Thursday, September 6, 2012

Foreword to the First and Second Edition (1998)

Note: These forewords may be of special interest to (former) members and friends of the Anthroposophical Society as they deal with attempts by the translator to not only show the significance of this study as heralding of a new principle of civilisation, but also to apply it to the life of the Anthroposophical Society itself, albeit without much success. Readers not so interested in this theme are cordially invited to skip these forewords and turn directly to the introduction by the author in Part II entitled “The Creation of an Overworld”.

The Anthroposophical Society has played no role of great importance in the course of the 20th century. Whether this will change in the few years remaining before the end of the second millennium and beyond that in the coming 21st century, will depend on whether the potential world historical significance of the ‘principles’ of this Society in their relation to the Foundation Stone Meditation, given by Rudolf Steiner at the end of the first quarter of our century as the spiritual cornerstone  of this society, are finally comprehended as embodying the archetype of social organisms and as such enacted.

To the general reader unaccustomed with this material, this strong conviction may well sound sectarian or strange, if not completely ridiculous. Yet, it lies at the heart of the attempt by the translator to make a new translation of this study as well as of the ‘principles’ and the Foundation Stone meditation by Rudolf Steiner available. For even though it is obvious to every student of the dramatic, dreadful war-torn history of the 20th century that the Anthroposophical Society has played no great visible part in it, the picture changes completely if one considers what would have happened, if the attempt by Rudolf Steiner to refound the Society during the Christmas Conference of 1923 – with at its core the Goetheanum, School of Spiritual Science as a new mystery center – had been planted in more fertile soil, i.e. if this new principle of civilization had been cultivated with more attention, loving care and courage in the hearts and minds of the recipients. Then it would certainly have branched out into all four corners of the earth and born fruit in all aspects of human culture, science and social life.
It would have acted as a counterforce against the movements opposing it that likewise came to the fore during that period: in the East bolshevism and Lenin’s Communist International Movement based on class struggle and the ideology of dialectic-materialism; in the West U.S. President Wilson’s League of Nations based on the contra-productive principle of self-determination for all peoples through the abstract idea of nation-states sanctioned by the moral cloak of the Vatican; and in the center on the one hand Hitler’s national-socialism based on the racist blood and soil doctrine with, on the other hand, its bedfellow and counterpart – strange but true – Theodore Herzl’s Zionism with its no less outdated racist theory of national blood- and soil bound supremacy (God’s Chosen People). These were, or even are, all more or less crimes against individual humanity – whereby the ignominious part played by the once so noble and universal freemasonry in conjunction with the dubious, because largely hidden and unchecked, role of Capital and the Central Banks in the service of Mammon seated mainly in the West must certainly not be overlooked. That this is no futile exercise in melodramatic recollection may be shown by the following.  

Rudolf Steiner had done everything he could to prevent the horrors of World War I and at the end of it, in 1919, he presented his proposal for the “Threefold Nature of the Social Organism” to the world as a direct answer of defeated Central Europe to the so-called 14 points of President Wilson. These would in the eyes of Rudolf Steiner – and how right he was considering all the so-called wars of national liberation which often ended up in still greater tyranny and turmoil than they strove to overcome – only cause greater havoc and suffering. He wrote a book that soon became a best-seller [1] and a movement, consisting largely of anthroposophists, was set up with headquarters in Stuttgart, Southern Germany, and with branches in various European countries, with representatives in England and America. By 1922, however, it became clear that the movement in this phase had failed due to too little support and too much external opposition from both left, right and center. But the intrinsic idea did not fail, and thus Rudolf Steiner presented the social organic impulse in the face of completely changed circumstances in Central Europe in a fundamentally new form and language, namely in his lectures on World Economy. In these unfortunately still not fully understood, let alone implemented, 14 lectures and 6 seminars for students of economy, he further developed the new royal art and science of social organics to neutralize the above mentioned inhuman effects of unleashed capital and the so-called free market economy by harmonizing them with the production factors – labor and nature – to bring about just prices through what he called associations of producers, traders and consumers.

