The Idea of the Threefold Society at the Dawn of the Third Millennium

© Terry M. Boardman March 1999

This essay first appeared in the collection of essays published as The Future Is Now – Anthroposophy at the New Millennium
(Temple Lodge Publishing, London 1999)


The 2nd millennium, which gave birth to innumerable dualisms, is about to give way to the 3rd,  but the dualism of the waning age remains strong. On the global scale, the growth of Islamic fundamentalism as a reaction to what is perceived to be American neo-colonialism, and the American response to the Muslim world, has opened up the prospect of a new and pernicious spiritual bipolarity to replace that of  the Cold War. Meanwhile, the European Union seems set to become the battleground between two different visions: a unitary superstate under Franco-German control (a new Carolingian Empire, with connections to the Vatican) or the European province of a Transatlantic Union of States under the effective control of the USA. In his book “The Tainted Source – The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea”(1), John Laughland speaks of the conflicting ideas that compete for the future: the Anglo-American or the Continental European, which he largely identifies with the Germanic: “In contrast to Continental European constitutional theories or practices which assume or aspire to political harmony, the British and American systems realise that conflict is the  stuff of life…the British parliamentary system gives absolute priority to the principle of disagreement by ensuring that there is always an opposition.”(2). Laughland goes on to contrast the Anglo-American and Germanic views of the economy. The latter, he says, quoting the economist Ralf Dahrendorf, “is based on industrial discipline, the ‘discipline of rigid organisation, the habit of subordination and obedience’ which had been the principle behind the  training of the Prussian pattern.’ It requires a bureaucracy to design lines of action and to control their execution.” The Prussian unification of Germany in the 19th century by the economic means of the Zollverein (customs union) he considers to be the model for what he claims is the current German unification of Europe. The Zollverein was based on the ideas of Friedrich List, the Prussian economist who advocated an active (Laughland would say dirigiste) role for the state in the development and protection of national economic life. By contrast, the Anglo-American model, Laughland says, “brings about an optimal result through competition between the interests involved: it requires the game to have rules, and neutral referees to apply them.”(3)  Laughland’s ideas mirror those of many in the elites of the West.

At the dawn of the third millennium therefore, we see some dangerous and seemingly irreconcilable new polarities emerging in the spiritual, political, and economic realms. At the same time,  there is also the phenomenon of new and confusing mixtures of the three spheres. This is evident in the British government’s desire – under both Conservative and Labour administrations – to blur the boundaries between the state, education, and the economy by establishing a national curriculum, control of the content and method of teaching practice, and a joint Department of Education and Employment.(4)  It is also evident in the collapse of amateur sports and the takeover of football by major corporate interests such as media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of Manchester United, arguably the world’s most popular football club.

From both the right and the left of the political spectrum there are voices demanding that government should step in to control and supervise the rampages of global capitalism or else to manage it more effectively. There are those in the Anglo-American world who,  when seeking to attack the philosophical bases of the European Union, laud free market capitalism, yet when that same  western model of capitalism runs into trouble, they run for help to the very people they criticise  – to politicians, and demand that governments bail out big business. As the world economy seemed to be heading for the rocks in the Autumn of 1998, Suzanne Moore wrote in “The Independent” newspaper (11.9.1998) that: “Globalisation isn’t inevitable: we can do someting to stop it…it is not true that governments cannot stop such huge global forces, that there are no alternatives.They can sign up to treaties and deals that limit the power of multinationals. They can intervene, as laisser-faire capitalism does not prove to be the most efficient weay of organising things, and it looks increasingly as though they will have to.” Clearly, she had only just woken up to the fact of a global economy some 80 years after Rudolf Steiner was already speaking of it as an estbalished fact. At the same time Anatole Kaletsky wrote in “The Times” (10.9.1998) an article entitled ‘Farewell Laisser-faire Capitalism’ in which he argued that

