Was in der Allgemeinen Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft noch vorgeht

What is misunderstood and unfinished – and its consequences

Tasks and responsibilities in the current world situation

The significance of 8 February

With the renaming of the Building Society (Bauverein) as the General Anthroposophical Society on 8 February 1925 and its entry in the commercial register, the “unified constitution” sought by Rudolf Steiner and at the same time a threefold social structure – consisting of the School of Spiritual Science, the member society of the Christmas Conference “Anthroposophical Society” and the administrative and external representative body “General Anthroposophical Society” – had been achieved. (See chronology[1] , a result of the work of the two-year colloquia).

However, it is quite obvious that nobody understood this at the time and to this day the most diverse opinions are held on this subject. Moreover, an astonishing “wave of confusion” immediately set in in connection with the events surrounding 8 February, which has “successfully” prevented a clarification and agreement of views to this day. (Newsletter 74)[2] How is this possible? An identity-forming clarity and a corresponding awareness in the membership would strengthen the General Anthroposophical Society enormously, while living in the most diverse images and ideas or even in ignorance or confusion must have a correspondingly weakening effect in a Society whose members should lead humanity on the path of the development of the Consciousness Soul. The work of the opposing spiritual powers, “who make use of people on Earth”, is also evident in the fact that for more than six decades, the so-called constitutional question has repeatedly sparked serious conflicts, which have had a traumatising effect on several occasions, so that these questions could not be discussed for years afterwards. (This made the second constitutional conference, which took place in November 2023 and was characterised by an atmosphere of goodwill and mutual appreciation – despite all the remaining differences of opinion – all the more pleasing).

Why is this topic so controversial? We know from Rudolf Steiner that behind all external events there is in reality a “struggle against the spirit”. The effectiveness of anthroposophy as a force for cultural renewal also depends on whether it maintains the social corporeality appropriate to it. To make this possible, Rudolf Steiner made his last attempt to save it with the Christmas Conference. The clarification of the constitutional question, Rudolf Steiner’s intentions and the actual form of the General Anthroposophical Society would however, inevitably lead to the realisation that we have a mixture of Christmas Conference Society and Building Society elements in our Society and structures similar to a unitary state, i.e. a hybrid being with centralism. It would be plausible if interests were at work here that wanted to prevent such a realisation, because who benefits from these forms? Could they be the forms that anthroposophy needs to cultivate and develop? This will be discussed again later.

Current developments

Over the past two years, initiatives and a commitment to shared responsibility have increasingly emerged from the membership. Through the members’ forums and constitutional conferences[3] , discussions and social processes have also begun since the 2023 General Assembly, giving rise to the hope that we can now find ways for further beneficial forms of cooperation and a contemporary reorganisation of the Society. It seems possible that now – 99 years after the last weeks of Rudolf Steiner’s life on earth and the memorable 8 February – there is sufficient goodwill for the necessary changes to lead the General Anthroposophical Society out of its state of obsolete, unitary state-like structures. However, as a next step, it would also be necessary and desirable to unite the processes of the members’ forums with those of the upcoming 3rd constitutional conference entitled “What could become?”

The consequences of incomprehension and incompleteness

It is part of Rudolf Steiner’s life and sacrifice that an infinite number of his impulses were not sufficiently received and understood by people.[4] The successful work of the opposing forces went so far that he was met by the greatest “inner opposition” through the membership and the Society itself became the greatest obstacle to anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner’s work. Therefore, it is also part of this fateful signature of the obstacles to the unfolding of anthroposophy on Earth that – despite all the goodwill that can certainly be assumed in people, as far as the conscious will is concerned – mistakes have been made out of a lack of understanding – with serious consequences.

One of these errors, which only recently came to light, concerns the Foundation Stone for the first Goetheanum. (“The interpenetrating Foundation Stone[5] ). If you let the pictures sink in, you may get the impression that one of them remains floating above the Earth. The other one lies on it and rests on it, it can arrive on Earth. – And so this gesture is reflected in the tragic fate of the building: it could never be handed over to its true purpose, it was never inaugurated – only “opened”. And this with a conference whose abstract contributions of conventional natural science, according to Rudolf Steiner, stood in stark, sharp contrast to the essence of the building and its living design.

In the last weeks of his life 99 years ago, Rudolf Steiner still hoped almost every day that he would be able to resume work on the interior model for the second building. So much depended on him being able to complete it! In a letter to Marie Steiner dated 5 March 1925, he wrote: “… My condition is only improving slowly. And I must soon be fit for work, because after everything that has happened, it is impossible to imagine what it would be like if my illness were to interrupt the construction work.”[6] The question may arise here – why did so much depend on him being able to complete the model of the interior construction? The same applies to the Representative of Humanity, which he was so keen to continue working on. Why – since it already seemed almost finished?

