Peter S on Nazis, racists, epistemology
- A short time ago, Joel invited Peter Staudenmaier to discuss epistemology and the PoF in the Hole, and Peter was more than happy to accommodate Joel, because he loves discussions and his favorite sport is ping pong. It helps him hone and sharpen his arguments when discrediting anthroposophy, where he is not content to play the racism card. Why settle for that when Nazism is so much juicier than mere racism? But, of course, not even Nazism can succeed in bringing down anthroposophy properly if its core is based upon a unique and brilliant epistemology with great potential for the future, so it's important to make endeavors to ridicule it, and to make alnthroposophists appear as goons and goofs in denial of truth and even of of their own ideas.
So far, Peter Staudenmaier has made his initial rudimentary attempts to discredit Steiner's epistemology. Not very impressive, but you can probably count on him getting better at it over time. Not by gaining a deeper understanding of it, but by familiarizing himself with the words used, which make no sense to him, giving them meanings of his own invention and then trying to ridicule or discredit such meanings then falsely ascribed to Steiner.
At the present, Peter S is bungling along on a terrotory where he is a stranger, jumping into the fire with phrases like "Steiner succumbed to one of the basic epistemological errors of modern occultism by failing to distinguish between perception and interpretation." Popular readers in anarchist circles are unlikely to catch his screaming flaws, to discern his total lack of comprehension when it comes to the complex relationships of percepts, concepts, ideas, thinking etc. Because PS is incapable of grasping that the PoF analyzes the interrelationships of these faculties and thus cannot distinguish between them, he projects his ignorance upon the author by blurting out that he is the one who fails to make these distinctions.
I am not getting into a discussion of the PoF with anybody here or in any other forum for several reasons. One reason is that it's a waste of time, energy, and concentration, especially with a topic so demanding. A second reason is that when certain topics are being discussed, not to understand them better but to assert premature opinions about it and stick to such opinions no matter what, the topic is not understood at all and such discussions will never help any understanding of it. And thirdly, I do not profess to understand the PoF. It' requires a lifetime of meditative study to come even close to it. As an example, Rita Stebbing once made a translation of the PoF. Then she worked on this book daily, meditatively, and thirty years later she wrote an improved translation. It took her thirty years to find out how better to express these ideas in English. (By comparison, how long study of the PoF was required for Staudenmaier to reach his judgement?)
When Joel invites a person like Peter S to discuss the PoF, his intentions are obviously noble and idealistic. He thinks he can reach Staudenmaier's objective common sense and arrive at an interesting dialogue, exchange of ideas. And there may be others who think the same. But Peter Staudenmaier has demonstrated very clearly that he is not interested in any truth, because truths, facts, have a tendency to influence your opinions and amend your judgements. PS is using e-groups to hone and sharpen his polemical arguments against Steiner, anthroposophy, and anthroposophists, and to this end he keeps building up his Nazi-allegations further and further. This means that what we see in his posts to the Hole, this is material very likely to resurface in refined and perfected form in articles and books, with elegant footnotes and so on. And anyone wasting time to debate him on epistemology, astro-genesis, or any other issue related to anthroposophy, is contributing to these goals.
Let's take a look at one of Staudenmaier's tirades about anthroposophical racism:
"Anthroposophist racists don't simply "believe in" Steiner's spiritual-racial theories inside of their own heads -- where neither you nor I can see -- they propagate these theories in public, they develop them further, they apply them to new situations and new subjects, they promote new forms of thinking about race and spirit in racist ways. Nothing that I have just said has anything to do with the intentions of these anthroposophists. Lots of these anthroposophists think they're spreading wisdom and spiritual elevation that will lead to harmony and understanding among different peoples and races by showing us the spiritual foundations of racial and ethnic character and the central role they have to play in cosmic evolution. The mere fact that proponents of such ideas do not recognize them as racist does not in itself render these ideas non-racist, for very obvious reasons."
What we need to keep in mind is that Peter Staudenmaier has no moral or ethical associations with terms like "racist" or "racism". He told me so when he was here on the AT (spring 2004). To Staudenmaier, there is nothing moral or immoral about racism; it is simply an intellectual phenomenon he is very interested in, especially in connection with Steiner, anthroposophy, and anthroposophists. We must assume, therefore, that Peter Staudenmaier has no moral or ethical associations with Nazism of Fascism either. They're simply interesting phenomena, just like left wing and right wing and so on. For this reason, Peter S would be incapable of evaluating the ethical merits of any ideology or community even if he wanted to. Instead, he is creating his own analyses, which he can mold like clay by playing on words and their meanings. And yet, most of his readers and followers probably don't recognize this glaring absence of moral accountability, in spite of the fact that he spells it out to you shamelessly if you ask him about it! The reason for this is that he is playing on the reader's moral take on racism, leading the unsuspecting to think of anthroposophy as immoral because it's not only racist, but under heavy influence of Nazism.
