Anthroposophy and the Question of Conspiracy in Modern History (1)


© Terry M.Boardman   October 1999


This article first appeared in New View magazine  Issue 14 Jan-Mar  2000

“In our day the communication of truths….is the most vital thing and men must orientate themselves in regard to them on the basis of their own freedom.” (Rudolf Steiner 19.11.1917 Dornach)

Although the modern wave of conspiracy theory could arguably be said to have begun after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, or possibly even in the days of Senator Joe McCarthy’s investigations into communist influence in the USA in the early 1950s, it could certainly be claimed that conspiracy theory has been one of the hallmarks of the 1990s. Some have identified it as a fin-de-siècle phenomenon; looking back over this closing century, it is only natural perhaps that various secrets should finally have emerged from out of the woodwork. Others have seen it as a manifestation of millenial or apocalyptic angst. The “X-Files” TV series seems to encapsulate the more bizarre forms of the phenomenon, with its claims of deals made between the US government and aliens from other planets. But interestingly, it was no less a figure than US President George Bush and his announcement of the arrival of a “New World Order” during the Gulf Crisis of 1990-91 that started many people investigating the pedigree of the New World Order concept. Since then, there has been an explosion of conspiracy theories, from the wacky to the wise, which have sought to illuminate precisely what this “New World Order” signifies and what, if anything, lies behind it.  Despite the fact that the British in particular, due to their empirical, pragmatic, and sceptical bent, have difficulties taking even the concept of conspiracy theory seriously, this article will attempt to cast its own light on the question of conspiracy -  undoubtedly a phenomonenon of modern times – from an anthroposophical viewpoint.

An approach to understanding the subject can be made by considering the meaning of the words “Anthroposophy”, “Conspiracy” and “Modern History”. Anthropo-sophy claims to be “the wisdom of Man”  – the wisdom that is Man1, in that Man is regarded as a micro-cosmos, a threefold or three-in-one being of body, soul, and spirit. It claims to be a path of knowledge that can lead from the microcosmic spirit of Man to the macrocosmic spirit of the Universe. Furthermore, it claims to be the content of the so-called “fifth Gospel”2, namely, the teaching of the resurrected Christ, and sees in the Cosmic Being known as the Christ (Who can be encompassed by no single human name and belongs to all peoples) the very central point and meaning of Earth evolution, which is the transformation of our world from one of divine wisdom to one of human love. It thus regards the Incarnation and earthly life of the Christ 2000 years ago as the incisive event in all human history, after which the Old Adam, the first humanity was, in St Paul’s words, made new; the New Adam, a new humanity, was born. Christ’s Deed planted a seed into both the material substance of the Earth, and into the human soul from which in time, is slowly growing, soul by soul, heart by heart, an entirely new humanity, guided by love and conscience. Anthroposophy is thus that which claims to be able to understand and illuminate the entire process of human history and development on Earth both on this visible side and on the other invisible side of the thresholds of birth and death.  It points to the fact that history is made up of the deeds of spiritual beings, both human and suprahuman, and the karma or destiny which is created as a result of these deeds. It knows that the invisible, the hidden (and thus, the occult, since the word ‘occult’ simply means ‘hidden’) works within and behind the visible in all realms of human life. The prime gesture of Anthroposophy is to reveal the invisible, to make available to modern Man knowledge which was once hidden and esoteric. Anthroposophy is thus well-suited to investigate and describe the phenomonenon of conspiracy.

“Con-spiracy” means “breathing together” – being of one heart, one mind and prepared to act accordingly. The Mystery temples of ancient times  guided the development of their respective cultures. It was not possible in those distant times to reveal all knowledge to those who were unprepared for it or too immature to receive it. The hallmarks of the Mysteries were secrecy, hierarchy, silence, obedience and teaching, not  through intellectual discourse or reasoning so much as through the manipulation of symbols and ritual ceremonies. These spoke not to the wakeful mind or conscious Ego3, but to the dreaming feeling life of the soul and to the life forces of the body itself. The pupils of the Mysteries, East and West, were sworn to obedience to their superiors, in whose hands their destiny was trustingly placed as a child trusts its parents. The peoples of the East especially, then and now, were aware that truth and reality existed behind the veil of the visible and illusory material world. The origin of worldly power they also felt to exist behind that veil. This phase of human development had to come to an end, for  Man had to  come to be responsible  and not forever be dependent on divine parents. Christ’s life and passion was the macrohistorical event that closed  this phase. His disciples became His brothers and were initiated into knowledge but even more, into conscience and moral initiative. Thereafter, the members of the human family developed at different rates, and the peoples of Europe, which was the first continental community to embrace Christianity widely, descended somewhat earlier than most into what could be called the  ‘puberty’ experience of Mankind  – a fall away from the sense of  divine parentage and into isolation and independence.

