ANTHROPOSOPHY IN NORWAY: SOME REMARKS ABOUT
ITS RELATIONSHIP TO NAZISM, RACISM, AND ECO-FASCISM
This article was - just like the contribution Human
Ethicism in Theory and Practice - rejected by Humanist,
with reference to its too late arrival, its excessive length,
and its inadequate relevance to the main content of Peter Staudenmaiers'
In Humanist no 2/00 there is an article on
p 38-57 with the headline "Anthroposophy
and Ecofascism" written by the American left wing activist
and writer Peter Staudenmaier. The article's purpose is, among
others, to establish the following points:
a. Anthroposophy is based upon a racial thinking
that deserves severe criticism.
b. Anthroposophy and Nazism are closely related.
c. Anthroposophy has significance for so-called
ecofascism, which comprises an inhumane aspect of the present-day
ecological movement that deserves criticism.
As "documentation" for the allegations
presented in the article, a number of single quotes primarily
of German origin are entered. The editors of Humanist
obviously find this more interesting than a presentation of conditions
The position of Anthroposophy in relation
to Nazism and racism etc. in this country, however, has not been
dealt with at all in this article - with the exception of graphics
and photos. The Norwegian part of this material has been severely
criticized - e.g. by Peter Normann
In this contribution we shall deal with the
question that Humanist's readers do not get any
further information about: Has the Anthroposophical Movement
in Norway in theory or practice associated itself with
Nazism, racism, or ecofascism?
2. The relationship to Nazism and anti-Semitism
A. In general
For the factual information in this section, I thank Oddvar
It is easy to establish that during the two-three
final years before Steiner's death in 1925, there was a clear
contrariety between the new national-socialistic movement in
Germany and Rudolf Steiner. Not only was Steiner subjected to
a Nazi assassination attempt; Steiner was furthermore subjected
to attacks by Adolf Hitler.
Hitler has a powerful diatribe against Rudolf
Steiner in an article from March 15, 1921: "Staatsmänner
oder Nationalverbrecher". His words are reproduced in a
book by Walter Kühne who was with Steiner in the threefolding
work: Die Stuttgarter Verhältnisse (Novalis Verlag
1989, p. 137.) It is about Upper Schlesien - whether it should
belong to Poland or to Germany. In this dispute appears a German
minister Simons, who was Jewish and also a supporter of the threefold
social order. Hitler condemns Simons, who is characterized as
as an "intimate friend of the Gnostic and Anthroposophist
Rudolf Steiner, adherent of the threefold social organism and
how all these Jewish methods contribute to the destruction of
people's normal spiritual condition...."
Steiner evidently never uses the term "national-socialistic"
although NSDAP was founded in 1920. But some of his statements
have an obvious connection. The news about the so-called Hitler-Ludendorf-Putsch
reached Dornach November 10, 1923 and was posted on the bulletin
board in the Shreinerei. There Rudolf Steiner is standing, and
he is reading the message together with Guenther Wachsmuth, Anna
Samweber, Karl Lang, and others. And Steiner says: "If these
men get governmental power, I will no longer be able to set my
foot on German soil." (Anna Samweber: Aus meinem Leben,
Verlag die Pforte, Basel, 1981.)
On a previous occasion, towards the end the
year 1919, Steiner comments upon the new usage of the swastika.
A group of 4-5 people, among them Emil Leinhas, are sitting in
a conversation with Steiner, who is referring to the origin of
this sign from the interior Asia and then says with deep gravity:
"Be certain that these people who are now bringing this
sign to Central Europe - they know exactly what they are doing.
This sign works." (Emil Leinhas: Aus der Arbeit mit Rudolf
Steiner. Zbinden Verlag, Basel 1950, p.117.)
During a teachers' meeting in Stuttgart, Steiner
says 7.31.1923: 31.7.1923: "Yes, conditions in Germany are
now becoming darker and darker. The complete chaos is coming."
(GA 300 III p. 88).
When this historical point of departure is
not considered, the subsequent presentation naturallly becomes
- mildly speaking - very twisted.
