Current Page: 6 of 11
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 22, 2012 05:59AM

This is Google's cache of []. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Dec 11, 2012 03:20:24 GMT.


There are spiritual beliefs underlying everything anthroposophists undertake.

If you hire an anthroposophist as a dishwasher, the plates and spoons will be infested with energies and vibrations proceeding from the gods, subconsciously influencing the thinking of the diners.


From: "Alan S. Fine MD"
Subject: Re: Biodynamic Gardening
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 1999 22:53:29 -0600

If biodynamic gardening was proven superior by proper scientific methods, I doubt anyone would have any objection to the teaching of it, and the promotion of it.

However, this system of agriculture, as well as many of the tenets of anthroposophy are not proven this way, and belong to a spiritual belief system, not the material world. Such tenets of your belief system have nothing to do with the mathematical reality of the pythagorean theorem.

It is the consistant blurring of the boundaries between the material truths we all share, and the personal spiritual beliefs of yours (and your fellow anthroposophists) which is at the core of what makes those of us outside of your faith very uncomfortable.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 22, 2012 06:15AM



...the actual politics of Steiner and his followers have consistently displayed a profoundly reactionary streak.

Why does anthroposophy, despite its patently racist elements and its compromised past, continue to enjoy a reputation as progressive, tolerant, enlightened and ecological? The details of Steiner’s teachings are not well known outside of the anthroposophist movement, and within that movement the lengthy history of ideological implication in fascism is mostly repressed or denied outright. In addition, many individual anthroposophists have earned respect for their work in alternative education, in organic farming, and within the environmental movement.

Nevertheless, it is an unfortunate fact that the record of anthroposophist collaboration with a specifically “environmentalist” strain of fascism continues into the twenty-first century.

Organized anthroposophist groups are often best known through their far-flung network of public institutions. The most popular of these is probably the Waldorf school movement, with hundreds of branches worldwide, followed by the biodynamic agriculture movement, which is especially active in Germany and the United States. Other well-known anthroposophist projects include Weleda cosmetics and pharmaceuticals and the Demeter brand of health food products.

The new age Findhorn community in Scotland also has a strong anthroposophist component


In light of this broad public exposure, it is perhaps surprising that the ideological underpinnings of anthroposophy are not better known. 3 Anthroposophists themselves, however, view their highly esoteric doctrine as an “occult science” suitable to a spiritually enlightened elite.

The very name “anthroposophy” suggests to many outsiders a humanist orientation. But anthroposophy is in many respects a deeply anti-humanist worldview, and humanists like Theodor Adorno and Ernst Bloch opposed it from the beginning. 4

Its rejection of reason in favor of mystical experience, its subordination of human action to supernatural forces, and its thoroughly hierarchical model of spiritual development all mark anthroposophy as inimical to humanist values.


Blending theosophical wisdom with his own “occult research,” Steiner continued to develop the theory and practice of anthroposophy, along with a steadily growing circle of followers, until his death in 1925.
The centerpiece of anthroposophical belief is spiritual advancement through karma and reincarnation, supplemented by the access to esoteric knowledge available to a privileged few. According to anthroposophy, the spiritual dimension suffuses every aspect of life. For anthroposophists, illnesses are karmically determined and play a role in the soul’s development. Natural processes, historical events, and technological mechanisms are all explained through the action of spiritual forces. Such beliefs continue to mark the curriculum in many Waldorf schools.
Steiner’s doctrine of reincarnation, embraced by latter-day anthroposophists the world over, holds that individuals choose their parents before birth, and indeed that we plan out our lives before beginning them to insure that we receive the necessary spiritual lessons. If a disembodied soul balks at its own chosen life prospects just before incarnation, it fails to incarnate fully—the source, according to anthroposophists, of prenatal “defects” and congenital disabilities. In addition, “the various parts of our body will be formed with the aid of certain planetary beings as we pass through particular constellations of the zodiac.” 7
Anthroposophists maintain that Steiner’s familiarity with the “astral plane,” with the workings of various “archangels,” with daily life on the lost continent of Atlantis (all central tenets of anthroposophic belief) came from his special powers of clairvoyance. Steiner claimed to have access to the “Akashic Chronicle,” a supernatural scripture containing knowledge of higher realms of existence as well as of the distant past and future. Steiner “interpreted” much of this chronicle and shared it with his followers. He insisted that such “occult experience,” as he called it, was not subject to the usual criteria of reason, logic, or scientific inquiry. Modern anthroposophy is thus founded on unverifiable belief in Steiner’s teachings. Those teachings deserve closer examination.
Anthroposophy’s Racialist Ideology
Building on theosophy’s postulate of root races, Steiner and his anthroposophist disciples elaborated a systematic racial classification system for human beings and tied it directly to their paradigm of spiritual advancement. The particulars of this racial theory are so extraordinary, even bizarre, that it is difficult for non-anthroposophists to take it seriously, but it is important to understand the pernicious and lasting effects the doctrine has had on anthroposophists and those they’ve influenced. 8
Steiner asserted that “root races” follow one another in chronological succession over epochs lasting hundreds of thousands of years, and each root race is further divided into “sub-races” which are also arranged hierarchically. By chance, as it were, the root race which happened to be paramount at the time Steiner made these momentous discoveries was the Aryan race, a term which anthroposophists use to this day. All racial categories are arbitrary social constructs, but the notion of an Aryan race is an especially preposterous invention. A favorite of reactionaries in the early years of the twentieth century, the Aryan concept was based on a conflation of linguistic and biological terminology backed up by spurious “research.” In other words, it was an amalgamation of errors which served to provide a pseudo-scientific veneer to racist fantasies. 9
Anthroposophy’s promotion of this ridiculous doctrine is disturbing enough. But it is compounded by Steiner’s further claim that—in yet another remarkable coincidence—the most advanced group within the Aryan root race is currently the nordic-germanic sub-race or people. Above all, anthroposophy’s conception of spiritual development is inextricable from its evolutionary narrative of racial decline and racial advance: a select few enlightened members evolve into a new “race” while their spiritually inferior neighbors degenerate. Anthroposophy is thus structured around a hierarchy of biological and psychological as well as “spiritual” capacities and characteristics, all of them correlated to race. The affinities with Nazi discourse are unmistakable. 10
Steiner did not shy away from describing the fate of those left behind by the forward march of racial and spiritual progress. He taught that these unfortunates would “degenerate” and eventually die out. Like his teacher Madame Blavatsky, Steiner rejected the notion that Native Americans, for example, were nearly exterminated by the actions of European settlers. Instead he held that Indians were “dying out of their own nature.” 11 Steiner also taught that “lower races” of humans are closer to animals than to “higher races” of humans. Aboriginal peoples, according to anthroposophy, are descended from the already “degenerate” remnants of the third root race, the Lemurians, and are devolving into apes. Steiner referred to them as “stunted men, whose descendants still inhabit certain parts of the earth today as so-called savage tribes.” 12
The fourth root race which emerged between the Lemurians and the Aryans were the inhabitants of the lost continent of Atlantis, the existence of which anthroposophists take as literal fact. Direct descendants of the Atlanteans include the Japanese, Mongolians, and Eskimos. Steiner also believed that each people or Volk has its own “etheric aura” which corresponds to its geographic homeland, as well as its own “Volksgeist” or national spirit, an archangel that provides spiritual leadership to its respective people.
Steiner propagated a host of racist myths about “negroes.” He taught that black people are sensual, instinct-driven, primitive creatures, ruled by their brainstem. He denounced the immigration of blacks to Europe as “terrible” and “brutal” and decried its effects on “blood and race.” He warned that white women shouldn’t read “negro novels” during pregnancy, otherwise they’d have “mulatto children.” In 1922 he declared, “The negro race does not belong in Europe, and the fact that this race is now playing such a large role in Europe is of course nothing but a nuisance.” 13
But the worst insult, from an anthroposophical point of view, is Steiner’s dictum that people of color can’t develop spiritually on their own; they must either be “educated” by whites or reincarnated in white skin. Europeans, in contrast, are the most highly developed humans. Indeed “Europe has always been the origin of all human development.” For Steiner and for anthroposophy, there is no doubt that “whites are the ones who develop humanity in themselves. [ . . . ] The white race is the race of the future, the spiritually creative race.” 14
Anthroposophists today often attempt to excuse or explain away such outrageous utterances by contending that Steiner was merely a product of his times. 15 This apologia is triply unconvincing. First, Steiner claimed for himself an unprecedented degree of spiritual enlightenment which, by his own account, completely transcended his own time and place; he also claimed, and anthroposophists believe that he had, detailed knowledge of the distant past and future. Second, this argument ignores the many dedicated members of Steiner’s generation who actively opposed racism and ethnocentrism. Third, and most telling, anthroposophists continue to recycle Steiner’s racist imaginings to this day.
In 1995 there was a scandal in the Netherlands when it became publicly known that Dutch Waldorf schools were teaching “racial ethnography,” where children learn that the “black race” has thick lips and a sense of rhythm and that the “yellow race” hides its emotions behind a permanent smile. In 1994 the Steinerite lecturer Rainer Schnurre, at one of his frequent seminars for the anthroposophist adult school in Berlin, gave a talk with the rather baffling title “Overcoming Racism and Nationalism through Rudolf Steiner.” According to a contemporary account, Schnurre emphasized the essential differences between races, noted the “infantile” nature of blacks, and alleged that due to immutable racial disparities “no equal and global system can be created for all people on earth” and that “because of the differences between races, sending aid to the developing world is useless.” 16
Incidents such as these are distressingly common in the world of anthroposophy. The racial mindset that Steiner bestowed on his faithful followers has yet to be repudiated. And it may well never be repudiated, since anthroposophy lacks the sort of critical social consciousness that could counteract its flagrantly regressive core beliefs. Indeed anthroposophy’s political outlook has had a decidedly reactionary cast from the beginning.
The Social Vision of Anthroposophy
Steiner’s political perspective was shaped by a variety of influences. Foremost among these was Romanticism, a literary and political movement that had a lasting impact on German culture in the nineteenth century. Like all broad cultural phenomena, Romanticism was politically complex, inspiring both left and right. But the leading political Romantics were explicit reactionaries and vehement nationalists who excluded Jews, even baptized ones, from their forums; they became bitter opponents of political reform and favored a strictly hierarchical, semi-feudal social order. The Romantic revulsion for nascent “modernity,” hostility toward rationality and enlightenment, and mystical relation to nature all left their mark on Steiner’s thought.
Early in his career Steiner also fell under the sway of Nietzsche, the outstanding anti-democratic thinker of the era, whose elitism made a powerful impression. The radical individualism of Max Stirner further contributed to the young Steiner’s political outlook, yielding a potent philosophical melange that was waiting to be catalyzed by some dynamic reactionary force. 17 The latter appeared to Steiner soon enough in the form of Ernst Haeckel and his Social Darwinist creed of Monism. 18 Haeckel (1834-1919) was the founder of modern ecology and the major popularizer of evolutionary theory in Germany. Steiner became a partisan of Haeckel’s views, and from him anthroposophy inherited its environmentalist predilections, its hierarchical model of human development, and its tendency to interpret social phenomena in biological terms.
Haeckel’s elitist worldview extended beyond the realm of biology. He was also “a prophet of the national and racial regeneration of Germany” and exponent of an “intensely mystical and romantic nationalism,” as well as “a direct ancestor” of Nazi eugenics. 19 Monism, which Steiner for a time vigorously defended, rejected “Western rationalism, humanism, and cosmopolitanism,” and was “opposed to any fundamental social change. What was needed for Germany, it argued categorically, was a far-reaching cultural and not a social revolution.” 20 This attitude was to become a hallmark of anthroposophy.
In the heady turn-of-the-century atmosphere, Steiner flirted for a while with left politics, and even shared a podium with revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg at a workers’ meeting in 1902. But Steiner consistently rejected any materialist or social analysis of capitalist society in favor of “looking into the soul” of fellow humans to divine the roots of the modern malaise. This facile approach to social reality was to reach fruition in his mature political vision, elaborated during the first world war. Steiner’s response to the war was determined by the final, decisive component in his intellectual temperament: chauvinist nationalism.
By his own account, Steiner actively took part in Viennese pan-German circles in the late nineteenth century. 21 He saw World War One as part of an international “conspiracy against German spiritual life.” 22 In Steiner’s preferred explanation, it wasn’t imperialist rivalry among colonial powers or national myopia or unbounded militarism or the competition for markets which caused the war, but British freemasons and their striving for world domination. Steiner was a personal acquaintance of General Helmuth von Moltke, chief of staff of the German high command; after Moltke’s death in 1916 Steiner claimed to be in contact with his spirit and channeled the general’s views on the war from the nether world. After the war Steiner had high praise for German militarism, and continued to rail against France, French culture, and the French language in rhetoric which matched that of Mein Kampf. In the 1990’s anthroposophists were still defending Steiner’s jingoist historical denial, insisting that Germany bore no responsibility for World War One and was a victim of the “West.”
In the midst of the war’s senseless savagery, Steiner used his military and industrial connections to try to persuade German and Austrian elites of a new social theory of his, which he hoped to see implemented in conquered territories in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately for Steiner’s plans, Germany and Austria-Hungary lost the war, and his dream went unrealized. But the new doctrine he had begun preaching serves to this day as the social vision of anthroposophy. Its economic and political principles represent an unsteady combination of individualist and corporatist elements. Conceived as an alternative to both Woodrow Wilson’s self-determination program and the bolshevik revolution, Steiner gave this theory the unwieldy name “the tripartite structuring of the social organism” (Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus, often referred to in English-language anthroposophist literature as “social threefolding” or “the threefold commonwealth,” phrases which obscure Steiner’s biologistic view of the social realm as an actual organism). 23 The three branches of this scheme, which resembles both fascist and semi-feudal corporatist models, are the state (political, military, and police functions), the economy, and the cultural sphere. 24 This last sphere encompasses “all judicial, educational, intellectual and spiritual matters,” which are to be administered by “corporations,” with individuals free to choose their school, church, court, etc. 25
Anthroposophists consider this threefold structure to be “naturally ordained.” 26 Its central axiom is that the modern integration of politics, economy and culture into an ostensibly democratic framework must falter because, according to Steiner, neither the economy nor cultural life can or should be structured democratically. The cultural sphere, which Steiner defined very broadly, is a realm of individual achievement where the most talented and capable should predominate. And the economy must never be subject to democratic public control because it would then collapse. Steiner’s economic and political naiveté are encapsulated in his claim that capitalism “will become a legitimate capitalism if it is spiritualized.” 27
In the aftermath of the bloody world war, at the very moment of great upheavals against the violence, misery, and exploitation of capitalism, Steiner emerged as an ardent defender of private profit, the concentration of property and wealth, and the unfettered market. Arguing vehemently against any effort to replace anti-social institutions with humane ones, Steiner proposed adapting his “threefold commonwealth” to the existing system of class domination. He could scarcely deny that the coarse economic despotism of his day was enormously damaging to human lives, but insisted that “private capitalism as such is not the cause of the damage”:
“The fact that individual people or groups of people administer huge masses of capital is not what makes life anti-social, but rather the fact that these people or groups exploit the products of their administrative labor in an anti-social manner. [ . . . ] If management by capable individuals were replaced with management by the whole community, the productivity of management would be undermined. Free initiative, individual capabilities and willingness to work cannot be fully realized within such a community. [ . . .] The attempt to structure economic life in a social manner destroys productivity.” 28
Though Steiner tried to make inroads within working class institutions, his outlook was understandably not very popular among workers. The revolutionaries of the 1919 Munich council republic derided him as “the soul-doctor of decaying capitalism.” 29 Otto Neurath condemned ‘social threefolding’ as small-scale capitalism. Industrialists, on the other hand, showed a keen interest in Steiner’s notions. Soon after the revolutionary upsurge of workers across Germany was crushed, Steiner was invited by the director of the Waldorf-Astoria tobacco factory to establish a company school in Stuttgart. Thus were Waldorf schools born.
Anthroposophy in Practice: Waldorf Schools and Biodynamic Farming
The school in Stuttgart turned out to be the anthroposophists’ biggest success, along with the nearby pharmaceutical factory that they named after the mythical Norse oracle Weleda. Waldorf schools are now represented in many countries and generally project a solidly progressive image. There are undoubtedly progressive aspects to Waldorf education, many of them absorbed from the intense ferment of alternative pedagogical theories prevalent in the first decades of the twentieth century. But there is more to Waldorf schooling than holistic learning, musical expression, and eurythmy.
Classical anthroposophy, with its root races and its national souls, is the “covert curriculum” of Waldorf schools. 30 Anthroposophists themselves avow in internal forums that the idea of karma and reincarnation is the “basis of all true education.” 31 They believe that each class of students chooses one another and their teacher before birth. The task of a Waldorf teacher is to assist each pupil in fully incarnating. Steiner himself demanded that Waldorf schools be staffed by “teachers with a knowledge of man originating in a spiritual world.” 32 Later anthroposophists express the Waldorf vision thus:
“This education is essentially grounded on the recognition of the child as a spiritual being, with a varying number of incarnations behind him, who is returning at birth into the physical world, into a body that will be slowly moulded into a usable instrument by the soul-spiritual forces he brings with him. He has chosen his parents for himself because of what they can provide for him that he needs in order to fulfill his karma, and, conversely, they too need their relationship with him in order to fulfill their own karma.” 33
The curriculum at Waldorf schools is structured around the stages of spiritual maturation posited by anthroposophy: from one to seven years a child develops her or his physical body, from seven to fourteen years the etheric body, and from fourteen to twenty-one the astral body. These stages are supposed to be marked by physical changes; thus kindergartners at Waldorf schools can’t enter first grade until they’ve begun to lose their baby teeth. In addition, each pupil is classified according to the medieval theory of humors: a Waldorf child is either melancholic, choleric, sanguine, or phlegmatic – the categorization is in part based on the child’s external physical appearance – and is treated accordingly by the teachers.
Along with privileging ostensibly “spiritual” considerations over cognitive and psycho-social ones, the static uniformity of this scheme is pedagogically suspect. It also suggests that Waldorf schools’ reputation for fostering a spontaneous, child-centered and individually oriented educational atmosphere is undeserved. 34 In fact Steiner’s model of instruction is downright authoritarian: he emphasized repetition and rote learning, and insisted that the teacher should be the center of the classroom and that students’ role was not to judge or even discuss the teacher’s pronouncements. In practice many Waldorf schools implement strict discipline, with public punishment for perceived transgressions.
Anthroposophy’s peculiar predilections also shape the Waldorf curriculum. Jazz and popular music are often scorned at European Waldorf schools, and recorded music in general is frowned upon; these phenomena are considered to harbor demonic forces. Instead students read fairy tales, a staple of Waldorf education. Some sports, too, are forbidden, and art instruction often rigidly follows Steiner’s eccentric theories of color and form. Taken together with the pervasive anti-technological and anti-scientific bias, the suspicion toward rational thought, and the occasional outbreaks of racist gibberish, these factors indicate that Waldorf schooling is as questionable as the other aspects of the anthroposophist enterprise.
Next to Waldorf schools, the most widespread and apparently progressive version of applied anthroposophy is biodynamic agriculture. In Germany and North America, at least, biodynamics is an established part of the alternative agriculture scene. Many small growers use biodynamic methods on their farms or gardens; there are biodynamic vineyards and the Demeter line of biodynamic food products, as well as a profusion of pamphlets, periodicals and conferences on the theory and practice of biodynamic farming.
Although not a farmer himself, Steiner introduced the fundamental outlines of biodynamics near the end of his life and produced a substantial body of literature on the topic, which anthroposophists and biodynamic growers follow more or less faithfully. Biodynamics in practice often converges with the broader principles of organic farming. Its focus on maintaining soil fertility rather than on crop yield, its rejection of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and its view of the whole farm or plot as an ecosystem all mark the biodynamic approach as an eminently sensible and ecologically sound method of cultivation.