 As a result, the West, particularly the English-speaking West, has moved furthest away from the ancient principles of initiation in the sense of the ancient Mysteries.  This has especially been the case since the 15th century, when “Modern History” is commonly regarded to have begun. The seminal event of the period 1450-1550 in the western world can be said to be the final end of the Roman period of dominance, which had begun  with the founding of Rome and its long march to power in the 8th century BC. One of Roman civilisation’s  key achievements was to give birth to the concept of the juridical person, the autonomous citizen. This was the contemporaneous earthly correlate of Christ’s bestowal of spiritual freedom. At approximately the same time in history thus appeared the idea of the autonomous self, both spiritual and earthly: spiritually,  in its relationship with the divine world (as children of the Father and brothers and sisters of the Son), and in an earthly sense in its relationship not merely with family, tribe, or city state (as in the Greek polis) but with the whole physical world, in that the individual was regarded as a “global citizen” of  the Roman Empire, then considered to constitute “the civilised world”. However,  Rome later fell back from this achievement into the habits of an earlier age, most notably in what became the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium, but also in the Holy Father concept of the western Papacy with its  theocratic pretensions to temporal power. In 1453 Byzantium finally collapsed, having surrendered to outer attack by the Asian Turks, while the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 recognised that the Papacy’s spiritual and political control  over half the population of Europe had also collapsed, having withdrawn before the inner challenge  of Protestantism. With these events, the remnants of the old Mystery habits were forced to give up the ghost as the whole culture of Antiquity blazed up once more in a final autumnal epiphany in the Renaissance. America had been discovered; the world circumnavigated; global consciousness was born. It was the beginning of another major phase in human development, one in which we are still living. This is the age – and it will extend for a long while yet -  in which the individual concentrates on himself or herself as autonomous being in a global context and demands both rights and responsibilities. It could be said indeed to be an age which corresponds in the life of the human being to the self-assertive years of 16-21: “Don’t tell me what to do, mum and dad. I must run my own life!” This is the gesture. The old community ties of  family, tribe, nation, and race recede in importance. The things of the past are increasingly rejected, and along with them, all ‘conspiratorial’ habits in the areas of spiritual and political power. All is to be open, visible, transparent.

Conspirators, Aristocrats, and Democrats
Accordingly, today in the West,  “conspiracy” is a dirty word. Its conventional meaning  today invariably implies an underhanded secrecy, a devious attempt to manipulate free  people. Oligarchy, hierarchy, manipulation via the subconscious, string-pulling, old boys’ networks – all of this is looked upon askance as an affront to the modern individual’s sense of dignity, and so it should be, for we have indeed grown up and have cut ourselves off from the divine apron-strings. But conspiracies, of  types both beneficial and injurious to human development, nevertheless remain. On the one hand, physical Nature continues to ‘conspire’, hiding its secrets from inquisitorial scientists. Meanwhile, Anthroposophy also points to the existence of certain spiritual beings who ‘breath together’ and co-operate   to frustrate people’s efforts to become autonomous individuals. These spiritual beings are both  visible and human (human beings are of course also spiritual beings) as well as invisible and suprahuman4.  Because not all human souls develop at the same rate, such conspirators seek to hold people back in earlier modes of consciousness by applying the  old Mystery techniques of symbol manipulation, subliminal suggestion, the principle of command-and-obey dependent on hierarchies and oligarchies of superiors and experts. “You can not think for yourself (yet)” is the message; “trust us and put your fate in our hands”. The human conspirators are themselves mostly inspired, more or less consciously, by the suprahuman conspirators, the Devil’s Advocates of the suprahuman world.

Thomas Jefferson, a representative of the modern spirit of freedom5  saw the struggle in these terms: “Men by their constitution are naturally divided into two parties. 1. Those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. Secondly those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them therefore liberals and serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, republicans and federalists, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last appellation of aristocratics and democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.” (emphasis TMB). Jefferson thus saw two broad groups in society: “aristocrats”, who looked on the rest of society as children to be led, and “democrats”, who felt the people should be entrusted to govern themselves. He wrote to Dupont de Nemours in 1816: 

“We both consider the people as our children…But you love  them as infants whom you are afraid to trust without nurses; and I as adults whom I freely leave to self-government.” 

