Spiritual-Scientific Consideration of Social and Pedagogic Questions
I. Prelude to the Threefold Commonwealth
21 April 1919, Stuttgart
To what I was able to say to you here, a year ago, more has doubtless been added for all of you, by a very forceful teacher — I mean, as the latest great teacher, those significant events which have taken place since last we gathered here. Those events spoke to you all the more forcibly because they were the fulfillment of what many of you had believed for a long time would come to pass. Truly it is a long way in content, though, seemingly short in time, back to those first days of August 1914, when amid countless hopes, and even more illusions, Germany suddenly marched out with an army that was not yet on a war-footing, that did not yet have its mobilization-order, and accomplished the siege of Louvain; a long way back to those days when because of various illusions people had already grown accustomed to think and to repeat in speech what certain sides were commanding to be thought. It is even a long way back to those days last autumn when the army outside the German boundaries was in danger of being cut off within a few days from all home supplies, a possibility which immediately led through the well-known events to something that, to you at least, is of greatest importance. All this is a long way back, in significance, even though the time embraces only a few years. And for men of deep vision there is the added disillusionment, that not only Germany's external military capitulation but her spiritual capitulation also was brought about by the very man to whom many looked in the autumn of 1918 as a last hope. The events that took place in that autumn of 1918 were very fitting proofs indeed of all those things which in so many connections could only be indicated between the lines, things which in recent years, as you well know, it was quite impossible to express openly inside the boundaries of what was then the German Empire.
Now, my dear friends, — and this must be said today and to you especially in the sense in which it has often been said here — we are confronted, as it were, by a trial that we must undergo, a test of that which has been developed among us and which I should like to call by an expression that sounds strange, perhaps, — “our Anthroposophical conviction”. Again and again, throughout the last year especially, I have emphasized the fact that this Anthroposophical conviction of ours must not confine itself to the taking in of ideas, in order merely to enjoy a kind of mystic feeling of inner well-being: and that is precisely what the present state of affairs teaches us so loudly and so eloquently. Many of us have been content to find in Anthroposophy something that will answer certain soul-questions for us — which, to be sure, is one's privilege. But truly, it is not without reason that the fact has been emphasized again and again in the last year, that our anthroposophical conviction must lead us further; it must lead us to a better understanding of immediate practical life, which for a thoughtful person is penetrated by the spirit; it must lead as to a better understanding than is possible when one does not have the background of this anthroposophical conviction. It is not for nothing that those persona who have been privileged to permeate themselves with an Anthroposophical conviction have been called to think-through the great problem which mankind faces. Now in a certain sense we face a test of whether that which we have been able to assimilate, which as a matter of fact has often accomplished nothing more than the uncovering of a superior kind of egoism, — whether that can really penetrate our understanding, our feelings, our hearts, so thoroughly that we will awake to the tasks of ever greater magnitude which we are bound to encounter in the immediate future. For much that is now crowding down upon us is just in its infancy. We face the beginnings, my dear friends, of many things. We must learn the lessons that events teach. Only think how the whole of life converged in these events. Think now those men who often seemed of all people the most practical, who regarded Spiritual-Science as a frightful whim, turned out, with all their practicalness, to be hardly awake to what came bursting upon mankind with overpowering elemental force. One must recall today the way in which those persons to whom the earthly destinies of mankind were entrusted, spoke immediately before the great world-war catastrophe. Years ago, in this place, I remarked upon the manner in which they spoke. Today I will only recall to your minds those critical sessions of the German Reichstag, when the minister responsible at that time for Germany's foreign policy could say: “The general political expansion has recently gone forward in a gratifying manner”. And in the same speech he could say: “Our relations with Russia are all that could be desired; the cabinet at Petrograd is not troubled by the press agitation, and we will be able to continue our friendly, neighborly, relations.” He could say in the same speech: “Most gratifying negotiations have been entered into with England, which will be consummated in the near future in the interest of world peace; upon the whole the two governments [he meant the English and the German] so stand that relations between them will become ever firmer and firmer”.