Does anything in the above excerpt from Staudenmaier's Hole-post strike you as peculiar? Anybody? What strikes me is the idiosynchratic turns of phrase and choice of words that are strangely reminiscent of Rudolf Steiner's lectures, especially the passage starting with "Nothing that I have just said....." What we seem to be dealing with here is a person who aspires to copycat Steiner's pedagogical approach to his audiences and readers, or his power of persuasion if you like, to use it against his ideas. And this is very, very clever - perhaps so clever that PS has never thought about it. In other words, if he finds this laughable because he never consciously copied Steiner's style, I'm inclined to believe him. His cleverness lies elsewhere, in the subconscious.
But back to PS and epistemology. Here is a classic example of Staudenmaier's take on the PoF:
"Lots of anthroposophists are convinced that PoF is a preparation for and an early version of Steiner's mature teachings. When asked to explain that conviction, the only substance typically offered are things that Steiner wrote or said after 1901. This makes no sense whatever. That approach renders all sorts of historical figures, not just Rudolf Steiner, inscrutable and nonsensical.
"I think there are two likely explanations for why the conviction is nevertheless so widespread among anthroposophists. One is that the vey notion of Steiner or any other 'Initiate' as a historical figure is an affront to basic assumptions central to esoteric worldviews, anthroposophical and otherwise. To look at Steiner as a person whose ideas changed over time is, from that perspective, simply a meaningless way to view the matter.
The second possible reason is that many anthroposophists find out about Steiner's biography and his cultural context solely through their own immersion in anthroposophy, and see all related discussions through that particular lens. In some ways this is an especially revealing instance of a broader phenomenon, namely the inclination to view historical situations and historical actors backwards from the point of view of their more recent versions."
Pay attention to how this historian and scholar talks about "all sorts of historical figures". What is a historical figure? We are all historical figures, every one of us, and so is everyone who has ever lived. In other words, the inscrutable and nonsensical here is Staudenmaier's reference to "historical figures", which has no meaning. It's a device to sidetrack his readers from his lack of philosophical acumen. His approach to history of ideas never penetrates to the core of ideas; instead, he plays games with the words and sentences through which ideas have come to expression in lieu of analyzing philosophies, simply because he does not understand philosophy. Philosophy, which literally means love of wisdom, requires a mode of thought inclusive of moral-ethical concepts, which are connected to feeling. Nobody can comprehend philosophy who doesn't have a heart. And by the same token, nobody can understand anything about Nazism and the Holocaust, or racism, who doesn't have a strong sense of ethics and human decency. If one does not comprehend the utter horror, obscenity, and evil of the Nazi regime, but only talks about it as an interesting phenomenon to to come across as a clever intellectual acrobat, one is ignorant of the subject regardless of how many historical data one may have memorized.
Let's turn to Staudenmaier's tirade about anthroposophical Nazis, racists, Nazi-racists and racist-Nazis etc. As already mentioned, Nazism has no moral or immoral qualities for PS, it's just an interesting phenomenon:
"This might be a good time for another reminder that some Steiner people are actually Nazis, the real kind of Nazis, and that some Steiner people are indeed racists, not because they're Anthroposophists, but because they are Nazis and because they are racists. This is true not just historically, it is still true today in some cases. Declaring categorically that Steiner people are not Nazis and not racists is as silly as claiming that no Catholics are socialists.
"Another gentle reminder: The way to stop misusing discussions of racism and of Nazism for "hating on" people is to take racism and Nazism seriously as really existing phenomena, rather than crying wolf every time the topic arises. Failure to recognize this elementary insight is, in today's world, not a form of spiritual enlightenment, it is the same thing as giving a green light to the real live racists and Nazis out there. That sort of approach is just as corruptive and debilitating outside the borders of Steiner-land as it is in our context here. People who are genuinely concerned about racism and about Nazism can't continue the head-in-the-sand routine. It doesn't work. Cheers, Peter S."
So the relationship of anthroposophists to Nazism is comparable to the relationship of Catholics to socialism. These are obviously very nice words to play around with, like toys, and depending upon how well you play the game, you can prove or disprove anything you want. Peter S has proven that anthroposophists are Nazis and racists not because they're anthroposophists, but because they're Nazis and racists to begin with. And then, of course, Steiner was a racist and a Nazi who corroborated all this Nazism and racism, but to hear more about that, please tune in tomorrow. Furthermore, if you read some of Staudenmaier's recent Hole-posts, you'll find that the anthroposophical movement has been inundated with Nazis, racists, Holocaust-deniers in the past and is still so in the present. So if any of us here are not Nazis, Holocaust-deniers or at least racists, we're a puny minority what anthroposophists are concerned.