If one looks at the Representative of Humanity with this question in mind and the area that remained unfinished, a shocking answer may emerge. Raw wood, completely unworked and untransformed, remained in place precisely where the effect of the Christ being should have penetrated down from the heart through the arm and hand into Ahriman’s realm. The stream of light, love and life cannot penetrate into the cave to Ahriman, who would be tied up through the effect of Christ.

This tragedy is a prime example of Rudolf Steiner’s unfinished mission and the catastrophic consequences of this in the 20th century and right up to the present day: as if a gap had been left open for Ahriman and so much of the abundance of supersensible revelations was not allowed to arrive on Earth, could not arrive in human hearts. The Foundation Stone remained in limbo, the building was never consecrated, it was lost due to a lack of spiritual alertness and protection, the second Goetheanum could not be realised as a true “Michael-castle”, and a “gap” remained open for Ahriman right into the figure of the Representative of Humanity. – Due to the failure of human beings (which is meant without reproach, as it applies equally to us), Rudolf Steiner was unable to complete his mission and the work of Christ could not fully penetrate the earthly conditions. We know the consequences for human development and experience them to this day.

Unitary state and Ahriman

The fate of Rudolf Steiner’s impulses continues – as described – in the so-called constitutional question, in that Ahriman has been able to successfully obscure and confuse for almost a hundred years what Rudolf Steiner wanted to realise as the social form of the Society and – according to the results of two years of colloquium work – also achieved with the 8 February.

However, even if it has not yet been possible to reach a consensus on this issue among all the people researching it, there is still the possibility that the processes of the members’ forums and the constitutional conferences that began last year will lead to further fruitful social processes and contemporary organisations. – However, these two processes would have to be combined and a sufficient number of members and leaders would have to participate! Then something could emerge with a healing effect for the Society.

Only when this process is successful and we leave the centralised forms behind will the Society be able to fulfil some of its tasks in the current world situation. It would then represent something – no matter how small in its external impact – exemplary in terms of free social organisation in the world and be able to counterbalance the coming world dictatorship of Ahriman, which has already begun.

At this point, it is worth recalling Rudolf Steiner’s serious words, which have already been quoted several times and which make it clear what is at stake:

“A unitary state, regardless of whether it calls itself a monarchy, republic or democracy – as long as it is a unitary state (and not threefold) – serves the incarnation of Ahriman.[7]

“But there are two things in the world today, and anyone who looks at the world honestly and sincerely, who is under no illusions, will see that there are two options: either Bolshevism over the whole world or threefolding! You may not like the threefold order; in that case, you have just decided in favour of an old world order!”[8]

“Bolshevism” in the sense of that time and the word itself no longer exists today, but the corresponding endeavours to enslave humanity certainly do.

Sorath works through Bolshevism.[9]

If we do not take the reality of spiritual beings working through and within the social forms seriously, the General Anthroposophical Society will not only become more and more “Ahrimanically perforated”, but will fall completely under his power.

It should be emphasised once again that these statements are not directed against individual people who have certainly taken up and accepted their leading tasks for anthroposophy with all their strength and good will. Yet we must no longer dream and remain asleep in the face of what Rudolf Steiner himself gave us in countless warnings and indications for the present! The attitude “everyone wants what is good” shows how precisely those spiritual beings – who are working through us unasked and unnoticed – are forgotten. Ahrimanic beings are actively working in obsolete centralised forms. Anyone who is familiar with the mystery dramas knows how cunning and powerful they are and how difficult it is, especially for the people involved, to recognise them. First and foremost, those who are not in leading positions are able to help. All members of the Society who live together in these structures are affected. The more a common awareness of this could arise, the stronger the liberating effect would become.

Understanding and love

One of the effects of the opposing powers through those people who are connected to anthroposophy is the predominantly too weak interest in the question: Who is Rudolf Steiner? If a sufficient number of members had lived with this as a deep inner question of the heart, he would not have left the earthly plane prematurely and might still have been able to fulfil his mission.

Rudolf Steiner’s life was in the hands of the members, it depended on their understanding (willingness) – and on their love. It was not the abundance of lectures that exhausted him, on the contrary – they “keep me healthy… What makes you tired are the dead thoughts that come to you; it is the lack of understanding, the non-understanding of the people that paralyses you.[10] And in a shocking way it becomes clear what was lacking above all in the membership: interest in Rudolf Steiner’s true nature.

