A word in praise of Steiner schools………… yes, really

By Jim

A report in today’s Observer has a doctor blaming academies and free schools for adding to the obesity problem in children. These schools are exempt from the requirement to meet healthy eating standards introduced some years ago and consequently can provide the old staples of chips, burgers and pizza all topped off with a fizzy drink from a machine that contributes to school funds.

It is only fair to point out that it is highly unlikely that any Steiner school is guilty of this sort of culinary barbarism. And now that I come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fat anthro – maybe a little pale but not fat. No, the food is likely to be good fresh organic or even biodynamic fare. Biodynamics may be mad but it is not bad.

So lets hear it for Steiner school catering.

Now if only they could be persuaded to stop filling the kid’s heads with junk food for the mind.

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39 comments

  1. Nick Nakorn

    I think Biodynamics is bad as well as mad because is you take the racist spiritualism (damaging) and Woo (damaging) out of Biodynamics what you have is ‘ordinary’ organic agriculture. People who choose Biodynamics rather than, say, ordinary organics or Permaculture are either choosing it for marketing reasons because they can charge more with the ever popular Biodynamic label, or they choose it because they actually like the woo, the racism or both. Either way, the racism is not a deal breaker for them so they are, in effect, saying it’s OK. That is the insidious nature of institutional racism as oppose to personally directed racism; the fact that PoC know that the ‘nice Steiner people’ think their pet woo is more important than the racism that accompanies it. It’s impossible for PoC to trust the motives of anyone supporting Anthroposophy while claiming not to be personally racist because they have made a positive choice not to follow an non-racist creed/system/philosophy/religion/cult. The other posibility is that people support Anthroposophical organisations without knowing anything about Anthroposophy but, when they are informed, do they leave Anthroposophy? Some do, but most do not. It’s bad, whichever way you cut it.

  2. Jim

    Ok Nick – I should have been clearer. What I meant was that biodynamically produced food is not inherently bad food. It’s just food – all the woo has absolutely no effect on it.
    In general I’d agree with your analysis of the motivation of those choosing biodynamic production though I think you underestimate the tendency of people on the fringes of a belief system to pick and chose the elements they accept. So am prepared to accept that many food and wine producers may adopt biodynamics without accepting, or even being aware of, the racist elements of anthroposophy. This makes them credulous but not racist. However the danger of getting drawn further into the cult is still there.
    You have heard of damning with faint praise haven’t you?

  3. Helen

    Steiner produced food made an impression on me, and at the time I didn’t know it was biodynamic or what biodynamics was. The quality of the food is important in the institutions, and they put a lot of effort in to it.
    The claims made by all those involved in anthroposophy whether it’s the schools, the agriculture or the medicine, that Steiner’s racism has simply been cut out of the way they work are very convincing if you don’t know much about anthroposophy. It works when parents are told about the schools, and I suppose it works on those interested in biodynamics too – most people simply do not know enough about it to realise that the racism is intrinsic and cannot be neatly cut out.
    Anthroposophy doesn’t add up without Steiner’s ideas on developing races, but a lot of people don’t want to accept this and carry on regardless.
    I flippantly said I would drink biodynamic wine a while ago, but I would not knowingly do anything to support this movement so all these products are off my shopping list. It’s a boycott.

  4. Jim

    That’s a tricky one – there are some very good Rhone wines which have gone biodynamic which I would be reluctant to boycott. Particularly as I don’t think for one minute the makers are anthros.
    The French have always had this semi mystical thing about terroir, going beyond soil type, micro climate etc. it’s nonsense of course but I think for them the bio stuff is just more of the same muck and magic.

    • Helen

      We often return to the topic of wine don’t we!!
      Nick’s point about making money by using the biodynamic label is true though – it is either unforgivable ignorance in the case of wine producers or cynical use of a method they know to consist of ridiculous rituals supported by a dangerous belief system.

