“Concept of race will disappear”

Graham Kennish (Steiner science teacher) has written to the Stroud News and Journal this week to dismiss what he calls the “usual racial accusations about Rudolf Steiner” by claiming that Hitler “immediately closed down all Steiner schools in Germany”.

Mr Kennish then goes on to quote Rudolf Steiner;

 “In our own epoch the concept of race will gradually disappear…”

Neither of these arguments in themselves answer the questions about why Steiner folllowers see nothing wrong with Steiner’s teachings about spiritual development through the races. They are distractions from those questions, but his letter will perhaps make people curious about the Steiner take on history and race; the editor of the newspaper singled out the phrase “concept of race will disappear” as the title for the letter, so clearly that part grabbed her attention.

Mr Kennish is wrong on the first point;

According to Peter Staudenmaier who made a detailed study of Nazism and anthroposophy,

“In comparison to other alternative educational projects, Waldorf schools initially fared relatively well under the Nazi regime”.

There were Steiner schools in Germany until 1941, and the reason for their closure at that stage, according to Staudenmaier , was that the occult teachings in Steiner schools were eventually deemed incompatible with the Nazi idea of German “Volksgemeinschaft or national community”. It was not that Steiner followers refused to collaborate with the Nazis; indeed, some anthroposophists were members of the Nazi party and others supported their policies.

The arguments here on this blog against state-funded Steiner education have not included accusations of Nazism among Steiner people, but since Mr Kennish brings Hitler into the discussion, it is worth pointing out that looking back to 1930s Germany, Staudenmaier says

“The openly pro-Nazi faction within the Waldorf camp had extensive roots within the anthroposophical movement, and for a time played a substantial role in shaping and representing Waldorf education.”

 

Each time the racism in anthroposophy is discussed, anthroposophists mention Nazism as though this is the accusation against the Steiner creed, in fact the racism is much more subtle, but still harmful.

Now on to the second argument, where Mr Kennish quotes Steiner on race “disappearing in our own epoch”;

As he is a Steiner teacher, I am sure Mr Kennish is familiar with the precise meaning of the term “epoch” as used in his chosen quote. According to Steiner teachings, we are in the “fifth post Atlantean epoch”, which will last until the year 3573. So in another 1500 years or so, humans will be vastly different, if we are to believe Steiner’s clairvoyant vision.”Post Atlantean”, by the way, means post the catastrophe which caused the first members of the aryan race to leave Atlantis. Here is some info on the epochs.

Not only will there be no “concept of race”, but according to the Rudolf Steiner archive;

“…men in the sixth epoch will only be considered to have real knowledge when they recognize the spiritual, when they know that the spiritual pervades the world and that human souls must unite with the spiritual. What is known as science today with its materialistic trend will certainly not be honored by the name of science in the sixth post-Atlantean epoch. It will be regarded as antiquated superstition…”

“The whole purpose of spiritual science is to prepare in this sense for the sixth epoch of culture”.

So there we have it, the reason why Steiner teachers, trained in anthroposophy, are so concerned about the spiritual development of school children, is so that humanity will be ready to inhabit this imaginary future world, where the dreaded “intellect” will have no place. No wonder anthroposophists are not worried about science taking a back seat in the current “epoch”; when they reincarnate in the sixth, they will only need to have knowledge of “the spiritual”, and so will the children in their care.

An informative article from 2009 explains the way science is taught in Steiner schools, with a description of the Goethean science” they are so fond of;

“The idea is that the Goethean does not need to superimpose a rationalistic or reductionistic explanatory mechanism over top of the observed phenomenon, but rather simply takes the intuitive imaginative experience at face value.

“A philosopher would call that a phenomenological approach. A scientist would call it ‘making s*** up’ – and that’s pretty much the size of it. So-called Goethean ‘scientists’ simply disregard all the proven tools provided by the scientific method, i.e. logic, reason and evidence, in favour of treating their own imaginings and subjective impressions as an alternative form of ‘scientific truth’.

