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The Social Future

Rudolf Steiner

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    "Men like Marx and Engels saw this union of economics, politics, and culture; they saw that the new economic life was no longer compatible with the old political form, nor with the old form of culture. They came to the conclusion that the life of rights, the old life of rights, and the cultural life must be excluded from the economic life. But they were led into a singular error of judgment, of which we shall have much to say in these lectures. They regarded the economic life, which they could see with their own eyes, as the sole reality. The cultural life and the life of equity they saw as ideology, and they believed that the economic life could bring forth out of itself the new political, and the new cultural conditions. So the belief arose - the most fatal of errors - that the economic system must be carried on in a definitely ordered manner. If this were done, they thought, then out of that economic system the cultural life, laws, state-life and politics must come of themselves."
    -- quote from chap. 1

    The Threefold Order [...] taking its stand on the realities of life, must recognize that industry, especially in our complicated life, is based on the initiative of the individual. If we try to substitute for individual initiative the abstract community at large, (See: Appendix I) we give the death-blow to economic life. Eastern Europe will prove this, if it remains much longer under its present rule. It means extinction and death to the economic body when we deprive the individual of his initiative, which must proceed from his intellect and take part in the ordering of the means of production purely for the benefit of human society.
    -- quote from chap. 1

    "It is also easy to understand that Karl Marx had many followers when he calculated that the workman produces a profit and that he is not paid the full value of his labor, but that the profit produced by him goes to the employer. It is easy to understand that under the influence of such a theory, the workman should fight about this profit. But it is just as easy to prove on the other hand that wages are paid out of capital, and that modern economic life is altogether regulated by capitalism; that certain products create capital and, according to the capital created, wages are paid, labor purchased. That means wages are produced by capital. One argument can be proved as clearly as the other. It can be proved that capital is the parasite of labor; it can also be proved that wages are created by capital."
    -- quote from chap. 2

    "The chief characteristic in the development of modern art [in 1919] is that it has lost that inner impulse which should drive it to place before the world that which is felt by humanity as a pressing need.
    "Is it not the chief aim [of the great artists] to tell us something of a world which we do not see when we only use our eyes, when, we perceive only with our outer senses?
    "We see how inartistic our everyday surroundings have become. Art has made an illusory progress. All the buildings around us with which we come in contact in our daily routine are as devoid of artistic beauty as possible. Practical life cannot be raised to artistic form, because art has separated itself from life.
    "If art merely imitates, it fails in the shaping of practical life, and practical life thereby becomes prosaic, uninteresting and dry, because we are unable to give it an artistic form and to surround ourselves with beautiful objects in our everyday lives.
    "In like manner we have moved in other domains of modern civilization. Have we not seen that science has gradually ceased to proclaim to us the foundation which lies at the base of all sense-life? Little wonder that art has not found the way out of the world of sense since science itself has lost that way."
    -- quotes from chap. 4

"The Social Future" is a series of lecture and is a good introduction to the more detailed book Basic Issues of the Social Question (GA 23), see also IBS Review of "Social Issues: Meditative Thinking and the Threefold Social Order"

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