  5. Sarah Coakley

    I did get sucked into Steiner’s cult system (in Forest Row) through sheer ignorance, when my daughter was diagnosed as dyslexic and we looked to their schools for a more artistic and gentler way. Within a few weeks I became aware of the seething pit of cultism that we had unwittingly become entangled in. Biodynamism was a bit ‘out there’, but the food was at least organic and well produced. It is only when confronted with the rituals used to produce the food did we realise how Woo it all was. At no time were Steiner’s racist views made explicit, however I think they were insidiously woven into the more ‘hidden’ aspects of the education and practices. Hence I would say that I was in no way cognisant of the racist ideologies, before becoming part of that society. Luckily, we escaped within 18 months, but not before my mental health had been severely damaged. I am now an activist against these (at first glance) ‘innocuous, child-centred’ practices. They are stupid, racist, ignorant and extremely aggressively intolerant beliefs, that need to be challenged at every turn. Keep up your campaigning! I am still fighting them for the damage they inflict on the vulnerable and the ignorant …..

    • Helen

      Thank you for the insight into how easy it is to get sucked in without knowing anything about anthroposophy- such a contrast isn’t there between what draws people in and the realities that eventually compel them to leave?

      • Sarah Coakley

        That’s very true. Such high hopes, there is obviously a real desire for an alternative educational system. Just such a shame that this cult exploits that desire. Thanks for taking time to reply. Best wishes, Sarah

  6. Nick Nakorn

    Jim, I’m really sadenned by your decision to continue to buy biodynamic wine on the basis that the growers might not (how would one know?) be Anthroposophists – the vast wealth that flows from the Biodynamic marketing and franchise opperation to Anthroposophy is considerable. If the Anthro-belief system is not a deal breaker for those who know about it then one wonders what would be. Of course we know historically that the people at the top of Anthroposophy have been admired regardless of their affiliations – as :Peter Staudenmaier observes:

    “Many other powerful Nazi authorities supported biodynamic farming. These included, in addition to Ohlendorf, Hess, and Darré, the Nazi Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, Nazi leader of the German Labor Front Robert Ley, and chief Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg, all of whom were visitors to Bartsch’s biodynamic estate, the headquarters of the biodynamic farmers league, and expressed their encouragement for the undertaking. Two further extremely important figures, especially after 1941, were the high SS commanders Günther Pancke and Oswald Pohl. Pancke was Darré’s successor as head of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office and drew on Bartsch’s assistance in planning a biodynamic component to the Nazi settlement of ethnically cleansed territories in Eastern Europe. Pohl, a friend of Seifert’s, was the administrator of the concentration camp system. He took a special interest in biodynamics and had his own estate farmed biodynamically. He established and maintained the ring of biodynamic farms at concentration camps, which continued to operate until the final defeat of Nazism in 1945.

    Alongside these figures stood lesser-known Nazi leaders who actively supported the biodynamic cause, including a variety of other SS officers such as Heinrich Vogel, who coordinated the SS network of biodynamic plantations at concentration camps. Hanns G. Müller, the principal advocate of Lebensreform or ‘lifestyle reform’ views within the Nazi movement, was another longstanding sponsor of biodynamic agriculture. In 1935 the biodynamic farmers league officially joined Müller’s Nazi organization, the “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Lebensreform,” a collection of ‘alternative’ cultural groups dedicated to alternative health, nutrition, farming, and so forth, with an explicitly and fervently Nazi commitment. The organization’s journal Leib und Leben published dozens of articles by biodynamic enthusiasts as late as mid-1943. Müller’s Nazi party colleague Herman Polzer, another leading figure in Nazi Lebensreform circles, was a particularly vocal proponent of biodynamic agriculture. The coterie of “landscape advocates” working under Seifert, a long-time practitioner and advocate of biodynamics, also included a number of active anthroposophists, most prominently Max Karl Schwarz, a major leader in the biodynamic movement.”