…political institutions have a legitimate and indispensable role in managing the capitalist system….Why do most people, like me, believe that capitalism is an incredibly robust system that will survive every conceivable crisis with a bit of help from  the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and other policymaking institutions?’  …capitalist economies cannot always rely on pure market forces if economic stability and political consent are to be preserved. Governments must accept responsibility for preserving stability and managing macroeconomic demand. How exactly governments do this – through interest rates, taxes, currency management or whatever – depends on ever-changing conditions. But the fact that capitalism requires some degree of external management is impossible to dispute – and fortunately, the imperatives of global capitalism’s self-preservation invariably bring to play the forces of political stabilisation when the system as a whole is under threat…What is certain is that the era of laisser-faire ideology is fading. Capitalism’s own incomparable instinct of self-preservation will see to that.

Kaletsky speaks here of the end of laisser-faire, a mode of early capitalist economy that was rising in the 1840s which, according to Rudolf Steiner, was the peak of individualism and materialism. Yet Kaletsky’s solutions repeat the instincts and language of that period: “the King is dead! Long live the King!” The spectre of Darwinism – itself a philosophy based on British economic models of the late 18th century, is clearly discernible behind Kaletsky’s words. They are also misleading in that the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are not political institutions, though the media often present them as if they were.. The barrenness of these ideas, from both the social democratic left and the hard ‘liberal’ right in face of the challenge of modern globalisation point to the degree to which so much thinking at the end of the second millennium is still influenced by the spirit of the 8th Ecumenical Council of 869 which in effect declared the individual human spirit to be anathema and reduced the human entelechy from a Trichotomy to a Dichotomy: the human being no longer was held to consist of spirit, soul, and body, but of body and soul only, the soul having a few spiritual faculties, which, from that time on were to be guided by  church dogma and authority, that is, by religious ‘experts and specialists’ and not by each individual’s own  insight and initiative. And so, as the current business paradigm seems patently unable to cope with the successive crises produced by global capitalism, the media call plaintively or stridently for government experts and specialists to rush to the rescue. The false dualisms and false mixtures of the three realms which live in this kind of thinking are based on the  out-of-date thinking of the 1840s and earlier epochs

Although the very name ‘Third Way’ suggests that there is a sense among contemporaries that the  way forward into the third millennium has something to do with the number 3, there is little clarity in mainstream media discourse as to what that way really could be. Communism and the Anglo-American model of free market capitalism have both failed to solve the spiritual, cultural, political, and economic problems of the modern world that have arisen as a result of the Industrial Revolution. In the wake of the Cold War, many are wary of relying on any new overarching ‘big idea’ that can illuminate the right way forward. In this essay, I shall argue that, finally, after  80 years, the time is now ripe for the idea of the threefolding of  society, put forward by Rudolf Steiner at the end of the First World War – an idea which could not be realised then due to the failure of imagination of his contemporaries.

The Origins of Threefolding in Anthroposophy

Rudolf Steiner developed the idea of the threefolding of society during the First World War as an answer from Central Europe to what he saw as the twofold danger that threatened Europe at that time from East and West: Leninism from Russia and Wilsonism from America. By Wilsonism, he meant in particular the idea, rooted in the experience of western nations like Britain, France, Spain and the USA,  that national polities should be  coterminous with linguistic and ethnic communities: one state, one language, one people, and, for the most part, one religion. Claiming to be based on the principle of national self-determination – a nationalist principle Steiner argued was rooted in an Old Testament vision of society as monolingual and monoreligious -   Wilsonism thus ignored the historical experience of the more cosmopolitan multi-ethnic states of Central Europe. This cosmopolitanism, which meant living together and getting on with others who are not of the same stock or religion as oneself, Steiner saw as essential for a healthy society in the coming century. Subsequent events have surely proved him right, as the insistence on the right to national self-determination has caused untold misery in the 20th century and has led to all kinds of  abuses and crimes in the name of  national pride and glory.

