PLANS Loses Waldorf Court Case, Lies About it in Press Release

On September 14 th, 2005 PLANS lost its seven-year old lawsuit attempting to have public-methods Waldorf Charter schools in two California school districts declared religious schools and shut down for violating the Constitutional separation of Church and State (known as the Establishment Clause, because it reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".)

The reason for the loss? In seven years, PLANS failed to submit sufficient evidence to substantiate the contention that Anthroposophy is a religion. The trial lasted 31 minutes. [transcript here] The judge, the Honorable Frank C. Damrell, Jr., awarded the case to the school districts under Rule 52(c), meaning that the plaintiff, PLANS, failed to provide enough evidence to prevail. The result is that PLANS lost their lawsuit.

If you file a lawsuit, you have the burden of proof of supplying evidence to support your complaint. PLANS’ complaint is that the religion of Anthroposophy is being taught in California Charter Schools. The school districts argued in defense that 1.) Anthroposophy is not a religion, and 2.) even if it is a religion, it is not being taught in the Waldorf-methods Charter Schools. The trial examined these two issues, one at a time. In 31 minutes the Judge determined that PLANS had submitted no evidence to support the first contention, while the school districts had offered substantial arguments for why Anthroposophy is not a religion. The judge then ruled in favor of the school districts.

What happened next was interesting. PLANS issued a press release claiming that they had not actually lost, and promised to appeal. (Comments in red)


The trial was not "aborted". The trial concluded successfully, and PLANS lost.

In a move that shocked participants and observers in a Sacramento federal courtroom during the opening of its September 12 trial, People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS) refused to present its case without key witnesses and evidence that had been excluded by the the Hon. Frank C. Damrell.

The only people "shocked" were PLANS. The outcome was widely predicted since the Pretrial Conference Order of February 18 th, 2005 was issued. ( ) Given the evidence PLANS had submitted in the timeframe allowed, it was hard to imagine any other outcome.

Judge Damrell said he intends to dismiss the case.

The case will not be dismissed. The case was awarded to the school districts. The districts prevailed. They won. They proved their point, and PLANS did not. The result is not a dismissal.

As a result, PLANS will take its case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

PLANS will appeal the exclusion of two witnesses to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will not decide whether Anthroposophy is a religion or whether Waldorf-methods Charter Schools violate the separation of church and state. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether the exclusion of two witnesses was procedurally incorrect.

Two witnesses–Betty Staley, creator of the Rudolf Steiner College public school teacher training program, and Dr. Crystal Olson, a Steiner College staffer who teaches courses on music education–had been listed as expert witnesses by the defendant school districts, and as percipient witnesses by PLANS. In fact, PLANS’ attorney, Scott Kendall, had taken lengthy depositions from the two in 1999. However, the defense team’s three attorneys changed their minds and withdrew both Staley and Olson’s names from their list of expert witnesses after reading each woman’s testimony. (Presumably, the lawyers recognized that the women’s testimony would do the schools’ case more harm than good.)

The two witnesses mentioned by PLANS were disallowed because PLANS failed to follow proper legal procedure and give copies of the depositions to the school districts within the timeframe required. For this reason they lost the right to use these two witnesses. Their appeal concerns the issue of whether the exclusion was valid. If the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hears the case and rules in favor of PLANS’ (a very unlikely scenario) the case will be retried by the lower court, and the new trial will include the two excluded witnesses. The outcome will likely be the same, because the two excluded witnesses are sympathetic to the school districts, and hostile to PLANS.

The school districts were certain that both Ms. Staley and Dr. Olson would support their side. PLANS took a deposition from both, but when they failed to make copies available to the school districts within the require timeframe, the judge then disallowed Staley and Olson as witnesses for PLANS. They could still be called as witnesses for the school districts, but the districts decided that, with overwhelming amount of other evidence, they did not need the additional testimony of Ms. Staley and Dr. Olson. It makes absolutely no sense for PLANS to object to the exclusion of these two witnesses, since these two witnesses, by their sworn testimony, disagreed with PLANS’ position, and offered testimony to refute it. A new trial that includes these two witnesses will very likely come to exactly the same result, with the school districts prevailing. That is why the appeal makes no sense.

Judge Damrell then accepted an objection from the defense, who alleged that PLANS had not properly disclosed those witnesses according to the federal court rule of "automatic disclosure" (rule 26a). This rule requires parties in lawsuits to give all their information about witnesses and evidence to the opposing party immediately, without being asked. PLANS’ attorney Scott Kendall asserts that the rule does not apply in this case because it was not in effect in this court in 1998, when this case originated.

PLANS is asking the appeals court to rule that, if you take a deposition in 1999, but you filed the lawsuit in 1998, then the 1999 rule does not apply to you. Judge Damrell disagrees, and is unlikely to be overruled by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If the 9th Circuit does overrule Judge Damrell, then the case will be retried with the two witnesses hostile to PLANS, and PLANS will in all probability lose again.

"PLANS was unable to put on its case because of the court’s evidentiary rulings, which we believe to be both erroneous and prejudicial," Kendall stated. "Therefore, PLANS is taking this case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals."