By 1923 it became clear that the Anthroposophical Society itself had to be renewed, if it was to become a real vehicle for the cultivation and dissemination of anthroposophy, or science of the Grail as Rudolf Steiner also termed it in one of his basic works Outline of Occult Science. This societal renewal occurred at the Christmas Conference on a historic hill in Dornach, Switzerland in the presence of some 800 members and delegates from around the world, who at night heard lectures by Rudolf Steiner on world history in the light of anthroposophy and who, on December 28, 1923 – after three days of discussion – unanimously adopted the fifteen paragraphs submitted by Rudolf Steiner, with slight amendments, as the statutes of the refounded, general, i.e. neither national or international Anthroposophical Society. A day earlier Rudolf Steiner had characterized the task of the newly formed Council as follows: “The central Council is to consider as its sole task the realization of the statutes; it shall have to do everything that goes towards the realization of the statutes. And with that great freedom is given. But one knows at the same time what this Council signifies, because one has the statutes. From these statutes a complete picture can be gained of what the Council shall ever do.” [2] In the very next sentence Rudolf Steiner mentions one of the immediate objectives of the Council, namely to establish on the basis of the statutes the proper relationship between the Council of the newly found Society and its related institutions, especially the Goetheanum Building Association.  And it is exactly from this point on that great doubt has arisen as to whether the ensuing course of events was fully in line with the stated goal, or whether a serious departure from it crept in with the disastrous effect of neutralizing the newly constructed social-organic form for the cultivation of anthroposophy and consequently of preventing it from incarnating, as it were, in the soul life of a humanity hungry for real spiritual nourishment.

The increasing doubts concerning this turn of events, coupled with the resolve to help put the Anthroposophic Society as it were back on its track, has led to the formation of the G.A.S. Constitution Initiative - Working Group for the Clarification of the Constitution Issue of the General Anthroposophical Society with its international co-ordination center in Achberg, Germany. [3] 

The essence of what happened is that on December 29, 1925 the members of the Anthroposophical Society were invited to become active in the Goetheanum Building Association, renamed General Anthroposophical Society, thereby establishing a unsound mixture of spiritual and economic-administrative planes. Since that time the statutes of the Anthroposophical Society have been referred to as the principles to distinguish them from the statutes of the Association of the General Anthroposophical Society Inc. Hence the ‘principles’ in quotation marks.

In short, the task at hand now is to engender a reborn Anthroposophical Society by turning in full consciousness the ‘principles’ into statutes, thereby fulfilling the world historic task, which the Society neglected at the beginning of this century and thus help overcome further catastrophes.[4] 
In closing my thanks go out Bernard Wolf and the friends from the Social Science Section of the Goetheanum who invited me this time to America to attend conferences of the Anthroposophical Society inspired partly, it seems, by this working translation.[5] This kind invitation prompted me to make a second edition of this work available and thereby use the American spelling. Pending the permission of the Herbert Witzenmann Foundation in Stuttgart, Germany, which governs his estate, I hope someday to make it also publicly available. (Update: this permission has in the mean time been give.) 

Robert J. Kelder,
Amsterdam, May 1998

[1] First published in English under the title The Threefold Commonwealth, London 1923; second edition The Threefold Social Order, New York 1966 and third edition Towards Social Renewal, London 1977. Original title Die Kernpunkte der sozialen Frage in den Lebensnotwendigkeiten der Gegenwart und Zukunft.
[2] Translated from Die Weihnachtstagung zur Begr√ľndung der Allgemeinen Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft, Dornach 1963, p. 101, which also contains the sentence concerning the Goetheanum Building Association. English translation: The Christmas Conference for the Foundation of the General Anthroposophical Society  (Hudson, 1990). 
[3] This group has been disbanded in the face of the development of the constitutional issue. Its leading spokesman, the former Wilfried Heidt, along with other colleagues, such as Gerhard von Beckerath and Benedictus von Hardop, has joined together with members of the Council of the Society in Dornach to form a working group to find a solution to the constitutional question. For further background information see Wilfried Heidt Does the Anthroposophical Society need to be refounded?, an article that appeared in the German Goetheanum News for Members in 1997 (Has been translated; exact reference could not found).
[4] See for a more penetrating analysis as well as a proposal to solve this constitutional issue “The Foreword to the Fifth Edition” of this booklet. 
[5] See my literary report Munsalvaesche in America – Towards the New Grail Community on my lectures last year (1997) in Wilton, New Hampshire. Available in the Library of the Anthroposophical Society in America. (Update; later enlarged to include reports of visits to Canada and America in 1998, 1999 and 2001. Of this fifth edition only two copies were printed. A new one is pending.) 

No comments:

Post a Comment