A Suppressed Steiner Lecture


One of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures has become notorious as a “forbidden lecture.” It is a racist screed that English-speaking Anthroposophists have tried to hide. Titled "Color and the Human Races", it has not yet been printed in English by any Anthroposophical publisher. 

Delivered on March 3, 1923, the lecture — in its original German — is the third lecture included in VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS {Of the Life of Humans and the Earth, [and] The Nature of Christianity}, published by Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung in 1961. The English-language version of this book — titled FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER and published by Rudolf Steiner Press in 1999 — is glaringly incomplete. "Color and the Human Races" is missing. 

Steiner's defenders have sometimes argued that if Steiner ever held racist views — which they generally deny — then surely he became free of such views later in his spiritual career. This lecture disproves any such contention. Steiner delivered "Color and the Human Races" late in his life, when he was at the height of his influence as the leader of Anthroposophy. He gave the lecture early in 1923. He became ill during the second half of 1924, and he died in March, 1925.


The following is my translation of  "Color and the Human Races". I am far from being the ideal translator — my German is imperfect. Hence, my translation is doubtless imperfect. I offer it only because I have not yet found an English translation by a better translator. Perhaps one will emerge. (Several German speakers have reviewed my translation, and I have incorporated their corrections and, in most cases, their suggestions. I have also made use of online translations services such as Google Translate and DeepL Translator. In some cases, I translated a portion of the lecture and then checked my work against the online services; in other cases, I began with computer translations and then strove to correct and clarify the resulting text.)

You will find a certain incoherence in many of the passages you are about to read. Some of this may be my fault. But by and large, the incoherence exists in Steiner’s words and thoughts. Many of Steiner’s lectures are like this, particularly those he delivered after leaving Theosophy in 1913. Steiner often spoke extemporaneously, so he rambled, repeated himself, contradicted himself, and generally embarrassed himself — although we find few indications that he felt this embarrassment. His devotees defend such shapeless lectures as having an “organic” form. More objective readers see that these lectures are, frankly, a mess.

After my translation and some supplementary material, I give the complete German text. I have numbered the paragraphs in both the English and German texts, to aid comparison. The other numbers that appear in the English text — the numbers in brackets — signify my endnotes.

In the service of clarity, I have divided "Color and the Human Races" into three sections: paragraphs 1-25, paragraphs 26-36, and paragraphs 37-42. I have not deleted anything, I have merely created section breaks. The middle section (paragraphs 26-36) primarily discusses white Americans in comparison to white Europeans. These are interesting paragraphs, and they are logically connected to the rest of the lecture. But they are also, in a sense, a digression. If you want to focus on Steiner's teachings about what he called the main racial groupings (black, yellow, and white) and two sub-groupings (red and brown), you could skim through — or even skip over — this central section. Steiner's main argument about the five human races builds from paragraph 1 to about paragraph 25, and it resumes in paragraph 37. (Soon thereafter, Steiner moves into other digressions, but there's not much I can do about that.)

I realize that by creating sections, I am conferring on the lecture more apparent coherence than it actually possesses. But because I know that so many people find reading Steiner extremely difficult, I think this strategy is justified. Let me repeat, however: I have not deleted anything, I am presenting Steiner's complete lecture.


A word of warning. The lecture is preposterous, hateful, and ignorant. Steiner’s teachings in general are an amalgam of ignorance and superstition — and, sometimes, racism. All people of good will and good sense should repudiate such teachings. But some well-meaning individuals love Steiner and they hesitate to disagree with him on any significant matters, even matters of race. They manage to convince themselves that Steiner was not a racist. Judge for yourself. (And as you read, remind yourself of this: Some of Steiner’s devoted defenders run, or teach in, Waldorf schools today. Be forewarned.)

— Roger Rawlings

(I  posted this page in 2011

and I revised it, slightly, in 2017.)


Note: Many months after I posted my translation, below,

a version of the lecture, translated, was finally posted

at the Rudolf Steiner Archive

(an online resource, not a book publisher): 


You can compare the two translations.


Color and the Human Races

[Third Lecture

Dornach, March 3, 1923]


Now, gentlemen, concerning the last question [touched on in my previous lecture] about colors, of course I have not fully answered it. We need to pursue it further. [1]


Today we will consider what is most interesting, namely the significance of human color. You know that Earth has people of different colors. Of the Europeans, to which we belong, we say that they are the white race. Well, you know, actually, the European is not completely healthy if he is white as chalk [2], but he is healthy if his color is fresh, which is something he creates within himself so that his inner whiteness is reflected outwardly.


But humans have, in addition to European skin color, four other skin colors. Let us consider this now a bit, because really humanity’s whole history and social life, even today's social life, can be understood only if we consider people’s skin color. And you can understand all things spiritual, in the right sense, only if you look at how man’s spiritual nature is shown through the skin.


I will deal with the color of people in the following manner. Let us start from Europe, where our people live. I can show this schematically [3] — first Europe, and adjacent to Europe is Asia [Steiner drew a map]. Here is England, Ireland, and here Japan, China, Indochina, peninsular India, Arabia; then we have here adjacent Africa. So, Europe, Asia, Africa. Now we want to draw the people as they are in the areas in question. We in Europe call ourselves the white race. Now let's go over to Asia. In Asia, we have mainly the yellow race. And if we consider Africa, we have the black race there. These are the primary races. Any other residents in these areas only result from immigration. So when we ask: Which races belong to these continents, we just have to say in Asia is the yellow race, the Mongols, the Mongolian race, and the white race or the Caucasian race belongs in Europe, and Africa has the black race or the Negro race. The Negro race does not belong in Europe, and of course it is absurd that blacks now play a great role in Europe. [4] These races are native, as it were, to these three continents. 


Now we want to deal with the color of these three races. I've already told you, in my last lecture, that color has to do with the light. When the blackness of outer space is seen through the illumination of space, it appears blue. And if you see light, or things lit up, through the dark air, then all this appears reddish, as in the morning dawn and the evening dusk.


Let us look at the colors of ordinary objects. We first distinguish, say, black and white. They are the most striking colors, black and white. What is the reality of things having a black body? An object with a black body absorbs all the light that falls on it, and so no light is reflected back. So if you have here a black body, then all the light that falls on it enters into it, and no light returns. Therefore, it appears black because it reflects no light. If you have a white body, the body says: I do not need the light, I just want to process what I already have in myself. I reflect back all light. Therefore, this body is white. So a white body sends back all the light. We see, therefore, its surface as bright white. A black body absorbs all the light and heat, and it throws back no light or heat, so it appears black, dark. [5]


See, you can study this in more detail when you consider the following. Think of a body here on earth, which receives all kinds of light. First, it gives back a little bit of the light, so it appears bright, but it takes its time and absorbs much of the light into itself. Now it has much light inside itself. When it can hold no more, and all of it is filled with light, it appears black. [6] 


Take a tree. On the surface of the earth, a tree initially absorbs some light, but it swallows a lot of the light, so it absorbs much heat. Well, that is the case until it falls down into the earth. Then for thousands or millions of years it remains below the earth, and what will it be then? Black coal! This is black, because when it was a tree, it absorbed light and heat. It does not give back the light and heat until we destroy it. When we burn the coal, then it gives forth the light and heat. But if we just put the coal in the air [i.e., if we dig it up but don’t burn it], it does not give light or heat. It has taken up so much light and heat without releasing them. We must destroy the coal to release the light and heat. This is the state of the coal.


