Peoples and Their Souls
"Anthroposophist Spiritual Racism: Uehli"
The racism embedded in Anthroposophy rarely surfaces as racial hatred. According to Anthroposophical belief, race is an index of spiritual evolution. All individuals are fundamentally alike, Anthroposophists usually say, but people evolve upward differing various stages of spiritual development, and these stages are often manifested in racial forms. Young, undeveloped souls incarnate in lowly — dark — racial forms. Later, as they rise to higher spirituality, these souls reincarnate in higher racial forms, culminating in the whitest races.
Because Anthroposophists generally do not hate members of "lower" races, they generally deny that there is any racism in their belief system. But in this they are, clearly, mistaken. According to Anthroposophical tenets, a white person is — virtually by definition — more highly evolved than a black person; any white person is likely to be — virtually by definition — more moral, mature, and thoughtful than virtually any black person. Anthroposophical racism may be unintended and even unconscious, but it exists. And, sadly, it exists near the core of Anthroposophical teachings. [See "Steiner's Racism", "Races", and "Differences".]
According to Anthroposophical belief, races, nations, and peoples work out their destinies under the aegis and guidance of the gods. Each race, nation, or people is overseen by a particular god, an archangel, who is in fact the spirit of that group — the archangel is that group’s “folk spirit” or “foul soul” (also sometimes called a "race soul"). Each human group, acting under the supervision of its folk spirit, has a particular mission to fulfill; and as such, each has its own karma. Thus, races, nations, and peoples embody the purposes and wisdom of the gods; they are, in this sense, divinely ordained.
Originally, the gods intended for races to exist sequentially, not simultaneously. Mankind would incarnate at a particular level of development; all humans existing at that time would be members of the same race. Later, as mankind evolved higher, all humans would reincarnate as members of the next, higher race. We would proceed together, evolving upward to higher and higher forms. This was the plan. However, the demons Lucifer and Ahriman interfered, which has caused multiple races to exist on Earth simultaneously. Older, lowly races have continued to exist even as newer, higher races have appeared — or so Steiner taught. [See "Lucifer" and "Universal".]
Eventually, according to Anthroposophical belief, we will evolve to a post-racial condition. Races as we now know them will cease to exist, and general equality will once again be apparent in the forms humans assume when incarnating. However, other sorts of “races” will develop then, and true, universal human equality will not be fully attained until all backward or evil souls have been ejected from the upward stream of human evolution. Anthroposophy foresees a distant future when everyone still within the human family will be truly equal. This may be an attractive vision, but it is very different from affirming that all human beings are fully equal now. Steiner's teachings indicate that human races today stand at different evolutionary/spiritual levels. Moreover, Steiner foresaw races of varying sorts, standing at various levels, continuing to play a key role in human evolution far into the future. [See, e.g., "Evil".]
These beliefs are woven deeply into the narrative of human evolution as propounded by Rudolf Steiner. We may hope that few if any Anthroposophists today hate members of “lower” races. But to the extent that Anthroposophists accept Steiner’s teachings — which they usually do without reservation — then racism remains a defining element of Anthroposophy today. Anthroposophists as individuals are not, by and large, racists. Probably the overwhelming majority of Anthroposophists today — like virtually all other individuals of good will today — sincerely deplore racism. But Anthroposophy as a world view contains clear racist strains. These strains may generally be hidden, unrealized, below the surface of Anthroposophy. But they lurk there, embedded in the assemblage of error and falsehood that is Rudolf Steiner's legacy. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Blunders" and "Summing Up".]
We may stipulate that Anthroposophical racism is more nearly an unconscious tendency than an actualized evil. But it exists; it is a disfigurement in a system of beliefs that was intended to be bright and uplifting. Steiner's racial views may have seemed relatively progressive in his period, when blatant racism was rampant, but today we recognize that they are wholly unacceptable.
Below are statements made by Anthroposophists in recent times, long after Steiner's death. These statements reflect the continuing presence of Steiner’s ethnological teachings within the Anthroposophical community. Most of these statements are not overtly racist; most of them speak of "nations" or "peoples" rather than "races." But all of them conform to the Anthroposophical narrative about large human groups including races. In brief: There are deep, real divisions between various branches of the human family. Each significant subset of humanity has its own god, its own mission, and its own karma. Each nation, people, and race is spiritually different from the others, and these differences are built into the very fabric of reality. The import of such differences is thus inherent in the doctrinal structure of Anthroposophy, whether or not most Anthroposophists recognize the racist implications of this structure.
