THE SITUATION OF THE GENERAL ANTHROPOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

Problems -- Omissions -- Tasks

A Memorandum

Michaelmas 1986

Unification on a spiritual scientific basis is accomplished when you differentiate, individualize, not centralize.

Rudolf Steiner

Towards the end of the century humanity stands before great dangers and threats.

Materialistic civilization is destroying more and more domains of our planet's sphere of life. The political confrontation between East and West and the elimination of the Center make the destruction of the world possible at any moment. The powerful, prosperous industrial nations keep the majority of the Earth's inhabitants in the so-called developing countries in economic dependence and poverty. In many dictatorships, human rights are violated. But even in the so-called democracies the human being's dignity as a free personality is assaulted in manifold ways by the media, by bureaucratically administered education and science dominated by political-economic interests.

Anthroposophy -- the spiritual science founded by Rudolf Steiner -- shows us what we can and must do to work effectively against these challenges and all their derivative problems in the political, economic and spiritual areas.

However: Individuals or small groups are not in a position to accomplish what is necessary. Therefore the imperative question arises: Why has the Anthroposophical Society as a whole, through the University of Spiritual Science, not been able to take a position in the required way concerning the burning problems of humanity since the death of Rudolf Steiner? Why have there been no attempts by the Society to engage in the general development of society by means of correspondingly realistic initiatives?

For example, we are perplexed by the silence concerning the danger of atomic energy and that knowledge of the etheric in humanity is not divulged, although the present threat to the etheric through modern civilization, especially nuclear technology, can only be recognized by means of spiritual science.

Furthermore the tasks of political renovation in the sense of the Triformation of the Social Organism, as well as that of the nuclear threat, have not been met with any appropriate initiatives. One could often observe how attempts from the membership to seize such initiatives have been ignored or obstructed -- very seldom encouraged. We have not experienced the Anthroposophical Society as a community in which current problems are discussed openly and freely, knowledgeably treated and communicated to the interested public.

Yet Rudolf Steiner expected that "a broad stream of enlightenment about social necessities "emanate from the Anthroposophical Society1 History would perhaps have been different had these initiatives been seized.

This opinion was also held by Congressman Otto Schily when he spoke in the German congress on March 13, 1986: "The idea presented by Rudolf Steiner about 70 years ago about a functional formation of society in the three spheres of Culture, the State and the Economy could constitute a model for the society of the future, for people who do not wish to rest with comfortable thoughts and who are aware of the existential dangers confronting humanity...A constructive acceptance of his ideas in social dialogue in the Twenties -- this assertion can be made in historic retrospective -- could in any case have helped to avoid the Nazi terror and the Second World War."2 

In our opinion, this situation is directly related to the tragic development of the Anthroposophical Society since 1925: The constitution inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner was decisively altered. This fact, in its momentous, fateful consequences, is still today not recognized.

It would be helpful if an awareness of this problematic would arise in the anthroposophical movement. This Memorandum, which summarizes the results of years of investigation, was prepared with this end in mind.

I. THE STRUCTURING OF THE GENERAL ANTHROPOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
AND ITS CONSTITUTION

With the Christmas Meeting for re-founding the Anthroposophical Society, a new course was to have been introduced into anthroposophical work. "Above all it should be avoided in this new course that in the future things tend to scatter, and what should happen is that they can really be guided from out of the anthroposophical movement." 3  For this it was necessary that "in the reciprocal relations of the various activities a uniform constitution" 4  be introduced.

In order to achieve this objective, Rudolf Steiner developed as appropriate forms:

  • for the Anthroposophical Society, on the one hand, statutes which were deliberated and approved during the Christmas Meeting.5   These are free from all "civil association characteristics"
    (Vereinsmässigen) 6   and give the Society a character that corresponds to an open, free spiritual life. United with this Society is the "Free University of Spiritual Science" as the seat of "investigation in spiritual matters". The Society sees "a center of its activities" (statutes, para. 5) in this university, which is composed of three Classes (para.5) which are to be organized in individual sections. The university is to be directed by Rudolf Steiner. He alone is to appoint his co-workers and his "eventual successor". (para. 7).