But there is more to the story than that.
Biodynamic farming is based on Steiner’s revelation of invisible cosmic forces and their effects on soil and flora. Anthroposophy teaches that the earth is an organism that breathes twice a day, that etheric beings act upon the land, and that celestial bodies and their movements directly influence the growth of plants. Hence biodynamic farmers time their sowing to coincide with the proper planetary constellations, all a part of what they consider “the spiritual natural processes of the earth.” 35 Sometimes this “spiritual” approach takes unusual forms, as in the case of “preparation 500.”

To make preparation 500, an integral component of anthroposophist agriculture, biodynamic farmers pack cow manure into a steer’s horn and bury it in the ground. After leaving it there for one whole winter, they dig up the horn and mix the manure with water (it must be stirred for a full hour in a specific rhythm) to make a spray which is applied to the topsoil. All of this serves to channel “radiations which tend to etherealize and astralize” and thus “gather up and attract from the surrounding earth all that is etheric and life-giving.” 36

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 22, 2012 06:29AM


Peter Staudenmaier: "A lot of anthroposophists are firmly committed to a series of well-worn myths about Steiner, myths which prevent you from viewing Steiner as a historical figure.

"Part of a historian’s job is to deflate such myths, and that often irritates admirers of Steiner, who think they have been “studying” Steiner for years and years. For better or worse, that is not what “studying” means outside of esoteric circles.



The repeated occurrence of incidents such as these ought to be of considerable concern to humanists and people who envision a world free of racist ignorance.

Even when approached with skepticism, anthroposophy’s consistent pattern of regressive political stances raises troubling questions about participation in anthroposophist projects and collaboration with anthroposophists on social initiatives.

Those anthroposophists who are actively involved in contemporary environmental and social change movements frequently personify the most reactionary aspects of those movements: they hold technology, science, the enlightenment and abstract thought responsible for environmental destruction and social dislocation; they rail against finance capital and the loss of traditional values, denounce atheism and secularism, and call for renewed spiritual awareness and personal growth as the solution to ecological catastrophe and capitalist alienation.

Conspiracy theory is their coin in trade, esoteric insight their preferred answer, obscurantism their primary function.

With a public face that is seemingly of the left, anthroposophy frequently acts as a magnet for the right. Loyal to an unreconstructed racist and elitist philosophy, built on a foundation of anti-democratic politics and pro-capitalist economics, purveying mystical panaceas rather than social alternatives, Steiner’s ideology offers only disorientation in an already disoriented world.

