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From Symptom to Reality in Modern History, GA#185
9 Lectures given in Dornach from Oct. 18, 1918 to Nov. 3, 1918
ARJ2 Chapter: Spiritual Science
Published by Rudolf Steiner Press/UK in 2015
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2015
From Symptom to Reality in Modern History, GA#185
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This sentence from the book's blurb on SteinerBooks website is vague, confusing, and backwards, "The causes of the symptoms — the reality behind them — are discovered on other levels of existence." The problem with this sentence, as I see it, is that it is illusory to suppose a reality lying behind symptoms. Symptoms are a map of some reality, and a map describes some aspects of the reality, but cannot ever cover all the reality. Alfred Korzyski made this point crystal clear in his classic book, the foundation of General Semantics, Science and Sanity, in 1933. In my opinion the cause of symptoms are the people who create them to describe their limited understanding of some reality, whether they be medical doctors talking about some patient's condition or history professors talking about an historical event. This point is especially important when dealing with spiritual realities, a point which Rudolf Steiner makes over and over in this collection of lectures, and it deserves to be emphasized here and corrected if misstated elsewhere.
[page 17, 18] From earlier lectures in which I discussed similar themes you already know that from the standpoint of spiritual science what is usually called history must be seen as a complex of symptoms. From this point of view what is usually taught as history — the substance of what is called history in the academic world — does not touch upon the really vital questions in the evolutionary history of mankind, but deals only with superficial symptoms. We must penetrate behind the surface phenomena and uncover the deeper layer of meaning in events so that the true reality behind the evolution of mankind will be revealed. Whilst history usually studies historical events in isolation, here we shall consider them as concealing a deeper underlying reality which is revealed when they are studied in their true light.
My study of the symptoms of disease reveal symptoms are merely the names given to the healing states of the body's recovery. This is not a trivial revelation. In doyletics we find that the body's healing states can be stored as physical body states, and thus can be triggered later in the absence of a disease agent. Lacking an understanding of this, doctors will say the disease had recurred, even if their own medical references say a recurrence is impossible. That happened to me when I had the healing states of red measles at age 35. My mother who raised 6 children assured me that I had the disease before I was five, an age at which bodily states are stored as doyles. Poison ivy is another example. If a rash occurs from direct contact before five, the healing states of itching, redness, scratching can recur later by a doylic trigger such as someone merely noticing a bit of poison ivy around them. Lacking an understanding of rashes as recapitulated healing states, they say, "I have poison ivy." Shingles is another example. If you have chicken pox before five, the healing states are stored and can recur as shingles, usually after fifty years old. Doctors claim the virus remains to cause this, but I wonder if any doctor has actually found the virus during shingles. Doctors seem to claim a reality of a chicken pox virus behind the symptoms without ever proving there is one. These same doctors cannot explain why some people like me never have shingles, and yet I had chicken pox. You see, my chicken pox happened at 7 or 8 years old, and no doylic storage of its healing states happens after 5. I mention these cases mainly to explain how symptoms are created to name the healing states of a disease because the symptoms are the outward sign of the concealed inner reality. A similar thing happens with the events of history as Steiner reveals in this book.
[page 25] When we consider this event as a symptomatic event in the recent evolution of mankind, then, as we shall see in later lectures, it will provide a bridge from the symptoms to reality.
We can build a bridge from the high level abstractions called symptoms to reality, so long as we remember there is no reality in those abstractions — no reality behind them — they can only point us to some reality in the world.
The words French and English are abstractions used to define two sets of people. At one time in history, before 1400, these abstractions were almost interchangeable, given the infusion of the English into the continent and the invasion of the Normand French into the island of Britain. The turning point in differentiating forever the two people was the deeds of Joan of Arc and their reverberations in the spiritual world, which filled the newly forming Consciousness Soul of the people with a consciousness of nationality.
[page 26, 27] But whilst the general idea of nationhood was emerging in France and England an extremely significant differentiation was taking place at the same time. Whilst for centuries these countries had shared a common purpose, differences began to emerge in the fifteenth century. The first indications are seen in the appearance of Joan of Arc in 1429, a most important turning point in modern history. It was this appearance of Joan of Arc which gave the impetus — and if you consult the manuals of history you will see just how important, powerful and continuous this impetus was — which led to the differentiation between the French and the English character.