B. Conditions in the 1930's in Norway
It is well known that there were several very
important Norwegian newspapers and organizations that had an
uncritical - perhaps even ingratiating - relationship to Hitler's
regime in the 1930's. This time period presents a dark chapter
for large parts of Norwegian press. It is further documented
that representatives for the Farmers' Party at the time as well
as the labor movement had several central members who chose to
follow Vidkun Quisling.
How was it then with the leading representatives
for the Norwegian anthroposophical movement in the 1930's? Can
we also accuse them of not having read the signs of their time,
and of having adpopted a lukewarm relationship to the Nazi dictatorship
in Germany and/or Mussolini's fascism?
The leading representatives for Anthroposophy
in the 1930's were undoubtedly Johannes Hohlenberg and Alf Larsen,
who as editors of the anthroposophical magazines Vidar
og Janus set the official tone in Norway.. Alf Larsen
was a complex personality, who could also come out with less
judicious statements, but what Nazism was concerned, he was clear
as a bell.
Hohlenberg and Larsen both saw very early
what would be the consequence of Hitler coming to power. More
clearly than most people did they warn strongly in writing and
print against the threats from Germany.
In three articles, Terje Christensen has meticulously
studied a number of articles by these two authors meticulously.
Med penn mot Leviatan - I, Libra 1990,
no. 4, page 146 ff.
Med penn mot Leviatan - II, Libra 1990,
no. 1, page 41 ff.
Økofascisme og antroposofi in "Klassekampen",
Libra 1996, no. 3/4, page 142 ff.
The following quotes have been selected from
Alf Larsen (1885-1967) published his magazine
Janus in the period 1933-1941. The magazine was one of
the most interesting magazines of its time and was influenced
by the editor's spiritual worldview in general and its relationship
to Anthroposophy in particular.
Johannes Hohlenberg (1881-1960) was Alf Larsen's
closest co-worker for many years, but he was also quite active
in the anthroposophical magazine Vidar, which he edited
from 1926-1940. Hohlenberg was Danish, and held the office of
General Secretary for the Anthroposophical Society in Denmark
for a number of years.
Both Hohlenberg and Larsen commented the relationship
to nazi-Tyskland and Quisling in the 1930's. A quote from Et
sitat fra Alf Larsen's article in Janus no. 4/1933:
"The modern 'belief' which lies at
the bottom of all fascism and Nazism, and which means that one
knows nothing more, and therefore exclusively clings to one's
instincts, is the lowest kind of religion that human beings have
In the same article it is written:
"Think about the hatred against Jews
that is now flaming up in Germany and try then to recognize what
the swastika means! The communists' color is the red, it is the
color of blood and of passions; it is the animal in man that
'sees red'. But the fascists' color is the black, it is the color
of death itself, a thick darkness that waves over the world...."
"The persecution of Jews is a spot
of shame upon the history of the German people, an unwashable
spot of shame...."
"One thing we should have to agree
upon, that fascism as well as Nazism and Bolshevism are hostile
to freedom in the highest degree, are the deadly enemies of freedom...."
"It is a spirit of darkness and confusion
in the most profound meaning of the word (about
Nazism as spirit)
"The world is again ripe for the Caesars.
Just like once in the past, we now see enormous masses of peoples
with roars and screams follow some mediocre person who has the
ability to hypnotize them. Soon we will see the same mass of
people accept the licentiousness of a Nero of the cruelties of
a Caligula in a dull-minded and servile manner."
In Janus no. 4-5/1939 Alf Larsen writes:
"If we now consider the dominant characters
who reign at this time and present its direction, no further
proof is needed to show that also in the purely human configuration
the traits we have here described allege themselves. This applies
not at least to the two characters who are farthest ahead in
the picture: Stalin and Hitler. What engulfs the one is so obviously
the crime: It is murder, prisons, torture, persecution, snitching,
lies and again lies. That which in the same manner engulfs the
other is the halo of madness: Hysteria and ravings, a deranged
agitation, desperate coups, words without meaning, overwrought
Hohlenberg is equally blunt. In Vidar's
April issue in 1937, he writes about Germany, among other things:
"Here in the least one should be able
to see through this shabby substitute, which if permitted to
spread will lead the people into animalization and barbarism.