    (from: http://www.waldorfcritics.org/articles/Anthroposophy-and-Ecofasc.htm)

    Of course, many ex-Nazi organisations still exist and I’m not suggesting we should not buy a Volkswagen or an Opel (insert firm that used Nazi slave labour here). But while VW and (to a lesser degree) GM acknowledge their past, open their archives to scrutiny (again, GM has not done so fully and has destroyed many records as has Ford) and make massive efforts not to reproduce history, Anthroposophy has yet to give up it’s racial heirarchy. In that sense, it is the most racist of all modern socio-political movements in terms of what its written texts propose and what it’s leaders still admire.

    As for the quality of Biodynamic food, or most organic food for that matter, most blind trials have not yielded definitive results (see Stu’s pages for more: http://biodynamicshoax.wordpress.com/ ) in terms of culinary appeal and there’s no evidence that organic food prolongs your life (see Grahams pages for more: http://skepteco.wordpress.com/). I have replied at length because I can’t see any compelling reason for eating or buying Biodynamic and certainly no reason that trumps the fight against racism and woo.

  7. Jim

    ooooh – this is all a bit weird! Am I become the defender of biodynamism?
    No of course not, it’s total nonsense. I don’t seek out biodynamic wines nor do I reject them out of hand. I’ve drunk a few over the years, some good, some bad. Like any other wine. Out of curiosity I checked my cellar. I currently have two biodynamic wines bought about 10 years ago when I would have had little or no knowledge of anthroposophy and biodynamics. Not that it would have helped since neither wine bears any biodynamic labelling ( so maybe not a marketing ploy ).
    I have seen a few wines labelled but most are not, or sometimes it is mentioned in the blurb on the back. And many of these are not actually biodynamically certified, they just dabble with some aspects such as planting by the phases of the moon and so on. In Europe, unlike the US, the term “biodynamic” is not trademarked so they can do this. The best known certification body is Demeter which is part of the anthro world but most French wines which are certified are governed by Biodyvin – I don’t yet know about its affiliation.
    I am familiar with Staudenmaier’s work on the Nazi connections with biodynamics. I’m also familiar with the Vatican’s association with fascism. So should I shun every winemaker who is a catholic or has his vineyard blessed by a priest? I do think we need to keep a sense of proportion or we’ll end up like the vicar who bans yoga from the church hall because it leads to heathenism. I don’t want to get into a “who can hate Steiner the most” contest.
    As for food – sometimes organic is better, not because it’s organic but because its a better variety grown carefully and sold fresh. And sometimes it’s just muddy, bug ridden and overpriced.

  8. Jim

    A quick update. I’ve found a couple of other wines in my cellar are BD but uncertified and so not identified as such. It doesn’t bother me too much but if you are anxious to avoid anything BD there is a useful directory of wines at http://www.winealchemy.co.uk.
    It’s not completely up to date because apparently there are now too many to handle. The compiler’s intention is to promote the wines but obviously it can also be used for the opposite purpose.

    • Nick Nakorn

      You say, Jim, “It doesn’t bother me too much” – and people wonder why PoC think there’s no point in discussing racism with white people – Jim, you give the impression that the taste of your wine is more important than the issues being discussed – shame on you.

      You also say,

      “So should I shun every winemaker who is a catholic or has his vineyard blessed by a priest? I do think we need to keep a sense of proportion or we’ll end up like the vicar who bans yoga from the church hall because it leads to heathenism. I don’t want to get into a “who can hate Steiner the most” contest.”

      If you believe that the Catholic Church to be a damaging institution then, yes, if you know a product is produced by Catholic organisation you should choose not to buy it when you have the information. It is outrageous to suggest firm opposition to racism (or sexism, homophobia or other prejudices for that matter) is motivated by the desire to win some kind of contest. Many people marched against The Pope a few years ago for his attitude to child abuse cases, for his attitude to birth control and contraception, for the covering up of the Magdelene Laundry scandals, for his attitude to same sex marriage and so-on. Creating a better world is not about putting your choice of wine (a luxury product for ***** sake) before political action.

