TSR (Towards Social Renewal”) Preface Page 1
Rudolf Steiner “…..people do not want social ideas imposed on them”
By “social ideas” RS is talking about ideas which suggest how we might better order society to work for the good of all. Why would people not want social ideas imposed on them if they are for the good of all? Unfortunately, my perception of what is good for me might differ from your perception of what is good for me. Further, my perception of what is good for us all will also probably differ from yours. This premise assumes, of course, that we have both thought about this. How many of us can honestly say that we have spent time considering “social ideas”, trying to sort the wheat from the chaff? Is it not the case that most of us are born into a social system which we are conditioned from an early age to accept to the point where we are almost blind to it's existence? The process of waking up to the fact that we are living in a man-made social system is usually a painful one. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why most people resent any social ideas which might upset the apple cart, and even more so if there is any attempt to impose those ideas. So if we are talking about social renewal, we are confronted at the very beginning with a fairly major problem!
TSR Preface P2
Rudolf Steiner “Can we hope to be equal to the disarray and confusion in contemporary life if we tackle it with a kind of thinking which bears little relation to reality?”
If we haven't thought much about how society works then our thinking with regard to this matter is going to be shallow. If we haven't thought much about how our thinking works then our thinking itself is going to be shallow. In either event, if enough people get together who haven't thought about either subject then it is reasonable to expect that some chaos and confusion is going to arise. Here we are 100 years later from when the words above were written. What are we seeing in contemporary life? Maybe it's time we started thinking a bit more deeply.
TSR Preface P3
Rudolf Steiner “The task of this book...is to show that confusion and chaos in public life is directly connected with the dependency of the life of the mind – of spirit and culture – on political and economic factors, and that the liberation of this cultural and spiritual life from such dependence is an important aspect of the burning social problems which beset us.”
As things stand, schools are mostly run by the government. How should a child be educated? I think most people believe that the purpose of education is to ensure that every child has equal opportunity to realise their full potential. Does the government wish this? Does the government have the same view of what the potential of any given child has that, say, the child's parents have? Does the government recognise each child is an individual that the education system has to serve or is it the other way round – that the child has to adjust his/her individuality to the educational system the government has defined for them? What informs the government's educational system? What are the consequences over the generations of a governmental prescribed educational system for the individuals who have undergone that education?
TSR Preface P3
Rudolf Steiner “By its very nature spiritual life is now asking to be a fully independent limb of the social organism. Education, from which all spiritual and cultural life emerges and develops , must be administered by the educators, without any interference from political or economic quarters.”
In the question, how should a child be educated?, we have an example of the spiritual life in action. There are many others which perhaps are more obvious – music, the arts, philosophy etc. Whilst these activities would be recognised as essentially spiritual in nature, even those who would see them as such might fall prey to feeling that they are nice to have but perhaps optional to the effective functioning of society. There are very few, however, who would feel that education is a non-essential component to the effective functioning of society. There are of course those who do not wish to see society functioning effectively, but I digress. The problem is that whilst people are clear that education is necessary they are not so clear how that education is to be done. That is because their own education has not encouraged them to ask the question and even less to identify the whole process as a spiritual activity.
So perhaps we can see the beginning of a vicious circle? If a vicious circle is allowed to persist long enough it becomes the prevailing reality and people who, if they could step outside this reality, would do everything in their power to change it, actually act in the opposite direction and fight to maintain the status quo. This is the dissociation Rudolf Steiner was referring to in his comments above, imo.
His solution of course was the curriculum of the Waldorf schools, an “Education towards Freedom”. An education that enabled children to develop the forces of soul and spirit that would enable them as adults to embrace a “Philosophy of Freedom”. This in turn would bring creativity and positivity to the realms of rights and economy without which they would fall in to corruption and decadence.
TSR Preface P4
Rudolf Steiner “A child's developing capacities will truly come to serve society only if those people oversee his education whose judgement is based on independent and purely educational perspectives.”