A hundred years after Jefferson, Rudolf Steiner put it this way: 

“a thing we should inscribe afresh every day on our soul and never forget, however much it may be in our nature to forget it…we must be fighters on behalf of the spiritual in this …..epoch….Man is in the highest degree dependent on his freedom in this age and he has to experience it to the full….If humanity grew slack, everything might turn in favour of evil. Man is no longer at these times in a fit state to be led about like a child.  If certain brotherhoods exist whose ideal it is to guide men like children as they were guided in [earlier] epochs, they are acting wrongly and are far from doing that which is for the best in human development.”6

The impulses of the ancient Mysteries, though superseded by what Rudolf Steiner calls the public Mystery of Golgotha – the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ -  did not cease suddenly. The Mystery temples may have closed, but there were still initiates who gathered in secret to play their part in influencing the destinies of communities and peoples. Throughout the Middle Ages and on into the early modern period, as late as the early 19th century, there were such men who guarded the ancient secrets of initiation wisdom and sought ways of inseminating such wisdom clandestinely into humanity. Within such groups there were also, to echo Jefferson’s phrase,  aristocrats and democrats – those who felt Man had not yet grown up and must be led like children, and those who were prepared to trust to Man’s maturity. Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, an aristocratic novelist and playwright who enjoyed great success throughout the literary world in the 19th century, was also an occultist7,  and  Colonial Secretary under  Lord Derby (1858-9). He strongly indicated in Zanoni (1842), his novel about occultism, the tensions that  existed between the occult ‘conservative’ and ‘democratic’ factions. These came to a head in the 1840s and resulted first in the emergence of spiritualism, and later in the founding of the Theosophical Society by  Madame H.P.Blavatsky. C.G.Harrison, a practitioner of theoretical occultism of the High Church Anglo-Catholic variety, which was opposed to Theosophy, also alluded to this same struggle  within occult groups and brotherhoods between what he called the brothers of ‘left’ and ‘right’ in the remarkably revealing lectures he gave in London to the Berean Society in 18938. The decision had been made to counter the prevailing currents of materialism and aid Mankind by revealing spiritual truths about the evolution, nature, and destiny of the human being. At the same time, there were also active the opponents of these  initiates, namely those who served the suprahuman conspirators that sought to frustrate Man’s destiny9.

The growing self-awareness and essentially Christian spirit of love, conscience, and respect for the dignity of all human beings led, most notably after the beginning of the industrial revolution, to the emergence on the political stage of the self-aware working man. The impulse of freedom, of rights and responsibilities, had now also been grasped by the awakening of many individualities amongst the working class. This posed dangers to those conservatives – in both politics and occult circles (and often there were individuals active in both areas) – whose instincts were rooted in an aristocratic sensibility and who felt their political and economic interests, or their long-term occult aims, to be threatened. They sought to head off what they saw either as a threat to their domination or as an illegitimate assertion of the workers’ right to knowledge and power – the danger of the rising proletarian tide, first by  granting working men the vote (1870), and then by circumventing outside the political process what they had appeared to grant within it. This was done particularly through three means: the establishment of clandestine or semi-secret advisory groups which today we would call ‘thinktanks’, the manipulation of mass public opinion through the mass media, and the use of symbol systems through which to mesmerise and focus the loyalty of the ‘newly-empowered’ mass electorate. Thus, after 1877, by creating Queen Victoria Empress of India, Disraeli set in train the gaudy spectacle of late Victorian imperialism which enabled the workers of Leeds and Manchester always to feel that there were some poor foreign wretches who were worse off than themselves and inferior to themselves. With pride, England’s  poor could send their sons off in gleaming redcoats to bestow upon dark-skinned savages via Bible, law-book and Maxim gun all the blessings of  British civilisation. Yet this ‘most advanced of civilisations’ was based on what constitutionalists Walter Bagehot and Lord Acton respectively hailed as a ‘mystical monarchy’ and a ‘mystical constitution’, an ‘arcanum imperii’.

