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Re: waldorf in Southafrica  Peter Staudenmaier
 Jun 29, 2003 11:46 PDT 

Welcome to the waldorf critics list, Ylva Eliasson. You wrote of a visiting
Waldorf delegation from South Africa that included "one 'dark' male and a
white lady - and they did not act as equals." You further explained:

 The man did not speak much, but when he did he looked at the lady as to ask
wheather it was okey > or not. And she treated him as not beeing an adult.
Thatīs what made me feel uncomfortable about > the situation.

This incident is, unfortunately, quite consistent with anthroposophical
teachings on race relations. Rudolf Steiner taught that black people are
indeed childlike, and a number of his followers have adopted that belief and
applied it to Waldorf.

One of Steiner's earliest students, a prominent anthroposophist named
Richard Karutz, wrote a whole book in 1938 about "the African soul", which
detailed at length the anthroposophical understanding of black people's
childlike nature and argued that Europeans must be the "educators" of the
African soul (Karutz, Die Afrikanische Seele, p. 347). In other writings,
Karutz expanded on this point: "The Negro is an imitator and fundamentally
persists in his unconscious rhythm, while the Aryan is the creative one".
The Waldorf movement still recommends Karutz's work today; see:

http://www.waldorfkindergarten.org/deutsch/paedagogik/literatur.html

The anthroposophical view of blacks and Africans didn't change much after
World War II. Another very prominent anthroposophist, F.W. Zeylmans van
Emmichoven, wrote in 1950:

"While lecturing on the human soul to the School of Theology of Howard
University in Washington, D.C. (one of the universities for Blacks) I not
only found a very attentive audience, but a particularly sensitive one. The
manner in which these young Blacks listened to the lecture and put their
questions afterward, reminded me of the manner in which very intelligent but
still rather immature children react in similar situations. One could _see_
them thinking with deep earnestness and devotion to the subject, while their
questions and remarks were just as well put as they were deep."

As for followers of Steiner in South Africa itself, the record is equally
troubling. A pamphlet published by Novalis Press, the major anthroposophist
publisher in South Africa, tells us that "the black negro race is determined
by these childhood characteristics." When the author Geoffrey Ahern visited
various anthroposophist institutions in South Africa during the apartheid
era, he reported: “There are no black or, it seems, coloured people; I was
told this was not because of conscious exclusion but because of the enormous
culture gap." (Ahern, Sun at Midnight, 1984)

One of the most influential founders of the Waldorf movement in South Africa
was the Dutch anthroposophist Max Stibbe, who spent the last decade of his
life in apartheid South Africa. Stibbe was an outspoken racist, and helped
design the "racial ethnography" courses that were part of the standard
Waldorf curriculum in the Netherlands until the 1990's. Stibbe was a
defender of apartheid. One of the Waldorf schools in South Africa is named
after him today.

Perhaps another quote from South African anthroposophists will make their
basic orientation toward racial questions clearer. This one is from another
Novalis Press book titled Invisible Africa, published in 1987, in the waning
years of the apartheid regime:

"The Aryan type works through the European race in general althrough he may
incarnate within another race as a sacrificial gesture to assist in the
destiny of that race. This can happen to assist the
individualizing of personalities in that race so that their unique qualities
are freed to contribute towards mankind's future. The immediate cultural
task lies with the Aryan."

Similar passages can be found throughout the central anthroposophical
literature on racial topics, beginning with Rudolf Steiner's own major
works. Thus the incident you witnessed was not, sadly, particularly
surprising. I hope you will have an opportunity to tell us more about your
experience in Sweden.

Peter Staudenmaier

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