German is at the moment, really, under guidance of its leaders
and under loud shouts about culture!, with full music, in resolute
march on its way back to the baboon...."
Already in Vidar for June 1933, Hohlenberg
wrote among other things:
"As a reaction to this, the Nazism
in Germany now wants, just like similar trends in other countries,
to abolish reason and understanding and to depend instead upon
blood and instinct alone. Feeling and will are replacing reflection
and thinking, and understanding and rational thinking is likewise
mocked with a lack of restraint that matches its glorification
in the 19th century."
In addition to the more general statements
about Hitler and Nazi Germany, both Larsen and Hohlenberg came
with an exceptionally sharp judgement against all the race-
and blood-thinking of the Nazis.
Alf Larsen writes in Janus no. 4/1933:
"One sees already now what it leads to when these old
spirits are conjured up from the earth again, when one begins
once more to speak to the blood and build upon the tibal feeling.
It leads to all the old passions rising anew and calling down
the same curses over the earth that were called upon when they
reigned in their full power. And at that time they did reign
in their right to life that they no longer possess. How much
more terrible must not their consequences be now when they appear
as illegitimate heirs in the battle for the land! Then the consequence
must be precisely that which so many people are predicting and
prophesizing about: The Armageddon of the great spirits and the
final day for everything called culture...."
In Janus no. 7/1933:
"If the idea of freedom shall be revived,
it must happen on the basis of a thought that is so great that
it can master the wholeness, it must happen with help from men
who acknowledge responsibility for the world, not only for a
class, a society, a nation, or a race. Things must be led back
to a synthetic point of departure. The table needs to be cleaned
of the old conceptions, we must get down to solid ground again."
Hohlenberg was equally sharp in his statements.
Alreasy in 1931, he wrote in Vidar's January issue:
"Like in so many other manifestations
of the materialistic mode of thinking, one either believes without
further notice to be able to transfer one's experiences with
rational domestic animal breeding to human conditions, and on
the other hand those kinds of endeavors are all too often used
as a cover for narrow party-fanaticism and national prejudices,
when this or that race or ethnological type to which an author
himself belongs, is presented as a priori superior to others
and predestined to rule. There are not many scientific fields
where so much nonsense has seen the light of day as in racial
And he maintained further in Vidar's
June issue in 1933: "The pure race is only repetition
and becomes, precisely for that reason, a refuge for weaker and
less independent souls, who flee from effort. One finds here,
like in so many other areas in our time, that what really lies
at the bottom of what is happening is fear. One grabs onto the
racial mystique in order to avoid the burden that accompanies
being a personality and having to assert oneself as that which
one is by the force of one's own being."
These quotes - that represent only a small
selection - should speak its clear language with regard to where
the foremost representatives of Anthroposophists in Norwegian
public life stood with regard to the relationship to Nazism and
C. The conditions of Norwegian anthroposophists
during and after the war
It is furthermore a fact that the relationship
of Norwegian anthroposophists to Vidkun Quisling's Nasjonal Samling
was characterized by almost total rejection. 3 members only -
from among ca. 300 - in the Anthroposophical Society became members
of Nasjonal Samling, in other words an average that was far below
the average for the Norwegian population.
Both Vidar and Janus were terminated
- Alf Larsen's closing comment in the last issue of Janus
in 1941 were the well known:
"It has become too dark to write."
is - as mentioned above - written by a "left wing"
(Marxist?) activist. How were the left wingers in Norway
doing in 1940? This question cannot be answered generally. Some
representatives of the left wing distinguished themselves with
strong resistance against fascism and Nazism. The others - first
of all represented by the Norwegian Communist Party - marked
themselves with their cooperation with the Nazis all the
way up until the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. A comparison
between Norwegian left wing radicalism and Anthroposophy what
concerns the relationship to Hitler is a comparison that the
anthroposophical movement has no reason to fear.
If one moves over to the post war years and
examines anthroposophy-inspired magazines like Spektrum,
Horisont, Libra, and Arken, one will see
that the anthroposophical authors - without exception - represent
ideals that lie infinitely far away from Nazism and anti-Semitism.