By comparison, a body that does not absorb light but sends everything back again, that body we describe as white. This is the snow in winter. It reflects all the light and it absorbs no light and no heat. So it is white. We thus look at the difference between coal and snow, how it actually is with the relationship between objects on earth and outer space.  


We can apply this to people themselves, living in space. Let us look first at the blacks in Africa. These black people in Africa have the peculiarity that they absorb all the light and heat that they receive from space. [7] They take in all of that. But the light and heat they receive in space cannot go through the whole body because a human being is a human being after all, even if he is a black man. The light and heat does not go through the whole body, but it adheres to the surface of the skin, and then the skin itself turns black. So a black man in Africa is therefore a person who takes as much heat and light as possible from space and processes them in himself. By doing this, the forces of he universe exert their power over the entire man. (Here is a picture.) [sic] Everywhere, he absorbs light and heat, everywhere on his body. He processes the light and heat in himself. Something has to be in him that helps him in this process. Well, you see, what helps him in this processing is especially his hindbrain. The Negro, therefore, has a particularly well-developed hindbrain. This extends down through the spinal cord. And that can process whatever quantity of light and heat is in the man. Therefore, the Negro has a lively body and metabolism. He has, as people say, a strong instinctive life. The Negro thus has powerful drives. And because he actually absorbs the sun’s elements, light and heat, through the surface in his skin, his whole metabolism is, as if it were, cooked by the Sun itself. This is what causes his instinctual life. The Negro is constantly cooking inside, and that which stirs up that fire, that's the hindbrain. [8]


Sometimes, the specific human formation results in particular byproducts. This can be especially seen in the Negro. The Negro has not only this cooking in his organism, but he also has a terribly clever and observant eye. He looks smart and very attentive. You could easily interpret this as a contradiction. But this is the explanation: If the eye nerve is there in front (a drawing is being done) [sic], then the nerves pass directly into the hindbrain, and there they cross. That is, the nerve enters into the hindbrain. And because the Negro has an especially well developed hindbrain, that’s why he looks so clever, that’s why he is such a sharp observer of the world.


If you start to understand this, all becomes clear. But such considerations as we are discussing now are overlooked by modern science. Therefore, it understands nothing of all this. [9]

Copy of a sketch by Rudolf Steiner comparing the white race (Weiss — characterized by use of the forebrain, Vorderhirn), with the yellow race (Gelb — characterized by the middle brain, Mittelhirn), and the black race (Schwarz — characterized by the rear brain, Hinterhirn). If blacks go where they don't belong, they turn copper-red (Kupferrot) and die out; if Asians go where they don't belong, they turn brown (Braun) and die out. [Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), p. 51.]


Let us now go from the blacks to the yellows. For the yellow and the red races, light is thrown back slightly, but much is taken up. So these people throw off more light than the blacks. The black man is an egotist who takes in all the light and warmth. The yellow, of the Mongolian population, returns a bit of light, but he takes in a lot of light. That is his nature. He takes up a lot of light but gives back a lot. He is content with retaining less light. For him, less light is available to fuel the metabolism (here is a picture). [sic] Therefore the metabolism must depend upon its own strength. This works namely in the respiratory system and blood circulation. So in the yellow — the Japanese, the Chinese —  the light and the heat work mainly in the respiratory and blood circulation. If you ever met a Japanese person, you will have noticed how careful he is in his breathing. When he talks to you, he always keeps to himself, to make sure his breathing is quite in order. He gains a certain feeling of well-being in his respiration. Because this is so, breathing is processed throughout him — the breast [i.e., lungs] is processed into everything. And therefore the yellow man does not use his hindbrain so much, but he uses the midbrain. Because he emphasizes the things that power his breathing and his blood circulation. So he lives internally, the yellow Asian. You can also note his walk: He has a more casual gait. He does not work so much with the limbs and metabolism. The Negro is more characterized by outward movement that is ruled by the instincts. The Asiatic, the yellow, has a more developed inner dream life, so the entire Asian civilization is dreamy. This characteristic is not merely alive in himself, but it creates a kind of connection to the universe. And so it happens that the Asians have such wonderful poems about the whole universe. The Negro does not. He takes everything into his metabolism and actually digests whatever reaches him from the universe. The Asian, through his blood circulation, can express himself well in words, because language is only redesigned breathing. Yes, in Asia there is beautiful, beautiful poetry. The Asian is an inner man. The Asian despises the European today, because he says: These are external people. We will soon see why. So this is the yellow race, and it is thus because of color, as I have told you.


Now, let us now consider ourselves in Europe. We are in fact connected to the entire universe as a white race, because we throw back all outside light. We throw back all external light and basically all the heat. The heat must be quite powerful if we want to incorporate any of it into ourselves. And if this heat is not provided, we wither away, as is shown by the Eskimos. Because it is like this: Since [the white] man is so constituted that basically all light and heat reflects back, only if they are powerful can we take them in — white man throws back external light and heat, and he retains only what he creates internally. Yes, gentlemen, because he is not defined by breathing and blood circulation, [and] not [defined by] external heat, white man has to work out through his brain in his head his own light and heat. We need to work out with our heads our light and heat. We actually send back all external light and heat. We must give our own blood its coloration. It then passes through us, the whites, and thus we get that European human color. This is how it is in our interior. Therefore, we are already like a white body, all the processes within [are like a white body], and this reflects all light and heat. We are already a white body internally. [10] During the Mongol stage, the midbrain is paramount, but for us Europeans, we must apply the forebrain. This, however, turns out in the following way: One race [i.e., black] is mainly involved with the hindbrain, which preferably has the instinctual life, the life of instinct. At a higher level, man [i.e., the Asian] has the mid-brain, the emotional life that sits in the chest. And we Europeans, we poor Europeans [11], we have thought that sits in the head. Thus we do not have a feeling of our inner man. Because of the primacy of the head, we only feel when our being hurts us, when we are sick. Otherwise we do not feel our inner being. On the contrary, we take on the whole outside world, which means we can easily become materialists. The Negro is not a materialist. For him, the man is already inside. [12] He developed internally the hot engine of life. The Asian is not a materialist. For him what exists is the emotional life. He does not have a handle on the outer life, like the European does. Of us [whites] he says: He [the white man] is only an engineer who is concerned solely with the outer life. This is precisely because the European must develop his forebrain, mainly pointed to the outside world. And thus it all hangs together. 


