Beyond Ishihara Shintaro & Halford Mackinder: William E. Deming – 2012 to 1979

This article was first published in New View magazine, Winter 2012. This is a slightly expanded version of that published article

Time has been much on my mind this year, as I turned the round and weighty number of 60 in the Chinese Year of the Dragon, and my first grandchild arrived on Earth. Time has clearly been on the minds of millions of others this year too. The reason of course is the various expectations surrounding the completion of a supposedly particularly significant cycle in the ancient Mayan Calendar at the winter solstice, 21st December this year. For some, these expectations include the end of the world, the apocalypse, collision with Planet X, also called Nibiru, alien invasion, global economic collapse, or world war. For others, more optimistic, they include everything from relocation into the 5th dimension, to a sudden huge expansion of consciousness worldwide that will change human society for the better and help us heal the ecology of our damaged planet. The more pessimistic scenario has been seeded into the public mind in many forms. As many people are  – in the view of this writer – under the delusion that a large, hidden cosmic object, sometimes called  Planet X or else Nibiru, or most recently, earlier this year, Comet Elenin, is indeed about to collide with the Earth, then the ‘X comet’ which opens the X Factor every week, (a show watched by millions across the world), that zooms through the solar system and heads for Earth may perhaps have an ulterior motive. From 17-23 November this year ARD, Channel No 1 on German TV carried a message “YOU will die” before the 8 pm news, advertising its programme about life and death. Nothing wrong with programmes about death of course; it is part of human existence and raises all sorts of important social and spiritual questions, but such a programme in this year, only a month before the much-anticipated 21.12.2012 ‘event’ makes one wonder. The programmers may of course merely have wanted to make use of the ‘event’ to assure themselves of higher viewing figures for their programme. In Denmark, however, on 21st December 2012 the national TV  broadcaster DR2 intends to devote an entire evening of programmes on the Mayan Calendar and theories about that very date. The evening TV event will be titled “Live from Earth’s Destruction”. Peter Gren Larsen, program editor for DR2 has said: “If this is our last show we are gonna go out with a bang”. (1) The evening will be a big party featuring gala performances of music and opera as well as the views of a wide range of ‘experts’.

It is clear that in many people’s souls today there is a deep longing for change, a sense, a knowledge even, that we have lost our way and that our modern culture is deeply sick and stumbling into ever more complex miasmas from which there sometimes seems little hope that we may extricate ourselves by our own efforts. The financial and ecological crises of recent years, allied to the onrushing pace of globalisation and the telecommunications revolution, are but a few examples of this complexity which make ordinary people feel helpless in the face of such developments. There is the sense too that our political leaders and political systems are also more or less incapable of dealing with these huge problems. In this context, it is hardly surprising that some people would wish deep down -  even if they do not speak it out – that the whole thing would be swept away so that we might start again from first principles – whatever they might be! This mood, and I feel it is a very dangerous mood, was also present, especially among many educated intellectuals and artists, a hundred years ago in the decade before World War One as is evident in the apocalyptic paintings of artists such as Ludwig Meidner and the almost thanatological exaltation of poets such as Rupert Brooke who wrote on the outbreak of war in 1914:

“Now, God be thanked who has matched us with His hour,
 And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
 With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
 To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
 Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary.”

There is no shortage of discussions, both academic and popular, on the Internet and elsewhere debunking the whole 2012 phenomenon, but there is another aspect to the question of the alleged significance of this particular year 2012 which as far as  I know has not yet been raised. On 28th December 1912, the Anthroposophical Society  was founded in Cologne.  On 20th September 1913 in Dornach, Switzerland, Rudolf Steiner laid the dodecahedronal Foundation Stone of the ‘Johannesbau’, the headquarters of the new Society, later known as the (First) Goetheanum building. Inside the stone was a document, which included the words : “Placed by the St John’s Building Association, for the anthroposophical work, on the 20th day of September 1880 [years] after the Mystery of Golgotha; i.e., 1913 after the birth of Christ, as Mercury stood in Libra as the evening star.” This indicates that besides the normal Christian exoteric dating from the birth of Jesus Christ, there is also an esoteric Christian dating of time that has elapsed since 33 AD, the Mystery of Golgotha (the Crucifixion and Resurrection) which is the very centre of Christianity. So 1913 minus 33 is therefore 1880. Similarly, the year 1879 after the birth of Jesus can be seen to correspond to 1912 years after his death on Golgotha. Rudolf Steiner, like the mediaeval esotericist Johannes Trithemius of Sponheim (1462-1516), always taught that history was divided into larger periods of about 2100 years and shorter ones of about 400 years, the latter being ruled over by mighty archangelic beings; the age of Michael, the Sun Archangel, was thus held to have begun in 1879 (2).