When an anthroposophist like Kennish opens his mouth – or puts pen to paper – in defence of Steiner’s pronouncements and the ethos of the schools, he opens another can of worms.

I hope parents are interested enough to read up and find out the reasons for some of the more bizarre aspects of Steiner education.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

25 comments

  1. Nick Nakorn

    It should also be noted that Steiner advocated a mechanism for the concept of race disappearing – not in the modern sense in that the whole concept of race is a social construct and has proved to have no scientific validity – no, Steiner’s vision is much more apocalyptic:

    “But these things will never take place in the world without the most violent struggle….The transition from the fifth cultural epoch to the sixth cultural epoch cannot happen in any other way than as a violent battle of white humankind against colored humankind in myriad areas.”

    From: Steiner, Die geistigen Hintergründe des Ersten Weltkrieges, 38.

    Meanwhile, Steiner considered non-white people to be vastly inferior a point about which Steiner writes at length about people of different nationalities and colours. Any attempt by Steiner apologists to claim that Steiner’s world view (or in his case a ‘cosmic’ and ‘spiritual’ view) is not racist is simply covering up the Anthroposophists’ true racist beliefs and intentions. Graham Kennish should be deeply ashamed.

    For all those people who do not fit Steiner’s White Aryan ideal, the knowledge that such a vile philosophy is seemingly acceptable to Steiner supporters is no less than a rejection on the grounds of skin colour and/or ethnicity. If a person knows about Steiner’s racism and still supports Anthroposophical organisations then in my view they are supporters of racism and thus racist.

    For the whole ghastly story of how Steiner’s racism was an intrinsic part of his thinking, here is another excellent piece by Peter Staudenmaier: http://www.academia.edu/2306251/Race_and_Redemption_Racial_and_Ethnic_Evolution_in_Rudolf_Steiner_s_Anthroposophy

  2. Rain17

    Graham Kennish (Steiner science teacher) has written to the Stroud News and Journal this week to dismiss what he calls the “usual racial accusations about Rudolf Steiner” by claiming that Hitler “immediately closed down all Steiner schools in Germany”.

    Hilarious. The Hitler card deflection, coming from an anthroposophy apologist. Talk about the pot calling the kettle peach-blossom color. There aren’t comments at the article, so I’ll leave my 2 cents here.

    As much as Steinerites want to sweep the man’s feverish social theories under the rug of “back then”, they continue to allow his racially-stratified karmic “multiculturalism” to persist on their websites, right now. It’s been brought up before in a post called “The Melting Pot”, but Janni Nichol’s convoluted 1998 piece on that outworn metaphor is still up on Waldorf Open Library. bit.ly/1kjrait

    “Karmically we choose to be born into different races,” she claims, “to have a specific environmental, cultural and racial experience. Perhaps this is part of learning how to live together, to grow in awareness and empathy?”

    Awareness and empathy in a Steiner/Waldorf/White Is Right school…that is almost as funny as an anthroposophist teacher playing the Hitler card.

  3. Helen

    When people like Graham Kennish start talking about Hitler, I do wonder for a moment if they realise how offensive their concept of “evolution” is to everyone on the outside. It is as though they simply don’t think there is anything wrong with such views, and don’t understand the criticism. But of course for anyone who hasn’t looked at the history of Steiner schools, the “Hitler card” may appear to be a trump card, so I guess Kennish et al consider it worth playing in the hope of deceiving.
    As Nick says, Graham Kennish knows full well the extent of Rudolf Steiner’s views, and is attempting to cover them up. Not only has he been a Steiner teacher for over 40 years, but he has been an advisor and associated with the “science group” of the anthroposophical society. This was the topic of a discussion hosted at Wynstones;
    “How valid is the current popular and medical perception of the heart as a pump? What sustains this model and how much is lost in maintaining it?”

  4. alan

    Yes, Graham Kennish means to deceive. But it is quite interesting that he found it impossible to respond without coming out with meaningful-to-nutcases references (“In our own epoch the concept of race will gradually disappear along with all the differences that are relics of earlier times“) and hedging that will have one meaning to one market and another to another (“Rudolf Steiner stood for the universality of humankind and for the equality of all human beings as spiritual beings on planet Earth”).

