The Challenge of the Times
4. Social and Antisocial Instincts
6 December 1918, Dornach
In my last lecture I expressly emphasized that a condition constituting a paradise — if we may use the word again as I employed it then — is impossible on the physical plane. For this reason, all so-called solutions of the social problem, which purpose more or less consciously or unconsciously to bring about such a lasting paradisaical state upon the physical plane, rest necessarily upon illusions. It is in the light of this assertion that I beg you to receive the explanations I give in regard to the characteristic phenomena of the present time because there certainly exists in the actuality of our time a definite demand for the social shaping of humanity's relationships. The thing that matters is that this question shall not be made abstract, that the question shall not be taken in an absolute sense, but — as, indeed, I said to you the last time — that we shall develop on the basis of spiritual-scientific knowledge an insight into precisely what is necessary for our time. We shall now have something to say in regard to just what is necessary for today as considered in the light of the presuppositions of spiritual science.
When social problems or social demands are discussed today, what is generally most completely overlooked is the fact that the social problem cannot really be grasped at all in a manner suited to the requirements of our times without a more intimate knowledge of the being of man. No matter what social programs are thought out, no matter what ideal social conditions we may desire to bring about, if the point of departure is not an understanding of the human being as such, if the objective is not in accordance with the more intimate knowledge of man, everything will remain fruitless. I have pointed out to you that the social organization of which I have spoken, this threefold social organization that I have been impelled to present as the important demand of our time, is valid for the present age for the reason that it centers attention upon the knowledge of the human being in every single detail. This is a knowledge of man in his present nature in this actual point of time within the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. It is from this point of view that I beg you to consider all the explanations that I shall present.
The foremost consideration is the fact that such a social order as is demanded by contemporary conditions cannot be established apart from a conscious knowledge of the requirement that man shall be aware of himself in his relationship to what is social.
We may say that, of all forms of knowledge, the knowledge of the human being himself is decidedly the most difficult. Thus, in the ancient mysteries, “Know thyself” was set up as the loftiest goal for human endeavor. What is especially difficult for the human being today is the realization of all that works within him out of the cosmos, of how much is at work within him. Since man has become especially easy-going today precisely in his thinking, in his conceptions, he likes best of all to conceive of himself in the simplest way possible. But the actual truth is that man is by no means a simple being. By means of mere arbitrary conceptions nothing whatever can be accomplished concerning this reality, and in social relationships, likewise, man is by no means a simple being. Precisely in social relationships he is such a being, we might even say, as he would ardently desire not to be; he would prefer with the utmost intensity to be different from what he is. It may be said that the human being is really extraordinarily fond of himself. This cannot possibly be questioned. The human being is extraordinarily fond of himself and it is this self-love that causes man to transform self-knowledge into a source of illusions. For instance, a man prefers not to admit that he is only a half-way social being and that to the extent of the other half he is antisocial.
Now, a matter-of-fact and positive admission that man is at the same time a social and an antisocial being is a fundamental requirement for a social knowledge of humanity. A person may very well say, “I aspire to become a social being.” Indeed, he must say this, since, if he is not a social being, he simply cannot live rightly with his fellow men. Yet it is characteristic of human nature at the same time to struggle constantly in opposition to what is social, to remain continuously an antisocial being.
We have repeatedly, from the most varied points of view, considered the human being in accordance with the threefold character of his soul, according to thinking, or conceiving, feeling and willing. Today we may also thus consider him in his social relationships from this point of view. Foremost of all, we must see clearly as regards conceiving, thinking, that in this inner activity there is a source of the antisocial in the human being that is tremendously significant. Through the fact that man is a thinking being, he is antisocial. In this matter only the science of the spirit has any access to the truth of things because it is only the science of the spirit that can cast light upon the question as to how we stand in general as human beings related to other human beings.