Following this perception, we can see that esoterically, the year 1912 (after the birth of Jesus) becomes the year 1879 after Golgotha. What happened between the birth of Jesus and the Crucifixion and Resurrection? A seed was planted in the earth, so to speak, that bore the greatest spiritual fruit for mankind 33 years later. How about between 1879 and 1912? In 1879 Steiner turned 18 and in October that year he began his studies in Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Literature at the Technical High School in Vienna. He then passed through his first Moon Node experience at around 18 years and 7 months, the interval after which something of one’s pre-birth intentions can light up in the soul that is receptive to them. In the period after this, he encountered the creative thoughts of Goethe through his Literature teacher at the Technical High School, Karl Julius Schröer and he also met the herb-gatherer Felix Koguzki meetings with whom would lead the young Steiner on to the eventual meeting with his spiritual Master – all this between 1879 and 1881. He was now ‘on the Path’. 33 years after 1879, in 1912, Steiner helps found the Anthroposophical Society (28 Dec. 1912), thus bringing about the vehicle for a new spiritual impulse in the world, and births Eurythmy into the world. The age of Michael began (exoterically) in 1879; from 1912 Steiner increasingly places his work under the sign of Michael. He now stands fully in the world as a teacher of esoteric Christianity under that sign, no longer connected with the former Oriental stream of Theosophy; there is a new, deeper beginning. Once again, we see the fruit of a seed planted 33 years before. If we now look to 1979 and 2012, we see how the second Michaelic century begins in 1979 in seed form, 21 years before the new millennium. We see how China under Deng Xiaoping embarks on its one child policy, which will prevent some 400 million births, and enters the world capitalist economy; Margaret Thatcher’s government takes power in Britain and ushers in a wave of rightwing, unrestricted capitalism based supposedly on ‘liberty’, privatisation and financial regulation that will stimulate what later comes to be known as ‘globalisation’ (followed in the USA the next year with Ronald Reagan). These events alone would have massive global consequences, which are now being played out in the economic crisis. The first direct international elections, to the European Parliament, took place in 1979. Following the publication of Raymond Moody’s groundbreaking book Life After Life (1975) about near death experiences, the International Association for Near-death Studies was founded in late 1977; such studies were growing around 1979. The first manned solar-powered flight took place in Riverside, California in 1979. Usenet forums began that year on what would later be called the Internet. Pluto entered within the orbit of Neptune for the first time ever recorded, and America suffered the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster; Pope John Paul II visited Poland for the first time, the Iran hostage crisis began and the USSR invaded Afghanistan. Many of these events would show consequences and reflections in 2012.

A deepening has taken place of what began in and around 1979. Esoterically, our present year 2012 is not just 2012 after the birth of Jesus, but also 1979 after Golgotha. 1912 is thus esoteric 1879, and 2012 is esoteric 1979. This adds a different perspective to the present year 2012 (3). The first seed phase of the Sun regency of the Archangel Michael, the first Michaelic century, began  1879 years after the birth of Jesus, but the ‘first fruits’ were emerging around 1879 years after Golgotha, esoterically speaking, i.e. in the year 1912. The forces that oppose humanity’s development of course responded to this in 1912 with the first of the Balkan Wars, which would lead in 1914 to the First World War. The seeds of the second Michaelic century were sown around 1979 but the century only really gets underway now, around 2012, which is 1979 years after Golgotha. Steiner indicated that the prime characteristics of a Michael Age (the previous one was c.600 BC – c.200 BC) are cosmopolitanism and the spiritualisation of thinking, and these characteristics deepen in the second century of a Michael Age. This relationship between exoteric 2012 and esoteric 1979, based on the dates of the birth of Jesus and the Mystery of Golgotha, is a key esoteric Christian aspect to this year, which has been almost entirely ignored by humanity who have been encouraged instead from various directions to focus on modern speculations about the Mayan Calendar – the calendar of an ancient culture of which we still know very little indeed (compared to the culture of, say, ancient Egypt) and of whose understanding of the significance of the end of what they referred to as the ‘13th baktun cycle’ in their ‘Long Count Calendar’ on 21st December this year we know hardly anything at all (4).

Kaspar Hauser and the ‘revelation’ of 2012

The esoteric Christian dating (2012=1979) implies that there is a real esoteric connection between this year and the Sun impulse of Michael. This esoteric year 1979 (=2012) is also 200 years after 1779, the esoteric birth year of Kaspar Hauser, who lived 1812-1833 after Jesus. Kaspar certainly brought a kind of Sun impulse to those around him, and was widely known as the ‘Child of Europe’. Imaginatively, he was felt to have brought new hope for the tired, corrupted continent of Europe and its overly sophisticated, over-intellectualised, materialistic culture. But his life was snuffed out by a murderer after only 21 years. 1979 (after Jesus) is 21 years before the millennium 2000 which, esoterically, can be said to fall in 2033. We can expect a resonance with Kaspar Hauser in this, his 200th anniversary year, and indeed, we have seen how during 2012 German newspapers have reported that following the assertion (on 7th June 2012) by the Karlsruhe lawyer and historian Winfried Klein that the coffins in the tomb of the House of Baden in Pforzheim actually belong to the State of Baden-Württemberg and not to the family, which means that the family cannot insist on the right to leave the corpses undisturbed, and thus a conclusive DNA test could be carried out under the auspices of the Ministry for Finance and Economy, the Ministry at first demurred to take this step and then revealed  that the coffins  of the two princes in the relevant coffins had been missing since restoration work was carried out in 1983! (5) Even if the State of Baden-Württemberg were in a legal position of being able to carry out the conclusive DNA test, it could not do so because the relevant bodies were now missing. This was very convenient for the still existing members of the House of Baden. It meant that no body existed  upon which any DNA test could be done to prove whether the infant prince in the coffin there was really the Prince of Baden or not. For 200 years the House of Baden has insisted that he was. Kaspar Hauser researchers, however, have maintained that the body in the tomb in Pforzheim was that of Johann Ernst Jakob Blochmann, the infant son of a servant of the Countess of Hochburg, the woman who had carried out the exchange of the babies and the abduction of the real Prince, Kaspar Hauser.

Why is all this significant? Because if light were shone into this murky affair, it would be conclusively revealed that Kaspar Hauser should have been the rightful Prince of what was Germany’s most liberal state in the first half of the 19th century and that if he had been, then the history of Germany and Europe after 1848, when Prince Kaspar would have been 36, could have been very different. At the time of the 1848 Revolutions, Germany might then have been able to avoid domination by Prussia. As it was, Kaspar’s destiny was thwarted by his murder in 1833, and Germany’s destiny was thus diverted into a darker direction.  Here too, in the case of Kaspar Hauser, we await ‘revelation’  – apocalypse. The revelation that the princes’ bodies are missing  – and the timing of this – points ever more strongly, even if still only circumstantially, in the direction of the truth of Kaspar Hauser having been the real Prince of Baden. The Sun illumines; it shines light into dark places and reveals their true nature. Is it an accident that as the second (esoteric) Michael century approaches, on all sides we hear the call for Truth, we see the organising of ‘truth movements’, and ‘revelations’ of all kinds occur as light is shone in dark places – on geopolitical machinations, on the Press, on banking, on finance, on political expenses, on police corruption, on pedophilia in high places, and on other areas? This is proving to be an apocalyptic time. Not in the sense of the end of the physical world, which is what the last book of the New Testament describes, but in the sense of a revealing of the rottenness of the old social and cultural world and the approaching end of that old world, that historical period, the final decaying remnants of the age of Gabriel.