Possibly none of the individuals quoted below harbors any antipathy directed toward the members of any racial or national group. But many of Steiner’s ideas about races, nations, and peoples are reflected in the statements you are about to read. Even when expressing the need to overcome racism, Anthroposophists often assert that there are very real differences between the subsets of humanity. When reading Anthroposophical statements about nations and peoples, pause to remind yourself that what is being said applies equally to races as described in Anthroposophical literature.
I have taken these quotations from Anthroposophical publications that are easy to find and purchase today. Because Anthroposophists often use terminology that is unfamiliar to most readers, I have highlighted certain key terms, placing them in bold type. I have also added some commentary, clearly separated from the quotations themselves. To provide additional guideposts, I have inserted some quotations from Rudolf Steiner's KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS - How Is It Achieved? (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004, reprinted 2009).
While most Anthroposophists today speak more often of "nations" and "peoples" rather than "races," some Anthroposophists continue openly discussing race, using concepts that Steiner used. Much of this discourse — drawing heavily from Theosophy — is akin to mythology, but Anthroposophists accept it as factually true. Thus, for example, mankind lived on Atlantis; it split into seven races; people's physical forms came to reflect their spiritual differences:
"...In the racial evolution of the post-Atlantean age, of the 7 sub-races, the physical form gradually mirrored this soul difference [i.e., bodily forms came to reflect spiritual differences], leading to the clearly recognizable physiognomic variations we see today in the 7 racial types." — Alan Whitehead, GAZE BOTH WAYS (Golden Beetle Books, 2005), p. 12. 
Some human groups were more advanced than others; the most advanced people migrated to Europe and, in particular, Germany:
"[T]he races were differentiated in early Atlantis; the white race was under the guidance of the Jupiter Oracle [i.e., a source of spiritual wisdom with ties to Jupiter] ... The most advanced human beings...were led by Manu [i.e., Noah] across Europe ... Those from the Jupiter Oracle dropped off en route to form a great centre in northern Germany.” — Richard Seddon, EUROPA: A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1995), p. 16. 
Races stand at different levels. Blacks, for example, are childlike, and Native Americans are senescent:
"In Lemuria [the continent where humanity lived before moving to Atlantis]...there was really only one race, Humanity. The Australian Aborigines are a dim reflection of this holistic condition ... The human race then divided into the 7 'sub-races' (as Rudolf Steiner describes them) in the following epoch, Atlantis.....
"[T]he first Atlantean sub-race...evolved to become the Negroid race ... Negro people always strike me as a 'young' folk ... [T]he negroid people's time has not yet come. Their contribution will be based on the Mercury Mysteries [i.e., occult spiritual truths associated with Mercury] — rhythm-based. Negro people really do 'got rhythm'....
"'Young' would not describe the second Aryan sub-race, the North American Indians ... I always get a feeling of venerability and great age with them — Saturn qualities ... [They] established the concept of RANK, exemplified by the Red Indians respect for the 'Chief'....
"By the way, the Being of a race [i.e., that race's spirit or god] does not require its individuals to remain constant through their incarnations. A person can be Chinese in one life, Jewish the next...." — Alan Whitehead, THE PEOPLE POOL (Golden Beetle Books, 1993), pp. 85-88.
Whitehead, a former Waldorf teacher trainer, also discusses other human races from an Anthroposophical perspective; e.g.:
"[U]s...the Caucasian race ... [O]ur high mission to firmly establish individualism into human evolution was, and is, an important one. That is why Caucasians look so different from each other; more than any of the [other] 7 races." — p. 89.
Some races have evolved upward while others have declined. Separation into distinct races occurred after human souls migrated to various planets and then returned, altered, to Earth. All races except the future Aryans began deteriorating:
“The Atlantean (Tertiary) epoch saw differentiation of humanity into races, souls who had returned from the planets being guided by the corresponding oracles [i.e., spiritual guides] ... Except for a nucleus who were led to Central Asia [i.e., proto-Aryans], degeneration set in amid the rigours of the Ice Ages....” — Richard Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2002), p. 66.
Each developing human being recapitulates the evolutionary history of humanity. In the womb, the embryo recapitulates the transition from Lemuria to Atlantis, and it then passes through the Atlantean racial stages. Thereafter...