But the idea of the threefolding of society was not just a momentary response to a particular set of historical circumstances. It grew naturally out of Rudolf Steiner’s evolving insights into the very being of Man. During the war he realised that Man’s three soul faculties of thinking, feeling, and willing were rooted in the  three physiological systems of  the head and nervous system, the rhythmic system of the heart and lung, and what he called the  system of metabolism and limbs, especially the legs. This realisation constituted a grounding in thought of the threefold nature of Man into the physicality of the body, whereas previously Steiner had spoken about the overall threefold nature of Man: body, soul, and spirit, and of the threefold nature of the soul (sentient soul, intellectual-mind soul, consciousness soul) and spirit (spirit-self, life spirit, spirit-man). All of this, of course was rooted in his view of Man as a microcosm, a reflection of the threefold nature of the spiritual world with its three hierarchies of spiritual beings. Steiner’s revelation of the threefold nature of the spiritual world, of society (in the three realms of culture,  law, and economy), and of Man are at the Christian and Trinitarian heart of Anthroposophy which stands under the banner of the Archangel Michael, who since  1879 has not only been the Ruling Hierarchical Spirit of the Age, or Time Regent (5), but has also been rising in spiritual status from the rank of Archangel to that of an Archë. The knowledge of the threefold nature of  the Cosmos, of human society and of Man’s being is  at the heart of what Michael desires Man should learn about himself in this 5th Post-Atlantean epoch. As the anthroposophical historian Peter Tradowsky put it: this year (1917) not only did the ahrimanic impulse clearly establish itself on a historical level, but above all, Rudolf Steiner made the threefolding principle available to man’s knowledge and incorporated it into the living current of earthly history as a direct expression of Michael’s activity. (6)

During the years when he was bringing forward the idea of the threefold society, Rudolf Steiner also began to speak about profound historical phenomena on the earthly and spiritual planes intimately related with threefolding and with our time: about the events of the 4th century AD, notably in and around the year 333; about the events of the 7th century and the year 666; and about the events of the 9th century and the year 869 (7). The threefold social movement which arose out of Steiner’s insights  failed as a social impulse in the years 1918-1921. He first brought it as idea  in 1917-18 to representatives of the governments of Austria-Hungary and Germany, but, while they may have seen something of its truth,  they failed to act upon it. It then came forward as deed in 1919: a campaigning group arose within the anthroposophical movement, but this too failed due to the  lack of anthroposophical maturity and imagination among its members. From 1917 Rudolf Steiner spoke ever more about the three opponents of the threefold impulse: in Wilsonian Americanism from the West thinking was attacked and became materialistic; in  Jesuitism in the Centre, the feeling life was attacked and put to sleep, while human equality was denied by hierarchy; and Leninism from the East  stimulated animal-egoistic  instincts to rise up and overpower the will.

At the same as he spoke about these ‘three beasts of the abyss’, Rudolf Steiner’s revelations about the Being of Michael also increased and culminated in  the last two years of his life when he spoke of the threefold impulse of Michael in Autumn when  awareness naturally arises of the separation of body, soul, and spirit, in contrast with the unitarian mood of Springtime when all tends to become pantheistic (8). The year 1923 culminated in the great Michaelic Festival of the Christmas Conference heralding the triumphant resurrection of the anthroposophical impulse after the disasters of the previous year. At its heart was the threefold mantram, The Foundation Stone of Love, which condensed all Steiner’s revelations about threefold Man and Cosmos in mantric form. This was followed by the establishment of the Michael School on earth, the Lessons of the First Class, and the lectures and letters known as the Michael Mystery.