Japan: Sun and Counter-Sun

But the dragons do not give up so easily. In 1910 already Rudolf Steiner predicted that in the 1930s, beginning in 1933 (esoterically the year 1900), some human beings would begin to have supersensible vision of the Christ Being who is now present in the etheric life sphere of the Earth, and more and more people would gain this vision over the coming centuries. Before that could happen, he said, mankind would have to confront the rising Beast from the Abyss; it was as if the greatest light would be accompanied by the greatest shadow. It was in that very year 1933 (1900) that Hitler took power in Germany, and Japan withdrew from the League of Nations (the forerunner of the UN, founded 1919) following international criticism of its actions regarding its puppet state of Manchukuo (which it had carved out of Manchuria in the northeast of China).  Japan’s aggressive military actions in northern China in the early 1930s (and its subsequent full-scale war against China, from 1937 / esoteric 1904)(6)) can be seen as representing an effort by the retrogressive forces that oppose human progress to divert mankind’s attention away from the light of the Etheric Christ  that was beginning to break through in the 1930s. The clouds of fear whipped up by the Great Crash and the Depression throughout the world, by the atrocious purges and mass murders committed by Stalin, and by the Nazis’ takeover and ‘trance-formation’ of Germany were all further evidence of the desperate and monstrous counter-strikes by draconic anti-Michael forces. Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy all fought under the sign of ‘the Sun’, the Counter-Sun, the Black Sun, we could say, opposing Michael and the Christ.

66 years later, in 1999 (esoteric 1966) the dragon was raising its head again, following the Balkan wars of 1991-95, the Rwanda massacres of 1994, the terrorist attacks on the Tokyo undergound and in Oklahoma USA, both in 1995, the Asian economic crash of 1997-98, the near implosion of the Russian, Brazilian and Thai economies, the death of Princess Diana in highly suspicious circumstances, the false Y2K crisis of 1999 that seemed to threaten the global economy, and fears raised by the spectres of terrorism and Islamist fanaticism (that would seem to culminate on 9/11) and the total solar eclipse of 11th August that year. All in all, the second half of the 1990s was a dark, angst-ridden period. After the bubble years of the 1980s when it seemed to be riding high in the world, Japan too sank gradually into an economic malaise from which it has yet to recover. The anxious, hyperventilating atmosphere throughout the developed world carried over into the new century to a large degree. But we nevertheless came through those years, and around the turn of the millennium, and especially following 9/11, ‘truth movements’ emerged all over the world challenging official accounts of terrorism, 9/11, the CO2 explanation of global warming, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the financial crisis.

Just as in the early 1930s the veil of the abyss (which would lead to the Second World War) was first pulled back by Japan, Land of the Rising Sun,  with its aggression in China that had begun in 1931, so in 2011/2012 Japan also suffered from subterranean attacks of both a geological and human nature. One of the consequences of the carefully coordinated, worldwide media focus on global warming after Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), which followed the release of the Hollywood blockbuster eco-disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow (2004), was the return to respectability of nuclear power as a form of so-called ‘clean energy’. The nuclear power industry had been declining for decades, ever since the Three Mile Island disaster in the USA  in 1979. But now it was suddenly back in the frame, touted as an essential part of “a responsible energy mix” that could reduce fossil fuel pollution and help cope with global warming. From 2004 to 2011 politicians all over the developed world were once again talking up nuclear power as a component of “a balanced national energy policy”. But then came the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, and once again, as in 1979, people the world over drew back in horror from the prospect of dependence on nuclear energy (the nuclear-armed US, UK, and French governments being notable exceptions).

After the massive Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, many Japanese people began to demand an end to the lunacy of having some 54 nuclear reactors in the world’s most sensitive earthquake region. The government announced its willingness to bow to popular demand and shut down Japan’s reactors; it signalled its intentions for a new, nuclear-free direction for Japanese energy policy. The German and Italian governments soon followed suit. But there were powerful conservative nationalist forces in Japan who feared that an end to nuclear power would deny Japan the chance to develop its own nuclear weapons programme, which they were always determined it should have. This determination went back to the 1960s:

The National Security News Service investigation found that the United States has known about a secret nuclear weapons program in Japan since the 1960s, according to CIA reports. ….The Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations permitted sensitive technology and nuclear materials [70 tons of weapons grade plutonium since the 1980s] to be transferred to Japan despite laws and treaties preventing such transfers. Highly sensitive technology on plutonium separation ….as well as tens of billions of dollars worth of breeder reactor research was turned over to Japan with almost no safeguards against proliferation…..NSNS has learned that [Japan] has used its electrical utility companies as a cover to allow the country to amass enough nuclear weapons materials to build a nuclear arsenal larger than China, India and Pakistan combined.(7)

How, after the Fukushima nuclear disaster and subsequent public revulsion against nuclear energy, could the conservative forces in Japan, and their allies in the USA, regain the initiative and force nuclear power (and behind it, recourse to nuclear weapons) back onto the national energy agenda? The answer they seem to have come up with is: fear of the Chinese dragon! For about 15 years there had been a potential trouble spot in Sino-Japanese relations over the question of the ownership of a small group of five uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. The islands are called by the Chinese the Diaoyu and by the Japanese the Senkaku. Before 1969 neither country had been much concerned about them, but in the years leading up to March 2012 there had been some contentious approaches to, or landings on, the islands by small groups of Japanese and Chinese nationalists; however, the two governments had always been able to fend them off and keep a lid on the issue.

