosheen,
    Readers here can see from your ignorant and unfounded assertions just what racism looks like in its Anthroposophical holier-than-thou garb. It’s pure cult-speak.

    This is how the Master Race talks, ladies and gentlemen. This is what it looks like when people unreflectively assemble an entire worldview out of a single mass of untested assertions. Rosheen, you have just demonstrated a point I made in the article — the only possible defense of your racist bigotry would be to show that it was true. In other words, if Muslims (which you stupidly conflate with race — you ignorant goose) really are “less evolved” in their souls than you, then you are not a racist. But unfortunately for you, modern genetics has completely and utterly demolished your special brand of willful, learned pig-ignorance.

    It’s pathetic. This is what happens when you base your worldview on nineteenth century science (which is where Steiner stole his ideas from).

    To any other Anthroposophists who blow by here, please communicate in English. Keep your racist cult speak for other clan members.


  26. Racism Joseph you speak of, in regards to my words and thoughts are not racist, as Being a Racist doesn’t exist, there is only Race Karma- all that studying of Steiners work and you small minded fool forgot the Karma Race Trait ? so you don’t look into my words but only feel from your own misunderstanding a pathetic defense comeback, physically you are weaker than me, and spiritually.
    You will never know what I have done for our community and more.
    you have never held the fiery sword and your tongue speaks only from a material mind. You have only wind, no fire or earth. and Using Job from the Old testament is not a good example for what is happening today as I said before there are very different forces at work from the days of Yahweh ! another empty statement from you.
    why Job, what does job correspond to todays events. If you want I shall tell you, nothing more than Lucifer’s Role in the old testament is very different from Today ! You cant speak about Job unless you mention Lucifer !!!!!!!!!!!-, your First mistake, the reader to your comments are lost with a empty statement. you have intended to branding me a Racist. But its my Karma I am born to Scottish Blood, as its a Africans Karma he or she is born into African blood and place. So spiritually I am more of a Self or I, even lesser is a native African, but there time will come. As will yours Jo.


  27. Because of your insistence on ranting in incoherent, racist cult-speak instead of standard English, I have placed you on comment moderation. (I will be traveling until Tuesday, so nothing moderated will be posted until then.)

    I have outlined very clearly in the article exactly why your ideas are both wrong and racist. I distinguished in the article between racist ideas and racist people, but you are a genuine racist. And proud of it. (And why is it that you white supremacists can never spell properly?)

    All you have done is simply repeat the dumbass racist assertions I criticized in the article, and which were demolished by 20th and 21st century science. If your ideas weren’t so repugnant they would be merely laughable. Scottish Blood? Really? You think your (capital letter) “Blood” gives you more “Self” than African (lower case) blood? Well let me be the first to congratulate you on your blood. Sorry, “Blood”. You must be very proud of it. You have obviously worked so hard to earn such wonderful “Blood” over many lifetimes that you didn’t have any time left for a basic education in spelling and grammar.

    I dealt with all of your nonsense quite thoroughly in the article. Go back and read it for heaven’s sake. Either address my criticisms or shut up and go back to the 18th century where you belong.


  28. you are distracted my droog, and it shapes your words and untruths


  29. You don’t really deserve this, but ok…. You could develop your consciousness by reading up on the Romantic movement, especially looking at Schelling’s Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (where he develops ideas about nature as non-self), and then look at Blumenbach’s ideas on race (and research where he went wrong — see Gould’s Mismeasure of Man, for eg.).

    You would find out where Steiner really got his ideas from — not from “higher perception” but stolen from other thinkers. Other thinkers who made mistakes.

    Both Schelling and Blumenbach made real contributions to the development of science. Steiner didn’t. Instead, he and his ignorant followers have in fact detracted from both science and human self awareness in general.


  30. Yes Yakaru!! How can I even begin to thank you for writing what I have often felt. My daughter was in a Waldorf school for 3 years and I found myself shaking my head up and down in affirmation as I read your article, comments and rebuttals to the racists showing up here. Keep up the amazing work.


  31. Thanks! I appreciate your comment very much. Hope you have found a good school for daughter.


  32. I don’t really see your point. The only thing I ever read about races from Steiner was that Africans are more towards a childhood state of humanity, Asians more at a teenager state, Europeans an adult state, and Native Americans more like old people.

