Global Social Lab – Anthroposophy in Service of Human Development
Thoughts from a Social Active European and Cosmopolitan Soul.
We found a very appropriate title for our meeting. Global Social Lab. The social issues in the 21st
century can only be approached on the background of a global dimension. The time of small national entities is over. We are living in a globalized world. Our world has become one. Rudolf Steiner mentioned this already in his economic course: “What one could compare individual countries
to, at the most, would be cells of an organism; as an economic body, the entire world can only be
compared to an organism. This has to be made note of. Ever since we have had a world economy, it
is much easier to understand that individual countries can only be compared to cells. The whole
Earth considered as an economic organism, is (actually) the social organism…“ (1st lecture “World
So we have to learn that people all over the world are our brothers and sisters with different colours of their skin and may be also different thoughts and consciousness and different affections
and different intentions. This makes our task not easy, even extreme difficult but also very exciting
and it may move us to enthusiasm. So let’s try to live the new one world!
I think that this is easily understood by our contemporary fellow citizens. But to understand “social” might be much more difficult. In the past the word social had the sound of charitable. Give
alms, a coin into the poor box for the paupers. What is social in our days? Rudolf Steiner is using
the word of “Gemeinschaft”, community as a social entity. “In a community of human beings working together, the wellbeing of the community will be the greater, the less the individual claims for
himself the proceeds of the work he has himself done; i.e. the more of these proceeds he gives over
to his fellow workers, and the more his own requirements are satisfied, not out of his work, but out
of work done by the others.” This is what Steiner calls a fundamental social law.
If we look at the community of human beings working together, the first what we see is a working
group. Such working groups have developed out of small medieval craftsman communities. The
glimpse on the working together widens in our days immediately on large national enterprises and
cooperation’s. And our today’s realities are transnational trusts. So today in the age of globalisation
it is becoming more and more obvious, that the community of human beings working together has
to be understood worldwide, global. The fundamental social law only finds its living fitting expression in actual reality, “when a community of human beings succeeds in creating institutions that the
results go wholly to the benefit of the community“. In our times social actions will only have a salutary effect if the activists hold in their mind their sisters and brothers all over the world. They
have to think of the human beings on the other side of the world and their karma has to be felt and
compassioned, too. It is very clear, that every group has to find their own way, their own solution.
But in their mind they have to keep the whole of humanity.
And it is also clear that the form of the social life has to be organised.-And Steiner described the
shape of the modern society as a Threefold Social Organism. So being a social activist we have to
be aware of this threefold form. We have to study it and find an inner lively picture of this new
social reality. Of course this will give us only the background or the total view in which we have to
insert our own social activity. But each one alone will not fulfil the need of our time. Both have to
come together. This again makes our time so hard and complicated but also rich.
Of course at every place any social group has to go their own way. What is right for one group
might be totally wrong for another group. The time of the wise King or Pope or Mullah has gone.
But whatever, wherever a social group is finding their own solutions, on the other hand they have
to keep in their mind their sisters and brothers being in distress and indigence. To do it in a modern
healthy way, we have to act out of consciousness for the whole.
And with this pretentious mood we are approaching our social experiment. We are creating a social lab but at the same time we are also part of the laboratory. So we cannot observe the happening from outside. We ourselves are part of the creating proceedings; we ourselves are active part
of the endeavour. And that makes it most difficult and very often impossible for anybody from outside to estimate our creation.
Lab is a fantastic expression for what we want to do. In the word laboratory we have included the
word labour. And labour in a modern sense means: we change the given world out of our own faculties to satisfy the needs of our brothers and sisters. It is the archetypal social activity which creates simultaneously economic and spiritual values. An act coming from inside, then the individuality needs an agreement with the fellow human being and finally a change of the given world is effected. All people working in this sense are social practioners – do not exclude anyone. If we work
for our fellow human beings in a conscious way we may call this creation part of the social sculpture.