When is the right relationship established, then, between man and man for the ordinary everyday consciousness — or, better expressed, for the ordinary everyday life? Well, when this right relationship between man and man is established, undoubtedly the social order also is then existent. But it is a curious fact — we might say unfortunately, but the one who knows says necessarily — that we develop a right relationship between man and man only in sleep. Only when we are asleep do we establish a true and straightforward relationship between man and man. The moment you turn your back on the ordinary day consciousness while you are in the state of dreamless sleep between falling asleep and waking, you are then, with regard to your thinking — and I speak now solely with regard to conceiving and thinking — a social being. The moment you awake, you begin to develop through your conceptual life, through your thinking, antisocial impulses. It is really necessary to realize how complicated human relationships in society become through the fact that a person takes the right relationship toward other persons only in sleep. I have indicated this in various ways from other points of view. I have pointed out, for example, that a person can be thoroughly chauvinistic while awake, but that, when he is asleep, he is placed actually in the midst of those persons, is associated with those persons, especially with their folk spirit, whom he hates most of all while awake. Against this fact nothing can be done. Sleep is a social leveler. But, since modern science is unwilling to know anything whatever about sleep, it will be a long time before science will accept what I have just said.
We enter through our thinking into still another antisocial stream in the waking state. Suppose you stand face to face with a person. In truth we confront all human beings only through confronting individual persons. You are a thinking human being, naturally, since you would not be human if you were not a thinking being. I am speaking now only about thinking; we shall speak later about feeling and willing. From the point of view of feeling and willing some objection might be raised, but what I am now saying is correct as regards the standpoint of conceiving. When you stand as a conceiving, thinking human being in the presence of another person, it is a strange fact that the reciprocal relationship that comes about between man and man brings into existence in your subconsciousness the tendency to be put to sleep by the other person. You are actually put to sleep in your subconsciousness by the other person. This is the normal relationship between man and man. When you come together, the one strives — and, naturally, the relationship is reciprocal — to put to sleep the subconscious of the other. What must you do, therefore, as a thinking person? (Of course, everything that I am telling you takes place in the subconscious. It is a fact even if it does not arise into ordinary consciousness.) Thus, when you come into the presence of a person, he puts you to sleep; that is, he puts your thinking to sleep, not your feeling and willing. Now, if you wish to continue to be a thinking human being, you must defend yourself inwardly against this. You must activate your thinking. You have to take defensive measures against being put to sleep. Confronting another person always means that we must force ourselves to awake; we must wake up; we must free ourselves from what this person wills to do to us.
Such things actually occur in life, and we actually comprehend life only when we view it in a spiritual-scientific way. If you speak to a person, or even if you are merely in the company of a person, this means that you must continuously keep yourself awake against his endeavor to put you to sleep in your thinking. Of course, this does not come into the ordinary consciousness, but it works within the human being. It works in him as an antisocial impulse. In a certain sense every person confronts us as an enemy of conceptual life, as an enemy of our thinking. We must defend our thinking against the other person. This requires that we are in great measure antisocial beings as regards our conceptual life, our thinking, and can become social beings only by educating ourselves. If we were not compelled constantly to practice this protection, to which we are compelled through the necessity within which we live — if we did not have to practice constantly this protection against the other person, we could be social human beings in our thinking. But, since we must practice this, it is of utmost importance for us to realize perfectly clearly that it is possible for us to become social beings, to become such through self-discipline, but that as thinking human beings we are not actually social already.
From this fact it becomes clear that no assertions whatever can be made regarding the social question without investigating the life of the soul and the fact that man is a thinking being because the social question penetrates into extremely intimate matters in human life. Whoever does not take account of the fact that man simply develops antisocial impulses when he thinks will arrive at no clarity in regard to the social problem.
During sleep things are easy for us. First of all, we are simply sleeping. There, in other words, bridges can be built connecting all men. In the waking state the other person, as he confronts us, seeks to put us to sleep in order that a bridge may be built to him, and we do the same to him. But we must protect ourselves against this. Otherwise we should simply be deprived of our thinking consciousness in our intercourse with human beings.
Thus it is not so easy to enunciate social demands since most persons who set forth social demands do not become at all conscious of the depth to which the antisocial is rooted in human nature. People are least of all inclined to state such things to themselves as self-knowledge. It might become easy for them if they would simply admit, not that they alone are antisocial beings, but that they possess this quality in common with all other persons. Even when a person admits that human beings are in general antisocial beings as thinkers, everyone, as regards himself, secretly clings to the reservation that he is an exception. Even if he does not state this fully to himself, yet there always shines dimly and secretly in his consciousness the thought that he is an exception and the others are antisocial beings as thinkers. The truth is that it becomes exceedingly difficult for people to take seriously the fact that it is not possible as a man to be something, but it is still always possible as a man to become something.
