Perishing Blonds & Bye-bye Baby Blues (Part 2)
- Here's the second of Sune's articles on the decline of the blond blue
eyed race. I snipped a few counter-demagogic statements that distract
from the content.
Rudolf Steiner on eye and hair color,
and the need for a spiritual science
that does not depend on the body
or on "racial" qualities
by Sune Nordwall
The second isolated, somewhat confusing quote, used in the demagoguery
to imply, again falsely, that Steiner was an Aryan supremacist,
idealizing blue-eyed and blond-haired people, as quoted among other
places in an article in the journal Salon.com on May 26, 2004, is:
"If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will
become increasingly dense ... Blond hair actually bestows intelligence."
What is the context from which this second quote is taken, and does
Steiner in that context argue in any way in the direction that is
implied in the anti-Waldorf demagoguery?
During the building of the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, as a
center for anthroposophy, from August 1922 up to September 1924,
Steiner regularly held, during the morning coffee break, a number of
ad hoc, mostly off-the-cuff talks to the construction workers.
The talks had the form of sessions based on questions from the
workers; Steiner's remarks were in direct answer to their questions.
On December 13, 1922, at a time when an idealization of the blond
Nordic hero was cultivated by some in Germany as part of long-held
argumentation for an "Aryan supremacy" (which was later continued by
the Nazis), one of the participants in the audience asked:
"I would like to know the reason why blond people are becoming more
and more rare. In the region where I come from, earlier there still
were many blond people. Now they are fewer and fewer. What's the story
To this Steiner answers, describing how a person absorbs light into
the body and how it meets the nourishment provided by the metabolic
activity of the body.
He then describes in a pictorial way how what he calls the
'Stosskraft' (pushing force) of metabolism is distributed by the blood
in different ways in the head, either more outwards towards the eyes
and hair, or more inwards towards the brain, as the physiological
background of why some people are more dark-haired and dark-eyed,
while others become more blue-eyed and blond-haired.
The use of the concept "pushing force" in connection with human
metabolism and an explanation of a person's eye and hair color stands
out as unusual. It may have been used by Steiner to relate what he was
trying to explain to the concrete experience of the listeners, and the
way they, as construction workers, worked in building the Goetheanum,
using wheel barrows and other tools to transport the building
The way he expressed himself, according to the transcript of the talk
can give you the feeling that he was referring to specific people in
the audience when relating the strength of the "pushing force" of
people to their eye and hair color.
"... That which makes people into blue-eyed, brown-eyed, or black-eyed
persons is the iris of the eye, that in its posterior part always is
blue, and on the anterior side in blue-eyed people has no small sacks
"In black-eyed and brown-eyed people, the iris also has small sacks on
the anterior side so that you don't see the posterior blue sacks.
"What is the reason for this? Well, you see, these sacks are
constantly filled with, and then emptied of blood. [...]
Those who have black sacks, are those who can force the blood into the
eyes in such a way that the nourishment still can get in a proper way
into the eyes, while those who are brown-eyed do this to a lesser
extent. Those, the brown ones, are less well nourished. But when
someone is blue-eyed, then he does not at all force the fluid
nourishment so strongly into the eye, that also the anterior side of
the iris is filled with nourishment. [...]
"But this also is connected with the hair. Someone who has a strong
"pushing force", he pushes the nourishing fluids all the way into the
hair and has black or brown hair. Those who have less "pushing force"
don't push the nourishment all the way into the hair, and they remain
blond and don't become dark [haired]. This is the way [also] blue eyes
and blond hair are connected.
"Someone who forces the nourishment strongly through his body gets
dark hair and gets dark eyes. Someone who does not force it as
strongly gets blue eyes and blond hair. That can be understood out of
what I have told you.
He then continues talking about the aging process of the Earth and
humanity and how it makes people with blond hair die out before those
with black hair.
"[...] Also the Earth once was quite young, as it produced the giant
Megatherium [giant ground sloth, 7 m. long, living during the
Quaternary age] and the Ichthyosaur [3 m. long, dolphin-like marine
reptile, living during late Jurassic times]. It was young. Now the
Earth basically has passed its adult stage. It becomes ever older, and
some time will perish, out of old age weakness, not for the reasons
which present-day materialists speak of.
"But, gentlemen, we already today have come somewhat to a time of old
age weakness of the Earth. Therefore all of humanity has become weaker
with regard to the force that pushes nourishment through the body. Who
must therefore [logically] first disappear from the Earth? The black
[eyed and haired] ones have more stamina; they have a larger pushing
force. The blond ones have a lesser pushing force, and [therefore]
will perish earlier.
"[...] The blond ones were always the weaker ones with regard to the
body, they were only stronger with regard to the soul.
"[...] Because the stronger the bodily forces are, the weaker the soul
forces are. And humanity on Earth would stand before the danger, if
the blond ones perished, that humanity on Earth actually became dumb,
if it would not [otherwise] come to have a spiritual science, an
anthroposophy, that no longer is dependent on the body, but gets its
cleverness out of the spiritual investigation itself, if I may express
myself in that way.
"So, you see, if you learn [to understand] real Natural History, you
must say: Good heavens, people on Earth would become dumb, if they
were to become ever stronger. If the blue-eyed and blond-haired
perish, people would become ever dumber, if they did not come to a
form of cleverness that is independent of blondness.
"Blond hair actually gives [brings about] cleverness; if you send
[only a] little [blood] into the eyes, it remains in the brain with
its fluid nourishment and gives the brain cleverness. The brown-haired
and brown-eyed, and the black-haired and black-eyed, they force that
which the blonds push into the brain, into the eyes and hair.
Therefore they [the brown-haired, etc.] become materialists, acting
only on the basis of what they see, and this must be balanced through
a spiritual science. This means that you must have a spiritual science
to the same extent that humanity loses its cleverness with the blondness.
"[...] Because it actually is the case that the more the blond races
[people] perish, the more also the instinctive wisdom of humanity
dies. People become dumber. And they can only become clever again, if
they are not left to the body, but if they have a real spiritual
Does this text in any way argue for the superiority of people with
blond hair and blue eyes, in the sense the isolated quote, taken from
the lecture and used in anti-Waldorf demagoguery, is used to try to
make Steiner out to be an "Aryan supremacist"?
It is difficult to see this when reading the lecture. Instead, Steiner
in the lecture describes blond and blue-eyed people as dying out for
natural reasons as a group, and with them also an instinctual form of
cleverness, which Steiner does not idealize.
Instead, he speaks of the naturally perishing, bodily-based
instinctual "cleverness", resulting from an increasing old age
weakness of humanity, as something that needs to be replaced with a
form of "cleverness" that is not dependent on the bodily processes of
human physiology, but that is purely spiritual.
The full context shows that his argumentation is completely opposite
the way the quote is made out to seem by the small anti-Waldorf group
in San Francisco at its site. They have taken an isolated quote and
twisted its meaning into pure untruthful demagoguery.
In contrast to the Nazis, who later idealized blond and blue-eyed
people as representatives of a "pure Aryan race", and worked at
breeding as many such people as possible through different measures,
Steiner in this lecture argued for the complete opposite: the
development on an individual basis of spiritual qualities independent
of any bodily or "racial" characteristics.