PLANS did put on its case. It filed the suit, put on its case, the case was heard, and PLANS was found not to have any evidence to support its contentions. The two excluded witnesses are not materially relevant, since their testimony was hostile to PLANS anyway.

Debra Snell, President of PLANS, said "After seven and a half years of dealing with legal technicalities, we expected that we’d finally be able to have a trial of the real issues in court. We are disappointed, but also more determined than ever to continue to press our case, no matter what we have to overcome. Steiner’s books—which form the foundation of Waldorf education and the basis for Waldorf school teacher training–are shelved in the spirituality section of the bookstores, not the philosophy section! We have plenty of evidence that Steiner’s doctrines leak into the public Waldorf schools that citizens pay taxes to support. If that’s not a breach of the Establishment Clause, I don’t know what is."

Debra Snell does not appear to know what a breach of the Establishment Clause is. Nor does she have much understanding of Steiner’s philosophy. PLANS has blathered a lot of illogical nonsense over the years. The difference here is that in a court case, the rules of evidence are strict and fair. Under these rules, PLANS was completely unable to offer any evidence that Anthroposophy is a religion. Snell and Dugan may one day realize that the US Court system functions differently from the Internet. On the Internet you can make all sorts of wild allegations, and then insist that the people you slander bear the burden of proof in defending themselves. In court, such wild allegations must be substantiated by the person filing the suit, or they lose the case. PLANS lost.

The Administrative Director of the Anthroposophical Society in America, Jean W. Yeager, attended the trial, despite the fact that public Waldorf schools claim they have no connection with Anthroposophy whatsoever. On February 4, 2004, Yeager intervened in a Waldorf charter school application by writing to the Benecia, California, school board, and the Anthroposophical Society submitted an amicus curiae brief in the PLANS lawsuit.

Jean Yeager attended the court case. Upon consideration it should be obvious that the Anthroposophical Society has a strong interest in not being misclassified as a religion.

When a court is asked to decide whether or not Anthroposophy is a religion, the Anthroposophical Society has an interest in the outcome. In this particular case the Anthroposophical Society filed an Amicus Curiae Brief [] explaining why Anthroposophy is not a religion. An Amicus Curiae Brief can be filed when a person or group who is not party to the lawsuit nevertheless has an interest in the outcome.

Jean Yeager’s presence has nothing to do with Waldorf education, and everything to do with the fact that the court was being asked to determine the status of Anthroposophy, something the Anthroposophical Society has an interest in. The Anthroposophical Society will likely always be involved when the material status of Anthroposophy is a point of contention, such as was the case in the Benecia Charter application. The Anthroposophical Society became involved in Benecia in order to set the record straight when PLANS mischaracterized the nature of Anthroposophy. Otherwise it has no interest in Charter schools, Waldorf-methods or otherwise.

Both the court case and the reaction by PLANS are typical. The court case revealed PLANS to be a fanatical, disorganized group with no clear arguments, and the press release following PLANS’ stinging defeat showed an organization partially out of touch with reality. In actual fact, Anthroposophy is not a religion, a position that the court agreed with, based on the evidence presented. The individual members of PLANS (all 10 of them) may feel differently, but they had their day in court, and utterly failed to prove otherwise.

PLANS often complains, without substantiation, that Waldorf-methods Charter Schools harm children. PLANS frivolous lawsuit has cost the school districts over $300,000 in legal fees, money that could have gone towards educating children. Twin Ridges School District Superintendent Stan Miller is "…outraged at the amount of taxpayer dollars it’s taken to defend this case that could have been spent on student programs." The irony is that by filing this baseless suit, PLANS has done substantial harm to children of California, and the Twin Ridges Waldorf-methods Charter School has not.

What is an “anthroposophical education”?

I came across a potentially confusing phrase today, "anthroposophical education". It is potentially confusing because it could be understood two ways. It could mean: a school that will teach children anthroposophy. Or it could mean: a curriculum that is consistent with the principles of anthroposophy, even as it does not teach anthroposophy.

Rudolf Steiner explicitly and repeatedly stated that the Waldorf Schools SHOULD NOT teach anthroposophy to the students. He said at one point that a healthy child would have a natural repulsion to anthroposophy if they encountered it. This is something that those familiar with anthroposophy take seriously; it is not for children. You will have a very hard time finding a school that teaches anthroposophy to children; no Waldorf school should be doing it.

What is found at most Waldorf Schools is an "anthroposophical education" in the sense of an education that anthroposophists find appropriate for children. An "anthroposophically appropriate" curriculum is one that takes the anthroposophical knowledge of the human being, such as the stages of childhood development, and uses this knowledge to shape a curriculum that addresses the child where she is at, in each phase of development. That is, you use the understanding gained by a study of anthroposophy to create something new, a whole curriculum, or a daily lesson plan.

