assimilation 1

assimilation 2

From: at
Date: Sun Mar 14, 2004 1:10 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Peter,

I was going through the archives, trying to see if my notoriously unreliable short-term memory had omitted anything of significance. I came across this, and wanted to ask you a question about it.

Peter Staudenmaier (February 23rd, 2004 to the list):

Sorry to have caused confusion. I will try to restate what I think is relevant about the concept of assimilation and its role in Rudolf Steiner's views on Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness.

Assimilation is most certainly not antisemitic in and of itself. In the Germany of Steiner's day, most Jews were firmly in favor of assimilation, and they definitely weren't antisemites; in fact the most prominent organization of pro-assimilationist Jews, the Centralverein, was also a major opponent of antisemitic agitation. There were other tendencies within German Jewry that were much more ambivalent toward assimilation, including many Orthodox Jews and many Zionists, but these were minority viewpoints at the time.

Daniel:

Summary: Assimilationist Jews are (mostly) not anti-Semitic.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Within the non-Jewish population (which is to say, the vast majority of Germans), there were many supporters and defenders of Jewish rights; these people are sometimes called philosemites (though that term, particularly in Germany, carries a quite a few complicated connotations). In my view, Steiner belonged to this stream around the turn of the century, when he published a series of articles denouncing organized antisemitism. Along with these philosemites, there were of course also many antisemites, who appeared in a great variety of ideological types, from religious antisemites to cultural antisemites to political antisemites to economic antisemites to racial antisemites and more. To complicate matters further, the range of general attitudes toward assimilation among non-Jewish Germans was spread more or less evenly across this ideological spectrum: some antisemites were in favor of assimilation, as they understood it, and others were opposed. Moreover, many philosemites also shared an emphatically pro-assimilationist perspective.

Daniel:

Non-Jewish defenders of Jewish rights are philosemites. They could also simultaneously be anti-Semites. Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite.

Peter Staudenmaier:

The trouble is that for the most part, Jews and non-Jews meant very different things by the term 'assimilation'. For Jews, especially assimilationist Jews, it generally meant fuller integration into mainstream German society while retaining their Jewish identity. For many non-Jews, in contrast, assimilation meant the abandonment of Jewish identity as such. This is how Steiner understood the concept, for example. This fundamental difference greatly exacerbated the existing social conflicts surrounding the so-called "Jewish question" in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I hope this won't muddle things even further, but it's important to keep in mind that racism and antisemitism are two different things. Although they do often coincide, there are certainly racists who are not antisemites and antisemites who are not racists. This is relevant to the contested notion of assimilation because most racial antisemites -- those who viewed Jews as racially distinct from 'German' or 'Aryans' -- opposed assimilation. However, there are instances of antisemites who favored assimilation and who also held a more or less racial conception of Jewishness; in my view, some of Steiner's mature views on Jews (after his turn to Theosophy) fall into this category.

Daniel:

Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite because his view of assimilation involved the loss of separate Jewish identity.

Peter Staudenmaier:

In summary: assimilation itself is neither necessarily antisemitic nor necessarily racist; it is, instead, a significant distinguishing issue in the complex debates over the status of Jews within German culture and society in Steiner's day. The difference between Jewish and gentile understandings of 'assimilation' is a mainstay of the abundant historical research on German-Jewish history; when I get back to the computer later today I will try to post a selection of quotes from various works that will hopefully give a fuller picture of this multifaceted question.

Daniel:

In the end, whether your view of assimilation is anti-Semitic or not depends entirely on whether or not your version of assimilation results in a loss of separate Jewish identity.

Daniel:

So summing the whole thing up again:

Assimilationist Jews are (mostly) not anti-Semitic. Non-Jewish defenders of Jewish rights are philosemites. They could also simultaneously be anti-Semites. Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite. Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite because his view of assimilation involved the loss of separate Jewish identity. In the end, whether your view of assimilation is anti-Semitic or not depends entirely on whether or not your version of assimilation results in a loss of separate Jewish identity.

Is this correct?

Daniel

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Sun Mar 14, 2004 2:26 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

Summary: Assimilationist Jews are (mostly) not anti-Semitic.

Yes.

Non-Jewish defenders of Jewish rights are philosemites.

Yes.

They could also simultaneously be anti-Semites.

No, not if you mean they could be antisemites and philosemites at the very same time. But a number of German intellectuals went through shifting phases on this score, and developed from philosemites into antisemites or vice-versa, at different times in their lives.

Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite.

I think he had both antisemitic and philosemitic phases. I outlined them in my first post to this list.

Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite because his view of assimilation involved the loss of separate Jewish identity.

No, that criterion alone won't serve to distinguish philosemitic from antisemitic positions. Mommsen's view of assimilation was very similar to Steiner's and Treitschke's, for example, and Mommsen was a philosemite, not an antisemite. To discern the significant differences, we need to take a number of other contextual factors into account, as I've tried to explain before.

In the end, whether your view of assimilation is anti-Semitic or not depends entirely on whether or not your version of assimilation results in a loss of separate Jewish identity.

No, not in my view. This version of assimilation-as-disappearance could be incorporated into both philosemitic and antisemitic paradigms, as the debate between Treitschke and Mommsen shows.

Assimilationist Jews are (mostly) not anti-Semitic. Non-Jewish defenders of Jewish rights are philosemites. They could also simultaneously be anti-Semites.

Not in the sense of "simultaneous" that I think you mean. They could be both philosemites and antisemites in the course of their careers, however.

Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite.

No, he was both a philosemite and an antisemite at different points in his life, in my view.

Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite because his view of assimilation involved the loss of separate Jewish identity.