This is a fact, however, that has a special and fundamental connection with those things that can be learned in our time. It is really possible today, as one would not have been willing to do five or six years ago, to point out that certain injuries and deficiencies in human nature that have made themselves perfectly obvious exist in all parts of the world. People strive to delude themselves in regard to this necessity of becoming something. Most of all they endeavor to call attention to what they are, not to what they will to become. For instance, you will find that a great number of persons belonging within the Entente and the Americans think within the limits of what they are simply by reason of the fact that they belong to the Entente or to America. They do not need to become something. They need only to point out how different they are from the evil human beings of the Central European countries, showing how black they are, whereas they alone are white. This is something that has spread an illusion regarding human beings over vast areas of the earth and it will inevitably in the course of time bring a terrible penalty. This habit of willing to be something and not willing to become something is an element kept in the background as an opposition to the science of the spirit. The science of the spirit cannot do otherwise than to call the attention of people to the fact that it is necessary constantly to become something and that a person simply cannot be some sort of finished thing. People deceive themselves in a terrible way about themselves when they believe they can point to something absolute that determines a sort of special perfection in their case. In man everything not in the process of becoming evidences an imperfection. What I have said to you regarding the human being as thinker, and regarding the antisocial impulses begotten by him as such, has still another important aspect.
Man alternates in a way between the social and the antisocial, just as he alternates between waking and sleeping. We might even say that sleeping is social and waking is antisocial, and just as man must alternate between waking and sleeping in order to live a wholesome life, so must he alternate between the social and the antisocial. But it is just this fact that becomes conspicuous when we reflect about human life. For you see, a person may thus tend more or less toward the one or the other, just as a person may tend more or less toward sleeping or waking. There are persons who sleep beyond the normal amount. In other words, they, in the condition of a swinging pendulum in which the human being must be between sleeping and waking, simply tend toward one side of the scale. In the same way a person may cultivate within himself in greater measure either the social or the antisocial impulses. Men are in this respect differentiated individually in that one cultivates more the social and another the antisocial impulses. If we possess a knowledge of human beings in any measure, we can differentiate persons in this way.
Now, I said that there is another aspect of this matter. The antisocial in us is connected with the fact that we protect ourselves in a certain way against being put to sleep. But something else is connected with this. It makes us ill. Even if noticeable diseases do not arise from this cause — but even such noticeable diseases do often arise — yet the antisocial nature of man belongs among the causes of illness. Thus it will be easily intelligible to you that the social nature of man at the same time possesses a healing quality, something that gives life. But you see from all this how extraordinary human nature is. A person cannot heal himself by means of the social elements in his nature without in a certain way putting himself to sleep. As he tears himself away from this social element, he strengthens his thinking consciousness, but becomes antisocial. But in this way he also lames his healing forces, which are in his subconsciousness, in his organism. Thus the social and antisocial impulses present in the human being produce their effects even to the extent of determining a sound or an ill constitution of life.
One who develops a knowledge of man in this direction will be able to trace a great number of more or less genuine illnesses back to his antisocial nature. The state of illness depends, much more than is supposed, upon the antisocial nature of man, especially as regards those illnesses that are often genuine but that manifest themselves outwardly in some such thing as moodiness, in all sorts of self-torturing, torturing of others, and in the struggle to get through something disagreeable. All such things are connected with an unsound organic constitution, and they gradually develop when a person is strongly inclined toward antisocial impulses. In any case, it ought to be entirely clear that an important mystery of human life is here concealed. This mystery of life, important both for the teacher and also for man's self-education if it is known in a living and not merely theoretic way, means that a person acquires the inclination to take his own life strenuously in hand, to think about mastering the antisocial element in order to reach the mastery of it. Many persons would cure themselves not only of their moodiness but also of all kinds of ailments if they would thoroughly investigate their own antisocial impulses. But this must be done in a serious way. This must be done without self love because it is something of the utmost importance for our lives.
This is what must be said in regard to the social and the antisocial elements in the human being in reference to his conceptual life, or his thinking.