    I fail to see how this is racist. All ages have their own qualities and benefits, and it doesn’t mean that every individual is dependant on his or her race. It’s more of a general trend.

    And even if you would find this racist, for whatever reason, you might be surprised to find out that most Waldorf teachers do not actually read most of Steiner’s works. They deal primarily with his statements about education. Each teacher has his or her own opinion on racism, just like everyone of us.

    But simply look at the students in the school: you might find out that Waldorf schools are actually the most inclusive with children of different races, and no one gets discriminated.


  33. You clearly don’t know what racism is. This is not surprising if you are an Anthroposophist, because your world view is not suited to the 20th or the 21st century.

    To say that Africans are more childlike — even as a “general trend” — is indeed racist.

    Anthroposophists are not cultural leaders like they think they are. They are ignorant people who hold a backward and stupid ideology that was *already* out of date even when Steiner first quit the Theosophical Society (for racist reasons).

    As a former member of the Anthroposophical Society and former Waldorf teacher, I would not be surprised to learn that Waldorf teachers are not especially racist — that was the whole point of article!

    You people should not be smart enough to let go of your racist ideology.


  34. I feel you are entirely disregarding that these statemnts relate to the Atlantean epoch, and since then race plays no part in terms of super or inferior hierachies, in Steiner’s theories. You are cherry-picking to bring down teh cherry tree.——– “In regard to present humanity … it no longer makes sense to speak simply of the development of the races. In the true sense of the word this development of the races applies only to the Atlantean epoch [Tertiary and Quaternary time in Steiner’s view. Ed. comment.]… External physiognomies then differed so greatly that one could actually speak of different forms … In our own epoch the concept of race will gradually disappear along with all the differences that are relics of earlier times. Thus everything that exists today in connection with the [different] races are relics of the differentiation that took place in Atlantean [Tertiary and Quaternary] times. We can still speak of races but only in the sense that the real concept of races is losing its validity.”


  35. You are way out of context and focussing on pits of writings to prove a point, in the same methodology as fundamentalist to make their cases. “”It is impossible to understand a human being completely if one takes the concept of genus [like gender or race, Ed. comment] as the basis of one’s judgment. The tendency to judge according to the genus is at its most stubborn where we are concerned with differences of sex. Almost invariably man sees in woman, and woman in man, too much of the general character of the other sex and too little of what is individual.”


  36. link to offical an extensive Dutch investiagtion into racism in Steiner’s wroks – http://www.waldorfcritics.org/articles/a_refutation_of_the_allegation_of_racism_against_rudolf_steiner_with_rebuttal.html


  37. And you — in your string of comments — have disregarded the examples in the post of Anthroposophists today who still claim that the Aryan race, under the guidance of Archangel Michael, have more highly developed “ego” qualities than other races, and that archaic races will die out eventually.

    Did you not read that Darwin quote from the German wiki site?

    Did you not see the reference to the Marlo Morgan Aboriginal extinction case?

    Did you not read the comments in this thread of Anthroposophists?

    Have you not heard a multitude of similar arguments among Anthroposophists? If you ever do talk to Anthroposophists I hope you explain to them why they are wrong.

    And you write as if you think the Atlantean epoch really happened.


  38. Regardless of what modern Anthropos think,( I’m sure they are are open to misinterpreting as you or I) you are confusing terms. Aryan is not used in the modern sense but in reference to Atlnatean nad pre-Atlantean evolutions. It has nothing to do with todays concepts or the Nazi use fo the word. Aryan, in the sense Steiner usees is not white, it refers to a number of sub-“races” includign Indian. and European. If you focus on Steiner’s writings as a whole instead of the multitude of opinions you can ignore what all these “others” that you seem concerned with.
    ====================
    J de Vries May 3, 2017 at 11:11
    If you don’t believe in the Atlantean epoch then why concern yourself with such a miguided charlatan in the first plac?. The writings are only understood as a whole. There is reasons you are facing repeated arguements. Because there is a consistency of thought which you are consistently disbeleiving, and thereby misunderstanding. If you don’t believe in the Atlantean epoch, then the whole thing of course would make no sense. A certain open-mindedness is required to entertain complex ideas.
    ====================
    J de Vries May 3, 2017 at 11:16
    Also – i wasnt writing to you personally, but the article. On a personal note, You were a Steiner teacher, but honeslty did you read and comprehended his books?


