Statement: Anthroposophy and racism

Statement: Anthroposophy and racism

20 June 2021 Sebastian Jüngel 3036 views

For the 2021 AGM, a group within the Goetheanum Leadership put together a working paper on anthroposophy and racism.

The paper addresses accusations of racism aimed at Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy. Gerald Häfner, Constanza Kaliks, Peter Selg and Justus Wittich provide an outline of the anthroposophical position during the emergence and implementation of National Socialism in Germany. There were vehement journalistic and even actual attacks on Rudolf Steiner from “nationalist, right-wing, racist and anti-Semitic groups”. After the war, the accusations came from the political left and focused on “converging content and ideology” (key word: eco-fascism) and alleged cooperation with the Nazis. The paper rejects these allegations: they do not arise from an interest in knowledge because existing statements and monographs on the question were not consulted. The conclusion the paper arrives at is that of the “strategic management of opinions and indignation”.

Individual autonomy and self-efficacy

While Rudolf Steiner mentioned biological, ethnic and cultural influences on humanity, his main concern was with “the individuality’s autonomy and self-efficacy” and its capacity to “transcend and transform biological, cultural and social premises and conditions”. In 2000, a commission around the human rights expert Ted van Baarda (NL) identified individual passages in Rudolf Steiner’s work that are considered racist today, but did not find any evidence of racist disparagement of others or of systemic racism.

The authors of the paper also look critically at the Anthroposophical Society and at where it appears very inward-oriented. They also honour the not to be underestimated achievement of members in the face of “challenging circumstances and immense opposition”. The practice of anthroposophy is based on cosmopolitan and social commitment.

To the paper (PDF)

This article was originally published in “Anthroposophy Worldwide” 5/2021.

Image source: James Eades, unsplash.