Anthroposophy is, ultimately, a revolutionary movement that seeks to reform all human institutions. In addition to offering new visions for religion, education, medicine, and agriculture, Rudolf Steiner offered a political blueprint for the reorganization of society generally. Called “threefolding,” this plan has had less impact than some other portions of Steiner’s ideology. Nonetheless, Steiner’s followers often attempt to implement threefolding in their own lives and communities, and Waldorf schools are often organized along threefold lines.

Here are a few reports throwing light on this lesser-known element of the Steiner/Waldorf agenda. 

The first is excerpted from 

Rudolf Steiner’s Threefold Commonwealth And Alternative Economic Thought” 

by Peter Staudenmaier. 

[Click on the title to see Staudenmaier's entire essay.]

The economic and political doctrines of German occultist Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the founder of Anthroposophy, are often referred to as ‘social threefolding’ or ‘the threefold commonwealth’. Many of Steiner’s admirers view his social teachings as a promising part of an alternative economic vision ... What enthusiasts of social threefolding often do not realize is that Steiner’s economic and political doctrines developed in a specific historical context and carried a very different social significance in their time, one which in many ways aligned anthroposophical thinking with several varieties of right-wing thought that were current in early twentieth-century German culture....

The origins of ‘social threefolding’ lie in Steiner’s response to the First World War. Particularly during the early years of the conflict, Steiner was a fervent supporter of the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary), blaming the war on the English, French, and Russians and insisting that Germany and Austria were merely defending themselves against the evil machinations of their enemies. Steiner simultaneously offered a spiritual and supernatural interpretation of the war’s causes ...  But the First World War did not conclude with the German victory its advocates expected, and the far-reaching social changes that swept Germany and Austria in the wake of the lost war spurred a re-assessment of anthroposophist priorities. This led to the emergence of Waldorf schools, biodynamic agriculture, and the distinctive anthroposophical approach to economics and politics that Steiner called ‘social threefolding’. Anthroposophist disillusionment at the outcome of the war centered on the notion that the unblemished German spirit had been failed by an inadequate array of societal institutions which needed to be revitalized through spiritual and national regeneration....

The theory of ‘social threefolding’ holds that society consists of three autonomous branches, the economic sphere, the political sphere, and the spiritual or cultural sphere. According to Steiner, the three realms are to be kept separate from one another, and each is subject to a different overarching principle: equality in the political realm, fraternity in the economic realm, and liberty in the cultural realm. Of these three, the cultural or spiritual sphere is paramount, and encompasses many of the activities and functions more commonly associated with the political sphere. 17 One crucial aspect of the ‘threefold social order’ is that neither the economic realm nor the cultural realm is to be organized democratically; democratic forms and procedures are permissible only in the somewhat attenuated political realm....

What anthroposophists envisioned under the rubric of social threefolding ranged from vague utopias of an organic national community to straightforward calls for a völkisch state as a bulwark against the Western imposition of democracy...

Many of those interested [today] in Steiner’s economic and political teachings find various elements of the theory inspirational, disregarding the historical form they actually took in Steiner’s day....

Steiner’s model amounts to an ‘enlightened’ variety of private property and hierarchical management under the benevolent control of a spiritual aristocracy. These teachings are perhaps best understood not as an alternative to established economic systems, but as a kinder, gentler version of current institutions, a form of capitalism with a human face. In combination with anthroposophical theories about race and ethnicity, and the complex historical relationship between anthroposophy and the politics of the far right, Steiner’s vision of a threefold commonwealth merits increased critical scrutiny from those seeking genuine transformation of the existing social, political, and economic order.


[New Economy Books, 1996]

Steiner drew up his threefolding proposals in opposition to the Fourteen Points offered by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson for ending of World War I. Wilson’s points included arms reductions, the adjustment of colonial aims, and the drawing of national boundaries to correspond with the ethnicity of populations. Steiner considered Wilson’s proposals — and the entire set of terms discussed by the Allies for the treatment of defeated Germany — too harsh. [See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, THE THREE-FOLD COMMONWEALTH (Macmillan, 1922).] 

