Friday, August 12, 2016

Threefolding Movement of 1917-1922: Part 6

The Wanderer, Koloman Moser, 1916
 

The Threefolding Movement of 1917-1922 and Its Present Significance


By Christoph Strawe*
(translated by Edward Udell)

Part 6 (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Stuttgart Initiatives


Rudolf Steiner resides at this time in Switzerland, where he gives lectures emphasizing the theme of the changed conditions of the times. Marxism, ideas about workers’ councils, the proletariat, surplus value, and so on are new leitmotifs, but also inner aspects of the social question, such as the relation of social and antisocial impulses in human beings.

Emil Molt is in Switzerland at the time of the revolution. In Dornach on 9 November he hears a lecture by R. Steiner. He writes about it in the autobiographical text Sketch of My Biography. “Never before had I taken in Rudolf Steiner’s explanations with greater attentiveness than on this evening. As if he had heard my inner question: ‘what can I do in this situation?’, he said during the course of his lecture approximately the following: ‘And if now someone should ask me what he should do, I could only advise him to be open and to listen to what the circumstances require from him.’ That was for me the only right answer.” (p.161).

Emil Molt (1876-1936), leader of the successful Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, now becomes active. He offers his cooperation to the Württemberg Economic Ministry and is able to set up a desk of his own there. However, the attempt to found an industry fiduciary corporation for the stimulation of the peace economy fails. In the middle of November Molt speaks with his foreman Speidel about educational possibilities for the workers’ children. The thought of founding a school begins to germinate in him. Other Stuttgart anthroposophists, such as Hans Kühn (1889-1977), and Carl Unger (1878-1929), who is an epistemologist and the owner of a machine factory, also want to get involved with social questions.

Dornach January Conversations


They decide to seek out Rudolf Steiner to pose questions for clarification and to discuss practical steps. On 25 and 27 January 1919, Molt, Kühn, and Roman Boos, at that time editor of the Waldorf Astoria News, have long conversations with Steiner during which he elucidates his ideas down to particular details of organizational questions – for example with regard to tax systems. The shorthand report by Roman Boos, insofar as it was decipherable, later appeared printed in manuscript form under the title Social Scientific Texts. Steiner proposes an announcement, an appeal, to be supported by a larger group of human beings. In the situation of the upheaval he considers it necessary to turn to the broad public with the threefolding idea. The idea of founding free schools also emerges. Consideration is given to how a politically effective organization can be created. Signatures are to be gathered, lectures to be organized, a book to be composed. Steiner writes not only the “Appeal,” but begins in the following weeks to pen The Basic Issues of the Social Question in the Life Necessities of the Present and Future,5 whose content he presents initially in lectures in Switzerland. The book appears on 28 April.

[Part 7 is here.]

5 On the internet the [German] text can be found here. In the appendix the “Appeal” can also be read. 
[One can find an English translation here. The book is available in several English translations with various titles, the most recent of which is Toward Social Renewal.]

* 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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