In March 2012 the controversial rightwing Governor of Tokyo Ishihara Shintar?, a man well-known for making outrageous public statements and active in Japanese conservative nationalist circles for decades, announced at one of his regular press conferences that he would be visiting the US in April, and said vaguely that he would say something to ‘stir things up’. While he was in the US, at a meeting held by the rightwing Heritage Foundation,  he cavalierly announced (N.b. in the USA, not in Japan) that the city of Tokyo would buy three of the islands from their nominal Japanese owners, the Kurihara family, who live in Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo. This caused outrage in China, but Ishihara pressed on regardless, even placing full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal asking Americans (!) to donate to Tokyo’s bid to buy the islands. Between March and August, the tension inexorably mounted between China and Japan. The Japanese government refused to censure the Tokyo Governor, which they could easily have done. On 7 July, Japanese Prime Minister Noda stated that the islands were an integral part of Japan and that his government was considering purchasing them for the State from the Kurihara family. It was thought that this would block a purchase by Ishihara which would enrage the Chinese. In fact, the Japanese State’s proposal to buy the islands was a red rag to a bull. On 15 August, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, another group of Chinese nationalists landed on the islands but were arrested by the Japanese coastguard. Three days later, a small flotilla of Japanese nationalists landed on the islands. This set off a storm of protests across China that resulted in widespread attacks on Japanese property and individuals. Business between the two countries was adversely affected, relations went into a tailspin, and nationalist tempers rose in both countries. Populist rightwing demonstrations against foreigners appeared In Japan of a kind that had not been seen since World War II. In the midst of all this, on 11th September the Japanese government announced it had bought the islands from the Kurihara family. Protests worsened in China. 18th September saw the 81st anniversary of the Manchurian Incident of 1931, the ‘false flag’ incident which sparked the war between Japan and China and in effect began the worldwide conflicts of the 1930s and 40s (8); anti-Japanese protests occurred in over 180 cities across China. The Japanese media were now presenting China as a dangerous threat to Japan. The very active Ishihara, who turned 80 in September, was in his element; he remained uncensured by the government. In October he suddenly announced his resignation from the Governorship of Tokyo and intention to return to national politics, seeking to form a new rightwing coalition of conservative forces. His new party, The Sunrise Party of Japan merged on 17 November with the rapidly growing Japan Restoration Party (JRP) led by Hashimoto T?ru, the young charismatic Mayor of Osaka, Japan’s second city. Hashimoto, who had built up the JRP from its initial base in Osaka, stood down to allow Ishihara to become the leader of the new, now nationally-based JRP.

Ishihara now has exactly what he wants – the leadership of a national political movement, a population in fear of China, a political class united in its bipartisan determination to retain the islands, and support from the USA, which, although it maintains it does not take sides over the issue, nevertheless has released various statements saying ominously that it would abide by the terms of its security treaty with Japan and hinting that it would indeed be prepared to back Japan militarily over the issue. Ishihara and Hashimoto are looking to revoke Article 9 of the (“Peace”) Constitution of 1947 to allow Japan to have proper armed forces instead of the innocuously named ‘Self-Defence Forces’ allowed by the wartime allies since 1954, innocuous because the budget of the Japanese Self-Defence Forces at 3% (US$ 46,859,000,000 2009) of the national budget is the 7th largest in the world after USA, China, UK, France, Russia and Germany. (9) On 16th December there will have been a General Election in Japan, and the world will see how far the increasingly desperate Japanese electorate are prepared to trust Ishihara and Hashimoto.

The Quality of Mr Deming

In the late 1930s, the three allied ‘Axis countries’ Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan all followed extremist policies that could be described as a perversion of the spiritual Sun impulse. Nazi Germany had the swastika, an ancient symbol of the sun on its flag; Japan’s flag was that of the rising sun, while Mussolini’s Italy saw itself as the inheritor of ‘the Sun of ancient Rome’ with its golden eagles. Japan was the first of these powers, in 1931, to embark on the road of foreign aggression. In 1879, 11 years after the beginning of the new era under the rule of the Emperor Meiji, the modernising state of Imperial Japan incorporated the formerly independent kingdom of the Ry?ky? Islands (Okinawa) as its first overseas territory. (The Emperor Meiji died 33 years later, in 1912). In that year nationalist tendencies were strengthening in the wake of Japan’s victory over Russia in 1905. Japan had incorporated Korea into its Empire in 1910 and in 1915 would issue its infamous 21 Demands to China for territorial concessions and privileges. As the second Michaelic century begins (2012/1979), Japan, as in 1912, is now on the cusp of another significant shift in direction towards the overtly nationalist Right that, without resistance from the Japanese people, may well finally bring to an end the postwar, modest conservative regime that has basically been a client state of the USA and may provoke a new period of instability in East Asia.

It was the Korean War (1950-53) that had enabled the Japanese economy to recover in the 1950s by boosting its manufacturing capacity to supply the war effort. A major factor in that recovery was the ideas of William Edwards Deming (1900 – 1993), who was invited to Japan from 1950 to introduce his innovative concepts of quality control into manufacturing and management. These were taken up so eagerly by the Japanese with their customary dedication and ability to adapt and learn that by the early 1970s,  “Made In Japan” was becoming a byword for top quality and reliability. He taught his methods to Morita Akio, founder of Sony, amongst others. Deming became an honoured figure in Japan and was regarded by the Japanese elite as the foreigner who contributed more than anyone else to Japan’s recovery. In 1960 he was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Second Class by the Emperor. Deming posed real challenges to the prevailing management culture in the West. His ideas about management were based on his 14 Points for Management, outlined in his book Out of the Crisis (1986). He argued that management holds the key to industrial success and bears the prime responsibility; he said *the  worker is not the problem. The problem is at the top; management is the problem.”