We are the white race. Internally, the white is given color by our blood. [13] Then there is the yellow race, the Mongols, and then there's the black race. And we can understand quite well if we go by the colors. The whole story is explained [by skin color]. 


But now you should ponder. The Negroes live on an earthly basis [14], where the Sun is very, very exciting to them, infiltrating their world [15]. So they indulge in the sunlight, taking it all the way inside the body — they are friendly with it, not throwing anything back. Among the Asians, the essence of life comes more out of the hot earth [rather than the Sun]. They return only a little of the light they receive. They are not so friendly with the Sun. And the Europeans, they actually would get little from the Sun if they had not developed their own humanity. Therefore, Europe has always been the starting point for everything that is human in relation with the outside world. [16] Some inventions have been made in Asia, but in general inventions, arising through the experience of the outside world — Asians cannot make these. [17]


For example, consider the propeller steamship. The Japanese copied the Europeans, and then Japan wanted to go alone. Previously the Europeans were always in charge. Now Japan for once wanted to go alone. English engineers had remained on the coast. Suddenly, the Japanese came out [i.e., they launched a ship], who then brought things to a desperate state, for the whole ship turned constantly in a circle. They did not know how they could control the rotation, how to produce the right locomotion. The Europeans knew this, of course, and they stood grinning broadly on the shore. So this kind independent thinking, which Europeans developed to deal with the outer world, Asians do not have it. The Japanese will therefore work with all European inventions, but the Japanese cannot create something new on their own. [18] It is thus with the human race, that people all over the globe really need each other. [19] You have to help each other. It is clear from each people’s natural disposition.


Well, you see, this affects the whole education of man. Think of even a black man. He has specially developed impulses, so that he is cooking on the inside. This internal cooking creates a lot of ash, and the ash accumulates in the bones. Thus the black man is more developed in the bones than a member of the white race. In the white, the blood is more important than the bones. Therefore, his bones will be finer. So the Negro has developed rough bones while Europeans have developed fine bones. As for the insides of Asians, the yellow race, they stand in the middle. [20]


Now if you look at the Japanese thoroughly, as he stands there, you will see that in his insides he stands between the Europeans and the Africans. The Africans have these strong bones, which always turn outward. The Europeans are more characterized by the blood system. The Japanese actually has everything that affects the breathing, and the breath proceeds from the blood circulation.


But now, gentlemen, we should consider not just the people but also their areas. If you would go back to the old days, we would already find the yellow race in Asia, the white race in Europe, and the black race in Africa. But always it has also happened that people migrated to other areas. And since they can now migrate back [i.e., they can return to their home areas], the yellow can move to the east again (here is a picture) [i.e.], or the black people will migrate again to the west. [Steiner is saying that Asians tend to migrate east and Africans tend to migrate west. Even if they return to their home countries, their next migrations will again be east, for Asians, and west, for Africans.] This is how things probably used to be. The yellow has always moved to the east. Thus they came to these islands [Malaysia], which are between Asia and Australia. The yellow migrate eastward across this region. But if the yellow wander too far to the east, then they turn brown. This is what gave rise to the Malays, who are brown. Why? Yes, why are the Malaysians brown? What does that mean: They are brown? They no longer reflect as much of the light as they did when they were yellow. Having turned brown, through their migration, they are now living in the Sun, and because they are so embedded in their new location, they throw off less light. They take more light into themselves. These brown Malays are expatriate Mongolians, but because the Sun acts differently on them now, they become accustomed to absorbing more light and more heat. But remember that they do not have the nature to do so. [21] They have skeletons that can only absorb a certain degree of heat. They do not have the nature to absorb as much heat as they now take in as Malays. The result is that they start to become useless people, their human bodies begin to die. This is indeed the case in the Malay population. They are dying due to the Sun, they are dying from being too far to the east. So we can say that while the yellow, the Mongols, are people who have full life forces, the Malays are already a dying breed. They die. [22]


As for the Negroes today, however, there is less leeway — today the situation is already different from what it had been. But in ancient times, it was the way I told you. The Negroes have generally moved to the west — they have taken boat trips to the west, and they went indeed to the Atlantic Ocean islands. [23] Earlier, the Atlantic Ocean was once a continent. [24] So, if the blacks emigrate to the west, they cannot absorb as much light and heat as they could in their Africa. They come to areas having less light and heat. What is the consequence? Yes, their nature is set up to absorb as much light and heat as possible. Their nature is actually established, thereby making them black. But now, after emigrating, they do not get as much light and heat as they need to be black. Therefore, they become copper [i.e., copper-colored], in other words [they become] American Indians. [25] That comes from the fact that they are forced to throw back some of the light and heat they receive. Hence the shiny copper-Sun coloration. The copper-colored body must send back a bit of light and heat. Copper-colored American Indians cannot endure so much light and heat. Therefore, they die. As Indians in the west, they are a dying breed. They die from their own nature, which gets too little light and heat, which kills the alien [i.e., the immigrant, the outsider]. [26] Their earthly nature gives them an instinctual life. [27] They cannot develop properly in the west, although they still grow strong bones. A lot of ash goes into their bones, but their bones cannot endure these Indian ashes. The bones are terribly strong, but so strong that the whole man is destroyed down to his bones. [28]


You see, these five races have come to exist. One might say, in the middle are the black, yellow, and white [races], and off to one side is the black-copper-red [race], and to the other side is the yellow-brown. These side parts [i.e., secondary races] are the parts that are always dying. 


The whites are actually the ones who develop the human essence within themselves. Therefore, they are dependent [only] on themselves. When they emigrate, they are affected by the peculiarities of their new territories, but they do not expire as a race, but rather as individuals. Their situation is quite unique. [29] You see, gentlemen, the things I have just described, these are things that occur inside the human body. The soul and spirit are more or less independent of the body. Therefore, the European is best able to assimilate soul and spirit, because these reach their most demanding form within him. [30] The European can tolerate conditions on different continents better than other races can. 


