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RE: more on anthroposophy and theosophy  Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative
 Apr 23, 2001 19:32 PDT 
Detlef wrote:

 This is correct. Steiner's break with the "root race theory"
came, in fact, much earlier. In 1906, Steiner distanced himself
from the theosophical root-race concept in writing and never used
it again (see Luzifer Gnosis No. 32, Summer 1906, p. 627, printed
in: "Aus der Akascha Chronik", GA 11, Dornach 1969, S. 208 - the
English version of this book is on many of the shelves of list
members, maybe somebody can give the exact bibl. reference, as I
only have the German original).

I believe it's called Cosmic Memory in English; Sune pointed to an on-line
version a few weeks back. The book is the most comprehehnsive presentation
of Steiner's version of the root race doctrine. As Sharon's several recent
posts make clear, it is hardly the case that Steiner disassociated himself
from racial thinking in 1906 (or at any other time). There are literally
dozens of similar passages in Steiner's post-1906 writings and speeches.
   The passage Detlef refers to above is by no means a rejection of the root
race doctrine. Here Steiner merely points out that the term "race" isn't
helpful in describing the first two root races of humankind and the first
several sub-races of the third root race, since those beings did not have a
fully physical form in the contemporary sense. He also makes his usual
prediction that the term "race" will not accurately describe the different
sections of humanity after the fifth sub-race of the fifth root-race, namely
in about 1500 years from now. But for the present, as well as for thousands
of years in the past and many, many generations to come, race is very much
an applicable category, indeed a central one, according to Steiner. In the
passage Detlef refers to, Steiner explicitly says that "racial character"
will remain a salient factor until "the end of our fifth era".

 Then there is the lecture held on 4.12.1909, where Steiner looks
back on the theosophical movement and describes the root-race
vocabulary as a "Kinderkrankheit der theosophischen Bewegung" (a
childhood illness of the theosophical movement) and adds: "Aber
man muß über die Kinderkrankheiten hinauskommen und sich klar
sein darüber, daß der Rassebegriff aufhört eine jegliche
Bedeutung zu haben in unserer Zeit" ("But we must overcome these
childhood illnesses and be clear about the fact that the concept
of race ceases to retain any meaning in our time") (cited from:
Die tieferen Geheimnisse des Menschheitswerdens im Lichte der
Evangelien, GA 117, Dornach 1966, p. 152 - again, somebody else
will have to look up the English bibl. reference if anybody is
interested). That's a pretty clear statement.

No, it isn't a clear statement. Detlef seems to think Steiner is saying that
the concept of race is becoming obsolete *now* (i.e. in 1909). Applying
Sune's eminently sensible advice that one read the entire lecture in order
to understand its full meaning, it is easy to see that Detlef is mistaken:
the lecture ends by emphasizing that "the sixth cultural epoch is the first
the full overcoming of the race concept" (GA 117, p. 165). That meaning is
indicated in the above passage quoted by Detlef, which can also be
translated thus: "the concept of race is losing its meaning in our era";
that is, during the current era, which will as noted last another 1500
years. The rest of the lecture clarifies that this propitious
transformation, whereby race will lose its meaning, will not take place
until the *end* of the fifth era and the beginning of the sixth. There are
several obsevations we might make about this stance: 1) it is racist, since
it expressly holds that for now and for the forseeable future racial
categories will remain decisive within the anthroposophical worldview; 2) it
is a refinement, not a rejection, of the root race doctrine inherited from
classical theosophy.

 Not only was it a
misnomer to use the word "race" in describing states of cultural
evolution, the concept of race in general "ceases to retain any
meaning in our time".

Great, except that "our time" lasts until the year three thousand and
something or other, and this welcome "cessation" won't set in until the end
of "our time". A bit long to wait, if you ask me.

 At the time of the official split in 1913 between the
Anthroposophical and Theosophical Society, this divergence
regarding the root race theory did not play any discernible role:
the issue was Steiner's disagreement that Krishnamurti was a
second coming of Christ. This was a big-time disagreement.
Steiner had disagreed with a number of theosophical notions
previously and publicly, not only the root-race concept. He
didn't, for example, like the spiritist leanings of Theosophy at
all. He respected Blavatsky's clairvoyant abilities, but found
her interpretations ("Isis unveiled") to be totally unclear and
incomprehensible to anyone without similar clairvoyant abilities.
He strongly criticized the theosophical intellectuality of
someone like Sinnett for its "intellectual cookbook mentality".
Above all, he was of the opinion that spirituality needed to be
founded within European culture and not just "imported" from the
Orient. To equate Steiner's vision of the mission of Central
Europe (and, in particular, of German culture) with a
"white-supremacist" attitude, however, as PS does, is one of
those bubbles of hot words untouched by a sober understanding of
the facts.

I agree with this paragraph, with the obvious exception of the last
sentence. For those of you who are new to this, Detlef also believes that
Steiner was never a pan-German nationalist, which gives a good sense of his
familiarity with Steiner's biography and published writings. It is certainly
true that one could argue passionately for a special role for German culture
without being a white supremacist, and a number of Steiner's contemporaries
did just that. But Steiner himself, of course, insisted upon identifying the
unique and superior virtues of German spirituality with "the mission of
white humanity", as the 1915 Stuttgart lecture I excerpted last week makes
clear. It isn't accidental that Steiner routinely said things, well after
1906, like "the white race is the race of the future, the spiritually
creative race"; these statements flow directly out of his root race
teachings. The remarkable thing is that anthroposophists who otherwise cling
to every word their founder said become strangely silent when confronted
with Steiner's own explications of his racist theories. I hereby invite any
and all anthroposophists to make use of their sober understanding of the
facts and offer the rest of us an alternative interpretation of the
Stuttgart lecture or of the several passages Sharon posted this afternoon.

Peter Staudenmaier
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