He held this view of assimilation in both the philosemitic and the antisemitic phases. It is one of the unifying factors in Steiner's attitudes toward Jews overall throughout his life.

In the end, whether your view of assimilation is anti-Semitic or not depends entirely on whether or not your version of assimilation results in a loss of separate Jewish identity.

No, that is not my argument. Here are some of the contributing factors that I discussed previously: Did the figures in question participate in existing antisemitic discourses about Jews? Did they publicly praise prominent antisemites and endorse their views on Jews? Did they defend anti-Jewish tracts against charges of antisemitism? Did they derive terminology or central concepts from sources in which antisemitic features played a prominent role? Did they express their views on Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness within contexts in which antisemitic themes were already conspicuous? Did they incorporate longstanding antisemitic tropes into their own doctrines? I think that Steiner did all of those things at various points in his life.

Peter

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From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sun Mar 14, 2004 2:56 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

At 22:10 14.03.2004, Daniel wrote:

So summing the whole thing up again:

Assimilationist Jews are (mostly) not anti-Semitic. Non-Jewish defenders of Jewish rights are philosemites. They could also simultaneously be anti-Semites. Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite. Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite because his view of assimilation involved the loss of separate Jewish identity. In the end, whether your view of assimilation is anti-Semitic or not depends entirely on whether or not your version of assimilation results in a loss of separate Jewish identity.

Good summary. I admire you for your work and effort. They remind me of brain-twisters of sorts, which have a certain kinship to tongue-twisters, like the unforgettable "Moses Supposes" with Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor from the best musical ever made on film, "Singin' in the Rain" (1952):

Moses supposes his toeses are Roses,
But Moses supposes Erroneously,
Moses he knowses his toeses aren't roses,
As Moses supposes his toeses to be!
Moses supposes his toeses are Roses,
But Moses supposes Erroneously,
A mose is a mose!
A rose is a rose!
A toes a toes!
Hooptie doodie doodle
Moses supposes his toeses are Roses,
But Moses supposes Erroneously,
For Moses he knowses his toeses arent roses,
As Moses supposes his toeses to be!
Moses
(Moses supposes his toeses are roses)
Moses
(Moses supposes erroneously)
Moses
(Moses supposes his toeses are roses)
As Moses supposes his toeses to be!
A Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is
A rose is for Moses as potent as toeses
Couldn't be a lily or a daphi daphi dilli
It's gotta be a rose cuz it rhymes with mose!
Moses!
Moses!
Moses!
(Dance Sequence)
AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

I once had an anthology of British tongue-twisters. Here are two favorites I remember:

The archbishop's cat crept craftily into the Canterbury Cathedral crypt, causing cataclysmal chaos in clerical circles by keeping cunningly concealed."

- Are you aluminiuming'em, my man?
- No, I'm copperbottoming'em, Mom.

We could make a combined brain-and-toungue-twister of our own with all these Jewish and non-Jewish philo-Semitic anti-Semites. Any suggestions?

Tarjei
http://uncletaz.com/

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From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Sun Mar 14, 2004 3:32 pm
Subject: RE: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

We could make a combined brain-and-toungue-twister of our own with all these Jewish and non-Jewish philo-Semitic anti-Semites. Any suggestions?

Peter picked a peck of pickled poop,
a peck of pickled poop Peter picked:
if Peter picked a peck of picked poop.
where is the peck of pickled poop peter picked?

Answer: In the WC of course.

Frank

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From: at
Date: Tue Mar 16, 2004 2:28 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Peter,

Thanks for your reply.

Summary: Assimilationist Jews are (mostly) not anti-Semitic.

Yes.

Non-Jewish defenders of Jewish rights are philosemites.

Yes.

They could also simultaneously be anti-Semites.

No, not if you mean they could be antisemites and philosemites at the very same time. But a number of German intellectuals went through shifting phases on this score, and developed from philosemites into antisemites or vice-versa, at different times in their lives.

Daniel:

Ok. Thanks for the clarification. Let's see if I got it:

"Within the non-Jewish population (which is to say, the vast majority of Germans), there were many supporters and defenders of Jewish rights; these people are sometimes called philosemites. ... Along with these philosemites, there were of course also many antisemites... ... ...the range of general attitudes toward assimilation among non-Jewish Germans was spread more or less evenly across this ideological spectrum: some antisemites were in favor of assimilation, as they understood it, and others were opposed. Moreover, many philosemites also shared an emphatically pro-assimilationist perspective."

So nobody at that time was simultaneously a philosemite and an anti-Semite. (From elsewhere) A person's view of assimilation is not enough to determine philosemitism or anti-Semitism. If a person defends Jewish rights and is therefore a philosemite, whether or not their view of assimilation ends with the disappearance of a separate Jewish identity will not in itself cause them to be an anti-Semite. To be an anti-Semite they must be shown to have advocated unequal treatment of Jews and/or to have disparraged Jews as a group.

Now what of people who advocated Jewish rights out of principle, but disparraged Jews out of habit or cultural prejudice? Would they not be anti-Semitic philosemites?

Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite.

I think he had both antisemitic and philosemitic phases. I outlined them in my first post to this list.

Daniel:

So how would you describe Steiner overall?

Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite because his view of assimilation involved the loss of separate Jewish identity.

No, that criterion alone won't serve to distinguish philosemitic from antisemitic positions. Mommsen's view of assimilation was very similar to Steiner's and Treitschke's, for example, and Mommsen was a philosemite, not an antisemite. To discern the significant differences, we need to take a number of other contextual factors into account, as I've tried to explain before.

Daniel:

So you are arguing that Steiner fits the profile of someone who advocated Jewish rights out of principle, but disparraged Jews out of habit or cultural prejudice?