Anthroposophy’s enduring legacy of collusion with ecofascism makes it plainly unacceptable for those working toward a humane and ecological society.
1. See Rudolf Steiner, Die Mission einzelner Volksseelen im Zusammenhang mit der germanisch-nordischen Mythologie, Dornach, Switzerland 1994. These lectures are available in English under the title The Mission of the Individual Folk Souls in Relation to Teutonic Mythology, London 1970, republished 2005. The “Nordic spirit” of Scandinavia continues to fascinate European anthroposophists; see, for example, Hans Mändl, Vom Geist des Nordens, Stuttgart 1966, and Gundula Jäger, Die Bildsprache der Edda: Vergangenheits- und Zukunftsgeheimnisse in der nordisch-germanischen Mythologie (Stuttgart 2004).
2. For more thorough discussion of anthroposophical race doctrines see Sven Ove Hansson, “The Racial Teachings of Rudolf Steiner”: [] as well as Helmut Zander, “Anthroposophische Rassentheorie: Der Geist auf dem Weg durch die Rassengeschichte” in Stefanie von Schnurbein and Justus Ulbricht, Völkische Religion und Krisen der Moderne, Würzburg 2001, and Peter Staudenmaier, “Race and Redemption: Racial and Ethnic Evolution in Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy” Nova Religio vol. 11 no. 3 (2008), pp. 4-36.
3. One crucial stumbling block for English language readers is the anthroposophical tendency to delete racist and antisemitic passages from translated editions of Steiner’s publications. For examples see and for context see
4. See the incisive passages on Steiner and anthroposophy in Bloch, Heritage of Our Times, Berkeley 1991, as well as Adorno’s “Theses against occultism” in Adorno, Minima Moralia, London 1974.
5. Readers of German can now consult a superb account of Steiner’s intellectual development and a comprehensive history of anthroposophy’s early years: Helmut Zander, Anthroposophie in Deutschland: Theosophische Weltanschauung und gesellschaftliche Praxis 1884–1945, Göttingen 2007.
6. On the connections between theosophy and the Nazis, see George Mosse, “The Occult Origins of National Socialism” in Mosse, The Fascist Revolution: Toward a General Theory of Fascism, New York 1999.
7. Stewart Easton, Man and World in the Light of Anthroposophy, New York 1975, p. 164.
8. Steiner’s racial teachings, a crucial element of the anthroposophic worldview, are spread throughout his work. For a concise overview in English see Janet Biehl’s section on Steiner in Biehl and Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience, San Francisco 1995, pp. 42-43 (Norwegian edition: Økofascisme: Lærdom fra Tysklands erfaringer, Porsgrunn 1997). Major statements by Steiner himself include Rudolf Steiner, Cosmic Memory: Prehistory of Earth and Man, New York 1987; Steiner, Universe, Earth and Man, London 1987; Steiner, “The Manifestation of the Ego in the Different Races of Men” in Steiner, The Being of Man and His Future Evolution, London 1981; Steiner, “Die Grundbegriffe der Theosophie. Menschenrassen” (Basic concepts of Theosophy: The races of humankind) in Steiner, Die Welträtsel und die Anthroposophie, Dornach 1985; Steiner, “Farbe und Menschenrassen” (Color and the races of humankind) in Steiner, Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde, Dornach 1993. Although this latter book, a collection of Steiner’s lectures from 1923, has been published in English, the translation omits the chapter on race.
9. For background on the notion of an “Aryan race” see Leon Poliakov, The Aryan Myth, New York 1974; Stefan Arvidsson, Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science, Chicago 2006; and Colin Kidd, “The Aryan Moment: Racialising Religion in the Nineteenth Century” in Kidd, The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000, Cambridge 2006.
10. Wolfgang Treher makes a compelling case that Steiner’s racial theories, especially the repeated scheme of a small minority evolving further while a large mass declines, bear striking similarities even in detail to Hitler’s own theories. He concludes: “Concentration camps, slave labor and the murder of Jews constitute a praxis whose key is perhaps to be found in the ‘theories’ of Rudolf Steiner.” Wolfgang Treher, Hitler Steiner Schreber, Emmingden 1966, p. 70.
11. Steiner, Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde, p. 61. Elsewhere Steiner writes that the decimation of American Indians was due to their “racial character” (The Mission of the Folk Souls p. 76).
12. Rudolf Steiner, Cosmic Memory, New York 1987, p. 45.
13. Rudolf Steiner, Faculty Meetings With Rudolf Steiner pp. 58-59; Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde p. 53; Gesundheit und Krankheit p. 189. Steiner’s typical remarks on Asian mental passivity, French decadence, and Slavic primitiveness are of similar caliber.
14. Steiner, Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde 59, 62, 67.
15. Anthroposophical race thinking was hardly a personal idiosyncrasy of Rudolf Steiner. Racist theories abound within twentieth-century anthroposophical literature. Among many other examples see the following: Guenther Wachsmuth, editor, Gäa-Sophia: Jahrbuch der Naturwissenschaftlichen Sektion der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft am Goetheanum Dornach, Stuttgart 1929, volume III: Völkerkunde; Wolfgang Moldenhauer, “Der Mensch vor und neben den grossen Kulturen”, Das Goetheanum February 13, 1938; Karl Heise, “Ein paar Worte zum Dunkelhaar und Braunauge der Germanen”, Zentralblatt für Okkultismus July-November 1914; Hans Heinrich Frei, “In Vererbung wiederholte Menschenleibes-Form und in Schicksalsgestaltung wiederholte Geisteswesens-Form”, Anthroposophie August 14 1927; Valentin Tomberg, “Mongolentum in Osteuropa”, Anthroposophie February 22 1931; Harry Köhler, “Menschheits-Entwickelung und Völkerschicksale im Spiegel der Historie”, Das Goetheanum August 21 1932; Wolfgang Moldenhauer, “Die Wanderungs-Atlantier und das Gesetz des Manu”, Das Goetheanum June 26 1938; Elise Wolfram, Die germanischen Heldensagen als Entwicklungsgeschichte der Rasse, Stuttgart 1922; Elisabeth Dank, “Die Neger in den Vereinigten Staaten” Die Christengemeinschaft September 1933; Ernst von Hippel, Afrika als Erlebnis des Menschen, Breslau 1938; as well as the substantial works on racial themes by leading anthroposophists Ernst Uehli and Richard Karutz. Italian anthroposophists also made significant contributions to the canon of racist publications; see e.g. Massimo Scaligero, “Razzismo spirituale e razzismo biologico”, La Vita Italiana July 1941; Scaligero, “Per un razzismo integrale” La Vita Italiana May 1942; Ettore Martinoli, “L’importanza di Trieste per l’ebraismo internazionale”, La Porta Orientale December 1942; Ettore Martinoli, “Gli impulsi storici della nuova Europa e l’azione dell’ebraismo internazionale”, La Vita Italiana April 1943.
16. Schnurre quoted in Oliver Geden, Rechte ökologie, Berlin 1996, p. 144.
17. For a fine critical study of Stirner’s influence on Steiner and others see Hans Helms, Die Ideologie der anonymen Gesellschaft, Cologne 1966.
18. On Steiner’s correspondence with Haeckel and his intense commitment to Monism around the turn of the century, see Anthroposophie vol. 16 no. 2 (January 1934), pp. 137-148.
19. First two quotes from Daniel Gasman, The Scientific Origins of National Socialism: Social Darwinism in Ernst Haeckel and the German Monist League, New York 1971, pp. 16-17; third quote from George Mosse, Toward the Final Solution, Madison 1985, p. 87. Haeckel’s virulent racism is also extensively documented in Richard Lerner, Final Solutions: Biology, Prejudice, and Genocide, Philadelphia 1992; cf. also Jürgen Sandmann, Der Bruch mit der humanitären Tradition: die Biologisierung der Ethik bei Ernst Haeckel und anderen Darwinisten seiner Zeit, Stuttgart 1990.
20. Gasman, p. 31 and 23. See also the classic account from an anthroposophist perspective: Johannes Hemleben, Rudolf Steiner und Ernst Haeckel, Stuttgart 1965. For context see Gasman, Haeckel’s Monism and the Birth of Fascist Ideology, New York 1998, and for critical views on Gasman’s work see Richard Evans, “In Search of German Social Darwinism: The History and Historiography of a Concept” in Manfred Berg and Geoffrey Cocks, Medicine and Modernity: Public Health and Medical Care in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Germany, Cambridge 1997.
21. Rudolf Steiner, The Course of my Life, New York 1951, p. 142.
22. Rudolf Steiner, Die geistigen Hintergründe des Ersten Weltkrieges, Dornach 1974, p. 27. For context see Ulrich Linse, “Universale Bruderschaft oder nationaler Rassenkrieg – die deutschen Theosophen im Ersten Weltkrieg” in Heinz-Gerhard Haupt and Dieter Langewiesche, eds., Nation und Religion in der deutschen Geschichte (Frankfurt 2001); and Herman de Tollenaere, The Politics of Divine Wisdom: Theosophy and Labour, National, and Women’s Movements in Indonesia and South Asia, 1875-1947 (Nijmegen 1996), pp. 156-160.
23. Steiner wrote that “the social organism is structured like the natural organism” in his nationalist pamphlet from 1919, “Aufruf an das deutsche Volk und an die Kulturwelt.” The pamphlet is quoted extensively in Walter Abendroth, Rudolf Steiner und die heutige Welt, Munich 1969, pp.122-123. Consider also this passage: “Every person must find the place where his work may be articulated in the most fruitful way into his people’s organism. It must not be left to chance to determine whether he shall find this place. The state constitution has no other goal than to ensure that everyone shall find his appropriate place. The state is the form in which the organism of a people expresses itself.” Steiner, Goethe the Scientist, New York 1950, 164.
24. For background see Ralph Bowen, German Theories of the Corporative State, New York 1947.
25. Quotes from Steiner as cited in Christoph Lindenberg, Rudolf Steiner, Hamburg 1992, pp. 111-112. For a comprehensive critique of ‘social threefolding’ see Ilas Körner-Wellershaus, Sozialer Heilsweg Anthroposophie: eine Studie zur Geschichte der sozialen Dreigliederung Rudolf Steiners unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der anthroposophischen Geisteswissenschaft (Bonn 1993).
26. Abendroth, Rudolf Steiner und die heutige Welt, p. 120.
27. Steiner quoted in Thomas Divis, “Rudolf Steiner und die Anthroposophie” in ÖkoLinx #13 (February 1994), p. 27.
28. From a Steiner lecture manuscript reproduced in Walter Kugler, Rudolf Steiner und die Anthroposophie, Cologne 1978, pp. 199-200.
29. Cited in Peter Bierl, Wurzelrassen, Erzengel und Volksgeister: Die Anthroposophie Rudolf Steiners und die Waldorfpädagogik, Hamburg 1999, p. 107. A revised and expanded edition of Bierl’s excellent book was published in 2005.
30. See Charlotte Rudolph, Waldorf-Erziehung: Wege zur Versteinerung, Darmstadt 1987. Cf. Susanne Lippert, Steiner und die Waldorfpädagogik. Mythos und Wirklichkeit, Berlin 2001; Paul-Albert Wagemann und Martina Kayser: Wie frei ist die Waldorfschule? Munich 1996; Peter Bierl, “Der braune Geist der Waldorfpädagogik” in Ganzheitlich und ohne Sorgen in die Republik von Morgen: Dokumentation zum Kongress gegen Irrationalismus, Esoterik und Antisemitismus, Aschaffenburg 2001; Sybille-Christin Jacob and Detlef Drewes, Aus der Waldorf-Schule geplaudert: Warum die Steiner-Pädagogik keine Alternative ist, Aschaffenburg 2001; Juliane Weibring, Die Waldorfschule und ihr religiöser Meister: Waldorfpädagogik aus feministischer und religionskritischer Perspektive, Oberhausen 1998.
31. From an international Waldorf teachers conference in 1996, cited in Bierl, Wurzelrassen, Erzengel und Volksgeister p. 204.
32. Rudolf Steiner, The Spiritual Ground of Education, London 1947, p. 40.
33. Easton, Man and World in the Light of Anthroposophy, p. 388.
34. For thorough critical studies of Waldorf pedagogy see Heiner Ullrich, Waldorfpädagogik und okkulte Weltanschauung, Munich 1991, and Klaus Prange, Erziehung zur Anthroposophie: Darstellung und Kritik der Waldorfpädagogik, Bad Heilbrunn 2000.
35. Lindenberg, Rudolf Steiner, p. 134.
36. Steiner, Lecture Four from the 1924 Course on Agriculture.
37. Easton, Man and World in the Light of Anthroposophy, p. 444.
38. I have borrowed the phrase “green wing of the NSDAP” (the German acronym for the Nazi party) from Jost Hermand; see his Grüne Utopien in Deutschland, Frankfurt 1991, especially pp. 112-118. The term is not meant to suggest an identifiable faction within the party; rather it refers to a tendency or shared ideological and practical orientation, common to many activists and leading figures in the Nazi movement, the main outlines of which are recognizably environmentalist by today’s standards. For a much fuller treatment of this tendency see my “Fascist Ecology: The “Green Wing” of the Nazi Party and Its Historical Antecedents” in Biehl and Staudenmaier, Ecofascism. For critical discussion of the concept see Franz-Josef Brüggemeier, Mark Cioc, and Thomas Zeller, eds., How Green were the Nazis?: Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich, Athens 2005; Frank Uekoetter, The Green and the Brown: A History of Conservation in Nazi Germany, Cambridge 2006; Joachim Radkau and Frank Uekötter, eds., Naturschutz und Nationalsozialismus, Frankfurt 2003; and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn, “Naturschutz und Nationalsozialismus: Darstellungen im Spannungsfeld von Verdrängung, Verharmlosung und Interpretation” in Gert Gröning and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn, eds., Naturschutz und Demokratie, Munich 2006, 91-113.