Notice, my dear friends, that those things were said by persons who were looked up to as directors of the destinies of mankind. They made those statements at the same time that I was compelled to say what I have since repeated many times — it was in my lecture in Vienna in the spring of 1914: “The tendencies of life prevailing in the present day will become stronger and stronger until finally they will destroy themselves by their own force. He who penetrates social life with spiritual vision sees how everywhere the conditions exist from which are bound to spring frightful social abscesses: that is the great anxiety regarding civilization that one who penetrates into existence must feel. That is the dread that is so oppressive, and that has compelled one to speak of the means that can be employed toward a solution, so that one would like to shout it aloud to the world. If the social organism develops any further in the direction it has been taking up to the present time, then sores will break out in civilization which will be the same for the social organism as cancers are for the human physical organism”.One spoke thus in that spring of 1914, and was regarded by' the so-called practical people as a dreamer. That general expansion of which Herr von Jagow spoke at that time before the enlightened assembly of the German Reichstag, — before men who should have had some judgment, but who heard everything tranquilly and believed that expansion went forward in such a direction that the following year at least ten to twelve million men were killed, and three times as many were crippled. My dear friends, I say this emphatically because it must be said today: It is essential that one gain an insight into human affairs through quite a different kind of thinking than that to which the leading circles were accustomed. It is essential today that one understand over better and more thoroughly what flowed out of the old world-conception. Such old thinking is worthless even for practical life, because practical life produced more and more the most impossible thoughts, which necessarily led to catastrophe. It is not a question of manufacturing thoughts about readjustment, but,of this: of realizing that humanity must learn new lessons in regard to its deepest thinking. That is the reason why one spoke so seriously of the necessity of renewing one's whole conception of the universe, the need for all of mankind to turn to the sources of reality, that lie in the spiritual life alone. For finally it all comes down to this: the necessity of realizing that we do not merely need organizations in this or that field, altered in this or that way, but that above all we need something quite different for the future, and for the very nearest future: what we need is heads in which something quite different pulsates than pulsated in those heads that were shaped by the influence of a worn-out conception of the universe. Before all things we need a new organizing, a new building of thoughts in men's heads. That is what one has wanted to work for during the last twenty years, for the work had become necessary. Heads are what we need, constructed differently from those which plunged mankind into disaster.
So long as this is not realized thoroughly, and so long as it is not realized that the light from Spiritual Science alone can illumine these beclouded heads: so long, whether people think as Conservatives or Radicals or however they think, no improvement of any kind can come about. With any of the trifling means that issue from the old thoughts there will be no salvation insured to mankind. New thoughts above all things are needed, new thoughts that can only spring up from the ground of what has been talked of in this place for years as the greatest need for the present age and for the immediate future.
You are acquainted, my dear friends, with the so-called Appeal to the German People and to the Civilized World which arose out of the necessity of the time: in which is represented quite openly what in recent years I have taken pains to express in narrow circles, where to be sure it found no response, where the desire was only to hear the thunder of cannons, not the Voice of the Spirit. You know that in this Appeal the demand is made definitely for that which lies in the impulse actually present at this time in human evolution itself. For, my dear friends, he who can see the forces that are active in the world of men considers as the greatest unhealthiness those abstract, so-called immortal, ideals which come not out of a real spiritual life but only out of its reflected images, human concepts and ideas that have no reality out are only images in a mirror. One must be especially conscious of that in the present day. Also in the present day there will be countless men who believe they are saying something full of significance when they tell how mankind can be made everlastingly happy, when they talk of ideal conditions that must be gained for mankind. My dear friends, such ideas of everlastingness and such ideal conditions for mankind are not in the thoughts of one who derives his knowledge from actual spiritual spiritual life. As I have always explained it here, evolution has been like this: one definite epoch has peen followed by another; and above all for each big epoch of post-Atlantean time a single concrete Ideal has been present, just as also for our time and the immediate future. It is not a question of creating a government that will last for a thousand years in a chiliastic manner; but of what the spiritual world desires to bring to realization for a short space of time, — and that, one can only see if one really devotes oneself to Spiritual Science. Our time is in serious need of that which the Appeal presented as its fundamental demand: the threefolding of the social organism. The social organism can only become healthy by means of this threefolding, of which you have read in the Appeal, and as you will find it in my book The Threefold Commonwealth Life Necessities of the Present and Future. The present cycle of humanity demands this threefolding.
Think, my dear friends, — all would have been quite different if in the middle of 1917, or even as late as the autumn of 1917, an important nation, either Germany or Austria, had advocated this threefolding as manifesting the impulse of Middle Europe, in contrast to the so-called Fourteen Points of Woodrow Wilson drawn up from an American point of view. At that time it was an historic necessity. I said to Kühlmann then, “You have a choice: one alternative is to listen sensibly to what is proclaiming itself now in the evolution of humanity as something which is to happen for what I am setting forth is not some program, as there are so many today, but something that is read out of the evolution of mankind and that quite certainly will be realized in the next fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years, but which above all must be realized in Middle Europe. You have these alternatives: either to listen to reason and accomplish sensibly what wants to be accomplished; or else go straight into revolutions and cataclysms.” Instead of listening to reason we got the peace, the so-called peace, of Brest-Litowsk. Think what it would have been (this can be said without boasting) if at that time amid the thunder of cannons, in contrast to the Fourteen Points, the voice of the Spirit could have been heard. All of Eastern Europe would have had an understanding for the threefold social organism in the place of Tsarism (anyone knows this who is acquainted with the forces in Eastern Europe). For that would really have been only what was really obliged to come about.