It is sufficient to point to the leading participants
with anthroposophical roots in public debates during the 1950's
and 1960's, like André Bjerke, Jens Bjørneboe,
Ernst Sørensen, Øistein Parmann, and Dag Lindholm.
An article especially commissioned by Humanist
targeting Norwegian readers, that to such an extent neglects
to provide a minimum of information about Norwegian anthroposophists'
relationship to Nazism and anti-Semitism, stands out not only
as defective, but as directly irresponsible. Unfortunately, there
are not many organizations that have kept their path as clean
as the anthroposophical movement in Norway and its leading
3. Further particulars about racism
A. In general
In this section we shall not only look at
the relationship to racism, but also include the relationship
to so-called inferior human beings, e.g. gypsies, mentally handicapped,
It is the anthroposophical movement that -
without comparison - has subjected Steiner's works to the most
critical scrutiny what his statements about races are concerned.
We are referring to the Dutch report mentioned in Peter Normann
Waage's contribution, and which is based upon a total study of
the 89.000 pages in the aggregate that Steiner's collected works
In the report, the allegation of racism in
Steiner is thoroughly examined. The conclusion is that there
are 16 statements that would be perceived today as discriminating
and that represent less than 0,05 % of Steiner's collected works.
When we take into consideration to what extent
the age in which Steiner lived was bristling with racism, this
is really exceptionally low. Besides, these statements have never
had any influence upon anthroposophicl practice or statements
in Norway, and there is not a single Norwegian anthroposophist
who has supported or defended them.
In a lecture held 10.16.1917, Steiner says
among other things:
"Nothing leads us more deeply into
decadence than ideals based upon race-, folk-, and blood-relationships."
It is this attitude that has always
been the very foundation of Norwegian anthroposophical work.
B. Racism etc. in Steiner's time - especially
about conditions in Norway
As mentioned above, the age in which Steiner
lived was completely dominated by racism, whereby one permitted
onself to question the human worth of Negroes, and where the
perception of "the savages" was very condescending
In the above mentioned quotes from Johannes
Hohlenberg og Alf Larsen, it becomes crystal clear that the most
central anthroposophists in Norwegian public life were fierce
opponents of all racial thinking in the 1930's.
Also here is a challenge to discuss the relationship
to Norwegian left wing radicalism with regard to racism, and
where Peter Staudenmaier's Norwegian ideological allies - in
terms of left wing radical activists - stood at this time.
The leading left wing radical organization
in the 1920's and the 1930's was "Mot Dag" with its
legendary leader Erling Falk. Falk's attitude to race was entirely
different from the attitude of Hohlenberg and Larsen, and was
- unfortunately - condescending as well as discriminatory.
During the fifteen years he led the group,
Falk wrote only two books, and they were both published in 1925.
One was entitled The Races, the other The Doctrine
The book about "The Races" was the
pillar of Falk's political indoctrination and was influenced
by the racial theories of the time, eugenics and racial hygiene
with roots in Charles Darwin's theories about the survival of
the fittest: Races and individual human beings with defects would
according to this view be eliminated by the iron law of evolution
or competition. Some of the obscure topics in Falk's books are
1. The Races
2. The evolution of the human species
3. Heritage in humans
4. Sociology - The battle among the races
5. The Aboriginal Peoples
Erling Falk and his men considered themselves
rational and well informed - in harmony with a sensible future.
Falk was influenced by the quasi-scientific
fashions of the time. It is kind of characteristic that the very
year when his work about The Races was published, a lecture
was held in the "Government Economic Association" by
the race researcher doctor Jon Alfred Mjøen with the title
"How much do the minus-individuals cost government and society?"
Incidentally, the Norwegian Storting (parliament)
implemented some baroque aspects and prejudices of racial hygiene
with a law in 1934 that provided the opportunity for authorities
to sterilize persons with or without hereditary diseases. Some
Gypsies and transients were made to pay. The law had strong support
from the left wing radical politician and chief physician Johan
From the same time period, we may mention
other examples of Norwegian theory and brutal practice: The discriminitory
treatment of the Lapps, the retarded and the asocial, and the
activities of "Norwegian Mission Among the Homeless".