Despite all this, there were those in the Anthroposphical movement who thought that the threefolding of society was no longer relevant, after its failure in 1918-21, or that it had been relevant only to the circumstances of those years. Threefolding would have to be ‘prepared’ , they said, by decades or generations of Waldorf education first, or else it would have to be ‘modelled’ on micro-scale in anthroposophical communities. They forgot that Rudolf Steiner had ever maintained that the impulse to a threefold society was living in the unconscious will of modern humanity. It did not cease to do so simply because of  the failure in 1918-21. There is much evidence today that this correct. In 1989-90 after the Berlin Wall came down there was much talk about whether there was a ‘third way’ possible between East and West. Francis Fukuyama in his infamous book “The End of History” insisted that there was not and that West was best. In the 1990s we saw the emergence of three giant economic blocs, the European Union, the North Atlantic Free Trade Area, and the Asia Pacific forum for Economic Cooperation. In the late 1990s we hear of the much-vaunted ‘Third Way’ of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Ferocious battles reminiscent of the 4th century take place on the Internet about the nature of the Trinity. The General Anthroposophical Society has seen increasing controversy over its own nature: is it threefold or not, and should it be?

The Structure of History – What time are we living in now?

In Britain, the Millennium is going to be celebrated by a huge exposition inside the  giant dome that has been specially constructed for the purpose at Greenwich, the site of the determination of global space and time. Tony Blair’s New Labour has continued this Conservative Party project and supports it enthusiastically. Tony Blair has said of it:

“This is our Dome, Britain’s Dome. And believe me, it will be the envy of the world…I want every child in Britain to be a part of the millennium experience. I want today’s children to take from it an experience so powerful and memories so strong that it gives them that abiding purpose and unity that stays with them through the rest of their lives…Greenwich is the place the millennium begins…if it was Berlin Mean Time, don’t you think the Germans would do likewise?” (9)

It is well-known that there have been many American influences on ‘New Labour’ and that British foreign policy in its essentials has not changed one jot in its principle of partnership with Washington. Tony Blair echoes the words of Michael Heseltine, former Tory Cabinet Minister when he says that he wants London to be Europe’s financial centre. Successive British governments have served the cause of Americanism, and while it is beyond the scope of this essay, a clear thread can be shown to exist from the days of Cecil Rhodes and his vision of a world dominated by an Anglo-American Empire to day’s synchronised Anglo-American foreign policy and the increasingly symbiotic relationship between British and American big business. (10)  This global imperialism of Rhodes and his successors is a corrupted inversion of the Michaelic
impulse of supranational cosmopolitanism, which is always such a feature of Michael’s period of rulership in history. Another such corruption is the institution of the United Nations, which was conceived and created by the American foreign policy elite to serve the purposes of global imperialism, the establishment of a New World Order that can serve as the temporal vehicle for the  incarnation of Ahriman, the stage upon which he can act.

Another great centraliser, the Roman Emperor Justinian, sought during the First Christian millennium, when the Catholic Church strove to be the One Faith, to unite his realm in a New World Order by a symbolic architectural dome – that of the church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom, or Holy Spirit), which he had built in AD 537. The circle, of course, like the Round Table or the stars of the EU flag, is an image of unity, of perfection. It can either be an image of unity in diversity, or else it can be the  image of  the monolith, a dull and numbing uniformity of spirit. This latter is what Justinian sought: one Church, one people, one Emperor. Insofar as Tony Blair and his colleagues seem content to follow the American lead in culture, political thought, and business practice and economic theory, their dome too will be filled with the spirit of Justinian, he who codified Roman Law and whose church pronounced reincarnation to be anathema. We can, however, hope for other outcomes. Jonathan Glancey, in The Guardian newspaper (25.2.1998) wrote:

 … the best of British thinking in 2000 and beyond is likely to be somewhere other than at Greenwich. It may even be in the far from hollow heads of young people, who, brought up in the age of mass entertainment, branding, and corporate ideologies, wish to think for themselves.