    I thought the issue was racism right now, so it doesn’t matter what anyone’s view is of what will happen in the future. And as for “equality of all human beings as spiritual beings”, well does that mean blacks and whites get treated the same regardless of skin colour? Of course it doesn’t. But, rest assured, he’s talking about people on “planet Earth”, not Venus or Saturn.

    Those millions of people (and because I am sane I just call them people, not people as spiritual people or people on planet Earth) who were gassed in German concentration camps using hydrogen cyanide – actually the Steiner cult ‘teaches’ that the use of gas against them as a murder weapon caused their souls to diffuse with the remnants of their bodies rather than live on and be able to incarnate in other bodies later. As early as 1923, Steiner told an audience the same about this imagined effect of potassium cyanide. Oh yes and it was a Steiner cult member who invented the gas chamber (at Dachau, before the weapon was used far more extensively at Auschwitz) – Sigmund Rascher.

    And the sun festivals in June at the schools – well I won’t go on…

    ..except to make the point that with reference to Germany, criticis of the Steiner cult shouldn’t concentrate just on the Nazi party but they should pay special attention to the SS.

    • Rain17

      The SS…and also a reminder about the SA. When Steineroids try to trot out that old “Hitler closed the schools” line of bull, just remind them that even Hitler’s first gang of uniformed thugs got the Night of the Long Knives treatment. Some of those guys were executed, outright.

      The Nazis didn’t even like other, bona-fide, overt, out and proud Nazis. I can think of only one educational model remaining on earth, though, that is based in Nazi beauty standards and Aryans-rule.

  5. Siefried Bär

    According to my researches into the life of Sigmund Rascher (“The fall of the house of Rascher”, amazon kindle, 2014) Rascher did not invent the gas chamber at the Dachau concentration camp. He was just boasting about having done so. Also Rascher was not a member of the Steiner cult in the strict sense: He did not belong the Anthropological socicety. Rascher believed in some aspects of Steiners teachings such as the biodynamic theories of Steiner guru Ehrenfried Pfeiffer. In fact Rascher was more a follower of Pfeiffer than of Steiner.
    It was Rascher’s father Hanns Rascher who was an ardent follower of Steiner.

    • alan

      I’m very very wary of the “strict sense” argument in this context. It’s not only that Sigmund Rascher went to a Waldorf school and his father was a key figure in Steinerite ‘medicine’ (and the main link man between the AS and the NSDAP), but he was getting supplied with raw materials for his foul experiments in Dachau by Weleda. We’ve also got Steiner’s own 1923 declaration that potassium cyanide ‘diffuses the soul with the body’, thus, in Steinerite mad logic, stopping any future incarnations. That said, what’s your source for the assertion that S Rascher wasn’t a paid-up member of the AS? Is it what the AS themselves said in the 1980s when Weleda’s connections with Dachau got some exposure? To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, they would, wouldn’t they? Or is there a more reliable source? The raving Steinerite Jens Bjorneboe, an influential cultural figure in Norway, seemed to think Rascher did invent the gas chamber, going by his Ere the Cock Crows.

    • alan

      Siegfried – you describe your book as a “novel”. You also say you spent 14 years in “biological research” – may I ask whether you have had any connections with the Steinerite scene, “strict” or otherwise? Your book on Rascher looks interesting. Clearly we share an interest in this guy. Did you read Bjørneboe’s Ere the Cock Crows, with the character based on Rascher? I’d be happy to read your book properly and without preconceptions and then publish a review on the blog I’m planning to start up, if you wish…

      • Helen

        Your link didn’t work Alan, but here is another one; the book description “biography of a sadist” is halfway down, but I don’t know whether it was written by the author.
        Rascher is described as a “Waldorf pupil and an adept of an anthroposophical guru”

  6. Siefried Bär

    Alan – I have no connections with the Steinerite scene. I think Anthroposophy, including Pfeiffers crystal pictures, is Voodoo and nonsense. My biological research was about voltage dependend potassium channels in the brain, I performed it in the Max-Planck Institut für Psychiatrie in München and other institutes. I came upon Rascher by chance and was fascinated by his bizarre vita. Yes, my book is written as a novel, but every sentence is based on documents, nothing is invented. “Novel” only refers to the form of writing. I am not aware of Bjørneboe’s “Ere the Cock Crows” but I will look it up. .

