Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Threefolding Movement of 1917-1922: Part 4

Port of Cassis, Charles Camoin, 1901


The Threefolding Movement of 1917-1922 and Its Present Significance

By Christoph Strawe*
(translated by Edward Udell)

Part 4 (Parts 1, 2, and 3)

The Memoranda

R. Steiner composes two memoranda, which are intended for Berlin and Vienna. The fundamental idea is a peace initiative proceeding from Central Europe on the basis of social reorganization: the new order, which would link up with Central Europe’s best traditions, would be the best confidence-building measure and thus the precondition for a peace that would guarantee the viability of Central Europe. Rudolf Steiner, incidentally, had not at the time broadcast his authorship, in order not to endanger the effect. In the memoranda, aside from the treatment of the war-guilt question, he turns against the utopianism of slogans about human happiness. In particular, he warns against the “right of nations to self-determination,” which in Wilson’s “14 Points” on 8 January 1918 moved quite one-sidedly into the foreground. When each people without consideration of the autonomy of others tries to establish its own state, then such “liberation of nations” can create only new injustice. That must hold true above all in a space like Southeast Europe, where various ethnicities intermix and must peacefully coexist as a multicultural manifold in a confined space. According to R. Steiner, if one first liberates the individual human being, then with the individual the nations will be liberated also. The organization of relationships, to quote Steiner, “will only take place in a healthy fashion, if the national is born from freedom, not freedom from the national. If one strives for the former [the primacy of individual freedom] instead of the latter [the primacy of nationalism], then one stands on the basis of world historical development. If one desires the latter, then one works against this development and lays the basis for new conflicts.” (Memorandum of July 1917). What is represented here is the idea of an entirely free cultural and spiritual life: “The state leaves it to the private organizations of the peoples to establish their courts, their schools, their churches, and leaves it to the individual to determine his school, his church, his judges. Naturally not, say, from case to case [with regard to judges], but for a certain time. (…) All juridical, pedagogical, and spiritual affairs are given over to personal freedom. In this domain the state has only the right to police, not to initiate.” (Collected Works 24, p. 352 f.)

Also, the economic life would unfold free from state interference, “opportunistically,” that is to say pragmatically with respect to circumstances. Steiner called for culture and economy each to have its own “parliament.” For their common concerns, including finances, a senate chosen out of these three bodies is to be responsible. – The state is responsible for the preservation of security and order (to that extent he is “conservative”). The democratically elected people’s representatives occupy themselves exclusively with purely political, police, and military matters. All centralist strivings are rejected in favor of the federalism considered essential to the Central European.

[Part 5 is here.]

* Dr. Christoph Strawe has kindly given me permission to post my translation of his article. I have divided it into Parts 1, 2, etc. Words in brackets [ ] are my insertions. Apart from this note, the footnotes are from Dr. Strawe's article. The original German version can be read here. Dr. Strawe manages the Initiative Network Threefolding (Initiative Netzwerk Dreigliederung). The Initiative Network's English-language website is here.  The German-language website is here.  The Initiative Network Threefolding is part of the Institute for Present-Day Social Questions in Stuttgart (Institut für soziale Gegenwartsfragen e.V. Stuttgart). A biographical paragraph (in German) about Dr. Strawe can be found by scrolling near the end of this webpage. - transl.

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