Thus we see the emergence of nationalism as the architect of the community and at the same time this differentiation which is so significant for the evolution of modern mankind. This turning point is marked by the appearance of Joan of Arc in 1429. At the moment when the impulse of the papacy is compelled to release from its clutches the population of Western Europe, at that moment the consciousness of nationality gathers momentum in the West and shapes its future. . . .
All these facts are symptoms which are inherent in this epoch when the civilization of the Consciousness Soul, in Europe, seeks to emerge from the civilization of the Intellectual Soul.
Steiner goes on to call what historians write today, mostly "domestic gossip", namely, who did what to whom, when and where, and for what purpose. Speaking in these lectures back in 1918, he said:
[page 34] Whilst England lays greater emphasis upon the national element, in France the active tendency is visibly more towards the element of personality: one has to make a careful study of these things.
These two tendencies are still active almost a hundred years later. Brits do deeds for Queen and Country and the French do deeds for the people of France. During a visit to Versailles, our guide pointed out a sea-change which happened during the reign of King Louis XIV when the focus switched from for the Glory of France to the Glory of the French, from the State to the People. This is an example of an advance of the Consciousness Soul in civilization which needed the defeat of the Spanish Armada earlier made possible the emancipation of the individual personality from the collective state.
[page 35] When a phenomenon of this nature emerges on the surface it meets with counter-pressure from the past. The normal course of evolution, as you know, is always accompanied by luciferic and ahrimanic forces which derive from backward impulses and seek to assert themselves. Every normal impulse entering into mankind must fight against the subtle invasion of luciferic and ahrimanic forces. Thus the impulse that was clearly manifest in Hus, Luther, Calvin and Wycliffe had to battle with these forces. A symptom of this struggle is seen in the revolt of the United Netherlands and in the luciferic-ahrimanic personality of Philip of Spain. And one of the most significant turning points of modern times was the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. With this defeat those forces, emanating from Spain, that had offered the strongest resistance to the emancipation of the personality were finally eliminated.
Over several pages, Steiner explains the difference between the English and the French which in a nutshell is the direction of attention, the English gave attention to the whole of humanity and the French gave attention to the individual. The British never felt better than when they could proclaim, "The Sun never sets on the British Empire." The French love to speak of the liberty of the individual and created a Statue to Liberty for the United States as a token of their love of liberty. One could not ever imaging Great Britain making such a gesture to its former colony, could one?
[page 38, 39] In England the personal element transcends nationalism and seeks to embrace the whole world and to promote everywhere the development of the personality. The Frenchman wishes rather to develop the personal element in the soul, the Englishman to extend the principle of personality to the whole of mankind. Here we see two entirely different trends — in both cases the basis is the national element. In the one case the national impulse turns inwards, toward the individual soul; in the other it is directed outwards, toward the soul of mankind.
While Joan of Arc in 1429 set the stage for the differentiation between the French and the English, another personality in the 1600s made the distinction between the two peoples more pronounced. Steiner describes the man over several paragraphs, keeps us in suspense, and then reveals the man.
[page 41, 42] Now there is a personality who is especially characteristic of the emergence of the impulse of the Consciousness Soul in Western Europe, both on account of his personal development and on account of the place he occupies in contemporary history. . . . The personality who appeared on the stage of history at this time was a strange individual, whom we can depict in the following way: one could say that he was extremely generous, filled with deep and genuine gratitude for the knowledge imparted to him, infinitely grateful, in fact a model of gratitude for the kindness men showed towards him. He was a scholar who combined in his person almost the entire erudition of his day, a personality who was extremely peace-loving, a sovereign indifferent to the intrigues of the world, wholly devoted to the ideal of universal peace, extremely prudent in decisions and resolutions, and most kindly disposed towards his fellow men. Such is the portrait that one could sketch of this personality. If one takes a partial view, it is possible to portray him in this way and this is the external view that history presents.
Who is this man? Clearly he was a king, could this be King James of England? In his book Who Wrote Bacon? Richard Ramsbotham, inspired by Steiner, reveals James I to be the force, a great initiate who, in addition to writing the King James Bible, inspired both Shakespeare and Bacon to their amazing works. A great man like a great tree must be described from many perspectives, as rarely can one person can see all the aspects.