  • on the other hand, the Civil Association (Verein) "General Anthroposophical Society", which exists since February 8, 1925, with four sub-sections: the Administration of the Anthroposophical Society; the Philosophisch-Anthroposophische Press; the Administration of the Goetheanum Building; and the Klinisch-Therapeutisches Institute.7  This Civil Association has its own statutes.

Therefore, since Feb. 8, 1925 two entities exist, each having its own form and legal characteristics: a SOCIETY with the legally valid name "Anthroposophical Society" and a CIVIL ASSOCIATION with four sub-sections and the legally valid name "General Anthroposophical Society". The spiritually embodied "uniform constitution" demanded a dichotomy in its legal form (Society and Civil Association). Therewith free initiative in the various fields of endeavor was made possible and the requirements for the corresponding autonomy was guaranteed.

It is necessary to differentiate between:

THE SOCIETY

THE CIVIL ASSOCIATION

Anthroposophical Society

General Anthroposophical Society

The Society is to be a ALLIANCE OF PERSONS.

The Association includes INSTITUTIONS. It unites four autonomous sub-sections (para.2)8 8 through a legally uniform direction: the Executive Committee (Vorstand) is identical to the EC of the Society, though it has completely different functions here. As in the Society, Rudolf Steiner is the president.

The persons allied in the Society want "to nurture the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society, on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world." (statutes para. 1)9  They want to "endeavor to fulfil this task by making the anthroposophical spiritual science cultivated at the Goetheanum in Dornach the center of its activities, together with all that results from this for brotherhood in human relations and for the moral and religious as well as the artistic and cultural life." (para.2) The objective of the Society is "the furtherance of spiritual research". (para.9).

The objective of the Association is "to cultivate artistic, scientific and educational activities." (para.3)

Anyone can become a member "who considers as justified the existence of an institution such as the Goetheanum in Dornach as the Free University of Spiritual Science." (para.4). This is considered to be the only condition.

Membership is obtained by written application...

Admission of members is relegated to the individual groups. (para.11).

...granted by the Executive Committee (Vorstand) (para.6)

As the Society's statutes do not provide for the expulsion of members, Swiss law applies (expulsion only by majority vote of members at assembly)

A member may be expelled from the Association by the EC without stating the reason. (para.7).

The Society has an unlimited number of members with equal rights.

The Association has only few regular members with voting rights. The number of contributing members is unlimited. They have no voting rights.

In the Society members join together in smaller or larger groups on the basis of any locality or subject, and have their own statutes, (para.11&13)
"Therewith we achieve life that is really based on freedom in the Anthroposophical Society and also, everywhere it develops, complete autonomy".10  

The Executive Committee was proposed by Rudolf Steiner and confirmed by the founding assembly. The EC is not to be anything other than "a group of people with initiative for anthroposophical activities." 11  
It is free in initiatives that it considers necessary. It also has the task of observing what is happening in the Society and to coordinate. (para.11).

The Exec. Committee of the Association is elected. It represents the Association.

The objective of the society is the furtherance of spiritual research; that of the Free University of Spiritual Science is this research itself. (para 9)

The Association is the legal owner of the University with its installations.

The Society has no property. It doesn't need to be registered.

The Association is the legal proprietor. It is entered in the commercial register.

The Society is free from all Civil Association characteristics. It can dedicate itself exclusively to its spiritual tasks.

The Association can dedicate itself to its assigned tasks through the capacities of the persons responsible for each institution (sub-sections).

The organism as a whole is formed into two entities. In each entity the same persons act as Executive Committee (Vorstand). In this way, the uniform constitution of the whole -- the General Anthroposophical Society -- is apparent.