  39. First, as site editor, I have placed your comments otherwise unedited, all in one comment window. Please think carefully before posting and don’t double post or triple post. I have also placed you on comment moderation. This means there will be a time delay before any future comment appears.
    —–
    I am aware of the difference between Aryan in the way Aryosophists used it, Nazis use and Steiner used it. That is why I was careful in the post to distinguish Anthroposophical racism from Nazi racism.

    The post deals with what I see as a failure of Anthroposophists to deal with the inevitably racist implications of believing in a spiritual hierarchy of races Völker. What you are doing here is adding another evasion technique to the ones I dealt with in the post–

    You wrote:
    “If you don’t believe in the Atlantean epoch then why concern yourself with such a miguided charlatan in the first plac?”

    Please read the post for some answers to that.

    “The writings are only understood as a whole….”

    This, I’m afraid is also a standard evasion tactic. By that standard no one, including you, is qualified to say anything at all. The bulk of Steiner’s writings, as you no doubt know, consist of about 6,000 lectures that he explicitly did not want to have transcribed or published (but eventually relented), and about 40 books. He wanted people to focus on the books, and to develop their own spiritual-perceptual faculties using the techniques outlined in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, and using Theosophy, Occult Science and Philosophy of Freedom, among others, as a general guide.

    If you want to live up to that standard, fine, but it also means you can’t speak in public about it until you have done so. Until then, it is up to people who have decided to believe that, for example, Australian Aborigines are the remnants of a fallen ancient Lemurian race (under whatever definition of race you choose) who play no further role in the evolution of consciousness, without sounding like a bunch of racist loons.

    “…instead of the multitude of opinions you can ignore what all these “others” that you seem concerned with.”</em>

    Firstly, in the comment guidelines, I explicitly ask people not to question my motives for writing. If you think I should ignore things I don’t like, ok, but how about you do it first — and ignore my post that you didn’t like.

    In the post, I spelled out very clearly why I am concerned with these others, and in fact gave quite a generous assessment of Steiner — clearly a highly decent and brilliant person. I can’t imagine that he treated anyone personally in a demeaning manner. But I don’t have much sympathy for people who sell me books written by Nazi sympathizers; who teach inevitably racist concepts to children; who promote nonsense; and who prefer hand waving, excuses and obfuscations to facing up to the racism embedded in their world view.

    As the title of this post indicates, Anthroposophists have not found a way to distance themselves from implicitly racist notions without discarding everything else they simply take on trust from Steiner along with it.

    I think there are things of value in Steiner’s teachings. He had some fine insights into human nature and child development. But sadly these are polluted and obfuscated by all this unnecessary esoteric baggage.

    Really, you don’t need to convince me that Steiner didn’t say anything racist. You need to get your fellow Anthroposophists to drop their implicitly and at times overtly racist notions.


  40. Hello Yakaru,

    Thank you for your extensive reply and explanation. I don’t have much contact anymore with fellow Anthropops. The few I know have exhibited any racially biased tedencies, but they are younger. I don’t doubt, like any movement, words are focussed on and re-interprted according to racial biases or non-biases and share your disaste for such narrow mindedness, and would seek to reason them out any hateful prejudice.

    I would reaffirm my suspicion that the types you discuss are interpreting Steiner’s race related remarks in terms of the present and recent past when he actually discussing root races and general trends pertaining to the Atlantean and pre-Atlantean times. You discuss this, yet write in the present tense, for example when dicsusing blacks, which is why your arguemnt reads to me to be completely out of context. I beleive there is no malice or ill-will in his notions (principle of harm – one of the prequisites of racism) You can call this evasion, but this is how I understand it when taken as a whole. It’s a lot to read, or even skim, but a most extensive apologist discussion i found is here …

    https://www.anthroweb.info/fileadmin/pdfs/RR_Transforming_Criticisms.pdf

    You don’t believe in the Atlantean epoch, or I assume these vast histories, so by default, Steiner’s terms are rendered current and specific to today, so in a sense this discssuion is ove before it began, as fundamental beliefs are already divded by a chasm. Ie – I agree – within this definition his work is perhaps unavoidably racist.

    I think simply, one can only think through as extensively as you do, and arrive at the conclusion that the work is not racist, IF one also believes the truth of the work. And that the significance of race will ultimately diminish to meaninglessness. And that the racial “hierarchy” is in flux across the aeons etc.