Using one thing to create another is a distinction lost on many at the Waldorf Critics list. When Joseph Beuys used Rudolf Steiner‘s anthroposophy as inspiration to create his artwork, the results are not "anthroposophy" just because the inspiration behind their creation was anthroposophy (FWIW I am aware of the debate in art history circles about how much or little Rudolf Steiner actually influenced Joseph Beuys). Likewise, when a Waldorf teacher uses anthroposophy as a guide to creating a lesson plan, the resulting lesson plan is not "anthroposophy". It is the same principle as creating a lesson plan using Backwards Design Principles. The resulting lesson plan is a lesson plan consistent with the principles of Backwards Design. It is not "Backwards Design" itself. This principle of using something (anthroposophy) as an inspiration to create something else (a pedagogy) seems very simple to me, yet it has confused the best minds at the Waldorf Critics list.

Waldorf Critics and why Eurythmy is not “Anthroposophy”

Over in the commnts of my posting on the Influence of Books, Peter "Pete" K. has taken me to task for misunderstanding Rudolf Steiner‘s indications about how Eurythmy=Anthroposophy, and accused me of using "Waldorf Speak" to obfuscate the fact, parrotting a "party line" because I disagree with him. He is mistaken, as I labor to demonstrate in my response, which I copy below. Peter wrote:

Daniel, I’m quite aware of the party line on Eurythmy. That you say it is not Anthroposophy is, well, bizarre. But, I have no desire to come here to your site and teach you about what Eurythmy is. Here is what Steiner said about it – and I would recommend you read the entire lecture before suggesting Eurythmy is nothing more than an art form. Some of us who are accustomed to Waldorf-speak have better things to do than to be instructed by you on what you apparently know very little about, or if you do, are unwilling to discuss honestly. Here – talk to Steiner:

“I speak in all humility when I say that within the Anthroposophical Movement there is a firm conviction that a spiritual impulse of this kind must now, at the present time, enter once more into human evolution. And this spiritual impulse must perforce, among its other means of expression, embody itself in a new form of art. It will increasingly be realised that this particular form of art has been given to the world in Eurythmy.

It is the task of Anthroposophy to bring a greater depth, a wider vision and a more living spirit into the other forms of art. But the art of Eurythmy could only grow up out of the soul of Anthroposophy; could only receive its inspiration through a purely Anthroposophical conception.”

From Rudolf Steiner’s “Lecture on Eurythmy” August 26, 1923
And please, take the time to read the entire lecture.


It is not my intention to parrot any sort of "party line". First, no one has ever suggested that I do so, much less told me what such a line should be, and second, I’m not the type of person for parties or conformity. You appear frustrated that you find so few people who agree with you, but I would suggest that this is because the facts are against you, and not because of some sort of Waldorf conspiracy.

I have read the entire lecture in question (and several others). More importantly, I have about 15 years experience practicing Eurythmy (I can also sing fairly well, play three instruments, draw, paint, and knit, thanks to a Waldorf education). So when I talk about what Eurythmy is or isn’t, I can talk as one who has done the movements and exercises (just as I have practiced scales on my cello, and done life-drawing exercises in graphic arts). I have experienced about 10 different Eurythmy teachers on three different continents, observed their different approaches to teaching Eurythmy, and observed several professional performances. I have also studied a lot of anthroposophy. None of my Eurythmy classes ever talked about anthroposophical subjects; they described the movements and what they were looking for as far as forms. And they really tried to get us to have a feeling for what we were doing, so that the movements would come from the heart, and not be mechanical. A parallel is perhaps applicable in music. Beethoven’s piano sonatas are renown for being fairly simple to play. Yet they are one among the more difficult pieces to perform, because you really have to feel them properly in order to have them sound satisfying. Done improperly, they sound plodding and mechanical. It takes a real artist to bring them to life. Eurythmy is the same, and I say this from experience.

I’ve had a lot of real Eurythmy teachers (it is a four-year training, seven for Curative Eurythmy), I don’t need you to "teach" me what Eurythmy is, because, frankly, you are not qualified.

Rudolf Steiner said a lot about Eurythmy, five volumes worth, in all, including the lecture I quoted. You have taken two further paragraphs from it, and apparently misunderstood them, because you have drawn a conclusion from them that is not supported by what is there. Rudolf Steiner said:

I speak in all humility when I say that within the Anthroposophical Movement there is a firm conviction that a spiritual impulse of this kind must now, at the present time, enter once more into human evolution. And this spiritual impulse must perforce, among its other means of expression, embody itself in a new form of art. It will increasingly be realised that this particular form of art has been given to the world in Eurythmy.

It is the task of Anthroposophy to bring a greater depth, a wider vision and a more living spirit into the other forms of art. But the art of Eurythmy could only grow up out of the soul of Anthroposophy; could only receive its inspiration through a purely Anthroposophical conception.

According to Rudolf Steiner, all of the arts originated in spiritual impulses, Eurythmy like the rest of them. Steiner is explicitly NOT saying that Eurythmy is Anthroposophy. He is saying that Eurythmy, like literally everything else in the world, originates from a spiritual impulse. Steiner was an Idealistic philosopher (in the technical sense); he believed that everything in the material world had its origin in the spiritual world. Now this spiritual world is not "Anthroposophy". The term "Anthroposophy" is not synonymous with "spiritual world". Anthroposophy is a method of investigating what exists, it is not the thing investigated. (For some, Anthroposophy is the results of such investigations in the form of hypotheses, or "Steiner says" quotes, but these are really just shadows of the real thing.) Now, according to Rudolf Steiner as cited above, the art of Eurythmy has its origin in a spiritual impulse, one that is closely related to the Anthroposophy. But this does not change the fact that the result of this impulse is an Art, an Art just like the other arts. Now that it exists, it is possible to study Eurythmy and perform it entirely without reference to its origins, as is done in Waldorf schools.