39. See Bierl, Wurzelrassen, Erzengel und Volksgeister pp. 135-138. For a sympathetic overview of the Italian anthroposophical movement in the Fascist era see Michele Beraldo, “Il movimento antroposofico italiano durante il regime fascista” in Dimensioni e problemi della ricerca storica no. 1, 2002.
40. For extensive examples see [] and [] On the collaborationist role of the Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in Italy and fervent Fascist Ettore Martinoli in antisemitic measures see Michael Wedekind, Nationalsozialistische Besatzungs- und Annexionspolitik in Norditalien 1943 bis 1945, Munich 2003, pp. 358-360, 385-386; and Silva Bon, La persecuzione antiebraica a Trieste (1938-1945), Udine 1972.
41. For examples of Karutz’s anthroposophical racial theories, see Richard Karutz, Rassenfragen, Stuttgart 1934; Karutz, “Zur Rassenkunde” Das Goetheanum January 3, 1932: Karutz, Von Goethe zur Völkerkunde der Zukunft, Stuttgart 1929.
42. Karutz quoted in Bierl, Wurzelrassen, Erzengel und Volksgeister p. 129.
43. Karutz, Von Goethe zur Völkerkunde der Zukunft, p. 57. Steiner himself was ambivalent toward Jews. In an 1897 polemic against zionism he compared antisemites – at the time a well-organized, active and very popular presence in Central Europe – to harmless children, and argued that zionists and “the heartless leaders of the Jews who are tired of Europe” were “much worse” than the antisemites (Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte p. 199). On the other hand he actively supported the right side in the Dreyfus affair, albeit largely out of hostility toward the French republic. Steiner publicly rejected antisemitism, aligning himself instead with what he called the “idealistic German nationalist tendency” which opposed the “materialist” antisemitism of other pan-German agitators. For a detailed analysis see Peter Staudenmaier, “Rudolf Steiner and the Jewish Question,” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book vol. 50 (2005), pp. 127-147.
44. Darré was himself influenced by Steiner’s ideas; see Heinz Haushofer, Ideengeschichte der Agrarwirtschaft und Agrarpolitik im deutschen Sprachgebiet, volume II, Munich 1958, pp. 269-271.
45. The Wachsmuth interview is reprinted in Dokumente und Briefe zur Geschichte der anthroposophischen Bewegung und Gesellschaft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, edited by Arfst Wagner, Rendsburg 1993, vol. I pp. 40-41.
46. Rascher quoted in Bierl, Wurzelrassen, Erzengel und Volksgeister p. 140.
47. For a partial list of anthroposophists who were members of the Nazi party, the SS, and the SA, see Peter Staudenmaier, “Anthroposophen und Nationalsozialismus – Neue Erkenntnisse” Info3 July 2007, pp. 42-43. The article is available online at: [] An English version is available at: []
48. In an earlier version of this article I characterized Hess as an anthroposophist, based on the extent to which he structured his personal dietary and health choices around anthroposophical beliefs. I now think that description was mistaken. My current view is that Hess’s occult interests were too nebulous to be specifically identified as anthroposophical, and that he is better seen as a sympathizer of anthroposophy and the major sponsor of anthroposophical activities during the Nazi era, but not as an anthroposophist himself.
49. For a detailed overview of Waldorf schools in Nazi Germany see Achim Leschinsky, “Waldorfschulen im Nationalsozialismus,” Neue Sammlung: Zeitschrift für Erziehung und Gesellschaft 23 (1983). For extensive background in English on the history of the Waldorf movement during the Third Reich, see [] and []
50. See Geden, p. 140. Weleda maintains that their staff was unaware of how its products were used. This response is plausible, but obscures the more significant fact that Weleda had ongoing business relationships with the SS and the Wehrmacht during the war.
51. On the network of SS biodynamic plantations at various concentration camps, see Wolfgang Jacobeit and Christoph Kopke, Die Biologisch-dynamische Wirtschaftsweise im KZ, Berlin 1999.
52. Uwe Werner, Anthroposophen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus 1933-1945, Munich 1999. The book is based in part on internal anthroposophist records not available to other scholars.
53. See, for example, Jesaiah Ben-Aharon, The Spiritual Event of the Twentieth Century, London 1996.
54. The most extensive study of Darré’s support for biodynamic agriculture is the work of historian Anna Bramwell. See Bramwell, Ecology in the 20th Century, London 1989, chapter ten on the green wing of the Nazis, entitled “The Steiner Connection,” as well as her earlier book Blood and Soil: Walther Darré and Hitler’s ‘Green Party’. Both are important sources of material on the topic. Bramwell’s work, however, is often unreliable and always tendentious and should be consulted with caution.
55. In an earlier version of this article, I named two further Nazi officials as supporters of biodynamics: Antony Ludovici and Ludolf Haase. This claim was based on Anna Bramwell’s statements about both men. In addition to archival sources, Bramwell’s work cites her own interviews with unnamed “Anthroposophist members of Darré’s staff” as a source on “relations between followers of Steiner and the regime” (Bramwell, Ecology in the 20th Century, p. 270), and I adopted her claims about Ludovici and Haase despite my expressed reservations about her work. I now think those claims are mistaken. After an extensive search of both archival documents (including those cited by Bramwell) and contemporary published sources from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, I have been unable to find any corroboration for sympathies toward biodynamic agriculture on the part of either figure. Bramwell furthermore appears to have confused Ludovici with Nazi agricultural specialist J. W. Ludowici.
56. Carl Grund, for example, an anthroposophist since the 1920s, worked as an official of the biodynamic farmers league throughout the 1930s and was one of the foremost spokesmen for biodynamic agriculture in Nazi Germany. Grund joined the Nazi party in May 1933 and joined the SA in November 1933. In 1942 he was made an SS officer, and was promoted to SS-Obersturmführer in 1943. Within the SS he was a specialist for agricultural questions.
57. On Seifert’s relationship to anthroposophy see especially Charlotte Reitsam, Das Konzept der “bodenständigen Gartenkunst” Alwin Seiferts, Frankfurt 2001.
58. See Robert Pois, National Socialism and the Religion of Nature, London 1985.
59. On the continuing reverberations of this political tradition within North American contexts today see Rajani Bhatia, “Green or Brown? White Nativist Environmental Movements” in Abby Ferber, editor, Home-Grown Hate: Gender and Organized Racism, New York 2004.
60. The fact that the biodynamic movement influenced Nazi agricultural policy is hardly news; it has been recognized in mainstream scholarship for some time. For one example see Judith Baumgartner, Ernährungsreform – Antwort auf Industrialisierung und Ernährungswandel: Ernährungsreform als Teil der Lebensreformbewegung am Beispiel der Siedlung und des Unternehmens Eden seit 1893, Frankfurt 1992, pp. 55-57. Baumgartner’s study is by no means an aggressively critical treatment of the topic; her brief overview of the role of biodynamics in helping to shape the Third Reich’s agricultural policy is measured and matter-of-fact. A much more detailed account can be found in Gunter Vogt’s 2000 study Entstehung und Entwicklung des ökologischen Landbaus im deutschsprachigen Raum. Many anthroposophists are nonetheless taken aback when this history is recounted, an indication of how insulated the latter-day anthroposophical movement often is from its own past.
61. The initiator of the Italian wing of the biodynamic movement, Luigi Chimelli, was an effusive admirer of Mussolini and of Fascism, particularly its environmental and programs. See for example Chimelli’s introduction to his translation of a major work on biodynamic agriculture: Giovanni Schomerus, Il metodo di coltivazione biologico-dinamico, Pergine 1934, particularly pp. xvii-xx.
62. For a perceptive examination of Darré’s evolving relationship to the biodynamic movement, and a compelling counterargument to Bramwell’s work, see Gesine Gerhard, “Richard Walther Darré – Naturschützer oder ‘Rassenzüchter’?” in Radkau and Uekötter, Naturschutz und Nationalsozialismus. Gerhard’s legitimate and welcome critique of Bramwell sometimes leads her to overemphasize Darré’s skepticism toward anthroposophy, and she gives relatively little attention to the extensive support for biodynamics provided by members of Darré’s staff, including not only figures such as Merkel and Halbe but even more powerful Nazi agricultural officials such as Hermann Reischle, Karl August Rust, and Rudi Peuckert.
63. Anna Bramwell, Ecology in the 20th Century, London 1989, p. 204.
64. Ibid., p. 197. The ‘Battle for Production’ was Darré’s state-sponsored program to increase agricultural productivity. Initiated in 1934, its leading principle was “Keep the soil healthy!”
65. Wagner quoted in Bierl, p. 162.
66. Bramwell, Blood and Soil, Bourne End 1985, p. 179.
67. For more extensive discussion of the WSL and ultra-right anthroposophy see Janet Biehl’s “‘Ecology’ and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right” in Biehl and Staudenmaier, Ecofascism, pp. 44-48.
68. Further information on Haverbeck and his milieu is available in several fine studies: Jonathan Olsen, Nature and Nationalism: Right-Wing Ecology and the Politics of Identity in Contemporary Germany, New York 1999; Richard Stöss, Vom Nationalismus zum Umweltschutz, Opladen 1980; and Volkmar Wölk, Natur und Mythos: Ökologiekonzeptionen der ‘Neuen’ Rechten im Spannungsfeld zwischen Blut und Boden und New Age, Duisburg 1992.
69. Haverbeck, Rudolf Steiner – Anwalt für Deutschland, Munich 1989.
70. Volkmar Wölk, “Neue Trends im ökofaschistischen Netzwerk” in Raimund Hethey and Peter Kratz, In Bester Gesellschaft, Göttingen 1991, p. 119.
71. Anthroposophist author Henning Köhler quoted in Bierl, p. 9.
72. For Erra’s collected essays on both Steiner and Scaligero see Enzo Erra, Steiner e Scaligero, Rome 2006. On Erra’s role in the post-war neo-fascist movement see Francesco Germinario, Da Salò al governo: Immaginario e cultura politica della destra italiana, Turin 2005, pp. 64, 78, 89-90, 95-96, 99; Daniele Lembo, Fascisti dopo la liberazione: Storia del fascismo e dei fascisti nel dopoguerra in Italia, Pavia 2007, pp. 74, 90-92, 112-16, 125, 129; Giuseppe Parlato, Fascisti senza Mussolini: Le origini del neofascismo in Italia, 1943-1948, Bologna 2006, pp. 177, 238, 298-99, 308; Adalberto Baldoni, La Destra in Italia 1945-1969, Rome 2000, pp. 296-98, 338-44, 361-62, 512-13; Franco Ferraresi, ed., La destra radicale, Milan 1984, 17-19, 27, 43, 194-96; Piero Ignazi, Il polo escluso: Profilo storico del Movimento Sociale Italiano, Bologna 1998, 41-44, 77-78, 116-19; Franco Ferraresi, Threats to Democracy: The Radical Right in Italy after the War, Princeton 1996, pp. 34, 210-13.
73. See e.g. these sympathetic accounts: Arianna Streccioni, A destra della destra, Rome 2000, pp. 63-64, 209; Luciano Lanna and Filippo Rossi, Fascisti immaginari: Tutto quello che c’è da sapere sulla destra, Florence 2003, pp. 20, 153-55; Piero Vassallo, Le culture della destra italiana, Milan 2002, pp. 90-92, 114-15, 128; for further background see Nicola Rao, Neofascisti: La destra italiana da Saloà a Fiuggi nel ricordo dei protagonisti, Rome 1999, pp. 39-43, 50-57, 67-72, 74-75, etc.; Rao, La fiamma e la celtica: Sessant’anni di neofascismo da Salò ai centri sociali di destra, Milan 2006, pp. 49-51, 58-63, 80-87, etc.
74. Wachsmuth, Werdegang der Menschheit, Dornach 1953; Wachsmuth, The Evolution of Mankind, Dornach 1961.
75. See for example Ernst Uehli, Nordisch-Germanische Mythologie als Mysteriengeschichte, Stuttgart 1965; Uehli, Atlantis und das Rätsel der Eiszeitkunst, Stuttgart 1957; Sigismund von Gleich, Der Mensch der Eiszeit und Atlantis, Stuttgart 1990; Gleich, Siebentausend Jahre Urgeschichte der Menschheit, Stuttgart 1987; Fred Poeppig, Das Zeitalter der Atlantis und die Eiszeit, Freiburg 1962.
76. Rudolf Steiner, Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturvölker, p. 192.
77. Quoted in Bierl, p. 185. Bierl’s chapter on anthroposophist antisemitism includes many more examples of a similar nature.
78. Ludwig Thieben, Das Rätsel des Judentums, Basel 1991, pp. 164 and 174.
Tagged with: Ecofascism • Peter Staudenmaier