As Rudolf Steiner pointed out on many occasions, since 1899 mankind has been crossing the threshold of the spiritual world, albeit mostly unconsciously. Since the discovery of the application of electricity in the 1780s, electro-magnetism in the 1840s and atomic energy in the 1930s, mankind has been entering deeper into the  world of subnature than was possible with the microscope. In 1879, with the defeat by Michael of the Ahrimanic spirits of Darkness, those spirits were cast out of the sublunary realm of the spiritual world and took up their abode on Earth in human heads, inspiring a tremendous wave of technological development. Then, in 1900, began the reopening of the doors of clairvoyant perception, which had been shut since 3000 BC. Clairvoyance began to reoccur naturally to increasing numbers of people who were, however, not in a position to understand it. This means that while still in physical bodies, humanity is living increasingly in the conditions of the spiritual non-physical world. After death, there is a separation of the three soul forces of thinking, feeling, and willing, which had been bound up together in a ‘unity’ in the physical body. This can, if it is not understood and worked with in a healthy way, lead to one-sided extremes of behaviour such as extreme intellectualism and abstraction, fanaticism and intolerance in the realm of feeling, and  violence, crudeness  and cruelty in will activity. We are living in the midst of all this. Since the 1960s especially, all remaining elements of 19th century culture and social behaviour have been rapidly disappearing.  A new culture, driven largely by the new technologies is appearing, one that seems on the surface  very confident and capable, and yet which is profoundly unsure of itself. It is in many ways a heroic culture which is fascinated by the forces of evil in Man – those forces, which unbeknown to most, have been let loose on the earthly plane since 1879. Heroic – because it rises to self-awareness by facing and dealing with those forces.

We are approaching the end of the second millennium,  the epoch of dualism in religion, politics, and economics, and also the end, in the year 2030, of the second seventh of the 5th Post-Atlantean epoch (1413-3573; like all the Great Epochs, it lasts 2160 years) which began in 1722. So, both on the macro- and the microhistorical scales, we are moving from the number 2 to the number 3. Finally, we are arriving at the stage of Egohood for the new ‘christened’ mankind. Each century consists of a 3 x 331/3 years, or three cycles of the etheric life of Christ Jesus. This new historical periodicity, which since Golgotha has been written into the Earth’s time body, corresponds to a single year in the life of the individual human being. This accounts for the significance of the 4th, 7th, 9th, 14th, and 21st centuries – for they are the times of the emergence of ‘christened’ mankind’s physical sense of self, etheric body, 9th year crisis astral body, and ego respectively.

Clearly, the idea of the threefolding of society corresponds to the deepest needs of the times. Old dualisms such as capitalism vs. communism have failed, and so many modern problems are the result of the confusion of the three realms of culture, law, and economy. The  need for a threefolded society which works with the changed spiritual circumstances of the times is paramount. The members of the General Anthroposophical Society, which was founded by the preeminent Michaelic initiate of modern times to be  the guardian chalice for the Michael Impulse, need to recognise this fact, rally to it, and bring forward the threefold social idea in all ways possible. The threefold social order is the big idea of our age, but since  Rudolf Steiner’s death, it  has hardly spoken its name. Indeed, until  1935, the masthead of  “Das Goetheanum” weekly magazine read: “Das Goetheanum – Wochenschrift für Anthroposophie und Dreigliederung”, but in that year the words “und Dreigliederung” were removed and have been absent ever since. Whatever reason they may have been removed for, it is high time they were restored, to signal  the Society’s will to be the banner-bearer of the impulse of social threefolding. But this, of course, can only happen if the members have that will.

How to proceed for future social healing?

How then can Society members bring forward the idea of threefolding? We need to base our actions for society securely on the Foundation Stone.  and specifically on the last verse:

Light Divine
Christ Sun
Warm our hearts;
Enlighten our heads;
That good may arise in
What we
From our hearts would found,
In what we
From our heads
Would guide
Into  willing.