      I do not do this for fun but for survival. If organisations that protect and admire written racist texts are shown to be so acceptable that even their oponents will help publicise them and buy their wine, then the effect is to normalise such institutional racism and thus make racist actions more acceptable and more difficult to counter. It also makes it very difficult, if not impossible to report racist attacks if the PoC can not trust that the issue will be treated fairly and seriously by all the ordinary (mostly white) people who will process their case and have access to their documents.

      “nor do I reject them out of hand” why not? It’s easy enough. Is it that the issues being discussed here are not really ones you care about?

        • Nick Nakorn

          Like many PoC I have been in several life-threatening situations from ‘nice people’ who have decided I’m both an easy target and an annoyance to their world view – possibly because of what some call ‘the narcissism of small difference’ in which slight differences are considered more threatening than more obvious differences – and where the lines between mere teasing, bullying, unpleasantness and mortal violence have been crossed by people who would normally not put themselves in the position of ‘racist’ and certainly not ‘violent racist’. PoC brought up in the 1950s and 60s, especialy those isolated in rural areas with no support community, have seen many of those situations and though they have decreased over the last 50 years there are times when things flare up – particularly if a PoC is openly critical of institutional racism that points out the effects that ‘nice’ people have when riding rough-shod over the genuine concerns of PoC. From an intersectional perspective, the same applies to other disadvantaged groups. It would not take much for European societies to change back to how they were only a generation before me and still within living memory. Remember that the worst atrociities have been between very similar peoples who are good neighbours one week and enemies the next. Thinking that ‘it can not happen again’ is complacent and if societies can change quickly in one direction, they can change in another.

  9. Jim

    The gist of my original post was that the only halfway good thing to say about Steiner education was that at least the food was healthy. I am somewhat surprised at the heated discussion following on from a relatively light hearted, albeit mocking, premise.

    However, you are right, there are serious issues involved. But I do feel you have somewhat missed the point. In occasionally buying BD wine ( albeit for the most part unwittingly ) I am not buying the product of an anthroposophical organisation. Similarly wine produced by a Catholic grower is not the product of a Catholic organisation. These are products of individuals or companies who happen to have chosen agricultural techniques which are based on pseudoscience. Refusing to reject all such products out of hand is not to promote them or to normalise institutional racism and to suggest that it is is absurd.

    Of course it doesn’t help that this pseudoscience was promoted by a man who also held and taught racist views of human development, education and so on. These still infect Steiner organisations and of course I would not support them by buying their products. But it is as silly to imagine that every farmer who dabbles with DB is a racist as to suppose every Catholic farmer is a paedophile.

    I cannot match your anger, and no doubt you have good reason, but please don’t question my seriousness. Sometimes the goal is achieved more readily with a little humour.

    • Helen

      I might have to put wine on the banned list of topics along with paradigms from now on :-)
      You said you bought the wine unwittingly, and that is understandable, if they are not clearly labelled as biodynamic. But you say the companies “happen to have chosen agricultural techniques which are based on pseudoscience” – that is unlikely, surely. Would someone choose to produce their grapes in this way without knowing what they are doing? I don’t think so – it would be a big risk in a competitive world, wouldn’t it?

    • Helen

      Also I don’t think anyone is suggesting that each individual who uses biodynamics is a racist – those who join in with it at Stroud Community Agriculture probably don’t even know they are using Steiner’s method – but someone who owns a vineyard would have to have done some research into anthroposophy (and approved it) before they started ritually stirring the cow dung and burying the cow horns – think of all the man hours for one thing.
      Unlike Steiner schools where the racism sometimes becomes visible, the people who do the banking, the medicine and the food/cosmetics do not display the racist elements, but that doesn’t mean it is not a part of what they do, in that none of it makes any sense at all without Steiner’s “indications” about evolution.
      The paedophiles among the Catholic clergy you mention are not following the doctrine of their creed, as far as I know, but the proponents of anthroposophy are acting in accordance with an inherently racist belief system.
      It took me quite a while to realise this; the more you learn about Steiner the more detestable it becomes, as many have pointed out.

      • Husq Jons

        >proponents of anthroposophy are acting in accordance with an inherently racist belief system<
        Would you be prepared to take that accusation to an English Court of Law?