[page 42] One could say that he was an outrageous spendthrift without the slightest notion of his financial resources, a pedant, a typical professor whose erudition was shot through with abstractions and pedantry. Or one could say that he was timid and irresolute, and whenever called upon to defend some principle he would evade the issue out of cowardly faintheartedness, preferring peace at any price. It could also be said of him that he was shrewd or crafty and wormed his way through life by artfully choosing the path that always guaranteed success. Or that he endeavored to establish relationships with others as children are wont to do. His friendships betrayed a frankly childish element which, in his veneration for others and in the adulation others accorded him, was transformed into romantic infatuation. One can adopt either of these points of view. And in fact there were some who described him from the one angle, others from the other angle, and many from both angles. Such was the historical personality of James I who reigned from 1603 to 1625. Whichever point of view we take, the cap fits perfectly.
It was during the reign of James I that the idea of a state was born and gave rise a parliamentary system of government which rules yet today in Britain.
Next Steiner takes on the French Revolution with its glorious tripartite slogan of fraternity, liberty, and equality. It inspired people during the revolutionary period, but, absent a crucial distinction, the slogan led to massive destruction in France.
[page 51] Considered as a symptom, the French Revolution is extraordinarily interesting. In the form of slogans applied haphazardly and indiscriminately to the whole human being, it presents that which must gradually be developed, with all the spiritual resources at man's disposal, in the course of the epoch of the Consciousness Soul from 1413 to 3573. The task of this epoch is to achieve fraternity on the physical plane, liberty on the psychic plane and equality on the spiritual plane.
The crucial distinction are revealed: Fraternity can be found on the physical level, Liberty or freedom on the psychic level, and Equality on the spiritual level. Without these distinctions, the slogan confuses everything and leads to great abuses such as the Reign of Terror following the 1789 Revolution.
[page 51] The soul of this epoch is characterized in three words whose content is not understood, so that it is unable at first to find social embodiment and this leads to untold confusion. It cannot find any external social embodiment, but significantly, it is still there as the 'demanding soul', a soul in search of embodiment. All the inner soul life which must inform this fifth post-Atlantean epoch remains misunderstood and cannot find any means of expression. Here we are confronted with a symptom of immense importance.
The Revolution is followed by the Napoleonic Period, i.e. a soul without a body is followed by a body without a soul — a great pendulum swing in search for balance.
[page 52, 53] One has the impression that a soul wanted to incarnate in the world, appeared without a body, clamored for incarnation amongst the revolutionaries of the eighteenth century, but was unable to find a body . . . and that only externally a body offered itself, a body which for its part could not find a soul, i.e. Napoleon.
As humankind flowed towards the Consciousness Soul, there was a Roman bulkhead which stalled that flow, trying to keep it backed up in the Intellectual Soul. People were drawn to gnostic teachings, ideas, and rites of oriental provenance, but the Roman ideals stalled these at every point.
[page 55] This is the real battle which Rome wages against the tide of progress. Rome wishes to cling to an outlook which is valid for the Intellectual Soul at a time when mankind seeks to progress towards the development of the Consciousness Soul.
But humankind strove to find ways around the Roman bulkhead in the fourth epoch of the Intellectual Soul, and this led to the formation of Templars and Masonic Lodges which found some solace in the Third Epoch of the Sentient Soul. Steiner calls the freemasonary process as the "squeezed out lemon" which contained the secrets of the third post-Atlantean Epoch, the Egypto-Chaldean epoch, now served as a means of implanting dried out impulses into the life of the Consciousness Soul. These atavistic(1) impulses in this fifth epoch only act to weaken the autonomy of the Consciousness Soul and strengthen the forces of the sensory world, leading eventually to socialism of a dictatorial kind. (Page 56, 57)
[page 61] Under these circumstances spirit and soul are no longer active, and only the forces of the phenomenal or sensible world are operative. And so from the middle of the nineteenth century these forces manifested in the form of socialism of every kind, a socialism that was conscious of itself, of its power and importance.
But this socialism is only possible if it is imbued with spirit, and not with pseudo-spirit, with the mask of spirit, with mere rationalism that can only apprehend the inorganic, i.e., dead forms. It was with this 'dead' knowledge that Lassalle first wrestled, but it was Marx and Engels who elaborated it. Thus, in socialism which endeavored to translate theory into practice, and in practice was a total failure because it was too theoretical, there appeared one of the most important symptoms of the recent historical development of mankind.
The failure of socialism, predicted by Rudolf Steiner a century ago, became obvious when the greatest socialistic country in the world, the USSR collapsed around 1989 after 70 plus years of abysmal failure in so many ways. The pendulum swing to rampant capitalism is still underway in the new Russian Republic which is trying recover some of its former soviet republics.