The threefolding movement had little effect, and Steiner soon redirected his attention to mysticism. 


[BiblioLife, 2011]

The following is excerpted from 
by Stephen E. Usher 

[Click on the title to see Usher's entire essay.]

The core concept [in Threefolding] recognizes three domains of human social activity: economic, legal, and cultural. Steiner maintained that the health of human society depended on an adult population that understood the characteristics of each domain and could thereby organize society so that each domain enjoyed independence and autonomy. In an early characterization Steiner said the three domains should be as independent from one another as national states interacting by way of treaties.

Economic life concerns transforming what nature provides in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms into commodities that meet human needs. From the threefold perspective, economic activity should be organized and carried out in the spirit of brotherhood with the objective of meeting the needs of all human beings on the planet.

Rudolf Steiner maintained that the entire economic life was encompassed by what he called the “Law of True Price” ... [T]o properly perceive the economic life, it is necessary to picture each wage earner as actually running a little business that creates value ... When wages are included among other prices then it is possible to apply the Law of True Price....

The middle realm of the threefold social organism is the legal domain ... Its role is to establish laws that govern the behavior of all adults equally ... Political questions concerning human rights and obligations are the sole subject matter of the political/rights domain ... Once rights and laws have been established society must have the power to enforce them and, consequently, police power belongs to the legal domain ... [M]ilitary power also belongs here. 

Culturein the widest sense, is about the cultivation and recognition of human capacities ... Finding the best way of unfolding these capacities is the task of the cultural domain. The key ingredient for this is freedom. The archetypal picture of this freedom-in-operation is the teacher with his students ... [N]o laws or regulations should be formulated about how or what a teacher should teach....

In addition to education the cultural life encompasses all of science, art, religion, medicine, and the working of judges. Each of these areas is about human capacity. Artistic endeavor concerns the capacity to transform nature into sensory experiences that awaken spiritual ideals, even beauty; religion concerns — among other capacities — the capacity of reverence; medicine the capacity for recognizing and tending illness; the work of judges deals with the capacity for weighing truth with criminality. Inventing and innovation are actually part of cultural life too. The aspect of banking and finance concerned with recognizing individuals whose developed capacities make them able to manage capital is likewise part of cultural life. 

All of these [cultural] activities require freedom and competition among human beings of capacity, allowing the most talented to rise to the top. The notion that competition belongs in economic life is a confusion that arises because part of cultural life is mistakenly viewed by our civilization as economic ... Equally erroneous is the association of freedom with the economic life. In reality a deep and dense network of dependencies characterizes economic life....

“A Waldorf school is more than just another independent school that provides a developmental education. It is an organization that seeks to allow the spiritual impulses of our time to manifest on earth in order to transform society.” — Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli, “On Earth as It Is in Heaven”, Research Bulletin, Vol. 16 (Waldorf Research Institute), Fall 2011, pp. 21-24.

The following items originally appeared 
on the Waldorf Watch "news" page:

From the Waldorf Institute of Southern California: 

"Threefold Social Ideals & Spirituality in Waldorf Education 

"Do threefold social ideals describe the path of spiritual evolution for human beings today? Welcome to an adventure in discovering and practicing the ideas and practices that earn Waldorf education the right to call itself a revolution! The anthroposophical-spiritual roots of Waldorf education are asking for a revolution in consciousness, a change in thinking from analytical to morphological and pictorial. We will explore how this applies to life in a Waldorf school – from lesson planning to block planning to the threefold operation of the whole school! Singing, rhythmic activities and role-playing will complement our developing imaginations of threefold life. Eurythmy with Rachel Schmid.” 


Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf education is indeed intended to be revolutionary. Rudolf Steiner prescribed “reforms” for virtually all spheres of human activity: science, the arts, medicine, religion, education... Ultimately, Steiner’s followers would like to reinvent every human institution, remolding all to fit Anthroposophical spiritual ideals. 