During the last year, several major books
have been published that document these shameful stains on official
Norwegian health policy. In this context, we may refer, for example,
to Nils Johan Lavig: The Intellectual Roots of Racism,
for the research report by Per Haave about the sterilization
of Gypsies, plus the book EA road to destruction - the extermination
of the Gypsy culture in Norway by Olav Rune Ekeland Bastrup
and Aage Georg Sivertsen.
Jo Nesbø wrote an article in Dagbladet
16 December last year  about "The pure and upright",
where he quotes, among others, Karsten Alnæs: History
of Norway IV where Alnæs quotes from one of Aftenposten's
columnists in 1924:
"....are we overrun by Jews of all
countries, perhaps mostly Russian. They come in like streams
of herring. They settle all over the city. Very soon there isn't
a fruit store (....) without a smiling Jew standing behind the
counter (....) Soon they have their foot inside a newspaper,
a bank, the university, the National Gallery!"
Alnæs also quotes two sections from
the Justice Department's proposition that warns against Eastern
"To a large extent, this concerns
persons belonging to populations and races that are very different
from Norwegians. It will undoubtedly be very unfortunate if immigration
of such alien peoples should take place to any significant degree."
This is emphasized in the rejection of an
appeal from a deported foreign Jew by the same Department:
"The asylum applicant obviously belongs
to the new type of Jews who cannot live without violating the
trade laws so to speak (....) They are altogether people who
are expensive to society , nothing is better than to get rid
The founder of modern psychiatry in Norway,
professor Ragnar Vogt, was a member of the committee appointed
by the government in 1922 that among other things considered
the question about sterilization.
Vogt thought it was self-evident that Negroes
were bilogically inferior to whites. In 1914 he wrote (referred
in an article by Lene Skogstrøm in Aftenposten 02.07.1999):
"It is unbecoming for a blue-eyed,
intelligent Northerner to debase his genes through marriage with
a Negro. Neither may the lower races be allowed so extended suffrage
that a common state runs the risk of being run according to inferior
The inferior races must also accept the
simpler kinds of work that are suitable for their abilities."
Prominent scientists thus became the providers
of conditions for laws and other administrative actions with
a sharp edge against ethnic minorities, and where the desire
to prevent "minus-variants" from reproducing offspring
was a prominent consideration. It was the psychiatrists who palyed
a significant role when the sterilization law was passed against
one vote by the Storting in 1934.
In 1934, Karl Evang attacked the reactionary
character of racial hygiene. But the Evang the socialist also
introduced the possibility that biology and the doctrine of heredity
may be helpful tools in a future socialist society.
"The idea of reducing the number of
poor heritage carriers is a completely rational idea that socialism
has always been striving for," writes
Evang in the book Racial policy and Reaction in 1934.
In the 1930's, Johan Scharffenberg was very
concerned with precautions against the spreading of poor genetic
material. It is common knowledge that Scharffenberg became a
front fighter in the Norwegian struggle against Hitler's Germany
But for the Gypsies he suggested the following
draconical actions in 1932:
"For that which is impure by nature
there cannot be any hope. No wash can make the Gypsy white."
He statet further:
"Society must have the prerogative
to take action against reproduction (among the hereditarily poorest
endowed individuals), and because ban on marriage does not prevent
child breeding, the only workable means are incarceration and
(Both quotes are referred to in Per Egil Hegge's
article in Aftenposten 09.06.2000.)
It is interesting to point out that these
definitely despicable infringements were justified with references
to precisely the same ideals that are presented by the Human-Ethical
Union today: They were all done in the name of science, reason,
The same ideals of science and humanism that
are the trade marks of the Norwegian human-ethical movement were
thus used as foundation for a view of humanity that has always
been diametrically opposed to the anthroposophical one.
At the same time when Hitler was gassing the
mentally handicapped and the Norwegian government castrated them
in the name of science and reason, the anthroposophists were
taking the first steps in their medical-pedagogical work with
the mentally handicapped, where respect for their own worth
was the very backbone.
It is sufficient to be reminded that in Norway,
the first anthroposophical medical-pedagogical institution was
founded before the war. Internationally, it was the anthroposophists
and the Jew Karl König, who through his Camphill
work with the mentally handicapped was the pioneer.
