|For a number of years now, the main secular humanist
anti-Waldorf site on the internet in English, has quoted on its home page
two statements from the published works of Rudolf Steiner, a body of work
that encompasses some 89,000 pages.
The two "featured" quotes are used to try to imply
that Rudolf Steiner, as the founder of Waldorf education, was anti-Semitic
and an Aryan supremacist, evidently to make people in general, especially
those of Jewish origin, support the group's anti-Waldorf demagoguery and
to dissuade potential Waldorf parents from considering Waldorf education
for their children.
For a description of and comment on the first quote
at the site, used to imply, falsely, that Steiner was anti-Semitic, see
The second isolated, somewhat confusing quote,
used in the demagoguery to imply, again falsely, that Steiner was an Aryan
supremacist, idealizing blue-eyed and blond-haired people, as quoted among
other places in an article in the journal Salon.com on May 26, 2004,
"If the blonds and blue-eyed people
die out, the human race will become increasingly dense ... Blond hair actually
What is the context from which this second quote is
taken, and does Steiner in that context argue in any way in the direction
that is implied in the anti-Waldorf demagoguery?
During the building of the Goetheanum in Dornach,
Switzerland, as a center for anthroposophy, from August 1922 up to September
1924, Steiner regularly held, during the morning coffee break, a number
of ad hoc, mostly off-the-cuff talks to the construction workers.
The talks had the form of sessions based on questions
from the workers; Steiner's remarks were in direct answer to their questions.
On December 13, 1922, at
a time when an idealization of the blond Nordic hero was cultivated by
some in Germany as part of long-held argumentation for an "Aryan supremacy"
(which was later continued by the Nazis), one of the participants in the
"I would like to know the reason why blond
people are becoming more and more rare. In the region where I come from,
earlier there still were many blond people. Now they are fewer and fewer.
What's the story behind it?"
To this Steiner answers, describing how a person absorbs
light into the body and how it meets the nourishment provided by the metabolic
activity of the body.
He then describes in a pictorial way how what he
calls the 'Stosskraft' (pushing force) of metabolism is distributed by
the blood in different ways in the head, either more outwards towards the
eyes and hair, or more inwards towards the brain, as the physiological
background of why some people are more dark-haired and dark-eyed, while
others become more blue-eyed and blond-haired.
The use of the concept "pushing force" in connection
with human metabolism and an explanation of a person's eye and hair color
stands out as unusual. It may have been used by Steiner to relate what
he was trying to explain to the concrete experience of the listeners, and
the way they, as construction workers, worked in building the Goetheanum,
using wheel barrows and other tools to transport the building materials
The way he expressed himself, according to the
transcript of the talk can give you the feeling that he was referring to
specific people in the audience when relating the strength of the "pushing
force" of people to their eye and hair color.
"... That which makes people into blue-eyed,
brown-eyed, or black-eyed persons is the iris of the eye, that in its posterior
part always is blue, and on the anterior side in blue-eyed people has no
small sacks at all.
He then continues talking about the aging process
of the Earth and humanity and how it makes people with blond hair die out
before those with black hair.
"In black-eyed and brown-eyed people, the iris
also has small sacks on the anterior side so that you don't see the posterior
"What is the reason for this? Well, you see, these
sacks are constantly filled with, and then emptied of blood. [...]
Those who have black sacks, are those who can force
the blood into the eyes in such a way that the nourishment still can get
in a proper way into the eyes, while those who are brown-eyed do this to
a lesser extent. Those, the brown ones, are less well nourished. But when
someone is blue-eyed, then he does not at all force the fluid nourishment
so strongly into the eye, that also the anterior side of the iris is filled
with nourishment. [...]
"But this also is connected with the hair. Someone
who has a strong "pushing force", he pushes the nourishing fluids all the
way into the hair and has black or brown hair. Those who have less "pushing
force" don't push the nourishment all the way into the hair, and they remain
blond and don't become dark [haired]. This is the way [also] blue eyes
and blond hair are connected.