Those who were sympathetic at the time to the ideas of the Threefold Commonwealth at the most offered their opinion that they should be published in a brochure. Now think what folly that would have been then. It would have remained as literature among all the other things that were not read then. Times change. Today, with the days of October and November 1918 lying between then and now, everything has to be given out wholesale; today the proper way is to adopt a wide publicity about these things. Those people are the greatest menaces to mankind who think that if a thing is right for practical life it must be right at all times in the same way. Things have to be judged at different times from entirely different standpoints.
My dear friends, one must look more deeply into human evolution if one would appreciate the complete far-reaching practicalness of what lies at the foundation of the Threefold Commonwealth. This threefolding — I must emphasize it again and again — is not something that can abruptly come into being. It is what the Spirit of the Time and of the Present demands unconditionally from man, what the Spirit of the Time desires to realize; it is what the Spirit of the Time (and when you hear what follows you will understand this statement which I can now give out) is actually subjectively bringing to pass. And chaos results precisely from the fact that men think and, especially, act differently from the way the Spirit of the Time thinks and acts. As a matter of fact what is contained in this threefolding has been coming into being since the sixtieth year of the 19th century; only, men have talked and maintained an attitude in violent opposition to all that came into existence through events. You know, it is a question of dividing the social organism into three parts — a spiritual part, a real state or political part, and an economic part. I should like to insist before going further that the truth of this fundamental conception can be grasped by mere healthy human understanding, as can everything that is won through Spiritual Science. But I do not believe one can come to it in the right way through present-day thinking — (I beg you not to forget I said: in the right way). There are men who have reached something similar, but the essential thing is that one should accept it on a real, practical basis — a basis that takes into consideration that which is struggling to come into existence in our time, and which actually is beginning to work itself out.
Today let us consider — as a prelude, I might say — just one instance that can help us to a conception of what an exhaustive study of the time reveals in regard to this threefolding. You see, my dear friends, when recently, in the last four centuries, what one calls today the capitalistic economic order and the modern technical order swept over mankind, a new habit of thought, a new conception of the world, came too. If the so-called History in the schools were not a fable convenue then one would learn from history how radically the habits of thought of the entire civilized world changed from the 13th, 14th 15th centuries on into the following centuries. That that has all evolved slowly is a superficial view; for in historical development there are really great and sudden changes. Just such a change lies behind the whole development during, the last 3 or 4 centuries of the spiritual life-habits and thought-habits of mankind. I should like to mention especially something that appeared under our very eyes. I mean always soul-eyes, but which really has hardly been estimated at its true value. It was allowed to go to waste. What small roles in the life of humanity, especially among the Germans, have so-called spiritual personalities really played: How little in the last few centuries has the general schooling at the Universities helped to draw what has unfolded in single spiritual individualities into the general cultural wealth. Take instance of Goethe which I have often mentioned here. Goethe had a great comprehensive conception of the universe; something colossal for the evolution of mankind was taking place during the years from 1749 when Goethe was born to 1832 when he died. Enormous spiritual impulses lay in this Goethe. But let us see what impression Goethe's world-conception, Goetheanism, made on the German people: we obtain an appallingly sad picture. Those very persons who think they know something about Goethe know nothing at all of the deepest impulses of his spiritual being. And perhaps in a still higher degree one could speak in the same way of many others. One must say, my dear friends, that since the spread of technical science and capitalism the spiritual life of single personalities, which was important precisely because of its general human quality, became — one cannot say it in any other way — a parasite, a parasitic growth on the ordinary body of culture. It existed, but fundamentally it existed for naught. As if to prove just that: that the spiritual life of Goethe, for instance, was for naught — that it was thrown back, not absorbed, but merely flirted with theatrically: as if to prove that, we see the Goethe Society itself, which regards itself as the official custodian of Goetheanism, asking from an impulse that became more and more customary — Whom shall we choose as president for our Goethe Society? And the thought was not, who best understands Goetheanism? — but, who can do the best bowing and scraping if the G. S. has to appear at court? And then a minister of finance was chosen as the first president of the Goethe society in Weimar, a man whose spiritual path had never led to Goethe. What might show one the hollowness of the whole thing was the gentleman's surname: Kreutzwendedich von Rheinbaben (English: “Turn thou, oh Cross”). Kreutzwendedich von Rheinbaben was chosen then as by an irony of fate to be the president of the Goethe Society. These seem to be unimportant facts; out just the fact that they can be regarded as unimportant, when in truth they are symptoms of the deepest feelings: that is the