The Law and the Spirit

- some remarks in support of our considerations of the issues
of the amicus brief, the problem of opposing defamation, and the constitutional question -

by Joel A. Wendt

The Summer 2004 Newsletter contained a number of pieces, wherein the activities of the Anthroposophical Society had found themselves involved in those ongoing social processes, which find their social focus in the Life of Rights, or what is sometimes called: the political-legal sphere of the threefold social organism.  This brief paper hopes to add to our considerations of the relationship between anthroposophical activity and the Life of Rights.

Matthew 22:21 "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's"

I can speak now from a more than twenty-five year contemplation of this verse and its help in understanding human social existence.  Christ here recognizes that there is a difference between the earthly social realm (Caesar) and the realm of the Father, or what we in anthroposophy often call "the spiritual world".  He enjoins human beings to give (render) to earthly human existence what belongs to that world, and to give (render) to the Father what belongs to Him.

When we render unto social existence, that organism acquires those qualitative characteristics which we give to it.  Social life, especially the Life of Rights, is entirely formed out of what we give to it (whether positive or negative).  The realm of the Father, however, is not formed by what we render to it, but rather we ourselves are formed by that activity.  We become in accord with how we develop spiritually.

The two realms then interact with each other in a reciprocal fashion.  To the extent we render to something higher than ourselves, we develop.  To the extent we later render those developing qualities into the social life, it develops.  The social organism's development can aid (or hinder) our inner development (and processes of education are clearly an excellent example of this); and, our development clearly can aid (or hinder) the development of social existence (witness the problems in America in the present due to the excess of amorality in political affairs).

The above is an oversimplification, as the reader might guess.  On my website can be found a more detailed examination in a long (five part) essay: Waking the Sleeping Giant: the mission of Anthroposophy in America (

In those lectures collected under the title: The Inner Aspect of the Social Question, Rudolf Steiner remarks that while the Cultural Life is a mirror-like image of our pre-birth existence,  and the Economic Life is a mirror-like image of our post-death experience, the Life of Rights is entirely earthly.  It has no spiritual world counterpart.

In this way Steiner also recognizes what is pointed to by Christ - Caesar's realm and the Father's realm are not the same.  We should, by the way, also keep in mind that the Life of Rights is the central organ of the threefold social organism, with all that that observation implies.

What happens when an aspect of the Cultural Life is forced by circumstances (and some of its own behaviors) to interact with the Life of Rights?  What qualities of the Life of Rights are to be encountered, and what might be the consequence for this cultural institution (such as the Anthroposophical Movement and Society)?

When  I was in law school, on almost the first day, more than one law professor made clear to us that the Law is not the same as morality (Spirit).  Law was, in fact, what the social order determined to be its lowest tolerable expectation.  Morality (Spirit) was the highest expectation, and the Law the lowest.

In addition, from a phenomenological point of view, Law is to the social organism, what the skeleton is to the human body - that which is most hardened and rigid, but without which movement and uprightness would be impossible.  Furthermore, mostly in the long bones, lies an organ surrounded and protected by this hardened (yet living) structure - the marrow.

The marrow produces red blood cells (oxygen carriers), white blood cells (protectors) and platelets (coagulators).  What is the analogous function in the Life of Rights?

The Law consists of three broad realms: court decisions leading to stare decisis (case or common law), actual written laws (legislation) and regulation (rules made by bodies authorized to make rules by legislative authority).  Again we are simplifying, which means we need to be cautious in our conclusions and our reasoning by analogy.

In the Life of Rights, the concepts that a society has concerning what is right for all come to expression.  These concepts are the life blood of that society, and they circulate throughout the body social, creating (in the same way that the blood circulation creates its heart) a social heart - or what we call media in the broadest sense.   Media are meant to be a kind of commons in the social body, wherein the concepts of what is right for all are actively discussed and elaborated - equalized and mediated, in the same way the rhythmic system equalizes and mediates the nerve-sense pole and the metabolic pole.

[the journalist Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now), speaking on October 16th, 2004, at the Bioneers conference in California said that "media was a long kitchen table, running the whole length of the country, at which we all sit, discussing war and peace and life and death, and that anything less serious was a travesty of the true purpose of media"]

That this organ in the body-social is new, and is not healthy or well developed, should be taken as a given.  Nevertheless this organ - media in its broadest sense - has arisen in between the State (the nerve-sense pole of the Life of Rights - i.e. the death, or consciousness pole) on the one hand and the People (the metabolic or life and will pole) on the other, during the course of Western Civilization. Thus has the Life of Rights become itself internally threefolded.

