How anthroposophy hides itself from scrutiny.

“What is the chance that one guy who died in 1925 would have stumbled across the last word in education?”

asks a commenter on a forum. She goes on to say how just enough information is provided to satisfy mild curiosity, no more.

 Dawkinns forum

This comment is useful in explaining what Steiner followers believe and how they share or hide these beliefs from outsiders.

Most of the people who write articles in national newspapers advocating biodynamics, or who buy biodynamic produce, or who think it is a good idea to support free school applications, usually have very little or no knowledge at all about the belief system they are supporting. If and when some of the details begin to reach their ears, they are already conditioned to accept some of the less bizarre notions of anthroposophy, by people adept at painting it as a “philosophy”, or (as used last week locally) a “new way of looking at nature and the human being”.

It was new 100 years ago, and probably seemed just as crackpot then as it does now.

When it is suggested to people who join in that anthroposophy may not be something to support, they either immediately dismiss the idea as ridiculous or do some cursory research and then announce that no-one today really believes what Steiner said, and that today’s Steiner organisations should not be tarred with the same brush.

Admittedly it seems far-fetched; grown adults in the UK who spurn science and history and turn to Rudolf Steiner for wisdom.

But yes, they do. And in the opinion of the anthroposophists, WE are the unfortunate ones, the poor fools who do not know that Steiner was right about everything (including the gnomes). They are superior because they understand this and we do not. They have seen the light, we have not.

The comment above helps to illustrate how anthroposophy is indeed alive and well, but is difficult to spot with an untrained eye.

The schools would not be called Steiner schools and under the direction of the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship if it were not for the fact that in every school there are influential people believe that Rudolf Steiner was a genius and clairvoyant.

There would not be 60+ acres of biodynamic farmland in Stroud if those who make a living from it did not believe in the cosmic forces and magic rituals Steiner spoke of in his lectures.

The countless therapists dishing out and charging a fortune for eurythmy, rhythmic massage, and anthroposophical remedies to helpless camphill residents and college students would not be flocking to ply their trade if they had not spent time studying Steiner doctrine..

Kindergartens where the teachers are so fully versed in Steiner’s alternative view of child development that they will only allow certain kinds of toys, the same stories told endlessly, and certain paint finishes on the walls. It is not just because someone there thinks these things are nice, it is because of specific guidelines in the Steiner creed on what is suitable for children at specific stages of spiritual development.

As the commenter remarks, Steiner followers often say, “the stuff is out there”; the books and lectures are available to anyone. The problem is that it is hard to credit that there really are people today who take it seriously.

In Stroud there are many, very many. They run the 40+ business I have listed.

Look carefully and you can identify who are the anthroposophists at the centre, but often those who buy the biodynamic produce and send their loved ones to camphill or to kindergartens and Steiner schools, are not privy to this information at the beginning and have no idea what is driving businesses such as Tablehurst Farm referred to in the Telegraph, or Ruskin Mill in Stroud; at their heart is a belief system where Steiner’s occult versions of science, history and human nature are “truth”, where people with learning difficulties (or often behavioural problems in the case of the schools and colleges), labour on the land to produce biodynamic carrots, are routinely sent to anthroposophical doctors where they are treated according to the way these doctors view their condition as “karmic“, and where they are persuaded to pay for anthroposophical “therapies” which have no scientific basis.

The deception is practiced efficiently by a group of people who know that their future depends on hiding their creed from the world whilst at the same time using it on vulnerable people in society.

Why are the 40+ business listed not known locally to be Steiner? Because the movement prefers to keep a low profile; more people would start asking more questions if the extent of the Steiner influence here were fully known.

They just want the support ; they don’t care that the support comes from people who have never heard of their belief system, and would thoroughly disapprove if they did.

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10 comments

  1. Steve

    The fact that everything Steiner says has to be true, as that old lady was reported to have said is very important I think. Because why else do Anthroposophists not denounce properly some of Steiner’s really dodgy writings, like the fact that demons are incarnated through steam engines or that a pregnant woman reading a “negro” book would give birth to “mulatto” child, to name but two striking examples?

    I think it’s because if they start to unravel what he said, it would be impossible to reassemble it and claim that Steiner was clairvoyant or had access to any kind of special knowledge. It all has to be true, or none of it is, and the latter is clearly not acceptable to the devout.

    And they still try to convince us anthroposophy isn’t a religion! I bet each time they deny it, an archangel cries.

  2. Jim

    Given the dangers of technology don’t you admire those who are prepared to risk Ahrimanic contamination by coming on sites such as this to defend their cult?

    The anti-science movement is so strong that it provides a fertile ground for even such nonsense as anthroposophy. And yet the anthros are so keen to present Steiner as scientific they will go to great lengths to grasp at any shred of scientific evidence which can be distorted so as to appear to support his views. Whilst at the same time trying to deny the very validity of the notion of scientific evidence.

    As a slight aside I’ve been reading Stefan Zweig’s memoir which includes a brief encounter with Steiner in the 1900s. He tells of Steiner’s magnetic personality and wide knowledge and is convinced he will do something significant scientifically. He then goes on to relate how encountering anthroposophy decades later he was shocked at its banality. Well, yes – if only it was merely banal.

    • Helen

      encountering anthroposophy decades later he was shocked at its banality.

      Yes, there is no doubt Steiner was intellectually able, we can only imagine what he might have achieved without the religious/spiritual influences. Perhaps if he had never encountered the theosophists things would have been different.

      • Jim

        It’s interesting that scientists may have odd beliefs but keep them separate from their scientific work – Newton’s alchemical work is a famous example. But Steiner is different in that he allowed the “spiritual” to permeate every aspect of his thought and so produced nothing of value to set against the nonsense. From what contemporaries said about him it would appear that it was not due to a lack of ability.

    • Steve

      Agreed. Banal doesn’t traumatise children and entire families. Banal doesn’t lie and deceive parents who only want the best for their children, only to realise later on, once damage has been done, that they’ve unwittingly stepped into a cult. And as many know, the repercussions for leaving a cult and speaking out are extreme.

      Incidentally, what’s the name of that book? It sounds interesting… Unless you could copy the section that mention Rudolf?

      • Jim

        Can’t help recalling Arendt’s comment about the banality of evil though that would be going too far.

        The book is “The world of yesterday”. The Steiner passage is only a few lines – if you search for “Steiner Zweig” you’ll find a quote. I should say that much as I like Zweig’s novels the memoir is a bit dull. Too much name dropping and post hoc wisdom.

        • Steve

          If you deliberately hurt people, using your knowledge to manipulate and deceive others, isn’t that in some ways evil?

          I found the passage, thanks. It’s actually very interesting to read the eyewitness account of someone who met Steiner but wasn’t part of his entourage. His belief that people clamour to him because of his personality rather than his thoughts and ideas (the singer, not the song), may actually be quite perceptive. How else could people firmly believe that he couldn’t have been wrong about anything?

          And the power of his personality affects people to this day. That’s quite remarkable. Shame it was used to damage my kids, and so many other families worldwide.

          • Jim

            “…… Isn’t that in some way evil?” I agree – my reference to going too far was that I didn’t wish to appear to compare anthroposophy with nazism. That would be somewhat hyperbolic!

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