        • Nick Nakorn

          The law tends to back the most expensive lawyers but I’d go to court against Anthroposophists anytime. They have their written texts and they have not explained, which bits they do and don’t believe in. Husq Jons, which bit do you believe in? The racial hierarchy? The reincarnation? The karmic results of actions and spiritual awareness? The meaning of a child’s body-shape (that type of eugenics is racist in nature though not via skin colour, via ‘type’) I would say it’s all nonsense and I expect most judges would think so too.

          • Husq Jons

            Using The Occult Significance of blood quote the passage(s) that confirm the assertions above. That would be a start would it not? That’s what we are discussing.

    • Nick Nakorn

      From the point of view of the general perception of the public, a Catholic producer (for example Buckfast Wine and the many other products they produce) will benefit from a purchase and the status and acceptability of ‘catholic’ produce is enhanced, regardless of whether or not the producer is officially affiliated to the church or sends money. However, many Catholic producers do send money so that makes it worse, indeed, the original reason for Buckfast making money was to pay for the completion of the Abbey. Likewise, any Biodynamic product enhances the Biodynamic brand by its very existance. The marketing operation is huge even if some producers are unofficial – the Organic market is worth about £50 billions annually and free publicity from the non-affiliated Biodynamic growers arguably raises the profile of the sector. If I’d known this was a site in which comedy was the order of the day I’d’ve made a mental note to not take anything written here literally.

  10. Jim

    Well, obviously the winemakers don’t choose techniques believing them to be based on pseudoscience. They choose them because they believe them to be eco-friendly and of course as with any organic system there is some truth in that. No doubt in some cases they are also a bit new agey in that vague way you also find with the yummy mummies who send their kids to Steiner schools. You can see that in some of the growers who have actually written about the subject. Also superstition often comes from the urge to control the uncontrollable so it is understandable that it might appeal in an industry where your whole year’s profit can be wiped out by one late frost or hailstorm.

    You don’t assume that the parent choosing a Steiner school is racist – I think most would be horrified at the idea. But by sending their child to a Steiner school they are exposing it to a whole system which has racist underpinnings however subtly they may be delivered. I do think the situation with someone choosing biodynamics is somewhat different – they are embracing a bit of the nonsense but they are not exposing themselves or anyone else to the whole range. However the situation is different again in the case of a Steiner organisation such as Ruskin Mill where the biodynamics is pursued in the context of a full anthroposophic environment. So the Ruskin Mill farmshop is for me off limits because that would indeed be supporting a Steiner organisation.

    I hope that makes my position a bit clearer – I am rather embarrassed at seeming to offer even a hint of support for biodynamics because of course it is nonsense and I would rather no one adopted it.

  11. Helen

    In reply to Husq;
    the quotes provided on Waldorf watch are to be found in the link I gave you to the RS archive above. I agree with Roger that they supply the basis of the warning given by the teacher at his school; Steiner’s views on blood are clear – I assume you have read the page?

  12. Jim

    In reply to earlier comments by Nick and Helen ( the nesting of replies gets rather hard to follow ).

    Helen – I really don’t think that winemakers/farmers necessarily do much research into anthroposophy. They can quite easily get what they want about biodynamic farming without that and are often obsessive enough about what they do not to be interested in the wider context. On this site our interests are different, particularly coming from the educational field where exposure to the full Steiner agenda is a greater concern.
    I don’t actually think biodynamics in itself is inherently racist – it is after all just a mishmash of old vitalist nonsense with a bit of homeopathy thrown in. What Steiner did with this and other ideas was pull them all together and weave them into an all embracing narrative which does have racist underpinnings. It would be possible to unpick these from biodynamics but of course committed anthroposophists won’t do this because they regard Steiner as holy text. I suspect also they worry that if they did start to unpick bits the whole edifice will collapse.

