Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Riddle of Race

The Riddle of Race

Races and Racism

This topic has become relevant because of the present turmoil with regard to neo-Nazism, white supremacy and violent hostility being expressed in a threatening and hateful manner by certain groups. It is also relevant because of the racial prejudices that are common among many people in more subtle ways in everyday life. It's easy to say that this has to stop and try to end it with anti-racist clichés and slogans about love not hate etc. and massive rallies and demonstrations, but in order to understand the riddle of race and the anachronistic nature of the pathological racism we have seen in recent centuries and are witnessing at the present time, it is necessary to take a look at human evolution from a spiritual point of view as described in the works of Rudolf Steiner.

Rudolf Steiner himself has been accused of racism by opponents of anthroposophy, and there are several quotes justifying this charge, especially when taken out of context. I am not engaging in this debate here; I shall only repeat very briefly that against every single such racist quote I can respond by pointing to at least ten quotes that testify to the exact opposite. And we're talking about a corpus consisting of 350 volumes.

Regarding racism proper, or hostility between ethnic groups, Steiner's following remark from a lecture he gave in Zurich in 1919 hits the nail on the head:

And so, in order to create dissensions, Ahriman also makes use of what develops from the old conditions of heredity which man has really outgrown in the Fifth Post-Atlantean Epoch. The Ahrimanic powers use all that is derived from old circumstances of heredity in order to set men against each other in conflicting groups. All that comes from old differences of family, race, tribe, peoples, is used by Ahriman to create confusion.
(--Rudolf Steiner: The Ahrimanic Deception, Zurich, 27th October, 1919. GA 193)


Races and Epochs

Ahriman, whose name originated with Zarathustra in ancient Persia, is the cosmic being whose influence runs contrary to that of Ahura Mazda and the spiritual progress of humanity. But the important thing in the quote above is that man has really outgrown the old conditions of heredity, namely race, in the Fifth Post-Atlantean Epoch. This is the present cultural epoch that began in 1413 and will last until 3573. But Steiner went much further when he said that the very notion of races among human beings is meaningless in the post-Atlantean epoch, i.e. the fifth Root Race which began about ten to twelve thousand years ago:
If we want to grasp it from another side, we can say: That idea whereby the group-soulness chiefly expresses itself loses meaning ever more and more in the evolution of mankind, i.e., the idea of race. If we go back beyond the great Atlantean catastrophe, we see how the human races are prepared. In the old Atlantean age human beings were grouped according to external characteristics in their bodily structure, far more strongly than today. What we call races today are only the relics of those important distinctions between human beings as were customary in old Atlantis. The idea of race is only really applicable to old Atlantis. Since we deal with a real evolution of mankind, we have never employed the idea of race in the most eminent sense for the post-Atlantean age. We do not speak of an Indian race, a Persian race, etc., because that is no longer correct. We speak of an old-Indian period of civilisation, of an old-Persian period of civilisation, etc. And it would be utterly devoid of sense if we would speak of our time preparing a sixth race. If relics of the old Atlantean distinctions, of their group-soulness, are still existing in our time, so that one can still say the racial division continues to work on — that which is preparing for the sixth period of time consists just in the character of race being stripped off. That is the essential. 
( -- Rudolf Steiner: The Ego -- The God Within and the God of External Revelation, Lecture 1, Munich, 4th December, 1909, GA 117)

What did Rudolf Steiner mean by "preparing for the sixth period of time"? Humanity is currently going through the Fifth Sub Race (1413-3573) of the Fifth Root Race (7227 BCE-7893 CE), using classic theosophical terminology where "race" means "epoch." The future Sixth Sub Race, or post-Atlantean cultural epoch, will arise out of present-day Russia and last from 3573 until 5733. The Sixth Root Race will arise some time after the destruction of the current Root Race, which will occur during the latter half of the eighth millennium. During the present period of human evolution, humanity is in the process of outgrowing the last vestiges of race in the sense we usually attribute to this word. The very concept of race as such is already inapplicable to human beings but not to animals like dogs and horses where one talks about breeds. The reason for this is that animals live in group souls while humans have outgrown their group souls to such an extent that when comparing animals to humans and talking about species, each individual human being must be classified as an independent species.