My dear friends, working at the focal, the burning points of our world with your hands in the mud,
thank you. There is nothing at all said against your fabulous work. It is just like the long I (line) we
are doing and my appeal only says, we may add in our consciousness the cosmopolitan, cosmic,
michaelic little dot on the long I (line) that the spiritual world can recognize it as an i!
What is the social sculpture?
But I suggest using this expression only for our real conscious and valued deeds. Not all we do is
real social art. Quite often this expression, created by Joseph Beuys is used very superficial. He took
this himself as a holy expression very carefully and precise. “But those people who are ready to
seize the responsibility to do something, have first of all to carry into effect the revolution inside.
This means the revolutionary has to overcome the threshold, his mode of thought, his habitual
thinking to reach a new potentiality. And immediately with this breakthrough passing the inner
threshold a new understanding of art is connected and of the subject of art, too. Each human being
has the faculty to do this today. Already Friedrich Schiller mentioned this when he said, our
thoughts are free and the human being is free, even if he was born in chains. This means revolution
can only happen inside. We have to create new concepts, new thoughts, new thinking,” (Jospeh
Beuys, A conversation, 29.10.1985 in Basel)
Freedom, Equality and Fraternity are the functioning principles of a modern society built on selfadministration. These can only achieve the measure of a human being when they correspond to his
essence in a three-fold manner: freedom in his spiritual life, equality in the legal sphere and fraternity in his economic life (Rudolf Steiner).
Only when a sufficiently large number of people having these new insights, want to take charge of
shaping the world, can the healing of social relationships be experienced. The revival and strong
growth of the worldwide movement of the civil society may encourage. “Créativité au Pouvoir“,
Coming into power of Creativity, was the slogan of the Parisian May Revolt of 1968. This battle cry
is even more valid today. To see through and recognise social development trends and processes is
one side while artistic and creative development of new social forms must join this. Then people of
goodwill can collectively create another, better world worthy of the human being.
We cannot strive to produce a paradisiacal condition but we can eliminate the host of illnesses in our
society to enable the social organism develop in a healthy manner. All those people who work to bring
this into effect are fellow creators and fellow artists of the social sculpture. It is therefore no accident
that this presentation be concluded with the words of the most significant artists of the last century:
“Only under the condition of a radical enhancement of concepts will it be possible to bring about today,
through art and work with art, that which proves art to be the only evolutionary force which is capable
of dismantling the repressive effect of an aged system which is muddling its way towards death and to
build A SOCIAL ORGANISM AS A WORK OF ART… EVERY PERSON IS AN ARTIST, who from out of a position of freedom experienced by him directly, learns to elect the other position in a FUTURE SOCIAL ORDER AS A TOTAL WORK OF ART. Self-determination and co-management in the cultural domain (freedom), in the legal structure (democracy) and in the economic sphere (socialism), autonomy and decentralisation (three-fold structure) occurs: A FREE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALSM.”
(Joseph Beuys: Ich durchsuche Feldcharakter, in “Soziale Plastik“, Harlan Rappmann Schata, Page 121)
Thus our trip into the social dimension of art comes
home. This is to realize that in art it is not so much
important the object but how we embody art in our
relationships. "What" may look trivial - the extended
view – is enlightened by the "how" of doing art
which then creatively extends to other human dimensions. Art itself becomes an act of freedom as
the viewer becomes part of the work of art. Then a
social sculpture emerges. We come back to Friedrich
Schiller, who gifts us the following in his “Letters on
the Aesthetic Education of Man”: „The philosophical
spirit of investigation, seriously called for by the circumstances of the times, is to realize that the highest form of art is to create social freedom.”
There is nothing to be added…
Ulrich Rösch
What means being part of the Michaelic Movement?