Wilhelm Rath’s experience of the evening lectures during the Christmas Conference awakened in him a question and a hunch about Rudolf Steiner’s nature and he wrote a short essay on Thomas Aquinas, which he had it delivered to Rudolf Steiner, who was already lying on his sickbed. Rudolf Steiner’s heartfelt words of thanks have been passed down to us, with the remark “If more such things were written, I would not need to be ill”.[11]

Anna Samweber recalls how the question suddenly arose in her mind during a lecture – Who are you? – Who is Rudolf Steiner? – She would have liked to ask him immediately afterwards, but then did not want to bother him as he was always besieged by so many people. But Rudolf Steiner himself came up to her later and said “…you wanted to ask me something…?” And she asked the question. But he did not answer directly, instead encouraging her to research: She would find the answer in this life if she pondered who he was with love and enthusiasm.

When Sergei O. Prokofieff joined the Executive Board in 2001, he brought with him five heartfelt concerns and projects that he wanted to work towards. The first was: “Cultivating the relationship with Rudolf Steiner[12] . – Towards the end of his life, he confessed that none of his five topics had met with a favourable response from his fellow Board members.

What would it mean today if this question were to live as a matter of the heart in a larger number of members? What effects would it have?

*

For those who want to explore the question of Rudolf Steiner’s nature, Sergei O. Prokofieff’s two works published after his death may be fundamental: “Rudolf Steiner and the Masters of Esoteric Christianity” and “Rudolf Steiner – Fragments of a Spiritual Biography”.

Eva Lohmann-Heck

*

Note: The statements quoted from Rudolf Steiner are not all identified as quotations or sources if they have already appeared in earlier newsletters, but reference is made above all to Nos. 58, 62 and 74, as well as the brochure “Tasks, aims and contemporary social structures of an anthroposophical society[13] .

I ask for your understanding.

[1]   https://www.konstitution.anthroposophie.online/Konstitution.pdf, see page 14.

[2] https://wtg-99.com/Rundbrief_74

[3] Next date 23 – 25 Feb 2024, https://goetheanum.ch/de/veranstaltungen/sow-die-konstitution-der.

[4]   Gerhardt von Beckerath, “The path of suffering of Rudolf Steiner”, Dornach

[5] Michael Toepell, “Der sich durchdringende Grundstein”, in “Anthroposophie” 12/2023, AGiD Newsletter. Sent out with this newsletter or downloadable from the newsletter archive. www.wtg-99.com/Rundbriefe-Archiv

[6] GA 262, p. 266, emphasis by Rudolf Steiner.

[7] GA 191, P. 213.

[8] GA 196, P. 133.

[9] GA 346, p. 122f.

[10]Ita Wegman – Memories of Rudolf Steiner”, ed. Peter Selg, p. 41.

[11] Wilhelm Rath “Rudolf Steiner and Thomas Aquinas”, Perseus Verlag.

[12]  Brochure “The Books of Sergei O. Prokofieff”, privately printed.

[13] https://wtg-99.com/Neue-Sozialstrukturen and at www.wtg-99.com/Rundbriefe-Archiv.

Myths of the constitutional question: “Amalgamation by conclusive action”.

“The General Anthroposophical Society was founded by Rudolf Steiner at the Christmas Conference 1923/24”

This statement does not correspond to the facts, since it was the “Anthroposophical Society” (Christmas Conference Society[1]) that was founded at the Christmas Conference. The “General Anthroposophical Society” is the Johannesbau-Verein (Bauverein[2]), founded in 1913, which has carried the present name since 8th February 1925 and corresponds to the society of which we are members. It has however been claimed repeatedly that there has been an amalgamation of the two societies and that in this respect the “General Anthroposophical Society” is also the Christmas Conference Society. This is based on an alleged amalgamation by “conclusive action”. As will be shown below, this is an unproven theory.

The following can be regarded as clarified today:

  • The name of the society founded by Rudolf Steiner at the Christmas Conference was “Anthroposophical Society”, not “General Anthroposophical Society”[3].
  • The “General Anthroposophical Society” is in fact the “Bauverein”, founded in 1913, which was renamed on 8th February 1925 and has carried this name ever since.