Having established the fundamental importance of education in a healthy society, we can now focus on the educators themselves and the legal and financial environment that they will need to work in. Firstly, their sole interest and concern will be that of the education of the child. This however, is a very problematic area. Whilst a trained Waldorf teacher will have a very clear perspective on the curriculum so will a Montessori teacher, so also will a teacher who is a fully paid up member of the Communist party, as will a transgender teacher and so on. Each one of these systems will argue that they are bringing purely educational perspectives to the argument. We are seeing in our schools how the curriculum is being changed by various lobby groups. This is possible because these groups can pressure a few politicians and bureaucrats and achieve results which can affect millions. In this way the education system is simultaneously politicised and made subservient to the economy. The former because politicians will make the decision on which lobby group they listen to on the basis of how it will advance their careers rather than what is educationally sound. The latter because economic interest trumps all for those in positions of power.
How then are we to organise the education of children without falling into totalitarian diktats? More on this later.
TSR Preface P4
Rudolf Steiner “From such an independent source the state and the economy can then receive a strength and vitality which would be unavailable if they themselves shape cultural life according to their own perspectives.”
For the spiritual life to be free of the influence of state and economy it first has to be recognised. The above discussion has gone some way towards that. Clearly in reality a lot more work would have to be done to identify what activities would fall within the realm of the spiritual life. Having done this, the next question would be how could the spiritual life be insulated from the influences of both the state and the economic life? The state would want to ensure that the spiritual life supported whatever political narrative was prevalent at the time. The economic life would want to ensure that children were prepared to take their positions as contributors to the economic life.
We are seeing today the results of this process left unchecked by any purely educational considerations. Children are taught what to think, not how to think, to serve the state. They are taught to work hard and obey rules and regulations which work against what a child would naturally do if left to themselves. As adults they are then more willing to accept wage slavery which benefits the corporations and the individuals who control them. Instead of free creativity driving the economic life we have nepotistic control system which has subsumed not only the spiritual life to itself, but the state also. The strength and vitality Rudolf Steiner refers to has been replaced by weakness and slavery.
TSR Preface P5
Rudolf Steiner “The anti-social tendencies of our time have arisen because people's social sensitivity and awareness is not developed through their education.”
The weakness I have just referred to and the anti-social tendencies Rudolf Steiner refers to may be seen to be one and the same thing. Many people have lost all awareness of the other and themselves. They are locked in a narcissistic world where all there is, is a screen and a keyboard. They have no more relationship to the person with whom they are communicating via their chat, post or message than they do to the computer which is sending this “communication”. The computer/phone has literally become an extension of themselves.
The consequences can be seen when one attempts to disagree with these people about virtually anything. Indifference almost immediately turns to hatred and intolerance, couched in language which debases the origin of the word and is founded on the obvious untruth that their feelings are facts. There can be no social order threefold or otherwise, whilst so many have been damaged in this way. This makes it all the more urgent that in our time as many people as possible wake up and start taking responsibility for themselves and their social interactions before mankind will be forced to go down another, apocalyptic route.
TSR Preface P5
Rudolf Steiner “And it is anti-social to let young people be educated by teachers who, by having the aims and content of their activity externally and artificially forced upon them, have become divorced from reality.”
The problem is that once someone decides to become a teacher, they are then forced to either join the system, or to act as if there is no financial or other pressure on them and to follow their pedagogical impulse wherever that takes them. The vast majority of teachers will opt for the former. Whilst they may start out holding on to their original principles and find creative ways of bringing to the children that which they know is true education, eventually the system will grind them down.
Peer pressure is by far the greatest force in this. The system only needs to create a situation where a majority of people have unconsciously or otherwise, replaced the requirement of properly educating children with the requirement of serving the system (and being well rewarded for doing so), and those who have sold their soul in this way will police those who are still hanging on to their pedagogical integrity. Project this forward and it is not difficult to see the divorce form reality that Rudolf Steiner is referring to.
TSR Preface P6
Rudolf Steiner “If we base our view of life on real experience instead of theoretical preconceptions, we will see that creative people would be more likely to find a truer evaluation of their work in a free cultural community whose practice derives from its own independent ideas and values.”