horrible thing. Whoever does not comprehend these facts as important symptoms revealing inmost thoughts and feelings shows himself in agreement truly with all that has led mankind into such dire calamity. Now compare this parasitism of the spiritual life, this lack of connection between what is produced on the heights of humanity, and the general life of the people — compare this with earlier ages. It could not have been thought of in earlier ages. Just think what impression a Buddha had, for example, on the general life of the later Indian people. Compare this popularity of Buddha with the popularity that a Goethe had. Perhaps you will say: But by the side of Goethe are so many other spiritual heroes; Buddha was only one. Whoever makes that objection shows that he does no understand anything of the fundamental conditions of the evolution of mankind. For that is the great misfortune, that through natural conditions there has come to be a frightful overproduction of such spiritual persons, such spiritual individualities. So that those who are part of the general working community do not know at all how to find their way about: for look you, there is not merely Goethe but also Herder and Schelling and Schlegel; and not only these but one should read Mabel too, and Wildenbruch. And that's only the beginning; there is every other possible field, and one should concern oneself with everything that belongs to the general world of culture: And then one must think of international figures, etc… Yes, what lies at the bottom of that is of very deep import, something extraordinarily significant. There is a great difference between the men who figure thus next to one another in the history of literature.
But in the course of the last centuries men have lost their reverence for the spiritual life. That fact confronts one in single instances. One must be able to view the evolution of mankind symptomatically, then one finds from the symptoms — what really pulses underground! Look, my dear friends, I spoke once at the beginning of 1890 to a small circle of people who were members of the school examination board. One especially esteemed member of the board, also spoke on that occasion. We remarked how significant it is that so dreadfully little takes place in the school of the present day that will foster the general growth of spiritual impulses, so dreadfully little reaches the young people who are trained spiritually in these places from their tenth to their eighteenth year. Then the examining officer said: “Yes, when we see these camels that we must send out to teach the young, then we cannot nope for anything healthy to come of it.” You see, that is a symptom. Persons such as he, who in recent years were responsible for the spiritual life of the minority, the upper classes, esteemed it of so little worth that they regarded as a matter of course their examining school teachers and then letting them loose like camels among the young. They were convinced that those who handed in the best examinations were the greatest camels. Ah! but men's thoughts, my dear friends, men's thought-habits! everything depends upon them, in spite of all opinions to the contrary. In the end we find that mankind's real happiness and misfortune depend upon these thought-habits; they accumulate finally in such world catastrophes as we have just lived through. One must see into the small things, for they are symptoms of what is taking place in the subconscious sphere, which remains unaccounted for while one is pointing with pride to technical developments, capitalism, etc..
So slightly, then, has the spiritual life been valued that in reality it has become a luxury; men in the most different branches of life could only experience it really as a luxury. But they love this luxury. One might point to many spheres of life where this luxury has taken the place of the spirit. Let as take just one: landscape painting as it has developed in the last century. Do you believe, my dear friends, that outside of a few men who are educated to it, the broad masses of humanity can really have an open heart and taste for this landscape painting? Do you believe, for instance, that the laborer who is enmeshed by the capitalistic order of economic life and technical industry in a truly desperate labyrinth of life, — do you believe that if you throw down to him all the crumbs that you can find in the way of popular lectures, peoples' courses, centres, exhibitions where you show him pictures, do you believe that he can truly with his inmost soul respond to it? Landscape painting — just think — he who is not educated up to it, says: “Ach, why do they paint that? It is much more beautiful outside. Why, honestly, do they paint that?” When you hold popular courses for a palliative, you can persuade him that it is real, — but it does not enter into his subconsciousness. His subconsciousness keeps on saying: Why do they paint that? One shouldn't waste human forces on such nonsense, — And finally from out of these feelings there accumulates that which bursts out today in such eloquent events. That is the crux of the mater. For what, indeed, has not one heard continually in the last ten years, about the noble progress we have made, now human thought speeds like lightning over the widest stretches of country, how we can travel so easily, how spiritual culture has spread, etc. But all that, that has been praised so extravagantly was only possible because under it was a foundation of millions of men who were not able to share in it. None of you would be able to travel by rail, to telephone, to send thoughts out over wide stretches of country, if countless men were not denied the privilege of sharing in any of this culture, if this culture had not meant hunger and need for the body and soul of millions and millions of men. My dear friends, let us look for a moment at a definite point of time, the middle of the 19th century for it was then approximately that what one calls the social question really began. Look at the upper class that gradually arose out of