Brief historical outline

Until 1999, the leadership of the Society held the view that there was only one society, namely the General Anthroposophical Society, and that it had been founded at the Christmas Conference. As a result of the Riemer report (see below for further details), this uniform view was abandoned and from then on it was assumed that originally, two corporations had existed (Weihnachtstagungsgesellschaft and Bauverein), that an amalgamation of these two corporations had taken place, and that the General Anthroposophical Society can therefore be traced back to the Weihnachtstagungsgesellschaft after all. In 2000, a working group was formed to clarify the constitutional question, in which the legal opinion of Furrer/Erdmenger[4] led to the conclusion that an amalgamation had not taken place after all and that the General Anthroposophical Society therefore was not the Christmas Conference Society. It was assumed that the latter continued to exist as an orphaned corporation, although no general meetings had been held for more than 70 years, no executive council had existed since 1963, no members had been admitted for more than 70 years and thus hardly any members were left[5]. There had never been any awareness of this supposedly separate existence during the period from 1925 to 2002. With the Extraordinary General Meeting at Christmas 2002, this orphaned and allegedly still existing society was to be “revived”. Two groups of members sought judicial clarification against the actions of the Executive Council. After the courts had failed to agree with the arguments of the Executive Council even in the second instance, the Executive Council explained[6] in 2005 why the judgments were actually wrong and justified this with a statement from March 2005[7], commissioned from the lawyers Furrer and Erdmenger. Nevertheless, the Executive Council has itself referred to this judgment (which it had regarded as wrong) from then on and since 2005 has put forward the opinion that an amalgamation had taken place and that the General Anthroposophical Society therefore is the Christmas Conference Society after all. Paul Mackay claimed that this had been established “by Swiss jurisdiction” and Justus Wittich stated in 2014 that this was the case “from the point of view of the competent cantonal courts”[8].

This much for a brief outline. The following will be clarified and presented below:

  • why the assumption that an amalgamation had taken place is an unproven theory,
  • why the Riemer expert opinion does not carry any value of knowledge and
  • that the judgments as well as the reasons for those judgments by the courts principally cannot have any value in the sense of true findings.

The theory of an “amalgamation by conclusive action” (“Fusion durch konkludentes Handeln”)

“In general, a theory is knowledge gained by thinking as opposed to knowledge gained by experience”[9]. Experiential knowledge can be gained from a historical event by means of reports, documents or other “traces” or results left behind by it. No such evidence exists with regard to a possible amalgamation of the “Anthroposophical Society” (Weihnachtstagungsgesellschaft) and the “General Anthroposophical Society” (renamed Bauverein): There are neither reports nor documents, nor any other suitable indications. The course of events between the Christmas Conference and the General Meeting in 1925 is well documented, and the legal actions necessary for an amalgamation would certainly have left enough “traces”, since both bodies would have had to pass resolutions at general meetings and a written amalgamation agreement would also have been necessary. There is no indication of any such event or agreement, even if one assumes that not all formal necessities were adhered to at that time.

Therefore, according to the current state of facts, there is no empirical knowledge of an amalgamation of the two bodies and if such an amalgamation is nevertheless to be assumed, it would consequently be dependent on the formation of theories.

It is now claimed that the amalgamation took place by “conclusive action” and that this explains the lack of supporting documents.

What is a “conclusive action” (konkludente Handlung)?

A conclusive action is one which clearly shows that the acting person consciously intends to perform a certain legal act without making a declaration of intention or concluding a contract, either orally or in writing. If, for example, someone takes a newspaper out of the kiosk display and puts the money on the counter, this constitutes a conclusive action which creates a sales contract. Similar things often happen in everyday life. It is however hard to imagine that a complex legal process, such as the amalgamation of two associations or legal entities, could take place by conclusive action. It should not be overlooked that the person performing such a conclusive action must always be aware of the significance of this action. An amalgamation which happened “by mistake” and remained unnoticed for more than 70 years is simply impossible. This means that both the members of the Christmas Conference Society and the members of the Bauverein should have been aware[10] that an amalgamation had been decided and implemented. There is no record of that. Moreover, as explained above, there was no possibility, not even implicitly, to take such a decision.[11]

The Riemer report

In “Anthroposophy Worldwide” 9/1999, Paul Mackay reproduced an assessment of the constitutional problem by Prof Riemer[12], which was a written reproduction of the contents of a telephone call[13].  In “Anthroposophy Worldwide” 3/2000, this assessment then appears under the heading “Legal Opinion”. As is generally the case with expert opinions, all underlying bases for judgement were listed. These show that no written documents were available for evaluation, not even the Statutes. The society, which was founded in 1923/24, is not referred to by its real name, but only by “Christmas Conference Society”. The expert opinion was based on the following assumptions:

  • The Christmas Conference Society was founded in the period from 24 December 1923 to 1 January 1924, whereby it can be assumed that it was formed as an association within the meaning of Art. 60ff. of the Swiss Civil Code ZGB.
  • On 8 February 1925, the name of the existing association “Association of the Goetheanum of the School of Spiritual Science” [Bauverein] (“Verein des Goetheanum der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft”), which had already been on the commercial register for some time (also in accordance with the meaning of Art. 60ff. of the Swiss Civil Code), was changed to “General Anthroposophical Society” (GAS), and at the same time the composition of the association’s executive council was changed so that its executive council and the executive council of the Christmas Conference Society became identical. The changed name was subsequently entered in the commercial register.
  • Ever since then, the association has had a uniformed existence under the name “General Anthroposophical Society” (GAS). This uniform association life under the name “General Anthroposophical Society” refers particularly to General Assemblies, the acquisition of membership, the Executive Council and the Association’s assets, as well as to external relationships.

