1849 and 2017: Thoughts on ‘Globalisation’

This article was first published in New View magazine Issue 86 Jan. – Mar. 2018

It seems to this writer that there has been a certain similarity between the events of the years 1848 and 1849 on the one hand and those of 2016 and 2017 on the other. In 1848 and 2016 there was a widespread populist revolt across the western world against the existing Establishment which was severely shaken by the upsurge – various governments and prominent figures fell, including the Kings of France and Bavaria, and Chancellor Metternich of Austria, the powerful figure who had dominated continental affairs since the defeat of Napoleon in 1815; in 2016 Prime Minister David Cameron in Britain and Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential election in November 2016 both had to exit the political stage, as well as the Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi. A rebellious, populist, anti-Establishment mood dominated the years 1848 and 2016, partly driven by economic crises which had developed a few years earlier. However, in 1849 and 2017 the Establishment held its nerve, rallied its forces – military might in 1849 and media propaganda in 2017 – and drove back or at least managed to resist the populist wave, which had also made its own mistakes over the previous year.(1)

By the end of 1849 and 2017, however, the Establishment forces were very much back in the saddle across the western world. Rudolf Steiner was not the only one to point out that over the decades that followed 1848/49, the Establishment, rigid in its lack of imagination and sensitivity, mostly failed to acknowledge the demands of the populace; the middle classes, Steiner maintained, fell asleep politically from the 1850s onwards.(2) They failed to acknowledge the pain and suffering of the classes below them, which were caused by the fierce winds of the Industrial Revolution, and instead of associating with them politically in resistance to the Establishment, turned away from them in fear and distaste and moved ever closer to the upper classes and the aristocracy. The result was that the working classes increasingly fell for the revolutionary doctrines of Marxism and Communism (and later, Fascism) that offered to take their side, although the leaders of these groups were themselves all too often alienated members of the educated middle class. The result also became evident in the outbreak of war in 1914 when the Press, dominated by the middle class, for the most part whipped up war fever in support of the chauvinist agendas of the aristocracy and of conservative industrialists and financial oligarchs. Will the middle classes fall asleep again after 2017? Will they once again fail to acknowledge the pain and suffering of the classes below them, the result of the effects of the fierce winds of ‘globalisation’, and instead, in fear of populist rumblings from ‘below’, sometimes right-wing this time rather than left-wing as in the 1840 and 50s, once again cleave to the aristocrats and billionaire oligarchs of our time and the globalist system they have been upholding since 1945, the ancien regime of our era, which it pleases them to refer to as the “rules-based international order of liberal democracy” (WTO, IMF, World Bank, EU, NATO) and which their instruments in the corporate media of the western world, with a few caveats, invariably support – for lack of any other social ideas whatsoever?

Certainly, the response of many commentators in the   mainstream media to Brexit and the election of Trump in the USA was to doubt the sanity of ‘the masses’ and even question whether democracy remained a worthwhile political system. The libertarian blogger Brendan O’Neill noted(3) that Jason Brennan, an American professor and the author of ‘The Case Against Democracy’, wrote a piece in Foreign Policy magazine entitled ‘Trump Won Because Voters Are Ignorant’; the British biologist and controversial social commentator Richard Dawkins  declared that “ignoramuses” should not be asked to decide on the future of the EU, and Matthew Parris, a well-known journalist and ex-politician, writing in the British conservative magazine The Spectator, said that Trump’s victory calls into question “government by the people” and spoke of “keeping the mob from the gates.” Brennan, Dawkins and Parris are all media representatives of the so-called ‘liberal internationalist’ perspectives of the current global elite. They are symptomatic of ‘liberal’ middle and upper class distaste for the views of the ‘ignorant masses’, much as was the case in the 1840s and afterwards.