People extol Thoreau for building a crude hut near Walden Pond and living in it while he communed with nature. But this view overlooks the fact that Thoreau only lived that way for a short time, about a year or so, then he moved back into Concord. Living so close to nature creates a state of diminished consciousness and one suspects Thoreau came to realize that. He later came to a balance of being in contact with civilization and with nature.
Humans have, since Bacon's time urged the use of experimental methods, pulling objects from nature, killing them, examining them, and making conclusions based on the dead objects examined. This is true for biologists, naturalists, and medical doctors, among others. Thus we have had introduced into our world, processes and applications using the forces of death. What can this all mean?
[page 77] The question then arises: if modern technology is simply a source of death, as it must inevitably be, why did it arise? Certainly not in order to provide mankind with the spectacle of machines and industry, but for a totally different reason. It arose precisely because of the seeds of death it bore within it; for if man is surrounded by a moribund, mechanical civilization it is only by reacting against it that he can develop the Consciousness Soul.
Next Steiner examines how this reaction against mechanisms by the Consciousness Soul led to the parliamentary system of voting. What is most interesting to me is that one must surrender one's personality when one votes! How can this fault be ever overcome? There is an answer to that question, but first listen how Steiner describes the problem.
[page 78] The parliamentary system of government is only a way of asserting the personality. But when the individual participates in the parliamentary system, arguably he surrenders his personality the moment he votes. . . . By voting, when speeches are followed by voting, what lives in the soul is killed even as one speaks. Thus every form of parliamentary government ends in leveling down, in egalitarianism. It is born of the assertion of the personality and ends with the wiping out of the personality.
One can only vote for what one personally desires and not wipe out the personality. How can that personal vote be such that it does not infringe on the personalities of others? That would require a threefold society, one in which the three separate areas of economics, state, and culture remain completely separate without coercion. Steiner attempted to install a threefold society but lacked the ideas for implementing it. The necessary ideas arose in one Hungarian immigrant to the United States some forty years later, namely, Andrew Joseph Galambos, who described how a non-coercive society which he called the Natural Society might arise, and detailed plans for implementation such a society. When the Consciousness Soul gets tired of the dead machinery of our so-called modern industry and even deader machinery of our so-called government, the means of a solution are waiting for it in the ideas spelled out by Galambos in his Volitional Science courses(2). In a Natural Society, one's soul will never be killed when one votes.
The biggest knock against Galambos' definitions of morality, etal, came from intellectuals who asserted that his definitions were incapable of proof, which is another way of saying they came from some supersensible knowledge. Steiner explains that such supersensible knowledge is essential to take the place of the knowledge which the gods in earlier times had implanted automatically in human beings for whom originals thoughts were unknown(3).
[page 84, 85] Modern civilization in the form it has developed since the beginning of the fifteenth century and especially in respect of its greatest achievements, is destined to remain sterile and barren unless fertilized henceforth by impulses from the supersensible world. . . . It will lead only to death for humanity unless we know how to transform these forces by impulses from the supersensible. . . . This is not an arbitrary expression of opinion, but a lesson we learn from a study of the symptoms of history.
Galambos' ideas of Volitional Science are completely new ideas, and they offer us the possibility for implementing the threefold society without any interaction between the three folds. As such his ideas provide a real evolution for humankind. What exists today, our so-called government, actually a coercive bureaucracy, is moribund and will collapse of its own weight. From its ruins, a Natural Society can and will eventually arise.
[page 95] For when we speak of real evolution in mankind we are concerned only with new ideas. Everything else — as we have already indicated — is subject to a certain extent to symptoms of death.
There was a time thousands of years ago when a man was respected for being old; people knew that people grew wiser with age. Have you noticed this is mostly not the case today? Young people in their early thirties are typically replacing people in their early fifties who are treated as if they are jetsam which must be thrown overboard to keep the company's ship afloat. Steiner reveals that the age of intellectual maturity has moved to younger and younger ages, until now it is 27 years old. That explains a lot about the problems of the world today.
[page 109] The majority of people one meets today, especially amongst the middle classes, do not mature after the age of 27; thereafter they are content to plough the same furrow.