    • alan

      Hi Siegfried, Many thanks for this clarification. I think you will find Bjørneboe’s work interesting. He was an unmitigated Steinerite and quite successful in his efforts on the part of the cult in Norway. On the school system, see his novel Jonas, published in 1955 – basically an advertisement for the Oslo Waldorf School and its methods. Ere the Cock Crows was his first novel, appearing in 1952. It’s still widely read in Norwegian schools. I am not sure when it was revealed that one of its characters, Heinrich Reynhardt, was based on Rascher. It may have been a lot later than 1952.

  7. Siegfried Bär

    Hi Alan – I wonder on what sources Bjoerneboe has relied on. In 1952 Raschers private letters (to and from mother, brother, sister and father) were buried in the Berlin document center and were not available to the public. If Bjoerneboe relied solely on the documents used in the Doctor’s Trial his perception of Rascher might be seriously flawed.

  8. Ollie van Rensburg

    Dear Steiner Watch
    I have been reading your blog with some interest.
    I am a South African of Afrikaans decent who has married a Belgian. My interest in Steiner education goes back a number of years- our daughter went to a Steiner school,anyway I wasn’t to happy with the school so pulled her out.Anyway, now she has said that she wants to train as a Steiner teacher in the Nederlands.I am not happy about this. It horrifies me to think what will happen to her after reading what appears on your site.
    As an Afrikaaner it really makes me angry with your reference to concentration camps.I should hardly remind you that the British were the first to introduce concentration camps during the Boer War. About a third of the total of all innocent (non combative) Afrikaaner women and children in the Transvaal and Orange Free State died in these camps.A large part of my relations died in these camps.By association and reference as you do in your articles I could very well say (assuming that you are British) that you are implicated in the murder of innocent women and children. How does that feel? I can’t be so smug myself as it was my volk who invented Apartheid and so I am also implicated in murder.
    Ollie van Rensburg

    • Helen

      Sorry you were offended by the reference to concentration camps, and I by no means meant to imply that the British have been blameless. The point here was that when faced with mention of the basis of anthroposophy as a spiritual journey through the races, and the unacceptable fact (to most of us) that this is a central tenet of the belief system, Steiner defenders always mention Hitler and the false idea that Steiner people were all against him or victimised by him.

      As for your daughter, the sooner she finds out about what the Steiner beliefs really are, the better. Make sure she is aware before she starts the training, and I am sure she will change her plans.

      • Ollie van Rensburg

        Dear Helen,
        Thanks for the reply.
        I think that you either misuderstood or that I didn’t make my arguement clear. The mistake is maybe mine.
        The British under Lord Roberts invented the idea of mass interment of innocent citizens of a racial background. There is a statue in London to the “glorious memory” of Lord Roberts.His intention as British propaganda states was not the mass destruction of the boers but after burning down the farms and houses and then throwing the women and children into camps without sanitation and medicine it’s difficult to hold onto this propaganda. In my eyes this is a little bit less evil than what the Nazis did to the Jews.
        What as a christian I am reminded of is that there has to be an element of forgiveness (but not of forgetting) what happened to my relatives. This is what my fellow countryman Mandela did.That some of Steiner guys may or may have not been guilty of crimes in Nazi Germany – I don’t know or care to know. All I know is that if we aren’t “big” enough we end up poisioning our thoughts through hatred. Forgive Helen and move on.
        Regards,
        Ollie.
        P.S. Great news – my daughter is now thinking of training as a nurse.