Therefore, it happened that the whites, starting from up north, once made a major migration down to India. [31] A stream of white people came down into the area where usually people are yellow. Therefore, a mix of Caucasian and Mongolian came about: the Indians. [32]. Therefore the most beautiful Indian poems came into being, but you can realize at the same time that there was a sluggishness in these people, because the internal white was no longer in its true area. [33]


And so you can say: The whites can go anywhere, they can even cross to America. Everything that is in the white population in America comes from Europe. This is how whites come to be in the American territories. But this means that a man from Europe, where everything inside him was formed, comes to America. To this extent, something of his hindbrain must be used. [34] In Europe, you see, he was like other Europeans, who mainly use the forebrain. Well, in America, the native people are those who were actually decaying negroes previously, which means they do not thrive, they perish — the Indians. [35] When you get there [36], there is almost always a struggle between the forebrain and hindbrain in the head. And there is this peculiarity that when a family moves to America and settles down there, the people who come out of this family always have slightly longer arms. The arms are longer. [37] The legs grow even more if the European settles in America — not in himself, of course, but in his descendants. [38] That's what happens, because the family’s story is influenced more by the midbrain through the hindbrain, when you come to America, as Europeans. [39]


But among the Americans something else very peculiar comes about. The European, especially if he is a thinker, very inward-looking, does not live truly when he moves to America. Even if he is not a thinker, but tries to think in America, there is something false about his new life. As soon as the European settles in America, he no longer thinks as deeply. So the following occurs: If you are reading a European book, the proof of the argument or the lack of proof always depends on the evidence. As one reads through an entire book, through four hundred pages, even if it is a novel, only evidence is important. However, most often in the end, by the four hundredth page, nothing is proved. [40] The Americans do not think this way. If you read an American book, everything is presented as a claim. This is a backward approach, depending not on reasoning but on instinct. An animal does not prove anything. The lion does not prove that he wants to eat another animal, he just eats it. The European, if he wants to do something, first he wants a proof. Everything has to be proved. Today this is the big difference between the Europeans and the Americans: Europeans prove, Americans claim. 


But you cannot say that truth depends on what is said [or written, i.e., the use of language]. Truth is seen more fully by the whole person. [41] In this sense, the Americans are ahead of the Europeans. The American approach leads, on the one hand, to the ruination of the Indians, who perish, yes — but still the American approach is smart. The Europeans [on the other hand] are clever, with their reliance on the evidence. 


This is not wholly a forward-looking quality, the desire for proof. No. If you want to do something in the morning, you may start the morning wanting evidence, and in the evening at bedtime, you may still need to prove your intentions with evidence [so you will have wasted the day doing nothing]. The Americans will not do that because they are not well trained on the need for evidence. And so it happens that America certainly in one sense is ahead of Germany. [42] There, you can make very interesting observations. When you take a European book in hand, let us say it is a report about the digestion of the June bug —  it may begin: the sexuality of the beetle includes indeed digestive organs, but they are beyond ordinary observation [being so small]. So the book delves deeper into the whole physiology of the beetle — and so it goes, and we must try to prove everything. The American [book] begins: If you dissect a beetle, one finds inside him this and that. The American book makes claims about observations. [43] And so you see, for the Europeans, their entire perspective is deep, because they no longer absorb the sunlight. They focus more on the psycho-spiritual properties. Therefore, they can also penetrate into all other parts of the world. Of course, this goes slowly, as they break down everything to understand it.


The Sun radiates more or less as a unified force down onto the earth, it is light or heat. At present, we are approaching the vernal equinox, in Pisces. [44] Previously, the Sun was in Aries. After some time, he will be in Aquarius. Then will come the first real American civilization. [45] Until then, more and more [European] civilization will pass over to America. To anyone who wants to see it, it is clear how powerful the Americans have become, gradually becoming more or less as powerful as Europe. And we can see that America did not come to Europe in peace [46] — it was able to come [i.e., intervene in World War I] because Europe no longer really understands itself [and thus is weakened]. [47] Now the whole civilization looks across to America. It will happen slowly, but when the Sun will enter the sign of Aquarius, then the Sun will send its rays to the earth in such a way that the American culture and civilization will then be particularly powerful. You can foretell this today. 


You see, it really is remarkable: In Europe you can develop what we call Anthroposophy. [48] One has to develop the spirit [i.e., spirituality or spiritual knowledge] outwardly from within. One has to develop out of the spirit. [49] And the people who, in Europe, do not want to approach the spirit, they will bring disaster to Europe. [50]


These things still lie in the future for the Americans, especially those who are over there only temporarily. [51] They can support themselves through their own racial qualities. [52] And thus, over there in America, oddly enough, something strange happened. If you carefully pay attention to what is happening in America, you will say: Gosh, that's something very strange. We in Europe have the anthroposophy [i.e., the spiritual knowledge of human nature] that comes out of the spirit. Over there, they have created something that is like a wooden doll of anthroposophy [i.e., a false explanation of human nature]. It is all materialistic. [53] But the person who is not a fanatic [54] can see that in American culture there is something similar to what we have as anthroposophical science in Europe. Only there it is wooden. [55] It is not yet alive. We in Europe, working out of the spirit, can make an anthroposophy that is alive in the spirit of Europe. This removes it from the sphere of mere instincts.


You see, you can notice every detail. There will come a time where this American "wooden man" who is actually more than mere wood will begin to talk. [56] Then he will say things that are very similar to the European anthroposophy, very similar. One can say that we in European anthroposophy proceed in a spiritual way, but the education of Americans leads them to proceed in a naturalistic way. [57] So, sitting apart, I can point out: Well, what they have is like anthroposophy, it is the American cartoon version of anthroposophy. It is a caricature. 


If one is a fanatic who does not proceed from the inner life of the spirit — if one proceeds by fanaticism in anthroposophy — then he uses only sharp invectives when speaking of Americanism, not because a truly developed human worries that a monkey is similar to himself, but a caricature can still sting. [58] And so it is really such a strange story, it is like the difference between the North and South Poles, between what we achieve ourselves spiritually in Europe and what wins out over there, naturalistically, in America.


Books about the knowledge of nature look very different in America than in Europe. Europeans perceive spiritual truth, but Americans — while talking about the Spirit — understand it only materially. Hence the spiritualism of modern times [i.e., false supernatural practices, such as seances] has emerged in America. [59] For what is this spiritism? It speaks about the spirit and spirit realm as cloudy apparitions, and it wants to treat everything as cloudy apparitions. Therefore, the American form of spiritism deals with the spiritual, but in materialistic ways. [60] That's just so interesting — in America the true materialism is rampant, but it is working its way toward the spirit, whereas if the European is a materialist, he dies as a human being. The American is a young materialist. [61] Actually, all children are materialistic first, then they grow up to what is not materialism. So the American is just a case of crass materialism growing toward the spiritual. That will happen when the Sun rises in the sign of Aquarius. [62] 


Well, you see, in this way you can see what we Europeans have for a mission. We do not have the task, as Europeans, to complain about the Americans endlessly, but of course we have to justify to everyone all over the world our civilization, which is the best one. [63]


Of course, if you think about this the matter as the prince of Baden has done, taking Woodrow Wilson as a typical American, then it does not work. Because Wilson was not a real American. He took all of his theories from Europe, but as barren theories [i.e., he didn't understand them]. [64] But the real Americanism will actually unite again with the European spirit, and thus find its way to more spiritual things. And thus you see how you actually have to behave in the world, if you study something like this. [65]