that atmosphere which one cannot otherwise characterise than by pointing to the parasitic condition of the true and good spiritual life — the spiritual life that became parasitic because it was not absorbed; it was meant to penetrate the general culture of the people, but nothing was done about accepting it, the cross had not yet turned. Now look, the people of this upper class were gradually inspired with the idea of getting something for their souls. How often have I remarked what unnatural roads this longing of every soul takes. One could see how the people finally became theosophists in well-heated rooms, as the last rung of the Bourgoisie-ladder, how (and this was the very last phase) they talked about brotherliness, human love, noble ethical ideals, etc. But, my dear friends, in what rooms did these things happen? In what manner of places did all this come about? (I speak of the middle of the 19th century; later it became a little but not much better, and then not by any merit of the upper class.) All this went on in places heated with coal, about which the British government had already in 1840 confirmed the report that 9, 11, and 13 year old children were working in the coal mines, and were not seeing sunlight except on Sunday, for the reason that they were taken into the shafts before the sun rose, and came out again after sundown. Ah, it was easy to speak of love of neighbor, brotherliness, love for all mankind, when one was warmed by coal acquired through such “brotherliness”. It was easy also to talk about improving men's moral sense, when one was kept warm by coal brought out of shafts where, as the British inquiry reported, men and women had to work together the entire day, naked; pregnant women half-naked, men entirely naked; for in the mines it is very hot, etc., etc. I mention these things — they could be added to a hundredfold — in order to show you a picture of what all this is about: a picture of the culture of the last century, the Luxury-culture, a culture that already smelt of decay; and underneath, the foundation without which this culture would not have been possible, millions and millions of men who could not share in it. How people were gradually aroused to improve this 16 hour work in the mines was also reported by the Inquiry. But what was the characteristic of the last half of the century? Thoughtlessness. Preeminently, it was thoughtlessness. And this thoughtlessness is what must be recognized above all things if any improvement is to be worked for. Instead of saying so easily: “Dear stove, fulfil your stove-duty, make the room warm”, one should take wood and make a fire, and stop preaching. There has been so much preaching done, in priest and atheist circles alike: And what has been neglected is thinking: thinking according to reality. It all comes down to that. It is that above all things that must be made clear to the man of today, the fact that it is precisely in the spiritual life that a great change must come about.
The spiritual life cannot flourish unless it is free to manifest itself every day anew. But that will only be possible if it is placed on its own basis. From the lowest school position to the highest, from the established branch of science to creative work in art, in order to endure it must be free, because it can only build on its own strength. He who is acquainted with the spiritual life of mankind knows what unhealthiness has entered into it in the last four centuries through the State, because of the fact that the State spread its wings over this spiritual life, so that all spiritual life should gradually become politicalized, with the exception of some few branches that still remained free and for which also there was danger of subjection. For if affairs had gone any further even free these last branches of free spiritual life would have been politicalized. But men's thought-habits today are not yet broad enough for them to realize that the frightful subjection of the spiritual life to the political state-life must be undone, and that this spiritual life must be sat free. The very goal that men still work toward is this curbing of the freedom of spiritual life and the politicalizing of it, even when so many states have already shown just how state-absorbtion of spiritual life has worked out. It is still very difficult for people to extricate themselves from the great illusion about state-life. I was recently In Berne where the so-called “Peoples' Union” was holding a conference. The people spoke about everything under the sun in the same style as formerly — in May 1914 — Herr von Jagow had talked about the future. Just as that which actually came to pass was entirely different from what he expressed by his phrase “the general expansion is making progress”, so is there a difference between that which will actually come to pass and what has been said in Bern. People do not stand at all on the ground of reality. Men who give lectures, who write in German newspapers, made speeches telling what should happen in order to guarantee this Peoples' Union a prosperous existence. How a parliament should be formed, that would now embrace all state relations. The gentleman in question also could not resist saying: “A super-parliament must be created, a super-state”. In a lecture that I was giving at the same time I said that it would be more pertinent to consider what the states ought to leave undone than what they ought to do, in order not to increase further that which led us into the world-catastrophe. The only question one hears is, what should the state do? — in the sense of the old state. One has not learnt from the times to ask: What should the states stop doing? They should before all things stop mixing themselves up in spiritual and economic life. One should hardly be thinking of creating super-parliaments and super-states, when the sub-parliaments and sub-states have had such poor results. Today the question cannot be: What should the State do? but: What should the State give up doing? Only that is appropriate for the present time.