In my upper 30s I first discovered Rudolf Steiner and began reading his works. At age 75, after reading over 211 of his some 300 books extant, I am still reading and studying his lectures and books. Each new Steiner book offers mind-boggling concepts that are new to me and these act as a lure to my opening and reading the next book. In my earlier work in business, I changed jobs about every three years, not content to repeat my successes at just one company, but take on challenges at a new company. When I took retirement at age 55, I knew well by then that I wanted to spend the rest of my life studying, learning, and writing so that others might benefit from my work. This kind of active learning life into old age is possible to anyone who wishes to expand their knowledge, but alas as Steiner points out below, it rarely happens today.
[page 110] A man who is prepared to continue his studies, to expand his knowledge, a man who remains plastic and capable of transformation is a rarity today. This was far more common amongst the Greeks, at least amongst the intellectual section of the population, because development did not cease in the early 30s. The forces inherited at birth were still very active. They began to encounter the forces leading to death; a state of equilibrium was established at the midway stage of life. Today this situation has come to an end; the majority hopes to be 'made' men, as the saying goes, by the age of 27. Yet at the end of their 30s they could recapture something of their youthful idealism and go forward to wider fields if they really wished to do so! But I wonder how many there are today who are prepared to make the readjustment necessary for the future development of mankind: to develop a constant readiness to learn, to remain plastic and to be ever receptive to change. This will not be possible without that active sympathy for others of which I have already spoken. Our hearts must be filled with a tender concern for our neighbor, with sympathetic understanding for his peculiarities. And precisely because this compassion and understanding must take hold of mankind, it is so rarely found today.
In Lecture V, Steiner covers the Mystery of Death and the Mystery of Evil. Stated in a colloquial form they would form the two questions:
1) Why bother to live if we are going to die anyway?
2) Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
To answer the first one, Steiner restates the question this way, "What do these forces which are active in the universe accomplish apart from bringing death to man?" Then he gives us a metaphor using the railroad; today we might use the automobile or the computer.
[page 117]The question now arises; what do these forces which are active in the universe accomplish apart from bringing death to man? It would be a mistake to imagine that their sole purpose is to bring death to man; that is only a secondary effect. It would never occur to anyone to say: the function of a railway engine is to wear down the rails. Yet that is what actually happens; the engine gradually wears down the rails, it cannot do otherwise. But that is not its function — it is designed for a different purpose. If one were to define a locomotive as a machine whose function is to wear down the rails, one would obviously be talking nonsense. Nonetheless there is no denying the fact that there is a connection between the wearing down of the track and the nature of the locomotive. It would be equally mistaken to say that the forces in the universe which bring death to man exist for this sole purpose. This is only a secondary effect. Their real function is to endow man with the capacity to develop the Consciousness Soul. You see how close is the connection between the Mystery of Death and the evolution of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, and how important it is that in this fifth post-Atlantean epoch the Mystery of Death should be revealed to all. For the task of the forces which as a secondary effect bring death to man is to implant in him, in the course of his evolution, not the Consciousness Soul, but the capacity to develop the Consciousness Soul.
For the problem of Evil, Steiner returns to his railroad metaphor, this time the train is moving fine, but it hits a bad section of track and is derailed(4). How to keep this from happening? Replace the rails with better rails, but in a world run by people plowing the same furrow decade after decade, the condition of the rails will not improve, but only get worse.
Certainly we have in this nascent 21st Century many strange and calamitous developments which fill the news channels every night and haunt those who watch them during the day. The question about why there is evil in the world is certainly on their minds.
[page 128] The present age with its strange and calamitous development is the revolt of mankind against what is destined to follow from these developments which I have just described. Because in future all chauvinistic tendencies in society must be abandoned, mankind rebels against this, and the trite doctrine of national self-determination is noised abroad. What we are witnessing today is a revolt against the divinely ordered course of evolution, a struggle to resist the inevitable. We must be aware of these things if we are to lay a firm foundation for an understanding of the Mystery of Evil. For evil is often a secondary effect of the force that must intervene in human evolution. When a locomotive that has to cover a long distance strikes a bad section of the track, it destroys the rails and comes to a halt. In its development mankind is moving towards the goals I have described to you. And it is the task of the Consciousness Soul to recognize that mankind must press forward consciously to these goals. But the present tracks are badly laid and it will be some time before better ones are in position, for often people proceed to replace the old tracks by others which are no better.
