Monday, August 8, 2016

Threefolding Movement of 1917-1922: Part 2

Study for Improvisation 3, Kandinsky, 1909

The Threefolding Movement of 1917-1922 and Its Present Significance


By Christoph Strawe*
(translated by Edward Udell)

Part 2 (read Part 1 here)

Rudolf Steiner During the World War


In 1913 the break with the Theosophical Society was finally made, and the Anthroposophical Society was constituted as an independent association. In this year had begun in Dornach, Switzerland the construction of the first Goetheanum as a place for the cultivation of anthroposophy. As the world war broke out, a group of anthroposophists of various nationalities worked in Dornach on this building.

During the years of the world war, R. Steiner gave lectures in Dornach and in other places about the spiritual backgrounds of the war and about questions of the time; in those settings the direction of the necessary social renewal was at most alluded to, as in a lecture of 31 December 1914 (Collected Works 158), where the requirements for freedom, equality, and brotherhood were treated in threefold differentiation. Steiner's lecture work that year includes a massive dispute with nationalism and chauvinism, to which in addition he opposed a positive and cosmopolitan “folk psychology” as basis for understanding among peoples. In this connection, and with respect to German great power madness and its deformities, and the anti-German resentments in the Entente nations, Steiner made the attempt again and again to emphasize anew the Central European cultural impulse as it had lived at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries in Weimar and Berlin, in Jena and Vienna. It was an impulse that had been pushed completely into the background through developments since 1871: “The German Reich was placed in the world situation,” Steiner held in 1919, “without an intrinsic goal to justify its existence. This goal should not have been such that it only concerned military power, could not be directed in general to military development in the outer sense. It could be directed only to the inner development of culture.”3

In these years Steiner was also eager to contribute to an objective account of events in Germany connected with the war’s outbreak – events he had learned of firsthand. This question concerned him primarily because of its significance for a future peace agreement. The subject was so important to him that in 1916 he pursued for this purpose the project of a German news service in Zürich, in neutral Switzerland. Even then the concept of comprehensive social renewal formed the background of the project.

[Part 3 is here.]

3 Introduction to Helmuth von Moltke’s “Thoughts and Memories”/1919, in Essays on Threefolding of the Social Organism and the Contemporary Situation, Collected Works 24, Dornach 1961, p. 382.

* 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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