Hope. Springs. Eternal.*

The Anthroposophical Society and the perennial challenge of life at the threshold

For over 50 years, I have been concerned with the Anthroposophical Society – its past, present and future. In what I hope is a well-informed albeit personal view, this project (and accompanying website) brings together the various ways I have addressed this. It is intended for those who already, or one day might, carry the Deed of Rudolf Steiner** in their hearts.

I have been a member of the Anthroposophical Society since 1972 and of the School of Spiritual Science since 1979. Throughout that time, my work has been backgrounded by the 1923 Christmas Conference when understood as ‘the Deed of Rudolf Steiner’, about which I wrote seminally in 1979, prompted in part by my association with Jorgen Smit. I am especially concerned with its financial aspect. For example, in 2008, I recorded Inner and Outer Aspects of Associative Economics (Money: The Old and New Mysteries and Rudolf Steiner’s Unfinished Deed). Here

Professionally, I am an economic and monetary historian specializing in finance and always seeking ways to weave Rudolf Steiner’s socio-economic ideas into current mainstream debates and policies. My emphasis is on Steiner’s great clue concerning ‘money as bookkeeping’ and the need to develop accounting-based associative financial literacy (see associative-financial-literacy. com). As its convener, I coordinate the research work of colleagues in the Economics Conference of the Goetheanum, begun in 2002; while as ‘flying around the world’ treasurer I work with treasurers worldwide to rest the finances of the anthroposophical movement on the direct indications of Rudolf Steiner in the Christmas Foundation Meeting.

All approaches to economic life, all schools of thought, are backgrounded by a world conception of some sort, often however not made explicit. Insofar as I claim to be a proponent of it, in the case of associative economics the background conception is the anthroposophical worldview. Anthroposophy – awareness of one's true humanity, wisdom of man – is not an abstract philosophical affair, but is matched by the way Rudolf Steiner at Christmas 1923 embedded the School of Spiritual Science – with its 'structure' of three classes and sections – in the Anthroposophical Society. Understanding the intention and significance of this is, therefore, a key aspect of my work.

Indeed, the eye of the needle for associative economics is to apply it to the Anthroposophical Movement itself, and to the Anthroposophical Society in particular by heeding the three ‘calls’ of Rudolf Steiner concerning the way in which the Society is financed. The three calls point to members’ contributions, research funds and worldwide regular financial support from people generally (much in the manner of organisations like today’s Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund).

* Originally, the title was an unintended allusion to Alexander Pope's phrase:

     Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
     Man never is, but always to be blest:
     The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
     Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Laden with satire, it suggests we excuse life on earth by constantly putting all store in an after-life, rendering us blind to our true circumstances and diminishing our need to wake up. But here, as three separate words, they refer to my image that we can all derive hope from the Anthroposophical Society as long as we see in it a source of new initiatives born of the spiritual world and understood over a long time frame.

** The deed referred to is the refounding of the Anthroposophical Society during Christmas 1923, explored in detail in the book of the same name. (Available in English.)