Management’s failure to plan for the future brings about loss of market, which brings about loss of jobs. Management must be judged not only by the quarterly dividend, but by innovative plans to stay in business, protect investment, ensure future dividends, and provide more jobs through improved products and services. “Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation.” (10)

Deming’s ideas helped propel Japan into economic prominence during the period of the Cold War, and Japan’s example was eagerly copied by other rising Asian countries, including China to some extent. Deming’s 4-phase PDSA cycle (Plan-Do-Study-Act; he actually called it the Shewhart Cycle) was based on what he had learned from his own teacher in the late 1920s and 1930s, Walter Shewhart (1891-1967) of Bell Telephone Laboratories, generally regarded as “the father of statistical quality control”. Deming could be called Shewhart’s most effective student. In the PDSA cycle one plans an experiment; executes the experiment in stages; checks or studies the results by carrying out tests; and acts on the results of the tests. This methodology is clearly an adaptation of Francis Bacon’s scientific method in Novum Organum (1620): “hypothesise–experiment–evaluate”; Shewhart referred to it as “specification, production, and inspection”. But Deming was no mere Baconian; he was a warm and kind human being who focused both on the need for thinking ahead in management practice, on planning and theorising, but also on cultivating individuals. In describing what he called “the System of Profound Knowledge”, he said that

“The aim…is to provide an outside view—a lens—that I call a system of profound knowledge. ….The first step is transformation of the individual. This transformation is discontinuous. It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge. The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people. Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to.

The individual, once transformed, will set an example; be a good listener, but will not compromise; continually teach other people; and help people to pull away from their current practices and beliefs and move into the new philosophy without a feeling of guilt about the past.”(11)

His system of profound knowledge consisted of four elements:

1) appreciation of the system of supply, production and consumption in which the company was involved;

2) understanding general and specific types of variation in production factors that adversely affected quality;

3) theory of knowledge: what could be known within the system and what could not, and

4) knowledge of psychology.

All this, and Deming’s personal qualities of great patience and modesty strongly appealed to the Japanese, who put his ideas into effect with a will. Despite his emphasis on the consciousness of the individual manager and the individual worker however, Japanese businessmen were more concerned to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the groups, both corporate and national, to which they belonged; their corporations were ultimately serving the recovery of Nippon plc, rather than interested at root in the development of individual consciousness per se.  By the early 1980s the deeper, more human aspects of Deming’s ideas had been forgotten. National competition became the obsession; it was no longer just recovery and catching up with the West that concerned Japanese business leaders and the media. Success bred hubris, which now made its appearance. Japan’s industrial success went to many heads. Now it was felt that the rest of the world must copy Japan; Japan had ‘the knowledge’; Japan would lead the way. Boosted by books written by eminent foreigners, such as Japan as Number One: Lessons for America (1979) by Ezra Vogel, Harvard Professor of East Asian Studies, what then morphed into arrogance by the end of the 1980s was epitomised by the rather brash 1989 essay (later a book) co-authored by the already radical, outspoken Ishihara Shintar?, then Minister of Transport, and Morita Akio: The Japan That Can Say “NO”. This boldly declared amongst other things, that the Japanese character is inherently superior to the American. Ishihara is still of this view today.

Japan’s Deepening Crisis

But when the Cold War came to an end in the early 1990s, ‘the rules of the game’ were suddenly shifted in the West, as had happened after World War One, when the old style of European imperialism by direct military conquest and control was gradually dropped by Britain in favour of indirect economic control – the British Empire was morphed into the British Commonwealth.  As at that time, when Britain had abandoned the Anglo-Japanese Alliance (1923), leaving Japan to fend for itself in the economic maelstrom of the 1920s, Japan in the 1990s was once again suddenly left high and dry. In 1989 the enormous bubble in the overheated Japanese economy with its skyhigh property values  and rocketing stock exchange prices began to burst after hitting an all-time high on 29 December. 1989 was also the  year in which Emperor Hirohito (reigned 1925-1989) had earlier died, on 7th January. The situation now began to resemble what had happened some 80 years earlier. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance (1902), having fulfilled through the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05, financed by UK and US banks), its function of forcing Russian ambition back from challenging British interests in the Far East to challenging Austro-Hungarian interests in the Balkans, was unceremoniously dumped by Britain in 1923 and Japan was cast adrift, as it were. No-one seemed to make clear to the Japanese elite that ‘the rules of the imperial game’ had been changed, and Japan simply carried on with the old style of imperialism and colonial conquest she had learned from Britain and the other western colonial nations; she sought to carve out for herself a continental empire on the Asian mainland at the expense of Korea and China in order to solve her growing social, economic and demographic problems. Part of this was due to hubris again; Japan and Asia had watched as the self-proclaimed ‘superior’ western imperialist nations savaged each other in Europe in 1914-1918. The Japanese elite, especially after their defeat of Russia in 1905, felt vindicated that Japan could and should provide a better imperialist model.

After 1989 Japan was again ‘dropped’ by the West: in about 1993, when the shock of Tiananmen Square had worn off, all western eyes and investment moved to China. In that year the one-party rule of the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan that had continued since 1955 finally came to an end, and Japanese politics entered an unstable, downward spiral that has paralleled the decline of the economy in ‘the lost decades’ that then set in. It is that transitional period in Japan that is now ending in 2012. As in 1930, Japan seems at a loss to find a new, healthy way forward, a new direction, and none is on offer from the West, still mired in crisis itself and fearing it is about to enter its own ‘lost decades’. Neither has any such direction yet taken a social form out of the profound crisis caused by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, though it has done in individual souls or local communities. Instead, what seems to be emerging at the socio-political level, albeit in rather different and less strident manner, is the kind of nationalist rightwing instincts that thrust their way forward in the early 1930s, offering themselves to an increasingly desperate populace that can no longer abide the swings and roundabouts, the corruption and lethargy of the rudderless, feckless, self-seeking  political establishment (five prime ministers in the last four years). Unemployment is at over 5 per cent, and many no longer bother looking for work. The homeless are often to be found living in parks and hanging out in Internet cafés. Some 23% of Tokyo schoolchildren depend on state aid for school supplies. Depression is rife; 26,500 people committed suicide in 2009, which was among the highest rates in the world and the number of hikikomori (social reclusives), who refuse to join society and choose to remain confined to their homes for periods of 6 months or more remains stubbornly high at about 3,600,000, according to Japanese government figures. (12)