"[W]hat does the [embryonic] yolk sac do? It is burned up in the catastrophic fires of Lemuria ... [M]an is [then] recapitulating the transition to Atlantis. The whole of the embryonic development following upon this stage is nothing less than a recapitulation of the whole of Atlantean development ... [O]ntogeny [recapitulates] phytogeny. We see the Fall, we see the end of Lemuria, we see all the Atlantean periods with their early races." — Karl König, EMBRYOLOGY AND WORLD EVOLUTION (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2009), p. 42.
Thereafter, according to Rudolf Steiner, the child is born as a member of a specific race, one that stands at the same evolutionary level as that incarnating soul. Later, the individual will return as a member of a higher or lower race, depending the progress s/he has made or failed to make.
Individuals' racial status reflects the degree to which "they have worked their way from the physical and perishable to the supersensible and imperishable. The evolution of man [occurs] through reincarnations in ever higher ethnic and racial forms...." — KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, pp. 207-208. 
Anthroposophists today typically avoid speaking about races as such, preferring to speak of nations, peoples, ethnic groups, and the like. But, in Anthroposophical doctrines, what applies to one sort of ethnological category generally applies to the others. Nations and peoples have differing spirits and missions, and — as Steiner taught — so do races. The differences between nations, peoples, and races often blur in Anthroposophical discourse. 
The spirits guiding important human groupings are Archangels; in their capacity as guides for human groups, they are usually called "folk souls" or "folk spirits." They help human groups fulfill their missions. Here are three statements on such matters:
◊ “The Archangels are not concerned with individuals but with groups of people, e.g. nations. The expression 'folk-soul' or 'folk-spirit', although generally used in an abstract sense, can be taken to indicate a reality. The Archangels are the guiding spirits of particular nations or peoples.” — Roy Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER - An introduction to his Spiritual World-view, Anthroposophy (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), p. 197.
◊ “[Steiner] explained how each nation was guided from the spiritual worlds by a higher being of the rank of an archangel, who was indeed the folk spirit of that nation. Each nation thus had a mission to fulfill.” — Stewart Easton, RUDOLF STEINER: HERALD OF A NEW EPOCH (SteinerBooks, 1980), p. 223.
◊ "[E]ach human being has an Angel who has the spiritual task of helping that human being fulfill his or her pre-birth intentions. Archangels are on the next higher level. They concern themselves with groups of people who have basic background in common: a tribe, a race, people from a geographical region, people who share a language. These beings are sometimes known as the 'folk-soul' of a people." — Roberto Trostli, "On Earth As It Is In Heaven", Part 2, RESEARCH BULLETIN (Research Institute for Waldorf Education), Vol. 17, #1, Spring/Summer 2012.
In addition to missions, peoples have their own karmas or destinies. As Steiner said,
"[L]ineal or racial destinies are real Beings [i.e., spirits or gods], as real as the personality produced by the character and destiny of an individual." — KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, p. 198.
No people can fulfill another people's karma or mission.
“If a people were to be interfered with...before it had completed its mission, no other people would be able to take its place ... Every nation is, in its karma, living through the things it has to live through in order to gain strength for its own task.” — Richard Seddon, EUROPA: A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1995), p. 76.
Steiner spoke of groups' and individuals' tasks thus:
"[A] folk-soul, for example, makes use of each individual belonging to that people or folk for the execution of certain tasks ... [E]very individual receives his allotted task from his family-, folk-, or race-soul ... [T]he physical man...works unconsciously at the aims of his people, of his race, and so forth." — KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, p. 198.
Some peoples (and nations and races) are more worthy than others. This belief is rooted in Steiner's assertion that some races or peoples are "higher" than others.
"A race or a people stands at a higher level in proportion as its members bring to expression the pure, ideal type of manhood." — KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, p. 207.
This same concept, attributing varying degrees of worth to various peoples, is still found in Anthroposophical writings.
"Where was there to be found in [Parzifal's] time a people worthy of serving the Grail?" — W. J. Stein, THE NINTH CENTURY AND THE HOLY GRAIL (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2009), p. 281.
(You might mull over the difference between talking of worthy people, plural, and a worthy people, singular. To say that some people are more worthy than others, while invidious, is to distinguish between individuals. But to say that a particular people is more worthy than other peoples is to place entire ethnic groups at different hierarchical levels.)
The gods assign and reassign missions to the various peoples:
“[T]he need had arisen for the higher guiding forces of earthly evolution [i.e., gods] to ‘transfer’ at least part of the karma of materialism that was threatening the further spiritual evolution of mankind from those peoples who have their principle mission in the fifth cultural epoch to another people or peoples, who were able to wait for their fulfillment of their own tasks....” — Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE SPIRITUAL ORIGINS OF EASTERN EUROPE AND THE FUTURE MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY GRAIL (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1993), p. 361.