"Someone who forces the nourishment strongly through
his body gets dark hair and gets dark eyes. Someone who does not force
it as strongly gets blue eyes and blond hair. That can be understood out
of what I have told you.
"[...] Also the
Earth once was quite young, as it produced the giant Megatherium [giant
ground sloth, 7 m. long, living during the Quaternary age] and the Ichthyosaur
[3 m. long, dolphin-like marine reptile, living during late Jurassic times].
It was young. Now the Earth basically has passed its adult stage. It becomes
ever older, and some time will perish, out of old age weakness, not for
the reasons which present-day materialists speak of.
Does this text in any way argue for the superiority
of people with blond hair and blue eyes, in the sense the isolated quote,
taken from the lecture and used in anti-Waldorf demagoguery, is used to
try to make Steiner out to be an "Aryan supremacist"?
"But, gentlemen, we already today have come somewhat
to a time of old age weakness of the Earth. Therefore all of humanity has
become weaker with regard to the force that pushes nourishment through
the body. Who must therefore [logically] first disappear from the Earth?
The black [eyed and haired] ones have more stamina; they have a larger
pushing force. The blond ones have a lesser pushing force, and [therefore]
will perish earlier.
"[...] The blond ones were always the weaker ones
with regard to the body, they were only stronger with regard to the soul.
"[...] Because the stronger the bodily forces are,
the weaker the soul forces are. And humanity on Earth would stand before
the danger, if the blond ones perished, that humanity on Earth actually
became dumb, if it would not [otherwise] come to have a spiritual science,
an anthroposophy, that no longer is dependent on the body, but gets its
cleverness out of the spiritual investigation itself, if I may express
myself in that way.
"So, you see, if you learn [to understand] real
Natural History, you must say: Good heavens, people on Earth would become
dumb, if they were to become ever stronger. If the blue-eyed and blond-haired
perish, people would become ever dumber, if they did not come to a form
of cleverness that is independent of blondness.
"Blond hair actually gives [brings about] cleverness;
if you send [only a] little [blood] into the eyes, it remains in the brain
with its fluid nourishment and gives the brain cleverness. The brown-haired
and brown-eyed, and the black-haired and black-eyed, they force that which
the blonds push into the brain, into the eyes and hair. Therefore they
[the brown-haired, etc.] become materialists, acting only on the basis
of what they see, and this must be balanced through a spiritual science.
This means that you must have a spiritual science to the same extent that
humanity loses its cleverness with the blondness.
"[...] Because it actually is the case that the
more the blond races [people] perish, the more also the instinctive wisdom
of humanity dies. People become dumber. And they can only become clever
again, if they are not left to the body, but if they have a real spiritual
It is difficult to see this when reading the lecture.
Instead, Steiner in the lecture describes blond and blue-eyed people as
dying out for natural reasons as a group, and with them also an instinctual
form of cleverness, which Steiner does not idealize.
Instead, he speaks of the naturally perishing,
bodily-based instinctual "cleverness", resulting from an increasing old
age weakness of humanity, as something that needs to be replaced with
a form of "cleverness" that is not dependent on the bodily processes of
human physiology, but that is purely spiritual.
The full context shows that his argumentation is
completely opposite the way the quote is made out to seem by the small
anti-Waldorf group in San Francisco at its site. They have taken an isolated
quote and twisted its meaning into pure untruthful demagoguery.
In contrast to the Nazis, who later idealized blond
and blue-eyed people as representatives of a "pure Aryan race", and worked
at breeding as many such people as possible through different measures,
Steiner in this lecture argued for the complete opposite: the development
on an individual basis of spiritual qualities independent of any
bodily or "racial" characteristics.
An understanding of Steiner's actual meaning, when
the full passage is understood, reveals the untruthfulness of the way the
quote is used as a tool in anti-Waldorf demagoguery by the aforementioned
group at its site.
For more on the site and the group behind it, see
For more on the untruthful writings of one of the main demagogues supporting
this group, see here.
Robert Mays and Sune Nordwall