This is far too little information for a viable assessment, the actual events are not taken into account and the legal assessment is thus also formulated rather vaguely:

“In my opinion, it is … more obvious and also more appropriate to assume a conclusive amalgamation …”

Even though “legal opinion” was chosen as the heading, these are merely considerations based on insufficient information and by no means a well-founded expert opinion. Moreover, it remains a mere theory here as well, since the question of whether, how and when an amalgamation actually took place or could have taken place was not posed in the first place.

The Processes around the Constitutional Question in 2003 and 2004

Since 2005, the leadership of the Society has claimed that “…it has been determined by Swiss jurisdiction and is legally final and binding for the future”, that an amalgamation has taken place (the complete quote: see below).

Swiss jurisdiction most certainly meets the highest standards and its judgments are of great importance. This also applies to the judgments referred to here. The only problem is how to refer to them and how to use them:

  1. Self-acquired knowledge is substituted by a foreign knowledge, without revising the original own knowledge and without emulating the “foreign” knowledge. Due to the general reputation of the court, one’s own knowledge is replaced by the (alleged) court decision and made one’s own. That’s nothing other than “belief in authority”. In addition, the Executive Council, which had its own insights and confirmed their correctness even after the proceedings had been concluded in 2005, nevertheless adopted the “alleged court knowledge” as its own, even though it contradicted its own findings!6,7 Consequently one must actually speak of a belief in authority against better knowledge!
  2. It is in the nature of civil proceedings that only the facts presented by the parties may be taken into account by the court[14]. In civil proceedings, the court has no mandate to clarify the facts objectively; asking questions and conducting proceedings “must not lead to the facts being established ex officio”[15]. The primary objective is to resolve the dispute. It follows clearly from this that a judgment arising from civil proceedings cannot be ascribed a general value in terms of knowledge or truth.

Although it has already been clarified that the judgments are fundamentally unsuitable as a substitution for knowledge, it must be pointed out that the judgments say nothing at all about whether an amalgamation took place or not. The possibility of an amalgamation is only mentioned in the “deliberations” made by the court and set out in the so-called grounds for judgment, without clarifying whether such an amalgamation would have been at all possible in this specific case.[16]

Paul Mackay’s statement of 19 March 2005[17]:

“According to Swiss jurisdiction it is thus legally conclusive and also binding for the future that on 8th February 1925, the association which Rudolf Steiner founded during the Christmas Conference on 28th December 1923 was merged into the association which at that time had already existed since 1913.”

and the Declaration by Justus Wittich of 2014[18]:

“From the point of view of the competent cantonal courts, the legal conduct of the Executive Council and the members of the Anthroposophical Society over the decades had led to a “conclusive amalgamation” of the General Anthroposophical Society (founded during the Christmas Conference 1923/24) and the Bauverein.”

How is it to be seen if the Executive Council of an anthroposophical society substitutes its own knowledge for the belief in authority in relation to a judgment from a civil lawsuit, which even in principle, as has been described, has no objective truth content, and rates it higher than the existing and correctly recognized own judgement of knowledge whilst this “adopted” view of knowledge completely contradicts one’s own knowledge?

Summary

  1. The assumption that an amalgamation of the corporate bodies of the Christmas Conference Society and the General Anthroposophical Society (former Bauverein) had taken place is pure theory, the legitimate assumption of which is still not supported by any substantiated documents or evidence.
  2. With regard to the question of a possible amalgamation, the Court judgments do not make any statement, direct or indirect.
  3. The grounds for the judgment of the courts are unsuitable as a replacement for one’s own knowledge (as a substitute for knowledge), since they are merely considerations.
  4. Judgments – and thus also the grounds for those judgments – from civil proceedings are unsuitable as a substitute for knowledge for reasons of principle alone.
  5. The Riemer report does not constitute sufficient proof of an amalgamation.

Thus, there is no basis or evidence to support the theory of a conclusive amalgamation. On the contrary, it may be assumed that no such event has taken place and could not have taken place. This is also clearly demonstrated by the aforementioned legal opinion of Erdmenger and Furrer4 as well as their opinion on the judgments of the cantonal courts of March 20057.

Conclusion

Quite apart from all these remarks, the question remains how it is possible that in anthroposophical contexts one’s own judgement can be replaced by the judgement of a court? For these issues are questions of knowledge and by no means purely legal questions, the clarification of which can be left to experts and courts who only possess incomplete information.