Different peoples have different "soul-spiritual configurations;" some peoples are more spiritually aware than others:
"[W]e have to do with the emergence in the 9th-10th centuries in the East of Europe of a people which in its soul-spiritual configuration  was open to the emanations of the light of Christ ... Herein also lies the key to an understanding of Rudolf Steiner’s observation that for over a thousand years a people has lived in Eastern Europe which has the task of ‘becoming the vehicle for the Christ-revelation over the coming centuries.” — Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE SPIRITUAL ORIGINS OF EASTERN EUROPE AND THE FUTURE MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY GRAIL (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1993), p. 129.
Individual humans are born into specific ethnic groups for a reason; the "spiritual structures" of a people are basic to individual identity. As Steiner said,
"The individual...belongs to a family, to a people, to a race; his activity in the physical world depends upon his relationship to this kind of community. His particular character is also connected with it." — KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, p. 197.
The same concept is found in Anthroposophical texts written long after Steiner's death:
"[T]he child is rooted in the spiritual structures  common to a people, and saved from greedily grasping later at artificial national passions.  It is not for nothing that a child is born in a particular country." — Bernardus Cornelis Johannes Lievegoed, PHASES OF CHILDHOOD (Floris Books, Anthroposophical Press, 1987).
Seeking spiritual self-knowledge in order to awaken spiritual capacities is a central goal for Anthroposophists. The process entails understanding racial and national capabilities and qualities.
“On the path of self-knowledge, we come to know our powers of soul ... [W]e come to know both the limitations of our own nation and those of others ... [W]e are directly confronted with the powers determining our race and nation.” — Willem Zelymans, quoted by Emanuel Zeylmans in WILLEM ZEYLMANS VAN EMMICHOVEN (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), p. 189.
Nations exist in a hierarchy, higher and lower; there are true nations and untrue nations.
“[S]ince 1879, when the guidance of [the Archangel] Gabriel came to an end, no new nations have been built that are demonstrably true nations  such as the nations of Europe that were created between the Middle Ages and the end of the Gabriel age in 1879.” — Stewart Easton, THE WAY OF ANTHROPOSOPHY: ANSWERS TO MODERN QUESTIONS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 49.
If Steiner and his followers had wanted to avoid attaching importance to race, here was one options: argue that races are untrue groupings, having no spiritual significance. But instead Steiner stressed his racial teachings, claiming they are benevolent:
"The evolution of man through reincarnations in ever higher ethnic and racial forms is thus a process of liberation.” — KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, p. 208.
The divine connection between a people and its god is maintained by occult initiates who work through the etheric body:
"[T]he connection of the individual representatives of a people with the Archangelic Being who guides it is primarily through the forces of the etheric body.” — Sergei O. Prokofieff, ETERNAL INDIVIDUALITY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1982), p. 310.  (The etheric body is the first of three invisible bodies that incarnate during childhood, Anthroposophists believe. See "Incarnation".)
Under the guidance of the Archangel Michael, we are moving toward a time when the divisions between peoples, nations, and (implicitly) races will lose their importance — but we aren't there yet:
“The archangels influence peoples and nations, and the archai [gods a level higher than Archangels] [influence] whole periods of civilizations  ... Michael...has become the ruling spirit [of our evolutionary stage]. In the Michael age, which began in 1879, there is...a movement to overcome nationalism, but the counter-forces are strong.” — Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Sophia Books, 1996), p. 94. 
Steiner explained that people today are still the product of their folk groups:
"Many people no doubt say: 'Oh, I have freed myself from all lineal and racial connections' ... But to these people one must reply: 'Who, then, brought you this freedom? ... Have not your lineage, your people, your race, made you what you are?' ... [I]f now, raised above all prejudices, you are one of the lightbringers and benefactors of your stock or even of your race, it is to their upbringing that you owe it." — KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, pp. 199-200.
Today, humans are separated because they have different folk souls. These differences must be overcome in the future. For the present, however, the differences are significant, and we will overcome them only by fully plumbing the essence of the "folk" (the ethnic group):
“We must...become free from the Folk Soul and turn instead to the all-human within each of us. But the common mission will only exist when people from the different Folk Souls acquire understanding of what one might call ‘self-knowledge of the Folk’.” — Richard Seddon, EUROPA: A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1995), p. 112. 
