Dangerous Anthroposophy

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 displayed.

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 crucified.

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 views.

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.

(1) http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/oajnr.html

(2) http://www.bobnancy.com/menu-steiner.html

(3) http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/concerning.html

(4) http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/lawspirit.html

(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.

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