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RE: [anthroposophy] Bondarev essays on the Web

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  • Daniel Hindes
    Thanks, Robert. Quite interesting. A bit of additional background on Bondarew and his expulsion from the Anthroposophical Society may be helpful. The Russian
    Message 1 of 3 , May 9, 2006
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      Thanks, Robert. Quite interesting.

      A bit of additional background on Bondarew and his expulsion from the
      Anthroposophical Society may be helpful. The Russian edition of Bondarew's
      book (its full title would be accurately translated to "Anthroposophy at the
      Crossroads of Today's Occult Movements") contained several antisemitic
      passages, including a denial that the Holocaust ever happened (supposedly it
      was made up by Jews to elicit sympathy). Somehow these passages never made
      it into the German edition of the book. When this finally came to the
      attention of Anthroposophists in Germany, Bondarew was asked to clarify his
      views, and maintained and affirmed that he did believe and stood by what he
      had written in the Russian edition. This was problematic on a number of
      levels, since Holocaust denial is illegal in several European countries. The
      statutes of the General Anthroposophical Society allow the Vorstand to expel
      any member for any reason. Bondarew was expelled, and the explanation
      included the statement that "When individuals who also occupy themselves
      with anthroposophy express anti-Semitic views, then this can only be their
      personal opinion, never an expression of the Anthroposophical Society nor
      indeed of anthropsophy itself." Personally, I'm not sure that the term
      "excommunicated" is the best choice of words, given its religious
      connotations.

      Daniel Hindes

      By the way, the typeface on the web page is impossibly, illegibly small in
      some browsers (it is set to -1 in the html). IE shows it normally. Firefox
      and Opera show it as instructed (that is, really small).

      -----Original Message-----
      From: anthroposophy@yahoogroups.com [mailto:anthroposophy@yahoogroups.com]
      On Behalf Of Robert Mason
      Sent: Monday, May 08, 2006 2:37 PM
      To: anthroposophy@yahoogroups.com; anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com;
      steiner@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [anthroposophy] Bondarev essays on the Web

      To All:

      I have just posted two essays (in English) by
      the excommunicated Russian Anthroposophist
      Gennady Bondarev. These have not been readily
      available on the Web for some time, and I
      felt that they should be again. They are
      excerpted from his book *The Crisis of
      Civllization* (*Anthroposophie auf der Kreuzung
      der okkult-politischen Bewegungen der Gegenwart*).

      The first is a treatment of Christian ethics in
      relation to the unmasking of evil. Bondarev is
      writing in the context of the dysfunctions of the
      (Dornach) Anthro Society:
      <http://www.Geocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1105/ChristianEthics.htm>

      The other is a deep meditation on "good and evil",
      and is really a book in itself:
      <http://www.Geocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1105/GoodEvil.htm>

      Robert Mason
    • Robert Mason
      ... and his expulsion from the Anthroposophical Society may be helpful. The Russian edition of Bondarew s book (its full title would be accurately translated
      Message 2 of 3 , May 10, 2006
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        To Daniel Hindes, who wrote:

        >>A bit of additional background on Bondarew
        and his expulsion from the Anthroposophical
        Society may be helpful. The Russian edition of
        Bondarew's book (its full title would be
        accurately translated to "Anthroposophy at the
        Crossroads of Today's Occult Movements") . . .
        .<<

        Robert writes:

        Yes, but the (very limited) English editions
        have the title *The Crisis of Civilization*.

        Daniel wrote:

        >> . . . contained several antisemitic
        passages, including a denial that the Holocaust
        ever happened (supposedly it was made up by
        Jews to elicit sympathy). Somehow these
        passages never made it into the German edition
        of the book.<<

        Robert writes:

        I have what I take to be the entire text of the
        book (in English), including passages that were
        deleted from the German edition. I don't know
        of any such passages as you describe; if you
        have them, I'd like to see the quotes and
        citations.