At this point it is worth remembering the serious obstacles that arise for anthroposophical work when acting on untrue and unclear foundations, and being “of good faith” does not help to remedy this situation. Rudolf Steiner has repeatedly drawn attention to this and to the devastating effect of untruth in the context of spiritual science[19]. In addition, when people are told “by authority things that are untrue, their consciousness is subdued to the dullness of the consciousness of dreams”[20].

“Because untrue statements, even if they stem from goodwill, so to speak, are something that has a destructive effect within an occult movement. There must be no deception in this regard, but only complete clarity. It’s not intentions that matter, because it’s often very easy for a person to have those, but objective truth is what really matters. And one of the first duties of an esoteric student is not merely to say what he believes to be true, but to feel obliged to check that what he says truly is the objective truth. For only if we serve, in the sense of objective truth, the divine-spiritual powers whose forces pass through this school, will we be able to navigate through all the difficulties that anthroposophy is going to face.” [21]

Thomas Heck

19 November 2018

[1] The terms “Christmas Conference Society” (“Weihnachtstagungsgesellschaft”) and “Bauverein” are only used here to make a clearer distinction. These are not historically justified.

[2] Translated: “Building association”. This term is used as a short form for the society founded in 1913.

[3] http://www.wtg-99.com/name-wtg/

[4] Lawyer Prof Dr Andreas Furrer, Zurich and Dr Jürgen Erdmenger, Brussels. Newsletter No 18 of 28 April 2002.

[5] In 2002, Marjorie Spock was perhaps the last living member of the original Christmas Conference Society. The Executive Council, which itself was neither a member nor an officer of the Executive Board of this Christmas Conference Society, had been commissioned by the latter to carry out the reconstitution! Source: Justification of the judgement by the Dorneck-Thierstein District Court, judgement of 2/3 February 2004, page 18.

[6] Declaration by the Executive Council dated March 19, 2005, published in Nachrichtenblatt No. 15, April 8, 2005.

[7] The wording “on behalf of the Executive Council” makes it clear that this is not an independent statement, but a partisan statement by the Executive Council. This also applies to the expert opinion drawn up by the legal representatives of the Executive Council in 2002 (Newsletter No. 18 of 28 April 2002), which is to be regarded as a partisan rather than an independent expert opinion, not least because of its solution orientation. Until recently, this statement was to be found on the Goetheanum website. We have no knowledge of other publications.

[8] The quotes are reproduced in full below.

[9] See Wikipedia.

[10] Certainly, not all members would have had to agree, but each member would have had to be given the opportunity to participate, by corresponding invitation to a general meeting with an indication of the agenda.

[11] Nobody has yet explained how a decision in such a case could have been taken by conclusive action or how this might be possible at all. Moreover, until at least 2004 there had been no known case in Swiss legal history of an amalgamation of corporations by conclusive action.

[12] Prof Dr Hans Michael Riemer, until 2005 Chair of Private Law at the University of Zurich and recognized legal expert for association law in Switzerland.

[13] See “Anthroposophy worldwide” 10/1999, p. 6: “According to Paul Mackay, no written expert opinion by Hans Michael Riemer exists. He has however agreed in writing to the reproduction by Paul Mackay.”

[14] Even information or expertise held by the court but not provided by at least one of the parties may not be included in the judgment. This, and also the maxim that the court may not conduct its own investigations, is important for the neutrality of the court, because any additional information could benefit one of the parties and the impartiality of the court would thus be called into question.

[15] See Principles of Negotiation (Art. 55 ZPO), for explanations see:

Prozessmaximen im Zivilprozess

[16] This clarification could not have been made by the court itself; it would have been the task of one of the parties to demand it. That did not happen.

[17] Nachrichtenblatt No. 15, 8  April 2005

[18] In “Anthroposophy Worldwide” 1-2/2014: Justus Wittich also confuses the two societies in this statement: At Christmas 1923/24 the “Anthroposophical Society” was founded and the “General Anthroposophical Society” is the renamed Bauverein from 1913!

[19] z.B. GA 205, 1987, p. 238ff.

[20] GA 198, 1984, p. 125

[21] GA 270a, w.Y., p. 129. Highlighting by the author.

Newsletter – A Truly “Ugly Wake-up Call”

Dear friends,

The 2018 General Assembly of the General Anthroposophical Society will certainly go down in the history of the Society as an outstanding event. Among other equally important and significant aspects of the Meeting, two events stand out clearly:

  1. With the annulment of the resolution of 1935, in which Ita Wegman and Elisabeth Vreede were excluded from the Executive Council, for the first time a step was taken in the process of working through the Society’s history by an organ of the Society itself.
  2. Likewise for the first time in the history of the General Anthroposophical Society, the membership did not comply with the wishes of the Executive Council in a question of the Council’s composition.

