by Joel A. Wendt
In 1997 I wrote a couple of essays and designed a small
poll. The essays were based on a many years' consideration
of a certain problem that I had (and still) perceived in the
Anthroposophical Society, of which by that time I had been a member for
about 17 years. This problem involved the fact that in the social
operation of the Society, in its Study Groups and Branch meetings, I
had observed little practical understanding of Steiner's
epistemological works. Reference would often be made to only one
of them - The Philosophy of Freedom, but even that one was often
portrayed as a difficult work, whose goal was only attainable for a few.
So I wrote an essay saying in essence that the study of Rudolf
Steiner's lecture cycles in the Study Groups I had participated in, did
not take account of the problem of knowledge that the epistemological
works not only pointed out, but had also showed how to solve in quite
practical and direct ways. It was as if we had been given a gift
that had not been understood when he lived, and so it had been set
aside and is now just laying there gathering dust.
This failure to take the epistemological works into our souls, as
anthroposophists, had consequences, and so I also wrote an essay on
these consequences for the Society in general. The two essays
(Rudolf Steiner's Lecture Cycles and the Problem of Cognition: musings
on the epistemological swampland of the Anthroposophical Movement; and,
The Anthroposophical Society: Is it a living Social Form?) plus the
poll, I self published in a photo-copied journal I called: Outlaw
Anthroposophy - the Journal, which can be found on my websites (1).
I also had a friend take 23 copies (I was then, as I am today, working
poor) of this work to the Ann Arbor Michigan summer conference in 1997,
where they were given away for free. Four years later, a
correspondent via e-mail, remarked to me upon reading the Journal on my
website, that it must have been the material she heard referred to at
that Conference as subversive.
Now in a Society in which spiritual freedom and initiative are set
forth as some of the highest principles, for just such an act of free
initiative to be labeled subversive, which is after all a political
term, not a term based upon Spiritual Science, really says more about
those who made this characterization than it does about the work
itself. In fact, the work, once on the internet, was translated
into German by Lorenzo Ravagli, and published in the Jarhbuch fur
anthroposophiische Kritik 1998, at his initiative. It was also
taken up by Bob and Nancy's Waldorf website (2), where if you go to the
section on anthroposophy, it is still, after 7 years, prominently
Step back from this for a moment and with your imagination think back
to the time when Christ walked the earth in the company of all of his
disciples, both male and female. For two and a third years the
Creator of All, Himself, lived in a physical body, in order to share
our fate - that is to live and then die. He taught during this
time in such a fashion that the social order around Him could not but
find Him to be dangerous and subversive, to such an extent that He was
Even Rudolf Steiner was, in the context of the wider social world in
which he lived, so dangerous and subversive that he was murdered.
In our time, within the Anthroposophical Society and Movement, a young
woman (Irina Gordienko) published a book (Sergei O. Prokofieff: Myth
and Reality) was also so dangerous and subversive that her reportedly
accidental death was seen by some to be murder, done so as to prevent
her from standing as a living human being, within the Society,
proclaiming that the current Emperor of the Vorstand has no clothes.
What is the active principle here?
It is, quite simply, the truth. The truth is always contrary to
that aspect of any social community, which in order to make existence
placid and safe for its hold on power (for the dominance of their
authority), must deny the truth. Until we all develop to the
point that we can live with each other's individual free initiative,
which is a kind of spiritual anarchism, the social group will always
try to smother that which does not conform to the group's homogenized
This is the key - to understand how the group, to the extent that it
likes to sleep and maintain its illusions, homogenizes all thought
content which might disturb this sleep. The result, is that after
a century of work, the Anthroposophical Society possesses not Spiritual
Science, but Steinerism. Without the epistemologies there is no
science, because there is no striving with the problem of knowledge.
Without a scientific discipline at the heart of the social element of
anthroposophical work, the unconscious tendencies in the social group
will dumb down the work (homogenize it), and we end up with a blind
faith in Rudolf Steiner as an authority, at the expense of trust
in the spiritual reality of our own thinking.
Emerson, in his lecture: The American Scholar, hit the nail on the
head: In self trust all virtues are comprehended.
The worship of Steiner-thought, coupled with the abdication of the
responsibility to critically evaluate the work of those being put
forward as new initiates (such as Prokofieff), ruins the life work of
our teacher. By our worship we make of Spiritual Science
merely a belief system in Steinerism; and, by our lack of critical
thinking, we then allow those truths shared with us by our teacher, to
be rearranged into something they never were.
Why do we tolerate this insanity?
In the Fall of 2004, I wrote two more essays. One was called:
Concerning the Renewal of Anthroposophy: rediscovering the true meaning
of the New Mysteries (3), and the other: The Law and the Spirit
(4). I then went to Detroit Michigan, to the Annual General
Meeting of the Anthroposophical Society in America, where I handed out
to all present copies of these essays. This was the second
national conference I had ever attended (being working poor, you don't
get out much), the first having been 14 years before, a Social Science
Section meeting in Spring Valley, NY (5).
I stood up on the first morning (following the previous evening's
lecture, which had been firmly rooted in Steinerism), consciously
trying to disrupt the very asleep flow of things, in which everyone
does what everyone usually does (homogenized social processes).
Of course, I was shouted down. As the American writer Kurt
Vonnegut has written, with his wonderfully phlegmatic acceptance of
social insanity: So it goes.
Do you want a solution here? Do you think as a writer pointing
out this problem, I owe you, the reader, a duty to suggest an
answer? Okay then, go read the essay noted in footnote (3)
- Concerning the Renewal of Anthroposophy: rediscovering the true
nature of the New Mysteries, but be prepared, it is dangerous and
subversive and a lot of people aren't going to like it.
(5) This is not to say I have been out of touch with the movement, but
efforts at publication of my works routinely fails. These
extensive writings can be found on that section of my website devoted
to anthroposophy: http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/otlwa.html
and in their
descriptions will be found brief remarks showing the consistent
rejection of these offerings mostly in America. Elsewhere they
receive greater welcome.