“Threefolding” is Steiner’s plan for dividing society into three distinct spheres (political, cultural/spiritual, economic) that would be wholly separate; no sphere would interfere in any other sphere. One benefit of this approach is that Waldorf schools would be free to go their way unimpeded. 

"[T]he threefold social order strives for the complete disassociation of the educational system from government and industry ... The administration of the educational institutions, the organization of courses of instruction and their goals should be entirely in the hands of [teachers]." — Rudolf Steiner, "The Threefold Social Order and Educational Freedom", THE RENEWAL OF THE SOCIAL ORGANISM (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), GA 24. 

Many Waldorf schools attempt to organize themselves in accordance with threefolding, so that participants in various parts of the school do not interfere with one another. Among other things, this means that the board of directors and students' parents should not interfere with the teachers. This organizational paradigm is thought to conform to threefold human nature: we are beings with physical bodies, souls, and spirits. Our physical bodies are our lowest parts. Higher beings, Steiner said, have left their own lower parts behind. They were once like us — they were, in fact, human — but they have evolved further. 

"When we examine the human being we therefore find him consisting of three parts, a bodily, a soul, and a spiritual part ... Those beings, for instance, whom we call Lunar Pitris, or Angels in Christian esotericism, possess no coarse bodily nature ... They passed through the stage of humanity on the Moon and have now ascended higher." — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 8, GA 102.

The "pictorial" thinking that Waldorf schools promote is primarily imagination, which in Waldorf belief is a form of clairvoyance. If we all follow Steiner's directions now and become clairvoyant, the needed revolution in human affairs (i.e., the ascendancy of Anthroposophy) will come soon. Otherwise, we will have to wait until we all evolve to Jupiter. 

"On the planet which will replace our Earth, the whole of humanity will have this psychic-consciousness or Imagination, the 'Jupiter' consciousness." — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 30.

(The thinking behind Waldorf schools is not only revolutionary, it is deeply mystical. If you don't know that we, like the Lunar Pitris, have evolved through a lunar period, and that we are on our way to a Jupiter period, you may want to read up. Such knowledge is necessary to grasp what Rudolf Steiner's followers think is going on. See, e.g., "Prehistory 101" and the pages that follow it.)

Here are a few Anthroposophical publications 
dealing with social/political issues, 
as well as the proper role and organization 
of Waldorf schools: 

 [Anthroposophic Press, 1941]


[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1977]

[SteinerBooks, 1996]

 [Anthroposophic Press, 1997]

 [Association of Waldorf Schools of
 North America, 1997]

From the Susquehanna Waldorf School [Pennsylvania, USA]: 

“Tuition Adjustment Program Introduction 2012-13 

"We are committed to a Tuition Adjustment (TA) Program that is both appropriately responsive to our community while remaining true to the intentions of Waldorf Education. Our program attempts to work out of the original impulse of Waldorf Education and in service to the tenets of the Three Fold [sic] Social Order.” 

The Threefold Social Order — the political/social goal set forth by Rudolf Steiner — will be achieved when human institutions are reorganized according to the principle of "threefolding." In essence, this is Steiner's plan for dividing society into three spheres (governmental, spiritual/cultural, economic) that will function independently. Each sphere will operate without interference from the other spheres. There is nothing inherently mystical about this scheme, but Steiner's followers tend to treat it as sacrosanct since it came from their spiritual leader. And one practical consequence would be that, under threefolding, Waldorf schools and Anthroposophy would be able to go their own way without any controls imposed on them by political or economic powers.

As for the “original impulse” of Waldorf schooling: Waldorf schools today still try to honor it. But what is it? Here are some indications given by Steiner: 

◊ “As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118. 

◊ “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are [here] to carry out the divine cosmic plan ... [W]e are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods.” — Ibid., p. 55. 

◊ “One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p.156. 