The spiritual advancement of all humanity can hinge on the fulfillment of particular national or transnational missions (certain peoples lead humanity in certain periods). Central Europeans (especially Germans) will lead civilized humanity higher; uncivilized humanity will not receive this guidance:
“[T]he third stage — corresponding to Initiation — will be the highest culmination and fulfillment of the mission of Central Europe in earthly evolution, when Central Europeans will be dispersed throughout the civilized world  in order everywhere to sow seeds and lay the foundations for the spiritual epoch that is to come.” — Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE SPIRITUAL ORIGINS OF EASTERN EUROPE AND THE FUTURE MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY GRAIL (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1993), p. 376.
The German spirit and mission are especially significant:
◊ “[N]ations of the northern part of the East are preparing something like a mighty marriage of spiritual thinking with the intellectuality of the West; but this can only be of value if the German Folk Spirit can find souls able to graft the Christ impulse into their astral bodies....” — Richard Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), pp. 39-40. (The astral body is the second of three invisible bodies that incarnate during childhood, Anthroposophists believe. See "Incarnation".)
◊ "[T]he German Folk Spirit [has its] principal task until the beginning of the sixth cultural epoch...to spread...a creative spiritual life from the source of Central Europe amongst mankind as a whole." — Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE SPIRITUAL ORIGINS OF EASTERN EUROPE AND THE FUTURE MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY GRAIL (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1993), p. 340. 
◊ "Germany's mission lies...in the mediation between East and West ... Woe to the world if Germany were permitted to fall into the clutches of Communism ... [That] might well put an end to all human freedom for centuries to come." — Franz Winkler, NATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (Myrin Institute, Waldorf School of Adelphi University, 1956; reprinted 1976), p. 28.
But other peoples also have important spiritual missions:
"The overcoming of [numerous] trials would lead to a mastering of those spiritual powers needed for the fulfilment of the Russian people's future mission on behalf of human evolution — establishing a kingdom of brotherly love, and spreading a new spiritual culture throughout the Earth. The spiritual science of Anthroposophy is required to understand [this].” — Publisher’s description of Sergei O. Prokofieff’s PROPHECY OF THE RUSSIAN EPIC (Rudolf Steiner College Publications, 1993).
All peoples, nations, and races have their own missions because all stand separate and apart from the others; all have their own gods, their own karmas.
The influence of each folk soul extends throughout the people it guides and it reaches down to the individual human soul:
“In [the] ‘Angel-like figure' who inspires Faust and guides him in his spiritual strivings, it is possible to see a pictorial imagination of the German Folk Spirit (Archangel) — who guides the most populous of the Central European peoples....” — Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE SPIRITUAL ORIGINS OF EASTERN EUROPE AND THE FUTURE MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY GRAIL (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1993), pp. 341-342. 
Various races — "leading races" — have led the way during various stages of human evolution. This will change, but not until far into the future.  And even then, folk or racial spirits will still have sway:
“[T]he Double [the human doppelgänger, the evil inner twin] must be fully recognized and overcome. This age [3573-5733 AD] is centred in Russia because Russian soil reflects back special forces in the cosmic light which awaken the capacity to do this (there is no leading race as such). The Slavonic Folk Spirit works in this vibrating light to affect the way in which ideas are formed in the head....” — Richard Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), p. 41. 
Anthroposophy looks forward to a time when humans will no longer be divided from one another, but it does not affirm full human equality now. Rather, it asserts that we are still the products of our folk souls, and we will continue to be such for centuries to come. Only truly enlightened human beings transcend our differences now, and even they must realize that their high fulfillment has resulted from their ascent through national and racial stages.
When a spiritual aspirant attains enlightment,
"The family-, folk- and race-Spirits are revealed in their full reality, so that the pupil [i.e., the spiritual aspirant] sees clearly how he has been led up to now [by these Spirits]." — KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, p. 201.
This is a restatement of Steiner's assertion that we become liberated by rising from low folk/national/racial levels to higher levels. We advance by moving upward through these levels.
According to the Anthroposophical vision, humanity will not attain universal equality until trailing or inferior races cease to exist. In that "ideal" future, all humans who remain within the upward flow of evolution will incarnate as post-racial beings. The Anthroposophical solution to racism is to abolish races. This is quite different from affirming the equality of all races.
Although races as we know them now will eventually cease to exist, races of a different sort will develop, specifically a good race and an evil race:
“This age [3573-5733 AD] in fact recapitulates the Persian (Gemini) age, especially its experience of the polarities between light and dark, good and evil, which is now an actual division between good and evil races.” — Richard Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), p. 53. 