    I believe as long as one identifies too strongly to one’s melatonin, a single life, a simple- streamed and linear evolution, one will be hindered to be unable to objectify race itself.

    Also ommision of a Nazis belief in the proven efficiency of crop methods (or their poisions) does not seem a great genesis for a case against. Every thing of use is abused when it can be.

    Which suggest to me the tree you barked up here, is not the tree you seek to chop down, though it looks just like the other tree from where you climbed, because disbelief prevented you from climbing to the top.

    I am not questioning your intentions here, but your methods of arriving.

    There – the ultimate deflection and evasion!


  41. sorry for multiple boxes – last line is in soft jest, not triumphant. For the record.


  42. Steiner’s ideas about race were unfounded and unsupported whether they referred purely to previous (imaginary) epochs or not.

    And he did indeed apply them directly to his own time: he left the Theosophical Society because he refused to believe that an Indian could be destined to be the next great world teacher.

    He applied his unfounded racial theories to the events of his time.

    Again, if you think Anthroposophists today are not following in his footsteps, and don’t see themselves as the advance guard of a higher spiritual culture, read the earlier comments in the thread.


  43. Greetings, Yakaru and J deVries. It’s nice to see extended back and forth discussions about Steiner’s race teachings that do not end with name calling.

    Since I have studied Steiner’s work extensively over the past 40 years in both German and English, I will be going to the source to amplify and extend many of the statements made by Mr. deVries, which show definitively that Steiner meant his racial teachings to be not only in the present day (his “present day” of 1923) but also far into the future — at least 15 centuries into the future, given his temporal scheme for the duration of the Post-Atlantean epochs (2160 years).

    But for this first comment, I would like to address the link that JdeV gave above. It is a booklet on Steiner apologetics by Robert Rose whose entire defense is aimed at deflecting the critical assault of one and only one critic of anthroposophy, and that of course is Peter Staudenmaier, Professor of Modern European History at Marquette University.

    Here is Peter’s initial reaction to the publication of Rose’s booklet.
    I will quote the opening paragraph and you can read the rest on the Waldorf Critics Yahoo Group page:

    dated: Dec 10, 2013
    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/topics/27505

    “I am sorry to say the booklet is extraordinarily confused, and as uncomprehending as other anthroposophical musings on race. For a sense of the intellectual level of the discussion, here is how Rose formulates one of his basic principles:

    “Can a statement be classified as racist if the ‘race’ referred to no longer exists and that it anyway does not meet any classification of any race of the current age?” (11)

    By this logic, if I say “the Aryan race is vastly superior to all other races,” I have not made a racist statement, since the Aryan race does not exist. So much for anthroposophist analyses of racism.

    This sort of simple-mindedness is strewn throughout Rose’s text (unsurprisingly, he has completely misunderstood my work, but that is par for the course in anthroposophical circles). He offers breathtakingly naive claims: “a theory that is open to being falsified cannot be racist.” (95) Indeed he holds, believe it or not, that theories as such cannot possibly be racist (23). Rose even believes that racism “can accept no theory of soul distinct from and conditioning the body”! (97) In the fantasy land of anthroposophy, there simply is no such thing as spiritual racism.

    Rose provides this shocking revelation about Steiner’s use of the word ‘race’ (17): “Steiner did not use the word in the same sense as contemporary academia.” Gosh, you don’t say. He has evidently convinced himself that critics of anthroposophy, not to mention historians of anthroposophy, believe otherwise. He thinks we argue that Steiner’s racial teachings are “essentially identical to the context of Steiner’s day.” (17)

    I’m afraid this is nonsense. Steiner’s claims about race diverged considerably from the context of his day; he was an occultist, not some sort of mainstream author. His racial teachings were historically distinctive. That is what makes them worth studying.


  44. Thanks for checking in again, Tom.

    I appreciate the link and the information and the information about the Rose booklet (linked to by J de Vries). (And here’s a tip for Dr Rose: writing in purple doesn’t make your words more spiritual.)

    As Dr Staudenmaier points out, Rose doesn’t seem to know what racism is. This is a common trait in Anthroposophists — they are ignorant of the issue because the normal definition of racism itself is alien to Anthroposophy.