◊ “[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 705.

The "original impulse of Waldorf Education," which persists today, is to create schools that embody Rudolf Steiner's occult vision — Anthroposophy — from top to bottom. (But hush! Don't endanger the schools' necks by making any of this official.)

Threefolding Goes to School

As I have indicated elsewhere [see "Faculty Meetings"], Waldorf schools often have — in effect if not in official formulation — a hierarchical structure consisting of concentric rings. The most devoted Anthroposophists tend to populate the inner rings, wielding the real power in the schools. Other rings, stretching out toward the periphery, are occupied by faculty, staff, students, and parents who are less aware of the schools' spiritual mission and who thus hold correspondingly less real power.

This picture is complicated, however, whenever a school tries to observe the principles of threefolding. In that case, the neat symmetry of concentric circles may be fractured by structures that cut across the circles.

In a typical, concentrically organized Waldorf school, the innermost circle is often referred to as the College of Teachers, and most of the real power in the school radiates out from it (and especially from any preeminent leaders standing at the focal point of this inner ring). But when threefolding is attempted, the College may lose much of its authority, at least in theory. Under threefolding, a Waldorf school will be structured in such a way that spiritual/educational matters are kept separated from economic and "political" matters. Under this scheme, the College may become a body where all spiritual issues concerning the school are discussed, but where no practical decisions are taken. In a sense, the College then has complete oversight; but in another sense, it is largely powerless.

Substituting the label "spiritual organ" for the "College of Teachers," Dieter Brüll puts the matter this way in his book, THE WALDORF SCHOOL AND THREEFOLDING (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 1997): 

"[T]he spiritual organ has a right to demand that the spiritual aspect of every problem [throughout the school] be subjected to its judgement ... But, no one has the right to include the aspect of the rights life [i.e., political concerns] and the economic aspects in [the spiritual organ's] considerations. No matter who it may be, if he or she ignores this constraint [i.e., raising a question of economics or politics during a meeting of the spiritual organ], they must be inexorably silenced." — p. 17.

In other words, under strict threefolding, the College or spiritual organ becomes a sort of spiritual debating society, where everything really important to the school is discussed, but where no actual decisions are taken: 

"[T]he conference does not make a single decision." — Ibid., p. 20. 

Practical decisions are left to the school's "economic organ" and the "rights organ." (The deliberations of the spiritual organ presumably have their effect in the spirit realm, and thus they have the greatest overall — albeit imperceptible — effect.)

Another complication is that membership in the spiritual organ is not as tightly controlled as it would be under a concentric, hierarchical organizational scheme. The spiritual life of the school is deemed to include every educational activity at the school, and therefore anyone who plays an educational role may join in the discussions of the spiritual organ. This may mean admitting staff members who, under other schemes, would be excluded. 

"In my children's [Waldorf] school there was a janitor whose pedagogical qualities exceeded those of most of the teachers." — Ibid., p. 19. 

Brüll argues that anyone with such qualities should be included in — or at least heard by — the spiritual organ.

The "economic organ" of the school is, in a sense, the practical organ — what might be termed the support system at other schools. "Economics" in this sense means anything related to addressing people's needs; the exchange of money may be involved, but it need not be. If a parent or student or teacher expresses a need, the economic organ attends to this need. Often, the economic organ's decision may be to explain why a particular need cannot be met (Brüll gives the example of rejecting a parent's request to substitute ballet lessons for eurythmy lessons). Some needs may be deemed unworthy or unfulfillable in a Waldorf context (if you really want ballet rather than eurythmy, you should go to a different school). But it is the job of the economic organ to handle all such matters, meeting the needs that should be met, explaining why other needs cannot be met, and making the necessary practical arrangements to implement the disposition of each request.