A new world was indeed coming into being in the decades after the fall of Napoleon, the world of the technology-powered Industrial Revolution. It was a world governed from behind the scenes of politics by new financial forces which, as the 19th and 20th centuries wore on, gradually took power from the politicians and industrialists of the 18th and 19th centuries. With the increasing complexity and costs of industrial production, manufacturers and industrialists gave way before the money men; industrial capitalism gave way to financial capitalism; the money men now called the shots. This new global banker- and financier-driven world reached its arguable apogee in the late 1940s and 1950s with the creation of the global or continental institutions referred to above (WTO, IMF World Bank etc.), which are still very much with us. But for how much longer? Many people, not least in the USA, feel the ground beginning to shift beneath the post-1945 world order, which has been the age of ‘the American empire’. A key characteristic of that age was the wave of industrialism that began in Britain in approximately 1760: steam power, and then later, analogue forms of electricity (telegraphs, telephones, electrical power grid systems, cinema, radio, television). Along with the institutions of the largely American-designed so-called “rules-based international order” in the years 1944-1957(4) came the emergence, also mostly in America to begin with, of the world of the computer. Giant machines filling vast rooms at first, they were symptoms of the 20th century’s love of size and scale, a consequence of western man’s infatuation with material power and large-scale systems since the Industrial Revolution. But by the 1980s a new direction was clear: the focus was no longer only on size, on the general and on the mass, but on the individual, the particular and the convenient: the first personal computers were soon followed by videogames, Walkmans and mobile CD players; products and manufacturing processes became ever more personalised, decentralised. The digital revolution began to replace analogue technology. Then, at the turn of the millennium, from 1990-2010, came the world-wide web and all that followed from it: the communications revolution went exponential. The pace accelerated: social media, ‘smart’ technology, and new systems and ideas based on this new technology, such as 3-D printing, biotech, and digital, entirely computer-based crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin and the new mega-tech companies, almost all of them American (Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook). All of these changes have empowered individuals and have served to disrupt the post-1945 ancien regime. But in what sense?

Zbigniew Brzezinski and the “global political awakening”

One of the chief representatives of the post-1945 American world order, the late, and far-sighted Zbigniew Brzezinski (he died on 26 May 2017, aged 86), former National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter 1976-1980 and a man very close to global oligarch David Rockefeller, told  a gathering of some of the global elite at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations on 23 April, 2010 that there were two new global realities determining world affairs: the shift of world power from the Atlantic region to the Pacific – something that most far-sighted observers, including Rudolf Steiner,  had seen coming almost a hundred years ago but which had now become reality, and secondly, a global political awakening, driven not least by the revolution in personal communications technology. Brzezinski said: “… for the first time, in all of human history, mankind has been politically awakened. That is a total new reality… in the course of the last one hundred years, the whole world has become politically awakened. …most people know what is generally going on in the world, and are consciously aware of global inequities, inequalities, lack of respect, exploitation. The combination of two factors: the diversified global leadership [i.e. leadership not just by the US, but by Russia, China, EU] and politically awakened masses, makes a much more difficult context for any major power including, currently, the leading world power: the United States.” Five years earlier, Brzezinski wrote in an article(5) for The American Interest that for most states, sovereignty is “now almost a legal fiction” and that “the central challenge of our time” is not global terrorism, but rather, “the intensifying turbulence caused by the phenomenon of the global political awakening. That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing. much of the developing world is politically stirring and in many places seething with unrest,… acutely conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree, and often resentful of its perceived lack of political dignity.” Thanks not least to the Internet, individuals now have access to a far greater range of critiques of the current established system than ever before – from the well-informed to the wacky, and are able to organise rapidly and effectively through personal computers, smartphones and social media. Brzezinski pointed out that worldwide (in 2005) there were between 80 and 130 million students in tertiary education,  “typically socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage” and that “these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large groups, connected by the Internet… . Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred.”

This could almost have been a representative of the ancien regime, such as Metternich (the previously mentioned Chancellor of Austria), speaking in the early 1840s to a gathering of his fellow aristocrats, warning them what was about to hit them. Already in 1970, in his book Between Two Ages – America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, with great prescience, Brzezinski wrote (p. 19) that the increasing internationalisation of elites,  “could create a dangerous gap between them and the politically activated masses, whose ‘nativism’ ¬ exploited by more nationalist political leaders ¬ could work against the ‘cosmopolitan’ elites.” This described – in 1970 (!) almost exactly the situation 36 years later, in 2016, when conservative nationalist and ‘populist’ or ‘nativist’ forces influenced by charismatic personalities (Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, Geert Wilders and others) did indeed work against cosmopolitan elites, and with considerable success, for example, by electing Donald Trump President and securing Brexit.