But one must have the courage in one's thinking to look at these things frankly. To see the connection between this spiritual life and what is now going on in the other branches of the social organism, will not be possible to one unless one has filled one's head with something evolved from the thoughts contained in Spiritual Science. Why is Spiritual Science such a horror today to many people? Just because it demands that one think differently from other people. But events have taught us that we can go no further with the thoughts in which mankind has been stuck. Men cannot realize that thy must change their way of thinking, for they cannot see the events. Men find it so difficult today to understand the Threefold Commonwealth because they have not wished to see what has actually occurred.
The evolution of mankind has already brought about a great piece of threefolding in events which escape men's gaze; only men are not aware of the accomplishment. I will give you one instance: if we go pack to 1869 we find the steel-industry in Germany developed to such a point that about 799,000 tons of iron had to be extracted: more than 20,000.were needed to extract these 799,000 tons. By the end of 1880, through the expansion of the industry, through the great demands created on the one hand by the increased railroad trade, and on the other by the great war armament programs — it later rose immeasurably higher, but already at the end of 1880 it had so increased that no longer was it 799,000 tons of raw iron but now 4,500,000 tons were necessary. Now, my dear friends, you can ask: How many workers were needed now? I said, something over 20,000 workers were necessary to extract 799,000 tons. Then there were 4,500,000 tons at the end of 1880. And for that, only 21,300 men were necessary. Now please let these figures speak to you — not as statistics, but comprehend these figures: something over 20,000 men extracted 799,000 tons at the beginning of 1860; 21,000 men, or thereabouts, extracted 4,500,000 tons at the end of 1880. How is that possible? You must indeed ask, How is that possible? It only became possible through enormously fine technical improvements; only because the most inconceivable, immeasurable technical improvements were made, by which it was possible for one man to extract so much more iron. Thus for all the progress that was made in this industry — and one could give similar details for 25 or 30 first-grade industries — for all that developed in them such improvements are the explanation. What does that mean? That is the significance, if just this number of men, because of purely technical improvements, produced that much more? Do you think that has no consequence? Naturally; when the number of workers was not increased much, and production itself was increased to such an enormous extent, the entire economic world that had any connection therewith was revolutionized. Just think what that means for the third part of the decentralized threefold organism. In all the rights-relations, and in all spiritual relations, nothing needed to change; there has only been a change in economic relations. For the change all came to expression in the price of steel and all that is connected with that. It is nothing less an event than this: That independently of the spiritual evolution, of the rights-evolution (for you need no other right, unless you look at the whole) independently of them, the economic life got itself free and transformed itself without men having a hand in the transformation. The things themselves did it, and men took no notice of it. That may be a proof to you that in actual events the threefolding was accomplished. The true economic teaching has progressed far, altogether b: itself; and men did not follow after; they directed their intelligence not to the possibility of following it up, out of staying behind in the old relationships. One may be ever so enthusiastic about the great talent that went into the improvement; that is all right, but for today it is not a question of that. Today the point is, that the economic life has emancipated itself. In the making of prices, and all that is connected with the establishment of prices and values, the economic life has taken its own course. That is the point. The three branches have practically emancipated themselves, and men have artificially welded them together, and have insisted upon welding them together ever more and more closely. That is how we got into the world-catastrophe. The facts lie under the surface of what men want to think today. One must look deep into the relations of things if one wants to judge what the reality is.
I chose such an instance so that one might see how foolish it is to judge the Threefold Commonwealth as senseless. The Threefold Commonwealth has been taken out of existing circumstances, while the men to whom the fate of mankind has been entrusted in the last ten years have altogether failed to adapt themselves to existing circumstances. You can easily prove through a healthy human understanding that this Threefold Commonwealth is the only thing to work for in order to bring about healthy development of the social organism. It does no good today merely to think one should maintain present conditions because this or that cannot be dispensed with. On that score the strangest objections are raised. All kinds of quite crooked e thinking are demonstrated. For instance, lately I was lecturing in Basel on the Threefold Commonwealth. In the discussion that followed, a very clever man got up and said: “Many admirable things have been said about this Threefold Commonwealth and yet one cannot comprehend it, because justice would be maintained by the political state only, thus by only a third of the social organism; and yet justice must exist also in the economic and spiritual life”. I had to reply with a picture. I said: “Now let us take any family in the country, consisting of man and wife, two children, manservants, maidservants, and three cows. The entire family needs milk, just as all three members of the social organism need justice. But is it necessary for all members of the family to give milk? Certainly not, for they will all be well supplied if the three cows provide it. So it is with the threefolding of the social organism. It is essential that all three members have justice. But they will only have it if it is created by the state-organism, the central member, as the milk is provided by the cows.” So crooked is men's thinking that they must needs turn out the wisest sophistries about the simplest conceptions.