The "rights organ" of the school handles all discussions and decisions that guard or promote the rights of the individuals involved in the school. The decisions of this organ, clearly, may infringe on the ambit of the other organs, but they are made solely with reference to rights, not with reference to needs ("economics") or educational concerns ("spirit"). Sorting out who has which rights, and adjudicating between various individuals' conflicting rights, and determining whether a "right" is actually only a desire or perhaps a need — these are complex issues, and no easy resolution can be expected in many instances. Moreover, deciding who should pass judgement — i.e., who should be included in the rights organ — is difficult. 

"We shall have to find out who belongs in the rights organ from within that organ. We wind up carrying responsibility but in a different context, namely that only persons who carry the consequences of their decisions are to do the deciding." — Ibid., p. 29.

As you may perceive, threefolding can cause complexities and conflicts that are difficult to resolve. For example, how should a Waldorf school deal with the spiritual ramifications of a need expressed by a parent who apparently has a right to have that need fulfilled? Is this a question for the spiritual organ, the economic organ, or the rights organ? Brüll offers many pointers, but he acknowledges that no hard and fast rules can be established. A living process of delicate sensitivity must be implemented. In any event, all such matters must be worked through internally, with no interference from the outside. In a properly organized Waldorf school, there should be no organs beyond the three we have enumerated. There cannot even be a board of trustees. 

"There is no room for a board of trustees ... The board of directors does not represent the threefold principle but the monolithic state." — Ibid., p. 38.

And yet, many Waldorf schools have boards of trustees or boards of directors.

In practice, threefolding may be less radical than appears at first sight (although the resulting procedures may strike outsiders as highly unusual). The actors in all three organs will be, to a large extent, one and the same. Thus, the actual operation of the school may wind up in the same hands that would be holding the reins under other organizational schemes — the hands of senior faculty members who feel themselves deeply concerned in all three spheres and who therefore install themselves in all three organs. So a subject may first arise in the spiritual organ, where profound spiritual implications are carefully considered while all efforts to sidetrack the members into practical decision-making are inexorably silenced. Adjourning, the members of the spiritual organ may then reconvene (with some marginal changes in membership, perhaps) as the economic organ. Remaining mum about spiritual matters and personal rights, the economic organ may then hit upon a practical mechanism for fulfilling the identified needs of the various individuals who will be impacted by decisions in this matter. Adjourning and reconvening again (again with some shuttling in and out of the room), the rights organ may then review the matter, making sure that everyone's rights are upheld — and possibly sending some issues back to the spiritual or economic organs for further adjudication.

And thus will the life of the school evolve — not, perhaps, precisely as Brüll has specified nor as I have described, but in some such Steinerish fashion. (And to the extent that threefolding proves impractical, the school will evince the standard, underlying concentric-circle hierarchical structure common to Steiner schools worldwide.)

Anthroposophical Communities

Here are brief accounts of life in Anthroposophical communities:


From the Waldorf Watch "news" page:

This 2011 photo provided by the Fellowship Community shows the Child's Garden at the Fellowship Community, a nonprofit group in a commune-like setting north of New York City in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y. 
It takes an unusual approach to care of the elderly, and seeks to integrate aging residents with other members of the group, including co-workers and their children. (AP Photo/Fellowship Community, Miklos Gratzer)

Half-gallon jugs await fresh milk at the Fellowship Community's dairy barn in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. 
Residents of the community's adult home are encouraged to contribute to the community by working at the dairy, the pottery studio, the 33-acre farm and other activities. 
(AP Photo/Jim Fitzgerald)

For the Aging, a Commune-Like Alternative in NY

By JIM FITZGERALD Associated Press 
CHESTNUT RIDGE, N.Y. February 26, 2013 (AP) 

At the Fellowship Community's adult home, workers are paid not according to what they do, but what they need;* aging residents are encouraged to lend a hand at the farm, the candle shop or the pottery studio; and boisterous children are welcome around the old folks.

It's a home for the elderly in a commune-like setting — 30 miles from Manhattan — that takes an unusual approach, integrating seniors into the broader community and encouraging them to contribute to its welfare.