The western Establishment has tried to fight back against these forces by claiming that Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, has been ‘engineering’ the populist successes by espionage, hacking computer systems, and spreading so-called ‘fake news’ and other forms of online manipulation. But Brzezinski, one of the western elite’s most prescient and high-powered representatives, himself the scion of a Polish Catholic aristocratic family and a lifelong opponent of Russia, analysed and foresaw the actual situation of 2016 back in 1970 and, as he saw it then, it had little to do with Russia or its leaders! On the contrary, it was an entirely western problem. In the future, many of ‘the people’, he argued, would still be in a state of national consciousness whereas there would be transnational or supranational, cosmopolitan elites, and a ‘sympathy gap’ would open up between these elites and the increasingly angry populace. “Persisting social crisis”, he wrote in that same book in 1970, “the emergence of a charismatic personality, and the exploitation of mass media to obtain public confidence would be the stepping stones in the piecemeal transformation of the United States into a highly controlled society… .The traditionally democratic American society could, because of its fascination with technical efficiency, become an extremely controlled society, and its humane and individualistic qualities would thereby be lost.” He went on to outline how the American or western society of the future “would be dominated by an elite whose claim to political power would rest on allegedly superior scientific know-how. Unhindered by the restraints of traditional liberal values, this elite would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by using the latest modern techniques for influencing public behaviour and keeping society under close surveillance and control.  Under such circumstances, the scientific and technological momentum of the country would not be reversed but would actually feed on the situation it exploits.”

Macron, Merkel and Metternich

Brzezinski’s solution to the problems and challenges of the “politically activated masses” and “the intensifying turbulence caused by the phenomenon of global political awakening” was simply more of the same: “increasingly supranational cooperation, actively promoted by the United States” and more “global governance” ¬ a clever phrase that emerged in the 1990s to take the edge off the more direct phrase “global government”. This solution ¬ more centralised supranational control ¬ is essentially the solution of Angela Merkel (German Chancellor) and Emmanuel Macron (President of France): “more Europe!” more of the same i.e. a tighter, more unified European Union that gets ever closer to an actual United States of Europe, a single European unitary state. This is only too clear from the two visions of Europe’s future presented by President Macron and by the President of the EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker in September this year.(6) In an article in the British weekly magazine New Statesman (24-30 Nov. 2017), a publication situated on what could be called the left wing of the Establishment, Brendan Simms, professor of international relations at Cambridge University, England, welcomed the ‘vision’ for Europe articulated in Macron’s recent book Révolution, saying that in Macron’s programme, “hiding in plain sight is a proposal for the creation of a full political union” and that “Macron should start his European surgery without delay and not wait for the success of the operation in France”. This professor is clearly a man who has given up on British independence and looks forward instead to British submergence in a European superstate. He argues that Merkel is like Metternich (‘Merkelnich’, he calls her) who is, he says, vainly trying to hold together a loose confederal, contradictory European arrangement when instead, he feels, she should be pressing forward, full speed ahead, in a ‘revolutionary’ way like Macron, towards a fully federal union, a nation state called ‘Europe’ with a single economy, a single political system, a single government and a single cultural life full of ‘diversity’. He half-jokingly suspects that the sober, cautious, gradualist ‘Merkelnich’ will go the way of Metternich in 1848 and have to spend some time in exile in England, as he did. Simms seems ignorant of the extent to which the origins of the EU project lay in American national interests in the 1950s and of the larger, long-range goal of world government under the leadership of the English-speaking peoples, the chauvinist aim of transatlanticist elites since the time of Cecil Rhodes in the 1890s.(7) A united Europe would be one of the main ‘provinces’ in this neo-Roman Empire and indeed was described by none other than Winston Churchill in a speech in London on 14 May 1947 as “the indispensable step” towards the establishment of a “world super-government”.

An academic who is certainly not ignorant of the origins and ultimate aims of the ‘united Europe project’ is Prof. Richard J. Aldrich of Nottingham University (Britain), who in 1997 wrote a paper -   ‘OSS, CIA and European Unity: the American Committee on United Europe 1948-1960′  – in the journal Diplomacy and Statecraft, (Vol. 8 No.1, pp. 184-227)  in which he details  – in millions of dollars – the substantial extent of covert American financial backing for the European unification project provided by the CIA. He writes: “It is… particularly striking that the same small band of senior officials [among them the Dulles brothers, John F. Dulles and Allen W. Dulles(8) – TB], many of them from the Western intelligence community, were central in supporting the three most important transnational elite groups emerging in the 1950s: the European Movement, the Bilderberg Group and Jean Monnet’s Action Committee for a United States of Europe… .” These three groups “all shared broadly the same origins and sources of support.” The most striking aspect of the work of the American government-backed American Committee for United Europe (ACUE), he writes, is “the extent to which officials working for European reconstruction and unification shared the experience of wartime intelligence, special operations and resistance.[…] These links with clandestine organizations continue into the post-war period. The emerging European Community and the growing Western intelligence community overlapped to a considerable degree.” Aldrich makes clear that the goals of the Americans were to organise Europe in such a way that it would serve as a reliable long-term market for American products and to ensure that Russia was kept as far as possible away from Europe in the Cold War context. In particular, this meant keeping Russia and Germany apart, a long-term goal of Anglo-American foreign policy going back over 100 years to the ideas of the Edwardian era geopolitician Halford J. Mackinder. From current US attitudes towards Russia and recent NATO deployments in Europe this remains a prime American aim today, 26 years after the end of the first Cold War, when we are now in the second Cold War.(9) Needless to say, none of what Aldrich writes about featured in the Brexit debate in 2016 or in the years before. Even now, the argument continues to focus on economic advantages and disadvantages; the question of the ultimate goal, which is a United States of Europe, is hardly mentioned.