You are quite combative with your opinions, but that does not change the fact that they are hasty and ill-informed. You presume to "teach" me about Eurythmy, but you can’t take the time to read and understand two paragraphs. So I’m sorry if everyone who has actual experience with the subjects we are talking about contradicts your opinions. If several people disagree with you, it may simply be because you are wrong, and not some "party line" designed to fool you. If I could recommend anything, it would be to slow down and study a subject before becoming an instant expert in so-called "Waldorf Speak". Get your basic facts correct, please.

Is Eurythmy Anthroposophy?

As an example of anthroposophy in a Waldorf classroom, someone recently brought up Eurythmy. Eurythmy is taught in Waldorf schools to the students. Is not Eurythmy a perfect example of anthroposophy in the classroom? I can see how, if you knew nothing about Eurythmy, this idea might seem to have some validity. But a proper understanding of what constitutes Eurythmy will show that this is not so.

Eurythmy is an art, like modern dance or sculpture. In a slightly modified form, it can also be applied therapeutically, similar to the way the painting can be applied as a form of therapy, known as Art Therapy. Eurythmy is not anthroposophy. It is possible to practice Eurythmy while knowing nothing whatsoever of anthroposophy, either as an adult or as a child. Anthroposophy is a path of knowing, a way of looking at the world, or a body of teaching. Anthroposophy is a conscious path, through the exercise of thinking. It involves a working with concepts, and applying rational logic. Eurythmy, on the other hand, is artistic expression, in the form of movement. It presupposes no knowledge, no doctrine, no theory. You simply have to do it. Is it good for you? Of course, and so is painting, and so is sculpture, and so is choral singing. This does not make any of the above into anthroposophy. Only by defining anthroposophy as "that which anthropsophists do" is it possible to consider Eurythmy as "anthroposophy".

While it is true that Eurythmy is primarily found around anthroposophical initiatives, such as Waldorf schools, this fact alone does not change the nature of the art form. I know at least three people who work as consultants teaching Eurythmy to business groups as a form of team building. When you create a Eurythmy form in movement with other people, it is absolutely necessary to know where each other person is in their path through the form, in order for you to create your movements in proper harmony with the whole. Interestingly, this awareness of what other people are doing is something that businesses also find valuable. And I also heard a number of comments by coaches about how well Waldorf basketball teams perform, attributed to their training during Eurythmy in keeping track of the movements of other people in a group. So yes, practicing Eurythmy confers benefits. But this does not make Eurythmy "anthroposophy". A quote from Rudolf Steiner may be elucidating:

Rudolf Steiner:
… But some little time after the founding of the Waldorf School, it was discovered that Eurythmy can serve as a very important means of education; and we are now in a position to recognise the full significance of Eurythmy from the educational point of view. In the Waldorf School, [The original Waldorf School in Stuttgart of which Steiner was educational director] Eurythmy has been made a compulsory subject both for boys and girls, right through the school, from the lowest to the highest class; and it has become apparent that what is thus brought to the children as visible speech and music is accepted and absorbed by them in just as natural a way as they absorb spoken language or song in their very early years. The child feels his way quite naturally into the movements of Eurythmy. … The Waldorf School has already been in existence for some years, and the experience lying behind us justified us in saying that in this school unusual attention is paid to the cultivation of initiative, of will — qualities sorely needed by humanity in the present day. This initiative of the will is developed quite remarkably through Eurythmy, when, as in the Waldorf School, it is used as a means of education. One thing, however, must be made perfectly clear, and that is, that the greatest possible misunderstanding would arise, if for one moment it were to be imagined that Eurythmy could be taught in the schools and looked upon as a valuable asset in education, if, at the same time, as an art it were to be neglected and underestimated. Eurythmy must in the first place be looked upon as an art, and in this it differs in no respect from the other arts. And in the same way that the other arts are taught in the schools, but have an independent artistic existence of their own in the world, so Eurythmy also can only be taught in the schools when it is fully recognised as an art and given its proper place within our modern civilisation.
Lecture of 26th August, 1923 (GA 279)

So the supposition that, "only anthropsophists do it, so it therefore must be anthroposophy" is both factually incorrect and logically in error. Quite a few non-anthroposophists practice Eurythmy. And practicing Eurythmy is not anthroposophy, it is simply art.

The influence of books

On the Waldorf Critics list it has been suggested that you can tell how much Anthroposophy is taught to the students in a Waldorf School by the types of books in the school library. Beyond the basic illogic of the entire premise, I have to ask the question, which library? At the school where I teach, we have a student library, and a Faculty Library. All the anthroposophical books are locked in the Faculty Library, and students are not allowed access to them. It is probable that not all Waldorf Schools have dual libraries; however, using the above test, the students at my Waldorf School must be entirely free of anthroposophical influence simply due to the library arrangements.

