Saturday, August 13, 2016

Threefolding Movement of 1917-1922: Part 7

Silver Apples of the Moon, Margaret MacDonald, 1912

The Threefolding Movement of 1917-1922 and Its Present Significance

By Christoph Strawe*
(translated by Edward Udell)

Part 7 (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)

The Appeal “To the German People and the Civilized World”

On 2 February, R. Steiner gives to Molt, Kühn, and Boos the finished text of the appeal “To the German People and the Civilized World.” A German committee is formed of the first signatories, including Molt, Unger, and Wilhelm von Blume, the author of the draft of the Württemberg state constitution. To the Austrian committee belong Walter Johannes Stein, Polzer-Hoditz, and the State Councilor Stefan von Licht. The gathering of signatures begins – under various difficulties, for the activists from the very beginning feel to some extent overstrained. (Boos expresses himself to this effect with regard to a conversation with the sociologist Max Weber about the Appeal.) In Germany the document bears in the end 320 signatures, among them those of the sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck, the authors Hermann Hesse and Jakob Wassermann, the theologian Friedrich Rittelmeyer, and the philosopher Paul Natorp.

The Appeal starts from the facts of the catastrophe, and states that these must lead to introspection; the catastrophe occurred because Germany sought a position of power grounded in external forces, but omitted real social renewal, which would have secured a constructive role in the world. Social renewal now demanded conscious structuring, where social instincts would previously have been effective. The social organism now had to develop three independent members, each with its own “legislation and administration”: that of the economic life, that of cultural/spiritual production, and that of the rights-state, which would work together in a living way. This new order also had to arrange for three independent delegations to negotiate peace conditions with foreign nations.

Going beyond the memoranda, the Appeal, like the book Toward Social Renewal, employs a comparison between the social organism and the human natural organism. This comparison is not to be understood in any sense as an analogy, but as a means of sharpening the eye for viable social structures that serve the creative human being. R. Steiner bases his approach on his Riddles of the Soul, published in 1917. In that work he expressed for the first time a perspective that had been ripening within him for decades: his view of the threefoldness of human physical organization as foundation and instrument of human soul life.

The Campaign Begins

From February to April 1919 the campaign is prepared. Steiner during this time has conversations with, among others, Kurt Eisner, the socialist who would later be assassinated. On 5 March the Appeal appears in daily newspapers and in fliers; on 21 March the committee of signatories with Molt, Unger, and von Blume hold an event for the public in the Stuttgart city garden. Blume states on this occasion that he is no anthroposophist and that till then he had never seen R. Steiner (who still lived in Switzerland). Blume declares that all of his experience however counsels solidarity with the threefolding idea.

[Part 8 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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