...The 33-bed adult home is at the center of Fellowship Community, a collection of about 130 men, women and children founded in 1966 that offers seniors — including the aging baby boom generation — an alternative to living out their final years in traditional assisted-living homes or with their grown sons and daughters.

...The [Fellowship Community's] 33-acre farm [runs] on "biodynamic," or self-sustaining, principles, as much as a small farm can, said Jairo Gonzalez, the head gardener. Solar panels sparkle on the barn roof, and cow manure becomes compost.

...Organizers decline to call it a commune but concede the spirit is similar. The philosophy behind it is called anthroposophy, "a source of spiritual knowledge and a practice of inner development," according to The Anthroposophical Society in America.



Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf schools comprise the largest outreach effort undertaken by Rudolf Steiner's followers, but the schools are not the only such effort. Steiner prescribed radical transformations for almost all spheres of human life. His brainchild, Anthroposophy, is a revolutionary movement that aspires to restructure society in virtually all its parts. Today there are Anthroposophical schools, farms, residential communities, publishing houses, medical practices, banks, "research" institutions, colleges, etc. It is increasingly possible for people to spend their entire lives within the Anthroposophical milieu, having little or no contact with the outside world. Indeed, Steiner hoped for such total immersion of his followers. This is why Waldorf schools seek to enroll children as early as possible, offering not only kindergartens but pre-kindergarten play groups and other early-childhood programs.** As Steiner said, 

“Given the difficult, disorderly, and chaotic conditions of our time, it might almost be preferable from a moral viewpoint if children could be taken into [our] care soon after birth.” — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 69.

To read a detailed report by someone who spent virtually his entire life in Anthroposophical organizations, see "He Went to Waldorf".

* Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, abhorred Bolshevik Communism. Yet various Anthroposophical enterprises operate along recognizably communistic lines. A basic precept of Communism is "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." [See Karl Marx, CRITIQUE OF THE GOTHA PROGRAM.]

** Unlike conventional early-childhood programs, the Waldorf variety has virtually no academic content. The goal is not educational (Steiner taught that young children are damaged by early learning) but spiritual and emotional. The effect is to begin molding children as early as possible in accordance with Anthroposophical beliefs.

I grew up in two Camphill communities in North America, Beaver Run (PA) and Copake Village (NY). I spent half of my childhood sick in bed, and the other half working my ass off at whatever I could do to preoccupy myself and keep out of the home. Anthroposophy is a religion, and Camphill is a sect, a cult of fanatics pursuing spiritual development and ultimately perfection. They believe that sickness is the soul incarnating, and also that it has to do with karma. They don’t believe in inoculations, so I had all the child diseases going around, some twice. My being sick all the time was obviously not just the mumps and the measles and whooping cough, so they had the anthroposophical doctors in all the time, in between punishing me for being sick. (That’s why I stayed out of the house as much as I could.) There were three doctors, one in Beaver Run, one in The Village, and one that practiced both places. One of them has long since passed away, and another is still alive and kicking, and I hear (and see by his own internet site) that he is doing quite well. The third was youngest of the three, so I imagine he too is up to his old stuff. I won’t mention names, but they are all the same. This brand of medicine is based on a world view that is twisted, and their medicine is not scientifically based. Its root is the religion as laid out by Rudolf Steiner, a theosophical megalomaniac. There is a lot of info on this on this PLANS web site, so I won’t go into this more. Instead I will write about my own first hand experience.

As it turned out I suffer from wheat intolerance. But I never found that out until I was around 36. My health had deteriorated gradually over the course of my adult life, and I ended up bedridden, hardly being able to breathe and all kinds of other wonderful stuff I don’t even want to write about.