Affected by astrological powers, the good race will embody the best in humanity while the evil race will descend to animality and baseness:
◊ "[S]omeday there will be those in whose karma there is no longer any evil, but also a race evil by nature, among whom all kinds of evil will be developed to a higher degree than in the most savage animals." — Richard Seddon, MANI: His Life and Work (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2012), p. 61.
◊ “[T]he image of the Centaur (Archer) will, so to speak, divide spiritually into two parts, so that the good race will take into itself the forces of the upper, human part, while the evil race will take up its lower, animal, part.” — Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE TWELVE HOLY NIGHTS AND THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2004), p. 13.
The good race will evolve upward, whereas the evil race will descends lower. Which race you enter depends on your own actions:
“On a number of occasions Rudolf Steiner spoke of two future races — the Good and the Evil ... Steiner made the significant statement that a soul may incarnate in the evil race, which he characterized as being ‘on the down grade’, but that if that soul does not ‘commit evil’ during that lifetime, it may incarnate next time in the good race, the race ‘that is ascending.’” — Sevak Gulbekian, THE FUTURE IS NOW (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2000), p. 186.
Even when expressing admirable sentiments for the whole of humanity, Anthroposophists tend to frame the subject in terms of peoples, nations, and races:
“During the course of human evolution what we could term 'blood-love' gradually spread from smaller to larger groups of human beings, from a family to a tribe and a people ... With the Advent of Christ...the whole of mankind — all nations and races — was endowed with the seed from which could grow spiritual love ... [I]t will be increasingly imperative for all human beings, for all nations and races, to acquire real ‘knowledge of spirit beings [i.e., gods] and of spiritual life.’” — Sevak Gulbekian, THE FUTURE IS NOW (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2000), p. 176.
What does all this mean for Waldorf schooling? Here's one quick indication:
The standard Waldorf curriculum includes tales and myths from many lands. In other sorts of schools, this might be taken as a laudable effort at multiculturalism. But from an Anthroposophical perspective, relaying such tales to Waldorf students exposes the children to the spiritual experiences of peoples who stand at varying levels of evolutionary development, peoples who strive to fulfill varying national or racial missions, and peoples who receive guidance from varying spirits or gods. References to "various races and nations" have a different meaning in an Anthroposophical context than almost anywhere else.
"Story material for reading and telling [in class] should be sought in the folk-tales of various races and nations." — Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, Anthroposophical Press, 1998), p. 174.
(You might ask yourself whether whether races have folk tales. Nations may have differing, characteristic folk tales, but do races? )
Rudolf Steiner's followers do not mean to be racists. Most of them sincerely deplore racism, and they do not think that their belief system — Anthroposophy — is racist. In a sense, they are right. But in another, deeper sense, they are mistaken. Racism is embedded in the very structure of Anthroposophy; it is inherent in the doctrines that Steiner's followers — with the best intentions in the world — embrace. Anthroposophical racism is unintended. It is uncomprehending. We may stipulate that it is more nearly an unconscious tendency than an actualized evil. But it exists; it is a cancer gnawing at the internal organs of a system that is ostensibly humane and loving.
Can the racism in Anthroposophy be excised? Perhaps. The surgery would be complex, leaving scars and voids. Still, it might be achieved. But the first requirement on the path to moral and spiritual health — the very state Anthroposophists aspire to — is comprehension. Anthroposophists need to comprehend the nature of the racism they inherited from their master. Only then will they have any hope of freeing themselves from it.
You and Your Race
A play written for Waldorf third graders presents the story of Noah and the Flood. Various Anthroposophical beliefs are worked in, including explict reference to races.
After the floodwaters subside, Archangels oversee the division of humanity into races. The Archangels address Noah's sons:
"MICHAEL: 'Shem, to the North and West you must go ... You and your race shall become those who know.'
"GABRIEL: 'Japheth ... Go to the East ... You and your race shall become those who do.'
"RAPHAEL: 'Ham ... Go to the South ... You and your race shall become those who love.'"
The Archangels specify where each race should dwell (in the north and west, the east, and the south), and they assign each race a distinct mission (knowing, doing, loving). As is typical in Anthroposophical texts, the play attempts to put a gloss on mankind's racial divisions. All races must work cooperatively if the future is to be bright. The future described is the Anthroposophical vision of human evolution in a harmonious tomorrow. Each race must contribute to realize this vision:
"URIEL: '...Not one race alone — oh, no, but all three
'In brotherhood will strive for good
'And help Man become loving and Free!'"