If you are working as an artist making sculptures how are you to know whether your work is of any value? Would this be determined by the price that someone is willing to pay for your work? If you are a composer, the number of people who were willing to pay to listen to your music? How would you bring your work to this “market”? Would your success be truly determined by the quality of your work or by your ability as a marketeer?
In these simple considerations you can hear how economic life penetrates every consideration. Imagine if every artist, teacher, scientist, priest, philosopher, writer and so on, was able to operate without any financial considerations whatsoever? How would their activities change and what would then be accomplished? How would this spiritual life be protected from those who simply declared themselves an artist so as to benefit from this rather cushy life?
So what started out as simple is not so simple already! Rudolf Steiner introduces here the idea of a free cultural community. The word cultural and spiritual are, I believe, interchangeable. The word community is not so easily dealt with. There are preconditions that must be met before any group of people can identify themselves as a community. In no particular order of priority, I would suggest;
a common purpose
an ability to communicate with each other
an ability therefore to resolve differences to mutual satisfaction
an agreement on how the needs of the individual is to balanced with the needs of the community
I could go on. This short list indicates a state of conscious awareness amongst all the members of this community. This state of consciousness is not visible in any of the institutions which claim to administrate society today. In a threefold social order, these cultural communities would arise wherever a group of people agreed that these pre-conditions had been met. These communities would then be funded via the surpluses arising from the economic life. They would be free of any form of political interference from the state. The critical point is the state of consciousness of the individuals concerned.
TSR Preface P7
Rudolf Steiner “And just as there is no food that permanently satisfies our hunger, neither is there any universal remedy for our social ills. But people can form communities together, in which real cooperation continually renews social forces.”
We must raise our awareness of ourselves and others if we are truly to co-operate with one another. This is a very big sentence. Let me try and elaborate but with the understanding that I can only point to this rather than describe it outright. It is a living dynamic thing which is what makes us human beings so unique in nature and the universe.
I may feel that I am a brilliant artist but the people in my cultural community give me little praise, or in fact criticise my work. For my part, I have looked at the work of those who are criticising me and I find it lacking in ways in which I can be quite clear about. I have also noticed that even before these difficulties arose, I felt a certain antipathy coming from some of those critics and I would have to admit, that the feeling was mutual.
Please consider the above scenario in the context of the big sentence above. How would this person co-operate with those critics and how would the critics co-operate with him/her? Clearly this is not going to happen automatically. It is clear what is going to happen automatically, is it not? Can you see how this problem cannot be solved in the abstract but by an intense engagement of all concerned? This is the real world. This is not Utopia. This is hard work. Just imagine, if somehow this co-operation was achieved what forces would be released into that community and from there in to society at large. This is not just social renewal. This is continuous social renewal.
TSR Preface P7
Rudolf Steiner “Now just as free self-government is necessary for a modern life of the spirit, so shared, associative work is the basis of economic life.”
So now the phrase cultural community is replaced by the term associative work. This is what my browser tells me;
as•so•ci•ate ə-sō′sē-āt″, -shē-
• intransitive verb
To connect in the mind or imagination.
• intransitive verb
To connect or involve with a cause, group, or partner.
• intransitive verb
To correlate or connect logically or causally.
We are talking here about people who have found a logical reason to come together as a group. What is the current basis of economic life? It used to be competition. We are today at the bottom of that particular empty idea. In economic competition, the fittest will survive but unlike nature, there is then no inherent restraint on the power of this victor. So he who has the most money wins. I believe it really is as simple as that. The prize is ….well everything. As you can see this is the complete opposite principle of association. It's more like annihilation. By the way, this is not capitalism. Capitalism requires a free market and in particular the free movement of capital to the entrepreneur on the basis of the strength of the business idea.
B&Q is a good example. For well over twenty years, B&Q priced their products to undersell the ma & pa hardware shop. They made losses year after year but the bankers behind them knew that eventually the hardware shops would be driven out of business as consumers were driven away from them by the lower prices and reasonable quality products. This duly happened. The prices of B&Q products went up, the quality went down, the bankers made a killing. This was not a business idea. This was capital trading on it's own account. Or more simply put, robbery. Amazon is another example of this but on a global scale.