Growing up on whole wheat bread made on double buffed and bleached flour from Government Surplus* with wheat germ sprinkled on top to make it look organic was the last thing I needed. I knew the food was making me sick, I felt it. But the feeling my parents had was that I should eat more of it, as I obviously needed to incarnate through the food. So I grew up being force fed food that was making me sick. The threat was that if I didn’t eat absolutely everything on the plate, I would get more. And believe me, I did. I reacted especially to bulgur, so my mother made that as often as she could. Bulgur is whole wheat, cooked like rice. That stuff made my legs weak and my stomach wrench. The doctors supported this treatment, wholeheartedly. This was a good, healthy, anthroposophical approach.

As a result, I had “weak lungs” throughout my childhood, constant tonsillitis, and an irritable stomach. As I got older, I learned to ignore the symptoms and get on, and I learned to eat everything on my plate. The doctors who “treated me” gave me little white sugar pills called infludo, and prescribed buckets and buckets of horsetail teat, and also chamomile tea. These two teas seem to be the anthroposophical answer to antibiotics, and they are upheld as miracle medicine. Also, guess what I got for the stomach? Yoghurt topped with wheat germ. Yummy! Just what the doctor ordered!

...Years went by, and finally my body gave up. I became seriously ill, and the dance around the doctors' offices started once again, only this time I was so marred by my experience with anthroposophical doctors that I only went to regular doctors, shunning anything and everything alternative. The road to recovery was long and winding, and it was chance, and in the end desperation that led me to the doctor who finally was able to help me. It has taken some years to recover the effects of ingesting what is essentially poison for my body, and I am not out of the woods yet. Maybe I never will be, maybe it took too long to find the culprit. Who knows, but I am alive and kicking, and each day is better than the rest....

* Government surplus is just that, surplus agricultural products the government buys up to keep prices up and farmers in business. Non-profit organisations like Camphill can qualify to receive this food free of charge. They sent it in in 18 wheeler trucks. We got everything from raisins, chocolate chips, peanut oil, roasted peanuts, peanut butter, and every kind of cheese imaginable in great big industrial size blocks. During the butter shortage in the 70’s we had so much butter we used to make campfires with it. We also got cooking oil (mazola, corn and peanut), liverwurst, frozen orange juice and other juice concentrate, and most important, tons and tons of double, and later triple buffed bleached whole wheat flour. They never put that on the wrappers when they sold their wholesome village baked bread.

During the summer of 1990, I decided to take a trip to foreign countries. With no money and no idea of how to "go exploring" and "see the world," I followed the advice of an Anthroposophist and wrote to the Goetheanum [the worldwide Anthroposophical headquarters] for a complete list Anthroposophic institutions caring for children and adults with disabilities. Indeed, during twelfth grade, I became aware of this type of institution while performing some "social work" at an institute for Anthroposophical curative education in Paris. I spent three weeks there and was struck by the atmosphere in this place, comparable in many respects to that of a Waldorf school, but more pronounced. Indeed, because children with severe disabilities do not have the capacity to tell their parents what happens to them in such institutions, Anthroposophic caregivers do not hesitate to openly practice Anthroposophic rituals and other ceremonies with them. The caregivers only need to be vigilant during health checks and inspections. So [for my tour of foreign lands] I went successively in two institutions of this kind, the first in Germany, in Schlessig-Holstein, and the second in Ireland, near Kilkenny.
At the first, I found a German institution of curative education, generously funded, with great local support, and prodigiously large. It was on this occasion that I witnessed scenes that would make a lasting impression on me, and that I mentioned in my testimony published on the UNADFI website: esoteric gatherings the caregivers held with the disabled children and adults, giving exposition of abstruse subjects despite the fact that the patients did not understand what they were told and did not even know what was happening. Later, this allowed me to understand that Anthroposophic meetings are a form of spiritual communion that do not require understanding, only the enactment of certain rituals.