In the end, whether your view of assimilation is anti-Semitic or not depends entirely on whether or not your version of assimilation results in a loss of separate Jewish identity.

No, not in my view. This version of assimilation-as-disappearance could be incorporated into both philosemitic and antisemitic paradigms, as the debate between Treitschke and Mommsen shows.

Daniel:

Ok. I am glad we have established this.

Steiner was an anti-Semitic philosemite because his view of assimilation involved the loss of separate Jewish identity.

He held this view of assimilation in both the philosemitic and the antisemitic phases. It is one of the unifying factors in Steiner's attitudes toward Jews overall throughout his life.

Daniel:

Ok. I am glad we have established this.

In the end, whether your view of assimilation is anti-Semitic or not depends entirely on whether or not your version of assimilation results in a loss of separate Jewish identity.

No, that is not my argument. Here are some of the contributing factors that I discussed previously: Did the figures in question participate in existing antisemitic discourses about Jews? Did they publicly praise prominent antisemites and endorse their views on Jews? Did they defend anti-Jewish tracts against charges of antisemitism? Did they derive terminology or central concepts from sources in which antisemitic features played a prominent role? Did they express their views on Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness within contexts in which antisemitic themes were already conspicuous? Did they incorporate longstanding antisemitic tropes into their own doctrines? I think that Steiner did all of those things at various points in his life.

Ok. Thanks for the clarity. So, since you seem to be more up to date on the issue, I would appreciate it if you could perhaps provide the examples you have found in Steiner's writing that fit each of the categories:
Did Steiner participate in existing antisemitic discourses about Jews?
Did Steiner publicly praise prominent antisemites and endorse their views on Jews?
Did Steiner defend anti-Jewish tracts against charges of antisemitism?
Did Steiner derive terminology or central concepts from sources in which antisemitic features played a prominent role? (Isn't this a bit of a guilt-by-association argument?)
Did Steiner express his views on Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness within contexts in which antisemitic themes were already conspicuous? (Wouldn't this apply to anyone speaking of Jews or Jewishness in Austria or Germany between 1860 and 1945?)
Did Steiner incorporate longstanding antisemitic tropes into his own doctrines?

Daniel Hindes

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Tue Mar 16, 2004 6:19 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

A person's view of assimilation is not enough to determine philosemitism or anti-Semitism.

Agreed.

If a person defends Jewish rights and is therefore a philosemite, whether or not their view of assimilation ends with the disappearance of a separate Jewish identity will not in itself cause them to be an anti-Semite.

Agreed.

To be an anti-Semite they must be shown to have advocated unequal treatment of Jews and/or to have disparraged Jews as a group.

Or disparaged Jewishness as a phenomenon. The very notion of "antisemitism" was orginally based on the idea that there was something like "semitism" which Jewishness represented.

Now what of people who advocated Jewish rights out of principle, but disparraged Jews out of habit or cultural prejudice? Would they not be anti-Semitic philosemites?

No, they'd just be antisemites. Even Treitschke defended (some) Jewish rights on principle.

So how would you describe Steiner overall?

I wouldn't, not in terms of philosemitic or antisemitic (though we could do so in terms of his conception of assimilation as amalgamation). It makes little sense to describe Steiner's views on Jews "overall", except with vague characterizations like "ambivalent" or "changing" or what have you. The same is true for figures like Panizza, Bloem, and so forth.

So you are arguing that Steiner fits the profile of someone who advocated Jewish rights out of principle, but disparraged Jews out of habit or cultural prejudice?

Partly. But his defenses of Jewish rights stem from his philosemitic period around the turn of the century. Do you mean that he advocated Jewish rights in 1888, or in 1924?

Ok. Thanks for the clarity. So, since you seem to be more up to date on the issue, I would appreciate it if you could perhaps provide the examples you have found in Steiner's writing that fit each of the categories: Did Steiner participate in existing antisemitic discourses about Jews?

Yes. He depicted Jewry as a closed totality, saw Jews as prone to materialism, frowned upon Jewish influences on the German language, and so forth.

Did Steiner publicly praise prominent antisemites and endorse their views on Jews?

Yes. He did so with Wagner, for example (see Steiner, Die okkulten Wahrheiten alter Mythen und Sagen pp. 138-139).

Did Steiner defend anti-Jewish tracts against charges of antisemitism?

Yes, of course. That's what the 1888 article is all about. It's a defense of Hamerling's Homunkulus.

Did Steiner derive terminology or central concepts from sources in which antisemitic features played a prominent role?

Yes. Theosophical literature (including the stuff that makes Detlef giddy) is a fine example.

(Isn't this a bit of a guilt-by-association argument?)

No, of course not. I think you have a loose grasp of that concept in general.

Did Steiner express his views on Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness within contexts in which antisemitic themes were already conspicuous?

Yes. His first public statements about Jews were made in the pages of Austrian pan-German periodicals.

(Wouldn't this apply to anyone speaking of Jews or Jewishness in Austria or Germany between 1860 and 1945?)

No, of course not. Lots of Austrians and Germans rejected pan-Germanism, rejected Theosophy, and so forth.

Did Steiner incorporate longstanding antisemitic tropes into his own doctrines?

Yes. His repeated invocations of the myth of Ahasver are a striking example.

Peter

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From: at
Date: Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:17 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Daniel wrote:

Now what of people who advocated Jewish rights out of principle, but disparraged Jews out of habit or cultural prejudice? Would they not be anti-Semitic philosemites?

Peter Staudenmaier:

No, they'd just be antisemites. Even Treitschke defended (some) Jewish rights on principle.