The view that man is destined to become a complete, self-contained, free individuality seems to be contested by the fact that he makes his appearance as a member of a naturally given totality (race, people, nation, family, male or female sex) and also works within a totality (state, church, and so on). He bears the general characteristics of the group to which he belongs, and he gives to his actions a content that is determined by the position he occupies among many others.

This being so, is individuality possible at all? Can we regard man as a totality in himself, seeing that he grows out of one totality and integrates himself into another?
Each member of a totality is determined, as regards its characteristics and functions, by the whole totality. A racial group is a totality and all the people belonging to it bear the characteristic features that are inherent in the nature of the group. How the single member is constituted, and how he will behave, are determined by the character of the racial group. Therefore the physiognomy and conduct of the individual have something generic about them. If we ask why some particular thing about a man is like this or like that, we are referred back from the individual to the genus. The genus explains why something in the individual appears in the form we observe.

Man, however, makes himself free from what is generic. For the generic features of the human race, when rightly understood, do not restrict man's freedom, and should not artificially be made to do so. A man develops qualities and activities of his own, and the basis for these we can seek only in the man himself. What is generic in him serves only as a medium in which to express his own individual being. He uses as a foundation the characteristics that nature has given him, and to these he gives a form appropriate to his own being. If we seek in the generic laws the reasons for an expression of this being, we seek in vain. We are concerned with something purely individual which can be explained only in terms of itself. If a man has achieved this emancipation from all that is generic, and we are nevertheless determined to explain everything about him in generic terms, then we have no sense for what is individual.
( -- Rudolf Steiner: The Philosophy of Freedom [1894], Chapter Fourteen: Individuality and Genus, GA 4)


Ethnic Inbreeding and Memory

In pre-historical times, ethnic inbreeding had some peculiar characteristics. The most interesting of these was the capacity to remember the experiences of one's forebears; memories were inherited through the blood -- the origin of ancestry cults.
Even in the first post-Atlantean time man could remember what his father, grandfather, and ancestors had experienced. There was no sense in saying that between birth and death there was an ego. The ego reached back for centuries in the memory. The ego reached as far as the blood flowed down, from the remotest ancestors to the descendants. At that time the group-ego was not to be thought of as extended in space over the contemporaries, but as proceeding upward in the generations. Therefore, the modern man will never understand what appears as an echo of this in the tales of the patriarchs: that Adam, Noah, and others grew to be so old. They counted their ancestors through several generations upward to their ego. The modern man no longer can form any conception of this. In those days there would have been no sense in giving a single man a name between birth and death. In the whole series of ancestors the memory continued upwards for centuries. As far as man could remember through the centuries, so far was he given his name. Adam was, so to say, the ego that flowed with the blood through the generations. Only when we are acquainted with these actual facts do we know how things really were. Man felt sheltered in this series of generations. This is what the Bible means when it says, “I and Father Abraham are one.” When the adherent of the Old Testament said this, only then did he rightly feel himself as man within the line of ancestry. Among the first post-Atlanteans, even among the Egyptians, this consciousness was still present. Men felt the community of the blood, and this caused something special for the spiritual life.
( -- Rudolf Steiner: Egyptian Myths and Mysteries, Lecture 12, The Christ Impulse as Conqueror of Matter. Leipzig  September 14, 1908, GA 106)


Cognitive Evolution and the Gospel of St. John

The ability to remember the experiences of past generations began to fade through ethnic interbreeding, which enabled the development of the self-aware individuality. This again gave birth to the self-dependent intellect and to science as this began to evolve in the fifteenth century. But the actual mixing of blood through ethnic intermarriage dates back at least to the beginning of our era, when it was marked with a specific stamp of approval by Christ Himself at the wedding in Cana where He performed his first sign or miracle by making wine from water.

In the following excerpt I am only including the parts of the text that are immediately relevant to the topic at hand, separated by (....................), but the lecture can be read in its entirety by clicking on the hyperlink at the end of the quotes.
Why are we told, for instance, with such emphasis, in the first of the signs, that the marriage took place at ‘Cana in Galilee’? Search as we will, there is no other Cana in Palestine, in the regions that could be known at that time. Is an additional appellation necessary for a place which is the only one of that name? Why does the Evangelist, in speaking of this miracle, insist that it took place at ‘Cana in Galilee’? Because it was essential to emphasize that the event in question must necessarily have occurred in Galilee and nowhere else. That is to say, Christ could not have found the persons necessary for this event in other regions, but alone in Galilee.