In the second institution, in Ireland, I found a typical Camphill. Founded by Karl Koenig, a disciple of Rudolf Steiner, the Camphills are therapeutic communities that provide care for children and adults according to Rudolf Steiner's principles of curative education. A Camphill is organized around houses that are managed by families of educators who live in proximity with the disabled residents, providing assistance day and night. Besides this therapeutic activity, members of the Camphill must also do farming work. A Camphill is usually surrounded by farm fields, the products of which are used to feed the community. When I had my internship, we worked every day continuously from 7 a.m. to midnight, with one half-day off per week. It is bit like at Steiner-Waldorf schools, where the teachers are expected to do more than the work for which they are paid — they must also monitor the canteen, oversee recreation, participate in many committees and meetings, work all weekend to prepare classes, attend school fairs and open houses, or simply clean the school and do maintenance, to the point of not having a personal life. Every Friday night, members of the Camphill gathered to read the Gospels and discuss them, and then they performed a ritual sharing of bread and salt. On Sunday morning, another ritual took place, which I knew to be based on the Anthroposophic worship Rudolf Steiner established for the children of Anthroposophists at the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart. (Read my article "Extraits édifiants des Conseils de Rudolf Steiner aux professeurs de la première école Steiner-Waldorf de Stuttgart".) When working in a Camphill, nobody receives compensation, or only very little. When a member needs something, he must apply to the treasurer of the community who decides whether or not to grant it. I myself was in the position of having to apply to the treasurer of the Camphill in southern Ireland for a small amount when I worked there for more than a month during the summer of 1990, and I must say the process was not straightforward. I had to laboriously justify the expense I proposed (it was for a new pair of shoes, my previous pair having been damaged by the continuous work in the fields). When you make such a request, the Anthroposophic treasurer takes a dim view of you, and even if you are given the money, you have no desire to repeat the experience anytime soon.

There was in this institution a young Scandinavian girl named Bodil with whom I became friendly. She told me her story. Ten years earlier, she visited a Camphill to work during the holidays, then she decided to stay all year, and then beyond. Now, without a school diploma and without qualifications, she realized she could not go anywhere else. She had cut her ties with her family and friends and had no base to return to in her country. She also had no more savings, since she did not receive a salary. She told me that all this was probably due to the fact that in a previous incarnation she had been a Viking who had done much harm to Ireland, and now she must make amends. She felt trapped. Distress was evident in her eyes. This is probably the reason that, when I was approached by the leaders of this Camphill inviting me to stay among them all year round, I declined, although not without some hesitation. Indeed, the idea of living in such a community was appealing to me, even if I was getting fatigued after just one month. But I felt deep within me that I had to return to France to continue my studies.

Within this Camphill, the leaders adopted a resolutely hostile attitude toward psychology and psychoanalysis, which they saw as incarnations of evil. "There are no psychologists here!" the main leader proudly repeated, although many patients there had significant psychological disorders that should have received skilled care. "We are all therapists!" he stated, when I expressed misgivings. It becomes clear why he took this line when you read the harsh criticism that Rudolf Steiner directed at psychoanalysis. Even Jung found no favor in his eyes, since Jung failed to open himself to the "spiritual wisdom" of Anthroposophy. After my departure, I exchanged letters with a young German who had decided to stay for a year. She was responsible for a teenage girl who suffered from a growth disorder and significant symptoms of paralysis. In a Camphill, each worker is attached to a "house," led by one family, and must specifically assist one or two disabled children. One day, I received a letter in which my correspondent said that the paralyzed teenage girl in her care had died after suffocating in her sleep, and the police had come to ask questions and launch an official investigation. My pen pal seemed completely traumatized. I received no further news from her. This event is, in my opinion, typical of what can happen in this kind of institution when very important responsibilities are assigned to young people who lack qualifications, requiring them to bind themselves to disabled children from morning to night as if they were their own offspring (sometimes even sleeping in the same room!), without an institutional framework that would allow them to develop some perspective and to receive the necessary support in the event of problems of the kind that befell this young German.

— This page compiled, and in part written, by Roger Rawlings

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.


Charlie Hebdo : necessary impertinence

democracy : Steiner on

freedom : a shoal on which Anthroposophy founders

freedom (static) : same shoal


war : this one and that one

Woodrow : WIlson