Daniel:

Ok, so then anti-Semitism trumps philosemitism? The definition you gave earlier of a philosemite was simply someone who defended Jewish rights. So I asked about someone who advocated Jewish rights but also disparraged Jews out of habit or cultural prejudice. By your earlier definition, they ought to have been an anti-Semitic philosemite. But now we just drop the philosemitism part if anit-Semitism is present? How much disparaging is required before the anti-Semitism erases the philosemitic elements in labeling? (Sorry to make you think here, but it is something I would like to be clear on, though it seems that despite great effort it is hard to get you to be clear on anything).

Daniel wrote:

So how would you describe Steiner overall?

Peter Staudenmaier:

I wouldn't, not in terms of philosemitic or antisemitic (though we could do so in terms of his conception of assimilation as amalgamation). It makes little sense to describe Steiner's views on Jews "overall", except with vague characterizations like "ambivalent" or "changing" or what have you. The same is true for figures like Panizza, Bloem, and so forth.

Daniel:

So you go on the record as saying "Steiner was not an anti-Semite, he merely held some anti-Semitic ideas at certain points."?

Daniel wrote:

So you are arguing that Steiner fits the profile of someone who advocated Jewish rights out of principle, but disparraged Jews out of habit or cultural prejudice?

Peter Staudenmaier:

Partly. But his defenses of Jewish rights stem from his philosemitic period around the turn of the century. Do you mean that he advocated Jewish rights in 1888, or in 1924?

Daniel:

Do you mean to suggest that Steiner expressed his opinion that Jews should have restricted civil rights in 1888 or 1924? If you honestly believe this, I would certainly like to see the quotes that would support this. Saying that in principle Jews ought to assimilate is a long way from saying that they should be denied civil rights!

Daniel wrote:

Did Steiner participate in existing antisemitic discourses about Jews?

Peter Staudenmaier:

Yes. He depicted Jewry as a closed totality, saw Jews as prone to materialism, frowned upon Jewish influences on the German language, and so forth.

Daniel:

This would be the 1888 essay, correct? Or somewhere else?

Daniel wrote:

Did Steiner publicly praise prominent antisemites and endorse their views on Jews?

Peter Staudenmaier:

Yes. He did so with Wagner, for example (see Steiner, Die okkulten Wahrheiten alter Mythen und Sagen pp. 138-139).

Daniel:

You don't honestly mean to argue that a praise of Wagner's music constitutes anti-Semitism! Really, Peter, I though you had more brains than that! Nor would praising Trietzschke's history or Gobineau's literature indicate the least bit of anit-Semitism in my mind.

Daniel wrote:

Did Steiner defend anti-Jewish tracts against charges of antisemitism?

Peter Staudenmaier:

Yes, of course. That's what the 1888 article is all about. It's a defense of Hamerling's Homunkulus.

Daniel:

That is the tract which you have rejected every reasonable reading in favor of your own interpretation. If your case for Steiner's anti-Semitism rests on this alone, it is weak indeed.

Daniel wrote:

Did Steiner derive terminology or central concepts from sources in which antisemitic features played a prominent role?

Peter Staudenmaier:

Yes. Theosophical literature (including the stuff that makes Detlef giddy) is a fine example.

Daniel wrote (anticipating the answer):

(Isn't this a bit of a guilt-by-association argument?)

Peter Staudenmaier:

No, of course not. I think you have a loose grasp of that concept in general.

Daniel:

Peter, you haven't addressed my objection. How does borrowing a few names from a work that may be anit-Semetic require that the derivitve work automatically be tainted with the anti-Semitism of the source? That line of argumentation is incredibly lame, if I may say so.

Daniel wrote:

Did Steiner express his views on Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness within contexts in which antisemitic themes were already conspicuous?

Peter Staudenmaier:

Yes. His first public statements about Jews were made in the pages of Austrian pan-German periodicals.

Daniel:

And if what he said was pro-Jewish? That makes him an anti-Semite? This case is getting flimsier and flimsier.

Daniel wrote:

(Wouldn't this apply to anyone speaking of Jews or Jewishness in Austria or Germany between 1860 and 1945?)

Peter Staudenmaier:

No, of course not. Lots of Austrians and Germans rejected pan-Germanism, rejected Theosophy, and so forth.

Daniel:

You have again dodged the question. (And your answer seems to indicate a belief that all pan-Germanism and all Theosophy was anti-Semitic - would you like to explicitly make this claim?) Austro-German culture between 1860 and 1945 was arguably anti-Semitic as a whole. This would make anything said about Jews in that context, by your definition, anti-Semitic. You seem to be setting up your criteria with Steiner in mind, but I must point out that when applied consistently, they appear ridiculous.

Daniel wrote:

Did Steiner incorporate longstanding antisemitic tropes into his own doctrines?

Peter Staudenmaier:

Yes. His repeated invocations of the myth of Ahasver are a striking example.

Daniel:

How is merely discussing the myth of Ahasver anti-Semitic? Is all discussion of this off-limits for non-Jews? Would it not make more sense to examine what Steiner said about the subject?

Daniel:

In summary, the case for Steiner being an anti-Semite rests on the following charges:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury!
The accused did once profess his admiration of Wagner's music!
The accused did transgress in the most grievous manner and mention legends involving Jews! (And not just those in the Old Testament).
The accused did say things about Jewry that I feel is anti-Semitic, and did so in no less a place than a pan-German periodical! (Hang him, Hang him!)
The accused didst once defend a poet against charges of anti-Semitism. And since the poet was obviously anti-Semitic, so must the defender be!
And the accused did advocate full and unequivocal assimilation! (Although I have already stated that this is not anti-Semitic, but I'll continue to throw it in anyway!).
Ignore his statments about human equality, about the dignity of all human beings and their inherent right to equal civil liberties in any state. Ignore his denunciations of all hatred based on national or ethnic prejudices (he only said it about 3000 times!).
If the quote fits, you can't acquit!
The prosecution rests?