As in the 1930s, foreigners become the butt of frustration: the large Korean resident minority in Japan (almost 600,000), Chinese tourists, students and migrant workers, and China and Korea in general. The New Right affects a stridency in attitude to China that could easily lead to conflict, as the ugly incidents over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands issue have shown this year. Prime Minister Noda has recently said: “This kind of (ultranationalist) atmosphere or mood is emerging . . . and it’s possible that tough talk could captivate the public, but that would be the most dangerous thing for the nation.” (13) Moreover, China today is not the weak and divided China of the 1930s. This is where the danger of the Japanese Right’s desire to revise the Constitution and establish legitimate armed forces (including, they hope, possession of nuclear weapons) becomes only too apparent.

Halford Mackinder’s ‘Heartland’ then and now

Behind these new rightist elements in Japan are forces in the West that would encourage them. These forces share a view of world affairs that has a long pedigree. It was underpinned by a key concept first formulated in 1904 in a lecture before the Royal Geographical Society in London titled “the Geographical Pivot of History” by Halford Mackinder (1861-1947), geographer and at that time  Director of the new London School of Economics. In this writer’s estimation it is a concept crucial for understanding what is going on across Asia today, from Syria to Afghanistan and Burma. Presented during the Russo-Japanese War(1904-05), just when as Britain was emerging from its ‘splendid isolation’ of the Victorian era and looking for allies to buttress its imperial position, Mackinder’s ‘Heartland Theory’ concept encapsulates  ideas that have dominated Anglo-American geopolitical thinking over the past 100 years. He was a member of the first bipartisan thinktank, the Coefficients (1902-1909), a dining club for influential members of the Edwardian elite founded by the Fabian Socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb (14). The group sought to improve the efficiency of the Empire by influencing key figures within the Establishment and brought together about 12 experts in different fields for regular discussions across a wide range of topics; Mackinder was the geography expert in the group. Because the group’s default position was: how can Britain improve its efficiency so as retain its global pre-eminence in the new century and ensure a better life for the King-Emperor’s subjects round the world (and especially in Britain), Mackinder’s view of world power  would essentially be summed up in three lines which he formulated in a revision of his basic concept in 1919: (15)

 Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
 Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island;
 Who rules the World Island commands the World.

The ‘Heartland’ was for Mackinder the nub of world power. Basically It consists of all the lands in Central Asia between the Ural mountains in Russia, and western China and includes those Central Asian regions which are still so much a bone of contention in our time. In the late Victorian and Edwardian periods the struggles between Britain and Russia for control in this region were known in Britain as “The Great Game”. The world is divided, Mackinder taught, between what he called the ‘land wolves’, the continental land-based powers such as Russia, Germany and China, and the ‘sea wolves’, such as Britain and the USA. The Heartland region provided a secure base of demographic, economic and transport resources that was uniquely inaccessible to attack by the navies of the seagoing powers. If efficiently developed, it would enable the state that controlled it to dominate the ‘World Island’ (Eurasia and Africa), which in turn would lead to domination of the entire world. It was therefore critical, in Mackinder’s view, for the English-speaking world to block any moves that would bring together the sophistication of a state like Germany and the natural resources of Russia. Germany and Russia, Teutons and Slavs, must be kept apart, he insisted. As he put it  in 1904 (“pivot state” here means the state that controls the Heartland):   

The oversetting of the balance of power in favour of the pivot state, resulting in its expansion over the marginal lands of Euro-Asia, would permit of the use of vast continental resources for fleet-building, and the empire of the world would then be in sight. This might happen if Germany were to ally herself with Russia.

His advice contributed to the break-up of the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War One and the creation of a buffer zone of small states that wouold keep Germany and Russia apart. The main bridgehead for effective assaults into the Heartland, Mackinder felt, was Eastern Europe and the Balkans. If we look at world history over the past 100 years from Mackinder’s viewpoint, we can see how it illuminates very many important episodes, from Britain’s determination to block the German effort to construct the Berlin-Baghdad Railway through the Balkans (1903-1914), to the outbreak of World War I in the Balkans, to the tragic history of Russo-German relations in the 20th century, Hitler’s effort to create lebensraum (“living space”) in Eurasia, to the ‘containment’ of the USSR post-1947 (Mackinder directly advocated this after 1945), the  conflicts in the Caucasus since 1989 (Georgia, Chechnya) and the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, right up to the continuation of the ‘Great Game’ in Central Asia today between the USA, Russia and China and the struggle for access to resources there, oil and gas pipelines, the civil war in Sri Lanka (16), and culminating most recently in the West’s opening up of Burma. It is no exaggeration to say that the Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Arab Islamists, and NATO troops who have fought and died  in the Middle East and Central Asia since 2001 have died because of the theory of power that Halford Mackinder’s ideas encapsulated. The economist John Maynard Keynes, a younger contemporary of Mackinder, once famously said that “madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.” But Mackinder’s ideas were no mere academic musing or scribbling by some individual eccentric; rather, they were a masterful summary, by a man firmly linked into the British Establishment, of the grand lines and imperatives of British imperial geopolitics since the 1820s, when it was assumed that Russia had replaced France as Britain’s main imperial rival. Mackinder was thinking far ahead, and the technological advances since 1904, notably of course, the development of air transport and military air power, have in fact made no real difference to his prescriptions, because for him, the essence of power lay in geographical facts, in nature, and not primarily in changing technological developments. Air power, he argued, is fundamentally dependent on resources on the ground. The continuing relevance of his ideas is evident from the fact that American geo-strategy since 1945 has essentially been following those ideas. Moreover, for about the last 15 years, leading American geostrategists and policymakers have increasingly been comparing the present world situation (e.g. America vs China) to that of Imperial Britain vs Imperial Germany 100 years ago and framing their ideas within the parameters set out by Mackinder. The worldview of Zbigniew Brzezinski, for example, as laid out in his books The Grand Chessboard (1997) and Strategic Vision (2011), is profoundly influenced by Mackinder, and one can easily trace the extent to which Mackinder’s views have permeated US foreign policy since 1945. In 1904 he had written:

