Thursday, September 6, 2012

Foreword to the Fourth Edition (1999)

This foreword is being written on the eve of my departure for a third working visit to America to participate in three conferences, the second of which is this year’s Social Science Section annual conference for members, followed by one for the general public from July 9 –11 in New Lebanon, NY. In continuation of the theme of last year’s conference at Kimberton Hills, PA, the emphasis will be on deepening our understanding of the threefold nature of the social organism – in the Anthroposophical Society as well as in the world at large. In the fourth edition of my booklet Munsalvaesche in America – Towards the New Grail Community, I reported on some fundamental aspects of last year’s Social Science Conference, in which I participated with David Schwartz, Steve Burman and others in what by many was regarded as a fruitful seminar on the ‘principles’. As a contribution to this year’s theme of “elite globalization”, I then offered to present a translation of Herbert Witzenmann’s introduction to Rudolf Steiner’s course on world economy entitled The Just PriceWorld Economy as Social Organics. This proposal which has recently met with a favorable response by Bernard Wolf, one of the organizers of the conference along with Claus Sproll, I hope to realize in the two weeks between the end of the first astrosophical conference on the Grail in Boulder (StarHouse) [1] and the start of the Social Science Section gathering in New Lebanon, NY.

My underlying motive for bringing this work forward at this point is the insight that the idea of social organics can be applied, is indeed inherent to the Anthroposophical Society as well as to the world at large, but that with respect to the Society it takes on the form of the ‘principles’ and with respect to the world at large it must be clothed in terms of Rudolf Steiner’s course on world economy. In that sense social organics can address the esoteric as well as the exoteric, the internal and external matters that so demand our urgent attention and call for resolute action: the state of the Anthroposophical Society and the world situation that are so mysteriously but inexorably intertwined.

As a fitting close to this fourth edition, I would like to share a passage I read while browsing through a friend’s library in Ithaca, NY. It is taken from the book The Life of Greece by the American philosopher and historian Will Durant and can be read (on p. 290) in the chapter XIII The Morals and Manners of the Athenians dealing with the education of young men of Athens:

“At nineteen they are assigned to the garrison at the frontier. There they are entrusted for two years with the protection of the city against attack from without and within. Solemnly, in the presence of the Council of Five Hundred, with hands stretched over the altar in the temple of Argoulos,[2] they take the oath of the young men of Athens: 

"I will not disgrace the sacred arms nor will I abandon the man next to me, whoever he may be. I will aid to the ritual of the state, and to the holy duties, both alone and in company with many. I will transmit my native commonwealth not lessened, but larger and better than I have received it. I will honor those who from time to time are judges; I will obey the established statutes, and whatever other regulations the people shall enact. If anyone shall attempt to destroy the statutes I will not permit it, but will repel him both alone and with all. I will honor the ancestral faith.

This passage is highly interesting in the light of what Rudolf Steiner described as the sole task of the Council during the Christmas Conference: realizing the all encompassing statutes (later called principles) of the Anthroposophical Society. However, it is no longer a question of merely “obeying the established statutes”, as in the days of old Athens, but of freely comprehending, implementing and defending them as the charter of a universal society of free spirits.

Robert J. Kelder,
Amsterdam, June 12, 1999

[1] In this conference I will present my annotated translation of Werner Greub’s From Grail Christianity to Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy, which is appearing today, one day before my flight to Denver tomorrow morning. Update: A second, revised and enlarged  edition appeared in 2001.
[2] Argoulos as such is not listed in the 1972 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. What is probably referred to here is Argolis or Argolid, the celebrated capital of Argos, “a name apparently signifying an agricultural plain, which was applied to several districts in ancient Greece…Traditionally the city was said to have been founded by the mythological Phoroneus, the son of the river-God Inachus about 1750 B.C. Derivations of a royal family from a god frequently implied that the human founder arrived as an invader, and this date is compatible with that assigned by many philologists and archeologists to the arrival of the first Greek-speaking people (the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C.).” 

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