Daniel Hindes

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From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Thu Mar 25, 2004 9:04 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

Ok, so then anti-Semitism trumps philosemitism?

In many cases, yes. How else would one be able to designate Treitschke or Lagarde or even Marr as antisemites?

So you go on the record as saying "Steiner was not an anti-Semite, he merely held some anti-Semitic ideas at certain points."?

That is an entirely reasonable position, but it isn't my position. I think Steiner was an antisemite at several points in his life, and a philosemite at other points.

Do you mean to suggest that Steiner expressed his opinion that Jews should have restricted civil rights in 1888 or 1924?

No, of course not. That would hinder assimilation, not speed it up. That's exactly why Treitschke supported civil rights for Jews.

Saying that in principle Jews ought to assimilate is a long way from saying that they should be denied civil rights!

Indeed. They are essentially opposites of one another. Assimilationist antisemites generally did not oppose civil rights for Jews.

That is the tract which you have rejected every reasonable reading in favor of your own interpretation. If your case for Steiner's anti-Semitism rests on this alone, it is weak indeed.

I'm not sure what you're getting at. It almost sounds like you're trying to say that you think Steiner's 1888 review of Hamerling's Homunkulus did *not* defend the book against charges of antisemitism. If that is what you mean, could you explain why you think this?

And if what he said was pro-Jewish?

Saying that Jews constitute a closed totality and that their existence is a mistake of world history is not pro-Jewish.

Austro-German culture between 1860 and 1945 was arguably anti-Semitic as a whole.

I think that thesis is quite mistaken. It has been thoroughly dismantled by a wide variety of historical and comparative studies. Aside from the vexed question of just what it might mean to say that any culture "as a whole" is antisemitic, this claim ignores the fact that France and Russia, to choose the two most obvious examples, displayed considerably more virulent and more widespread forms of antisemitism than Germany or Austria during much of the period you point to. In any case, such sweeping claims deprive the concept of antisemitism of its descriptive force and analytical usefulness.

How is merely discussing the myth of Ahasver anti-Semitic?

It isn't. Invoking the myth of Ahasver in order to portray Jews as paradigmatic of racial stagnation is antisemitic.

Would it not make more sense to examine what Steiner said about the subject?

Yes, it certainly would. I encourage you to do so. I've given you a number of Steiner's antisemitic statements about Ahasver. Now might be a good time to examine them.

The accused did once profess his admiration of Wagner's music!

Where do you think Steiner did this? (A helpful hint: take a quick look at Lindenberg's biography on this one.)

The accused didst once defend a poet against charges of anti-Semitism. And since the poet was obviously anti-Semitic, so must the defender be!

Your position on this question remains unclear to me. Are you now trying to say that you agree with Steiner that Hamerling's Homunkulus contains no significant antisemitic elements?

Ignore his denunciations of all hatred based on national or ethnic prejudices (he only said it about 3000 times!).

You should not ignore these. You should, instead, examine them to figure out why Steiner thought that Jewishness itself was based on national or ethnic prejudices.

Peter

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From: at
Date: Mon Apr 5, 2004 9:12 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

Ok, so then anti-Semitism trumps philosemitism?

Peter Staudenmaier:

In many cases, yes. How else would one be able to designate Treitschke or Lagarde or even Marr as antisemites?

Daniel:

I just wanted to be clear on this. So essentially, in any mixed biography, a few anti-Semitic elements suffice to earn the label of anti-Semite (anti-Semitism trumps philosemitism). I should point out that this definition comes dangerously close to condemning anyone in Austria or Germany between 1860 and 1925 who spoke on Jews in any but the most approving way. (I suppose condemning is the wrong word, since you seem to feel that there is nothing wrong with being an anti-Seminte - it is merely a lablel, after all.)

Daniel wrote:

So you go on the record as saying "Steiner was not an anti-Semite, he merely held some anti-Semitic ideas at certain points."?

Peter Staudenmaier:

That is an entirely reasonable position, but it isn't my position. I think Steiner was an antisemite at several points in his life, and a philosemite at other points.

Daniel:

You wiggle and wiggle on this. You repeatedly condemn people for not separating the person from the argument, but you refuse to consistently apply this principle yourself.

Why do you persist in trying to separate Steiner into a philosemite and an antisemite? Above you have stated that anti-Semitism trumps philosemitism, so the only purpose this serves is to facilitate labeling Steiner an anti-Semite.

Daniel wrote:

Do you mean to suggest that Steiner expressed his opinion that Jews should have restricted civil rights in 1888 or 1924?

Peter Staudenmaier:

No, of course not. That would hinder assimilation, not speed it up. That's exactly why Treitschke supported civil rights for Jews.

Daniel:

Ok. We are dancing the dance here. The list of things for which Steiner can be considered an anti-Semite is getting quite short.

Daniel wrote:

Saying that in principle Jews ought to assimilate is a long way from saying that they should be denied civil rights!

Peter Staudenmaier:

Indeed. They are essentially opposites of one another. Assimilationist antisemites generally did not oppose civil rights for Jews.

Daniel:

Indeed. As I said above, the list of things for which Steiner can be considered an anti-Semite is getting quite short.