Yes, people rebel against giving up their chauvinism, their near-sighted patriotism, just like teenagers rebel against their parents: they know they'll have to give up certain things when they're parents themselves and want to hold onto them as long as possible. One cannot expect teenagers to understand this, to take time for a moment of reflection as to the reason for their rebellion. But most humans are the same as teenagers, rebelling against the kind of reflection that would show where they stand in evolution today. This prevents them from understanding the Mystery of Evil; these are the very same people who cavil in despair, "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" If, instead feeling hopeless despair, they held that question hopefully as an unanswered question, and worked towards an answer, one might come to them.
[page 128] But, as you see, spiritual science has no wish to be pessimistic. It sets out to show man where he really stands in evolution today. But it demands nonetheless that, at least for certain special moments of reflection in life, he can renounce certain current tendencies. And because men find it so difficult to make this sacrifice, because, in spite of everything, everyone immediately reverts to his old routine, it is extremely difficult to speak frankly on these matters today.
There is no Easy Street to understanding these matters today, and few people care to dote upon them at all. Meanwhile the rails go into worse repair, train wrecks increase, and the entire system of coercive bureaucracy is headed for a collapse because it is endemically flawed. Rightly understood, those votes which kill the soul are the very ones which prop up this flawed coercive system, and when they are withdrawn, the decadent structure will falter and collapse. Understanding this, one would not feel disappointed, but rather encouraged when the percentage of people not casting soul-killing voting increases each year. One cannot build freedom by fighting against a system.
Americans fought the British to get rid of "taxation without representation" did we not? And what do we have now, taxation with representation which is far worse and higher than under the King we fought to get rid of. If one dances with the forces of coercion, they get stronger. It's like wrestling with pigs, you both get dirty but the pigs love it. If this does not make sense to you now, have patience, it will later.
What is the answer? A free community life, a Threefold Society, a Natural Society, in which there is no coercion at any level. Steiner envisioned the first, Galambos envisioned the second and left us with detailed plans of how to build such a society, to build a freedom that once built, can never be destroyed. When will humankind be ready for such freedom? They are ready for it now, and when it is first implemented and proven, it will sweep across the world. When will this happen? Steiner indicates in many places that day will come, but humans have a lot of growing up from their current teenagership to do before it happens.
Here is Steiner's vision.
[page 142] I envisaged the idea of a free community life — such as I described to you recently from a different angle — a free community life in which not only the individual claims freedom for himself, but in which, through the mutual understanding of people in their social life, freedom as an impulse of this life can be realized. And so I unhesitatingly wrote at that time:To live in love of our action and to let live in the full understanding of the other's will is the fundamental maxim of free men. You know no other obligation than that with which your will intuitively aligns itself in harmony; how, in a particular case, they will direct their will depends on their wealth of ideas.
In these next two passage. Steiner imagines Immanuel Kant speaking for the forces of coercive bureaucracy which always asks of us "duty, obedience, and for our sake please vote", and then Steiner speaks for Man — the full Human Being — who sings a Song of Freedom. Which do you prefer, Good Reader, the plaintive cry of Duty! or the triumphant song of Freedom?
First, listen to Kant's call to duty, then, farther down, Steiner gives us Man's cry for Freedom:
[page 142] When Kant says of duty: 'Duty? thou exalted and mighty name, thou that dost comprise nothing lovable, nothing ingratiating, but dost demand submission', thou that 'settest up a law . . . before which all inclinations are silent even though they secretly work against it'.
Now listen to the reply to Kant's tirade that Steiner speaks from out of his heart, allowing the full Human Being to sing a Song of Freedom, a brilliant and powerful paean against the forces of coercive bureaucracy..
[page 142, 143] Then, out of the consciousness of the free spirit, Man replies: Freedom! Thou kindly and human name, thou that dost comprise all that is morally most lovable, all that my manhood most prizes, and that makest me the servant of nobody, thou that settest up no mere law, but dost await what my moral love itself will recognize as law, because, in face of every merely imposed law, it feels itself unfree.
Feels unfree, such as when one casts a soul-killing vote in a ballot box. Remarkably the one freedom not currently infringed by the coercive bureaucracy in the USA is the right to vote or not. But, one suspects that one is heading for a sorry end as in Australia where, as I understand it, every registered voter is forced by law to cast soul-killing votes.
What is amazing to me is how most people who have studied Steiner urge the formation of a Threefold Society as if they were Kant telling us of our Duty. You cannot have both! One cannot have both freedom and duty. Freedom and coercion are like oil and water, they do not mix with one another. Freedom is always floating on the top, always appearing in slogans like "This is the freest country in the World!" But, all the while, the forces of coercion are increasingly at work below the surface, couching their latest coercive law as a kind of freedom. Who wants a kind of freedom? Who needs an imposed law when everyone recognizes what is right morally? How do we arrive at that universal recognition? This is surely an unanswered question worthy of any full Human Being.
