Getting some kind of agreement with the "terrible" PC PS (Politically
Correct Peter Staudemaier)
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Simplifications
Date: Wed, 01 Oct 2003 00:43:30 -0500
From: Peter Staudenmaier <pstaud@...
you can check out the last few days' worth of discussion on the list here:
Both Percedol and Walden replied to your last post.
In your latest you write:
>>I can't see your logic on this point. If it is false, isn't that reason
>>enough to reject it?
>Well, of course, especially if you're not interested in a within
Hmmm... maybe that's a good reason to try to get an outside perspective?
>For antroposophy to just reject lots of what
>Steiner said won't do - it has to be reevaluated - to sort out what is
>the truth behind and where this truth becomes incorrect
So far that sounds good to me; this is what I was getting at with my point
that excising the racist assumptions from anthroposophy will leave big
holes, and that those holes will need to get filled in somehow.
>by the process
>of relating a clairvoyant picture to the terms of our sense-perceptible
>world, to cloth non-verbal communication into words...
That part I'm not so sure about. I suppose it's not really my business,
since I'm not an anthroposophist, but it might be more promising to leave
the whole clairvoyance business behind and treat Steiner's teachings as
spiritual values to be appraised on their own merits, rather than insisting
on their origins in some supernatural capacity of the movement's founder.
Alternatively, some contemporary anthroposophist might have to claim
clairvoyant authenticity for a reworking and correction of the racial
doctrines. But I'll gladly leave that up to folks who believe in
>>But the whole point is that people like Steiner and Mitrinovic did *not*
>>separate these concepts. If we want to understand their work on its own
>>terms, we can't wish away that crucial fact. Steiner tied spirituality and
>>biology tightly together. Contemporary anthroposophy has yet to untie
>>them. What's taking you all so long?
>Childdisease ?? :-)
I think that's probably a partly accurate diagnosis. One of the reasons that
anthroposophy remains afflicted with some childhood diseases is that it
hasn't really grown up yet, hasn't matured as a spiritual movement; it still
jealously guards its esoteric character. My hunch is that the racist
elements won't get dealt with in a satisfactory way until anthroposophy
moves from esoteric to exoteric.
You then quoted a long passage from GA 117. We've dicussed this passage
several times before; for examples, see here;
I've always been puzzled by the fact that this passage is so popular among
anthroposophists eager to prove that Steiner's racism wasn't really such a
big deal. The lecture is one of several occasions where Steiner distances
himself from the cyclical aspects of the standard Theosophical scheme of
root-races, which repeat endlessly. This notion contradicted Steiner's
version of progressive evolution, so he abandoned the cyclical variant in
favor of a linear variant.
Many readers seem to think the passage says that race no longer has meaning
today. That reading is mistaken; what Steiner actually says in this lecture
is that "the first overcoming, the full overcoming of the race concept" will
not occur until "the sixth cultural epoch", which is thousands of years in
the future. He is very, very explicit about this: "dass der sechste
Kulturzeitraum gerade die erste Ueberwindung, voellige ueberwindung des
Rassenbegriffes ist" (p. 165). Somehow the folks who like to quote this
passage always seem to leave that part out...
But more important than this is the point of Steiner's prediction that race
will fade away many centuries from now. Why is that claim significant in the
context of this lecture? Because it shores up his peculiar conception of the
Universal Human as a kind of human existence that is shorn of all racial and
ethnic particularity, in order once again to denigrate the group whom
Steiner considered to be the paragon of anachronistic particularity and
"group-soulness", namely the Jews. (Indeed, this trope runs throughout the
book as a whole; GA 117 is one of two primary texts that other
anthroposophists typically refer to when they want to stress the
blood-based, hereditary "mission" of the ancient Hebrews; see, for instance,
Jesaiah Ben-Aharon's dreadful book on the Third Reich, The Spiritual Event
of the Twentieth Century, p. 65.) If you've read the full lecture, Soren,
this cannot possibly have escaped your attention.
>From the beginning of the lecture he hammers away at this theme, comparing
the ostensibly unindividuated Jews to animal species that are similarly
trapped in group-soulness (that part is just two paragraphs before where
your chosen passage begins), and repeating the comparison near the end of
the lecture: those peoples who remain stuck in group-soulness are basically
just "higher animals", not real humans (p. 164). All of this is quite
consistent with Steiner's teachings that the very existence of 'racial'
differences is an unfortunate detour from the proper course of cosmic
evolution. In order to interpret this lecture as an admonishment against
racism, one would have to accept that premise and look forward to the day
when racism disappears because racial and ethnic diversity themselves have
been eliminated. May I suggest that this is not, in fact, the right way to
support the development of individuality?
>I find the left-rigth crossover interesting, especially as I think the
>term left-rigth isn't a fulfilling description. Who says that rascism
>per definition is rigthwing,
>and humanism per definition leftwing -
I don't know who says this, but they're off the mark. Racism is not at all
restricted to the right end of the spectrum, and there are any number of
leftists who pride themselves on their antihumanism.
>Much of the left-rigth crossover is attempts to create dynamic middle,
>which in radicalism then tend to find more activism on the rigth end of
>the scale, as the leftwing has been stuck with a dogmatic materialism.
I think that is something of a caricature, but I don't see how it might be
relevant to our discussion.
>In stead of religion being a dividing factor
>within the working class, I find that it was the dogmatic claim of
>anti-spirituality and atheism from the radical left, that scared large
>groups of potentially progressive people away
Maybe. But atheism and anti-spirituality are two different things. Anyway,
what does this have to do with our topic?
>- fascism and nazism then
>skillfully exploited radical social ideas.
Yes, they did, and they had a lot of help from people who weren't paying
very close attention to the political implications of their esoteric
doctrines. That is a grave mistake that shouldn't be repeated.
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