THE BIRTH OF THE MOVEMENT FOR
SOCIAL THREEFOLDING IN 1917
Three years has passed since the beginning of the First
World War, that came to cost the lives of 10 million people, when a revolution
breaks out in March in Petrograd (now Petersburg).
Russian troops have been demoralized
by military setbacks in the war with Germany and social poverty and corruption
puts a heavy burden on the people of Russia. A provisionary government
made up of Liberals and Social democrats takes power for some months. The
most radical form soviets; councils of workers and soldiers that agitate
for a thorough revolution and immediate peace.
In that difficult situation, count
Lerchenfelt, member of the State Council of Bayern (in Germany) and with
a deep interest in anthroposophy, turns to Steiner and asks for his advice.
Steiner listens intensively and the
following day returns with a first outline of a social threefolding of
the disintegrating states in Europe. He suggests the formation of autonomous
structures and organs for a liberal cultural life, a legal life based on
equality and an economical life based on self administration.
During several weeks of intense work,
he thereafter prepares a Memorandum, that Lerchenfelt brings to leading,
interested circles in Germany. To those interested belong Prince Max of
Baden. An Austrian count and former Secretary of Cabinet; Polzer-Hoditz,
brings about a similar contact to the leading circles around the Emperor
Charles I of Austria-Hungary.
THE LEADING CIRCLES FAIL
During late autumn 1917, the German Foreign Minister;
Kühlemann, brings the Memorandum with Steiner´s suggestion for
a new formation of the social order based on cultural freedom, democratic
equality and an economy based on self administration of the co-workers
at the factories to the peace negotiations in Bretsk-Litovsk.
Some weeks earlier, Lenin, after having
been smuggled into Russia with the help of circles in Germany, together
with Trotsky initiated the decision to make a revolution in Russia on the
basis of dialectical materialism, and the parliamentarian democracy has
But Kühlemann does not take up
Steiner's suggestions for a differentiated new social order on a factual
basis, and in February 1918 the negotiations collapse.
6 months later; in August, Prince
Max of Baden, who has just been appointed Reichschansellor, is given the
task to form the first parliamentarian government in Germany.
He seeks contact with President Woodrow
Wilson to make peace with the allied, but Wilson refuses, as he understands
the Prince as a representative for the disintegrating imperial power.
The Prince sticks to old solutions
and his government falls after three months in the beginning of November
With the end of the war, the development
enters a new phase. The old leading circles have not been able to contribute
to a new formation of society in accordance with the demands of the time.
PEOPLES MOVEMENT FOR SOCIAL THREEFOLDING
Parallel to the "negotiations" in Versailles, that continue
during all of the first part of 1919, the year of the German revolution,
Steiner writes a book: "The basic issues of the social question"
(Towards Social Renewal - basic issues
of the social question) (in German), that is printed in 20 000 copies and
later in 20 000 more copies. It is rapidly and widely circulated and according
to Daily News is read by everyone who "is someone", among them the English
Foreign Minister Simmons and the Czech Foreign Minister Benesh.
A petition by Steiner, with suggestions
for an organizing threefolding of society is spread in 500 000 copies and
published in many daily papers. A movement for social threefolding arises,
centred in Stuttgart in the south of Germany and an Association for social
threefolding is founded.
As a consequence, the workers at several
big factories ask for his support, which he does with lectures and suggestions,
when they want to form councils of workers. Other contacts lead to the
founding of a bank and the creation of a form of money in Würtemberg,
based on Steiner´s thoughts and suggestions for economy.
The fruits of this work have just
begun to show, when resistance from people in the industry who think that
the people active in the movement for social threefolding are too bolchevist,
in co-operation with radical communists and representatives for different
religious confessions and bourgeois liberals, make further work impossible.
CONTINUED SOCIAL CHAOTISATION
During the "negotiations" in Versailles, that take place
at the same time, the representatives for the other three victorious powers
in the war don't believe in Wilson's program for peace in 14 points.
The idea of social threefolding is
based on the possibility and right of every individual to participate freely
in the legal, cultural and economical activities in the country in which
he or she happens to live, independently of to which ethnic group he or
she belongs and in practice constitutes an ordered disintegration of the
national state as the basic unity for more than the legal life of its citizens.
Instead of such a social structure,
based on the self determining, human individual, the program of Woodrow
Wilson's program for peace in Europe is based on the formation of new,
self determining, centrally ruled states, based upon the ethnic groups,
to which people happen to belong to, the now long since outdated concept
that today once more is popping up around the world leading to disastrous
"ethnic cleansing" to make it possible to realize.
The representatives of the European
victorious powers consider his thought unlucky and unrealistic, but also
don' t succeed to distance themselves from their own picture of Germany
as the sole villain and guilty of having initiated the war. With their
badly prepared and immature demands for revenge and an at first not fixed
and later at an astronomical level fixed compensation claim on Germany,
they contribute to continued social chaos, that comes to be the soil out
of which Hitler appears and one more World War.
In the peace treaty, that came to
be disastrous for everyone involved, the ground was also laid for that
which on the suggestion by Wilson came to be the League of Nations.
WALDORF SCHOOLS FOR A FREE CULTURAL LIFE
During the year it also turns out that the movement for
social threefolding does not get support by the necessary number of free
and self determining workers, and in November 1919 Steiner considers the
movement to have failed and takes no more initiatives for its further development.
Instead he concentrates his efforts on laying the ground for a cultural
life, free from influences of the state and economical interests.
On the initiative of Emil Molt, the
owner of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, a school is
founded for the children of the workers, officials and other employees
at the factory. The founding comes to be the start for the Waldorf school
movement, with the goal of educating and supporting the development of
the free, self determining individuals that development had showed the
There now exist about 600 Waldorf
schools in over 32 countries serving approximately 120,000 students.
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