Certainly, people are not stupid when they make such objections. One can never say that people are stupid. People who make objections today are, I consider, often very clever. I do not wish to dispute peoples' cleverness but I should like to paraphrase Shakespeare's line: “Honourable men are they all”: and say, Clever people are the: all, all, all — the essential thing however, is not merely to find clever thoughts out to find correct thoughts, that can actually be applied and used. And one comes to a healthy thinking in Spiritual Science, a thinking that can really penetrate to reality. You can have the most distorted thoughts in regard to outer physical affairs, and at the same time with a little elementary mathematics and technical knowledge you can prove that for instance if someone builds a railroad bridge badly, perhaps by the time the third train travels over it the bridge will collapse. But you cannot prove, for instance, let us say out of medical science: if so and so many people are well, and so and so many people die, just what medical science had to do with it. There the facts are not so obvious. And with respect to the social organism, the facts are not obvious at all. There the wildest charlatanism can prevail. There, one cannot help but feel that what was once ridiculed as an old superstition has come right down into recent times, in another field. You all know the place in the second part of Faust where the Middle Age idea of the Homunculus is dealt with. Today many people think it is a superstition, this wanting to construct an homunculus. But it is just as much a superstition to think of creating something out of mere intellectualizing. People do not realize that they have only transplanted the superstition to another field. The social theories of today want to produce a social Homunculus; they want to construct something artificially out of mere intellect. The Threefold Commonwealth is just the opposite of that. It seeks, not to set up an artificial program, but to find how men must meet one another in the three folded organism in order to find out or themselves what is necessary. It goes straight to reality, to the reality in which men stand in the social organism. Because it differs in this way from that Homunculus-idea of which men have become accustomed to think in the last ten years, for that reason it is so difficult to grasp today. For that reason one finds it so incomprehensible, in spite of the fact that it contains not one incomprehensible sentence, or indeed, not one sentence that is not quite easy to understand. It is because men have forgotten how to think accurately; they are satisfied everywhere to think around the edges. They are only content if they can think around the edges, or if they can think what they are told to think by one of the many sides.
It must not be overlooked, however, that the fundamental principles of the Threefold Commonwealth embrace a great many of the one-sided ideas that nave come up here and there. One cannot say that fruitful social ideas nave not also arisen in many heads; but for the most part they are one-sided. I must therefore say: I am for the most part in agreement with the people who have offered me some objection or other, but they are not in agreement with me. What they advance is right from their one-sided point of view, but one does not get a step forward by it, because with one-sided points of view one would accomplish something that then causes mischief on the other side. It is important today that we meet facts in a comprehensive way. That for instance, we do not ask: What should we do with the gold? This question and all others dealing with money standards will be settled within the independent economic life. This is the important point, that one grasp the reality of it. We do not need programs for single cases, programs spun out of the intellect; we need impulses that are related to reality; then, whatever one touches, one will come into contact with the practical. Only, those theorizers who consider themselves practical men are so made that they want to have definite programs everywhere for actual life. It cannot be a question of programs.
That which lies at the bottom, at the foundation, of the Appeal, and of the book elaborating it, is fundamental. It is developed out of that which alone can exist as tie real impulses of social life. In order to make myself better understood I will make a comparison: It has often been said that if one man were to grow up from childhood on an island he would never learn to speak. One learns to speak only in human society. That is correct, speech is a social phenomenon, man speaks because society is necessary to him. That is also true in regard to social impulses in a larger sense. Only within the social organism itself can a man's social life evolve. One man can never set up a social program, for inner individual life goes in quite a different direction from the setting up of social programs. One can only say: Thus and thus must men stand, thus must men be orientated in the field of the+ spiritual life, thus in the political field, and thus in respect to the economic life. Then what is necessary will result. That is the essential. For if a man applies his individuality today in the age of the consciousness soul to develop a social program, when everything is built on individuality, what comes of it? I should like to give you an example: They talk today about Bolshevism, of Lenin and Trotsky; now, I cite a third for you, who by the side of these is a thorough Bolshevist, — only people have not noticed it: Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Fichte, whom we recognize as an ideal thinker, a noble thinker. Read the Self-contained Commonwealth. What Fichte develops as a program is so little different from the Bolshevik program that you could quite easily ascribe Fichte 's Self-contained Commonwealth to Trotsky. How does this happen? That happens when a single man today makes a social program — which is what Fichte did. Only Fichte was still in an age when such a thing as the Self-contained Commonwealth could not yet be comprehended. The war catastrophe had to lead up to it. You see, it will be like that if one man wants to create out of himself a comprehensive social program. Fichte is a proof of it. There will be no social program, any more than the single man on an island will learn to speak. The essential thing therefore is this, that one find the tendencies, the inherent structure of the social organism.