Since Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, we need to shed light on the evolution of consciousness, paying particular attention to the illumination of the events of the 4th  (AD 333), 7th (AD 666), and 9th centuries (AD 869). This means working out of spirit remembering, finding ways to communicate the anthroposophical truths about evolution that we first learned in the supersensible School of Michael and which were first set down by Rudolf Steiner in earthly form in his book “Occult Science – An Outline”. Then there is the need to work out of spirit-awareness, to find ways to help ourselves and our contemporaries to find a path through the confusion of the present times. For this we all need to be as aware as possible of what arises in our consciousness from moment to moment, so as to be able to maintain ourselves in a state of dynamic equilibrium between the efforts of the adversaries Lucifer and Ahriman to mislead us. Here Rudolf Steiner’s book “Philosophy of Spiritual Activity” can be our best guide. Finally, we need to show how to advance to spirit-envisioning, revealing how anthroposophy can be the basis for a healthier future social life. The future archetypes for this were given to us in the supersensible Michael Cultic Imaginations at the end of the 18th century which were ‘earthed’ by Goethe, Schiller, Novalis and the Idealists of that time, notably in Goethe’s Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. Here Rudolf Steiner’s books “Theosophy” and “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds” can help us, for these represent  the spiritual ideals of the present and future shining before us.

And just as the Green Snake became illumined from within by the gold she had eaten, so anthroposophical knowledge needs to fill and enlighten the serpentine Beast of our times. Who is that beast? None but the Media, the media who control most of contemporary knowledge and have the increasing tendency to make all knowledge utterly materialistic. The Media it is today that  ‘mediates’ knowledge into social action, for good or ill, and has become a kind of bridge between the two. This beast is not all bad, far from it, but its nature is to crawl on the ground, for it works primarily (even the print media these days) with the subterranean  forces of  electronics. If left to go its own way, if the ideas of anthroposophy do not permeate it,  it will inevitably slide into materialism.

In his lectures to the West-East Congress in Vienna 1922, Rudolf Steiner spoke of Europe-Asia as ‘the problem’ of modern times and Europe-America as ‘the solution’. By this he meant that Europeans were preserving the dessicated remnants of an ancient Asian spirituality in the dusty abstractions of their intellectual, political, and religious systems. The future lay rather with the will to create out of nothing. And this willingness he saw in the youthful energies of the Americans. It is no surprise therefore to learn that it is an American anthroposopher, Joel Wendt, who has articulated best this need for Anthroposophy to enter the belly of the Media. Wendt has written: (11)

What else have politicians, terrorists, single interest groups, businesses etc. been fighting to control and manipulate? Within Media the People come to common (equalized) self knowledge and mutual understanding. Within Media the idea of the State and of the rights and duties of citizenship come to common form. Media shines light on the activities of the State, and media personalities (with varying degrees of consciousness and moral integrity) believe they act thus for the People. However we turn our thinking, if we remain pictorially descriptive of the dynamics of social life as these actually play themselves out in the political-legal sphere we will come to the perception of the threefoldness of State-Media-People.

It is a risk, Wendt says, to enter this realm, but a risk that should be taken, a nettle that should be grasped if the Media serpent is not to continue merely to slide in the dust.

Media, if its present condition is clearly understood, is young; i.e. it is still undergoing formative developments, and functions today with a kind of moral or spiritual immaturity. In this sense Media may take one of two different courses of future development. It may become a kind of moon center, rigid, arid, not light originating, but rather only able to reflect those impulses which come to it from the outside. Or, it may become a sun center, a source of warmth and understanding, a medium of creative forces flowing into the social order and carrying both in deed and in word a true image of man as a being of soul and spirit. I imagine then, Media becoming a sun, a true heart of the heart of the social organism, so that the common understanding of the People will find a renewed vision of the State. In Media a song can yet be heard, the song of the truly free man, the moral man. In this way the rigidification, the mechanization, the image spell-binding of the word will be overcome, and a true understanding given to Western civilization of the Idea of the Threefold Social Organism as a dynamic social form already latent in human social existence in the West….There is of course no predicting how events will proceed, yet it seems clear to me that this historic moment is pregnant with certain kinds of potential. Just as there is great risk of a further fall into materialism, so as well there is much possibility for spiritual transformation. If we do not blind ourselves with a kind of threefold dogma (for example, that the first need is to free the spiritual cultural life), but instead truly perceive the actual dynamics. then as far as I am able to hold in pictorial thought, the ripe moment lies in bringing moral transformative forces to the thinking active within the Media, to bring a song to life just here in the heart of the heart of the social organism.(11)

Here speaks a true American voice – a voice of idealism and the will to courage.

