Page 18 - Rudolf.Steiner's.Vision.for.the.Future.(Being.Human.magazine.debut.issue)
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Discovering a Genius: Rudolf Steiner at 150

Steiner who gave the eulogy at the funeral in 1900 of Wil- supported agriculture” is now a large and varied movement 

helm Liebknecht, a founder of the most powerful social dem- in this country, but the concept was originally Steiner’s, and 

ocratic party in Europe, and he was also chosen to give the it was brought here by anthroposophists.

keynote address to the workers at the huge celebration of the The “middle sphere” of rights and law should be 

Gutenberg Quincentennial.) After World War I, Steiner governed by the principle of ́galit́ or equality, and Steiner 

emerged as a major political theorist and activist in his own insisted unequivocally, at a time when many were unsure, 

right. He stepped into the vacuum created by defeat and the
that democracy is the only appropriate political form. This 

is the proper sphere of politics, and the only sphere in which
abdication of the Kaiser, arguing for what we now would call

a ‘third way’ between capitalism and communism politics should be determinative; moreover, 
Steiner argues that 
– an idea that would return later in the Prague Steiner also locates here not only labor and the 
money exhibits 
Spring of 1968, which was much influenced by wages of labor, which he views as fundamental 
Steiner’s theories. Steiner published a manifesto human rights, but also – even more surprisingly 
different qualities 
that was signed by many notables, along with – money and banks, whose proper function is to 
as it circulates 
dozens of essays, and a book presenting his basic allocate capital justly for the good of all. Steiner’s 
through the
ideas in popular form. He gave lectures to work- thoughts on money are fascinating: for example, 
three spheres.
ers’ committees all over Germany (it was after he views it not as a universal exchange commod- 

hearing one of these speeches at his factory that ity, but rather a certificate of entitlement, and he 

Emil Molt first approached him), coached and argues that money exhibits fundamentally dif- 

sent out teams of workers to publicize his ideas, ferent qualities as it circulates through the three 

and he even mounted a large-scale political spheres. For Steiner, capital is born as entrepre- 

campaign, hoping (but ultimately failing) to win neurial idea and initiative within the spiritual- 

outright in the plebiscite over Silesia’s new form cultural sphere, then manifests as loan money 

of government.
within the rights sphere, deploys itself as purchase 

money in the economic sphere, and ultimately Like much other radical political thought,
The “representative of 

yields revenue and profit to repay loans and sup- Steiner’s begins with the inspired but misunder-
humanity” from Steiner’s 
sculptural group.
port educational and cultural institutions with stood and misapplied ideals of the French 
In a healthy social 
gift money, which allows the cycle to begin again. Revolution: libert́, ́galit́, fraternit́. But Steiner
order, it is
One practical outcome of Steiner’s thinking in turns all conventional social theory on its head
not economic 
this realm has been the creation of anthropo- by claiming that altruism (fraternit́) should be
sophical banks, which function more like non- the guiding principle in the economic sphere. He
but rather ideas 
profit foundations supporting worthy causes. argued that ever-increasing division of labor
that should 
Some of these banks publish regular newsletters, actually underscores the truth of this principle,
compete freely.
inviting depositors to choose among loan appli-
because it means that more and more, we work

not for ourselves, but for others. Altruism’s main practical cants who describe their projects.

form should be an “associative economics,” in which For Steiner, freedom (libert́) should characterize not the

producers and consumers confer and cooperate to produce economic, but rather the spiritual-cultural realm: in a healthy 

what is really wanted as efficiently as possible. A good social order, it is not economic corporations, but rather ideas 

example of this idea in practice would be “community that should compete freely. Schools, churches, museums, 

farms” or CSAs, in which consumers buy shares, have a 
universities, and other institutions belonging here should be 

voice in deciding what will be grown, frequent the farm, and shielded as much as possible from political and economic 

shield the farmers from the vicissitudes of weather and the forces. Many different cultures should be allowed to flourish 

market by guaranteeing their income. “Community-
independently within each political entity. Ideally, cultural

16 • being human

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