And so it is really quite interesting: On one side you have the black race, which is the most earthly. When it migrates to the west, it dies out. We also have the yellow race, which is midway between earth and the cosmos. When it migrates to the east, it becomes brown, attaches itself too much to the cosmos [66], and it dies out. The white race is the future, it is the most spirit-building race. When whites migrated to India, they created the inner, poetic, artistic, spiritual culture of India. If the white race migrates to the west, it develops an outlook that does not take so much of the inner man, but it mentally grasps the outer world. [67]


And so in the future such things will come out and, even from a racial basis, people will find the correct path in life. People tend to have trouble finding the right attitude in life. They want things to come like a bolt from the blue, but in fact we must actually learn the truth through our own efforts. [68]


This situation has arisen because in the last third of the nineteenth century, educated people were deeply affected by science [69], and nothing more truly human was offered to them. Such a scientific perspective is not true, it violates a true knowledge of human nature. Even materialistic scientists have begun to notice this. But they do not make progress. The last meeting of natural scientists was interesting. There was one of those naturalists who has noticed that something is missing, that we learn nothing from the current [materialistic] study of man. But he did not say, "So we need to accept Anthroposophy," but he has said, "Give us bodies so that we can dissect them" [as if the truth of human nature can be found in the physical body alone].


You see, that was all he could say: Give us the dead! More people want to study corpses. They want to study the dead human body. That was their real slogan: "Give us the dead!" But here [i.e., in Anthroposophy] we can dispense with the bodies, because we want to watch and study the living human being. And to do this, one must only open his eyes — and the soul through his eyes — because living people are everywhere. We encounter loud, living people everywhere. But one must know how to live with them so that they reveal real human nature. But today’s scholars have, yes indeed, they have very weak eyes. They do not see human reality. And then they plead longingly, "Give us the dead!" Because they can study these. "Give us the dead!" This is the situation educational institutions have created in recent decades. People have received nothing truly human from them. Therefore, the human being has been left out of all the [materialistic or naturalistic] sciences. [70]


That's why the first chapter of my "key points of the social question" addresses these issues. [71] I had to show how everything is affected by materialistic science, even in areas far removed from science. People clamored for science. But those who had no real knowledge, the bourgeois, took the lead.  And thus the whole calamity [i.e., World War I] came to civilization. [72] The workers demanded science, and it was not there, because only a false science was offered. I have shown this in the first chapter of the "key points," because it is really all you need to understand  when we talk about the social question. So it was necessary that the first chapter began by taking up the "key points of the social question."


Well, enough. We have now gone a little further into the colors, gentlemen.

[End of lecture]

< < ◊ > >

VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961.) The image on the cover represents the first Goetheanum, which was destroyed by fire. Anthroposophists have long claimed that the fire was arson, perpetrated by Steiner's enemies, but no proof has ever been produced. The workers to whom Steiner delivered the "forbidden lecture" were erecting the second Goetheanum, a concrete structure.


I am reliably informed that "Color and the Human Races" 

is not the only forbidden or suppressed work of Steiner's. 

I will quote from a message posted by historian Peter Staudenmaier,

identifying various portions of Steiner's work omitted from translations:

1. The original English translation of Steiner's essay "The Occult Significance of Blood" was published as Rudolf Steiner, “Blood Is A Quite Peculiar Fluid,” Theosophical Review (October 1907), pp. 105-117; this version entirely omits the paragraph on “the race question”. A number of current translations omit the reference to black people.

2. Both of the English translations of Steiner's book Gesundheit and Krankheit — Steiner, Health and Illness vol. 2 (Spring Valley: Anthroposophic Press, 1981), and Steiner, From Comets to Cocaine (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000) — omit the paragraph on "Negro novels".

3. The English translation of Steiner's book Welt, Erde und Mensch is Rudolf Steiner, Universe, Earth and Man (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987). In this edition, all of the specific references to “the black race,” “the Malayan Race,” “the Mongol race” and “the American Indians” as “degenerate races” have been excised. None of these gaps is marked in any way.

4. Steiner’s entire 1924 lecture on “The Essence of Jewry” was omitted from the otherwise complete English translation of the book it appeared in: Rudolf Steiner, From Beetroot to Buddhism (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999).

5. Steiner's entire 1923 lecture on “Color and the Races of Humankind” was excised from the otherwise complete English translation of the book it appeared in: Rudolf Steiner, From Limestone to Lucifer (London: Rudolf Steiner Press,1999).

You can find some of this suppressed material 

elsewhere here at Waldorf Watch. 

Thus, you might look at 

"Also Forbidden", "'Negro'", "RS on Jews", "Races", 

"Steiner's Racism", "Differences", and "Steiner's Bile".


Use this link to go to the second half of




[1] This is one of numerous lectures Steiner delivered to the workmen constructing the Anthroposophical headquarters, the Goetheanum. Here he is referring back to his previous lecture, delivered on February 21. Steiner generally spoke to the workmen on Wednesdays and Saturdays, although the schedule was somewhat flexible.

[2] This, presumably, is a little joke. Steiner points out that white people are not really white. If a “white” person were the color of chalk, s/he would be quite unhealthy. (Ho, ho.) Elsewhere, Steiner says the skin color denoting spiritual health is peach-blossom — what whites have been accustomed to calling “flesh color” or “skin color.” If memory serves, when I was a boy one of the crayons in a standard Crayola box was marked “flesh” — the crayon was a sort of muted, tannish pink.

Steiner on "peach-blossom" skin: 

"Just as we sense in green the dead image of life, so we can feel in the peach-blossom color of the healthy human being the living image of the soul ... You experience the world as color and light if you experience green as the dead image of life; peach-blossom color, human flesh-color, as the living image of the soul; white as the soul-image of spirit; black as the spiritual image of death.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), pp. 93-94.

[3] Steiner accompanied this lecture with several sketches he drew on a chalkboard. Only one of these sketches is reproduced in VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS. I will reproduce it in its place within the lecture.

[4] Steiner was deeply upset by the movement of blacks to Europe. He railed against the French, who brought blacks from colonial French possessions to France itself.

“The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe ... It has an enormous effect on the blood and the race [of the French] and contributes considerably toward French decadence. The French as a race are reverting.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 558-559.

[5] Steiner is wrong. Black objects do not absorb all  the light that hits them, nor do white objects reflect all  the light that hits them.

[6] This is utterly wrong. There is no light inside a solid black object. Light hits the object, and it is absorbed as heat, not light. Steiner's next statements come a bit closer to reality.

[7] No they don’t. See endnotes 5 and 6, above. And bear in mind that just as "white" people are not really white, "black" people are not really black.