In addition, man is a feeling being, and there is something peculiar, in turn, as regards his feelings. In respect to feeling man is also not so simple as he would like to think. Feeling between two human beings, in other words, shows a most paradoxical peculiarity. Feeling has the peculiar characteristic of being inclined to give us an untrue sentiment in regard to the other person. The first inclination in the subconsciousness of a person in intercourse between human beings always consists in the fact that an untrue sentiment arises in his subconsciousness regarding the other person. In our lives we must, first of all, continually oppose this untrue sentiment. One who knows life will easily observe that those persons who are not inclined to show an interest in other persons are really critical about almost all persons — at least after a certain time. This is really a peculiarity of a great many persons. They love one person or another for a certain length of time but, when this time has passed, something is aroused in their nature and they begin in some way to be critical of the other, to hold something or other against him. Often the person himself does not know what he has against the other because these things take their course to a large extent in subconsciousness. This is due to the fact that the subconscious simply has a tendency actually to falsify the picture that we form of the other person. We must learn to know the other person more deeply, and we shall then see that we must erase falsification in the picture we have acquired of him.
Paradoxical as it may sound a good maxim to live by, even though there would have to be exceptions, would be to endeavor always to correct in some way the image of the human being that becomes fixed in our subconscious, which has the tendency to judge human beings according to sympathies and antipathies. Even life itself demands this of us. Just as life requires us to be thinking persons and we thus become antisocial, so does life — and what I am telling you is based upon facts — demand that we judge according to sympathies and antipathies. But every judgment based upon sympathies and antipathies is falsified. There is no real judgment that is correct if it is formed according to sympathies and antipathies. Since the subconscious in the feelings is governed by sympathy and antipathy, it always sketches a false picture of the other person. We simply cannot form in our subconscious a true picture of him. To be sure, we often have a picture that is too favorable, but the picture is always formed according to sympathies and antipathies, and there is nothing we can do except simply to admit this fact and to admit that, in this regard also as human beings, we simply cannot be something but can only become something. Especially as regards our relationship in feeling with other individuals we must simply lead a “waiting” life. We must not act in accordance with the image of them that presses upward out of the subconscious into consciousness, but we must endeavor to live with people, and we shall see that the social attitude evolves out of the antisocial attitude that one really always has.
For this reason it is of special importance to study the feeling life of man to the extent that it is antisocial. Whereas the thinking life is antisocial because he must protect himself against falling asleep, the feeling life is antisocial because he governs his intercourse with other persons according to sympathy and antipathy, and from the beginning injects false currents of feeling into society. What comes from people through the influence of sympathies and antipathies is certain from the beginning to interject antisocial currents of life into human society.
Paradoxical as it may sound, we might say that a social community would be possible only if people did not live in sympathies and antipathies, but in that case they would not be human beings. You see clearly from this that man is at the same time a social and antisocial being, and that what we call the “social” question requires that we enter into intimate details of his nature. If we do not do so we shall never attain to a solution of the social question for any period of time whatever.
As regards the will acting between individuals it is really striking and paradoxical to discover what a complicated being man is. You know, of course, that not only sympathies and antipathies play their roles in the relationship between individuals as regards the will — as these do also to the extent that we are feeling beings — but that here inclinations and disinclinations which pass into action also play a role. That is, sympathies and antipathies in action, in their expression, in their manifestation, play a special role. One person is related to another person according to how he is influenced by his special sympathy toward the person, the special degree of love that he brings to meet the other person. There an unconscious inspiration plays a strange role. For everything that envelops all relationships in will between people must be viewed in the light of the impelling force that underlies these volitional relationships, that is, in the light of the love that plays its role in greater or lesser degree. Indeed, individuals cause their will impulses, which are active in this way from one to the other, to be sustained by this love that is active between them.
Regarding the feeling of love, people are subject in preeminent degree to a great illusion, which requires a greater measure of correction than the ordinary sympathies and antipathies in their feelings. However strange it may seem to the ordinary consciousness, it is entirely true that the love manifesting itself between one person and another, if it is not spiritualized — and love is actually seldom spiritualized in ordinary life, even though I am not speaking merely of sexual love or love resting upon a sexual foundation, but in general of the love of one person for another — is not really love as such, but an image the person makes of love. It is generally nothing more than a terrible illusion, because the love one person believes he feels toward another is for the most part nothing but self-love. A person supposes that he loves another, but in this love really is loving himself. You see here a source of an antisocial disposition that must be the source also of a terrible self-deception. In other words, a person may suppose that he is giving himself up in an overwhelming love for another person, while he really does not love the other person at all. What he feels as a state of rapture in his own soul in association with the other person, what he experiences within himself by reason of the fact that he is in the presence of the other person, that he makes declarations of love, if you please, to the other person — this is what he really loves. In the whole thing the person loves himself as he kindles this self-love in his social relationship with the other person.