…it may be well expressly to point out that the substitution of some new control of the inland area for that of Russia would not tend to reduce the geographical significance of the pivot position. Were the Chinese, for instance, organised by the Japanese, to overthrow the Russian Empire and conquer its territory, they might constitute the yellow peril to the world’s freedom just because they would add an oceanic frontage to the resources of the great continent.

This is remarkable because only two years before, Britain and Japan had become allies (Anglo-Japanese alliance 1902-1923) and also because the Japanese in the 1930s were dreaming of a Sino-Japanese alliance (or rather, of a combination of Japanese sophistication + Chinese resources) to defeat the white races; they later called it the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. During World War Two Mackinder proposed a North Atlantic alliance to create a “bridgehead in France, a moated aerodrome in Britain, and a reserve of trained manpower, agriculture and industries in the eastern United States and Canada” in order to defend the seapowers from  what he saw as Eurasian aggression. In December 1992, The Economist was repeating the very same scenario: Japan + China [and also the Muslim world] would conquer most of Russia before 2050 and threaten Europe, and today, the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation greatly exercises geostrategists in London and Washington. Founded in 1996, the SCO now includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Mackinder argued in an arresting image that the ‘Heartland’ would have to be encircled in a permanent siege; bridgeheads (wedges) would have to be driven into the vital nodes of the continental body where the forces of the land-powers would be constantly deflected and trapped in wasting conflicts.(17) The Italian-American scholar Prof. Guido Giacomo Preparata has written:

To isolate each conflict, the targeted territorial portion had to be severed from its adjacent district, and bled white  by prolonged strife waged in the name of political, religious, or ethnic diversity:…. in Europe by spinning everybody against Germany (1904-45); in the Near East by jamming Israel in the heart of the Arab world (1917 – present); in the Far East, by planting thorns in the side of China: Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan (1950 – present); in Central Asia by destabilising the entire region into tribal warfare with the help of Pakistan to prevent the Caspian seaboard from gravitating into the Russian sphere of influence (1979 – present). (18)

A number of academics have argued that Mackinder is no longer relevant. Prof Brian Blouet, Professor of Geography and International Education, College of William and Mary Williamsburg, Va., USA wrote that  

….scholars seem to revisit [Mackinder] every few years. Why the continuing interest? Part of the answer is that his argument can only be tested by events, and … contains intuitive and prophetic elements. The nuanced writing allows commentators to generate many interpretations, which helps explain why each generation rediscovers Mackinder.

The reason why scholars ‘revisit’ Mackinder every few years is because they wake up every few years to the fact that Anglo-American policymakers are actually following Mackinder’s script. Those academics then drop it again until the next crisis. Indeed, one invariably finds that academics, whether on the left or the right politically,  who seek to belittle Mackinder’s influence are those who are aligned, for whatever reason, with Anglo-American hard or soft power imperatives. For example, Christopher J. Fettweis Ph.D (University of Maryland, USA), writing in Parameters, (2000):

One of [the] outdated theories that persists in our intellectual memory is Sir Halford Mackinder’s geopolitics. ….Intellectuals wedded to old ideas about the unchanging nature of power have so far failed to lead the world in the new directions that it expected. The unparalleled unipolar position that the United States found itself in when the Cold War abruptly ended is being wasted by politicians with no vision for shaping the future. …..America has certainly been intellectually isolationist in the post-Cold War era, hiding behind walls and refusing to lead the world in new directions that its unprecedented power has made possible. The rules that govern international relations evolve. No so-called permanent interests, or eternal geographical realities, exist. (emphasis TB)

We see here that Fettweis rightly criticises “outdated theories” and “old ideas” and looks for “new directions”, but he fails to grasp the ability of certain key thoughts to persist over time because they correspond to the perceived self-interest and to the will of particular power groups. The notion of the balance of power, for example, may not be “eternal”, but it has certainly dominated British strategic thinking for over four centuries now, and Mackinder’s ideas have prevailed for a century already. It is all very well to label such things as ‘outdated’, but we ignore at our peril the fact that they persist.  It is the will of certain power groups in the Anglophone countries that the dominant values of those countries shall prevail in today’s world. The historian Niall Ferguson, one of the leading advocates of a modern Anglophone imperialism, and a man still dreaming the imperial dreams of Cecil Rhodes, has outlined the main elements of those Anglophone values: “the English language, English forms of land tenure, Scottish and English banking, the Common Law, Protestantism, team sports, the limited or ‘night watchman’ State, representative assemblies, and the idea of liberty”(19). These (‘soft power’) values  were ultimately upheld and effected primarily  – though it is hard for more liberal-minded people to accept this fact – by means of the hard power of the Royal Navy, which commanded the seas just as today the US Navy rules the waves and the USAAF commands the skies, outer space and cyberspace.