Threefolding and technocracy

This is not merely a political issue; it’s a cultural issue and in the long run, even a spiritual issue. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1917, Rudolf Steiner introduced the ideas of social threefolding as the solution to the social problems of the modern age. These were based on the spiritual scientific understanding of the human organism and sought to ground in social reality what had in the late 18th century remained mere abstractions, namely, liberty, equality and fraternity. Steiner showed how these three principles, which in the 18th century were but intellectual forms of intuitions that reach far back in western and Christian culture(10) need to be put into practice in the three spheres of society – culture, politics and economy – in such a way that the three spheres are both autonomous and interdependent, as the three systems of the human physical organism are: nervous system, circulatory system and metabolic system. Steiner fleshed this out in various lectures and books, such as his Towards Social Renewal and The Social Future. Many articles in New View in recent years by this writer and others have also detailed what this means. The reason why the public failed to respond to Steiner’s constructive and radical suggestions in the post-World War One crisis of 1918-1922 was that all sections of the political world at that time – communist, fascist and democrat – could not see beyond the concept of the unitary nation state and were prepared to allow the new state-run forces that had emerged during the war to continue after the war and manage the peacetime European order. Europeans had all just witnessed how the power and authority of the state had mobilised the forces of their entire societies for the war effort in more efficient but also more totalitarian ways than ever before. Many thinkers, including Jean Monnet, later the architect of the early phases of the united Europe project, imagined in 1918, when the war ended, how those new bureaucratic political and economic structures could be continued after the war in a technocratic, top-down fashion to ‘organise’ the economy of the West. Many Europeans had lost faith in the individualist bourgeois democracy of the 19th century and intellectuals, social commentators and some politicians felt that in the post-war society of the 1920s and 1930s, with the new technological developments such as nationwide electrical systems as well as the new burgeoning mass consciousness, society had to be organised in a corporate, more technocratic fashion. These technocratic tendencies spawned futuristic ‘visionary’ works such as H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things To Come (1933), which imagined developments from 1933 to 2016; they would also be lampooned by others, for example, Charlie Chaplin in his film Modern Times (1936).

It was particularly the more totalitarian political systems of fascism and communism that sought to harness these new forces of the unitary nation state – top-down, centralised controls and technocracy in new modern forms of corporatism ¬ but the democracies also tended in the same direction, as in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and Britain’s National Government in the 1930s. In retrospect, it seems as though the western world needed to experience, through trial and error, that the path of the unitary nation state was a cul-de-sac. By the end of the 1980s, fascist states had been destroyed and communist states were in decay, but the western democrats, who felt that their version of centralised ‘state’ management of society had been ‘victorious’ in the Cold War, have still not learned it even today. Elites and pundits in western democratic societies today still see their societies much as corporations run by management boards (cabinets) headed by CEOs (Prime Ministers or Presidents) which seek to organise and manage all three spheres of society – culture (e.g. education), politics and economy. Even after the financial Crash of 2008, the result of politicians’ evident failure to ‘manage’ advanced economies, this perspective has still not been admitted and politicians continue to regard themselves as managing nations as if they were corporations competing with other corporations (nations). This economic national competition led to world war in 1914 and may well do so again in the 21st century. Nevertheless, there is today a widespread feeling of malaise and an awareness that no new ideas have surfaced to replace the ‘state managerialism’ which has been tried since the First World War.

However, after the Second World War, those in power in the USA took advantage of America’s pre-eminent position and Europe’s devastation to push through a ‘new’ form of top-down, elite-driven managerialism which went under various names such as the “Washington Consensus”, “the liberal international order”, the “rules-based international order” etc. The goal here was not so much ‘nation state managerialism’ as ‘global managerialism’, guided and directed by the elites of the ‘Anglosphere’ (US, UK, ANZAC). What we call ‘globalisation’ today is usually seen in terms of the explosion of world trade and contacts and communications of all kinds, due especially to the revolution in communication technologies (notably satellites) and the Internet, but most economists would say that 100 years ago commercial and financial practices (e.g. world trade, international submarine cables, the Gold Standard, internationally recognised property rights etc.) were such that we were already living in a global economy at that time.