And when did Humanist or the Human-Ethical
Union confront its infectious past that was represented by the
proponents of reason and science in those days?
At this point also it is the anthroposophists
- who are always defined away when it comes to science and reason
- who can acknowledge their past. The truth is that it was the
Norwegian government with its rational spokesmen who stood
for a view of humanity that in practice was a considerably closer
to that of the Nazis than to that of the anthroposophists what
social and psychological deviants are concerned.
C. How have conditions been after the
We all know that in textbooks for Norwegian
schoolchildren in the 1950's, strongly discriminatory descriptions
about Negroes were commonplace. What did Norwegian human-ethicists
do about this? Did they protest at all?
Is it not a fact it was an anthroposophist
- and not a human-ethicist - who protested against racist descriptions
in our schoolbooks?
In Terje Christensen's article about ecofascism
and anthroposophy (Libra 1996, no. 3-4) there is a quote
on page 146 from a 4th grade geography texbook that was used
in the 1950's, that I also find good reason to present. It says
among other things about Africa:
"We meet many barefooted blackies
[niggers] with glossy top hats, stiff collars, and modern winter
coats. They resemble mostly adorned monkeys in a circus. But
when the Negroes buy goods, the merchant gets to sell, and the
factory at home in Europe can then produce more."
This mean and heartless description was commented
in the following way in an article written by the anthroposophist
Leif Wærenskjold in Frisprog 28. November 1953:
"This book is more than a scandal,
more than malice against those children who are violated by its
spirit and thoughts. We demand this book removed from education
immediately, and we guarantee that we will not rest until it
When will the human-ethicists confront their
own passivity what concerns their own silent acceptance of discriminatory
statements in Norwegian schoolbooks?
If we also take a look at how for instance
the Waldorf Movement has handled the relationship to the third
world and foreign cultures, it appears almost as a role model.
Many cooperative schools are supported. Operation Dagsverk is
earmarked for developing countries etc. In education the significance
of the single individual and the equality of all peoples is emphasized
- regardless of skin color.
In Peter Staudenmaier's article, the conservatism
of anthroposophists is highlighted. How can one explain that
the Waldorf schools have a much higher percentage of SV-voters
[Socialist Left Wing Party voters] than what is the average in
Accusations of racism are very stigmatizing.
When Humanist accuses the anthroposophical movement of
racism on the basis of a very few Steiner-quotes, that have naver
had any practical significance in Norway, and where it is easy
to document that Norwegian anthroposophists have been pioneers
when it comes to rejecting every kind of racism, the omission
of this fact is another example of how irresponsible the article
in question is in its incompleteness.
What the battle against racism and defence
of weak social groups is concerned, it is the other organizations
that have something to learn from the anthroposophists - not
the other way around.
4. Ecofascism in Norway?
A major point in Humanist's magazine
is to warn against certain untimely tendencies in the ecological
movement. In the editorial article once confronts the so-called
"bio-centrism" which claims that everything alive must
be regarded as having the same "inherent value and right
to life", whether one is talking about a body germ or a
human being. One repudiates the environmentalists who clamin
that famine catastrophes in the third world are "ecologically
necessary", and that one therefore should not practice foreign
To this, it is sufficient to say, "Welcome
after." Hjalmar Hegge raised the same criticism in his authorship
about nature and ecology many years ago.
Nobody has explored Rudolf Steiner's threefolding
doctrine better than Hegge in his philosophical doctoral thesis,
Liberty, Individuality, and Society (1988).
There we find a thorough discussion of, among
other tings, the relationship to environmental work, which us
summed up on page 169 in the following way:
"We have have been so occupied with
the major viewpoints in the so-called 'green wave' or the two
eco-political streams of today, because they have important contributions
to offer to the debate with their emphasis on environmental questions
and social analysis. And for the same reason, we have countered
their opinions with so much criticism where we think they are
inadequate, yes, are heading in a completely wrong direction."