    As the Steiner fan @Daicu said above–
    “The only thing I ever read about races from Steiner was that Africans are more towards a childhood state of humanity, Asians more at a teenager state, Europeans an adult state, and Native Americans more like old people. I fail to see how this is racist.”

    — Exactly….

    I don’t see any way out of this for Anthroposophists. This racial hierarchy stuff is basic to the idea of the evolution of consciousness — the centerpiece of the whole ideology. Admitting Steiner was factually wrong about it has the unhappy consequence of admitting that Steiner’s “higher perceptive powers” were fallible, and once one starts to tug on that thread it’s impossible to stop everything unraveling.

    It’s a pity in a way, because, there were some interesting ideas in it. Even the stuff about Christ balancing the delusional Luciferic forces and the solidifying Ahrimanic forces has something quite profound if taken mythologically. It could also have generated some good art work if its members weren’t so uptight about everything.

    I could even imagine building a reasonable educational system out of some his ideas if you took out the hallucinatory esoteric stuff and appeals to authority.


  45. Reagrding the Anthropops discomfort in discussing Nazi connections – That they reject statements while defending suggest the cognitive dissoance they are experiencing and leads me to believe they are not dealing with their own latent racial prejudice, or intellectualy laziness.

    But If I discounted every idea based on the behaviour or opinions of its followers I would discard every philiospohy i hold dear, not to mention album and books of my favouruite artists. So I’’ll stay focussed her on the ideas themselves.

    Thanks all for the extensive research and discussion. It forced me into a corner where I must question these ideas and research and rethink part’s of Steiner’s work. Though also I question some of the methodooogies employed in the cirtique, it does seem almost impossible for someone to read his work and not find it racist. It seems only someone who believes what he writes would avoid the problem, because then there would be no ongoing dominant race.

    However reading this which is basically his lecture on “Colour and the Human Races” :

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA/GA0349/19230303v01.html

    I still struggle to find “harmful intent”, “ill will” or the idea of the white race being the overall dominant, which i consider necessary to racism according to the standard definition. It is not enough to simply say there differences between the races. In fact his lecture on Colour and Human Race seems overall balanced appraising various races as all having benefits and disadvantages.

    Could someone within context, I mean without extracting a piece from (as the fundamentailst Christiand do to validate their hatred of gay people etc) provide examples or links showing the supremacist aspect and the signs of “ill intent”.

    There is much criticism of his talk on race, but none on the diffences between American and Europeans which suggest to me a certain misunderstanding or hypocrisy in the critiques.


  46. Thanks for addressing the issue of Nazism — you’re the first Anthroposophist commenting here to do so. And thank you also for contributing your carefully considered and well articulated thoughts on this difficult subject! I appreciate it very much.

    Regarding harmful intent, I would distinguish between a racist person and a person with an ideology that is (arguably) racist.

    It is clear from the link you posted that Steiner believed he was simply stating facts. So I don’t think he was trying to incite racial hatred. But there are three problems:

    1. His arguments are wrong. Human physiology does not work the way he thinks it does. He supposes a vast array of physiological processes and parts of anatomy that do not exist. Skin color does not arise like that, and skin color does not affect psychological functioning like that.

    2. He ascribes psychological characteristics to whole peoples. In the culture he lived in, this was not so unusual. But even the biologist from whom Steiner got some of these ideas — Blumenbach — was careful not to generalize “racial” characteristics to the peoples he studied. Steiner, 100 years later, was less cautious.

    If it were really true that “the Mongolian mainly needs the middle brain, we Europeans use the frontal brain”, then it would not be racist to say so — it would simply be stating a fact. If a person *believed* it were true, than that person would not necessarily be a racist, but they *would* be holding a racist belief. (This is how I see many Anthroposophists.)

    If it were *partly true* (Mongolians tend to use the midbrain more), then it would only be racist to generalize that any Mongolian I meet uses his midbrain more than me.

    3. The hierarchy of races adds another layer of false ideas about race, by ranking them according to how “valuable” their shared characteristics are. Again, Steiner thinks he is saying facts, but the characteristics don’t exist, and the ranking of them is also pure fantasy.

    Ironically, was Darwin’s great achievement to destroy all such notions of evolutionary “progress” and hierarchy, and his initial insight has been confirmed by every finding in biology since.