Steiner also recognised this in his lectures on World Economy in 1922. It was one of the reasons why he insisted that it was futile for the governments of nation states to seek to manage economies nationally; instead they should stick to what they were best placed to ‘manage’, namely, the administration and execution of law, politics and national security. Steiner saw this modern global economic reality in the context of the development of a global consciousness which had slowly been emerging since the ‘voyages of discovery’ in the 15th century and a new spiritual development which, he said, had begun in 1879. And here we can follow indications given by Steiner out of his spiritual research; and if one takes them as a means towards understanding events in the world, and within oneself, many connections and insights may begin to resonate, revealing a clearer understanding.  Steiner recognised seven spiritual beings, associated with planetary spheres, which presided over succeeding Epochs, or Ages, of human development. He used the traditional name ‘archangels’ for these beings and gave 1879 as the beginning of the Age of the ‘Sun’ Archangel Michael, which will last for about 400 years until about 2300. The hallmarks of this age are cosmopolitanism and the spiritualisation of thinking, tendencies that go in the opposite direction to nationalism and materialism, which are products of the previous age, that of the ‘Moon’ Archangel Gabriel (1510-1879). But materialism, he insisted, would not suddenly fade away; on the contrary, it would get stronger throughout the Age of Michael, representing the fierce opposition of spiritual counterforces to the growing Michaelic impulses. This opposition would not come from the Archangel Gabriel but primarily from the spiritual being that inspires materialism and the rejection of the spirit, the being which Steiner called Ahriman. This powerful being, for profound spiritual reasons (to discuss which there is not space in this article), is now approaching ‘his’ own incarnation on the material plane as a human being “in the West”,(11) as Christ incarnated in  the Middle East, in Jesus of Nazareth, 2000 years ago. Likewise, some 3000 years before Christ, according to Steiner, the being known to occultism as Lucifer also incarnated in a human being, in ancient China.(12) (Ahriman and Lucifer are sometimes known respectively as Satan and the Devil, two opposing forces to humanity who bring certain ‘gifts’ for our development but wish to negate human freedom). The steadily increasing ‘darkness’ and social and cultural pressures which many contemporaries feel today, above all in the ever accelerating driving force of scientific and technological developments which pose severe challenges to mankind (e.g. biogenetics, robotics, artificial intelligence etc.) are part of the atmosphere surrounding the approach of this being whose incarnation, Steiner maintained, cannot be avoided and has to be endured and worked with so that mankind can actually learn from it.

Three types of globalisation

The question of ‘globalisation’ is very much bound up with all of this. It is our destiny as mankind on this planet, Steiner says, to become conscious of our responsibility for ourselves as individuals and also of our responsibility to the planet that makes our earthly lives possible. This is the meaning of the emergence of global consciousness since the 1500s. However, we are to learn to understand this destiny through cultural, national and racial diversity. The rainbow can be said to have various meanings but one is that we can learn to appreciate the colours that make up the rainbow for themselves and not seek to mix all the colours up to produce just one muddy hue. Here can be found, in the view of this writer, an error in the thinking of many contemporaries. ‘Globalisation’, they assume, is in tune with progressive developments in world history, such as the Age of Michael. Nationalism and the nation state they see as in opposition to this. Steiner certainly regarded these as ahrimanic impulses in the modern era, and so they are if they seek to divide human beings against each other in antagonistic ways. The age of the unitary nation state is in any case over and will only produce ever more problems as we go forward in this era – we just have yet to realise that. However, that does not mean that the positive, progressive way forward is to promote uniformity in culture, politics and economy. Just as ecologists recognise that biodiversity is essential for life on earth, so is cultural diversity necessary for human development. The spread of one cultural pattern over the whole earth, as has been happening increasingly with ‘Americanisation’ in this age of the globalised “rules-based order” imposed by the USA after 1945 – although the process could be said to have begun with America’s entry into the First World War in 1917(13) – is most definitely not healthy for mankind. We surely need to recognise our common humanity shining through our differences ¬ this is the rainbow beauty of human life – and not by seeking to eradicate those differences. The spirit unites; the earthly separates. As human beings – as spiritual beings undergoing material existences – we need both of these gestures of unity and separation, sympathy and antipathy,  in order to live on this earthly plane;  both have their part to play.