[8] Steiner's portrayal of blacks generally consists of racist stereotypes. Blacks are stupid, he said. They have strong bodies and weak minds. They follow their strong instinctive drives rather than thinking things through. They are heated (by passions, by sexual drives). Blacks can seem observant, but this is only because of their powerful hindbrains.

According to Steiner, blacks are essentially childlike: 

“[A] centre of cosmic influence [is] situated in the interior of Africa. At this centre are active all those terrestrial forces emanating from the soil which can influence man especially during his early childhood ... The black or Negro race is substantially determined by these childhood characteristics.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 75. 

In Steiner's system, children up to age seven are said to live mainly through their wills; older children, up to age 14,  are said to live mainly in their feelings; children from 14 to adulthood are said to begin living a thinking life. 

"On the level of human development, these forces unfold in discrete seven-year periods: willing dominates the first seven years of life, feelings become accessible to the child in the second seven-year period, and independent thinking blossoms after age fourteen." — Eugene Schwartz, Foreword to THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 12. The book is a collection of Steiner's essays and statements. 

Steiner posited a hierarchy of races, from the most childish (blacks) to the most adult (whites). He taught that young souls incarnate first as blacks, then — if they live moral lives — they move up into higher races in subsequent reincarnations. Thus, when a soul reincarnates as an Asian, s/he is in the second stage of spiritual childhood, when emotions predominate. (We will return to this point.) When the soul rises high enough to reincarnate as a white, s/he enters a phase of life when thinking predominates — s/he is a spiritual adult.

"For peoples and races are but steps leading to pure humanity. A race or a nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type, the further they have worked their way from the physical and perishable to the supersensible and imperishable. The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation. Man must finally appear in harmonious perfection." — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF HIGHER WORLDS; text available online:

Steiner said no one should be prejudiced against members of lower races. Yet his formulation of a racial hierarchy is inherently racist. Racism does not necessarily entail hostility. We are racists when we evaluate people wholly or largely on the basis of race, and particularly when we judge people to be lower or higher because of their race — which is precisely what Steiner did. According to Steiner's teachings, a black person is inherently less mature, less evolved, less intelligent, and perhaps indeed less moral than members of "higher" races. There can be individual variation, of course — but this is precisely what Steiner's system minimizes.

[9] Steiner sometimes said modern science would confirm his teachings, and he generally claimed that he himself was a scientist — a scientist of the spirit. But often he acknowledged that there is no scientific support for his teachings, and he blamed science, arguing that it is blind to truth. [See "Steiner's 'Science'" and "Science".] Here he says science does not accept the things he is saying about race; he does not realize that this is a damning indictment of his statements.

[10] Steiner is saying white people have a healthy skin color because their inner whiteness — think purity and virtue — shines through the surface of the skin. Note, too, how in this paragraph Steiner indicates that the races are stages of development. He argues that black people are less evolved than yellow people — Asians stand at the "Mongol stage" of evolution, at a "higher level" than blacks. Whites are higher still, according to Steiner. [See "Steiner's Racism" and "Races".] In part, Steiner argues, white superiority is shown by white self-reliance or self-sufficiency. Compared to the lower races, whites are far less dependent on energies received from outside themselves, Steiner says. This does not mean that whites are perfect, of course. Great vistas of further human evolution lie in the future, Steiner said. Nonetheless, although whites are at present prone to certain errors, such as materialism, whites will lead the human evolutionary advance, Steiner said. (Steiner will develop this theme later in the lecture. And he will return to white materialism when discussing American whites.) 

It is also worth noting, at least in passing, that Steiner seemed to think Eskimos are whites who have been denied intense exterior heating. In fact, Eskimos are native Americans — whom he sometimes called Red Indians. I quote him to this effect later on this page.

[11] This, presumably, is another small jest. Steiner does not consider whites “poor” in any sense — he places them at the top of the racial hierarchy. “Poor” us, he says in effect; we bear the heavy obligation of leading our lower brothers.

[12] That is, his essential nature is internal.

[13] That is, the healthy glow of white (i.e., peach-blossom) skin comes from the blood below the skin.

[14] That is, they are earthy.

[15] Sunlight, very hot in Africa, excites the interior of the black man — it “cooks” him internally, according to Steiner.

[16] That is, mastery of the outside world — as through the development of science and technology — comes from the white race, which uses its forebrain.

[17] Like his portrayal of blacks, Steiner's portrayal of Asians consists of racist stereotypes. Asians are inward-looking, dreamy, unworldly. To a Western mind, they often seem inscrutable. They believe themselves to be superior, but they lack such capacities as the ability to create their own inventions. At the level of technology, they merely copy the West. (We might note that because of such stereotypes, the West was shocked, at the beginning of World War II, to find that Japanese weapons were not simple copies of Western designs — many Japanese machines were superior to anything in the West.

[18] Steiner goes beyond his contention that Asians cannot create their own inventions — he suggests that Asians cannot even operate sophisticated devices.

[19] Here Steiner tries to give a beneficent sheen to his racial theories. He says people of various races need to help each other because they have different innate capabilities.

[20] That is, they stand midway between blacks and whites.

[21] That is, internally they are Asians.

[22] Steiner taught that each race has a rightful place on the Earth, and each should stay where it belongs. If races migrate to other areas, they tend to die off, he said. He made an exception for whites, however, indicating they can go anywhere.

[23] These trips were made in chains, aboard slave ships.

[24] Atlantis. [See "Atlantis and the Aryans" and "Atlantis".]

[25] Steiner says American Indians are the descendants of blacks who moved too far west. Like virtually everything else in the lecture, this statement is false.

[26] As Steiner uses the term here, an alien is a person who does not belong in a particular region.

[27] They are like their forebears, black Africans, according to Steiner.

[28] Steiner often spoke of American Indians as if they had all died out. In part, he attributed the near-extermination of American Indians to white settlers, but in part he said the nature of Amerindians themselves led to their decline.

“Not all of the people living on the earth today stand at the same level of development. Alongside those people that stand at a high stage of civilization, there are primitive peoples that have lagged culturally far behind ... We have before us in the American race a primitive aboriginal people that has remained far, far behind, among other things in regard to its religious worldview. But this race has retained the belief in a monotheistic god, which speaks to it from all the sounds of nature ... But the Europeans have ascended to a higher level of culture, while the Indians have remained behind and become decadent. One must always pay attention to this evolutionary process. It can be described as follows. In the course of millennia our planet transforms itself, and this transformation also demands a development of humankind. Those side branches that no longer fit in to current conditions become decadent. Thus we have an upright evolutionary trunk as well as side branches which decay." — Rudolf Steiner, MENSCHHEITSENTWICKELUNG UND CHRISTUS-ERKENNTNIS, pp. 243-44; provided by Peter Staudenmaier.