In the corresponding note 128 on page 357
"Another aspect of much contemporary
environmental thinking or 'ecological movement' deserving criticism,
is its naturalistic, not to say biological undertones. Because
cognition of distinctive human characteristics as individuality
and social being is lacking, one has identified it with egoism
and exploitation of nature. In this way one has endeavored to
enhance nature (which is then also understood materalistically)
at man's expense, something which in its time, however,
encountered considerable criticism internationally as well as
here at home."
Hegge has elaborated his views on this question
in his collection of essays, Man and Nature, Understanding
of Nature Through the Ages - with Special Reference to our Environmental
Crisis (2nd edition, Antropos Forlag 1993), which supplements
the points of view in the above-mentioned doctoral thesis.
A treatment of Norwegian anthroposophists'
relationship to ecology and environmentalism that does not include
a thorough account of Hjalmar Hegge's presentation becomes defective
B. More about bio-dynamic agriculture
We will now take a closer look at whether
or not there is in practice a basis for a possible allegation
of eco-fascism within the Norwegian anthroposophical movement.
Is that how anthroposophists in this country - especially in
agriculture - mingle with neo-fascists in a contemptable manner?
The first Norwegian ecological farm was founded
by Norwegian anthroposophists in 1930.
The anthroposophical farmers were virtually
the only ones practicing ecological agriculture for about thirty
years, and for this reason, they represent the pioneers of ecological
The practical esperiences that Norwegian anthroposophical
farmers gained at this time have benefited the entire ecological
movement. The human-ethicists who may operate an ecological farm
today are benefiting from the valuable experiences that have
been acquired by the anthroposophists.
In August last year , a 10th and a 30th
anniversary were celebrated on two big Norwegian biodynamic farms,
Folkhol and Øvre Alm in Stange county. Many representatives
for the Norwegian movement were present, and and the anthroposophical
agriculture was praised - by the non-anthroposophical ecologists
- for its pionering achievements and for the invaluable help
with which the anthroposophists have contributed.
As a biproduct of biodynamic agriculture,
the import and wholesale company Helios was founded more than
thirty years ago. Helios is today - beyond comparison - the biggest
organization of its kind, and in 2000 and 2001 its gross will
exceed 100 million [kroners]. But it does not stop here: the
organization responsible for controlling ecological farms, Debio,
has had a strong anthroposophical element throughout the years
in its management.
Not on a single point is it possible to accuse
Norwegian biodynamic farmers of questionable intercourse with
any green wing extremists from the political right who justify
their totalitarian and racist social views with references to
the "natural" and the "ecologically healthy",
which is the point of departure in the Humanist article.
C. Anthroposophical engagement in the
environmental movement in general
The anthroposophists do not only stand behind
very important contributions to the ecological movement.
Ever since the early years following World
War II, the anthroposophists have, in writing and in speech,
pointed out the environmental threats we are facing - long before
this type of questions were put on the public agenda.
If we browse through the magazines Horisont,
Libra, and Arken, we will find a comprehensive
and persistently strong environmental commitment. We can read
all the articles with a magnifying glass without finding one
single example that justifies warnings against the anthroposophical
movement in the fashion of which Humanist is making itself
It is not technology, science, and rationalism
that are being identified as causes of the severe environmental
problems we are facing. On the contrary, the factors being emphasized
are man's ruthless exploitation of nature based upon commercial
interests, the shortsightedness of big corporations, and the
greed of the single individual.
I have had the pleasure of being chairman
of the board for the "Landsbystiftelsen"
- "The Village Foundation" - that runs six Camphill
properties for mentally retarded people and drug abusers. In
The Village Foundation, work with the mentally retarded goes
hand in hand with the concept of environmental protection.. In
the villages, one will find biological cleansing plants and even
a windmill; one invests in ecological agriculture and puts a
great deal of emphasis on choice of materials used etc. (See
the home page for Vidaråsen
The Waldorf schools are colored by same basic
environmental view. There aren't many movements where one finds
environmental protection ideals translated into practical work
to such an extent as what one finds in the Anthroposophical Movement,
and this has - as mentioned above - a longer tradition among
anthroposophists than in other organizations that have bonded
with the environmental movement in the course of later years.
The work of anthroposophists in connection
with the establishment of Cultura Sparebank three years ago is
an additional example of how anthroposophists represent a vanguard
- in this connection with regard to alternative thinking in the
field of banking and finance.