I don’t recall any anthroposophical books at the Waldorf Schools that I attended, either. The whole subject was entirely uninteresting to me until I was past school-age; probably a healthy situation. In any case, the mere presence of books is not going to have much effect. To demonstrate influence, you would have to show that students were actually reading such books. I have a hard time picturing a 5th grader getting more than one page into a Steiner book. Heck, most Waldorf Critics can’t get that far, much less read an entire book! But they would have us think that school-aged children are reading Rudolf Steiner?

Why have this blog?

The description of the WC-Watch blog is as follows:

A lot of nonsense gets repeated on the WC list (that’s "Waldorf Critics") as simple fact. Yet those who challenge these erroneous statements are frequently banned on the flimsiest of pretexts. This blog will examine the facts in an unrestricted forum.

Now I’m sure that some people are scratching their heads. I mean, the Waldorf Critics list is an unmoderated list, right? They have listed themselves as an unmoderated list over at Topioca. (List Type: Unmoderated discussion). The site description sounds rather liberal:

A free-speech public forum operated by PLANS, Inc., as an information resource for anyone interested in Waldorf education who wants to hear views from outside the cult of Rudolf Steiner. Subscription is open to the public, and postings are not reviewed in advance. Not for the overly sensitive.

Wow. Public. Free-speech. I mean, what how can this cause any sorts of problems? Well, there are rules (on a “free-speech” list).

No ad hominem arguments. This means that you speak freely about the topics, but not about the other subscribers. … Violation of either of these rules will result in immediate suspension of subscription privileges for a week, and repeat offenders may be permanently banned.

This is where the peculiar interpretation of "ad hominem" comes in. The fancy Latin describes a type of argument based on the premise that the speaker can’t be trusted, a kind of "don’t listen to what he says, just look who he is". In classical logic, this was considered a fallacy. On the Waldorf Critics list, it is grounds for dismissal. Except that Dan Dugan interprets "ad hominem" slightly differently. To Dugan, an "ad hominem" argument is one that shows a rabid Waldorf Critic to be in error. Saying "you’re wrong" is an "ad hominem" to Dugan. Of course, you have to say it more directly, for example, try saying "Peter Staudenmaier is a liar." This will get you banned. It doesn’t matter if you have just proven that very point, with quotes, citations and references. Once you come to the logical conclusion, you have just committed a Dan Dugan "ad hominem": you have demonstrated a Waldorf Critic to be in error, to know that they are in error, and then to claim not to know that they are in error. For that, you are banned, from a "free speech" forum!

Additionally, I should point out the basic illogic of having any rules at all on a "free-speech" forum. Either it is free-speech, or it has rules. It can’t be both. But that is how PLANS works: not through logic, but by propaganda – using attention-getting words in close proximity (just look at how many times Hitler’s name comes up in proximity with Rudolf Steiner on the flimsiest pretexts).

So that is why this Blog is necessary. Over at PLANS’ moderated "unmoderated", censored "free-speech" Waldorf Critics mail-list, they can’t handle the truth.

Barnaby and Selective Reading

Another poster that has been looking at my writing is someone who signs their work "Barnaby". Before I get into the detailed points that Barnaby makes, I would like to comment on the character of his post. Barnaby takes a mildly derisive stance in his comments, weaving just a few facts into a ringing indictment of my logic. This is classic polemic, delivered WC style. And as usual, it is based on a few illogical assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the basic facts.

Barnaby writes:

"I’d like to ask about völkisch conceptions of race and culture. Daniel Hindes, shining paladin of anthroposophy, writes on his website:

Steiner considered the term "Sub-Race" to be misleading since it implied a racial character to cultural development, so he renamed the time periods "Cultural Epochs".

Note the unnecessary "shining paladin of anthroposophy". Barnaby shows just how inbred the "Waldorf Critics" are; identifying someone as an anthroposophist – especially with a verbal flourish – is the first step to dismissing their entire argument.

I think he might be projecting his modern understanding of ‘race’ and ‘culture’ onto Steiner.

So this is the actual thesis, and a point that can be discussed. What is the meaning of ‘race’ and ‘culture’, today and in the past? Have they changed? How did Steiner understand the terms? Are we today misunderstanding Steiner when we bring modern assumptions of the possible meanings of these words to Steiner’s century-old texts?

In actual fact, the thesis (that Hindes is mistaken in claiming Steiner saw a difference between cultural development and racial evolution) has not yet been developed by Barnaby at all; at the end of his post he asks for help proving it. Typical of so-calledWaldorf Critics, Barnaby has his conclusion finished before he has even started his research!

Hindes, who ‘… has been systematically studying the works of Rudolf Steiner for over a decade’ also bizarrely claims that he never took a German nationalist stance:

The problematic noun-pronoun agreement notwithstanding (I assume Barnaby is not implying that Hindes takes a German nationalist stance) Barnaby is setting up his polemical argument. Hindes, who ought to know better if he has really studied Steiner for over a decade, seems to have missed something important. Here comes the fact that is to show Hindes’ ignorance, a fact so basic that any so-called scholar of Steiner ought to immediately know it:

How Steiner managed to write for and edit pan-Germanist journals without being a German nationalist is beyond me.