The entire course of the General Assembly was marked by an overly tight time-schedule and by the clear will of the Executive Council not to expand the time-frame, contrary to corresponding requests from the membership. As a result, the General Meeting was characterized by being pressed for time; it was not possible to deal appropriately with the items on the agenda, and, in some cases, undignified situations arose, the responsibility for which lay with the particular moderators of those parts of the meeting. In particular, the vote on a further term of office in the Council for Paul Mackay and Bodo von Plato led to a polarization between the Society leadership and officials on the one hand, and a large part of the membership on the other; this culminated on Sunday, at the end of the entire conference and after a Class Lesson, in an outright insult toward members by the officials.

All this can, initially, only be given in outline and will be documented and explained in detail in following articles and contributions.

What was abundantly clear was the membership’s vote for a more factual and truthful practice of reporting in the Society’s publications Das Goetheanum, Anthroposophy Worldwide, and on the internet, as requested by the membership in Motion 8. However, the hope that this vote could bring about a change has so far been disappointed, as is clearly exemplified in the attached article.

Due to the continued one-sided way of reporting in the official reports, for the vast majority of members no real picture can emerge of what actually happened at the General Meeting. In addition, the background to some important topics discussed at the General Assembly remains largely unknown. For this reason, too, further contributions should follow. Whoever would like to contribute in this sense is cordially invited to do so.

With kind regards,

Thomas Heck

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Translation: T. O’Keefe

A Truly “Ugly Wake-up Call”

Article 8 of the Statutes of the General Anthroposophical Society stipulates that the Executive Council is exclusively responsible for the tasks and objectives of the Society and that the General Assembly has no binding say. From this self-understanding it was already made clear before the 2018 General Assembly that, for some of the motions [i.e., the proposals put forth by members to be voted upon at the Assembly], an implementation of the outcome of the vote would only be optional; that is, that the result of the vote would not be binding on the Executive Council. This also applied to Motion 8, which was to entrust the Executive Council with the task of ensuring balanced and truthful reporting in the Society’s publications. This demand was supported by a very clear majority at the General Assembly.

Apparently this vote by the members truly was not taken seriously, as it is indeed remarkable how the one-sided reporting continues in Wolfgang Held’s article “Ugly Wake-up Call,” in the April 20, 2018 issue[1] of the weekly magazine Das Goetheanum – especially since it was written in direct reference to the General Assembly at which the members had voted by a majority for a different kind of reporting. The fact that the Communications Officer of the General Anthroposophical Society, and Goetheanum spokesperson, expresses himself publicly in this way is really very striking. In any case, members will only perceive this expression to a limited extent, since many no longer receive this weekly publication. (It will probably not be long before the circulation falls below 5,000. Moreover, this contribution will likely not even be noticed in the entirety of the non-German-speaking world.) It is likewise noteworthy that the attitude behind this article is, on the one hand, publicly revealed, yet, on the other hand, not really openly articulated before the view of the entire membership.

What follows are excerpts from the article by Wolfgang Held (in italics) with my commentary.

“Ugly Wake-up Call

It was more nightmarish than ever before. This is how the staff in the cafeteria and at the reception at the Goetheanum described the atmosphere at the General Assembly of the Anthroposophical Society when it came to the confirmation of Bodo v. Plato and Paul Mackay’s positions in the Executive Council.”

Is this wording intended to give the impression that the trepidation of the atmosphere arose exclusively in connection with the vote on the extension of Bodo von Plato and Paul Mackay’s terms of office? Moreover, the wording is imprecise; it was not actually a question of confirming the positions of the Executive Council members, but of renewing the expired terms of office.

“It was likewise irritating that the number of members present for the actual vote increased by 300.”

Here the author has a poor memory, because the General Assembly is traditionally better attended on the Saturday of the Assembly – and especially during the voting period – than at other times. At the 2017 General Assembly, the difference in attendees (between the day of voting and the other days of the General Assembly) was so great that the number of ballot papers prepared was insufficient, resulting in a stoppage at the entrance to the Great Hall.

“They [the 300 additional members] had not taken part in the preceding two-day deliberations.”