Repeatedly, Steiner explained that such spiritual counter-forces as Ahriman and Lucifer, beings of titanic but utterly inhuman intelligence are actually there in order to assist us in our development into freedom by providing resistance to our progress in numerous ways.These beings are familiar with the laws of human development on this plane, such as the succession of the archangelic periods, and they seek to use these laws to their own advantage. While Ahriman seeks to work against human unity, by accentuating separative and antagonistic impulses such as those of nationalism and racism, which are rooted in materialism, Lucifer will accentuate impulses that promote uniformity, sameness and ‘oneness’ – impulses that go against human diversity. Ahriman and Lucifer are two mutually polar and antagonistic beings, yet they also work together when it benefits both in their different aims for humanity. We can perhaps encapsulate the luciferic-ahrimanic polarity here in the polarity of ‘uniformity and atomism’, for example: world government vs unitary nation states. The former is the luciferic illusion which privileges abstract principle and takes little or no account of the earthly realities of diverse cultural, national, racial, ethnic and geographical factors; the latter seeks to break up and divide human beings against each other, overemphasising precisely such factors. When we see our current world situation described in the media in terms of ‘globalisation’ vs ‘nationalism’, as is often the case today, we should be aware that this is only describing the struggle between the polar forces of Lucifer vs Ahriman respectively. But we can also observe a combination of luciferic and ahrimanic impulses of, on the one hand, a luciferic globalised superordinate uniformity – one pattern is deemed appropriate for all human beings – and on the other hand, an ahrimanic  materialism that divides and atomises. Here luciferic and ahrimanic impulses collaborate.  We can thus discern three  variegated kinds of ‘globalisation’ : there is ‘luciferic globalisation’ (as in the spiritually authoritarian claims of certain religious traditions that claim global application); there is ‘luciferic-ahrimanic’ globalisation (for example, in the Anglo-American form of oligarchical, commercially driven globalisation where the same pattern of materialistic commercialism tends to be spread across the world) and there is ‘michaelic globalisation’, where we are looking at something essentially human in which the luciferic and the ahrimanic play no part; for example, one can imagine an international music festival, in which musicians from different cultures play, and reveal  what is human in each of their different traditions – as distinct from a performance in which classical musicians from different traditions play together to try to create something ‘new’ and ‘supranational’, which does indeed occasionally work but rarely in a way that really satisfies. We need discernment to see which of the three concepts of globalisation accurately corresponds to the phenomenon we are looking at in any one case.

The luciferic-ahrimanic form of globalisation was accelerated in the 1990s with the spread of computerisation and the Internet, but it was conceived as a geopolitical aim over 100 years ago by members of the British and American elites such as Cecil Rhodes, Alfred Milner, and Henry and Brooks Adams,(14) and has been carried through with remarkable persistence by Anglo-American elites until today. Although Zbigniew Brzezinski, arguably a key operative of this kind of globalisation, often spoke of “the fiction of state sovereignty” and of  today’s cosmopolitan elites having a  transnational consciousness, he insisted that one nation in particular should continue to be responsible for managing the world: America must lead in constructing the system of global governance, “in shaping a world that is defined less by the fiction of state sovereignty and more by the reality of expanding and politically regulated interdependence.” In 2004, Brzezinski gave a speech at the Carnegie Council on his 2004 book, The Choice. Globalisation, he said, was driven by the USA, and Communism was now discredited: “But I see the beginnings, in writings and stirrings, of the making of a doctrine which combines anti-Americanism with anti-globalization, and the two could become a powerful force in a world that is very unequal and turbulent.” Here again, 12 years before the events of 2016, Brzezinski correctly identified today’s ‘new right’, so-called ‘patriotic’ anti-globalist movements. Asked how the challenge of the “global political awakening” could be dealt with, Brzezinski said: “We deal with the world as it is and we are as we are. If we are to use our power intelligently and if we are to move in the right direction, we have no choice but do it incrementally” for that is how to “use our power intelligently.”  It is not exactly clear who Brzezinski was referring to by that little word “we” here, but clearly, for him, from the perspective of those ‘at the top’, the solution to the “global political awakening” is to continue to create the apparatus of global government but gradually, so that those at the bottom do not notice.