    Nick – I’m afraid your last comment about this site was petty and does you no credit. You will find plenty of solid information and serious debate here, and yes the occasional bit of humour. I think on balance that is a more effective way to communicate than a continuous angry rant. I wonder what you thought of the recent “homeopathic overdose” stunts pulled outside Boots stores. A useful publicity move or trivialisation which incidentally contributed to the profits of Weleda?
    And you persist in obscuring the distinction between a producer which is a catholic institution and one who is merely a member of the catholic church. Sometimes it is worth actually trying to understand the other person’s point of view, not necessarily to agree but to argue more effectively. I’m sorry we have got stuck on this issue because I think we probably agree that anthroposophy is rotten to the core but I can’t follow your absolutist position that everyone and everything it touches, no matter how peripherally, is utterly damned.

    • Nick Nakorn

      Jim, I’m not saying at all that everyone and anything that touches Anthroposophy is damned. I’m saying that the values that are held by the people who control Anthroposophy are racist and that to support organisations that either support or promote Anthroposophy (Biodynamics does do that) is to support institutional racism. This is not saying that individuals who do it are racist unless they are aware of what they are doing and continue to do it. I’ve been quite clear on this. My comment about humour was an expression of exasperation. On site after site, when PoC (not just me, it’s a dailly occurance for nearly all PoC) we are told to have a sense of humour if we call out something to do with racism that isn’t quite right; have you asked other people to havce a sense of humour on this site when you find they disagree with you? Perhaps you have (I don’t know), but taking issues too seriously is always levelled at PoC pointing out racism.

      It doesn’t matter to me whether or not you think I’m humourless, it goes with the territory. What PoC find really difficult is that we constantly have to remind people that pretty much all people (including me) support institutional racism and are racist at various times and thus we make an effort not to do it. After a few years, we get into the habit of not doing it. But because we are mostly on the receiving end, we also try and point out where it exists in other people/places/organisations. What is annoying is that after nearly 60 years of experience, PoC of my generation are not considered experts and have to argue our case day after day after day, week after week and year after year. If we did not do this, nothing would have changed since the 1950s. The fact that things have changed (though they are swinging back via UKIP and other popular movements) shows we knew what we were talking about. Why is it so difficult for you to accept that supporting Biodynamics is to support racist Anthroposophists and their project?

      If my exasperation seems rude, I apologise for that, but not for the content of the message. Award-winning jounalist Reni Eddo-Lodge puts it very well: http://renieddolodge.co.uk/2014/02/22/why-im-no-longer-talking-to-white-people-about-race/

      And there is a very accurate (in that it expressses the experiences of millions of PoC living in white-culture countries) list of statements and metanarratives they represent by the acclaimed Jane Elliot at http://www.janeelliott.com/learningmaterials.htm – her experience is through working in the USA but it rings absolutely true here too.

      Jim, I hope you are some way further to understanding my position. You might not think your attitude to Biodynamics (and similarly affiliated organisations) makes no difference to anyone. But it does. It makes a massive difference.

  13. Helen

    Yes the nesting of comments is confusing. I wish I hadn’t switched it on at the beginning, but if I change it now all the replies on previous posts will be out of context, so I will leave it. It works well when there are only one or two replies but not with many more.

    Jim this seemingly innocuous post of yours has turned out to be one of the most controversial.
    I think your remark that “they regard Steiner as a holy text” is important. The more we hear from Steiner followers or read what they write the more obvious it becomes that this is the case. Steiner is “the master” and his “indications” are followed slavishly, because they really do believe he was clairvoyant, and therefore infallible. That’s what makes all the branches of anthroposophy so nasty and dangerous. I personally find it hard to believe anyone could grow biodynamically on a large commercial scale without researching it properly. On the other hand we know how good proponents are at hiding the negatives, so maybe you are right to give them the benefit of the doubt.
    But I am not sure if you are saying it makes a difference or not as to whether the wine-producers are aware of what anthroposophy is.
    We are going round in circles here I think, and you and Nick could maybe agree to differ on exactly how important it is to boycott all products associated with the creed?