Every aspect of Steiner’s life and work is permeated by service to Michael’s evolutionary task. (Compare: The Archangel Michael – His Mission and Ours, edited by Christopher Bamford)
The anthroposophical Movement and the anthroposophical society can only be understood on the
background of the Michaelic impulse and the super sensual School of Michael. And this Michaelic impulse is densely connected with the social question. This impulse will culminate in a Michaels-Festival
when human beings will be ready for this. Since the end of the nineteenth century, then, Michael may
again be regarded as the leader of the epoch. The Archangel Gabriel brought the inspirations for natural
science to humanity, Michael will endow humankind with spiritual knowledge, spiritual science.
In the lectures about “the cycle of the year as breathing of earth and the four great festivals” Steiner is
giving an vision of a newly elaborated Michael Festival in polarity to the Easter Festival. And he emphasises that the new Michael Festival will be a social festival, celebrating the renewal of the social life. If
we feel and think the new Michael thoughts we will experience the three folding as an archetype. This
will enable us to penetrate all our social life with the impulse of three folding.
„Und von der Einführung dieses Dreigliederungsimpulses hängt es doch zuletzt einzig und allein ab, ob
die Niedergangskräfte, die in der menschlichen Entwickelung sind, wiederum in Aufgangskräfte verwandelt werden können.
Man möchte sagen, als von dem Dreigliederungsimpuls im sozialen Leben gesprochen worden ist, da
war das gewissermaßen eine Prüfung, ob der Michaelsgedanke schon so stark ist, dass gefühlt werden
kann, wie ein solcher Impuls unmittelbar aus den zeitgestaltenden Kräften herausquillt. Es war eine
Prüfung der Menschenseele, ob der Michael-Gedanke in einer Anzahl von Menschen stark genug ist.
Nun, die Prüfung hat ein negatives Resultat ergeben. Der Michael-Gedanke ist noch nicht stark genug in
auch nur einer kleinen Zahl von Menschen, um auch wirklich in seiner ganzen zeitgestaltenden Kraft
und Kräftigkeit empfunden zu werden. Und es wird ja kaum möglich sein, die Menschenseelen für neue
Aufgangskräfte so mit den urgestaltenden Weltenkräften zu verbinden, wie es notwendig ist, wenn
nicht ein solch inspirierendes wie eine Michael-Festlichkeit durchdringen kann, wenn also nicht aus den
Tiefen des esoterischen Lebens heraus ein neugestaltender Impuls kommen kann.
Wenn sich statt der passiven Mitglieder der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft nur wenige aktive Mitglieder fänden, so würde über einen solchen Gedanken Erwägungen angestellt werden können. Das
Wesentliche der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft besteht ja darin, dass allerdings Anstrengungen innerhalb der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft ausgelebt werden, dass aber die Mitglieder eigentlich
hauptsächlich den Wert darauf legen, teilzunehmen an dem, was sich abspielt; dass sie wohl ihre betrachtenden Seelenkräfte hinwenden zu dem, was sich abspielt, dass aber die Aktivität der eigenen
Seele nicht verbunden wird mit demjenigen, was als ein Impuls durch die Zeit geht. Daher kann natürlich bei dem gegenwärtigen Bestande der anthroposophischen Bewegung nicht davon gesprochen werden, dass so etwas wie dieses, was gewissermaßen wie ein esoterischer Impuls ausgesprochen wird, in
seiner Aktivität erwogen werden kann…
Von solchen Dingen, die durchaus dem real Esoterischen angehören, soll man sich durchdringen, wenigstens zunächst erkenntnismäßig. Wenn dann einmal auch die Zeit kommen könnte, wo es aktiv wirkende Persönlichkeiten gibt, so könnte so etwas tatsächlich ein Impuls werden, der doch so, wie die
Menschheit ist, einzig und allein wiederum Aufgangskräfte an die Stelle der Niedergangskräfte setzen
(Der Jahreskreislauf als Atmungsvorgang der Erde und die vier großen Festeszeiten, GA 223; 2. 4. 1923)