Daniel wrote:

That is the tract which you have rejected every reasonable reading in favor of your own interpretation. If your case for Steiner's anti-Semitism rests on this alone, it is weak indeed.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I'm not sure what you're getting at. It almost sounds like you're trying to say that you think Steiner's 1888 review of Hamerling's Homunkulus did *not* defend the book against charges of antisemitism. If that is what you mean, could you explain why you think this?

Daniel:

Steiner was quite clear that his intent with the article was to defend Hamerling from charges of anti-Semitism. Does this alone make Steiner and anti-Semite?

Daniel wrote:

And if what he said was pro-Jewish?

Peter Staudenmaier:

Saying that Jews constitute a closed totality and that their existence is a mistake of world history is not pro-Jewish.

Daniel:

Snipping, snipping, snipping. I asked if saying pro-Jewish statements in a pan-German periodical would make the author anti-Semitic because of the forum (earlier you had given a definition of anti-Semitism as speaking in a typically anti-Semitic forum - clearly attempting to tailor your definition to fit the case at hand). But like a broken record you keep going back to your oversimplifications and misphrased restatements of Steiner's words (for example, Steiner said that "no one can deny that Jews today present themselves as a closed totality" - this is not the same as stating that they are a closed totality). This is hardly a conversation, debate or discussion. You don't really respond to what people say to you at all.

Daniel wrote:

Austro-German culture between 1860 and 1945 was arguably anti-Semitic as a whole.

Peter Staudenmaier:

I think that thesis is quite mistaken. It has been thoroughly dismantled by a wide variety of historical and comparative studies. Aside from the vexed question of just what it might mean to say that any culture "as a whole" is antisemitic, this claim ignores the fact that France and Russia, to choose the two most obvious examples, displayed considerably more virulent and more widespread forms of antisemitism than Germany or Austria during much of the period you point to. In any case, such sweeping claims deprive the concept of antisemitism of its descriptive force and analytical usefulness.

Daniel:

Come on Peter! In your attempt to snare Steiner in the net of anti-Semitism, you are forced to create definitions that are so large as to have to net the entire culture. When I point this out, you backpedal. Consisted thinking appears quite difficult for you. Perhaps it is you lack of training in logic and philosophy.

Daniel wrote:

How is merely discussing the myth of Ahasver anti-Semitic?

Peter Staudenmaier:

It isn't. Invoking the myth of Ahasver in order to portray Jews as paradigmatic of racial stagnation is antisemitic.

Daniel:

Well, is this what Steiner does? I note your silence on the matter. You state in general that it would be anti-Semitic, but you are only implying that this is what Steiner does. Do you want to make that claim, or back away from it?

Daniel wrote:

The accused did once profess his admiration of Wagner's music!

Peter Staudenmaier:

Where do you think Steiner did this? (A helpful hint: take a quick look at Lindenberg's biography on this one.)

Daniel:

Wagner is mentioned on three pages, and always in connection with the MUSIC. Peter, this is the third time that you have bluffed like this. I know what Steiner thought of Wagner; I've been interested in this point for years. You keep writing like you know things I don't, but it is a bluff. There is no evidence that Steiner ever spoke in any way approvingly of Wagner's anti-Semitism, for the simple reason that Steiner was against all forms of anti-Semitism throughout his entire life. I could give you a dozen other references to statements on Wagner's music, but that is besides the point. Admiring Wagner's music does not make anyone an anti-Semite, despite your attempts to the contrary.

Daniel wrote:

Ignore his denunciations of all hatred based on national or ethnic prejudices (he only said it about 3000 times!).

Peter Staudenmaier:

You should not ignore these. You should, instead, examine them to figure out why Steiner thought that Jewishness itself was based on national or ethnic prejudices.

Daniel:

Well, have you, Peter? Can you answer your own question?

Daniel:

In summary, the case for Steiner being an anti-Semite rests on the following charges:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury!
The accused did once profess his admiration of Wagner's music!
The accused did transgress in the most grievous manner and mention legends involving Jews! (And not just those in the Old Testament).
The accused did say things about Jewry that I feel is anti-Semitic, and did so in no less a place than a pan-German periodical! (Hang him, Hang him!)
The accused didst once defend a poet against charges of anti-Semitism. And since the poet was obviously anti-Semitic, so must the defender be!
And the accused did advocate full and unequivocal assimilation! (Although I have already stated that this is not anti-Semitic, but I'll continue to throw it in anyway!).
Ignore his statments about human equality, about the dignity of all human beings and their inherent right to equal civil liberties in any state. Ignore his denunciations of all hatred based on national or ethnic prejudices (he only said it about 3000 times!).
If the quote fits, you can't acquit!
The prosecution rests?

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Tue Apr 6, 2004 10:45 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

I just wanted to be clear on this. So essentially, in any mixed biography, a few anti-Semitic elements suffice to earn the label of anti-Semite (anti-Semitism trumps philosemitism).

No, not in any "mixed biography". But in the case of people like Steiner and Treitschke, yes, of course. I get the sense that you're not paying attention to your own argument here.

I should point out that this definition comes dangerously close to condemning anyone in Austria or Germany between 1860 and 1925 who spoke on Jews in any but the most approving way. (I suppose condemning is the wrong word, since you seem to feel that there is nothing wrong with being an anti-Seminte - it is merely a lablel, after all.)

It is indeed not about condemning, it is about accurate analysis. This is not at all the same thing as feeling that there is nothing wrong with being an antisemite, by the way; the point is simply that whether or not another person qualifies as an antisemite has nothing to do with your personal feelings about antisemitism. But more to the point, could I ask why you seem to think it would be unusual for non-Jews to speak of Jews in an approving way? Do you think that most non-Jews in Austria and Germany from 1860 to 1925 spoke of Jews in a disapproving way?