TSR Preface P8
Rudolf Steiner “It would be folly to try to organise economic forces into an abstract world-wide community.”
The World Economic Forum comes to mind! However, they have made it quite clear that their objective has little to do with economics per se. The enslavement and genocide of humanity would be more descriptive of their aims and objectives, I believe.
TSR Preface P8
Rudolf Steiner “Economic life strives to organize itself in accord with its own nature, to become independent of government institutions and political ideas. But it can only do this if associations are formed along purely economic lines, composed of consumers, traders and producers.”
Here we are 100 years later and we can see that economic life has been very successful in organizing itself independent of government institutions and political ideas. We have seen how certain economic interests have aligned together to eradicate their competition. We have seen that wherever there is a market of diversified interests, large multi national corporations have stepped in and “homogenised” the market. This process was obviously not going fast enough for some people. Ask the question who has benefited from the so-called covid “pandemic”? Every beneficiary is a large multinational corporation or national corporation. Who has suffered most? As with the B&Q story, the small to medium business enterprise, or SME.
In Steiner's time, the working class (proletariat) and the upper class (bourgeoisie) represented the visible divisions in society. Marx was trying to do something about that but he saw everything in terms of materialism. The advent of capitalism introduced the middle class, who set up and ran small businesses by the million. What these small businesses failed to do, however, was form associations to look after and protect each other's interests and those of their customers. They mistakenly thought that the laws of competition applied to them and that the best man would win in a free market place. Some benefited, most didn't.
If we are ever to emerge from a world where governments are merely a front for monstrous corporations with non-transparent (putting it diplomatically) agendas, then it will be because SME's have risen again and this time understood, that association is the principle by which they (and society) will thrive, rather than competition.
TSR Preface P8/9
Rudolf Steiner “Specialized knowledge and down to earth objectivity can lead to a general harmony of interests within such an association. Not rules and regulations but people themselves determine production, circulation and consumption of goods, through their direct insight and interests.”
We see here that the principles of community are not so vital. Instead relationships are governed by clear self-interest and a recognition that there is no fundamental conflict between one's healthy self-interest and the self-interest of one's associative colleagues. No government is required to interfere in these matters. The quality of the products will be regulated by the association as it will be recognised that failure to deliver the required levels of quality will lead to the detriment of the whole association and encourage the formation of another association which will meet this demand. What products to deliver, where, when and how will be determined by the association of producers and consumers whose interests are aligned. Consumers will thus be required to do more than simply “consume”. They will need to participate in the whole process. History should now have taught us, that leaving the thorny question of price and quality to corporations will in the end not just impact the consumer adversely, but the whole of society.
TSR Preface P9
Rudolf Steiner “...those producing goods...would work together with those overseeing and guiding production....and with those interested in using what is produced...so as to determine output and return through price regulation.”
How this is to be done is not specifically addressed in this statement. However...
TSR Preface P9
Rudolf Steiner “All that is needed for this to happen is that such agreements correspond both with workers insights and the consumers interests.”
The word “workers” does not mean quite the same today as it did in Steiner's time and I have already alluded to this. Nevertheless, the general idea is that a worker is an individual who has practical experience in the creation of a product and has a part to play in bringing that product to market. It is then obvious that it would be of great interest to that person to know what a likely consumer of his product might think of it, how much they would be willing to pay for it, how often they might need it, how they might like to see it changed.
From the point of view of society as a whole, this is a far more efficient way of bringing products to market. Much of the waste of failed or superfluous products would be avoided to the benefit of both producer and consumer. Furthermore, this would lead to enhanced profitability. This release of capital begs the question of where would it go and how would this be decided. Steiner has written extensively on this subject. It's not easy reading (it's economics after all!) and probably beyond the scope of this presentation. Suffice to say, a profitable economic life would feed and enable the other limbs of the social organism as the blood and breath sustains our physical body.