On 25 Nov. 1917 in Dornach Switzerland (Collected Works GA 178) Steiner said: “Certain human forces are at work defending the impulses that were justifiable impulses up to the time of the French Revolution… but now the endeavour is to represent them in a retarded ahrimanic-luciferic form in a way that would maintain a social order thought to have been overcome by humanity since the end of the eighteenth century. In the main there are two camps in opposition to one another: the representatives of the principle that had been overcome by the end of the 18th century, and the representatives of the present time… . These are the matters that confront one another, the ones that are really doing battle in the world today. Rooted in the West there is the principle of the 18th, 17th 16th centuries which makes itself invisible by clothing itself in the phrases of the Revolution, the phrases of democracy, the principle which dons this mask and is striving to gain as much power as possible.” (emphasis – TB)

Steiner is here talking about a real authoritarian, anti-democratic,  neo-aristocratic principle that sees society in terms of sheep and shepherds and seeks to prevent the people from rising to the autonomy in their lives that they are trying to realise.  The luciferic-ahrimanic impulse seeks to impose a cultural uniformity upon ‘those below’, who are increasingly rising up to assert their individuality (as is inevitable in the modern age since the Renaissance and the Reformation). A similar controlling gesture was visible during the period 1799-1815 when nationalist, ‘revolutionary’, Napoleonic France sought to impose the uniformity of French civilisation upon the rest of Europe. Napoleon encountered resistance ‘from below’ in the form of traditionalist aristocratic as well as new middle class nationalist forces across Europe – from Britain to Spain, Austria, Prussia and Russia. These European forces asserted cultural diversity against the effort to impose a French universalism on Europe, a universalism modelled on that of the Roman Empire, the empire of the past. Emmanuel Macron,  the youngest French President since Napoleon, has declared that he wants “to be a ‘Jupiter-like’ president, directing affairs from on high like the king of the ancient Roman gods, disdaining day-to-day questions and untrustworthy journalists”,(15) and in his 26 September 2017 ‘Initiative for Europe’ he made clear in his six point plan the way ahead to a solid European federal union, which is clearly recognisable as an attempt to resurrect la gloire de la France through the European Union. Macron wants to advance this French-led agenda together with Germany, with Angela Merkel, but in the elections of September 2017 the German people gave her a setback, substantially reducing her party’s seats in the Bundestag and requiring her to find new coalition partners. Martin Schulz, former President of the European Parliament and now leader of the German Social Democratic party (SPD), initially refused to work with her in coalition, but now that a coalition with the other parties she preferred has fallen through, she has to ask him again for his collaboration. It looks like she will get it by the end of this year, for they are both big supporters of the EU and wish to hold at bay the populist forces of the New Right, such as the Alternative for Germany party. On 7 December in a keynote speech, Martin Schulz tried to reinvent his battered party and rise to Macron’s challenge by declaring that he and the SPD would press for a “United States of Europe” by 2025, more or less in line with Macron’s target of 2024 which was mentioned in his September speech. The rabbit is now finally and clearly out of the bag; no more ‘Merkelnich’ ‘gradualism’. The peoples of Europe will now have to decide whether this neo-Napoleonic Jupiterian project imposed from on high ever since the 1950s by the political instruments of the elites of Europe and the USA (in Washington and Wall St.) – the current ancien regime ¬ is what they want for their continent or whether they want another kind of European arrangement more truly in accord with the needs of the 21st century.

The individual and the folk soul

During and after the First World War, Rudolf Steiner often referred his audience’s attention to the lectures he gave in Christiania (Oslo) in June 1910; these were titled The Mission of the Folk Souls in connection with Germanic-Scandinavian Mythology. He highlights the significance of the topic in the preface he wrote in February 1918 for the publication of the lectures: “It is especially important that just in our times one should speak quite impartially on what we call the Mission of Individual Folk Souls because the fate of humanity in the near future will bring men together much more than has hitherto been the case, to fulfil a common mission for humanity. But the individuals belonging  to the several peoples will only be able to bring their free, concrete contributions to this joint mission if they have, first of all, an understanding of the folk to which they belong, an understanding of what we might call ‘the Self-knowledge of the Folk’”. This means that precisely in this cosmopolitan age of Michael, it is especially important that we become conscious of what lives in the folk soul with which we have chosen to connect ourselves, because if we are not, we may become unduly influenced by unconscious impulses in our souls that stem from the folk soul and if so, we will be unable to play our rightful part as individuals in bringing what he called our “free concrete contributions” to humanity’s “common mission” in this epoch. This is a not a matter of nationalism or of becoming nationalists. It is a matter of our genuine interest in the folk soul to which we belong and in other folk souls. How can this interest arise? In the first lecture of the cycle in The Mission of the Folk Souls, Steiner speaks in relation to those who may consciously follow a path of inner development that this genuine objective interest can only arise when the stage of the spiritual path known as ‘homelessness’ is experienced, that is, when individuals have moved beyond the unconscious ties to their people that are the norm for those whose destiny does not take them out of that people in some way. Only after the experience of this ‘homelessness’ can we come to serve our people, our folk soul, in the freely chosen, conscious way that is right for our time – the  way that can help the folk soul fulfil its part in humanity’s common mission in this current Age of Michael.