This is an important mystery in human life and it is of enormous importance. This love that a person supposes is real, but that is really only self-love, self-seeking, egoism, masked egoism — and in the great majority of cases the love that plays its role between people and is called love is only masked egoism — is the source of the greatest imaginable and the most widespread antisocial impulses. Through this self-love masked as real love, a person becomes in preeminent degree an antisocial being. He becomes an antisocial being through the fact that he buries himself within, most of all when he is unaware of it, or wishes to know nothing of it.
Thus you see that the person who speaks about social demands, especially as regards contemporary humanity, must consider fully such soul states. We must simply ask, “How shall human beings arrive at any social structure in their common life if they will not learn to understand how much self-seeking is embodied in so-called love, in the love of one's neighbor?”
Thus love can actually become an enormously strong force working in the direction of the antisocial life. It may be asserted that a person, when he is not working upon himself, when he does not undertake self-discipline, is invariably an antisocial being when he loves. Love as such, as it inheres in the nature of man, unless the person is practicing self-discipline, is predestined to be antisocial, for it is exclusive. Once more, this is no criticism. Many of the requirements of life are connected with the fact that love must be exclusive. In the very nature of things, a father will love his own son more than a strange child, but this is antisocial. If people assert, as the habit is nowadays, that man is social, this is nonsense; for man is just as strongly antisocial as he is social. Life itself makes him antisocial.
For this reason, if you imagine such a state of paradise established on earth, which can never exist but is striven for because people love the unreal always more than the real, if we think of such a state of paradise as having been established, or even such a super-paradise as Lenin, Trotsky and Kurt Eisner would have on earth, innumerable individuals would within a short time be obliged to oppose this. It would not be possible for them to remain human in it for the reason that only the social impulses would find satisfaction in such a state, and the antisocial impulses would immediately be aroused. This is just as inevitable as it is that a pendulum does not swing only toward one side. The moment we should establish a state of paradise, the antisocial impulses would necessarily be roused into action. If what Lenin, Trotsky and Kurt Eisner desire should be realized, it would be transformed into the opposite in the briefest possible time through the action of the antisocial impulses. This is simply the nature of life. It alternates between ebb and flow. If people do not understand this, they simply do not understand anything about the world. We frequently hear it said that the ideal of community life within a state is a democracy. Good! Let us assume„that the ideal of community life in a state is a democracy, but, should this be introduced anywhere, in its last phase it would inevitably bring about its own destruction. The tendency of democracy is inevitably such that, when the democrats are together, one is always endeavoring to overcome the other; the one always wishes to have his way against the other. This goes without saying. Transferred into the realm of reality, a democratic order leads to the opposite side. There is no other possibility in life. Democracies will always, after a certain length of time, die as the result of their own democratic nature. These are things that are of enormous importance for an understanding of life.
Besides, there is the additional peculiarity that the most essential characteristics of man during the fifth post-Atlantean epoch are antisocial. The consciousness that is based upon thinking must be developed during this period. For this reason this period will manifest the antisocial impulses outwardly in maximum degree and through the very nature of man. Through these antisocial impulses, he will bring about more or less distressing conditions. The reaction against the antisocial will be manifest, in turn, in the outcry in favor of socialism. It must be understood that ebb and flow always alternate.
In the last analysis, suppose that you should really socialize the community. This would bring about such conditions in the relationships between individuals that we should all simply be forever asleep. Social intercourse would be a means for going to sleep. At present you can scarcely imagine this because you will not think out in a concrete way how things would look in a so-called socialistic republic. But this socialistic republic would actually be a great place of sleep for human conceptual capacities. We can understand that there are longings for something of the kind, but longing for sleep is always present in many people. We must simply understand what the inner necessities of life are, and must not content ourselves with wishing for what suits us or is pleasing to us because the thing that a person does not possess is generally pleasing to him. What he has he generally fails to appreciate.