Christ could not have performed His first miracle within the Jewish community itself; but it was quite possible for Him to do so in Galilee, a district in which the most diverse peoples and tribes were mingled together. Precisely on account of this mixture of races from far and wide, there was far less blood relationship in Galilee than in Judea, in the more strictly Hebrew circles. The people of Galilee were a medley of races. But what was the mission to which Christ felt Himself especially called, by virtue of His impulse?

We have pointed out that one of His weightiest sayings was given in the words: ‘Before Abraham was, was the I AM!’ And that other: ‘I and the Father are One!’ The meaning of these words is as follows: Among people who cling to the old forms of life, the Ego remains ensconced in the brotherhood of blood relations.


But the time having come in which this state of consciousness was no longer suitable to man's stage in evolution, it was gradually lost. Christ could not go to those who had lost the ability to work by that magic force inherent in the ties of blood, and who yet retained an exclusive faith in their community with Father Abraham. For He could not find among these the faith which He Himself needed, so that His power should pass from His soul into the soul of the others. Hence He had perforce to go to those who, by reason of their mixed blood, no longer clung to the old belief — the Galileans. His mission necessarily began there. Though the old state of consciousness was generally on the decline, He found precisely in this people a mixed race which stood at the beginning of the mixing of blood. Different tribes, which had previously been under the sway of the old blood-ties, assembled there from all parts. They had come in order to find the transition from the old order to the new. The feeling was still alive in them, expressed in the words: ‘Our fathers still possessed the old state of consciousness, they still possessed the magic forces which act from soul to soul.’ Among these people Christ could inaugurate His mission, which consisted in giving to man an Ego-consciousness which could say: In myself I find the communion with the spiritual Father — with the Father whose blood does not flow physically through the generations, but who sends His spiritual force into every individual soul. The Ego that is in me, and is in direct communion, with the spiritual Father, it was before Abraham was. It is for me then to pour into my soul a force which is strengthened by the consciousness of my connection with the spiritual Father-Power of the world. ‘I and the Father are One,’ not, ‘I and Father Abraham,’ an ancestor in the flesh, ‘are One!’ And Christ came to those who had just reached the point at which they could understand this, to those who, having broken down the ties of blood, stood in need to find, in the individual soul, the power which enables man by degrees to give expression to the spiritual in the physical. Do not say: ‘Why do not such things happen now, as in those days?’ Apart from the fact that anyone who is willing to see such things can do so, we must realize that the human race has advanced beyond this state of consciousness, and that men have descended into the world of matter. Those times marked the boundary between two epochs, and Christ reverted to the last representatives of a humanity which was in a state of transition, in order to demonstrate the power of the spirit over physical matter. The signs that were wrought at that time were to serve as a pattern and a symbol — as a symbol of faith for men, while the old state of consciousness, though still present, was in the act of disappearing.


What must people have felt in very ancient times in a similar case, in times when consanguineous marriage prevailed, or what may be called, in the sense of spiritual science, ‘near marriage’. The explanation of the near marriage lies in what I have already told you. You will find the same usage among all ancient peoples; marriage outside the tribe or family would have been a breach of tribal law. Intermarriage within the tribe and among blood relations was the rule, and this consanguineous marriage brought about that wonderful result which can be ascertained at any moment by spiritual scientific research — namely, the power to exercise great magical force. The descendants of a tribe of blood relations, by virtue of this consanguineous marriage, possessed magic powers which worked from soul to soul.
( -- Rudolf Steiner: The Gospel of St. John in Relation to the other Gospels especially that of St. Luke, Lecture IX, The artistic composition of the Gospel of St. John. The climax of power in the signs and miracles, Cassel 2nd July, 1909, GA 112)