I imagine millions of these associations around the world operating on a local, national and international level to meet the needs of the population free from government interference. Further, I believe there would need to be associations of associations. We would not want to ignore the lessons of history which teach us that so-called economies of scale are not economies at all when viewed from the perspective of society as a functioning organism. In this analogy, these “economies” would resemble a tumour more closely than they would a shedding of unnecessary weight. The B&Q story has been repeated thousands of time and on every occasion has led to the impoverishment of the many to the benefit of the few, These associations of association would police that amongst other tasks.
This all of course presumes a free life of the spirit and a properly founded life of rights.
TSR Preface P10
Rudolf Steiner “The free life of the spirit can also play an important part, for it gives rise to the necessary social insights.”
In imagining how this would all work I am demonstrating the free life of the spirit at work. Hopefully, it is possible to see how these imaginations lead immediately to the appropriate social insights. There would need to be a critical mass of people who can do this for these positive and nurturing insights to actually take effect in not only the social structures which would be established, but in the souls of those establishing them. Education is the key to this.
TSR Preface P11
Rudolf Steiner “The economic task of an individual becomes clear to him through his cooperation with those he is economically associated with. In this way he will have exactly as much influence on the general economy as corresponds with his output.”
Consumer associations already exist. Which? comes to mind. Pay your subscription, receive impartial reviews of the products you are considering. This is not quite what we have in mind here! Give of your time, sit in the association of your choice, make your input and be part of the dialogue. You can make a difference but it will cost you your time, your engagement. You will have to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. You will have to feel that you are not just serving yourself but you are serving your community. Your reward will be indirect and to the extent that you do not seek a reward, the economy will thrive or falter, and your fortunes with it. You will recognise that “We are all connected” not just in theory but in hard practical fact. In your chosen economic association you will be acting in full awareness of that fact.
TSR Preface P11
Rudolf Steiner “An unhindered, self-structured economic life is capable of protecting the interests of the weak against those of the strong.”
This is where the principle of association is most opposed to the principle of competition. A civilisation can be measured by the way in which it looks after it's most vulnerable members. I don't think our present civilisation would come out too well in any extended examination of this question. Neither socialism nor our modern version of capitalism would survive the scrutiny of a truthful historical investigation with regard to how the vulnerable have been treated. As I write, the weakest amongst us are being abused on a genocidal level. The point is our economic life is not self-structured, it is dominated by a tiny number of people who act entirely out of self-interest and as far as I can see, a completely pathological lust for power.
TSR Preface P11
Rudolf Steiner “There are then, two independent limbs of the social organism which can underpin and support each other only because each is autonomous and governs itself by means of the forces inherent in it.”
These two limbs exist, whether we see them or not. By implication, failure to see them is going to lead to chaos just as if you failed to notice that you had legs as well as arms. Continuing with the analogy, our limbs support each other and they work independently of each other. The activity of our limbs is co-ordinated ultimately by our Ego through the vehicle of our soul and brain.
The limbs of the social organism are governed by the forces inherent in them. I find this a particularly wonderful idea! The effort to see the forces inherent in these 2 limbs of the social organism brings us to a state of consciousness which enables us to work with those forces. We are then working with something that transcends the individual Ego to something more like a collective Ego. This is the antidote to the materialism inherent in Marxism.
TSR Preface P11
Rudolf Steiner “In the free life of the mind and spirit everyone plays a part according to his particular capacities; in the economic sphere everyone takes his place in a way that arises naturally from his associative relationships. In the political and legal sphere, each individual has an equal voice simply through being a human being....”
Personally, it has taken me a very long time to understand the full implication of this innocuous statement. I don't have to be so diplomatic as Rudolf Steiner so I am going to spell out my opinion of what I believe the consequences of this statement are. We do not need judges, we do not need solicitors or barristers and the courts belong to “We the People”. Radical though this statement may sound, the history of Europe is dotted with uprisings where this statement has been asserted. A particular moment in time in this regard for England was 1215 and the signing of the Magna Carta. King John was in the habit of executing people who got in his way and this came back to bite him with a general uprising that was supported by the major barons at the time. I can't go into the whole thing here but the Magna Carta was the first significant document that enshrined the inalienable rights of the people against the so-called ruling class. Subsequent monarchs were able to partially weaken the document but not remove it. The document was renewed in 2020 by a group around a writer called Michael O'Bernicia.