The shadow of King Arthur from the 1890s to the 1990s
Rudolf Steiner in 1916 pointed to one particular period where the political and the occult overlapped: “Right up to the 90s England was the perfect example of honest and upright parliamentarianism….[but] during the time when the things I have hinted at were beginning to take a hold it became necessary to create a special institution, for it was not possible to pull all sorts of strings if everything had to come from Parliament. For this reason the conduct of foreign affairs was taken away from Parliament. and also from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and made the preserve of a committee whose members consisted exclusively of the Cabinet and certain officials in the Foreign Ministry….. In the 90s the place where all the threads came together was separated from ‘external’ politics, which became nothing much more than a kind of shadow politics, no longer having much to say and revealing only what was really going on if one happened to look at it at the right moment. So, at the moment when it became necessary to commence pulling threads, the scene of action was transferred from external view to a hidden place, to a so-called committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”10 What Rudolf Steiner is probably referring to here is the group operating in Lord Salisbury’s administration from 1895 onwards around the Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain, and who, together with Cecil Rhodes, Sir Alfred Milner and the Times newspaper conspired to bring about the Jameson Raid in South Africa which, they designed, would provoke war with the Boers and ultimately lead to  British control of South Africa. The details and proof of the conspiracy and the way in which  it was hidden from the Parliamentary Select Committee set up to investigate it are given by the American historian Carroll Quigley in his book “The Anglo-American  Establishment.”11

Amidst the 19th century British neo-Gothic revival stimulated by Tennyson, Ruskin and others, the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table had held a central place and had inspired countless Victorians for good or ill. What Quigley calls the Rhodes-Milner Group of conspirators in the 1890s, seeing itself as Arthur’s Knights resurrected that would make the world safe for peace, democracy and domination by the English-speaking peoples, went on to establish the Round Table movement in 1909 in Anglesey, an ancient Celtic Druid12 centre. It then  took over the government of Britain in 1916, masterminded the development of the ideology of the Commonwealth as a means of continuing British influence in the post-imperial age, and established the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in 1919 and the Council On Foreign Relations in the USA in 1921 to coordinate Anglo-American foreign policy. Both these institutions often operate (still today) according to the so-called Chatham House Rule of non-attribution of sources or comment to the media. Here again one sees the gesture of secrecy, the desire to work from behind a veil13. A key role was played in this project in the first half of this century by the American journalist Walter Lippmann, who shortly after joining the cabal in 1916 wrote in his book Public Opinion advocating the establishment of extra-parliamentary institutions, or ‘thinktanks’: “We shall assume that what each man does is based not on direct and certain knowledge, but on pictures made by himself or given to him…. The way in which the  world is imagined determines at any particular moment what men will do. I argue that representative government, either in what is ordinarily called politics, or in industry, cannot be worked successfully, no matter what the basis of election, unless there is an independent, expert organization for making the unseen facts intelligible to those who have to make the decisions…My conclusion is that public opinions must be organized for the press if they are to be sound, not by the press as is the case today. This organization I conceive to be in the first instance the task of a political science that has won its proper place as formulator, in advance of real decision, instead of apologist, critic, or reporter after  the decision has been made…” At present, the inheritors of this conspiratorial stream, who work closely with leading Anglo-America banking and financial concerns (Morgan, Rothschilds, Rockefellers) are aiming at a one world government by the mid-21st century through a lengthy three stage process: the creation of a United States of Europe (well under way) allied to a Union of the Americas (under construction via the North American Free Trade Area, NAFTA), and finally, some kind of Asia-Pacific Community or Union (preliminary spadework completed through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group, or APEC).

The current debate in the UK over entry into the Euro and on the European Union in general is characterised by media assertions that ‘the people now realise that this is inevitable’, ‘the people see the way the wind is blowing’, ‘the people are realistic’ etc etc. The underlying assumption is that there is an inexorability about the way the  EU is developing as a centralised superstate – an inexorability to which the peoples of Europe consent. Yet in reality, the entire EU project, from its earliest beginnings in 1950 with Jean Monnet and Robert Schumann, has been driven by the determined energies of a small group of mandarins and elite Euro-crats – significantly backed at most times by Washington and Wall St – and propaganda support for the project has been inserted into the people’s consciousness over decades via the media, or else key aspects of  the project which deserve due attention and debate have been deliberately ignored by the media. This is essentially a project aristocratic and oligarchical in spirit,  descending from the top-down, not a democratic project arising from the  intuitions and wills of the peoples of Europe. It has been par excellence a conspiratorial project. However,  one should not lose sight of the larger game on Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “The Grand Chessboard”14 – in which the EU is but one major player -  namely,  the drive towards a single world state, a drive dominated not so much by the overt political will of the Anglo-American elite in the old 19th century territorial sense, as by their economically focused will, which is the bearer of certain cultural ‘values’: Rupert Murdoch’s ever-expanding global satellite network as a mediator for American cultural norms and ideas, for instance.  In presenting an anthroposophical understanding of conspiracy in modern history, the  next article will consider the esoteric context and aims of this 100 year-old stream that has proceeded from Rhodes and Milner.