    Nothing in Anthroposophy can deal with these facts of modern science; nor can any of Steiner’s ideas help Anthroposophists (who depend on his ideas for their worldview) come to terms with scientific progress. Steiner thought his ideas would be confirmed by modern science, or at least not conflict with them. But there is no point of contact between, modern science and his ideas on racial physiology.

    Nor have Steiner’s ideas been confirmed by other Anthroposophists who developed the same perceptive powers — which he also thought would happen. He didn’t want Anthroposophy to stay chained in the mode of the “Intellectual Soul”, but to move into “living thinking” and personal creative insight.

    (Anthropsophists would be far better off reading up on Schelling’s ideas about natural science and creative genius as a perceptual and conceptual tool, in my opinion.)


  47. I would like to chime in if I may. I must confess that in the brief time my family was exposed to Steiner’s pedagogy, we didn’t personally experience any kind of racism, but it is something by other families report worldwide.

    However, I think there definitely is evidence of a belief by Steiner that some races are better than others, and his famous drawing putting Aryans at the top of the evolutionary tree is clear testament to that.

    Another example is his derogatory statement about, as he terms it himself, “mulattos” and his conviction that if a pregnant European woman (i.e. white) were to read a “negro novel”, her offspring would then become one such “mulatto”. No coupling necessary .

    This not only shows severe racism on Steiner’s part, but also a complete lack of understanding of basic biology: “Merely through the spiritual effect of reading such negro novels a good number of children in Europe will be all grey, have mulatto hair and will look like mulattos!”

    This entire section has been conveniently excised from all official translations of his work but we’ve had it translated on our page on the subject: http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/Race.html


  48. I also don’t think I ever personally met a single Anthropsophist who I felt was racist or especially bigoted in any way. (The only one I’ve ever encountered is Rooshik/Rosheen in the thread above.)

    Children and students certainly don’t (usually) get taught overt Steiner philosophy as part of the curriculum, but part of the problem is that the implications of the racial theory are unavoidably racist, and they do influence the way history is taught.

    In Australia there were discussions about how to teach about Aborigines, who, of course, according to Steiner are a fallen Lemurian race who have already made their cultural contribution, whose spiritual time has passed, and who will inevitably die out because of the spiritual dialectic of history.

    Many Anthroposophists have tried seriously to distance themselves from this. But they have so far only managed to insist that they personally are not racist, and have never found a way to cut out the overt or the implicit ideological racism that is at the heart of the idea of the evolution of consciousness.

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I do think one could make a decent schooling system out of many of Steiner’s ideas and insights, but only if one is prepared to discard everything that is supposedly derived from his delusions about being able to read the Akashik Record.

    But they refuse to do it, and for that reason, Anthroposophy will remain a stunted, uncreative, and spiritually backward literalist ideology based on appeals to authority.


  49. I think it’s likely that no anthroposophist is racist in the way most people would understand the term. After all, how can they be? They believe they reincarnate in a continuum through the races, so they can’t hate any race as they’ve either lived lives through them and/or will in the future.

    And yes, they don’t overtly teach anthroposophy to the children (although here too there are reports that they do), but by and large the indoctrination is a lot more subtle. Have you read this article by a former anthroposophist and teacher?

    http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/France-Indoctrination.html


  50. Personally, and ironically Yakaru’s extensive and passionate article has cornered me and forced me question my Anthropop beliefs, as for the last painful, struggling days I wrest and wrangle with truth and understanding. It has renewed and revitalised my interest in Anthroposophy to unprecedented levels, and I will be reading more about colour, blood and race in general for more struggling weeks to come. So far, I feel Steiner’s writings “are” unavoidably racist. Unless I lose my belief, I will have to admit that I am a racist, albeit a benign one, with no ill intent to any fellow man racially. I do not treat other-coloured friends any differently, according to melatonin, but as individuals as I always have, and always will. But the fact remains, technically (by the 2nd part of the definition of racism) I am racist because of my beliefs. Perhaps further along evolution definitions will change, or it may be evolve that a certain kind of racism devoid of ill-intent comes to be acceptable. For now, it’s an odd label I can live with within myself because I emit no ill will upon anyone because of their whiteness or darkness. Bravo Yakaru for such a provocative and inspiring article.


  51. @J de Vries,
    –A very honest and generous comment! I can understand those feelings very well. I wrote about this with quite some sadness.