The play is clearly not intended to be racist. Yet the Anthroposophical narrative of division into races at about the time of the Flood is present, along with the proposition that there are significant differences between the races: The races belong in different regions and they have different missions.
The play, by Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz, can be found in the Waldorf Clearing House Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 5, pp. 1-9, and it can be bought as a download at the website MillennialChild.com. "Noah and the Flood" was also published in Plays for Children and Communities, released by the Rudolf Steiner College Press. [To read the complete text of the play, visit "You and Your Race".]
To compare the play's Anthroposophical vision with the Biblical account of events following the Flood, see Genesis 9:18-19:
"18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread."
In these Bible verses, there are no references to Archangels or races, simply the statement that the progeny of Noah's sons overspread the earth.
We should pause to reflect on the following passage from the play. It occurs at the end, at the culmination of the action. It is, in a sense, the final lesson of the play, or at least it is part of the final lesson. (The wording, originally published in 1984, remains essentially unchanged in 2017.)
The Archangels specify where each race should dwell (in the North and West, the East, and the South), and they assign each race a distinct mission (knowing, doing, loving). Using euphemisms, the play endorses Steiner’s racial teachings. Steiner taught that white-skinned people, living in the North and West (i.e., Europe), lead “thinking lives” (in German, Denkleben), while yellow-skinned people, living in the East (i.e., Asia), lead emotional lives (Gefühlsleben), and black-skinned people, living in the South (i.e., Africa), lead impulsive lives (Triebleben). Steiner also said that blacks, who he said burn inside, have very powerful drives; he essentially endorsed the widespread stereotype of the time that blacks are sexually ravenous (which, in a manner of speaking, makes them “loving”). Schwartz generally echoes Steiner’s teachings on these matters, in a play written for third graders to perform. Euphemisms notwithstanding, this is horrifying. “You and your race… You and your race… You and your race…” If there was any justification for such thinking in Steiner’s time, there is absolutely none now.
A few more points should be made. What are the implications of the divisions between races as they are presented in the play? Note that the two races not assigned to “know” are, implicitly, consigned not to know — they, the non-European races, must be seen as comparatively ignorant. By the same token, two of three human races are implicitly identified as being less able to “do.” They presumably lack skills, dexterity, competence. Not as individuals, mind you, but as races. Likewise, two of three human races are implicitly tarred as being less loving. Their hearts are comparatively cold, it would seem; they are less empathetic, less kind. Perhaps they are prone to the antithesis of love: hatred. Not as individuals, mind you, but as races. These are all horrid, grotesque, racist propositions. Encouraging young children to think in these ways is awful; it is wicked; it should never be done. Yet here we see it being recommended, in Waldorf education, in accordance with Rudolf Steiner’s racist doctrines.
Racism should be yanked out by the roots, not prettied up in cute little pageants for young children to enact. And, certainly, in the 33 years between 1984 and 2017, authorities in the Waldorf movement should have noted the offending language in the play and either amended the text or withdrawn the play. But they did not.
“Souls previously incarnated in quite subordinate races, raised themselves to a higher level and could incarnate in the bodily descendants of the leaders in Europe [i.e., good souls rose up and became white people] ... This was the reason that the lower races had fewer and fewer descendants, while the higher races had more and more [i.e., as good souls moved upward to higher racial forms, there were fewer souls left in lower racial forms].” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION OF MORALITY (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 30.
If children pick up the idea that differences between racial groups have spiritual significance, they will read far more into race than is warranted. They will have been taught to be racists, whether or not their instructors intended anything of the sort. Indeed, the indoctrination may be all the worse when the instructors truly believe that they are merely conveying objective facts about the varieties of human beings living on the Earth.
“One can only understand history...if one pays attention to people's racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual...if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin." — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349, p. 52.
"Within our earth's evolution the Archangels’ task is to bring into certain harmonious relationship each single soul with the national or race-soul. For those who penetrate into spiritual knowledge, the souls of races are something quite different from what they are for the lovers of the abstract in the science of to-day, or for present day culture in general. On a certain territory (let us take Germany, France or Italy) live so and so many people, and because the physical eye sees only so many external human forms, such lovers of the abstract can imagine what is called the Soul of a nation or Spirit of a nation only as a comprehensive general idea of a nation. For the lover of abstractions the separate man only is real, not the soul of the nation, not the spirit of the nation. For one who truly sees into the inner working of spiritual life, that which is called the nation's soul or spirit, is a reality. In the soul of a nation there lives and weaves what we call a fire-spirit or an Archangel; he regulates, so to speak, the relation between separate men and the nation or race as a whole." — Rudolf Steiner. THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 6, GA 110.