1. Political correctness notwithstanding, the words ‘Man’ or ‘mankind’ to denote all men, women, and children I feel to be preferable to ‘humanity’, because the latter, derived from the Latin word for ‘earth’ (humus), emphasises being bound to the earth, while the word ‘Man’, of  Sanskrit and hence old Indo-aryan origin, means ‘mind’  or ‘spirit’ – ‘manas’. Mankind thus denotes beings endowed with a thinking mind and is a more accurate description of  our race as distinct from animals, who are also physical beings of the earth and also endowed with ‘anima’ – inner life, but not ‘manas’.
2. See 13 lectures by Rudolf Steiner “The Fifth Gospel” (Rudolf Steiner Press) Oct 1913 to Feb 1914. Steiner claimed the content of these lectures to be based on the teaching of Christ to the disciples after His Resurrection. Christianity – as taught by the Comforter, whom Christ said He would send to Humanity -  is an ongoing development and not in any sense frozen for all time in the events of 2000 years ago.
3. Conscious Ego here denotes not the consciousness of the lower self, but rather the human spirit, the individuality itself.
4. Anthroposophy indicates the existence of three broad groups of beings (the Luciferic, the Ahrimanic, and the Asuric) who work against  human development yet by so doing, actually contribute to that development in that they provide the resistance (often called ‘evil’) against which Man can strengthen his spirit, unfold his powers of love, and develop his understanding of  reality.
5. The fact that Jefferson owned slaves does not contradict the statement made here. The development of human freedom is an ongoing historical process, both in the life of the individual and of Mankind, not a fixed absolute for all times and places. The point  is that Jefferson stood for the recognition that adults (again, in his day, that usually meant adult males) were not to be regarded as children but as autonomous agents of their own destinies. The logic of  such a  position inexorably led to the eventual emancipation of slaves and of women.
6. From a lecture of 19 Nov 1917 (Dornach, Swizerland)
7. He regarded himself as a Rosicrucian and was, with Lord Stanhope (the 4th Earl of Stanhope),   a member of the so-called Orphic Circle which engaged in mesmerism, scrying with magic mirrors and other forms of ceremonial magic. This group had a considerable influence on the later Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (H.B.of L.), an enigmatic occult group which was to have a wide influence on the whole development of occultism in Britain, France and the USA. By ‘occult’ and ‘occultism’ in this context is meant not the devil-worship of the tabloids or the paranoia of Christian fundamentalists, but the search for hidden (= occult) esoteric knowledge. See Charles Bamford’s detailed introduction to C.G.Harrison “The Transcendental Universe” (Lindisfarne Press 1993) and also Godwin, Chanel, and Deveney, “The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor” (Weiser, 1995). Bulwer-Lytton’s novel “Vril – The Coming Race” had a far-reaching effect and influenced a wide range of people from Nazi racial theorists to the manufacturers of Bovril!
8. Very little is known about the Berean Society other than that they were concerned with understanding and studying the principles of  occultism and Christian esotericism as opposed to engaging in ‘practical occultism’, which is the practice of magic. The name of the Society comes from the New Testament – Acts 17.11 Harrison was their President for a year in 1893
9. See note 3 above
10. From a lecture of 18.12.16 Dornach, Switzerland (in The Karma of Untruthfulness Vol 1, Rudolf Steiner Press 1988)
11. Books In Focus, New York 1981. See chapter 6.
12. The Druids were a kind of western Brahmin priesthood, a holy aristocracy who guided the destinies of the Celtic  peoples by influencing the warrior kings and chiefs.. Rhodes and his friends actually set up a secret society in 1891, consciously modelled on the Jesuits and Freemasons, which would be dedicated to extending British rule over the world by secretive means. The Rhodes Scholarships were set up to this end.
13. This especially applies to meetings and conferences held at these two institutions, even semi-public ones. They both have websites, of course and both publish magazines, so they cannot be called completely secretive.
14. Zbigniew Brzezinski -  Counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Professor of American Foreign Policy at the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at  Johns Hopkins University in the USA.  National Security Advisor to President Carter, 1977-81. Polish-American protegé of David Rockefeller and co-founder with Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission (1973), an organisation which coordinates thinking among members of the academic, political, and business elites of America, Europe, and East Asia. “The Grand Chessboard – American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives” (HarperCollins, 1997) is Brzezinski’s latest book and deals with geostrategicl issues and how the USA can maintain its world hegemony in the 21st century.

 © Terry M.Boardman   October 1999

This page was created Jan 2000

Last updated 12.7.2012