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it!
Reddit Facebook Twitter Delicious
Anthroposophy and its Defenders Welcome to the new ISE Website!
59 Responses to Anthroposophy and Ecofascism
← Older Comments

1. Ted Wrinch says:
May 5, 2012 at 3:32 am
Peter claims that there was ”extensive public support by anthroposophists for the nazification of Germany” but it is likely that he believes this due to a selective use and mis-reading of the evidence. Most of the debate on this topic has, for understandable reasons, been conducted in German up to now, which has made it rather difficult for anglophone readers to make sense of the issues. A new PhD dissertation by Karen Priestman has been published that may go some way towards helping rectify this situation: ’Illusion of Coexistence: The Waldorf Schools in the Third Reich, 1933–1941′, [] . The dissertation draws extensively on primary sources to paint a picture of the relationship of the Waldorf schools to the Nazi state that is very different from that suggested by Peter. Her study shows that, though one may accuse the Waldorfians of naïveté in their belief that they could co-exist within the Nazi state, the Waldorfians were not collaborators, mostly because the pedagogy, provided to the movement by Steiner, was ideologically opposed to Nazism (“Still, circumstantial evidence, as discussed in chapter four, indicates that contrary to claims made by the detractors of the schools, charges of their supposed collaboration with the regime and alleged shared sentiments of racism and antisemitism are insubstantial and generally highly questionable”, p 6). Peter claims that Hess was simply ‘anthroposophy’s protector’ but Hess no more regarded the Waldorf schools as ideologically compatible with Nazism than anyone else:
“Hess was trying to reconcile the schools’ ideological incompatibility with National Socialism with the value of their educational principles, which Hess could not deny
Hess’ sentiments were echoed by Thies, ironically in a report which sealed the schools’ fate. While explaining that all applicable authorities agreed that the schools had no place in a National Socialist state, he conceded that there was still some value in their educational principles.”
p 152-153
‘Co-opt[ing] the [anthroposophical] movement and its institutions’ to the Nazi state, that Peter presents as an option, was for similar reasons not on the table .
Peter has said elsewhere that he views it as legitimate to see historiography as a blend of polemics and history proper. It maybe for this reason that his article has been famous during the more than a decade of its publication for containing biases similar to that illustrated above. In her study, Ms Priestman further calls doubt on the lack of bias in the work on Anthroposophy of Peter’s favourite academic and colleague Helmut Zander, as well as that of another stalwart reference of his, Peter Biehl. And it maybe these biases that caused Ms Priestman in her dissertation to describe Peter as a ‘staunch anti-Anthroposophist’ and to present a seminar in February this year entitled: “The Waldorf Schools as Modern Havens of Nazism?: The Continuing Debate and the Abuses of History”. Readers wishing to understand more about the complicated issue of the co-existence of institutions ideologically opposed Nazism within the Third Reich could do worse than to consult Ms Priestman’s work.
2. Peter Staudenmaier says:
May 5, 2012 at 9:25 am
Ted Wrinch wrote:
“Readers wishing to understand more about the complicated issue of the co-existence of institutions ideologically opposed Nazism within the Third Reich could do worse than to consult Ms Priestman’s work.”
I heartily agree. Here is what I wrote about Dr. Priestman’s dissertation last week:
“There is a recent dissertation on the history of Waldorf schools in Nazi Germany that is well worth reading:
Karen Priestman, “Illusion of Coexistence: The Waldorf Schools in the Third Reich, 1933–1941″ PhD dissertation, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2009
An abstract and the full text in pdf form can be found here:
There is much to disagree with in the dissertation (she uses PLANS and my “Anthroposophy and Ecofascism” article as foils for her argument), and a few errors in detail, but it is full of important historical information based largely on the archives of the German Waldorf school federation. Much of her account focuses on Waldorf efforts to accommodate themselves to the new regime and cooperate with Nazi educational officials in order to maintain Steiner’s pedagogical principles within the context of Nazi rule. Priestman writes:
“This pattern of contradiction and ambiguity on the part of the Nazis and cooperation and naivety on the part of the Waldorf schools, continued throughout their existence in the Third Reich and shaped the strategies the schools adopted while pursuing their illusory attempt at coexistence.” (111)
She concludes: “Their idealism and their belief that the virtue of Rudolf Steiner’s pedagogy could not be denied indefinitely blinded the schools to the true nature of National Socialism and fostered an illusion of coexistence.” (224)
Along with Ida Oberman’s 2008 book The Waldorf Movement in Education from European Cradle to American Crucible, this is the best study available in English from a perspective sympathetic to Waldorf. Readers interested in anthroposophy during the Nazi era can learn much from it.”
Mr. Wrinch is unsurprisingly mistaken about my own work. My conclusions about Waldorf education in Nazi Germany are often quite similar to Dr. Priestman’s. In the chapter on the controversy over Waldorf schools in the Nazi era in my dissertation, I argue that compromise prevailed over collaboration, not the other way around. These sorts of basic misunderstandings, common among anthroposophists, need not deter readers interested in learning more about the history of the Waldorf movement in Nazi Germany. Here is an initial overview based on Waldorf sources:
Peter Staudenmaier
3. Nathaniel says:
June 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm
Hi Peter,
I would like to start by confirming that Steiner saw race as something which gave an individual particular strengths and challenges. He did the same with sex. He saw these as external to the core of the individual though, as conditions the individual could work with as one might work with being short, or tall…
I am also sorry to see that you have not given enough time to really understanding the ideas Steiner developed as social three folding. You write-
“Its central axiom is that the modern integration of politics, economy and culture into an ostensibly democratic framework must falter because, according to Steiner, neither the economy nor cultural life can or should be structured democratically.”
It is true that Rudolf Steiner regarded democracy as an unfit principle for the economy and culture. At the root of this thought is the wisdom which we recognize in the saying “too many cooks in the kitchen” which we know leads to a bad meal and spoilt moods. He did not mean that the economy should not have to respect laws created by democratic processes, this he firmly believed in and wrote that just as a regional economy had to accustom itself to the natural resources that it had to work given the realities of various bio regions of the world, it also had to accustom itself to the laws that were created through democracy in those regions. You can read this in his lectures on economy as well as in his book Toward Social Renewal.
On the other hand many Americans believe that culture should not be regulated by democracy, and indeed what Steiner meant by this was all intended in the same spirit which inspired those who founded the USA to make a division between church and state.
You also wrote-
“In the aftermath of the bloody world war, at the very moment of great upheavals against the violence, misery, and exploitation of capitalism, Steiner emerged as an ardent defender of private profit, the concentration of property and wealth, and the unfettered market.”
As I mentioned above, Rudolf Steiner believed the market should be subservient to laws created through democratic processes. He also believed that capital, for the most part, created through industry should be given to charities, schools and other cultural initiatives. He even created an association to work towrd this end called “der Kommende Tag”(The Coming Day). One of Rudolf Steiner’s main concerns was to promote the circulation of wealth for he thought that money which was invested in land, or under the mattress, distorted economic realities. He has some extremely interesting points in this direction. His thoughts inspired one of the most successful local currency projects in the world which is alive and well based on some of his articulations of aging/expiring currency. Here is an article from the guardian about this.
I will in no way contest that individual anthroposophists have made great moral blunders. I disagree with your argument that the development of national socialism was nascent in anthroposophy by pointing this out. Your image of Steiner, and his intentions and work, as an individual is extremely skewed. Of course this is only my opinion, but one based on 13 years of studying his work.

4. Peter Staudenmaier says:
June 2, 2012 at 11:59 am
Hi Nathaniel,
Thanks for your comment. You evidently misunderstood the article, as many anthroposophists have; my argument is not that “the development of national socialism was nascent in anthroposophy.” In part because of basic misunderstandings like these, many of Steiner’s admirers believe that what historians report about Steiner and his movement is skewed.

