Rudolf Steiner’s racism: he believed in white supremacy

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Written By Maya Cantina

Rudolf Steiner was racist. For our author, ‘School without racism’ plaques at independent schools are nothing more than self-congratulations.

Portrait of Rudolf Steiner.

Rudolf Steiner: was he a fallible ‘child of his time’ or did he see truths in ‘higher worlds’? Photo: image

This column is called Leave Waldorf. But you can’t just leave. It’s a process. For me, the most important turning point came when Waldorfs and fascists took to the streets together during the pandemic and, as a former Waldorf school child, I finally started looking seriously at anthroposophy.

Until then I had believed the constantly repeated sentences: Rudolf Steiner was a ‘child of his time’ and his work therefore contained only ‘a few formulations influenced by the racially discriminatory attitude of that time’. But the more I read Steiner, the clearer it became to me: No matter how you say it, it is and remains racist. You also have to decide whether Rudolf Steiner was a fallible “child of his time” or whether he saw truths in “higher worlds.”

According to his own statements, Steiner, as a ‘spiritual researcher’ could read the Akashic records, the ‘spiritual world memory’, and thereby know what human history was ‘really’ like. According to him, in the “Lemurian Age”, 2,500 million years ago, there was the first earthly embodiment of man – gentle and mind-reading. In the “Atlantean Age” the body became more cartilaginous and only after the flood of Atlantis in 7227 BC. In the 4th century BC, people finally looked like they do today. From then on, development took place through the ‘ancient advanced cultures’ of the Indians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Anglo-Saxons. ‘Man’ became more and more perfect – and more and more white. According to Steiner, in the year 7893, in the distant future, there will be a “war of all against all”, which only a small handful of people “who have understood the spiritual life” will survive.

And who will that ultimately be?

Steiner argues that white Europeans are the ones who ‘create the mind’, who ‘develop the human being within themselves’ and who own the future. All other people have become less developed or, according to Steiner, even ‘decadent’. Some only to the point of ‘savagery’ (indigenous), others to ‘the level of animality’ (monkeys). He testifies that blond people are smart, but dark-haired people tend towards materialism. In his writings, Steiner creates a clear hierarchy of ethnic groups.

I did not know that. Anthroposophical theory is not taught. But when I realized that my history class had covered exactly these “ancient civilizations” in exactly the same order, I simply could no longer deny the connections. And now I know that it is not limited to historical periods. The entire structure of the curriculum and assumptions about child development are based on this view of humanity. Waldorf education assumes that all children understand human development individually – and a central concern is to provide them with the best possible help.

If you tried to remove white supremacy from the inner context of the Waldorf curriculum, what would be left? What are the “Stuttgart Declaration”, “Frankfurt Memorandum” and “School without Racism” plaques at free schools more than complacency when free education is based on a fundamentally inhumane worldview?

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