    I think the Anthroposophical Society has been a bit timid in accepting the possibility that Steiner may have made some errors. Even if the Akashik Record does exist, and can be read, as they claim, why not also admit the possibility that it might be read wrongly? Or variously? Or in a mode of thinking that doesn’t translate well into language? They could then distinguish between Steiner’s esoteric ideas and his more worldly insights into humanity, derived from normal perception.

    Above all, I think he’d be better seen as an artist rather than a scientist. (He really believed his ideas would be more or less confirmed by science, but they have not been. Quite the opposite, unfortunately.) But there is a lot of substance to his artistic representations of his ideas. Seeing it as a bit more mythological rather than literally true would throw more responsibility onto the interpreter, which would undermine the Society’s leadership role, which would cause practical problems for the movement; but it would also save people from having to believe and defend Steiner’s less useful ideas.

    —–
    @Steinermentary,
    Interesting article. One of the things that concerns me most about the Waldorf curriculum is that the science teaching is indeed based directly on Steiner’s Eighteenth Century version of science (and even a misunderstood version of that!). It inoculates the children against ever being able to understand modern science. It is anti-educational. It’s better than creationism, but not by much. That is the main reason why I would advise parents not to send their child to a Waldorf school. (Inoculate them against measles instead.)


  52. this is definitely a hate article, it’s inaccurate and the references that are cited are from other hate writings.
    1. Anthroposophy is not “based on race hierarchies”
    2. Weleda was raided and closed by 1935 by the Nazies
    And all the bullying that I read in the comments happening in those schools sounds more like neglect and do not represent the Waldorf curriculum.


  53. Well Natalia, I suggest you do a little more research. I’m not certain about Weleda, so I’ll leave that to others, but Anthroposophy and race, you can read about that here:

    http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/Race.html

    And as for bullying, it’s the most reported problem by families in all Steiner schools worldwide. Not just bullying, but unchecked bullying, i.e., bullying teachers and staff are aware of but do nothing about.

    This is not simply neglect by the school and has everything to do with the Waldorf curriculum.

    A document from 2009 written by the Hague Circle clearly states a marked characteristic of Steiner schools is that “Pedagogical methods [will be] used in dealing with discipline”:

    http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/DutyOfCare.html

    Further a Steiner school which also happens to be the headquarters of that country’s Steiner-Waldorf federation published this in its newsletter:

    “a zero tolerance policy, in which an attempt is made to squash the bully completely, can be a breeding pound for other types of addictions, Payne said. Denied his or her usual behavior, a child may simply become compulsive about something else, like video games.”

    http://www.titirangisteinermessenger.com/TSM/Newsletter.html

    So yeah, playing video games is worse than a child bullying another. To me it looks like neglect, as you call it, is built into the Steiner pedagogy.


  54. And regarding hate, Natalia, maybe you should educate yourself about how Steiner communities treat parents and children who raise concerns there. Again, this is not an isolated incident, and is reported worldwide:

    http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/Luciferocity-Lies.html


  55. Hello Natalia,

    Your claim that Weleda was raided and shut down by the Nazis in 1935 is completely untrue. In fact, it was quite the opposite situation given how much Weleda thrived and prospered during the entire Nazi era.

    I wonder if you might be conflating the banning of the Anthroposophical Society in Germany in 1935 with the banning of Weleda, so I wrote to Professor Peter Staudenmaier to ask him about it and here is his reply which I just received:

    ———————

    Hi Tom,

    There was no such raid, or anything like it. I think your guess is probably correct that she got it mixed up with the 1935 closing of the Anthroposophical Society in Germany, which had no effect on Weleda, a Swiss-based company.

    If you’d like, you can recommend she take a look at Uwe Werner’s book
    Das Unternehmen Weleda 1921-1945
    [tr. The Weleda Company 1921-1945]
    (a genuinely terrible book, but the standard anthroposophist line on the matter), which says nothing whatsoever about anything remotely similar to this.

    The very opposite was the case: Weleda not only survived the Nazi years, it positively thrived.

    Weleda saw an enormous increase in sales volume and revenue during the Third Reich; the increase for the decade between 1933 and 1943 was 250%.

    It had the support of major Nazi figures, from Hess to Ohlendorf to Reichsärzteführer Conti. It had ongoing business relationships with the SS and with the Wehrmacht right up to the very end of the war.
    Weleda’s founding head gardener [Franz Lippert] oversaw the biodynamic plantation at Dachau.