The impression emerges here that the participants who had come for Saturday had not taken part at all in the important deliberations. In fact, of the eleven motions put forward by members and the additional motion from the Executive Council for a caesura [i.e., a pause of the current terms of office for the two Executive Council members, followed by a consideration and a vote regarding whether or not to renew these terms of office for a further seven years], only two motions were discussed on Friday; the discussion of all other all other motions occurred on Saturday, and these discussions were very well perceived by the members who had newly arrived on Saturday.[2] The formation of opinions about the two motions that had already been discussed on Friday (the repeal of the 1935 decision and the decision regarding the renewed terms of office) is likely to have been completed in advance for the vast majority of members. Especially regarding the caesura, the proponents of a further term of office did not contribute to the discussion any substantive reasons for their view, as was, in contrast, not the case during the weeks and months leading up to the General Assembly. At the General Assembly, substantial contributions were made exclusively by those who brought into question the extension of the terms of office. The short, not very informative, and incomplete reports on the activities of the two candidates were only given on Saturday, contrary to what had been planned. These reports were also perceived by the newcomers [i.e., the members who arrived on Saturday].

“From the caesura of the Executive Council members, there emerges a comprehensive halt – a halt that comes at a high price.”

How can one understand this last sentence? Will there actually come about a comprehensive halt for the officials or Goetheanum Leadership? A halt with regard to what or whom? The membership? And what could be meant by the “high price”?

“For the ‘How’ of the election process had barely anything to do with the much quoted ‘care of the soul-spiritual life’.”

Here, too, there are only hints that are perhaps directed at the membership? An insinuation regarding that part of the membership which was of the opinion that a further period of activity on the Executive Council for Paul Mackay and Bodo von Plato would not make sense? It may be possible to describe in more detail at a later time how the members, in recent months, had been given no basis for judgment whatsoever, upon which to arrive at a responsible decision on this question. It is evident that it was merely reported that intensive deliberations on the caesura had taken place. Nothing was reported about the content of these deliberations. Even the interview in the weekly magazine Das Goetheanum (March 10, 2018) was more like a conventional election canvassing and was free of content, just as were the written contributions [by the Council Members up for reaffirmation] to the General Assembly in Anthroposophy Worldwide (No. 1-2/2018). (In any case, engaged members were able to obtain for themselves the necessary basis for judgement over the course of the last few years due to the quite obvious orientation of the Goetheanum’s development, and they will certainly have done so.) This way of dealing with the members hardly served the “care of the soul life . . . in the human Society.”[3]

“The standing and sustained ovation for the 17 and 22 years of Executive Council work was then also the desire to close the wounds that had just been inflicted – understandable and contradictory.

Again, a one-sided assessment of the members’ behaviour: Is it incompatible for Wolfgang Held that one is of the opinion that someone should no longer be active on the Executive Council and nevertheless give him human and heartfelt applause for the past? Is this behaviour not perhaps precisely a contribution to a “care of the soul life” in the Society?

“No different than in one’s own soul’s household, where an ugly stroke enters and separates and then casts its light, there could also be something illuminating here in the darkening. I suspect it is here: The key to humility and magnanimity toward others is not found in one’s own convictions and ideals, it does not grow out of anything given, it will not be brought about by anthroposophy and not by Rudolf Steiner, but this magnanimity is based solely on the personal decision to will others and their otherness”.

This conclusion actually represents a sad climax in which the author goes so far as to express moral presumptions, subtle intimations, and judgments. Is this possibly a projection? Is it not precisely the author who lacks “magnanimity” and respect for the thinking and will of a part of the membership that does not correspond to his own? How can this attitude be reconciled with a free spiritual-cultural life? How is it possible that in our Society someone can be a Goetheanum spokesperson, responsible for communication at the Goetheanum, and editor of the weekly publication Das Goetheanum, and yet can be so publicly condescending, moralizing, and discrediting toward a part of the membership? And this is by no means the first time.

But what is perhaps even more serious: How is it possible that many members allow for such statements, one might even say “insults,” to be offered again and again? And why is there not a storm of indignation? In this latter aspect, I see the real main problem in our Society.

Thomas Heck, May 27, 2018

Email: info@gv-2018.com

Website: www.gv-2018.com

Translation: T. O’Keefe

[1] This can also be found on the internet (in German): https://dasgoetheanum.com/ausgaben/2018/ausgabe-16

[2] The temporally dispersed structure of the General Assembly, which was embedded in the larger conference “The Annual Meeting of the General Anthroposophical Society,” had met with different reactions in advance. Particularly for members visiting from other countries, participation on all days would have meant significant cost and time-commitment.

[3] What the quote [“care of the soul-spiritual life”] cited by Wolfgang Held refers to is not entirely clear to me; possibly it refers to the Statutes of the Christmas Conference Society, where it says in the first statute: “The Anthroposophical Society should be an association of human beings who wish to cultivate the soul life in individual human beings and in human society on the basis of a true spiritual knowledge of the spiritual world.”

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