You wiggle and wiggle on this. You repeatedly condemn people for not separating the person from the argument, but you refuse to consistently apply this principle yourself.

Huh? You didn't ask about me, you asked about Steiner. You asked whether I thought that Steiner was an antisemite, and I replied that I think Steiner was both an antisemite and a philosemite at different points in his career (which is what I've been saying all along, by the way, since my very first post to this list). It's fine with me if other people simply say that he held antisemitic stances and philosemitic stances.

Why do you persist in trying to separate Steiner into a philosemite and an antisemite?

Because that's what I think he was.

Above you have stated that anti-Semitism trumps philosemitism, so the only purpose this serves is to facilitate labeling Steiner an anti-Semite.

No, not at all. During Steiner's philosemitic period, his antisemitic views did not trump his philosemitic views. That isn't really such a complicated idea, is it? Try applying it to Treitschke or Marr and see what you get. It isn't unusual for historical figures to display different emphases at different points in their lives. If you are trying to say that the presence of some philosemitic views at some points in Steiner's life means that he could not possibly have been an antisemite at other points in his life, then you'll need to re-examine your reasoning.

The list of things for which Steiner can be considered an anti-Semite is getting quite short.

It is? What exactly has dropped off this list, in your view? Are you now trying to tell us that you share Frank's view that assimilationists could not be antisemites? Please answer that question. It would clarify an awful lot.

Steiner was quite clear that his intent with the article was to defend Hamerling from charges of anti-Semitism. Does this alone make Steiner and anti-Semite?

No, it makes him an antisemite in combination with the other seven factors I named.

for example, Steiner said that "no one can deny that Jews today present themselves as a closed totality" - this is not the same as stating that they are a closed totality

Yes, it is. Please re-read that sentence.

In your attempt to snare Steiner in the net of anti-Semitism, you are forced to create definitions that are so large as to have to net the entire culture.

That makes no sense. The definition you have offered is much larger than the one I have offered. My definition certainly does not net the entire culture, it nets people like Treitschke and Steiner. Your definition, on the other hand, does net the entire culture, quite explicitly so.

Well, is this what Steiner does? I note your silence on the matter. You state in general that it would be anti-Semitic, but you are only implying that this is what Steiner does. Do you want to make that claim, or back away from it?

Not only do I "want to" make this claim, I have made it very explicitly again and again, and provided several quotes from Steiner to back it up. Steiner did indeed invoke the myth of Ahasver to portray Jews as paradigmatic of racial stagnation. Why don't you simply take a look at those passages and tell me if you disagree?

Peter, this is the third time that you have bluffed like this. I know what Steiner thought of Wagner; I've been interested in this point for years.

Then why didn't you know about the passage on "semitism" that I posted yesterday? And why did you think I was bluffing? If you think that Steiner does not in fact roundly endorse Wagner's writings on Jews in that passage, I encourage you to come right out and say so.

There is no evidence that Steiner ever spoke in any way approvingly of Wagner's anti-Semitism

Well, except for the evidence that I just posted, and which you hadn't yet read when you wrote this post (though that isn't much of an excuse, since I gave you the full citation weeks ago). Steiner not only speaks approvingly of Wagner's antisemitism here, he denies that Wagner was an antisemite at all!

I do hope you will keep this incident in mind then next time you get upset about my attitude toward people who have been studying Steiner for years.

Peter

Daniel wrote:

So you go on the record as saying "Steiner was not an anti-Semite, he merely held some anti-Semitic ideas at certain points."?

Peter Staudenmaier:

That is an entirely reasonable position, but it isn't my position. I think Steiner was an antisemite at several points in his life, and a philosemite at other points.

Daniel:

You wiggle and wiggle on this. You repeatedly condemn people for not separating the person from the argument, but you refuse to consistently apply this principle yourself.

Why do you persist in trying to separate Steiner into a philosemite and an antisemite? Above you have stated that anti-Semitism trumps philosemitism, so the only purpose this serves is to facilitate labeling Steiner an anti-Semite.

Daniel wrote:

Do you mean to suggest that Steiner expressed his opinion that Jews should have restricted civil rights in 1888 or 1924?

Peter Staudenmaier:

No, of course not. That would hinder assimilation, not speed it up. That's exactly why Treitschke supported civil rights for Jews.

Daniel:

Ok. We are dancing the dance here. The list of things for which Steiner can be considered an anti-Semite is getting quite short.

Daniel wrote:

Saying that in principle Jews ought to assimilate is a long way from saying that they should be denied civil rights!

Peter Staudenmaier:

Indeed. They are essentially opposites of one another. Assimilationist antisemites generally did not oppose civil rights for Jews.

Daniel:

Indeed. As I said above, the list of things for which Steiner can be considered an anti-Semite is getting quite short.

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Wed Apr 7, 2004 12:06 am
Subject: Anti-Semitism and Communism (was: assimilation)

At 19:45 06.04.2004, PS wrote:

This is not at all the same thing as feeling that there is nothing wrong with being an antisemite, by the way; the point is simply that whether or not another person qualifies as an antisemite has nothing to do with your personal feelings about antisemitism.

The same thing was said about Communism by Joseph MacCarthy's henchmen fifty years ago: Whether or not someone you knew qualified as a Communist had nothing to do with your personal feelings about Communism.

Tarjei

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Wed Apr 7, 2004 4:40 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Daniel wrote:

The list of things for which Steiner can be considered an anti-Semite is getting quite short.

Peter Staudenmaier:

It is? What exactly has dropped off this list, in your view? Are you now trying to tell us that you share Frank's view that assimilationists could not be antisemites? Please answer that question. It would clarify an awful lot.