        I recently had a grueling go-round on the WC
        list about all this; my part in the thread
        starts here (March 18)
        <http://lists.topica.com/lists/waldorf-critics/read/message.html?mid=1720032313&sort=d&start=30918>

        Here is part of what I wrote there:
        ***
        I think it's fair to say that Bondarew does ask
        questions about the "official" version (or
        versions) of the "Holocaust" history. I would
        guess that some passages were deleted because
        the Swiss censorship laws are so draconian that
        even asking questions could land one in prison.
        I'm not sure; I have never asked Herr Lochmann
        about it. But I don't think that Bondarew made
        any firm "denial" of the "Holocaust". On the
        contrary, in the course of a rather involved
        discussion, he made this statement (quoted from
        the loose pages of the deleted passages):

        "I am not expressing a final judgement on
        whether the Holocaust happened or not. I
        simply don't have such a judgement. And
        previously I had not the slightest doubt that
        the Holocaust happened. But now I very much
        want somebody to explain to me the meaning of
        these forged photographs and documents -- then
        the exponents of the existence of the Holocaust
        would gain in me another fellow-believer, and
        of course not only one. For now I remain
        deeply convinced that this question is in need
        of study."
        ***

        Daniel wrote:

        >>When this finally came to the attention of
        Anthroposophists in Germany, Bondarew was asked
        to clarify his views, and maintained and
        affirmed that he did believe and stood by what
        he had written in the Russian edition.<<

        Robert writes:

        This is the first I've seen of this particular
        aspect of the story, but I see no *moral*
        reason why he should have disavowed anything he
        said in those passages that I have seen. (I
        have some doubts about some epistemological
        aspects, such as regarding his statement that
        mass cyanide poisoning would have caused an
        ecological disaster.) He might have had some
        *practical* reasons to have backed away; it's
        to his credit that he didn't. I suppose that,
        given the political and legal climate over
        there, he's lucky that he hasn't been
        prosecuted or deported.

        Daniel wrote:

        >>This was problematic on a number of levels,
        since Holocaust denial is illegal in several
        European countries.<<

        Robert writes:

        And the situation is especially dangerous,
        since, as you can see from the WC thread, some
        people can't or won't tell the difference
        between doubt and denial.

        Daniel wrote:

        >>The statutes of the General Anthroposophical
        Society allow the Vorstand to expel any member
        for any reason.<<

        Robert writes:

        Yes, and that clause did not come from Steiner
        and the Christmas Conference founding, but was
        slipped in later by others. (Well, actually it
        says that the expulsion can be without any
        reason whatsoever.) And how much grief has
        followed . . . ?

        Daniel wrote:

        >>Bondarew was expelled, and the explanation
        included the statement that "When individuals
        who also occupy themselves with anthroposophy
        express anti-Semitic views, then this can only
        be their personal opinion, never an expression
        of the Anthroposophical Society nor indeed of
        anthropsophy itself."<<

        Robert writes:

        Note that the statement did not cite a single
        "anti-Semitic" word from Bondarev, and it did
        not mention "holocaust denial" at all. But
        why, if they really had to say anything, even
        erroneous, about the book, did the Vorstand not
        just leave it at that: Bondarev's opinions are
        his own and not those of the Society? -- Why
        the expulsion? The original Christmas Society
        statutes (now only "principles") state that
        (#9): "A dogma in any sphere whatsoever shall
        be excluded from The General Anthroposophical
        Society." The expulsion, allegedly based on
        opinions expressed in a book, seem to me to be
        contrary to the very spirit of Anthroposophy,
        which, in our times, is the foremost teacher of
        true human freedom. I say *allegedly*, for I
        have to doubt that the stated reason was the
        real reason. -- You might want to read my
        closely related post on "Anthroposophy Tomorrow"
        for more on this theme:
        <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/anthroposophy_tomorrow/message/25898>

        Daniel wrote:

        >>Personally, I'm not sure that the term
        "excommunicated" is the best choice of words,
        given its religious connotations.<<

        Robert writes:

        I think that this is a strictly correct usage;
        my dictionary gives this as the second, non-
        religious, definition of *excommunication*:
        "exclusion from fellowship in a group or
        community". But what would you propose as the
        correct word?

        Daniel wrote:

        >>By the way, the typeface on the web page is
        impossibly, illegibly small in some browsers
        (it is set to -1 in the html). IE shows it
        normally. Firefox and Opera show it as
        instructed (that is, really small).<<

        Robert writes:

        Thanks for the tip, but I don't know what to do
        about Firefox and Opera. I don't know anything
        about them; I work with IE, and most people
        read with IE. If I changed something, how
        would that affect the presentation on IE?
        Anyway, only the top note is -1, from a
        basefont of +4.

        -- This controversy about Bondarev is
        perplexing, but it is only a part of the larger
        puzzle about the Society (or societIES) and the
        Movement. It's hard for us over here in
        America and who don't understand German to know
        what is really happening over there in Door-
        knock (much less in Russia). Controversy rages
        about almost everything, and it surely did not
        start even in our lifetimes. I would be slow
        to take anything at face value, try to keep an
        open mind, and keep digging.

        Robert Mason


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