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Contents of the original 1894 Philosophy Of Freedom
In the original 1894 edition of The Philosophy Of Freedom the first chapter was entitled “The Goal Of knowledge.” The opening sentences began with an undeniable description of individualist anarchism; rejecting authority and supporting individuality. The first two paragraphs written in The Philosophy Of Freedom may be the most inspiring words ever written about individualist anarchism.

http://philosophyoffreedom.com/hoernle-translation-1916#c1

[1] I BELIEVE one of the fundamental characteristics of our age is that human interest centers in the cultus of individuality. An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. Everything that hinders the individual from fully developing his powers is thrust aside.

The saying ‘Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Mount Olympus’ no longer holds true for us. We allow no ideals to be forced upon us. We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development. We no longer believe there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform. We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual. We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something that, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer. Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each one asserts the right to express, in the creations of his art, what is unique in him. Just as there are playwrights who write in slang rather than conform to the standard diction grammar demands.

[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, they result from the individual’s striving towards freedom, developed to its highest pitch. We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.”

Then the chapter shifts from the individualist anarchist’s striving in life to an individualist anarchist’s pursuit of truth in the depths of human nature. He rejects the authority of outer truth and only embraces the inner truth that arises from within the individual.

[3] Truth, too, will be sought in our age only in the depths of human nature… Truth that comes to us from outside always bears the stamp of uncertainty. Each one of us is only convinced of truth when he recognizes it within his own heart.


Anarchism Comes Under Attack And The Philosophy Of Freedom Is Revised

Anarchist communists become violent and ruin the reputation of all anarchists. Steiner renounces the violence of anarchists, “It belongs to the very first principles of individualist anarchism to battle against things of that kind.” John Henry Mackay’s friends warn him that he is in danger. They urge him to make a statement against the “tactics of violence” so he is not thrown in with the revolutionary communists. As mentioned earlier Steiner’s magazine subscribers are canceling and they have begun to ban his articles because he socialized with anarchists. Mackay blames the press:

"To be sure, there is a dirty press (it strangely prefers to call itself the decent press), which continues to falsify ever anew even established facts that have become a matter of history. But any battle against it is not only pointless but degrading. It lies because it wants to lie."

A few years later Steiner stopped publishing his magazine and joined the Theosophical Society which was peaking in popularity at that time. Copies of The Philosophy Of Freedom became scarce. Eventually a second edition was published twenty-five years later in 1918, after being revised.

The new edition  of The Philosophy Of Freedom was revised to remove the most obvious references to individualist anarchism. The opening two paragraphs describing the life of an individualist anarchistic was completely removed. The whole first chapter which explains how he is approaching the topic of freedom (in an individualist anarchist kind of way) is placed at the back of the book as an appendix.

Preface to the first edition, 1894; revised, 1918
Steiner adds a note to the revised edition to tell us why he removed the original first chapter and placed it at the back of the book as an appendix:

“In the following is reproduced, in all essentials, what stood as a sort of “introduction” in the first edition of this book. Since it shows the 'mood of thought' out of which I wrote this book twenty-five years ago, rather than having any direct bearing on its contents, I include it here as an appendix.

The Philosophy Of Freedom is a result of independent thinking so it does not adhere to any existing “ism” such as anarchism. But there is clearly a “mood” of individualist anarchism throughout the book that indicates how he is approaching the topic of freedom.

“I do not want to omit it altogether, because the opinion keeps cropping up that I need to suppress some of my earlier writings on account of my later ones on spiritual science. Only the very first opening sentences of this argument (found in the first edition) have been altogether omitted here, because today they seem to me quite irrelevant."

The opening sentences had become irrelevant because interest in anarchism had ended because it was discredited by violence. It had become dangerous to call yourself an anarchist. To be accused of associating with “anarchists” in Steiner’s time was like being accused of associating with “terrorists” today.

Despite the need for Steiner to walk away from individualist anarchism 100 years ago, times have changed again. According to research done this year, interest in individualistic practises and values has been increasing the past several decades throughout the world. The Philosophy Of Freedom may have been ahead of its time. It has patiently waited for individualists who are striving toward freedom by shaking "off every kind of authority" and asserting "the right to express what is unique in him."

Reference
John Henry Mackay letter to Rudolf Steiner
http://philosophyoffreedom.com/individualist-anarchism
Brief Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition of The Philosophy of Freedom
http://philosophyoffreedom.com/page/rudolf-steiner-reflections-on-the-publication-of-the-new-edition

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© Tom Last 2017