The behaviour of governments today has made the behaviour of King John look extremely benign. Consequently there has been a massive upsurge in interest in what is somewhat euphemistically called “Common Law”. Anna von Reitz has given notice to the Biden administration that their services are not required. Christopher James has won several cases against Canadian attorney generals or governors when invoking “Common Law”, or the law of the land and soil. There are a number of groups working in the UK on this including John Smith in Scotland. MOB has raised a private criminal prosecution against messrs; Hancock, Whitty, Vallance and Ferguson, though I am unclear as to the jurisdiction of this case.
So we have cultural communities (no government), economic associations (no government) and now we have common law (no government, no judges, no solicitors!). You thought this was boring!
TSR Preface P12
Rudolf Steiner “It is in this sphere that all are on an equal footing, since it governs only those matters which every single individual is equally competent to make a judgement about. This limb of the social organism is therefore the one in which the rights and obligations of people can be determined and regulated.”
The absolutely earth-shattering point here is that in the realm of rights and obligations we are all equally competent to make judgements! Have you ever read a legal book? I was at one point thinking of becoming a solicitor and so I got a book out of the library introducing me to the idea of “the law”. I got to the end of about page 6 and decided this was not for me. It was written in a language that only resembled English. In fact the legal profession themselves call it “legalese”. It is designed so that only those “qualified” can render judgement ensuring dependence on solicitors. Anyone who is then unfortunate enough to require the services of these people will quickly discover they are paying a premium for their monopoly. In fact the courts are beyond the reach of most people which of course is the exact opposite of what it should be.
I can imagine that your earth hasn't yet been shattered by these considerations. Here is another. It is generally accepted I believe that all Law comes from God, or religion, if you can't go that far. This is the starting point. So imagine a pyramid with God at the top. Below God is Man and Woman. Below Man and Woman are the various institutions which serve them. This is the protocol of Common Law and I would refer you to www.awarriorcalls.com for a fuller explanation. Following this protocol, the fact that you are a Man or a Woman is more important than the fact that you are a Prime Minister, because that only makes you the leader of an institution which serves the Man or Woman. Your Prime Ministerial status gives you no protection because you are a priori a Man or a Woman. In common law, cases are bought by a Man or a Woman against a Man or a Woman. That means anyone can bring a case against the Prime Minister! The only consideration is that if they lose the case then a counter-case will automatically be brought against them. The case will be heard by a jury of peers with a magistrate acting simply as an administrator.
The current legal system uses force to maintain itself (the police in partnership with the prison system). If more people became aware of what I have laid out above one could hope that there might be a general awakening to the true nature of the matrix we find ourselves imprisoned in. The bad news for those “in power” is that is precisely what is happening. I would propose that all of this is consistent with the statement above from Rudolf Steiner. So where does our beloved government belong?
The government is in fact a service provider. Their principle role is to provide for the security of the people via the military and a re-tasked police force. In addition, they maintain and repair infrastructure, Beyond that, I'm struggling..I'm sure there's some other things they can do! What they definitely don't do is provide services which can be better provided by either a cultural community (e.g. healthcare, education etc) or an associative group. Therefore we don't need democracy but we do need the active participation in all three realms of a much larger number of people than we do now. It is not difficult to see that by more or less abolishing the government and in particular the Civil Service a vast amount of money will be available to both the cultural and rights spheres.
Perhaps this is why the leaders of Europe were not so keen on Steiner's ideas when they approached him after the end of World War One to ask for suggestions as to how Europe could be rebuilt!
TSR Preface P12
Rudolf Steiner “The unity of the whole social organism will arise from the independent expression of its three autonomous limbs.”
I hope this now speaks for itself.
TSR Preface P13
Rudolf Steiner “Only those who use abstract ways of thinking see everything as cut and dried.....They forget though that life can assume the most diverse forms, that it is continually in flux, and that whoever wishes to follow its course must adapt his thinking and feelings to its flow.”
It is amazing to me how relevant Steiner's ideas remain for our time. The important thing to realise is whilst he initiated this discussion, only we can elaborate it in practice.