Anthroposophy and Ecofascism I

One of the longest sections of my Defending Steiner website is my rebuttal to Staudenmaier's piece of attack journalism Anthroposophy and Ecofascism. The piece itself is quite a work. It is well-written and quite effective. If you had never heard of Rudolf Steiner or Anthroposophy, then after reading it you would doubtless feel convinced that you now knew what was really going on. There is only one small problem with the whole piece: it is almost completely inaccurate. From the sweeping conclusions to the minor details it is all wrong. Indeed, it is amazing how someone can write something to be almost the exact opposite of the truth. Really amazing. Well, I can opine at length about how wrong the article is, but that is unlikely to convince anyone. Instead I should provide evidence and reasons as to why I feel it is wrong. So let's start…

Peter Staudenmaier writes in Paragraph 1: In June 1910 Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, began a speaking tour of Norway with a lecture to a large and attentive audience in Oslo. The lecture was titled "The Mission of Individual European National Souls in Relation to Nordic-Germanic Mythology." In the Oslo lecture and throughout his Norwegian tour Steiner presented his theory of "national souls" (Volksseelen in German, Steiner's native tongue) and paid particular attention to the mysterious wonders of the "Nordic spirit." The "national souls" of Northern and Central Europe were, Steiner explained, components of the "germanic-nordic sub-race," the world's most spiritually advanced ethnic group, which was in turn the vanguard of the highest of five historical "root races." This superior fifth root race, Steiner told his Oslo audience, was naturally the "Aryan race."PS1
This introductory paragraph gets right down to business, introducing the thesis and supporting it with vivid examples. It is also inaccurate in almost every detail, which is characteristic of the entire piece. For one, Rudolf Steiner's speaking "tour" of Norway consisted entirely of lectures in Oslo over a two-week period. In addition Steiner gave two lectures in Oslo on June 13th, one about Christ, and one on philosophy, focusing on Hegel. This information can be found in Christoph Lindenberg's excellent Rudolf Steiner: Eine Chronik. (Stuttgart: 1988. Page 295.) This book is an exhaustive and accurate day-by-day and month-by-month chronology of Steiner's working life. You can look up what he was lecturing on and writing at any given point in time. At a glance we can see that immediately before Oslo Steiner was in Copenhagen (from June 2nd to 5th) lecturing on "Wege und Ziele des geistigen Menschen" (paths and goals of the spiritual human being) published in volume 125 of the complete works, and on the 22nd of June he was in Berlin, probably writing the first draft of his drama "The Portal of Initiation" (published in volume 44). Unfortunately this book is available only in German.

During this "tour" of Norway Steiner spoke primarily on the subject of "Folk Souls", in a series of eleven lectures from June 7th to June 17th, 1910 under the title "The Mission of Individual Folk Souls In Connection With Germanic-Nordic Mythology". In the German, "Die Mission Einzelner Volksseelen Im Zusammenhange Mit Der Germanisch-Nordischen Mythologie" Note the subtle but important change from "Individual Folk Souls" to "Individual European National Souls" in this erroneous translation. The word "European" appears nowhere in the German, and changing "Folk" to "National", while questionable from a translators perspective, was important for Staudenmaier's need to create evidence of Steiner's nationalism, because there is otherwise none present.

A transcript of these eleven lectures was published in book form in two different German versions and many editions. The version edited by Steiner for publication has been translated into several languages including English (twice).

This thread to be continued...

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This page contains a single entry by Daniel Hindes published on December 24, 2004 3:55 PM.

Anthroposophy and Ecofascism II is the next entry in this blog.

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