Racist Fears

Aggressive and hostile racists like the neo-Nazis and the KKK, the "alt-right," express deep fears and anxieties. What terrifies them so much? Racial integration and assimilation! Ideological racists are worried about the fact that nobody can control the ethnic makeup of his or her great-great-grandchildren. Racial differences have been in the process of disappearing for millennia, and this development has been accelerating in recent times. Nobody can intervene in the lives of young people and dictate who they're going to have children with and extend such a dictate for many generations. White supremacists call this racial assimilation "white genocide," although it has nothing to do with murder. They scream "Blood and soil!" because they've lost the magic touch with their ancestors that existed prior to race-mixing, all because of a Jew from Galilee who did a water-and-wine trick. The most absurd and nonsensical statements accrue from such a rationale, such as the bizarre tweet from Congressman Steve King:
(Dutch Presidential candidate Geert) Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.
Steve King elaborated on this statement on the alt-right Breitbart Radio by going on some rants about culture, that white people are superior contributors to culture compared to other ethnic groups. But what is culture? It's musical compositions, poetry, theater, literature, scientific research, education, language, social learning etc. If King had excelled in any of these fields, he might have had something to say about culture worth listening to. Instead, he talks about raising "someone else's babies" as if children are born with their fully developed cultures intact, especially foreign and undesirable cultures. This means that if a white man is married to a black woman, their colored children are born with non-Western cultures that are threatening the white establishment. The notion that the black wife is as Western as the husband doesn't occur to King because he is blinded by the racist ideology of skin color.

Racism is frequently linked to nationalism. This is best known as patriotism, and in the United States, patriotism is still considered a virtue in mainstream culture, but among the notorious synonyms we have chauvinism, jingoism etc. and fanaticism is often a companion to all of the above. I live in Norway, and I've never met a self-proclaimed patriot or nationalist in this country who wasn't a racist, xenophobe or neo-Nazi. Language is always in the process of changing dynamically, and a century ago it would be absurd to suggest that patriotism was something pathological, but in this respect Emma Goldman was ahead of her time with her famous essay from 1908, What Is Patriotism? where she quoted Dr. [Samuel] Johnson, who said "Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of scoundrels." Rudolf Steiner made a distinction between patriotism, which was something idealistic and positive, and nationalism, which was destructive and fanatical. And he talked about a certain point in time between death and rebirth when the individual gets to choose his next birth, how he is drawn to a specific nationality, culture, language out of love. Those who have no such love for a nation and race don't get to make their own choice but are automatically assigned to an affiliation, and those are the ones who become fanatical nationalists and racists.

 Assimilation and Genocide

Let's revisit the bizarre "white genocide" notion. To the best of my knowledge, there hasn't been any effort to wipe out WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants in the US) anywhere. The Nazis introduced systematic genocide against European Jews, who are white, in order to exterminate them completely, but there has been no endeavor by non-whites to kill off white people. And regarding Jews, there was a rabbi in Israel a few decades ago who said assimilation was genocide. I thought that was a shocking choice of words because the Jews had been subjected to the most brutal and heinous genocide in history. Genocide means murdering people. So when this rabbi says assimilation is genocide, i.e. death, he is saying that a person who happens to be Jewish actually dies, or is murdered, when he marries a non-Jew and stops going to the synagogue. This sentiment is rooted in an identification with a religious tradition so strong that life without it means death. In the case of the white supremacist who talks about "white genocide," he identifies his individuality with the color of his skin while worrying about the future when present-day races will be anthropological phenomena of the distant past.

These people are all imprisoned in gross materialism. This term is often understood as the desire to accumulate wealth and material things, but it really means a specific worldview irrespective of personal beliefs, religious or otherwise. Their hatred is a cry for help. They need our compassion and healing, not ridicule and contempt. Many of them are trying to be religious, but they can't find any connection with higher powers so they resort to old traditions like Nordic pre-Christian mythology to get away from the Judeo-Christian influence which they despise as an alien Semitic cultural intruder. Their ideal teachers and spiritual guides would be the homeless souls described by Rudolf Steiner,

Perhaps you will better understand what we mean if you remember, that at a certain stage of mystic or occult development one is called a ‘homeless man.’ This designation is a technical one, and if we wish to characterize without further ado — as we are not now speaking about the path of knowledge — what is to be understood by the term ‘homeless man,’ we may briefly say, that a man is called ‘homeless’ when, in his knowledge and grasp of the great laws of humanity, he cannot be influenced by all that usually arises in a person through living in his native country. A ‘homeless man’, we might also say, is one who is able to identify himself with the great mission of humanity as a whole, without the various shades of the particular feelings belonging to this or the other home-land playing any part. This will show you that a certain degree of maturity in mystical or occult development is necessary, in order to have a liberal point of view regarding something which we otherwise rightly consider great, which, in contradistinction to individual human life, we describe as the Mission of the several Folk-spirits, as that which brings, out of the foundations of a people, out of the spirit of the various peoples, the separate concrete contributions to the collective mission of humanity.