From an anthroposophical perspective, one can make three observations about all that follows from Mackinder’s seminal thoughts of 1904. Insofar as his thinking was truly global in scope – and it was; he saw the modern world as a closed system in which developments in one region would affect all others  – it was reflecting the  cosmopolitan tendencies of the new Michaelic age (from 1879/1912). Cecil Rhodes too wanted peace, order and progress for the whole world, but insofar as, like Mackinder, he felt it should be imposed from on high by the elites of the English-speaking world, and in their interests, then he,  Mackinder and the Coefficients were reflecting the nationalist and earthbound impulses of the previous Gabrielic epoch (1510/1543 – 1879/1912). So we see an interplay between two differing spiritual impulses, the new, emerging, Michaelic, Sun impulse of cosmopolitanism, and the fading Gabrielic, Moon impulse of nationalism. The latter tended to affirm the lower personality of man and his concerns with the material world in the first 400 years of what Rudolf Steiner called the age of the Consciousness Soul (post-Renaissance), when more and more human beings emancipated themselves from the old social and cultural authorities, and became conscious of themselves as independent personalities, only to find themselves all too often isolated by their essentially self-centred worldview. This gave rise to the egocentric forms of anglo-saxon capitalism, an economic philosophy based on the self-assertion of the personality and of particular companies (capita, the head) that we still labour under today. It is the over-production and over-consumption inherent in this form of capitalism that have caused the great devastation of the environment and radical social and international disturbances of the past 200 years. If these are perpetuated further, given the pace of ongoing  technological change, we shall never, according to Rudolf Steiner,  be able to advance to the next phase of human development in the age of the Consciousness Soul, that of the higher, or spiritual individuality in which we realise our relationship to the spiritual beings that uphold all existence both before, during and after our earthly lives.

For this to happen and for humanity to progress to that next phase beyond the culture of the self-centred personality (itself an inevitable phase of historical development), Steiner pointed out – and this is the second of the three observations mentioned above -  that an important role would be played by an ever closer association between the Germanic and Slavic cultures, between Central and Eastern Europe – exactly the thing Mackinder and his collaborators in the British elite sought to prevent and still seek to prevent today. Steiner looked to this relationship between Central and Eastern Europe for the sake of the development of mankind as a whole and not for the sake of domination of the world by a Russo-German alliance of ‘land-powers’. He saw how each region of the world has played a leading role in world history over the millennia; before the 8th century BC it had been non-European peoples. From the 8th century BC up to the 15th century AD it had been the Mediterranean world (southern Europe). From the 15th century until the 4th millennium it would be northern, central and western Europe. From the 4th millennium onwards for some 2000 years it would be eastern Europe and thereafter, the American continent. A bridge thus needs to be built between central Europe and Eastern Europe for the sake of future developments.  English-speaking science and culture has predominantly looked outwards into the world of sense phenomena, developed its empirical and pragmatic bent, and projected the persona-lity (mask) out into the social world. Even the self thus becomes something external, seen as a function of the material brain; once we understand the brain, say many  – though fortunately, not all – Anglophone scientists and their faithful media accomplices, we shall understand the self, or understand that there is no self. The culture of Central Europe, by contrast, has tended to look inwards, to find the individual self within the inner states of the mind, beyond matter and beyond the brain, where it discovers, as the 17th century mystic Jakob Boehme indicated and Rudolf Steiner insisted, that the world is the self and the self is the world, and this is the third observation, that overcomes the seeming divide between cultures that Mackinder and his collaborators sought to maintain:

In the widths of the world
Weaves the being of Man
In the core of Man
Wielding worlds are mirrored

The I binds both together
And thus creates
The true meaning of existence
                                              – Rudolf Steiner

Epilogue: From the individual to the community

Deming taught his Japanese students that when we focus on quality, according to the ratio 

                                        Quality  = results of work efforts
                                                               total costs

then quality tends to increase and costs tend to fall. If we focus on costs, then costs rise and quality declines. In other words, pay attention to the inwardness, the integrity, the intrinsic nature of things and people, and you will get better results. Pay prime attention to externalities, such as cost, and results will suffer, whether industrial, commercial, or social. As Deming said:

“The first step is transformation of the individual. This transformation is discontinuous. It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge. The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people. Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to.

We are 2012 years from the birth of Jesus; 1979 years from Golgotha. From both perspectives, in 1979 the second century of the Michael Age begins.


(2) Trithemius’ dates were more rigid than Steiner’s. Trithemius held that the archangelic periods were all exactly 354 years and 4 months long, a Saturn rhythm (12 x 29.5 = 354). See Trithemius: A Treatise On The Seven Secondary Causes i.e. Intelligences or Spirits Who Move the Spheres According to God (written 1508, publ.1515)
(3) This esoteric Christian perspective means that the real (esoteric) millennium comes not in 2000/2001 but in 2033.  

(4) N.b. one baktun = 144,000 days, or 394 years; 13 baktuns therefore = 5122 years approx. A cycle of approx. 5126 years, which is supposed to have begun on 11 August, 3114 BC  is coming to an end at the winter solstice on 21.12 2012.
(5) Frankfurter Allgemeine 17.7.2012, “Sargverlust in der Fürstengruft”;
(6) N.b. The Russo-Japanese War was fought 1904-1905.
(7) (Joseph Trento, United States Circumvented Laws To Help Japan Accumulate Tons of Plutonium, DC Bureau, 9 Apr. 2012)
(8) A ‘false flag’ incident is where a country sets up an incident, usually violent, in such a way as to make it appear that another country was to blame.
(9) Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”
(12) ;
(14) The Webbs were also, with George Bernard Shaw, founding members of  the L.S.E. in 1895.
(15) Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of Reconstruction; Mackinder was an adviser to the British delegation at the Paris Peace negotiations that led to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Three of Mackinder’s colleagues from The Coefficients – Lord Alfred Milner, Lord Robert Cecil, and Arthur Balfour – also played significant roles in the Paris  Peace negotiations.
(16) Tamil Tigers vs the government in Colombo; the US & UK covertly supported the Tamil Tigers, while China supported the Sri Lankan government.
(17) See Guido Giacomo Preparata, Conjuring Hitler (2005) pp.1-15
(18) ibid.; also by stimulating anti-Chinese forces in Xinjiang province of western China, in Tibet and now in Burma.
(19) Niall Ferguson, Empire – How Britain Made The Modern World (2003), p.xxii