[page 143] If, instead of such slogans as peace founded on justice, or peace imposed by force, people would only speak of peace based on freedom, then this word would echo round the world and in this epoch of the Consciousness Soul might kindle in the hearts of men a sense of security.
What can prevent liberty from becoming license and Freedom from becoming infringement? Steiner recognizes the problem can only be resolved by genuine scientific reasoning. I agree.
[page 152] For if freedom without the solid foundation of a science of freedom were regarded as real freedom, then, in an age when evil is gaining ground — as I indicated yesterday — freedom would of necessity lead not to liberty, but to license. What is necessary for the present epoch when freedom must become a reality can only be found in a firm inner discipline of a thinking freed from the tyranny of the senses, in genuine scientific reasoning.
What would a genuine scientific reasoning do? It would establish an operational definition for freedom. With such a definition one could reasonably answer without equivocation such questions as "Is there freedom in my country?" One would simply apply the definition to the conditions in one's country, and an answer would come out; that's what an operational definition allows one to do in science: operate and get an answer. Given an operational definition of freedom, one could easily move to an operational definition of morality: any action taken in freedom. And profit: any moral action which provides a benefit. When such an operational definition of freedom is extant and in practice, people will not need to understand the definition or know what an operational definition is, it will be profitable for them to become and remain moral, ever operating in freedom.
These are not my ideas, but those of a scientist with a Ph. D. in physics, Andrew Joseph Galambos, who created an operational definition of freedom which laid the "solid foundation of a science of freedom" which fits all of Steiner's specifications, as I understand them. It is time for people who wish to live in the Threefold Society as envisioned by Steiner to study the Natural Society envisioned by Galambos. If they dig deep enough into Galambos's work, they will find the answers to all their unanswered questions laid out for them. In my life, I have encountered three great thinkers who understood freedom rightly, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rudolf Steiner, and Andrew Joseph Galambos, and my review of Galambos' foundational work in freedom, Sic Itur Ad Astra, begins with copious quotes from Steiner and Emerson.
What we have today is euphemisms for coercion so that the appearance of freedom might be simulated for the unthinking. Want an example of a euphemistic phrase used by a socialist in Steiner's time? Reasonable constraint. Perhaps you've heard similar phrases in our time used to justify some new socialist program created by the coercive bureaucracy of your country. I certainly have. Here's Steiner report from a hundred years ago. How much has changed since? Not much.
[page 153] One day I was defending spiritual values in a meeting attended by hundreds of my students when only four members who had been sent by the party executive to oppose me were present; nonetheless they made it impossible for me to continue. I still vividly recall my words: 'If people wish to play a part in future evolution, then liberty of teaching and liberty of thought must be permitted.' Thereupon one of the stooges sent by the party leadership declared: 'In our party and its schools there can be no question of freedom, but only of reasonable constraint.' These things I may add are profoundly symptomatic of the forces at work today.
As of 1968 with the first course in Volitional Science, V50, given by Dr. Andrew Joseph Galambos in Los Angeles, we could say the day that Rudolf Steiner was praying for had arrived. I think if he had been alive to attend that course, Steiner would have agreed that the ideas necessary for a science of freedom had been adequately postulated by Galambos, and that they provide a foundation for ethical individualism in our social and political life.
[page 159] The day that no longer regards the ideas I have attempted to express here today, albeit so imperfectly, as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, but as ideas that will find their way to the hearts and souls of mankind today, that day will herald a new dawn!
That day is here. V50 and more advanced courses in Volitional Science have been paid for and attended by over 30,000 people in the past 60 years and have found their way into the hearts and souls of the attendees who know how to survive in a coercive society and how a non-coercive society is possible. Behind the scenes people are working and waiting for the day of implementation and proof that a society without coercion can be built. They know, like Steiner, that it will come eventually, and it will be based on an ethical approach to freedom, with license and infringement held in check by each individual, not because they wish to lighten the darkness of the world, but because it will be to their benefit.
[page 159] Mankind must realize how the world would be transformed if the meaning of freedom were understood, freedom not in the sense of license, but freedom born of a free spirit and a firmly disciplined mind. If people understood what freedom and its establishment would signify for the world, then the light which many seek today would lighten the prevailing darkness of our time.