In the same lecture cycle Steiner says: “In ancient Greece, in the Apollonian Mysteries, the sentence ‘Know thyself’ played a great role; in a not far-distant future this sentence will be addressed to the folk souls: ‘Know yourselves as Folk souls. This saying will have a certain significance for the future work of mankind.” Today, it is not just a matter of ‘globalism versus nationalism’. It is more complicated than that. It is about understanding what a people, a culture, is and how it has evolved and where it is in its biography and what it needs to do to progress. It is about understanding one’s relation to that folk soul and about discerning what kind of globalisation one may be faced with in any particular situation and how one’s folk soul should rightly relate to that particular impulse.(16)

1. The year 1848 also saw the emergence of two phenomena bubble up in the cultural sphere which would have a great influence in subsequent decades: Spiritualism originated in the USA in 1848, and in the same year, the 23-page Communist Manifesto was written by Karl Marx in Brussels and then published in London.
2. See Steiner lec. 25.10.1918 in From Symptom to Reality in Modern History. “When one passes from a middle class reunion to a proletarian meeting one has the following impression – In the former time they spend time in discussing what a fine thing it would be if men lived in peace, if all were pacificists for example, or other fine sentiments of a like nature. But all this is merely verbal dialectic seasoned with a pinch of sentiment… . When you attend a proletarian meeting you are immediately aware  that the workers are talking of realities, even if they are the realities of the physical plane. ….owing to the characteristics of the middle class which I have already described, … . From the forties to the seventies the middle class had been asleep and we cannot afford to ignore the consequence.”
3. Essay “In defence of the crowd” (11.11.2016) at http://brendanoneill.co.uk/
4. 1944 Bretton Woods Conference (IMF and World Bank), 1945 United Nations,1949 NATO, 1950 European Coal and Steel     Community, 1957 European Economic Community, to name but four such institutions.
5. “The Dilemma of the Last Sovereign,” 1 Sept 2005 https://www.the-american-interest.com/2005/09/01/the-dilemma-of-the-last-sovereign/
6. For the full (English) text of Macron’s speech at the Sorbonne, “Initiative for Europe” on 26 September 2017,


  Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRiXM8RiCOc     For the full (English) text of Juncker’s State of the Union address on 13 Sept. 2017, see:
7. I have written about this in other articles in New View e.g. No. 80 July 2016 and No. 82 Jan. 2017.
8. John F. Dulles (1888-1959), attorney, diplomat , US Secretary of State 1953-1959; Allen W. Dulles (1893-1969) attorney, diplomat, CFR Director, Director of CIA 1953-1961.
9. See Q & A of speech by George Friedman of the geopolitical consultancy STRATFOR at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeLu_yyz3tc
10. For example, at the beginning of the New Testament: gold, frankincense,myrrh; at the end of the New Testament: the  woman in the Apocalypse of St. John, clothed with the sun, the stars above her head and the moon below her feet, and the Rosicrucian alchemical triad of salt, mercury and sulphur.
11. See Steiner lecture of 1.11.1919, in Collected Works GA 191.
12. See n. 11.
13. For example, in 1917 the first jazz record was made (Livery Stable Blues by the  Original Dixieland Jass Band and Charlie Chaplin was already a global superstar: the age of Hollywood had arrived.
14. Henry Adams (1838-1918), historian and his brother Brooks Adams (1848-1927), historian and political scientist, were members of the elite East Coast Adams family which had provided two early American Presidents. The Adams brothers were closely associated with the imperialist circle around Theodore Roosevelt. Steiner discusses Brooks Adams’ book The Law of Civilisation and Decay (1895) in a lecture of 16.12.1916 in  Karma of Untruthfulness Vol 2.
15  http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/france-macron-jupiter-hollande-1.4277387
16.A comprehensive overview of our contemporary situation is The Technological Revolution and the Future of Freedom by Andrew Gavin Marshall, available here: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sociopol_bigbrother25.h