    I will also reply to Husq Jons here on the text in “Occult significance of blood” a lecture Steiner gave in Berlin in 1906.
    Roger Rawlings stated that one of his teachers “warned white students against receiving blood transfusions from nonwhites” and asserted that this was consistent with Steiner’s teachings.
    A look at the translated lecture in the RS Archive confirmed that the quotes provided by Roger to back this up are indeed to be found in the text; Roger says;
    “According to Steiner, whites can advance to higher spiritual levels because they are capable of high clairvoyant abilities. But mingling whites’ blood with blood from other races would cut off this possibility. “The physical organism of man survives when strange blood comes in contact with strange blood, but clairvoyant power perishes under the influence of this mixing of blood, or exogamy.” — THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD, p. 42. Exogamy is sexual pairing outside one’s own ethnic group, tribe, or race. It is equivalent to miscegenation, one of the prime bugaboos of racists.”
    This particular paragraph is fifth from the end of the lecture, so I guess it does take quite a bit of wading through the spiritual sludge to get to it, but it is there. (And so is much more of a similar nature)

    Here are the links again to Waldorfwatch (the relevant part is 3/4 way down the page)
    https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/what-we-are
    and to the 1906 lecture
    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/19061025p01.html

    • Jim

      Helen:
      “But I am not sure if you are saying it makes a difference or not as to whether the wine-producers are aware of what anthroposophy is.” Well, clearly the wine itself is not different so I suppose it comes down to whether the grower is merely following what he believes to be a sort of “super organic” cultivation or is part of an anthroposophic organisation. I believe it is predominantly the former but of course if I am proved wrong I’ll have to think again.

      “We are going round in circles here I think, and you and Nick could maybe agree to differ on exactly how important it is to boycott all products associated with the creed?” You’re right, what we agree on is more important than the differences at the margins.

      • Nick Nakorn

        Our problem is that something you see as at the margins is something that is fundermental to the way I have to negotiate my way through life – not just with Biodynamics but everything our culture does to promote racists as if they never were racists; it’s the denial that gets to us. Once we get used to denying history within living memory, it gets easier to deny the present.

    • Husq Jons

      > Roger Rawlings account of his teacher warning students about receiving blood transfusions from non-whites – consistent with Steiner’s teachings.<

      Steiner says nothing negative about the mixing of the blood. In fact quite the opposite.

      The important thing to bear in mind here is that in olden times there was a hazy clairvoyance, from which the myths and legends originated. This clairvoyance could exist in the nearly related blood, just as our * present-day consciousness comes about owing to the mingling of blood. The birth of logical thought, the birth of the intellect, was simultaneous with the advent of exogamy.* Surprising, as this may seem, it is nevertheless true. It is a fact which will be substantiated more and more by external investigation; indeed, the initial steps along this line have already been taken.

      But this mingling of blood which comes about through exogamy is also that which at the same time obliterates the clairvoyance of earlier days, in order that *humanity* may evolve to a higher stage of development; and just as the person who has passed through the stages of occult development regains this clairvoyance, and transmutes it into a new form, so has our waking consciousness of the present day been evolved out of that dim and hazy clairvoyance which [was] obtained in times of old.

      At the present time everything in a man's environment is impressed upon his blood; hence the environment fashions the inner man in accordance with the outer world. In the case of primitive man it was that which was contained within the body that was more fully expressed in the blood. In those early times the recollection of ancestral experiences was inherited, and, along with this, good or evil tendencies. In the blood of the descendants were to be traced the effects of the ancestors' tendencies. Now, when the blood was mixed through exogamy, this close connection with ancestors was severed, and the man began to live his own personal life. Thus, in an unmixed blood is expressed the power of the ancestral life, and in a mixed blood the power of personal experience.

      Thus in the higher stage of human development we find something similar to what happens at a lower stage in the animal kingdom. In the latter, *strange blood kills strange blood. In the human kingdom strange blood kills that which is intimately bound up with kindred blood, viz., the dim, dreary clairvoyance*. Our everyday objective consciousness is therefore the outcome of a destructive process. In the course of evolution the kind of mental life due to endogamy has been destroyed, but in its stead exogamy has given birth to the intellect, to the wide-awake consciousness of the present day.