We should also keep in mind, some remarks of Steiner's in his lectures collected under the title: The Challenge of the Times, that English speaking Peoples are instinctively in the consciousness soul in their Life of Rights.  This means, phenomenologically, that instinctive consciousness soul impulses (mostly moral in nature - i.e. individualized intuitions of the Good) are pouring their forces into the dynamics of the Life of Rights, trying to elevate and make more living, the Law (with its outer hardened structural aspect - the skeleton, as well as its inner organ of concept perception and generation - the marrow).  This gesture out of Civil Society and into the Life of Rights is a movement of resurrection and rebirth within those forces of Death in Western Civilization, which Death forces appear, in part, in the ossification of the Law to the extent that it has now outlived its once valid Roman origins.

As mentioned above, in the last Newsletter, certain matters of intersection between our cultural movement and the Life of Rights were elaborated.  In the light of those concepts also elaborated above about the Law and the Spirit, are there any cautions or inspirations that might be helpful (in a pragmatic sense, this being America)?

Certain concepts can be troubling.  Is it useful, for example, to see PLANS as opponents?  That is how they see themselves, but do we miss something if we only view them as wrong, and against us?

I would suggest that a more accurate assessment of their (PLANS) reality is that as regards the larger social body, they represent the activity analogous to white blood cells.  They are trying to protect society from concepts they find inappropriate and unhealthy.  In fact, in the age of science, we should expect precisely such responses from those parts of the social body which rest, in one way or another, within the dominant paradigm (secular humanism and/or scientific materialism).

At the same time (and I speak here from experience, for I have been on the battlefield of the PLANS internet discussion group off and on since 1996), there is a zealotry within PLANS that is itself excessive.  Yet, the reality is that there is also something unseemly within Waldorf, and this excess within our own movement has naturally brought out a protective reaction.  Please do not express dismay here, for if we are honest, we are all merely human and excesses in Waldorf are as expectable as is a reaction against.

Since this is of crucial importance, I will briefly elaborate.

We are talking here about concepts.  Concepts are produced by thinking.  If the concepts being expressed in the Waldorf movement are not produced by active thinking, but are rather held religiously (such as beliefs in what Steiner said), then they will be expressed as beliefs, treated as beliefs and rejected as beliefs by the social body (the parents) that receive them, because in the age of science, it is knowledge not beliefs that are of the most import.

To the extent that Waldorf lives as a community of concepts held together by the processes in the soul of belief or faith, then Waldorf (and Anthroposophy itself) are a religion.  Waldorf is even sensitive to this, for there is in the Waldorf movement in America, a recognition of a difference between those who might be described as traditionalists (change nothing the Doctor said), and those who believe that Waldorf must be adapted to the soul circumstances of America.

PLANS teaches us something about ourselves and we will gain greatly from recognizing its lessons.  While we have to speak to the question the amicus curie brief reaches toward (whether Anthroposophy is a religion), we also, at the same time, need to be brutally self honest for our own growth as a movement depends upon this gesture (which is itself the foundation for anyone who seeks spiritual development - the ability to look objectively at one's self).

The reality is that in its ideal form, Anthroposophy is not a religion, at the same time, it is often expressed in individual souls in a quite religious way.  We strive to be Spiritual Scientists, but much that we do revolves around faith in the teachings of Steiner, and not knowledge in the sense of Steiner's epistemological works.  For Steiner, what is truly anthroposophical is knowledge, not faith or belief.

In the case of the activity of PLANS that comes forward in what has been described in the Newsletter as defamation and the like, we find the excesses of PLANS' zealotry in full flower.  The real question has to do with how do we, as a spiritual/cultural free association, choose to deal with what is essentially the name calling of some school-yard bullies.

If we descend into the Law for a response, we may well surrender the higher moral ground that is our true foundation.  For example, there is a certain individual connected to PLANS, who has made a career out of connecting Steiner to National Socialism.  The thing that should be kept in mind is that this view is so excessive, that we really only need to rely on the moral common sense of those exposed to these concepts, and encourage them to investigate and make their own sound judgments.  In short, we trust people to be wise enough to see past this obvious excess.