[29] Whites are so superior, Steiner says, they virtually transcend race. He taught that in the future whites will evolve to become “universal humans” and then all racial differences will disappear. Steiner's defenders often refer to this doctrine when they argue that Steiner was not really a racist. But this overlooks Steiner's clear indications that nonwhite races are inferior and indeed they tend to self-destruct. The abolition of "inferior" races is necessary, in Steiner's view, for humanity to evolve higher. Moreover, although Steiner generally said all humans evolve upward through the racial hierarchy, moving from black to white — a doctrine that implies fundamental equality — he also taught that many people evolve downward toward lower racial forms, and some may fall so low as to cease to be human.

“We now stand in the Fifth Root Race. The Sixth Race will see quite another race, noble and beautiful, in contrast to the thrown off [i.e., retrograde humans, bad souls], decadence which will be a race of men, horribly ugly, animal-like, sensual, vicious, far more horror-provoking than our present humanity, because these will go on developing downwards.” — Rudolf Steiner, DAS CHRSTLICHE MYSTERIUM (Dornach, 1981), GA 97.

“[Future human evolution] cannot happen in the world without the most violent struggle. White mankind is still on the path of absorbing spirit more deeply into its essence. Yellow mankind is on the path of preserving the period when the spirit was blocked from the body ... [T]he result will have to be that [mankind’s next step upwards] cannot happen differently than as a violent fight between white mankind and colored mankind in the most varied areas ... You see, we stand before something so colossal that, if we regard it through the diverse perceptions of spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy], we will in the future recognize it as a necessary occurrence.” — Rudolf Steiner, KOSMISCHE UND MENSCHLICHE GESCHICHTE - DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), p. 38.

[30] Steiner distinguished between soul and spirit. Your soul is the spiritual part of yourself that you possess during a single life or incarnation. Your spirit is your undying spiritual essence, which you carry through life after life.

[31] Here Steiner is talking about Aryans. The Aryans, users of an Indo-European language, migrated to India around 2000 BC. In some modern usages, the term “Aryan” has come designate whites and, in particular, highly-evolved Germanic whites. [See "Atlantis and the Aryans".]

[32] This refers to subcontinental Asian Indians — residents of India — not American Indians.

[33] According to Steiner, whites can move more or less freely to all parts of the Earth, because they are more self-sufficient than other races. However, moving away from their rightful place in Europe does have some effects on them. (This is either a contradiction or modification of Steiner's other statements about the ability of whites to go where they please.) 

[34] Because white Americans are white, Steiner holds out hope for them — eventually they will gain the spiritual knowledge that white Europeans possess, he indicates. But for the present, Steiner criticizes white Americans as being thoroughgoing materialists. (Of all the statements he makes in this lecture, this one comes perhaps closest to truth. But even here he badly exaggerates. Thomas Merton, to give just one example, was a white American.) Steiner says that, because they came to America — the home of degenerate former blacks, who rely heavily on the hindbrain — whites in America become somewhat dependent on the hindbrain. Hence, they are not as smart or as spiritual as European whites.

[35] This refers to American Indians, not Asian subcontinental Indians, residents of India. As noted previously, Steiner said American Indians are "decaying negroes."

[36] That is, when the European migrates to America. (Bear in mind: Steiner was addressing white Europeans.)

[37] Because Americans' arms grow longer, they might seem ape-like. But any comparison between humans and apes is intolerable and inaccurate, in Anthroposophical belief, and Steiner says the legs of American whites grow longer, too, thus reducing the resemblance to apes. (Steiner speaks explicitly about monkeys later in the lecture.)

[38] That is, the immigrant’s legs don’t grow, but his descendants’ legs will be extra-long.

[39] Steiner tosses in a reference to the midbrain, here, suggesting that for American whites the impulses of the hindbrain are moderated by the midbrain.

[40] That is, Europeans — being so intelligent — weigh the evidence, and often this means no definite conclusion is reached. Europeans are too sophisticated to settle for easy answers.

[41] There are limits to the value of thinking or reasoning things out. Steiner often disparaged the importance of the head and brain. Here he states that truth comes not through the brain but through the entire human organism. 

Another statement by Steiner concerning the brain:

“The brain is an instrument for purely intellectual apprehension. Intellectualism and materialistic thinking are one and the same, for all the thinking that goes on in science, in theology, in the sphere of modern Christian consciousness — all of it is the product of the human brain alone, is materialistic. This manifests itself, on the one hand, in the empty formalism of belief; on the other, in Bolshevism [sic: emphasis by Steiner] ... [T]he materialistic brain represents a process of decay: materialistic thinking unfolds only through processes of destruction, death-processes, which are taking place in the brain.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), pp. 147-148.

[42] Thoughtful Europeans may be stymied, struggling to weigh evidence and find logical proofs. Steiner indicates that Americans are unhindered, they just leap to conclusions and act reflexively. This is a more backward approach, but in some ways it is better. 

Elsewhere, Steiner says humans will evolve beyond the need for thinking — they will intuit truth quickly and effortlessly. This will not be the same as instinctively jumping to conclusions, but it will be similar — it will be a form of immediate apprehension. [See, e.g., "Thinking".]

[43] Steiner advocated Goethean science, which relies heavily on observation rather than experimentation. [See "Goethe".] Here Steiner finds a further advantage in the backward American approach: Americans observe (and leap to conclusions, and act) while Europeans ponderously ponder things. The European approach is higher, and it will lead to more elevated states of consciousness, but the lower American approach bears some similarities to the coming, higher consciousness.

Steiner's understanding of color was based, at least in part, on Goethe's theories about light, color, and vision. From THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA: 

"In 1791...a completely new scientific issue began to obsess [Goethe]: the theory of colour. Convinced that Newton was wrong to assume that white light could be broken into light of different colours, Goethe proposed a new approach of his own. Colour was to be seen as emerging from the mingling of light and darkness. At first he attempted, unconvincingly, to expound these ideas as new, alternative laws of physics (Beiträge zur Optik [1791–92; Optical Essays]). Later, however, he saw that it is of the essence of colour to require cooperation between the physical behaviour of light and the human perceptual apparatus. Goethe’s colour theory has real originality as a theory of vision rather than as a theory of light." — "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 17 Jul. 2011. 

As usual, Steiner rejected conventional science — and thus, as usual, he went astray.

[44] The vernal equinox — the beginning of spring — comes around March 20 in the northern hemisphere. Steiner delivered this lecture on March 3.

[45] American whites will produce their own civilization — they will be less false — when the age of Aquarius begins. (Steiner will return to this point.) Note that Steiner has shifted from discussing the annual rotation of the zodiac to a much longer evolution: the precession of the equinoxes. He is not saying the first real American civilization will come in a few months — he taught that it will come in a few centuries. Specifically, he forecast the American Age as beginning in 5733 AD and extending to approximately 7900 AD. [See "Oriphiel".]

