The Threefold Social Order. by Dr. Karl König. From a talk given to Newton Dee Community 9 th August 1964

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1 The Threefold Social Order by Dr. Karl König From a talk given to Newton Dee Community 9 th August 1964 It is a joy for me to be with you again: it is a long time since I have met you all together. I have been asked to tell you something about the Threefold Social Order- about the IDEA of the Threefold Social Order- because you are going to take up this great and important theme. And I should like to give you a kind of historic introduction. Whenever you open a paper or a periodical or an illustrated, you will see just at this time some article or picture referring to what happened fifty years ago. Half a century ago, during these days, the great World War I started. It started in this country and on the continent and gradually as the years went by, it spread over to America and even to Asia. During these years of fighting all over the world ten million human beings were killed and thirty millions were crippled and became invalids. It was a tremendous tragedy. Most of your parents were still children; perhaps some were not yet born. It is so near and yet so far away. The soldiers and civilians of the World War I. were different from what we know today. If we see them in a picture if we see what men and women and children looked then we know that this is as time gone by. And in the end, when the so-called peace was declared, something entirely new began in the history of mankind. I can remember how life was before the World War I. Many people can still remember it. There is an abyss between all that existed before and all that has happened since. Before the outbreak of the World War I. there was still peace: it was a peace which permeated man and mankind. But afterwards there was no longer any peace. And we today do not live in peace. You have experienced it during the last week how war is everywhere on the brink of breaking out. We must understand this: there has been no peaceful life for the world at large since You today don t know how it was 60, 70, 80 years ago, and when the World War I came to a so-called end when actual fighting had stopped (in the trenches, on the battlefields, in the air, over the oceans) people all over Europe were in a kind of chaos. They did not know what was going to happen. Revolution broke out: in Germany, in Austria, in France, in Russia, in the Balkans everywhere. Millions of people were longing for a new social order. Something had come to an end, especially on the continent. Imperialism was no more. Every state which was ruled by an emperor or a king came to an end... But what was to come? Nobody knew. Into this chaotic social life Rudolf Steiner launched a new idea of ordering, arranging the whole social life of people. In 1919, 1920, 1921 (you must first know this, in order to understand the idea) he began to speak and to write about this new social order, which had been unknown until then. Many powers were against it. He tried to take them up and mould them into these new ideas. But old thoughts and old ideas were against him. Deep rooted traditions stood against him. Together they made it impossible for such a social experiment to come about, even in a small way. We must learn to understand what these powers were. They brought an end to the old social ordering of the life of the people. All that still remained from former times was now broken up. But these special powers were also of the greatest importance for the re-establishment of the 20 th century. If we look back to the 18 th century we see the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. It went on throughout the 19 th century, in all civilised countries. Before the Industrial Revolution two or three people would work together and make idea of the Threefold Social Order. But today there are only bourgeois people who have enough money and who no longer care about new social ideas.