Here's another passage by Peter S that caught my interest:
"Then there's Werner Georg Haverbeck, who died in late 1999; he was in many respects the grandfather of the contempoary far-right anthroposophist scene (his followers include Andreas Ferch). During the Third Reich Haverbeck (who was an active Nazi for years before 1933) played important roles in a variety of SS offices and other Nazi agencies. After the war he became a priest in the Christian Community (he presided over Ohlendorf's funeral after Ohlendorf was executed for his part in the holocaust) and in 1989 wrote a book called Rudolf Steiner - Advocate for Germany, yet another mixture of neo-Nazi anthroposophy and holocaust denial."
I did a Google search on the title of this book (Rudolf Steiner - Advocate for Germany), which brought me to a German website by Peter Nasselstein, with some articles in English. One of these articles is entitled "RUDOLF STEINER's ANTHROPOSOPHY, A NAZI CULT?" and mentions this Haverbeck book:
I took a look around at this website, checking out other articles, and I came across one that sums it all up in a nutshell - the real nitty-gritty motivation behind all these ugly attacks against anthroposophy:
" ' If atheism would be generally common religion, including all of its offspring, would be annihilated and eradicated: no more war because of it; no more soldiers because of it; no more gruesome soldiers! Nature, before contaminated by the poison of the sacred, would regain its rights and its purity. Pacified humans, now deaf against any influencing, would follow only the spontaneous voice of their authentic egos, the only one which one cannot ignore unpunished and which leads one by exercîze of pleasant virtues to bliss and happiness.' La Mettrie (2:66)"
This is why so much effort is put into exposing anthroposophists as a loony fringe cult consisting of brainwashed non-thinkers. Sune has been exposed as such a loon, something Peter Farrell points out when he writes: "The Bee gets a mention at a wonderful but unfortunately discontinued site called Quintessence of the Loon." And the reason why Peter Staudenmaier's shameful tirades against anthroposophy are easily swallowed by many of his readers who don't investigate the subject any deeper, is that many of these readers belong to the anarchist movement where there is a distinct atheist bias against everything spiritual. The origin of this bias is clear: Most of the ground-breaking anarchists were atheists; atheist thought made true self-dependence possible. This was why Rudolf Steiner held these thinkers in such high regard, especially Max Stirner, whom also Peter Nasselstein applauds as his hero on his website, where he attacks Rudolf Steiner, probably ignorant of Steiner's endorsement of Stirner. And in this apparent confusion, it is not only easy for Peter S to argue that Steiner was an atheist in the 1880s and 1990s and then "converted" from atheist anarchism to a spiritual view which he adopted from external sources, primarily the Theosophical Society. With Peter's limited faculties of comprehension with regard to ideas, philosophies, epistemology, and Steiner's autobiography, he can draw no other conclusion. That's what happens when you can think only in words and lack the ability to penetrate to the core of ideas not only with abstract thoughts, but with feeling and moral imagination.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Tarjei Straume
> I took a look around at this website, checking
> out other articles, and I came across one that
> sums it all up in a nutshell - the real
> nitty-gritty motivation behind all these ugly attacks against
>Yup, that hits the nail on the head I think. I remember Christine
> " ' If atheism would be generally common
> religion, including all of its offspring, would
> be annihilated and eradicated: no more war
> because of it; no more soldiers because of it; no
> more gruesome soldiers! Nature, before
> contaminated by the poison of the sacred, would
> regain its rights and its purity. Pacified
> humans, now deaf against any influencing, would
> follow only the spontaneous voice of their
> authentic egos, the only one which one cannot
> ignore unpunished and which leads one by exercîze
> of pleasant virtues to bliss and happiness.' La Mettrie (2:66)"
> This is why so much effort is put into exposing
> anthroposophists as a loony fringe cult
> consisting of brainwashed non-thinkers.
writing a good lot about a piece that PS wrote on social ecology :
to which I responded:
I loved your critique of this article. Interesting that there is no
mention of any means to promote an idea of religious freedom. It
seems very akin to the "religion is a disease" Marxist maxim,
without actually coming out and saying it.
But I think most people who have a sense for metaphorical meaning,
and a taste for religious freedom (which is ultimately freedom from
religious organizations) can see right through this.
It also makes sense to me now more that ever, why someone who is
religiously committed to this Ideology, would wage an intellectual
war against it's most prolific rival."
And yeah, he might be trying to hone his skills, but as far as I can
see they are all the same tactics. It's like trying to get better at
mowing the lawn.
And not only does he not understand the POF, but his idea
of "empaty", that he told me that he uses in his research on RS,
seems a little lacking in real world experience; which lends to
including the human heart (not the pump) in the thinking process
[sound of buzzing/swishing brian chemistry].
Thanks for yur work on this T...:)