Daniel:

No, I don't share Franks view as you represent it here. And I wonder why you present it at all. I have gone over your list of seven points several times, and reposted my analysis repeatedly. Not paying attention, are we? Try the archives.

Daniel wrote:

for example, Steiner said that "no one can deny that Jews today present themselves as a closed totality" - this is not the same as stating that they are a closed totality

Peter Staudenmaier:

Yes, it is. Please re-read that sentence.

Daniel:

Ah yes, a perfect example of the famous "Staudenmaier Selective Reading Technique".

Daniel wrote:

Peter, this is the third time that you have bluffed like this. I know what Steiner thought of Wagner; I've been interested in this point for years.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Then why didn't you know about the passage on "semitism" that I posted yesterday? And why did you think I was bluffing? If you think that Steiner does not in fact roundly endorse Wagner's writings on Jews in that passage, I encourage you to come right out and say so.

Daniel:

Ok. I posted a reply as to why those are not Steiner's actual words. Nor do I read in them an endorsement of Wagner's anti-Semitism.

Daniel wrote:

There is no evidence that Steiner ever spoke in any way approvingly of Wagner's anti-Semitism

Peter Staudenmaier:

Well, except for the evidence that I just posted, and which you hadn't yet read when you wrote this post (though that isn't much of an excuse, since I gave you the full citation weeks ago). Steiner not only speaks approvingly of Wagner's antisemitism here, he denies that Wagner was an antisemite at all!
I do hope you will keep this incident in mind then next time you get upset about my attitude toward people who have been studying Steiner for years.


Daniel:

Except for the fact that you "evidence" is acutally evidence of incredibly sloppy historical work, like not even reading the title of the book you are quoting. Those are not Steiner's words at all. Nor would any historian consider them "proof" of Steiner's views on the subject. I hope you will keep this incident in mind next time you open a book with Steiner's name on it.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: at
Date: Wed Apr 7, 2004 4:31 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Hi Daniel, you wrote:

I just wanted to be clear on this. So essentially, in any mixed biography, a few anti-Semitic elements suffice to earn the label of anti-Semite (anti-Semitism trumps philosemitism).

Peter Staudenmaier:

No, not in any "mixed biography". But in the case of people like Steiner and Treitschke, yes, of course. I get the sense that you're not paying attention to your own argument here.

Daniel:

On the contrary, it is you who are not paying attention to your argument. In attempting to always be right, you have now come full circle. Further, you have just admitted that in your definition of anti-Semitism, Steiner and a few others occupy a special position where they have offended you so greatly that they are by your definition anti-Semites regardless of what they might have said on the subject. Just so long as we are clear on this, we can probably let the matter of how to define an anti-Semite rest.

Daniel wrote:

I should point out that this definition comes dangerously close to condemning anyone in Austria or Germany between 1860 and 1925 who spoke on Jews in any but the most approving way. (I suppose condemning is the wrong word, since you seem to feel that there is nothing wrong with being an anti-Seminte - it is merely a lablel, after all.)

Peter Staudenmaier:

It is indeed not about condemning, it is about accurate analysis. This is not at all the same thing as feeling that there is nothing wrong with being an antisemite, by the way; the point is simply that whether or not another person qualifies as an antisemite has nothing to do with your personal feelings about antisemitism. But more to the point, could I ask why you seem to think it would be unusual for non-Jews to speak of Jews in an approving way? Do you think that most non-Jews in Austria and Germany from 1860 to 1925 spoke of Jews in a disapproving way?

Daniel:

"Qualifying" as an anti-Semite implies some sort of objective measure, some standard against which all men and women are defined equally. You have offered several such standards. Some are overly broad, others overly narrow. Your latest is probably the most accurate: Steiner is an anti-Semite because you want him to be, and for no other objective reason.

From my impression, gained admittedly from numerous works specifically on anti-Semitism, I did get the impression that praise of Jewish culture by Germans and Austrians between 1860 and 1925 was indeed quite rare. If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd be interested in hearing it.

Daniel wrote:

You wiggle and wiggle on this. You repeatedly condemn people for not separating the person from the argument, but you refuse to consistently apply this principle yourself.

Peter Staudenmaier:

Huh? You didn't ask about me, you asked about Steiner. You asked whether I thought that Steiner was an antisemite, and I replied that I think Steiner was both an antisemite and a philosemite at different points in his career (which is what I've been saying all along, by the way, since my very first post to this list). It's fine with me if other people simply say that he held antisemitic stances and philosemitic stances.

Daniel:

Missing the point as usual, I see. You accused Patrick of not being able to separate the person from the argument. You accused Dottie of the same thing. You even accused all Anthroposophist in general of the same thing. But you persist in labeling Steiner, that is, not separating the person from the argument.

Daniel Hindes

...................................................................................................................................

From: Peter Staudenmaier
Date: Wed Apr 7, 2004 10:15 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] assimilation

Hi again Daniel, you wrote:

Further, you have just admitted that in your definition of anti-Semitism, Steiner and a few others occupy a special position where they have offended you so greatly that they are by your definition anti-Semites regardless of what they might have said on the subject.

No, figures like Treitschke and Steiner were antisemites in my view *because* of what they said on the subject of Jews and Jewishness.

But you persist in labeling Steiner, that is, not separating the person from the argument.

That really doesn't make sense, Daniel. The term "antisemite" refers to people whose arguments are antisemitic. It's always a good idea to separate the person from the argument by, for example, recognizing that people's arguments change over time, and that they can hence be philosemites at one point and antisemites at another point. Or you can simply discard such labels entirely.

Peter

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