It is not a matter of setting up programs, but of finding the way in which men must live together in order to discover what social impulses they may have. That stands on reality which concerns itself with society and not with the individual. How often in the last few weeks have I had said to me: “Yes, this man and that man are presenting definite programs that regulate the social life in every single point”. But that is of no avail; people nave always done that. Just look how countless the Utopias are. But there should be no Utopia, there should be something that is rooted in practical life. One should have a feeling for this comparison: I have often said: He who does not see the spiritual impulses in outer reality seems to me like someone who has a raw piece of iron. Someone says to him: That is a magnet that attracts other steel. But he says: Ha! that isn't a magnet, that is what one shoes horses with. Which is also true. The relation between them is not that one is right and the other wrong; but he is more deeply right who knows that it is a magnet, and that also it can be used for horseshoes. So it is with reality. They are right who speak of materialism, but the spirit too makes the complete reality.
Therefore it is a question now of coming back to the spirit. But truly, it must not remain a thing of phrases. Nowadays there are all kinds of preachers going about the world. They are like those people who sat in mirrored salons or in well-heated rooms and talked about love or neighbor and brotherliness. As I remarked just now, “stove fulfil thy stove-duty” is what they say. And preachers go about the world saying: Calamity has come to mankind through materialism, men must turn again to the spirit. Yes, the reproach was even made in regard to this Appeal that it contained too little spirit, it devoted too much attention to material life. It is not essential that we do a lot of talking about the spirit, but it is essential that we know how to bring the spirit into actual life. That man is not really standing firmly on the ground of spiritual knowledge who always only talking spirit, spirit, spirit — but he who receives the spirit so deeply into himself that it is able actually to solve the problems of life. That is the point. One could do without men's exhortations to turn again to the spirit. The important thing is that one should strive today to make the spirit living and active in oneself.
But men have gradually forgotten how to do that, precisely because the state has become something to them — what, forsooth? In Faust there is this line — as instruction to a girl, and the philosophers of course have misunderstood it and have sought a deep subtlety therein: “The All-embracer, All-sustainer, Holds and sustains the not thee, me, himself?” That is the way men came gradually to talk spout the State, especially during the war. “The All-embracer, All-sustainer, Holds and sustains the not thee, me, himself?” In the subconscious of people who give such instruction the “me” naturally is emphasized. For they have laid great stress on the fact that they had a somewhat superior, out — characteristically of them — not a very active inner relation to the spirit. What kind of relation have men had to the spirit? They have endeavored to comply for a certain number of years to the state regulations and then have been made into theologists, jurists, or some other kind of person. They have been supposed to grow up in the State, and to do everything that the State desired, and to be specially trained just for that. But where was any inner activity, where was any intense participation in the whole world process — which is the heart of Spiritual Science — where was that? They have said: I want to hold my position in the State for a certain number of years, and then I want the pension that is guaranteed me; in other words, I will work for the State as long as the State prescribes, then the State must see to it that I have a pension the rest of my life. And then at the end of their life they found no active relation to the spirit either, but a passive one — for then the Church was supposed to see about the eternal life of their soul. As a passive man one was, of course, very well taken care of: laid at birth in the State's lap, educated according to its ideas, then working for it, then cared for by it until death; and then after that the Church looked after one's soul without oneself having to make any effort about eternity. One could hardly ask for a more noble life! A life without one's having anything to do about it: that became more and more men's ideal at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. But the possibility for that kind of thinking only existed because of the foundation structure of which I have spoken, where people were not taken care of at all until their death — and even then most insufficiently, through diverse insurance systems. And therefore when it was no longer possible for Rights to blossom out of the world conception of the upper class, the people also lost faith in that after-death age- and invalid-Insurance which the Church distributed for the immortality of the soul.
You see, that is what one must grasp today. But one only grasps some measure of reality if one is able to think practically about what is presented in the Threefold Commonwealth.