II. DEVELOPMENTS DURING THE YEAR 1925

The developments in 1925 occurred essentially in three steps: the events of February 8, March 22 and28/29 December. On Feb. 8 Rudolf Steiner's efforts on June 29 and August 3, 1924 to structure the entire organism of the Society came to a provisional end. 12   Simultaneously, however, an contrary development was initiated.

February 8, 1925

Two contradictory events took place on this day. On the one hand Rudolf Steiner, together with the other EC members, signed the official commercial registry notification of changes in the statutes of the Civil Association of the Goetheanum related to the April 1920 version of same. 13  

On the other hand, the nine regular voting members of the Association of the Goetheanum present at its 4th Extraordinary General Assembly decided upon -- in Rudolf Steiner´s absence -- new statutes. 14 

A comparison of both statutes shows their essential differences:

Statutes of the Association, resulting from the notification signed by Rudolf Steiner.

New statutes decided upon at the 4th General Assembly of the Association.



On March 3, 1925, statute changes legally registered.

Not registered in commercial registry.

The name of the Association was changed to "General Anthroposophical Society". (para 1) 15  

A Civil Association exists under the name "General Anthropo-
sophical Society" as "legal successor to the Civil Association of the Goetheanum". (para.1) 16  

Only the regular members have voting rights.

All members have voting rights (regular and contributing). (para. 10)

These at first glance seemingly unimportant deviations (legal successor, changes in voting rights) were the pre-conditions for following developments.

March 22, 1925

On March 22, 1925 a "Notification from the Executive Committee (Vorstand)" was published in The Goetheanum Newssheet concerning the decisions taken during the General Assembly of Feb. 8th, signed by "The Vorstand of the General Anthroposophical Society".17   At the beginning of this article is stated that on Feb. 8 a "General Assembly" took place. The reader has no way of knowing that it was an Extraordinary Assembly of the Civil Association of the Goetheanum and not of the Anthroposophical Society of the Christmas Meeting. The manner of presentation of the text gave the impression that it was a General Assembly of this latter Society. This impression was strengthened by quoting a hitherto unpublished address by Rudolf Steiner of June 29, 1924 on the occasion of the 3rd Extraordinary General Assembly of the Association of the Goetheanum, 18   in a shortened and partially modified form, without indication or identification of the changes. This notification claimed further that through the decisions of February 8th the Press, the Clinic and the Goetheanum Building were absorbed into the "whole organism of the General Anthroposophical Society". The members could only understand this to be the Society of the Christmas Meeting. This presumed absorption cannot be confirmed by any utterances of Rudolf Steiner. On the contrary, it is in contradiction to his efforts at a formation of the entire organism of the Society and to the legally registered notification signed by him. The sources known until now give no indication that this published "Notification of the Vorstand" was approved by Rudolf Steiner. He died 8 days after its publication.

December 28/29, 1925

On December 29, 1925 the first Extraordinary General Assembly of the Civil Association "General Anthroposophical Society" took place. The members of the Christmas Meeting Society (Anthroposophical Society) were invited to a preliminary meeting. On Dec. 28 a "Meeting of the General Secretaries and Vorstand" took place in preparation for the decisions (to be made at the Assembly). 19   During the Assembly on December 29 and also in the printed program of the Conference, no differentiation was made, however, between the two societies. Therefore, the invitation to the Association General Anthroposophical Society was made as though it were an Assembly of the Anthroposophical Society (Christmas Meeting Society). It was so because the sense of the Vorstand's Notification of March 22, 1925 (see above), leads one to assume that there is only one society and all members of the Anthroposophical Society -- there were already 12,000 -- were regular members of it. This sealed the de facto fusion of the Society and the Association. The formation prepared by Rudolf Steiner and the legal registration signed by him on February 8, 1925 were therewith annulled. The result was that the Society with the University, as well as the Association, were deprived of their necessary conditions of life. The members of the anthroposophical Society of the Christmas Meeting of 1923 were incorporated into a centralized Civil Association -- the statutes of which were conceived by Rudolf Steiner for completely different objectives -- without them even being aware of it.