The reason for this is not mysterious; like you, a lot of anthroposophists are firmly committed to a series of well-worn myths about Steiner, myths which prevent you from viewing Steiner as a historical figure. Part of a historian’s job is to deflate such myths, and that often irritates admirers of Steiner, who think they have been “studying” Steiner for years and years. For better or worse, that is not what “studying” means outside of esoteric circles.
Regarding Steiner’s teachings about “social threefolding,” I’m not sure what you meant to disagree with, but if you’re interested you can find a much more detailed discussion here:
Unlike anthroposophists, social ecologists do not regard democracy as “an unfit principle for the economy and culture.” Social ecologists are fundamentally opposed to capitalism and the state and fundamentally in favor of a thoroughly democratic society, economy, and culture.
Last, on Steiner’s racial teachings, I recommend reading some of the previous comments to this article. Best,
Peter Staudenmaier

5. Nathaniel says:
June 2, 2012 at 10:40 pm
Hi Peter,
I read your other article. Thank you for recommending it. I believe I understand you are saying you take outer historical events to represent the truth of a persons ideas, not a thorough understanding of the ideas themselves. When I see a political cartoon of a person I can tell it is not the actual appearance of the person. When I read your descriptions of Steiner’s thought I can sense a similar situation.

I am not referring to historical events in space and time when I challenge your understanding of his ideas, rather, I am referring to his ideas. In saying this I am not disputing particular historical events you refer to nor the importance of paying attention to them and learning from them, but I am simply indicating they are not the same as a person’s ideas.

If one was to equate an understanding of social- three folding with a review of its history it would be a very poor idea for the future indeed! But it has hardly been developed in practice.
There is nothing “esoteric” about the idea that studying a person’s ideas leads to a knowledge of them. T

This method for understanding people is not particular to anthroposophists! I find confirmation of my suspicion that you see Steiner in a distorted light in the fact that you do not take time to respond to any of the ideas and examples(including historical and contemporary ones) that I mentioned but rather just accused me of various illusions. Your confidence and accusatory tone surely inspire some to think you have solid ground to stand on I hope you can couple these forces with a deeper respect for the truth in your life. Even if you can use the words that Steiner used this does not mean you have taken the time to understand them and despite the fact that I recognize many of the terms and concepts he used when I read your two essays, you have distorted their character. I leave it to others who read these things to investigate for themselves inaccuracies I found in your work.-

Steiner did not first experience spiritual reality after the age of 40 as you state(read the third chapter of his autobiography for example). Despite the fact that I can understand how from an outer perspective you could say he totally changed at the age of 40, when you study his life AND ideas/work you see that his essential inspirations developed through out his life(see the earliest articles in Lucifer/Gnosis from the turn of the last century when he writes about Theosophy and German idealism, the reference to his earlier work and their re-publishing until his death…)

Steiner believed the market and all business leaders should have to follow laws created in democratic processes.(read his book Toward Social Renewal for example and see my previous comment).

Steiner viewed the individual person as an independent and different entity than their sex, race, climate…( see the 14th chapter of his philosophy of freedom for example)
I see very clearly that you think anthroposophy is something that might seem to many as progressive but in reality it is still far from the level of progress you and your co-workers are promoting at your institute. May my comments ignite in you the bugging suspicion that maybe you have not exhausted the issue as much as you think you have!

6. Peter Staudenmaier says:
June 3, 2012 at 2:44 am
Hi Nathaniel,
Thanks for your comment. Many anthroposophists are convinced that they understand Steiner’s ideas. This is perhaps the most common anthroposophical myth, particularly among Steiner’s English-speaking admirers. The problem is an obvious one; in your own words, “you have not exhausted the issue as much as you think you have.” What you have read are snippets of Steiner’s later works available in translation. Quite apart from the quality of the translations themselves, the texts you are familiar with have often been bowdlerized and do not include much of the original racist and antisemitic content, for example.

Beyond that, the only scholarly biographies of Steiner are in German, and much of Steiner’s work, not to mention the rest of the anthroposophical corpus, has not been translated at all.

This situation leaves you unfamiliar with a large proportion of Steiner’s ideas. Let’s look at one of your own chosen examples: You believe, as countless anthroposophists do, that Steiner’s “essential inspirations” remained the same before and after 1900 and that he was already an esotericist and “experienced spiritual reality” before 1900. These beliefs are completely mistaken and are based on ignorance of Steiner’s pre-1900 published works. The edition of “Philosophy of Freedom” you cite, for instance, is a translation of the heavily revised 1918 edition, not the original edition from 1893.

More to the point, Steiner ruthlessly ridiculed esotericism – and particularly theosophy – during the 1890s. If you want to understand Steiner’s ideas, it will mean paying attention to the ways his ideas changed over time.

That is what his followers fail to do. Because you do not view Steiner as a historical figure but as a harbinger of timeless truths, you are oblivious to the development of his ideas and the specific contexts within which they emerged. You say that you are “not referring to historical events,” and that is precisely the problem. Ideas are themselves historical phenomena, and you won’t be able to understand them without recognizing that basic factor. This is not some personal shortcoming of yours, by the way. It is the standard perspective among those who believe in Steiner’s worldview.
As you know, the ISE webmaster has asked that we not overwhelm the ISE site with this discussion, and I think that is a reasonable request. If you would like to continue the discussion, I recommend moving to one of the existing email lists dedicated to anthroposophical topics. One in particular is very willing to host lively and extended exchanges between proponents and critics of Steiner’s ideas; you can find it here:
Its associated website includes several of my articles as well, and you are more than welcome to offer critical commentary there. Best,
Peter Staudenmaier
7. Nathaniel says:
June 4, 2012 at 9:11 am
Hi Peter,
I am fluent in German. The ideas I referred to are in the first edition. It is online in German thanks to google.
8. Peter Staudenmaier says:
June 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm
Hi Nathaniel,
Thanks for your comment. It seems to me you are repeating the same beliefs. You claimed in a previous message to me that you are fluent in German, for example. (Nathaniel has sent several additional messages aside from the ones posted here, and has declined to discuss them.) Assuming that is true, I’m not sure what it is you mean to object to when I point out that your claims are naïve and based on ignorance. If you read German, you are ignoring a very large body of readily accessible information about Steiner and anthroposophy, topics in which you profess a great interest. This is not likely to help you understand Steiner’s ideas.

The original edition of Steiner’s book The Philosophy of Freedom, for instance, presents a significantly different set of ideas from the ones contained in the edition you cited, a revised edition from two and half decades later. (By the way, the text of the original edition is not available on google books; I’m not sure how you managed to convince yourself of that.)

The same is true for the other works you cited. If you want to know what Steiner’s ideas were about esotericism in 1897, for example, you need to take a look at what Steiner wrote about esotericism in 1897, not in 1924.

Taking that approach would be a fine way to gain a better understanding of Steiner’s ideas. As things stand now, many of your stated beliefs about Steiner and his teachings are simply standard anthroposophical myths. Those myths get in the way of understanding Steiner’s ideas. Best,
Peter Staudenmaier
9. Antroposofía: la secta y su banco (Triodos) « Pensar es gratis says:
December 2, 2012 at 11:30 am
[...] El hecho de que la agricultura biodinámica haya sido adoptada por insignes cabezas de chorlito como Heinrich Himmler y el Príncipe Felipe de Inglaterra (destacado comerciante de vudumedicinas) bastaría para levantar la ceja, conociendo las pocas neuronas y las creencias idiotas de ambos personajes. (El dato sobre el jardín que tenía Himmler en Dachau, atendido por el jardinero de Weleda, vea abajo, es de Peter Staudenmaier en su abundantemente documentado y muy recomendable artículo La antroposofía y el ecofascismo.) [...]

← Older Comments
Commenting Guidlines:
The Institute for Social Ecology is committed to the spirit of free inquiry, and we hope that our website serves as a forum for debate and discussion of issues related to social ecology. Our aim is to to move the ideas of social ecology forward in a dynamic and critical manner that can further develop the project of social ecology and contribute to the unfolding of a decentralized, truly democratic, non-hierarchical, ecological society. Toward that end we insist that discussions on this site proceed in a respectful tone, and ask that people refrain from personal attacks on other participants in this discussion.
Leave a Reply

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 22, 2012 07:10AM

Rudolf Steiner's Three Fold Commonwealth-



Steiner’s threefold commonwealth model frequently denounced grass-roots alternative economic approaches, whether in the form of economic democracy, non-statist socialism, councilist tendencies, worker self-management, or other radical efforts to counter capitalism. Many early anthroposophists viewed such efforts as dangerous versions of ‘materialism’ that threatened the spiritual emphasis of social threefolding. 52

***Steiner’s own stance was often ambivalent and at times simply contradictory; many of his voluminous writings on economic subjects are vague, disjointed and occasionally opaque. His positions also shifted multiple times, and in some instances he told proletarian audiences one thing while telling owners and managers the opposite.

Despite this built-in incoherence, it is possible to discern a more or less consistent standpoint in Steiner’s economic vision. In many ways, that vision represents a spiritual defense of capitalism, private property, market mechanisms, and elite control of production.

Steiner insisted that overcoming capitalism was simply impossible and would mean abolishing social life as such; for him, “capitalism is a necessary component of modern life.” 53

Rather than replacing capitalist institutions with more humane ones, Steiner favored a combination of private ownership and social conscience, in which individual capitalists and small groups of especially “talented” executives would manage private capital as a trust for the ostensible good of the whole community



These precepts bear comparison with several of the nebulous economic doctrines of classical fascism and its ideology of the Volksgemeinschaft or people’s community. As mentioned earlier, a central tenet of social threefolding is that the economic sphere must never be organized or managed democratically. In Steiner’s words: “For god’s sake, no democracy in the economic realm!” 54 Steiner thus railed against socialism (not just its Marxist variants) and rejected the socialization of property (not just nationalization). Within a full-fledged threefold commonwealth, Steiner foresaw a spiritual meritocracy in which the “most capable” would be given control over economic resources, and he vehemently rejected the notion of tempering this arrangement through community oversight.

Anthroposophist Walter Kugler describes Steiner’s position thus: “Each entrepreneur, that is each individual who wants to make use of his talents to satisfy the needs of others, will obtain capital for as long as he is able to make productive use of his talents.” (Kugler, Rudolf Steiner und die Anthroposophie, Cologne 1978, 165)

Steiner himself wrote: “The entire ownership of capital must be arranged so that the especially talented individual or the especially talented group of individuals comes to possess capital in a way which arises solely from their own personal initiative.” (ibid.) Steiner derided the idea of “transferring the means of production from private ownership into communal property,” as well as of socializing “the management of concentrated masses of capital,” and insisted that “the management of the means of production must be left in the hands of the individual.” (Steiner in ibid. 199-200)

Steiner was insistent on this point: “No-one can be allowed to return to economic forms in which the individual is tied to or limited by the community. We must strive instead for the very opposite.” (ibid. 201) In his fundamental work The Threefold Commonwealth from 1919, he forcefully dismissed “communal property” and “common ownership” several times over.