The Israeli author and lecturer Jesaiah Ben Aharon now lives in America and he has urged us, in this Age of the Second Coming of Christ, to learn from the experience of the disciples at the time of the First Coming 2000 years ago. (12)  First their minds were awoken from slumber and ignorance of what had happened at Golgotha and afterwards by the tongues of fire at Pentecost. This was for them a festival of knowledge. What did they then do? They went out into the marketplace and began speaking to the people in languages each could understand. Finally, they set about creating a new community – the community of Christians. We see here the threefold archetype: the spiritual experience  of the “I”, the considerate and respectful dialogue of “I and you”, and the social life in cooperation of the  “we”. This, Ben Aharon avers, is what we in the Anthroposophical movement also need to do with respect to the wider world beyond our all-too-narrow confines. Otherwise, the  fact of the Second Coming, of the Etheric Christ, might well be ignored by mankind, which would be an unmitigated disaster.

It will be necessary then, for us to study the idea of the threefold society, understand it, build enthusiasm for it within the Anthroposophical movement, and then realise it within the Anthroposophical Society. If we fail to do this at least, and put our own house in threefold order, so to speak, we will hardly be in a position to speak to others about social threefolding. Paul Mackay has spoken of the three stages of  development within the Anthroposophical movement since the Christmas Conference, each of 33 years: 1923 – 1956 – 1989. In the first phase, 1923 -1956, the individual element was strong; this was the ‘angelic’ phase, when the movement was signally affected by the karmic relationships between leading members. Then came the ‘archangelic’ period, 1956 – 1989, when Anthroposophical communities sprang up in profusion and were deepened, but remained somewhat inward, apart from the rest of society – ‘islands of culture’, as it were. Now, since 1989, we have been in the ‘archaic’ period when Anthroposophy has to broaden to embrace the world and develop a truly global consciousness that can parallel the ahrimanic aspects of the economically and technologically-driven globalisation that has been the much-trumpeted mark of the 1990s. This period will last until 2022. During it, Anthroposophy will have to plunge into the world if it is to have a meaning that is anything other than sectarian.

On the 30th November 1919 in Dornach, at the height of his activity to bring forward the impulse of threefolding, Rudolf Steiner said:

During the first two decades of the Anthroposophical movement in Central Europe we could allow ourselves to carry on in the sleepy sectarian way that has been so hard to combat in our circles and is still deeply lodged in the attitudes of those of the movement. But the time is over when we could allow ourselves such sleepy sectarianism. It is profoundly true, as I have often emphasised, that we must be absolutely clear about the world-historical significance of the Anthroposophical movement…

Does the Anthroposophical movement have no world-significance today, because Rudolf Steiner is not here to lead it in person? Because most people in the world have never heard of it? Or do we feel that those words of 1919 are truer today than ever, and that they need to be answered?

1 Warner Books, 1997
2  ibid. p.204
3   ibid p.105
4  I have argued elsewhere that the much-vaunted Third Way, loudly trumpeted by Blair and Clinton, is but a chimera. There is not the space here to discuss this.  See my article in the magazine Transintelligence Internationale (inaugural issue Feb-Mar. 1999)
5  The last Michaelic Age  was c.600-200 BC
6 Tradowsky, “Kaspar Hauser”,  p.225
7  In this development of Man in the Christian era, of the  new Christian humanity, one might say, we can see parallels with the unfolding life of the child 4,7,9, but the elaboration of this is beyond the scope of this essay
8  See his Lectures on the Cycle of the Year GA 223
9  The Guardian 25.2.1998

10 See for example Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment (Book In Focus, 1981)


12 Lecture by Jesaiah Ben-Aharon, Tagaytay, Philippines, 25 Oct. 1998

This page was created by Terry Boardman Dec. 1999 Last updated 19.7.2012