Has the Christmas Meeting Society been seen since then?

Its statutes were converted into legally non-binding "Principles".

III. CONSEQUENCES

It is often pointed out that as a result of the foundation of the Anthroposophical Society during the Christmas Meeting, "the Anthroposophical Society and Movement became one." But how did this happen? -- And is it still so?

Rudolf Steiner spoke very clearly about this: "I have often emphasized, before this Christmas Meeting in the Goetheanum took place, that one must differentiate between the anthroposophical movement, which represents a spiritual stream in its reflection on earth, and the Anthroposophical Society, which is just a society formally administered in that its functionaries are elected or otherwise decided on. Since Christmas the opposite must be said. We can no longer differentiate between the anthroposophical movement and the Anthtroposophical Society. They are both one: for the fact that I have become the president of the Society means that the anthroposophical movement has become one with the Anthroposophical Society." 20  

This means: the Society and the movement became one because Rudolf Steiner took over the direction of the Society and therewith united his karma with the Society's destiny. Now everything which took place within the Society must directly affect him. Therefore there was much earnestness in his words when he said it wasn't easy "to work responsibly within the Anthroposophical Society." 21  

"What does this direction (of the Society) imply? Since the Christmas Meeting I have often indicated the very special conditions which this direction implies. It implies that everything that happens in connection with me I must be personally able to take up to the spiritual world. You must try to realize what it means to be responsible to the spiritual world for the anthroposophical movement. And what difficulties can arise for him who is to represent something responsibly before the spiritual world, when he also has to bring along the personal aspirations of the participating people. This brings a really horrible reaction from the spiritual world onto him who has to take these things to the spiritual world." 22  

How must the "personal ambitions", "personal tendencies" which arose have acted on Rudolf Steiner's karma, especially the events of 1925, which have not yet been recognized and corrected, and which have placed obstacles to the development of the Society and the Association?


Thus is indicated the importance and meaning of the differentiated structure of the general anthroposophical Society and the tasks which Rudolf Steiner intended for it. If a common process of knowledge could come into motion, the appropriate forms would also be found which correspond to today's conditions, so that all entities and fields of endeavor of the Society can work together productively and be guided from out of the anthroposophical movement.

Gerhard von Beckerath, Pforzheim; Karl Buchleitner, Pforzheim;
Andreas Flörsheimer, Jülich; Carlo Frigeri, Dornach; Ursula Garncarz-Buchleitner, Pforzheim; Wilfried Heidt, Achberg; Hugo Lüders, Wolfsburg; Rudolf Saacke, Hamburg; Bettina Schön-Abeling, Hamburg; Frank Thomas Smith, Buenos Aires


1   Rudolf Steiner, Die geistigen Hintergründe der sozialen Frage, Band II, GA 190
2   Protocol 10/205, pg. 15648, speech by O. Schily in the German congress
3   R. Steiner, GA 260a, pg. 501
4   R. Steiner, GA 260a, pg. 501
5   R. Steiner, GA 260a, pg. 29ff.
6   Rudolf Steiner, GA 260, pgs. 41,42,49,92
7   GA 260a, pg. 564ff.
8   GA 260a, pg. 564ff.
9   GA 260a, pg. 29ff.
10   GA 260, pg. 53
11   GA 260, pg. 53
12   GA 260, pg. 501ff.
13   GA 260a, pg. 508ff.
14   GA 260a, pg. 560ff.
15   GA 260a, pg. 564
16   GA 260a, pg. 560
17   GA 260a, pg. 567ff.
18   GA 260a, pg. 501ff.
19   Newssheet Nr. 46. Nov. 15, 1925
20   GA 260a, pg. 355
21   GA 261, pg. 305
22   GA 261, pg. 305