"You know that what is called Folk-soul, Race-soul, has become a somewhat abstract idea today. Many think nowadays that the individual soul of man that dwells in his body is the actual reality. And if one speaks of German, French, Russian National-souls, people look on that as more or less an abstraction, as a comprehensive concept, embracing the characteristics which the individual members of these nations possess. To the occultist this is not so at all. What one calls the Folk-soul, as the German, French, Russian Folk-soul, is to him an absolutely independent entity. It is only that in our present Earth-existence the Folk-soul is purely a spiritual being, perceptible only to one who can ascend to the astral plane; there you could not deny it, for there it is present as an actual living being. You would encounter the Folk-soul there, as on the physical plane you encounter your friends.
"On the Moon it would have still less occurred to you to deny this Group-soul, for at that time it had a still more real existence. It was the Folk-soul, the Race-soul, which guided the bloodstream down into the bodies, into those beings which circled round the Moon. It is the destiny of our age to deny the existence of such beings as possess an actual life on the astral plane, and are not perceptible here on the physical plane. And we are at the very height of this materialistic evolution which prefers to deny such beings as Folk-souls and Race-souls." — Rudolf Steiner, THE THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 11, GA 99.
"[I]n Atlantean times the human body could still form itself according to spiritual characteristics. Therefore it could also take on the form which enabled it to mould all the organs, heart, brain, and so on, in such a way that they could become the expression of an actual ego being, a being with self-consciousness. These capacities and characteristics, however, developed on innumerable different levels. There were people whose inner nature was correctly balanced and who were normal, for they had not developed egoism to too great an extent, nor had they developed their ego-feeling solely on a lower level. With them, devotion to the outer world and ego-feeling maintained a balance. Such people were scattered about everywhere. And these were the men that the Atlantean initiates could do most with. On the other hand, there were other men who had developed a tremendously strong ego-feeling, much too soon, of course; for human beings had not yet reached the point when they could make of their bodies an instrument for a strongly developed ego-feeling. This made the body hardened in egoism as it were, and it became impossible for it to develop beyond a certain point. There were other people again who had not reached anything like a normal ego-feeling because they were more susceptible to influences from the outer world than they should have been; peoples who had completely surrendered themselves to the outer world. Thus it was the normal human beings that were the best material for the initiates to use for the evolution of the future, and they were also the ones that the great sun initiate, Manu, gathered around him as being most capable of evolving. Those peoples whose ego impulse was developed too strongly, so that it permeated their whole being and made it a manifestation of egohood, these people gradually wandered to the West and became the nation the last survivors of which appeared as the Red Indians of America. Those people whose ego-feeling was too little developed migrated to the East, and the survivors of these people became the subsequent Negro population of Africa. If you look at those things in a really spiritual scientific way, you will see evidence of them right into the physical characteristics. If a man brings his whole inner being to expression in his physiognomy and on the surface of his body, then it permeates his external being with the colour of his inner nature as it were. Now the colour of egohood is red or copper or a yellowish brown. And an overpowering feeling of ego arising from offended self-respect can even nowadays turn a man as it were yellow with rage. They are absolutely connected, these two phenomena: the red colour of those peoples that migrated to the West and the yellow colour of the man whose ‘blood boils’ as we say, and whose inner nature is showing itself right into his skin. Those people, however, who had developed their ego being too little, and who were too exposed to the influences of the sun, were like plants: they deposited too many carbonic constituents beneath their skin and became black. This is why the Negroes are black. Thus both east of Atlantis in the black population and west of Atlantis in the red population we find survivors of the kind of people who had not developed their ego-feeling in a normal way. The human beings who had developed normally lent themselves best to progress. Therefore they were the ones chosen to infiltrate the various other regions from the place we know of in Asia." — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981, lecture 8 "The Manifestation of the Ego in the Different Races of Men", GA 107.
Anthroposophist Spiritual Racism: Uehli
[The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 1999.]
"Uehli's work continues to play a role in Waldorf contexts today; a heavily abridged English translation of one of [Uehli's books] is published and distributed by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America under the tile Norse Mythology and the Modern Human Being. It is one of the recommended "Waldorf curriculum guides" on "history, myth, culture" and was part of the original Waldorf curriculum program as well." — Peter Staudenmaier.