Steiner repeatedly rejected the notion that the exploitation of labor arises “from the economic order of capitalism”; for him the problem “lies not in capitalism, but in the misuse of spiritual talents.” 55 I

n Steiner’s view, “Individuals should gain advantage for themselves in the totally free struggle of competition.” 56

Private property,” for Steiner, “is an outcome of the social creativeness which is associated with individual human ability.” 57

Shared ownership, in contrast, is an obstruction to this all-important creative unfolding of individual talent: “The individual cannot make his abilities effective in business, if he is tied down in his work and decisions to the will of the community.” 58

In Steiner’s utopia, “The spiritual organization will rest on a healthy basis of individual initiative, exercised in free competition amongst the private individuals suited to spiritual work. 59

Within this framework, “the spiritual life should be set free, and given control of the employment of capital,” indeed an “absolutely free use of capital.” 60

When Steiner’s economic ideas were put into practice in 1919 and 1920 by the Threefold Commonwealth League in southwestern Germany, he made it very clear that he opposed democratic organization of the workplace. Anthroposophist Hans Kühn writes: “Democratization of the factories was something he [Steiner] opposed on principle. The manager had to be able to make his own arrangements without interference.” 6

Ayn Rand would have probably enjoyed Steiner very much.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 22, 2012 07:15AM

"I have become increasingly aware that contemporary anthroposophists are often uninformed about the history of their own doctrine." Peter Staudenmaier

The Art of Avoiding History
By Peter Staudenmaier On January 7, 2009 · Leave a Comment
Reply to Göran Fant, “The Art of Turning White into Black”


This is Google's cache of []. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Dec 7, 2012 11:29:59 GMT.



In the course of the several debates that have ensued since my article was first published, I have become increasingly aware that contemporary anthroposophists are often uninformed about the history of their own doctrine.

As odd as it may seem to admirers of Steiner, who are inclined to view adherents of anthroposophy as authorities on anthroposophy, many anthroposophists simply do not know very much about Steiner’s teachings or about the development of the movement he founded. Like Fant, they thus find critical descriptions of anthroposophy’s history to be unbelievable, indeed virtually unintelligible. I would like to contribute to a more accurate view by responding to some of Fant’s claims. (2)
Fant says that anthroposophy is anti-authoritarian, anti-elitist, anti-racist, and apolitical. He complains about my article’s supposedly unorthodox method, and offers an alternative interpretation of the relationship between anthroposophy and Nazism. Let us examine each of these arguments in turn.
Fant’s statements about the character of anthroposophy are at odds with Rudolf Steiner’s precepts
. In order to continue along the path of spiritual and racial advancement, Steiner taught, individuals must subordinate themselves to “the great leaders of humankind” (die großen Führer der Menschheit). If they fail to obey these leaders, their souls are condemned to spiritual and racial stagnation.
(3) Anthroposophy is moreover based on an authoritarian epistemology which explicitly denigrates “criticism” and “judgement” while celebrating “reverent veneration” of ostensible spiritual virtues, and rejects “intellectual effort” in favor of “immediate spiritual perception.”
(4) Contemporary anthroposophists’ uncritical attitude toward Steiner’s writings is further testament to this authoritarian framework. Fant may be too optimistic about the possibilities for “adapting Steiner’s texts to our time”; short of schism or apostasy, anthroposophy offers no grounds on which its adherents might coherently revise or refute its inherited doctrines.
Furthermore, what Fant calls “the great, inspiring wholeness” of Steiner’s teachings depends entirely on anthroposophist credulity toward Steiner’s methods of occult revelation.
Whatever the charms of this version of esotericism, such methods are irreconcilable with rational evaluation and independent confirmation.

(5) In a judicious assessment of the anti-rational and authoritarian implications of the anthroposophic worldview, Sven Ove Hansson writes: “Steiner’s pronouncements are in practice never questioned in the anthroposophical movement, and very little of substance has been added to the doctrine after his death.”
(6) An authoritarian disposition is virtually unavoidable in a movement that considers itself to be preserving a “secret science” (Geheimwissenschaft), one of Steiner’s original terms for anthroposophy. (7)Elitism
Anthroposophy’s very nature as an esoteric worldview is predicated on the distinction between initiates and non-initiates, as well as on the notion of a ladder of knowledge which all initiates must climb step by step.
(8) These are the characteristic marks of an elitist mindset. Steiner also held that the German cultural elite, as the most spiritually advanced segment of the “Aryan race,” had a special mission to redeem the world from materialism. In his own words, “If one national civilization spreads more readily, and has greater spiritual fertility than another, then it is quite right that it should spread.” (9) His theory of the unique cultural mission of the German people was matched by an elitist social doctrine. In his economic writings, Steiner emphasized that decisions must be made by “the most capable”; his “threefold society” was to be run not by the “hand-workers” but by “the spiritual workers, who direct production.” (10) And his racial theories, needless to say, were rigidly hierarchical and tied to anthroposophy’s elitist conception of spiritual progress: “Nations and races are merely the various stages of development toward pure humanity. A nation or a race stands higher the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type, the more they have worked their way through from the transitory physical to the immortal supernatural. The development of humankind through reincarnation in ever higher national and racial forms is therefore a process of liberation.” (11) Even sympathetic observers note that Steiner’s anthroposophy aimed to create a “new spiritual elite”. (12)
I do not doubt that many anthroposophists today are opposed to racist prejudice. But this admirable orientation does not justify their refusal to confront their doctrine’s racist origins. The theoretical edifice of anthroposophy is built on the comprehensive historical-evolutionary-racial typology Steiner laid out in Cosmic Memory and elsewhere. The key to this typology is the root-race doctrine, which divides the human family into five root races (Wurzelrassen, sometimes also named Hauptrassen or Grundrassen, principal or primary races), with two more root races to appear in the distant future. Each root race is further stratified into sub-races (Unterrassen), a term which eventually gave way, in Steiner’s writings, to the more recognizable unit of the people or nation (Volk). These categories are biological (Steiner calls them “hereditary”) as well as spiritual. The racial classifications are not normatively neutral; they are arranged in ascending order of spiritual development, with the fifth root race, the “Aryan race,” and within that root race the “Germanic-Nordic” peoples, at the top of the hierarchy. This hierarchy, according to Steiner, is an integral component of the cosmic order.
Steiner’s book Cosmic Memory remains to the present day a primary source for anthroposophy’s cosmology, with no distancing whatsoever toward its racist elements. The editor’s foreword to the current edition, published in Dornach, doesn’t so much as mention the book’s racist content, much less try to explain or minimize it; and the Anthroposophical Society continues to officially designate the book one of the “fundamental anthroposophist texts.” (13) Nor did Steiner himself ever renounce it; on the contrary, at the end of his life he reiterated that Cosmic Memory contains the “basis of anthroposophist cosmology.” (14) Today the book is still officially recommended for use by Waldorf teachers. Its racial mythology is elaborated in extravagant detail in many other works by Steiner published by anthroposophical presses. (15)
Thus according to both Steiner and his latter-day followers, humanity’s very existence is structured around the stratified scheme of higher and lower races. (16) Nor is it the case, as Fant would have us believe, that in Steiner’s view these racial divisions “will soon totally disappear.” Steiner taught that the “Aryan race” will reign until the year 7893, six thousand years in the future. Occasionally he indicated that the final transcendence of racial categories would happen sooner, in roughly 1500 years – still an extraordinarily long time to wait for anthroposophy to shed its racial preoccupations. The Dutch anthroposophist commission on “anthroposophy and the race question,” on the other hand, reports that “according to Steiner, the word ‘race’ will no longer have meaning in 5,500 years.” (17)
It is also inaccurate and simplistic to say that Steiner gave the Aryan concept “quite another meaning than it later acquired in the Nazi era.” From the moment it was invented by European racial theorists in the nineteenth century, the notion of an “Aryan race” was bound up in the ideology of racial superiority. That Steiner himself shared this ideology is clear from his contemptuous references to blacks, Asians, aboriginal peoples, Jews, and other non-“Aryans.” Steiner’s version of Aryanism was in fact strikingly similar, even in detail, to that of leading Nazi racial theorists. Steiner divided the Aryan root race into five sub-races: Ancient Indian, Persian, Egyptian-Chaldean, Greco-Roman, and Germanic-Nordic. By comparison, Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg included the Indians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Germans and Scandinavians in the “Aryan race.” (18) Similarly, Arthur de Gobineau’s version of the “Aryan race” comprised Indians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Chinese, and Germans. (19) Richard Wagner held that the principal “Aryan” peoples were the Indians, Persians, Greeks, and Germans, and Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s conception of “the Aryans” was substantially similar to Steiner’s as well. The same is true for fascist esotericist Julius Evola’s variant of the “Aryan race.” Enthusiasts of anthroposophy would do well to familiarize themselves with the history of the Aryan myth. (20) Above all, they would do well to examine more closely the considerable continuities between Steiner’s description of the “Aryan race” and those put forward by leading racial theorists of the nineteenth century and their Nazi inheritors. (21)
In spite of all this evidence and context, Fant insists that “Steiner’s texts do not express any racism.” Two possible explanations for this remarkable conclusion are that Fant has not read Steiner’s racial writings, or that he has a notably limited understanding of racism. The latter possibility is strongly suggested by Fant’s example of “going out in the streets and slaughtering immigrants” as somehow typical of a racist mindset. He appears to believe that “well-meaning” people cannot hold racist views. (22) Fant has evidently never examined racism as a belief system or body of ideas. That these ideas continue to exert a powerful and pernicious influence in modern societies, without for the most part yielding directly murderous consequences, seems to have escaped his notice. Today’s naïve anthroposophists are the kinder, gentler counterpart to xenophobic thugs: not violent, not overtly discriminatory or prejudiced, indeed seemingly the opposite. That is why their potential role is so worrisome: to make ‘soft’ racism and ‘soft’ ethnocentrism socially acceptable in the heart of a materially comfortable but ideologically insecure middle class.
Many readers of “Anthroposophy and Ecofascism” seem to have taken umbrage at this theme; Fant is hardly alone on that score. Since anthroposophists today are frequently unfamiliar with Steiner’s racial teachings, they often find critical attention to these teachings offensive. The indignant response to my brief mention of the Krishnamurti affair provides a revealing example of this dynamic. It is certainly true that Steiner rejected the very possibility of another incarnation of Christ in the physical realm. The standard anthroposophical position that Krishnamurti’s ‘racial’ background played no role in Steiner’s aggravated reaction to the affair is nonetheless historically naïve. The fact that Krishnamurti was not white was a stumbling block for many theosophists at the time. (23) Carla Risseuw writes: “Many white-skinned members of the Order of the Star in the East needed time to digest the fact that the World Messiah (Krishnamurti) was not white.” (24) Roland Vernon’s study of the Krishnamurti affair notes that Steiner in particular “found untenable the notion of a Hindu boy being physically prepared for occupancy by the Lord Maitreya, and this representing a contemporary reincarnation of Christ.” (25) Steiner’s rivalry with the India-based leadership of the Theosophical Society played a crucial role in this development, and a fuller understanding of his reaction requires taking seriously Steiner’s statements about the racial-spiritual status of South Asians, the future direction of racial evolution, the spiritual significance of skin color, and the obsolete and inferior nature of Eastern spiritual traditions.
Steiner pointedly ridiculed the idea that a “Hindu lad,” as Steiner called Krishnamurti, could embody the Christ. According to Steiner, Hindus had long since played out their evolutionary function and were now leftovers of former spiritual grandeur, an anachronism trapped in decline. Krishnamurti was neither white, European, nor Christian, and thus failed Steiner’s test of adequacy for cosmic leadership. In 1911, in the midst of the acrimonious split from the Theosophical Society, anthroposophist Günther Wagner wrote that Steiner and his followers believed: “Since we are the most advanced race, we have the most advanced religion.” (26) It was thus a special affront to the anthroposophical mindset when the rest of the theosophical movement cast its lot with Krishnamurti, who was neither racially nor religiously suited to the role, in anthroposophist eyes. In the aftermath of the split, Steiner continued to insist on a forthrightly racial understanding of Hinduism. (27) He sharply contrasted “the Eastern school” of spirituality to his own “Western school” of esotericism, presenting the difference in racial terms: “But this oriental form of truth is worthless for us western peoples. It could only obstruct us and hold us back from our goal. Here in the West are the peoples who shall constitute the core of the future races.” And: “The dying races of the East still need the Oriental school. The Western school is for the races of the future.” (28)
For Steiner, “the soul life of the Orient” is not fully part of “normal human life,” as the spirituality of the East is “decadent” and “certainly in decline.” (29) He faulted English-speaking Theosophists for looking to India for “ancient Oriental wisdom” and for “borrowing completely from the oriental Indians,” whose springs of wisdom had long since run dry. According to Steiner, “the Oriental thinker” is not at the same level of development as “European spiritual culture,” and it is only in the West that the seeds of the future are to be found. (30) Steiner held that it is the task of “the German people” to spread “spiritual life,” which “the Oriental” has lost; Asians must now receive spiritual guidance from the Germans. Steiner attributed “the purest and cleanest form of thinking” to “the Germans,” who are indeed the carriers of “the future of humanity,” a future which can only be realized by “our own spiritual striving, not by borrowing from the Oriental.”