2 The Threefold Social Order could have been taken up in 1919 and in 1920, but it was disregarded. It was pushed aside; it was dismissed. For this reason another World War had to come and a third one is going to come. The whole 20 th century will be drenched in blood and misery. This will go on until the idea of the Threefold Social Order gradually develops in small communities. It will go on until this grows together over the countries and the continents. What is this idea? In order to explain this, I will start from quite a different side. One of the greatest philosophers who have ever lived the Greek philosopher Aristotle had a deep insight into the human being and he called the human being the Zoon Politikon. This is a Greek word which means that man is a social being. When he says this he means that man alone is nothing. Man as a single being does not mean anything. Man is only able to live if he is together with other people. You will understand this. All that you have learned, you have learned it from your masters, you have learned from each other. Man alone is nothing. None of us would even be able to speak - and if he couldn t speak, he would have no idea how to think. In the first three years of our lives we all make three fundamental steps. In the first year we learn to stand upright and to walk; in the second year we begin to speak; and in the third year we formulate our thoughts. Walking, speaking and thinking these are the three fundamental steps for every human being. And through these three steps every human being is prepared to become what Aristotle called a Zoon Politikon. The fundamental of the Threefold Social Order is contained in these three steps. In our family in this small social brick there we learn to stand upright. To speak is something that we have in common with the peoples into which we are born: whether we are German or English or Scottish, American or French or whatever we speak the language of the people to which our parents belong. And we think in common with all men. When you learn to understand this you will see that there are three different spheres where man is a social being. This is the preparation. First he is in the family. Then when he is seven, he goes to school. And after puberty (usually still later, when he is 18 or 19 0r 20) he goes out into the world to work, to live and to found his own family. These stages are the social development of each human being. He first lives in his family, then he goes to school in order to learn and after he has finished school and University (whatever it may be) he goes into the world and works. If each of us looks at ourselves we can see that we actually live in three different spheres (or layers) of a social order. We live in the sphere of ECONOMY. We must work in order to produce things. And not only to produce things: we must also buy things which are made for us. We need our food; we need our houses; we need clothes; we need thousands of things without which it is difficult to live. Our rooms must be warm in winter; we need to live under shelter; fire must be harnessed; clothes and shoes must be made; food must be prepared. So the farmer, the shoemaker, the builder and the factory-worker all live with their work in the sphere of economy. And even before we join this sphere of economy we are nevertheless part of it: because we have to eat and we have to have clothes and have to live in houses.... But other things are also included in this economic sphere. In foreign countries certain things are made which we need here. Britain has to have thousands of ships to bring all kinds of food from overseas: meat and grain and vegetables and butter and eggs and so on. Britain is much too small to produce enough food for all the people who live here. If you would see the economic sphere over the whole globe, you would see a tremendously complicated network. You would see thousands of different goods coming and going. And everywhere there would be men and machines working, producing, destroying, building and so on.... All this is economic sphere. Modern people sometimes seem to think that there is only an economic sphere. But who is going to decide how many hours each person has to work? Who is to determine how much payment somebody will get for the production of goods, for the work? Or if somebody wants to build a house, who is going to determine where it should be built to whom the ground on which it will be built, belongs? Or if two people are at cross purposes with each other, who is going to determine

3 who is right and who is wrong? All this needs a second sphere. This is the sphere where LAWS are made and enforced where RIGHTS are established. And this is actually the sphere where the general connection between groups and individual human beings are determined. There must be somewhere a written or unwritten law which determines what we can do, what we must do, what we should not do, what is permitted and what is not permitted. These two spheres often seem to be quite enough but there is still a third one. It is the sphere of what is called the SPIRITUAL LIFE. As human beings we do not only work und live under certain laws. We also educate our children we go to religious services, we meet in order to learn, we meet in order to enjoy art und music. We meet in order to enhance each other. All this belongs to the third sphere. Now listen carefully. These three spheres are always within us and around us. The idea of the Threefold Social Order was not to determine these three spheres. The idea of the Threefold Social Order is the way to divide and to distribute these three spheres. Now I come to something which I hope you will grasp. Let us go back to the time when the World War I. had not yet begun and let us look at the different kinds of states including Britain, Germany, Austria and France and so on. There we would find something which had been built up throughout the last centuries from the 13 th, 14 th, 15 th century onwards. We would of course find that the sphere of Rights was under the government of the state. But we would also find that the Spiritual sphere has more and more come under the government of the state. There was a state religion and religion and government worked hand in hand.... And the Economic sphere (we would find) had also gradually come under the government of the state. Economy was ruled by the government. Many things were produced in such a way that the government had a kind of monopoly. The government imposed customs on goods exported and imported. And there is still a Ministry of Finance, a Ministry of Economy a Ministry which governs the economic sphere. Rudolf Steiner said we must gradually learn to disengage these three spheres from on another. The state should be responsible for the sphere of rights: that means it is the government, it is the state, which has to say what kind of laws are introduced and it is for them so see that people keep to the laws. But this is ALL the government has to do.... Quite apart from the state should be the sphere of economy: it should be entirely away from the influence of the state. The sphere of economy should be free to work all over the globe: in between the states there should be no boundaries. There should be import and export, coming and going. The cry: Workers of the world, unite! was right and justified in the sphere of economy. In the sphere of distribution of goods, the making of goods, the selling of goods, the state has actually nothing to say.... and in the same way the state has nothing to say with regard to the sphere of spiritual life. It is completely against humanity that a Ministry of Education determines what kind of curriculum there should be in schools. Parents should have a free say in the education of their children; teachers should not be state officials, but should be carried by their village, by their towns. If schooling and education would be an enterprise, if priests would depend entirely on their congregations then a free spiritual life would gradually be able to unfold and to develop. This is what Rudolf Steiner tried to make clear to the people. But you will understand that the state and the state officials would have lost a tremendous amount of money, if economy would work in its own sphere. They could not imagine what should happen if frontiers would be opened and goods would flow in and out from one country to another. They also had not enough faith that it should be possible for schools and education for art and religion to live out of their own resources and power. Instead of it came the terror of nationalism and National Socialism: in Italy, in Germany, in Russia, the state took everything in its hands. People were told what they had to think. They were forced to do what they had to do. Every freedom had gone.

