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RE: Bondarev essays on the Web

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  • 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 1 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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