From these considerations we see that, when we speak about the social problem, the most important thing of all is to investigate the intimate elements in the nature of man, and to learn this human nature in such a way that we learn how social and antisocial impulses often become entangled in such knots as to create a chaos beyond clarification. This is the reason why it is so difficult to discuss the social question. This particular problem can scarcely be discussed in any way whatever unless one has the inclination really to delve down into the intimate characteristics of the human being, for example, to go into the question of why the bourgeoisie embody in themselves an antisocial impulse. The mere fact of belonging to the bourgeois class gives rise to,.antisocial impulses, because being a member of the bourgeois class means essentially that one creates a sphere in life where a peaceful existence is possible. From close investigation of this aspiration of the bourgeois, we discover that, in accordance with peculiarities of our contemporary epoch, he wishes to create for himself on an economic basis an island of life where he can pass his time in sleep so far as surrounding conditions are concerned, with the sole exception of special life habits that he has developed in accordance with his subjective antipathies or sympathies. Thus he does not crave the kind of sleep that is sought by the proletarian who is continually kept awake because his consciousness is not put to sleep on the existing economic foundation and who therefore yearns for the sleep of the social order. This is, in truth, an important psychological perception. Ownership puts a person to sleep; the necessity of struggling in life wakes one up. Being put to sleep through ownership causes a person to develop antisocial impulses because he does not crave social sleep. Continuous stimulation by the necessities of learning and existence awakens the craving to fall asleep in the social relationships.
These things must be taken into thorough consideration; otherwise we do not in the least understand the present time. Now, it may be said that, in spite of everything, our fifth post-Atlantean epoch does strive, in a certain manner, toward socialization in the form that I recently analyzed here. The things about which I have talked will come into existence either through human reason if people will adjust themselves to these things, or through cataclysms and revolutions if they will not. Man is striving toward this threefold order of society in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch and it must come into existence. In short, our epoch is striving toward a certain socialization.
But this socialization is not possible, as is evident on the basis of all sorts of reflections we have presented here, unless something else accompanies it. Socialization can be related only to the external structure of society. But in this particular fifth post-Atlantean epoch such socialization can really consist only in the suppression of consciousness, of the thinking consciousness, in the suppression of antisocial human instincts. In other words, the social structure must in a certain way bring about the suppression of antisocial instincts in our conceptual life. There must be something to counterbalance this. In some way a balance must be brought about in the matter, but it can be established only provided all enslavement of thought, the mastery of the thinking of one man by another that has come from earlier epochs in which it was justified, shall be eliminated from the world with the process of socialization. This requires that the freedom of the spiritual life shall come about in the future side by side with the organizing of economic conditions. Only this freedom of the spiritual life renders it possible that we shall be so related as man to main that we shall see in another person standing before us a particular human being, not human beings in general. The program of a Woodrow Wilson speaks of human beings in general, but this generalized human being, the abstract man, does not exist. What exists is always the single, individual human being. We can become interested in him, in turn, only through our full humanity, not through mere thinking. When we Wilsonize, sketching an abstract picture of a human being, we extinguish what we should develop in the relationship of man to man.
The thing of essential importance for the future is that absolute freedom of thought must come about; socializing without this is inconceivable. Therefore, the process of socializing must be connected with the elimination of all enslavement of thought, whether this enslavement is fostered by what certain societies of the English-speaking peoples practice, which I have sufficiently described to you, or through Roman Catholicism. They are worthy of each other, and it is exceedingly important that we should see clearly the inner relationship of the two. It is extremely important that no lack of clarity shall hold sway at the present time, especially in reference to such things. You may tell a Jesuit what I have said to you regarding the peculiarity of those secret societies of the English-speaking peoples. He will be delighted to have a confirmation of the point of view he represents. But you must understand clearly that, if you wish to stand upon the basis of spiritual science, you cannot identify your objection to these secret societies with the objection manifested by the Jesuit. It is a strange fact that, in this field, people show all too little power of discriminating judgment.