So here is the actual fact in question: what to make of Steiner’s editing of journals that, before Steiner’s involvement, was known to be pan-Germanist. Does this automatically mean that Steiner must have been a German nationalist, as Barnaby considers proven by the mere fact that Steiner was published in a specific forum?

Evidently Hindes’ systematic study hasn’t reached GA 31 and 32 yet, which contains Steiner’s writings from the Deutche Wochenschrift, a journal devoted to the ‘the pan-German cause in Austria’. See Staudenmaier and Zegers’ ‘Anthroposophy and its Defenders’:

With a polemical flourish, Hindes is dismissed for both failing to get to GA31 and GA32, and for failing to note that this was pointed out in an article called "Anthroposophy and its Defenders" by no less than Peter Staudenmaier and Peter Zegers. How Hindes could write a 60-page rebuttal to one Staudenmaier article and not be aware of Staudenmaier’s follow-up is not discussed. Further, since Barnaby admits he can’t read German, and GA’s 31 and 32 have never been published in English, Barnaby can’t possibly have investigated for himself what is actually written there, but this won’t stop him from snidely dismissing those who have.

First, Staudenmaier’s track record for accuracy in the one article that I did thoroughly review is absolutely abysmal. So relying uncritically on anything Staudenmaier writes about Steiner would be a mistake. If we look at Staudenmaier’s claims, it is indeed yet another litany of malfeasance of which Steiner is accused. And like the first article, Anthroposophy and Ecofascism, if the claims were established, it would leave Steiner a greatly diminished figure indeed. However, it is mostly fiction, spun heavily.

A few basic facts. Steiner edited and wrote for a journal known for its pan-German slant. When Steiner took over informally as editor (the point at which he started writing) he essentially co-opted it for his own purposes. In fact, the new direction was so unsuccessful that the journal folded in six months, and Steiner was involved in a lawsuit over its demise. Basically, Steiner was not writing pan-German nationalist articles, and this alienated the readership. The articles themselves are reprinted in GA31 and GA32, but Staudenmaier does his usual hatchet job misrepresenting their contents. If I ever have time I will translate them. However, the are decidedly not the pan-Germanist propaganda that Staudenmaier, using only the titles as evidence, makes them out to be. Those in doubt are encouraged to read the actual articles in question and decide for themselves.

Steiner’s concept of race owes a great debt to völkisch pan-Germanists.

This claim of Barnaby’s, I should point out, is not backed by anything. It is simply an assumption. I would consider the Waldorf Critics to be making useful contributions to Steiner scholarship and criticism if they were to write articles attempting to establish such points rather than simply take them as assumptions. Steiner’s concept of race and its historical context would indeed be an interesting topic to explore. I would suggest starting with Steiner’s writings on the subject. Then check the pan-Germanists, and compare. Perhaps the thesis will stand, as Barnaby so blithely assumes. Perhaps it will fall. But work through the source material before making up your mind!

I’d like to know what *they* meant by ‘race’ and ‘culture’, and what they thought was the relationship between the two. I suspect they, and consequently Steiner, believed that culture was determined by race. If that’s true then Hindes’ argument, and the related argument that Waldorf students learn about different cultures rather than racial-spiritual evolution in their lessons on Egyptians, Hebrews and so on, is nonsense.

Note the error of logic; once it is assumed that Steiner’s concept of race is the same as the pan-Germanists, then whatever can be attributed to the pan-Germanists automatically transfers to Steiner. That the two may actually have different views on race is overlooked. It is this type of sideways attack that Waldorf Critics are forced to rely on, since there is no real direct approach.

Here is the tie-in to Waldorf education. Should it be demonstrated that Steiner adopted a völkish pan-Germanist understanding of joint racial-cultural evolution, then it could conceivably be established that Waldorf schools are teaching racism instead of cultural history. However, even this does not necessarily follow logically; hypothetically, were Steiner to be proven a völkisch pan-Germanists in racial assumptions (whatever exactly is meant by these terms) it does not necessarily follow that thousands of classroom teachers today are imparting völkisch pan-Germanists in racial assumptions when the individually prepare and then present their blocks on, say, the Hebrews. Further, it does not follow logically that, in learning about different cultures in various classes, students are being indoctrinated in racial-spiritual evolution. Sometimes learning about a culture is simply learning about a culture. Only on the WC is it a sinister plot to impart century-old racist assumptions.

In actual fact, the material showing that Steiner did not believe that culture was determined by race has been posted online by several people. Consult:

And also my footnotes on my Root Races page:

“When people speak of races today they do so in a way that is no longer quite correct; in theosophical literature, too, great mistakes are made on this subject … Even in regard to present humanity, for example, it no longer makes sense to speak simply of the development of races. In the true sense of the word this development of the races applies only to the Atlantean epoch … thus everything that exists today in connection with the [different] races are relics of the differentiation that took place in Atlantean times. We can still speak of races, but only in the sense that the real concept of race is losing its validity."

Steiner, Rudolf. Universe, Earth and Man (GA 105), London 1987, lecture of 16 August 1908.

