from being human December 2023 - Centenary Edition by Anthroposophical Society in America

By Roland Tüscher

I. The Christmas Conference and the Philosophy of Freedom

The Christmas Conference of 1923 was based on Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research activity. The updated actualization of the Christmas Conference therefore lies in the extent to which its foundational elements can be realized autonomously today.

To teach and research autonomously and topically on the basis of spiritual science, it is not necessary to be clairvoyant. All that is necessary is the universally accessible capacity of pure thinking, which is to be acquired through the “right reading” of the Philosophy of Freedom (Spiritual Activity), as Rudolf Steiner explained on February 6, 1923,1 and October 12, 1922.2 At the Christmas Conference of 1923, Rudolf Steiner emphasized the importance of this method of thinking as an impulse that will have to issue forth from the Anthroposophical Society.

1 Awakening to Community (SteinerBooks, 1975), GA 257, p. 58 in the 1983 German ed.

2 Becoming the Archangel Michael’s Companions (SteinerBooks, 2006), GA 217, p. 148 in the 1979 German ed.

This impulse of the Christmas Conference has not been developed systematically and consistently throughout the past hundred years. We have only fragmentary and isolated contributions toward this task. On account of this, the present-day Independent School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum in Dornach is not grounded in the autonomous development of the above-mentioned foundational elements as an individual capability (i.e., the capacity of pure thinking as a foundation for free deeds). The latter, however, can be grasped by anyone at any time in the way indicated.

In order to promote a continuous development of this task, a working group was formed on June 6, 2023, in the context of the Member Forums at the Goetheanum. A report on this has appeared in Anthroposophy Worldwide No. 6/2023.

II. Anti-Individualism and the Fear of the Free Formation of Ideas

One of the core revelations of the Covid period was that, to a very large extent, people stopped listening to each other or being interested in the different views of others, and thus ceased trying to preserve the now essentially dismantled space for socially effective discussion. This resulted in the well-known forms of division on all levels: on the level of family and friends, in the mass media that essentially forbade controversial questions and in the suddenly stagnant scientific discussion. Since then, there has been an authoritative division into “right” and “wrong” — congruent with classical forms of religious fundamentalism. Finally, division came from the political regulations and measures, which, based on the aforementioned onesidedness, treated people as a uniform mass instead of trying to consider them as ethically capable individuals.

Therefore we actually live today, even in the West, within an anti-individualistic concept of society. Symptomatic of this is, among other things, the fact that nowhere in Western civilization has even experimental autonomy in the treatment of Covid been recommended, let alone established or permitted. So we live in an all-encompassing state of thought prohibition, socially coercive control, and increasingly police-enforced health regulations. Many in the alternative media space have noticed this with increasing alertness. Many in the traditional media space ignore it with a perplexing consistency, and this is accepted by a largely sleeping multitude. What is the reason for this?

There is an apparent fear of the power of forming sovereign judgments independently of one’s surrounding environment—that is, a fear of one’s own free formation of ideas and their open representation. And this fear is encouraged by the mass media’s suppression of the dissemination of individual scientific achievements. Furthermore, there is an increasingly prevalent reticence which lacks a strong interest in the will of the other—that is, lacks an active interest in the freedom of those who think differently.

III. The Synchronization toward the “Good” and the Necessity of Ethical Individualism

Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom (Spiritual Activity) is not a theory, but a real development of thought based on spiritual activity. From it can be developed the capacity of creative, pure thinking, which leads to the free formation of ideas—free from convention and predisposition. This, in turn, can lead to the formation of effective ideas and, in the ethically based act of freedom of this philosophy, to an individual power of responsibility that is potentially present in all individuals. This is obviously a much stronger and more humanly worthy force than when a nationstate or governing world-health body issues regulations for all—regulations which, in essence, must be homogeneous and which therefore not only fail to promote the individual power of responsibility but actually undermine and stifle it. Many people clearly feel that today our freedom to exercise the individual power of responsibility is under direct threat; this feeling, however, is often still expressed in a chaotic or emotionalized way. Therefore, it is of great importance that the foundations of the individually realized act of freedom —which is to say, the foundations of spiritual science, as described above—are thoroughly disseminated, comprehended, and concretely applied.

Today, every human being is faced with the decision of whether or not to promote and strengthen the individual power of responsibility in himself and in others. If this force is not promoted, then other forces—forces of a necessarily anti-individual nature—will take possession of the sphere of responsibility in social life. Accordingly, in the Covid era, we have already experienced a social synchronization toward the “good.” What is “good” was defined by the media to the exclusion of scientific discussion, and was politically imposed on all people without exception. What is “good” was thus removed from the power of responsibility of social togetherness grounded in ethical individualism. No one had a say! All were to obey the self-appointed and therefore anti-democratic authority!

This lack of encouragement of individual responsibility, however, necessarily leads to the weakening of such responsibility. What can remain in its place is only an ethically weak egoism: This is the fruit of the Covid strategies caused by this synchronization of humanity toward the “good.” Egoism will remain strong, even if this “good” is implemented in the most comprehensive way—for it will never be possible to abolish egoism, which thereby leads to the war of all against all .

The fruitful contrast is: The peace of all in support of all . This is possible only if the individual is strengthened in his power of ethical responsibility, and if this inner strengthening is encouraged by education, social structures, politics, and above all by the media that is to become free in the sense described.

Roland Tüscher was born 1961 in Switzerland and has four children. He is the editor and founder of Ein Nachrichtenblatt , which is a newsletter attempting to follow Rudolf Steiner’s perspective on modern member-correspondence. He is currently working on how to develop spiritual science individually from the very basic elements that Rudolf Steiner provided.

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