Thursday, August 30, 2012

Foreword to the Fourth Edition (October 23, 2001) - "Leviathan – Society As An Organism"

This edition is being made on the eve of a visit to London to present the fourth, British edition of How The Grail Sites Were Found in the Rudolf Steiner House on October 26. In my various introductions to editions of Werner Greub's work, I have referred to this booklet The Just Price – and also to the one on The Principles of The Anthroposophical Society – by Herbert Witzenmann as being examples of publications that are written out of the Grail impulse of the 20th century: Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy or science of the Grail, more particularly: transforming the driving force on which the present world economy is based, namely egotism, to a world economy based on altruism. It therefore seemed appropriate to also make new editions of these two booklets available for the launching of Werner Greub's book in London, since the editions made in America on half letter-size (in contrast to the European A-5 format) were sold out. This meant redoing the whole layout since the original manuscripts were left in Montreal in the hands of publisher Jacques Racine with a view to supplying possible demands in North America.

Considering the lack of time, I will restrict myself to two items that I hope to work out further in a future edition of this booklet.

The first one consists of the observation that the concept of the social organism seems to be enjoying a comeback in North America, albeit in a sort of neo social-Darwinist fashion. I am referring to the book The Lucifer Principle – A Scientific Expedition Into The Forces Of History by Howard Bloom (published by The Atlantic Monthly Press, New York in 1995). In the foreword, David Sloan Wilson writes: "The bone of contention is the organismic nature of human society. Thomas Hobbes and many others of his time regarded individuals as the cells and organs of a giant social organism – a Leviathan – 'which is but an artificial man, though of greater stature and strength than the natural, for whose protection and defense it was intended.' Today this idea is regarded as no more than a fanciful metaphor. Evolution is thought to produce individuals who are designed to relentlessly pursue their own reproductive success. Society is merely the by-product of individual striving and should not be regarded as an organism in its own right. Even individuals can be decomposed into selfish genes whose only purpose is to replicate themselves. It is a mark Howard Bloom's independence of thought that he resisted the extreme reductionism that pervades modern evolutionary biology. He believes that Leviathan, or society as an organism, is not a fanciful metaphor but an actual product of evolution. The Darwinian struggle for existence has taken place among societies, as well as among individuals within societies. We do strive as individuals, but we are also part of something larger than ourselves, with a complex physiology and mental life that we carry out but only dimly understand. That is the vision of evolution and human behavior found in The Lucifer Principle, and at the moment it can be found nowhere else."

The anthroposophical concept of the idea of the threefold nature of the social organism and – more important – the way that this idea, as developed in this booklet on "Just Price" based on Rudolf Steiner's lectures on the world economy, ought to be presented and implemented, is not found in The Lucifer Principle, not even the slightest reference to it. This is, indeed, not surprising, considering the present state of affairs in the world, which has after all come to be what it is because of the steady refusal of the scientific and religious elite to consider the helping hand offered to them in solving the ills facing mankind. Herbert Witzenmann refers in these following pages to the bitter complaint lodged by Rudolf Steiner to this effect. But this present radically polarizing world situation is no less due, conceptually speaking, to the steady refusal of many, if not all, well-meaning representatives of the idea of the threefold nature of the social organism to consider and act on the words of Rudolf Steiner in his first lecture of the course on world economy that a new language and way of thought for this social organic impulse to rescue mankind on earth from complete inhumanity was necessary. This far-reaching consequence can admittedly only become evident, when this new approach has been understood; without that basis, this charged statement will appear absurd and far-fetched.

This brings me to my second observation, which I had to make after reading through the German language newsletter Dreigliederung des Sozialen Organismus (Threefolding of the Social Organism) nr. 1, March 2001 published by the Initiative Network Threefolding in Stuttgart, Germany. This issue of some 44 pages deals with "Trisectoral Partnership, Civil Society and Threefolding" and is a long-drawn debate between, among others, Harrie Salman, Christoph Strawe and Nicanor Perlas. And again, the same utter silence, implicit denial and non-recognition of the actual form of the threefold idea, so strongly emphasized and clearly developed by Rudolf Steiner, that we encountered in North America is met with in this journal. The closest to acknowledging the form as demanded by the spirit of the time, albeit implicitly and in some sort of pluralistic manner, comes the editor Strawe in his contribution "On The Search For the Forms of Implementation of the Threefold Idea". This is when he presents in a chapter "About the Manifold Forms of Implementing the Threefold Idea" a short history of the threefold movement from 1917 until 1922, but then leaves out the course on world economy that year and the founding anew of the Anthroposophical Society in 1924 as social organic modes of appearance, and only writes (p. 18): "there is not the smallest indication that Rudolf Steiner did not considers other ways and means of implementing the threefold idea.", after which he gives a few more recent examples, all from the political-rights sphere.

These two observation may suffice to illustrate the present bankruptcy and impotence of the spiritual life of mankind, which I tried to diagnose in my foreword to the fourth British edition of How The Grail Sites Were Found, but this only as a prelude, a backdrop to a possible therapeutic course of action: A Union of People – The Kardeiz Saga To Recall the Anthroposophical Society.

In a forthcoming book with this title I hope to enlarge on this; those interested in reading more on the Kardeiz Saga, I refer to my introduction to Herbert Witzenmann's social-esthetic study on The Principles of The Anthroposophical Society that is coming out in a sixth edition. (Update 2012: This publication will soon appear as a blog).    

Robert Jan Kelder,
Willehalm Institute,
Amsterdam, October 23, 2001

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