      So, what was killed off with the mixing of the blood was the dim,dreary clairvoyance.

      So now show me the passage that one should not have blood transfusions from non whites.

      • Sarah Coakley

        Absolute rubbish and nonsense. Wrong from just about every scientific, historical, anthropological and sociological perspective you care to look at, and nebulous claims made without any evidence. This is just ridiculous dogma and belief, and I hope more people can read this and see what a waste of an education Steiner schools and their cult ideas provide.

      • Jim

        Husq,
        you have repeatedly badgered Helen to provide evidence, cite references etc as if to demonstrate that your concern was to maintain a high level of academic rigour and then when she meets your demands you respond with this puerile gibberish.
        Dim and dreary indeed.

      • Helen

        In reply to Husq Jons
        You say “Steiner says nothing negative about the mixing of the blood. In fact quite the opposite”.
        You are either naïve about anthroposophy (which I doubt having read what you wrote here – assuming those are your own words?) or you are trying to paint Steiner’s lecture as non-racist.
        In Steiner’s eyes, clairvoyance = good, intellect = bad. So the “mingling of blood” ( would you describe a blood transfusion as such?) would inhibit clairvoyance and therefore be interpreted as a “Bad Thing”. the teacher who gave the warning at Roger Rawlings’ school was interpreting Steiner’s words in a way that must seem perfectly natural to anthroposophists.
        As Roger and I have said, the warning was consistent with Steiner’s teachings.
        Far from abandoning Steiner’s 100 year old doctrine, today’s Steiner followers stick to it rigidly and reading around the subject in journals and articles, the phrase “Steiner indicated…” comes up time after time.
        Steiner teachers have a specific aim which is to help children in their spiritual development, as they see it. They are not content to teach any subject, be it art, geography, history, science, without introducing so-called “spiritual science”. This is evident in all the texts, for example the book I reviewed recently (The Spiritual Basis of Steiner Education by Roy Wilkinson) and for people like yourself who have experience of living with anthroposophy this must be even more obvious.

  14. Jim

    In reply to Nick

    Earlier I said that it is a good idea to try to see your opponent’s point of view so I’ll bear that in mind.
    To say that humour as well as anger can be an effective means of argument is not at all the same as to suggest you should learn to laugh at racist “jokes” directed at you. My comment related to the tone of the original posting and was not an accusation of a lack of humour. However I dare say that if I had been subjected to a lifetime of such abuse I too might find the distinction hard to make so I apologise if that seemed insensitive.

    I do think it is valid to make a distinction between an organisation which exists to promote anthroposophy, embracing the whole ethos, and farmers who merely adopt BD. The latter can certainly be criticised for pseudoscience but I think we should be wary of assuming they accept the whole Steiner ethos including its implicit racism. Hence my comparison with yoga which ( at least in the form likely to turn up in church halls ) has travelled so far from its roots it is just a physical exercise. However, you do have a point – BD has not, and probably never will, establish a comparable distance from its anthroposophical origins. So whilst I will not without evidence accuse BD farmers and winemakers of embracing a racist cult I do accept that they may unwittingly lend it a credibility it does not deserve. Or rather a respectability, it can never have credibility.

    As may be apparent I have not been on the receiving end of either racist abuse or a damaging Steiner education so the issue does not have for me the personal emotional impact it has on others. My opposition grew from an early rejection of the religious nonsense spouted at my perfectly ordinary CofE school – mild in comparison. Later the anti intellectualism of the 60’s and 70’s was profoundly depressing. Later again as I came to understand how deeply the Steiner cult was entrenched in the Stroud area my first impression was that it was just the same old “nice but dim” vague spirituality. It was something of a shock to discover the levels of aggression, manipulation and racism that lay just below the surface. And my way of trying to combat that is with cool reason, perhaps sometimes too cool and reasonable.

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