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 04, 2013 10:34PM


Quote: It is movement leader's Dan Dugan's arguement that "Waldorf schools use various denials and subterfuges to conceal Anthroposophy"
These subterfuges include deliberately secularizing language and falsely arguing that the schools do not teach athroposophical content.

'An example of such secularization can be found in the records of the WSOFL. On May 18th a letter was addressed to the board of WSOFL applying for membership. This letter argued for the pragmatic use of secular language in the school's public representation of itself. It made concrete suggestions such as speaking of a child "at one with the environment" rather than "an incarnating spirit". Its argument was that "this secular approach would allow parents to focus on the pedgagy and its benefits, rather than on Steiners intimations of suprasensible realms which some might consider problematic."
The suggestion here was not that anthroposophical ideas be made secret but that they may be reframed and their a-rational aspects be deemphasised.

It is precisely this kind of manipulation of information that leaves some parents feeling tricked and left on the outside of an important secret.


Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 04, 2013 10:43PM

Zooey's blog

"Birthing the Threefold Spirit of Anthropsophia"


Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 04, 2013 10:51PM



I can recommend this document, (go to Zooey's blog for live URL-Corboy)

published by the Anthroposophical Society of America. The title alone should tell you that I¡¯m right. ... I¡¯ll present you with some examples, but, really, the document as a whole is an experience, and I could pick any sentences or passages almost at random:

As we head toward the Holy Nights of 2012, we experience an intensifying birthing process and the increasing labor pains of earthly life. (p 2)

A second crucifixtion is occurring in the etheric life around the earth and every living creature. (p 2)

The Calendar of the Soul verses speak directly to the co©\creative essence of our soul as a Madonna or Midwife. We are able to birth ourselves anew each year through the intimate relationship that consummates itself between our soul and the ¡°Creative Creator Word¡± through the seasonal cycle of the year. (p 3)

The soul is our birthing ground, the vessel through which we can find our way to the wisdom of Sophia within and about us. She can be met and made whole by the Universal ¡°I¡± of Christ in us. (p 5)

The Universal Creative Powers were able to view their own evolutionary activity within the perceptions of Rudolf Steiner from a spiritual scientific perspective ¨C most likely for the first time in human history. (p 7)

And, behold the numerological magic on page 8 (as well as on p 23). I won¡¯t quote, but will say that it is a relief to know that the presented hypothesis about the importance of the year 2012 (and the 12 holy nights this year) are numerologically, scientifically, spiritually sound. The reasoning must be read as a whole. To continue:

We believe the next octave to the birth of our individual Spirit Child is to begin to collectively form an ¡°I to I¡± threefold social vessel so that the threefold Spirit Child of Anthroposophia can fully incarnate and be birthed into the world through and with us. Dec. 28th of Holy Nights 2012 we will enter a 3 x 33.3 year anniversary of the original founding of the Anthroposophical Society which was founded to support spiritual research and to serve the needs of the soul to understand the spiritual foundations out of which it continues to evolve. This was the beginning of the creation of a social vessel to serve the incarnation of the being Anthroposophia. (p 8)

The author then manages to mention the mayan calendar, which ends on december 21st, and to connect this to anthroposophical calendar wisdom.

On page 10 we learn a little more about Steiner¡¯s and Ita Wegman¡¯s previous incarnations (as if more lunacy is needed to be added to this article):

Those who listened with a sensitive soul realized that Rudolf Steiner spoke in imaginations that revealed his and Ita Wegman¡¯s karmic background to the Egyptian cultural epic as Eabani and Gilgamesh in 2909 BC just after the beginning of Kali Yuga. This coincides with the first historical Michael Age. [...] Steiner continued to lead the participants through 5000 years of recorded history as he intimately revealed the historical destiny impulse carried by both he and Ita Wegman. The most awe©\inspiring of all, when one reads it for the first time, is the implication of a previous incarnation of Rudolf Steiner as Aristotle and Ita Wegman as Alexander the Great.

I gather that the author believes strongly in this ¡®implication¡¯. (Was Steiner ever explicit about his previous incarnations? I mean, are there any records of him being explicit?) Wegman and Steiner have lived through nine incarnations together, ¡®since 2909 BC¡¯ (p 13):

What we start to see in light of the various incarnations of Rudolf Steiner that it is his world mission to be an emissary of Michael, along with his closest comrade Ita Wegman.
As for speculations on karma, not even Steiner is spared:

As karma would have it, Steiner died before this social deed could be fully implemented and brought to fruition.

All right, the author doesn¡¯t speculate about the karmic cause. Nonetheless, she assumes karma had it its way. That karma was a factor, deciding the time of his death. The document then discusses ¡ª in a somewhat bizarre fashion ¡ª what to do with Steiner¡¯s unfinished first class lessons.

Christopher Houghton-Budd¡¯s questions, quoted on page 18-19, shows the dependancy on the person, on Steiner. As for Steiner¡¯s failed prophecy that millions of people would gravitate towards anthroposophy, ¡®this has not happened due to karmic breakdowns, wrongful expulsion of members, (including Rudolf Steiner¡¯s soul mate, Ita Wegman), the unthreefolding of the Society, and lack of initiative, insight and compassionate co©\creative leadership among the members.¡¯

To round up this post, the article contains som
e¡­ questions (p 22):

Are we willing to go through the labor pains to birth the three©\fold spirit child of Anthroposophia, first from out of ourselves, then in our families, communities and in right relationship in three©\fold initiatives with one another? Can we begin to co©\create threefold initiative circles that can support one another and help humanity build the bridge to the future?

There¡¯s apparently some kind of telephone conference is to be held to discuss these pressing concerns.

I recommend the article. It¡¯s special, and it¡¯s ghastly, as I warned you. I must admit I feel slightly queasy from the baby analogies, the ¡®heavenly begotten spirit child¡¯, vessels, thoughts about wombs and fruitions, soul-midwives, apocalyptical references, sleeping through crucifixions, unpleasant expressions and anthroposophese in general, and so forth. Also from stuff about offering ones spirit and destiny to be a vessel for the incarnation of anthroposophy, the metaphorical (?) child. It¡¯s bonkers, you know, bonkers. Frightening bonkers. This is an anthroposophy detached from normal human life. Perhaps that might just be one reason there are no prophesied millions of anthroposophists around. Who wants to live something that appears more similar to Alien than to a more sober spiritual philosophy?

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 11, 2013 11:26PM

Waldorf Critics website has new links and articles.


If you are looking for a school for your child, or invited to join some gardening project and its instructor teaches 'biodynamic gardening' and is associated with a Steiner or Waldorf project, they may seem to be teaching gardening, but if they are fully indoctrinated Steinerists they are privately of the belief that what they are doing is not mere gardening, it is an exercise to draw astral forces down into the soil and plants.

Please note that some instructors may have been taught biodynamic techniques but their own preceptors have kept them in ignorance that biodynamics is based on one man's theology.

Now the community gardens and 'sustainable' gardening/farming and various 'green' projects have become popular, please take care to do background research.

Note: Permaculture is not the same as biodynamics, no matter what people claim.

Biodynamics is based on Steiners 'spiritual science', Steiners occult and racist ideology.

Permaculture is based on modern science and evidence.

Since the work of Karl Popper in the mid 1950s, it has been understood a root principle of modern science is falsifiability. That assertions that cannot be disproved have no role in framing scientific hypotheses.

One has to be capable of stating what circumstances would falsify/disprove one's hypothesis or assertion in order for it to be useful in modern scientific method.


Steiner's spiritual science is full of notions that cannot be disproved and are therefore authoritarian assertions. These have no place in modern scientific method--they merely express one mans craving to create a cosmic map and lifestyle guide.

Steiners material is not falsifiable. He and his adherants consider his material to be the truth, that it cannot be disproved.


If you dont mind this sort of thing, thats fine. But if you dont want to be associated with it, do your research and find out who is endorsing a school or gardening project before you become involved.

Ditto for cooking classes based on fermentation methods and that allege butter is never harmful. Steiner had an entire occultist magic model for this stuff.

One can find excellent classes on yeast baking, brewing and pickling without having to stomach occult and racist belief systems along with it.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Anthroposophy, a Secret Religion?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 13, 2013 11:15AM



Nick Nakorn // Oct 9, 2010 at 03:59

Dear David,

Many thanks for posting this excellent piece. It is clear, if one reads the Steiner archives, that the Steiner-Waldorf-Anthroposophical vision is not rooted in rational thought. Though claiming to represent a system of understanding equal to the rigours of science, Anthroposophy is in fact a dangerous religious cult.

Hiding behind a New-age façade, Anthroposophical organisations have attracted a substantial following by using their commercial income and bogus ‘green’ credentials to expand their operations into an enormous number of organisations and businesses. As someone who supports strong state secularism, I fully respect the right for such religious organisations to exist but I also expect such organisations to be honest and transparent about their beliefs, their intensions, their modes of operation and their personnel, whether paid or voluntary.

The reason that transparency is important is that a great many community groups and organisations have a real impact on the lives of those living within their sphere of influence. Like most religions, Anthroposophy has a set of irrational beliefs and not all advocates believe in a literal interpretation of the texts. But unlike most religions, those aspects of Anthroposophical texts that advocate nonsensical, illegal or unethical modes of relating to the community are mostly hidden from view and, as far as the Anthroposophical command structure is concerned, not up for discussion in the public arena.

One of the consequences of that policy, of Anthroposophy hiding its true purpose from all but their specially chosen initiates, is that many people join and contribute to seemingly benign organisations that are in fact intent on subverting the efforts of the contributors to the expansion of the Anthroposophical world view; a world view that is steeped in racism and eugenics.

Readers interested in how covert Anthroposophical organisations operate at the local level might well be interested in my experiences with a small environmental organisation here in Devon called Buck the Trend and the extent to which the Steiner machine has infiltrated the Green Party and the Transition Town Movement. As someone who has been a campaigner for environmental and social justice causes for over 30 years, it is sad indeed to see that rationalism and sound science are no longer welcome currencies within the environmental movement unless sanctioned by the racist mystical madness of Anthroposophy.

Best wishes,


Options: ReplyQuote
Current Page: 6 of 11

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.