“For this reason we speak of ages of culture in contra-distinction to races. All that is connected with the idea of race is still a relic of the epoch preceding our own, namely the Atlantean. We are now living in the period of cultural ages … Today the idea of culture has superseded the idea of race. Hence we speak of the ancient Indian culture, of which the culture announced to us in the Vedas is only an echo. The ancient and sacred Indian culture was the first dawn of post-Atlantean civilization; it followed immediately upon the Atlantean epoch.”

Steiner, Rudolf. The Apocalypse of St John (GA 104), London 1977, lecture of 20 June 1908.

Explaining the issue at length in 1909, when he was still the General Secretary of the German section of the Theosophical Society in Germany, Steiner said:

”If we go back beyond the Atlantean catastrophe, we see how human races were prepared. In the ancient Atlantean age, human beings were grouped according to external bodily characteristics even more so than in our time. The races we distinguish today are merely vestiges of these significant differences between human beings in ancient Atlantis. The concept of races I only fully applicable to Atlantis. Because we are dealing with the real evolution of humanity, we [theosophists] have therefore never used this concept of race in its original meaning. Thus, we do not speak of an Indian race, a Persian race, and so on, because it is no longer true or proper to do so. Instead, we speak of an Indian, a Persian, and other periods of civilization. And it would make no sense at all to say that in our time a sixth "race" is being prepared. Though remnants of ancient Atlantean differences, of ancient Atlantean group-soulness, still exist and the division into races is still in effect, what is being prepared for the sixth epoch is precisely the stripping away of race. That is essentially what is happening.

"Therefore, in its fundamental nature, the anthroposophical movement, which is to prepare the sixth period, must cast aside the division into races. It must seek to unite people of all races and nations, and to bridge the divisions and differences between various groups of people. The old point of view of race has physical character, but what will prevail in the future will have a more spiritual character.

"That is why it is absolutely essential to understand that our anthroposophical movement is a spiritual one. It looks to the spirit and overcomes the effects of physical differences through the force of being a spiritual movement. Of course, any movement has its childhood illnesses, so to speak. Consequently, in the beginning of the theosophical movement the earth was divided into seven periods of time, one for each of the seven root races, and each of these root races was divided into seven sub-races. These seven periods were said to repeat in a cycle so that one could always speak of seven races and seven sub-races. However, we must get beyond the illness of childhood and clearly understand that the concept of race has ceased to have any meaning in our time."

Rudolf Steiner. The Universal Human: The Evolution of Individuality. New York: Anthroposophic Press, 1990. Pages 12-13. Lecture of December 4th, 1909.

Misunderstanding Blavatsky II

Walden continues:

Looks like I might have found an answer to my question – but it seems confusing…

I previously wrote:

Trying to slowly make my way through a web site that Serena pointed out and I have a question regarding something the writer (Daniel Hindes) states:

"Blavatsky did indeed originate the term "Root Race". And she did declare that indigenous peoples are dying out. However, Staudenmaier has misunderstood (or never read) the explanation for how this is to be accomplished. Contrary to what Staudenmaier would have you believe, Blavatsky did not declare that those indigenous people who were alive ought to die for
karmic reasons. Rather, Blavatsky, accepting the scientific reports that indigenous peoples were dying out as a unique racial group due to sterility, declared that this sterility was due to the fact that souls no longer wished to be born into these races. The dying-out process she predicted would take another thousand years. The karmic necessity that Blavatsky talked about was that souls wishing to be born were choosing other races for karmic reasons, and not that indigenous peoples currently alive ought to die.26 Staudenmaier has treated Blavatsky with the same lack of scholarly care and accuracy that he brings to this study of Steiner."

Does anyone know of these "scientific reports that indigenous peoples were dying out as a unique racial group due to sterility?"

Later on in the same piece, the same author seems to contradict his claim of scientific reports:

I’m not quite sure what Walden is talking about; he appears to be an extremely careless reader. Firstly, I do not identify with Blavatsky or hold up her opinions as Truth. I merely stated that firstly, Blavatsky believed one thing (and I gave specific page numbers for where it could be found in "The Secret Doctrine") and second that Staudenmaier seriously misrepresented Blavatsky’s beliefs in writing about them, much as he seriously misrepresents Steiner’s beliefs when writing about Steiner. Again, I am not adopting Blavatsky’s position or even commenting on its accuracy. The entire point is that Peter Staudenmaier misunderstands and misrepresents both Blavatsky and Steiner. The point is not to determine whether Blavatsky or Steiner were correct, only to describe the positions of both writers.

[Daniel Hindes:]"The quote offered here is greatly helped by some context. Steiner wrote:

‘The Native American population did not die out because this pleased the Europeans, but because the Native American population had to acquire such forces as lead to their dying out.’

This sentence does not make a lot of sense on its own. It is part of a larger thought that Steiner expressed over several pages on how the geography of the earth influenced the formation of racial characteristics in past epochs. In the west, said Steiner, the forces that lead to the overcoming of the influence of racial characteristics are strongest, and this he tied to the physical weakness behind the death of so many Native Americans. Though not explicitly mentioned in this context, this weakness was immunological, as research from the last 40 years has indicated. Steiner strongly deplored the behavior of the Europeans towards the Native Americans, but the simple fact remains that most of the inhabitants of the Americas in 1491 would not have survived the contact with Europe even if not a single one as murdered directly at the hands of a white man. Steiner intuited this even though the science of his day had no concepts to express why."