I have recently called attention even in public lectures to the fact that what matters is not only what a person says but that we must always consider what sort of spirit permeates what is said. I used the example of the sentences from Woodrow Wilson and from Hermann Grimm sounding so much alike. I mention this for the reason that you will come to realize in ever increasing measure that a seeming opposition will arise on that side against the English-American secret societies just as we on our side must oppose them, but only by a seeming opposition. What has come out in the December number of the Stimmen der Zeit makes a grotesquely comical impression upon a person who sees into the actual facts because it is obvious that what must be opposed in the English-American secret societies is precisely the same thing that must be opposed in Jesuitism. They face one another as two powers, unable to exist side by side, face each other, the one battling against the other. Neither the one nor the other possesses the least real, objective interest; the interest in both cases has to do with the party, with the order.
It is especially important that we should get rid altogether of the habit of thinking only of the content and not of the standpoint from which anything is introduced 'into the world. If something that is valid for a certain epoch is introduced from a certain point of view, it may be beneficial, it may possess healing power. If introduced by another force, it may be something either utterly laughable or even injurious. This is a fact that must be considered especially at the present time. It will become ever increasingly clear that when two persons make the same statement, it is not the same thing, varying according to the background behind it. After all these testings that life has brought to us during the last three or four years, it is imperative that we shall at last really give attention to such things and really delve into them.
There is not yet much evidence of any such delving. For example, people will continue to ask how one thing or another is to be arranged, how it is to be done, in order that it shall be right. The truth is that, if you set up one thing or another here or there, but do not put persons in charge who think in accordance with the meaning of our epoch, no matter whether you make the best or the worst arrangement, the result will be injurious. The matter of real importance today is that man shall really grasp the truth that it is necessary for him to become. He cannot rest upon anything he already is, but must continue in the process of becoming. Moreover, he must understand how actually to see into reality. To do this people are extremely disinclined, as I have emphasized from the most varied points of view. In all sorts of things, and especially in regard to conditions of the times, people are so strongly inclined not actually to touch reality but to take things according to what suits them. Forming a judgment that is really objective is, naturally, not so easy as forming one that aims most directly toward easy formulation. Judgments that are objective are not readily reduced to formulas, especially when they take hold of the social, the human, or the political life, because in these fields the opposite of what is assumed is almost always true. Only when the effort is made not to form any judgment regarding such relationships, but to form pictures — in other words, when we ascend to the imaginative life — shall we take the path that is approximately right. In our epoch it is of special importance to make the effort to form pictures, not really abstract, isolated judgments. It must be pictures, too, that will open a path to socialization. Then what is required besides is that no socializing is possible unless the person becomes spiritually scientific — in other words, free on the one hand in thinking, and spiritually scientific on the other.
The underlying basis of this I have pointed out even in public lectures, for instance, the public lecture in Basel. I said that certain persons who think in a materialistic way, seeking to understand everything on the basis of evolution in the successive series of animals, say, “Well, now, in the animals we have the beginnings of social instincts; these develop in men into moralities.” But the things that became social instincts in animals are antisocial if they are lifted up to the human plane. Precisely what is social in the animal is antisocial in preeminent degree in the human being! People simply do not wish to investigate the various lines needed in the real picture of things, but form their judgments rashly. The right relationship between man and man comes about when we conceive man as a spiritual being, not when we conceive him only with regard to his animal nature; in this he is preeminently antisocial. But it is possible to conceive a man as a spiritual being only when we grasp the whole world in the light of its spiritual foundations. These three things, (social organization, freedom of thought, spiritual science) are simply inseparable one from the other. They belong together. In our fifth post-Atlantean epoch one of these cannot possibly be developed without the other. It will be especially necessary that people shall accustom themselves not to view unthinkingly such things as the fact that an antisocial nature is inherent in every individual. We might say, if we chose to express ourselves in a trivial way, that the curing of the ills of this epoch depends largely upon whether people will cease to be so intensely fond of themselves. This is the characteristic mark of the present-day person, that he is so fond of himself. If you differentiate again, he is fond of his thinking, his feeling, his willing, and when he has become attached to his thinking, he will not give it up.