    I think this is a good example of the extent of anthroposophical ignorance about the movement’s own history.

    Best,

    Peter
    ———————


  56. Natalia,

    To call something a “hate article” is extremely cheap, and in this case it ignores
    a) the tone (where, for example, I say how I gladly recall my visit to the Goetheanum)
    b) the specific criticisms and arguments I raised, which you could have attempted to counter (if you were civil and honest enough); and
    c) the fact that the only thing that could be called “bullying” in the comments came from “Rosheen” the racist Scotsman proud of his “Scottish blood”.

    Your assertion that “Anthroposophy is not “based on race hierarchies”” was already dealt with and refuted by my article and you have not even attempted to argue against it.

    As Tom points out above, it was the schools that were shut down, as I covered in the article — maybe it’s this that you are conflating?

    Want to try again? If so, I welcome criticism and factual corrections, but please distinguish between your feelings and fact. Hateful writings are inevitably accompanied by demeaning language and gross distortions of facts. Please indicate where you think I display either of these.
    —-

    Thanks to @Steinermentary for the further damning evidence about bullying.

    And thank you Tom for that information, and for checking with Dr Staudenmaier.


  57. Yakaru, I see that even you are not fully informed about the closing of the Waldorf schools. For one thing, Himmler had nothing at all to do with Waldorf schools and their closing. I;m not sure where you got that idea from.

    Start by reading this summary posting by Peter Staudenmaier about Waldorf schools during the Nazi era. I will add more detailed links for you in later comments.

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/topics/1569

    There were nine Waldorf schools in Germany in 1933, with several thousands pupils. The only Waldorf schools that were actually closed by the Nazi authorities were the Stuttgart school in 1938 and the Dresden school in 1941. The remaining schools closed between 1938 and 1941 for a variety of reasons, in some cases including harassment and obstruction by some Nazi officials. A faction of the Nazis was flatly opposed to anthroposophy and Waldorf all along, and this faction eventually won the upper hand in mid-1941.


  58. Yakaru, here is a more detailed positing by Peter Staudenmaier about the closing down of the various anthroposophical endeavors during the Nazi time

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/topics/1208

    If there was a real “Nazi villain” who hated Steiner and anthroposophy and worked to stamp it out, that figure was SS Commandant Reinhard Heydrich — (whose boss was Himmler, of course, but Himmler was at worst ambivalent about anthropoposhy because he loved Bio-Dynamic agriculture so much.)

    Let me quote from Peter here because the only thing banned in 1935 was the Anthroposophical Society in Germany and that was done by Heydrich alone. Notice that no Waldorf school was closed until 1938, so that’s why Peter and I believe that Natalia was conflating the Society ban with her reputed Weleda ban in the year 1935.

    ———

    Waldorf representatives today sometimes claim that the Nazi state shut down the Waldorf schools in 1935. This is inaccurate. What did occur in November 1935 was an official order dissolving the Anthroposophical Society in Germany. The order did not close any of the Waldorf schools.

    The 1935 ban on the Anthroposophical Society was signed by SS chief Reinhard Heydrich, one of the most tenacious opponents of anthroposophy within the Nazi hierarchy (his boss Himmler only partly shared his views in that regard).

    Heydrich did not focus on anthroposophy alone; he saw Steiner’s movement as one of the dangerous pseudo-masonic organizations that in his view theatened the integrity of the Nazi state, along with rival tendencies such as the Ariosophists and the Ludendorffers.

    (Heydrich’s hostility, and his occasional orders banning various esoteric groups, hardly meant that anthroposophy or ariosophy or the Ludendorffers disappeared from Nazi Germany; as late as 1941, Heydrich was still urging an all-out struggle against ariosophy, for instance, at the very same time as the final crackdown on organized anthroposophy.)

    For years after 1935, and in some cases even after 1941, anthroposophist institutions continued to operate in Germany.


  59. Thank you for correcting my quite stupid error, Tom. I have added a note to the text with a brief correction, and added another footnote noting your comment and adding the first quote from Staudenmaier that you gave above.

    (I would have liked to be able to alter the text itself to include the correction and add some more details and links, but that would be unfair to those who have already commented. I left the text unaltered and placed the correction prominently at the end of the incorrect passage.)



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