Many of you will doubt my words — I fully expect that response. It was the response of my wife when I completed my first course, V50T, in 1981. Only after she had taken the course could she understand and agree with me, having absorbed the superb wisdom and innovative genius which Galambos poured into his beginning courses. If you seriously doubt me, and have the intellectual curiosity, find a way to take Galambos' courses(5). Start by acquiring a copy of V50T transcribed into book form, Sic Itur Ad Astra. Do not write me, asking me to do the work for you, as I will not and cannot. Building freedom is a Do-It-Yourself job which can be done only one person at a time.
The one thing about building freedom that is most misunderstood by afficionados of anthroposophy is how important intellectual property rights are for individuals. They may have read where Steiner said something like the following:
[page 234] If the socialist movement is to develop along healthy lines, privileges, patents and monopolies must be abolished in every branch of knowledge. Since, at the present time, we are still very far from understanding what I really mean, there is no need for me to show you in any way how knowledge could be freed from its fetters, and how every man could thus be induced to participate in evolution. For that will depend upon the development of far-reaching impulses in the sphere of education, and in the whole relationship between man and man. Ultimately all monopolies, privileges and patents which are related to the possession of intellectual knowledge will disappear; man will have no other choice but to affirm in every way and in all domains the spiritual life that dwells in him and to express it with all the vigor at his command.
Steiner is not saying that individual rights to intellectual knowledge will disappear! He is pointing out that the deleterious forms of intellectual rights which involve state-owned and state-controlled rights and privileges must disappear! Monopolies are controlled by the State, privileges are bestowed by the State, patents are authorized, filed with, and maintained by the State. In a Natural Society, there will be no State, so the requirements laid down by Steiner will be met, but not in a way easily understood by those plowing rows the same old way, i.e., by those infused with the current ways of handling intellectual rights. For example, a U. S. patent requires lascivious disclosure and provides minimal protection. For example, electronic innovators file their U.S. patents and Japanese and Chinese manufacturers use these patents to create devices and sell them before the American inventors can get their devices to market. Then the patent holder must file suit against a large foreign manufacturer which few can afford to do. A proprietary way of protecting intellectual knowledge would be built in a Natural Society and provide protection for individual intellectual property(6).
To close out the final lecture, Steiner explains the three approaches to understanding Christ: as Teacher, as King, and as Spirit. The first way is that of the People of the Lodges who view Christ as Teacher. The second way is that of the People of the Church who view Christ as King. The third way is that of the People of the Christ, who view Christ as Spirit. The peoples of the East, namely Russia, are pre-disposed to view Christ as Spirit, but the further West one goes, to Central Europe and America, the less likely disposed they are to view Christ as Spirit, so instead they impose a view of Christ as King via a king-like Pope, or view Christ as a Teacher in various freemason lodges and temples. The entire human race is destined to evolve into an understanding of Christ as Spirit, and in Rudolf Steiner we find one man who can clearly delineate our current perspectives and lead us safely to the perspective we will need to develop as we progress into the remainder of this epoch.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Atavistic means harking back to some earlier time. Note: the third epoch is mirrored in the fifth epoch, so there is a tendency for processes from the third to re-appear in the fifth, but they would be shallow and as useful as a squeezed out lemon, a mere hint of lemon, but not enough for a tasty lemonade.
Footnote 2.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
The first course, V50T, is available in book form, Sic Itur Ad Astra, or Thus the Way to the Stars.
Footnote 3.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Note how both of Homer's epics began with a call for a Muse (a god) to put the words in his head as thoughts that he could write down. See Iliad and Odyssey.
Footnote 4.Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
In her classic novel on freedom, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand used the derailing of trains to symbolize the derailing of the coercive bureaucracies of her time.
Footnote 5.Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
Galambos gave a money-back guarantee to anyone who took his V50 course and felt it wasn't worth the money. We paid $300 (worth almost $2,000 in today's inflated money) back in 1981 to take the 19-week course, one 3 hour night a week. Few people out of 30,000 ever asked for a refund, certainly no one in my courses ever did. A warning: it will change your life, but for the better.
Footnote 6.Return to text directly before Footnote 6.
A proprietary, non-State-based, method for protecting intellectual property is outlined in detailed form in Galambos' V201 course, the successor to V50, which has not been published in book form, up until now.
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