[46] America intervened in World War I, joining the nations fighting Germany. [See, e.g., "Steiner and the Warlord".]

[47] Steiner taught that the Great War, World War I, broke out because Europeans had lost track of their spiritual mission. His own cultural efforts following the war — including the creation of Waldorf schools — were aimed at getting Europe (and in particular Germany) back on track.

[48] Etymologically, the word “anthroposophy” means knowledge or wisdom of the human being. Steiner says white Europeans were able to develop the true, spiritual knowledge of humanity, anthroposophy. (Steiner himself was the founder of Anthroposophy. Whether Steiner's Anthroposophy contains knowledge or wisdom is, at best, moot.)

[49] According to Steiner, European Anthroposophy arises from within, from the spiritual essence and creativity of Europe. All true spiritual develop arises from within.

[50] Europeans who forget their spiritual mission bring disaster to Europe — as they did during the Great War.

[51] Americans do not face the higher possibilities of both spiritual evolution and spiritual destruction to the same degree that the more advanced Europeans do. Americans' time has not yet come. And Americans who are transients — those who will return to their original homelands — are even more divorced from the higher possibilities.

[52] The compound noun Steiner uses here is “Rasseeigentümlichkeiten”. Broken down, the word becomes "Rasse eigentümlichkeiten," meaning peculiarities of race.

[53] That is, Europeans have a true understanding of human beings (Anthroposophy), because they see into the spiritual nature of humanity. Americans also have an understanding of human beings (a sort of anthroposophy), but it is superficial, focusing only on the physical body.

[54] That is, a fanatical believer in Anthroposophy. Steiner sometimes cautioned his followers that merely memorizing and thinking about Anthroposophical doctrines — that is, approaching Anthroposophy through the intellect — does not lead to true human wisdom or true anthroposophy. (True Anthroposophy comes from the inner spirit, not through the brain.) An Anthroposophist who works through the brain is thus prone to fanaticism, s/he is not a true practitioner:

“A man who would receive Anthroposophy with his intellect kills it in the very act.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE, NATURE, AND CULTIVATION OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, 1963), p. 15. [See "Steiner's Specific".]

[55] That is, American knowledge of the human being is artificial (superficial, materialistic). It is dead or “wooden.”

[56] Steiner acknowledges that Americans are not really wooden, of course — they are not made of wood. White Americans hold much promise, and eventually they will realize their promise. (There is a suggestion here that Americans are merely marionettes, mouthing European concepts that they do not understand. Eventually, however, Americans will gain their voice and become able to speak spiritual truths.)

[57] That is, Americans are still stuck in nature, in the material world.

[58] Fanatical Anthroposophists (those who do not truly understand Anthroposophy at a spiritual level) become very angry about Americans — they feel threatened by them. And here Steiner indicates that Americans are indeed rather like apes or monkeys. But, he says, no real human being should feel threatened by a comparison to monkeys. True human beings are far too high for that. Still, the American caricature of Anthroposophy (i.e., the American materialist perspective on human nature, which might say that humans and monkeys are closely related) — this caricature can understandably upset good Anthroposophists.

[59] Steiner is speaking about the spiritism practiced by mediums in seances. He is also taking a swipe at Theosophy. Both spiritism and Theosophy flourished for a time in America. [For some background information on these things, from an Anthroposophical perspective, see "The Semi-Steiner Dictionary".]

[60] Steiner is returning to the idea that Europeans, having higher souls and spirits, have higher mentality. Americans are lower in all these ways, he says.

[61] That is, Americans are childlike materialists, but they are working their way toward the spirit. If a European were wholly materialistic, s/he would die. Americans, however, can live as materialists because it is in their nature, and for them it is a passing stage of development.

[62] America, a young country, is like a young child who begins life with only a physical body and hence is materialistic. But as the child grows, it acquires an etheric body, and astral body, and an “I”. [See "Incarnation".] Then it is a full, spiritual human being. This is the path America is on as a nation.

[63] The European mission is to spread their high civilization, elevating all peoples toward the spirit. It is not the European mission to complain endlessly about the lowly Americans.

[64] Steiner despised Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States. Here Steiner says that Wilson was false — he was one of those false Americans who ape European ideas without understanding them. Thus, Wilson was not a “true” American — one who is on the path toward the Spirit. (It is not irrelevant to remember that Wilson brought America into the Great War against Germany, thereby ensuring Germany's defeat.)

Steiner argued that Woodrow Wilson and Vladimir Lenin (Communist leader of the Russian Revolution) were much alike, leading humanity into the clutches of the arch-demon Ahriman:

“We need to be clear that Ahrimanic forces  [i.e., demonic forces] are increasingly breaking in upon historical events. Two leading personalities, [Woodrow] Wilson and [Vladimir] Lenin, died from the same illness, both from paralysis, which means both offered an opening for Ahrimanic forces.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 700.

[65] This more or less ends Steiner’s American digression. In the next paragraph, he returns to his main theme, characterizing the various human races.

[66] That is, it loses its footing on Earth, focuses too much on the universe beyond, and thus wounds itself.

[67] Steiner summarizes the two great white migrations he outlined earlier. Some whites migrated east to India, creating one sort of new civilization there, and others later migrate west to America, creating a different, new society. The central, best civilization remained in Europe.

[68] We find the right path only through strenuous effort. In part, the correct path for each individual is determined by his/her racial characteristics.

[69] That is, false science, naturalistic science, what people generally call real science. Steiner generally opposed such science, finding it vastly inferior to his own “spiritual science” — Anthroposophy. [See "Steiner's 'Science'" and "Materialism U."]

[70] Steiner’s criticism of the modern world extended well beyond his disagreements with the natural sciences. He dismissed almost all modern scholarship and the work of most modern educational institutions. [See "Materialism U."]

You may also want to note the tone of mockery in this passage. Steiner's humor often turned to mockery when discussing his opponents.

[71] In his sweeping condemnation of modern life, Steiner offered his own vision for social renewal. He called it “threefolding.” This would strictly divide the three primary spheres of human life — economic, political, and cultural. Each sphere should be wholly self-guiding, free from interference from the other spheres. [See "Threefolding".]

Steiner often plugged his own books (here, he refers to "the first chapter of my 'key points of the social question'"). English-language publications setting forth Steiner's social vision (including his "key points of the social question") include THE THREEFOLD SOCIAL ORDER and THE SOCIAL FUTURE, both published by the Anthroposophic Press.

[72] Steiner offers himself as virtually the sole source of wisdom and human salvation. The calamity of the Great War was brought about, he says, by the blindness of the middle classes, and scholars, and scientists — that is, just about everybody except Steiner and his followers.


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