Thursday 6 April 2017

Bureaucracy and the Ahrimanic influence - Rudolf Steiner's uncanny 1921 anticipation of the following century

To understand the following, you should know that Rudolf Steiner described 'Satan' as consisting of (at least) two beings: which he named Lucifer and Ahriman. Ahriman is about abstraction, materialism, and systematic reductionism - mechanics, technology, procedure...

As you will have guessed, Ahriman is regarded as the most dominant demonic influence of the modern era (waxing in influence, according to Steiner, from the end of the middle ages).

It should also be noted that Steiner regards both evil demons as redeemable - in other words, as having potentially Good and valuable aspects if or when their influence is ruled by, contained within, that of Christ. Thus the intention is not to destroy them utterly, but to defeat and enlist them in God's work.


Edited from the lecture Lucifer and Ahriman, given October 23 1921 as part of the series Cosmosophy, in Dornach, Switzerland - and reprinted in the collection Guardian Angels from Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000:

The Ahrimanic beings want to keep humans bound forever to earthly existence. This is why they want to mechanise everything. By doing this, they would transform the earth in their way.

They do not have the desire to rob human beings of action; indeed they want them to be as busily active as possible - so long as this is all done in a routine and stereotyped way.

Ahriman is a great fan of convention! He, it is, who insires the constant compiling of statutes  Whenever Ahriman sees a committee at work compiling statues, he is in his element!

Point 1, Point 2, Point 3... First this will be done, then that; thirdly this member has these rights, fourthly that member ought to do such-and-such. The member would not dream, of course, of respecting these rights, nor doing what it says at all...

But this part of it does not matter. The important thing is to compile the statutes and cultivate the Ahrimanic spirit. Then, you can point to paragraph so-and-so.

Ahriman would like people to be active, but everything should be run along programmed lines. Everything should be forced into legal terms...

Every morning, a person should (as it were) find a list lying on his bedspread telling him what to do throughout the day, and he should do it mechanically...

We do, of course, now and again see modern human beings rebelling against the work of Ahriman; grumbling about bureaucracy, which is absolutely Ahrimanic - complaining about the stereotyping of education and so on. But as a rule they only fall deeper into what they are trying to get away from.

The only thing that can lead us out from all this, is a complete change of attitude; a turning towards knowledge of the spirit, to the kind of thing that will once more fill our thinking with genuine spirituality - so that the living spirit can take hold of our whole being, and not merely our head.

Typing carried out in the Ahrimanic spirit could just as well remain unwritten; one knows, anyway, what it contains; it really does not need to be put down in black and white - the content is actually unimportant; and the real significance of typing etc. is its Ahrimanic form and spirit.

And in taking hold of our whole being, the living spirit can also conquer Ahriman. And when Ahriman is conquered, he will be redeemed.

I am not censuring the justified typing and enumerating of paragraphs - but spirit must enter into all of this. Indeed, in modern societies, we can hardly avoid carrying out Ahrimanic activities.

But if we bring spirituality into our civilization we can raise up into the sphere of the spirit even such Ahrimanic phenomena as typing! - and then Ahriman will be redeemed.

However, all this will only become possible if we are absolutely serious about the spirit. That must be our priority.  


ajb said...

By typing does he means the act of typing on a typewriter?

Bruce Charlton said...

@ajb - Yes, in the unedited version of the lecture he also mentions stenography.