We shall therefore describe what we may call the greatness of that from which the ‘homeless man’ must in a certain respect free himself. Now the ‘homeless’ men of all times, from primeval ages down to our own day, have always known, that if they were to characterize in all its fullness that which is described as the character of homelessness, they would meet with very, very little understanding. In the first place a certain prejudice would be brought against these homeless men, which would be voiced in the reproach: ‘You have lost all connection with the nation from which you have sprung; you have no understanding for that which is usually most dear to a man’. This, however, is not really the case.

Homelessness is in reality — or at least it may be so — a détour or roundabout way, so that, after this sanctuary of homelessness has been attained, the way may be found back to the folk, in order to be in harmony with what is permanent in the evolution of mankind. Although it is necessary to begin by drawing attention to this, on the other hand it is also not without reason, that just as the present time, that which we call the Mission of the several Folk-souls of humanity, should for once be spoken of quite impartially. Just as it was right that, to a certain extent, silence should be maintained regarding their mission until the present time, there are good reasons why one should now begin to speak of this mission. It is especially important, because the fate of humanity in the near future will bring men together much more than has hitherto been the case, to fulfill a common mission for humanity. But the individuals belonging to the several peoples will only be able to bring their free, concrete contributions to this joint mission, if they have, first of all, an understanding of the folk to which they belong, an understanding of what we might call ‘The Self-knowledge of the Folk.’ In ancient Greece, in the Apollonic Mysteries the sentence ‘Know thyself’ played a great rôle; in a not far-distant future this sentence will be addressed to the Folk-souls; ‘Know yourselves as Folk-souls’. This saying will have a certain significance for the future work of mankind.
( -- Rudolf Steiner: The Mission of Folk-Souls In connection with Germanic and Scandinavian Mythology, Lecture 1, Christiania 7th June, 1910, GA 121)

The Christ Impulse

Humanity is currently struggling with enormous challenges and difficulties regarding the evolution of consciousness -- spiritual evolution -- and racism is one of those hindrances to progress. In the United States, the term "progressive" has acquired the meaning of left-wing liberalism on the political scale, but when the adjective is applied to the higher hierarchies, the gods, it gets a different meaning: The progressive deities are those who seek to influence humanity in such a manner that people voluntarily choose to follow the Christ Impulse while the Opposing Powers -- without whom there would be no human freedom -- strive to push man into error. The tension between these influences is not a duality but a trinity: The Opposing Powers are characterized as luciferic and ahrimanic forces comparable to positive and negative electricity, and in the center, between those two, is the Christ Force -- the Christ Impulse -- charged with the task of keeping the balance. Evil does not originate with the cosmic beings themselves in spite of the fact that they are opposing the Christ; the cause of evil is in man himself as a result of his failure to maintain the balance between Lucifer and Ahriman, like a scale or a pendulum.

Progressive spiritual evolution is spearheaded by a Cosmic Being whose might and substance consists exclusively of unconditional love for absolutely all living creatures without exception. Unfortunately from the looks of it, very few self-proclaimed believers in any creed or variety of the Christian religion would subscribe to such an idea, which is why we ought to make a distinction today between faith-based Christianity on the one hand, and the Christ Impulse which is independent of traditional beliefs. The fact that the KKK and Christian Identity are Christian organizations should make that clear. Religious faith has been a decreasing power at least since the sixteenth century and needs to be replaced by the certainty of knowledge through anthroposophically oriented spiritual science.
No real understanding of the Christ can be gained if one relies merely on the Gospel, especially in the form in which it has been handed down. There exists nowhere today a less true understanding of Christ than in the various faiths and confessions.


These very people who swear by the Gospel alone and reject every kind of real spiritual knowledge, form the beginning of a flock for Ahriman when he appears in human shape in modern civilization. From these circles, from these members of confessions and sects who repulse the concrete knowledge brought by spiritual endeavor, whole hosts will develop as adherents of Ahriman. Now this is all beginning to come into existence.

( -- Rudolf Steiner, The Ahrimanic Deception, Zurich 27th October, 1919, GA 193)
The most prominent representatives of Protestant Christianity in the United States, the Evangelists, are promoting president Donald Trump as a holy leader sent by God -- a man who is waging war against the poor, the sick, the handicapped, and non-white minorities (because they're afraid they'll become majorities) and has the support of the KKK and neo-Nazis. Nothing more needs to be said.

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