[For example, the following matters could be pointed out with respect to this individual.  Think of Steiner's entire work as a pie chart.  This individual has taken a very small segment of the pie chart, out of its context within the whole, and reinterpreted its meaning (decided that he can say what Steiner had to mean).  It is as if someone were to look at the face of a very beautiful woman, find a beauty spot, call the beauty spot ugly, and then declare that this self-defined ugliness represents the truth of the whole.  That is the basic nature of the argument connecting Steiner to National Socialism, and all the words and pseudo-scholarship can't change the fundamentally flawed nature of that argument.]

The danger is to too strenuously oppose it.  We really have to stay off the playing field this approach assumes proper, and to carry out our activities on those grounds which we know to be validated.  We have many members who are superbly competent in various fields of endeavor, and all we need do is bring them into the situation, and ask the public, if we were really so far out as is suggested, how do we produce such gifted people?

Finally, as regards the constitutional question, we here encounter two factors of import.  The first is a quite definite distinction between the approach of Central European soul forces to problems within the anthroposophical movement, and the approach of American soul forces.  The second factor is the entrance into anthroposophical work of Ahriman via the ahrimanic double.

With respect to the constitution question, these two factors act in concert.   Central European soul forces tend to work from the ideal, seeking to incarnate into the social order the ideal element as conceived by the thinking.  As a consequence, problems within the anthroposophical movement and society were seen [under the influence of the double, which encourages us to mistake a matter of law (Ahriman's realm) for a matter of spirit (the Father's realm)] as causally manifesting due to a structural defect in the corporate entity which carried the Society - it was not as it had been ideally conceived.

This resulted in the view that if this defect, which did not meet the ideal, were to be corrected, that this would significantly alter the society and movement so that obvious defects in the present would be healed.  This is basically a modern ahrimanic deception.

Now in America, this constitutional issue has not been taken so seriously.  This is because the American soul, in its approach to the social, sees problems to be solved, rather than ideals to be incarnated.  In addition, our relationship to the ahrimanic double is more natural - it is more useful in a sense, belonging to us in a deeper way.

The real point of this discussion is that problems within a spiritual/cultural institution need to be solved by spiritual activity.  The resort to legal reform (fixing the constitution) and courts of law means to operate in the realm of Ahriman - part of which is the presently Romanized Life of Rights - when the real problems are of the soul and spirit (the realm of the Father), not of the earth (the realm of Caesar).

None of the above discussion is meant to suggest that in all cases necessity cannot require that we work within the Life of Rights, but only to suggest that the anthroposophical movement and society will find its best response, not in the realm of the Law, but in the realm of Spirit.

Thus, we let PLANS teach us the lesson such so-called opposition is there to teach us.  We ignore the territory the bully would take us, and trust to the good will and thoughtfulness of those to whom we can really show what and who we are.   And, that we seek not the reformation of the society and movement via recourse to the Law, but through the deepening of our own inner activity.

*       *       *

addendum regards the constitution question - the other side of the story:

It was stated in the Newsletter that the great majority of those present in Dornach voted to support the so-called merger.  For two years leading up to this meeting over Christmas 2003-2004, I was a member of an internet discussion group on the constitution question, which was quite international in scope and included a number of people that actually attended the meeting.  The story told by those who attended is quite different.

The constitution meeting had been under discussion and in planning for a number of years.  Delays occurred, but finally the issue was to be decided at the Christmas meeting.  The various factions who had been working on this made plans to attend.  Simultaneously with this long planned meeting, it was announced in the Fall that S.O. Prokofieff would give an important series of lectures regarding the Christmas Conference during the same time period.

As a consequence a very large group of people, who had not been following the constitutional question and who were not informed at all on the underlying issues, were in attendance at Dornach to hear Prokofieff speak.  These people were allowed into the constitution question meeting, essentially packing the audience, and allowed to vote although they knew little or nothing about the issues.  Guided by partisans on the existing Vorstand, who stood to lose a great deal if the constitution meeting went against them, a vote was taken essentially overwhelming the decades of work of those who were trying to return the structure of the Society to Rudolf Steiner's original intentions.

This is the so-called democratic majority, and it is no wonder that the group supporting this fallen political process lost in the subsequent court case.

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