        • Helen

          Ollie, I have only allowed this comment because of the postscript. I am very pleased to hear about your daughter’s decision.

          You still don’t understand the point of this post, which was to highlight how Steiner people like Graham Kennish seek to divert attention from the real criticism regarding the racist foundation of anthroposophy. Not only that, but you choose to lecture me about forgiveness because you are a christian.
          I don’t know how far you have gone into the archive here, but go back to the beginning and you will find some reflections on what Steiner people have done and the reasons.

          • Ollie van Rensburg

            Dear Helen,
            Just like you I personally dislike Steiner and his guys wacky and dangerous ‘theories’.I dislike anthroposopy because of the mumbo jumbo of it’s spiritual content which is the foundation of anthropopy. To mix metaphors the mumbo jumbo bit is the foundation and the racial bit is one of the bricks . As far as I am concerned anthropy is based on mumbo jumbo not race.It therefore follows logically that if I don’t believe in the m.j. bit then I don’t believe in racist bit. Therefore I can’t see what the problem is about- it can only be racially offensive if you are nutty enough to believe in mumbo jumbo.( I suppose that it the same type of people who send their children to Steiner schools.)
            My intention was not to lecture you about forgiveness but to be like Mandela and move on.Why not try a spot of gardening? (certainly not bio dynamic)
            Best regards
            Ollie.

            • Jim

              Hi Ollie
              I take your point about moving on but doesn’t that require “Truth and Reconciliation”? I’m sure some anthros do accept the truth about Steiner’s racism and thoroughly reject it but as an organisation this is not the case. Many still defend and teach it though using less obviously supremacist language than in the past.

              If the more sinister aspects of anthroposophy could be truly buried then it would be easier to forgive and merely laugh at the jumbo jumbo. But I suspect they are too deeply ingrained for this to happen soon.

            • Helen

              Well Ollie I don’t take your point about moving on. Like the Steiner supporters, you seem for some reason to want me to give up campaigning against Steiner movement.That would suit them just fine, but it is not going to happen while they continue to deceive parents, the authorities and the public in general about their motivations and their activities.
              Now that the immediate danger of a new Steiner free school has passed I have my life back, and time for other pursuits including gardening, but why should I give up caring about this issue?

              If you read the RS Archive, where Steiner’s writing and lectures are translated from German into English you realise that the ‘racial bit’ as you put it, comes from what he claimed to have read in the Akashic record, and is what he used to build his belief system; without this notion that humans evolved and are still evolving spiritually through the races, all the mumbo jumbo you mention, the etheric bodies, temperaments, eurythmy and all the angels would not be used in Steiner schools and camphill etc. Steiner enthusiasts believe he was clairvoyant and spoke ‘the truth’ – just as the utterances of other cult leaders are revered as gospel; that is why they slavishly still use the outdated methods Steiner invented and resist change.
              Take away the racist brick and the whole edifice crumbles – that’s why anthroposophists won’t say Steiner was wrong about it.

              I walked past parents this morning dropping their children at the kindergarten – they are defensive when asked why they don’t look into the beliefs of the people they are entrusting their children to. They either know about the rotten core of anthroposophy and subscribe to it themselves or they are willing to overlook it. Would they overlook a kindergarten’s set of beliefs if they were held by the EDL for example? I don’t think so. Steiner beliefs are well hidden,but children are being subjected to them, in many cases without the knowledge or consent of their parents.
              I can see the point of moving on from events in the past you can do nothing about, but that is not the case here.

              it can only be racially offensive if you are nutty enough to believe in mumbo jumbo.

              So just because I don’t believe something it is not racially offensive? That is strange reasoning.

            • Helen

              And Ollie, please could you tell me what it was that made you take your child out of the Steiner school? I would be interested to know – it is quite a hard decision to change schools.

  9. Jim

    Just to clarify Helen, I meant that it is good to move on when something has truly been put in the past but this is not the case with Steiner supporters and it is they who are refusing to move on. So no disagreement there I think.

Any thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s