4 It was a kind of breaking of these fetters that made the World War II. start. Since the so-called end of the World War II., we have still been in continuous warfare. Civilisation goes the opposite way to the way in which it should go. All over the world we have only countries where the state and the government and in the government a few are the rulers who determine what we should do, what we should eat, what we should think, how we should behave, how we should work. Through this preparation is made for the coming of another disaster. We have to see this. What we can do against it is not to preach the Threefold Social Order, but to learn in a humble way to understand it. If we learn to understand it, tiny little plants but beautiful little plants will grow in the realm of the human spirit. And they will gradually come together. And in the time to come (when none of us are living anymore) the ideas of the Threefold Social Order will gradually take root in the social order of man. Question: Should we not speak of the Common Wealth in two words, so that we don t think of the British Commonwealth? The word means weal. Threefold Commonwealth is actually a wrong word. We understand, but if we talk to the world they will misunderstand. It should be called: Threefold Social Order. Question: If the state and economy were separated would the workers go on wanting more? I think not. As soon as they are made responsible for their own economic life, responsible for their own factory, responsible for their own production, there will not be one who takes the money for their work, but they will determine how much money each one is going to have. Question: Will another war break out? We can t say for certain. It looks as if another war is going to come. Question: The world will have to learn how we can be together the East and the West. It will take a very long time before this comes about. And meantime there will be a tremendous amount of chaos. Question: It is an advantage to be a community. Though we cannot stop such a thing from happening, we can really think together on what we are doing or what we have done and really begin a new seed. Yes, exactly this is what I think. Question: In the 19 th century we saw the Industrial Revolution. In the 20 th century we have seen the revolution of the social order or at least the beginning of it. What will the 21 st century bring? I have the impression that the new social order will begin in the 21 st century. The 20 th century is bound to be chaos and nothing else. We wouldn t have escaped the chaos even if Rudolf Steiner s idea had been accepted.... It will be the task of the 21 st century to prepare people to understand what it means to be a real human being here on earth.

5 Question: How would the individual stand in the new social order? The individual would matter in the free spiritual life he would matter as an individual. He would mater as a brother in the economic life. It was the continual mixing up of these three spheres that brought the present chaos. The Common Market in Middle Europe would have been an excellent idea if it hadn t been politically invaded. The moment the economic sphere is made political the moment they start taking into account what kind of rule a country has it begins to go wrong. Question: Do you think the Threefold Social Order will put science back on the right lines? Such things will start. You should not think it is going to be a paradise. It will be a hard struggle, but it will be a worthwhile struggle. Rudolf Steiner s idea was the following: In the sphere of Rights all men are equal. In the sphere of Economy we should establish a sort of brotherhood and help each other. In the sphere of Spiritual Life each of us should be free free in what he likes to have, to believe, and so on. We would help each other in the sphere of economy; we would naturally accept that before the law every man is equal, without any difference; and we would recognise that in the spiritual life each one is free. If this gradually comes about, the right thing can set in. But it will centuries before it comes to a proper order

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