A person who can truly think knows something that is by no means unimportant, that is, that he once thought wrongly in regard to everything concerning which he now thinks rightly. The truth is that we actually know correctly only what we have experienced the effect of in the soul life when we think wrongly regarding it. But people do not willingly investigate such inner states of development. It is for this reason that people have so little mutual understanding at the present time. I will give you an example. The proletariat world view, of which I have often spoken to you, maintains that the way in which men form their concepts, the entire idealogical superstructure, depends upon economic conditions, so that they form their political ideas according to their economic situations.
Anyone who can investigate such conceptions will find that this idea is in great measure justified, almost entirely justified as regards the development of the epoch since the sixteenth century. What people have been thinking since the sixteenth century is almost entirely the result of economic conditions. This is not true in an absolute sense but it is relatively justified in large measure. But this fact simply cannot penetrate such a head as that of a professor of national economics. For instance, a national economist is teaching in a university not far from here — his name is Michel — who says that this is false because it can be proven that political ideas are not formed on the basis of economic conditions, but that economic conditions are modified in special measure through political ideas. This Professor Michel then points to the continental embargo of Napoleon, by means of which certain branches of industry, let us say, were absolutely uprooted in Italy or in England and others introduced. Thus, says he, we have here a most striking example of how economic conditions were determined by political ideas, by the continental embargo. He introduces still other examples. I know that, if a hundred people read this book by Professor Michel, they will be convinced that what he says is true because it is developed with the most rigorous logic. It seems to be absolutely true but it is ridiculously false for the reason that all the examples introduced have to be treated according to the same scheme applying to the continental embargo. Certainly the continental embargo brought it about that certain industries in Italy had to be changed, but this change in industries brought about no modification whatever in the economic relationship between employer and worker. This is precisely the characteristic factor. All of this falls out as if from a sieve or a barrel without any bottom. In other words this economic theory of Professor Michel is a barrel without a bottom. Everything that he presents falls out of it as if from a barrel without a bottom, since the proletariat world view does not in the least maintain, for example, that the silk industry of Florence was not developed because of such an idea as the continental embargo, this industry having not previously existed, and on the other hand that it did not develop in England. But, in spite of the fact that the continental embargo can drive one industry to one place and another to another, nothing whatever is modified in the economic relationships between entrepreneur and worker. These are the decisive factors. Thus do such things fall out of the great course of the economic events with their idealogical superstructure, so that precisely the continental embargo in its effect fails completely to prove what Professor Michel wishes to prove.
Now, ask yourselves why such a person as Professor Michel takes up his stand upon his theory as contrasted with the proletariat way of thinking. For the simple reason that he is in love with his way of thinking and is not in the least capable of delving into the thinking of the proletariat. In other words, he falls immediately asleep. This is a latent falling asleep. The moment he ought to reflect upon proletariat thinking, he falls asleep. In this situation he can maintain his upright position only as he develops the thoughts with which he is in love.
We must investigate in this way the psychic factors. Our age is simply the epoch in which it is necessary and important to investigate psychic factors. Otherwise, it is impossible to understand what is necessary in our times and it will never be possible to reach any sort of sound judgments regarding these difficult tragic conditions. Only sound judgments can and will really guide us out of the misery of the present period. There is no occasion for pessimism in a comprehensive sense but there is every occasion for reversing our judgments. Most of all is there occasion for every individual person in greatest possible measure to reverse his judgment.
We must say that the manner in which persons utter their judgment today while sleeping, as it were, and how quickly they forget from one time to another even when the spaces of time are ever so brief, is truly remarkable. We shall certainly experience in special degree how people will forget all the phrases they have uttered in regard to justice and the necessity to battle for justice against injustice. We shall experience that most people who have spoken in this way a short time ago about “justice” will forget this and will not in the least see that, in the immediate future, by far the greatest number of those who have spoken about “justice” will be interested simply in bringing to dominance quite ordinary power. Naturally, we are not to think ill of them on this account but we ought simply to see clearly that, when a person has spoken on the one hand about right, he should not overlook the fact that the greatest outcry has to do, in the last analysis, with power and the impulse to grasp power. This is not to be held against these people, as I have said. Yet it will be unpleasant to see how those who only a short time ago were always talking about justice, will make themselves dominant. We have no reason to be surprised at this. But those who have participated, and come to agreement in all this talking ought to be astonished when they discover how completely the picture has changed! They ought at least then to become aware how strongly inclined the human being is to form his judgments according to illusions and not according to realities.