Channel 4 News reveals truth about Camphill……………. or not.

On Wednesday evening Channel 4 News aired a, for them, long piece about the split at Botton Camphill Community. This has previously been covered on this site but in essence the split came about because the Care Quality Commission found some issues with the management at Botton and as a result changes are being made to the employment status of carers there. Some die-hard Camphill “co-workers” object to becoming employees and the impact this has on the nature of their benefits and responsibilities.

What was remarkable about the piece was the total absence of any mention of Rudolf Steiner or anthroposophy. All the warm words about the “uniquely caring environment” and the dedication of the co-workers was taken at face value, and of course accompanied by beautifully filmed images of smiling residents baking bread or making furniture. Indeed it was hard to see even on C4 News’s own terms why they had bothered covering the story since one was left with the impression that it was just a choice between two slightly different models of care both of which were simply wonderful. The nearest we got to an indication of anything out of the ordinary was a brief shot of a “mealtime blessing” with hands held high around the table and chanting – at the very least patronising for adult residents.

Why is it that broadcasters will not address the nonsense at the heart of this movement? We have seen it before with the Radio 4 Food Programme’s visits to Camphill praising the food and the Biodynamic agriculture which produced it. The food may well be good but it is not unreasonable to expect the programme to also consider the social implications of the production. After all it quite rightly addressed the impact of Israel’s continued destruction of Palestinian olive groves and expropriation of land. But no, Steiner is not too be touched. The silliest example came up recently on Woman’s Hour where in a piece about knitting the presenter quoted Steiner as saying “thinking is knitting with the cosmos”. She clearly thought it was profound rather than flatulent drivel.

It isn’t just broadcaster’s who seem reluctant to address the core concerns of Steinerism. Even when criticising a specific manifestation, such as the Steiner Free School in Stroud, politicians and others are unwilling to say it is undesirable in principle, merely that it is unnecessary in practice.

Maybe it’s ignorance of the facts or misplaced fear of seeming politically incorrect that stops them speaking out. Until they do we will merely be dealing with the symptoms of the Steiner cult and not the cause.



  1. alan

    They covered the Palestinian olive groves because those responsible for managing the British brand around the world and making it attractive to (at least some) people who are in, or who are headed towards, powerful positions in various countries (which is the responsibility of a certain organisation based just south of the river in London – hint hint, with a name ending with a number between 5 and 7) still have an Arab market. They don’t want the supply of ‘friends’ to dry up – or too much Arab money to go whoosh out of Britain. If the programme had any chance of really damaging Zio-fascist interests, it wouldn’t have been shown. Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC and now at the New York Times, actually got called to Israel to answer for himself as to how he was going to help them. He went. He helps. Which doesn’t mean the BBC doesn’t cooperate closely with said British organisation too.

    Why do the BBC whitewash the Steiner cult? Good question. And why did they cover this at all? Friends in high places… very high places… places ‘in line’ to other places… such as fancy seats… called thrones.

    • alan

      Sorry – I said BBC when I meant Channel Four with regard to the latest programme, but as you know they are both state bodies.

    • Jim

      We know the media pussy foots around criticism of Israel because of the fear of being called anti-semitic, and we also know that it is Israeli government policy to equate all criticism of Israeli actions with anti semitism. Given that, the relative willingness to criticise Israel stands in contrast to the reluctance to criticise the Steiner cult. Whilst I don’t discount the “friends in high places” argument I suspect it is more to do with the fact that in the one case people are dying and their land being stolen whilst in the other it is just about ideas. And the English don’t really care about ideas, particularly if they are about religion.

      Sorry Alan – I must be a bit thick but I can’t place the mysterious London organisation you hint at.

  2. Andy Lewis (@lecanardnoir)

    I had a twitter conversation with the journalist who made this report, Keme Nzerem. I think the reason that no exploration of the cult behind Botton was made was because Keme did not think it had any impact on what went on. His view appeared to be that the ‘lived experience’ of the residents was more important than any religious philosophy that may exist in some of the workers.

    You can only take this view though if you take at face value what is presented to you at places like Botton. There appeared to be no appreciation of the way such esoteric and innitiated organisations work – they deceive you. There was no appreciation of the ethical dilemmas around informed consent in Camphill or the harm that can go on through anthroposophical beliefs in karma and quack medicine.

    So, I do not think there is a conspiracy – just a failure to understand the nature of cult organisations.

    • Jim

      Yes, I’m inclined to think that in most cases conspiracy is not the issue. Which is not to deny that there probably is a hardcore of believers who would fit that description.

      What I do find odd in this case is why, without an interest in the underlying basis of Camphill, the story was felt worthy of so much time and attention. All that was left was a minor squabble within an obscure group of care homes. As presented it was not comparable with the mistreatment scandals of some other homes. In fact you could sum it up as “slight disagreement but don’t worry, everything is lovely as the pictures show”.

    • Nick Nakorn

      You’re probably right Andy, yet these days, with so much on-line, it takes very little digging for any journalist to find out what Anthroposophist organisations are all about. But anti-science, anti-rational and racist sects seem only of interest to news organisations if there’s celebrity, violence or sex involved.

  3. Just Saying

    First of all I’m not Steiner and really happy not to be – I’m glad to have stumbled upon this page in ways. I’ve sensed a kind of fringe-spiritual vibe in Stroud for many, many years and also noticed a lot of particular people, some friendly and others really aloof/cliquey, have something of a foundation here… I thought Stroud was just arty, green and alternative; I didn’t realize it was because there were so many Steiner places here.

    I don’t know a lot about Steiner so I’m not judging, but I have sensed a bit of cold cliquey-ness to the Steiner scene. At the same time, the capitalist, ego-drunk mainstream breeds a different kind of mentality that in my opinion is ignorant, selfish, brutish and infantile. So what’s the real argument here? Maybe it’s just an invitation to pick different group-personalities apart. There are other big groups of a certain personality that would also seem indifferent to a complete outsider, I’m sure.

    There are things that really do matter, whether the materialistic mainstream likes it or not, things such as well-being, community and the land we live on/feed from. I’m not averse to mysticism either – after all why should people not ponder the nature of existence, self, creation etc, etc? Why should people not strive to have a healthy relationship with the environment? These are genuinely important things to concentrate on, or even just include in your daily lifestyle and are not actually Steiner, no, they are human – they concern everybody, whatever your cultural bias is. So, Stroud is an artistic, open-minded town with a thriving ecological attitude… that’s a good thing, in my opinion.

    Are Steiner people racist? I wouldn’t know, but I’m not in accord with that in any context. Also, much as I appreciate mysticism/spirituality as food for thought, I’m really not comfortable with the hyper-religious/extremist/lofty intellectual, superstitious concrete sort of attitude…

    I’m not sure what to make of this site. I’m glad to have been made aware of just how much of Stroud is Steiner; I’m glad to say I’m not Steiner – that there’s a much bigger world out there. At the same time I get the impression that there’s a lot of witch-hunting and prejudice here against any one who actually gives a shit about things deeper than I don’t know, television soap operas, the x-factor and this fucked up mundane mainstream system…

Any thoughts?

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