[Walden:] Makes me wonder: when Daniel Hindes tells us that Blavatsky accepted the *scientific reports* that indigenous peoples were dying out as a unique racial group due to sterility, why does he later tell us that science of his (Steiner’s) day had no concepts to express why – and that Steiner "intuited this?"

So here is Walden’s quandary: how can Blavatsky accept so-called scientific reports about the sterility of Native peoples, and yet the science of Steiner’s day doesn’t know why the Native Americans died of disease in such numbers? This is then trumpted as a major flaw in the logic of the writer. Well Walden appears to be seriously confused on a few points. Firstly, sterility is not the same as immunological susceptibility. And Blavatsky’s concept of Native peoples dying out over the next 1000 years due to sterility is not the same as the historical extermination of Native peoples or the mass deaths due to disease. So there is no contradiction between reporting that Blavatsky claimed that she knew of scientific reports of sterility that would cause a gradual dying out of Native peoples over the next 1000 years (had Walden checked the reference, he would have noted that Blavatsky was talking as much about Pacific Islanders as Native Americans) and Steiner explaining that Native Americans were particularly weak physically and had been dying out.

If this is an example of Walden’s logical abilities, then I have to conclude that he can’t reason. He is simply fabricating contradictions because he would so very much like to find my writing in error. This type of "emotional logic" seems typical of the WC as a whole.

By the way, many of my First Nations friends take strong exception to this stuff and last I checked – they have not yet "died out."


The gratuitous "my First Nation friends" is an unnecessary and insulting. Neither I nor Steiner in any way approve of what was done to the Native Americans. Both he and I deplore it. The implication that we in any way approve is completely unjustified. Why Walden presumes that describing an event is equivalent to condoning it is beyond me. I believe I had the same argument with Diana Winters; just because it happened doesn’t make it good. And describing how or why it happened does not imply approval.

Misunderstanding Blavatsky

Howdy folks,

I’ve been on hiatus from my blog for a while; life has a way of filling up your time. My Defending Steiner is up for all to read, and some of the folks over at the WC (Waldorf Critics) have even been looking at it. It is a bit discouraging that they keep missing the point, but then, they don’t have a history of critical reading that is critical in anything but attitude. Someone emailed me some of the WC postings, so I thought I’d respond here.

In one post, Walden writes:

Trying to slowly make my way through a web site that Serena pointed out and I have a question regarding something the writer (Daniel Hindes) states:

"Blavatsky did indeed originate the term "Root Race". And she did declare that indigenous peoples are dying out. However, Staudenmaier has misunderstood (or never read) the explanation for how this is to be accomplished. Contrary to what Staudenmaier would have you believe, Blavatsky did not declare that those indigenous people who were alive ought to die for karmic reasons. Rather, Blavatsky, accepting the scientific reports that indigenous peoples were dying out as a unique racial group due to sterility, declared that this sterility was due to the fact that souls no longer wished to be born into these races. The dying-out process she predicted would take another thousand years. The karmic necessity that Blavatsky talked about was that souls wishing to be born were choosing other races for karmic reasons, and not that indigenous peoples currently alive ought to die.26 Staudenmaier has treated Blavatsky with the same lack of scholarly care and accuracy that he brings to this study of Steiner."

Does anyone know of these "scientific reports that indigenous peoples were dying out as a unique racial group due to sterility?"

I myself would be interested in learning the answer. Blavatsky has come under criticism over the years for improperly documented sources. So this claim of hers may stand, or may fall.

I should note that whether or not Blavatsky was correct about the sterility of indigenous peoples, this does not change my point one bit. My observation was firstly, that Blavatsky believed this (and I gave specific page numbers for where it could be found in "The Secret Doctrine") and second that Staudenmaierseriously misrepresented Blavatsky’s beliefs in writing about them, much as he seriously misrepresents Steiner’s beliefs when writing about Steiner. Should Blavatsky turn out to be misinformed about sterilization, my point about Staudenmaier’s accuracy still stands.

Another writer on the WC list has accused me of failing to prove Blavatsky free of racism with an example that is clearly racist. I’m not sure why Barnaby supposes that I ever attempted to defend Blavatsky of charges of racism. I should also note that nowhere do I propose that Blavatsky is free of racism. That some of Blavatsky’s concepts were blatantly racist is obvious and well established, and not a point that I would dispute. I am not a knee-jerk defender of all that is "occult". I try to look carefully at the facts of every case, and draw reasonable conclusions. And as a matter of fact, it was on the issue of the importance of race that Steiner differed most sharply with Blavatsky. And one of my major issues with Peter Staudenmaier is that he flagrantly conflates Anthroposophy with Theosophy where most other scholars see major differences between them. I would urge people over at the Waldorf Critics list to use a little more discernment and care in reading. Since they have an obvious bias they should be especially careful in reading things which they know they will automatically disagree with.

Daniel Hindes