D. The relationship between human ethicism
I den humIn the Human-Ethical Movement, it
is customary to emphasize the significance of protecting natural
resources as the best way to advance one's world view.
The environmental view of Human-Ethical Movement
still appears - at least from my point of view - as unclear.
Where does in fact Humanist - quite
concretely - really stand on the central issues of today regarding
gene modification, food additives, the use of pesticides, plant
treatment chemicals, etc.?
It is my impression - I repeat impression
- that the Human-Ethicical Movement with its ironclad faith in
"science and reason" has a considerably more liberal
and reticent - even passive - attitude to the above mentioned
challenges than anthroposophists do.
Environmental protection quickly boils down
to concrete standpoints to concrete questions. I read human-ethicists'
words of honor about environment. What the Human-Ethical Union
and Humanist do in practical action, on the other
hand, is more difficult to discover.
If the claim about eco-fascism in this issue
of Humanist pretends to address Norwegian conditions,
we are faced with a directly nonsensical allegation. If the aim
is exclusively to point out conditions in Germany, the piece
is misleading and the failure to document and elaborate the nuances
with a reference to conditions in Norway, is unacceptable.
The environmental work of anthroposophists
bears the mark of their pioneering effort, the practical value
of labor, and the consistent attitude of anthroposophists.
I permit myself briefly to raise the question
if anthroposophists with their practical work have not
meant more to the Norwegian environmental movement than the Human-Ethical
Union has, with their 50 times as many members.
5. Closing remarks
In the Humanist article, a picture
is drawn of the anthroposophist where racial thinking, Nazi connections,
and continual flirtations with Fascism are the major ingredients.
Let us sum it all up in conclusion: In this
present article it has not been our concern to refute the untenable
accusations that in general are directed against Rudolf Steiner
with regard to his significance for the national-socialist movement
in Germany or claims about alleged racism and eco-fascism. This
has been accomplished in other contributions. Our main concern
has been to establish the following:
1. When an article about anthroposophists'
relationship to Nazism, racism, and eco-fascism is imported,
and strongly stigmatizing and burdensome allegtions are presented,
this is to a great extent useful for the purpose of discrediting
the Anthroposophical Movement in Norway, unless crystal clear
reservations are provided. Such reservations - or supplimentary
information - have not been provided in the Humanist article.
For Norwegian readers, therefore, the article appears irresponsible.
2. There is no supporting evidence for claiming
that there is a commection between anthroposophy on the on hand,
and Nazism/Anti-Semitism on the other, in Norway. It is easy
to document that anthroposophists in the 1930's and during the
war, distanced themselves from everything connected with Nazism
and Fascism to a greater extent than did the representative bourgeois
newspapers and the political left wing movement.
3. There is no supporting evidence indicating
that leading Norwegian anthroposophists have made racist remarks
or represented racist behavior in any way. Furthermore, there
is no cause to criticize the work done by anthroposophists with
other groups persecuted by Hitler, i.e. mentally disabled and
4. The attitude of Norwegian anthroposophists
to racism stands out in clear contrast to the ruling official
notions that existed in the 1920's and 1930's. The very circles
that in the 1930's pledged allegiance to the same ideals (science-mindedness
and reason) that the human-ethicists of today swear to, represented
a shameful chapter in the history of Norwegian health care regarding
the treatment of gypsies, vagrants, and mentally handicapped.
It is also a fact that central figures in
the political left wing movement - in contradistinction to the
Anthroposophical Movement - made themselves spokesmen for extremely
racist and discriminating statements. After the war, anthroposophists
have protested against racism in official school texbooks while
representatives for the Human-Ethical Movement have remained
5. Possible claims about Norwegian anthroposophists
having - or having had - connections with anything that can be
characterized as eco-fascism, are groundless. Anthroposophists
have in many instances been pioneers within environmental protection,
and with practical labor they have contributed considerably,
and have thus had - in spite of their small number - a greater
influence than the Human-Ethical Union.
artikkelen på norsk
Human-Ethicism in Theory and Practice
by Cato Schiøtz - Coming to a monitor
Normann Waage Answers Allegations
Critics, and Controversy
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